National Shipping Line: MWUN SET TO TACKLE MINISTER OVER NON- PAYMENT OF WORKERS WAGES

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Minister of Marine and Blue Economy

By Innocent Orok

Barely 24 hrs after the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyeka Oyetola hinted stakeholders that the Federal government will re-establish a National Shipping Line to enjoy the over $10bn ship charter market, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria ( MWUN) has described such moves as dead on arrival and a mirage.

President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju in a statement on Wednesday lamented that 28 years after the liquidation of the Nigeria National Shipping Line ( NNSL), the disengaged seafarers have not been paid their entitlement.

Adeyanju described the plan by the minister as placing the cart before the horse without considering the plight of the aged seafarers who served the defunct national carrier vessels.

Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, President General, MWUN

The statement signed by the Head of Media of the union, Comrade John Ikemefuna reads, “The President General of the Maritime Workers Union (MWUN) Comrade (Prince) Dr Adewale Adeyanju, fnli HFCPSP, few months back met with the Minister during the commissioning of the Mission to Seafarers Center in Apapa, where he chipped to the Minister of the enormous task ahead of him in his ministry and varying major issues confronting the Maritime Workers Union, especially on the protracted unpaid entitlements and pensions of disengaged Seafarers of the liquidated NNSL, even as ruled by the NIC in favour of the aged Seafarers that they should be paid. The Union is now having a different view of the Minister when he did not speak about the aged Seafarers who navigated with the moribund national carrier vessels over the new NNSL proposal.

“The MWUN which its major challenges has not been resolved over the years with several Ministers of Transportation as regards the settlement of the retiree aged Seafarers and other issues confronting the blue economy which has not been given a clear cut definition and mode of operation, is still worrisome to the Union as we speak.

“The re-floating of a new NNSL will be a mirage if the retired Seafarers, who worked tirelessly with deep sense of patriotism for the country are not given their due rights after 28 years they left service of the national carrier vessels. It will also be tantamount to placing the cart before the horse if such proposition is in the pipeline without first thinking of the aged Seafarers.

“We, as a Labour Union will not sit aloof and keep watching our aged Seafarers to continue suffering unnecessary penury after meritorious years of service to their fatherland. It’s true that some of the aged Seafarers have died from various types of ailments, some from psychological torture and trauma; mental degradation, abject poverty and so much more that has weighed them down in depression.

“It would be recalled that the former Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, did set up a committee involving two ministries, Ministry of Transportation and Labour Ministry respectively. The said committee was charged with the responsibility of carrying out physical verification exercise of the aged Seafarers, which the Union thought would have brought some sort of succour; but the story is still the same. It’s indeed unfortunate to say here that the committee has never met.

“So, where do we go from here, when you want to refloat the NNSL with no consideration to the Seafarers who served the defunct carrier vessels? This is unheard of anywhere globally, therefore, the assertion for a new NNSL is mirage in its conception, except the needful is done.

“The Blue Economy that is on the lips of every Nigerian today, emerged as a global concept in 2012. Therefore, the Union’s position as far as the new ministry is concerned cannot function without the inclusion of MWUN in all its ramifications; hence, the Union must be part of the policy process, which must be seen to conforming with the rules of social inclusion and collaboration, because the blue economy must be seen to strengthening social equity order, hence, our disposition, given the aged Seafarers debacle which is yet to receive serious attention.

“Comrade Adeyanju, who doubles as the Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had before now prayed the Minister to look into the nagging issue of the Seafarers to see how he can bring it to a logical conclusion. However, Comrade Adeyanju also promised the Minister of the Union’s support towards making sure that the nation will achieve much in the sector in his tenure; but also frowned at the Minister’s projection on the re-floating of a new NNSL when he visited Lagos recently without putting into cognisance the plight of the disengaged aged Seafarers, who were parts and parcels of the defunct carrier as it were.

“It will be unkind to the Union to hear any assertion by the Minister regarding a new NNSL without carrying along the previously disengaged Seafarers concerning their entitlements which have not been fully settled. “

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