Workers Prepare to Resist Mass Sack and Privatization of Water in Lagos State
Workers in the Lagos State Water Corporation held a staff forum/congress on Tuesday 19 December 2023 to discuss how to resist plans by the Lagos State government to lay off workers in preparation for the wholesale privatization of the sector. Prior to now, nothing less than 450 casual workers had been laid off by the State government citing specious excuses.
Report by Mayowa Onabule
The congress which held at the premises of the Water Corporation headquarters at Ijora in Lagos State was convened by the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE). Two members of the Democratic Socialist Movement and the Campaign for Democratic Workers Rights (CDWR), comrades Mayowa and Soweto, were present at the congress with Socialist Democracy (SD) and other political materials of the organization.
The state secretary of AUPCTRE, Comrade Abiodun Bakare while addressing the congress reported about a meeting the union leadership had with the Water Corporation management over the dismissal of the causal workers without benefit or payoff and the planned sack of other categories of workers. He asked the workers if they accepted to be dismissed to which workers responded with a deafening “NO!”
He went on to talk about the need for all workers to be steadfast and prepared for the struggle ahead. He accused the Lagos Water Corporation management and corrupt government elite of destroying the operations of the state water corporation and under funding the water sector in the state by running it as a business entity. He noted that under this system, against the wishes of workers and union leadership, the Lagos Water Corporation management and government officials continue to under-invest in both its workers and the general public. Water is a human right. Life, health, and food depends on it. Therefore, according to him, it is morally wrong for any government to privatize or commercialize water. Nigerian Governments i.e. Federal, state, and Local Governments have formed an alliance to privatize water, just the same way they did to electricity, by selling it to their political cronies and making it inaccessible and unaffordable to Nigerians.
Comrade Soweto in his address commended workers for their resolve to resist the mass sack and privatization. He pledged the support of the DSM and CDWR to the struggle and used his speech to outline tactics and strategies to conduct a successful struggle while also raising the need for AUPCTRE to counter the agenda to privatize with an alternative programme of public ownership and workers’ democratic control and management of the water sector in order to ensure massive investment that can lead to provision of potable water to every home in Lagos State.
7 copies of Socialist Democracy (SD), paper of the DSM, were sold at the meeting for N1, 700.