By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) in collaboration with its international affiliate; International Transport Federation (ITF) yesterday launched the distribution of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to seafarers all over Nigerian ports.
President General of the union, Comrade Abdulwaheed Adewale Adeyanju said the distribution is coming in commemoration of the seafarers day celebrations 2020.
He described seafarers as essential workers, saying that despite the alarming spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, they continue to expose themselves by providing essential services and ensuring that economies keep running.
At the ceremony which held in Apapa Lagos, Comrade Adeyanju called on the apex mariime regulatory agency in Nigeria; the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and shipowners to ensure that COVID-19 incentives are added to the salaries of the seafarers.
“The seafarers have contributed immensely to the growth of this nation, and we are asking that they should be given palliative incentives to cushion the effect of their suffering onboard the vessel.
“A seafarer that is supposed to be with his family every three months but he is unable to, there must be something given to him to cushion the effect, so the incentives should be added to their wages because, all over the world now, the seafarers are floating prisoners, this is because they have been onboard the vessel at sea for five months or more, and only God is taking care of them”
“We are equally charging NIMASA as the regulatory agent to talk to all the employers of labour to ensure that this incentives are given to all seafarers across Nigeria” he said
On the lack of crew change for seafarers globally due to the COVID-19, the MWUN PG said the union is ontop of the situation. He said NIMASA recently issued a Marine Notice to all stakeholders and this has taken care of the Crew Change for seafarers in Nigeria.
In addition to this, an implementation monitoring committee has been set with the union executives to go round and meet with all the employers of labour to ensure the Marine Notice is being complied with.
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that the ITF recently encouraged seafarers globally to stop work and go home if their employers refuse to effect crew change.
Comrade Adeyanju warned that as affiliate of the ITF, if the Nigerian shipowners and seafarers employers fail to comply with the crew change, the union would not hesitate to withdraw its members from vessels.
“We are affiliated with ITF, so whatever directive is coming from there, we have to abide with it, but if the indigenous shipowners are not complying with the ITF directive concerning crew Change, then we would have to support our affiliate and go on strike” he said
The event marked the second phase of the MWUN sensitisation programme involving the distribution of safety palliatives to seafarers including hand sanitizers, hand gloves, face masks, infrared thermometers among others.
Comrade Adeyanju assured that the items would be distributed at all Nigerian ports starting with Lagos ports, and moving on to other ports including Calabar, Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne, Bonny among others.
He said the programme was made possible through the collaboration of ITF who provided counterpart funding. He specifically appreciated the ITF General Secretary, Bro Steve Cotton for the support to Nigerian seafarers.