Stories by Victor Ahiuma-Young
CERTAINLY, this is not the best of times for members of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, as they are facing several challenges threatening their jobs across the nation’s seaports.
For the leaders of the union, the earlier the Federal Government and its agencies do the needful and save the situation, the better for the citizens and nation’s socio-economic wellbeing.
Raising the alarm in Lagos at the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting, President-General, PG, of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, among others, decried the dominance of foreign owned vessels that he accused of breaching Nigeria’s Cabotage Law while operating on the nation’s territorial waters with Nigerian ship owners having less business to do.
He called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to ensure full compliance and enforcement of the provisions of the Cabotage Law to create jobs for the nation’s teeming seafarers.
While insisting that Nigerian seafarers were well trained and should not be denied the opportunity to do business in Nigerian waters, Adeyanju said: “The era where Filipinos and other nationalities took over the jobs of our indigenous nationals should be eradicated. The union is also aware of the illegal ship-to-ship, STS, operation that is ongoing in West and Central Africa waters offshore which constitutes a huge source of revenue leakage to our economy. That is why we are crying to the whole world now that the laws of the land must be respected.”
Adeyanju appealed to the Federal Government to resuscitate the Nigerian National Shipping Line, NNSL and commence payment of monthly pension to the seafarers who were retired as a result of the liquidation of the defunct NNSL.
Sack of Tally clerks/Onboard Securitymen
According to the MWUN PG, Tally Clerks and Onboard Security personnel are an integral part of Dock Labour operation. Their services were unilaterally terminated. The union sent several letters to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment which has appointed a conciliator to mediate and find an amicable solution to the issue. We have also informed the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF, concerning the developments in relation to the uncertainty work status of Tally Clerks and Onboard security personnel in Nigeria.
He also decried the use of unregistered dockworkers, saying the use of unregistered dockworkers to carry out dock labour operations in midstreams, offshore and jetty operations is illegal and we condemn it in its entirety. We wish to emphasize that dockworkers and seafarers are core professionals and capable of carrying out any job assigned to them on the mid-streams, offshore and jetty operations.”
Speaking, Executive Director, Maritime Labour Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Abubakar Jibril, while noting the concerns of the union, said the agency had put in place measures to see to the implementation of the Cabotage Act.
Part of the measures, he informed, was the introduction of an electronic register of all maritime labour such that wherever there was any identified job for seafaring, it was carried out by Nigerians.
According to him: “In line with the Presidential Executive Order no.4, we have come out in full force to ensure that only Nigerians are engaged on board. Even before the release of the Presidential Order, we had come out with the marine notice that we will have zero- tolerance for any waiver at all. We also detain vessels which we have identified as carrying foreigners on board.
“We have acquired fast intervention vessels recently which are going to help us pursue these ships all around our waters to make sure that proper inspection and placement of labour is done in the industry,” he said.