A coalition of civil society organisations, the Joint Action Front (JAF), has advised the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to resist the pressure to suspend the proposed indefinite strike.
According to JAF, the organised labour unions should not suspend their strike until the fuel price hike and increase in university school fees are reversed.
The Chairperson of JAF, Oladipo Fashina and Secretary, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, pledged “the unwavering solidarity of the Joint Action Front (JAF) for the struggles of the labour movement against the anti-poor and neo-liberal attacks of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration particularly the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, hike in fuel prices, devaluation of the naira, hike in school fees and other attacks on living standards.”
The coalition assured the NLC and TUC of the readiness of all workers and those it called “oppressed Nigerians” to join the general strike to begin to demand a reversal of the fuel subsidy removal, hike in fuel prices and school fees of public educational institutions as well as all other policies of the administration that have made life miserable for the working class and poor.
According to the group, if the leadership of the NLC and TUC decides to suspend the general strike prematurely due to the concessions the Federal government is proposing, “this would only be a postponement of the struggle.”
The coalition stated that “the current balance of force shows that labour can win far more if the general strike continues.”
The statement of the coalition reads, “The current struggle is being framed by the corrupt capitalist ruling elite as simply about demands for palliatives. This is not true. This struggle is an ideological struggle against a neoliberal and capitalist policy of deregulation of the oil sector.
“We are well aware of the number of concessions being granted at the eleventh hour by a federal government that conveniently ignored labour over the past 21 days. This includes a wage award of N35,000 across the board for federal workers as well as promised provision of CNG buses etc.
“So far, all of these concessions are promises, none has been implemented. Therefore, it would be a costly gamble for labour to suspend its strike based on promises by a ruling elite that habitually fails to implement collective bargaining agreements with trade unions especially the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement as well as the 2019 minimum wage agreement which is still not being paid in a number of states across the federation.
“As far as JAF is concerned, palliatives only address symptoms whereas the root of the crisis is where the solution lies. Even if implemented, no matter the amount of wage awards granted so far the policy of fuel subsidy removal and fuel price hike subsist, Nigerian workers and the poor masses will continue to suffer.
“Therefore we urge NLC and TUC to accept the concessions already won while at the same time going forward to demand that the wage award applies to all categories of workers at both public and private sectors, a complete reversal of the fuel price hike and the policy of subsidy removal as well as reversal of the criminal hike in school fees at universities and other tertiary institutions as the only minimum criteria before a suspension of the general strike can be considered.
“Unless fuel price is reversed and the oil and gas sector placed under public ownership and workers democratic control and management, the incidence of inflation and collapse of living standards cannot be assuaged by mere wage awards or even a review of the minimum wage. This is because of the primary and fundamental role of Nigeria’s oil sector in the character of Nigeria’s economy and the prices of all commodities.”