24-hour General Strike Looms

The labor situation which had eased somewhat last week worsened today as customs officials went on strike at Lod Airport and 4000 employes of the State-owned Mekorot water company threatened to cut off the country’s water supply. The workers committee in the Tel Aviv region warned, meanwhile, that they would call a 24-hour general strike to protest price rises and inflationary trends.

The shut-down of the Lod customs house followed a stormy meeting last night at which the customs officers accused the government of stalling on their wage demands. The customs officers ended a work slow-down last month on the promise that their demands for higher wages and incentive payments for greater productivity would be taken up. They claimed that nothing has been done and said the customs house would remain closed “until our demands are met.”

The Mekorot workers said they would shut down the nation’s water pumping stations unless the company shelved a plan to sell some of its money-losing subsidiaries to Solel Boneh, the Histadrut construction cooperative. They accused the company of trying to make them scapegoats for the failure of other Mekorot enterprises, such as the Vered water resources development company, which recently went into bankruptcy as a result of unprofitable contracts abroad. The Vered scandal caused the government to review Mekorot enterprises and Minister of Agriculture Yosef Almogi proposed that some of them be sold. The workers fear they will lose their jobs if the sales materialize.

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