Strikes Continue to Plague Israel’s Economy

Sharp criticism was expressed in economic circles today over the government’s appointment yesterday of still another committee–the sixth since Jan–to study the problem of inflation. The circles accused the government of deliberately avoiding meaningful steps to curb inflation in order not to jeopardize its popularity with elections only 31/2 months away.

The critics noted that most of the members appointed to a ministerial economic committee yesterday had been members of committees set up previously for the same purpose.

They said the government continued to appoint committees and to ignore the recommendations. They accused the government of feeding inflation by refusing to grant mortgages for large apartments and by denying demands by the Bank of Israel to raise interest rates.

The strike of salaried doctors worsened meanwhile. Negotiations remain deadlocked and the doctors are no longer accepting emergency cases but referring them to private physicians. Regional clinics which had been referring patients to private MDs ended that service. Private doctors have raised their fees for home visits from IL 25-IL 30.

International maritime traffic to and from Israel has been affected by the strike. Government physicians have stopped issuing medical documents for the crews of incoming and outgoing vessels.

The strike against the Israel Broadcasting Authority continued today but Arabic language broadcasts have been resumed at the request of Deputy Premier Yigal Allon who said they were of national importance.

On the brighter side of the labor picture, income tax officials ended a work slow-down they started last week and cash is once more flowing into internal revenue offices at the normal rate. Tel Aviv lifeguards ended their strike after the local labor council promised them “meaningful negotiations” over their wage claims. The lifeguards say they work an 11-hour day during the summer. The Tel Aviv municipality which employs them reminded them that they are paid their salary during the winter when the beaches are closed.

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