LAGOS—Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, yesterday made good its threat to shut the nation’s ports operations over lingering disputes with government.
Some of the grievances of the union are unpaid wages and other issues affecting the Tally Clerks/On-board Security, minimum standard for Dockworkers and NPA staff welfare matters among others.
Vanguard gathered that as early as 7 am, workers were withdrawn from their duty posts across the port formations in Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt’s, Calabar and Onne, effectively crippling all operations nationwide.
Both Presidents of Dockworkers and Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA branches of MWUN, Mr. Adewale Adeyanju and Adeleke Sanni, respectively, addressed the workers at both Apapa and Tin Can Ports and assured them that the issues would be fought to a logical conclusion.
Lamenting the loss incurred as a result of the strike, President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Alhaji Shittu Olayiwola said when members of the MWUN were on strike, the agents would not be able to work.
According to Shittu, “agents cannot work because the Dockworkers are needed to do examination on containers just as stevedores are also needed for vessels to discharge.
Shittu called on the management of NPA to rise up to the occasion and resolve the matter for industrial peace of the industry, saying “for every day that the ports are shut, both the Federal Government and other port operators lose not less than N10billion. It is not just members of the freight forwarding groups; everybody is affected whenever there is a strike of this magnitude.”
Similarly, the Officer in Charge of A. P Moller Terminal in Apapa Ports, Mrs. Nike Oladunni-Omoridion, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs told Vanguard that as a result of the strike, operators and others were not allowed to enter the ports. So, customs officers could not carry out examination of containers.
Another Customs officer at the Ports and Terminal Multi-Purposes Services, PTML, who spoke on the condition of anonymity at 4 pm, told Vanguard that he was about leaving the ports to go home because work was disrupted due to the strike.
However, in desperate efforts to ensure that the industrial action did not last beyond yesterday, the management of NPA engaged the leaders of MWUN and NPA Senior Staff Association, counterpart, in a marathon meeting.
At the end of the meeting, President of NPA branch of MWUN, Mr. Sanni, told Vanguard normal services would resume today as the union had suspended the action.
According to him, on the issue of the Tally Clerks/On-board Security, the management of NPA led by the Executive Director Finance and Administration, Mr. Olumide Oduntan, pleaded that the issues would be addressed from today (December 18), and blamed the problems on documentation.
On the NPA staff welfare matters, he equally pleaded that for the union to give the management up to the first quarters of next year because of the austerity measure declared by the government due to the falling prices of crude in the international market.
Recall that the union had weekend notified NPA Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Terminal Operators on the looming industrial unrest at all ports formations nationwide.
The union had lamented that in spite several ultimatums and agreements, the government had failed to address the plight of the tally clerks/on-board security despite their importance to ports operations and national security.
In a letter to NPA by the union dated December 12 and signed by Mr. Edwin Sambo, Deputy Secretary General (Admin), titled “notice to shut down the seaports”, the union wrote “Please be informed that the Union will be forced to close down the Nations’ Sea ports if the under listed issues which are affecting our members are not addressed before Monday, December 15, 2014- Tally Clerks/On-board Security, minimum standard for Dockworkers and NPA staff welfare matters.
The General Court Martial sitting at the Army Headquarters Garrison in Abuja Wednesday sentenced 54 soldiers to death after finding them guilty of mutiny. 59 soldiers were on trial on a two-count charge of criminal conspiracy to commit mutiny and mutiny.