Kaduna Mass Sack: SPN rejects agreement that portrays over 50,000 workers redundant and demands immediate recall of sacked workers
A 24-Hour Warning General Strike over Retrenchment, Wage Cuts and all Anti-Poor Policies is urgently needed now to consolidate the struggle
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) again commends the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Kaduna workers over the massive strike and protest held against the anti-worker tyranny of Governor Nasiru el Rufal of Kaduna State. Even though it lasted only 3 days out of the 5 days initially planned, the strike which paralyzed every sector of the economy in the state despite the terror unleashed on the strike by government sponsored thugs again underscores the huge power and potential of the working class. It again shows that the working class is always battle ready if well mobilized by Labour leadership into the arena of struggle against attacks and for better conditions.
However, we note that apart from a massive show of force of Labour demonstrated with the strike, it appears Labour has achieved little for the beleaguered workers. The agreement reached with the government following the suspension of the strike suggests that the Labour leadership do not have any problem with the callous mass sack of workers. Their only contention is that it was not properly done as it did not abide by the “principle of redundancy”. In other words, Labour leaders agree in principle that over 50,000 workers have been made redundant in Kaduna public service, especially at a period of deep economic crisis. How can this be called defending workers?
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the current Labour leaders do not see this as making ordinary workers to pay for the crisis of capitalism and the failure of the pro-capitalist government to use human and natural resources for the benefit of the majority. If Labour leaders do not want or do not see how to fight sackings, low pay, the robbing of workers and pensioners, price hikes etc. then they should step aside for those who are not afraid of fighting.
Besides, while the agreement says that nobody should be victimized for their participation in the strike, it did not make a specific demand for the recall of workers already dismissed in the course of the strike.
We again hold that it is the failure of the Labour leadership to mobilise workers to consistently resist attacks that emboldened el Rufai to ride roughshod over workers in the state. But it is not only el-Rufai who is the culprit, and should not be the only target of the resistance of Labour. At least eleven states have not implemented the current minimum wage and many more have still not settled the outstanding salaries and pensions from the last minimum wage. Also, the Buhari led federal government has hinted about the plan to retrench workers euphemistically called rationalization. As the remark of Bayelsa state governor at the meeting of Governors’ Forum show, el-Rufai is only ploughing ways for others to follow. The fact that the Bayelsa state governor is of the PDP further shows that both parties are united against working people and the poor.
We therefore reiterate our call on Labour, as the next step, to declare a 24-hour warning general strike and mass protest to demand the reversal of mass sack in Kaduna, full implementation of minimum wage and payment of arrears of salaries and pension, rejection of wage cuts and any planned retrenchment of workers at both state and federal levels and casualization and contract staffing in the private sector employment. The demands of the strike should also include the rejection of planned increase in fuel prices and electricity tariff.
With the experience of the calling off of last September’s general strike and now Labour leaders appearing to accept sackings as long as they are “legal” there now needs to be a determined campaign from the ranks of Labour to insist that these retreats stop. This has to be linked to stepping up serious preparations in workplaces and communities for a 24 hour general strike. If the current Labour leaders are not willing to do this they should stand aside and be replaced by those willing to seriously struggle.
We also again call on Labour leaders, trade union activists and workers to link the struggle against anti-poor policies to the need for building a mass, democratically run, working peoples’ party on a socialist programme. This is with a view to 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 a few thieving elites.
Abiodun Bamigboye Chinedu Bosah
Acting National Chairperson National Secretary