SPN Supports 5-Day Warning Strike by Kaduna Workers
We Demand Reversal of all Sacks and Anti-Labour Policies
For a 24–hour Warning General Strike and Nationwide Mass Protest over Minimum Wage, Pay Cuts and Planned Hike in Fuel Price and Electricity Tariff
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) fully supports the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to embark on a 5-day warning strike starting from Monday May 17 to protest against the illegal and callous sack of over 4000 public sector workers and other anti-worker actions by Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna state.
We also welcome the plan of important industrial unions in the sectors like oil and gas, aviation, electricity and railway to join the strike. It is such joint solidarity action that is required if labour will achieve its determination to put an end to the gross violations of workers and trade union rights by El Rufai government.
El Rufai is an inveterate anti-poor governor with a sinister record of monumental attacks on workers and the poor. Most of the workers affected are drawn from primary health care and primary schools which are patronized by the poor masses. This underscores the depth of his anti-poor character. Since 2017 over 50,000 thousand workers have been sacked while another over 11,000 civil servants have been penciled down for disengagement and conversion to casual workers. Also about 20,000 workers have not been paid their April salary by Kaduna state government.
We call on the NLC not to relent until the anti-poor government is defeated. This is important, in addition to winning respite for Kaduna workers, to ensure it does not become a model for other equally anti-poor state governments.
We urge the labour leaders to ensure the strike is not a stay-at-home action. Beyond enforcing compliance by workers, there must be a series of mass activities like mass demonstrations, rallies and symposia including mass leafleting in order to win the public mass support for the strike and thereby undercut and counter the plan of el-Rufai to incite other strata of the oppressed masses against workers with lies.
However, the national leadership of the NLC should realize that their characteristic half-hearted disposition to the plights of workers in the spirit of the so-called strategic partnership with government contributed to the making of a monster that El-Rufai has become. In most cases, workers and state leaderships of Labour are left to their devices when solidarity action is badly needed. Eleven state governments have not paid the current minimum wage, and four states are only partially paying it, while there are still a backlog of unpaid salaries and pensions from the last minimum wage regime. Yet, labour leaders, beyond issuing lame statements, have not mobilized workers to force the affected governments on their knees.
Now working people are threatened with pay cuts. If the Federal Government is able to actually “reduce” workers’ salaries in “several” FG agencies this will give a green light to other employers, both public and private, to attempt to do the same. This is why the struggle in Kaduna is important and, why a radical change is required of Labour nationally. There must be an end to Labour occasionally issuing warnings and threats of action but then retreating as happened last September.
This is why it is urgent that the NLC and TUC call, as a first step, a 24-hour warning general strike and nationwide mass protest over non-implementation of the minimum wage and against wage cuts for ordinary workers. The demands of the strike should also include an end to casualization especially private companies and rejection of any planned hike in fuel price and electricity tariff. If these demands are not accepted then mass mobilisations and further general strike actions must be organized so that living standards do not fall and in fact are raised. Given the past role of many Labour leaders it is essential that Labour’s rank and file are mobilised to build a force from below that can ensure that action takes place, is successful and can be the basis for transforming Labour into a militant force committed to taking the country out of its current crisis.
By and large, we hold that the attacks on pays and conditions of workers by the government at all levels irrespective of political parties under the guise of declined revenue while the anti-poor politicians and their private sector contractors continue to loot and live in opulent lifestyle are logical consequence of their anti-poor capitalist program and philosophy. Therefore we call on labour leaders, trade union activists and workers to link the struggle against anti-poor policies to the need for building a mass working peoples party on a socialist program that could wrest power from the thieving capitalist elite at all levels and begin to plan the use of the country’s resources in the interests of the vast majority of Nigerians instead of those of the ruling class.
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary