Reprieve for El Al

Histadrut and the temporary receiver for El Al signed an agreement last night which may save Israel’s national air carrier from liquidation and allow it eventually to resume service.

The agreement, which includes far-reaching concessions to management, was signed by Histadrut on behalf of the airline’s 5000-member work force, except the pilots.

The latter announced afterwards that they could not accept Histadrut as their bargaining agent because of disputes with management over safety factors, including longer hours in the cockpits. Airline sources and the Ministry of Transport warned that if necessary. El Al would hire outside pilots on individual flight contracts.

Histadrut has agreed to accept responsibility for all El Al employes. They had been represented previously by a dozen separate work committees, a fact blamed for the company’s instability and frequent strikes and work stoppages. But the labor federation also agreed that man- agement could dismiss 500 employes — ten percent of its present staff-within a year as an economy measure.

It guaranteed management sole decision-making power with respect to future airline operation without interference by employes. Histadrut will be consulted on dismissals.

The new agreement means that the temporary receiver will cancel his appeal to a district court to appoint a final receiver to liquidate the company. Liquidation was decided by El Al shareholders last month, most of them proxies of the government which owns 98 percent of the carrier. That would have opened the way for the government to sell the airline to private interests.

The government is now expected to instruct the El Al board of directors to appoint a new management on the basis of the agreement reached last night. Major changes are expected on the management level.

El Al sources said today that it would take 2-3 months to inspect and repair the company’s grounded aircraft before they can carry passengers again. El Al suspended service three months ago and its sales organization has been dormant for over two months.

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