Dockworkers under the aegis of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Thursday, October 22 commenced an indefinite industrial action to protest the non-payment of salary arrears to some of their members, namely tally clerks and onboard security by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
President, Dockworkers branch of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, said that the union had no choice but to declare the strike action to ensure payment of the workers’ salary arrears.
He said in addition to the outstanding salaries, the union was also protesting against “the use of foreigners for stevedoring activities and offloading of consignment from vessels midstream”.
He said the union had last week issued a 7-day ultimatum to the NPA management to put an end to all midstream discharge of vessels in Bonny Rivers and other port formations without using registered dockworkers as required by law.
“It is not in our character to shut down the ports but we have been pushed to the wall at this time so we are left with no options,” Adeyanju said.
However, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said it had set machinery in motion to address the union’s grievances.
According to the General Manager, Public Affairs of NPA, Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu, the payment of salary arrears to the tally clerks and onboard security was being delayed due to the implementation of the Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account system.
“This is a new process that is still being fine-tuned and naturally there will be teething problems which I believe will be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.
A visit to the various port terminals across Lagos and other parts of the country showed that stevedoring and cargo handling operations were paralysed as a result of the strike.
Adeyanju said the strike would continue until NPA addresses the union’s grievances.
By Pita Ochai