The proposed removal of the fuel subsidy and resulting further price increases, is one of the most vicious attacks working people have ever faced. We desperately need unity across the left and beyond to ensure that we can have a successful campaign against this attack. The NLC/TUC have massive potential power most recently recognised by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Now, more than ever, we need socialists, progressive peoples and their organisations to unite to encourage the trade union movement to use our collective power to protect working peoples and their families.
As well as a major, united campaign against ending fuel subsidy, we also need a campaign for a decent minimum wage. This is needed to make up for the declining living standards of most people over the last two decades and more. The economy has grown massively, but all the gains have been stolen by the tiny corrupt elite. We desperately need to change this and have economic restructuring in favour of the poor.
The recent elections have divided the left. We cannot afford these divisions to continue. We need to unite in a re-launched ASCAB and LASCO to campaign across the labour movement against the plans of the new government. We need to remember who are real enemy is and stop attacking each other. We need to unite to stop the current attacks by the corrupt elite and their government.
The planned removal of the fuel subsidy would mean that the price of petrol would again increase massively. This would have another major impact on the cost of public transport, travel costs that all workers face on a daily basis. These costs have already increased astronomically, especially during the fuel shortages at the end of last year and early this year when the price of fuel at times was twice the official price.
The ending of the fuel subsidy, if we allow it, would have a far larger impact. Whatever its faults, the fuel subsidy is one of the few benefits that the mass of the working-class gain from oil. The prices of kerosene and diesel now indicate what may happen to the price of petrol. Kerosene now costs nearly N1,200 a litre and diesel nearly N840 a litre due to the subsidy removal on these products. So the end of the fuel subsidy could see the price of petrol reach these levels or at least four times the current price of generally less than N200. We need to ensure that our collective power does not allow this to happen.
Not only this, but we need a massive increase in the minimum wage this year with annual increments. This is recommended by the International Labour Organisation and would begin to protect us from the ravages of inflation.
Nigeria’s spiralling inflation rate has officially eroded the N30,000 monthly minimum wage by more than 40 percent since it was last increased in April 2019. The buying power of the minimum wage is now the lowest it has been since the end of the military era. We need a minimum wage of at least N100,000 to return to its real value of two decades ago as the following graph shows.
But we all know that the prices we have to pay have increased more than the official rate of inflation. The prices of kerosene, gas, rice and so on have more than doubled in the last year or so. We have also suffered massive increases in rents, school fees and the costs of medical treatment.
So, on top of keeping petrol prices at current levels and increasing the value of the minimum wage, we need a massive investment in public education and health and introduction of the other issues covered by the NLC’s Charter of Workers Demands.
The fear that the ruling elite have for the potential power of the trade unions was shown recently by the actions of Governor of the Central Bank. On the Wednesday morning, the National Executive Council of the NLC met and promised picketing and strike action if the currency issue was not solved quickly. That evening the Governor of the CBN met with the heads of the banks and the next day went to Labour House to meet with the new President of the NLC. That day the CBN also started transferring old notes to the banks to distribute to the public.
The power of the labour movement was also shown in Kaduna in May 2021 when in only three days one of the most powerful governors was brought to his knees. Similarly in January 2012 the massive power of the trade unions was demonstrated with a general strike and daily protests in all major cities. We now need our leaders to use this power to protect us from falling into further poverty.
We need a united campaign of the labour movement, supported by all socialists and progressive peoples. We need ASCAB, LASCO and other progressive alliances to unite to put pressure on the NLC, TUC and their member trade unions to use their immense power to protect us all from further attacks by the corrupt elite. We call for all supporters of ASCAB and LASCO to encourage trade union branches to pass resolutions supporting national strikes, protests and rallies to the state and national levels of their trade unions.
No further increases in fuel prices!
A decent minimum wage indexed to inflation now!!
NLC and the TUC to use our collective power!!!