TEL AVIV (Feb. 13)
Israel was saved from a paralyzing general strike Sunday, but labor strife continues.
Employees of Bezek, the government-owned telecommunications corporation, announced Monday a three-day strike for higher wages, starting Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Shimon Peres, whose energetic intervention is credited with averting the nationwide walkout called by Histadrut, is under fierce attack by Likud.
Peres is being accused of using the Treasury to bail out financially ailing Histadrut-owned enterprises.
The Bezek strike will affect telephone service and black out radio and television because the operating engineers, technicians and repair personnel will be off the job.
Automatic dial phones will work, but there will be no one to service the equipment in the event of breakdowns.
Bezek workers are demanding the 5 percent pay increase recently granted all public sector employees.
But the Finance Ministry decided they were not entitled to the hike because of a higher than average pay increase they received two years ago.
Bezek was split off from the Communications Ministry five years ago in order to be able to pay its employees higher salaries for greater efficiency.
Peres was assailed Monday for raising the tax rate in the top income bracket from 48 percent to 51 percent.
Likud politicians charged the tax hike was meant to salvage financially crippled Histradut and kibbutz business enterprises, the Labor Party’s political base.
Ariel Weinstein, ranking Likud member of the Knesset Finance Committee, urged his party’s Cabinet ministers to foil Peres’ plan.
Weinstein called it “a sectoral, not a national accord.”
Sarah Doron, chairperson of the Likud Knesset faction, called on the party to defeat the measure in parliament.