Members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-owned Companies have opposed the move by the National Assembly to revisit the Ports and Harbour Bill.
The two unions made this known in Lagos recently during a joint press conference.
Recall that the Ports and Harbour Bill was introduced by the 8th National Assembly, but was not passed after maritime stakeholders protested against its passage.
Addressing journalists during the press conference, the President General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, and the President of SSACGOC, Maritime Branch, Akin Bodunde, advised President Bola Tinubu to be wary of the legislation.
They added that it would kill his commitment to the creation of 5 million jobs for Nigerians through the newly created Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.
“We wish to note that this bill, if allowed to be passed into law will have far-reaching, grave consequences on the security of the nation as it will cede harbour, jetty, and terminal operations to private hands,” the unions said.
The unions described the people sponsoring the bill as unpatriotic.
“We are, therefore, not surprised that the bill is being vigorously sponsored by certain unpatriotic individuals within the maritime sector, who are hell-bent on appropriating our commonwealth and cornering same into the lining of their pockets and that of their cronies.
“We would have thought that given our persistent cry and various notices pointing to the deplorable state of our various nation's seaports, decrepit state of port access roads, collapsing quay aprons, and the general failure of infrastructures within our ports the focus of this 10th National Assembly would have been to find solutions to the myriad of problems bedevilling our ports, terminals, jetties and oil and gas platforms and even the need to dredge all the ports, particularly Calabar, Warri, Onne, etc., for increased efficiency,” the unions explained.
The groups also expressed worry that the sponsors of this bill ignored demands to call the International Oil Companies operating in the nation's economic zones to obey Nigerian maritime regulations, standards, and laws.
“The joint house unions, MWUN and SSACGOC, use this medium to convey our belief to the executive, national assembly, and the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy that this is certainly not the right way to go as this ploy by these selfish individuals in the maritime sector will cause chaos and anarchy in the industry, which has enjoyed sustained peace since the idea of projecting the harsh bill was killed in 2018.
“We note that the bill as being proposed, if passed into law, will render the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) employees jobless and endanger the productivity of other port users. Even more sinister is the proposed idea of the Bill to provide wholly, employment that will not be pensionable as well as not transferable and without access to terminal benefits,” the unions claimed.
According to the unions, the proponents of the bill were inconsiderate to the right of workers to the necessary payment for services rendered by a worker, in accordance to known law, industrial relations practice, equity, and good conscience.
They argued that if passed into law, the bill would effectively institutionalise the evil concept of casualisation of workers and negate the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004 as amended.
“We confirm our absolute vote of confidence on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act as it currently relates to the Nigerian state and the well-being of the workers in the sector, and we will vehemently RESIST all attempts to push this hellish bill further. We therefore demand for its withdrawal in its entirety,” they said.