The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on terminal operators and ship owners to ensure that dockworkers and seafarers are fully vaccinated as part of preventive measures to the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
The union threatened industrial action if employers remain adamant on this important preventive health measure for its members.
It declared that as frontline workers in port operations and also engaging foreigners at the terminals, the concessionaires must put adequate measures on ground for the safety and vaccination of the seafarers and dockworkers.
President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju who spoke with reporters in Lagos at the weekend, recalled that the national officers, branch executives and district executives have been vaccinated twice since the third wave of Omicron variant spread, stressing the need for the multinationals to carry out the vaccination of workers at the quay aprons across all seaports in the country.
According to him, seafarers and dockworkers must be carried along in the vaccination exercise at the ports and onboard ships as essential workers in the fight against coronavirus adding that the Covid-19 pandemic is not meant for the elite alone but every human being.
Adeyanju maintained that the concessionaires must liaise with port health services personnel to carry out the vaccination from port to port across the littoral states in Nigeria, pointing out that unvaccinated dockworkers and seafarers could spread the pandemic to the larger society if neglected.
He also commended management of APM Terminal Apapa for the swift action in the vaccination of dockworkers at the facility, saying the concessionaire understood the risk involved in the Omicron variant spread.
While reiterating the union’s commitment to members’ welfare and health status, Adeyanju affirmed that dockers and seamen are dealing directly with foreigners on a regular basis thus, their health must be taken seriously at all times.
“We have sent memo to all the terminal operators and shipping agencies to carry out vaccination of our members in the seafaring and shipping sub sectors and dockworkers. It’s very key because we don’t know who is a carrier.
“I think NIMASA, Port Health Services and NPA should be awake to their responsibilities. It is for the benefit of everybody. We are aware that some stakeholders are not ready for the jab.
“The national staff of the union has taken it, the branch executives have taken it and the district officers have equally taken it but what about those at the quays and aboard ships. It’s about prevention
“We might be forced to declare trade dispute with the terminal operators if they fail to carry out vaccination of our workers. We want them to give our members the vaccines.
“We will declare against any terminal operator who fails to vaccinate our members in their terminals and we will also do same with the shipping agencies because our members are the front-line workers,” he said.