TEL AVIV (Feb. 19)
Electric company workers caused sporadic power blackouts all over the country last night and today to protest a planned, reduction in the amount of free electricity they receive for their personal use. The action by employes of the Israel Electric Corp. came after management issued a back-to-work order ending a slow-down strike.
Power was cut back by 30 percent at the generating plants, knocking out lights and home appliances and bringing factories to a halt. Chemical and metal works were hardest hit. Goods in the middle of processing were damaged and had to be thrown out. Some manufacturers have threatened to sue the electric company and the workers.
Finance Minister Yigal Hurwitz denounced the action today. He said the electric workers are a very well paid group that is injuring the economy in times of trial. The workers are not seeking higher wages at this time but to retain the privilege of using as much electricity as they want free of charge.
Until now, electric company employes have not been billed for current they use in their homes. As a result, many allegedly abuse the privilege by consuming for more power than the average family. On the recommendation of the government, the Electric Corp. announced several months ago that it would put a limit on the free power allowed its employes and charge them the regular rate for power consumed above that limit.