STOP THE PROPOSED SACK OF WORKERS!
National Conscience Party (NCP)
Lagos State Chapter
STOP THE PROPOSED SACK OF WORKERS!
FIGHT TO DEFEAT ANTI-POOR NEO-LIBERAL ECONOMIC REFORM OF OBJ GOVERNMENT!
The National Conscience Party (NCP) Lagos State Chapter condemns the proposed sacking of 33,000 workers out of 160,000 workforce in the civil service by the Federal Government and calls on the labour and pro-masses’ organisations to begin immediate mobilisation of workers and the poor masses for a political action against this anti-worker agenda and the entire anti-poor neo-liberal reforms of Obasanjo government. As Nasir El-Rufai, a member of Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet, was reported by newspapers to have said: the impending job cuts is in line with the reform programme of the regime.
The government has based the planned retrenchment on need to “rightsize” the workforce in the public sector. This has raised the question, has there ever been wrong sizing in the public sector? Or put differently, has there been anytime Nigerians are adequately and fully employed? The answer is capital NO. The fact remains that the 160,000 civil service workers is a far cry from what is necessary if there had been a conscious effort to invest in public infrastructure, such as building adequate public schools, good roads, hospitals, housing etc., in order to meet the needs of the poor masses. In other words, if not for the deliberate and continuous abandoning of public infrastructure by successive governments through the inspired IMF/World Bank capitalist neo-liberal policies of privatisation, commercialisation, etc., the Federal civil service and other public sectors workers should have been over a million by now. Moreover, if the 50billion naira set aside to settle the 33000 workers were to be invested in infrastructure more jobs will be created and there will be no need for mass sackings. The more the level of infrastructure, the more workers that are needed to work.
When the Obasanjo government states that it is reforming the economy, what that simply means is continued attacks on the living conditions of the poor working people, while at the same time making the rich super richer. Nigeria has made about $400billion from the sales of crude oil alone since the exploration of oil and currently makes $190million per day, yet there is nothing tangible to show for it in terms of infrastructure and standard of living of the Nigerian poor masses.
The more money we make in this country the poorer and more alienated the poor working people have become due to the anti-poor reform policies of this regime. In other words, workers and poor masses have been continuously made to suffer in the midst of inexhaustible abundance in the name of reforms. For instance, 7,000 of out of 10,000 workers of Nigeria Telecommunication Limited (NITEL), recently privatised at a give-away price, have been slated for sacking, while the next onslaught is aimed against public hospitals and NEPA. In the same vain, in a recent report by Miloon Kothari, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing (Guardian of June 22, 2006), averred that the Nigerian Government has been responsible for rendering an estimated 800,000 people homeless in the past three years through officially backed forced eviction, which occurred in Abuja and Lagos due to real estate investment interests and privatisation. Ironically, it is the same Federal Government that could afford the luxury of building a house worth $16milion and donate it to the United Nation early this year, which has kept denying Nigerian workers and poor masses housing and other basic needs of life.
The NCP Lagos State Chapter welcomes the immediate response of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in opposition to the planned mass sackings in the civil service. In our opinion verbal opposition alone cannot force the government to drop this anti-people’s policy. We therefore urge the Labour leadership to come up with an immediate programme of action centrally based on mass mobilisation of workers for actions including strikes and mass protests.
We also strongly propose that the opposition of Labour must not be limited to the civil service alone. There is no fundamental difference in what is happening to workers in the civil service and those of NITEL, PNCN/NEPA, NPA, the banking industry etc. The method of struggle whereby NLC and Labour leaders oppose mass sackings in the civil service but turn a blind eye to the privatisation with its attendant mass sack in NPA, NITEL, PHCN, etc is lopsided.
Benjamin Ojo, a worker in Ikorodu, Lagos, in a letter published in Punch of July 11 2006 reveals the feeling of an average Nigerian worker on the selective approach of the NLC leadership to the struggles of workers. He states, “Nigerian employees in some of the factories owned by foreigners in Ikorodu, Lagos State are working under terrible conditions of service”. He added, “Adequate medical attention is not available in emergency situations especially for those on night duty”. He concluded the “Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) should not act only when there is fuel pump increase but whenever the interest of workers is trampled upon”.
As the NLC National Executive Council meets to deliberate on this issue on July 12 2006, the Nigerian workers are expecting to see a formidable and concrete opposition to mass sack and privatisation and other neo-liberal policies, not just in one sector but in all the sectors of the economy in order to save the Nigerian workers from Obasanjo government imposed mass misery.
The NCP Lagos State Chapter calls on NLC, TUC, CFTU and pro-masses’ organisations and parties to begin the process of mobilisation of the entire Nigerian workers and poor masses in opposition to the neo-liberal policies of the government. We also strongly call on Labour and pro-masses’ organisations/parties to come together to form a formidable working people political alternative to wrest power from the thieving ruling elite in government at all levels and thereby bring an end to the anti-poor capitalist, neo-liberal economic reforms in order to guarantee basic needs for workers and poor masses.