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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Strikers holding firm in Nigeria
Woman walks past deserted petrol station
Despite Nigeria's oil wealth, most of the population lives in poverty
Many Nigerian shops and offices remain closed on the second day of a general strike, called over fuel price hikes.

Trade unions have joined a government team to find ways of easing the impact of a 25% rise, but refused to end the protest.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer and is seeking to cut heavily subsidised fuel prices.

The strike and a pipeline fire which is disrupting production has helped push the price of oil to record highs.

Pipeline fire

The pipeline which has broken and is on fire is carrying crude oil across the Niger Delta.

A spokesman for the Shell company - which runs the Trans-Niger pipeline - said the incident would temporarily disrupt oil production.

He said that he expected production to be down by 20,000 barrels for a few days because the oil would have to be transferred to a narrower pipeline while repairs were carried out.

Shell produces 2.25m b/d.

The village where the fire broke out is in the homeland of the Ogoni people, who have a long-running dispute with Shell. Poverty

The strike was called by the trade union umbrella grouping, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), to protest against big increases in the price of petrol since fuel subsidies were removed last year.

Petrol station prices

Despite Nigeria's oil wealth, most of the population lives in poverty and many see cheap fuel as the only benefit they receive.

The BBC's Anna Borzello in Lagos says support for the strike appeared to be on the wane on Monday, with many drivers and market traders out doing business by the afternoon.

Our correspondent says many Nigerians support the idea of a strike, but cannot afford not to work.

One person was shot and injured in the northern city of Kaduna when police dispersed protesters who had attempted to close roads.

'Strike continues'

In a bid to take the steam out of the strike, President Olusegun Obasanjo set up a task force to look at the effects of the fuel price rises, which included NLC leader Adams Oshiomhole.

After its inaugural meeting on Monday, Mr Oshiomhole told reporters: "The strike continues tomorrow, because before you can begin to tinker with the strike, you have to have irreversible progress. We haven't yet got there."

Adams Oshiomhole
Mr Oshiomhole was detained over the weekend
The unions are ignoring a court order issued last month, which banned them from striking for reasons other than working conditions.

Mr Oshiomhole said after four days, the action would be suspended to give the government the opportunity to change its position and start talking to the unions.

He told the BBC that he wanted to persist with union action to resolve the matter once and for all.

"If they talk and we are able to resolve the issues, then that is the end of it," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"If they don't, then after two weeks we will resume the strike... This time we have to pursue this until there is a final deal that is acceptable to all."

Mr Oshiomhole - who leads the 29-union umbrella body - has led two widely observed general strikes in the last 18 months over fuel price increases.

He was detained by state security agents two days before the strike began, before being released.

Why Nigerian workers are taking strike action

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