OYO STATE WORKERS RESIST N9, 400 “RELATIVITY PAY”,
OYO STATE WORKERS RESIST N9, 400 “RELATIVITY PAY”,
Immediate mass mobilization towards the nationwide general strike needed
By Ayo Ademiluyi
In the wave of struggle over the non-implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage, Oyo State workers have passed a vote of no confidence on the state labour leadership for their seeming complicity in the N9,400 “relativity pay” being proposed to them by the Abiola Ajimobi-led ACN government. The labour leadership had accepted the offer of N9,400 “relativity pay” by the state government without democratic discussion with the rank-and-file workers. When they therefore announced the offer to mass of workers at the Congress held on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at State Government Secretariat Agodi, they were pelted with stones!
It should be recalled that the workers in the state had already been paid the N18,000 minimum wage for the month of May as a concession granted to them to call off the strike they had had planned to commence on June 13. The state labour leadership however agreed with the government for a lower pay for the subsequent months pending the improvement in the revenue profile of the state.
The congress was adjourned to the following Friday, July 8. That day, as early as 8am, workers had already gathered at the Nigeria Labour (NLC) Secretariat in Ibadan for the congress. However, the state labour leadership failed to show up to address workers on the outcome of their negotiations with the state government thus far.
DSM comrades prior to the Friday Congress held an EC meeting where the overall situation in the state was discussed and their intervention in the congress with a mass produced statement was decided. On arriving at the congress on Friday morning, we were bombarded with hundreds of workers who literally fought for a share of the limited copies of the statement available! This shows the deep hunger for ideas amongst rank-and file workers.
After waiting for hours for the state labour leadership to show up, the Congress resolved to moderate itself. It therefore elected a seven-man committee, subject to recall, to moderate the Congress and draw up its resolution. The Congress also elected a volunteer press committee to mobilize the media down to the Congress.
The Congress Committee received the statement of the Public Service Joint Negotiating Committee (PSJNC) and read out the contents out to workers who rejected the N9, 400 “relativity pay”. Upon the arrival of the television media, workers raised protest songs rejecting the N9, 400 “relativity pay”, the Ajimobi regime and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Congress Committee members addressed the press and condemned in totality the offer of the state government. It also announced the position of the Congress to resume every working day as from Monday July 11 to the Congress venue-state secretariat of the Nigerian Labour Congress until a favourable position is announced to them by the state labour leadership from the state government. Workers exuded a strong confidence in the Congress Committee and kept reasserting the position that members of the committee would be removed if they fail to defend their interests.
DSM comrades in discussion with workers pinpointed to them that workers deciding their future by themselves with a working peoples’ political alternative remains the way out of the current crises of capitalism. We raised songs on system change “E je ki a yo ijoba wa (let’s remove the looters)” which gained an echo among workers. Another highlight of the congress was when workers raised up their copies of the Socialist Democracy (SD), the paper of the DSM which carried a bold headline on N18, 000 minimum. 31 copies of the paper were sold at the Congress.
Comrade Abiodun Bamgboye (Abbey Trotsky), the coordinator of the DSM in Oyo state, was also elected as part of the Congress Committee. In the DSM’s intervention in the Committee’s deliberations, we reiterated the need for the Committee to rest on the mass of workers in order to be intimated with the outcome of negotiation with the state government. We raised the need for workers to sustain their struggle in order to win the implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage. While emphasizing the imperative of mobilizing for a united struggle for N18, 000 minimum wage, we urged that the Congress Committee should not, at this time, immediately call a strike since the national labour leadership had already issued on July 1 a 14 day ultimatum to the government which, from all indications, would be followed by a national general strike.
While workers showed their anger at the ACN, they were equally looking for alternative. Unfortunately, currently it is in relatively weak and small establishment parties like Accord and the Action Alliance that they have illusions. This shows a deep search for alternative and further reinforces our consistent call on the trade union leadership to facilitate the building of a fighting working peoples’ political alternative that is formidable enough to wrest political power from the thieving ruling elite at all levels with the aim of defeating capitalism and using the resources of society for the benefit of all. Some workers indicated interests to join DSM work in the state.
DSM comrades intervened later in the day at the delegates meeting of Zartech factory workers at Oluyole Industrial Estate where Abbey Trotsky addressed workers on casualisation and long working hours. 20 copies of SD were sold at the meeting.