The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and the Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporations (SSACTAC) on Tuesday made good their threat to shut down activities across the nation’s seaports from 6a.m to 12 noon over what they described as contentious amendment of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Act.
Following the disruption of movement in and out of the ports, operational trucks formed a long stretch on the road, and blocking the port gates at Tin-Can Island even hours after the protest ended officially.
President General of the MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, told newsmen that the strike, which was total and across all ports in the country, was only a warning strike targeted at putting a stop to further amendment of the NPA Act.
He said: “Our members nationwide today, from Rivers ports to Calabar ports down to Onne, Lagos and Tin-Can ports trooped out to protest amendment of the NPA Act by some perceived vested interest under the guise of the Ports and Harbours Bill.
“We practically grounded ports activities from 6a.m today and just called off the strike by noon because the protest is a warning strike. If they don’t stop the policy of throwing workers out of their jobs under the guise of amending the NPA Act, what will follow next will be worse than what happened today.”
Adeyanju said passing the Bill into law would lead to massive job loss to members of the union as item 6 of the second schedule of the Bill states that not all the staff of the NPA would be absolved into the Harbour Authority.
He said that the Bill crafted to strip workers of their common wealth through further concession of Harbour operations in the guise of amending port Act of 1955.
Stating their concerns in a message on a banner erected at the Tin-can Island Port gate, the unions warned against ceding of the harbor to private operators, saying that “the harbor is a restricted area.”
They urged the National Assembly to stop the Bill on the grounds of upholding national security.