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Nigerian Court Rules Against Union Strike

A Nigerian high court has barred unions from calling a planned general strike next week to protest increases in domestic gasoline prices. It was scheduled to begin this coming Tuesday.

The court order Thursday came from Nigeria's second highest court. It said it was restraining the main umbrella union, the Nigeria Labor Congress, from going on strike November 16 or any other date.

The judgment was a boost to the government, which had won a court ruling in September saying that unions did not have the right to strike on non-work-related matters.

Government lawyer Afe Babalola says it should not be seen as a ruling that restricts freedom, but rather that makes democracy advance.

"For the benefit of all Nigeria, we all fought for democracy, but we must appreciate that, without obedience for the rule of law, there can be no democracy," he said.

Union leaders reacted by saying they still planned to hold the strike. They have said it will be indefinite, and that they will target oil production and exports.

Previous strikes have fizzled out after a few days and have not affected the oil industry, but in several instances, the government did reduce gasoline prices slightly, before they went up again.

Many union leaders say Nigerians view cheap gasoline as their only benefit from Nigeria's standing as one of the world's top oil producers.