APFFLON frowns at picketing of shipping agencies by MWUN


…Expresses worry over after effects of action

…As MWUN suspends action by one month

The Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria, APFFLON has registered its displeasure over the picketing of some shipping agencies earlier today by the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria, MWUN, bringing the activities at the Lagos ports to a halt.

Primetime Reporters gathered that notable shipping agencies like Hull Blyte, Maersk Line, Grimaldi, CMA CGM,MSC among others were completely shutdown by the members of the Union.

Reacting to the development in an interview with this medium in Lagos, the President of APFFLON, Otunba Frank Ogunojemite observed that the action was ill-timed going by the economic hardship being experienced in the country currently as a result of the recent removal of fuel subsidy by the federal government and subsequent adjustment of the petroleum pump price by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL.

Ogunojemite argued that the Union should have taken a look at the bigger picture and consider the implications of their action on other port users and the fact that the government of the country would be losing revenue each day the action lasted.

He said, “The workers’ welfare so canvassed by the Union is for the interest of the workers alone but the picketing is affecting a lot of people that have nothing to do with them. We are not saying that they should not cater for the welfare of their members, but they should look at the implications of their action on other port users because when work is not going on, the government itself will not get revenue.

“We could have approach the issue in a way that it will not cause more damage than they want to cause with this strike. I will suggest that they write a petition to the new government on this issue and if the new government remains adamant, everybody would have noticed that it is obvious. To me, I seem not to concur with this ongoing strike, whatever their pain is because they are not the only ones in pain.

“I am not supporting the idea of shipping companies not agreeing to a better condition of service with the Union but my worry is, what will be the end result of this picketing? As far as I am concerned, they should have further engage the shipping companies and other stakeholders as well. For instance, the freight forwarders have not been engaged on this so we can as well pass the message to our clients. So, my fear is the implications of this action on the economy. My concern is the after effects of this picketing.”

While noting that this action, if allowed to continue would affect the importers and their agents as they won’t be able to take out their consignment from the port amounting to incurring more money in clearing their goods from the ports, the APFFLON boss said, “What affects the importers, affect the freight forwarders and even the country itself because if they cannot bring their goods, it slows down their turnover and at the end of the day, they pay higher on the products that they bring into the country.

“Already we are facing harsh economy; inflation is there and now this strike action. At the end of the day, the cost of bringing in the products to the country will be higher, either for sale or for personal consumption.

“About a little over one month ago, they (MWUN) proposed to go on strike and we issued a press release stating why they shouldn’t embark on the action at that time, urging them to look for alternative means of resolving their issues with the shipping companies. To me, I believe they should have given them more time for the new government to settle down and have a dialogue before embarking on the action. This is because, at the end of the day, the terminal operators might refuse to waive the accumulated rent and accrued demurrage.”

He, therefore, called on the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN to show interest in the industrial action by members of MWUN adding that it could intervene by way of appealing to the Union workers and being part of their negotiation process being midwifed by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. “Everybody has a role to play, in everything, you have an interest as a concerned citizen of this country. If CRFFN deems it fit and has interest in the smooth running of the ease of doing business in this country, it can come into the matter by appealing to them, feeling and sharing their in their pain”, he concluded.

Meanwhile, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN has suspended its one day strike action against the shipping companies by one month following the intervention of the economic port regulation, the Nigerian Shipper’s Council in Lagos on Monday.

The Nigerian Shippers’ Council, NSC waded in the industrial action embarked upon by MWUN arising from a breakdown of negotiations between the Union and the shipping agencies and Freight Forwarders Employers Association, SCAFFEA on minimum standard of condition of service in the shipping industry.

The meeting which held at the training room of NSC, ended up in a tripartite agreement with signatory from the Union leader, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shipper’s Council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime and Mr. Ascanio Russo, representing SCAFFEA.

Photo: Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, President, APFFLON.

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