As part of efforts to enhance the welfare of its members, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has entered into an agreement with Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN).
While signing the pact, which is for a period of two years, and supervised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Chairman of STOAN, Princess Vicky Haastrup, said the importance of dockworkers to port operations could not be over emphasised.
She said since the ports were concessioned, terminal operators had shown unflinching commitment to the welfare of dockworkers through improved wages compared to what obtained in the pre-concession era.
“If there are no dockworkers, there are no ports because if you have a port and you do not have the dockworkers to help discharge the vessels, we cannot operate,” the STOAN Chairman said.
Commending NIMASA and the leadership of MWUN for driving the process, which led to the signing of the agreement and for ensuring industrial peace and harmony exists in the ports, she said, over the years, dockworkers’ interests had not been well protected particularly under the hazardous conditions in which they work.
“We recognise that it is important for us to maintain and see to it that their interests are well protected,” she said. “ Before 2006, the average income of a dockworker then was about N5, 000 that is why when we took over, we ensured that they are adequately compensated for the work they are doing.
“In 2008, we had the first negotiation and ever since till now, every two years, we have always sat down and that is why we call it collective bargaining agreement. Since we took over in 2006, we discovered that most critical area for peace in the industry and to have a smooth sail operation in the Nigeria port is to maintain absolute peace with the dockworkers.
“In the last couple of years, we have not heard of stoppage of operation, it has become a thing of the past in our port and I commend the leadership of the union”.
On his part, the President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, expressed appreciation to the terminal operators for signing the agreement to improve dockworkers’ welfare despite the economic situation affecting the operators.
He said signing the agreement would translate to a 60 per cent increase in the wages of dockworkers and will also entitle them to terminal and retirement benefits.
“In the past, we don’t know our employers but the beauty of this new agreement show that there is a structure coming to the port where a dockworker will have retirement and terminal benefits being borne by the terminal operators and not the stevedoring contractors,’ he said.
“ I want to appreciate all the terminal operators for this wonderful gesture that they render.”
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