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Histadrut Girding for Showdown with Government over Union-busting Acts

Histadrut appeared today to be preparing for a showdown with the Likud government which it suspects is embarked on a union-busting campaign aimed at forcing Israeli workers to accept terms detrimental to their interests. The labor federation is expected to make a test case of EI AI, which suspended service over a week ago by management decision.

That action, supported by the government despite severe losses to the State-owned airline at the peak of the pre-Passover tourist season, coupled with the settlement of the 80-day seamen’s strike on terms favorable to the shipping companies, has aroused fear in trade union circles that the Likud government is determined to use muscle against workers.

Histadrut asked a Tel Aviv Labor Court for an injunction ordering the EI AI management to resume service. Judge Nehemia Guttman suggested that the parties try to reach a compromise but a meeting for that purpose this evening was a failure. A court ruling in the EI AI case was expected later tonight.

The airline has been plagued by wildcat strikes and work stoppages in the past. The management’s decision last Tuesday to shut down has created an anomalous situation. EI AI employes are not striking. They report to their jobs every morning but have nothing to do as planes are grounded and EI AI passengers have been transferred to foreign carriers. EI AI is maintaining a limited air freight service under an earlier court order. Agricultural products are being flown to Europe and EI AI cargo planes took off to Teheran today with poultry and eggs.

The management has said it is prepared to resume operations only if the workers sign agreements not to strike or stop work. EI AI claims that such actions in the past disrupted flights and caused loss of revenue and good will. The workers say the demands made by EI AI require prior negotiations.

GOVERNMENT BLAMED FOR LABOR UNREST

Histadrut called an emergency meeting of workers committees tonight representing public service employes in governmental and semi-governmental agencies. Speakers urged them to close ranks. They blamed the government for creating labor unrest and attempting to divide the workers. Israel Kessar, head of Histadrut’s Trade Union Department said Histadrut will never negotiate with the government as long as it assumes a posture of force.

Meanwhile, a strike that shut down radio and television newscasts for 12 days ended tonight. Regular programs were expected to be resumed tomorrow. The striking newscasters agreed to accept a commitment in principle from management to raise their wages on a par with the wage increases recently won by striking newspaper employes.

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