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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Nigerians return to work
Lagos commuters
The long walk to work should soon be over
Trade union leaders in Nigeria have called off a crippling general strike after they reached an agreement with the government over the price of fuel which was increased earlier this month.

A statement by the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC said the increases for petrol and other fuels would be restricted to about 10%, and it called on workers to resume work immediately.



[Obasanjo] wanted to avoid delay for the implementation of his programmes - please accept our apologies

Information Minister Jerry Gana

The government had originally imposed a 50% increase, which was later scaled back to 25%.

The five-day strike paralysed large parts of the country.

The new agreement pegs the prices of petrol (per litre) from 30 naira to 22 naira (30 to 22 cents), diesel from 29 naira to 21 naira and kerosene from 27 naira to 17 naira.

The deal comes a day after Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo apologised for not consulting widely enough on the increase in fuel prices.

Speaking on behalf of the president, Information Minister Jerry Gana told leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress that the government had made mistakes over the fuel price issue.


President Olusegun Obasanjo
President Obasanjo regretted the lack of consultation

"The president wishes to apologise to the NLC for not consulting enough before the price increase," Mr Gana said.

"He wanted to avoid delay for the implementation of his programmes.

After the talks, NLC president Adams Oshiomhole said the unions had accepted the price compromise to lift Nigeria out of the crisis. "We think that this is the sacrifice we have to make in order that Nigeria gets out of the crisis in which it has found itself," he said. City revival

Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, paralysed during the five-day strike, came alive.

Shops, schools and banks were closed while the strike lasted, but reopened just a few hours after state radio and television announced the agreement between the government and labour on new pump prices of petroleum products.

In the capital, Abuja, relieved civil servants, locked out while the strike lasted, headed straight for work.

Motorists who had been starved of fuel while the strike lasted made a dash to filling stations.

But they will still have to wait until oil tanker drivers resume deliveries from state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) fuel depots.

The fuel strike has been described as the country's biggest single disruption since military rule ended a year ago.

Fuel prices are heavily subsidised in Nigeria, and frequent attempts by governments to reduce the subsidies have been thwarted by strikes and protests.

The agreement still has to be ratified by the labour union executive body.

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See also:

09 Jun 00 | Africa
Lagos shutdown as strike bites
09 Jun 00 | Africa
Nigeria orders return to work
08 Jun 00 | Africa
Nigerian strike takes hold
25 May 00 | Africa
Nigeria's year of turmoil
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