Dockworkers yesterday waited for severance hours for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to commence payment of their severance packages as promised by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) but surprisingly the NPA never showed up.
The NPA Sports Ground in Bode Thomas, Lagos was packed full with thousands of dockworkers, some of them were sick, aged men and women who were sacked by NPA four years ago, hoping to get their benefits, but many of them left the venue without transportation back home.
The workers after getting information that NPA planned to pay them N400,000 each, lamented that the money was too poor.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, some of them alleged that the union and NPA have also padded the list of verified dockworkers to benefit from the payment as the verification exercise did not carry along the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) who has the authentic register of dockworkers.
Some of them who spoke are;
Uduak Monday Umoh with Longshore Stevedores
We are today to collect our cheque of N400,000 according to MWUN President, Mr Adeyanju, I don’t know why the money should be N400,000, I have been in the system from 2006 till date and I believe the money should be more than that, I don’t know where the mix up is coming from but I believe something is wrong somewhere. The MWUN that is supposed to fight for the benefit of the workers are busy fighting for themselves, the union that supposed to stand for the poor masses are enriching themselves. We have been in this matter since 2015, in Longshore Stevedores alone, we have lost over 50 people because they could not pay for their house rent, they could not afford medical treatment or feed their family, many that are here today do not have houses, their wives and children have left them, as a result of that, some who have grown up daughters have pushed their daughters to prostitution. N400,000 today cannot sponsors a child in University, it cannot buy a plot of land, it cannot feed you for even one year, after serving the country for several years working at the port day and night.
We have ghost workers among us here, only 1,600 workers are authentic registered by NIMASA, but the ghost workers were also verified and given the paper, today we are expecting to see more than 3000 dockworkers here. The verification was done without without carrying NIMASA along, it is only NIMASA that has the authentic list of dockworkers.
Emmanuel Adewale Adegbite from Blue Ocean, Tin Can Island Port
Many of us are on sick bed without any salary or helper, the union cannot tell us that they don’t have money to help us even if NPA have not paid us. More than one year after we have done our verification, they asked us to assemble here, since morning I have not eaten, I borrowed money to get down here, many of us here are sick.
Comrade Henry Ladipo
It is the union that asked us to come here today, and they supposed to have been informing us about the progress between them and the NPA. For the past few years now, we don’t know who is delaying us, either it is the NPA or the union. We have been here since 5am, they said NPA supposed to pay us today but we have not seen anything, many of us came as far as Ikorodu because of this process, nobody has communicated with us, many of us here are old, some are under medication but they have not eaten since morning. I started this job in 1963, this is the only job I have been doing, we have suffered a lot and now they want to give us N400,000, many of us have spent 20 years before we were disengaged, how can we live with N400,000 for the rest of our lives?
Comrade Paul Nwokoro
Since 1964, the NPA has been using the tally clerks as hire and fire, they have turned us to casuals in this country, they use us as renting, they collect money in dollars and pay us in Naira, what we are expecting to get from NPA from that 2015 till date should not be less than N15 Million. The union represented us, they fought hard, but to us it is not a reasonable fight, when you say you are fighting for the interest of somebody, you need to come closer and talk to the person.
Recall that the President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju had announced at the weekend that the NPA would commence payment of severance packages to Tally Clerks and On-board ship Gangway Security men who were disengaged from service in year 2015 yesterday.
In a statement sent by the union to DAILY TREND NEWS, Comrade Adeyanju said the union has fought hard for the workers to get their benefits at last.
He expressed appreciation to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, as well as the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman for their unrelenting efforts in ensuring the workers get paid.