Lagos NLC meeting discusses crisis and new minimum wage
On Tuesday January 30, members of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) attended a workers’ meeting organized by the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to mark the start of the new year. The meeting had both festive and political features. Workers, happy to have survived an harrowing 2023 under what is rapidly developing to become one of the most ruthless capitalist governments in Nigeria’s history, felt the need to come together, celebrate and offer prayers for the new year.
At the same time, the meeting was an opportunity, politically, to take stock of the numerous challenges facing workers in different industries and sectors and also the general dispute over new minimum wage negotiations and neoliberal economic onslaught of the Bola Tinubu government. Workers leaders from different sectors came out to talk about the crises their members were facing. From the narration, it became crystal clear just how much deprivations and exploitation workers across board were enduring and how low the bar of resistance to these attacks had fallen under the Joe Ajaero NLC leadership.
Moving forward, the labour movement has to resolve to make this year a year of struggle and mass resistance. As the new minimum wage is being negotiated, political preparations have to begin in the workplaces for mass struggle and strikes that would be required to force implementation for whatever figures are agreed. Mass meetings and public rallies need to be called now and organised regularly and across the country to prepare workers for this battle. Not doing this would be not to learn from the history of previous minimum wage negotiations which is that only workers’ readiness to fight can ensure the ruling elite agree to labour’s proposed minimum wage figure and also only such readiness to fight can ensure that the agreed figure is implemented. Five years after its introduction, the about to be defunct N30,000 minimum wage is still not implemented in several states across the country. Many workers across the country still earn the old minimum wage of N18,000!
Rufus Olusesan, President of PERESSA and National Chair of CDWR, and HT Soweto, DSM NEC, spoke at the meeting emphasizing the need for a plan of struggle but also the building of a mass workers alternative aimed at socialist transformation of Nigeria. In short, it was a good outing yesterday with organised labour of Lagos State.