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Cablegate: Dockworkers Stand Down On Planned Strike

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

021447Z Dec 05

UNCLAS LAGOS 001826

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA
STATE FOR USTDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON NI
SUBJECT: DOCKWORKERS STAND DOWN ON PLANNED STRIKE


1. (SBU) Summary. The planned strike by dockworkers across
Nigeria scheduled for December 1 was put on hold as GON and
labor officials negotiated severance packages for over 6,000
dockworkers expected to be laid off as part of the GON's
ports concessioning exercise. After a November 30
stakeholders' meeting chaired by the Finance Minister, the
GON conceded that dockworkers should be paid severance
benefits. Maritime Workers Union President Irabor said all
planned strikes are suspended until after December 9 when the
Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and GON reconvene to finalize
dockworkers' severance packages. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The dockworkers branch of the Maritime Workers Union
of Nigeria (MWUN) had threatened to shut down various ports
to protest the GON's refusal of their demand for severance
benefits. The Union request totals naira 4 billion (USD 30.8
million); about naira 580,000 (USD 4,462) per retrenched
worker, Nigerian media reported. MWUN President Onikolaese
Irabor told us December 2 the naira 4 billion figure reported
by the media was inaccurate, and that their organization had
demanded a much higher severance package, but that he could
not reveal the true figure because the NLC was still
negotiating this with the GON. However, he did concur with
media reports that dockworkers had planned to frustrate port
concessionaires' smooth takeover of the ports, if the GON did
not meet their demands.

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3. (SBU) Irabor said that in a November 30 Abuja meeting, the
Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) raised serious concerns over
dockworker severance packages with representatives of the
ministries of finance, labor, transport, and defense. He said
the MWUN was "satisfied" with the results of the November 30
meeting, but that not all financial and legal matters were
concluded. He hoped severance package issues would be
resolved during their follow-up meeting with the GON on
Friday, December 9.

4. (SBU) Comment: Senior members of the NLC pledged that no
strikes would occur and no ports would be shut down. There is
no reason to believe that a strike would occur unless the
December 9 negotiations break down. Irabor seemed content
with the discussions the NLC had with various GON ministries
regarding severance packages, although he would not discuss
concrete figures. When pressed, he told us privately that
naira 600,000 (USD 4,615) per retrenched worker would be
"fair", although he qualified it by stating it would depend
upon work experience and position. End Comment.
BROWNE

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