Maritime workers union insists on strike, says ports will be shut March 1 

FG gives IOCs two weeks to pay debt owed dockworkers 
Adewale Adeyanju


The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Friday said it would not go back on its planned industrial action commencing on March 1. 

MWUN President-General, Comrade Adewale Adeyemi stated this after a meeting with the Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime in Apapa, Lagos. 

Adeyanju said the industrial action, which will lead to disruption of port activities, is to protest the refusal of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to allow approved stevedoring companies access to their platforms to commence operations, and denying registered dockworkers and stevedoring companies to operate on platforms as required by law.

He said it is inconceivable that the IOCs, despite the intervention by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, have bluntly refused to appoint stevedoring companies and accredited dockworkers to work on oil platforms. 

“The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria of today is a union that has this country in its heart; Nigeria first before any other thing. We believe in this country, it may not be better now but we have belief that it is going to be better when all of us put our hands together.

“What we believe as a union is sincerity of purpose coming from the employer of labour and that of the union. We believe in working hand in hand with each other. If the employers of labour are not there, the workers are not there, then who are you protecting? So, we always weigh options before we declare trade dispute against any erring employer of labour. 

“The law of this great country must be respected. Stevedoring contractor is a job that is regulated by law. It is backed by law and over the years, the stevedoring contractors have been operating on offshore and on board the vessels and the IOCs have no regard for the law of this great country.

“Honourable Minister of Transportation, at a meeting about two months ago, gave seven days directive for the IOCs to comply, and at that meeting, they agreed that they will comply with the directive. Two months now, that order has not been obeyed. This is to tell you that the IOCs have no regard for the law of this great country. And the union believes that the only thing it can do is to tell the whole world.

“To me, we have been given mandate that the strike must commence and that is the mandate I have. The strike is imminent. This is a way of telling the whole world that the IOCs are not bigger than this great country. Why are they not allowing stevedoring contractors to come in if they do not have skeleton in their cupboards? They are hiding some many things from Nigeria. So, come on next week, we are not shifting ground on this issue,” the union leader said. 

The Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, however appealed to the union to suspend the planned industrial action, to allow him time to escalate the grievances of the union to higher quarters. 

“I can’t claim to know what has transpired in the past except in what I’ve read in the book particularly as to why is it that they are finding it difficult to comply with what obviously is the law of the land. So, since I am also answerable to people high up. I thought my intervention with you would give me the latitude that enables me to take this matter forward because obviously I can’t claim to be in the position to provide the solution. I can only escalate but escalate it in a clear picture in case somebody somewhere is not aware of the danger that is looming. 

“But due to the limited time we have, Monday is almost here, obviously, there’s very little we can do before Monday. I’ll still plead that the Council be given an additional grace to be able to take some steps. At this stage, it is my Minister that needs to be informed adequately.

“This is my first time of intervening in this matter. Please, give us some time to follow up with the issue and I’m sure it will yield desired results,” Jime said. 

Adeyanju assured the NSC boss that he would table the request to suspend the planned industrial action before the union’s Central Working Committee.