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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Maritime unions denounce revival of Ports and Harbour Bill, cite threats to national security

Joint press conference by workers' unions warns against potential privatization and loss of jobs

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Members of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations and Government-owned Companies (SSACGOC) have strongly opposed the National Assembly’s renewed interest in the Ports and Harbour Bill, expressing concerns over its potential impact on national security and employment.

In a joint press conference held in Lagos, the President General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, and the President of SSACGOC, Maritime Branch, Akin Bodunde, cautioned President Bola Tinubu against endorsing the legislation. They argued that the bill, if enacted, would contradict Tinubu’s commitment to creating five million jobs through the newly established Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy.

The unions warned that the proposed legislation would transfer harbor, jetty, and terminal operations into private hands, with far-reaching consequences for national security. Describing the bill’s sponsors as unpatriotic, the unions accused them of attempting to exploit national resources for personal gain.

“We are not surprised that the bill is being vigorously sponsored by certain unpatriotic individuals within the maritime sector, who are hell-bent on appropriating our commonwealth and cornering the same into the lining of their pockets and that of their cronies,” the unions declared.

Expressing disappointment in the focus of the 10th National Assembly, the unions criticized the neglect of pressing issues such as the deplorable state of the nation’s seaports, collapsing infrastructure, and the need for dredging. They emphasized the importance of addressing these challenges for increased efficiency.

The groups raised concerns about the bill’s disregard for demands to hold international oil companies accountable to Nigerian maritime regulations, standards, and laws within the nation’s economic zones.

In a firm stance, MWUN and SSACGOC conveyed their strong disapproval of the bill, predicting that its passage would lead to chaos and anarchy in the industry. They asserted that the proposed legislation would render Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) employees jobless and jeopardize the productivity of other port users.

The unions condemned the bill’s provision for wholly non-pensionable employment, lack of transferability, and absence of access to terminal benefits. They argued that such measures would institutionalize the harmful concept of casualization of workers and contravene the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004, as amended.

“We confirm our absolute vote of confidence in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act as it currently relates to the Nigerian state and the well-being of the workers in the sector, and we will vehemently resist all attempts to push this hellish bill further. We, therefore, demand its withdrawal in its entirety,” the unions declared emphatically.

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