Papers relating to the Nigerian Seamen's Strike and the Nigerian Union of Seamen
Letter from Sir Thomas Yates, General Secretary of the National Union of Seamen, to the management of Elder Dempster Lines Limited concerning the Nigerian Seamen's Union, 10 July 1959.
This letter is found in a file of papers in the Elder Dempster archive collection that concerns the 1959 strike by Nigerian seamen employed as stewards or galley crew on the Elder Dempster vessel Apapa. Elder Dempster blamed the newly formed Nigerian Union of Seamen for encouraging strike action amongst the Nigerian crew and this view is echoed by the NUS in this letter.
The strike highlighted the differential treatment between British registered seamen, of any colour, and the Nigerian seamen, who would be signed onto the crew in West Africa. Often the pay and conditions was worse for those registered in West Africa, and they may also face more dangerous jobs.
The following year, Nigeria gained independence from the UK, with increasing calls across the African continent for the UK to end their colonial control. This as with the Nigerian Seaman’s strike, is suggestive of an increasing demand for equality.