Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has assured stakeholders of its commitment to protection of rights and welfare of dockworkers as guaranteed in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Decent Work Agenda.
The Agency’s Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Mr. Victor Ochei, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos signed by Philip Kyanet, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA,
Ochei, according to the statement, gave the assurance during a meeting of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC).
The executive director said that the meeting discussed a revised minimum wage and improved living standard for dockworkers through the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) initiative endorsed by NIMASA and NJIC in 2018.
“Dockworkers are integral to efficient and effective stevedoring operation and the NJIC has remained resolute in ensuring harmonious working relationships through the principle of tripartite and execution of Collective Bargaining Agreements on minimum standards for the dock labour industry,” he said.
Ochei, who is also Chairman of NJIC, extolled efforts of the dockworkers to keep the maritime industry afloat, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said NIMASA was determined to ensure that dockworkers got what was due to them.
The executive director called on the council members to cooperate with NIMASA toward ensuring meaningful negotiations that would culminate in the signing of another CBA.
Ochei said that the agency had made necessary arrangements for successful council proceedings.
He said that the success of the exercise would further demonstrate Nigeria’s compliance and commitment to the ideals of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, which sought to promote safe work, decent wage and freedom of association.
The representative of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Mrs Joyce Udoinwang, expressed the ministry’s commitment to the welfare of dockworkers, assuring of its resolve to ensure no dockworker in Nigeria was shortchanged.
Udoinwang appealed for more cooperation from all the parties involved in the tripartite agreement.
Mr Adewale Adeyanju, President-General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), in his own remarks, commended NIMASA for midwifing the CBA.
He said it had ensured industrial harmony and peace in the maritime industry.
Adeyanju disclosed that the NJIC would reconvene in the next few weeks to deliberate and agree on new wages for dockworkers.
He called for the cooperation of the terminal operators and employers of dock labour to ensure the attainment of the Decent Work Agenda.
“So far so good, the terminal operators and employers of dock labour are doing their best, but so much can still be done to better the welfare of their workers,” Adeyanju said.
Also speaking, Mr Kunle Folarin, representative of the Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), applauded NIMASA for its role over the years to promote peace and harmonious labour relations in the industry.
Folarin said NJIC would cooperate with the agency to sustain peace and sanity at the ports.
Other members of the NJIC at the meeting include the representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Mr Charles Okaga, and President of National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC), Mr Bolaji Sunmola.
Both assured of their support toward improved welfare for seafarers.
It would be recalled that in 2018, NJIC signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement with NIMASA that elapsed on May 31.
The CBA was for a two-year period and intended to ensure industrial peace in the maritime industry.
It involved requirements for the fair treatment of dockworkers principally, making sure every employee got an employment letter and a package of terminal benefits when their contract expired.