Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, the leadership of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) walked out of the meeting of the tripartite committee on the national minimum wage negotiation in protest against offers of the government and organized private sector (OPS). Government offered to pay N48,000 minimum wage while the OPS put forward N54,000. These offers were in response to the N615,000 minimum wage proposal jointly presented by the leaderships of organised Labour. The offers from the government and the OPS were not backed with data. The figures were merely thrown at Labour as an insult to Nigerian workers.

The N48,000 and N54,000 minimum wage proposals by the Tinubu-led government and the OPS are a huge joke and ridiculously low. The figures are a far cry from the high cost of living. The Nigerian economy is in a deep crisis. Inflation is currently at 33.69 % while as of April 2023 before Tinubu assumed office it was 22.22 %. The implementation of neo-liberal and anti-people policies such as the removal of petrol subsidy, devaluation of the Naira, growing commercialisation of education and fee hikes, increase of import duties, hikes in electricity tariff etc.,  have made prices of goods and services to go through the roof, crushing more Nigerians into excruciating poverty.

The capitalist government and the private company owners have always stated that there is no money to pay workers a living wage. But money is readily available for frivolities, profligacies, insane privileges and payment of jumbo salaries and allowances to top political office holders and top management staff.  SUV cars were bought for N57.6 billion by National Assembly members.  This is one of the numerous examples of profligacies that have become the hallmark of the capitalist ruling elite. While workers earn their wage through their productivity the capitalist ruling elite are parasitic on the economy.

The N48,000 offered by the Tinubu-led government is a natural response from a government whose agenda for growing the exploitative capitalist economy is to further enrich the privileged-few and pauperize the working masses. Hence, the leadership of NLC and TUC got it wrong tactically when it accepted, or refused to resist, the anti-poor neo-liberal policies and instead sought to secure some remedy for Nigerian workers through wage review. It is wrong to abandon the cause and chase the effect. The best way to respond is to resist all anti-people policies and link the struggle to defeat the thieving capitalist ruling elite politically.

The leadership of NLC and TUC have resolved to attend a negotiation meeting on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, but they restated their May 31, 2024 ultimatum to the government to conclude negotiations on minimum wage. The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) calls on Labour leadership not to turn this ultimatum to another empty threat like the previous one which has expired since March 13 without the NLC saying a single word, let alone a declaration of mass actions. Despite the ongoing negotiations, it is only a struggle anchored on mass mobilisation of Nigerian workers and the masses on a sustainable basis demanding living wage and reversal of all anti-poor policies that can win reasonable concessions from an anti-people government. Therefore, after the expiration of the ultimatum, we propose a 48 hour general strike and mass protest as the first step. The struggle is going to be protracted, and so labour leaders should be prepared to sustain the mass actions through a programme of actions that allows workers to actively participate and be democratically involved. This will entail producing and circulating mass leaflets and posters, media campaigns, community mobilisation, mass meetings at workplaces and communities, and setting up community/workplace action committees to make clear that Labour will wage a determined struggle to defend and improve the living standards of the vast majority of Nigerians.

Rufus Olusesan                                                         Chinedu Bosah

National Chairperson                                                 National Publicity Secretary

Email:[email protected]