Nigeria’s two main workers unions were due to meet Tuesday to consider the government’s decision to meet three of their four-point demand in a bid to avert a potentially crippling strike.
Apparently jolted by the unions’ decision to commence a nation-wide strike Wednesday (tomorrow), the federal government late Monday reduced fuel prices by 5 naira, from 75 (56 cents) naira to 70 naira (54 cents).
The government also cancelled the 100% increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and agreed to pay workers a 15% salary increase from January 2008.
The government called for negotiation between the unions and the privatisation agency, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), on the fourth demand, which is the reversal of the sale of refineries and a key power station at Egbin, near Lagos.
The white-collar Trade Union Congress (TUC) and its blue-collar counterpart, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), had demanded a total reversal to the old fuel price of 65 naira (50 cents), but the government only met them halfway.
Indications are that the unions are divided over whether to continue with the strike or not.
While some officials felt the unions should cash in on the government’s acquiescence to get their four demands implemented, others felt the government had tried.
The strike scheduled for Wednesday would shut the nation down, with the unions’ directive that all offices, schools, fuel stations, air and sea ports should be closed.
Meanwhile, the independent petroleum marketers have called off their four-day strike, which has already paralysed social and business activities across the country.
For the second day running Tuesday, the usually clogged roads in the economic capital city of Lagos were free of vehicular traffic due the scarcity of fuel caused by the strike.