***At its 18th Annual General Meeting held on Nov. 15 1983, the Ikeja branch of the Manufacturers Association disclosed a plan to organise a nation-wide protest against the Federal Government. But the weapon will not be the Manufacturers themselves, they hope to use workers retrenched since the enactment of the 1982 Economic Stabilization Act.
According to this plan, suggested by Dr. A. Bamisaiye, Managing Director of Concord Furniture Manufacturing Company, the workers would demand “a liberalization of import licences and the creation of more job opportunities”. He added optimistically that “A massive protest by the unemployed will make the government see our point”.
But the idea of exploiters of labour ‘organising unemployed workers’ is from the begining, an absurd one. Since when did the Manufacturers Association become the ‘defender’ of the rights of Nigerian workers?
How shall workers forget the exploitation we undergo in the hands of this group of charlatans who are now resorting to the shedding of crocodile tears about the unemployment of workers?
The task of organizing retrenched and unemployed workers in Nigeria should not be in the hands of exploiters of labour. The trade union movement MUST begin to organize the retrenched and unemployed into one huge movement to demand for jobs and a people-oriented economy.
This was supposed to be the reason for the F.A.R & N.O.W. (Fight Against Retrenchments and Non-Payment of Wages) Campaign launched on paper by the NLC in 1982 and never yet implemented till today.
***On 7th October 1983, the management of Fueggerrolle Construction Company, at the Ajaokuta Steel Company, sent a letter to the local branch of the National Union of Civil Engineering Workers, informing the union of its decision to suspend certain allowances enjoyed hitherto by the workers. The decision was resented by the workers, most of who live about 50-60 km away from the construction site, and have to wake up as early as 5 a.m. each day to get to work and return home at about 8-9 p.m.
In response to that decision of management, a mass meeting of more than 2000 workers resolved that the allowances be re-instated or in the alternative, the company should declare a redundancy, after which they’ll be paid their allowances until the company’s financial situation improves The company had earlier on retrenched over 3000 of its workers).
A meeting was arranged for the 18th of October between the union and. management to examine the workers’ grievances. But a day before the meeting, on the 17th, the company terminated the appointment of the union chairman. In response to this action, a
section of the union membership held an all-night meeting where it was resolved to embark on a strike action on the 18th of October- the following. So on the 18th of October 1983, workers of the Fueggerrolle Construction Company embarked on a strike. What followed was the arrest and subsequent detention of about 40 workers for a two-week period.
(This report was sent in by our correspondent at Ajaokuta).
The 1983 National Executive Council meeting, and the 2nd Tri-Ennial Delegates’ Conference of the National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees took place in Ilorin on 1st December 1983. In his report to the conference, the General Secretary, S.K.Oyebanjo, pointed out that owning to the austerity measures the union lost Four Thous and, two hundred and fourteen (4,214) members. The retrenchments affected the following branches of the union:
- Okara Dry Benin – 1983
- Superbru, Bendel State 6 1983
- Cadbury (Nig.) Ltd – 1982
- Nigerian Tobacco Company – 1981
- Nigerian Tobacco Compeny – 1982
- Nigerian Tobacco Company – 1983
- Ovaltine (Nig.) Ltd – 1933
- Biscuit Manufacturing Co. (Bisco) – 1983
- West African Distillers – 1982
- Essdee Industries Ltd, – 1983
- Niger Cafe (Nig) Ltd – 1983
- West Coast Foods Limited – 1983
- Tate & Lyle Limited – 1983
- Nicco Sweets Kano -1982
- Nigeria Minerals Ind, Ltd – 1983
- Okara Dry Ikorodu – 1982
- Consolidated Agricultural Ind. Otta – 1983
- Nigerian Distlleries Co. Otta – 1983
- West African Brewery Abeokuta – 1982
- Associated Brewry Ltd. Agbara – 1983.
The report pointed that temporary and permanent closure affected
20 branches of the Union, The General Secretary’s report also expressed solidarity with N.L.C. and “give full support to all its actions in the interest of the working people of Nigeria and the unity of workers by way of having one and indivisible labour centre”.
The Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress organised a five-day seminar for about 50 workers representing about 15 unions from the 21st-25th of November 1983. The seminar, being the first by the NLC in the state, dwelt on topics of varied interests and was a remarkable step in the effort to educate workers.
The Kwara State Executive Committee of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) paid a visit to the Kara State Governor on 8th November 1983. The visit was to afford the union to explain some of its problems to the government.
In the first place: “the union had to shelve its industrial action fixed for 5th October 1983 in protest against the irregular and non-payment of salaries and allowances to Local Government Staff as a result of dwindling grants from Nl5. 4m to 2m in 1983″.
Furthermore “In the past the State Government has not been contributing the required shares of internally generated revenue to Local Governments in addition to 10% statutory allocation as stipulated in the Revenue Allocation Act. Moreover we are aware that even the Federal Government Allocation to the Local Government had been tampered with”.
The problems were many: “During the last administration political victimization of serving officers was common place. In this regard, officers were known to be indiscriminately posted from one station to another on mere suspicion as a form of punishment that they had sympathy for one political party or another”.
“…the Union (felt dissatisfied) at the rumour that government does not intend to settle the arrears arising from the minimun wage and the 1980/81 Income Policy Guideline as well as other fringe benefits accruable to the various local governments from the N12m sent to this state for the purpose.
Whereas in the Federal Treasury circular letter No. MS/0089/3/111/669/GAD(INSP/INT.AUD) from the Accountant General of the Federation, titled ‘Disbursement of Federal Government Loan to State Governments from the payment of salaries, wages and allowances owning to employees in the public service’, no local government in Kwara state has been paid”.
***The treatment meted out to LGA workers in Nigeria cannot be divorced from the general disregard that the rulers of this land have for the rights of ALL working people. They would reach any extent to prove how anti-people they are to the extent of disregarding their own laws.
However, it needs to be stated to LGA workers and all who labour, that rights will NOT be given to us on a platter of gold by the looters who rule us, we must struggle for it. Only Struggle LIBERATES the exploited classes.
***Workers of the 3 LGAs in Ilorin embarked on a strike on 13th Dec. 1983. This was to back up demands for the payment of salaries for about 4 months in some cases. It was gathered that there was a plan to use the salaries to purchase vehicles for LGA officials.