Workers in the Nigerian state of Ogun are fighting a courageous battle against pay cuts, attacks on their union and bosses’ refusal to keep to agreements.
These attacks are part of a growing trend of pay cuts and bosses delaying or withholding wages in a number of Nigerian states. Over 3 million public sector workers are owed wages for three months or more.
Ogun is major manufacturing state in south west Nigeria with a population of around 4 million people.
A major strike last year by thousands of workers demanded that the state government return money that had been deducted from their pay. It was taken for union subs, pensions, loan repayments and savings—and then disappeared into the state coffers.
After a strike of more than two weeks, the state agreed to reimburse all deductions. But it also immediately unleashed repression against the union which saw activists beaten and arrested.
Ogun state governor Ibikunle Amosun sacked 16 workers’ leaders.
Furthermore the state has reneged on the deal it signed last November.
Adebiyi, Olusegun from the Ogun trade union coordinating body spoke to Socialist Worker. “We are fighting to retain our full rights and to insist that workers have decent treatment,” he said.
“We are not going to go away without success for our struggle.”
He added, “We want our money back, guarantees about the future conduct of the state and protection for workers’ organisation.”
Wave of repression against workers leaders' in Kazakhstan
The government of Kazakhstan launched a campaign of repression against trade unionists in recent months.
At the beginning of January the government and bosses of the OCC oil company attempted to quash an oil workers’ protest.
The chair of the workers’ union Amin Yeleusinov and labour inspector Nurbek Kushakbayev were arrested on 20 January.
At the same time management launched mass layoffs of workers who participated in the protests. The OCC is a part of KazMunaiGas, the state oil and gas company in Kazakhstan. When workers at the company struck in 2011 some 17 were killed.
During the oil strike Kushakbayev, said, “We have not stopped work. The workers are working, but they have simply stopped eating.
“The authorities keep on saying this is illegal, but there is nothing illegal about this. To eat or not to eat is for every individual to decide.”
The workers had gone on partial hunger strike in a demand for improved working conditions.
Kushakbayev was accused of giving “unauthorised strikers” advice.
He has now been sentenced to two years in a penal colony.
Kushakbayev was actually convicted of encouraging workers to participate in another dispute. He was prosecuted for his involvement in strike last December by workers at Techno Trading Ltd.
The prosecution said, “Kushakbayev offered them his consultation, gave them more effective tips on how to mount a strike. He specifically suggested that they declare a hunger strike, gather as many people as possible and not be afraid of the police.”
Amin Yeleusino the leading union representative at OCC is still awaiting trial.
Indian car workers handed down life imprisonment
Some 13 members of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) were sentenced to life in prison in the Indian state of Haryana last month. Four more were handed five years’ imprisonment.
Fourteen other workers were fined and released after serving four-and-a-half year jail terms.
From June 2011 to July 2012, workers at the Suzuki plant held a series of strikes and plant occupations.
A total of 148 workers had been arrested.
On 10 March 117 of them were acquitted. Eight days later, of the remaining 31 workers, 13 were sentenced to life imprisonment and four received five-year terms.
The remaining 14 were deemed to have served sufficient time before being granted bail.
In 2012 the company fired and replaced 2,300 workers.
Management of Maruti Suzuki, India's largest car maker, said, "An orchestrated act of mob violence" broke out and shut the plant for a month citing safety concerns.”
In fact, company-hired thugs attacked workers. That led to a fight and a fire at the plant.
The fire resulted in the death of a company’s human resources manager.
The 13 were found guilty of “culpable homicide”.
It is no coincidence that the 13 sentenced for life includes the MSWU’s entire 12-member executive.