Maritime

MWUN/Shipping companies faceoff: Is the industrial action justifiable?

MWUN/Shipping Companies faceoff: Is the industrial action justifiable?

 

Baring any last minute change of min or intervention, the leaders and members of the Maritime Workers’Union of Nigeria (MWUN), will order ports and terminals, as well as oil and gas platforms nationwide to shut down from Monday, 5th June, 2023

The union had at different times issued and withdrawn ultimatums it issued due to failure of shipping companies to yield to its demands for negotiation of workers salaries in the sector.

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Comrade Adewale Adeyanju had severally described the wages and welfare packages of shipping workers as death sentence owing to its meagreness.

The threat by the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to shut down the ports across the nation over alleged lackadaisical attitude of Shipping companies in Nigeria may be justifiable afterall.

The issue with the shipping companies have lingered so much even as heads of maritime agencies especially the Nigerian Shippers’ Council among others have intervened without results.

In the light of this, many maritime agencies’ heads, past transportation ministers’ entreaties have failed to assuage the imbroglio,hence, the service withdrawal option.

To this end, MWUN President General, Adeyanju while speaking to journalists in the course of the week explicitly stated that the unwillingness of employers in the subsector to negotiate minimum standards and conditions of service for its members in the shipping sector, has left the union with no option than to withdraw services of all members nationwide with effect from Monday, June 5, 2023.

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The obvious unwillingness of the shipping employers to negotiate minimum standards and conditions of service for thier members in the Shipping industry will leave the workers’ union with no other option than to resuscitate the earlier 7-day ultimatum issued the shipping employers in the secto and will therefore order ports and terminals, as well as oil and gas platforms nationwide to shut down from Monday.

Responding to questions on the possibility of backing down again from the strike action if persuaded to do so by government agencies, Prince Adeyanju stated that there will be no going back unless steps are taken within the weekend towards addressing their demands.

“We are talking of death sentence in shipping industry as a result of poor remuneration. If you are paying higher, continue paying higher, so that people coming in will have a template to key into. Somebody retiring home will go home with something meaningful not sentencing him to death in the name of retirement.

“The workers here need to be remunerated, that is our position. If tomorrow, the Shippers’ Council who happens to be the mediator in this matter says the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN) has gotten mandate, the meeting continues. But if nothing happens between today and tomorrow, then on Monday, something will happen.

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“Why we have called this meeting is to let you know the shipping branch of The maritime workers of Nigeria may be forced to withdraw the services of their members as from Monday.

“We only suspended the ultimatum, and the way it is now, we need to review the ultimatum. We might be forced to withdraw the services of all the shipping workers and shipping branch of maritime workers of Nigeria.

“Not only that, the three arms of the branches: the Dockworkers, the NPA and Seafarers are equally warming up for solidarity support because it has to do with welfare of workers.

Adeyanju who is also the Deputy President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) regretted that despite several ultimatums and interventions of the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Muazu Jaji Sambo, the Shipping companies, (multinationals) have refused to comply.

He condemned the attitude of SAN, recalling that meeting held last Wednesday aimed at highlighting ways of achieving minimum standard in shipping was but an embarrassment to the outgone Minister Sambo, who initiated the idea.

Several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) reached in the past seems not have been honoured. The most recent being the MoU Reached at the end of the meeting with MWUN and Federal Ministry of Transportation, at the instance of the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment.

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The meeting held on the 4th May, 2023 at the Conference room of the permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja over lingering case of non-payment of pension to the aged seafarers who were disengaged from the service of the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line(NNSL) in 1995.

On the need to allow the new government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to settle down to be able to resolve these issues, Adeyanju said the have been on this for over six years now maintained that such thought is necessary as government is a continuum.

“We are a reasonable union, we weigh all our options before taking decision as this. It’s the nonchalant attitude of the SAN that is bringing us into this action we are about to take now, because there is no how we will continue this giving of ultimatum and stepping down. Government is a continuum it’s an old wine in a new bottle, nothing like government is new, he asserted.

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