Cablegate: Nigeria Nationwide Strike -- Round One Ends
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
151119Z Oct 04
UNCLAS ABUJA 001761
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EPET NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA NATIONWIDE STRIKE -- ROUND ONE ENDS
REF: A. LAGOS 2107 AND PREVIOUS
B. ABUJA 1727 AND PREVIOUS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR PUBLICATION ON THE
INTRANET OR INTERNET.
1. (SBU) Late October 14 the Nigeria Labour Congress
(NLC) declared that the "first phase" of its nationwide
strike had been a success and would be suspended for
two weeks to see if the GON rolls back the price
increase on gasoline. Business was back to normal in
most parts of the country on October 15, now that the
strike is suspended, although banks, schools and some
larger businesses reportedly still are observing the
stay-at-home in Delta State.
2. (SBU) President Obasanjo's 32-member stakeholders
committee, chaired by Deputy Senate President Ibrahim
Mantu, is already drawing criticism from the NLC and
several sectors of Nigeria's political class. One
cause was Mantu's reportedly telling committee members
that the committee was not a forum for negotiations,
but rather for reaching solutions to discussing prices
and a mechanism for stabilizing prices. It is unclear
whether this committee will be a forum for resolving
the suspended strike issue, although the committee's
NLC members have not pulled out.
3. (SBU) NLC sources said in public and private that
they thought the first phase of the strike had been a
success. NLC President Oshiomhole claimed 95 percent
of union members had participated, but was especially
jubilant that so many non-NLC workers had stayed at
home too. Even GON offices were affected. Econoffs
going to a scheduled meeting at the Commerce Ministry
October 14 as the strike was winding down, for example,
arrived to find the Ministry's front doors locked
because there were not enough junior staff on hand. A
door at the back was open, however, and we were able to
do our business.
4. (SBU) Comment: Back-door business of a totally
different kind has been rather the norm for resolving
the repeated gasoline price-hike strikes of the past.
While real bargaining went through various conduits,
some sort of public intermediary -- a committee of
senators or governors, or a court -- stepped out on
stage to reach a "resolution" that ended the labor
action and temporarily rolled back at least part of
gasoline price increase. The NLC's stay-at-home tactic
this time seems to have been more successful than its
demonstrations-based mass actions of the past, however.
The bargaining could become rougher this time or the
resolution different, better or worse for the NLC and