The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), in collaboration with International Transport Federation, ITF, presented Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, to seafarers across the nation’s seaports as Nigeria Thursday joins the rest of the world to mark the world Seafarers, Day.

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This came as the union warned the nation’s maritime industry employers against sacking or slashing salaries of workers under the guise of the negative effects of coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.

At the commencement of the distribution of the PPE in Lagos, President-General of MWUN, Prince Adewale Adeyanju, contended that no reasonable employer could contemplate any sack or salary slash during this difficult period of COVID-19.

According to him, “this is the time for employers to not only retain jobs but increase salaries and allowances of workers to cope with the consequences of COVID-19. Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has given us directive of what to do if any employer retrenches or reduces the salary of workers because of COVID-19.

We are fully ready for any employer that tries such. The welfare of our members is paramount in this critical period, and we will not tolerate any action to undermine the welfare, security and health of our members.”

On the PPE, he said “this is the second phase of our programme of distributing safety and protective wears to seafarers such as hand sanitizers, hand gloves, face masks, infrared thermometers among others in all ports, starting from Lagos. By next week, we will move to other ports such as Calabar, Warri, Onne, Bonny and Port Harcourt.

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This programme was made possible through the collaboration with the ITF that graciously provided counterpart grant, a world confederation of transport unions with affiliates from 157 countries, and to which our union is equally affiliated.”

He praised the ITF for the gesture and commended ITF for providing support to the union in this trying time.

“We thank ITF General Secretary, Steve Cotton and his team for this awesome support tom our teaming seafarers.”

Adeyanju described the seafarers as “floating prisoners”. He noted that they needed the support of the government, the regulator; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and other employers in the sector to strengthen and sustain the sector.