Over 400 dock workers of Port Harcourt seaport have vowed to challenge judgment delivered against them by a national industrial court in Port Harcourt, describing it as biased.
The trial judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman, last week, struck out a suit brought by the dock workers against their employer, Port Terminal Operators Limited on the ground that the workers were not permanent staff and should not be entitled to earn salaries.
The aggrieved dock workers who said the judgment came as a surprise to them also accused the leadership of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria of conspiring with their employer to deny them of their monthly wage for years.
“We were employed in 2008 with temporary appointment letters and our maritime workers’ union leaders agreed with our employer that we should be entitled to N33,000 every month. We dragged our employer to court in 2013 for failing to pay us our monthly wage.
“We were shocked when the judge dismissed our suit on the ground that we were issued temporary letters of employment which were not part of the issues raised by the defendant in the suit.
“We have no other choice but to appeal the judgment because we believe that justice has not been done to us”, the aggrieved dock workers said.
Reacting to the allegation, a member of the national board of trustees of the union, Waite Harry told our correspondent that the aggrieved dock workers were deceived by some lawyers who did not tell them the truth, adding that the workers were employed by Port Terminal Operators Limited on tonnage arrangement not salary.
Mr Harry said, “no dock workers had ever been on permanent employment. They are paid according to tonnage. How would they be paid on tonnage and salary at the same time? They were only being deceived by some lawyers who want to make money from them”.