Pay us our severance package, disengaged maritime workers in Warri beg Amaechi, Bala Usman

Scores of disengaged maritime workers at the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Warri, on Monday, staged a peaceful protest, begging the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi and the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman to redeem the pledge made on the payment of their delayed severance package.

The workers, under the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, were armed with placards with different inscriptions including “Warri Port please pay us our severance package, other ports have received theirs since January,” and “NPA, why have you not paid severance package of tally clerks and onboard security operatives in Warri Ports,” among others.

The protesters, which comprised tally clerks and onboard security operatives, were disengaged in 2015 after which a verification exercise was carried out. They argued that while their colleagues in other ports across the country had been paid, those in Warri have yet to receive theirs in spite of the several promises.

Speaking to journalists at the gate of New NPA, venue of the protest, spokesperson of the union, Mr Francis Agbudumhe, lamented that the non-payment of their severance package was taking a toll on members some of whom are now bedridden or dead.

“We have lost a lot of our members, some of them are bedridden; many of us have no homes, our children can no longer go to school, money lenders are chasing us here and there.

“We are heavily indebted. Even the money we are expected to get can’t solve any problem after this delay. But we need that money, it’s our right,” he insisted.

He added that there was the need for the authorities concerned to act fast before the committee set up to carry out the payment is dissolved.

“We’ve contacted them through our union; we wrote a letter last week Thursday. Before now, we went out and contacted the police, NPA itself, security outfit, we have also informed the SSS. We’ve informed all stakeholders.

“This is not a strike, it’s a peaceful protest so that we will get our money to settle our family needs this December.

“And we will not stop until we get that money this December. It will not go beyond December. We will stay put here until we get answers.

“This is NPA facility, they can hear us, they can see us. We are asking NPA to do the needful and give that money out to the committee set up to do the payment.

“Before you know it, that committee will be dissolved because the year is coming to an end and once that committee is dissolved, they will not come together until next year and we don’t want to lose anybody among us again.

“We will remain here until they listen to us. If they refuse to listen to us, operations of the port will be shut down,” he vowed.

Secretary of the union, Mr Nathaniel Chukwu, while addressing journalists also corroborated the claims of the union’s spokesperson, wondering why NPA has not deemed it fit to pay the disengaged workers in Warri port.

“We were verified like every other port and that was in December 21, 2018. After the verification, we waited for payment.

“Our pain is that after paying every other port since January, they concluded the payment with Koko port and left Warri port.

“We don’t know the pros and cons surrounding the delay of our payment. And they didn’t give us any reason. They should come and pay us,” he pleaded.

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