Maritime workers extend ultimatum over dispute with NPA

NPA portsEluonye Koyegwuaehi

04 July 2013, Lagos – MARITIME Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has extended the the ultimatum given to Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to pay 11 months unpaid salaries of Tally clerks, on board security men among dispute to avoid industrial unrest.

The ultimatum was extended for 14 days following intervention with the Federal Government to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.

It was gathered that the Minister had invited stakeholders to the dispute including Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to a meeting over the matter following threat by the union to shut down the nation’s ports where it was resolved that the union should give authorities concerned more time to address its demand.

It will be recalled that the union had petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, threatening to shut down the nation’s ports over unpaid 11 months salaries to members by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, among others issues.

In a petition dated June 12, 2013, the union alleged that NPA had for the past 11 months had no paid Tally clerks, onboard security men and others , but had been spending not less than N3000million monthly to pay illegal employees known as Cargo Surveyors, who had nothing to do at the ports.

It gave the management of NPA 14-day ultimatum pay the tally clerks, onboard security men their 11 month unpaid salaries and disengage the cargo surveyor who had no defined to job in the ports, but receive fat pay, failing which the nation’s ports would be shut down indefinitely.

According to the union, the Dockworkers including the Tally Clerks and On-board Security men were registered by the National Dock Labour Board, NDLB, to work in the Sea Ports, Private Terminals and Jetties and were trained in the act of cargo handling/loading and discharging of ships.

The union said section 35 of the Nigeria Dock Labour Decree No. 37 of 1999 which established the Joint Dock Labour Industrial Council, JODLIC, described a Dock as “a person registered under the Decree to perform duties connected with the loading arid discharging of ships.”

Specifically, MWUN, the so called cargo surveyors of NPA are not known under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Act 2007, which regulates Maritime Labour activities in Nigerian Ports, hence not permitted by law to perform the role of registered Tally Clerks.

According to the petition, “On-board Security men are involved in watching over cargo to avoid theft and over boarding and to prevent unauthorized shore leave through the gangway by crew members. Their function also helps to prevent attack of vessels in the Ports by terrorist and pirates in line with requirement of the ISPS code on port and ship security and safety.”

“Tallying services is for the benefit of the ship, the cargo owners, the port and indeed the nation. That is why the ship/ship agent-must countersign or stamp every cargo record from the ship. It is through physical recording of cargo landed that discrepancy can be detected. It is through Quay Apron Tallying that undeclared tonnage can be detected in the interest of national economy. It is the record of Tally Clerks that serve as evidence that the ship has delivered to the consignee’s nominated port destination.”

“It is unjust and undesirable for NPA Management to attempt to substitute registered Tally Clerks with Cargo Surveyors because looking at all past and subsisting legislations; there has always been provision for registered Tally Clerks and On board Security men because of their strategic importance to the Maritime industry and tacit security value as “whistle blowers”.

As a Union, we say emphatic no to any move to replace the trained experienced tally clerks and on board security men with Cargo Surveyors. The move shall be resisted by our members in all seaports nationwide. This is because we cannot stand any further labour dislocation in our seaports and the attendant gruesome consequences on the affected Nigerian Workers, their families and dependents.

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