The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued a 21-day ultimatum to shipping companies over alleged poor remuneration and terminal benefits of its members.
MWUN, in a letter dated February 2, 2020 and addressed to the Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), expressed disappointment that since May 2019 that the union requested for a meeting with the association to negotiate an upward review of the overdue terminal benefits currently being paid to workers, there has been no response.
The letter, signed by the union’s Secretary-General, Comrade Felix Akingboye, a copy of which was made available to SHIPS & PORTS, said the stance of the shipping companies to the issue is an indication of the level of contempt it has for the union and lack of regard for workers’ welfare.
According to the union, “In our letter under reference, proposal was made for a meeting of your association and the union to hold between 10th to 14th June 2019 with a view to reviewing the overdue terminal benefits currently being paid to workers but up till now, you have not found it necessary to dignify us with a response.
“This is not an attitude that encourages cordial industrial relationship. It is rather an indication of the level of contempt at which you hold the union and the little regard you have for workers welfare.
“The terminal benefits (Industry Condition of Service) currently being paid in the shipping industry was negotiated and became effective in the year 2008, a decade ago.
“Since you have decided to treat our request with levity, I have been directed to issue your association 21 days notice effective from the date of this letter within which you are expected to convey a meeting with the union for the purpose of reviewing upward the terminal benefits payable to workers at their point of exit.”
The union also demanded that the shipping companies evacuate all empty containers parked indiscriminately and fuelling traffic gridlock on port access roads.
Meanwhile, in a separate development, the union has raised alarm over poor level of workers sensitization on the coronavirus at the ports.
Speaking at a sensitization workshop for dockworkers at the union’s secretariat in Lagos on Tuesday, the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, however, noted that only APM Terminals has deemed it fit to sensitize its workers since the outbreak of the dreaded virus.
According to him, “The awareness in the port is very poor but APM Terminals have always been number one in terms of safety. They have since commenced sensitization of their workers so we expect other terminals to follow suit.
“The NPA has also done their own. We as a union have taken it upon ourselves to sensitize dockworkers that they must be careful before they board any vessel. If a new vessel is coming and you don’t see Port Health officials give the vessel a clean bill of health, please don’t board it.
“Someone from the concerned authority must give you report before you board the vessel. The NPA has also confirmed that if you see a vessel with red flag, it signifies danger, so you must not board.”
Adeyanju urged members of the union to take care of their health and maintain hand hygiene through regular use of sanitizer and facemasks to protect themselves from the virus.
The MWUN President-General also discloed that the union has introduced a trust fund for its members as part of effort to support their welfare.
While urging his members to embrace the scheme, the MWUN boss said the trust fund will be of great benefits to members not only when they are retired but when faced with financial challenges.
He said, “I believe the scheme will help the lives of maritime workers and I believe it is going to work. We have commenced the process and what we have done today is to guide the workers on how they will go about it.
“We are starting with the executives first before we get to the least workers because it is an individual contribution. This scheme is outside their gratuity, it is to support them when they are leaving.
“Members can also tap into the scheme even before they retire maybe when they have problem instead of waiting until they reach certain age before they can access their pension scheme.”