8000 Workers Stage Protest Rally

About 8000 workers, mainly civil servants and municipal employees, demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s office today to protest the government’s new economic policy and the sharp increases in living costs. The demonstration, while the Cabinet was holding its weekly meeting inside the building, was peaceful and police massed to deal with possible violence had little to do. A group of young Likud members tried to interfere with some of the speakers but no incidents developed. Earlier, a mass meeting of municipal employees was held at the “Beit Ha’am” hall.

The demonstration was organized by Histadrut and the Jerusalem Labor Council. The council’s secretary, Nissan Harpaz, said it was not politically motivated but was intended to protect the rights of wage-earners and the welfare of poverty families with several children.

Strikes and work-stoppages occurred today in Haifa, Kiryat Shemona and Afuleh but were only partly effective. Some Haifa municipal workers stayed away from their jobs but others went to work as usual. In Afuleh 7000 workers signed a petition to Premier Menachem Begin asking for an audience. But most of them ignored the strike call.

SEE C.O.L. RISING BY 60%

Meanwhile, a firm of economic consultants employed by the Bank Leumi predicted today that the cost-of-living index will rise by 60 percent over the next 14 months as a result of the reduction of price supports for basic foods. They forecast monthly price increases of five percent and a consequent depreciation of the Pound relative to the U.S. Dollar. The ratio now is IL 15.20-$1.

The consultants said that living costs will show a 35 percent increase for the period November 1976-78. They said the building industry would be the hardest hit by the new economic policies but the tourist industry would benefit from the new dollar rate.

NEXT STORY