An industrial court in Nigeria, Friday, gave authorities legal backing to break up any work interruption by labor groups. It ordered unions to halt a planned nationwide strike over spiraling gasoline prices due to the New Year's Day removal of subsidy. That action has seen the doubling of the cost of goods and services, including transportation, leaving many stranded and cash strapped in the countryside, where they went to celebrate the holiday.
The order by the National Industrial Court came as protests continue in several Nigerian cities over the removal of government-sponsored fuel subsidies. The nation’s House of Representatives will also meet on Sunday to address the concerns of the people despite the apparent unwillingness of Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan to balk to the pressure.
Gas prices rose from $1.70 per gallon (45 cents/ 65 Naira per liter) to at least $3.50 per gallon (94 cents/ 141 Naira per liter) since the subsidy ended Sunday. Keep in mind that Nigeria, is a nation of more than 160 million people where most live on less than $2 a day, as many international press and agencies never fail to add in every article and report.
The court order by Justice Babatunde Adejuwon came after the federal government filed as suit to stop the Nigeria Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria from holding a planned strike Monday. Only government lawyers attended the hastily called court hearing in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.
“Economic activities within the country will be adversely affected, as will the health and safety of the citizenry, if the impending strike is allowed to hold,” Adejuwon wrote in his order.
The Nigeria Labor Congress issued a statement after the ruling dismissing the order. “There is no going back on next week’s protests and shutdown,” it said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's federal police promised Friday to protect peaceful protesters ahead of a planned national strike but much could not be said of that promise when only a short distance away from police headquarters in the nation's capital Abuja a heavy presence of police, soldiers and other security agents — some carrying gas masks — blocked protesters from demonstrating in the national parade ground near federal offices.
Read more from the Associated Press in The Washington Post