In the last year, the working-class in Nigeria have suffered a series of major setbacks. It is essential that these defeats are overturned as soon as possible. This requires the NLC and the TUC to make serious preparations towards the indefinite general strike and to ensure that it includes protests and rallies on a daily basis in all states. We also have to try and ensure that the strike is not suspended, at least until some of our basic demands are implemented. If not, levels of poverty, inequality and resulting insecurity will exceed the current and unacceptable levels. In these circumstances, the pain and suffering for the labouring masses and their families does not bare thinking about.
In the first 12 years of this millennium there were at least 10 general strikes. Unfortunately this wave of working-class activity was not enough. Despite the GDP increasing by least threefold, real standards of living for most people still declined over this period. The poor became poorer and the rich became much richer. For more details see:
What is worse is that this level of working class combativity appeared to end after the uprising in January 2012. Over the last 10 years or so we only seen threats of action, with most strikes from the NLC being postponed at the last minute. See the following article for a review of this experience: https://www.nationalrecord.com.ng/nlc-tuc-need-to-change-strategy-lessons-from-a-decade-of-struggles/
As a result, the working class has suffered a series of important defeats. The minimum wage has only been increased once in the last dozen years despite the International Labour Organisation supporting annual increases. We have seen a massive fall in the real value of the minimum wage. In 1998 it could by 280 litres of petrol, now the minimum wage will buy less than 50 litres. In addition, eleven States including Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Imo, Ebonyi, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Rivers, Taraba and Zamfara states have yet to fully implemented minimum wage (as at May 2023). See Daily Post survey: https://dailypost.ng/2023/05/05/minimum-wage-tale-of-woes-in-abia-rivers-zamfara-anambra-imo-kogi-taraba/
On top of this, many states still have arrears of salaries and pensions despite the states receiving record FAAC allocations this year.
The university lecturers, members of ASUU, and other education workers, have still not been paid for their strike of several months last year. This is the first time that the “no work – no pay” policy has been implemented for a major strike. If not over turned, this will be a major setback for the working class and make future strikes more difficult to organise. See this assessment of the ASUU strike: https://socialistlabour.com.ng/2022/10/27/lessons-of-the-asuu-strike-not-enough-for-victory/
The price of petrol was tripled in early June. This is the largest ever increase, at least since the end of the military era. This led to at least a doubling in the price of transport so many workers cannot afford their transport to work. Some public sector workers have unofficially adopted a three day week. This action needs to be popularised.
Many public sector universities are increasing their fees for this academic year. This results from the failure of the NLC to provide adequate solidarity for the ASUU strike last year over university funding. This is on top of general inflation of over 25% that the students and their parents are suffering. Students in at least some universities are organising protests, including those in UniLag, UniJos and OAU.
Despite these attacks, it is only the NLC and TUC that have the organisational ability to deliver the national mass action that we so desperately need. This was shown with the protests in every state capital in July last year, the protests on 2nd August this year and the two day general strike on 5/6th September. For this reason it is essential that the NLC and the TUC maintain a militant general strike that actively involves all their members and the wider public. This should include, for example, daily protests and townhall meetings in all states to popularise the following demands and maintain active support for the strike until these are implemented:
- For a decent minimum wage for all with annual increments!
- Reverse all hikes in university tuition fees!
- Reverse recent fuel price increases to the last regulated figure!
- Pay arrears of salary and pensions in relevant states!
- End “no work – no pay”; pay the ASUU strikers & others from last year!