The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has thrown its weight behind the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) over its planned industrial action against International Oil Companies (IOCs).

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, in a letter to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, dated March 3, 2022, recalled that at the last stakeholders’ meeting held on February 28, 2022, with the union, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and concerned stakeholders, an understanding was reached that the IOCs comply with the extant stevedoring regulations within the next two weeks.

Wabba, however, noted that since the last meeting, the IOCs had refused to sign the agreement reached the meeting.

“We write to seek the firm intervention of the Minister to prevent the shutdown of all maritime operations in Nigeria any moment from now as the union is poised to take action at the expiration of the two weeks timeline. Any action undertaken by our affiliate union — Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria – at the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum will receive the full backing and solidarity support from the Nigeria Labour Congress,” he said.

The letter reads in part, “We write to bring to the attention of the Honourable Minister a lingering issue in the maritime sector that is about to shatter the industrial peace and harmony that has been conscientiously built through the interventions of the Honourable Minister and the efforts of our union in the sector – the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.

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“In line with extant maritime laws in Nigeria especially the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007, a Government Marine Notice No. 106, 2014 was issued to stakeholders in the sector. The Government Marine Notice 106 mandated all companies and persons engaged in stevedoring work including Dock Labour Employer and Private Operators of any work location including Ports, Jetties, Onshore or Offshore Oil and Gas or Bonded Terminals, Inland Container Depots (ICDs), off Dock Terminal, Dry Ports and Platforms to engage stevedoring workers and companies to carry out the operations on their platforms and premises.”

“Government Marine Notice 106 is also in tandem with Article 3 (2) of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Dock Work Convention 137 which Nigeria ratified on the 22nd of March 2004. Unfortunately, while other operators in the sector have allowed registered stevedoring companies and dock workers access to their platforms and premises in compliance with the Marine Notice 106, International Oil Companies (IOCs) have been in willful disobedience to the directives contained in Government Marine Notice 106.

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“The Honourable Minister may recall that the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria had brought this matter to your esteemed attention a number of times and had even issued an ultimatum for strike actions in the past including 3-day warning strike which was eventually suspended and I4-days Notice of Strike Action issued April 2021.

“The Honourable Minister would also recall that at a meeting held on 30th June 2021 on this matter, the Honourable Minister directed the International Oil Companies to comply fully and Immediately within seven days with the provisions of Government Marine Notice 106.

“Sadly, till now, International Oil Companies have arrogantly and with grand Impunity disregarded the Honourable Minister’s directives.”

Wabba warned that should the IOCs fail to implement the ‘Marine Notice 106’ and allow the stevedoring companies and registered dockworkers access to their platforms to commence operations after the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum, all maritime operations in Nigeria would be shut down.