Cablegate: Nigeria: National Labor Strike - Sitrep #4
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O 221341Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9984
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RUEHCD/AMCONSUL CIUDAD JUAREZ 0395
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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
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ABUJA 001326
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DOL FOR SUDHA DALEY
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TREASURY FOR DAN PETERS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ELAB PREL PHUM ENRG ASEC NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: NATIONAL LABOR STRIKE - SITREP #4
REF: A. ABUJA 1319
B. ABUJA 1317
C. ABUJA 1303
D. ABUJA 1302
E. ABUJA 1294
F. ABUJA 1278
G. ABUJA 1155
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THIS MESSAGE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET
1. SUMMARY. (SBU) As Nigeria enters Day Three of the
national labor strike, fuel availability and transportation
remain critical problems. Though the strike remains
peaceful, road blocks (some set up by labor sympathizers and
others by groups of hoodlums) have been reported in Jos,
Gombe, Kano and Lagos. Labor activists reportedly "enforcing
the strike" were arrested and later released in Enugu. Oil
production and exports remain largely unaffected by the
strike, as essential and management personnel take over
operations. International airline travel remains on schedule
and some domestic flights are operational. Negotiations
between the GON and labor leaders ended in the early morning
hours of June 22 with the two sides still in deadlock -- and
labor increasing their demands to include a GON promise not
to raise fuel prices for one year. END SUMMARY.
STATUS OF NEGOTIATIONS
2. (SBU) Representatives of the NLC and TUC met with GON
negotiator Secretary to the Government of the Federation
Babagana Kingibe until 2:30 AM on the morning of June 22.
The talks ended with the labor groups storming out of the
meeting room and refusing to compromise on their demands.
The NLC and TUC have added the demand that the GON guarantee
it will not raise the price of gas for one year (in addition
to the demand that gas be returned to the 65 Naira per liter
price). No formal meeting has been scheduled for June 22,
but informal discussions continue between both sides.
3. (SBU) Following the negotiating session, Kingibe told
reporters the unwillingness of the labor groups to compromise
was the sole reason the strike continues. According to
Kingibe, the GON will enforce labor laws, which guarantee
freedom of movement and transportation and the right of
workers desiring to report to work during the strike to do
so. In addition, Kingibe noted that the GON will focus on
providing security to gas stations and depots to ensure that
the fuel shortage is resolved. For its part, the National
Labor Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have
promised to pull the electrical workers into the strike and
effect a blackout if their demands are not met.
EFFECTS OF THE STRIKE
4. (SBU) Petroleum production and exports remain largely
unaffected. AGIP reports that "everyone is working" and that
the company's Brass terminal expects to load a tanker due to
arrive today. ExxonMobil reported essential services
continue to operate as normal, as does the company's Qua Iboe
export terminal (strictly protect). Post remains unable to
confirm the status of Chevron and Shell's operations.
5. (SBU) International airline travel into and out of Abuja
and Lagos is running on schedule and a few domestic Virgin
Nigeria flights ran between the two cities on June 21 and 22.
Domestic carrier Arik Air is grounded, although it is
unclear whether this grounding is a result of a pre-existing
fuel shortage or the strike. Post Management Staff has been
told that international flights are arriving fully loaded
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with fuel in order to avoid the need to refuel in Nigeria.
REPORTS FROM AROUND NIGERIA
6. (SBU) ABUJA: Traffic remains much lighter than normal and
fuel lines are longer than they have been in previous days.
Several fuel stations within the city center are open and
have fuel; however, LES staff report stations outside the
city center are closed due to lack of fuel. Fuel shortages
had a noticeable impact on attendance at the National Mosque
on Friday afternoon. Although normally teaming with cars and
busloads of worshipers, only a few cars and individuals on
foot were present. Grocery stores frequented by expats have
reopened and, though still much fewer than normal, there
appear to be some van-transport vehicles on the road.
Medical personnel at the Abuja City Hospital have joined the
strike, with a small core staff seeing only life-or-death
emergency cases. Embassy Abuja reports at least one
contractor, the local moving company with which we work, that
has been on strike all week but agreed to bring its workers
in on Saturday to conduct pack-outs. According to the
company's representatives, its possible to use unmarked
trucks on weekends that won't draw the attention of the labor
groups. No violence has been reported in the Abuja Federal
Capital Territory (FCT). Police report they have deployed
7,000 officers to stratgeic locations around the FCT to
7. (SBU) LAGOS: The Ambassador, upon making the 2-hour drive
from the airport to ConGen Lagos in under 20 minutes,
described Lagos as completely shut down. There was a clash,
confirmed by RSO, between police and "area boys" near the
Oblinda market; however, it was quickly brought under
control. (NOTE: Such clashes are not unusual and this is not
necessarily related to the strike.) Press has reported that
tear gas was used at one barricaded street in Lagos to
disperse the crowd.
8. (SBU) ENUGU (Enugu State): Police arrested tha NLC State
Chairman and 45 labor activists for "enforcing compliance"
with the strike at the main city market. (COMMENT: The exact
tone of this "enforcement" is unclear at this time; however,
the press report stated the interchange was peaceful.) The
individuals were later released. Government offices, banks,
schools and universities were reported closed; however, there
were reports of banks and other businesses conducting
9. (SBU) AKURE (Ondo State): Post has received conflicting
reports that businesses and banks are open as usual and that
all offices are closed. Press reports all filling stations
in the city are closed and without fuel.
10. (SBU) ILORIN (Kwara State): The State House of Assembly
was closed and screening of state commissioners (set for June
21) was postponed until after the strike. The State
Elections Tribunal was also closed.
11. (SBU) KADUNA (Kaduna State): Okada riders (commercial
motorcycle riders who ferry passengers and merchandise) took
to the streets protesting the fuel price hike. Black market
gas prices were reported at 1,000 Naira per gallon (7.75 USD
12. (SBU) MINNA (Niger State): Press reports relatives
removed patients from local hospitals as the strike left many
without medical personnel and caregivers.
13. (SBU) LAKOJA (Kogi State): Teachers, who had kept schools
open on June 20, joined the strike on June 21. Filling
stations either closed or had long lines as fuel shortages
became worse. As a result of fuel scarcity, the cost of
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okada transport more than doubled.
14. (SBU) SOKOTO (Sokoto State): The strike is only being
partially observed in Sokoto State. There are reports that
no one is attempting to enforce or encourage the strike.
Banks are reportedly closed; however, government offices,
schools and other businesses are open. Due to fuel
shortages, gas stations raised their price to 105 - 120 Naira
per liter (3 - 3.50 USD per gallon).
15. (SBU) JOS (Plateau State): Government offices and banks
were reported closed, while other commercial establishments
and commercial transport drivers were reportedly operating.
Press reports that hoodlums blocked roads in town; however,
police were able to reopen the routes.
16. (SBU) LAFIA (Nasarawa State): Labor groups held peaceful
protests on June 21 in the capital. The groups attempted to
call on the governor, but were turned back.
17. (SBU) WARRI (Delta State): Observance of the strike was
only partial. Some government offices did not open, but some
banks and most commercial activities conducted usual
operations. In Warri itself, gas was reportedly only
available on the black market -- at a cost of more than 150
Naira per liter (4.40 USD per gallon). Security around Warri
was reportedly higher and more visible than normal.
18. (SBU) BAUCHI (Bauchi State): Government offices were
closed, with the exception of the Governor's office where
operations went on as normal. Junior workers at the state
media companies joined the strike and press operations were
carried out by management staff.
19. (SBU) AWKA (Anambra State): According to the Obi of
Onitsha, the supreme traditional ruler of Anambra State,
business is going on "as usual" in the state. Schools,
hospitals, banks and businesses are all open and conducting
business. Government offices in Awka are closed.
EFFECT ON MISSION NIGERIA
20. (SBU) Mission Nigeria will continue to restrict
discretionary domestic air travel, but will facilitate
international travel and those returning home. All
non-essential road travel outside of Abuja or Lagos is
restricted. Control officers have been instructed to inform
incoming TDY personnel that may have planned to travel
outside of Abuja or Lagos of these new travel restrictions.
The Mission has sufficient fuel available to continue normal
operations. LES staff are thus far able to travel to and
from work without problem and Post is allowing LES staff to
refuel on a limited basis at our fuel pumps. The local bank
with which the Embassy works is open for "special customers"
and Embassy Abuja continues to receive necessary cash. The
ATM machine in the lobby used by our LES staff was refilled
on June 21.