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General Strike Hits El Al

El Al, Israel’s national airline, was embroiled in a labor dispute today after a prolonged period of relative calm on the labor front. Employes announced a general strike, the immediate effect of which was to force cancellation of an evening flight for London.

The action came as a surprise. The workers had agreed only this morning to call off a “rule book” slowdown which had been underway for several days to protest the airline management’s alleged failure to put the carrier’s troubled finances in order. A spokesman for the employes said they had achieved their aim of calling the government’s attention to the situation.

Only hours later, however, the union called a meeting of all workers committees after learning that management intended to dismiss 18 flight engineers as of January I because new aircraft entering service made them redundant. The general strike was called without ratification by Histadrut. The trade union federation is trying to negotiate a settlement with respect to personnel made redundant by the introduction of new equipment.