Nigerian Labour News, June 1999

We are continuing our series of articles on Nigerian Trade Unions disputes. Here we make available to our readers articles from our Nigerian worker correspondents from June 1999. These news items are taken from the Nigerian Marxist journal, Workers' Alternative.

Coca-Cola workers go on strike

The workers of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), Coca-Cola recently went on a five days strike action, between April 21 to April 28, 1999, against what the workers termed "Anti-workforce repressive policies of the Management". The strike action, which was total in all the 18 plants and all depots nation-wide, was a cumulative outburst of anger of the workers against the various mispolicies of the Management over the years.

Strike demands

Primary among the demands of the strike action is the demand that increment (based on "appraisement") in take home pay of workers on a yearly basis should not be linked to the plant assessment as per their turnover, but on a regularized yearly increment for all workers.

Similarly emphasized in the demands, is the solidarity with fellow Coca-Cola workers of the Ibadan Plant, where the Management had ordered its dismantling and relocation to Ilorin, in order to callously cut down hundreds of Jobs, previously available at Ibadan and maximize profit.

The Management of Coca-Cola, at present under the highly inconsiderate and harsh MOLINO BEVERAGES GROUP, had earlier started the movement of the Plant to Ilorin, against the 'gentleman' agreement (to stay action) with the National Union of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employees. This had hence put a substantial part of the Ibadan workforce Jobs on the line for retrenchment.

Management Wastage

Meanwhile, it is worthy to note that the high-ranked Management staff, especially those of the MOLINO group, are well noted to be draining the resources of NBC at the expense of a better working/salary package of the workers. Whereas our investigation shows that the average yearly salary of an expatriate is about 314 million minus 320,000 weekend allowances, the salary of a factory worker (without the pittance overtime allowance) is 32,500 monthly. To this extent, the strike action of the workers was well justified.

At the end of the day, the Management was forced to the negotiating table, after recognizing the dynamic and potent force of the workers on strike, and was forced to grant some concessions.

Concessions Granted

Among the concessions granted is the agreement by the Management to convert the earlier dismissal in 1996 of two Union activists at the Ibadan Plant to "voluntary resignation" with two full year pay. The introduction of a new appraisement on a "differential (merit) increment" basis that exclude plant appraisement towards pay rise. The need to reduce the present excessive spending on Management staff by reducing the "Management Directors" from two to one. Equally conceded is a major demand of the strike that no worker of the dismantled Ibadan Plant should be retrenched in the course of the transfer to Ilorin.

However, the mood among Coca-Cola workers is such that the 5-day strike action is both inspiring and has increased the consciousness of the workers, to resist any nonsense from the MOLINO group-led Management. (June 1999)


13,500 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector

A total job loss of 13,500 was recorded in manufacturing industry last year [1998] according to the Manufacturers' Association of Nigeria, MAN. MAN also reported that the capacity utilization fell to 31.3% in 1998 from 34.32% in 1997. However, these data is grossly inadequate, as the data was compiled by MAN members only-already the Federal Office of Statistic is disputing this report. It does not reflect the true state of unemployment and the capacity utilization is lower from other reports.


Delta State workers strike

Delta State civil service workers began their strike on May 17. Key on their demands are the payment of arrears of the new minimum wage, the full release of April salaries for post-primary school teachers, the discontinuation of the two and half percent national housing fund deduction, and the release of funds for the arrears of salaries owed workers of Delta Steel company. The strike was called by the State NLC. The senior staff workers have also joined in the strike.


3404 million NLC fund stolen by agents of Government

The President of the NLC, Comrade Oshiomhole, has exposed the looting of the NLC treasury to the tune of 404 million Naira by the combined duo of the former minister of Labour (under Abacha) and the former sole administrators imposed on the NLC by the Abacha Junta. Apart from the funds, Labour properties such as furniture and fittings at the 103B, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, was auctioned by these agents.

This money belongs to the Nigerian workers and was stolen between 1994 to 1998 when the NLC was banned. The criminals who carried out these acts are still free today. The leadership of Labour must leave no stone unturned towards recovering workers funds from these criminals.


OAU dismisses 200 workers

More than 200 academic and non-academic staff members of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have been sacked as a result of the ongoing rationalization programme of Federal Government. However, the workers on the campus are gearing up for action. Already the local SSANU had earlier gone on strike to protest against the retrenchment. The campus is currently closed down by the Authorities as a means of undermining the Students' agitation for the reinstatement of Students' Union activists victimized by the Authorities there.


Abiola Poly students protest non-implementation of new wages to workers

Thousands of MKO Abiola Polytechnic students (formerly Ogun State Polytechnic) on the May 20, staged a protest march against the State's government non-implementation of the new wage to workers of the Polytechnic. A situation that has forced the lecturers to embark on an indefinite strike.

The students marched to the St. James African Church, Idi Ape, where the State Military Administrator and his wife were to "felicitate" with Oba Tejuoso, an Abacha nominee to the 1994 confab. The Administrator ordered the police to attack the students for embarrassing him. Many students were arrested and many were injured during this police attack. The State Administrator has since closed down the campus.


3444 million on hand-over ceremony

About 3444 million was spent on the one-week hand-over ceremony by the Abubakar regime. The fund went towards organizing luncheons, dinner parties, pay hotel bills, etc. Yet paying workers salaries is a difficult thing to do.


Kwara State workers resume strike over unpaid wages

Workers of the Kwara State civil service on the May 27, 1999, two days to hand over, began another round of strike to protest against the breach of agreement by the State Military Administration over the 33,000 minimum wage.


Bank workers down tools

Bank workers under their umbrella organization NUBIFIE embarked on strike on the May 24, to press home the demand for better pay and working conditions. The bank workers strike shows that it is only a matter of time before workers from the private sector join the ongoing strike movement.


The teachers' strike continues

The national teachers' strike is since on 2 months after it was called by the NUT to press home their demands. The striking teachers are demanding for the payment of the new N3,000 minimum wage and other benefits. In addition, the NUT would want the government to address the establishment of national pension scheme for teachers, teachers’ regulatory council, functional teachers’ registration council and national secondary commission (NSEC).

The NUT also described as pathetic the ratio of teachers to the over 120 million population. In a related development, pupils of Primary and post Primary schools in Osun State staged a peaceful protest in support of their striking teachers.

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