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Radio And TV Workers Strike, Other Stoppages Continue

November 1, 1991

TIRANA, Albania (AP) _ Radio and TV workers in the Albanian capital Friday joined a strike by tens of thousands of workers protesting growing hunger and harsh conditions across the impoverished Balkan nation.

Albania, in the throes of transformation from more than 40 years of hard- line Communism, is suffering an acute food crisis. State factories have not supplied any sugar, rice or soap for three months, said Robert Gjini, the deputy interior minister.

In an interview Friday, he said milk supply in the same period was 70 percent below normal, and butter and cheese deliveries were ″minimal.″

Gjini suggested only food aid from Italy was keeping Albanians fed. So far Albania had received 6,660 tons of sugar, 7,750 tons of oil, and 2,950 tons of flour from its neighbor across the Adriatic.

Italy dispatched hundreds of soldiers to distribute the food aid this fall, hoping it will keep Albanians from fleeing to Italy. Tens of thousands fled on boats across the Adriatic over the summer. Most were sent home.

A general strike that started Oct. 18 in the Puka district, about 90 miles north of Tirana, continued Friday and was involving two other districts.

The Puka strikers are demanding a 30 percent wage increase because of the area’s harsh climate and difficult conditions. They also want better transportation and a free trade zone.

A similar strike begun two days ago involved about 40,000 people - mainly industrial workers and copper and chrome miners - in the northern district of Kukes, the newspaper Pasqara said.

About 2,000 chrome miners also struck Friday in the central district of Librazhd, informed sources said. The miners are demanding regular bread supplies to area villages.

About half of the 734 radio and TV workers have joined the walkout, according to union leader Alfred Kaninin. Kaninin said the media workers went on strike to force the resignation of three news directors who were Communist Party appointees.

The union assigned a small number of its members to continue broadcasting because a complete stoppage is prohibited under existing legislation.

Update hourly