67 Years after, NLC Immortalises 21 Coal Miners Murdered in Enugu


By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Friday immortalised the 21 coal miners who were brutally murdered by the British Police at the Iva Valley, Enugu, in 1949 as they mobilised thousands of workers from across the five south-eastern states to accord the miners a befitting remembrance anniversary.
The remembrance rally, led by the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, took off from the Labour House, from where the workers proceeded to the New Market Roundabout, where a cenotaph had been erected in honour of the slain workers.
Addressing the workers before laying a wreath in honour of their heroes, the NLC President said with effect from next year, the memorial would take place simultaneously across the 36 States of the federation and the FCT, Abuja. “It is exactly 67 years ago, on this very day, within this very hour, on this very soil and in this country that workers were brutalized, maimed and massacred by the colonial police under the British empire.
“At end of this unprecedented mayhem and bloodbath visited on the working class, 21 workers of the Enugu Coal Mines lay dead in a pool of their own blood and 51 others injured. They were callously mowed down for demanding for better conditions of service in their workplace.” He recalled that “among other issues, the miners had demanded for upgrading of hewers to artisans and the payment of housing and travel allowances.
The Labour leader, however, lamented that “the issues that led to agitation by the coal miners 67 years ago are still very much with us today. The events that led to the massacre of those workers have not changed from what they were in those days. While urging workers to remain united in fighting for their rights, Wabba noted that they were being confronted with problems ranging from several months of salary arrears, increase in electricity tariff, removal of subsidy on petroleum products, the unofficial devaluation of the naira, among others.