Group condemns dismissal of 391 Lagos workers, calls for reinstatement

By Samuel Ogunsona

In commemorating May Day, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, ?CAPPA), has called for the reinstatement of 391 sacked workers of the Lagos water cooperation.

The group urged the Lagos State government to utilize the historical “May Day” to rethink the unjust dismissal of the workers.

In a statement signed by it Media and Communication Officer, Robert Egbe, made available to Irohinodua, CAPPA said the Federal Government should speedily conclude negotiations for the new minimum wage to help workers maintain decent standard of living.

“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 working people with soaring costs of goods and services,” the group stated.

CAPPA said the current situation deepens the 2024 May Day with the prevailing image across many bus stops and major cities across the country.

It said Nigeria faces 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.

CAPPA said 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,” the group said.

It added the inequity extends beyond the energy sector, affecting education, housing, and water—all groaning under the heavy hammer of an ongoing privatisation agenda. Unfortunately which signals dire straits for workers, whose livelihoods and existence are continually jeopardised in the face of the denial of essential services.

The Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who criticized the actions of the state government towards the sacked workers said it is an attempt to privatize the public utility service.

He said, “The working class, the backbone of our economy, faces diminishing returns on their labour. The water sector clearly illustrates this problem. Not only is it grossly underfunded across various states, but 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.

“We also know very well from our historical monitoring of the Lagos water sector that the termination of the jobs of these workers is intended to pave the way for the state’s privatisation of this essential public utility and service. This is not only an act of injustice but also a declaration of violence against the families and communities dependent on these jobs, particularly in this economically depressed period,” Akinbode added.

However, according to the group who rejects the claims made by the Lagos State government that the dismissals were due to redundancy and substantial financial difficulties facing the corporation described such statements as “absurd”.

The group said the government is simply transferring the blame for the state’s failures onto impoverished workers—workers who have long implored the state to urgently address the needs of the corporation yet were made redundant by authorities’ deliberate refusal to allocate resources necessary for upgrading the deplorable condition of waterworks and supply facilities in the state.

“It is illogical to think that the revitalisation of the sector can be achieved by dismissing essential staff who possess many years of invaluable experience and expertise critical for enhancing the sector’s performance. How can the depletion of its already insufficient human resources contribute positively to the regeneration of the corporation’s capacities?

“Tragic it is that Lagos State, despite its unparalleled revenue-generating sources and deep pockets, continues to break coconut on the heads of the poor at the profiteering expense of the tiny, rich elite,’’ the CAPPA statement noted.

CAPPA uses the opportunity to encourage workers and labour unions to stand firm in resilience and resistance against the Lagos state government’s plans to privatize public utilities.

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