Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

ASSBIFI and pro-labour organisations protest unlawful sack of LASACO unit chairman

ASSBIFI and pro-labour organisations protest unlawful sack of LASACO unit chairman

  • Management forced to Round Table

The Association of Senior Staff of Banks and Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSIBIFI) and other pro-labour organisations (CDWR, DSM, and UAD) picketed LASACO Assurance premises at Alausa, Ikeja on Thursday January 15, 2009 in protest of the unlawful sacking of the union’s unit chairman, F. O. Fasanmi. By 7am about 150 protesters, comprising workers, union officials and pro-labour activists, had gathered at the gate of the building housing LASACO with their placards chanting solidarity songs. The management who sent a message that they would meet with the union by 11am never showed up.

Fasanmi was sacked on January 5 2009 by the management of LASACO after series of victimisation. According to the press statement issued by ASSIBIFI, the management had on October 27 2008 placed Fasanmi on indefinite suspension on trumped-up charges while on annual leave on the basis of a letter written to the management by the Eke-Arin of Eco Bank alleging he made some fraudulent ATM withdrawals.

The union, which intervened with several letters to the management, had faulted the management arbitrariness on the matter. They argued that the suspension was against the rudiments of common law practice and subsisting industry-wide Collective Agreement, which stipulates that such criminal matters, real or imaginary, must be referred to the Nigeria Police before management can take disciplinary actions.

The management, which was hell-bent on getting rid of the unit president in order to pave the way for more anti-workers attacks, went on to sack him. This was even despite the November 4 2008 letter written to the management by the head, Legal & Regulatory Unit/Company Secretary and Head, Audit & Compliance Group of Eco Bank, which recanted the allegations of the Oke-Arin Branch Manager and apologised to Fasanmi.

ASSIBIFI has been at logger-heads with the management for barring workers to join union against their wish. In 2006 after the consolidation of the insurance sector, LASACO acquired ELMAC insurance and all the workers who were formally with ELMAC were not allowed to join the union. It was obvious that the management was only interested in beheading the union to give it leeway for more attacks on workers.

The picketing paralysed working activities for the day as it lasted till 3pm. The union suspended the resolve to resume picketing the following Monday following the intervention of Ministry of Labour. Besides, despite the bravado of the management, it was humbled by the January 15 action as it solicited round table discussion with the union to resolve the meeting. The union has vowed not to relent until all its demands are met. These include unconditional reinstatement of Fasanmi without any loss of pay, the freedom of all workers to join the union etc. Ten copies of Socialist Democracy were sold.

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR), while commending the bold steps of the ASSBIFI, call on the union to initiate joint action with the sister union in the financial industry, NUBIFIE, against LASACO management and financial companies who perpetuate all forms of anti-labour activities.


CDWR Calls for Significant Reduction in Prices of Petroleum Products

By Rufus Olusesan, Chairman CDWR

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) considers the removal of N5 from the pump price of petrol, which hitherto was N70, as insulting tokenism. The poor working masses of Nigeria, whose appalling living conditions caused by the anti-poor, neo-liberal programme have been worsened by the global economic meltdown, deserve much more than this marginal reduction.

Besides petrol, the government must also significantly reduce the prices of other petroleum products like diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel and black oil.

With the global economic meltdown, the landing costs of the refined products have significantly come down. By our estimate the price of petrol for instance should not be more than N40 per litre.

However, besides the need for reduction on the basis of market dictate, fuels are essential to the social welfare of Nigerians and industrial use and therefore must be made to be affordable as both stimulus for economic activities and cushion in the face of rampaging economic crisis.

It is rather unfortunate that Nigeria, a major oil producing country, has to rely on importation of fuel for its domestic use. This is as a result of the successive irresponsible governments which have refused to build adequate refineries despite the huge revenue at their disposal particularly in the last 9 years. Even, about $1.1billion sunk by the Obasanjo government into the turnaround maintenance of the nation’s four refineries have gone down the drain. If the refineries have been made to work optimally, and additional ones built, refined petroleum products would not only be sold locally at affordable prices, but also serve as the source of additional foreign exchange revenue for the country. The problem now is that the government is not interested in any arrangement that will stop importation of fuels because it runs counter to the interest of the ruling elite and their private collaborators who rake super profit at the expense of poor Nigerians.

The crude oil price had skyrocketed from less than $20 in 1999 to the all-time high of $147 in July 2008. This oil windfall until lasted was not enjoyed by the poor masses in term of improved standard of living and social services like education, health care, etc. Besides, the state of infrastructure got worse in the same period. Rather sadly Nigerians were made to pay more for fuel at home while the politicians and business associates smile to their banks with nation’s oil revenue.

In the face of pervasive inefficiency and inadequacy of public power supply, the shameless governments at all levels have budgeted huge amount of public funds on fuel to run their generators both at home and offices in addition to the jumbo pay package they have awarded to themselves . The vast majority of Nigerians who do not have access to public funds, either allocated or stolen, must not be singled out to suffer for the irresponsibility of the governments.

We therefore demand significant reduction in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene, aviation fuel, black oil and other petroleum products essential for domestic and industrial use. We also call on government to repair the four refineries and build new ones. The labour and pro-masses organizations should however prepare to struggle to achieve these demands.