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Television and Radio Strike Called off at Last Minute

Israel appears to have sidestepped a new wave of labor strife less than a week before election day — and with minutes to spare.

A strike that would have blacked out radio and television was narrowly averted Thursday morning by a last minute agreement between the Treasury and Histadrut’s trade unions department.

About 120,000 public sector employees were affected, including telephone engineers who operate the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s radio and television transmitters.

Thousands of government hospital-employed physicians and airport personnel were forced by court orders to abandon threatened work stoppages Thursday.

The unions representing the engineers and technicians had joined with the academicians union in a united front to press wage demands. They were locked in all-night negotiations with Treasury representatives.

The strike deadline was set for 6 a.m. local time Thursday. By 5:45 the unions had alerted their members to walk off the job, but the strike was cancelled 10 minutes later.

A deal was struck on a 1988-89 wage agreement and retroactively on a 1987 agreement.

Still outstanding is the question of whether government-owned companies in financial difficulties should have to pay their employees the annual 5 percent increase called for in contracts.

All is still not well, meanwhile, at the commercial banks. Tellers and other clerical employees worked shortened hours Wednesday and Thursday, and are planning a four-day strike next week.

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