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Nigerian union suspends three-day fuel strike

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Nigerian oil workers' union called off a three-day strike on Wednesday that caused long lines at petrol stations in the oil-rich West African country amid fears of fuel shortages.

The strike launched on Monday by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) over demands for better conditions was limited to petrol deliveries and did not affect oil production or exports.

Long queues of motorists formed at petrol stations in many cities on Monday and Tuesday, including the economic capital Lagos, the capital Abuja and Kano, the largest city in the north.

NUPENG president Achese Igwe announced the suspension of the strike after talks with government officials, oil companies and the head of the state-run oil group NNPC.

No details were given on the agreement reached.

"In the interest of the Nigerian public, due to the intervention of the (group managing director) of NNPC and well-meaning Nigerians, the three-day warning strike embarked upon by NUPENG is hereby suspended," Igwe told reporters in Abuja.

He warned that the union would resume the strike if its demands were not met, without providing a deadline.

NNPC managing director Andrew Yakubu said the corporation would consider the union's proposals.

NUPENG, which includes tanker drivers who transport fuel across the country, had accused oil companies including Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total and Agip of employing Nigerians on a part-time basis without proper benefits.

Oil firms deny favouring expatriate staff at the expense of locals.

The union has also demanded improvements to the deplorable condition of the country's roads, which are a constant reminder of Nigeria's badly underdeveloped infrastructure despite its status as Africa's biggest oil producer.

The country also imports much of its fuel due to a lack of refining capacity.

The majority of Nigerians live on less than $1 per day while corruption is rife, often triggering social unrest.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130703/nigerian-union-suspends-three-day-fuel-strike