by Todun Jagun
20,000 workers across the 16 Local Government Councils in Kwara state organised an indefinite strike in mid-July, which was called off after two weeks. The workers who are members of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) fought for the payment of salaries they were owed. In some Local Government Councils, workers had not been paid for up to five months.
NULGE expected that the state government would pay at least three months of the arrears from Kwara state’s share of the N713bn bailout from the Federal Government. The union called off the strike after an agreement was signed with the state government.
It took a strike for the state government to agree to pay the wages that it owed to the local government workers. Once again, practice confirms the importance of workers’ power to force the bosses and their states to “see reason”. But it is not enough for us to keep fighting for crumbs from the masters’ table.
Workers’ power could bring to birth a new world when we unite in struggle to overthrow the exploitative system of capitalism and build socialism. That would be a democratic system where workers will build their own society on the basis of solidarity and cooperation.
It is also not enough for Kwara state local government workers to go to sleep because of the agreement reached with the state government. Time and again, we have seen governments renege on agreements they have made with the trade unions.
NULGE must continue mobilising workers for a possible continuation of the suspended strike, and back this up with mass demonstrations, if the state fails to fully pay the owed salaries. Even then, NULGE should be using the collective power of the local government workers to improve their pay and conditions and refuse to accept any aspect of austerity.