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CHAPTER SEVEN

DEREGULATION AND FUEL PRICE HIKE

The recent hike in fuel prices and deregulation of downstream petroleum sector or, more precisely, the full scale deregulation of fuel prices and labour's retreat from unwillingness to organise mass actions including strikes to fight this anti-poor, anti-growth policy is one sure process that at least, in the short and medium terms, will worsen the socio-economic plights of the vast majority of the working class people.

As it has happened before, this pro-rich, anti-poor, neo-liberal capitalist measure has caused overall reduction in the living standard of the working masses across the board. In the face of stagnant incomes, prices of transportation, goods and services have gone up astronomically. Against the background of highly poor or inadequate infrastructural facilities such as electricity, pipe borne water, adequate and functional rail services, there is of necessity a heavy reliance on fuel products for production and distribution. Thus whenever fuel prices go up, cost of running factories and production usually go up. This already is the case. Arising from the recent fuel prices hike or price deregulation, cost of industrial gas, for instance, has gone up by 70%.

So, far from things getting better, the prevailing depression which has been the feature of the country's economy for almost two decades now, is bound to become deepen in the face of this disastrous, counter productive policy. While inflation arising from this policy reduces the purchasing power of the public, the consequent increases in cost of production therefore can only spell further doom for the economy as a whole, as companies face the prospect of producing goods which cannot be profitably sold. Needless to stress, this scenario sooner than later can only lead to another round of mass retrenchment of workers from both private and public sectors and in the same ratio, the escalation of violent crimes, fraud, prostitution, etc.

On past occasions, when similar policy had been implemented by the General Olusegun Obasanjo-led PDP government, organised labour in collaboration with the generality of the masses had organised general strikes and protests against same. At the beginning, the NLC, civil society organisations and the generality of the masses similarly planned a general strike/protest against the current hike in fuel prices or price deregulation. Unfortunately, this proposed strike/protest was called off/suspended by the NLC leadership after a promise by the marketers and governors of the 36 states that petrol price would be reversed back to N34 from N40. But though the proposed general strike/protest was called off/suspended, the so-called stakeholders forum which made the promise in issue never wholeheartedly, for a day, fulfilled its own side of the bargain. Today, a litre of petrol sells for between N40 and N100 across the country. Under the new price deregulation regime, petrol sells at different prices by different oil marketers within the same vicinity and city! Given the permanent instability which characterises oil prices internationally, price deregulation regime has now finally empowered the oil cartels to fix from time to time desirable prices for their products without any form of official hindrance or constraint.

And despite this sad turn of event, the NLC, at its emergency NEC meeting which held in Port Harcourt on October 30th, 2003, has disappointingly decided not to resume mobilisation of the suspended strike. Instead, labour leaders at the meeting said they now believe that these contentious issues can be resolved through "dialogue" with the government. Needless to stress, this disposition will only worsen the socio-economic plights of the masses both in the short and long run.

SUSPENSION OF THE STRIKE

The NLC leadership suspended the proposed strike/protest planned against this latest hike of fuel prices which was then billed to start on October 9, 2003, merely on the promises to revert back to the price of N34 for a litre of petrol as opposed to the price of N40 at which the product was then being sold.

As we in the DSM maintained then, the NLC leaders ought to have insisted on the actual implementation of this promise before it decided to suspend the impending strike/protest. Unfortunately, our apprehension in this regard had been brutally borne out by the unfolding reality. State governors and oil marketers who were very quick to give the verbal promise upon which the NLC called off the impending strike proved or unwilling to fulfill their promise. To add insult to injury, none of these self-serving elements raised a murmur of protest when the NLC officials trying to effect this agreement were arrested, physically assaulted and unjustly denied bail by the court.

Suffice to note, this treacherous conduct merely confirmed the often repeated position of we in the DSM that no sections of the capitalist ruling class can be relied upon when there is conflict between the masses' interest and that of the greedy members of the capitalist class. Time without number, the Obasanjo government has made several unfulfilled promises on the issues bordering on the welfare of the masses. It promised to increase workers wages by 25% and 15% in year 2001 and 2002 respectively. After lots of pressure, the regime promised to effect a 12.5% increment in wages for federal workers only! This increment was to commence with effect from May, 2003. Then the date was postponed to July 2003. However, the regime unilaterally shifted the implementation date to October, 2003. As at mid November, this promise was yet to be fulfilled.

When the administration came to power in 1999, it promised to wage serious war against corruption in the government and in the country as a whole. Today, corruption is more pervasive at all levels of government across the country. Despite government's rhetoric on war against corruption, Nigeria is rated by Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world. Even the October 1st 2003 hike in fuel prices, a subject of the suspended strike was a blatant repudiation of the agreement made with the Nigeria Labour Congress in July 2003 in the wake of the fuel price hike of the June 2003 and the consequent general strike/protest against the said policy.

What therefore would have made the NLC leadership to have suspended the strike/protest which the masses across the country were already fully mobilised? Could it be that the NLC leadership had forgotten the bad antecedents of the Obasanjo government with respect to past promises made on issues concerning the masses? In the past, government in the aftermath of general strikes/protests had entered into agreement to sell petroleum products at certain prices only for the same government through one act of commission or omission to turn round to sell these products e.g. petrol, diesel, kerosene, gas, etc at different higher prices across the country. So, why was it therefore possible to fool experienced and seasoned labour leaders led by the NLC president himself, Adams Oshiomhole, to quickly abandon a well prepared struggle on the basis of mere empty promises?

After all, the NLC leaders cannot validly claim not to know the self-serving greedy disposition of the governors (most of whom are oil marketers) and the oil marketers present at the so-called stakeholders' meeting over the issue at stake. Therefore, the only logical reason behind the NLC suspension of the then impending strike/protest was because the leadership itself lacked a coherent policy and policy alternatives to those put forward by the Obasanjo capitalist government. In this context, the suspension of the impending strike/protest on the basis of a mere verbal agreement was just a convenient excuse to avoid the struggle.

Since the inception of the Obasanjo administration in 1999, particularly since year 2000, the NLC leadership under Adams Oshiomhole, has been putting forward several proposals on how to guarantee, supply and affordability of petroleum products. This however, it must be stressed, has been based on the assumption that this option can be reconciled with the neo-liberal policies of privatisation and deregulation which form the basis of the Obasanjo's government economic agenda. In year 2000, the NLC submitted a position paper titled "INDEPENDENT REPORTS ON THE REVIEW OF PETROLEUM PRODUCTS SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION". Amongst other things, this is what the paper says on privatisation and deregulation. We quote:

"From every indication, privatisation is clearly not feasible as a short-term or even medium term solution, in view of the painstaking processes involved. It also has its difficulties, which include: - The need to carefully and accurately evaluate assets and worth of each plan to ensure that the tax-payer is not short-changed. - Transparency in the entire processes - Adequate concern and provision for workers that will be displaced in the process - Adequate participation of Nigerians as core-investors".

In paragraph 16.10 of the above cited paper, this is what the NLC said on deregulation. We quote: "Given the volatility of the products' prices in international market and Naira exchange rates, deregulation of prices is impossible and clearly undesirable". Meanwhile, paragraph 16.20 of these same quoted position paper states: "To overcome the supply crisis, the environment can be liberalised to allow for new players in the market together with NNPC".

There are certain fundamental errors and contradictions inherent in the above quoted perspectives. "Privatisation is clearly not visible as a short term or even medium term solution". From this, it is very clear as the day that the NLC leadership in principle is not opposed to privatisation as a central economic strategy. It only fears that this may not be feasible solution in the short and medium terms! To the NLC leaders therefore, privatisation represents a long term solution to the nations' economic crisis.

The only problems which the NLC leadership have against privatisation are: (a) how to accurately evaluate the value of assets being sold (b) transparency in the sales........ (c) adequate concern and provision for workers that will be retrenched in the privatised companies (d) adequate participation of Nigerians as core-investors

Each of these outlined criteria not only represents an acceptance of the privatisation strategy, it equally constitutes a mistaken or wrong understanding of what the objectives of privatisation are.

As we in the DSM often explained, privatisation is nothing but a bold face, "legal" robbery in which public companies and resources are converted to the private properties of a few capitalist individuals and corporations. This is one policy that deliberately and unashamedly seek to feather the nest of the rich at the expense of the vast majority of the people in society. To therefore expect accurate evaluation of the value of the assets being privatised by the capitalist elements is to be living in the world of illusion. Privatisation by its nature and essence is the most brazen act of conspiracy and corruption by the elites against the society and as such cannot be carried out with any meaningful transparency.

One of the main driving motives for privatisation is the maximisation of profit. This situation usually bring about high cost of goods and services being rendered by private companies beyond the reach of those lucky to be employed not to talk of those that have lost their jobs. There is therefore no valid way by which privatisation can benefit workers either working or retrenched in the process of privatisation. The demand for adequate participation of Nigerians as core-investors is nothing but a fake radical demand. Once privatisation, the principle of selling public properties and resources to capitalist corporations and individual is accepted in principle, then there is no valid basis to determine the nationality of core-investors. In any event, this suggestion tends to cover up the fact that it is the imperialist capitalist elements through IMF, World Bank, etc, that are the primary authors of privatisation and deregulation, notwithstanding the messianic fevour with which this strategy is being prattled and implemented by the local capitalist politicians and their classmates in other sectors of the society. Of course, members of the local capitalist class are active collaborators in this scam for its own selfish material and political interests. Unable to effectively compete with capitalist elements and corporations from advanced capitalist countries who have superior advantages in technology and finance, members of the local capitalist class had always and in this situation will always only strife to get as much share as possible of the loots to be made from privatisation. Even where members of the local capitalist class are able to buy some of the companies being privatised today, under the impact and logic of global capitalist crisis, these will be sold ultimately to imperialist corporations sooner than later.

The position that "supply crisis" can be avoided by permitting new players in the market together with the NNPC is equally an unhelpful position as far as the working masses is concerned. In fact, this precisely is what the Obasanjo government claims to be doing right now with the price deregulation of the petroleum products. Through this policy, government claims that marketers are free to import fuel and sell them at the prices they like. The first effect of this policy however has been astronomical hike in fuel prices as government now sells crude to the NNPC at the market rate. Presently, this may have appeared to be the reason while the supply of petrol remains stable. However, this is nothing but misleading impression. While petroleum product is generally available now, the mass poverty in the land at the same time means that most people could not adequately afford the prices of these products. It is now common to see workers in many petrol stations sitting idly waiting for customers and when these customers do come, many of them were ever seldom in position to fill their tanks owing to the increment in prices. Meanwhile, a sharp rise in prices of crude internationally equally constitutes a permanent danger that the current prices could even be raised higher.

Unfortunately for the working masses, the anti-poor, pro-rich philosophy which underpins the economic and political policies of the current set of capitalists rulers of the country covers all spheres of social life. Education and health services, which are key to social economic well-being and growth have been plunged into a state of chronic crisis as a result of the money-first philosophy which predominate the current dispensation. Today, the education sector is bedevilled by chronic under-funding, which has rendered virtually all the public schools useless. There are always far less facilities compared with the number of those needing education, a phenomenon which has brought about a mirage of fraudulent practices by students, parents and administrators in order to get a space from within the ever inadequate spaces in public education sector.

The privately owned education institutions in most cases do not fare better and in fact offer worse services than the beleaguered public schools, often running without necessary requisite infrastructures and competent personnels needed for sound education. One of the assumptions behind the privatised educational system is the believe that individual parents by paying school fees will be able to contribute towards the provisions of the needed infrastructures and personnel required for qualitative education. Sadly, the reality today is much less flattery. In most so-called private schools today, most parents and guardians are never able to pay the required school fees as and when due, a phenomenon that once again underlines the importance of a well-funded free education programme at all levels at public expense.

However, nothing reveals better the chronic decay and crisis facing the entire economy and the effect of this on the living standard of working masses than the downturn which over the years now, has bedevilled sports and football in particular. Obafemi Obadare, a sports reporter with The Punch in the Sunday Punch edition of November 2, 2003, had this to say about football, the most singular popular sport event across the country. "In the not-too-distant past, football matches like the annual FA Cup final, were monumental events that brought sporting venues like the National Stadium at Surulere to standstill.

"All the glamour seemed to have died when the national economy caved in the past decade, relegating sports - and football - to the background. The big teams lost followers and the loyalty of their fans; the stadia dried up as empty stands marked a sad downturn of the painful order that was emerging".

If it should be stressed, it is the entire social gamut of capitalism that is sick and crying for a new alternative. To be in a position to effectively and consistently defend the interest of the working masses against the greedy disposition the members of the capitalist ruling class, labour movement and its leadership need a brand new set of economic and political measures which will put the masses interest first above every other interest, as opposed to the prevailing capitalist order which measures the value of everything or being solely on the basis of how much money they have been able to acquired or stolen.

DIALOGUE AS A STRATEGY

For the second time within a period of 15 days, the NLC leadership had written President Obasanjo calling for a dialogue over price hike of fuel and the deregulation of the down stream oil sector. As trade union leaders, there will always be necessity to engage in one form of negotiation or another with employers over wages and work conditions in general. Sometimes through negotiations, especially when workers are mobilised, trade union leaders may even be able to win certain concessions from government or private employers. But there is a difference between negotiations and "dialogue", a term which implies that both workers and bosses are partners, or to use current terminology, that both are "stakeholders". However, in the given circumstances and especially based on a critical appraisal of government/employers/labour relations in the past, posing dialogue as a viable means of addressing the issues at stake is nothing but an exercise in futility and or self-deception. As we noted in the last paragraph, the Obasanjo government and its counterpart at states level had in the past four years or so made several unfulfilled promises to the labour and the working masses in general.

Therefore, establishing a "stakeholders forum that will operate under the purview of the presidential authority" does not in any sense represent a new vista. In the wake of the general strike/protest which followed the hike of fuel prices by the Obasanjo regime in June 2000, the central government personally led by President Obasanjo himself held negotiations and dialogue with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress. But what eventually became the worth of the agreement, struck with the president and presidency? Nothing. Firstly, unwilling and unable to supply all the required quantity of these products, most people in different part of the country were forced to pay more than the official prices agreed with the NLC. Thereafter, the regime has increased the prices of petroleum products three times. So when talking of dialogue, labour leaders should not create a misleading impression that negotiating with the presidency can bring more positive result than negotiations done with the PPPRA.

The bitter truth which the NLC leadership ought to face which it is running away from is that the selfish interest of a few capitalist rich can not be mutually reconciled with that of the vast majority of the people, the victims of capitalist exploitation and oppression. In the second letter issued on November 6th, 2003, calling on President Obasanjo's government to dialogue with labour, the NLC leaders among other things stated: "The Stakeholders' Forum should also be empowered to look at all the issues involved in petroleum products supply, distribution and pricing with a view to working out a sustainable solution that is acceptable to all, including the Federal Government. A broad Stakeholders' Forum will help bring the governors on board and assess the inputs of a wide spectrum of critical interests such as the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) representing the organised private sector".

From President Obasanjo's antecedent and conducts up till date, it is very clear that the regime is hell bent on carrying out a comprehensive package of policies which severally and collectively only tend to attack the living standard of poorest sections of the society including the working class. To therefore hope that a meeting point can be reached with this kind of government by an organisation that represents the interest of the masses is nothing but the sowing of illusion of the highest order. Yes, the Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) could claim and validly too that any increment in fuel prices will naturally lead to increase in the cost of production and even certain contraction or decline of the economy. But what kind of conclusion will MAN members draw from this kind of situation? Put differently, will members of MAN as a result of this kind of outcome be prepared to join the agitation for public ownership and working class democratic running and management of the country's big businesses and resources? The obvious answer is categorical NO. As capitalists, members of MAN, business people that they are, will simply pass the additional increment in the cost of production unto the consumers. And if the push come to shove, members of MAN would rather retrench their workers to maintain certain level of profitability and their own personal privileges rather than advocate or support measures that tend to satisfy the basic needs and aspirations of the working masses. It is therefore wrong for the NLC leadership to base its projection of a dialogue on the basis of an elementary truism that simply posits the cost of production necessarily go up with the increment in cost of raw materials and inputs and thereby assuming a non-existing solidarity between the interest of the manufacturers and the working masses.

In the recent period, President Obasanjo has embarked on conscious and systematic mobilisation of capitalist organisations and institutions. He had held series of meetings with business groups, oil dealers and marketers, the armed forces, etc, explaining and seeking the support of these capitalist structures and elements for the pro-rich, anti-poor policies of his administration. If anything, this conduct shows the mind-set of the regime to force down the throat of the working masses, its unpopular economic agenda. What the NLC leadership too need to do is to assume the responsibility of mobilising all sections of the working masses and the poor in general for total struggles and opposition to these policies instead of harbouring any illusion that this self-serving greedy elements can be made to implement rational policies in the interest of the working masses through dialogue.

LABOUR AND POLITICAL POWER

In the past four years, the NLC leadership has tried as much as possible not to been seen as antagonistic to the Obasanjo regime. But the ceaseless implementation of anti-working people policies, including incessant fuel price hike, and the vitriolic attacks on the labour movement and the NLC by President Obasanjo in his 8th October nation-wide address show that it is impossible for the labour leadership to appease the ruling class and at the same time meet the yearnings and aspirations of the working people.

President Obasanjo in the said address accused the NLC of an attempt to hijack power illegally or unconstitutionally through the suspended nation-wide strike action. In reply, NLC president, Oshiomhole, denied this and said that the labour movement is not interested in taking power. To us in the DSM, this is a wrong response. Adams Oshiomhole rightly said that "They have the guns, they have the police. Whenever they called on Nigerians to go back to work, Nigerians don't listen to them. But whenever we tell our people to stay at home, they listen to us. So the question is who is in control?" The NLC ought to draw the correct conclusion from this truth and tell Obasanjo and the ruling class that the labour movement and the working masses have the legitimate right to bid for political power and reorganise society in the interest of the marginalised and oppressed working people who are in overwhelming majority. If the working people are producers of the nation's wealth, why should they leave governance and the management and control of such wealth and resources in the hands of a tiny minority parasitic ruling elite. In actual fact, the NLC and the labour movement should be taking concrete steps towards the winning of political power by the working people. Our alternative to rule by any of the factions of the corrupt elite is a workers' and poor peasants government.

Therefore, we in the DSM call on the NLC leadership to immediately call a conference of trade unions, students unions, community associations, market traders' associations, human rights and socialist groups and pro-masses political parties like the National Conscience Party (NCP) and Party for Social Democracy (PSD) to discuss how to build a mass working people's political platform which can fight to end the misery and chaos of life under capitalism.

PLAN TO DESTABILISE THE NLC

If there was ever any basis for NLC leaders to assume that President Obasanjo and the entire capitalist politicians across the country meant well for the NLC and the working masses, the presidency's proposed bill presently before the National Assembly to amend the Trade Unions Act should be enough to dispel such unfounded assumption. Among other things, the proposed Act contains the following provisions:

(a) "No trade union or registered federation of trade unions, by whatever name called, shall embark on a strike action unless upon a resolution approving the strike action passed by at least two thirds majority of delegates representing all the members of the union or federation of trade unions in secret ballot held at a meeting for that purpose".

(b) "Upon the registration and recognition of any of the trade unions, specified in the Third Schedule to the Act, an employer may subject to the express consent of a worker who is eligible and willing to be a member of any trade union, make deduction from the wages of such worker for the purposes of pay contributions to the trade union so registered and (b) shall pay any contribution deducted under paragraph (a) of this section directly to the registered office of the trade union, provided that, compliance with the provisions of this section shall be subject to the insertion of a 'no strike' clause in the relevant Collective Bargaining Agreements between the workers and their employers".

(c) "The Registrar shall remove from the register, the Nigeria Labour Congress as the only central labour organisation in Nigeria".

(d) "Every trade union may, with the express authority of members, pay to the appropriate registered federation of trade unions out of the contribution received from its members, a sum equivalent to 10 percent of the total sum received or such sum as may from time to time be specified in the constitution of the registered federation of the trade unions concerned".

(e) "The payment of union dues mentioned in subsection (1) of this section, shall in respect of any particular union, cease to operate forthwith on (a) the dissolution of the unions or (b) the revocation of the certificate of registration of the union by the minister or (c) the cancellation of the registration of the union by the Registrar or (d) a strike action embarked upon by a union in breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the workers union and the employer".

There are many things that are fundamentally offensive in the above quoted provisions and the entire bill to the overall interest of the trade unions and the working people's struggles. Consequently, the first demand that should be raised and fought for by the trade union leaders and working masses organisations is that the Obasanjo regime and all capitalist elements should unconditionally and completely hands off trade union matters. Labour and all genuine defenders of democratic rights should today demand that President Obasanjo and his PDP government immediately and unconditionally withdraw this offensive bill. Section 40 of 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees right of association including right to form trade unions and general rights of people to form or belong to political associations with a view to protect their own interests. Section 14 of the proposed Act seeks to undermine this section by indirectly banning strikes. Section 16 of the proposed Act seeks to outlaw automatic check off dues to trade union organisation by workers. In its place, each worker that is supposedly eligible to be members of trade unions will henceforth have to expressly authorise his/her employer before trade unions dues can be deducted.

Socialists and trade unions activists in general were opposed to the idea of automatic check off dues when it was first introduced under the Trade Unions Decree of 1976 promulgated by the Obasanjo regime when he was a military head of state. At that time, the motive of Obasanjo regime was to create a layers of conservative labour leaders who could easily lay their hands on workers' dues whether or not they were actually representing the genuine interests of their members. Paradoxically, his government's plan today to make union dues voluntarily by workers was not motivated by the desire to protect the interests of the rank and file trade union members. In actual fact, this provision is designed to deprive the trade union leadership of sufficient funds which the government believe has made it easier for labour leaders to stand up in opposition to government's anti-working class, anti-poor and pro-rich agenda.

Whatever progressive or democratic measure needed to ensure that trade unions function properly in the best interests of their members should be left for the labour and trade union activists themselves. To show the reactionary nature of the proposed Act, section 3 of these offensive bill says: "the Registrar shall remove from the register the Nigerian Labour Congress as the only central organisation in Nigeria". Factually, it is not correct to claim that NLC is the only central trade union organisation in Nigeria today. Besides the NLC, there is the Trade Union Congress (TUC), there is congress of Free Trade Unions, amongst a host of other central labour organisations. The only logical reason behind the attempt to demobilise and destabilise the NLC is because of the fact that the NLC for sometime now has been organising mass strikes and protests against some of the most anti-poor policies of the regime.

As we said before, the above x-rayed provisions of the bill does not in any sense indicate a disposition on the part of the Obasanjo regime to engage labour in any meaningful dialogue either on the issue of the petroleum product or any other issue for that matter. Pro-capitalist elements and opportunists will urge labour to pipe down to avoid being banned. To follow this line of thought will be suicidal. Despite the fact that labour's opposition to the anti-poor policies of the government has been very incoherent and often half-hearted, the regime has nonetheless come up with this offensive bill with a view to totally silence all forms of opposition to its pro-rich policies. Only total and complete acceptance of these policies can totally reconcile labour and the capitalist government. But to the extent that this policies are hurtful and as such unacceptable to the vast majority of the working people, for that reason, labour leaders will naturally always come under the pressure of its rank and file members of the trade unions and other sections of the working masses to stand up and lead fights against these policies. And resting on a mass base, labour leaders will from time to time always find it inevitable to lead some struggles.

There is therefore no time when the capitalist class, especially that of a crisis ridden society like Nigeria, will begin to treat labour as genuine "partners in progress". Initially, when the NLC leader first called on government to engage it in a dialogue over government's policy in the oil sector, no time frame was specified. Now NLC's second letter of November 6th, 2003, has now given government up till November 30th, 2003 to put in place machinery for dialogue. Unfortunately however, this second letter does not really go beyond the scope of the first letter. It still suffers from the same weakness inherent in the first call for dialogue. There is yet no specified issues upon which labour wants "dialogue" with the government. With the complete deregulation of oil prices, the issue is no longer as simple as was the case before when labour just asked government to reduce prices from certain levels.

If it may be stressed, this situation once again underlines the necessity and importance of a comprehensive, independent economic and political alternative programme by the labour movement in opposition to the pro-rich agenda being pursued by the Obasanjo government. While labour is busy appealing to the capitalist government of President Obasanjo to come and dialogue with it, the president on the contrary has been busy using his time and energy to mobilise all pro-capitalist elements and institutions to support their own agenda. This is a big challenge which the labour should not hesitate to embrace. Labour should as a matter of urgency begin a vigorous campaign and mobilisation of all strata of the working people both within and outside industry, organised within trade unions or not, with a view to resist the unrelenting anti-poor policies of the government. If this is thoroughly and seriously done, labour will be able to see that the seeming impregnable disposition of the powers-that-be is built on the basis of mass apathy on the part of the people. Not only this, labour will easily be able to see and come to the conclusion that the capitalist system will have to be uprooted if the interest of the masses is to be protected.

As we in the DSM often said, mass struggle is the only process through which the working masses can squeeze any worthwhile concession from the capitalist ruling class. In this regard, the suspension of the strike/protest slated for October 9 constitutes a serious set back for the working masses in its struggle against capitalist expectations. This no doubt, may have made labour leaders to opt for the so-called dialogue, seeing no any other way to effectively take on the regime. This again we must point out is a mistaken policy. If the current mood is considered not so favourable to immediately commence general strike and mass protest, what labour leaders ought to do is to commence mass enlightenment activities through rallies, production and distribution of educative materials etc. By so doing, working class people can easily be mobilised back to fight a problem which has never for a second cease to torment them. Unless labour pursues this kind of strategy, the agony of the masses can only be deepened and prolonged under this dispensation.

 


Chapter One: Background

Chapter Two: The 2003 Elections 

Chapter Three: The Four Years Of Civil Rule

Chapter Four Political Perspectives

Chapter Five: Nationality Question

Chapter Six: A Working Class Solution Needed

Chapter Seven: Deregulation And Fuel Price Hike

Appendix: General Strike Against Fuel Price Rises The Lesson For The Working Masses