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Nigerian Appeals Court Dismisses Government Strike Ban - 2004-02-06


A Nigerian appeals court has dismissed a government case that had sought to prohibit labor unions from striking to protest a new gasoline tax.

On Friday, a court in Abuja ruled that the case involved federal issues over which it did not have jurisdiction. This is the second time the government failed to secure a court order against the unions.

The unions went on strike January 21 but called it off a few hours later when the Abuja court ordered that both the strike and collection of the fuel tax should be suspended. The government had argued that the unions could not strike over issues that did not relate to working conditions.

Union leaders said after Friday's dismissal of the government's case that they will meet next week to decide whether to resume their strike.

The acting secretary-general of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Elijah Okougbo, says he does not believe the government will reinstate the tax now that a strike could be called.

"It is a victory for labor and the working class," he said. "It means that government will be ready to partner with labor and they will stop deducting 1.50 nairas per liter."

One naira fifty is equivalent to about one U.S. cent. The Nigerian government implemented the tax on January 1, saying it was necessary to generate money for highway maintenance.

The head of the National Labor Congress, Adams Oshiomole told reporters the unions' decision on whether to strike depends on whether the government will resume levying the fuel tax.

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