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Cablegate: Nigeria: Oil Workers' Strike Causes Short-Lived

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002738

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ELAB EPET NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: OIL WORKERS' STRIKE CAUSES SHORT-LIVED
GASOLINE SHORTAGES

REF: ABUJA 2567


1. PENGASSAN, Nigeria's white collar oil and gas union, in
cooperation with the blue collar Nigerian Union of Petroleum
and Natural Gas (NUPENG), held a one day "warning strike" on
September 23 to protest the planned privatization of certain
downstream operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC) (Reftel). In solidarity, oil tanker
drivers, who are NUPENG workers, stopped transporting
gasoline from September 20-23. The strike was scheduled to
last through Tuesday, September 24, but was called off
earlier after the reported intervention of Minister of
Employment and Productivity Alhaji Musa Gwadabe. In Lagos,
most gasoline stations had sufficient reserves to continue
pumping gasoline during the strike, though some refused to do
so for fear of NUPENG reprisals. In other parts of Nigeria,
the impact was more severe, with lines at the pumps reaching
more than one kilometer in Abuja. There have been no reports
of violence associated with the strikes, and as of September
25, lines at fueling stations were returning to more typical
lengths of ten to twenty cars deep. Comment: The unions
intended the warning strike to scare the GON into shelving
plans to privatize NNPC's refineries. If the unions cannot
secure an agreement they find satisfactory, they are likely
to follow through on their threats to strike again.
Privatization does not enjoy much domestic support. With
elections quickly approaching, the President will almost
certainly postpone privatization plans for fear of the
political damage that would be caused by an extended fuel
strike. End comment.
JETER

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