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Shippers Council Cautions MWUN On Planned Strike

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The leadership of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) has appealed to the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) to shelve their proposed indefinite nationwide strike scheduled for 1st March, 2022 across all the nation’s seaports.
Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Emmanuel Jime, disclosed this in Lagos during a meeting with the President General of MWUN, Mr Adewale Adeyanju.
Recall that MWUN had issued a 14-day strike notice to the Federal Government over the refusal of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to allow stevedoring companies access to their platforms to begin operations.
“Any disruption at the port can affect in a very tragic way the economy of the country.
“The conversation is about the notice to down tools, and we as a port economic regulator should ensure that there are little or no disruptions to operations at the port.
“We have to show concern when there is disagreement that has risen to a level to cause disruption, especially in the maritime space.
“We are also disappointed about the state of affairs that has led to this situation of giving the notice which has been recurring as far back as 2014 with regards to engagement of stevedoring companies.
“We are disappointed that what has come to stay as a policy is being abused and we will not stand by and see the policy, which will benefit the Nigerian people and assist in operations, is not obeyed,” he said.
Jime appreciated the union for staying off strike when the Minister of Transportation intervened earlier, noting that this showed that the union was disposed to listening.
“Obviously, it has gotten to a point whereby you believe that nothing else can be done and the only option being a strike, this can mean that you have probably exhausted every avenue.
“I plead with you to tarry a while just like you have done in the past to give negotiation a chance. This time with shippers’ council playing a midwife, because I will be meeting with the Minister on this issue.
“I assure you that the council is ready to work with you to resolve this issue. In enforcing policy, I suggest that for IOCs that are not compliant, you can picket that IOC to send the right signal,” he said.
Earlier, President General, MWUN, had said as a responsible union, they do not back-out anyhow, but follow due process and would not do anything funny.
He said they believed in sincerity of purpose to come from employers of labour, and believed in working closely with each other to achieve objectives.
Adeyanju noted that the law of the country must be respected concerning stevedoring contract, and berated the IOCs for not doing so.
“We have been given a mandate that the strike must commence and that is what is before you.
“The strike is imminent and it is way of telling the world that the IOCs are not bigger than this country,” he said.
Adeyanju wondered why the IOCs were running away from their responsibility and preventing the stevedoring contractors from coming in.
“If they are not hiding anything, why won’t they obey the instructions of the Minister of Transportation? So, by next week, which is very close, we are not shifting ground on this issue.
“We cannot do such in their countries, so they must respect our laws,” Adewale said.

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Maritime

ILO Adopts New Minimum Wage For Seafarers

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In a bid to motivate seafarers globally and improve on their productivities, a subcommittiee of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed to raise the minimum wage for seafarers to up to $673 per month
The new wage was agreed following the conclusion of negotiations between shipowners and seafarers’ unions.
Under the resolution agreed by a subcommittee of the ILO’s Joint Maritime Commission (JMC), the minimum basic wage for able seafarers will increase each year for three years starting in January 2023 until the next meeting of the JMC in 2025.
Under the agreement, the minimum wage will be raised to $658 starting January 1, 2023, $666 in 2024, and $673 in 2025 respectively.
During the previous round of negotiations last September, shipowners and seafarer unions set the minimum wage at $648 per month beginning 1 July 2022.
During those negotiations, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing the seafarers, originally asked to increase the minimum wage to $683 per month, up 6.5% or a $1.40 per day from the $641 monthly minimum wage that had been in place since 2018.
But shipowners unions, represented by the International Chamber of Shipping, rejected the offer and put forward a plan to increase wages by just 3% over three years, maxing out at $660 per month in 2024.
“The global seafarer workforce is central to the safe and efficient flow of world trade, and they are among the unsung heroes of the pandemic”, spokesman for Swiss Shipowners Association, Charles Darr, said.
A group  member in the negotiations said the new deal is a win-win for both shipowners and seafarers.
“It strikes a balance between rewarding seafarers for their incredible contributions to the global economy, and ensures, at the same time, that shipping companies are able to remain sustainable and commercially viable in the light of the many challenges we are currently facing and those that lie ahead”, the member said.
Speaking shortly after the agreement, Spokesman for Seafarers group, Mark Dickinson, of Nautilus International, said:
“Today’s agreement recognises the huge sacrifices and professionalism of the men and women working at sea and is a testament to the collective milestones the social partnership between seafarers and shipowners have historically achieved, especially over the past few years.
“We look forward to continuing to work together alongside our social partners to safeguard financial stability for the world’s seafarers,” he said.
ILO insisted that minimum wage is low by most standards in the developed world, and that it is widely recognised by the global shipping industry as being a positive contribution to decent work and employment for the world’s seafarers.
The minimum basic wage standard falls under the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC 2006), known as the “Seafarers’ Bill of Rights, MLC 2006) which ame into force on 20th August 2013, and has been ratified by 101 ILO member States, representing approximately 96% of global shipping tonnage.
The Joint Maritime Commission (JMC) is a bipartite ILO body comprising employers’ representatives co-ordinated by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and seafarers’ union representatives coordinated by the International Transport Worker’s’ Federation.

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‘Benin River Port To Diversify Nigeria’s Economy’

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The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the development of the Benin River Port will guarantee the diversification of the nation’s economy from oil, into a buoyant non-oil sector.
He noted that the Port will improve agriculture and agro-allied businesses.
Obaseki, who stated this through his Special Adviser on Special Media, Mr Crusoe Osagie in Benin City, said the Benin Port, on completion, would place the country on the path to sustainable economic growth.
According to him, the project will facilitate the export of agricultural produce, thereby boosting export earnings and stimulating economic growth and development.
The Port, he explained, would also decongest traffic in Lagos Port and facilitate the distribution of goods produced in Edo to other parts of the country.
The Governor condemned the country’s over-dependence on oil and called for increased investment in agriculture to achieve food security, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of citizens.
“The reason we are building the Benin River Port is because of its huge economic benefits to Edo and Nigeria.
“The port will become the closest to the heart of the country so that we will be able to act as a sponge to get whatever we are producing here across other parts of the country”, he said.
Obaseki said his government is investing in palm oil production to drive its economy, adding “we cannot continue to depend on crude oil.
“Our over-reliance on oil has not increased our global competitiveness. We must intensify efforts to diversify the economy away from (crude) oil”, the Governor concluded.

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NIWA Targets 2m Containers Shipment By 2025

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says it targets a total of two million containers shipment through the Nigerian inland waterways annually by 2025.
Managing Director, NIWA, George Moghalu, disclosed this at a virtual breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS).
The meeting has as its theme, “Barge Operations System: A Sustainable Alternative to Land Transportation of Cargoes”.
Represented by the General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Mr Joseph Ororo, Moghalu expressed optimism that the vessel fleet, which includes barge and tugs, would surpass 50,000 in three years.
“The future looks very bright for the inland waterway business as we look forward, that, in the next three years, that is, by the year 2025, we aim to achieve two million containers moved through the inland waterways per annum.
“We expect 500 daily trips of vessel traffic to and from the ports, eight million metric tons of cargoes conveyed on the inland waterways per annum, and employment of two million personnel in this sector”, he said.
Moghalu stated that NIWA inspected and registered 332 barges and 264 tugs of different categories nationwide in 2021, adding that the authority would remain focused on encouraging vast job opportunities in the sector.
He transporting of cargoes by barges was a very important development in the country considering the enormous challenges and bottlenecks being witnessed in other modes of transportation.
According to him, though barge was still a developing mode of transportation in Nigeria, they must admit it was not being well regulated at present.
He, therefore, advised that relevant government agencies responsible for these should synergise to ensure that minimum standard operating procedures were put in place to sustain the activities of barge operators.
“From the barge operators’ point of view, which we cannot dispute for now, they posited that 750,000 containers were moved from the Lagos Port by barges on an average of 50 barge trips per day.
“This statistics is very commendable but not fantastic to be cheered about by all standards, considering the enormous potential and advantages Nigeria has in respect of this.
“We strongly feel that more can be done in this respect,” he said.

Stories by Chinedu Wosu

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