2015 MAY DAY HELD AMIDST SPLIT IN NLC AND A BACKLOG OF UNPAID SALARIES
2015 MAY DAY HELD AMIDST SPLIT IN NLC AND A BACKLOG OF UNPAID SALARIES
WORKING PEOPLES’ POLITICAL ALTERNATIVE IS NOT ON THE AGENDA
May Day Reports
By Peluola Adewale
Ajaero’s faction May Day Rally at Under Bridge opposite National Stadium Surelere Lagos – photo DSM
This year’s May Day came on the heels of the split in the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) after its 11th Delegates’ Conference. As a result, there were two national May Day rallies and separate factional rallies in a number of states. The Ayuba Wabba led faction, who could be considered as the official leadership having emerged at the original Delegates’ Conference, held its rally in collaboration with Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Abuja. The faction led by Joe Ajaero held forth in Lagos.
It should be recalled that about a week to May Day, the two factions held parallel congresses in states across the country.
However, apparently taking side with the Wabba faction, the government through the Nigeria Police Force prevented the Ajaero faction from holding its May Day rally at the National Stadium in Lagos which they had paid for. The rally was held at under bridge opposite the stadium. It was also the Wabba’s faction rallies that were attended by government representatives.
While the government allowed the use of Eagle Square in Abuja by the Wabba faction, the venue was heavily militarized as has obtained in the recent years. Workers were thoroughly frisked as they were entering the venue and materials like leaflets, banners and placards were checked for any “seditious” message. Any message that was critical of the government or made radical demands was considered seditious.
It should be recalled that in 2013 members of DSM were arrested at the security check right at the point entry to Eagle Square and detained by the operatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) over the DSM paper and leaflet which were also impounded. Last year, our May Day materials were also seized by the security operatives. This year we decided to keep a safe distance.
This year May Day also came against the background of the gale of unpaid salaries that has rampaged many states. Workers in many states are owed as much as six months’ salaries. If the NLC had had a radical leadership this year’s May Day rally would have been held on streets with mass protests over the unpaid salaries and pensions, and not another ritual inside a fort. It was also the failure of the labour leadership that the unpaid salaries were allowed to heap without any strike or solidarity action. It is not enough for the labour leadership in the affected states to take individual actions as directed by Wabba in his speech, the national leadership must provide direction with centrally coordinated actions including a general strike and solidarity actions.
However, in some states some sections of labour leadership like NLC in Osun cancelled the May Day event in protest against unpaid salaries. Instead of this sterile action, it would have been rewarding if the workers had been called to the streets to press home demands and mobilize mass support. But this action, or inaction, underscores the moribund character of many labour leaders especially at the state level. It was commendable that the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Osun marked the May Day with protest march of the issue. However, it appeared that there was no adequate mobilization of workers.
Fight For Higher Minimum Wage and Other Demands
One of the common highlights at the both national rallies was the issue of a new national minimum wage. Both factions correctly articulated the need for a new minimum wage which is already due for review. But while Wabba gave a notice of request of a new minimum wage without stating a figure, Ajaero demanded N90, 000.
However, while Wabba seemed to accept the electricity privatization as a fait accompli and rather called for reasonable pricing as against the prevailing shortchanging of consumers; Ajaero called for review of the electricity privatization because of its monumental failure. Ajaero, who still doubles as the General Secretary of electricity workers union (National Union of Electricity Employees), did not how state in concrete terms what such review would connote. Is it a change of private owners or renationalization?
By and large, the two factions placed a number of demands before the incoming Muhammadu Buhari government. However, the struggle for these demands especially on the national minimum wage cannot be successfully waged with a divided labour leadership working at cross purposes. This is one of the reasons we are against the current NLC split which is based on self-serving interests. We welcome the ongoing efforts at reconciling the two factions. We however stress that such efforts must not be limited to just ending the factionalisation but to also seek to enthrone internal democracy in the workers movement and evolve a fighting program for the leadership to implement. Whatever the outcome of the reconciliation efforts, we call for united actions of all trade unions on issues such as minimum wage, privatization, casualisation, fuel price, unpaid salaries, etc.
It was striking that the question of a working peoples’ political alternative or the plan to reclaim Labour Party was not on the agenda of either faction as revealed by their May Day speeches. This was despite the fact this was the subject of a NLC resolution before the recent split and indeed informed the NLC last year setting up a Caretaker Committee to try to reclaim the Labour Party. This may not be unconnected to the illusion in Buhari government by many labour leaders together with their lack of ideological difference with the capitalist ruling elite.
DSM and SPN activity on May Day
DSM Stand at Onikan Stadium where the Wabba’s faction held its rally in Lagos, photo DSM
DSM members and supporters participated in twelve May Day rallies in 10 states and Abuja. The states were Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Anambra, Niger and Kano. Many copies of Socialist Democracy, paper of DSM, were sold while at least 15,000 May Day leaflets of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) were circulated. The leaflet called for a fighting trade unionism and a mass working peoples’ party while asking workers to support the SPN. This was in addition to the leaflets of the DSM, Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) and Education Rights Campaign (ERC) distributed in Osun, Oyo and Ondo respectively over some specific issues in those states.
The intervention in Kano was significant as it was the first in over a decade that we have participated at a May Day rally in the state. The intervention also underscores what could be achieved with SPN work as it was carried out by SPN supporters resident in Kano. All copies of Socialist Democracy (SD) that had been sent by bus were sold, alongside the distribution of over a thousand copies of the SPN leaflet. According to their report, they could have sold much more copies if available. In the coming period, we will look for opportunities to deepen our activity in the state.
It was only in Ondo state that the incident of harassment of comrades was recorded. Comrades were forcefully sent out of the venue of the rally by the operatives of DSS over the ERC leaflet that was critical of some anti-workers policies of the state government.
The comrades in Oyo organized a pre-May Day symposium on the platform of the CDWR on April 30. About 45 workers and pro-labour activists attended the symposium and 30 copies of SD were sold. The same day in Lagos DSM members participated at the pre-May Day symposium organized by Ajaero faction and sold 33 copies of SD. A week earlier at the parallel congresses of the NLC in Oyo and Lagos, 92 copies of SD were sold altogether.
Below are some of the reports from around the country:
By Dimeji Macaulay
We set out around 7am to get to the venue of the National May Rally in Abuja early enough. As we moved nearer to the venue we observed that all roads leading to the Eagle Square, the May Day venue, had been barricaded about 500m away with heavy presence of armed policemen. On getting to the barricade we were sent back by the police apparently because of two bags containing copies of Socialist Democracy (SD), Manifesto of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), SPN May Day leaflet, the DSM publication “DSM AND THE STRUGGLE FOR A WORKING PEOPLES POLITICAL ALTERNATIVE” and a SPN banner that we carried. They did not even bother to search the bags. Anybody that a carried hefty load was not allowed to enter unless clad in any of the affiliate union attires. Many union buses that conveyed workers to the venue were also parked far away from the venue.
We then decided to carry the materials in our hands and walked past the barricade. On getting to the Federal Secretariat, a few meters from the Eagle Square, we started circulating the SPN leaflets and trying to sell our paper. There were many workers waiting around or on the queue struggling to enter the Eagle Square for the rally. There were security operatives frisking the workers and demanding production of their union ID cards before being allowed to go inside. They also checked the messages on the banners and placards before being allowed inside.
While selling paper and circulating leaflet one of the workers we met complained that workers had not been paid their April Salary as of May 1 unlike the previous month when they were paid on March 26, obviously because of the Presidential election which was two days away. Another man declined to take from us the SPN leaflet saying that all political parties are the same and anti-poor. He also lamented the failure of labour leaders to help the working people. We explained that our party is party of workers , youth and the masses and that we are using this party leaflet to call on trade union leaders to fight for democratic rights and welfare of workers, and also to build a working peoples political alternative capable of wresting power from the capitalist ruling class. We also need a socialist revolution to end the rotten capitalist looting and inequality in wealth distribution. Apparently convinced, he collected the leaflet and promised to get back to us.
In the past two years, all our materials were seized by security operatives while attempting to enter the main venue of the May Day rally. Indeed, in 2013 our comrades were also arrested and detained by SSS. We therefore decided to continue our activities outside more so that the majority of workers that were entering were the same we were going to see inside. Besides, four workers had signed to join the SPN.
However when the security check was relaxed, we walked in to see what was going on. By this time, the march past had started. Together with NLC leadership on the dais saluting the marching workers was Bala Mohammed, Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Bala Muhammed, who apparently represented President Jonathan, was the face of the anti-poor policies of outgoing government in Abuja. He presided over demolition of houses of the poor in Gwarinpa, Mpape, Duste and many other satellite towns in Abuja without paying compensation to the victims. Though the deadly demolition exercise was stopped when election was getting closer, the memory is still fresh.
We sighted only a single placard by a young man which was calling for the removal of fuel subsidy and also saying that removal of fuel subsidy is change. Perhaps, this was the only placard that passed the security check.
Onikan Stadium, Lagos
By Emmanuel Adikwu
Comrades from the Agege, Ajegunle, and University of Lagos (UNILAG) branches of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) intervened at the 2015, May Day rally held at the Onikan stadium, Lagos. This rally was hosted by the Lagos State Council of the Ayuba Wabba faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). As usual, workers from the various affiliate unions were clad – one from another – in distinct union attires, specially crested with logo design. Some also came in their companies’ attires. All sorts of merchandise were conspicuously on display for sale, as traders made brisk business. Sales representatives from several companies were also there to advertise goods and services as well as make sales.
Under the heat of the scorching sun, we carried out our intervention with May Day leaflet, the Socialist Democracy (SD), SPN manifesto, and DSM publication on ‘The Struggle for a Working Peoples’ Political Alternative‘. We were able to have one-on-one discussion with workers, and made sales at our stall, as comrades also went round the May Day venue with copies of our materials to discuss with workers and also make sales. It was not an easy task but we had to persist as always and anticipate positive results for our efforts.
The May Day celebration was filled with fanfare as always, without any rousing speech from the union executives who, as always, reserved the speech-making at the occasion for the governor or the highest bidder/patron. As a tradition, the governor got a standing ovation on his arrival at the event with his large convoy of personal staff. Without mincing words, the workers at the event got a rude shock when he reeled out a barrage of anti-workers’ remarks detailing what workers should expect in the coming period from the Muhammodu Buhari-led APC government. He also warned workers not to go on strike. The governor however got a rude shock in return, as a host of workers disrupted his speech mid-way with chants, demanding that he should leave the stage and go away!
Despite the degeneracy in the workers’ movement that apparently occasioned the lack of interest to buy and read socialist materials, we still met with workers that were genuinely interested in buying and reading our publications. We met a few that are openly critical of the labour leadership and the way they run the affairs of workers, vis-Å•-vis the degeneracy that pervade the workers’ unions. However we also met a few who were not interested in revolutionary ideas or in buying or reading our materials.
Joe Ajaero Factional President of NLC reacting to the sealing off of the National Stadium Lagos by the Police – photo DSM
The Joe Ajaero led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) billed to hold its national May Day rally at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. But the venue had been sealed off by the police before workers assembled. This forced the workers to gather under the bridge opposite the stadium to hold the rally. About 5,000 workers from at least 13 trade unions mostly from the private sector participated at the rally which was addressed by the factional Lagos state chair, Tokunbo Korodo and President Joe Ajaero.
Expectedly there were no government representatives, though invited.
Though, his speech was almost full of praises and eulogy for the outgoing governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, who was described as a “bulwark of support” of the NLC, Korodo however took swipe at the housing policy of the government. He aptly described the Lagos state government housing policy as “evidently and disappointingly elitist” and demanded a low-cost housing scheme that is “affordable and commensurate with the minimum wage of N18,000”. Good talk. He was however silent on how the labour will fight for this demand. He did not also mention the scourge of casualisation which is rampant especially at the private sector workplaces let alone how to fight it.
In his speech, Joe Ajaero pledged support for the incoming administration of Muhammadu Buhari. He demanded a review of electricity privatization which has proved to be a total failure. He did not however specify in concrete terms what such review should entail. It should be recalled that Joe Ajaero as the General Secretary of the electricity workers union (NUEE) led the struggle against electricity privatization before they capitulated having been apparently weakened by the lack of solidarity actions from the NLC. He also demanded the revival of the textile industry which is one of promises of Muhammadu Buhari. The highlight of the speech is the demand for a new national minimum wage of N90,000 and a call for the tripartite meeting of government, private employers and labour to begin discussion. But missing in his speech were the steps to force the government to implement these demands
After the speeches, there was a brief procession of workers to and fro the venue of the rally covering about 400 meter circumference. Perhaps, the march would have had more impact if it had moved to Ojuelegba which is the nearest major bus station.
Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) participated at the rally, selling copies of Socialist Democracy (SD), paper of DSM, and circulating thousands of the SPN leaflet.
A day earlier, April 30, the Ajaero faction of the NLC held what was called “Good Governance Walk” from Yaba to Ikeja and also pre-May Day Symposium at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja. DSM members attended the symposium where 33 copies of Socialist Democracy were sold.
By Michael Ogundele
CDWR May Day Symposium in Ibadan on April 30 – photo DSM
This year’s commemoration of the International Workers’ Day in Oyo State was organized separately by the two factions of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state. While the Wabba`s faction led by S.W. Olojede organized the usual yearly rally among representatives of affiliated unions linked to his faction at the Adamasigba Stadium, the Ajaero faction under the leadership of Sulaimon Odunmuyiwa reportedly organized a public symposium at the state secretariat of the Independent Petroleum Marketer Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), located at the Apata area in Ibadan.
Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) could only intervene at the Wabba`s faction. All effort by members of the Oyo state Chapter of DSM to ensure their intervention at the public symposium organized by the Ajaero faction was not successful. This was due to the failure of this faction’s leadership to disclose the venue and character of their May Day event early enough.
Nevertheless, the DSM intervention at the event organized by the Wabba faction was a success despite all effort by the leadership of the faction to frustrate the intervention. For instance, in the late hours of Thursday, 30th April, 2015, one of the leaders of the faction in the called the Secretary of DSM in the state, Comrade Abbey Trotsky, to persuade DSM members not to display any placard or distribute leaflet at the May Day rally. This was said not to break the understanding the NLC leadership had with the operative of State Security Service (SSS) a few hours earlier before in the day.
This appeal was however ignored by DSM members who distributed thousands of leaflets and also displayed placards with various demands while partaking of the march past. The attempt by men of the Nigeria Police to prevent DSM members from participating in the march past was resisted by comrades and supporters who included 15 persons from among the 95 sacked CRIN workers whom are also members of CDWR in the state.
The mood expressed by workers during the May Day event was obviously not cheerful. This is suspected to be informed by the fact that public workers in the state are being owed about four months’ salaries starting from February 2015. Besides, there was no indication from the different speeches presented by both the NLC chairman and Deputy Governor that there is prospect for any improvement in both their living and working conditions in the coming period. More so, the NLC Chair’s speech did not indicate any readiness by the labour leadership to fight for the immediate payment of the said unpaid salaries as well against other attacks on workers.
However, the kind of reception enjoyed by both the CDWR leaflet issued by the Oyo State Chapter and the national leaflet of SPN which were massively distributed during the event is an indication that the Oyo State workers are determined to struggle for improvement in conditions and pay against various attacks. For instance, there was little or no sign of leaflets littering the venue of the rally, unlike what usually obtained in the previous years.
Attendance in this year May Day event was also poor. This could be as a result of unpaid salaries that showed there was no cause for celebration. This is more so as the May Day has been reduced to annual merry making.
Copies of Socialist Democracy (SD) were sold while pensioners from the defunct PHCN were also engaged in discussion by DSM comrades after whom they solicited and expressed their willingness to collaborate with CDWR in the campaign against attacks on the working people in the state.
A day earlier, April 30 the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR), the pro-labour platform of the DSM, organized a pre-May Day symposium at the at the Oyo state secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Challenge, Ibadan. The theme of the symposium was “Decline in Oil Revenue and the Implication on Living and Working Condition of the Working People”.
The speakers at the symposium attended by 45 workers and activists were Oyo State Vice Chairman, the Wabba faction of the NLC, Mr. Sodo; Laoye Sanda, a foremost socialist activist and Mr. Osho, the organizer of the 95 sacked CRIN workers. There was sizeable number of CRIN sacked workers in attendance. 30 copies of SD were sold.
By Ayo Ademiluyi
It was a poorly-attended May Day Celebration in Ogun State. The DSM comrade who came in early from Lagos to help intervene at the May Day met an empty stadium! It took hours before workers started trickling in and congregating in groups. It was at this point that circulation of leaflets and discussion with workers began.
In the opinion of a worker, the widespread fuel scarcity was one of the reasons for the low turnout. Another worker opined that the non-payment of the deductions from workers’ salaries could also be responsible for workers staying back home.
It took the NLC Ogun State Chairman to begin to beg workers to move into the stadium upon the arrival of the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, purposely for the ritual march past. This is the height of the shambolic character of the May Day celebration.
In his speech, the NLC Ogun State Chairman, Akeem Olatunji Ambali called on the Ogun State Governor to meet the demands of striking workers at Tai Solarin College of Education, Omu Ijebu who have been on indefinite strike over their unpaid salaries. He also called for the payment of the deductions of workers’ salaries and pensions for the pensioners.
Copies of the SPN leaflet for the May Day were well received by hundreds of workers in attendance.
By Ayo Adedayo, OAU, Ile-Ife
On May 1, 2015, members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter set out to join workers to celebrate the International Workers’ Day by leafleting, agitating and sensitizing on the basis of the understanding that it is not a day that workers should be marching in front of their exploiters and oppressors. Rather it should be a day for workers to educate themselves on the most important role they need to play in the defence of their class interests, and interests of the oppressed people.
Unfortunately, in Osun State, labour leaders under the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) declared that the day would not be celebrated because the Aregbesola administration owed them six months’ salaries. With this act, the labour leaders tend to suggest Workers’ Day is meant to celebrate government. On the contrary, Workers’ Day is a day for workers to celebrate their past struggles, and gather to strategize on new struggles. The failure of labour leaders to organize the May Day activities, and mobilise workers with a view to use the gathering to declare actions is only a disservice to the struggle and interests of workers. It also gave the Aregbesola government a leeway to avoid the mass anger of workers.
DSM and SPN Interventions
In preparation for the May Day, the DSM in Osun State issued a press statement, calling on workers to defend their welfare interests. The statement was reported the following day by Punch newspapers, while a local radio station also aired the statement. We received calls from workers who commended us for defending them.
On May Day, members of DSM and SPN, having heard of the cancelation of May Day rally by labour leaders, did not sit and fold arms. We started circulating our leaflets across the streets of Oshogbo around 10:00am. We had earlier visited the traditional venues for May Day rally in the state, i.e. the Osogbo Stadium, Freedom Park and Technical College, but the situation was pathetic. While no sign of activity was visible at Freedom Park and the Technical College, Osogbo Stadium was sealed off with loads of heavily armed policemen manning the place. Some workers in Osogbo came around to see if May Day rally would hold, but they were disappointed. Also, some dozen of workers from International Brewery, Ilesa, came to the venue, hoping there would be activities, but were disappointed. We circulated our leaflets and tried to sell papers.
At about 11.00 a.m., while circulating leaflets at Olaiya, we stumbled on a gathering of workers under the banner of Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), at the secretariat of ASCSN. The workers, numbering about sixty, were observing the May Day. The new TUC leadership, led by Mr. Olatunji and recognized by the national leadership of TUC, has been battling with a former leader, Mr. Francis Adetunji, who having become the mouthpiece of the Aregbesola government, has tried to factionalize the union, even after his tenure has ended two years ago. A few weeks ago, Mr. Adetunji, went on broadcast media, at the instigation of the government, to declare that Osun State government did not owe any worker. This not only infuriated workers but also embarrassed the government.
However, the new TUC leadership is not prepared to go the whole hog to mobilise workers for mass action, which underscored the low attendance at the May Day rally it organized. While the new TUC leadership has organized a protest rally around March, the fact that the rally had fewer than one hundred workers, and did not lead to strike action shows that the new leadership has a lot of work to do. Of course, a leader of the union claimed that their members are being harassed by the state government; but this is the more reason the labour leaders should organize mass actions.
Immediately we got to the venue, we were recognized and given the platform to address workers. Comrade Kola Ibrahim (DSM State Secretary) and comrade Alfred Adegoke (SPN State Chairperson) addressed workers and urged them to take the next line of actions by mobilizing workers through leaflets, posters, symposia, rallies. We called for strike action with mass actions like protest marches, rallies and pickets. Our message actually charged and inspired workers. Our leaflets were massively circulated. Comrade Alfred Adegoke explained the need for a socialist alternative that will concentrate the wealth in to the hands of the working majority and not in the hands of the lazy few. He also urged the TUC to begin the process of building a mass-based working class political party, rather than electing the same capitalist element every four years.
Subsequently, the members of the DSM participated in the demonstration led by the TUC that started at Old Governor’s Office down to Olaiya. The march was to further explain to broader masses their ordeal.
By Lexan Ali and Chinedu Agbebure
This year’s May Day rally in Rivers state, coming at a time like this, against the backdrop of backlog of 2 month salary arrears owed civil servants (a trend not limited to Rivers state), fall in crude oil price, devaluation of the naira as a result, consequent high inflation, etc, still held, like previous ones, in a jamboree style celebration. But concealed beneath this jamboree was a subdued feeling of disappointment and failed expectations as many of the workers complained about the non-payment of salaries by the state government. Even when the state governor, represented by the Head of Service Samuel Longjohn, had in his speech promised and assured workers of the state government commitment to pay the outstanding salary, etc, some of the workers still used the occasion of the march past to protest the failure of the state government to pay workers salaries, carrying placards with various demands.
Unfortunately the labour leaders in their speech couldn’t even hide their romance with the defeated APC government as they, without any restraint, heaped praises on the state government for its “achievements”‘. This is in despite of workers permanently groaning under Rotimi Amaechi led APC government in Rivers state.
About the existence of a factional leadership in the state NLC, the media gave conflicting reports; one denying it, while another one alluded to it, even reported that the second faction had told its members to stay away from the May Day ground in protest against the non-payment of 2 months’ salary. It appeared that workers were mobilized to the rally with inducements. This could be seen when many of the workers, who approached our stand and wanted to buy SD but couldn’t, said they were waiting to get handouts from the heads of their union before they would later come and buy our paper. However, some of the worker asked questions if SPN is a new party while some asked if it has been registered, to which we provided answers. Some were completely indifferent.
Interestingly, many of the workers looked with foreboding at the incoming PDP government in state and the APC at the center!
By Kayode Salako
Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) participated at the May Day Rally on May 1 in Minna, Niger State, with SD and Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) leaflets.
The state chair of the NLC Yahya, Idris Ndako, commended the Niger state government for sustaining prompt payment of salaries to workers. He however called for the repeal of the law establishing the 7.5% contributory pension scheme which shortchanges workers as the government hardly pays its part. He also called for the stoppage of 2.5% deduction from workers salaries for a so-called housing scheme and refund of what has been deducted to the workers.
The other demands on the government are: (1) Payment of over N72 million it is owing shiroro Hotel Minna as well as unpaid salaries of the of the hotel workers (2) Payment of gratuities to retired civil servants as well as implementation without delay 60% pension increment since 2014 (3)Financial backing for the approval of the appointment of local government directors to grade 17 (4) 65 years retirement age for non-teaching staff of tertiary institutions.
After the speech by the NLC chair, a short drama was staged. The drama reminds the state government that the N18,000 minimum wage has not been implemented in Niger state.
After the drama, the Chief of Staff Mr Muhammed Kuta Yahya who represented the state governor in speech assured the workers that all their demands shall be conveyed to the state governor. He promised that within the limited time they have left in office something will be done about the demands. No doubt this is an empty promise as the current administration leaves office on May 29.
By Young Kunle
May 1 2015, International Workers Day was a great day for the members of the new branch of Education Right Campaign (ERC) at Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Efurrun, Warri,Delta state as we had our first intervention.
The May Day rally, which was jointly organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), was held at St. Patrick’s College, Asaba, Delta State. Unfortunately we got there late due to the distance from Warri to Asaba and poor state of road from Ozoro to Asaba whose construction work was going on.
After the rally we had discussion with some labour leaders including Vice Chairman and Secretary of the NLC in order to establish a working relationship. Copies of Socialist Democracy were sold and one of the labour leaders collected 38 copies to sell at the following Sunday worker thanksgiving service.
By Fidel Davynovich
Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) joined workers in Anambra state to celebrate this year’s May Day at Alex Ekwueme Square in Akwa. At least 13 trade unions participated at the rally.
However, to some of the workers whom we discussed with there was nothing really to celebrate as a result of non-payment of salaries. Some also lamented gross inadequacy of the N18,000 National Minimum Wage as it has been rendered untenable by the high rate of inflation.
Unfortunately, the labour leaders did not raise any of these concerns of workers in their speeches. Rather it was all praises for the State Governor Willie Obiano. He was profusely thanked for “improving the welfare of workers” vis-Å•-vis (i) provision of 6 coaster buses. (ii) 15% upward adjustment to salaries of civil servant. (iii) 2 buses NLC and TUC. (iv) 1,000 low income housing scheme for civil servant in the state.
However, some of the workers could be seen jeering the state chair of NLC as he reeled out the “welfare package” by the government for the workers. Some of the workers discussed were angry that labour leaders were trading on their interest. The Obiano government does not in any way satisfy and serve the interest of workers. They disclosed that they were still waiting to receive the so-called 15% increase which out have taken effect since January. Besides, the increase is not even enough given the current rate of inflation and cost of living.
We sold copies of SD and circulated thousands of copies of the May Day Leaflet of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN). Some workers wanted to know more about the SPN. We explained to them what the party stands for and its current struggle to compel INEC to register it having fulfilled all constitutional requirements for registration.