The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) may be new in business but the horizon of the union’s business is huge and gigantic. For the president of the union, Adewale Adeyanju, the maritime union is into business to add more value to the union and its members.
He also speaks on the several initiatives the new administration has taken to ensure MWUN remains relevant and occupies its pride place as one of the leading trade unions in the country.
Why we’re divesifying
We cannot continue on this 2 per cent, 2 kobo per person because the check-off dues is going down, it is dwindling and affecting us as a union. What we did after we were elected was to go into ventures that add more to our revenue drive. Part of what we have done is to go into haulage business, we have registered with the CAC. We equally have export business, we have registered that one too and, just of recent, we have introduced co-operative, the Maritime Co-operative, which has taken off almost a year ago and people have started embracing it. That’s the purpose, we believe that we should go into business that will add more value to our union.
What union stands to gain
Average union executive always believe in management’s support. But when you are into business, you don’t need to go and look at the face of your management before you achieve your goals. You don’t need to meet management to support you on anything. When you are into business, even the same management will be afraid of you. So, I think that is why we say let’s go into the business that will add more value to the union.
We are about to start most of these projects, perhaps before the end of this first quarter. All our members, even some stakeholders have embraced it, even some are trying to support us, show interest, to make the project a reality. If you look around, though government is a continuum, but what we met on ground, we do not need to blow our trumpet, but I believe diversification will help the system to grow. Many people, the whole world believes that the Maritime Union is the richest, but it’s not, until when one comes in that is when one will see what is on ground here. Because most of my predecessors did not think of going into business, they believed in pure trade unionism. But our constitution permits us to go into business and that is what we have started doing now.
We got the idea both from our association with international bodies and local affiliates. If you look at our local unions, some of which we are affiliates here, some of them are into business, Food and Beverage, they have a hotel of their own and so many businesses. We, as Maritime, we are inside water and soap is entering our eyes. So, it helps me as a leader, that unions that are not even as big like us are into many ventures. That encourages us and we decided to embark on businesses as well. Even travelling out, we see some of the affiliate countries telling us that they are doing things for their members. An example is what happened to the tally clerks and on-board securitymen, they have now been fully paid and disengaged. If we are having these businesses then, it’s a matter of engaging them when they lost their jobs. That’s the kind of things we are trying to introduce now, so that whoever is coming after us will know that at least we have laid a foundation that is going to help the workforce in Nigeria.
Impacting on members
That’s what we are planning. When I came in here, so many people were retired, but because of their experience in the system, I still retained them. If we have all these businesses that we have just registered, it’s a matter of seconding them there. Because they are still useful to the organization. The experience they have put in as veterans in the system can equally be deployed in the other business. I think that’s the area am trying to put down on the table for our members to see.