We believe this letter eloquently depicts the conditions of workers in many parts of the world. The time has come to put an end to this suffering!
Dear brothers and sisters,
What I have to tell you, no doubt, is not altogether new to you. I want to share the experience of my life as a worker, a Nigerian worker, with you. I am sure it is a "shared experience", as most of you will recognize yourselves in me.
For over ten years, I have been working; yet, I have nothing to show for those years. Nothing. No, that is not true. I have something, a debt burden. Yes, I am always in debt and it seems I will spend the rest of my life in "debt servicing". This is the monthly cycle of my working life. I can't feed myself adequately; I can't clothe myself; I can't rent a room; I can't… the list is endless.
Is this not a duplicate of millions of workers lives? Our living and working conditions are daily getting worse with no sign of improvement in the immediate future. A worker at a shoe factory cannot buy shoes; the products of his daily labour. His counterpart in a textile industry is almost in rags yet he produces clothes. Nor is our living condition any better: we live in filth and squalor; in houses and an environment that offer neither "comfort nor dignity" to a person. Boundary-Achapo garbage community, Ijora-Badia, Orile, Ogbe-Nwankwo, etc. Do you recognize these places? I am sure you do. Are they not the shanties to which we are confined, removed from the sight of the rich? Everywhere, poverty confronts us. Yet, our Labour has caused the accumulation of great wealth capable of creating "heaven" here on Earth for every working man/woman, if it was not concentrated in a few hands.
The greed of these Capitalists continues to manifest itself in our lives in, retrenchment exercises, poor pay, long working hours/speed-ups, which leaves us in a state of nervous exhaustion, unsafe working environment and faulty machines, yet when accidents occur we are blamed for them.
Comrades open your eyes and look around you, are you satisfied with the life you are living? From East, West, North and South: we share a common culture - workers’ poverty. Therefore we have to reach out towards one another; we have to stand up together and struggle together.
We want better education for our children; we want to live in decent houses; we want jobs; we want a better standard of living; we want electricity, water, Health and Sanitary services and good roads in our communities.
But, so long as Capitalism continues these rights will not be given us; we can only get them through struggle; by breaking the barriers of Capitalism. Only then can this reign of "hell" end: only in a Socialist society with production motivated, not by profit but by human need. Only then, can this "debt burden" end.
We have nothing to lose but our chains; we stand to gain a New World, a World without Capitalists, without Exploitation, a Socialist World.
Workers everywhere, Unite!
Marx Longfellow, Lagos, Nigeria