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Israel Hit by 48-hour General Strike by 400,000 Civil Servants

Some 400,000 civil servants — about one third of Israel’s work force — began a 48-hour general strike this morning, shutting down virtually all national and local services. Schools and post offices were closed. There were no mail deliveries and radio and television were off the air except for brief hourly news summaries.

The strike followed the collapse of negotiations between Finance Minister Yoram Aridor and Histadrut Secretary General Yeruham Meshel over increments to compensate wage earners for real income lost to inflation.

It affected the employes of municipalities and other local authorities, government-owned companies, and national institutions, including the Jewish Agency. Hospitals and clinics functioned with skeleton staffs and only emergency cases were admitted.

Government ministries and other offices were deserted except for personnel of ministerial or director-general rank. Most of them had to operate their own telephones. Some were assisted by their private secretaries who had special permission from their union to report for work.

SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED DOWN

There were no classes at kindergartens, elementary or high schools as teachers stayed home. Clerical personnel at the universities were on strike. Lecturers returned to their classes today, however, for the first time after a five-week halt in teaching due to labor dispute of their own.

The Tel Aviv municipality called on hotels and other large enterprises to haul their own garbage to the city dump because the sanitation workers were on strike. Only one group of government employes refused to join the walk-out. Workers at the income tax commission in Tel Aviv were on the job, charging that the strike was “political,” not “economic.”

The negotiations between Aridor and Meshel broke down on the issue of cost-of-living increases. The government was prepared to pay an additional 6-8 percent. Histadrut demanded a 12 percent hike. There was disagreement as well over the manner in which c.o.l. increases were to be paid in the future.

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