TERMINAL OPERATORS, OTHERS SIGN AGREEMENT TO ENHANCE DOCKWORKERS WELFARE

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Members of the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria have signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria.

STOAN members had ensured the renewal and implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement every three years, thereby ensuring the progressive increase in the remuneration of dockworkers.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was signed on Thursday at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency headquarters in Lagos, would lead to an increase in the wages, allowances and retirement benefits payable to the dockworkers. The agreement would be operational for three years.

The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Vicky Haastrup, who led other members of STOAN to sign the agreement with the union, noted that terminal operators had ensured industrial harmony at the seaports since 2006 by prioritising the welfare of dockworkers.

She said, “We are happy as employers of labour to give the dockworkers the wages they rightly deserve. It is always our joy to bring succour and joy into the hearts of our workers.

“Before the 2006 port concession, the monthly income of an average dockworker was less than N5,000 but today, we make bold to say that we now pay our dockworkers very well.

Our dockworkers are now well respected and well-compensated for the work they do. This is because we acknowledge dockworkers as the bedrock of port operation.

“Before we became their employers, dockworkers were not respected. They were seen as troublemakers and thugs at the ports. Today, we have worked together with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria to change the narrative.

“Dockworkers are professional quayside workers who are vital to port operations. They are essential workers and we are happy to treat and remunerate them as such.

Also speaking, the President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, commended the Federal Government for concessioning the ports to private terminal operators.

Adeyanju said the port concession programme had impacted positively on the lives of port workers through the improved welfare package instituted by terminal operators.

He said, “The era of using dockworkers as slaves in their fatherland no longer exists. We want to thank the Federal Government for concessioning the ports because that reform has changed the lives of dockworkers all over the nation’s seaports.

“Before concessioning, the wages of dockworkers was nothing to write home about. In those days, an average dockworker that worked for eight hours a day would go home with N4,000 at the end of the month.

We used to have stevedoring contractors but they did not care about the welfare of the workers. Some of the stevedoring contractors even ran away with the pensions of dockworkers.

“But since the terminal operators came in, we have seen the difference between the stevedoring contractors of those days and the terminal operators of today.”

Also added, NIMASA Executive Director, Cabotage and Maritime Labour, Victor Ochei, commended STOAN and MWUN for signing the new agreement. He urged all concerned to ensure full implementation of the agreement for the benefit of dockworkers.

In addition to terminal operators and the officials of MWUN, the Collective Bargaining Agreement signing ceremony was also witnessed by the representatives of NIMASA, the Federal Ministry of Transportation, and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

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