Monday, 5 November 2018

SPN Supports Labour Strike over Minimum Wage

• For mass mobilization of workers and the masses for Strike Action
• SPN will pay living wage and place political office Holders on workers' salaries if elected into government
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcomes the decision of the leadership of the labour movement under the three labour centres (NLC, TUC and ULC) to declare national strike on November 6, 2018, over the failure of the government and the employers to accede to a modest N30,000 (thirty thousand naira) as the new national minimum wage.
We also commend the plan to hold a nationwide protest on October 30 to sensitize the public on the plight of workers and pensioners as well as the demand for a new minimum wage. This step which could help mobilise mass support for the strike action is in line with what the SPN has consistently advocated as part of activities to win the struggle
We in the SPN consider the N30,000 as even too meagre to meet the needs of Nigerian workers and too much of a concession to greedy employers for the labour leadership from its original demand of N65,000.
In a country where virtually all social infrastructures and services have collapsed an average working class family spends its income to provide social services that ought to be provided by the government. When one considers the fact that social services like education, healthcare and water supply, housing etc., have been commercialized and priced out of the reach of an average working class family, it is obvious that the N30,000 now being demanded by the labour leadership is too meagre.
N30,000 Minimum Wage is Paltry and so, Affordable 
It is however insulting that the employers, represented by the federal government, state governments and the private sector bosses, are insisting on paying less than even the meagre N30,000 which the labour centres are now demanding after climbing down from their initial demand of N65,000. The argument of lack of funds to pay is treacherous and fraudulent given that the employers at all levels pay their executives fat salaries at the expense of workers and the masses. Despite the hoax of lack of funds, the state governors have not stopped awarding hundreds of millions of naira as security votes, awarding contracts at hugely inflated sum and maintaining countless number of political jobbers as appointees, who are paid multiples of what workers earn as salaries. For instance, a senator's unaccounted running cost of N13,500,000 will pay the monthly salaries of 270 workers on N50,000 minimum wage. If we add wasteful emoluments of other political officers at executive and legislative arms across the country and pension to former governors and presidents, it will be glaring that the excuse of lack of fund is a ruse. In the private sector too, many employers who employ thousands of workers on precarious conditions, give themselves several millions as emoluments and bonuses. We are aware of billions of naira being declared as profits by companies. SPN is demanding that government at all levels should make official records and financial activities accessible to all citizens which is an inalienable right and by so doing Nigerians will know how public funds are utilized. 
We call on labour leadership not to limit this strike action to sit-at-home strike, but to mobilise ranks of workers on mass actions along with pro-labour civil societies and other oppressed people. There should be mass sensitisation, congresses, rallies, leafleting etc. as a means of winning support for the strike and the demand. Instead of an indefinite strike, we strongly recommend a 48-hour or 72-hour general strike as a starting point, the next step, of a mass campaign that will not stop until a new minimum wage is granted and implemented across board without retrenchment of workers. However, the new minimum wage struggle must also include the demand for settlement of all unpaid salaries and pension.
We also use this medium to condemn the latest attempt of the government to criminalize workers' strike through the adoption of 'No-Work, No-Pay' rule. This policy if allowed will deny workers the power to defend their rights to better living and improved working conditions. On the other hand, it will embolden the government at all levels and private sector to trample on workers' rights and living conditions. It is part of the attempt of the anti-poor, pro-capitalist governments at all levels to castrate all opposition to their anti-worker policies. We call on labour leadership to reject this obnoxious attempt to undermine the ability of workers to defend their rights.
For us in the SPN, we believe workers have rights to better living conditions and better remuneration. If elected into government, SPN will ensure payment of living wage that will ensure that workers' salaries meet all economic parameters. Not only this, SPN government will place political office holders on salaries of civil servant and without security votes or any jumbo allowance. This, aside saving several billions of naira, will also make politicians in power to be sensitive to the needs of the working people. Public works will be well equipped and run democratically under a workers’ control such that they can carry out all categories of projects at a fraction of prevailing costs paid to private contractors and also help end the current fraudulent contract system. All the savings from outrageous pays and allowances of political office holders as well as inflated contracts will form part of the resources the SPN will mobilise to massively invest in social services and infrastructures, which will ensure provision of free and quality education and healthcare at all levels, affordable housing etc. All of these alongside with a collective ownership and democratic management of key sectors of the economy under a socialist plan will ensure that workers' salaries are able to meet their needs. We call on workers, youth and the masses to join the SPN today.


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