Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
For struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria
Committee for a Workers' International
Newspaper of the DSM
FLOUR MILLS STRUGGLE: VICTORY AT LONG LAST!
By Saheed Smart
The protracted struggle between the workers of Golden Fertilizer and their employers, the management of Flour Mills, a consequence of the exploitation, deplorable working conditions, perpetual casualisation and the unjust mass sack - came to an end on February 10th, 2006, with the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the two parties for the compensation of workers.
The workers, organised under the banner of Forum for Victimised Flour Mills Workers with support from Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR), had put up a coordinated fight to demand, among other things, improved working conditions, increase in wages, compensation for the sacked workers and an end to all forms of slavery, contract and casual labour.
The doggedness of the workers to the struggle apparently forced the Lagos State House of Assembly Committee on Public Petitions, Human Rights and Judiciary to act on the petition of the forum on the deplorable condition of the workers. The committee members visited the factory and clearly attested to the unjust inhuman treatment being meted on workers by the management, the most notorious being the persistent use of casual labour beyond the 3 month period prescribed by the relevant laws of the land.
Against the expectation of the workers, the management, tactically supported by the House Committee, only paid a paltry sum as compensation for each worker. However, the fact that the management that had earlier rejected all the entreaties of the workers was compelled to pay something against its wishes is a victory for the struggle. It is also a clear indication that if workers are organised and prepared to struggle and fight against their oppressors, victory is definitely possible. Dare to struggle is dare to win.
To formally round off the first stage of the struggle, the Forum held a press conference on March 14th, 2006. The spokesperson of the workers, Agbaje Mutiu, on behalf of the generality of the workers, expressed their profound appreciations to the press, individuals, lawyers and most especially, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) for their unflinching support from the inception of the struggle to the end. The Forum also used the occasion to call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), pro-labour and human rights organisations to step up struggle against the menace of casualisation in the country.
One major lesson the Flour Mills workers struggle teaches Nigerian working masses and youths is that we have to organise to fight for our rights and needs. More importantly, the society can only become a better place if we are well organised to chase the corrupt and parasitic ruling elite out of power and replace them with a workers and poor peasants' government run on a socialist programme to guarantee basic needs of life such as food, housing, decent jobs, health care, water, electricity, education, etc for the poor working masses.
Editor's Note: In appreciation of the support given to the struggle of the unjustly sacked Flour Mills Workers, the victimized Flour Mills Workers Forum donated a sum of N100,000 to both CDWR and DSM from their respective personal compensation.