Shipping agents under the umbrella of the Association of Shipping Lines Agents (SAN) have condemned the threat by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to shut down the nation’s seaports from Monday.
According to them, shutting down the seaports cannot be in the interest of the nation.
Boma Alabi, chairman of SAN, told newsmen in Lagos on Friday that the association has been engaging with the Maritime Workers’ Union on the issue of improving the workers’ terms and conditions of service.
According to her, the Association of Shipping Lines Agents do not encompass the totality of employers in the maritime sector as there are other employers of labour in the sector.
Call for constructive dialogue
She said several enhancements have already been tabled, and that dialogue is ongoing, with the most recent meeting having been held on 29 September 2023.
“It should also be noted that the MWUN seek to impose new minimum standards of employment while the members of SAN consider existing terms and conditions for their employees to be significantly above any so-called minimum standards already. Yet we remain open to discussions on sustainable proposals.
“In recent weeks many companies have provided additional palliatives to staff to cushion the effects of fuel price hikes and other inflationary pressures affecting all Nigerians. A strike in the ports at this delicate time is a strike against every single business, worker and consumer in Nigeria, not simply against shipping companies,” she explained.
She said that many of their members are significant investors in the port and logistics sector in Nigeria, creating thousands of jobs and helping to enhance competitiveness and investment opportunities for businesses in the country.
“At a time where Nigeria needs investment to promote economic growth and opportunities for employment, we consider a call to shut down the nation’s ports to be wholly inappropriate,” she added.
She however pointed out that the welfare of employees is a matter of utmost importance to their members and that they remain open for constructive dialogue through the existing Technical Committee of Employers and MWUN, which is chaired by the Nigerian Shippers Council.
The Maritime Workers’ Union had threatened to shut down the nation’s seaports and terminals starting from Monday, October 30, 2023, if the salaries and allowances of its members were not reviewed by international shipping lines calling Nigerian ports.
The union had issued a seven-day ultimatum to all foreign and multinational shipping companies operating in Nigeria, to review the entitlement of its members or face the consequence of shutting down their operations.