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Election Campaign Begins Officially, 24 Hours Late, After Court Orders Broadcasting of Election Prog

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The election campaign began officially tonight, 24 hours late and in the midst of a labor dispute involving radio and television journalists who refused to accept a wage agreement concluded yesterday between Histadrut and public sector employers.

They appealed to the Supreme Court against a government back-to-work order but after a temporary injunction, a panel of five justices ruled today that the journalist must air election broadcasts. They were also ordered to pay 200,000 Shekels (about $1,000) in court costs.

The high court’s decision applied only to electioneering. Pre-recorded political messages went on the air at 9:30 this evening. There was no live commentary. Most of the broadcast day consisted of recorded music. That was made possible because the broadcast technicians accepted the two year wage agreement, ending a strike that started last week.

Under terms of the agreement, wages will be increased by 16 percent in most of the public sector. A 10 percent increase will be paid with July salaries, due August I and another six percent with August salaries, payable September 1. Histadrut was given an additional eight percent leeway for further bargaining with various professional unions which include teachers, social scientists, social workers, engineers and nurses.

Israel’s election laws allow the major parties a total of five hours air time to broadcast their messages to the electorate before election day which is less than a month away. Likud reportedly has allocated most of its campaign budget to the electionic media. The Labor Alignment is relying more on face-to-face meeting with various voter groups.

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