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Reuters: Striking unions threaten Nigerian oil production

Staff have begun an indefinite strike at Nigeria’s largest state oil refinery over welfare and to protest against privatization.
LAGOS –  Thursday , 24 May 2007

Staff of Nigeria’s state oil company began an indefinite strike on Thursday over welfare and union leaders said they would target oil production if their demands are not addressed within days.

The strike, which is also to protest against the privatisation of the country’s largest oil refinery last week, is expected to first hit domestic fuel supplies.

It comes just five days before the inauguration of President-elect Umura Yar’Adua on Tuesday. A separate two-day strike is planned by all unions on Monday and Tuesday, but they had previously said it would not affect oil output.

“The strike has started. We will wait for two or three days and see what happens. If we don’t get the desired results, we will then extend it to the upstream sector where the impact will be immediate,” said Peter Akpatason, president of the junior staff union NUPENG.

Peter Esele, head of the senior staff oil union PENGASSAN, said informal talks were already going on to try and resolve the issues at stake, while a formal meeting with the government has been slated for later on Thursday.

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