Maritime Workers Union shelves strike as Wike releases arrested dockworkers in Port Harcourt



File Photo: President General of the MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju ,with union members at Apapa Port, Lagos.
 The planned industrial action by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has been shelved following the release of the 20 dockworkers who were arrested in Port Harcourt Rivers over COVID-19 movement restrictions.


Recall that the Taskforce team on COVID-19 enforcing movement restriction led by Governor Nyesom Wike arrested the 20 dockworkers on their way back from work at the BUA/PTOL terminal on May 9, 2020, in spite of their global recognition as frontline workers providing essential service at this period.

On that note, the Union had on May 10 issued a 48-hour warning for the release of the dockworkers or withdraw services of its members from the ports nationwide.

Speaking on the release of the arrested dockworkers, the President General of the Union, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, briefed newsmen on Wednesday that the intervention of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Shippers’ Council and the Labour Congress was able to get the issue resolved.

The PG, however, insisted that the charges by the Rivers State Government against the dockworkers on their arrest must be dropped because they were on an essential assignment for the benefit of the economy and should not be treated as mere criminals.

Adeyanju also said that the bus conveying the dockworkers was still in the custody of the state government.

He said “Respected stakeholders have been calling on us trying to intervene on the issue in the past four days, most especially the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello and even the NLC too are on top of the issue. The dockworkers have been released but we are still requesting that they drop all the charges against them because they are not criminals.

“They are responsible workers, legitimately employed by terminal operators and engaged by stevedoring contractors. They were also given essential duty pass signed and authorised by the NPA. It shows that they are legitimate workers and they have every right to work in the port.

“We cannot drag ourselves with what is going on in the country. We are a responsible union. We don’t just do things without applying wisdom. If we shut down the whole port now, are we not adding injury to what is happening?

“For example, we have a fish vessel that has been at berth at PTOL and the vessel’s cooling system is showing signs of breakdown so we have asked the dockworkers to go back to work. As a responsible union, we believe in social dialogue.”

The PG used the occasion to request an end to the harassment of the union members who by the nature of their job would always be on duty for essential supplies to get to people.