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Bolivian Workers Release Executives but Continue Strike

January 20, 1985|United Press International

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Factory workers Saturday released unharmed about 200 Bolivian and foreign executives held hostage for three days, but they went ahead with a nationwide general strike to demand pay raises.

The workers at 34 factories released their hostages at the urging of President Hernan Siles Zuazo, who negotiated with management and the protesters off and on for more than 25 hours.

Felipe Tapia, spokesman for the union, said 50,000 factory workers have called a nationwide general strike to press for the wage increase. The strike will shut down industry but will not be felt until Monday, he said.

Company owners said they would try to negotiate a settlement with the workers.

No injuries were reported among the released executives and technicians. The factory workers had taken their bosses hostage to demand a 200% pay raise, which they say is necessary to keep up with Bolivia's 2,177% inflation rate, believed to be the world's highest.

The incident was the latest in already strained and occasionally violent relations between unions, who frequently stage crippling strikes to demand raises, and management, which says it cannot pay.

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