Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

New Minimum Wage: SPN Supports January 8, 2019 National Mass Protest

New Minimum Wage: SPN Supports January 8, 2019 National Mass Protest

  • We call for mass mobilization of workers, youth and the masses
  • Labour Movement should build a new political alternative to the capitalist political class

The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) hereby welcomes the latest decision of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to re-start national mass protests across the country on January 8, 2019, in response to the failure of the federal government to transmit the minimum wage proposal to the National Assembly for enactment. Just as recent actions have demonstrated the effectiveness of united struggle of all trade centres and pro-labour organisations, we hereby urge that the January 8 action be jointly coordinated by the NLC in alliance with the TUC, ULC and also the Joint Action Front (JAF).

We therefore urge the NLC, TUC and ULC to begin the process of mass mobilization of rank and file workers, youth and the masses for this mass action. Conscious sensitisation of the people must begin across the country, in workplaces and communities. Furthermore, we call on the NLC not to make the mass protest a one-off affair, but this time to mobilise for further actions including 48-hour warning strike, in the first instance, to start to seriously drive home the demand of labour movement for the implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage.

We call on NLC and other trade union centres to go beyond half measures in fighting for the implementation of the new minimum wage. We also call on NLC, TUC and ULC not to call off abruptly the planned mass protests. It will be recalled that NLC called off the last strike action abruptly just because of the submission of the Tripartite Committee report to the president, without extracting a concrete commitment from the governments and private employers to pay the new minimum wage. We believe that such abrupt calling off of strike and mass action, even when the mass of working people are mobilized, is a disservice to the struggle for the implementation of the new minimum wage. Indeed, the NLC will have to make extra effort to mobilise the working people out for further action, based on the way the last strike was called off.

As we have noted many times that the Buhari/APC government, the state governments led by APC, PDP, APGA, etc. and the private sector employers are not interested in improving the lots of the working people. All of the politicians in power and private employers are united in denying workers a new minimum wage even when the reality of inadequacy of the current N18,000 minimum wage is glaring to all. The Buhari/APC government, acting the script of state governments and private employers, is using different gimmicks to prevent the implementation of the new minimum wage. The latest is the so-called setting up of a new committee to review last year’s Tripartite Committee report on new minimum wage, which proposed N30,000. This latest attempt of the federal government is aimed at buying time till after the election. Obviously the Buhari government wants to eat its cake and have it back. It is not prepared to implement the new minimum wage, but wants to use the issue of minimum wage to garner votes.

The best way workers can force the pro-capitalist ruling class and private employers to implement the new minimum wage is by mobilizing and organizing mass actions. This is why we in the SPN welcome the decision of the NLC to mobilise workers out.

We in the SPN however call on the NLC to go beyond threat of ‘voting out governors and political parties that fail to support new minimum wage’. As much as we agree that workers need to exercise their potential collective political power to fight for their interests, we believe the approach of the NLC is amorphous and disorganizing. The NLC should rather take the bold step to build political alternative to the same of the same of capitalist political parties now in government across the country. The minimum NLC can do now is to convene a summit of pro-worker, left-wing and socialist political parties and organisations towards the 2019 elections and beyond, with a view to building political movement to chase away all corrupt, capitalist and anti-worker political class. Workers should not be left in the confusing state of choosing among different sections of the capitalist political class currently in government and their surrogates.

There is the need for labour movement to take the bold step to provide the political alternative to dislodge the current capitalist class in government at all levels. Even if the government is compelled to implement the new minimum wage, other anti-worker attacks like retrenchments and delayed salaries will be launched by capitalist governments across the country, if there is no sustained mass movement of workers, youth and the masses. This underscores the need to build a new political platform of the working people, youth and the poor masses alongside combative trade unions.

For us in the SPN, the N30,000 new minimum wage being demanded by labour movement is even too low for workers to live above poverty. It is far less than the real value of minimum wage thirty years ago. Last September the three Labour centres agreed to demand a N65,000 minimum but rapidly accepted the N30,000 figure in the hope of getting a quick deal. Today the SPN fully supports the struggle to win N30,000 but also argues that what workers need is a living minimum wage that will meet basic economic indices including inflation, devaluation, etc. Therefore, Labour should not just call for the implementation of the N30,000, but also demand a regular upward review in line with inflation.

Lastly, we of the SPN calls on all sections of the working people to support the demand and struggle of Labour for N30,000 minimum wage for all workers.

Abiodun Bamigboye
Acting National Chairperson
Chinedu Bosah
National Secretary
E-mail: [email protected]