Endless job cuts in shipping sub-sector as employers seek cheap labour in Nigeria, Union cries out


President of Shipping Chapter, MWUN, Ekpenyong Etim Ekpenyong
An unspecified number of workers (perceived to be in their thousands) have lost their jobs with shipping companies in Nigeria as the employers in that sector seek for very cheap labour.
Leadership of the Shipping Chapter of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) told newsmen at the weekend that it was working round the clock to see how the issue could be addressed.

President of the Shipping Chapter of the Maritime Union, Comrade Ekpenyong Etim Ekpenyong, supported by the National Treasurer, Uche Igwe-Onu, lamented the continuous downsizing of the workforce in the shipping sector.

The Union blamed the situation on the design by the companies opting for cheaper  labour , which they get under the guise of outsourcing of the jobs which ought to be undertaken by members of the union.

Ekpenyong said: “In the last six years, there had been a continuous downsizing of maritime workers in the shipping sector. It is as a result of outsourcing of our duties to third party vendors. We have continuously fought that with the help of the PG. Outsourcing had been destroying our jobs.

“Companies and management consider the cheap labour because they will not pay terminal benefits and other allowances.”

Igwe-Onu added that the employers resulted to the outsourcing in order to avoid payment of terminal benefits to staff under their engagement.

He said that while there had been several calls to negotiate with employers in the shipping sub-sector, the employers consistently refused to honour the request for negotiation meetings.

The Union decided on speaking out to the public so that its actions would not be understood and appreciated should it end with an industrial action.

“We are creating awareness, so that the public will understand what we are doing. We have written to them as association and individual companies. That is why according to the President General, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, we are doing reasonable engagement asking for meeting. But no reaction till now,” Igwe-Onu said.

President of the Shipping Chapter, Ekpenyong, confirmed that up until the Union’s address with newsmen, the shipping companies had yet responded to its letter signed February 22, 2020, which requested for a meeting with them to discuss issues of their workers’ welfare and remuneration.

“We have made informal arrangements for talks with those who know, who are in charge of the process. Long ago we knew they had a strong association of employers in the industry,” he said.

Ekpeyong had lamented the challenges in trying to address a shipping sub-sector remuneration benchmark, which last operated in over 10 years.