We of the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) solidarise with workers of Benue state under the aegis of the state branches of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on their ongoing indefinite strike action. The workers have gone on strike over the callous deductions from their salaries by the Gabriel Suswam-led PDP government. This is aside the fact that the state government has not implemented the N18,000 national minimum wage.
We condemn in the strongest terms the obnoxious anti-worker policies of the government. We note that the Suswam administration is notoriously anti-poor and anti-worker. We recall the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) just recently called off an eight-month long strike over similar issues bordering on poor pay among other issues.
We join the striking workers to demand that the Benue state government stop deductions of salaries of workers and refund the illegal deductions. The government must also pay the transport allowances, which have been outstanding for the past three years. We also call for the implementation of the minimum wage as demanded by the workers. We call for the payment of pension of retirees in the state as equally demanded by the workers.
According to the media reports, the bank workers in the state also joined the strike, thereby paralyzing commercial activities in the state. This shows the enormity of the mass anger against the Suswam government. We call on the leadership of the state branches of the NLC and TUC, who are spearheading the struggle to mobilize mass actions in support of the strike in order to generate huge pressure that could force the government to meet the demands.
We call on the national leadership of the NLC and TUC to equally extend their solidarity to the struggle. The struggle and demands of Benue state workers are similar to that of workers nationwide. This further stresses the need for the national leadership of the NLC and TUC to revisit the struggles of minimum wage by calling a one day general strike and mass protests.
What is overwhelmingly clear from the predicament of workers in Benue state nay Nigeria is the urgent need for the workers' movement to forge a genuine independent working people's political alternative to wrest power from the current band of marauders in power. The initiative of the SPN is a striking example in this direction. We call on workers, students and youth in Benue state and nationally to join the SPN and build it as a mass alternative to the main looting parties in power. Also importantly, workers must strive to reclaim their trade unions and rebuild it as democratic fighting mass organisations, whose resources can be mobilized to truly defend the interest of workers and build a broader mass working people's political alternative.