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June 14, 2005

3-DAY WARNING STRIKE BY EDUCATION WORKERS PARALYSED ACTIVITIES IN UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN

Report by Adeola Soetan (SHO)

Between June 6 and 8 the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the University of Ibadan (UI) jointly organized a successful 3-day warning strike against the university authorities.

Under the platform of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and Campaign For Democratic Workers Right (CDWR), we held meetings with the executives of Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of the University of Ibadan on the tactics for the strike and paid a solidarity visit to the Academic Staff Union of University ASUU chairman who was busy preparing a rejoinder to the management malicious propaganda against the three unions. In attendance at these meetings were four student leaders from the DSM branch at UI branch and a member of the DSM’s NEC from Lagos.

The unions were protesting against:

a) Unpaid 3-4 months salaries to some staff as a result of "no-work, no-pay" policy of Obasanjo’s regime in the wake of the 2003 general strike called by the national leadership of the three unions.

b) The new high tax regime imposed by the Oyo State Government which the university management expressly implemented without prior discussion with the 3 unions.

c) The hike in school fees at the university staff school from N3,000 to N15,000 per annum.

Since the first day of the strike, UI DSM student comrades had been assisting the unions in organising the strike and giving necessary encouragement to the leadership and rank and file for successful rallies, congresses and protests marches that were held daily.

 

The strike was very successful in terms of loyalty to the strike by the rank and file workers of the university. The university gate and adjoining roads leading to the heart of the campus which are usually characterised with hustling and bustling activities were deserted. All offices including the Vice Chancellor’s were locked, the senate and other buildings deserted, library and laboratories shut, class rooms abandoned with only the three striking union offices opened for discussion and unions meetings. UI DSM branch also issued a public statement in support and solidarity with the striking unions.

It is instructive to note that despite the draconian section in the Obasanjo’s regime new 2005 Trade Union (amendment) Act placing a ban on strike in ‘essential sectors’, which include education sector, workers scored another victory and rendered this Act useless. This victory was made possible by the joint struggle of the three unions which is very uncommon in Nigerian university system. Often if one union goes on strike today, others wait for the result before taking action. The UI joint warning strike is a demonstration of strength in unity of the workers to jointly struggle together. This will certainly be a positive reference in the future struggle especially if their demands are won.

By the second and last days of the strike, the university authorities had invited the unions’ leadership for a meeting but as at the time of filling this report, the outcome of the meeting is not yet available. However, with the huge success recorded by the strike, it is not ruled out that the workers may win some concessions. Not leaving things to management’s whims, the CDWR campaigns for an immediate follow up programme of action to compel the management to meet the demands of the strikers. CDWR equally campaigns that the education workers in other schools should use similar joint actions to struggle against all anti-workers and students policies in the education sector. In prosecuting this struggle, there must be conscious recognition that the diverse issues concerning education workers and students are interconnected in all ramifications.

In their struggle against education commercialisation, students should also work together with education workers towards a joint action as this is one of effective means to fight and win concessions from the authorities.

The union leaders expressed appreciation and satisfaction for our solidarity visit and intervention which they termed "first of its kind" in the period of the struggle and expressed willingness to have closer ties with our organisation. They also attested to the activity of the DSM student comrades’ work in the IU branch. There now exists a greater prospect of having joint pro-workers/students campaigns on diverse issues affecting workers and students within and outside the campus.