Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nigerian unions suspend strike to restore fuel subsidy

Contributed by Mary

Yesterday, Nigerian union leaders suspended a nationwide strike to restore the fuel subsidy eliminated by the government on January 1st. The Nigerian government had long been under pressure by the IMF to get rid of the subsidy even though the country is the largest African exporter of crude oil. Ending the subsidy immediately doubled fuel and other consumer prices. After a groundswell of popular opposition, a strike called by the union federations, and negotiations with the union leadership, the government restored a portion of the subsidy--a portion no media source seems able to explain. It's clear from these placards that more was involved in this strike than the devastating impact of eliminating the fuel subsidy. And, in fact, the president flooded the streets of Nigeria with riot police to disperse protestors. The bankruptcy of union leaderships is so profound & so global that it was predictable Nigeria's union leaders would cave before government pressure. The strike was so massive & popular, it could have forced a restoration of the whole subsidy rather than a compromise. But the Nigerian people have now witnessed their own power along with the compromising character of union leadership and a day of reckoning may be yet to come.

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