Symbol of justice
Individual dockworkers who are not directly employed by terminal operators cannot bring an action to enforce provisions of a collective bargaining agreement, the National Industrial Court has held.
Sitting in Calabar, Justice Aliyu Ibrahim of the National Industrial Court struck out the name of ECM Terminals Limited as well as those of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from a suit brought against them by a group of 17 aggrieved dockworkers represented by Messrs. Bassey Ogar, James Ofere and Jams Amok.
The aggrieved dockworkers had approached the court among other things for an order granting them the sum of N180,000,000; being their alleged entitlements based on agreements made in 2008 between the Association of Private Operators of Seaport Terminals on the one hand and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on the other hand.
The dockworkers, who also joined their union, MWUN in the same suit over alleged non performance of the 2008 agreements which they claimed entitled them to certain minimum sums totalling N180 million.
Upon a preliminary objection filed on behalf ECM Terminals by its solicitors, Messrs Akabogu and Associates, the court ruled that the 6th defendant, ECM Terminals Limited was not shown to be a signatory to the agreement and as such could not be proceeded against just for being a member of the Association of Private Operators of Sea Seaports Terminals in the particular circumstances of the case.
The court also held that not being direct employees of the terminal, or standing in any other direct legal relationship with the terminal, the dockworkers are not in a position to derive any rights under the collective bargaining agreement which they are relying upon.