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Maritime Industry: NLC Confronts GMT Nigeria over Alleged Anti-Labour Practices

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has formally accused GMT Nigeria Limited, a prominent Maritime firm, of engaging in a series of alleged anti-labour activities, including the termination of labour leaders’ appointments, coercing workers to denounce union membership, and failure to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union.

A letter from NLC President Joe Ajaero, dated July 10, 2023, outlines these allegations.

According to Ajaero, these actions violate national labour laws and international labour standards enshrined in the International Labour Organization, ILO, conventions, to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“We have been made to understand that after a series of legal battles with the National Industrial Court (NIC), the union established a branch in your company with duly elected unit executives,” Ajaero wrote. “However, since constituting the unit executives, the Management of the company has launched unrestrained anti-labour activities to frustrate activities of the union.”

These accusations emerged after complaints by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN.

The NLC expressed deep concern over the alleged actions of GMT, including the company’s purported use of police to intimidate and harass union leaders based on baseless accusations.

A significant cause of concern for the NLC is GMT’s alleged disregard for a communiqué agreed on June 5, 2023, by various stakeholders in the shipping sector, including the Nigerian Shippers Council, MWUN, and several shipping companies.

“The agreement, which at the heel of the strike action embarked upon by the union, had covered a range of issues directed at resolving industrial relations challenges in the Shipping sector, and some of these included prevailing complaints of the union against your company,” Ajaero explained.

Instead of adhering to the agreed terms, the NLC claims that GMT reported the strike to the police and initiated a court case against the union.

These actions were reportedly not targeted specifically at GMT but addressed broader issues within the sector.

The NLC President warns that “these are weighty issues that not only violate extant labour laws in our country but contravene international labour standards as enshrined in ILO conventions that Nigeria is signatory to.”

He ended the letter with a strong call to action, urging GMT to respect the union agreement and engage in constructive dialogue to resolve the ongoing issues.

“We strongly condemn the anti-labour activities of your company, and if not discontinued might plunge the Maritime industry into avoidable crisis,” warned Ajaero. “Consequently, we urge you to respect the agreement between the union and shipping companies brokered by the Nigerian Shipping Council, and enter into meaningful dialogue with the union on its demands to reach an amicable resolution.”

This confrontation marks a significant escalation in the ongoing labour dispute within the Nigerian shipping sector.

It remains to be seen how GMT will respond to these allegations, and what potential implications this could have for the broader maritime industry.

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