TEL AVIV (Jan. 22)
The largest strike ever to take place in Israel will start tomorrow morning when some 12, 000 secondary school teachers and professional workers in all Government and municipal institutions will Join the 6, 000 members of the Engineers Union for a one-day solidarity strike in support of the engineers’ walk-out which today entered its eleventh day.
There was still no prospect of an early solution to the strike of the engineers employed in public institutions; The strike started over demands by the engineers for a 16 percent wage increase which, according to the engineers, would re-establish the agreed gap between the wages of ordinary workers and those of the professionals; The gap had been reduced due to the various improvements in wages of the ordinary workers.
The effect of the strike of the members of the Engineers’ Union employed in public institutions is already being felt by many in Israel; The strikers have ordered engineers at the Haifa power station to cease working and intend to shut down the work on all other power stations in the country where they permitted their members to remain temporarily at work; An attempt made today by Aharon Becker, general-secretary of the Histadrut–Israel’s Federation of Labor–to bring an end to the strike, has failed. Both the Israel Government and the Histadrut are against the strike.
The Haifa power station is now being operated by German engineers of the West German A. E. G. engineering firm which has supplied new generators to the station; The German engineers at first joined their Israeli colleagues in the walk-out but returned to work at the request of Electric Corporation officials who maintained that the strike was a local affair; The Germans are awaiting further instructions from their company headquarters in Germany.
There is considerable hope that Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, who is due home today after a visit to the United States and Europe, will bring the parties together; With Mr; Eshkol’s long experience in conciliation matters, it is believed he will find a way to bring an end to the strike.
The Ministry of Finance has offered the engineers a seven percent wage increase; There is a split in the ranks of the union as to how much to accept in settlement. The largest faction in the union insists on a 16; 5 percent increase; Another group, composed of members of the Mapai and Liberal parties, is willing to settle for a 10 percent increase.