Purported Agreement between Labour Leaders and Osun Government: We Call for Immediate Congress of Wo
Purported Agreement between Labour Leaders and Osun Government: We Call for Immediate Congress of Workers and Pensioners to Accept or Reject the Agreement
- Strike Must Continue, With Mass Mobilization for Protests, Rallies and Pickets
- Aregbesola Government Should Declare Accrued Money to the State
The attention of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter has been drawn to the raging news that labour leaders in Osun State under the auspices of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) have reached an agreement with the Osun State government through a Memorandum of Understanding. Consequent upon this agreement, labour leaders called off the strike action of workers against the non-payment of salaries for months on Monday, 13th July, 2015.
However, less than 24 hours after, the Aregbesola government reneged on the so-called agreement by paying only a month rather than the two months the labour leaders claimed the government had agreed to. Already, most workers have not received any payment while those who had some money only received a month or half-month’s salary. This failed, but clearly odious, agreement clearly corroborates the earlier position of the DSM, warning the labour leaders against calling off the strike under the guise of underhand deal. In fact, the agreement of calling off the strike for payment of two month salary arrears is itself odious and inconsistent. The same labour leaders had earlier pledged not to call off the strike until at least five months of salaries’ arrears are paid.
Moreover, the state government can no more use lack of funds as excuse for denying workers their salaries, the federal government has bailed out the state, and others, from their financial mess largely borne out of financial recklessness by the state governments. While the federal bailout is majorly for offsetting salary payment, it seems the Aregbesola government wants to divert the money to other uses. This is characteristic of the Aregbesola government, which has committed various financial malfeasance including diverting deductions from workers’ salaries meant for payment of bank loans, cooperative dues and loans, union dues, pension contributions, etc., to other uses, without express permission of workers. Workers must reject this latest ploy by the government to divert the money meant for their salaries, for other uses. They must also reject the planned sack of workers under the guise of so-called screening exercise.
We call on labour not to call off the strike on basis of this patently fraudulent agreement with Aregbesola government. We support the strike action of workers over the unpaid salaries, and we enjoin that the strike should continue. We again we call on labour movement in Osun State not to limit the strike to sit-at-home action, but to organize mass actions such as protests, rallies, pickets, etc., which we believe will pile up more pressure on the government. It was a welcome development that pensioners organized under the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) took the road of mass struggle on 10 June through mass protest in Osogbo. This actually raised the tempo of the struggle.
We call on labour leaders not to enter into any odious agreement that will jeopardize the interests of workers and pensioners or derail the struggle. As a first start, we call on labour leadership to call an immediate Workers’ and Pensioners’ Congress so that workers and pensioners, who have borne the brunt of the non-payment of salaries and pensions, will have clear knowledge of the agreement with government. Also, it will give workers and pensioners the rights to democratically decide whether to accept or reject the so-called agreement. This is necessary as workers’ and pensioners’ democratic decision is vital in a struggle like this. For us in the DSM, workers and pensioners should not settle for any agreement that will deny them their outstanding salaries and pensions, or postpone the payment of salaries and pensions any longer.
Also, we call on labour leaders to compel the Aregbesola government to reveal how much it has gotten as allocation and bailout fund from the federal government. The same government that has been crying foul of lack of funds as excuse for non-payment of salaries and pensions, should tell workers how much has accrued to the coffer of the state from the federation account and how it has been spent. The bailout fund was specifically meant to offset workers’ salaries and retirees’ pensions; therefore, for accountability, the labour leaders should demand public announcement of what has accrued to the state on this basis.
We in the DSM call for total probe of the finances of the Aregbesola government by a democratic probe committee comprising representatives of workers’ unions, pensioners’ union, student movement, etc. Anybody found to have mismanaged public funds should be punished according to law.
Finally, the central lesson from all this is that workers’ interests cannot be guaranteed and secured by the set of capitalist politicians and parties (APC, PDP, APGA, Labour Party, etc.) currently in power across the country. All of them are united in their introduction of anti-worker, pro-rich policies and programmes. This is why the DSM has been consistently calling on workers’ movement to begin the process of building a new mass political party of the working and oppressed people, premised on socialist programmes and policies.