The National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), maritime lawyer and other stakeholders have praised the decision of one of the prominent terminal operators in Nigeria; Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL) over the recent decision to revert to payment of dockworkers per tonnage as against placing them on monthly salary.
It will be recalled that last week, ABTL changed the employment status of the dockworkers in its terminal where dockworkers who were on permanent employment and placed on monthly salary will now be paid based on tonnage.
Speaking on this, the president of NASC, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola in a chat with Shipping Position Daily in Apapa last week, said that the issue of exchange of service and salary is contentious, adding that it depends on the agreement between the dockworkers and the terminal.
“First, you have to seek the dockworkers’ opinion because the issue of tonnage payment, exchange service and then salary is a bit contentious, but it depends on the agreement each other have. Because even the tonnage too, you know it is on the minimum standard agreement all charges are there to be per tonnage. If the workers have decided to be part of that, then the employer can decide to do that and then it depends of the volume. But if the volume is there, of course it is good, but if it salary it becomes fixed, what if cargoes do not come, how do you pay” he asked.
Also speaking, Barrister Emmanuel Nwagbara said, that the decision is in line with the 2014 of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) regulation on dock labour.
“Yes that is the new dispensation now, what dockworker should earn should be based on tonnage. Look at the 2014 regulation of NIMASA on dock labour, that regulation stipulates how much the terminal operator should pay to dockworkers and it is per tonnage of cargoes loaded and offloaded. So it is the new dispensation and it is right; everybody should key into it”
Explaining further, he said under that same regulation, stevedoring companies are expected to register with NIMASA and the remuneration of dockworkers are taken care of by stevedoring companies, even as he added that the decision by ABTL is in line with the new regulation.
“It is no longer a situation where individual dockworker is paid by terminal operator. Do not forget that under that stevedoring regulation of 2014, stevedoring companies are expected to register with NIMASA and supply dockworkers to the maritime industry and their remuneration is taken care of by the stevedoring companies who will register as providers of personnel that will render dock work in the dock industry in Nigeria”, he explained.
According to him, “it is expected that all dockworkers should now be employed by stevedoring companies which would tender its invoice for the tonnage of cargoes loaded and unloaded and they are paid, that is how dockworkers should earn their living. It is no longer going to be Mr. A going to terminal company to be employed as a dockworker in a company and the salary is negotiated and paid”.
In this dispensation, all dockworkers will have to align their services are paid for in terms of tonnage of cargo. That is the right thing, it is the new dispensation and that is what should be done”, he concluded.