* TUC and JNC failure to join the seven weeks struggle of the NLC undermined workers solidarity
* TUC, NLC and JNC must be united in struggle for immediate payment of all salary/pension arrears and to defeat the looming retrenchment of workers under restructuring policy of the APC-led government in the state!
The Oyo State Chapter of Socialist Party of Nigeria, SPN agrees with the leadership of the Oyo State Chapter of Trade Union Congress, TUC and Joint Negotiating Council, JNC over the statement that the MOU signed by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC on Monday, 25th of July 2016 as a basis upon which its seven weeks old strike was suspended is “inimical to the future of workers in the state”.
The Tuesday, 2nd August, 2016 edition of the Nation newspaper reported that the Oyo State chairman of TUC, Comrade Andrew Emelieze “condemned in strong term the agreement between Oyo Government and NLC”. According to the TUC chair, the agreement is a fraud and that TUC will not be part of it as the agreement is inimical to the future of workers. On his own part, the Chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council, JNC, Comrade Emmanuel Ogundiran also berated the MOU and lamented that his jurisdiction has been encroached as was claimed in the report that he was not carried along as the chairman of JNC in the process that led to the agreement signed.
SPN agrees to some of these sentiments. First, the MOU signed by the labour leaders is at variance with the minimal demands of the striking workers. Except for the withdrawal of litigations filed against the labour leaders by the state government, other demands of the workers which included immediate payment of at least 3 out of the 6 months’ salary owing when the strike started in June and pension arrears; reversal of the decision to sell off some public schools; adequate funding of the education sector including payment of living wages and other incentives for educational workers were completely missing in the so called MOU.
Secondly, the labour leaders suspended the strike after signing the MOU without recourse to the congress of the striking workers where government proposals could have been democratically discussed and resolved upon. Actually an emergency congress was held on the very same day the agreement was signed but the workers were kept in the dark. Instead, the labour leaders kept assuring workers up to the time they left for the meeting with the state government that no agreement would be signed until the congress approved one and that they should not believe any news outside the directive given at the congress.
The SPN condemns this kind of top-down, autocratic method and approach of the NLC labour leadership which unfortunately is typical of many trade union leaders, including those in JNC and TUC. However, it is also important to say, that the attitude of both JNC and TUC also contributed to the weakness of the struggle and so-called rotten deal. Take for instance, the TUC and JNC leadership did not only refuse to mobilise their members to join the seven weeks olds strike embarked upon by the NLC members but also publicly dissociated itself from both strike and the anti-privatisation rally that led to the arrest; subsequent detention and arraignment of the labour leaders by the Senator Ajimobi-led APC government in the state.
If the above-stated seemingly “radical” position of the TUC and JNC against the signed MOU is anything to go by, it therefore means that the rotten MOU signed by the NLC would have been otherwise and correspond to the expectation and aspiration of mass of workers in the state should they have aligned themselves with the NLC struggle that lasted for seven weeks despite all government gimmicks to deprive the struggle of the mass of the public support it enjoyed throughout the period it lasted.
It is in view of this, that SPN insists that, the refusal of the TUC and JNC to join the NLC in the struggle against non-payment of salaries and pension arrears is also responsible for the rotten deal signed by the NLC leadership despite the commendable determination exhibited at the early stage of the struggle.
This is why SPN, in order to end the prevailing ugly trend whereby determined struggles end in seemingly compromised call on the leadership of TUC, NLC and JNC to bury their ego and forge a united struggle on the basis of the collective interest of the entire workers in the state regardless of union in order to be able to force the state government to pay all backlog of unpaid salaries and pension.
Otherwise, the extra five days ultimatum recently issued by the TUC leadership in the state after the expiration of the 15 days ultimatum earlier issued to the state government to pay all outstanding arrears with interest and the planned mass action scheduled to hold on Monday August 8, 2016 may also fail to yield any result.
Bamigboye Abiodun (Abbey Trotsky)
State Secretary, SPN Oyo Chapter