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Fianna Fail wins Irish election | General strike rocks Nigeria | Anger in South Africa over pay

Issue No. 2053

Fianna Fail wins Irish election

A general election in Southern Ireland last week saw the ruling Fianna Fail party hold onto power – just.

Fianna Fail took 78 seats out of a possible 166 but need five more to gain a working majority in parliament. For the past ten years, the right wing Progressive Democrats have been government coalition partners, but they lost seats including their party leader's.

The Irish Labour Party suffered from a lack of radicalism and from having a pre-election agreement to go into coalition with the bosses' second preference party Fine Gael. Sinn Fein lost one seat and now have four MPs.

The recently formed People before Profit Alliance made a good showing in their first attempt at an election. Richard Boyd Barratt, chair of the Irish Anti-War Movement, came close to winning a seat in Dun Laoghrie with 5,233 votes (9 percent), only being eliminated on the tenth count.

Socialist Party MP Joe Higgins lost his seat.

General strike rocks Nigeria

Trade unions in Nigeria held a general strike on Monday and Tuesday this week in protest at last month's elections. Umaru Yar'Adua was sworn in as the country's president on Tuesday.

Nigeria's two main union groupings – the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Council (TUC) – called the general strike.

Observers say that election results were announced even in areas where no elections were held, either because of violence, or because voting materials were not delivered to polling stations. In most such areas, candidates from the ruling People's Democratic Party were credited with massive victories.

Meanwhile workers at Nigeria's state oil company have returned to work after three days of indefinite strike action over welfare benefits and in protest at the privatisation of a major refinery.

Deliveries to Nigeria's four refineries had been halted by striking workers. The strike affected the world oil price and has won significant concessions – although some strikers say the action should have continued to gain more.

Anger in South Africa over pay

Workers in South Africa were preparing to launch a public sector general strike this week over pay.

The government has offered a 6 percent increase at a time when inflation is 5.5 percent and rising. The unions have called for a 12 percent rise.

Big marches took place last week in several cities. Willie Madisha, leader of the Cosatu trade union federation, told one rally that unions would not accept a four year deal just because the government wanted to 'keep us quiet during the elections and the 2010 football world cup', when South Africa would be the subject of intense international media coverage.

Madisha also stressed that, with the ever-rising prices, a 6 percent increase was intolerable. 'We are not baboons, we cannot live on peanuts,' he said.

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Tue 29 May 2007, 18:53 BST
Issue No. 2053
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