From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Port Harcourt dockworkers under the aegis of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria on Wednesday protested over inability of their employer to honour an agreement on workers welfare.
The dockworkers said they had given two weeks ultimatum to their employer to implement the dockworkers welfare agreement, signed by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The angry protesters who blocked the popular Njenmaze Street leading to Abonnema Wharf accused NPA and NIMASA of marginalising them after they failed to implement the agreement they signed.
The protester regretted why NIMASA ignored their plight and was collaborating with their employer to frustrate the workers welfare agreement.
Speaking during the demonstration, Mr. Godstime Atulegu, who led the protesters said there was an agreement to set up minimum standards for the dockworkers in the industry.
Atulegu said: “We agreed that the minimum gross wage for any employed dockworkers shall be N33, 000. That an increase of 10% shall be added to all general/bulk Cargo, we also told them that the unit payment per laden for 20-40 containers shall be N1, 000.
“We also agreed that the employer shall contribute in favour of each dockworker in their payroll a 7.5% of workers monthly emolument as pension fund contribution toward the employee’s retirement. There are so many agreements we reached with them, but today they have abandon it for us to suffer,
“There is no going back on the planned shutdown of the seaport if by the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum nothing happen. We are calling on the President Godluck Jonathan to intervene because most of the dockworkers have vowed to join robbers if all effort to address our plight failed.
When contacted on the protest, the General Manager, Nigeria Port Authority Port Harcourt branch Mr. Sunny Nwobe, said he was out of the country and not aware of the dockworkers protested or not.