We waited four months for the NLC/TUC to act. And then they called off their promised indefinite general strike for a few crumbs from the Government. You are right to be angry – we can do better than this! We need you to join Socialist Labour so that next time we are strong enough to hold the trade union leaders to account.
Our five main demands were:
- a decent minimum wage for all with annual increments!
- reversal of all hikes in university tuition fees!
- reversal of recent fuel price increases back to the last regulated price!
- payment of arrears of salary and pensions in relevant states!
- end, of “no work – no pay”; pay the ASUU strikers & others from last year!
All that the Government has offered is:
- N35,000 wage award for Federal workers from September
- compressed natural gas (CNG) to commence operations
- reconsideration of paying tertiary education workers for last year’s strike
- governors urged to give state and local government workers a wage award
- refinery to start working in December with labour in the committee
- cash transfer of N25,000 to 15 million poor people.
The minimum wage has been increased only once in more than 12 years. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that, like in most countries, it should be increased every year. The N35,000 /month for a wage award is far too low and does not capture the general increase in the cost of living due to the petrol price hike. Even the TUC was asking for a minimum wage of N200,000 and this is far too low.
CNG conversions of vehicles will have no impact on workers in the short-term. It will take a few years to build the CNG delivery infrastructure.
It is excellent that we have won a rethink on “no work – no pay”. But when will the tertiary education workers be paid for their strikes last year? The strikes were over the failure of the Government to implement previous agreements. Can this Government be trusted to implement this agreement?
Urging governors to pay state and local government workers a wage award will not guarantee that the wage award is paid. At least 11 states have not yet fully implemented the minimum wage and many more have arrears of salaries and/or pensions. It is not lack of money in the states, it is the greed of the Governors. It is difficult for them to loot from payroll so they do not like to pay it. All state governments have plenty of money – FAAC last week distributed a record amount of N1.1 trillion and the price of oil is nearly back to $100.
We need the horrendous tripling of the price of petrol to be reversed. We also need the cost of kerosene and cooking gas to be reduced.
Cash transfers to the ‘poor’ are just another means for the politicians to loot. Who do you know who has actually ever received any cash transfers from the Government?
If this latest last minute suspension of a promised general strike by the trade union leaders makes you frustrated and upset then join Socialist Labour by clicking on this link: https://chat.whatsapp.com/KiOyN3OKGBIIvtuh0ycDaU
We have to make Socialist Labour much bigger, so that we can hold our trade union leaders accountable for delivering future strikes and so that workers will get a fair share of the wealth that we create. Please join us and help us make the trade unions more effective.
Please also download and widely share the latest issue of our monthly Socialist Bulletin:
We Need Action by State Trade Unions
At the beginning of 2023, workers in Federal Government budget funded bodies were given a 40% pay increase. As a result of the agreement to suspend strike action by the NLC/TUC these workers were recently awarded another increase of N35,000 a month. However, these increases do not yet apply to state or local government workers (and many others, for example, teachers, nurses, lecturers, doctors). In addition, many Federal level workers have not benefited, this includes, for example, those working in the National Assembly.
The Federal Government merely agreed to urge state Governors to implement a similar pay award for state and local government workers. Will this be enough for these workers to receive this pay increment?
At least 11 states have not yet fully implemented the minimum wage and many more have arrears of salaries and/or pensions. It is not lack of money in the states, it is the greed of the Governors. It is difficult for them to loot from payroll so they do not like to pay it. All state governments have plenty of money – at the end of September, FAAC distributed a record amount of N1.1 trillion and the price of oil is nearly back to $100.
We will need resolute strike action in the states to change this position and ensure the state workers receive the salaries they deserve each month. Experience from states that have taken such action shows that effective strikes can quickly win significant gains.
In May 2021, el Rufai, the most powerful governor, was defeated by the NLC in only three days of strike action and mass protests through the streets of Kaduna. We can be victorious in other states where similar action is taken.
We need resolutions to be submitted to each NLC State Executive Council. These should demand immediate action from the Governors to fully implement the 2019 minimum wage, pay any outstanding arrears of salaries and pensions within the next three months and to implement a comparable wage award to that received by Federal workers.
Where the NLC in a state is not prepared to act then we need independent action by the main public sector trade unions (NCSU, NUT, MHWUN, AUPCTRE etc). We need an action committee to be established and a submission backed with the promise of strike action within 21 days if the Governor does not agree to act in a reasonable time.
It is essential that comrades in each state take the necessary action and mobilise their trade union members (with backing by other popular forces where possible). It is only by local independent action that the hunger in the land will be reduced and your members will receive a reasonable share of the wealth that they create.
Relevant extracts from the Memorandum of Understanding between the NLC/TUC and the Federal Government, 2nd October 2023:
1. The Federal Government grants a wage award of N35,000 (thirty-five thousand Naira) only to all Federal Government workers beginning from the month of September pending when a new national minimum wage is expected to have been signed into law.
10. The Federal Government should urge State Government through the National Economic Council and Governors Forum to implement wage award for their workers. Similar consideration should also be given to local government and private sector workers.
Mobilisation for an Active General Strike is Essential!
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 be serious about their indefinite general strike. It must include 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.
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.
We still have to hope that the NLC and the TUC organise a militant general strike that actively involves all their members and the wider public after the 30 days of the suspension of the last strike is over. For more details of this see:https://socialistlabour.com.ng/2023/09/27/mobilisation-for-an-active-general-strike-is-essential/