Jerusalem (Oct. 21)
(Meanwhile in Israel. Eban was criticized today by the leading dailies. Haaretz and Davar, despite his statement last night that his remarks on the Frost show were incorrectly reported in Israel and incorrectly interpreted. His critics refused to accept his assertion that he was not opposed to continuing war crimes prosecutions and that the meaning of his remarks was that the fate of individual war criminals should not be the main focus of the holocaust on the conscience of the world.)
A modified version of legislation designed to curb strikes by government and public service employes was approved by a majority of the Cabinet last night although it was assailed by both leftist and right-wing elements and received less than whole-hearted support from Histadrut. Mapam ministers Victor Shemtov and Nathan Peled voted against the measure. Following the vote, Mapam formally asked the Cabinet’s permission to abstain when the bill comes up for a vote in the Knesset. Coalition parties are obligated to vote for government-approved measures unless officially excused from doing so. Meanwhile dock-workers at Ashdod staged a one-hour work-stoppage this morning to protest the Cabinet’s approval of the bill which they called anti-labor.
The modifications were introduced at the insistence of Mapam and Histadrut who thought the measure was too severe as originally drafted. But the changes were criticized by the National Religious Party and some elements in the Labor Party for Lacking “teeth.” Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, who was on record favoring a more stringent measure, conceded last night that the final draft was the only one that could satisfy both the government and Histadrut.
It bans under penalty of the law, strikes by government and public service employes for wage increases or social benefits while contracts collectively entered into by management and labor are in effect. It contains a proviso that could extend the law to cover other branches of labor subject to government consultations with employers and employes. The anti-strike legislation was proposed last month when Israel’s economy was almost crippled by a series of strikes and work-stoppages by customs officials, civil aviation employes and dock-workers and strikes by others were threatened.
Some of the walk-outs were staged in direct defiance of Histadrut, and the labor federation was as anxious as the government for a law that would stabilize labor relations. But Histadrut Secretary General Itzhak Ben Aharon said last night that he supported the workers’ criticism of the bill in which he himself had a hand in drafting. Speaking at the Seamen’s Union, Ben Aharon said that the Knesset would not deal hastily with the legislation and promised that if a majority of workers opposed it would not become law.