The Federal Ministry of Transport has mediated in the crisis rocking the nation’s seaports as it directed the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to settle all issues of salary arrears owned maritime workers.
Specifically, the ministry tasked the NPA to ensure that port activities were not disrupted as planned by the dockworkers arm of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN).
The ministry in a letter addressed to the Managing Director of NPA, Alhaji Lamido Ado Bayero, dated August 4, 2015, and signed by S. U Galadanchi, Director (Maritime Services), on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, cautioned the NPA boss on the implication of likely shut down of the port operations by the union.
In the letter titled “Re: Planned abolition of the function of on-board security men and tally clerk (unit of dockworkers), by the Nigerian Ports Authority: A clarion call”, the Director of Maritime Services, said, “I am directed to refer to your letter ref. No. MD/10/FM/Vol.XX/247 dated 16th July, 2015 and our letters ref. Nos. T.0160/S.166/T/214 dated 4th June, 2015 and T.01/60/5.166/T/217 dated 14th July, 2015 respectively on the above subject/copies attached, and convey approval of the Permanent Secretary for you to effect payment to the twelve (12) dock labour employers appointed by the ministry vide letter No. T.3968/T.2/43 dated 24th October, 2005 to supply tally clerks and on-board security men in our ports for services rendered under the contract.
“In view of the implication of dock workers strike to the smooth operations of the ports and the nation’s economy by extension, you are by this letter, expected to ensure quick settlement of the issue of payment to avert industrial action by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.”
President of Dockworkers’ Branch of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, said efforts were on to see if the matter would be resolved, warning however that if at the close of work yesterday, no concrete assurance had been given on the payment; the ports would be shut from this morning.
MWUN had threatened to shut the nation’s ports from yesterday over months of unpaid salaries to dockworkers especially tally clerks and on board security gangway men despites several agreements.
President-General of MWUN, Tony Emmanuel Nted, had said the strike option became necessary because the latest agreement reached with stakeholders including NPA and Association of Stevedoring Companies (ASC) on July 9, 2015, at a meeting called by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, expired since July 30, without any payment made to the affected workers.
Nted claimed the management of NPA was responsible for the delay and refusal to pay the affected workers and asked the government, shipping companies, terminal operators and others to hold NPA responsible for the planned shut of the ports.
By Pita Ochai