From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Fresh from its industrial action at the nation’s giant port concessionaire, AP Moller Terminals (APMT) Apapa, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has got the support of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to sanction any breach of expatriate quota in the maritime sector.
MWUN, which last Friday suspended its picketing of the terminal operator over alleged usurpation of Nigerians’ jobs by foreigners, vowed during its working visit to the NSC Executive Secretary, Mr. Hasan Bello, that the union would no longer tolerate anti-labour activities in the maritime sector.
Endorsing the move, Bello commended the union for adopting scientific approach in its industrial action at APMT, stating that as the port economic regulator, the NSC would work to sustain the peace and harmony that have existed in port operations.
According to Bello, “nobody should come to Nigeria and disrespect us. We support the union for calling the terminal operator to order. We have rules and regulations, we have laws and sanctions and nobody should come to our country and take us for a ride.”
Meanwhile, MWUN President-General, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, told newsmen that the union would extend the sanctions to other terminal operators who flout the laws and treat Nigerian workers with disdain, stating: “What we have done at APMT for almost two days is part one, part two is coming.
“It will be between me, the union and the erring terminal operators who are bent on disrespecting the laws of this land. We only used APMT as scapegoat for others to learn.”
Adeyanju, who accused the foreign maritime firms of flouting the National Joint Industrial Agreement (NJIC) with the union, lamented that “the jobs Nigerians can do are being given to foreigners from other West African countries such as Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana.
“There should be timeline for these foreign workers coming to take over Nigerians’ jobs. Why will they bring in a foreigner to head the finance department when we have competent Nigerians that can do the job?”
Henceforth, “we are going to all the multinational companies that do such. We have qualified Nigerians who can handle most of these departments but they prefer to bring people from outside the country.”
The union called on the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to investigate the expatriate quota and job permit granted APMT and others, stating that it might have been abused.
“The immigration service should investigate these multinational companies. What does the expatriate quota say? Why should they be giving Nigeria’s jobs to foreigners? Using and dumping Nigerians and taking over their jobs will not be allowed.”