Seventy workers representing seventeen industrial trade unions that are affiliated to the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and class oriented activists converged at the public symposium to commemorate the International Action Day on Workers fighting for the Rights to Food, Water, Medicine, Books and Housing.
The Session noted with pride the rich history of the emergence of WFTU as the first global federation of trade unions in Paris, on 3rd October, 1945 as a fighting, independent banner of the working and toiling people. The WFTU as a creation of the International Association of working men and women was not only created to mitigate or mediate the sufferings of workers but, essentially to champion the working class resistance to resolve the contradictions of opposites in the world of production.
The Session noted that right from the inaugural convention of WFTU, there was a resolution declaring solidarity for the Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) of Nigerian workers championed by the late Pa Michael Imoudu. Ever since, the Federation has maintained track record of uniting, organising and fighting side by side with the most exploited and oppressed working and toiling people of the world.
However,, with the crisis in the late 90’s and the subsequent setback in the former Eastern Socialist Block, the WFTU class oriented struggles for social emancipation of the working and oppressed people also suffered similar fate; the capacity of the Federation was heavily weakened. In 2005, it is historic to observe that in Havana, Cuba, the WFTU once again bounced back to the extent that today, the WFTU represents over Eighty Million workers in One Hundred and Twenty countries. In Nigeria, only a few trade unions were members of the WFTU in 2005, but currently, there are Seventeen trade unions that have joined the WFTU family. The Session noted that the two national umbrella body of the working class in Nigeria, NLC/TUC would take the same leap that COSATU took at its last Congress by becoming affiliated to WFTU.
DECLARATIONS: The Public Symposium was held in a charged atmosphere with the workers, their leaders and labour activists in high spirit for genuine pro-poor social change, the following resolutions were made:
- The Session appraised the State of affairs of the nation, noting that successive regimes’ imposition of crude neo-liberal social and economic policies on the country and its peoples is solely responsible for the economic stagnation, under-development, massive unemployment, starvation and diseases, instability, terror and insecurity of lives and properties.
- It is clearly becoming more manifest that on the basis of current system driven by the urge for the maximisation of profit, human basic needs would always be in grave jeopardy. This is why, while Nigeria is ranked 6th position in the world in terms of nations’ blessed with natural resources with a 7.5% GDP growth yet, it is number 146 on global Human Development Index (HDI). So long as the State hands its natural and human resources to private business, so long would the basic infrastructural needs of the working and toiling people like food, water, sound health, education and shelter remain unfulfilled.
- The WFTU-Nigeria Council recognises the dire need to ideologically shore up the consciousness of the working class from trade union consciousness to social consciousness of changing the society for better. Any concession gained from trade union struggles alone cannot be sustained under a system guided by the greed of capital and market economy. This is why Nigerian workers keep having acute, critical and perennial crisis in the Energy (Oil & Gas, Electricity), Financial, Transport, Education, Communication and Health sectors.
- The WFTU-Nigerian Council called for the independence and respect for internal democracy of trade unions as the Session condemns all surreptitious and entrenched ploys by Government and Employers to limit, proscribe, ban and probe activities of trade union through the policy of “ State guided democracy and limited intervention”.
- The Session called for concerted efforts of all labour activists to resist neo-liberal policies, pointing out that the Constitution of the country in the Section on “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles” clearly forbids the concentration of the wealth of the nation in the hands of a few Nigerians, not to even imagine a few foreigners as it is currently the situation.
- The Session called on the two national organised labour centres, NLC/TUC to lead the campaign for the Rights to Basic Needs of Food, Water, Medicine, Books and Housing, up to a living wage, full- employment, security of jobs, social security and, the rights to contest for political power by an average worker and their organisations..
- The Council unanimously resolved that trade unions should prioritise their funds to undertake political and ideological education which is necessary for re-engineering the trade and labour union movement in Nigeria. Towards this end, the fraternal support of class-oriented organisation like the WFTU
- The Session called for a declaration of Solidarity Action for the electricity union on its struggles against the privatisation of the power industry, while at the same time organise to resist the on-going anti-workers’ policies of casualisation and mass retrenchment of workers.
VIVA WORKERS…….VIVA NIGERIA…… VIVA WFTU
Comrade Olusoji Salako Comrade Olayinka Abioye
WFTU-Nigerian Council WFTU-Nigerian Council