Strike fails to take off

HARARE - A two-day general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday received a cool response from workers worried about forfeiting vital wages.

HARARE - A two-day general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday received a cool response from workers worried about forfeiting vital wages.

While the union tried to put a brave face on the latest show of protest against President Robert Mugabe, most shops and services operated as normal.

ZCTU, formerly led by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, called the strike to protest against the economic slide that has seen inflation rise to 1730percent and four out of five people unemployed.

Reports said full bus services were running and post offices, banks, government offices and shops were all open.

It was a similar story in Bulawayo, where most shops and offices were open.

Many workers said they could not afford to lose part of their pay when they are struggling just to put food on the table.

"Our boss warned that if we did not show up, he would simply deduct two days' wages for each day," said Alice Ushe, a cashier at a Harare supermarket.

Security guard Onias Malizani said he was worried about losing his job.

"I would have stayed at home because what the union is demanding is for our benefit," said Malizani, who went to work without his uniform.

The strike received more sympath y in Harare's industrial areas of Willowvale and Southerton, where some factories were shut and streets had the feel of a Sunday morning.

The union said, "in terms of the effect on government and employers, we can say it has been 70percent successful because we hear they are working on our issues and they want to meet with us as soon as possible." - Sapa-AFP

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