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Strike of 1,800 Textile Workers in Israel Enters Third Month

The strike of 1,800 workers against the ATA textile manufacturing plant and retail shops entered its third month today with the police reporting a new violent incident. The company manager, J. Abramov, was assaulted today and suffered a skull fracture.

For the past two days, Mr. Abramov had noticed that two men were following him. Today, when he arrived home dogged by his two shadows, he went into the house and picked up a camera. He stepped outside and attempted to photograph the two. Instead, they took the camera away from him and hit him over the head with it. They fled and have so far not been apprehended.

This is not the first instance of violence in the strike, which is estimated to be costing the Israel economy 50,000 pounds daily in lost wages and production. Both strike breakers at the plant and would-be customers at the retail outlets have been assaulted.

The walk-out commenced May 10 when management refused to grant wage increases and fringe benefits, arguing that since the enterprise was not making enough to pay dividends to stockholders it could not afford increased labor costs. Instead, management suggested it be allowed to institute a series of efficiency dismissals, regardless of seniority, in order to put the plant on a more productive plane.

Four Cabinet Ministers–Mordecai Namir, Mrs. Golda Meir, Pinchas Saphir and Peretz Naphtali–have attempted to mediate, but failed. Premier David Ben Gurion has unofficially pressed the leader of the strike, Yoseph Almogi, secretary of the Haifa Labor Council, to modify the strikers’ demands, but also to no avail.

Although the Histadrut executive council was reluctant in the beginning to back Mr. Almogi, it has meanwhile decided to throw its weight behind the strikers. Meanwhile, Hans Moller, principal stockholder of ATA and its manager, has grown more insistent on his demands for efficiency dismissals, regardless of the outcome of the strike. New mediation efforts by Cabinet members are considered likely.

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