Unions should call a day of solidarity action – A living wage for all workers now!

The following press release was issued by Segun Sango Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria), on June 11, 2008.

Teachers’ Strike:

  • Government should meet Teachers’ Demands
  • NLC, TUC should mobilise a day of action in solidarity
  • Labour Must Demand Living Wage for All Workers Now!

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) fully supports the 3-day warning strike by members of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) and calls on the government to meet their demands in order to avoid needless disruption of already badly shattered education sector.

The NUT has embarked on the strike in order to press home the demand for the implementation of the Teachers Salary Structure, the agreement it reached with the Federal Government back in 1991. The primary essence of the demanded salary structure is to ensure improved working and living conditions for teachers.

We call on the teachers to use the strike to emphasise the demand for proper and adequate funding of education in the country.

The fact that the strike is on an agreement reached with the government 17 years ago shows that teachers will have to go beyond a mere 3 day sit-at-home warning strike before success could be guaranteed for their demands. Worse still, even two out of three days meant for the strike are statutory mid-term holidays for most schools. Therefore, the leadership of the NUT should organise public meetings and other legitimate political actions to educate members, students, parents, guardians and the public on their demands, and mobilise their full support for the struggle.

We welcome the open support of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for this industrial action. However, we call on the Congress to go beyond mere verbal support by mobilising its member unions for a day of action with solidarity strike, rallies, etc.

We hold that the demand of teachers is just and long overdue. Indeed, the reality of deep socio-economic crisis shows that all the sections of workers require improved living and working conditions in the country. The NLC and TUC should therefore immediately demand a living wage in line with the rate of inflation for Nigerian workers backed with a programme of action that could compel government to meet this demand.

We therefore urge the NLC and TUC to meet to harmonise and make pronouncement on the suitable amount as the minimum wage in the country. The depth of economic crisis confronting the average worker particularly the high cost of living made Gani Fawehinmi, a prominent pro-masses’ social activist, to recently call for N30, 000 as the minimum wage, which has been incidentally adopted by the TUC. Significantly too, a prominent member of the ruling class, Sultan of Sokoto recently called on government and employers of labour to improve living and working condition of workers.

Incidentally, the need for “a living wage” was the justification of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to recommend a new wage structure for already over-paid, pampered tiny minority in the corridors of power. For instance, the annual salaries and allowance of the just 469 members of the National Assembly have been increased from N41bn to N60bn. Now a Senator will earn N2million as basic salary per annum, plus N4 million for accommodation, N6million for furniture allowance and 8 million as the car loan among several other perks of office

The foregoing shows that the leaders of NLC, TUC and all industrial unions no longer have an excuse not to demand a living wage for all categories of workers.

We have always maintained that there are enough material resources in Nigeria that could guarantee basic needs of all but for the greed and corruption of the thieving ruling elite along with grain of anti-poor, pro-rich capitalist economic philosophy.

We reiterate our full support for teachers’ strike and the call on NLC and TUC to be actively involved in the strike until the demands of teachers are met. Teachers should be made to get his/her reward here on earth.

Committee for a workers' International publications

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