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Nigeria unions press ahead with strike

Do Not UseDo Not Use 18/05/2016
Motorists at filling station in Lagos, on May 12, 2016 © AFP Motorists at filling station in Lagos, on May 12, 2016

Nigeria's main trade union federation says it will press ahead with a general strike on Wednesday, despite a court injunction against the action.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced that the strike would go ahead after walking out of talks with the government.

The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called the strike after the government raised fuel prices by 67%.

The TUC, however, has said that it is suspending strike action.

It was also unclear how many NLC members would join the strike.

The BBC's Chris Ewokor in Abuja said one NLC faction, which includes workers in the oil and gas sector, opposed the strike and was not planning to take part.

Earlier, the National Industrial Court had ruled the strike should not go ahead because of the risk of civil disorder.

"The decision... is that strike continues tomorrow. We have reached a dead end," NLC President Ayuba Wabba said after the union's delegation walked out of a meeting with government officials.

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The government called the decision by the NLC, which represents millions of workers, "regrettable".

"Government, therefore, calls upon and advises all workers to respect the laws of the land and to desist from participating in an illegal strike action," said spokesman David Babachir Lawal.

The court order followed an application by Justice Minister Abubakar Malami.

"It is the order of this court that [the] status quo be maintained," Judge Babatunde Adejumo said in his ruling.

"The defendants are hereby restrained from carrying out the [strike] threat."

'Criminal'

The government announced last week that petrol prices would be increased in an attempt to ease fuel shortages.

Petroleum Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said the move should stabilise the market.

The NLC branded the price rise "criminal" and called for it to be reversed.

In 2012, the government was forced to back down from a similar price rise after nationwide protests.

Despite being one of Africa's largest oil producers, Nigeria has to import fuel to meet demand as its refineries are dilapidated and work at a fraction of their capacity.

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