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Nigeria Workers to Proceed With Strike Tomorrow, Unions Say

Nigerian workers, planning to strike from tomorrow over a recent cut in a fuel subsidy, will proceed with the action despite assurances by President Goodluck Jonathan that he will cut the amount paid to politicians.

“The labor movement and its allies on behalf of the Nigerian people reiterate that the broadcast has changed nothing,” the Nigeria Labor Congress and Trade Union Congress said today in a statement, referring to a speech made by the president yesterday. “The indefinite strikes, rallies and mass protests scheduled to commence nationwide on Jan. 9 will go on.”

The country’s unions last week called an indefinite nationwide strike after the government scrapped fuel subsidies at the start of the year, causing gasoline prices to more than double. The action may shut ports, fuel stations, banks and oil operations in Africa’s largest crude producer.

Jonathan responded in a speech broadcast on state television, saying executive-branch politicians will take a 25 percent pay cut in 2012 and reduce overseas travel. All ministries and departments must cut costs this year, he said.

“If I were in your shoes at this moment, I probably would have reacted in the same manner as some of our compatriots, or hold the same critical views about government,” Jonathan said. “But tough choices have to be made to safeguard the economy and our collective survival as a nation.”

Jonathan abolished 1.2 trillion naira ($7.4 billion) of subsidies on Jan. 1, promising to use the savings to boost investment in power plants and roads in Africa’s most populous nation. Nigeria imports fuel because of a lack of refining capacity.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives in Abuja voted today in favor of a motion urging the government to return fuel subsidies and to allow more time for consultation on the issue.

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