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Labour union presses ahead with protest plan
Hendricks Chizhanje, ZimOnline
March 23, 2007

HARARE - Zimbabwe's labour federation on Thursday said it will press ahead with a two-day nationwide work boycott in a fortnight in spite of a crackdown by the government on opposition and civic groups.

The Harare authorities violently put down a prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition fighting for political reform in Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, and other opposition leaders, were later severely tortured while in police custody, triggering international outrage over their treatment.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Wellington Chibebe, told ZimOnline yesterday that his union remained unfazed over Harare's threats to crush any illegal protests.

Chibebe said the ZCTU was not calling off the April 3 and 4 stay away arguing that Harare had failed to meet the union's demands to award workers a minimum wage linked to the country's poverty datum line.

The breadline currently stands at Z$648 000 per month for an average family of five.

"The strike action plan is going ahead. Hunger is the biggest threat (than a government crackdown). Our cadres are in the field mobilising the workers," said Chibebe.

The ZCTU boss said the union was not new to police brutality as most of them had been savagely beaten by state security agents while in police custody last September for attempting to march in Harare against worsening economic hardships.

"On September 13, (2006) we went through the same predicament. We know we will be beaten but that cannot stop us from going ahead with the stay away," said Chibebe.

Last month, the ZCTU said it would call the job boycott to protest against the government's failure to address Zimbabwe's eight year economic crisis that has seen inflation shooting beyond 1 700 percent, the highest in the world.

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa last month said the government would crush the labour protest. - ZimOnline


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