Ben Gurion Steps in to Settle Strike of 1,700 Textile Workers
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Ben Gurion Steps in to Settle Strike of 1,700 Textile Workers

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At the energetic insistence of Premier David Ben Gurion, the Mapai central committee moved in an extraordinary session here last night to end the ten-week old strike of 1,700 workers in Haifa’s ATA Works, the biggest textile plant in Israel.

Mapai’s central committee decided to urge the Histadrut executive to take upon itself the handling of the strike and maintain direct contact with the strikers, by-passing the Haifa Labor Council. The central committee’s decision will become operative in two days unless constructive proposals are forthcoming meanwhile from the Haifa Labor Council.

The decision was adopted unanimously by a vote of 111 in favor, none against and 12 abstentions. The secretary of the Haifa Labor Council, Yossef Almogi, who is considered the main initiator and supporter of the strike, and Haifa’s Mayor Abba Choushi were invited to attend the central committee session, but did not appear.

The central committee’s action brings into the open a more than two-month-old bitter internal struggle within the Mapai. Mr. Almogi, who started the strike against the advice of Histadrut secretary general Pinchas Lavon, has been accused from the start of damaging the country’s economic efforts without gaining the workers’ objectives. He is also accused of introducing a “new brutal style” into a labor dispute unprecedented in Israel.

Mapai secretary general Dr. Giora Josephthal revealed at last night’s session that Premier Ben Gurion had intervened last week-end to end the strike. The Premier, however, set the condition that both management and the strikers accept in advance whatever decision he offered. The ATA management agreed, but the Haifa Labor Council refused, Dr. Josephthal reported.

Mr. Ben Gurion confirmed Dr. Josephthal’s report and added: “Grave dangers face our state if the strike continues.” He called for an end to the “rebellion” of the Haifa labor leaders even at the cost of splitting the Mapai Party and dissolving the Haifa Labor Caincil and excluding its members from the Histadrut.

The Premier further revealed that he had asked Mr. Almogi to stop threats of further strikes, particularly by workers of the national railway system and of the electric power plants, “for this could put the entire state aflame. We are surrounded by enemies,” he continued, “and cannot allow irresponsible moves from any quarter, labor and management alike.”

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