Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) demands the immediate release of 38 Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) staff arrested on 11 July, for protesting the non-payment of their salaries. We equally call for all charges against them to be dropped. This is one step too far, tyranny of management at the institution of learning, must now be ended.
The School’s Rector, Mr Samuel Sogunro, mobilised armed security personnel to pick the 38 workers who have been on a non-violent permanent sit-in since 2 July at 1.30am! The workers were earlier detained at Panti prison before they were arraigned later in the afternoon at Ebute Metta Magistrate Court with charges such as; cultism, attempt to burn the campus and littering Lagos state.
To set the records straight the charges mounted against the workers are unfounded and irrelevant. The rector with the support of the Lagos state government employed the armed security personnel to repress and oppress the workers who are fighting for their legitimate demands.
As we pointed out earlier in; “SWL Condemns LASPOTECH Management Harassment and Intimidation of Workers”, the management under the leadership of Samuel Sogunro reversed and refused to implement the CONTISS 15 Migration Salary Scheme, despite getting intervention funds adding up to N850 million at different times, for this purpose.
Management has utilized several means of repression to coerce the workers and prevent them from fighting for payment of the salaries due them. The overnight sit-in is a continuation of a series of long-drawn industrial actions to protest the irregularities in their salary scheme and ensure management does the needful.
This struggle has been on for five long months, now. Several efforts were made by the union to get the immediate past Lagos state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to meet the demands of the workers but all proved abortive as his administration turned deaf ears to the concerns of these workers.
The workers hoped that the newly sworn in governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu would be different and be committed to the promise of making life better for all Lagosians. But it took little time for them to come to the realization that even Mr Sanwo-Olu is a bird of the same feather with the immediate past governor.
On 2 July the workers embarked on a permanent sit-in strike action on the LASPOTECH Main campus, the management employed the service of the police to break the protest on the first day with tear gas cannisters and baton, attacking students as well, with some of them made to endanger their lives by climbing fences to escape the charging police. But the workers stood their ground.
The tyrannical method of the management particularly the rector and the nonchalant approach of the successive Lagos state governments to the plight of the workers and students is an assault on our collective faces and democracy, as working people of Lagos and Nigeria at large. This is condemnable and all well-meaning persons should speak out against this anti-workers authoritarian “management”.
SWL condemns the continued attacks on the workers by the management and the Lagos state government. This impunity cannot be allowed to continue, it shows high disregard for human lives and particularly the LASPOTECH workers who are central to the running of the institution. The management attacks the students as much as it attacks the workers, the continued noncompliance of the management to the demands of the workers which are correct on all fronts clearly affects the academic activities in the institution and affects the interest of the students.
We thus urge the students, which include SWL members, to unite in struggle with the workers in this fight to pressurize the management and Sanwo-Olu-led state government to comply with the demands of the workers for quick resumption of academic activities.
We also urge the Lagos state councils of NLC, TUC, ULC and all their affiliates to join the protest of the courageous LASPOTECH workers. We must make the LASPOTECH campus in Ikorodu ungovernable with protests and organize solidarity strikes in our different workplaces. Among our demands as trade unions should be the immediate removal and prosecution of the rector, Mr Samuel Sogunro, he is unfit to lead an academic institution and coordinate education workers.
The Lagos state government in the last 20 years has not built a single institution of higher learning or expanding the existing ones despite increasing numbers of young secondary school leavers seeking admission into tertiary school. And instead of at least increasing funding for its tertiary schools, the state government has been cutting funding.
Clearly the successive Lagos state governments deliberately making education unaffordable for the mass of working-class people’s children and wards. We can boldly say the Lagos state government and the ruling class in general are on all-out attack on public education. This is the trend in all the parts of the country, as governments continue to raise fees but do little to improve learning conditions or the remuneration and working conditions of workers.
The bosses and their politicians are united in making life unbearable for us, as working-class people. We must unite as workers, farmers, poor artisans and traders in struggle against the bosses exploitative and oppressive system.
The LASPOTECH workers determination to fight till victory despite more reactionary attacks from the bosses’ class is inspirational. SWL urge the workers to be undeterred as freedom cometh only by struggle. You are not alone comrades, we stand together.
By 8.00am on 12 July, we will march from Allen Junction to the governor’s Office, at Alausa Ikeja to protest against continued tyranny at the Lagos State Polytechnic and demand the immediate release of the LASPOTECH 38, with all charges dropped.
Join us on the procession. Let us make our voices heard in solidarity with the LASPOTECH workers. The workers united and determined cannot be defeated!
by Lai BROWN