Article from www.nigeriasolidarity.org --- Campaign for Democratic and Workers' Rights in Nigeria


CDWR Supports Ondo State Health Workers’ Strike

Victor Osakwe, Secretary

12 October 2006

The Campaign for Democratic and Workers Rights {CDWR} commends the determination and resolve of the striking medical workers of Ondo State to hang on till a positive response to their legitimate demands for improved working and living conditions is gotten. It is worthy to note that since the doctors and midwives embarked on industrial strike of recent, the Agagu-led state government has not deemed it fit to dialogue with the aggrieved workers, let alone taking positive steps to meet their demands.

It is an aberration and a sheer case of insensitivity to the plight of poor and oppressed workers, for the Agagu-led state government not to respond swiftly to workers demands for improved welfare. Perhaps due to the huge salary and allowances being consumed by the governor and his aides, government will never see reasons why the welfare of poor workers should be improved. It baffles one to note that the meager wages of the workers is expected to meet their needs, which had been on the rise as a result of the harsh economic reality and the resultant high cost of living that prevails.

Instead of attending to the needs of the striking workers, the Agagu-led government is using threat and intimidation as a weapon to break the strike. The reasons for such anti-poor conducts by governor Agagu are not far fetched as government officials are far drawn from the masses by the colossal difference in welfare package and privileges; an abnormal situation that empowers them and their family members to easily embark on trips for treatment in foreign hospitals. As such, they are less concerned if local hospitals function or not.

Industrial rules and regulations guarantee the rights of workers to resort to strike as a means of pressing home their demands. In view of that fact, we call on the Agagu-led government to meet the demands of NMA and NANNM as a matter of urgency so as to put an end to the plight of the masses that make use of the services of the striking doctors and midwives. Agagu must not be tempted to wield State power on workers that are exercising their democratic right to strike, as it is capable of escalating the pent-up mass anger that exists presently.

The CDWR calls on all labour and pro-labour organisations to give full political support to NMA and NANNM, as this is not just a test of workers power, but also a historical challenge to organized labour. As this crisis, if not brought to a logical conclusion, will further demoralize the poor working masses, and is capable of killing every iota of credibility and independence in unionism. It is also capable of further reducing organized labour into an appendage of the state. Mass resistance is of essence as the state is capable of using forces of coercion to break the strike. Hence there is dire need for mass mobilization of rank and file workers of unions through leaflets, placards, press releases, mass rallies etc.