Striking Waiters Make No Exception for Premier
Mar. 17, 1987
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Waiters in Slovenia refused to abandon a strike even to serve Premier Branko Mikulic, a newspaper said Monday, and Yugoslavia's official news agency reported that a series of wildcat walkouts could spread.
The waiters were among several thousand workers who struck across this Communist nation last week to protest wage cuts under new austerity legislation.
The Ekspres Politika newspaper said waiters went on strike Friday night at the Kompas hotel in the Slovenian ski resort of Kranjska Gora. Mikulic and at least two other high-ranking Communist officials were there to attend a skiing competition at nearby Planica.
Earlier this month, Mikulic's government passed anti-inflationary emergency laws that reduced or froze most wages.
Yugoslavia has an annual inflation rate of about 90 percent, and living standards have fallen sharply over the past six years.
The official Tanjug news agency acknowledged Monday that the wildcat strikes were more widespread than originally reported and suggested the possibility they would spread.
Newspapers have reported several cases of disciplinary measures against workers taking part in strikes, which are rare in Communist countries and illegal in Yugoslavia.
In its report, Tanjug said the strikes had spread beyond the republic of Croatia and were now occurring virtually across the country.
It said 1,000 workers struck for an unspecified period in 11 companies in Serbia, 200 workers stopped work in the southern province of Kosovo for 12 days and an unspecified number of people struck for up to two days in a coal mine in Pljevlja in Montenegro.
The report also said teachers in Serbia had shown solidarity with the strikers by refusing to collect their pay, rather than by stopping work.
In its initial reports on the labor unrest, Tanjug said that Croatia was the only area hit by strikes, with several thousand workers striking at 40 firms in half a dozen cities.
The official trade unions have not supported the wildcat walkouts.
In its suggestion that there may be more problems ahead, Tanjug noted that the wage freeze has not yet affected some 150,000 workers in Serbia, 50,000 in Kosovo and 27,000 in Montenegro.
A report in the newspaper Borba said 2,000 people had jammed the corridors of a major medical center in Zagreb during a work stoppage there and demanded to know why their wages would go down 18.7 percent.
The wage measure hits hardest at workers in money-losing enterprises. Borba quoted Stefan Novakovic, a company manager in Zagreb, as saying he did not know how his workers would live once they had returned two and a half months' wages as the law demands.
Borba quoted Milan Tomic, a skilled worker at a Zagreb industrial plant, as saying that if the law is enforced 17 of his fellow workers would receive no pay and would have to dip into savings to return pay they are now deemed not to have earned.
The government's freeze states that workers will be paid according to productivity and stipulates that their wages must be cut if they are inefficient.
Most of the government news media reports have stressed the government view that the freeze must take effect and that its social effects would be limited.