By Bimbola Oyesola
Over 6,000 workers in the maritime sector have lost their jobs in the last one year due to the current recession.
Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), yesterday, in Lagos, said besides the job loss, many companies in the sector had folded up, while several shipping companies had relocated to other countries due to the prevailing economic situation.
President General of MWUN, Mr. Emmanuel Anthony Nted, who stated this at the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) and Special Delegates Conference, in Lagos, lamented that the union was facing a very difficult task of protecting the jobs of members in all the branches.
According to Nted, where Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)/Condition of Services Negotiations were due for review, the union was forced to accept marginal increases where possible and trade off increment with withdrawal of redundancy threats.
He said, “the economic recession is really affecting and biting the union very hard. I feel sad to say that over 6000 members of our union have lost their jobs since the recession began and many more are facing job insecurity, thus exposing the lives of their families to serious jeopardy. In fact, Intels alone retrenched over 3,000 workers because of harsh operating environment. Many shipping companies have been forced to close shop and have since relocated to other countries, thus compounding the job crisis in the industry. We sincerely implore the government to find urgent solution to recession before things go out of hand.”
On the access roads to the ports, the union’s President General said: “Another issue that is of grave concern to us is the deplorable state of the access roads to our seaports, which remains a national shame and embarrassment. The government seems not bothered about its negative consequences on our national economy and the daily fatal accidents inflicted on the citizens besides the man hours spent on the roads. Those roads have become not only death traps, but also expressways to mortuaries. Apart from the airports and land borders, the ports are other entry points for foreigners into the country.
“It is very sad that the access roads to the ports, the gateway to the nation’s economy, can be so abandoned like what have at present. We have written several letters including issuance of ultimatums over these roads to no avail. However, the only good news is that the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), last week, wrote to inform us that contracts have been awarded for the rehabilitation of the roads. There is no sign of the rehabilitation of job yet. Nonetheless, we are watching and if after three to six months we do not see concrete evidence on ground, we shall be compelled to take necessary action without further notice.”
According to Nted, “on the issue of the Tally Clerks and On-board Securitymen, we wish to state that we have not relented in our efforts to ensure that they get their rights. However, the issue is in court and as law abiding union, we will not say much. But we are hopeful that the court will give the workers justice and their jobs will be restored to them in our seaports and jetties nationwide.
“Our government seems genuinely concerned about the level of hardship in the country, but does not seem to know what to do to end the recession. Hence, we call on all Nigerians to seek the intervention of God through their prayers because without God, all things are impossible.”
Secondly, the Government should look beyond the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and assemble a credible economic team (without tribal/religious bias) with proven knowledge and ability to pull our economy out of recession within the shortest time.”
He also noted that salary increase for workers in 2017 through the minimum wage may be a mirage as the present economy cannot sustain it.