JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Labor Minister Y’all Alon told the Keenest, Israel’s Parliament, last night that the Government would not use its emergency powers to break the engineers’ strike but only to assure that a limited number of engineers would be provided for essential services.
The Labor Minister said that a minimum of 43 engineers was required to complete planned housing for immigrants and to link electric turbine installations with a nation-wide utility grid. He said both projects were regarded as essential by the Government.
He made his announcement after opposition charges that the proposed implementation of the emergency powers was an abuse of Government authority. Elihu Meriden, Heart deputy, presented an urgent motion for a full dress debate on the issue and warned against using the emergency regulations in what he said was purely an economic issue unrelated to any national emergency. When only the Liberal party supported the motion, he withdrew it.
Minister Alon said that if within “the next few days,” the engineers, who walked out January 11, did not return to their posts, he would apply the emergency regulations to 43 needed engineers by ordering their being drafted for services proclaimed as essential by the Government. The union, representing 6,000 engineers, chemists, architects and agronomists in public and government institutions, called the strike in support of demands for wage increases of about 16 percent. The union contends that increases for non-professional workers in recent years has narrowed too much the difference in the wage levels of the two groups and wants to increase the gap.