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Israel Port Authority Resists Ashdod Strikers; May Close New Port

The Israel Port Authority was expected to announce tonight, at an urgently-called press conference, that it would shut down the new Ashdod port because of incessant strikes and slowdowns by port stevedores.

The Authority also has indicated resistance to demands by the stevedores for the same or even lower work norms at the new port, which is ultra-modern in equipment, as they have at the technically backward Haifa port.

Previously, it had been reported that the Authority was considering diversion of all ships from Ashdod to Haifa, which would in effect close down the Ashdod port, unless a binding agreement for labor peace was reached with the stevedores in a few days.

The possibility had been hinted in a statement issued by the Authority yesterday, suggesting that no additional ships call at Ashdod for the time being. Former Gen. Haim Laskov, chairman of the Authority, was understood to be determined to demand an “uncompromising attitude” toward the tactics of the stevedores.

Spokesmen for the academic staffs of the Hebrew University and the Haifa Institute of Technology meanwhile announced today that the staff members were ready to forego in part their demands for an increase in basic wages. The spokesman said that stand was being taken as an example to other Israeli employes, in efforts to slow down Israel’s mounting wage and price spiral.

Last Sunday, the academic staffs of all Israeli institutions of higher learning called off plans for a general strike, after the Israeli Cabinet agreed to allocate 3,000,000 pounds ($1,000,000), so that salary arrears for the staff members could be made up by July.

The Histadrut, Israel’s labor federation, and the Israeli Manufacturers Association signed today an agreement for payment of an increase in the cost of living allowance of 9.3 percent of basic pay scales, up to 700 pounds ($233), retroactive to January 16. The maximum increase will be 65 pounds ($22) a month.

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