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Dockworkers’ wages in Nigeria have improved significantly – STOAN

By Mercy Shoaga

Dockworkers’ earnings in Nigeria have improved significantly since 2006 when the private investors started managing the nation’s seaport operations concessioned to them.

The Chairperson of Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Dr. Vicky Haastrup, disclosed this on Thursday while speaking at the maiden edition of Nigerian Dockworkers Day organised by the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria (SCAN).

The event themed ‘Dockworkers: The Unsung Heroes of Nigerian Port Reforms’ seeks to highlight the contributions of dockworkers and employers to the port industry, showcasing the growth and development of Nigerian ports in line with international best practices.

STOAN Chairperson, Dr. Vicky Haastrup in a chat with the President General of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Prince Adewale Adeyanju.

The STOAN Chairperson also gave assurance of terminal operators continued support to dockworkers’ welfare in Nigeria, while describing the dockworkers as ‘unsung heroes’ vital to port operations.

She said: “Before the concession, dockworkers were poorly paid. They did not have conditions of service. Indeed they did not have identifiable employers. Their safety, in the course of performing their duties, was not taken to heart. They were exploited, dehumanized and underpaid. But all of that has changed, thanks to the bold move of the Federal Government to reform and concession the ports in 2006.

“We recognize the importance of our dockworkers. They are professionals and essential workers. They are vital and crucial to port operation. Indeed without dockworkers, we cannot talk of effective port operation. The story of the success of port concession cannot be written without copious mention of the role of dockworkers.

“Let me reiterate here today that terminal operators remain unflinchingly committed to the welfare of dockworkers despite the economic situation in the country.”

Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium, commended the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) for ensuring that in the recent years the industry has not been distorted by the stoppage of operations by dockworkers.

“It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this maiden Dockworkers Day celebration. I believe SCAN will make it an annual event, and we assure you of our support. I wish you fruitful deliberation,” she said.

Speaking earlier, President of SCAN, Mr. Eugene Agha, said that SCAN formally considered the idea of the Dockworkers Day celebration in 2022.

He noted that global seaborne trade boasts an estimated yearly N33.2 trillion and argued that Nigeria’s status as a maritime country with its ports as gateways to drive economic growth, must prioritize the role of dockworkers.

Agha recalled the unique roles of dockworkers during the COVID-19 era, when they were among the few essential service givers to mandatorily remain on their duty posts irrespective of the dire risk to their lives.

His words: “We are mindful that the International Transport Workers’ Federation and International Dockworkers’ Council have called for International Day of Action for Dockworkers on July 7 to recognize the important contribution dockworkers make to the global economy, the risks they face at work every day and their growing concerns for the future regarding attacks on their working conditions.

“A tribute to fallen and injured comrades will be included. We want to see action being taken locally, regionally and globally on 7 July.

In attendance at the event were the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime; the President General of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju; the Pioneer President of Dockworkers Union, Chief Joshua Ogunleye; Chief Executive of Ships&Ports, Dr. Bolaji Akinola among others.

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