TUC’S $1BILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND: TRADE UNIONS MUST FOCUS ON BUILDING WORKING CLASS ALTERNA
TUC’S $1BILLION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUND: TRADE UNIONS MUST FOCUS ON BUILDING WORKING CLASS ALTERNATIVES
We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) view the statement credited to Bobboi Kaigama, the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), at the recently held National Delegates’ Conference in Abuja that the Congress will set up a $1 billion Economic Development Fund as an unfortunate further evidence of ideological retreat in the trade union movement. According to media reports, Bobboi Kaigama stated that the $1 billion Economic Development Fund will be drawn from affiliates of the Congress and partners. The Economic Development Fund, according to him, will be utilized for investment in strategic aspects of the economy to meet the daunting challenges that workers are facing under the current prevailing situation.
However, within a capitalist economy, such investments will inevitably either be forced to run along capitalist lines or be crushed. This is why we are convinced that the major ideological focus of the trade union movement should be the defence of the basic economic interests of their working class ranks alongside striving to build a democratic mass movement for workers to take political power and the reins of the economy for the utilization for the social needs of the of mass working people. We are quick to warn that this move will only engender a basis for crass opportunism by the leadership of the labour movement.
We argue that, on the basis of the prevailing capitalist system, an effort to treat the fundamental crisis of society in isolation will only end in crisis. Attempts to build non-capitalist islands, like co-operatives, within a capitalist sea fail in the long run unless capitalism itself is overthrown. We recall the example of the housing fund crisis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) where the attempt by trade union centre to employ pro-market strategy to resolve the housing crisis led to a messy situation to the extent that workers who subscribed to this scheme have been unable to get their promised homes.
The current set of leaders of the trade union movement has continued to hold on to an outright pro-capitalist orientation. We therefore will continue to strive with genuine working class and socialist activists to build a rank-and-file movement that strive to put in leadership pro-worker leaders, subject to recall and armed with the programme of fighting for a working people alternative including working class ownership and control of the commanding heights of the economy. We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) will strive to work with other genuine willing forces in the workers’ movement to achieve this task.