For 48-hour General Strike/Mass Protest Now!
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) condemns the planned removal of the minimum wage from the Exclusive List of the Constitution by the National Assembly. This action of National Assembly is meant to undermine the collective bargaining of workers.
We support and welcome the plan of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to stage protest against this anti-worker decision. We call on the labour centres not to reduce the planned protest to a one-off action. It should be used to announce and start mobilization for a 48-hour strike and mass protest across the country which should be the next steps of the struggle.
However, these proposed actions must include the demand for the implementation of the existing national minimum wage by both state and federal governments as well as the private sector employers. This is the best way to inspire the interest of workers, who have benefited little or nothing from the current minimum wage which has come to effect since 2011 in the struggle against the planned scrapping of national minimum wage.
We note that many states have not fully implemented the national minimum wage. Unfortunately, NLC and TUC have either turned a blind eye to the plight of workers in those states or endorsed the action of governors which undermines the essence of national minimum wage. For instance, the President of NLC Abdul Wahed Omar was reported to have revealed during a visit to Ekiti State in March 2013 that the labour leadership had had agreement with states with proven evidence of inability to pay N18, 000 as minimum wage to negotiate with labour leaders in their domains on what to pay (This Day April 1, 2013).
The national minimum wage has not also been benefitted by many workers in the private sector a huge number of whom are casuals or contract staff. We therefore add that the planned struggle must also include demand against casualisation of workers which has also begun to rear its ugly head in the public sector.
We call on NLC and TUC not to be swayed by the purported assurance from the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives that the minimum wage has not been removed from the exclusive list to halt the planned protest. We hold that even to protest against non-implementation of the current national minimum wage and casualisation at workplaces, the action must go ahead. However, it is the only House of Representatives that have been reported to have denied the plan to remove the national minimum wage, the Senate which originally proposed the action has been silent. This has further reinforced the need to go ahead with the planned meetings and protest.
By this latest action, the National Assembly has further confirmed the anti-poor and pro-rich character of the elements in government both at legislative and executive arms. Besides, the non-implementation of the minimum wage in full by the state governments cutting across all political parties further show that all political parties in power at all levels of government are all united against the poor and working people.
All this is one of the reasons we of the SPN have been calling on labour leadership to initiate the process for the formation and building of a mass working people party on socialist program. This is to ensure that the resources of the society are democratically and judiciously used for the benefit of the vast majority and genuine economic development. In the meantime, we call on workers and youths to join us in the struggle for the registration of SPN which has been formed to serve as a striking example of the working people political alternative in the absence of a mass party of working people.