Cablegate: Nigeria: April Fools - Nlc Suspends Strike Of

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

011424Z Apr 03




E.O. 12598: N/A

Ref: Lagos 673

1. SUMMARY: Joseph Akinlaja, General Secretary of the
National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers,
informed Laboff that the GON reached an agreement with
the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at approximately 0100
hours on April 1, 2003, hours before a nationwide civil
service strike was scheduled to begin. A few pockets
of workers did not get word of the agreement and
carried out the strike this morning; word of the
agreement has since spread to most areas. Despite
initial confusion, there have been no serious violence
or demonstrations. Akinlaja said he is certain that
NLC leaders will suspend the strike when they meet
today in Abuja. NLC President Adams Oshiomhole will
hold a press conference to brief journalists on the
NLC's position after union leaders review the
agreement. Details of the agreement will be available
by April 2, 2003. END SUMMARY.

2. Despite the NLC's late night agreement, the
national secretariat failed to send a clear signal in
time to all state chapters to call off the strike.
While most civil servants in Lagos and Abuja were
informed this morning that the agreement was reached,
small pockets of civil servants at the state level did
not receive the news and did not report for work. In
Jos and Sokoto, where local radio stations announced
that the strike had been called off, most workers
reported for duty.

3. Oshiomhole's statement on the Hausa Service of the
BBC this morning did not clarify matters in the North;
he told listeners of the NLC's discussions with the GON
but did not instruct workers to call off the strike.
In Abuja, most of the streets housing government
offices were empty this morning. At the Federal
Secretariat and Supreme Court, some workers attempted

to force their colleagues to comply with the strike
order. Some of the workers who had reported to work
capitalized on the confusion as an excuse to return
home. Several senior management officers remained at
work to comply with the GON's instruction that workers
from levels 7-17 are exempt from the strike. At the
Abuja airport, most of the offices were initially
closed in the morning, but Aviation Minister Kema
Chikwe reportedly instructed senior management to
reopen the affected offices. In Kano, the fuel
scarcity coupled with the strike caused most workers to
stay home. Although some workers later reported, the
strike had already paralyzed activities in Kano City.
In Kaduna the strike was partially observed. In the
early morning, labor leaders locked out workers who
reported for duty; by late morning, leaders allowed
some workers to occupy their offices.

4. The Ambassador and Laboff are scheduled to meet
with Oshiomhole on Thursday, April 3 to discuss the
suspended strike, NLC efforts to resolve the 12.5
percent wage increase dispute, and other labor issues
leading up to the elections. COMMENT: We expect that
tomorrow will return to normal, unless the purported
agreement implodes as the sides wrangle over details.


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