Unions reject plans to revisit ports, harbour bill

Bisola David
Bisola David
Unions reject plans to revisit ports, harbour bill

Members of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-owned Companies, as well as the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, are against the National Assembly’s plan to review the Ports and Harbour Bill.

According to The Punch, it was announced at a joint news conference held in Lagos recently by the two unions.

Remember that the 8th National Assembly introduced the Ports and Harbour Bill, but it was not passed due to opposition from maritime players.

President Bola Tinubu was cautioned by SSACGOC, Maritime Branch President Akin Bodunde and President General of MWUN Adewale Adeyanju in their remarks to the media during the press conference.

They went on to say that it would break his promise to establish the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, which would create five million employment for Nigerians.

“We would like to draw attention to the fact that this bill, should it become a law, could significantly compromise national security by giving private companies control over harbour, jetty, and terminal operations,” the unions stated.

“Therefore, we are not shocked that some disloyal members of the maritime industry are actively pushing the law. They are determined to take control of our Commonwealth and use it to line their own and their allies’ coffers.”

They continued, saying, “We believed that the 10th National Assembly’s focus should have been on finding solutions to the numerous issues plaguing our ports, terminals, jetties, oil and gas platforms, and even the need to dredge all the ports, particularly Calabar, Warri, Onne, etc., for increased efficiency, given our persistent cry and various notices pointing to the deplorable state of our various nation’s seaports, crumbling state of port access roads, collapsing quay aprons, and the general failure of infrastructure within our ports.

The groups also voiced concern over the fact that the bill’s supporters disregarded calls for international oil companies operating in the country’s economic zones to abide by Nigerian maritime rules, norms, and regulations.

“The joint house unions, MWUN and SSACGOC, use this platform to express to the national assembly, the executive branch, and the newly established Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy our conviction that this is unquestionably not the best course of action because the proposed bill would threaten the productivity of other port users and result in job losses for staff of the Nigerian Ports Authority if it becomes law.”

The unions said that the bill’s supporters showed a lack of consideration for workers’ rights to the compensation that they need for the services they do, as guaranteed by existing laws, industrial relations practices, equity, and good conscience.

They contended that the bill would effectively institutionalize the harmful idea of worker casualization if it were to become law and would override the principles of the revised Pension Reform Act of 2004.

“We affirm that we fully support the Nigerian Ports Authority Act as it currently pertains to the state of Nigeria and the welfare of the industry’s employees, and we will adamantly RESIST any attempts to advance this terrible measure. Thus, we demand that it be completely withdrawn,” they declared.

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