The President General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Prince Adewale Adeyanju, has berated shipowners for failing to attend the inaugural meeting of the tripartite National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) held in Lagos on Wednesday.
The NJIC was set up to negotiate and review compensation, remuneration and working conditions for Nigerian seafarers.
“If you look very well inside this hall, it is only four or five employers of seafarers that are here,” he said.
Adeyanju regretted that aged seafarers who worked for the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) have been neglected by the Federal Government.
He said the Federal Government is refusing to pay the entitlements of the ex-NNSL seafarers because they did not have employment letters.
“Those aged seafarers have contributed immensely to seafaring in this great country. Where are they today? Where is their right? Who is to pay them?
“But with the coming up of NJIC, those issues will be discussed during the technical session. I want to urge the Director-General of NIMASA, through the office of the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage, services that the privileges of the aged seafarers be considered.
“We have done it in the past and we are still appealing to the DG that those seafarers; because what we are hearing is that they don’t have letters of employment, but letters of employment can be determined by the discharge books if the government has the love of those seafarers in their heart.
“This also includes the ship owners who have used the seafarers in the past and they are still using them now, but NJIC will address this proper,” Adeyanju said.
In his opening remarks, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, charged the employers of seafarers to prioritise their welfare and adhere strictly to the terms of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
He said, “A review of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is needed for improved wages and living standard for seafarers operating in the Nigerian territorial waters, who undoubtedly are an integral part of the maritime sector.
“The ongoing review by the NJIC is timely because it comes at a time when we are in the process of reviewing both the NIMASA Act and the Merchant Shipping Act with the outcomes of the tripartite negotiation by the NJIC to be inputed into both amendments to ensure that they are binding.
“The importance of this gathering is determined by the need for adequate compensation, remuneration and workplace conditions for Nigerian seafarers, and for employers of labour to ensure responsible conditions of service guiding seafarers employment in line with global best practices.”