Maritime:Dockworkers Heave Sigh Of Relief As NIMASA Pledges Commitment To Improved Welfare Package As Contained In The ILO, Decent Work Agenda Document

By Stephen Ubanna

 The  Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have begun Negotiations with the  Nigeria Joint  Industrial Council, NJIC,  that could culminate into the signing of the  revised Collective Bargaining  Agreement , CBA, meant to improve the Welfare package for the country’s Dockworkers as obtained in other maritime nations.

 Ever since the information filtered out  about the negotiation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, dockworkers were said to have been in a festive mood as they heave sigh of relief  of going to earn  decent wage and enjoy  good standard of living  like their Counterparts in other parts of the world.The  NIMASA and the NJIC, were said to have endorsed the  initial  CBA, in 2018.

 At the recent tripartite Agreement    meeting, the parties were said to have discussed a ‘’revised minimum  wage  and  improved  standard of living  for the dockworkers.

Victor Ochei, who was at the meeting  in his Capacity as the  Maritime Regulatory  Agency Executive Director,  Maritime  Labour and Cabotage Services,  was said to have pledged  the agency commitment  to ‘’the protection  of the rights  and welfare of dockworkers  as guaranteed in the International Labour Organisation, ILO, decent work agenda’’.

Ochei may have spoken the mind of Bashir Jamoh, the agency Director General, when he stated  that, ‘’dockworkers are integral part to the  efficient and effective stedoring operation at the ports .He noted that NJIC , had ‘’remained resolute in ensuring harmonious working relationships at the ports  through the principle of tripartism and the execution OF CBA, on minimum  wage and decent standard of living for the dockworkers  in the nation’s maritime industry.  

Many believe that the talks about enhancing  the welfare package of the  dockworkers took may have formed the kernel of the negotiations between NIMASA the Council members at the  tripartite  Agreement meeting because Ochei, the NIMASA Executive Directoris the Chairman of the NJIC.  

The NIMASA Executive Director who could not hide his feelings was said to have given  kudos to the dockworkers for keeping  the nation’s maritime industry busy despite the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular COVID1 9. He was said to have repeatedly drummed it  at the meeting  as an insider ’’ that NIMASA, is determined to ensure   that the dockworkers got what was due to them’’.

Appealing to the Council members to Cooperate   with the agency, he disclosed that ‘’it is the way forward  towards ensuring  that they  reach a  meaningful negotiation that would  culminate in the signing  of  the  revised CBA’’. He stated that the agency  had made necessary arrangements for the successful Council  proceedings.

The NIMASA top official averred  that  ‘’the success of the tripartite CBA  Agreement would further  demonstrate Nigeria’s compliance and commitment  the ideals  of the ILO which is an agency of the United Nations, UN, in its  Decent Work Agenda’’. The ILO, Decent Work Agenda, ‘’seeks to promote Safe work, decent wage and freedom of Association’’, as indicated by a document cited by The Value News.

Joyce Udinwang, a Federal government Representative at the NIMASA and NJIC tripartite Agreement meeting, was said to have expressed the Federal  ministry  of Transport, under the close watch of Rotimi Amachi , commitment   to the improved welfare of the dockworkers.  She had  pledged  the  ministry’s resolve to ensure  tha t’’ no dockworker in Nigeria  was shortchanged by the employer’’.

She was said to  have pleaded with  the parties involved in the  tripartite Agreement  for more Cooperation in order to achieve results.  There are indications   that the terminal operators and other employer of the  dockworkers at the country’s seaports have been doing the best they can   to enhance the welfare package of the dockworkers    but Maritime analysts still  believe that they could still do more.

Kunle Folarin, a Representative of  the Seaports Terminal  Operators Association of Nigeria, STOAN, at the tripartite Agreement meeting may have gladdened the heart of Ochei, the NIMASA, Executive Director, who incidentally is the Chairman of NJIC,  when he applauded the agency for its role  over the years ‘’to promote  peace and harmonious working relations in the nation’s maritime industry. A happy Folarin was said to have laid emphasis  on the need for the NJIC members to Cooperate with NIMASA ‘’to further sustain the peace and unity at the ports.

There are about eight functional ports in the country. They are the Lagos ports of of Apapa, Tin-can can Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, Phases I  & II  and the south east ports of Port Harcourt Area I, Onne, Rivers Porto Delta port, Warri and the port of Calabar, Cross river state. Shipping Companies and Agents take their Ocean going vessels to theses ports to discharge their cargoes which requires the services of these dockworkers.

Other members of  the NJIC, who were said to be at the tripartite Agreement meeting  were Charles Okaga, President, , National Association of Stevedoring Companies,, NASC, and Bolaji Ajumola  including a Representative of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. Okaga and Ajumola, were said to have assured the NJIC members of their support towards the implementation of  the  improved welfare  package of the Seafarers.

Recall that that in 2018,  the NJIC and NIMASA, had signed the CBA,  that was said to have elapsed on May 31, 2020. The CBA, which was for a two-year period, according to a Council, source was ‘’tended to ensure industrial peace in the industry.  ‘’It involve requirements for the fair treatment of dockworkers, principally, making sure that every employee gets an employment letter and a package of terminal benefits when their contract expires’’, the source enthused.

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