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Union demands reinstatement of Nigerian shipyard workers

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14 March, 2023On 23 February Nigerdock Nigeria Limited announced that it is dismissing 10 workers on redundancy grounds after serving a termination notice to 21 workers. Unions are opposing the redundancies which they describe as unfair labour practices, and want the workers reinstated.

Nigerdock, falls under the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority. It operates a seaport in Lagos, has a shipyard for repairs and maintenance, and does offshore fabrication for the oil and gas and other manufacturing activities for the energy and logistics sectors. It employs 149 permanent workers, with 161 non-permanent workers employed through a third-party consulting firm, Prime Services. 

Automobile Boatyards Transport Equipment and Allied Senior Staff Association (AUTOBATE), which represents ship building and repair workers, says the redundancies are not only considered to be unjustified and illegitimate, but also violate national and international labour standards. AUTOBATE, who is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, says Nigerdock is short-changing workers of fair compensation and benefits through the unprocedural redundancies. 

For example, in August 2022 AUTOBATE challenged the redundancies through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment after Nigerdock terminated the services of 21 workers, without negotiating or engaging in dialogue with the union. However, the ministry concurred with the union that the process was unlawful, and the management was forced into a better agreement with workers. 

According to Section 20 of the Nigeria Labour Act (2004), “the employer shall inform the trade union or workers representative concerned of the reasons and the extent of the anticipated redundancy.” 

General secretary of AUTOBATE, Lai Brown, says: 

“We boldly assert that the culture of illegitimate redundancy, labour casualization, and violation of workers' rights are evidence of everything that is wrong with the privatization of the once renowned and largest Nigerian Maritime Company. We lack confidence in the current management of Nigerdock. Similarly, we demand the immediate reinstatement of the dismissed workers and commend the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress for its prompt intervention on the matter. We shall fight to the very end to defend the rights and interests of the workers at Nigerdock.”

IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa, Paule France Ndessomin, says: 

“Nigerdock must stop violating workers’ rights and follow what the law says on redundancies. The maritime company must provide job security instead of promoting precarious working conditions and unfair labour practices.”