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Labor Strikes Continue in Israel

A strike by nurses, a work slow-down by physicians and a threatened strike by 42,000 government employes continued to darken Israel’s troubled labor scene today. The nurses, who began their strike last week for higher pay, are providing only skeleton services at hospitals and clinics, limited mainly to emergency cases. The doctors’ slow-down has forced the postponement of all but emergency surgery and imposed long waits for patients seeking treatment at public hospitals and clinics.

The sick and injured have become the prime victims of the wage dispute. Patients in most wards are being cared for by relatives who feed them, administer medication and changed bed sheets, tasks usually performed by nurses. As a result, the nurses’ demands which originally enjoyed wide public support, have begun to generate public anger.

The 42,000 government workers submitted the two-week notice required by law prior to going on strike. Their complaint is that they do not receive the so-called “specific increments”–wage increases above contract agreements– that are paid thousands of other civil servants. The dispute, one of long standing, was aggravated by an agreement reached between the Treasury and collectors of income tax, customs duties and other levies advancing their wage scales without altering their contracts.

Meanwhile, 6000 postal workers, recently deprived of their “specific increments,” announced they would strike on Oct. 1 for higher wages.

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