As the financial crisis continues to bite harder, Nigerian ruling class through their executioner; Central Bank of Nigeria keeps transferring the burden on the mass of bank workers. The bank executives who in the first instance, immensely benefited from the cause of this crisis are only barked at and slapped, but the real hangman dagger of the ruling class has been consistently directed against the workers who have always been at the receiving ends both before and during the crisis.
A total of over 6,700 bank workers had been sacked within the last 2 months alone, and an estimated 5,000 more are awaiting their letter of terminations. Almost all the banks are now affected with this reckless mass sack, which also involved large salary slashes for those yet to be affected. As was stated in our article “Nigerian Financial Crisis: Any way out?” we stated that the present crisis is an inevitable crisis of capitalism and the capitalist class should be held responsible for this crisis. Unfortunately, we are living in a capitalist state whereby capitalists possess all the state power which they use at will against the generality of the people and working class in particular. With this power in their hands, they have cleanly and wholeheartedly transfer the burden of this crisis on the bank workers’ shoulders.
The Role of Trade Union Leadership
Most unfortunate in this instance is the complete absence of organized resistance of the workers against this draconian and scandalous attack on the bank workers. Over the past years, unprecedented growth in the financial of the economy sector (The sector grew 277% between 2003 and 2007), has made it possible for the trade union leadership in this sector to completely abandon their responsibility to the rank and files. This reformist leadership has fully consolidated itself against the aspirations of the rank and file of the workers. They aligned with the management to punish and harass genuine workers activists who they perceived as enemies. They pose no alternative to this rotten system before the members. Now the situation is changing. Crisis is turning the table against them, their foundation is obviously shaking. Rank and files are no longer willing to just passively continue to accept the treachery of this leadership. This explains why we now presently see the union leadership jumping left and right trying to calm things down.
More than half of the Bank workers are outside the trade unions especially those working in new generation banks and this make them much more vulnerable than their colleagues in the union.
Instead of the leadership to use this opportunity to campaign for unionization of presently un-unionized bank workers, they are rather deceptively going about begging the management to pay the entitlements for the sacked ones. Rather than mobilizing a more militant and aggressive campaign against this senile and barbaric system, they are calling on workers to adapt to it. The leadership of Nigeria Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress nationally, are not at all faring better than their colleagues in this sector. They look the other way while their members are been gradually decimated. They felt they can survive on the crumbs from the capitalist class who day-in-day-out hands out bribes and gifts to this leadership for the purpose of corrupting them.
As long as capitalism survives, the agony, frustration and extreme poverty we are presently experiencing is just a tip of ice-bag. The present leadership of the workers union must as a matter of urgency mobilizes the rank and file for a 24-hour warning strike and make a passionate appeal to the leadership of NLC and TUC to solidarize with one-day solidarity general strike.