By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has written the Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, informing him of a pending strike action that would paralyse the maritime sector over the refusal of International Oil Companies (IOC) to engage Nigerian dockworkers through registered stevedoring companies.
In the letter signed by President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba on 3rd March 2022, the union stated that the strike action would be embarked upon in solidarity with its affiliate union; the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN)
The union accused the IOC’s of flouting extant maritime laws in Nigeria especially the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NlMASAl Act, 2007, a Government Marine Notice No. 106, 2014 issued to stakeholders in the sector.
The Government Marine Notice 106 mandated all companies and persons engaged in stevedoring work including Dock Labour Employer and Private Operators of any work location including Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore Oil and Gas or Bonded Terminals, Inland Container Depots (lCDs), off Dock Terminal, Dry Ports and Platforms to engage stevedoring workers and companies to carry out the operations on their platforms and premises.
Government Marine Notice 106 is also in tandem with Article 3 (2) of International Labour Organization (ILO) Dock work Convention 137 which Nigeria ratified on the 22nd of March 2004.
“Unfortunately, while other operators in the sector have allowed registered stevedoring companies and dock workers access to their platforms and premises in compliance with the Marine Notice 106, International Oil Compames (lOCs) have been in willful disobedience to the directives contained in Government Marine Notice 106.
“The Honourable Minister may recall that the Maritme Workers Union of Nigeria had brought this matter to your esteemed attention a number of times and had even issued ultimatum for strike actions in the past including 3-day warning strike which was eventually suspended and I4-days Notice of Strike Action issued April 2021
“The Honourable Minister would also recall that at a meeting held on 30th June 2021 on this matter, the Honourable Minister directed the International Oil Companies to comply fully and Immediately within seven days with the provisions of Government Marine Notice 106.
“Sadly, till now, International Oil Companies have “arrogantly and with grand Impunity disregarded the Honourable Minister’s directives”
The NLC also noted that that fresh Notice of strike action for 1st of March 2022 was suspended following intervention of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) with the agreement that the IOC’S would comply within two weeks.
The union however told Amaechi in the letter that since the last meeting, the IOC’s have refused to sign the Agreement reached at the meeting.
The union urged Amaechi to intervene because, at the expiration of the two weeks, all maritime operations in Nigeria would be shutdown and this would have the full backing of the NLC.