By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
Port workers have threatened to shut down Calabar, Onne and Warri Ports, over alleged poor wages and condition of service by Modern Stevedoring Company Limited.
The workers, in a protest letter to the management of the company, threatened to petition President Goodluck Jonathan over the poor condition of service it has exposed them to, lamenting the absence of a condition of service in the firm.
The workers said that unlike other stevedoring firms, where there are good conditions of service with workers having gratuity, pension and a N50,000 per worker Christmas bonus, among others, their employer has no such pay package for staff.
According to the letter, while “other stevedoring firms pay N100 per tone to its workers, ours pays N80. We can no longer cope with this condition. If nothing urgent is done by the management to positively address our poor condition of service, we will have no choice other than to shut Calabar, Onne and Warri Ports where we operate. We cannot understand why we are being paid less with very poor condition of service compared to others since we do the same job and operate in the same ports.”
Speaking on the development, Operations Manager of Modern Stevedoring, Mr. M. Abduralman, blamed the problem on Vitsa Maritime, a subsidiary of Intels services, arguing “it is what Vitsa Maritime pays to Modern Stevedoring that is paid to the workers. Vitsa Maritime pays N80 per tonne to workers. That is what we pay them without deducting a kobo. No pension, gratuity or even Christmas bonus. This last Christmas, we battled in vain to ensure that the workers got Christmas bonus. However, a meeting has been scheduled with Vitsa Maritime to ensure that the matter is addressed within this week. We do not want industrial unrest in the ports.”