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Histadrut Under Pressure to Hold Back New Wage Demands; Ben Aharon Conciliatory

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Premier Golda Meir and Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir brought pressure to bear on Histadrut leaders last night to hold back new wage demands. The two met with the trade union’s central committee to try to close a growing rift between the government and Histadrut on wage policy. They were reportedly severely critical of Histadrut’s leadership, notably Secretary General Yitzhak Ben Aharon. Mr. Ben Aharon has been backing the wage demands of Israeli longshoremen, hospital nurses and X-ray technicians which Mr. Sapir regards as inflationary. The Finance Minister said yesterday that if the demands are met it could wreck the carefully balanced “package deal” between government, labor and management worked out early this year as an anti-inflation measure. Mrs. Meir said, at yesterday’s meeting, “We want to know If the Histadrut central committee is still with us She urged the nurses not to carry out their strike threat, though she conceded that their demands were Just. Mr. Ben Aharon, who declared recently that he would not check wage demands as long as the government failed to check profits, was In a conciliatory mood last night. He assured the government leaders that Histadrut would adhere to Its part of the “package deal” even if the government saw fit to raise taxes. According to the arrangement, labor and management agreed to hold back on wages and prices while the government said it would try to avoid major tax increases during the current fiscal year, But Mr. Sapir said recently that substantial tax hikes appeared inevitable in view of growing government expenditures for defence.

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