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Labor Strife Imminent in Wake of New Government Economic Measures

The prospects of widespread labor strife in the wake of the government’s latest economic measures loomed today as Histadrut, under mounting pressure from local labor councils and rank and file workers committees, announced that it would demand immediate compensation for wage-corners or re-opening of current labor contracts if the present cost of living index rises over five percent. The Histadrut Central Committee also announced that there would be no extension of present labor agreements beyond their April, 1976 expiration dates.

Those decisions were made after Finance Minister Yehoshun Rabinowitz appeared before the Central Committee today to explain why the government decreed now sales taxes and devalued the Pound by ten percent, measures that engendered anger, confusion and bitter protests from virtually all segments of the economy after they were announced by the Cabinet before dawn Sunday.

The Finance Minister said the government was determined to resolve the nation’s economic problems the “hard way” so as to prevent inflation and unemployment. He stressed that more drastic measures could have been taken but they would have brought about large-scale unemployment and a new inflationary trend.

Rabinowitz was repeatedly interrupted by shouts and catcalls, mainly from representatives of the Black Panthers and the leftist Moked faction. But even more moderate sections of Histadrut decried policies that placed the greatest burden on workers. The pressure on Histadrut to take a tough stand against the government’s measures was manifested by a series of ad Hoo actions by local labor councils and workers committees. Employes of El Al today, and civil aviation workers last night, staged two-hour strikes to protest the government’s handling of the economic situation, Four flights had to be rescheduled as a result.

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