NUPENG to Begin Withdrawing Workers from Export Terminals

Oil unions in Nigeria are beginning to join the general strike action and are starting to withdraw their workers from crude export terminals and production facilities. The general labor strike started four days ago to protest the 50% hike in fuel prices. Joseph Akinlaja, deputy president of the Nigeria Labor Congress and chief of the blue-collar National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, said workers began withdrawing from oil operations on Wednesday and more will follow Thursday. PENGASSAN leaders say they will start to withdraw workers beginning Monday.

The government and the Nigeria Labor Congress have been holding talks for three days and have yet to reach a compromise. Meetings will begin again on Thursday to try and resolve the key issue of the strike, the hike in domestic fuel prices.

Nigeria's seaports, banks, shops and industries have been shut since Monday. Police have confirmed eight deaths and nearly 100 arrests. Dozens of people were injured in a stampede in Abuja on Wednesday when troops fired live rounds and tear gas into the air to disperse protesters.

A spokesman for Shell said it is unsure whether its export terminals would operate normally after Thursday. "Loadings will happen today, but I cannot speak for subsequent days given the threats by NUPENG and PENGASSAN," the spokesman said. Shell accounts for nearly half of Nigeria's output of more than two million barrels of crude per day.