Socialist Workers League (SWL) salutes workers as we join our comrades across the world for the 125th commemoration of the May Day. When workers in Chicago joined over 350,000 workers on strike across America on May 1 1886 to demand the 8-hour work day, they were taking action to bring about a better world.
The massacre of some of them in Haymarket Square in the cause of that struggle and the judicial murder of four of their leaders did not deter their spirit. Rather, it gave birth to May 1 as the International Day of Workers Solidarity.
Workers today stand at the crossroads, where we must rise to gallantly struggle for our self-emancipation, in the face of monumental crisis like the American workers in 1886. There is so much wealth, created through our labour and the pillage of our natural resources. But these are appropriated by a tiny minority of the rich and powerful. They also pillage our natural resources without genuine consideration for sustainable development. In contrast, the working and other masses wallow in poverty.
When trade unions win concessions through collective bargaining, the employers, particularly governments at all levels, often renege on agreements reached. Strike actions to ensure these agreements are honoured become demonised. And when workers, students or other poor people march in protest, police brutality is the response.
The aggravation of insecurity in the country is part of this state of crisis. The ruling elite care less as ordinary people are killed and young girls are abducted, despite their crocodile tears.
Action speaks louder than words. President Jonathan dancing away in Kano on the heels of the Nyanya bomb blasts and the kidnapping of over 200 girls, is enough food for thought.
The National Conference which was presented as a possible pathway for contention on the myriad problems we face is fast turning into a talk show. The elite’s intent obviously, is to use it as a diversionary safety valve to avoid the working people’s rising anger, and the mass action this could bring forth.
Labour and civil society forces have to take contestation within the Conference beyond the walls of the Conference halls through mass mobilisation for an alternative framework of development that puts the majority of poor people before profits.
But this is yet to be the case. Our labour leaders appear to have lost the initiative to the representatives of the bosses who are the majority of the conference.
Despite this dire situation, the working class and other oppressed people are not relenting. Waves of strike actions and protest marches are spreading. More and more rank and file workers, youth, women and other poor people are fed up with the system and are resisting its attacks in different ways.
Such resistance is important, but not sufficient. We must realise that the different faces of exploitation, oppression and corruption that we are up against are not just unrelated acts of exploitation and oppression. They are all elements of the capitalist system which benefits the rich and burdens the poor.
The primary challenge of our struggle has to be the overthrow of this system, as the act of our self-emancipation. In its place we will collectively establish socialism; a system based on cooperation, freedom and the all rounded development of each and every one of us. Towards this, we must organise at all levels in our workplaces and neighbourhoods, particularly in our unions and within socialist organisations such as the SWL.
Our organisation must promote our ideological and political development as activists and always promote the alternative of workers’ power. United and Determined, We will not be Defeated!