Nigerian unions defy ex parte injunction to strike over petrol price hike
Describing an ex parte injunction won by the Government against the combined NLC-NTUC general strike due to begin tomorrow (Monday) as a “blackmarket injunction”, NLC President Adbulwaheed Omar has vowed that strikes would still take place. The NLC also rebuffed an invasion of their Abuja headquarters, under the noses of nearby police, by 70 youths apparently paid by supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan. This is the backdrop to the response of Nigerian trade unions to Government attempts to cut the subsidy on petrol prices – described by the BBC as the only benefit ordinary Nigerians think they get from the country’s vast oil wealth.
As the NLC statement on the strike reports, the Nigerian Government has repeatedly tried to cut the oil subsidy (and been defeated each time by the trade unions), but has never delivered on the promises to improve refineries (almost all the oil Nigeria produces is exported for refining and then imported for use: a staggering waste of money nut very profitable for the oil companies) and invest in infrastructure and public services. Unions and ordinary Nigerians – who have been protesting since the Government’s surprise move earlier this month to withdraw the subsidy overnight, rather than over a three month period of negotiation – do not trust the country’s politicians on this issue.
So on Monday, despite the intervention of a court which did not bother to involve union representatives and even had to assist the Government’s lawyers to make their case, Nigerian union members in key industries are likely to begin an indefinite strike in defence of ordinary people’s living standards. Civil servants, teachers, aviation and other transport workers, as well as those in the energy industry itself, will be leading the strike. In some cases, they may be risking their lives, as the police fired on one recent demonstration, killing a protester. As usual, you can keep up with developments on LabourStart’s Nigeria pages.
The TUC has sent a message of solidarity with our colleagues in the Nigerian trade union movement, with whom we have had strong links going back to the time of the military dictatorship and beyond. A TUC Aid project helping Nigerian trade unions to address the workplace challenge of HIV/AIDS is due to conclude this summer.