TEL AVIV (Oct. 28)
Normal operation were resumed at Ben Gurion Airport today following its take-over yesterday by some 1,000 El Al workers end their families protesting the government’s decision to shut down the airline. The demonstrators left last night when the El Al management announced it would resume negotiations with Histadrut aimed at salvaging the financially troubled carrier.
Flights which had to be diverted to a military airfield in the Negev yesterday arrived at and departed from Ben Gurion Airport this morning as clean-up crews removed the debris from the airfield. Three El Al jets with deflated tires which the workers had used to block runways were towed to the parking area after being made fit for service. But it may be some time before they take off. El Al was grounded by management decision six weeks ago and the fate of the airline remains uncertain.
It depends upon the outcome of labor negotiations which are just getting under way. They are based on a set of management principles which could lead to a reduced El Al with a much smaller work force represented by a single union instead of separate committees for each job category as has been the case until now.
Management suspended talks last week when the pilots committee refused to accept its principles. They were resumed today on the direct intervention of Premier Menachem Begin. Begin was urged to act by Labor Minister David Levy, who is a Deputy Prime Minister and has successfully intervened in past labor-management disputes at El Al.
But Levy’s role was not viewed kindly by the Transport and Finance ministries which have taken a much tougher line toward the workers. Their threat to sell El Al to private investors after the Cabinet agreed in principle to liquidate it only inflamed the workers and was responsible in part for the take-over of Ben Gurion Airport yesterday.