Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

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18 October 2016

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 Workers on the Decent Work Day march in Lagos - photo DSM

Workers on the Decent Work Day march in Lagos - photo DSM   (Click to enlarge)

By Chinedu Bosah
Publicity Secretary, CDWR

Workers from different trade unions and members of pro-labour organisations marched in Lagos against precarious work on Friday October 7, 2016. This is an annual event to campaign against anti-workers' policies such as casualization, contract staffing, poor welfare etc. and picket factories where these anti-labour practices hold sway.

This year the protest picketed the Daily Independent (a media organisation), Crown Sack Plc and the Jagal group of companies. The Daily Independent has been in crisis over the past 5 years such that management owes workers' salaries for over 12 months while workers of Jagal and Crown Sack are poorly paid. For instance at Jagal, workers are paid N1, 000 daily, which has been reduced to N750 recently, with no allowances or bonuses while most of the workers have been casuals for many years.

 The Lagos march demanding Decent Work- photo DSM

The Lagos march demanding Decent Work- photo DSM   (Click to enlarge)

Some trade union leaders and workers of National Union of Chemical, Footwear and Non-Metallic Workers (NUCFRLANMPE), National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), Medical and Health Workers Union, Maritime Workers union of Nigeria (MWUN) and others participated in the protest. Some pro-labour groups like the Joint Action Front (JAF) and Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights (CDWR) participated. The number of workers who participated was smaller compared to previous years partly because of the split in the trade union movement as well as poor mobilization, the notice of this protest was sent to different organizations and activists just less than 18 hours before the event was scheduled.

Nevertheless some workers and activists assembled at NUTGTWN office and marched to the Daily Independent, Crown and finally ended the protest at Jagal. However the picketing of the Daily Independent and Crown Sack was brief and ineffective as the affected workers were not apparently aware of the plan to picket their workplaces. This confirms the DSM and CDWR's consistent arguments that effective mobilization through leafleting, agitations and public meetings is vital for struggle to succeed. Workers are not a tap of running water that can be turned off and on at will. Unfortunately, labour's recent struggles, including May's general strike against fuel price hike, shows the labour movement bureaucracy is yet to fully appreciate this point.

Demonstrators picketing outside Jagal - photo DSM

Demonstrators picketing outside Jagal - photo DSM   (Click to enlarge)

At Jagal, the management had prevented previous attempt by the NUCFRLANMPE to unionise workers. At the picketing, some workers who could stick their neck out, despite possible victimization, were appointed as branch union executives.

The protesting workers carried placards such as "stop precarious work; Decent work, end slavery etc." However, unfortunately, the reality is the fact that the trade unions are not seriously fighting precarious work despite workers' readiness to fight. The anti-casualisation committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has been inactive while the affiliates are not seriously fighting the attacks of management. It is high time the NLC and the affiliates mobilised workers on a sustained struggle against casualization and other anti-workers policies.

Four DSM comrades were able, despite the short notice, to participate in the protest and 6 copies of the DSM paper, Socialist Democracy, and our Oil sector crisis pamphlet were sold.