Israel May Face Strike Wave

Labor action is intensifying in Israel. A near total blackout of state-owned radio and television entered its third day Monday as a wage dispute with broadcast technicians remained unsolved. The country will face an inter-city bus strike Tuesday morning and a general strike of public employees may be in the offing.

The broadcast technicians are demanding payment of a six percent wage increase retroactive to April 1985, when it was awarded them by a labor court. The Treasury has balked and the Israel Broadcast Authority has refused to pay the increase without Treasury approval.

Management declared a “protective lockout” at Israel Radio and advised listeners to tune into the army radio station, Galei Tzahal. Educational television is continuing, as is television coverage of the trial of suspected war criminal John Demjanjuk.

Histadrut’s trade union department announced Monday that it has given the required two weeks’ notice of a general strike in the public sector. Department head Chaim Hershfeld said the strike would be called if wage negotiations which resume Thursday show no progress in the next two weeks.

The management of the Egged Bus Cooperative tendered its collective resignation Monday, blaming the Treasury for refusing to consider their subsidy needs. Local, suburban and inter-city bus service was to have halted Monday night, but Egged agreed to hold off until Tuesday morning at the request of Premier Yitzhak Shamir. According to Egged, it has no money to pay for gasoline. Shamir asked for the delay to allow the public time to make alternative travel arrangements.

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