• Short Summary

    Ethiopia's clergy took up the call for reforms on Saturday with a threat to strike.


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    Ethiopia's clergy took up the call for reforms on Saturday with a threat to strike.

    But the orthodox Church averted the strike -- which would have involved 200,000 priests, by granting them improved pay and conditions. The priests' threat to strike came just six days after Ethiopia's first general strike, which ended with major concessions being granted by the Government.

    The day after the priests won their settlement, 5,000 women began a March on the palace of the 81-year old head of state, Emperor Haile Selassie.

    They chanted slogans and waved banners and demanded equal pay with men for equal work. But the demonstration was halted by police before it could reach the palace.

    SYNOPSIS: At the headquarters of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturday, Ermias Kebede, the manager received a delegation of priests demanding better conditions for the workers in the church's printing works.

    It was part of the wave of unrest that has disturbed the Ethiopian Church since the recent armed forces uprising and the civilian general strike that ended on the tenth of March.

    The unrest culminated in a strike threat by Ethiopia's two hundred thousand priests. The strike would have come at an awkward ???, as the devout, in the midst of ??? pre-Easter Lenten Fast, must go to church twice a day.

    The strike was averted on Saturday when Archbishop Tewoflos, the Patriarch of Ethiopia, conceded the priests' demands and announced sweeping changes in salaries, pensions and subsidised medical care.

    Previously, pay for priests and deacons started at less than a ???nd sterling per month. The highes paid earned just three pounds a month. Now the priests of the Established Orthodox Church, dating back to the fourth country were demanding the same benefits as state employees. Three days earlier they had submitted a petition to Archbishop Tewoflos with their strike ultimatum. A reason given for their low wages was that since nineteen sixty, the Ministry of Finance had been levying taxes on Church lands.

    The day after the priests settled their demands, five thousand women from factories around the capital staged a march on the eighty-one-year old Emperor haile Selassie's Palace. Women are given the most menial tasks in Ethiopia. Their pay is lower than mens'. Now, they were demanding ??? pay for equal work. The demonstration was halted by the police, who persuader the women to send a small delegation to carry their grievances to the Emperor.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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