The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the federal government not to go ahead with its plan to designate INTELS Terminal located in Onne, Port Harcourt a national terminal for the clearance of heavy lift cargos and deep draught vessels saying that such move would lead to job loss on the part of the nation’s dockworkers.
The union which made this observation at the end of the meeting of its Central Working Committee (CWC) warned that the plan if implemented would create industrial crisis in the maritime industry and affect other terminal operators in the nation’s sea ports.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting and signed by the Secretary of the Union, Mr. Aham Ubani expressed concern about job security of their members who would be thrown into the labour market as a result of the current policy initiative of government.
It urged the government to desist from implementing any policy that will have grave implications for job creations in the sector stating that it would not hesitate to shut down the nation’s ports should government go ahead to implement the policy.
It read in part, “We are alarmed by the developments arising from the recent commissioning of phase 4 INTELS Project at Onne Oil Gas Free Zone Ports, which has to do with among others, the references made in the various addresses to the new operational capacity developed in the phase 4 project and the attendant attainment of 15 meters chart datum in the Berth and insinuations about a plot to designate the INTELS Terminal, a National Terminal for the clearance of heavy lift cargos and deep draught vessels”.
“While we are not going to talk about the implications of this insinuations or developments to other terminal operators, because they are in a better position to talk about how it will affect them, we are much concerned about the job implications and job security of our members”.
“We have a lot of our members working with Stevedoring companies in the midstream or offshore operations with vessels. We do not want to imagine or contemplate what will happen to the pool of Dockworkers in these locations, who are our members, if this policy is implemented”.
“We do not want to believe that this is part of a grand design to weaken union’s solidarity and strength because if it is, government should better prepare for the consequences because we will resist it with last drop of blood”.
The union noted that the reasons for the appointment of stevedoring companies to midstream and offshore terminals was to create jobs and address youth “restiveness as parts of programme to sustain the amnesty offered insurgents during Niger Delta Militancy era.”
We want to advise that such a policy should not be contemplated because we will not fold our hands and allow those with ulterior motives to drive our members out of employment to join the saturated labour market. Government should jettison such plan in the interest of industrial peace in the ports.
The workers noted pointed out that part of the reasons why there are security challenges and insurgency in the North, especially in the North East where the Boko Haram sect is being fuelled by the army of idle able bodied hands who minds have now become the devil workshops, is because they are jobless.
“If we discover that government or those behind this ill-advised policy is going ahead with it, we will shut down ports to protect the jobs of our members”, it warned.