By DAPO OLAWUNI
Dockworkers from four major African countries gathered at the Eko Hotels in Lagos on Monday. The countries are; Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Kenya
The meeting was organized at the instigation of the Dockers section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in London.
Dockworkers subsequently decided to form a common front in pursuit of the global standard by signing a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with multinational terminal operators, starting with APM Terminals.
Speaking at the meeting, ITF dockers’ section co-ordinator Enrico Totorlano said the ITF is building a network of all maritime unions in Africa.
“We are trying to build a network of various maritime unions, and specifically for now we want to focus on APM terminals, if we have the opportunity to expand it further we will, but we have to start somewhere.
“We will budget for an annual event for all dockers in Africa, but for now the focus is on Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya and Ghana. A WhatsApp group was going to be opened where all Dockers could chat and exchange information.
“Secondly, there needs to be a global standard when signing a collective bargaining agreement, whatever is applicable in Nigeria is applicable in Kenya.
“ITF was going to have productive engagement with multinational terminal operators. Whenever the issue of the CBA would arise, the ITF would also be involved,” he said.
Also speaking, the ITF regional secretary for Africa, Mohammed Safiyanu, urged the various workers’ unions to always accompany the ITF in all their negotiations, even before they turn into a labor action. full strike.
“If you wish to benefit from the ITF, whenever you have a challenge with these multinationals which will probably lead to you declaring industrial action, please inform us in good time so that we can resolve the problem without a strike.
“Put us first on the issue,” he said.
The various trade unions of the four African countries recounted their ordeal at the hands of APM Terminals in their countries where ports were conceded.
Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, General Chairman of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), called on the ITF to support the various unions to achieve holistic content in their social programmes.
“We need the support of the ITF so that we can have global content in our CBA that involves all multinational companies, our CBA is meant to be unique.
“When we have a single CBA, that would put an end to all the atrocities committed by multinational corporations, they come to Nigeria and Africa to make money, and ultimately they repatriate the money to their countries
“Meanwhile, the people and citizens of the country are not being taken care of.
“I remember when the APMT came to this country in 2006, we started with them knowing they would give our members the needed sense of belonging, but today it’s the other way around.
“APMT should respect the assets leased to it, when doing business in Africa, empower Africans and give them their rights,” he said.
Speaking in the same spirit, the President of the Dockworkers Union of Liberia (DOWUL), Comrade Jackie Doe, recounted how the unjustified suspension of 24 union members by APMT Liberia.
“The multinationals see us as an enemy, they believe that we stop what goes into the pockets of politicians, they are the same politicians who signed the concession agreement that affects our lives to this day.
“There is a need for all of us in Africa to unite because a united voice can break down any barrier. As a trade union group, we won the government because we stood together. All of our members have all been paid through the ITF,” she said.
For her part, Comrade Matreda Danson, National Administrator of the Kenya Dockworkers’ Union, expressed her fears that the Port of Kenya is planning to carry out a concession exercise that is not favorable to the workers.
According to her, out of 1,800 workers, the government promised to retain only 400 workers, thus making 1,400 workers laid off and unemployed.
Comrade Danson, however, said the case was being processed through the courts.
The various unions also took the opportunity to show their solidarity with the ongoing strike action launched by dockworkers at the Port of Felixstowe, Liverpool, UK.