The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has again issued seven days ultimatum to shipping companies operating in the country, starting from Friday 17th February to Friday 24th February 2023, to comply with the minimum employment standard for its members or be ready for a faceoff with the union.
The union threatened that failure of the Shipping companies to comply would lead to industrial action by its members and withdrawal of their services from all ports, jetties, terminals and oil and gas platforms nationwide.
Briefing journalists on Friday in Lagos, the President General of the union, Comrade Adeyanju Adewale stated that members of the union are currently underpaid and overused, while also accusing all shipping companies in Nigeria and employers of labour in the sector of continuous and outright refusal to interface with the union to negotiate a minimum standard of employment for its employees.
The MWUN PG said failure of the shipping companies to conclude necessary negotiations of the condition of service will lead to total shut down of all facilities.
He said: “We wish to note that the struggle to get employers of labour in the shipping sector to negotiate with MWUN has been ongoing since 2019 – a clear four years and still counting.
“We have ran circles most times to get these employers of labour to come to a meeting, and where they do, they come up with reasons not to engage the union in Collective Bargaining negotiating for the improvement of the livelihood of our members in the shipping sector; who are currently underpaid, overused and often subjected to frustrating working conditions, which include retirement, remuneration and gratuity regime that can only be described as a death sentence.
“The MWUN in evaluating the gory conditions under which our members in the shipping sector work, had to declare a state of emergency in the sector with the hope that this will ignite some meaningful change in the employment conditions of our members.
“Unfortunately, this has not been possible, due to the recalcitrant attitude and indifference of shipping companies to the sad plight of their employees”.
Explaining further, Adeyanju disclosed that, “the last straw was the outcome of a joint meeting MWUN had with some representatives of the shipping companies under the aegis of the Shipping Association of Nigeria ((SAN) on the 15th February 2023, wherein these representatives informed the union that their mandate is to request MWUN to negotiate employees’ working condition on individual company basis i.e. plant by plant, which is in clear violation of our procedural agreement signed in 2014 with representatives of shipping companies which recommended a global standard for collective bargaining negotiation and agreements.
“This effectively brought negotiations to a stalemate. In the sustained refusal of Shipping Companies to negotiate with the union and their continuous subjection of our members to slavish work conditions, we can no longer sit back, fold our arms and watch our members denied their rights to decent income and improved working conditions.
“MWUN wishes to state that if at the expiration of this ultimatum, we do not get any response from the Shipping companies, the union will have no alternative other than to call upon our members in the shipping, dock, seamen and NPA sector to withdraw their services from all ports, jetties, terminals and oil and gas platform nationwide without recourse to further notice” he said
Speaking also, the National Treasurer of the union and former president of shipping branch; Comrade Uche Igwe Onu while corroborating the position of the union, stated that “there is nothing new in our position with SAN.
“SAN has failed to create minimum standards for workers, before now they claimed that FCCPCP had barred them from negotiating with the union. But we told them that they are simply buying time, because we asked them to confirm the core mandate of that agency which led to two weeks’ notice from the union” he said.