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Strike called off in Nigeria

Posted by BBC on 2003/07/08 | Views: 1260 |

Strike called off in Nigeria

Nigerian trade unionists have called off a nationwide general strike as it entered its ninth day after the government agreed to reduce fuel prices.

Nigeria's police distinguish a fire in Oshodi section in Lagos
Rioters set up burning barricades in the streets of Lagos

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Adams Oshiomhole said the 29 trade unions affiliated with his umbrella body had voted to a return to work.

"Given the sacrifices and the privations which Nigerians have had to make or contend with over the past eight days, the NLC has a compelling duty to avail the people some relief by suspending the strike action," he told reporters.

Having also compelled the federal government to back down and to reduce the price of petrol from 40 naira to 34 per litre, the nationwide strike... is suspended

Adams Oshiomhole

The labour leader said the unions had voted to accept a government offer to reduce the recently increased cap on the price of petrol from 40 naira per litre to 34 naira (26 cents).

The BBC's Sola Odunfa says that buses are unlikely to appear immediately on the streets of the commercial capital, Lagos, and it is likely to be Wednesday before before most people hear news of the end of the strike and return to work.

The day before, protesters had taken to the streets burning barricades and smashing car windscreens.

Union officials say the police responded by shooting dead at least five protesters.

Police have not confirmed the deaths and deny responsibility for the violence.

Oil price fears

Fuel prices had soared by 50% after the Nigerian Government ended a subsidy on refined oil products.

The government says a rise in fuel prices is necessary to end shortages and curb the smuggling of cheap Nigerian fuel to neighbouring countries.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has also said that deregulation will attract private capital to refurbish Nigeria's decrepit refineries, increase imports and generate competition.

But many Nigerians regard cheap fuel as a birthright, the only tangible benefit they get from their country's vast oil reserves.

Correspondents say the trade union's decision will reassure the oil industry, which has been worried that further industrial action could disrupt exports and force up prices.

Nigeria is the world's fifth largest exporter of crude oil.

The end of the strike also comes ahead of US President George W Bush's visit to Abuja, scheduled for Friday, when he will meet with President Obasanjo as part of his African tour.


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