ENL Dockworkers Won Partial Victory; Resolved to Appeal Judgement
By Chinedu Bosah and Rufus Olusesan
The Dockworkers Vs ENL Consortium judgment was delivered on February 20, 2020, by Justice R H Gwandu of the National Industrial Court (NIC) and the dockworkers won a partial victory. The relief for the dockworkers unpaid 8 years N33,000 minimum wage salaries was not granted by the Judge but ordered the payment of the 5 years unpaid pension within a month. Rather for the ENL management to implement the order of the court, it commenced appeal proceedings in March 2020. The Dockworkers through their Lawyer, Barrister Toluwani Adebiyi has also commenced appeal proceedings to reverse the unfavourable aspect of the judgement. ENL Consortium has claimed that the Dockworkers are casual workers and should not benefit from the agreement and the judge disagreed with the management.
The ENL Dockworkers have engaged the ENL Consortium (Operator of Terminals C and D of Apapa Sea Port) in a struggle over unpaid time-related N33,000 minimum wage of 8 years for dockworkers. There was a National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) agreement reached in May 2008 by the Terminal Operators and the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and only the paltry terminal benefit of N350,000 was paid. The reason for the minimum wage is to guarantee dockworkers an improve wage and to enhance productivity at the nation ports. Unfortunately, the leadership of Nigerian Maritime Workers Union backed the Terminal Operators to deny workers of the benefits arising from the agreement while the industry regulators (Nigeria Ports Authority, NIMASA) looked the other way.
Since this struggle started in 2016, the terminal operators have consciously placed most dockworkers on an insecure and poorly paid casual and contract system in order to evade liability and short-change workers.
After several public protests to NPA, NIMASA, the dockworkers sued the ENL Consortium in the National Industrial Court (NIC) in 2017. The matter at the NIC has been characterized by numerous and needless adjournments.
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) has practically backed the struggle from the beginning and has continued to show solidarity.