In this interview with our correspondent DAPO OLAWUNI, President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju has said that the union is setting up an inspectorate to look into dockworkers mortality at various port terminals owing to the fact that many of them are not well kitted by terminal operators and stevedoring contractors.
He also gave an update on the lingering faceoff between the union and the International Oil Companies (IOC) over the latter’s refusal to pay dockworkers wages.
Q. How can we reduce dockworkers casualties at Nigerian ports? We heard some of them are not well kitted
Q. The dockworker that died recently, what is the compensation for his family?
Q. A dockworker was recently arrested at a terminal in Apapa for attempting to smuggle Tramadol, is that they are not well paid?
You cannot expect all the twelve children you have to behave in the same way, even if they are well paid, some of them will still misbehave, you cannot tell me that it is because he is not well paid that made him got involved in pilfering, as a dockworker, you are to do your work and get out, they are well paid, you are aware of what we got for them recently, and we are going for another one to review their salary upward by next year, it is done every two years.
I think we still need to commend the management of NIMASA, you know that if you are dealing with some of these powerful business men who believes that they just want to make their money and go, you find it difficult to put them on the table. However, what I heard about four days ago is that they have reconvened that NJIC for the seafarers, the unions have signed their part of the agreement, it is the shipowners that have refused to sign part of their own, now they are trying to review some of the aspect the shipowners were kicking against, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is give and take, and it is about negotiations and discipline. If they agree then we would sign the agreement.
They cannot be reluctant to obey the law of the land, God has established this country, you cannot flout it, just like the IOC’s, you are making a hell of money in this country and you don’t want to engage the services of Nigerian dockworkers while the law has asked you to engage us, so why are you denying us, are you telling me there is no revenue leakage? Even before the emergence of the IOCs in this country, we have had stevedoring contractors and we have dockworkers and we have been doing the job, so they should go and pay what belongs to dockworkers.
I think there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are waiting for the meeting to be convened by the Ministry of Transportation, the last time during the striking period, I was called, they pleaded with us to suspend the strike action and that they are on top of it. This meeting is going to be for all stakeholders involved, the IOC, the terminal operators, the NIMASA, the Shippers Council and the NPA who happens to be the principal stevedore in charge of awarding the contract, so we are waiting for them.
Q. Cumulatively, can you tell us the amount of money involved?
I am not working in the finance department of NPA, so there is no way that I can tell you the amount involved, the only authority that can tell you about this figure is the Nigerian Ports Authority who knows that the revenue is leaking somewhere and somebody is seating on it for couple of years, they are the ones to tell the whole world, it is not for me as a union who is protecting the welfare of my members.
Very soon we are going to set up the management team that will manage the company that we have registered, the certificates are with us already, we have registered on export, stevedoring, manning agent and so many things that has to do with maritime operations, so very soon we would set up the management team that will kick start the operations.
I am 100% optimistic, because if we have been having it in the past, by now the management of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, the way people see us is that we are the most buoyant union, they don’t know that we only trade on human being, we trade on 2% which is nothing, the workers are being downsized, the economy is not moving. If you go to ENL terminal now, unlike in the past when we had vessels coming in and discharging cargoes, now they hardly work on four vessels in a month, this is affecting our members and the Union as well, this is why we felt that we should go into business that will augment what we met on ground so that we would not be relying on 2% that has nothing to do with the system.
I think this has to do with the road repairs going on at the port, if you go to Tin Can port now, a lot of activities are ongoing. But as a responsible Nigerian, it is wrong for you to park your trucks on the road when you know that government has commenced repair works, they should look for a place to put the trucks while the project is going on, but Nigerians don’t comply until you use force on them
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