Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

OSUN STATE: Widespread Anger among Workers over N18, 000 Minimum Wage

OSUN STATE: Widespread Anger among Workers over N18, 000 Minimum Wage

No more Dilly-Dallying, For Strike Actions Now!

By Oladele Omokunle

DSM Osogbo

Since January Osun State workers have been holding rallies as part of activities to demand the implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage. The rallies are held at Fakunle High School Osogbo every Thursday. Members of the DSM have been visiting the congress in solidarity with the workers. We have also been talking to workers and raising the idea of a strike action and mass protest as the best way to win

The issue of struggle started 2011 when the Labour Unions in Osun State, i.e. NLC & TUC, demanded implementation of the N18,000 minimum wage which was passed into law in 2011 as an Act of the National Assembly. The Osun State Government led by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had an agreement with Labour unions that when the State’s revenue improved, government would pay the ₦18,000 minimum wage. According to the workers, the Osun state Government internally generated revenue as well as the Federal Government allocations have improved since then but Government refuses to comply with the agreement earlier reached with the labour Unions.

Instead the state Government went to the National Industrial Court to restrain workers from strike action but the Court said government should pay the workers. In response, workers issued a notice of strike which has since expired but the labour leaders are not going on to declare strike. Instead the labour Unions now organize rallies while still holding talks with the government.

There is nothing bad in holding talks except that there is the danger that government is only negotiating with the unions to keep them from declaring strike and not to meet the demands. This is why it is important for the labour unions to declare at least a warning strike and mass actions immediately. This is the best way to cut across attempts by the Aregbesola government to hold the unions perpetually to the negotiating table while not offering any real deal. Strike actions and mass protests actively mobilised for across the state can have the effect of forcing the government to begin to take workers demands seriously.

However refusal to honour the minimum wage agreement coupled with the feeling that the government has not performed in any fundamentally different from the previous PDP administration is provoking widespread questioning of the legitimacy of Aregbesola’s ACN government. At the rallies, workers are instinctively drawing political conclusions. In this situation comrades of the DSM are actively offering an alternative in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN).

The SPN has issued a leaflet solidarising with the workers. We also maintain an active stall at the congress with a banner of the SPN hoisted. This naturally drew interests of workers. While there is still understandable suspicion of a new party claiming to be different, efforts at explaining why the SPN is different from the others is yielding fruits. At the last rally, four workers agreed to join the SPN and get active in the efforts to get it registered as a party of workers, youth and poor masses. We have also sold about 129 copies of the Socialist Democracy (SD) and other publications since the rallies started 3 weeks ago.