Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CDWR Condemns Mass Sack of Lagos Water Corporation Workers and Demands Recall

We Say No to Privatization of the Water Corporation

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights condemns the sack of about 370 workers of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC) on Monday, April 15, 2024. This mass sack violates Section 20 of the Labour Act and was carried out under an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment wherein hundreds of armed security men were mobilised to the Corporation head office where the termination letters were handed to the workers. Sector 20 of the Labour Act mandates every employer, including governments, to engage the trade union or workers representatives in a dialogue before redundancy or mass sack can be carried out. Lagos State Government refused to engage the union but resorted to brute force. We consider this action as callous and inhuman, especially at a period when even those who have jobs are devastated by a serious economic crisis caused by the anti-poor policies of Bola Tinubu government. Therefore, we demand their immediate reinstatement.

Before this sack, the staff strength was said to be about 590. This means about 63 per cent of the regular workforce has been sacked. Similarly in December 2023 over 450 casual workers were laid off. Many of them had worked for over 10 years but were made to remain on poor pay and without being converted to regular staff. We reiterate our call also for their reinstatement to regularised employment with all rights and benefits.

This series of mass sacks of workers is a step in the preparation of the Lagos State government to hand over the Corporation to the private sector whose agenda is to exploit and extort the populace similar to what is obtainable in the electricity sector.

Government irresponsibility, neglect and underfunding of the water sector led to the failure to provide potable and safe water to the general public. This is the primary reason many people get water-borne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery etc., which can lead to death. According to UNICEF, 70% of water at the point of consumption is contaminated and as a result, 117,000 children die each year in Nigeria. Instead of privatising the water corporation that will engender corporate exploitation and poor service delivery, governments at all levels should invest public funds into the water sector with the agenda of providing safe, potable and affordable water to Nigerians.

It is correct for the Lagos state chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees, AUPCTRE, to have written letters and requested meetings with the government over the mass sack. But beyond these steps, AUPCTRE should mobilise for a series of public and mass actions including demonstrations. We call on the state chapter of the Senior Staff Association of Statutory Corporations, Government-Owned Companies and Associated Organisations (SSASSGOG) to also intervene, and indeed we advocate for a joint struggle of the two unions.

However, the state chapter of AUPCTRE must be strengthened by the intervention of the national leadership of the union and the Lagos State NLC. The Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress should mobilise other affiliates to join the struggle. It should be noted that if the mass sack and the planned privatisation of the Water Corporation succeed in Lagos State, it will be emulated by other states.

It is also important for AUPCTRE to counter the agenda to privatise with an alternative programme of public ownership and workers’ democratic control and management of the water sector to ensure efficiency and massive investment that can lead to the provision of potable, safe and affordable water to every home in Lagos State. This will help win the support of the public in their struggle.

Rufus Olusesan

National Chairperson

Chinedu Bosah

National Secretary

Email: [email protected]