Lagos dockworkers protest non-payment of terminal benefits

Tens of dockworkers last Thursday stormed Ibru Tank Farms along  Apapa-Oshodi Expressway by Warehouse Bus Stop to protest against non-payment  of their severance package and unlawful termination of their appointments by Ibru Organisation and 16 other stakeholders operating at the jetty.

The protesting workers told Daily Independent the operators have refused to pay them terminal service benefit for 15 to 20 years and also failed to pay their salaries, wages and other entitlements from 2007 till date.

The dockworkers, who claimed that they were unlawfully disengaged after the port concessioning, said about 20 of them had died as a result of the hardship they have been facing because of non-payment of their entitlements and loss of job.

Besides, they lamented that many of them now suffer mental torture while some others have had the stability of their homes jeopardised since they could no longer fulfil their fatherly responsibilities.

Spokesman of the group, Austin Akpa, told newsmen that 198 of them were thrown out of job without compensation “and out of the number, about 20 have died out of suffering,” he added sorrowfully.

So far, they have been doing everything possible to let the stakeholders see reason why they should not be “inhumanly treated but all to no avail,” Akpa stated.

“We have been on this matter for years. We have even been to the Senate, but the stakeholders have refused to listen to us”, he said, adding, “the time has come for the government and the whole world, particularly the international maritime bodies to save us from dying.”

“We are demanding for our rights and we will not relent until we get it. We appeal to the appropriate authorities to prevail on the stakeholders to pay us our entitlements for peace to reign”, he added.

During the peaceful protest which lasted for hours and witnessed by a team of policemen from Trinity Division of Nigeria Police, the aggrieved dockworkers carried placards bearing the pictures of their dead colleagues while some of them still nursing injuries in the course of duty also relayed their predicaments.

They gave the names of the deceased to include Andy Ezeh; Felix Ighoh; Samuel Akin; Paul Uche among others.

Attempts by Daily Independent correspondent to get the responses of the stakeholders were unsuccessful as the gates to the companies were locked while security agents prevented anybody from going near it.

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