El Al Strike in 15th Day

El Al, Israel’s national airline, remained grounded for the 15th day as a result of a wildcat strike by its workshop employees who have refused to obey repeated back to work orders by the government and Histadrut. This airline, which was reported earlier in the week to be considering offers from foreign companies to charter its idle 13-jet fleet, was reported today to be seeking a short-term charterer for a new jumbo jet, the delivery of which coincided with the strike.

Premier Yitzhak Rabin has castigated the strikers for paralyzing Israel’s air links with the rest of the world. Addressing the opening of the International Wrestling Tournament held here in memory of the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes killed by Arab terrorists in Munich in 1972, the Premier declared, “If such a strike as the one against El Al could take place at such a time, it is apparent that something is basically wrong within part of Israeli society.”

Rabin was referring to the country’s severe economic situation which, he said, was still not fully recognized by many Israeli labor leaders of good will. He said strikes affected fund-raising efforts abroad. When fund-raisers are asked to increase their efforts because of the emergency situation in Israel, they reply that if strikes such as that against El Al can take place, there is no emergency, Rabin said.

Meanwhile, the airline management has taken drastic steps to reduce its losses as the strike continues. About 100 temporary employee have been dismissed, air crews abroad were called home and some 1700 regular employee were furloughed. The latter tried unsuccessfully to get a court injunction against their forced “vacations.” During the 15-day strike, El Al has cancelled some 250 flights and had to shift some 32,000 of its passengers to foreign airliners.

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