Nigeria: Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) calls ‘Solidarity Day’ with teachers’ strike

Pro-capitalist governments cannot meet basic needs of working masses

The Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO), that links together trade unions, political organisations and civil society groups, has called for a Solidarity Day with the ongoing indefinite teachers’ strike for July 10. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – The CWI in Nigeria) issued the following leaflet, its third since the strike began on 30 June.

Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) calls ‘Solidarity Day’ with teachers’ strike

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) fully supports the Solidarity Action by Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) with striking teachers slated for Thursday July 10, 2008. The ongoing strike by Nigerian Union Teachers (NUT) is important in all respects. It involves arguably the largest industrial union in Nigeria. It affects public education at primary and secondary levels. If government is allowed to defeat the strike, bleak future awaits working class people in general.

It sad to note that, despite unprecedented huge volume of money at their disposal from the sales of crude alone, the capitalist ruling elite both at centre and states are very unwilling to meet the modest, but vital, demands of teachers. This is because of their fear that if teachers win their demands it would encourage other sectors of working class to fight for increase in their wages and allowances. Of course, given the provocative and kleptomaniac character of capitalist ruling elite, they would like to fight this development, because more money for workers means less money for looting. Hence, the bellicose stance of government across the country over the demands of teachers for improved pay package. For us in the DSM, this has posed fundamental issues of how organised labour can win its demands and on what attitude it should have towards Yar’Adua’s government.

In June 2007, in the wake of general election and after a widely supported general strike, the NLC and TUC leaders signed a so-called strategic partnership with the government. This was despite the fact that the Yar’Adua government had stolen the previous April’s elections. Then we critiqued the labour leaders that they ought not to have signed such a deal because the interests of capitalist ruling elite are diametrically opposed to working class people, the real victims of capitalist exploitation and oppression. We regret to note that the conduct of government over the strike has confirmed our worst fear in this respect.

For all workers, teachers’ strike must be won

The labour leaders, far from having a partnership with Yar’Adua, should be actively striving to build an alliance of working people and poor in support of immediate action to increase living standards in this time of inflation and high oil export earnings. The teachers’ strike must be won and be an example for all others to follow. July 10th’s solidarity action with the teachers is a good step but Labour needs to launch a serious united struggle for a rapid increase in the minimum wage. A 24 hour protest strike should be the next step in mobilising for this.

Again, the last Obasanjo administration allegedly spent $16bn on power sector without any positive thing to show for it. In fact, the country has been plunged into total darkness like never before in history. Instead of taking decisive measures to recover money looted in this respect and as well outline concrete measure to improve the electricity supply, the Yar’Adua government just like its capitalist predecessor as again come with dubious agenda to subsidise electricity to the tune of N178bn in the next one year ostensibly to subsidise non-existing electricity firms. Even if only based on this instance, we demand that NLC and TUC should immediately break the strategic partnership with the government and come up with coherent programme of action that can win improvement in living standard of the working masses.

Going by the plethora cases of massive corruption and anti-poor policies that have characterised both Obasanjo and Yar’Adua capitalist governments, we want to once again reiterate our position that the leadership of labour movement should stop investing a false hope in the capacity of capitalist governments to meet the basic needs of working masses.

From the way things have been going economically and politically the plight of working masses under capitalist system can only become worse in the coming period. We, therefore, want the leadership of labour movement to come up with independent party of the working masses that could seize political power with a view to institute a workers and poor people government only, which will be interested and capable of implementing pro-people policies on permanent basis. However, in order to achieve pro-peoples’ programme on lasting basis, the commanding heights of economy have to be put under public ownership with democratic management and control of the working people themselves.

  • Victory for Teachers is Victory for all Workers and Poor Masses
  • Workers, Youths and Poor Masses Should Join all Solidarity Actions
  • Labour Must Break Strategic Partnership with Government and Build a Working Peoples’ Political Alternative

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July 2008