Every year, the 1st of May has been commemorated as the international day of working class solidarity since 1890. it is a day to consolidate our struggle, celebrate our victories, and evaluate our challenges. Hence, it is not merely a day of colorful social demonstrations and merriment but a day of serious political action to strategize on how we fightback against the bosses.
This year, the Automobile, Boatyards, Transport Equipment & Allied Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (AUTOBATE) and its members at GALBA Nig. Plc in Port Harcourt rose up to take their long-drawn struggle forward.
AUTOBATE members nationally stood in solidarity with the rank and file workers of GALBA which is owned by General T.Y Danjuma and managed by members of his family, as they rose in protest during the May Day. Their cries were heard by working-class people across Nigeria as the action was well reported in the electronic and print media. But the Galba management remains headstrong.
The company owes workers over thirty months salaries and allowances. In a publication dated 19 May 2017, the company’s director, Mr Dauda Danjuma stated that the reason for the nonpayment of the workers’ salaries is because the firm failed to meet the profit margin projected for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.
Similarly, he mentioned in a newspaper that T.Y Danjuma cares about the workers and their families, and he doesn’t want the firm to be shut down for that. In reality, that is merely a lazy and pathetic excuse and ridiculous to say the least. If the directors are sincere with that statement they would put the workers’ salaries first and not profit margins.
Rather T.Y Danjuma and co. are true to their class character; putting profit before the needs of the workers, whom they actually exploit to appropriate such profits in the first place. It is important to point out that more than ten workers have died due to the sorry state they were thrown into without wages for so long and lacking any other means of survival.
Many others have left out of frustration with this conscious attack on the working class. GALBA Nig Plc. directors and management are determined to subjugate the workers whose labour they milk to feed fat, so as to increase profit.
The resolution of the GALBA workers and AUTOBATE to remain undaunted in fighting for the backlog of salaries took on live with the May Day demonstration aimed at pressurizing the management of GALBA to meet their legitimate demand, which is short and simple: the Danjumas must pay our backlogs of salaries now! That is the position of the GALBA workers.
Members of the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) joined the workers in their protest rally on May Day and we will continue to stand by the workers until victory. SWL further calls on the Trade Union Congress, Nigeria Labour Congress and other trade unions in Rivers state and beyond to join AUTOBATE and GALBA workers in solidarity as they continue their fight against this coldhearted treatment: an injury to one is injury to all.
by Lai Brown