THE familiar blue and white-striped lean-tos were removed at about 7 pm yesterday as police moved in to clear striking Cathay Pacific flight attendants from the front of Government House. There had been rumours that a special police unit armed with tear-gas would be used to clear the mainly female strikers because of fears of confrontations. Organisers urged the more than 2,000 strikers and their supporters camped out on the footpath of Upper Albert Road to co-operate. Sad faces greeted the police as they began dismantling the lean-tos put up by the strikers. Central Division police commander, Superintendent Chow Yin-wo, said the operation was needed to clear Upper Albert Road for traffic. The strikers were blocking roads, he said. News of the operation reached the vigil early on Sunday morning, but no one believed it, Flight Attendants' Union (FAU) members said. The strikers co-operated, moving to the grounds of the Central Government Offices down the hill from Government House. Many rushed back from a rally in Victoria Park to collect their personal possessions. Clutching sleeping bags and blankets, many appeared confused about why they had to move. ''Why do they make us move when we want to give our message to the Governor,'' said a Japanese member of the FAU. The Victoria Park rally was to have been a stirring end to an emotional day for the striking workers. News broke at noon that union representatives were meeting with management. The announcement led to a union meeting, pre-empting a proposed march to Victoria Park attended by 35 Hongkong unions to show their support for the strike. The strikers voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm their support for the negotiating team, with only about a dozen members showing opposition. They also vowed to push for a quick resolution to the dispute. One striking worker said: ''We will continue for as long as we can because we will win.'' Union spokeswoman Ms Mayette McCarter said members sometimes needed re-assurance. ''From time to time we need to cheer up the members and to keep them informed of the events,'' she said. The positive attitude carried into the march, which stretched for blocks along Hennessy Road, slowing eastbound traffic to a crawl. Eighty police officers were on hand to help maintain order in the snaking procession. Led by a van equipped with loud hailers, the march drew curious looks and crowds in Wan Chai. One man, who would only identify himself as Ah-wong, said: ''I didn't know what they were shouting about, but it was good to see so many pretty girls passing by.''