The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has threatened to shut all the nation’s seaports, terminals, jetties and cargo handling facilities because of alleged violation of extant stevedoring regulations by International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria.
The union, in a statement signed on Friday by its President General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju and General Secretary; Comrade Felix Akingboye has given a seven-day ultimatum for the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to comply with stevedoring and marine notices which guide engagement of stevedoring companies in all ports, jetties, onshore or offshore oil and gas or bonded terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), off- dock terminals, dry ports and platforms.
In the statement, the MWUN said, “we wish to further inform the general public that failure of the federal government and its agencies to compel the IOCs to comply with the rules on or before the expiration of this seven- day ultimatum, the Union will have no option than to shut down all forms of operations at the ports, terminals, jetties and other cargo handling locations in the country to press home our demands.”
Giving details of its grievances, the union complained about “non – compliance of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to Extant Stevedoring regulations and the Marine/Government Notice No. 106 on Stevedoring regulations, 2014 issued by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which has been widely published in the print and electronic media”
“We wish to point out that the extant stevedoring/ marine notice is the operational guidelines to all dock labour employers and private operators of any work location including Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore Oil and Gas or bonded terminals, inland container depots (ICDs), off dock terminals, dry ports and platforms.
The law stipulates that government appointed and NIMASA registered stevedores and Dockworkers shall be allowed access by the IOCs to the operational areas allocated to them by the NPA”, the MWUN stressed.
It also alleged repressive practice of the IOCs by denying its members, that is dockworkers “access to their operational areas and consequently, denying the Dockworkers the opportunity to earn wages.”.
According to the union, “the IOCs have flooded the operational areas with aliens/foreigners at the expense of local workers and in breach of statutory regulations including the Local Content Act, NIMASA and NPA acts that prescribe indigenising of workforce.”.
It also recalled that, the face-off with the IOCs first got to a head in 2018, which prompted a three-day national strike. It also recalled that, the intervention of Ministry of Transportation which summoned a stakeholders’ meeting including the IOCs and the Union. The MWUN noted that, at the end of the meeting, a communique was reached on how to address the matter.
It also lamented that, “up till now, the content of the communique has not been implemented.”
The MWUN also called out both the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Ports Authourity, for failing to call the IOCs to order respect extant regulations regarding engagement of stevedoring contractors and dockworkers, and to comply with the communique that was signed with the union in 2018.
“We have endured enough promises and the usual government gimmicks of ‘we are looking at the matter’. After several deceptions and unfulfilled promises, we decided to take our destiny in our hands
“We believe that these IOCs have somethings to hide which they do not want Nigerians to be aware of, and this is especially bothersome in this era of increasing insecurity across the country. We need to ask why the IOCs are afraid to allow registered and approved and registered Stevedores Dockworkers access to their operational areas as prescribed by the law. The Federal Government and our members (Dockworkers) have lost huge sum of money both in revenue and wages”, the union stated.
In the statement, the MWUN declared that: “In view of the foregoing and the continued denial of our members (Dockworkers) employment opportunities by the IOCs at designated oil and gas locations with its negative impact on the welfare of our members, in addition to their continued disrespect for our laws, we are constrained to issue a 7 -day ultimatum starting from today Friday 9th April 2021 to the Federal Government, the NNPC, NPA and NIMASA, to as a matter of national interest, immediately compel the IOCs to comply and obey the statutory regulations, and also implement the communique earlier reached.