Covid-19: Fresh Strike Looms at Seaports over Arrest of Dockworkers in Rivers

Covid-19: Fresh Strike Looms at Seaports over Arrest of Dockworkers in Rivers

Abiola Seun & Segun Oladipupo


The nation’s seaports is set to experience another round of strike action as the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued 48 hours ultimatum to shut down operation over arrest of 20 dockworkers by the governor of River state, Nyesom Wike.

The union had stated that the shutdown will start on Wednesday if the Rivers State Government fails to release members of the dockworkers branch arrested on their way to the port.

It was gathered that 20 dockworkers were recently arrested by Governor Nyesom Wike over directive of the COVID19 lockdown.

The union also called on the Minister of Transport, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and other well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on Governor Wike to immediately release its members and the staff bus which was also impounded.

The union in a statement signed by the President-General of MWUN, Com. Adewale Adeyanju, described the arrest as unlawful saying the workers are providing essential services to the nation’s economic sustainability.

Adeyanju said, “We wish to use this medium to state that if in the next forty-eight (48) hours starting from Monday 11th May 2020, nothing is done to effect the release of our members, the union will have no option but to withdraw our services in the entire nation’s seaport, terminals and jetties in solidarity with our detained members as an injury to one is an injury to all.”

The statement read further: “The leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has received with shock and disbelief the arrest of over 20 dockworkers and that their whereabouts cannot be accounted for by the Rivers State Government on Saturday (May 9) on their way home after the day’s job.

“We were informed that the affected Dockworkers were returning from essential service operations to BUA/PTOL terminal, Port Harcourt and were unlawfully and forcefully arrested, and detained by Rivers State Taskforce on enforcing COVID-19 lockdown.

“All entreaties/explanation made by our members to the task force team led by the Governor Nyesom Wike, that they were on essential services fell on deaf ears although they presented duly signed ‘Essential Duty Port Pass’ issued by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA).

“Instead, the governor mocked them that they should go to Abuja and work.

“Consequent to the above, most terminal operators, shipping companies and port users in Port Harcourt port are closing down shop as a direct result of the unsavoury activities of the Rivers State government for not allowing port workers and other stakeholders to work.

“This has direct implication to the nation’s economy and a clear threat to the employment and job security of port workers including dockworkers and shipping companies’ employees.

“As direct consequences of governor Wike’s action, some terminal operators have closed down their operations till further notice leading to loss of jobs by Nigerians and dock workers.”

The union added: “Consequent to the above, we call on President Buhari, the Minister of Transport – Mr Chibuike Amaechi Rotimi and other well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on Governor Wike to immediately release our members – dock workers and others were arrested and their staff bus impounded on Saturday 9th May 2020 while on their way home having rounded off the day’s work.

“Already, there is restiveness in the entire ports across the country and this appeal to release the arrested workers is to douse the rising tension in the ports which could snowball into full-scale industrial unrest if not quickly apprehended now.”

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