TEL AVIV (Jun. 17)
The Cabinet will meet in emergency session tonight to consider measures to end the wave of strikes that hit Israel this week. The most serious strike is that affecting 29 government hospitals where 4,000 management and service personnel walked off their jobs Tuesday and were joined yesterday by 1,000 physicians staffing the clinics. Six thousand electric power station workers are continuing their strike begun last Sunday. Labor Minister Joseph Almogi said this evening that marathon discussions with representatives of the strikers yielded no positive results and the government would have to take "legal steps" to bring the workers back to their jobs. He said a special session of the Knesset would be called. Premier Golda Meir and several of her ministers met at the Premier’s Tel Aviv office this morning with strike representatives and Histadrut officials. The meeting, described as "stormy," failed to change the situation. The affects of the hospital worker’s walkout are being felt. Two hospitals, Tel Hashomer and Assaf Harofe, have discharged 50 percent of their patients. None of the struck hospitals are admitting new patients except emergency cases. Beds remain unmade, laundry is not being collected and meals are not being distributed to patients and staff. All but emergency surgery has been cancelled. The strikers turned down an appeal by the Health Ministry to keep the hospital kitchens functioning. High school student volunteers are working in some of the kitchens and are helping nurses care for patients.
The power station strike has had no widespread effects yet because the generators are fully automated. But power failures have begun to occur in some localities where breakdowns have not been repaired. This afternoon, electrical workers repaired a broken power line in a Tel Aviv slum area after an appeal by a local rabbi, Yedidya Fraenkel, that the residents were suffering hardships. There has been a walk out of 85 dock foremen at the port of Ashdod. In Afulleh, four movie houses closed down to protest against television which they say robs them of patrons. Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir was reportedly furious with Histadrut leaders for backing the strikers’ wage demands which Sapir considers inflationary. Sapir has accused the unions of violating his wage-price "package deal" which labor and management accepted last year as an anti-inflation measure. The hospital workers are demanding wage parity with employes at hospitals run by Kupat Holim, Histadrut’s sick fund. The electric power workers reached an agreement with the State-owned Israel Electric Corp. on a new wage contract only to have it vetoed by the government. They are demanding that the government rescind its veto. The government is expected to ask the Knesset to issue a back-to-work order. The Knesset will meet on the issue tomorrow but may have to convene again Sunday if it cannot pass a bill before adjourning for the Sabbath.