Israelis Hope for Respite from Strikes Endangering Life and Property

Israelis are hoping for a respite from the wave of strikes and work slowdowns that have threatened lives and property in the last two days.

The workers committee of the State-owned Electric Corp. was schoduled to meet this afternoon with representatives of the government and Histadrut in an effort to settle their strike which has caused power blackouts and severe water shortages all over the country.

Haifa firemen returned to work today after the municipality paid back salaries a month overdue and the Interior Ministry promised that funds would be transferred monthly to avoid a repetition of the delays. But the firefighters’ refusal to answre alarms yesterday led to what could have been disastrous.

A forest fire, not uncommon in the dry season approached homes in a Mt. Carmel suburb. Local residents attempting to fight the blaze, called on the Hedera fire department for help. The latter rendered assistance for a time, but departed at the request of the striking local flremen, Only a shift of the wind saved the homes.

The Electric Corp. strike has more widespread repercussions. Jerusalem and Nahariya are almost completely without water because the Mekoret water company cannot operate its pumps for lack of electric power. The company was using emergency generators today to provide some water to Jerusalem.

The Electric Corp. has resorted to rationing power, blacking out certain areas of the country alternately for limited periods of time. This brought near tragedy to the Emek Hospital in Afule yesterday when power was cut off without warning and the hospital staff was unable to start the emergency generator.

Surgery in progress had to be completed by searchlight. Patients undergoing dialysis were saved from death only by the action of doctors and nurses who operated the blood-cleansing apparatus by hand.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry staff decided to tighten the work sanctions they began to apply more than a week ago in a wage dispute with the ministry. They have halted altogether their dealings with residents and foreign visitors requiring consular services and are boycotting visiting VIPs.

RABBINATE EMPLOYERS STRIKE

Even the religious establishment has not escaped the labor unrest. Employes of the Rabbinical Councils in various cities went on strike today. A near riot developed outside the Tel Aviv council offices when couples requesting divorce were turned away. Marriage certificates were not being issued either, but the newlyweds seemed less distrought by the delay.

In the military sector, 6,000 employes of the Rafael Weapons Development Authority announced today that they would take a “two day vacation” beginning tomorrow and threatened a longer strike next week.

Talks broke down yesterday between 60,000 striking government-employed engineers and academicians and Histadrut and government representatives. Their union has threatened to break away from Histradrut because the trade union federation’s recent wage agreement with the Treasury is not acceptable to them. The academicians involved are in the social sciences and humanities faculties.

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