Nigerian union members call off strike over petrol price rises

GMT 09:47 2016 Monday ,23 May

Arab Today, arab today Nigerian union members call off strike over petrol price rises

A worker carries a placard changing the ruling "All Progressives Congress (APC)'
Abuja - AFP

Nigerian union members on Sunday called off a national strike over a 67-percent hike in petrol prices and said they would resume talks with the government. 

Elements of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) walked out of negotiations last week and ordered the stoppage, despite a court injunction and the threat of police sanction.

The trade unionists were unhappy at a government decision to raise petrol from 86.50 naira ($0.43, 0.38 euros) to 145 naira per litre.

But after a meeting of the national executive council, NLC president Ayuba Wabba, who led the breakaway, told a news conference the stoppage was over after five days.

"(The) NEC, after due consultation with its constituents, resolved to suspend with immediate effect the action it commenced on Wednesday May 18, 2016. The action is thus suspended," he said.

"Congress will resume negotiations with government on the twin issues of the hike in electricity tariff and an increase in the pump price of petroleum products and any other issue that may arise thereof."

The government ordered the increase in petrol prices because of a lack of foreign exchange for fuel importers to pay for supplies, which has caused shortages across the country.

Nigeria is dependent on oil exports for 70 percent of government revenue but income has been slashed because of the slump in global oil supplies that has weakened the naira and driven up inflation.

Lack of domestic refining capacity forces Nigeria to export crude and import petroleum products but the government has kept prices low at the pump by paying the difference in market price to suppliers.

That subsidy policy has been seen as unsustainable because of the cash crunch and widespread corruption in the system.

The NLC as a whole and fellow union the Trade Union Congress had both threatened industrial action but last Tuesday all but a faction led by Wabba backed down, pending further talks.

Despite predictions of a nationwide shutdown, the strike had a limited impact overall and businesses were largely open as usual.

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