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FG summons maritime workers over planned strike


Chris Ngige

The Federal Government has summoned leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to a meeting tomorrow in Abuja to consider the union’s demands.The proposed meeting is not unconnected with attempts to avert the planned strike by the union.

MWUN had issued a seven-day ultimatum for the removal of abandoned trucks on the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, a major gateway to the nation’s seaports. It demanded that roads leading to and from the seaports be made more motorable, failing which it would embark on an indefinite strike beginning tomorrow.However, the meeting is being summoned the same day the workers had planned to shut down the nation’s seaports if government failed to fix dilapidated access roads.

The meeting was summoned via a letter signed by the Director, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mrs. Akpan O.U. on behalf of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and addressed to the union.

“In order to avert the imminent disruptions of operational activities in the nation’s seaports, I am further directed to invite you to a meeting at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment scheduled for Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 2 pm.

“By reason of the apprehension of this dispute by the Minister of Labour and Employment, all proposed industrial actions are expected to be put on hold,” the letter reads in part.The Guardian learnt that the ministers of works, housing and aviation, as well as the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) would attend the meeting.

MWUN’s threat was contained in a statement signed by President General, Adewale Adeyanju and Secretary-General, Felix Akingboye.The union regretted the depreciation of business activities at the ports, stressing that as a major stakeholder, it found the situation worrisome and unacceptable.

“We are afraid that if things continue like this, it would lead to the retrenchment of workers and we cannot afford to lose any of our members to joblessness,” it said.It declared that if by today the trucks were not removed and the craters and potholes filled, the union would withdraw its members from ports across the country.

“Today, only few vessels berth at our seaports, as most ship owners and businessmen prefer neighbouring ports, especially Cotonou. While these ports are booming, ours have been deserted because of failed access roads at the gateway to the nation’s economy.

“Last week, we took an assessment tour of the roads. To our dismay, the Apapa axis, said to be under reconstruction by a consortium of private individuals, is at a standstill.

“Yet, we understand that NPA has paid a substantial part of a N270 million pledge it made for the project. In fact, at the rate work is going, that part of the road will not be completed in the next two years,” the union said.

In this article:
Akpan O.UChris Ngige
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