File photo: Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr.Chris Ngige
Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, has ordered workers to shut all eastern ports operations and begin an indefinite strike from Monday, December 14, over the sack of members by Integrated Logistics Services, INTELS, Nigeria Limited and Associated Maritime Services, AMS, Limited.
Eastern Ports comprises Calabar Ports, Port Harcourt Ports, Onne Ports and Warri Ports.
In a statement by the Secretary-General, Felix Akingboye, the Union lamented that over 500 members were sacked by the two companies in the midst of negotiations on improved welfare and conditions of service for workers, and all entreaties to recall them were rebuffed.
According to the statement, the matter was worsened when several workers were hospitalised after they were allegedly brutalised, harassed and intimidated by the armed security operatives allegedly brought in by management.
The statement reads in part: “MWUN wishes to bring to public notice the increasing unfair labour practices and assault on our members at Integrated Logistics Services, INTELS, Nigeria Limited and Associated Maritime Services, AMS, Limited.
“The height of the anti-labour practices by these two companies were the sack of over 500 of our members on Friday, December 4, in the midst of the Union’s negotiations with the companies over-improved welfare and the conditions of service for workers.
“In the course of the negotiations that started about a week earlier, the Union requested for a break to enable the Union hold its National Executive Council, NEC, meeting on Friday, December 4.
“To our greatest shock, while the Union was holding its NEC, the two companies issued redundancy letters to over 500 of our members.
“We wrote to them to withdraw the redundancy letters for us to resume negotiations in a peaceful and harmonious environment.
“They did not only refuse, but followed up the redundancy letters with locking out our members on Monday, December 7.
“To further worsen the situation, they unleashed armed security operatives including soldiers and Policemen on the Union members and inflicted various degrees of injuries on our members. Some of them are at present in hospitals receiving treatment.
“As a law-abiding Union, we cannot accept the illegal use of security operatives to deal with industrial relations issue where unarmed workers are brutalised, intimidated and harassed.
“Consequently, the Union has directed its members in the Eastern Ports to down tools from Monday, December 14, and begin an indefinite industrial action pending when the management of INTELS and AMS withdraw the redundancy letters to our members and guarantee resumption of negotiations;
“The Federal Government investigate the presence of armed security operatives at a peaceful gathering of workers, sanction those who brought the security operatives that brutalised, intimidated and harassed our members and a guarantee from the management of Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, that security operatives will no longer be used to deal with or settle industrial relations issues in the sector.”