• Tue. Oct 4th, 2022

    The AP Moller Terminals and other terminal operators in the nation have come under fire from the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) for their subpar working conditions and lack of commitment to investing in employee training as required by law.

    Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, the President General of the MWUN, further demanded that marine employers who violate Nigerian labor rules be punished.

    Adeyanju, while speaking in Lagos, said majority of the multinationals in Nigeria cannot operate the way they do in other countries, and blamed the government for giving them so much latitude with the believe that the country cannot survive without them.

    “My workers from APMT, this goes for you; what we were given last time that looked like they were giving us something, it is a lie. I am coming back to get more for you, because they have blindfolded us in the name of our government.

    “We will never allow any contractor to use the dockworkers as slaves in their fatherland anymore. That era is gone and gone forever, because the dockworkers today have been transformed and trained to a standard where they can compete with their colleagues in other countries. And with the emergence of biometric I.D cards that we are flagging off today, the sky is the limit for all dockworkers.

    “The training programme is not for NIMASA alone; who are the end users? The contractors and the terminal operators. If NIMASA is doing their own, what is stopping the operators from training their own men? They should be the ones training their own men and not NIMASA, because it is there in the Act.

    “How many APMT workers that have contributed immensely to the company have been trained? I grew up in this terminal, and I can still see some of my workers who I trained in the past passing on that training and knowledge. Instead of training the dockworkers, they will go to Ghana or Cotonou to employ workers. So let us stop blaming NIMASA; instead, we should blame those employers of labour who have no regard for the laws of this country, and this is the time for the DG NIMASA to wake up and sanction them.

    “This is a message to APMT and other terminal operators who have flouted the rule of this great country; we will not accept that anymore. They give us boots, uniforms and helmets; these are merely safety standards mandated by the law. I am talking about training and orientation, which the workers here are lacking. It is not only APMT that is flouting this rule; other terminals are also guilty.

    “They will tell us that they have met with stakeholders, but I look at myself, because it is NPA that trained me to this standard and got me to where I am. The training of the dockworkers is very important. These multinationals should not be allowed to run away from their responsibilities; it is there in the agreement. Train your workers to a standard; that is what the law says”.

    The MWUN helmsman advocated for a career pathway for maritime workers to be included in the NGIC agreement by all terminal operators.

    He disclosed that the Union has issued an ultimatum to terminal operators that those duly registered with NIMASA should be engaged by the shipping companies they work for, while those parading themselves as registered workers will be phased out of the port.

    The PG explained further: “What does career path mean? You can be a truck driver, an operations manger, a foreman, a forklift driver or any other maritime worker and make a career out of it. We are trying to introduce it to all workers across the port, and we cannot do it without the support of the NPA and NIMASA.

    “Some of the terminal operators have no regard for their workers; they still believe that the dockworkers of today are still the same as those before, whom you could pick off the streets and turn into factory workers. That is no longer possible, because the NJIC has taken care of all those agreements and has buried it.

    “There are some stevedoring contractors that we call portfolio contractors; they only came with suitcases and are insensitive to the plights of the workers. They get paid at the end of every month and then run away, but that is no longer possible.

    “I want to use this medium to appeal to NPA and NIMASA that the issue of pool for dockworkers and security men, the latter who have been wiped away for no reason; whereas they form an integral part of the dockworkers. And as it is now, who are the people managing the onboard security men? And you know that in the list of people registered with us, they are part of it.

    “We cannot continue like this; where is the money going to? Who are the people managing the gangway and tally now for NPA, Shippers Council and others? They brought an influx of unregistered security and gangway men on all vessels; that is what is in vogue in the ports now. From Monday, all unregistered personnel will be forced out of the port, because some people are benefiting from it while the real ones are losing.

    “Go to warehouses and terminals, who are the people managing and supervising them? Nobody! Yet we are talking about insecurity in the country. NIMASA needs to sanction them. you have started very well by sanctioning APMT after the three-day warning strike”.

    According to him, the development will aid the swift eradication of unregistered dockworkers from the ports and improve standards in the maritime sector as regards labour practices and capacity development.

    He said the MWUN has been clamouring for the biometric ID card for years because of its many benefits, adding that it marks the beginning of a new era for dockworkers.

    “Over the years, the contractors believed that the dockworkers have no ‘father or mother’, but when NIMASA came in through the efforts of NPA, they were able to give dockworkers the needed backing.

    “I don’t think NIMASA is making a mistake; they are only doing what the law says. We almost lost hope, because we have been on this matter for years before the emergence of the ED and the DG, but today, they have come out to tell the world that they can do it better than before.

    “Today is the day of dockworkers all over Nigeria, and we are celebrating the good news coming from NIMASA, as they are giving us recognition with our counterparts in other countries. On behalf of the Union and all the dockworkers, seafarers and NPA, we thank you and we will continue to support your laudable programme in line with the law”.

    Adeyanju stated that the maritime union will continue to dialogue with stakeholders when necessary to solve differences amicably, while urging NIMASA to speed up the E-platform registration process to also include seafarers.

    Hyacinth Chinweuba

    HYACINTH Chinweuba is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of Hybrid News Nigeria.

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