By DAPO OLAWUNI
The President, Seamen /Water Transport/NIWA Branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Sunday Avoseh has said that the union has been able to raise the bar on wages and salaries of Nigerian seafarers by securing new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with shipowners.
Comrade Avoseh stated this in a chat with DAILY TREND NEWS at the end of the union’s election of district chairmen and other officials held in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to him, an Ordinary Seaman (OS) today earns not less than N250,000 in some companies, adding that the Union have also been able to raise salary of a Boson to over N400,000.
He lamented that the Dollar exchange rate to the Nigerian Naira has further constrained the Nigerian shipowners from paying international rate of salaries to their workers.
“We have some companies that are actually paying higher than the ITF rate, specifically NLNG, all our crew with the company earn salaries higher than ITF rate as at today.
“The truth is that we are all aware of the exchange rate today, it is making the shipowners run away from anything international rate for now. But I must tell you that all the companies that are with us and unionised, none of them is paying slavery wage to seafarers.
“There is still slavery wage in the country, but this is traceable to companies that are hiding and not doing the right thing.
“But for those of them that knows their onion and are willing to do the right thing, I can say that the welfare package, in terms of Collective Bargaining Agreements with companies have been very fantastic, at least, its something to write home about.
“We are not there yet, there is still room for improvement, but it’s not that bad, at least under our watch, we have been able to raise the bar of seafarers salaries, an Ordinary Sailor (OS) earns N250,000 in some companies, we have also been able to raise a Boson earning over N400,000, this was not the case before now” he said
Comrade Avoseh commended the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) saying that in recent time, NIMASA has been up and doing, because through them, the union has been able to drag so many shipping companies who hitherto were running away from being unionised, to the negotiation table.
“We have also been able to discuss with NIMASA that the condition of service should be one of the checklist when inspectors go onboard.
About four companies have been brought to the table including Sea Transport, Awarise etc.
“Another challenge we are having is that most of the handlers of the company do not understand that
Seafaring is an international profession, and the standard is international, and we are regulated both by international and local regulations”
He said one of the charge given to the newly elected district chairmen yesterday was to ensure that the remaining companies are unionised, adding that it is their responsibility as the grassroots officers.
Earlier, the election which was witnessed by the President General of the union, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju produced Com. Aikhomu Lawrence as chairman, Seafarers District One; Com. Bashir Bala Saidu, chairman, Industrial District; Com. Paul Ngwan, Chairman, Commercial Private Boat District and Com. Reuben Erujaroh as Chairman, Seafarers District Two respectively.
The election which took place at the Union’s secretariat Annex, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Jetty, Phase 1, on Wednesday, saw all the officials emerge unopposed.
Other officials were also elected into various leadership positions in the four districts under the branch.
They are, Seafarers District One: Oyinsi Monye, Vice Chairman; A. A. Lawal Secretary; Rahamon Waheed – Asst. Secretary; Ben Sunday, Treasurer; Com. Eno Archibong, NEC (National Executive Council); Badmus Dectan Smart as Female Rep. and Alao Olaitan, Org. Sec. Appointed.
Industrial District: Josiah Azubuike, Vice Chairman; Uviesherhe Oyoma as Secretary; Henry Ejeta, Asst. Secretary; Stella E. Nduka, Treasurer; Esther Udueyin, Female Rep. and Akpan Amos for NEC.
Commercial Private Boat District: Stephen Zoko, Vice Chairman; Owolabi Omotayo, Secretary; Tunde Orofin, Asst. Secretary; Osaweren Ogheneviuoke Larry, Treasurer; Roseline Onu, Female Rep. and Edamisan Ipinsokan for NEC.
Seafarers District Two: Stephen Ezekiel, Vice Chairman; Tuesday Ibeabuchi, Secretary; Elibe Christopher, Asst. Secretary; Monday Inarhe, Treasurer; Com. Ajibaye Iyabo, Female Rep. and Okoro Joseph for NEC.