Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

DSM Welcomes Osun Labour Unions’ 14-Day Ultimatum

DSM Welcomes Osun Labour Unions’ 14-Day Ultimatum

  • We call on Labour unions in the state to begin mass mobilization of workers through workers’ congresses, rallies, protest marches, mass sensitization, etc.
  • National Leaderships of NLC and TUC should organize nationally-coordinated actions

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State, a pro-working class, socialist organization, welcomes the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) in Osun State to give the Osun State government a 14-day ultimatum to pay the outstanding salaries and allowances of workers, and pensions and gratuities of retirees in the public service. We also welcome the decision of the labour centres to include as part of their demands, the review of the exploitative Contributory Pension Scheme, which the DSM has consistently exposed to be mere defrauding of workers. Although, this latest decision of the NLC and TUC in the state is a little belated, as the DSM believes that workers should not have been allowed to suffer this long before the unions start taking actions; however, if the labour unions are prepared to pursue this struggle to a logical conclusion, surely victory will come the way of workers.

Mass Mobilization and Strike

This is why DSM is enjoining labour leadership not to limit the campaign for the payment of workers’ salaries to mere ultimatum. We call on labour union leaders to be prepared and to prepare their members for serious struggle, including state-wide general strike with mass actions like protests, rallies, pickets, etc., if the Aregbesola government refused to start immediate payment of all arrears of salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities. Toward this end, we call on labour leaders in the state to use this period to raise the tempo and consciousness of workers. We advocate that the period should be used to organize mass activities, including workers’ congress where workers will collectively take the decision on the next step. Also, the period should be used to organize activities like protest marches, rallies, symposia, press campaign, and mass sensitization through leaflets and other mobilization materials, as a way of educating the public on the plight of workers and retirees, and thus mobilizing them to the struggle.

It is activities like these that will erode the support base of the government, and compel it to take immediate actions on the plight of workers. The main reason the Aregbesola government has been able to refuse payment of salaries is basically because the labour movement and its leadership have refused to put social pressure on the government, thus allowing workers to suffer silently. The latest 14-day ultimatum should not be another empty slogan by labour leaders, but must lead to mobilization of workers for total strike with mass actions including rallies, protest marches, pickets, etc.

Nationally-coordinated Actions

Furthermore, we call on the national leadership of NLC and TUC, not to limit the struggle for payment of workers’ salaries to individual states; there is the need for nationally coordinated actions. Clearly, the ruling elites in Nigeria, especially the rejected and corrupt Jonathan government and state governments, having squandered the wealth of the country on their private and pecuniary needs, want workers and the poor to be the sacrificial lamb. Therefore, the national leadership of the NLC and TUC must organize national actions, including national strike with mass actions such as protests, rallies, press campaign, pickets, etc., to compel all the state governments and the federal government to pay workers. More than this, this is the time for labour movement to start mobilizing for a new minimum wage that will meet the current economic realities, which have eroded the living standards of workers. For us in the DSM, we believe there is enormous wealth in the country to make workers happy and develop the country, if waste and looting are stopped.

Aregbesola government is Profligate

For the umpteenth time, the DSM maintains that the Aregbesola government is profligate. While we agree that the federally collected revenue of the country has dwindled, which itself is caused by the bankrupt nature of the Nigerian capitalist elites at all levels, who rely on oil as the main source of government revenue while killing the industrial sector, we believe that this is not enough reason for Aregbesola to owe workers. While the government claimed the revenue has dwindled, it has refused to tell the public where the reduced allocation and revenue it collects is going to.

The same government that is now claiming poor revenue base, committed close to a billion naira to setting up a private garment company under the guise of providing free school uniforms to pupils and students, only for the government to subsequently force parents and students to buy school uniforms from the same company at exorbitant price, thus creating artificial monopoly for the company after using public fund to set it up. It is the same government that spent billions of naira on so-called computer laptops, nicknamed ‘Opon Imo’, which has now become another failed project. Also, more than ten billion naira committed to O’School project only resulted in less than ten schools being rebuilt while about two hundreds are in dilapidated conditions. This is apart from huge contracts of roads to choice contractors at exorbitant costs, while the State Ministry of Works is idle. Should we talk about the over-bloated salaries for political office holders, and several millions wasted on sycophancy?

Therefore, workers should not allow themselves to be hoodwinked with this clearly worn-out argument of Aregbesola government. Time to act is now.

Alfred Adegoke
Osun State Coordinator
Kola Ibrahim
Osun State Secretary
Email: [email protected]