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Labour demands N56,000 minimum wage

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  • As Oil hits 2016 high at $46 per barrel

Organised labour has presented a new minimum wage of N56,000 to the Federal Government ahead of Sunday’s May Day celebration.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who spoke with reporters in Abuja, hoped the tripartite system to look into the demand would soon be put in place.

The labour leader said although labour was aware  of the downturn in the economy, the laws of the land stipulates that minimum wage must be looked into every five years.

He said: “I can say authoritatively that as at yesterday, we presented N56,000 as minimum wage to government. That demand was submitted officially to the Federal Government. And we hope that the tripartite system to look at the review will be put in place.

“Our argument is that, yes, it’s true that the economy is not doing well, but the law is also clear that the issue must be looked into. And workers should not be seen to be sleeping on their rights.

“These are processes, but when we come to the roundtable, we can then see the best way out. But I think it is obvious that since it is a product of law, it is usually required that the tripartite process be put in place so that we can look at the issues.

“It is obvious that workers have not fared well in the last one year. But we will not continue to lament. What we try to do is to work out a process of engagement on how those issues can be addressed.”

Asked if states that have not been able to implement the N18,000 minimum wage would be able to pay what they are demanding, he said: “First, you must understand the logic behind the minimum wage. The logic is to ensure that no worker earns below what can sustain him for 30 days.

“You also know that when we negotiated the N18,000 minimum wage, you know the value in terms of exchange rate, it was almost at $110 to the naira. Today, it has been reduced to virtually nothing. It’s also about law; the law envisages that within a circle of five years, the issue of inflation will be there and the issue of purchasing power reduction will be there.

“Mind you, the challenges  in our economy, we don’t expect it to be forever. It is something that is transient. Economy will always go up and down. We are passing through a turbulent time.

“The issue of minimum wage is not essentially for now. It’s an issue we must take on board, if we want to address corruption. Without taking proper care of the worker, it is difficult. That is why I said it’s a process and we are going to dialogue around that process. That is why collective bargaining is important.”

He added: “Remember that President Barack  Obama increased the United States minimum wage in 2008/2009 when the U.S. economy was in recession, because his understanding is that people need to be empowered to have the purchasing power to buy. If manufacturers are producing and nobody is buying, the economy will be at a standstill because people don’t have the purchasing power. And that is the situation we are in now. It’s an argument”.

President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Boboi Kaigama told The Nation that the laws were due for a review, necessitating the demand for a new minimum wage.

He said: “We want to draw attention of the government to the fact that five years down the line, the minimum wage is due for review. We have made our submission and we expect a committee of organised labour and government to be put in place so that we sit down and see how the issues can be addressed.”

In the meantime, oil hit its highest level yesterday, driven by a falling dollar and evidence of declining United States (U.S.). supply, putting the price on course for its strongest monthly performance since last April.

Brent crude futures were up $1.03 at $46.77 a barrel in early trading, having risen nearly 20 per cent in April, their largest one-month gain in a year.

The international benchmark earlier hit a 2016 high of $46.81.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also rose 86 cents to $44.90 a barrel.

Brent received extra support from news that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait appear no closer to restarting their jointly operated Khafji oilfield, which produced 280,000 to 300,000 barrels per day

The oilfield had been shut since October 2014 due to environmental problems.

The prospect of an agreement among the world’s largest exporters to limit production evaporated almost two weeks ago when a meeting between OPEC members and their non-OPEC counterparts ended in stalemate.

Since then, Brent has hit its highest since November and, aided by further evidence of declining output anywhere from the U.S. shale basin to the North Sea, attracted fresh investment cash.

“There was definitely a bit of a turning point when we had the initial sell-off after the producer meeting,” CMC Markets strategist Jasper Lawler said.

“That got reversed and went on to show that (a production freeze) was a fairly small part of what had been supporting the price and really, it’s the supply outlook for the U.S. coupled with the dollar that is really driving returns.”

WTI was further bolstered after the American Petroleum Institute reported a draw of nearly 1.1 million barrels in U.S. crude inventories last week.

Analysts had expected a 2.4-million-barrel build.

The dollar was down on the day, having fallen about 5 per cent against a basket of currencies since the start of the year, even as U.S. interest rates are expected to rise.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee meets on Wednesday but is not expected to announce any change in rates, leaving traders to scour the post-meeting statement for any clues on the outlook.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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