After waiting patiently for the Government to implement the agreement that was signed at the end of the nine month 2020 ASUU strike, ASUU is to strike again, initially for four weeks. Socialist Labour lends its full solidarity and support for this strike. We also call on all trade union branches and trade unionists to give their full support and solidarity for this strike. This solidarity will be essential for the success of the strike and to begin to ensure that education is properly funded.
Even after nine months on strike, the longest national strike since at least 2000, with the closure of all the Federal universities – ASUU was not able to force any major concession from the Government. The lesson is clear – staying at home is not enough! For strikes to win, all the trade union members need to be actively involved in gaining solidarity from other trade unions and organising regular protests to win and demonstrate public support for the strike.
The ASUU national leadership called for weekly congresses of all its members and for public briefings about the strike. This should have been implemented in all universities. We also needed joint meetings with other trade unions on the campus. There should also have been regular, at least monthly, town hall meetings by all ASUU branches.
ASUU should have reached out to students to explain their case and sought support from their parents. NANS and the Student University Governments should have been contacted to gain support and joint activities.
Each branch of ASUU should have reached out to local trade union branches to offer speakers to explain the reasons of the strike to their members. ASUU needed solidarity messages, support and action from local, state and national trade unions. In each university, ASUU should have organised activities to gain support for the strikes with fliers given out in markets and other popular areas.
The concessions from the government for the December 2020 were insulting. It included only a promise to pay some owed salaries (earned allowances) and only N30bn for “revitalisation” of the universities sector. At that rate, it would take nearly 30 years to implement the 2012 Needs Assessment Report. This was a Government report that estimated that N1,300 billion was needed to revitalise the country’s universities. Only N200 billion was ever paid, in 2013, and this Government has not made any contribution to this program.
The Government failed to implement the 2019 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action that they freely signed to end the ASUU strike in February 2019. The 2017 Memorandum of Action, the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding and the 2009 Agreement with ASUU were similarly not implemented. We know that some states (perhaps up to a third) and local governments in the FCT, for example, have yet to implement the minimum wage implemented into law in the middle of last year. Governments have demonstrated time and again that their words are not worth the paper they are written on.
The lessons of the ASUU strike are that a stay at home is not enough to win. In planning their strike coming strike, ASUU needs to ensure that as many rank and file trade union members are involved in winning solidarity from other trade unions and the wider popular classes. There have to be regular weekly meetings in all universities for all university workers in the locality. Speakers have to be sent out and fliers issued explaining the reasons for the strike to other trade unions. There needs to be regular monthly town hall meetings to explain the strike and win support for local protests from students, their parents, other trade unionists in the university sector and others.
Biodun Olamosu, National Secretary, Socialist Labour