General Strike by Journalists Blacks out All News in Israel

A general strike by Israeli journalists blacked out all news today. Newspapers did not publish and no news was broadcast on radio and television. The Army Radio continued to broadcast feature type news on specialized subjects, mainly for the benefit of troops, but there were no news bulletins. Itim, the nationwide news distribution agency was also on strike.

The walk-out is the first by Israeli journalists in 25 years although there have been occasional work stoppages and a one-day strike to protest a law that would have limited freedom of the press. The issue is wages. Journalists have received no increases for six years, save for cast-of-living allowances. The wages of engineers, which the journalists take as their-model, have doubled in the last five years. The journalists’ union says that for a news person to function independently and objectively, an increase of 40-50 percent is required. The publishers are willing to grant a 12 percent raise.

The journalists claim that their profession is one of the most underpaid in Israeli society. They say a 21-year-old bank clerk earns more than a journalist with 25 years’ experience.

According to Haaretz, a housemaid earns IL 35 per hour or IL 7370 per month compared to IL 7030 per month for a journalist with 15 years’ experience. Haaretz contrasted the monthly remuneration of a journalist with that of a waiter (IL 10,165); an EI AI maintenance worker (IL 12,000); an engineer (IL 17,000); and a bank branch manager (IL 25,000). It noted that physicians and aviation workers received increases of 80-85 percent in recent years. The journalists filed notice of their strike 30 days ago. Negotiations have been going on since then without results and are continuing.

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