By Victor Ahiuma- Young
AS DIRECTED by the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria MWUN, employees of shipping companies in all ports formations today began an indefinite strike over poor wages and alleged dehumanizing workingconditions.
The industrial action is also taking place across all dry ports, jetties, terminals among others.
It was gathered that Dockworkers, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, workers and Seamen/Nigerian Inland Water Ways, NIWA and Water Transportation employees would join from tomorrow in solidarity should the shipping companies fail to address the workers’ grievances.
This came as the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, summoned a stakeholders’ meeting today in a desperate attempt to resolve the matter and ensure that the industrial crisis does not lead to a total shutdown of the nation’s ports.
Vanguard was informed that the stakeholders’ meeting holding at the NSC premises, is slated for 8.30 am.
At the strategic meeting of leaders of MWUN and officials of the Shipping branch of MWUN including plant officials of each shipping company weekend, it was agreed that irrespective of the meeting called by NSC, operations of all shipping companies must be shut from today until further notice.
Recall that at a briefing Thursday in Lagos, President General of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju explained that the strike was due to poor remuneration of workers and the refusal of shipping companies operating in Nigeria to agree on a minimum standards for working conditions and remuneration of staff.
Adeyanju lamented that the NSC seemed to have totally lost its control and regulatory powers over the shipping companies who have refused to obey the federal government interventions on the matter.
According to him, the matter had been dragging for the past six years, and the shipping companies have refused to implement a minimum standard for shipping companies’ workers.
According to him, “The former Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo had directed the NSC to midwife the process between MWUN and Shipping Association of Nigeria SAN.?
There had been meetings upon meetings at the instance of the Executive Secretary of the NSC,but the attitude of the SAN is nothing to write home about.
“Wednesday, we were at the meeting and it did not go well. This is an embarrassment to us and even the Ministry of Transportation who initiated the meeting.?As it is, the remuneration in the Shipping sector is like a death sentence, the SAN are running away from its responsibility.
“This matter is not new to all the stakeholders, ultimatums had been given and they tried to talk us out of it. Because of the sensitivity of the ports, we always weigh the options. But the way it is now, there is no way we are going to continue issuing ultimatums.
“The former Minister did not make a mistake by asking the Shippers Council as an economic regulator to midwife this negotiation process. It is the the nonchalant attitude of SAN that is making us take this step.”