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Zimbabwe's Main Trade Union Deliberates Approach To Wage Talks

The general council of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's largest labor organization, was set to meet Saturday to consider its response to a move by the government to strike a deal with the private-sector workers it represents.

The government of President Robert Mugabe has been beset by labor unrest since the turn of the year, and reaching such an agreement considerably relieve pressure on Harare - though possibly not for long given the country's 1,600% inflation.

Government negotiators this week struck a deal with representatives of state workers for big salary increases to offset the effects of inflation, simultaneously making a deal with the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe to end a national teachers strike.

The ZCTU had given the government until Friday to come up with an acceptable wage offer for private-sector workers and to advance a credible economic recovery plan.

Labor and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche met Thursday with ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo, and asked him to to wait for a technical committee to establish an agenda for a substantive meeting on wages before deciding his next move.

But ZCTU Secretary General Wellington Chibebe told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Saturday's meeting of his general council would determine the union's course of action in view of deteriorating living standards.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...