The Nigerian Association of Stevedoring Companies, NASC, has confirmed the receipt of agreements by ten stevedoring companies from the International Oil Companies, IOCs, on new stevedoring operational procedures on platforms operated by the IOCs.
Confirming this, President of the NASC, Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, said that both parties were on the way to resolving the issues that pitched them against each other when the process was aborted by the advent of the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunmola said that the agreements have been studied and letters of acceptance have also been written to the IOCs to agree with the terms stated in their proposed agreements.
According to Sunmola, some of the contents of the agreement include the IOCs' preparedness to engage only government registered and approved stevedoring firms and pay the stipulated rates when due.
He also explained that but for the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19, the process of resolving the impasse would have been concluded.
Recall that the Federal Government sometime last year gave International Oil Companies, IOCs, a two-week ultimatum to pay all outstanding debts owed dockworkers employed by stevedoring contractors appointed by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
The President-General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, had moderated a meeting convened by the Federal Ministry of Transportation with the IOCs and industry stakeholders in Abuja last week.
He said, "A resolution has been reached on the issue of IOCs. From the meeting we held last week, the IOCs have been given two weeks beginning from Wednesday when we had the meeting. Since then, their level of compliance has reached 30 percent. They have started allowing the stevedoring contractors to register with them and I believe within two weeks, something reasonable will come out of it."
Adeyanju said with the level of compliance of the IOCs, he was optimistic that the union's demands to engage the services of NPA-appointed stevedores and registered dockworkers in their stevedoring operations would be addressed.
He, however, warned that the union would not fail to resume its suspended strike action if the IOCs reneged on the ultimatum.
"We only suspended our strike. If anybody plays against the resolution that all of us have agreed upon with the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the person will be held responsible. But with the level of compliance, I think we are satisfied with what we have heard so far," he said.
Adeyanju who expressed delight that the meeting yielded positive outcome, commended the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, and the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, for their intervention and efforts in compelling the IOCs accede to MWUN's demands.
"I think we have been able to get what we are bargaining for, that is, for the IOCs to recognise the stevedoring contractors and at the same time allow the dockworkers to work in the jetties," Adeyanju added.