Sacked Dock Workers Sue Union

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Eighteen dock workers sacked by the Maritime Dock Workers Union have taken the union to court calling for the payment of allowances owed them.

The dock workers registered at the Calabar Seaport, dragged the officials of Maritime Dock Workers Union, to the National Industrial Court, Calabar, southsouth Nigeria, over unpaid wages amounting to N800 million.

Barrister Mathew Atambi, the lawyer representing the sacked workers said that his clients were in court to enforce their fundamental rights after being retrenched by the union since September 2011.

According to him, the workers were relieved of their jobs for protesting the non-payment of their wages and salaries since 2008 in accordance with the Federal Government’s concession agreement with private port owners.

“That is why we are in court to enforce that order and also to ensure that the reforms are duly followed.

“They are owing us over N800 million on wages that have not been paid and about N180 million on salaries which have not been paid since 2008,” he said.

Atambi said that they were seeking the intervention of the court for the payment of the workers, adding that all attempts to reconcile out of court had proved abortive.

“We have filed our applications before the court and the court will rule on our application on 5 June,’’ he stated.

He also said that, contrary to the claims by the union officials that the retrenched workers were casual staff, the workers are permanent staff.

“The reforms by the federal government removed casualisation and made us permanent staff,” he added.

According to him, the parties to the suit include the President General, Nigerian Maritime Workers’ Union, Eastern Branch president of the union, Nigerian Ports Authority and Air marine.

Meanwhile, Justice Auwal Ibrahim adjourned ruling on the suit to 5 June 5, 2012.

Attempts to get the reaction of the branch president of Maritime Workers’ Union, Mr Johnson Udoeffiong, was unsuccessful as he rebuffed all attempts to answer questions from newsmen.

The spokesman of the workers, Mr James Ofere said that there was need for the federal government to enforce the agreement of tenancy port operators in Calabar Port.

“We plead with President Goodluck Jonathan to come to our aid so that the agreement on tenancy port operators will be fully implemented in Calabar Port,” he said.

—Emma Una/Calabar