The maritime sector of the economy may witness labour crisis soon as dockworkers under the aegis of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) yesterday kicked against the plan by the Nigerian Ports Authority, (NPA), to disengage about 3,500 workers.
The union, which expressed its displeasure about the planned sack, staged nationwide protest simultaneously in Lagos, Warri, Calabar, Onne, and Port Harcourt.
The aggrieved workers therefore, urged Federal Government to intervene; threatening to ground activities in the sector, if actions were not taken to call NPA to order.
Speaking during the protest in Lagos, the Assistant General Secretary, MWUN, Abdullahi Eroje, said, “We came out to warn that the proposed sack if implemented, might hurt the nation’s fragile economy and ignite industrial unrest.
“The Managing Director, Habib Abdullahi is claiming that Mr. President directed him to reduce workforce in the maritime sector. He said, he is starting with Tally Clerk and onboard security men and after that, he will move to other areas. According to Abdullahi, if he has his way, there will be no dockworker in Nigeria seaport.
“We have been on this matter since December 15, 2015. The tally clerks are like whistleblowers. They calculate, taking record of every cargo that come into the country and every cargo that is loaded on board as exports, to go out. So, in their job, they prevent under-declaration by shipping companies and terminal operators.
“All efforts by the union to dialogue with the government, even meet with the minister of transport have failed. The minister of transport told us that the memo from the Abdullahi states that the jobs of these people are no longer required. His plan is to replace them with cargo surveyors, who are not known by law,” he said.
Eroje continued: “Our position on this issue is that we cannot mortgage our future to persons who have no intention of seeing beyond their noses when making policies and decisions that would better the lives of the workers as well as the lives of Nigerians. We have options that can be applied instead of sacking all tally clerks and thus destroying the future of this country and sabotaging the economy.”
“There should be no sack of tally clerks, and even where they cannot work under the concessionaires, the NPA should redeploy and reabsorb them in other departments,” he maintained.