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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Nigeria strike ends amid warnings
A worker sleeps in front of a closed shop in Abuja on 12 October
Many Nigerians could not afford to go on strike
Nigerian trade unions have called an official end to their four-day general strike against fuel price rises.

But union leaders warned they will call an indefinite stoppage in two weeks' time if the government fails to bring down the price of petrol.

The strike shut down banks, businesses, shops and public services.

Nigeria's oil industry was unaffected but analysts say further stoppages could disrupt production in Africa's biggest oil exporter.

"The strike is officially suspended and we will meet within the next two weeks to decide what action to take," Owei Lakemfa, spokesman for the Nigeria Labour Congress told the BBC.

Worries

Fuel costs have been rising since President Olusegun Obasanjo deregulated the sector a year ago and removed government subsidies.

A committee including government official and union representatives has been set up to discuss ways of easing the impact of a 25% increase in petrol prices.

But the unions have so far said they want nothing less than an immediate price cut.

A BBC analyst says that even if the government does ultimately make a compromise on this latest price increase, there is little doubt that the era of cheap fuel is now over for Nigerians.

Nigerian policeman walks past a petrol station on 12 October as cars queue to get fuel

The Nigerian oil industry continued to function during the strike, but international crude oil prices have risen partly because of worries about the effect of the strike.

Oil prices increased again on Thursday, with US light crude oil closing at $54.76 a barrel.

Many of the poorest Nigerians said they supported the idea of a strike, but if they did not work they could not eat.

Despite Nigeria's oil wealth, most of the population lives in poverty. Two-thirds live on less than a dollar a day and many see cheap fuel as the only benefit they receive.

This is the third general strike over fuel prices in 18 months.

After the last one in June, Mr Obasanjo introduced legislation, which reduce the powers of the NLC and make it more difficult for unions to go on strike.


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Why Nigerian workers are taking strike action



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