SPN backs Planned General strike
Labour should mobilize for a 48-hour Warning General Strike and mass actions
Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) backs the planned general strike being mobilized by labour to begin on Thursday October 17, 2019. We join the labour movement to demand full implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage to both public and private sector workers without retrenchment.
We call on labour leadership to prioritize the mobilization of workers and the masses in general for an active general strike that will have the participation of workers and the masses; a passive and sit-at-home strike will weaken the strike and give government the opportunity to undermine the strike. To do this will entail the constitution of democratically-elected Strike/Action committees in all states and at all levels including in communities and workplaces to carry out the task of mobilization and sensitization of the people. It will also entail the production of political materials, convocation of mass meetings of workers and community people, organizing public symposium, press conferences and mass rallies.
We call on Labour to concentrate its effort towards the mobilization for an effective and active 48-hour warning general strike in the first instance instead of indefinite general strike. A warning general strike gives labour the opportunity to reassess the strike and resuming until it has the capacity for an indefinite general strike. Moreso a general strike, especially one that is total and indefinite, raises the question of workers taking political power and starting to run society in accordance with their own interests. Without sufficient preparation both a political and organizational nature, the building of a mass workers’ political party with a clear Socialist programme to run society and a bold leadership that is prepared to go through to the end, such a general strike is doomed to fail.
The eleventh hour meeting called by government is aimed at demobilizing the strike. If government is serious about meeting labour’s demand and ending the growing poverty in the country, it should announce its acceptance of labour’s demands and also reverse all anti-people policies (hike in VAT, electricity tariff and road tolling etc.).
Since April 18, 2019 the N30,000 Minimum Wage was signed, the Buhari-led government has insisted in implementing a ridiculous increment and this is responsible for the current deadlock in negotiation. It is incongruous and unacceptable for President Muhammadu Buhari to preside over a country wherein political office holders earn mindboggling salaries and allowances while workers are condemned to poverty wage. Government is insisting on a watered down increment of 11% for workers at grade levels 7 to 14 and 6.5% for workers at grade levels 15 to 17 while Labour has a concessional demand of 29% increment for workers at grade levels 7 to 14 and 24% for workers at grade levels 15 to 17.
SPN holds strongly that government proposed adjustment will make mockery of the N30, 000 minimum wage and call on Labour and workers to reject and resist it. We have taken note that labour proposed adjustment is incapable of withstanding the current inflationary rate considering also several government’s anti-workers/poor policies. For instance, the electricity tariff hike of about 40%, VAT increment of about 66% and the reintroduction of road tolling alone will largely undermine the percentage increment being proposed by labour and when the rising cost of living is put into consideration, the worth of workers salary will be at pre N18, 000 minimum wage era. However labour’s proposals are still very much better compared to the one government is offering. This is why the SPN calls on workers to support and back labour’s demand while also demanding as part of any agreement reached, for regular adjustment of the minimum wage in line with the inflation rate.
In fighting for the implementation of the minimum wage, we call on labour to resist the increment in electricity tariff, hike in VAT, reintroduction of toll gate, hike in school fees and education commercialization, healthcare commercialization etc. This means that labour should insist on reduction of the jumbo salary of political office holders to the wage of skilled civil servant, payment of living wage to workers, adequate public funding of education, healthcare, agriculture, housing etc. And this is impossible under neo-liberal capitalist regime except labour leads a political struggle against the exploitative capitalist system and its government to enable the full utilization of human and natural resources which can only be attained through the coming to power of a workers and poor masses/famers government based on socialist planning and nationalization of the commanding height of the economy under working masses transparent and democratic control and management.
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary