By DAPO OLAWUNI
Shipping companies operating in Nigeria are travelling in murky waters over alleged anti-labour practices, even as the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued a seven days ultimatum starting from Thursday 17th of February 2023, for them to sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the workers or face withdrawal of services.
President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju stated this on Friday in a press conference at the union’s secretariat in Apapa.
He said that it is unfortunate that the employers of labour in the Shipping Companies are not ready to seat down with the union to negotiate the welfare package of the workers.
According to Comrade Adeyanju, where other branches under the union has an existing CBA with their employers, the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) are trying to dodge responsibility by asking the workers to go and discuss individually with their employers.
“What we are saying is that there should be a minimum standard for the shipping workers as obtainable with the dockworkers and seafarers.
“If you look at what is going on in the shipping companies, the workers are not well remunerated, and if anybody is going on retirement, it is like a death sentence, this is what I have been saying over the years, we have declared a state of emergency in the shipping sector, but this time around, we have said that enough is enough, we must have a minimum standard in the shipping sector
“The shipping companies are investors, they came to invest in Nigeria and the workers too should be empowered. They must improve in their remuneration of workers.
“This agreement is not a new thing that we are asking for negotiation, we have an existing agreement. Already we have the individual negotiations with individual workers and their employers, but we must have a body and a minimum standard as we have with other branches, they must establish a template
“We have been on this matter for the past four years and all the necessary regulatory agencies are well informed about it, including the Nigerian Shippers Council” he said
He added that the shipping companies are making so much money at the expense of Nigerian workers.
Also speaking, National Treasurer of MWUN, Comrade Uche Igweonu stated that at the end of the seven days ultimatum, the workers in the shipping sector would take destinies in their hands.
Speaking, Comrade Igweonu said “SAN is urged to create a minimum standard for the workers, but their position has been that they are not constituted to negotiate workers welfare. They are also saying that they would be more comfortable negotiating with the workers individually, this negates our agreement signed in 2009
“Before now, the shipping companies claimed that FCCPC has barred them from negotiating with us, and we asked them to confirm the core mandate of that agency. It appears they were only buying time, because they came back after two weeks to tell us that the mandate setting them up does not allow them to negotiate workers welfare.
“The question now is, who would now be responsible to negotiate workers welfare?
After the seven days ultimatum, the workers would decide to take destinies in their own hands” he said