LABOUR STRUGGLES – HEALTH WORKERS ON STRIKE
LABOUR STRUGGLES – HEALTH WORKERS ON STRIKE
- Dangote and Dock Workers Still in Court
- BUA Workers Agitating Over Sack of Leaders and Unfair Labour Practices
By Chinedu Bosah
Health workers in Nigeria except doctors have embarked on strike since April 17, 2018 over improvement of welfare and working conditions but the capitalist APC-led Buhari government just like the previous government is never committed to quality and free healthcare delivery for all.
Today the health issue is a largely personal and private responsibility since government is grossly underfunding the sector. The All Progressive Congress (APC) stated in its 2015 manifesto that it will “increase the quality of all Federal Government owned hospitals to world class standard within five years” but is giving just paltry 3% budgetary allocation to healthcare relatively lower to 13% recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) and 15% recommended by African Union (AU). Due to underfunding and neglect, the ruling elite and the rich are spending over N180 billion on medical tourism including President Buhari who has travelled and spent over 170 days in London on his medical treatments to achieve quality healthcare for themselves and their families. As a consequence of the neglect and underfunding of public healthcare, the vast majority become susceptible to health crisis that lead to suffering and unavoidable death.
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) calls on government to immediately meet the demands of the striking medical workers. CDWR also condemns the reaction of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) that opposes Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) demands as misplaced and capable of causing disunity amongst workers in the health sector. We stand for the unity of workers, improved welfare condition and free and quality healthcare delivery for all.
Just as health workers are on strike, private sector workers are embarking on one struggle or another. Dangote Cement workers popularly known as Truck Officers have locked horns with the management over unfair sack and breach of contract. Since February 4, 2017 when management ruthlessly sacked 850 workers in violation of the contract, management has refused to accede to the demands of workers. After several protests, workers have filed a suit at the National Industrial Court (NIC) against the management and hearing/trial is slated to start on September 26, 2018 after the earlier hearing date of May 23, 2018 could not go on because the defendants brought a new amendment before the court. Workers are demanding one form of compensation or another including but not limited to payment in lieu of the truck managed and are supposed to be handed to the workers to own.
The Dock Workers are also fighting for their unpaid N33,000 time wage that the ENL Consortium denied the workers for 8 years and unfortunately in collaboration with the Maritime Union leaders. After several protests in March 2016, about 650 workers were forced to resign. The National Industrial Court (NIC) will soon decide on the preliminary objection filed by the defendant and after which hearing will commence. The Dockworkers are demanding the payment of the N33,000 monthly time wage within the period worked.
Arising from the strike action of BUA Sugar workers in August 2016 that won some concessions, management responded by transferring the leaders of the struggle from Lagos to Port Harcourt and eventually sacking them one year after. The victimization of workers’ leaders and poor working condition is causing agitation amongst workers. BUA workers prosecuted the struggle in 2016 without the leadership of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE). The union had refused to unionize them and when attacks came, refused to lift a finger thereby making the workers vulnerable to more management attacks.
One major challenge workers face is a fighting trade union whose leadership seriously leads workers in struggle for economic and political emancipation. There is an ongoing widespread attack on workers democratic right and working condition in collaboration with the government. CDWR calls on workers to struggle for a fighting trade union as a means of repositioning the union to defend the interest of workers and the working masses in entirety.