COSATU Condemns Attacks On Striking Workers In Kaduna (Nigeria) and supports the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) condemns the propaganda and ruthless anti-worker and anti-trade union machinations meted by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr Nasir El-Rufai, against Nigerian workers and leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). This follows an incident where workers led by the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, were attacked by hooligans mobilised by Governor El-Rufai while peacefully exercising their rights to protest on Monday the 17th of May 2021.

The state in this regard is being used as the instrument through which the ruling class harasses and intimidates the working class and poor. One would wonder why the security forces stood idle and watched thugs disrupt and assault protesting workers. This is the horror and brutality of the capitalist system that workers intimately feel. Workers have the right to express their views through peaceful demonstration in an atmosphere free of fear, intimidation, coercion, repression and violence.

The coordinated efforts of the Nigerian bourgeoisie to improve its position in the intra-capitalist competition includes further laying off workers, refusal to pay workers their benefits and pensions and reactionary changes in labour laws. This exacerbates the already suffocating COVID-19 pandemic ridden situation, which has placed the working class and the poor at the receiving end of joblessness, hunger and misery.

COSATU supports the NLC’s lawful and peaceful protests to defend Nigerian workers against onslaught retrenchments, freedom of association and social justice. It is the power of the working class action and the role of the working class that will bring about the creation of jobs, decent work, social protection and rights at work.

COSATU also call out Governor El-Rufai and Kaduna state authorities to unreservedly withdraw the statement declaring Comrade President Wabba ‘wanted’ and stop with the propaganda of defaming fellow unionists and the trade union struggle. We further oppose the violence of the ruling class, which is used to impose class rule. The right to protest is an exercise of fundamental human rights.

In a statement published via Facebook on Tuesday, the 18th of May, the state government announced its resolve to immediately dismiss all civil servants who took part in what is referred to as an unlawful strike. COSATU demands the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the dismissed civil servants. This reactionary behaviour is unacceptable, and the federation condemns the Nigerian government for its disregard of the working people’s right to be heard. The right of citizens to peaceful protest is fully guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and charges Governor el-Rufai to douse the tensed situation by coming down from his high horse, rescind his position and listen to the people.

COSATU, therefore, supports the decision by The African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) to report the situation to the 2021 International Labour Conference (ILC). We call on all our Comrades and friends on the continent to offer solidarity and support to Nigeria’s striking and dismissed workers and ensure that this employer does not undermine workers’ right to demand improvement in their conditions of service.

Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni

International Secretary

COSATU Head Office

Tel:  011 339 4911 |  010 291 1335 (ext)