Maritime Workers Begin Nationwide Shutdown of Ports


Eromosele Abiodun

All operations at the seaport terminals across the country will be shut down today as the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) begins an indefinite industrial action to compel the payment of wages allegedly owed dockworkers and stevedoring companies by the international oil companies (IOCs).

This followed the expiration by 6p.m. yesterday of the two-week ultimatum to the IOCs in that respect.

Restating the union’s position in Lagos yesterday, MWUN President General, Adewale Adeyanju, told journalists that the IOCs have so far refused to engage the union on the issue, thereby leaving it with no other option than to begin the strike by 6a.m. today.

Adeyanju said the issue of unpaid wages has lingered for over a year, but “enough is enough! The IOCs need to respect the laws of the land. These people are denying us our rights by failing to pay our wages.”

He commended the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman, for her efforts to rally the IOCs operating offshore and onshore Nigeria’s territorial waters, adding however that some workers have died from situations directly and indirectly connected to the unpaid wages.

In an earlier letter forewarning of the industrial action titled: ‘Non-payment of Stevedoring Wages due to Dockworkers by International Oil Companies (IOCs)’, MWUN had vowed that it would no longer watch members die prematurely due to the attitude of the IOCs.

“We want to use this medium to intimate you and the federal government of the non-payment of Stevedoring wages to dockworkers by the IOCs operating in Nigeria,” the letter circulated to the media read in part.

The letter added: “We are aware that on June 1, 2018, the NPA appointed Stevedoring contractors to provide Stevedoring services at various off-shore, jetties and on-shore locations to the IOCs and other operators.

“It will be necessary to inform you that NPA had held several meetings with these operators to grant access to the government-appointed Stevedoring contractors, process their invoices and effect payment, but unfortunately, the operators have refused to comply with the NPA directive after one year that the contractors were appointed.”