Industrial Action: MWUN insists on review of workers’ welfare as Shippers’ Council appeals for settlement
… Union bemoans N500, 000 dockworkers retirement benefit after years of service
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria(MWUN) has insisted on review of dockworkers welfare even as the Nigerian Shippers’ Council appealed for an end to the on-going strike embarked upon by the Union at the APM Terminals, Apapa.
The dockworkers had embarked on a strike on Wednesday to protest poor conditions of service; poor remuneration, poor retirement benefit as well as imposition of foreigners on jobs that Nigerians have qualification and capacity to handle.
President General of the MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, Thursday at a meeting with the Management of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, disclosed that Nigerian workers in the employ of the APMT on retirement after long years in service, were paid just five hundred thousand naira (N500, 000.00), making it impossible for such retirees to survive.
He said: “Retirement benefit in APMT is like a death sentence. Somebody puts in 35 years in service and when he retires back home, his retirement benefit is N500, 000.”
Adeyanju also accused the APMT management of not heeding suggestions or giving considerations to issues raised pertaining the workers’ welfare. He added that rather than create structures for career growth and continuity, the company truncated the development of the Nigerian workers in its employ.
His words: “We have sat with them for almost six to seven times talking about welfare of the workers; talking about their ‘take-home’ that what if somebody retires tomorrow what would he fall back to?
“I believe that continuity in government is for stability, it is for peace to reign, for more productivity of the company, but the APM Terminals believe in ‘hire and fire’. They believe in doing whatever they feel; that they can bring their own law to bear and supersede the law of the country that gave them the business they are doing.”
Adeyanju therefore, vowed that since the APMT management had failed to review the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Union would not sign retirement benefit of N500, 000 for any worker in APMT, even as the management failed to consider the suggestion to negotiate the N500,000, but make the payment be according to the number of years served.
“I even told them that they could negotiate it with us; we can say give us like N400, 000 per year of service, because not everybody would retire and not everybody is going for retirement. It is in segments; you cannot have 30-40 going for retirement at the same time, but they refused.
“We started from 100 down to 40 per cent, but they refused, because they claimed they have a global way of negotiating, a global standard. We then said, fine, since you have global standard and trying to globalize the local worker in APMT, then you should equally pay us equivalent in Dollars or in Pounds, whatever you believe would be equivalent to what you are telling us.”
The Union said the terminal also exhibited anti-labour practices when it would not allow the owners of the port into its terminal unless it was served 48hours notice ahead of time.
Corroborating the complaints, Comrade Tunde Balogun, who is the District Chairman of the Union in APMT, said the company has treated the Nigerian workers in its service most unfairly.
He said it was sad that the APMT preferred better treatment of foreigners over Nigerian workers, including school support for their children.
“Last year when Shippers’ Council came to APMT, the management did not allow them into the place, they locked the people out. They do not have respect for Nigeria. They bring foreigners to take over the jobs that Nigerians can do, which is bad.
“They pay the foreigners higher. The finance director earns above N5million monthly, while my colleagues and I are earning less than N5million annually. And the APMT pays for his two children attending British and American International Schools, which is N20 million per child; if they are going for excursion, they pay like N30 million per head for the children. And this is a Ghanaian, while they refuse to pay support for school fees of the Nigerian workers,” Balogun said.
Responding on the development, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, appealed for more robust discussions to find a solution to the problem between the Union and the APM Terminals.
He sought considerations to the fact that both sides involved in the disagreement were losing, while the nation’s economy suffered too.
“But the fact of the matter is that this strike is creating economic impact that is causing loss on both sides of the table. So you know terminal operators are losing almost on the brink of about $20,000 dollars daily for as long as this strike continues.
“That is actually sometimes again the irony; what are the workers asking for? The loss that is being incurred compared to what is being asked for. Now, there is room for a conversation around the issue. A strike action should actually be the last resort, when it becomes clear that all options have been explored and there isn’t a resolution. But, unfortunately sometimes we are confronted with this.”
The Shippers’ Council boss promised to further the discussions immediately with the APMT management for solution to the problem.
“So I will reach out to the other side to engage as well. Adeyanju likes to listen and engage. If he takes an action, it must be he has calculated and taken all the necessary steps that must lean towards the enactment of that particular action. When you have a man like that leading, the only thing you can do is to listen to him, because he is always going to tell you something that would help you in providing solutions,” Jime said.