Hundreds of seamen agitating for better welfare packages on board three Floating Production Storage and Offloading units (FPSOs) on Nigerian waters have downed their tools for what they described as “very poor working conditions” and the refusal of their employer- Yinson Nigeria.
The strike action against the Norwegian company is because the firm failed to recognize the right of its workers to organize and associate in accordance with the convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
News Diet gathered commenced earlier today at 00:00hours on FPSO Abigail Joseph at Anyala field, Bayelsa State as well as FPSOs Adoon and Mack Lorenceau located at Addax field in Calabar, Cross River State.
Upon investigations, a worker who spoke with TNMN on the conditions of anonymity said; “We are demanding that our union, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) should be recognised. We are underpaid and enslaved. We are enslaved in our own country, we lack welfare, we are constantly harassed and intimidated for asking for our rights to associate and to access better welfare.
“We need to negotiate our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as we are currently working under strange and stringent conditions of service, which is why we think our employer does not want to recognize the Union we belong to.
“We have been working for several years without a contract of employment which negates the principles of our extant labour laws. We are being marginalized in several ways. Our condition can simply be described as enslavery. This is labour slavery. That is the only way we can describe our condition.”
Responding to this development, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) in a letter to Yinso Nigeria has warned against any form of intimidation and harassment of its members -ratings- on board the vessels.
“Please note Maritime Workers of Nigeria is one of the Industrial Trade Union in Nigeria recognized by the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and backed by the Labour Act 2004. Our members have exhausted all peaceful avenues to see that your management tell their contractor Catering and Facilities Solutions Ltd to do the needful. This information is for your management to respect the right of workers to peaceful industrial action,” the letter read.
Speaking further, the Deputy President General of the MWUN, Comrade Francis Bunu affirmed the development and said the Union is committed to fighting for the rights of seafarers to good working conditions of service, and also their rights to gainful association.
The Union he said, will not sit idly by while its members are subjected to slavish conditions of service.
He added that until Yinson Nigeria calls for a meeting with the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, the strike action will be sustained and may spread to the Port Harcourt port as members may join in solidarity.