Talks between Nigerian government officials and trade union leaders have collapsed again, sending the general strike into a third day.
Police have been clearing barricades set up by strikers
The new government refused to back down on a recent petrol price increase and in response the workers said they will not be suspend their strike.
Most businesses, schools and offices remain closed in the main cities.
Riot police have been deployed in Lagos where activists have blocked some roads and buses were reportedly attacked.
Unions called the strike over rises in fuel prices and value-added tax and the sale of two major oil refineries.
The strike is seen as the first major test for new President Umaru Yar'Adua.
Black market boom
Correspondents say the streets are a bit busier than they were on the first and second day of the strike, but only a few taxis and vehicles are on the roads in Abuja, Lagos and Kano.
However, oil exports - which are 90% of the budget - are not affected yet, as it takes about three days to shut down an export terminal.
Although crucial oil exports are continuing, there is an acute shortage of fuel for sale within the country.
Petrol stations in the capital, Abuja, remain shut, giving black marketers a business boom.
Electricity workers and the Nigerian Medical Association are also threatening to join the strike, an action that is likely to weaken the economy and medical services in Africa's top oil producer.
In Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos, some roadside stalls have opened but the usual morning traffic jams were absent.
The Nigeria Labour Congress says the strike is indefinite but previous industrial actions have often petered out after a few days.
The unions are angry at a series of measures pushed though in the last days of the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, who stepped down last month.
The price of petrol was increased from 65 naira (51 US cents) a litre to 75.
The government has now reportedly offered to reduce this to 70 naira (55 cents).
Transport fares have doubled in some areas following the fuel price hike.
The government has also offered to increase civil service salaries by 15% - another union demand.
The BBC's Alex Last in Lagos says that subsidised fuel is one of the very few benefits Nigerians have seen from their oil wealth since the government has failed to provide even basic services.
This is why the unions are insisting in a complete reversal in the fuel price rise.
Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but has to import most of its petrol because of the poor state of its refineries.