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Nigerian Strike over Fuel Prices Continues for Third Day - 2004-06-11


A general strike in Nigeria against high fuel prices is in its third day, but many gas stations have slashed prices and union leaders are meeting to decide whether to end the strike.

Some strikers began drifting back to work. On Thursday, strike leaders said the prices of fuel had not dropped to levels they demand and the strike will continue.

However, a member of one of the oil unions participating in the strike says union leaders are meeting to discuss whether the government has gone far enough in forcing the reduction of fuel prices and to determine whether to call off the strike.

Labor unions called the strike, despite a court ruling earlier this week ordering the government to roll back the prices of gasoline to February levels and banning the strike. Union leaders said they would go ahead with the protest, until the government showed compliance with the court order.

A human rights lawyer in Lagos, Odiana Eriatz, said Friday, many independent gas stations have slashed prices.

"The strike is on and I'm sure something good might come out of it, because right now, the independent petroleum marketers in Abuja, some of them have actually - they are already selling at the former price," he said. "And in Lagos, I think, there is also development. But in any case, the situation is being curiously reduced. I am sure they will be able to suspend the strike."

Earlier this year, a court ordered the government to hold down gasoline prices, while it was reviewing the new price deregulation policies, but gas prices continued to rise.

Mr. Eriatz says the main aim of the strike is to put pressure on the government to comply with the court ruling.

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