Employees of shipping companies in all port formations began an indefinite strike today, as directed by the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria MWUN, over low wages and alleged dehumanizing working conditions.
The strike is also affecting all dry ports, jetties, and terminals, among other things.
Dockworkers, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, workers, and Seamen/Nigerian Inland Water Ways, NIWA, and Water Transportation employees are expected to join in solidarity starting tomorrow if the shipping companies do not address the workers’ grievances.
This came as the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, called stakeholders meeting today in a desperate attempt to resolve the issue and prevent the nation’s ports from being shut down completely.
The stakeholders’ meeting, which will take place at the NSC, has been scheduled for 8.30 a.m.
At the weekend strategic meeting of MWUN leaders and officials from the Shipping branch of MWUN, including plant officials from each shipping company, it was agreed that regardless of the meeting called by NSC, all shipping companies’ operations must be suspended from today until further notice.
Recall that at a press conference on Thursday in Lagos, MWUN President General Prince Adewale Adeyanju explained that the strike was called due to poor worker remuneration and the refusal of shipping companies operating in Nigeria to agree on minimum standards for working conditions and staff remuneration.
Adeyanju bemoaned the NSC’s apparent loss of control and regulatory powers over shipping companies that have refused to comply with federal government interventions in the matter.
According to him, the issue has been dragging on for six years, and shipping companies have refused to implement a minimum standard for their employees.
“The former Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, had directed the NSC to mediate the process between MWUN and the Shipping Association of Nigeria SAN,” he said.
There had been meetings after meetings at the request of the NSC’s Executive Secretary, but the SAN’s attitude was nothing to write home about.
“We had a meeting on Wednesday, and it did not go well.” This is an embarrassment to both us and the Ministry of Transportation, which convened the meeting. As it stands, the remuneration in the shipping sector is equivalent to a death sentence, and the SAN is fleeing its responsibility.
“This is not a new issue for all stakeholders; ultimatums were issued, and they attempted to talk us out of it.” We always weigh the options because of the sensitivity of the ports. But, as things stand now, we’re not going to keep issuing ultimatums.
“The former Minister did not make a mistake in requesting that the Shippers Council serve as an economic regulator in this negotiation process.” We are taking this step because of SAN’s laid-back attitude.”