Thousands of workers went on strike in several Byelorussian cities Wednesday after the republic's parliament refused to consider their political demands, opposition leaders said.
Zenon Posdnyak, chairman of the Popular Front opposition, said the workers - at more than a dozen enterprises in Minsk, the capital, Soligorsk and Orsha - put down their tools to protest the government's inaction.He predicted the strike would spread to other cities Thursday.
"In a couple of days, this will be all over Byelorussia," he said. "This is going to be a long struggle, and it's necessary."
In April, tens of thousands of Byelorussian workers went on strike for two days before suspending their walkout. They were supporting hundreds of thousands of striking coal miners, many of whom later returned to work after the national government ceded control of the mines to republic governments.
Strikes and political infighting have stalled reforms initiated by President Mikhail S. Gorbachev for more than six months, while the economy has continued to deteriorate. In April, Gorbachev worked out an "anti-crisis" accord with nine of the 15 republics aimed at getting reforms back on track.
Opposition politicians and activists in Byelorussia said the strike resumed because the republic's Supreme Soviet legislature failed to address their demands when it went into session Tuesday.