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No agreement with labour on wage review –FG



  • As Partial truce gets ‘extended to Aleppo’ in Syria conflict

The Federal Government has said it has no agreement with organised labour for a review of the National Minimum Wage every five years.

The Executive Chairman, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Dr. Richard Egbule, said the issue of the five-year period for the review of the national minimum wage was part of recommendations made by a committee which were not included in the  commission’s Act.

Egbule made the comment while speaking on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, which was monitored by our correspondent on Wednesday.

He said what was done during the last review of the minimum wage was an amendment of the Act and changing of figures.

Egbule’s comment contradicted the position of the two labour organisations in the country – the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress – that there was a constitutional provision for the review of the minimum wage every five years.

The unions had insisted, while making a proposal of N56,000 Minimum Wage to the Federal Government, that the Act provided for a review every five years.

Egbule stated that the issue of the review of the minimum wage every five years came up when it was suggested that the 10 years review period in the past years, as was done in 1980 to 1990, 2000 and 2011, was too long and should be reduced to five years.

He added that there was even no law in the country which stipulates the review of the minimum wage every 10 years.

He stressed that the five-year period for minimum wage review was just the content of a committee’s report and not a collective agreement duly signed by the parties involved.

He believed that the labour leaders might be confusing the constitutional provision for a review of pension every five years once a salary review was done, which he said was a different issue.

Egbule added, “The first time it (review of minimum wage) was done was in 1980. It was again done in 1990. It was again done in 2000 and lastly 2011. Of course, it was ready by 2010. So in between, there has been a period of 10 years for the review of the past ones although recently, in the last one, there were quite a number of recommendations.

“One of them was the issue that instead of a 10-year arrangement, it should be every five years, but that recommendation was not taken up and enacted into law. The only thing that was done was the issue of picking the figures and changing them. There are quite a number of very important recommendations in that report that were not taken.

“Even as I speak, the issue of reviewing it every 10 years was rather coincidental. There is no such law anywhere that guarantees that it should be done every 10 years. What the last recommendation did was to say that it was too long.  The 10-year interval was too long; so, there was a recommendation that it should be five years, but the recommendation, which affected so many other things, was never enacted into law.

“So if anybody says, like labour is saying, that it is in the law, every five years, they have to do it, it is not correct. Probably, they are confusing this with a provision for a review of the pension every five years, whenever there is a review of salaries of workers. This is a separate issue; it is not about minimum wage.

The chairman explained that it was the practice of the government to issue a White Paper or gazette a report for implementation, which was not done in the case of the five-year period review for the Minimum Wage.

He said there was nothing wrong in engaging labour on the issue of the economy, the cost of living, the ability of employers to pay, the International Labour Organisation convention and others that would form the basis for discussions.

But the NLC said Egbule was wrong in his claim that the five-year period for the minimum wage review did not exist in law and was not an agreement.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, said in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday that the issue of pension review was constitutional and not a product of negotiation between the government and labour.

He stated that an agreement on the five-year review period was reached when proposed indexation – the call for an automatic review based on the cost of living – was rejected because it was considered dangerous to the economy.

He stressed that the Act was specific on the period for the review of the National Minimum Wage.

He said, “The issue of the review of pension is constitutionally provided. On the issue of the National Minimum Wage, he needs to check the law.  It specifies the periodicity of review. So, he needs to check, and I think it is something that could be checked by anybody. So, he would not be right if he said so.”

In the meantime, a partial, shaky truce between Syria and non-jihadist rebels has been extended to the embattled city of Aleppo, after US and Russian pressure.

The US says there has already been a decrease in violence in the city, where dozens have died in clashes this week.

The Syrian military said it would abide by a 48-hour ceasefire starting from 01:00 Thursday (22:01 GMT Wednesday).

The US and Russia brokered a nationwide cessation of hostilities in February but it has come under severe strain.

The agreement does not include so-called Islamic State nor the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the new agreement.

“We expect all of the parties to the cessation of hostilities to fully abide by the cessation in Aleppo. That means the regime and the opposition alike,” he said.

US state department spokesman Mark Toner said the cessation of hostilities had actually started early on Wednesday, adding: “There has been a decrease in the fighting, in the violence… specifically in Aleppo, but it has not been, of course, complete.”

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said a failure of the overall cessation of hostilities would be “catastrophic” and could see 400,000 more people heading for refuge at the Turkey border.

The fighting in Aleppo early this week has been the most intense there for more than a year.

Dozens of people were reported to have been killed in fierce clashes, with almost 300 dead over the past two weeks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels advanced into government-held western districts on Tuesday night but were pushed back by Wednesday morning.

A coalition of rebel groups fighting under the name “Fatah Halab” (Aleppo Conquest) launched the assault on the government’s defensive lines in the west of the city on Tuesday by detonating a tunnel bomb, the AFP news agency reported.

Intense gun battles, air strikes and artillery attacks went on through Tuesday night.

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland complained later on Wednesday that the government was still refusing to allow aid deliveries to hundreds of thousands of people in besieged areas of Syria, including rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Russia meanwhile said it had withdrawn about 30 aircraft from its airbase in Syria.

The Russian military began the withdrawal of most of its forces from Syria in March, six months after launching an air campaign to bolster President Bashar al-Assad.

Punch with additional report from BBC


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



…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



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

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…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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