The GPA has finally arrived at a Collective Bargaining Settlement with the Maritime Workers Union that will allow all dock workers on the current register to exit the old Scheme and the establishment of the New Dock Labour Company to take effect. The new private Stevedoring company, which has been duly incorporated, is structured with dock workers owning shares.
The main objectives of this transformation are to usher a new dispensation that will address the requirement for the provision of quality stevedoring service to meet customers’ expectations in the face of the dynamic needs of the port industry, Government concerns for the introduction of flexible working practices and improved terms and conditions of employment for dock workers.
The creation of the Stevedoring Company will also address the disunity in command in ship operation as two sets of workers perform the same operation but have different interest and payment regimes. Dock workers perform shipboard operations while GPA staff or casual consignees’ Labour handle the same cargo onshore.
It could be recalled that the tenure of dock workers under the GPA ensued from the Labour (Amendment) Act, 2003 with the objective of transferring Dock Labour management from the Department of Labour to the GPA.
The Dock Labour Scheme, which came about as a result of a Labour Ordinance in 1963, posed inherent weaknesses such as the presumption of “jobs-for-life”, that over the years could not allow for the introduction of flexible working practices in response to industry needs and evolution in technology, coupled with continued demand by dock workers for improved wages and other welfare benefits.
Currently, the GPA has embarked on the implementation of port expansion projects, articulated in the New Port Masterplan 2019-2038 and this Labour Reform is an important milestone that will complement the infrastructure developments for improved port performance.