… Express Skepticism Over Shippers Council Involvement in Port Concession Review
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has rejected the recent increment in the salary of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) workers describing it as a fraud, even as they demanded the template used by NPA to compute the increment.
The workers have also expressed skepticism in the recent directive by the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo that NPA should involve Nigerian Shippers Council in the review of port concession agreement review.
These positions were expressed on Friday when the President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero paid a working visit to the headquarters of MWUN in Olodi Apapa, Lagos.
The NLC President stated that after 18-years salary stagnation, what NPA has just done is giving the workers a dash or a bonus, and that it cannot be equated to salary increment.
Recall that MWUN had last year raised an alarm that salaries of workers of NPA was not increased for the past eighteen years, a development which prompted the Ministry of Transportation to approve an increment.
However, the NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero while speaking observed that the cost of living in the past eighteen years has increased astronomically, compared to the increment NPA carried out.
“If they should increase salary after eighteen years and there is no template for it’s implementation, it is fraud, and it is confusing, they have to come out with the template.
“Some people will tell you that they have increased salary by adding N2,000 on workers or N1,000, this is an increase but it doesn’t follow the due process.
“If they have increased the salary, what they just did is an award and a bonus, let the MWUN write NPA for us to negotiate salary, the NPA just dash us money, we would write them and thank them for the money, but they should come to the table and let’s negotiate”
Comrade Ajaero also directed the MWUN to issue a two-weeks ultimatum to the Ministry of Transportation to restore the presence of on-board ship gangway men and tally Clerks, saying that it is statutory in port operations.
He also asked that MWUN in the letter should demand who should be in charge of regulating terminal operators and Shipping Companies in order to avoid double taxation.
“The MWUN should articulate all these challenges to the Ministry of Transportation, give them two weeks ultimatum from now, nobody would accuse you of not being patient for the past two years
“Nobody should toil with issues that concerns workers, I as NLC President, I have no sympathy on this matter, that somebody is toying with interest of the workers.
“When you have written them the letter, shutdown the ports all over the country, we are saying it openly that, for refusing to engage the union for two years, let the ministry of Transportation and Labor do their work. We are ready to give you solidarity action until this is obeyed, they have acted illegally and we cannot be legal with them, every illegal action requires an illegal response” Comrade Ajaero stated
Speaking earlier, President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju highlighted major challenges confronting the maritime workers, states that 13,000 job losses were recorded during port concession of 2006.
According to him “Terminal Operators by now should have renewed their concession agreement, but recently we heard the Minister of Transportation challenging NPA of not giving Shippers Council a chance to be part of the review
“Multiple regulatory agencies coming up, where is the fate of workers of NPA and other workers in the sector. The government should come out and tell us who is in charge of the terminal operators, is it Shippers Council, NPA or NIMASA
“However, we believe the NPA is the agency that regulates the terminal operators, but now that government is bringing in Shippers Council, we are worried and NPA workers are equally worried on what should be their fate” he said
While articulating the various challenges, he listed them to include;
1. IOC’s BLATANT REFUSAL TO OBEY GOVERNMENT MARINE NOTICE 106 OF 2014 AND EXTANT STEVEDORING REGULATIONS;
2. REFUSAL TO PAY AGED SEAFARERS MONTHLY PENSION INSPITE OF COURT RULING.
The issue of payment of PENSION to AGED SEAFARERS in compliance with a subsisting court order is one we recommend for your urgent attention and to be prioritized. The issue has lingered for too long in spite of a subsisting court ruling which demands that they be paid pension,
3. RESTORATION OF REGISTERED ONBOARD SHIP GANGWAY
SECURITY AND TALLY MEN = (POOLING SYSTEM).
The presence of on board ship gangway men and tally clerks in port operation Is statutory. This is supported by the dock labour rule of 1967, the National dock labour board established by decree No. 13 of 1979, the Maritime Labour Act, 2003, part ix, this position is further supported by the NIMASA Act, Part Vil = Maritime labour.
On this note, MWUN had earlier forwarded a letter dated 5″ August, 2021 to the honourable minister of Transportation to demand for restoration of the POOL SYSTEM for registered on board gangway security men and tally men we believe it is receiving attention.
4, ADDRESS THE NEED TO AWAKEN THE DREDGING OF CALABAR, WARRI AND PORTHARCOURT PORTS.
5. ISSUANCE OF SEAFARERS IDENTITY DOCUMENTS (S.1.D) TO SEAFARERS.
6. NEED TO ENSURE THAT A MINIMUM STANDARD CONDITION OF SERVICE 1S PUT IN PLACE FOR OUR MEMBERS IN THE SHIPPING SECTOR AS IS THE PRACTICE FOR THE NIGERIAN PORTS AUTHORITY, DOCK LABOUR AND SEAFARERS.
7, WE WISH TO INFORM YOU SIR, THAT THE CONTRACT OF THE TERMINAL OPERATORS HAS LONG EXPIRED AND HAS NOT BEEN RENEWED BY THE AUTHORITIES. THIS HAS PUT THE FATE OF OUR MEMBERS IN A STATE OF UNCERTAINTY AND UNWARRANTED SUFFERING. WE THEREFORE SEEK YOUR INTERVENTION.