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Cablegate: Nigeria: National Labor Strike -- Sitrep #1

VZCZCXRO0689
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #1302/01 1711346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201346Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9951
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0385
RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0386
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 7189
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001302

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL, AF/W
PLEASE PASS USTR FOR AGAMA
DOL FOR SUDHA DALEY
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY
DOC FOR 3317/ITA/OA/KBURRESS
TREASURY FOR DAN PETERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM ENRG EAIR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: NATIONAL LABOR STRIKE -- SITREP #1

REF: A. ABUJA 1294
B. ABUJA 1278
C. ABUJA 1155

ABUJA 00001302 001.2 OF 003


THIS MESSAGE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade
Union Congress (TUC) initiated a national labor strike at
midnight on the morning on June 20. Oil companies report
that essential personnel have reported for work and there is
no impact as of yet on production. Airports closed in Abuja
and Lagos by mid-day and fuel shortages have significantly
reduced traffic. Public transportation is sparse to
non-existent across the country and prices of personal and
public transportation are reported to have increased as much
as 400 percent. The situation remains calm and no violence
has been reported anywhere as of mid-day June 20. While all
is calm at present, the concern is that the strike will
snowball into an outlet for pent-up frustration that has been
building since prior to the elections. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) NLC and TUC leaders confirmed acceptance of the June
19 GON offer to rescind the VAT increase, implement the
public servant salary increase, and review the Port Harcourt
and Kaduna refinery sales. The issue of the gas price
increase remains unresolved. On June 19, the GON offered to
reduce the price to 70 Naira per liter; however, labor
remains steadfast in its demand that the price be returned to
65 Naira per liter, insisting that former President
Obasanjo's unilateral price increase was unlawful (Ref. A).
Although both NLC and TUC leadership have confirmed to Poloff
that the review of the refinery sales is a satisfactory
concession, popular opinion is that a "review" is just an
empty promise.

EFFECTS ON INDUSTRY / TRANSPORTATION
------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Oil companies Chevron and Agip report that there has
been no impact on their operations (as of noon on June 20).
Essential personnel have remained on post and are expected to
consider joining the strike only if it goes on for several
days. This information was confirmed by TUC leadership, who
added that essential personnel in PENGASSAN and NUPENG would
be called on to join in the strike if deemed necessary.

4. (SBU) Airports in Abuja and Lagos were open, though
operating on a reduced staff, until approximately noon on
June 20. As of noon, baggage handlers and staff of major
domestic airlines left their posts and domestic air travel
ceased. The British Airways flight to Abuja on June 20
arrived and departed again (per schedule) without incident.
No other international flights are scheduled to arrive in
Abuja on June 20. At Lagos airport, Lufthansa, Air France,
Emirates, Qatar and North American report flights for June 20
are on schedule. Virgin Atlantic and Ethiopian Airlines have
canceled their flights into Lagos for June 19 and 20.

5. (SBU) Fuel shortages remain a serious problem throughout
the country and post has received reports from some areas
that fuel stations are simply closed. Black market gas
prices are reported as high as 430 Naira per liter. Embassy
staff was told by gas and diesel distributors in Abuja that
there is fuel available, but there is no way to deliver it.
Diesel tankers in Lagos are delivering fuel, but at twice the
normal price.

SITUATION AROUND THE COUNTRY
----------------------------

6. (SBU) ABUJA: No violence reported. Access roads into

ABUJA 00001302 002.2 OF 003


Abuja from the airport, Kubwa and Karu (Abuja suburbs) are
blocked by civilians; however, other routes into the city are
open. A few roadblocks and burning tires within the city
center were removed by police early in the day on June 20.
There is a significant police presence on Abuja streets and
there are police checkpoints reported on some access roads
leading into the city. Public transportation is sparse and
fares have increased dramatically. Government offices,
schools and businesses are closed. Hospitals are confirmed
open and accepting patients.

7. (SBU) LAGOS: No violence reported; however, there have
been reports that groups of "area boys" are attempting to
enforce the strike. Civilians have blocked some access road
into/out of Lagos and there are reports that intercity buses
are not being allowed to pass. Traffic is reported to be
very light and security contacts report traffic volume is
down 20 percent. Public transportation is sparse and fares
have increased as much as 400 percent.

8. (SBU) MAKURDI (Benue State): No violence reported.
Civilians have blocked roads and are enforcing a stay-at-home
order. Markets are closed and contacts report little or no
vehicular movement. The situation in Gboko is reported as
"tense;" however, no violence has occurred their either.

9. (SBU) JOS (Plateau State): No violence reported. Schools
and markets were reported open in the city center on the
morning of June 20; however, contacts indicate they closed
early in the afternoon. Vehicles are reportedly moving
unhindered.

10. (SBU) KADUNA (Kaduna State): No violence reported. Most
businesses are reported closed and traffic is light.
Contacts reported Kaduna is "much quieter than normal."

11. (SBU) KANO (Kano State): No violence reported.
Government offices and businesses were reported open in the
morning, but closed about noon. Gas stations are reported
closed and the black market rate for gas is 430 Naira per
liter.

12. (SBU) SOKOTO (Sokoto State): No violence reported.
Contacts reported some businesses remain open; however, labor
leaders are visiting open businesses and asking them to
close. Black market gas prices are reported at 800 Naira per
liter. Little to no traffic is present on the streets.

13. (SBU) DUTSE (Jigawa State): No violence reported.
Contacts report no evidence of the strike. Government
offices and businesses are operating normally.

14. (SBU) BAUCHI (Bauchi State): No violence reported.
Government offices, businesses, schools and hospitals are
closed. Contacts report only the Red Cross is providing
emergency medical care. There is no public transportation
and traffic is reportedly light. Civilians have closed some
roads.

15. (SBU) MAIDUGARI (Borno State): No violence reported.
Government offices, businesses, schools and hospitals are
closed. A few local markets are open. The state government
has called for no movement. Roads are open but traffic is
reportedly almost non-existent. Black market gas prices are
reported at 650 Naira per liter.

COMMENT: THE SNOWBALL EFFECT
----------------------------

16. (SBU) COMMENT. All is quiet at the moment and that is a
good sign. However, there is significant concern the strike
could "snowball" and become an outlet for pent-up frustration

ABUJA 00001302 003.2 OF 003


from this spring's elections and prior. There is certainly
plenty of pent-up anger and frustration that is looking for
an outlet. The challenge for the labor movement is in
keeping the focus on the gas price. Both the opposition ANPP
and the AC have endorsed the general strike. END COMMENT.

MISSION RESPONSE
----------------

17. (SBU) Mission Nigeria has limited travel outside Abuja
and Lagos and curtailed discretionary air travel. A warden
notice will be issued to the Amcit population advising of the
situation.

This is a joint message from Embassy Abuja and ConGen Lagos.
CAMPBELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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