LASCO Leads Teachers to Streets
LASCO Leads Teachers to Streets
About 2,000 protesters including mostly teachers, some labour leaders and members of civil society groups took to street on Thursday July 10 to drive home the demand for implementation of Teachers Salary Structure (TSS), an improved pay package for teachers.
Education Rights Campaign banner on the 10 July protest
The rally/protest march was organised by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) in solidarity with teachers who have been on strike since June 30. Speaking at the rally before embarking on about 4km-long protest march were Segun Sango, General Secretary, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Abiodun Aremu, Convener, United Action for Democracy, Ayodele Akele, former Lagos labour leader, Ayo Arije, Chairman Labour Party Lagos State, Promise Adewusi, Deputy National President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Michael Alogba, Lagos State Chairman of Nigeria Union of Teachers.
Sango, after arguing on how vital the improved pay package for teachers was to provision of quality education, called on Labour leaders to use the struggle for the TSS as a launching pad for the campaign for a living minimum wage for all categories of workers. He also called on the Labour leaders to break all forms of strategic partnership with governments and commence the process for formation of a fighting working peoples’ party. Most of other speakers concurred with Sango’s submission and urged Labour leaders to do more than mere verbal support to the strike.
Workers in other industrial unions were not present at the rally, even though Michael Alogba, the Lagos NUT chairman doubles as the State NLC Chairman. Unfortunately Alogba had not in the past been seen to play an active role in any of the previous struggles/mass protests led by LASCO. Besides Alogba, the central Labour leaders did not mobilise other industrial unions to join in this solidarity action.
Nigerian Union of Teachers protest
Akele concentrated on the call for a new minimum wage and need for teachers to prepare for another phase of struggle with their respective state governments if they actualise their current demand asking federal government to issue administrative circular on the TSS. More than 90% of teachers are in the employment of state governments. But unfortunately this struggle is being carried as if the federal government simply issues a circular to the state governments and they would be ready abide by it. This is by no means certain and struggles may be needed to force the state governments to comply with any national deal. However a problem is that many state labour leaders usually find it difficult to confront state governments having previously rottenly compromised themselves with unholy deals with these state governments to gain patronage and monetary benefits.
Promise Adewusi, representing the NLC, affirmed the commitment of the trade union federation to the teachers’ struggle and informed the resolve of the labour leadership to convene a special NEC meeting if by next week the government has not met the demand of teachers.
The protest march with teachers carrying banners and placards demanding TSS and denouncing the federal government’s lackadaisical attitude to the strike, took off at Civil Service Union Secretariat, located at a stone throwing distance from the Lagos Governor’s Office. The other banner on display was that of Education Rights Campaign (ERC) supporting the TSS and calling for living wage for all workers. This banner also calls for proper funding of public education, recall of politically victimised workers and student activists in higher institutions and a mass workers’ party.
The rally/protest march, which was massively covered by journalists from both print and electronic media, was rounded off in the Ikeja business district. While the NUT displayed placards and banners, they did not produce or circulate a leaflet on their demands. This void was filled by the three sets of leaflet produced by the DSM. The protesting teachers and members of the public were very eager to receive and read the leaflets. About 5, 000 leaflets were circulated.
The July 10 solidarity action no doubt was a success, but the leaders of Labour and mass organisations have to do more. The mass protest march has only taken place in Lagos, LASCO should ensure similar actions are organised in other states of the federation. A meeting of LASCO has been slated for Sunday July 13 to review the strike and deliberate on the next line of action.