Histadrut Critical of Price Hikes

The Histadrut Central Committee sharply criticized the government today for raising prices on a wide range of foods, fuels and basic commodities. The trade unionists, meeting under the chairmanship of acting director general Yeruham Meshel, were particularly incensed by the government’s failure to consult with Histadrut before announcing the price hikes.

The new prices on meats, sugar, cooking gas, gasoline and other essentials were decreed by Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir who said the government could not increase price supports on those commodities and the consumer would have to pay part of the bill. According to some sources, the move may have put into question Histadrut’s continued participation in the joint government-labor-management committee to combat inflation. The Histadrut Executive will meet Sunday, reportedly to consider that matter.

The Central Committee said it would insist that the total income accruing from the price hikes cannot exceed IL 120 million and that poverty families, pensioners and others on the social welfare lists receive immediate compensation for the food price rises, before the Passover holidays. Histadrut also announced it would oppose any rise in bus fares stemming from the higher cost of gasoline. Treasury officials have urged bus and taxi companies not to raise their fares. They said the higher gasoline prices represented only 0.6 per-cent of bus operating costs and one percent of taxi costs.

The Treasury announced today new sales taxes of 2-6 percent on a variety of consumer items which they said would net the government an additional IL 52 million in income this year. The items affected are foreign cars, car rentals, spirits, Jewelry, television sets, air conditioners and formica boards.

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