Apparently angry over alleged refusal of International Oil Companies (IOCs) to pay their stevedoring contractors, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) yesterday gave the Federal Government two-week ultimatum to intervene in the face-off between the oil companies and their contractors.
The stevedoring contractors are the employers of dockworkers who are members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday and signed jointly by the union’s President General; Comrade Adewale Adeyanju and Secretary General; Comrade Felix Akingboye, the MWUN urged the Government to “prevail on the management of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to pay all outstanding bills to our members, failure of which we will be compelled to withdraw our services and shut down operations in all the nations sea ports.”
The union recalled that the stevedoring contractors were appointed by the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA) on June 1, 2018 to provide services at various off-shore, jetties and on-shore locations to the International Oil Companies and other operators, even as it noted that the NPA had variously met with the IOCs to address the issues.
According to the MWUN, the NPA had even gone ahead to prepare the invoices of the stevedoring contractors for payment by the IOCs.
It lamented that, unfortunately, since June 2018 when the contractors were appointed, the IOCs “have refused to comply with the NPA directive after one year that the stevedoring contractors were appointed.”
The union also expressed shock that, while the IOCs paid previous stevedoring contractors, they have rebuffed every efforts that the management of NPA has made to ensure that they pay.
“The position of the operators to NPA’s directive is worrisome and very surprising, because the same operators had processed and paid the former stevedoring contractors since 2010, through a foremost terminal operator”, it lamented.
“So, why are they refusing to cooperate with the newly appointed stevedoring contractors since the modus operandi remains the same”, they asked.
The union, in the statement noted that it had been monitoring event since last year, even as it declared that the IOCs refusal to pay is affecting members of the union , some of whom have died “untimely while awaiting payment of their wages, because they could not meet their family obligations; like payment of house rent, children school fees and hospital bills”.
The MWUN, in the statement declared that it “can no longer continue to watch our members die prematurely because of the defiant attitude of the IOCs. Consequently, we are constrained to give the Ministry of Transportation that superintends the appointment of stevedores two weeks (14 days) to prevail on the Management of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to pay all outstanding bills to our members, failure of which we will be compelled to withdraw our services and shut down operations in all the nations’ sea ports”
Prior to yesterday’s statement, the union had notified the Permanent Secretary via a letter dated June 11, 2019, of its intention to withdraw its members from the ports.
The letter was copied: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour Employment, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Director General , NIMASA and President, National Association of Stevedoring Companies.