The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has condemned attempts by employers to slash the salaries of its members and convert the lockdown period occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic to their annual leave.
MWUN President-General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday, to commemorate the 2020 International Workers Day said any attempt to subject workers to punishment for a situation that is out of their control would be resisted by the union.
“We wish to bring to the public space the secret attempt by some management to cheat our members by forcing them to convert this lockdown period occasioned by government pronouncement to their annual leave consumed. The union has been informed that some management have issued internal memo to this effect.
“In very clear terms we condemn this attempt to turn workers’ rights on its head for the pecuniary gains of management without recourse to normal consideration and processes. We find it strange that workers will be subjected to punishment for a situation that is entirely out of their scope of control. This, we will resist with all the arsenals at our disposal within the ambit of law. All managements considering such gimmick are hereby put on notice.
“Most disheartening is the attempt by some unscrupulous management to cut the salaries, wages and allowance of our members without any probable cause. On this matter, we stand with the Nigeria Labour Congress who have acknowledged that despite the fact that workers produce capital, they are always relegated and state that any move to deduct the salaries, wages and downsizing of Nigerian workers at this time is illogical and illegal and therefore must be resisted,” he said.
Adeyanju, who described this year’s May Day as a sad one for workers all over the world, called on the Federal Government to urgently equip and direct the relevant agencies at the ports to boost sensitization of its members in the quay apron as well as other port users and stakeholders towards curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also appealed for the inclusion of the union representative in the COVID-19 ports committee to help strengthen and enlarge the scope of the union’s ongoing sensitization programme of its members.
“Today, as May Day is a sad day because for the first time in about a century, workers all over the world are bound to limit the scope of the Workers Day celebration due to ravages of coronavirus, which has taken its toll on world economies and forced workers into a closed door virtual dialogue.
“Naturally, all is not rosy in the maritime sector. The point to make is that COVID-19 is real and spreading at an alarming rate. Its impact on the maritime economy is tending towards reducing revenue generation to the government as our ports, jetties and terminals face the risk of low patronage.
“We want to appeal for the inclusion of a union representative in the already set up COVID-19 ports committee. We suggest that the mandate of the committee be inclusive of the continuous review of preventive measures for the workforce and monitor all protocols so that all changes that will be implemented through the appropriate collective bargaining agreement and labour relations structure.
“We are committed to safeguarding all our members and will continue to monitor, implement and improve measures to prevent the COVID-19 disease from spreading. We also commend the government for the safety net put in place so far. We also take the opportunity of today to recognize and applaud our members on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.” he said.
While commending the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and other employers of labour in the maritime sector, Adeyanju assured that the union will remain in close contact with relevant regulators and health authorities regarding the implementation of measures against the spread of the coronavirus.