Financial Times: Nigerian court refuses to ban Shell strike: “Royal Dutch/Shell yesterday failed to win a court order preventing industrial action by its workers in Nigeria.” (ShellNews.net)
By Michael Peel in Lagos
Published: November 2 2004
Royal Dutch/Shell yesterday failed to win a court order preventing industrial action by its workers in Nigeria.
The workers, angry at job cuts, may disrupt oil production by joining a general strike over rising fuel prices planned for this month.
The federal high court in Lagos decided to adjourn the case until two days after the start of the general strike on November 16.
Shell denied union claims that it was trying to undermine the nationwide industrial action and was allied to the government. The Nigeria Labour Congress, the umbrella trade union body, urged oil unions to join the fuel price strikes. The protests have worried world oil markets and are challenging the government's controversial economic change programme.
The court cases brought by Shell against the white-collar union Pengassan and its blue-collar counterpart Nupeng were adjourned after union lawyers filed a challenge to the injunctions.
Judge Mustapha Abdullahi refused Shell's request to hold a further hearing next week, delaying it instead until after Ramadan.
Richard Akinjide, Shell's counsel, said the company had not set out to stop its workers joining the strike but admitted the injunction could have this effect if granted. He said the application was aimed at preventing illegal union activities on company premises, which Shell officials say took place during a two-day strike last month.
"They go round the office of Shell, banging doors and asking those people who are not members of their union to go on strike," Mr Akinjide said. Union leaders deny the claims.
Shell pumps almost half of Nigeria's oil but has been criticised for its record on pollution and development. It is cutting many jobs.
Adams Oshiomhole, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, has declared the company an "enemy of Nigerians".
Nigeria's benchmark light sweet crude fell $2.11 to $49.40 in early trading in New York.