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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 20:05 GMT
Nigeria union calls second strike
Policemen buying fuel in Nigerian capital Lagos
The recent rise in fuel costs has caused unrest in Nigeria
Nigeria's main trade union has said it will hold a second general strike in protest at fuel rises, warning it would specifically target oil production.

The umbrella union body Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) confirmed the action would start on 16 November.

Union leaders accused the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell of being the "enemy of the Nigerian people" and called for action against the firm.

Shell accounts for about half of the daily exports of 2.5m barrels.

Adams Oshiomhole, leader of the NLC, told the BBC that this time the strike would be indefinite and total, and would affect both the production and export of crude oil.

Shell has decided to side with the government to oppress our people and to mix themselves into Nigerian internal politics
Adams Oshiomhole,
NLC leader

He accused Shell of taking legal action to prevent a white-collar oil union from joining the strike.

Shell officials were unavailable for comment.

The NLC also dismissed measures introduced by the government to help alleviate the impact of the increased fuel costs.

A spokesman for the NLC said the government's actions fell well short of its call for a drop in petrol prices.

Any block to Nigerian oil exports may inflate already high global prices.

'High tension'

The NLC's last general strike from 11-14 October shut down banks, businesses, shops and public services, but did not affect oil exports.

But with Nigeria being the world's seventh biggest oil producer, and America's fifth most important supplier, the country's ongoing labour unrest is inevitably cause for concern in the oil sector.

The government "is showing pointed ingratitude to the men and women who have... toiled not just to relieve the pains in the land, but also to reduce the high tension in the country," the NLC said in a statement.

On Friday the Nigerian government introduced a number of grants and tax reductions to help offset the recent 23% rise in fuel prices.

But the measures did not include the NLC's key demand for the lowering of prices at the pump.

Global oil prices have increased by 60% since the start of 2004 due to both supply and demand pressures.

While demand has expanded strongly, led by China's economic boom and continuing high consumption in the US, supplies have been hit by the situation in Iraq.


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