Nigeria’s main trade union movement has suspended its call for a nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest against a sharp increase in the price of fuel following the government’s decision to stop subsidising it.
After an hours-long meeting with the government, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Joe Ajaero said the decision had been taken to give more time for negotiations.
A court has ordered unions to desist from industrial action until an application filed by the government is heard on 19 June.
An increase in the minimum wage and tax holidays for workers are some of the demands organised labour is making to cushion the effects of the removal of the fuel subsidy.
Last Wednesday, fuel marketers increased the price of petrol to at least $1 (£0.80) per litre – up by about 200%.
This has had a knock-on effect on the price of transport, food and other commodities, while the minimum wage is about 65$.
Nigeria’s new President Bola Tinubu announced the scrapping of the fuel subsidy in his inaugural address on 29 May, but did not give a date.
Within hours of Mr Tinubu’s first address, hundreds of people had poured on to the streets, either in their cars or on foot with yellow jerrycans, to grab what they believed to be the last drops of fuel to be sold at a government-fixed price.
Despite its oil riches, Nigeria is unable to refine crude locally to meet demands.
The four state-owned refineries are moribund, forcing the country to import refined petroleum products which are then sold at a price fixed by the government.
Mr Tinubu says the government can no longer afford to subsidise fuel because of dwindling revenue: the government has already set aside $7bn to subsidise fuel for the first six months of this year.