…Issues 21-days Ultimatum to Shipping Companies
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has entered into a partnership with leading asset management company; ARM Pensions in order to improve the welfare and living conditions of Nigerian maritime workers.
At a sensitization meeting held at the MWUN Secretariat in Apapa Lagos yesterday, its President General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju issued a 21-days notice to all shipping companies operating at Nigerian ports on the need to increase the salaries of their workers or face the wrath of the union.
Representatives of ARM Pensions at the sensitization took time to educate the workers on how to open various savings plan with the company in other to get something to retire back on after years of work.
The scheme was widely accepted and commended by the presidents of four branches of the union namely the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) branch, Shipping Branch, Dockworkers Branch and Seafarers Branch.
Comrade Adeyanju described the savings scheme as the workers individual arrangement that does not concern their employers yet.
He said “I believe the scheme would help maritime workers as a whole, it is a scheme I believed in, and I know it is going to work, we have commenced.
We want to start with the executives first before it is extended to the least workers, the unit and district executives, after this we would bring in the general workers, it is an individual contribution”
“This scheme involves all the four branches of MWUN, by next year, we are going to involve all the stakeholders to support the maritime workers, if we had this in the past, the issue of paying somebody N400,000 would not arise”
“The scheme is outside their gratuity, it is to support their life, it is an individual contribution, but the idea of bringing in the employers would come later”
Recall that Comrade Adeyanju after assuming position as President General of MWUN has demonstrated his commitment to maritime workers welfare, introduced several welfare packages to improve dockworkers welfare, especially the signing of the popular Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with terminal operators, stevedoring companies and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which ultimately increased the salaries of dockworkers.
Speaking on this, Comrade Adeyanju said “When I came onboard, I have introduced welfare packages and gone into some ventures that would add value to the workers, I have registered a company called Maritime Haulage and Stevedoring Business, we are into a corporative scheme which is hundred percent ongoing, we are going into export business as well, all these are part of the dreams I have”
“If the maritime workers are leaving work today, unlike what it was before where they get paid N200,000, it is no longer the case, the workers have gotten their CBA, they are pensionable, they have their terminal benefits and gratuity, to add to it, the dockworkers scheme with ARM Pensions is another way of encouraging them to have something to retire back to, this is what brought about the peace the association is enjoying today”
Meanwhile, the MWUN PG has raised an alarm that unlike the terminal operators, shipping companies salaries to their workers is nothing to write home about.
According to him, most of the shipping companies are making money out of Nigerians, they have turned the road to holding bay, and are to be blamed for the traffic gridlock at the ports, they are making so much money while their workers are not well paid.
MWUN, in a letter dated February 26th2020 and addressed to the Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), expressed disappointment that since May 2019 that the union requested for a meeting with the association to negotiate for an upward review of the overdue terminal benefits currently being paid to workers, there had been no response.
The letter signed by the union’s Secretary General, Felix Akingboye, a copy of which was made available to pressmen said the stance of the shipping companies to the issue is an indication of the level of contempt it has for the union and lack of regard for workers welfare.
According to the union, “In our letter under reference, proposal was made for a meeting of your association and the union to hold between 10th to 14th June 2019 with a view to reviewing the overdue terminal benefits currently being paid to workers but up till now, you have not found it necessary to dignify us with response.
“This is not an attitude that encourages cordial industrial relationship. It is rather an indication of the level of contempt at which you hold the union and the little regard you have for workers welfare.
“The terminal benefits (Industry Condition of Service) currently being paid in the shipping industry was negotiated and became effective in the year 2008, a decade ago.
“Since you have decided to treat our request with levity, I have been directed to issue your association 21 days notice effective from the date of this letter within which you are expected to convey a meeting with the union for the purpose of reviewing upward the terminal benefits payable to workers at their point of exit.”
The union also demanded that the shipping companies evacuate all empty containers parked indiscriminately and fuelling traffic gridlock on the port access roads.
“We also demand that you evacuate all your empty containers that are parked indiscriminately causing the gridlock on the access road to the ports,”