In 1936, the manual workers: causals then known as unestablished employees of the Marine Department founded the Marine Paid Workers’ Union (MPWU), which changed its name to Nigerian Marine African Workers’ Union (NMAWU) in 1937.


In 1943, Engine Room Ratings formed Engine Room Rating African Workers Union. They claimed that Nigerian Marine African Workers Union did not represent their interest effectively. The Deck Staff comprising Rivers Masters, Boatswain, Quartermasters, Able-Seamen, Signalmen, Radio Operators and Berthingmen pulled out from the Union and joined the Engine Rating in 1947 and was registered in 1948, later became the Marine Floating Staff Union.



The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) was established as a Public Corporation by the Ports Act of 1954 and started operating in April, 1955 following the implementation of the Ports Act of 1954. The Nigerian Marine Statutory Corporation was split into three: Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Navy and the Inland Waterways. Based on job description and functions, the staff of the Marine Department were divided among them. Hence, Nigerian Marine African Workers Union transmuted into Nigerian Ports Authority Workers Union (NPAWU).


Multiplicity of Unions in Nigeria were endemic and commonplace during the colonial days. The fundamental problem is largely due to colonial Trade Act: which defines what a trade Union is, the requirements for registration, formation and administration of trade Union. Other issues that led to intermitted splinters groups include, individual ambitions, outright indiscipline and accusations of cavalier attitudes to members’ plight.


The Marine Floating Staff Union in 1955 demanded from the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for harmonization of salaries/wages and fringe benefits of the Quartermasters and Engine Drivers. The Engine Drivers protested that they were superior to Quartermasters. They (Engine Drivers) pulled out from the Union and formed the Marine Engineering Assistant and Allied Workers’ Union. Its Principal Officers were J. Ola Coker, President and E. Dadeon, Secretary.



In 1958, another split happened. The Firemen and Greasers purportedly claimed that the Engineering Assistants were against their being converted into their trade. They withdraw and formed the Nigerian Ports Authority Firemen, Greasers, Technical and General Workers Union. Other registered Unions were Nigerian Ports Authority Labourers’ Union and Nigerian Ports Authority Clerical Workers’ Union.