The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the newly-appointed Minister of Maritime & Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola to address pressing challenges in the maritime sector.
The union in a press statement issued by its head of media, Mr John Ikemefuna stated that at its recent meeting, the union highlighted key issues, emphasizing the need for swift action to prevent potential industrial unrest.
The union stated that it has been at the forefront of advocating for enhanced welfare packages, improved working conditions, and workers’ rights within the maritime industry. However, several challenges persist, threatening the sector’s stability and the well-being of its workforce.
One of the primary concerns raised by MWUN pertains to the continuous defiance by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria.
MWUN noted that these companies have consistently disregarded Government Marine Notice 106 of 2014 and existing Stevedoring Regulations adding that this defiance has denied dockworkers the opportunity to engage in legitimate stevedoring activities, putting their livelihoods at risk.
The union further said despite repeated warnings and interventions, compliance remains elusive among many IoCs, increasing the likelihood of industrial unrest.
The MWUN also stressed the importance of adopting the NJIC standard as the payment template for dockworkers and seafarers throughout the sector, urging non-compliant employers to adhere to this standard.
The union also stated another significant issue pertaining to the long-standing non-payment of monthly pensions to aged seafarers.
It informed that some retirees, who were relieved from service as far back as 1985, have yet to receive their rightful gratuity and pension.
The union informed that to address this, a committee was recently formed, composed of members from the Ministry of Transport, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIMASA, and Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria
The union passionately appealed to the Minister to expedite this process.
Stating further the union stated that the absence of Onboard Ship Gangway Security and Tally Men, which is vital for security and preventing fraudulent practices within the ports, The union stated that it had previously written to the President of Nigeria, drawing attention to the security lapses caused by their absence.
MWUN also emphasized the urgent need for dredging Calabar, Warri, and Port Harcourt Ports to accommodate larger vessels, boosting economic prospects. The union called for immediate action to rectify the situation.
Furthermore, MWUN appealed for the prompt issuance of biometric identity cards to dockworkers and Seafarers identity documents (SID) by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The union expressed dismay over the limited employment of junior cadre employees in Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), NIWA, and NIMASA, as well as the absence of salary reviews and promotions at NPA since 2004. MWUN called for open employment opportunities for junior cadre workers and the initiation of salary reviews to align with industry standards.
MWUN also highlighted the need for increased presence and visibility of NPA and NIMASA officials in various jetties and terminals across the nation’s seaports informing that their absence in many areas has led to revenue losses and security risks, requiring immediate attention.
Lastly, MWUN appealed to the Minister to use his influence to initiate the establishment of a National Shipping Line, which could create employment opportunities for Nigeria’s youth and restore the country’s maritime prowess.