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Socialist Democracy August September 2017


17 July 2017

Print | Text only print | Facebook  Twitter

DOCK WORKERS FIGHT FOR THEIR 10 YEARS UNPAID WAGES; TAKE ENL TO COURT

By Fidel Davinovich, DSM Ajegunle

Dockworkers employed by ENL Consortium Limited, operators of terminal C and D have been on protest since March 2016 over unpaid time related wages between 2008 and 2016 as agreed collectively by the industry. ENL is one of the terminal operators after the port was privatized in 2006 and since then implemented ruthless anti-labour practices.

In May 2008, there was a collective agreement between the Association of Private Operators of Seaport Terminal (APOST) and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). This agreement became the minimum standards for the Dock Labour Industry and sanctioned by the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC). This agreement states that the minimum gross wage for dockworkers at entry point is N33,000; there will be 10% increment on time-related salary bi-annually; there will also be 10% increment on tonnage rates; and there will be review of the agreement every two years. So far, only salary based on tonnage was implemented.

Hence, each time the dockworkers called for the full implementation of the agreement, the management has always evaded the question and sometimes threaten the workers of mass sack. The matter got to a head and there was a mass protest of workers in March 2016 that led to their disengagement. N350, 000 was paid to the workers each as disengagement benefits as agreed in the 2014 reviewed collective agreement between Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN). The workers contended that the disengagement benefit is a far cry from what they deserve considering the fact that most of the workers have worked in the industry for more than 15 years and with ENL since the port was privatized. Since the workers were disengaged, many of them have been out of jobs and have been facing hardship.

In response to the workers protest, ENL instructed its 5 contractors (Daisy Chain Ltd, Bisbiak Enterprises Ltd, Tobef continental Services Ltd, Quayside Maritime Services Ltd, and Bluech Lomado Shipping & Logistics Ltd) whose primary responsibility is to supervise the dockworkers and provide gears for dockworkers employed by ENL to fraudulently reissue employment letters to all the dockworkers dated April 2016 that will retroactively take effect from April 2006 in order to evade liability. This fraud and several others were aimed at covering up the anti-labour policies of ENL and by extension evade liability and responsibility.

Unfortunately, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has been in an unholy alliance with ENL and other terminal operators against the interest of dockworkers. The leadership of the Maritime Union kept the four (4) collective agreements (2008, 2010, 2012 and 2017) away from the workers and has largely connived with the operators to cheat workers.

In furtherance of their wickedness, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) and ENL baselessly filed a suit at the National Industrial Court (NIC) in April 2016 against the victims (workers) and the case was dismissed on June 7 2017 for lack of merit. In continuation of the fight back, the dockworkers through their counsel (Barrister Toluwani Adebiyi) filed a suit against ENL on May 30, 2017 and the matter will be coming up on July 10, 2017.

The workers are determined to challenge the multi-billion indigenous company (ENL) in Nigeria owned by Vicky Haastruap, one of the richest Nigerian capitalist and beneficiary of the port concessioning and privatization until they get justice.

Fundamentally, the members Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) who have been very active with the workers for more than 15 months believe that concessioning and privatization does not represent the interest of the working class and the poor. Instead, it is a policy meant to impoverish the poor and further create additional crisis. It is only a government of workers and the poor armed with socialist programmes that can transform the ports by nationalizing them and putting them under democratic workers control and management.

In solidarity with ENL/Agitating Dockworkers Forum, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) calls on the Nigerian Labour Congress, United Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, pro-labour activist, trade unionists etc., to intervene so that the demands of the workers are met.