TEL AVIV (Feb. 9)
The threat of a paralyzing general strike receded Thursday after labor, management and the government agreed in principle on a compromise.
The all-night negotiating session between Histadrut, the Employers Association and representatives of the Treasury ended on a cautiously optimistic note at 6 a.m.
But Histadrut said the strike, set for Sunday, will not be officially canceled until all details are completed on cost-of-living payments to compensate workers for recent price hikes resulting from devaluation of the shekel.
That was the main bone of contention, although there are other issues which the labor federation says must be settled before the strike threat is entirely removed.
Among them is a demand for a 10 percent tax rebate for workers who buy shares in their companies and rebates for workers and managers of companies who increase their profits by increasing productivity.
The parties will meet for another session Thursday night.
According to the compromise, employers will pay workers a 6 percent cost-of-living bonus over a three-month period.
Histadrut had demanded 8 percent while the employers, backed by the Treasury, offered 5 percent.
Finance Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday that if the cost-of-living agreement becomes final, workers would be assured of maintaining their present standard of living and even improving it. He said the agreement also would prevent runaway inflation.
Peres went a long way toward meeting another Histadrut demand when he agreed to raise the income tax rate from 48 to 51 percent in the top bracket, for a one-year period.
It will affect about 35,000 people, who earn more than $4,400 a month.
Peres has also said he is willing to establish an emergency relief fund of about $200 million to bail out financially ailing companies.
The largest of these is the Histadrut-owned Koor Industries.