DSM Flags off Campaign on Minimum Wage Implementation
By Peluola Adewale
Members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) on Thursday, September 5, began a campaign for implementation of the new minimum wage which has been passed into law since April. We started with a visit to Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, which houses civil service offices.
On the following day comrades were at Apapa Industrial Estate in Lagos and the Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
The campaign was held with circulation of a leaflet of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) – the pro-labour campaign platform of the DSM. Comrades were also armed with the current edition of Socialist Democracy – paper of the DSM.
In order to break the current stalemate in wage negotiations the leaflet argues for a 24- hour general strike and mass protest, and calls on workers to mount pressure on the labour leadership to take the struggle seriously.
The leaflet also calls on labour to initiate a serious campaign against casualisation which is a scourge especially in private sector. Fighting casualization is linked to the right of workers in the private sector to minimum wage together with right to decent work and right to join or form a trade union.
Workers warmly collected the leaflet once they know it was about minimum wage. Some of them were open to discussing with us on the issue even in Alausa Lagos where we had gone at resumption time. Workers were critical of both government and labour leaders over the handling of the issue. It was clear from their response that workers were prepared to fight for the implementation of the new minimum wage if mobilized by their leadership.
Nineteen (19) workers altogether indicated interest to join the campaign at the three areas of the campaign activities – 8 workers at Alausa, 7 at Apapa (both in Lagos) and 4 at Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
There were a lot of open arm from the workers, especially those who the comrades engaged in discussion. Some of the workers listening, expressed displeasure on why the government has refused to honour the payment of the new minimum wage.
About two thousand copies of the leaflet were circulated while 14 copies of SD were sold – 8 copies at Alausa, 3 at Apapa and 3 in Abuja.
We will visit more offices, schools and factories in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Abuja and nationwide. We also plan to organize a series of public activities on the campaign. We therefore call for financial and material support for the production of more leaflet and organizing public meetings.
Donation should be paid to: Fortress Books Nigeria; 1012616511; Zenith Bank
Find below the leaflet:
BREAK THE STALEMATE OVER N30,000 MINIMUM WAGE NEGOTIATIONS!
• For a 24-hour Warning General Strike and Nationwide Mass Protest to Demand Implementation of Minimum Wage and to Fight Casualisation
The N30, 000 Minimum Wage was signed into law on April 18, 2019, but government and private sector employers are set to undermine it. Several months after, it has not been implemented. Yet day by day, workers are getting more impoverished as the economic situation continues to get worse. This is not acceptable. The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights (CDWR) demands immediate payment of the N30, 000 minimum wage to all public and private sector workers without retrenchment. We also demand an end to outsourcing, casualization and all illegal and indecent labour practices.
As shown by experience, it is not enough to pressurize the government to pass the N30,000 minimum wage into law, trade union leaders and rank and file workers must be prepared to enter a new phase of the struggle aimed at the full implementation of the wage.
BREAK THE STALEMATE WITH MASS STRUGGLE!
Currently there is a stalemate between the federal government and the Joint National Public Service Negotiating Council (JPSNC) over the percentage increment on minimum wage. The percentage increment being proposed by Buhari government is an attempt to water-down the N30, 000 Minimum Wage and pay peanuts.
The only language oppressors understand is struggle. Hence, the CDWR calls on the labour leaders to begin the engagement of federal government, state governors and private employers in mass struggle towards the implementation of the N30,000 Minimum Wage.
As a starting point, we call on the NLC, TUC and ULC to declare a one-day general strike and nationwide mass protest that unifies working people in action. This will serve to warn the government and employers that workers will not accept anything less than an adequate and full implementation of the new wage without retrenchment. To avoid a repeat of the shambolic May 2016 general strike, we urge that this strike is well mobilized for through carefully planned rallies, leafletting and other public enlightenment activities across the country. Also democratically elected strike/action committees should be set up in all workplaces and communities to coordinate the strike and the street protest.
But workers cannot just call on the labour leaders to act. Active steps need to be taken by workers activists to campaign seriously within the unions for the labour leadership to act rather than just issuing vague verbal threats. Right now, we need in every union, mass meetings, symposia, congresses and the likes to begin to organize rank and file workers to put these proposals before their leadership. This kind of initiative from below if linked up nationally can have a massive effect in pushing the leadership of the labour centres to break out of their lethargy and take action.
END CASUALISATION NOW!
A key issue for the labour movement today is how to ensure that the N30, 000 minimum wage is not just of benefit to public sector workers but also private sector workers. Over decades, private sector workers especially casual workers rarely benefit from minimum wage increase. The reason for this is casualization/outsourcing/contract staffing.
Casualisation is a policy aimed at enslaving and exploiting workers. Workers are made to work without regularized status and are subjected to employment insecurity, poor wage and do not benefit from minimum wage increment. Many companies practise casualisation because it guarantees the owners huge profit at the expense of workers. About 70% of workers in the private sector are casuals and outsourcing staff that are made to work under indecent/poor working conditions. For the implementation of N30,000 Minimum Wage to have any serious impact in the private sector, the trade union leaders will have to lead a struggle to end casualization and outsourcing contracts policy.
FOR SYSTEM CHANGE
The Buhari/APC government and the state governments led by APC and PDP continue to claim that the economy cannot afford to fully implement the N30, 000 minimum wage. Meanwhile, heaven has not fallen despite that at least N1.5 trillion is earned annually as jumbo salaries, allowances and security vote by just about 17,000 political office holders at all levels. They also inflate contract sum apart from brazen direct looting of the common wealth. It is possible to pay living wage and at the same time guarantee adequate funding of education, health care, etc and provide social infrastructure. The problem is adherence to capitalist philosophy and program that promote greed and personal profit of a few at the expense of the interest and needs of the vast majority.
The capitalist system itself can only survive by paying us low wages and exploiting us to death. It is from our unpaid labour that the rich employers of labour like Dangote, Otedola, foreign-owned companies and co make their billions. This is why we argue that the struggle for implementation of the minimum wage and end to casualization has to be linked with a mass struggle to end the capitalist system and usher a democratic socialist system under which the commanding heights of the economy will be commonly owned and democratically managed to make life better for the mass majority.
For this to happen, we need a mass workers party with a socialist programme. Unfortunately, the Labour Party registered by labour is only labour in name. It does not represent workers. However there is a registered Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) which stands for the interest of workers, youth and the poor masses. To begin the process of erecting the foundation of a new mass workers party, we urge rank and file workers and the trade unions to join the SPN and build it as a platform to mobilize the workers and poor masses to chase out the capitalist looters who are exploiting workers sweat and blood and put in power a workers-led government armed with socialist policies.
JOIN US NOW
If you are concerned about the stalemate in the minimum wage negotiation and agree with the urgent necessity for labour to take serious action, please join us in the CDWR. By joining us, you will be able to be part of several other workers activists and socialists who want to begin to take active steps within the rank and file of the unions to campaign for the labour movement to take actions as outlined above and also to rebuild the trade unions as democratic and fighting organs of workers. You can contact us through the following email: [email protected]