Massive Strike by Government Workers

About 6,500 postal service and railroad workers went on strike for higher wages today. They were joined by some 60,000 other government employes who suspended work from 10 a.m. to noon in a sympathy walk-out.

The 2,000 workers who operate the state-owned freight and passenger railroads and the 4,500 postal workers are protesting the erosion of their income by inflation. Partial strikes and work slowdowns are continuing in various government departments.

Employes say the cost-of-living increases fail to keep pace with the rising price index. The cost-of-living index for December, announced today, will determine the size of the next increment, payable on February 1. (See separate story.)

Meanwhile the Labor Party and Histadrut Secretary General Yeruham Meshel have reacted angrily to allegations by Minister of Commerce and Industry Gideon Patt that Labor deliberately induced economic chaos in order to dislodge the Likud government.

Patt made his remarks in an interview published Friday in Yediot Achronot. He charged that Histadrut leaders, having concluded months ago that it was impossible to topple Likud over defense and political issues, “decided to create economic chaos.” Meshel called the allegation “brazen lies” and challenged Patt to waive his Knesset immunity to answer libel charges. He accused Patt of “McCarthyism.”

Patt, asked by reporters today to produce evidence, replied that “only dirty newsmen divulge their sources.”

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