Story By Roland Ekama.
Following the alleged non-compliance by manning agents and shipping companies operating in the nation's waters with the relevant provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) which seeks to enforce the rights of seamen, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) is putting finishing touches to establish a taskforce that would monitor and compel compliance.
The MLC 2006 is an international agreement of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which sets out seafarers' rights to decent conditions of work. It is sometimes called the Seafarers' Bill of Rights.
In Nigeria, the seafarers bill of rights which is a tripartite agreement among ship owners, the regulatory agency and the union, has not yielded positive results due to NIMASA’s poor attitude in its implementation.
Business & Maritime West Africa checks confirmed that the union has officially written to the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Marine Police and Nigerian Navy for clearance before commencing full operations to patrol the waterways.
It was gathered that the MWUN has also appointed its deputy president general, Comrade Douglas Emobolor, as national chairman of the taskforce while Comrade Dennis Unefeke will serve as the Lagos State coordinator.
The sole aim for establishing the taskforce is to carry out on-the-spot assessment with workers aboard ships operating in Nigerian waters. Nigerian seafarers are also expected to use the opportunity to air their grievances about the terms and conditions under which they work.
MWUN will engage some private boat operators, hire some of their platforms on how to arrange for speedboats and procure brand new patrol boats to discharge operations.
On what informed the union's decision to float a taskforce to patrol the waterways, it was revealed that ship owners and manning agents have decided to take advantage of the failed MLC 2006 to tackle issues militating against their activities.
"The MLC 2006 is the only right we seafarers have and we must all put heads together for it to be successful. There will be no compromise with ship owners and manning agents this time around".
They however noted that the taskforce will patrol all the coastal states across the country.