By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
ABUJA — THE Federal Government has summoned the management of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and other stakeholders to a crucial meeting, today, in Abuja, to find solution to this week planned strike by workers.
The workers are protesting 12 months unpaid salaries of tally clerks, on board security men, among other grievances.
MWUN had given the management of NPA this week to pay the salaries and have other grievances resolved or the union would withdraw workers from all ports’ formations across the country and shut the sector.
It was gathered that before the invitation for the meeting, the union had perfected plan to begin an indefinite strike by Wednesday.
The plan to down tools was sequel to the extension of an earlier 14 days ultimatum issued on June 12, following the intervention of the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.
Following the intervention, the union extended the ultimatum with another 14 days to enable NPA and others involved to sort out the issues.
Leaders of the union lamented that since the extension which expires today, the management of NPA allegedly refused to talk to them, pay the workers or resolve other grievances.
Getting wind of the resolve of the union to down tools this week, the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour summoned the workers and other stakeholders including officials of the Ministry of Transport for the crucial meeting for Monday, July 15, (today) in an effort to abort the industrial action.
Vanguard gathered the letter for the meeting was received by Friday, July 12, 2013.
The union had in a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, dated June 12, 2013, claimed that NPA had for the past 11 months refused to pay tally clerks, onboard security men and others, but had been spending not less than N300million monthly to pay illegal employees known as Cargo surveyors, who had nothing to do in the ports.
According to the union, the dockworkers including the tally clerks and on-board security men were registered by the National Dock Labour Board, NDLB, to work in the sea ports, private terminals and jetties and were trained in the act of cargo handling/loading and discharging of ships.
MWUN alleged that the so-called cargo surveyors engaged by NPA were unknown under the NIMASA Act 2007, which regulates maritime labour activities in Nigerian ports, hence not permitted by law to perform the role of registered tally clerks.
According to the petition, “On-board Security men are involved in watching over cargo to avoid theft and over boarding and to prevent unauthorized shore leave through the gangway by crew members. Their function also helps to prevent attack of vessels in the Ports by terrorist and pirates in line with requirement of the ISPS code on port and ship security and safety.”