The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued a seven-day ultimatum to all shipping companies and employers of labour in the shipping industry starting from Friday, February 17, 2023, to implement the minimum employment standard for its members in the sector.
MWUN said that should the companies fail to comply, its members in the shipping, dock, seamen and NPA sector will withdraw their services from all ports, jetties, terminals and oil and gas platform nationwide without recourse to further notice.
President General of the Union, Comrade Adeyanju Adewale, who in a statement said that members of the union are currently underpaid and overused, gave the companies a week to commence and conclude necessary negotiation of the condition of service.
Adeyanju accused all shipping companies in Nigeria and employers of labour in the sector of continuous and outright refusal to interface with MWUN and negotiate a minimum standard of employment for its employees.
He stated further that the proposal by the companies to negotiate employees’ working condition on individual company basis is unacceptable and in clear violation of the procedural agreement signed in 2014.
The statement further read: “We wish to note that the struggle to get employers of labour in the shipping sector to negotiate with MWUN has been on since 2019 – a clear four years and still counting.
“We have run circles most times to get these employers of labour to come to a meeting, and where they do, they come up with reasons not to engage the union in Collective Bargaining negotiating for the improvement of the livelihood of our members in the shipping sector who are currently underpaid, overused and often subjected to frustrating working conditions, which includes a retirement, renumeration and gratuity regime that can only be described as a death sentence.
“MWUN in evaluating the gory conditions under which our members in the shipping sector work, had to declare a state of emergency in the sector with the hope that this will ignite some meaningful change in the employment conditions of our members.
“Unfortunately, this has not been possible, due to the recalcitrant attitude and indifference of shipping companies to the sad plight of their employees.
“The last straw was the outcome of a joint meeting MWUN had with some representatives of the shipping companies under the aegis of the Shipping Association of Nigeria ((SAN) on the 15th February 2023 wherein these representatives informed the union that their mandate is to request MWUN to negotiate employees’ working condition on individual company basis i.e. plant by plant, which is in clear violation of our procedural agreement signed in 2014 with representatives of shipping companies which recommended a global standard for collective bargaining negotiation and agreements. This effectively brought negotiations to a stalemate.
“In the sustained refusal of Shipping Companies to negotiate with the union and their continuous subjection of our members to slavish work conditions. We can no longer sit back, fold our arms and watch our members denied their rights to decent income and improved working condition.
“MWUN wish to state that if at the expiration of this ultimatum we do not get any response from the Shipping companies, the union will have no alternative other than to call upon our members in the shipping, dock, seamen and NPA sector to withdraw their services from all ports, jetties, terminals and oil and gas platform nationwide without recourse to further notice”.