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1 May 2018
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) felicitates with Nigerian workers as we celebrate this year's May Day. The SPN fully identifies with the struggles of Nigerian workers for better living and working conditions. We enjoin workers, their unions and labour leadership to use this occasion of May Day to reflect on the parlous state of the nation, struggle for improvement in living and working conditions and link it to total emancipation of the working and oppressed people of Nigeria.
In Nigeria today, nothing exemplifies the condition of workers more than the growing impoverishment and disillusionment caused by the failure of the Buhari/Osinbajo APC government, its junior partners in states and other political parties as well as capitalist employers in the private sector. In the last three years, the Buhari government, in collusion with state governments run by APC, PDP and APGA has made the bad situation left by the Jonathan/PDP government worse by further implementing anti-poor policies.
Despite the dire economic situation, more than 20 states reportedly owe workers' salaries and pensions. We call on workers to mount pressure on their labour leaders to lead sustained mass struggles against defaulting state governors and private employers for immediate payments of all outstanding salaries, allowances and pensions and regularization of employments. Currently, the N18, 000 legislated in 2011, which was equivalent to about 112 dollars four years ago, is now worth less than 60 dollars. For an economy that is largely dependent on import, this is a huge attack to the real value of workers' incomes. It means the currently minimum wage can only actually buy fewer things.
In view of these economic realities, the trade union movement should commence a serious struggle for a new minimum wage, and against all anti-poor policies that have undermined workers' salaries. This is why we in the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) welcome the demand of labour movement for a new minimum wage. Indeed, the new minimum wage is long overdue. However it is unfortunate that the labour movement does not have a united demand and approach to fight for the new wage. This lack of unity will only help the government and employers to shortchange workers. But whether N66, 500 demanded by NLC and TUC or N96, 000 demanded by ULC, workers clearly deserve a new minimum wage that corresponds to the present economic reality and to be increased in line with the rate of inflation.
We therefore call for the unity of NLC, TUC and ULC to put forward a harmonized figure and struggle for its implementation without retrenchment. In particular, we call on members of the three labour centres to always unite to struggle for their collective interests regardless of their current division. If elected, the SPN will not only implement a minimum wage that will be commensurate with cost of living but will back it with pro-people economic policies such as free and quality education at all levels, free and quality healthcare among others; all of which will make the income of workers have real values.
However, we in SPN warn workers that they should not have illusion that based on negotiation alone, the Buhari government will implement new minimum wage. The Buhari/APC government, along with all the state governments and ruling parties are working for the interests of the rich class. This is why they abandon at slightest opportunity, all promises made to the working people and youth.
Workers should not be hoodwinked by the lame excuses of the Buhari government, state governments and private employers that there is no money to implement new minimum wage. Recent revelation that a senator goes home with about N14.3 million monthly (an amount that will pay the salaries of 216 workers on N56, 000 minimum wage), coupled with huge budgetary allocation for the executives at all levels, shows that the problem is not about the money but who gets what from our common patrimony. In the private sector, many employers who are using the excuse of poor economy are living grandiose lifestyle and on huge emoluments, while millions of workers are subjected to poor wages and anti-labour practices like casualization and contract staffing. The argument that new minimum wage will lead to inflation does not hold water; the increase in inflation in the last three years from 9 percent to 16 percent was not caused by implementation of new minimum wage but by neo-liberal anti-poor policies.
It is pitiable that in spite of huge attacks launched on workers in the last three years, the labour leadership have remained largely lame and ineffective. Even the intervention of labour leaders in the struggle against hike in fuel price in May 2016 ended in fiasco as labour leadership conducted the struggle poorly and half-heartedly. Currently, more than 20 states owe workers' salaries and pensions, yet, labour leaders only maintain mute indifference, or acted halfheartedly with little result for workers.
We make bold to say that only through mass struggle of workers can new minimum wage be implemented. Therefore, SPN calls on workers to use this year's May Day to map out the plan of struggle for new minimum wage. Congresses across states and affiliate unions should commence, while public activities mobilizing the general public should be organized by workers to press home demand for a new minimum wage. All these should culminate in 24 hour warning general strike. This serious methodical approach towards struggle should be employed in responds to other forms of widespread attacks like hike in fuel, education commercialization, jumbo salaries etc.
From all this analysis, it is glaring that the ruling APC, and its junior colleagues in PDP and APGA, and other pro-capitalist political parties are anti-poor. Working people and trade unions need their own political party that will champion their interests. Such political party must stand for socialist programmes that will put public wealth under democratic public control, and use it to meet the needs of the vast underprivileged majority.
However, the SPN was formed, in the absence of a working people political platform partly due to the take-over of the Labour Party by careerist capitalist politicians. The SPN struggled for three years to get registration from INEC, because the ruling parties do not want genuine challenge to their anti-poor policies. Now, the party is registered, we call on workers, activists, trade union leaders, artisans, students, youth and the working people in general to join and build it. We of the SPN challenge the labour movement to convene a conference of trade unions, civil society, socialists and left parties and organizations to discuss how to form and build a mass working people party.
SPN is a party of workers, the youth and the poor masses
No moneybags and no godfathers. SPN is owned by all members and every member is a financier of the party. Your voice counts. SPN is fully democratic.
All public office holders elected on the platform of the SPN shall receive the salary of skilled civil servants. SPN does not believe that politicians should earn more than those they represent. This is legalized corruption!
SPN is not just an electoral machine. It is also a party of struggle. SPN shall support the daily struggles of workers, artisans, youth, students and the oppressed masses everywhere and every time.
Free and functional education and healthcare at all levels.
Massive job creation to absorb the army of the unemployed through expansion of basic infrastructure and industrialisation policy.
Prompt payment of salary and pension and the implementation of a living wage for all categories of workers.
Immediate action plan to end homelessness through the building of affordable housing estates across the country.
Progressive taxation policy that puts more tax burden on the rich.
Immediate and comprehensive plan to modernize agriculture through integrated rural development, ensure massive public investment, loan interest loans, cooperative farming, training and other forms of assistance to small and medium crop and livestock farmers in order to guarantee food security and also end farmer-herder clashes.
Reversal of the privatization of the power sector. Nationalization of the commanding height of the economy and placed under democratic control of workers and consumers to ensure efficiency and to end wastage and corruption.
Immediate reduction in pump price of petroleum products, immediate repair of all existing refineries and building of new ones and nationalizing of the oil industry under public democratic management.
An all-inclusive and transparent anti-corruption programme that will begin from the reduction of the salaries and allowances of political office holders to the average wage of skilled civil servants. We will also ensure that all looters are prosecuted and all their ill-gotten wealth seized. THESE OUTLINED PRO-WORKING MASSES PROGRAMS AND SEVERAL OTHERS WILL NOT ONLY TRANSFORM THE COUNTRY ECONOMICALLY BUT WILL ALSO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF THE VAST MAJORITY