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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Oil unions set to strike in Delta
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The Nigerian oil workers' unions have decided to stage a brief strike to express their concern at the lack of security in the Niger Delta.

The announcement follows the death of a Nigerian oil worker who was taken hostage and killed in a clash between militants and government forces.

An Italian taken hostage 10 days ago was released on Wednesday by militants, though a Lebanese man is still held.

Nigeria's oil production is down by 25% after repeated militant attacks.

The BBC's Alex Last in Nigeria says the action by the two oil workers unions is a largely symbolic protest.

Although attention has been focused on a string of kidnappings of foreign oil workers, some Nigerians have also been taken. In response, President Olusegun Obasanjo has ordered troops to hunt down the militants in the volatile region which has raised tensions further.

Death

The union action was prompted by the death 10 days ago of a Nigerian hostage who worked for the Shell oil company.

He was being taken by militants to be released when the boat they were travelling in came under fire from a naval patrol. He was killed, alongside 10 of the militants.

The unions say the strike could last three days and may be extended, though some industry sources suggested a pay rise could resolve the issue.

Oil analysts in Nigeria doubt the strike will have a significant effect on production.

During previous brief stoppages, there have always been enough staff at work to keep the oil flowing.






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