The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has directed the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to shut down the nation’s seaports over unresolved issues with International Oil Companies (IOCs), shipping companies and some government agencies in the sector.
President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, gave the directive on Friday when he paid a courtesy visit to the union’s secretariat in Lagos.
President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju had informed the NLC President the challenges faced by the union particularly the refusal of IOCs to comply with government marine notice 106 of 2014 and extant stevedoring regulations as well as government’s refusal to pay aged seafarers’ monthly pension in spite of court rulings.
Adeyanju, who is also the newly elected Deputy President of NLC added that the refusal of the government to restore registered onboard ship gangway security and tally men, issuance of seafarers’ identity documents (SID) by NIMASA as well as refusal of shipping companies to negotiate minimum standard for shipping workers as obtained with dockworkers and seafarers are among other unresolved challenges faced by the union over the years.
Responding, Ajaero asked MWUN to write the ministries of Labour and Transport and issue a two weeks ultimatum for them to address the identified issues.
Ajaero warned that failure of the government and other concerned parties to act will lead to shutting down the nation’s seaports.
According to him, no one will blame the union for not being patient having waited for almost two years.
He added that the NLC and the union will henceforth set up a picketing committee that will cripple operations of any employers of labour who fail to adhere strictly to the laws of the land.
He said, “Write to the Minister of Labour and Transport. If it is going to be possible, give them a two weeks ultimatum because nobody will accuse you of not being patient for two years running from August 5, 2021. When we do that, they will intervene. As the president of NLC, I don’t have sympathy for anybody toying with the interests of workers.
“Show them the letter and shut the ports for refusing to listen and resolve these lingering issues and let the ministry of transportation and labour do their work. If they don’t act on this, we will support you. We are ready to give you a solidarity action until the agreement is obeyed.
“The people who are supposed to be regulators cannot be seen violating the law. They have acted illegally and they don’t need somebody to act legally with them. Every illegal action requires an illegal response. What the law requires is for you to give adequate notice and if the notice is standing for almost 2 years what else can we do as helpless workers? There is need for us to act now.”
Ajaero also faulted the port concession programme, which he said has led to loss of jobs.
In compliance with the NLC directive, Adeyanju said the two weeks ultimatum will begin from Monday, March 6th, 2023.
“Thank you for giving us the support and I want to confirm here that the ultimatum will start from Monday, March 6, 2023. If the government fails to respond, we will shut down the port,” he said.
Adeyanju also asked the transport minister to explain who has the responsibility of reviewing the port concession agreement.
“We are also asking the Minister of Transportation to come and explain who is regulating terminal operators because workers welfare is very important. The contract of the terminal operators has long expired and has not been renewed by the authorities. This has put the fate of our members in a state of uncertainty and unwarranted suffering. We therefore seek your intervention,” he said.