Terminal operators pay us slave rates — Stevedoring coys

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Mr Bolaji Sunmola, the President, National Association of Stevedoring Companies, on Friday said that terminal operators were paying them “slave rates’’.
Sunmola, who said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, asked the Federal Government to harmonise the rates paid to the stevedoring companies.
He said that from the poor rates currently paid by the terminal operators, the stevedoring companies provided for the welfare of the dock workers.
“From the rates, we do insurance, training, social security and kitting.
“The terminal operators are just paying what they feel like.’’
He said that while the terminal operators paid stevedoring companies handling labour, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) paid those handling onboard security and tally clerks.
He suggested that there should be an economic (commercial) regulator to regulate port charges, including the harmonisation of the rates paid to stevedoring companies.
“The stakeholders in the maritime industry have also said that a commercial regulator would be in a better position to harmonise rates for the stevedores.’’
Sunmola said that before the commercial regulator could see to the needs of the stevedores, the harmonisation of rates must be put in place.
The stevedore said that the dock workers were ready to transform the maritime industry to greater height.
“Stakeholders in the industry should see stevedores as partners in the industry. Not that we are here to make life difficult to anybody because we are service providers.
“They should treat us with respect which we deserve in doing our job just as it is given to all other stevedores all over the world. We are partners in progress.
“If there is harmony in the industry, is because the dock workers are happy. There is nothing we would do that would not make them happy, because even we have an improved rate, it shows that we will be able to meet up to most of the challenges we are presently facing in the industry.
“It is mandatory for us, that which is not negotiable, to see to the proper upkeep of the workers. Not only that, the issue of their pension to be fully addressed to ensure that there is 100 per cent compliance as well as many other things that are there to ensure that the work place is very conducive place for them to work in.’’
He said that the new management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) had been assisting stevedoring companies, adding that stevedores had been looking toward the authority for the implementation of the approved rates.
“Basically we want to commend the new executive management of NPA and believing that they are up to the task and we thank them too for receiving us wholeheartedly and looking to issues concerning us.
“The issue of our rates which has been the key problem affecting us in the industry and looking forward to the implementation of the rates which has been for years over-due and they’ve taken a serious look at it and I am sure not too long in time the new rates shall be implemented.’’
Sunmola said that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had been supporting stevedoring companies by training the workers to meet up with international standard.
He urged the Federal Government to ensure speedy passage of the Ports and Harbour Bill by the National Assembly.
He advocated a special mode of dispute resolution in the maritime sector.

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