Abuja – The Federal Government on Thursday urged the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and other stakeholders in the maritime sector to exercise restraint and ensure industrial peace and harmony in the nation’s seaports.
Dr Clement Ilo, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Productivity gave the advice at a meeting between the Federal Government, the management of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and the members of the union in Abuja over a threat by the union to shut down the nation’s seaports.
It will be recalled that on July 7, the union issued a 14-day ultimatum to the management of NPA to either pay the eight months` salary arrears being owed tally clerks and on board security men or have the nation’s seaports shutdown.
“The essence of this meeting is to address the issues that were raised by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria over unpaid salaries for the period of about eight months.
“An ultimatum was declared, was issued by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and we know in industrial relations what ultimatum means, most especially in a critical sector like the maritime sector if the ports are closed down.
“You know that the oil sector and the maritime oil sector are the one that attract more revenue to the country.
“For us in the ministry, they are all very critical sectors and we cannot afford to close down the Nigeria ports because that is the gateway to the nation’s economy.“
Illo said that the ministry had the statutory duty to ensure there was industrial peace and harmony in all the sectors of the economy.
He said that it was imperative for all the sectors of the economy to strictly adhere to all labour laws of the country, in terms of maintaining standards and fair labour practices.
He said: “We have ample opportunity today to discuss and dialogue in frankness, in openness and in good faith the issues why they have given us this ultimatum.
“And in accordance with the provisions of the law, all we are going to say here, what we are going to do here is to consolidate and look at the issues involved, if you are wrong we will tell you, you are wrong.
“If you are to do this, we will tell you, you are to do this, if you have challenges let us know, we will know how to go about the challenges.“
Illo assured the union, NPA and other stakeholders that the ministry would do its best in ensuring that the meeting arrived at a workable agreement in which a Memorandum of Understanding would be signed.
He commended the union, NPA, ministry of Transport and other stakeholders for the quick response to dialogue in order to avoid industrial disputes.
The President of the union, Mr Anthony Nted had listed their grievances to include, non-payment of outstanding wages to tally clerks, on board security men and disengaged cargo surveyors without defined job at the ports.
Others are; the indiscriminate parking of trucks on access roads leading to the ports, the deplorable state of roads as well as to relocate tank farms along access roads to the sea ports. (NAN)