NLC AND ULC RECONCILIATION
SPN welcomes the development and calls for a fighting leadership
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes the reconciliation of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) announced on Thursday, 16th July, 2020. This is after, over four years ago, a group of trade unions which later metamorphosed into the ULC broke away from the NLC following a dispute that erupted over the election of the President of the NLC between Comrade Ayuba Wabba of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Comrade Joe Ajero of Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) at the national delegate conference of the labour centre in 2015.
Just like we are not opposed to emergence of any trade union centre created by labour leaders and workers, it is always our desire and aspiration that the emergence of a trade union centre, or re-emergence of two or more Labour centres, translates to a strengthened labour movement that will be able to unite all the Nigeria working people across the diverse ethnic and religious divides on the basis of defence of its class interest.
Unfortunately, it is evident today that several interests of the Nigeria working people are being trampled upon. For instance the President Buhari-led government was compelled to approve and sign into law a N30,000 national minimum wage on 18th April 2019. Six months later, on 18th October 2019, the Federal Government and organised labour agreed on the consequential adjustment in wages. But now no fewer than 11 states are yet to commence the implementation, while 5 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, are only implementing it partially. Even states like Kaduna and Kano which are among those that claimed to have commenced the implementation are now taking measure that suggests an attempt to reverse continuous implementation of the new minimum wage.
Again, despite the current severe economic dislocation the Nigerian working people are going through, the Buhari-led government has not only not stopped at increasing the pump price of petrol from N125 to N143, it also attempted to commence the implementation of an about 68% hike in the electricity tariff until the public outcry forced its implementation to be suspended till 2021. This is in addition to the growing cases of job losses, wage cuts and attacks on working conditions as a result of the economic crisis compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. Under this kind of severe economic attacks that the Nigeria working people are subjected to at this present time, we of the SPN strongly hold that the only way the new reconciliation can make sense to an average Nigerian worker, youths and mass of the poor is if it translates into a fighting leadership which defends the interests of workers and the poor all the time.
Therefore, we call on the reunited NLC, together with the TUC, to declare a 24 hours nationwide strike with street protests as the next step in demanding a full and unconditional implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage for all categories of Nigeria workers and reject the recent hike in the price of petrol and that of electricity tariff which is temporarily suspended. Such a strike should also be used to oppose job losses, wage cuts and payment of fractional salaries and other attacks on workers’ pay and conditions and also to give solidarity to the struggle of health workers across the country.
Most importantly, the reunited NLC and TUC should immediately initiate a process to commence serious discussions that will involve trade unions, socialist and pro-masses’ organisations on the imperative of a working people political alternative given the failure and incapacity of all sections of the capitalist elite to develop Nigeria. We of the SPN urge that the ultimate goal of such discussion must be the formation of a pan-Nigeria mass working people political party on a socialist programme through which the working people can rescue political power from the hands of the parasitic pro-capitalist elites presiding over the affair of the country and begin to use the enormous human and natural resources at the disposal of the country to reconstruct the country in the interest of workers and the poor.
Acting National Chairperson