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Maritime Unions Reject Ports, Harbour Bill

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-Owned Companies, SSASCGOC, have kicked against moves by the National Assembly to revisit the Ports and Harbour Bill.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Monday, the President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju and the President of SSACGOC Maritime Branch, Comrade Akin Bodunde urged President Bola Tinubu to be wary of legislation that would kill his commitment towards job creation for Nigerians.

The two in-house unions stated that many Nigerians would be jobless with the passage of the Bill into law, adding that the job creation would come through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

They warned that the Bill, if passed into law as being proposed, would among other things threaten the nation’s security, economy and many Nigerians, including NPA employees jobless.

Recall the Bill was squashed from becoming law by the 8th Assembly through the intervention of well-meaning Nigerians, stakeholders and the exerted efforts of the two in-house unions- MWUN and SSASCGO.

“We wish to note that this said Bill if allowed to be passed into law will have far-reaching grave consequences on the security of the nation as it will cede harbour, jetty and terminal operations into private hands.

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“We are therefore not surprised that the bill is being vigorously sponsored by certain unpatriotic individuals within the maritime sector, who are hell-bent on appropriating our commonwealth and cornering same into the lining of their individual pockets and that of their cronies.

“We would have thought that given our persistent cry and various notices pointing to the deplorable state of our various nation’s seaports, decrepit state of port access roads, collapsing quay aprons, and the general failure of infrastructures within our ports, the focus of this 10 National Assembly would have been to find solutions to the myriad of problems bedevilling our ports, terminals, Jetties and Oil and Gas platforms and even the need to dredge all the ports particularly Calabar, Warri, Onne etc for increased efficiency; and not to clandestinely and recklessly seek to misappropriate public infrastructure through unfriendly legislation for the benefit of individuals whose only interest is capital accumulation and not the general public.

“We are further surprised that the sponsors of this bill outrightly ignored our demand to call the International Oil Companies, IOCs, operating in our sovereign territorial economic zones, who have deliberately refused to obey our extant Maritime regulations, standards and laws but, find it expedient to sit in the comfort of their hallowed chambers to push for laws that will be detrimental and inimical to the welfare and wellbeing of the working class, Nigerians and our nation’s security and sovereignty.

“The Joint House Unions, MWUN and SSACGOC use this medium to convey our views to the leadership, members of the National Assembly and the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy that this is certainly not the right way to go as this ploy by these selfish individuals in the maritime sector will cause chaos and anarchy in the industry which has enjoyed sustained peace since the idea of projecting the harsh Bill was killed in 2018 will not be allowed to come to fruition.

According to the unions, a sneak peek into a copy of the Bill has revealed that it provides wholly, employment that will not be pensionable as well as not transferable and without access to terminal benefits.
“This is the height of inconsideration by the proponents of the Bill to the right of workers to the necessary payment for services rendered by a worker, in accordance to known law, industrial relations practice, equity and good conscience.

“It is our belief that allowing this Bill to be passed into law will effectively institutionalize the evil concept of casualization of workers and negate the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as amended. This is in direct contrast to the avowed promises of Mr. President-Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to ensure the provision of about 5 million jobs for Nigerians through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

“Having said this, We, the two in-house unions in the maritime sector; MWUN and SSASCGOC, will not fold our hands and allow a few unpatriotic Nigerians within the industry to rip off the nation’s commonwealth and render our sector unproductive via this infamous Bill that will only create poverty, hopelessness, hunger and generate avid bitterness amongst the already impoverished workers and Nigeria citizenry.

“Consequently, we confirm our absolute vote of confidence on the Nigerian Ports Authority ACT as it currently relates to the Nigerian state and the well-being of the workers in the sector and we will vehemently resist all attempts to push this hellish bill further. We therefore demand its withdrawal in its entirety with the laid down laws.”

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