Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

BUA AND DOCKWORKERS PROTEST: Force Management to Pay Part of the Full Entitlement

BUA AND DOCKWORKERS PROTEST: Force Management to Pay Part of the Full Entitlement

  • Workers vow to sustain the struggle for full entitlement and other compensations
By Moshood Oshunfunrewa

Well over a thousand workers have been thrown into the streets in the face of harsh economic realities and mass unemployment by two companies in Lagos: BUA and ENL Consortium Ltd. Worse still, the managements of the two companies did not pay the disengaged workers their full entitlement and other benefits of years of industrious services. BUA operates flour mills that manufacture food items while ENL is one of the seaport terminal operators in the maritime industry.

Though from different industries, the two sets of the affected workers are united by similar attack from their respective managements. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Ajegunle branch, has been intervening in the struggles of both sets of workers to help enable them to adopt the required direction. The comrades have been able to provide support that inspired the workers to sustain their struggles. The workers, who now hold joint meetings at the instance of DSM, have organized several mass protests against their respective managements to press their demands.

Aside, the mass casualization that is prominent in the Nigerian industrial sectors is now sporadically turning into regime of mass sack with attendant consequence for the working masses. However, the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria left the over 2000 dockworkers to the mercy of ENL management. Previously and now, the labour leaders have played treacherous role by aligning with the management against workers. For instance, the union hid several important documents from the workers such as agreed condition of service for the past 9 years and this allowed the ENL to short pay the workers all this long. For the past 8 years, the time related monthly wage of N33,000 agreed in 2008 as part of the condition of service between terminal operators and the maritime union and subsequently increased to N41,745 were not paid to the workers.

The dockworkers are also contesting the private pension scheme arrangement that was not only handled shabbily by the management but was completely out of tune with the 2004 Pension Act as amended. Hence, the dockworkers have locked horn with management on a number of issues that border on welfare conditions for 10 years and pension. Though the workers got a paltry N350,000 “gratuity” for working for 10 years from ENL, the condition of service agreed in 2008 clearly shows that the workers have all along been cheated.

The labour unrest and problems of inefficiency in the maritime sector have shown the failure of privatization of the port. Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the regulatory body like every capitalist organ has never defended workers or public interest other than the interest of the so-called private investors who have not significantly improved port services.

A similar scenario is playing out for BUA workers as the management forbids their workers to join union in violation of their democratic and constitutional rights. BUA was sold to another company without carrying workers along which sparked the industrial dispute that is still lingering. Though, they were paid gratuities, the workers claimed that it is a fraction of what is due to them. Workers of both BUA and ENL are determined to carry on all political and legal struggles to get justice. We call on trade unions and labour activists to support them.