By UCHE USIM
Labour and Productivity Minister, Chief Emeka Wogu has given Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), two weeks to settle all outstanding salaries and emoluments of tally clerks and onboard security men working in the maritime environment.
The directive springs from an agreement reached at a stakeholders meeting convened by government to address incessant threats and pockets of industrial unrest that occurred in the maritime sector in recent times.
The union had in a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, alleged that NPA’s continuous indebtedness to the aforementioned maritime workers had become unbearable, even as they lamented that the parastatal’s management spends not less than N300 million monthly to pay illegal employees known as cargo surveyors, who they described as layabouts.
However, the Labour minister recently summoned the management of NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and other stakeholders to a meeting in Abuja as a way of ascertaining the root cause of the ripples in the sector and how to avert the planned strike that hitherto loomed.
Before the meeting, the union had threatened to shut down the nation’s ports last Wednesday to protest unpaid salary arrears of members.
President of the union, Anthony Nted, said the union decided to suspend the industrial action at the end of stakeholders’ meeting presided over by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour & Productivity, Dr. Clement Iloh.
He hinted that the stakeholders would reconvene today to agree on when the payment would commence.
“At the end of the meeting, it was resolved that the NPA would need two weeks to receive inputs from the ports, determine the cost implications of the payment of arrears, interface with the managing director of NPA and work out the modalities for payments accordingly.
“The meeting also noted the issues of the non-payment of salaries to tally clerks and on-board security men in different parts of the country and the statement by the executive director, NPA, on the insufficiency of the national budget for NPA for that purpose.
Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity stressed the need to redress all issues pertaining to the payment of salaries where relevant and arrears of the agreed increment,” Nted said.