Hundreds of workers from Nasarawa state and NLC affiliates’ leaders from other states led by Com. Ayuba Wabba, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) stormed Lafia the Capital of Nasarawa State on Tuesday 23rd of August 2016 in solidarity with the oppressed workers of the state over unpaid salaries and allowance by the barbaric and repressive Al-Makura-led Administration in the State. The workers of the State have been on strike since early this year, in an attempt to press home their demands for the payment of backlogs of their salaries.
Earlier on July 29 the NLC organized a protest rally in Lafia, the state capital, to further push home this demand, which was addressed by the NLC president as well. This became necessary because the government which had itself failed and broke the labour law where it is explicitly stated that workers must be paid no later than every 30days was at the time threatening to invoke the “no work, no pay” provision of the Trade Dispute Act. In effect, workers salaries for all the months they had been on strike demanding the due payment of outstanding salaries would be considered as forfeited!
The governor, Mr Al-Makura called for a meeting with the NLC leadership at government house. While this was going on, workers who were demonstrating outside the government house were attacked by baton wielding and gun totting police officers killing two workers. Many more were also wounded and hospitalised. The August 23rd protest rally was thus over the unpaid salaries and illegal deduction from the workers salaries and also to condole with workers in the state on the death of their colleagues who had earlier been brutally killed and injured.
In his address at the Abdullahi Adamu Labour House, the State Secretariat of the NLC, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress Com. Ayuba Wabba however informed the workers why the rally had to be terminated because the Human Right Commission had written to both the Government of Nasarawa State and the Nigeria Labour Congress seeking for the two parties to maintain status quo pending its investigation. He said the commission had requested the State Government to stop further deduction of the worker’s salary and the Government has accepted to comply with the directive, while the commission called on NLC to shelf the planned protest.
He however extolled the Nasarawa state council of Congress to continue with its strike until victory is clearly won, while expressing the NLC’s condolence to the families of the departed workers, once again.
The situation in Nasarawa is a further testament to the need for national action by the trade unions if the backlogs of salaries across the country are to be paid and a new minimum wage of N56,000 won. There is a lot of frustration across the land. Several workers are committing suicide or dying from hunger. Left on their own as individual states, there is just so much that NLC state councils can do.
The greatest step that could be taken in the memory of the fallen workers in Nasarawa state is mass mobilisation including a 48-hour warning nationwide general strike in demand of the payment of all outstanding workers’ salaries. Socialist Workers League would be at the barricades with the workers in the severe battles that lie ahead if we are to roll back this new “normal” of backlogs of salaries. 34 copies of Socialist Worker were sold at the rally.
by Peter Adejobi