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Mlive.com: Nigerian oil unions suspend strike threat after talks with government, oil companies

Mlive.com: Nigerian oil unions suspend strike threat after talks with government, oil companies

By GILBERT DA COSTA

The Associated Press

Posted 22 JUly 04

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria’s powerful oil unions on Wednesday called off a planned strike set for Sunday that threatened to shut down exports from Africa’s oil giant.

The announcement followed two days of talks in the capital, Abuja, by labor leaders, government officials and industry representatives from the Nigerian subsidiaries of ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil.

In a joint statement, the parties said Nigeria’s federal government had agreed to address labor grievances including pension reforms and alleged overhiring of expatriate oil workers.

All sides also would monitor plans to repair state-owned oil refineries, the statement said.

The repairs had been demanded by union members, complaining of chronic consumer fuel shortages within Nigeria.

Industrial disputes, ethnic clashes, sabotage of wells, and kidnappings of oil workers by militants have at times in the past year shut down nearly 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil production of 2.5 million barrels a day.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, the world’s seventh-largest exporter and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. imports.

Nigerian union leaders celebrated news Tuesday that oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell named the first-ever Nigerian national to head the firm’s biggest African subsidiary, following months of union pressure for more senior positions for Nigerians.

A threatened strike by workers of Franco-Belgian oil giant Total’s Nigerian subsidiary over demands to have locals in senior positions forced the company to stop oil and gas production for a week this month.

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