Vice President, Nigeria Labour Congress and President-General, Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju (left), Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Victor Ochei, Port Manager, Apapa Port, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Charles Okaga, and Director-General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, during the 2023 Day of the Dockworker celebration in Lagos
By Anthony Nwachukwu
At last, Nigerian dockworkers have received the Federal Government’s part-on-the-back for their indispensable contributions to the growth of the national economy as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) hosted the “Day of the Dockworker” in Lagos.
Gathering under the theme, “Healthy Dockworker, Better Productivity,” stakeholders took the opportunity to not just appreciate the efforts of Nigerian dockworkers at the center of the nation’s import-dependent economy, but also to focus on ways of improving their health and general wellbeing.
The Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN) had pioneered the deserved recognition with the maiden Dockworkers Day celebration earlier in September 2023.
In his address, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, charged employers of labour to enroll all dockworkers in the contributory pension scheme.
“As we celebrate today, it is important to put in perspective the plight of dockworkers who spend the greater part of their working life at the ports, with little or nothing to show for it,” Jamoh said.
“As employers of labour, you must endeavour to put in place a contributory pension scheme for dockworkers and ensure prompt remittances of both employers and employees’ contributions at the end of each month.”
He also expressed the need for oil and gas terminals to allow only approved stevedores aboard their installations, in compliance with relevant international guidelines and conventions.
“This occasion presents me with an opportunity to express the need for operators in the private jetties and oil and gas terminals to grant operational access to the stevedoring contractors appointed by the Minister of Transport to carry out stevedoring activities in assigned operational areas.”
Meanwhile, in recognition of dockworkers’ vital and crucial roles in ports operations, the Vice President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, has called on the National Assembly “to make legislation for Dockworkers Day to be held annually.”
Adeyanju, who is also the President-General, Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN), noted that “without dockworkers, we cannot talk of effective port operations. Yet, over time, they were not given due recognition.
On the dockworkers’ welfare, Adeyanju stated that with identifiable employers presently under the umbrella of Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, “dockworkers welfare packages in terms of remuneration, allowances and other privileges can now be firmly discussed in a collective bargaining process.
“The agreements, when reached, are then encompassed in the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“Today’s event is expected to x-ray the challenges faced by the dockworkers in their daily struggle and efforts toward port efficiency, and in the light of ever-improving technology-driven economy, hence training and career are fundamental, and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential to protect them against various hazardous working conditions.
“It is instructive to note that the environment (in which) we operate poses danger to our lives. For instance, the quay aprons at Apapa Port Complex are dilapidated and Tin Can Island Port Complex has collapsed due to long use, while Port Harcourt Port is aged and decrepit.
“On the port access roads, the gridlock has effect on various aspects of the maritime industry’s activity with wide-ranging negative impacts on both vehicular, cargo and human movement within and outside the ports.
“On this note, we call on the relevant authorities to expedite action in rehabilitating and finding lasting solution to the bad state of port access roads in all port formations nationwide. Special note should be taken of Onne Port access road, which is in a state of decay.
“On the other side, we wish to remind the Federal Government of the need to resuscitate the pool system of tally clerks and onboard gangway security men.”
Adeyanju commended “the untiring and far-reaching interventions” of Jamoh and the Executive Director, Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Victor Ochei, including granting the means to celebrate the dockworkers.
He also thanked the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, for the developments in Nigerian ports that positively impacted dockworkers, while urging the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Gboyega Oyetola, to expedite action on the issues raised.
The celebration is in line with the Global Day of Action, organised by the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and held July 7th to raise awareness of port working conditions and emphasise the importance of collective bargaining rights.