By DAPO OLAWUNI
Fresh indications have emerged that despite the collection of huge demurrages and containers deposits, shipping companies operating at Nigerian ports have been accused of poor remuneration of their workers.
President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND NEWS at the weekend berated the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) for poor remuneration packages for Nigerian workers and being insensitive to plight of port users.
The unionist warned that the union would no longer fold its arms and watch shipping companies turn Nigerian roads into their holding bays, collect huge demurrages on empty containers and divert all these monies to their parent countries.
Adeyanju said the association of shipping companies in Nigeria ASLA, previously known as Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) has gone to sleep and that there is nobody for the union to interact with in negotiating a better remuneration for her workers.
He said that of all the branches of MWUN, the Shipping Branch which comprises of shipping company workers do not have a minimum standard in their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the union is desirous of instituting a new minimum wage for her shipping branch.
According to him “A lot is going on at the shipping branch of the Maritime Workers Union, the welfare of the workers is nothing to write home about, a staff can be in the same position for ten to fifteen years”
“If a staff is retiring home after putting in 35years, and your basic salary still remains N30,000, what happens? There are bigger shipping companies, the bigger the better for the workers, the smaller they are, the lower salary for workers”
“What we are saying is that they should have a body, they had a body in the past which is the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) where are they now? Are they visible? Who is controlling them or managing them? The likes of Pa Val Usifo was the middle man between the shipping companies and the union and the workers, but this is no longer working, so who is government talking to?”
“The terminal operators have a body known as STOAN whose activities is being midwife by NPA and NIMASA as Chairman of the Chairman of National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) If anything happens to the dockworkers now, we know where to direct the problems to”
“With all the monies the shipping companies are collecting, their workers are not being treated well, every year, they only add N1000 to the salary.
We are talking about if somebody retires today, what does he take home?”
“They also have a CBA, but we are saying that they should have a minimum standard, we want a body we can talk to if there are any issue”
“The shipping companies workers are not well remunerated, the shipping companies are even into outsourcing which is against the rule, they do this riding on the back of terminal operators.
We have identified those that are culpable, we have done our investigation, there is a lot of slave labor going on in shipping companies”
“They are not building holding bays, they benefit from empty containers littering the roads, and collecting huge demurrages, all these amounts to capital flight” he lamented
Comrade Adeyanju reiterated that shipping companies cannot turn Nigerian roads into an holding bay, even as he observed that some of the terminal operators are the owners of the shipping companies.
“For example we have Lagos and Niger Shipping which belongs to TICT, Five Star Logistics own Comet Shipping, PTML owns Grimaldi Shipping, they are husband and wife, the shipping companies ride on the back of the terminal operators to perpetrate all these anomalies”
“The master plan of NPA is no longer feasible because the port has been decentralized by concessioning it to private operators, in those days you cannot bring empty containers when we are still discharging a vessel, it is after discharging that empties can come in” he said