SPN SUPPORTS NLC-DECLARED GENERAL STRIKE BUT CALLS FOR MASS MOBILISATION TO ENABLE MASS PARTICIPATION
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has declared the plan to go on a two-day warning general strike starting from Tuesday, September 5 and an indefinite strike later after the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum to the government. This is, according to its National Executive Council (NEC), in response to governments’ interference in union affairs, particularly the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) as well as in Imo and Abia states; the refusal of the government to engage the union on how to mitigate the sufferings occasioned by the removal of petrol subsidy; denial of aviation workers by AirPeace and other airlines to join a union of their choice, etc.
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns government attacks on living standards through the implementation of anti-poor policies (petrol subsidy removal and hike in petrol prices, deregulation of Naira, rising cost of living etc), interference in trade union affairs, denial of workers the right to join trade union of their choice, hike is school fees etc.
We hereby urge the workers and oppressed masses to join the strike en-masse as these issues are important to the socio-economic well-being as well as the democratic rights of the working class and the toiling masses. We call on the NLC not to make it a sit-at-home strike but to organize public mass activities like protest rallies and demonstrations alongside the strike. We also challenge the NLC to broaden the demands to include other issues like the wave of fee hikes and education commercialization, planned electricity tariff hike and other attacks on the lives of working people.
Despite Labour’s display of frustrating hesitancy and lack of a consistent fighting strategy, the SPN feels that it is necessary to support any action called by Labour to fight while continuing to criticize and challenge them to do more. Without this, there would be nothing stopping the rabidly anti-poor and neoliberal Tinubu capitalist administration and its onslaught on living conditions.
The suspension of the general strike called in June in response to President Tinubu’s inauguration-day removal of fuel subsidy tipped the balance in favour of the regime as it completely destroyed any goodwill the labour movement still had left among the workers and toiling masses. But with the August 2nd national protest, Labour had a chance to begin to claw its way back if it had immediately followed up with a general strike. But this did not happen as the leadership waited a whole month while the suffering continued. All of these have created a feeling among the masses that any actions called by Labour are only for letting off steam and not to really resist or change the situation. Now the Labour leadership must strive to combat this sort of mood, which exists even among its members, by conducting the forthcoming general strike with all seriousness and then immediately following up with further escalated actions.
Unfortunately, the NLC leadership in this planned strike does not demand the reversal of the petrol price to N200 per litre, which was the price before the criminal removal of the so-called subsidy. Rather it still preoccupies itself with a false expectation of palliatives. Tinubu’s government and some state governments have come out with some palliatives, which are not only too little and ridiculous but also insulting. Hence, we strongly feel that if the NLC leadership is serious about resisting anti-poor policies (subsidy removal, hike in school fees, devaluation of Naira etc.,), it should demand reversal of the policies and demand massive investment in critical sectors of the economy to create jobs including implementation of a living wage for workers.
We support the decision of the NLC to also use the strike to resist government meddling in the NURTW leadership struggle. While we join the NLC to strongly condemn the government’s meddling in union activities and affirm the right to independent unionism, we are nevertheless opposed to the extortionist activities of the NURTW leaders, activities that exploit road transport workers and contributes to higher transport cost. It is not enough to defend NURTW rights to freedom of existence and independence without commenting on its nefarious activities that negate the values and principles of the labour movement and class solidarity. We hereby urge the NLC to use its internal mechanisms to reform the NURTW so that it can operate as a real union that defends, and not exploit, its members and road users.
The SPN calls for mass mobilization to secure the popular participation of the mass of Nigerian workers and the poor masses. A general strike is a big class struggle that requires the participation of the mass of the working masses to enable it to win. Hence, we call on the NLC leadership to use its organs and structures across the federation to mobilize and resist privatization, deregulation, rising cost of living, poor wages, casualization and other precarious workplace policies, mass unemployment, denial of trade union rights, education fee hike, corruption and jumbo salaries for privileged few. Mass mobilization and resistance can help defeat the anti-poor government.
Side by side with mobilisation for mass resistance against the anti-poor, neo-liberal policies, trade union leaders, activists and workers should struggle for the nationalization of the commanding height of the economy under democratic working-class control.
Acting National Chairperson