Maritime workers under the aegis of Maritine Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN) on Wednesday made good their threat of protesting and grounding port operations over their unpaid entitlements by International Oil Companies(IOC).
Nigerian Tribune reports that as early as 6:00 a.m., the gates leading into Nigeria’s busiest ports, Apapa and Tin-Can were shut and all vehicular movement restricted.
According to the newspaper, at about 8:45 a.m, the seaport workers softened their stance and allowed only private vehicles into the ports but barred all container trucks from entering.
The paper quoted President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju as saying that private vehicles were allowed into the ports because of the nature of port business.
“We decided to later allow private vehicles into the port because of the issues of emergency that could arise in the ports. People work inside the port and have offices there, so we have allowed them in except container carrying trucks or any other articulated vehicles.
“The same way we have locked ports in Lagos, we have also locked all other ports across the country. No business today except the IOC meet our demands,” he said.
It would be recalled that Adeyanju addressed the media on Tuesday evening after meeting with all arms of the association including the Dockworkers branch and NPA branch, where he stated that the association had decided to go on strike following the refusal of the IOC to pay all outstanding entitlements to its members.
According to him, “some of the reasons why we have decided to embark on strike includes: non-payment of government appointed stevedores/dockworkers by the IOCs which contravenes NIMASA Act 2007; Several efforts made for the IOCs to see reason including the stakeholders meeting organised by the NPA fell on deaf ears; Affected dockworkers are suffering, some have even passed on prematurely due to economic hardship, whilst some have been made to become destitutes.
“As a responsible union, we cannot continue to fold our arms and watch our members die premature death because of the nonchalant attitude of the IOCs management towards the welfare of our members.
“In view of the foregoing, we gave a 14-day ultimatum/notice to the Federal Government, through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation to prevail on the IOCs management to do the needful by paying our members.
“Ahead of the 14 days ultimatum/notice, which elapsed on Friday, 28th June 2019, we issued a reminder letter dated 27th of June, 2019.
“However, despite a reminder issued after the initial 14 days ultimatum had elapsed, the IOC’s were yet to comply to our demands as at the close of work on Tuesday 2nd of July, 2019. No evidence of payment was seen, thus forcing our members to withdraw their services in all the nations seaports until all issues in contention are resolved.”
When contacted, the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication of the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA), Engr. Adam Jatto said the agency is aware of the MWUN strike threat and are engaging them.
According to him, the authority is optimistic that the issues would be addressed and resolved amicably and the strike averted.
“We are actually on it, we are having discussion with them and unionism is about dialogue so we believe we will be able to strike a dialogue before the end of today.”
When he was told that the union complained about the uncompromising stance of the IOCs, Jatto said, “We are talking so we should expect something positive from it today.”