WORKERS MUST ORGANISE TO RECLAIM THE TRADE UNIONS
By Ayo Ademiluyi
If there is anything to review about 2020 that is so disheartening to the working masses, it is the parlous state of the trade unions. The fact that the working masses have become so disenchanted with the leadership of the trade unions, and on account of it, is erroneously drawing a false notion that the trade unions can no longer be relied upon to lead the struggles of the working masses against the onslaught of capitalism, especially in period of desperation by the ruling elites to transfer the burden of the failure of their system and the losses ensued by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 to the working masses.
This false notion is however not a mistake, it is based on empirical facts as demonstrated by the call off on the heels of a planned nationwide General Strike to commence on 28th September, 2020 by the labour leaders. The two major labour centres, Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, not only stopped at the call off, but entered into a Bipartite Agreement with the Federal Government, to provide justification for the increases and Deregulation of the Downstream Sector stating thus:
“Consequent upon the critical review of the various challenges of the downstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry vis-à-vis the incalculable losses associated with a subsidy regime the Country has been incurring in terms of stifled growth in the downstream sector, diminished human capital development and massive financial leakages and flight. This is in addition to the dire financial circumstances of the Federation that precludes any ability to sustain any subsidy on PMS and making deregulation of PMS inevitable.”
In short, the leadership of the two labour centres signed off to the deregulation agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria, and at the same time announcing its unwillingness to provide the leadership for the agitations and struggles of the working masses. This will have far-reaching consequences. Aside the fact that the leadership of the two labour centres acted in violation of standing Congressional resolutions of opposition to the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum sector, they would be used as a battering ram against the rank-and-file of the labour movement in their class collaborationist roles.
However, the situation is not completely gloomy. Despite the capitulation of the central labour leaderships, there have been industrial strikes by affiliate unions in the education and health sector like Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Joint Health Workers’ Staff Unions (JOHESU) in 2020 demanding for increased pay and higher budgetary allocation. There will be more in 2021, particularly in the health sector with the recent declaration of “second wave” of COVID-19 as frontline health workers receive low pay or no pay at all despite being at the frontline of the battle against COVID-19.
YOUNG PEOPLE MOVING NEWLY INTO STRUGGLE NEEDS REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST IDEAS TO WIN!
Interestingly, the capitulation of the labour leaders has not barred struggles breaking out from below. The phenomenal #EndSARS movement of October, 2020 that broke out less than two weeks after the September 28th, 2020 general strike cancellation and betrayal.
It took a bloody repression to put down the mighty movement that was filled mostly with young people. As Trotsky said, the youth is the mirror of society. The movement kick-started by middle class youth layers drew in working class and lumpen proletarian youth as the days increased.
However, young people coming newly to struggle needs the best revolutionary ideas to defeat the entire capitalist system. This will require frank discussions at all layers of the movement about the need for a relationship with the allies of the fighting youth movement, particularly the working class. The question of the type of organization and leadership required to forge a successful struggle will be a ringing one in the impending events ahead.
The Movement for A Socialist Alternative, standing on the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky is the revolutionary organization for such genuine change-seeking youths to join. The MSA seeks the unity of action of oppressed classes including the working class with its organic power and historical position of providing leadership to other oppressed layers in the mighty struggles that lies ahead.
The fact that the 1978 reforms of the trade unions, handed over the initiative of the finances of the unions to the employer and the state is a question that must be visited, the current automatic checkup dues, denies workers the need for them to check their leaders, subject them under their controls through their finances calls for a discourse and what alternative will be preferable that will protect and guide the independence of the trade unions. So also is the need to combat the growing involvement in commercial ventures by the trade unions, the investment in the leisure industry etc, as oppose to defending the welfare and wellbeing of the workers they represent. This venture into business enterprise and investments is increasingly becoming dominant in the trade unions
JOIN AND BUILD THE MOVEMENT FOR A SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE!
The Movement for A Socialist Alternative (MSA) offers the best political home for such genuine change-seeking individuals, posing the correct socialist perspectives to take the growing mass movement in Nigeria forward.
The MSA is the Nigerian Section of the International Socialist Alternative (ISA), a campaigning organization of workers and youth across 40 countries of the world. A revolutionary breakthrough of working people in Nigeria will need the solidarity of working people in other parts of Africa, Europe, the United States of America, Asia, Latin America and other parts of the world to survive and succeed.
MSA (ISA-Nigerian Section) is proud to be part of the international working class movement for socialism on a worldwide basis and not in a single country. WE URGE YOU TO JOIN THE MSA TODAY!