*charges the State leadership of Labour Centres, NLC, TUC and ULC amid COVID-19
By OSENI YUSUF, Ibadan
A civil society group, Campaign For Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) and the Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Oyo State chapter have felicitated with workers in private, public and informal sectors across the length and breadth of the state as they join other workers across the world to commemorate this year’s edition of international workers’ day popularly known as MayDay.
The coalition called on the state leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) to use this year’s commemoration of the May Day to come up and notify the state government with list of demands that will guarantee adequate protection of lives, safety of health and the economic interest of the mass of workers in private, public and informal sectors across the state.
“They must insist that adequate safety measures are put in place before the workplaces including ministries, departments, parastatal, schools and factories among others are opened for resumption of workers in the state.
“The developing global economic crisis provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent economic effect of the lockdown measure adopted globally to contain the spread of the coronavirus has taken its toll on Nigerian economy. Right now the price of crude oil which accounts for 90% of the country’s foreign earning and 70% of the revenue has suffered a significant crash far below the benchmark projected in the 2020 budget.
“The cost of living has also increased partly owing to the recent decision by the CBN to devalue the naira which has also led to the increase in the rate of inflation which is currently at 16%.Going by this development especially with the crash in the international price of crude oil, it is an obvious fact that the state monthly allocation from the federal government will also suffer a huge decline. Ipso facto, going by the dynamics of capitalism which is the economic principle guiding all the policies of Engr Seyi Makinde-led government like other governments across the country we believe that there will be an attempt to offload the effect of this economic crisis on the shoulder of mass of workers and the poor working people in the state.
“Already the decision by the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government to reopen the secretariat under the pretense of “striking a balance between physical health and the economic health of the state” for the resumption of civil servants in level 13 and above amidst the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Oyo State with its evidence of community transmission, is an indication of the fact that the Makinde’s Government with its pro-capitalist orientation will stop at nothing in prioritizing the defense of the self-serving interest of the few members of the capitalist class who are political office holders and acolytes in business.
“This will be at the expense of the safety, health and the economic interest of the mass of the workers and the poor.The State leadership of NLC, TUC and ULC as a way of commemorating this year’s edition of the international workers’ day must come up and present the State government with a list of demands. For us in SPN, the demands must include: mass testing of all civil servants in the State for COVID-19 to ascertain their status before their full resumption; adequate provision of free face masks and hand sanitizers for all the civil servants in the State including creation of more and decent office spaces that will support social distancing as well as provision of staff buses with social distancing sitting arrangement as condition for resumption of other categories of civil servants working in the State secretariat.
“The labour must also demand the fumigation of the schools, provision of single chair/desk and the enactment of law that will criminalize the student-Teacher ratio beyond 30:1. If the number of students per class exceed 30 students, it will be difficult to observe social distancing measure.
“There must be an arrangement for a makeshift classroom in over populated schools with provision of special allowance for teachers with additional responsibilities.
” This must be a temporary measure pending when more classrooms will be built side by side massive recruitments of trained teachers. Payment of N100,000 hazard allowance, provision of life insurance and safety gears for all the health care professional and other workers on the frontline must also be included in the list of the demands.
“Labour must also demand the payment of full salary and reduction in the number of proliferated and duplicated political offices with reduction in the salaries of political office holders to the amount being received by the civil servants.
“Also, that the distribution of relief materials and the use of the over 300 million naira donations in cash already declared by the State Government be subjected to the democratic control and management of a committee that will include elected representatives of worker’s, youths, students, community people and media organization and not in the hands of corrupt politicians and their agents.
“Beyond the need to place these demands before the Government is also a need to begin to use this aforementioned demands to build a campaign among the mass of workers and the poor working people in workplaces and communities to prepare them for a mass struggle should Engr Seyi Makinde-led government attempt to transfer the burden of the economic crises on the shoulder of the workers and the poor in the state.”
In there submission, the two groups, cautioned the state leadership of labour centres and working people against all forms of illusion in the Engr Seyi Makinde-led government or any employers of labour as we strongly believe that only a government of workers and the poor that is run on the basis of socialist programme where the wealth of society will be collectively owned by the people and subjected to the democratic and transparent management by elected representatives of the working people can meet the needs of all.
“It is in the light of this we once again call on the State leadership of NLC, TUC and ULC as well as workers as a whole to join us, CDWR and SPN to help in build the Party towards the enthronement of such a pro-workers and poor government”.