By DAPO OLAWUNI
President, Shipping Branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Ekpeyong Ekpeyong has said that shipping manifests and other cargo statistics play a major role in the negotiations between the union, the shipping companies during signing of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)
Speaking with journalists in Lagos last week, Comrade Ekpeyong said the year 2021 has not been very bad for shipping workers in Nigeria, but that there is need for improvement on the part of employers.
According to him, Nigerian maritime workers are no longer labourers that can be hired and fired at will by their employers, they are now stakeholders in the businesses going on at the nation’s port.
“In shipping branch, we do CBA negotiations yearly while the dockworkers do their own every two years.
The economy and the exchange rate is changing, so we are factoring it into our agreements. Three months to the end of the year we submit another negotiations”
“So far so good it has served us well because Nigerian economy is not static.
Now we hear that next year, pump price of fuel would rise to N350 per litre, so we factor-in all these changes”
“We are worried about the proposed digitisation of the ports but we are prepared, when we reach the bridge we would cross it.
“The shipping branch are the ones that berth the ships, so, as far as vessels are still coming into the country we would be relevant, except the vessels are not coming.
Shipping companies bring the vessels and our members work on it”
“We look at the capacity and how much cargo the vessel brings. Our people who are in the offices and terminals get these statistics and shipping manifest, the basis of negotiating with you is how many cargo you imported”
“The capacity of ships and what they bring is what we use to negotiate with companies”
“If a shipping company is not doing well, we even tell the workers to be understanding with their employers because we have all the statistics.
The workers are like Oliver Twist but we as leaders are trained, no company would increase your welfare out of nothing, so we look at the performance of the companies and the ship calls”
“We have been diplomatic and spoken with our members to accomodate our employers because without them, there won’t be jobs for us.
“Our aim is not to close down companies, one thing is that if a union is too string, the companies would be closing down, and if a union is too weak, the workers would suffer, so we manage to ensure that as the company is growing, the workers are also growing”
“We are no longer the ones you carry as labourers, we are no longer labourers, we are stakeholders in the business that you are doing, so, as we give our own effort to push the business upwards, whatever is coming out from it should reflect on the lifes of the workers” he said