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Zimbabwe: Call to General Strike Flops - 2003-11-20


A call by Zimbabwe's leading trade union for a two-day general strike in solidarity with arrested labor leaders has gone unheeded by the workers.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which called the strike, concedes the industrial action is a flop. A spokesman for the Congress, which represents most private sector workers, blames lack of coverage by the media, which in Zimbabwe, is almost entirely state controlled.

There is a heavy police presence in the capital, Harare. The police are also reportedly out in force in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo. But reports from both cities say shops, offices, and factories conduct business as usual.

The strike was organized to force the release of union leaders who were arrested Tuesday, and force changes in the government's economic policies.

The unions had organized a successful three-day strike last April, shutting down the country's economy. A spokesman for the Congress, Mlamleli Sibanba, said unions have chosen work stoppages because of the brutality with which the police had suppressed peaceful marches in the recent past.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence 23 years ago. Inflation has hit an all time high of 525 percent and more than 70 percent of the work force is unemployed.

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