Eshkol Warns Against Demands for Wage Rises; Stresses Unemployment

Premier Levi Eshkol warned today, in a major address, that Israel’s troubled economy could not stand any additional demands for increased wages, Speaking at a meeting of the executive of the Histadrut, Israel’s labor federation, he referred specifically to nurses, teachers and electrical workers who have threatened to strike tomorrow if their demands for more pay are not met.

The Premier, whose Mapai Party is one of the dominant elements in the Histadrut, declared that the present time was a decisive period in Israel’s economic affairs and that every effort should be made to preserve present production costs, which he called already very high, and to increase productivity and exports on which the success of Israel’s new three-year austerity program depends.

The Premier discussed at length Israel’s growing joblessness which he said hit hardest at new immigrants and residents of development areas. He noted that some 25,000 Israeli workers were jobless and that more were expected to lose their present jobs after the holidays. He confirmed reports that a meeting of American Jewish industrialists and investors would be convened in Israel to discuss possibilities of more industrial investment in development areas.

He called on the Histadrut to create a special department to deal with urgent employment problems. The executive began a discussion of his proposals.

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