Dagga Tolar

Spokesperson, MSA

The Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) joins workers everywhere in Nigeria to celebrate, and also welcome, the new and united Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), following the merger of the NLC and ULC previously led by Ayuba Wabba and Joe Ajaero respectively.

As the central organs of labour organisations in Nigeria, this action towards unity by the NLC and ULC of uniting and having a single central leadership to steer the affairs of labour, is a step in the right direction. But this in itself does not automatically mean that all is now well, that the union will now defend the interests of workers, even though this will be our expectation.

We want to state that the NLC, as reconstituted, needs not to carry out its responsibilities by words or issuance of statements, but indeed, be proactive in defending the interest of the working masses against the capitalist policies of privatization and deregulation of the economy, which largely have led to the rise of unemployment and economic hardship.

For this to be, the labour movement must, as a matter of duty, take up the task of opposing all attempt by the ruling elites and the capitalist bosses to make the working masses pay for the failure of their system and the losses the profit-driven system wants the working masses to bear as a consequence of the Covid19 pandemic.

In this light, we welcome the opposition to the now cancellation of “electricity tariff” and the increase in the pump price of fuel. The MSA wants to propose that the question of energy for the economy is key, and a revisit to the struggle of the past will serve to bring on board the necessity to consistently oppose the policy of privatization and deregulation of the key sectors of the economy.

Events have demonstrated that nothing whatsoever has improved in the electricity sector since it was privatized 2013, except for the fact that the country and the working masses became nothing but milking cows for the private profiteers, known as the DisCos. The MSA urges the NLC leadership to be seen defending the working masses, to insist on the re-nationalization of the electricity sector, under the democratic management of workers and consumers. Also, it should commence a campaign, both in the trade unions and outside of it, to educate and bring the working masses to mount pressure on the ruling elites for this to be achieved.

In the same vein, the need for building new and functional refineries are key in ending the continued importation of fuel in the country, which serves as permanent means for the oil barons to continue to eat and line up their pockets with super-profits at the expense of the working masses living at the bottom line of economic hardship.

So also, is the need to campaign against casualization and oppose the contracting out of labour, that is, the so-called outsourcing. MSA urges the labour leadership to revitalize the Casualization Committee of the NLC to again become active, draw up the list of culprits and draw up a programme of picketing and ensure the needful be done.

The same must apply to the question of unionization in the workplace, in fact, the MSA will like to propose that the same attitude adopted against casualization also needs to be adopted against non-unionization in the workplace. Being a member of a union is a right, and this right must be defended like the right to work and the right to a living wage.

The NLC must urgently review the last struggle for the new minimum wage, review her effort in this regard to insist on full implementation as well as to oppose any attempt to cut down on wages, as well as leading a struggle to demand payment of arrears of workers’ salaries owed by states when political officials are not owed any Naira in these same states.

The MSA is also of the view that the question of no to a job loss as a consequence of the Covid19 pandemic be put forward and that capitalists must as a matter of duty part away with a portion of their super profit, which they enjoyed in the past and from the toil and labour of workers. Where this is not possible, the government needs to bring such a factory into public ownership under the management of elected members of the workforce.

However, and not less important is the task of reclaiming and building the labour party. The decision and necessity for registering the Labour Party are still much with us. The NLC would be seen as failing Nigeria and indeed the working masses, if it fails in all this, most importantly, the task of supporting, orientating towards building a political party of the working masses that defend their interest, as distinct from bourgeois political formations like the APC and PDP, which continue both in policy and content, to consistently demonstrate that they exist to defend the interest of the members of Billionaires’ Club for super-profits at the expense of the wellbeing of the working masses.

The need to build such a party remains the only way forward for Nigeria, to have such a party adopt a programme that will seek to employ the wealth and resources of the country to develop the means of production to benefit the working masses. This in reality is what is known as socialism. As part of this process, the need to build a stronger and more focused labour-oriented Labour and Civil Society Coalition is also imperative. So also is the need to inaugurate NLC structures in local council areas to create a grass root means of coordinating and uniting workers’ interest to be more able to defend workers’ interest.

The MSA once again congratulate all workers in solidarity and hope that our message will be seen for what it is: a call for action. The NLC with Wabba as president and Ajaero as deputy will be one that will bring joy to the working masses. Once again congratulations!