The Association of Shipping Lines Agents (SAN) has voiced its strong opposition to the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN)’s threat to halt operations at the nation’s seaports starting Monday.
Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, Boma Alabi, the Chairman of SAN, emphasized that shutting down the seaports would not serve the nation’s best interests. She highlighted that the association has been in continuous dialogue with the Maritime Workers’ Union, focusing on enhancing workers’ terms and conditions of service.
Alabi clarified, “The Association of Shipping Lines Agents isn’t the sole employer in the maritime sector. There are various other stakeholders and employers of labour in this domain.” She further revealed that the most recent dialogue between the two parties took place on the 29th of September 2023.
Alabi said, “The MWUN is pushing for new minimum employment standards. However, our members believe that the existing terms for their employees already surpass these proposed minimum standards. Despite this, we remain receptive to discussions on viable proposals.”
Highlighting the recent efforts by many companies to provide additional support to their staff amidst the rising fuel prices and inflation, Alabi warned, “A strike in the ports at this critical juncture would adversely impact every business, worker, and consumer in Nigeria, not just the shipping companies.”
She emphasized the significant role their members play as investors in Nigeria’s port and logistics sector, contributing to job creation and enhancing the nation’s business competitiveness. “Considering Nigeria’s current economic landscape and the need for investments, a call to shut down the ports seems entirely misplaced,” Alabi added.
However, she reiterated SAN’s commitment to the welfare of its employees, expressing their readiness for constructive dialogue through the existing Technical Committee of Employers and MWUN, overseen by the Nigerian Shippers Council.
In contrast, the Maritime Workers’ Union has remained firm in its stance. They’ve issued a seven-day ultimatum to all foreign and multinational shipping companies operating in Nigeria. The union demands a review of its members’ entitlements, failing which they threaten to shut down operations starting Monday, 30th of October, 2023
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