Maritime workers threaten to shut down ports over unpaid stevedoring wages 

Dapo Olawuni/Abiola Seun     |       

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued a 14- day ultimatum to the Federal Government to prevail on International Oil Companies operating in the country to pay stevedoring contractors appointed by the Nigerian Port Authority Stevedoring charges due to dockworkers at the nation’s ports.

The union in a statement made available to journalists in Lagos on Thursday, threatened that if after 14 days the government fails to prevail on the IOCs, its members would withdraw their services and all seaports nationwide will be shut.

The statement signed by the President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju and Secretary General, Felix Akingboye, said despite several meetings between NPA and the IOCs to grant access to the stevedoring contractors, process their invoices and effect payment, the operators have refused to comply with the NPA directive one year after the stevedoring contractors were appointed.

The union said it can no longer continue to watch it members die prematurely because of the defiant attitude of the IOCs.

According to the statement, “We are aware that on 1st June 2018, the NPA appointed stevedoring contractors to provide stevedoring services at various off –shore, jetties and on-shore locations to the International oil services and other operators.

“We commend the Managing Director of NPA for the effort NPA management has made to compel the IOCs to engage the services of appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers in their stevedoring operations. But, unfortunately, the operators have refused to comply with the NPA directive after one year that the stevedoring contractors were appointed.

“The position of the operators on the NPA directive is worrisome and very surprising because the same operators had processed and paid the former stevedoring contractors since 2010 through a foremost terminal operator. So, why are they refusing to cooperate with the newly appointed stevedoring contractors since the modus operandi remains the same?

“In fact, at a stakeholders meeting held on February 28th, 2018, organised by NPA to sensitize the IOCs, jetty owners and terminal owners, the NPA management made it clear that in line with section 27 of the NIMASA Act, 2007, only government appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers are empowered by law to solely handle discharge and loading operations at the port, jetties and oil platforms.

“The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria has been monitoring the chain of events on this matter since the last one year, and noted that the implication of the operators defiant attitude amongst others is untimely death of some dock workers while awaiting the payment of their wages, because they could not meet their family obligations like payment of house rent, children school fees and hospital bills, to mention but few.

“Consequently, we are constrained to give the Ministry of Transportation that superintends the appointment of stevedores’ 14- day ultimatum to prevail on the management of the International Oil Companies to pay all outstanding bills to our members, failure of which we will be compelled to withdraw our services and shut down operations in all the nations’ seaport.”

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