Despite complaints over the years by dockworkers and seafarers working at Nigerian ports over poor treatment by their employers, the shipping companies have denied the allegations and claimed ignorance of such maltreatment.
Recently, dockworkers and seafarers had cried out that their employers, the terminal operators, did not enlighten them on what to do especially now that Coronavirus is plaguing the world.
They claimed that sensitization on use of safety kits was not done by the terminal operators before boarding vessels. They maintained that even as their plea to Port Health to quarantine crew of foreign vessels before allowing dockworkers go on-board went on deaf ears.
The President General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju in a chat, vetted his anger over maltreatment being meted out to dockworkers.
He urged Port Health Service and the Port Quarantine to wake up to their responsibilities, saying that the level of awareness at the port is very low.
Adeyanju also added that terminal operators need to be up and doing by sensitizing their workers and management.
He lamented that up till now, terminal operators at Nigerian ports have not done any awareness for their staff and the dockworkers on how to prevent the Coronavirus.
“The seafarers on-board vessels at the port are coming from different countries; Asia, China, Singapore among other countries where the virus has spread to. What happens to the life of dockworkers in Nigeria? Where is the sensitization for the dockworkers and seafarers?
“We want to let the Nigerian Ports Authority know what we are going through as a union, we are inviting all our members in order to sensitize them.
“In order parts of the world, safety kits are already being worn by operators at every terminal, while dockworkers and even top management workers at the ports still don’t take necessary precautions,” he said.
Secondly, despite the huge amount of money being collected as demurrages and container deposits, shipping firms have been accused of poor remuneration of their workers.
Adeyanju also frowned at the way the Association of Shipping Line Agencies (ASLA) treats its employees.
He had said the poor remuneration package for Nigerian workers is as a result of the insensitivity of terminal operators and shipping firms to the plight of port users.
He hinted that the union would no longer fold its arms and watch shipping companies turn Nigerian roads into their holding bays, collect huge demurrages on empty containers and divert all these monies to their parent countries without doing anything to uplift living standard of dockworkers.
Adeyanju maintained that ASLA executive and members had gone to sleep and nobody to interact with towards negotiating a better remuneration for dockworkers.
“A lot is going on at the shipping branch of the Maritime Workers Union, the welfare of the workers is nothing to write home about, a staff can be in the same position for ten to fifteen years.
“If a staff is retiring home after putting in 35 years and your basic salary still remains N30,000, what happens? There are bigger shipping companies, the bigger the better for the workers, the smaller they are, the lower salary for workers”
“With all the monies the shipping companies are collecting, their workers are not being treated well,” Adeyanju lamented.
Meanwhile, the General Manager, PTML and President, ASLA, Mr. Babatunde Keshinro during a phone chat denied all the allegations by the dockworkers.
According to him; “I’m not aware of such. There is nothing like that at all”.
Edited by ‘Biodun Soyele
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