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unions vow to press on with strike
September 16, 2007
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's
main labour union will go ahead with a two-day strike this week
despite government signals the wage freeze that triggered the protest
would be relaxed, a top labour official said on Sunday.
President Robert Mugabe's
government ordered a price freeze in June as part of ongoing efforts
to stem rampant inflation, which is running above 7,600 percent.
Earlier this month officials extended the freeze to wages, rentals
and school fees.
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called for industrial action
in protest against the blanket freeze, but state media reports on
Sunday indicated the government was planning to amend the regulation
to allow employers to award salary increases.
Labour Minister Nicholas
Goche told the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper the government would
relax the wage freeze by Tuesday.
"We are working
on amendments as far as incomes are concerned," Goche said,
adding that the freeze ordered on other goods and services would
However, ZCTU Secretary
General Wellington Chibebe told Reuters the labour federation would
not call off the planned job boycott until Mugabe's government made
"We have been cheated
before. Initially they said there would be no wage freeze, but then
went on to announce it," Chibebe said.
"They are trying
to pacify us to try and dilute the planned action on the 19th and
20th, but we will believe them only after seeing the amendments.
So the position remains and the strike goes ahead," Chibebe
Workers have borne the
brunt of Zimbabwe's severe economic crisis, which is marked by the
highest inflation in the world and persistent shortages of foreign
currency, fuel and food.
Mugabe's government in
April stifled a national strike called by the ZCTU by deploying
riot police in the country's main urban centres.
Analysts say strikes
over labour and social issues in recent years have largely failed
due to government intimidation and workers' fears of losing their
jobs in a country that has an 80 percent unemployment rate.
Mugabe accuses the ZCTU
of fronting for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which he says is being used by his Western foes to oust him from
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