By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has urged Nigerian seafarers to come up with names shipping companies and manning agents allegedly forcing them to pay checkoff dues even when they are not part of any union.
This is coming on the heels of allegations raised by Nigerian seafarers to that their salaries were being deducted forcefully by shipping companies and manning agents as checkoff dues for the various seafarers unions.
They alleged that the monies are being deducted forcefully, regardless of whether you are a member of the union or not.
Addressing the allegation in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS, President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Abdulwaheed Adeyanju said it is totally unacceptable to deduct checkoff dues from seafarers who do not belong to any union.
Adeyanju said the seafarers making the allegations should be bold enough to come up with names of shipping companies and manning agents perpetrating this act, and which of the union is collecting the money.
“Seafarers cannot say they are being forced to pay check off dues when the law is very clear, there is what we call voluntary belonging, if you don’t belong to a union, nobody can force you to pay check off dues”
“I don’t think the seafarers branch of MWUN would force somebody that is not our member to pay check off dues, if you are not a member, then why are you paying check off dues?”
He lamented the proliferation of seafarers associations in the sector, saying that there are now multiple splinter groups that call themselves seafarers, though there is freedom of association.
“Union cannot connive with shipping companies to force seafarers to pay or not to be employed, this is not our union, I trust the seafarers President and his executives.
Whoever is doing that is doing it at his own peril”
“People should come out and mention instances and shipping companies forcing them to pay.
The people concerned should come out, they should not be hiding under fabricated reports that they are being forced through the shipping companies”
“We have the manning agents who crews the ship, so if the checkoff dues is going to be deducted, it would be done through the manning agents and not even the shipping companies” Adeyanju said
Recall that the Secretary General of Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria (MESAN) Capt Alfred Oniye in a chat with our correspondent recently said the association is already aware of the illegal deductions and is currently looking into some of the cases to ensure that all the monies that the unions have collected is refunded back.
He said “We are already collating the cases, we cannot imagine that seafarers would be out there working and somebody will seat down inside the air-conditioning to start deducting from their salaries when they are not even your members”
“The law says that you can only collect checkup dues from somebody who is your registered member, it is freedom of association, and you cannot force anybody to be a member of your union, it is by choice”
“Any company joining the union to deduct seafarers salaries would pay for it soon because it is a criminal offense.
There is no Act in this country that supersede the Human Right Law, freedom of association is your right, nobody can force you to associate or stop you from associating”
According to him, the agreement the seafarers have signed with the union is what the union use to present to the shipping company where they are working.
“All the monies they have been collecting, we are coming out with a case now and they have to cough it out”