The Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has denied allegations that it was stalling the signing of the newly-approved Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which concerns remuneration and welfare of seafarers onboard ships.
President of SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun in a chat with Shipping Position Daily said that the association is excited about the document, but that it has not been chanced to hold a meeting with the seafarers union and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safely Agency (NIMASA) to sign the document.
He told our correspondent that the meeting has been fixed to hold on Friday 22nd of June.
However, the President of Merchant Navy and Water Transporters Senior Staff Association, Engr. Matthew Alalade confirmed to our correspondent at the weekend that the meeting did not hold as scheduled and that NIMASA has further shifted the signing to Thursday, 28th of June 2018.
Shipping Position Daily confirmed that, prior to last Friday’s meeting that did not hold, the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) which is headed by NIMASA had met for several hours in Lagos to agree on the final details of the CBA. Membership of the NJIC is drawn from the union, the employers and NIMASA.
Some members of the NJIC actually confirmed to one of our correspondents that the final meeting during which the agreement would be signed would hold last Friday in Lagos.
Ogbeifun had argued that, "as the president of the Shipowners Association, I can confirm that arrangement has been concluded to sign the CBA, so where is this allegation coming from”?
“NIMASA has written to us for the signing of the CBA which is supposed to take place on the 22nd of June and we are very happy about this document"
"We wrote to them that the time for the last meeting coincided with the common wealth conference in London and most of us are on the 20- man delegation to that conference, so I wrote to them (NIMASA) that we are not going to be in the country and that they should reschedule the date", he explained to our correspondents.
The Merchant Navy President; Engr Alalade however alleged that this is not the first time the ship owners were foot-dragging on signing the document.
He told our correspondent that "the meeting has been shifted again to Thursday 28th of June. It was earlier fixed for last week Thursday, then yesterday 22nd of June. They kept on shifting it, we don't know why the shipowners are foot-dragging, but no reason was given for the postponement"
"NIMASA is the umpire and it is a tripartite thing, they (NIMASA) are the ones to monitor both sides, we are ever ready, but it is the NISA and the SOAN that are reneging, they never gave any reason for shifting the date, this is the third time now"
"They just have to accept it, if the blame is coming, it would come on both the ship owners and the seafarers, we have tried our best for the past one and half year, and what we have come up with is a benchmark, Shipowners can go above it but they cannot go below it" he said.