TEL AVIV (Dec. 2)
A general strike staged Sunday by Histadrut to protest tough new economic measures idled tens of thousands of workers but was less than the all-embracing walkout the labor federation had threatened.
As the 6 a.m. strike deadline approached, Histadrut released private business and industrial employees from the walkout after “some progress” had been reported in talks between labor officials and Finance Minister Yitzhak Moda’i.
As a consequence, the Israel Chamber of Commerce did not exercise the temporary court injunction it had obtained banning the strike.
Nevertheless, the country was fairly close to total paralysis Sunday as the vast public sector was shut down.
Government and municipal offices were closed. Government-owned factories and other enterprises, including Israel Aircraft Industries and Military Industries, were idle.
Ben-Gurion Airport and other civilian airports were closed, and E1 A1, the national airline, was grounded. Aircraft bringing in Soviet immigrants were diverted to military airfields.
Israel Radio broadcast only three hour-long news programs during the day. Television was blacked out. Hospitals and health care clinics operated with limited Sabbath shifts.
Histadrut called the open-ended strike last week after the Cabinet approved a 5 percent surtax on income tax, effective Jan. 1, and a 2 percent hike in the value-added tax, bringing it from 16 to 18 percent by next March.