By DAPO OLAWUNI
The two house unions in the Nigerian maritime industry; the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government Owned Companies (Maritime Branch)-SSASCGOC have rejected in its entirety, the Ports and Harbour Bill currently being deliberated upon by the National Assembly.
The Bill seeks to repeal the Act that sets up the Nigerian Ports
The unions argued that the Ports and Harbour Bill as being proposed, if passed into law will render the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) employees jobless and endanger the productivity of other port users.
At a joint press conference held in Apapa Lagos Lagos on Monday, the both unions, represented by Comrade Adewale Adeyanju for MWUN, and his NPA counterpart, Comrade Akinola Bodunde alleged an attempt to sneak-in the Bill into Legislation through the back door.
According to them, the Bill which was earlier initiated by an Honourable member of the 8th national assembly was squashed from becoming law through the Intervention of well-meaning Nigerians, stakeholders and the efforts of the two in -house unions who mutually and strongly affirmed their opposition towards the proposed hellish Bill.
“We wish to note that this said Bill if allowed to be passed into law will have far reaching grave consequences on the security of the nation as it will cede harbour, jetty and terminal operations into private hands”
“We are therefore not surprised that the bill is being vigorously sponsored by certain unpatriotic individuals within the maritime sector, who are hell bent on appropriating our common wealth and cornering same into the lining of their individual pockets and that of their cronies.
“We would have thought that given our persistent cry and various notices pointing to the deplorable state of our various nation’s seaports, decrepit state of port access roads, collapsing quay aprons, and the general failure of infrastructures within our ports, the focus of this 10 National Assembly would have been to find solutions to the myriad of problems bedeviling our ports, terminals, Jetties and Oil and Gas platforms and even the need to dredge all the ports particularly Calabar, Warri, Onne etc for increased efficiency; AND not to clandestinely and recklessly seek to misappropriate public infrastructure through unfriendly legislation for the benefit of individuals whose only interest is capital accumulation and not the general public good of all.
“We are even further surprised that the sponsors of this bill outrightly ignored our demand to call the International Oil Companies (IOCS) operating in our sovereign territorial economic zones, who have snobbishly refused to obey our extant maritime regulations, standards and laws to order but, find it expedient to sit in the comfort of their hallowed chambers to push for laws that will be detrimental and inimical to the welfare and wellbeing of the working class, Nigerians and our nation’ security and sovereignty.
“The Joint House Unions’, MWUN & SSACGOC use this medium to convey our believe to the Executive, National Assembly and the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy that this is certainly not the right way to go as this ploy by these selfish individuals in the maritime sector will cause chaos and anarchy in the industry which has enjoyed sustained peace since the idea of projecting the harsh Bill was killed in 2018 will not be allowed to come to fruition” it stated
According to the unions, a sneak peak into a copy of the Bill has revealed that it provides wholly, employments that will not be pensionable as well as not transferable and without access to terminal benefits.
“This is the height of inconsideration by the proponents of the Bill to the right
of workers to the necessary payment for services rendered by a worker, in accordance to known law, industrial relations practice, equity and good conscience.
“It is our believe that allowing this Bill to be passed into law will
effectively institutionalize the evil concept of casualization of workers and as well negate the provisions of the Pension reform Act 2004 as amended. This is in direct contrast to the avowed promises of Mr. President-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR to ensure the provision
of about 5 million jobs for Nigerians through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
“Having said this, We, the two in-house unions in the maritime sector -MWUN & SSASCGOC, will not fold our hands or rest on our oars and allow few unpatriotic Nigerians within the industry to rip-off the Nation’s common wealth and render OUR sector unproductive via this infamous
Bill that will only create poverty, hopelessness, hunger and generate avid bitterness amongst the already impoverished workers and Nigeria
Consequently, we confirm our absolute vote of confidence on the Nigerian Ports Authority ACT as it currently relates to the Nigerian state and the well-being of the workers in the sector and we will vehemently RESIST all attempts to push this hellish bill further. WE THEREFORE
DEMAND FOR ITS WITHDRAWAL IN ITS ENTIRETY with the laid down laws” it vowed