By Jerry Aguigbo
The Maritme Workers’Union President-General and the Deputy President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade (Prince) Adewale Adeyanju in a no holds bare with Journalists yesterday stated that MWUN under his watch has ensured that the Dockworkers are no longer scorned at, Stereotyped and stigmatized by port operators and other port users. Speaking at a Roundtable organized by The Maritme Journalists’ Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) in Apapa yesterday, Comrade Adeyanju said that the Dockworkers have been able to overcome being Stereotyped and stigmatized through education, training and retraining, that is why our approach to issues in the ports are different.
On the metamorphosis being witnessed in the Union’s approach to resolving issues without necessarily resorting to strikes, Adeyanju explained.
“I won’t be the last President- General of MWUN, I was once a Dockworker and won’t be the last PG. There must be transformation and a good leader must not disconnect from his people (Dockworkers). We have to take a different approach, there must be dos and don’ts for your workers and there must be a collective agreement.”
Continuing, Adeyanju says, ” having gone through this struggle, I was never going to allow anybody use the Dockworkers to settle scores, I will never, he emphasised.
He explained that there’s a marked difference between the Dockworkers of those days and the once now, “we have professionals as Dockworkers today, this is so because they have been trained and educated in different fields and today, they can compete with their colleagues in other sectors.
On tackling casualization which has seen Dockworkers taken advantage of by their employers, the PG says, ” Casualization is a virus in the system all over the world. Casuals have no hope. We have always made that case but with the new trends in the ports, we have made sure there is collective bargaining and agreement, there’s also a known mode of operation, there is what we call, payment by tonnage. This means the Dockworkers are paid according to the volume of tonnage worked on by each worker.
We have also ensured that they get their terminal benefits and severance package or allowance,” he stated.
Further on, reiterated that the Dockworkers are the engine room of the ports and people feel they don’t have Fathers and Mothers but today, they have both parents, they have been trained to do so many things, from handling the Ristracker to other Cranes.
We have vowed to kill this virus, with collective bargaining, Casuals within the ports have been taken good care of, we know those Terminal operators who have complied. Those who would not wait to be cajoled before they pay or do the right thing and we also know others who would wait until you threaten them.”
The Shipping companies were not also left off the hook for their poor working conditions and poor remuneration for workers. As he puts it, ” Shipping companies are also a big problem and there condition of service is very poor but the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC)has stepped in, to ensure that anyone working with a shipping company should know how much they are taking home and also know their terminal benefits are. This is so that anyone retiring would have hope. That is why we said, let us have the minimal benefits stated. However, we are still working to make life more meaningful for Maritme workers,” Adeyanju stated.
Prince Adeyanju was subsequently honoured by the Maritme Journalists’ Association of Nigeria with a ‘Maritme Labour Icon’ Award. To appreciate his input and doggedness as a labour Unionist and as Chief representative of the Maritme sector at the NLC.