The organised labour has warned against the inherent dangers to national security posed by the proposed Nigerian Ports Harbours Authority Bill 2015.
The Ports and Harbour Authority Bill, which seeks to repeal the Nigerian Ports Authority Act, 1955, as amended, has scaled through the Red Chambers of the National Assembly, (Senate); and is awaiting passage into law by the House of Representatives.
The workers, under the aegis of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and Maritime branch of Senior Staff Association of Communications, Transport and Corporation (SSACTC), led by Adewale Adeyanju, president general of MWUN, insist that the Bill would further compound unemployment and further expose the nation to illicit imports.
They, therefore, are calling on the lawmakers to counter the passage of the Bill in the overall interest of the sector.
Adeyanju, who said that no unions’ representative or stakeholders in the labour circle was invited to air their views during hearing on the Bill before the House of Representatives, threatened to shut down all port operations nationwide, if the Bill was passed.
He said that if the Bill was allowed to become a law, it would lead to the sacking of more than half of the workers, thus throwing them into the already saturated labour market.
“We have examined the Act that sets up NPA; and do not understand the reasons for the bill, except to provide an opportunity for few people to deny government huge revenue accruable to it through the sector,’’ he said.
The MWUN president said that the passage of the Bill could portend negative consequences for the country’s security, as it cedes harbour, jetty and terminal operations into private hands.
“This is not good in view of the influx of illegal arms and ammunition into the country, which is evidence in insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the country.
“You will also recall the discovery of over 440 cartons of weapons in containers in two operations in the ports by some government agencies and port workers,’’ Adeyanju said.
According to him, the Bill, in section 15 (4), gives the new authority power to employ on pensionable terms and conditions. This effectively institutionalises the evil of casualisation of workers and it negates the provisions of the government’s Pension Reform Act 2004 as amended.
He further said that that NPA has over 14, 000 pensiones, but that the Bll did not make provision for settlement of workers whose services are not transferred.
Adeyanju appealed to the National Assembly not to pass of the Bill to avoid total shut of port operations, and cautioned that it passage would vest on the authority sole ownership of the ports and Harbours in Nigeria on behalf of the government.
The maritime workers disrupted port operations last Tuesday, during a protest to register their displeasure with the proposed law.