Maritime workers have threatened to embark on strike within two weeks if the Federal Government fails to make international oil companies pay government-appointed stevedoring contractors monies owed them.
Mr Adbul-Waheed Adeyanju, the President General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), issued the two-week ultimatum in a statement in Lagos on Thursday.
Adeyanju particularly urged the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport to look into the issue so that dockworkers could be paid their salaries and wages.
He said that the failure to pay government-appointed stevedoring contractors for jobs done had made it impossible for their workers to be paid salaries, a situation which had led to “the untimely death of members’’.
According to him, failure to effect payment to the contractors will make members of the union to withdraw their services in all the seaports.
“Dear stakeholders, we want to use this medium to intimate you and the Federal Government of the non-payment of the stevedoring wages to dockworkers by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in Nigeria.
“On 1st June, 2018, the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) appointed stevedoring contractors to provide stevedoring services at various off-shore jetties and on-shore locations to the international oil companies and other operators.
“It will be necessary to inform you that NPA had held several meetings with these operators to grant access to the government-appointed stevedoring contractors, process their invoices, and effect payment, but unfortunately, the operators have refused to comply with NPA’s directive after one year that the stevedoring contractors were appointed.
“We commend the managing director and management of NPA for the efforts they have made to compel the IOCs to engage the services of appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers in their stevedoring operations.
“A stakeholders’ meeting was held on Feb. 28, 2018 organised by NPA in Lagos to sensitise IOCs, jetty owners, and terminal owners,” Adeyanju said.
According to him, the NPA management made it clear that in line with Section 27 OF NIMASA Act, 2007 only government-appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers are empowered by law to solely handle, discharge and embark on loading operations at the ports, jetties and Oil platforms.
Adeyanju wondered why the contractors refused to cooperate with the newly-appointed stevedoring contractors since the modus operandi remains the same?.
The union boss said that while dockworkers were awaiting the payment of their wages, they could no longer meet their family obligations like payment of house rent, children school fees and hospital bills, to mention but few.
Adeyanju said, “We can no longer continue to watch our members die prematurely because of the defiant attitude of the IOCs.”
(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)