Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

On-Going ASUP and SSANIP Strike Actions

On-Going ASUP and SSANIP Strike Actions

Government Must Meet Demands So That Students can Resume

Join Mass Protest on Tuesday 4 June 2013 by 10am in Yabatech, Lagos

Lateef Adams (ERC Lagos State Coordinator)

ERC members discussing students while circulating leaflets at Yabatech, photo DSM

ERC members discussing students while circulating leaflets at Yabatech, photo DSM

It is now glaring in the eyes of not only the working class in Nigeria, but also the general masses at large, that the corrupt capitalist ruling elite in Nigeria is not interested in funding education. No year passes by without witnessing workers’ unions in the education sector embarking on strikes as a result of government neglect and underfunding of the sector.

For instance, between 2009 and now the university sector witnessed three strikes called by the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) – some of these strikes lasted more than three months. All this was as a result of the government refusal to implement agreement reached with ASUU and to improve on the funding of the education.

The struggle against the anti-education government is not however restricted to the Universities. Unions in the polytechnics like the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP) are presently on a nationwide strike to press home their demands for improvement in the state of the polytechnic institutions and better working conditions as well as pay package. The Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) Polytechnic chapter has also embarked on a warning strike with a threat to escalate to a full-blown strike.

It is worth mentioning here the issues in contention, some of which are: “the worrisome state of State owned polytechnics, refusal to implement the approved salary packages (CONPCASS) and the migration of the lower cadres on the CONTISS 15 salary scale and 65 year retirement age “. Other grievances include “the release of White paper on the visitations to Federal polytechnics, the call for the establishment of the National Polytechnic Commission (NPC) and the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Polytechnics”.

We in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) believe that the workers’ demands are genuine and that there is the urgent need for a fight back against underfunding. Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) University of Lagos branch intervened in the ongoing polytechnic strike by visiting Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) with leaflets, calling on workers and students on the campus to give support to the striking unions and to call on government to implement agreement it reached with the union some years back. About 1,000 copies of leaflet produced have so far been distributed within and around the campus.

On second visit to the institution, we met with the leadership of SSANIP and the students’ union to show solidarity and to put forward pro-active and practical measures that can be undertaken jointly by the striking unions and students to strengthen the strike such as mass mobilizations, rallies and protests etc. These actions of mass demonstration of workers and students become necessary after series of ultimatum given and ignored by the government.

It should be recalled that the union had earlier on 25 March 2013 issued a 21 day ultimatum which elapsed on 22 April 2013. The union next entered a one-week warning strike between 22 and 29 April 2013 and it was only when government showed no concern that the workers eventually commenced an indefinite strike on Monday 29 April 2013. On our meeting with the SSANIP leadership, we were not only told of their forthcoming branch congress on campus we were also invited to be part of it on Friday 31 May.

The congress on Friday 31 May 2013 witnessed a large turn-out of members of SSANIP. The need to popularize the struggle was discussed and the union agreed on a protest rally and a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday 4th June. The strategy and method to go about it were also discussed.

The chairman recognized our presence by introducing the DSM and ERC members present as well as calling on us to address the congress. While speaking for the DSM/ERC, comrade Chinedu Bosah emphasized the need to popularize the struggle as well as calling on the students and other workers to join since they are fighting a common cause. He also raised the issue of the gradual killing of the Lagos State University (LASU) by the so called “progressive” Lagos state Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) government. LASU’s courses and programs face the danger of rationalisation. This is as a result of the comercialiasation of the institution through the astronomical increase in fees from N25,000 to between 193,000 and 390,000 Naira leading to sharp decline in the number of students picking up admission offer.

He warned that if the government plan on rationalization of courses is allowed to sail through, it means staff (both academic and non-academic) will lose their jobs while access to university education is further restricted.

The protest rally is scheduled to start by 10am from Yabatech main entrance through Ikorodu road and back to the venue for the press conference. We in the ERC and DSM will fully participate in this protest. We call on education workers, students, labour and youth activits, and members of the public to join SSANIP members on this demo which has been called to compel government to meet the striking unions’ demands so that academic activities can resume in the polytechnics as soon as possible.