Maritime workers threaten to shut down port operations over unpaid salaries

Lagos, Apapa port complex28 October 2013, Lagos – Maritime workers have threatened to shut down the nation’s seaports should the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) fail to pay nine months arrears of salary owed Tally Clerks and On-board Security by the end of the month.

The President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Anthony Nted, issued the strike notice at the weekend while addressing the aggrieved workers who staged a protest at the Dockworkers branch of the union in Apapa.

Nted appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the management of NPA to pay workers their arrears of salary, which he estimated at over N700 million to avert a looming nationwide industrial action.

He explained that the union had earlier reached an agreement with management of NPA on the full payment of the salary arrears of over 1,400 tally clerks and on-board security before the end of October but regretted that barely a week to the end of the month the full payment was yet to be made.
He stressed that the leadership of the union would no longer be able to suppress workers possible reaction to further delay in the payment of salaries adding that the union has exhausted all avenues of dialogue on the protracted issue.

Speaking further, the union leader said the Tally Clerks and On-board Security were generating millions of naira for the federal government on a daily basis, adding that there is no justifiable reason why their salaries should be delayed even for a month, let alone nine months.

Nted, however, said he was optimistic that the management of NPA would implement the agreement signed with the leadership of the union by the end of the month stressing that if it reneged on the agreement, the workers would be forced to shut down all the ports in the country.

“I want to commend you for the peaceful protest and the mature way you are showing your grievances. The issue on ground is very clear because since January, the management of NPA has refused to pay tally clerks and on-board security their outstanding salaries even after an agreement was reached in August.

“At a tripartite meeting held with the management of NPA, maritime workers union and the representatives of Stevedoring contractors over the resolution of the Tally Clerk and On Board Security salary dispute  on August 15, 2013, where it was agreed that by the end of October, their backlog of salaries would be paid.

“We want to believe that management of NPA will redeem their promise, but if they refuse to pay workers their full entitlements by the end of this month, we will be forced to withdraw the services of our members in the maritime sector. Maritime industry is not like any other sector, we are generating over N600million income for the federal government on daily basis and NPA has no reason whatsoever not to pay our members their salary arrears,” Nted said.

He added that the services of tally clerks and on-board security is very important to the country since they are the ones that detect sharp practices and items that could jeopardise the security of the country.

– Linda Eroke, This Day

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