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May Day: CAPPA advocates reinstatement of dismissed Lagos Water Corporation workers

CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi | Image: CAPPA

‘The subsidy removal has burdened workers with soaring costs of goods and services’

By Valentine Amanze

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has called on the Lagos State government to reinstate the 391 employees of Lagos Water Corporation it retrenched recently.

It also appealed to the federal government to urgently reduce the pains of economic hardship by reconciling with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on the actual minimum wage for Nigerian workers.

CAPPA Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, made the appeal, while also saluting the workers on the May Day celebration  in a statement signed by his Media and Communication Officer, Mr. Robert Egbe, on Tuesday April 30, 2024.

Oluwafemi lamented that despite workers’ contributions to national development, their living condition continued to worsen by job insecurity in work places.

Also read: World Health Day: What CAPPA reminded Nigerian govt

 His words: “Amid escalating economic hardships and rot of social safety nets in the country, the national minimum wage remains pitifully stagnant at N30,000 a month —equivalent to roughly $20 —with negotiations for a fair living wage perpetually at an impasse.

“Consequently, more workers are thrust deeper into the dingy crevices of poverty and misery.

“The abrupt removal of fuel subsidy last year without corresponding cushiony measures exemplifies the nature of attacks on the working masses.

“Presented as a strike against corruption—orchestrated by thieving oil merchants ­—and as a measure to redirect funds towards essential services and basic infrastructure, the subsidy removal has instead burdened workers with soaring costs of goods and services.

“The irony deepens this May Day with the prevailing image across many bus stops and major cities across the country: one of desperation, endless, snake-like queues of workers stranded on the road, and buses and cars immobilised at filling stations as petrol scarcity worsens in an oil-rich and resource-abundant nation as ours. Added to this is the country’s worsening power situation despite the privatisation of electricity and its touted gains.

“Only a few weeks ago and despite its unavailability for many, electricity prices soared by 300 per cent, with its distribution now governed by a profoundly unequal allocation formula that favours the haves over the have-nots.

“This scenario and inequity extend beyond the energy sector, affecting education, housing, and water—all groaning under the heavy hammer of an ongoing privatisation agenda. Unfortunately, this direction signals dire straits for workers, whose livelihoods and very existence are continually jeopardised in the face of the rampant commodification of essential services.’’

Oluwafemi also said the condition of service and the environment were no longer favourable for Nigerian workers to be really productive.

 He said that the water sector clearly illustrated the problem.

“Not only is it grossly underfunded across various states, its workers also suffer gross neglect and frequent attacks.

“With specific regard to Lagos State, this year’s Labour Day commemoration is marred by the recent and wicked layoff of permanent workers at the Lagos Water Corporation. This follows closely on last year’s abrupt termination of 425 contract workers.

“These actions by the Lagos State government are indicative of a broader disregard for the workforce that is prevalent across the country,” he said.

He rejected claims made by the Lagos State government that the dismissals were due to redundancy and substantial financial difficulties facing the corporation.

Oluwafemi also advised workers, labour unions, and pro-masses organisations to stand firm in resilience and resistance against the Lagos State government’s plans to privatise water.

Meanwhile, the President of NLC, Mr. Joe Ajaero, has rejected the minimum wage offered by the federal government during the Workers Day celebration on May 1, 2024.

Ajaero threatened that the workers would make the country ungovernable at the end of the month if the government fails to meet the workers’ demand on minimum wage.

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