Members and supporters of Socialist Labour were impressed that the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) organised and implemented the general strike in Kaduna State. Not only this but they organised growing mass protests on each of the three days of the strike. We were also impressed by the action of individual unions, for example, the electricity workers who switched off the light from early on Sunday morning.

Socialist Labour commends the courage and sacrifices of the workers of Kaduna State, led by the NLC, in withstanding the vicious attacks by armed thugs of the Governor of Kaduna State. The strike has shown the power of Labour in sustaining society with all necessities of life. For the three days of the warning strike, water, electricity, schools, offices, trains, airlines, banks and more all came to a standstill. It shows that when the workers move in unity, everything grinds to a halt.

Hell Rufai could not even get the support of his fellow governors nor Federal bodies like the police and DSS in Kaduna State. In contrast the NLC received letters of international support and promises of national strikes from electricity workers, AUPCTRE, NUPENG and others.

Yet none of the demands of the strike have been achieved. The strike was suspended to attend the meeting called by the Minister of Labour. Here the NLC agreed to “no further industrial action on these issues”.  The outcome of this meeting was a committee with six members from Kaduna State Government and only three representatives from the NLC.  This meeting is to report next Tuesday, the same day that the NLC National Executive Council will have its first opportunity to meet and deliberate on the outcome of the strike.

The  Governor of Kaduna State continues to show his disdain for organized labour. The day after the meeting, he claimed that no amount of pressure from the NLC will make him back down on his move to sack civil servants and that the NLC should be punished for the strike.

We have to learn the lessons and agree on the way forward, primarily by increasing democracy across the trade union movement.  Strikes should only be suspended by the proper democratic structures of the trade unions. Giving up strike action for negotiations is not an uncommon approach by trade union leaders – but it provides a weak position for negotiations. It would have been prudent for the NLC to welcome the meeting called by the Federal Government, but to say that the strike could not be suspended before meeting by the National Executive Council (NEC) could be called to consider and ratify this action.

In contrast, the national indefinite strikes by PASAN, JUSUN and ASUP continue – even whilst negotiations were being held. JUSUN and PASAN have signed a settlement agreement, but are correctly continuing their strikes until key elements of this agreement have actually been implemented.

The sacrifices, including the injuries sustained during the three-day warning strike by peaceful protesters must not be in vain. To this extent, Socialist Labour supports the earlier declaration of the NLC leadership that a national strike would follow if the Kaduna State Government remains adamant to continue redundancies or job losses.

In order to enhance the success of the national strike, other wider issues touching the wellbeing of the popular classes should be added to the demands of the Kaduna State workers. Top on this list should be opposition to fuel price increases and a fight for a living minimum wage. The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has recommended a rise in the fuel price from the current average of N162 per litre to at least N380 per litre – a rise of well over three hundred per cent.  Inflation since 2011, when minimum wage was increased to N18, 000, is now also officially over 300%. So the minimum wage needs to be at least N54, 000 to have the same value as a decade ago. Not only do we need the full implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage but we need a further substantial increase to be applied this year.

Demands along these lines would help to combat the pervasive poverty, inequality, corruption and physical insecurity. These demands can effectively unite the masses of whatever state, ethnic group or religion against the ruling class. The NLC should endeavour to carry along the TUC in the event of a nationwide action predicated on the suggested demands. It is only through unity that the working class can win its demands.

Currently we need massive support for the national indefinite strikes by JUSUN, PASAN and ASUP.  We need regular town hall meetings and mass protests (as were held in Kaduna) to ensure that these strikes end in victory with full implementation of their demands.

Socialist Labour demands the following:

  • no more redundancies in Kaduna State and payment of terminal benefits for all workers who have lost their jobs back to and including the four major textile factories closed in the early 2000s
  • a national strike led by the NLC and TUC over the demands for no more price increases for fuel or electricity and a living minimum wage for all
  • improved democracy across the trade union movement including the demand for all strikes to be suspended only with the full authority of the national executive council or similar body.


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