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Israel’s Labor Alignment Appears Split over Wage and Salary Increases

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The Labor Alignment appeared to be split yesterday over the question of wage and salary increases for the current year, a figure traditionally linked to the cost-of-living index. The Labor Party wing in the Alignment’s economic committee agreed to a six – eight percent increase as a compromise after first proposing a five to seven percent rise, with the largest share going to essential production workers. But the leftist, Mapam, the junior partner in the Alignment, insists on a 12 percent wage increase for production workers. The matter is expected to be settled tomorrow when the consumer goods price index for the July-Dec. 1969 period is published.

Meanwhile, retailers and importers have announced price rises for durable goods such as television sets, automobiles and other import items. The price rises are mainly cancellations of discounts and reductions previously given to most customers. The businessmen said they need the increase because of the recent cabinet ruling that importers must deposit an amount equal to half the purchase price of foreign goods with the Israel treasury for six months. The measure is intended to slow down the drain of foreign currency.

Dr. Josef Burg, the Minister of Welfare, admitted in the Knesset yesterday that Israeli families on welfare were receiving grants that are below the accepted poverty line. Small families receive $2.70 per month per capita below the line and for large families the deficit is $8.85, he said. The poverty line in Israel, established by economic experts, has been set at one tenth of the poverty line figure accepted in the United States–$20 per month per head.

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