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The Day After Labour's 8 Days Strike (Posted 8th July, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Deserted Lagos Road, during the strike, courtesy, The Guardian Newspaper.Dateline: Friday, 27 June 2003, Abuja, Nigeria, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Chairman, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced a new price regime for Nigeria’s Petroleum products with a litre of Petrol rising from N26 to N40, Kerosine from N24 to N38 and Diesel from N26 to N38. He argued that the hike was part of the process of Government’s plan to liberalise the downstream sector of the petroleum industry. He further claims that the new price will stem smuggling and will encourage both importers and prospective refiners to the country, thereby ensuring the availability of the products.

Monday, 30 June 2003, Abuja, Nigeria, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) declared a total and indefinite nationwide strike action to protest the arbitrary fuel increment by the Federal Government. Though, the Government via an injunction obtained at a Lagos High Court has declared the strike illegal, Oshiomhole assures Nigerians that the strike will hold and Government should be prepared to negotiate with labour rather than adopt a fruitless legal option.

The National strike followed a peaceful course for the first 7 days, but event took a violent turn on the 8th day. The 7 day strike totally paralysed the socio-economic activity of the nation with billions of naira lost on a daily basis from all sectors economy. Nigerians took the labour for their words and played their part by staying indoors. With negotiation almost reaching an end on Saturday 5 July, 2003, the Government made a proposal of N35 for a litre of petrol which the NLC leadership rejected. But on the contrary, the leadership of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), a trade union body affiliated to the NLC and representing senior staffs of workers accepted the offer and publicly declared that their members should return to work immediately. On the part of the NLC they argued that Government could still accommodate N32 at such they insisted that the strike will continue.

Monday 7 July, 2003, Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of the country which was hitherto peaceful was set ablaze by Police brutally and alleged killing of about 9 people, as reported by most media. Many part of Lagos experienced riotous youths protesting the unwarranted killing of innocent citizens by men of the Police force. This action piqued the labour leadership and led to a final deliberation with the Government on Monday. The outcome of this meeting formed the issues discussed at the NLC’s National Working Committee meeting which lasted to the early hours of today Tuesday 8, July 2003 when Adams Oshiomhole read a communiqué stating that the NLC had agreed to the Governments’ new price proposal of N34 for Petrol and N32 for both Kerosine and Diesel. The strike was immediately called off.

A lot of commentators have advised the Government to ensure that Nigeria’s 4 refineries are fixed to forestall further increments in the prices of Petroleum products. Government should always employ consultation and dialogue in any policy that will affect directly the Nigerian people. A lesson to be learnt with the just ended strike is the power of negotiation and the insensitive attitude of Obasanjo administration to the masses that voted him to power.


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