Nigerian union faction orders strike over petrol price rises

 18 May 2016 - 13:07

Nigerian union faction orders strike over petrol price rises


Abuja: Nigeria's government on Wednesday warned against "illegal strike action" after some union members vowed to press ahead with a national strike over petrol price rises despite a court injunction.

A disgruntled faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said it would ignore the order and walk out to force the government to reinstate prices at 86.50 naira ($0.43, 0.38 euros) per litre.

Prices were raised by 67 percent last week to 145 naira per litre because of a lack in foreign exchange for fuel importers to pay for supplies, which has caused pumps to run dry.

Talks broke up between the NLC, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the government late on Tuesday, with most delegates agreeing to back the rises, pending further discussions.

But a group of disgruntled NLC members walked out, calling the talks a "dead-end", and said they would order members to strike.

Federal government secretary Babachir David Lawal said in a statement that all workers should "respect the laws of the land and... desist from participating in an illegal strike".

"(The) government undertakes to guarantee the safety of workers and their work places, and expects that normal work will continue in the interest of the nation," he added.

Strikers would not be paid and attendance registers have been opened at all government offices, he said.

Lawal said Nigeria's security services had been ordered to "ensure unimpeded access to offices, work places and markets".

"Acts of intimidation, harassment, including barricading of gates, locking up of offices, blocking of roads and preventing workers from carrying out their lawful duties will be met with appropriate response by the law enforcement agencies."

A judge at the National Industrial Court in Abuja on Tuesday issued a temporary injunction against strike action after an application by justice minister Abubakar Malami.

Malami submitted in court papers that a strike would cost the country "billions of naira" and cause "untold hardship and unimaginable security problems/challenges".