ALTERNATIVE ACTION PLAN FOR LOCKDOWN
SPN call for action to all trade unions, pro-masses’ organisations and civil society
Dissatisfied with the puny and inadequate relief provisions promised by the Federal Government, the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) call on all trade unions, pro-masses organisations and civil society to join us to demand the following set of alternative demands as the conditions which the Federal government in conjunction with state governments must meet before any lockdown is enforced:
(a) A special grant of nothing less than N50, 000 per month to working-class households and the poor to ensure Nigerians are able to stock up in order to survive the lockdown.
(b) This to be combined with setting up of public kitchens and relief distribution centres at community levels for distribution of foodstuff, drugs and other essential supplies. Control and distribution of this fund to be in the hands of democratic committees set up at communities and composed by elected representatives of trade unions, community associations and pro-masses groups etc. in order to prevent fraud and other sharp practises.
(c) Regular payment of salary to all categories of workers in public and private sectors. Before the lockdown commences, the Federal and state government to pay all pending salaries and pensions including the backlog owed to workers and retirees.
(d) For payment of nothing less than N100, 000 COVID-19 special hazard allowance to health workers and all workers at the frontline of the war against COVID-19. This must be combined with life insurance for all these workers as well as adequate Personal Protective Equipment.
(e) Setting up of more testing facilities, increase in the numbers of people tested per day, free distribution of hand sanitisers and face masks, and provision of quarantine and isolation centres at every local government.
(f) For all workers in the itemised industries and sectors considered essential and who are thereby exempted from the lockdown and are expected to report to work daily, the SPN demands a special COVID-19 hazard allowance alongside with provisions of on-the-site safety procedures including temperature monitor, handwashing facilities, hand sanitisers, nose masks and protective clothing.
(g) The procedure of work at these factories to be altered to accommodate social distancing. On-the-site clinics to be immediately equipped to be able to attend to any health needs that may be required. A democratic committee compromising elected representatives of workers to be formed at shop floors to take charge and enforce these arrangements and also fight for workers’ rights.
(h) Given that the lockdown will also affect commuter transportation, buses must be provided to convey essential workers from home to work and back while maintaining social distancing on the buses.
(i) For cancellation of all working-class and poor household electricity debts. For a moratorium on electricity bills, housing and shop/stall rents. Slash in the cost of phone call tariffs, data, DSTV and GOTV subscription cost to aid working and poor people to be able to communicate and access vital information or reach out to first responders in case of emergency.
(j) No to job losses on account of the COVID-19 virus. End casualization now. For the government to guarantee all employment and nationalize any company that retrenches or fail to pay its workers.
(k) All fees to be stopped at all public hospitals. The State to declare free health care including free tests and treatment in order to ensure that the poorest of the poor are not afraid of reporting to the hospital if they feel sick.
(l) No to arbitrary arrests and destruction of people’s wares by law enforcement officers. End attacks on democratic rights. Free all detained activists and reverse all politically-motivated sack of workers and suspension and expulsion of students.
(m) For freedom of the press and the right to freedom of expression and association. Respect for the fundamental rights of citizens even while battling the virus.
(n.) The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) to take the lead in encouraging democratic self-organisation to organise supplies and their distribution– including action against profiteering and black markets.
THE LABOUR MOVEMENT MUST END ITS INACTIVITY AND TAKE THE LEAD
In addition, we call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC) to organise to fight for the above demands. Aside the capitalist orientation of the ruling parties and governments, the silence of these platforms or their inability to fashion and campaign for a clearly independent working class programme over the health emergency and the economic crisis, is what is behind the current audacity of the capitalist ruling elite to not even attempt to do one per cent of the kind of massive state interventions and relief programme that are taking place in other capitalist countries. Should the labour movement back the above-listed demands and organise to pressure the government to fulfil them; some crucial concessions can be gained.
After all is said and done, the presidential speech has confirmed what the SPN has been saying all along which is that the Buhari APC capitalist government has no effective and far reaching answer to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must remember, it is their destruction of the healthcare and other public sectors by the capitalist ruling class due to age-long imposition of capitalist policies of underfunding and privatisation that has made Nigeria prostrate in the face of the rampaging pandemic.
COVID-19 pandemic is an indictment of the capitalist system. It has shown that a system built on profit and not human need will fail humanity when it matters the most. Now more than ever, we need to begin to fight for a different kind of society – a socialist system under which the commanding heights of the economy is nationalised under democratic workers control and management, and the needs of the vast majority, not profits and greed of a few, form the basis of governance and economy.