Strike threat wins wages payment
by Nnamdi Ikeagu
The Nigeria Ports Authority agreed to pay the backlog of wages owed to the dockworkers, particularly tally clerks and on-board security men, in the first week of August The Authority acted to avoid an indefinite strike by the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) that had been planned for 7th August.
The affected workers had not been paid for eight months. Several times over the past six months, MWUN had threatened strike action in an attempt to gain payment of the arrears. Each time, the NPA management promised to address the issue, but then broke its promises.
This apparent victory goes to show that without demonstrable workers’ power, the bosses are ready to deny us of even the basic right of subsistence wages. But, the victory is only temporary, in so many ways.
The MWUN President, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju said that “these workers have exercised enough patience and they have gone through untold hardships exposing their families and dependents to severe sufferings”. But even in the best of times, dock workers are poorly paid. Worse still, their work is very precarious. There is no job security.
Beyond winning the payment of its members’ backlog of wages, MWUN has to stand up against casualization in the maritime industry and to lead a fight for better wages for dock workers.