Moda’i Makes Concessions on Wages Bringing Two-day Strike to an End

A general strike begun Sunday by Israel’s labor federation ended Monday night after Finance Minister Yitzhak Moda’i and Histadrut Secretary-General Yisrael Kessar came to an agreement on most of the sticking points that had been raised by Modai’s package of austere economic measures.

Kessar had met for several hours Monday morning with Moda’i at the Treasury, with their aides present. The accord was reached by the assistants and then signed by fax by Kessar, who returned to Tel Aviv, and Moda’i, who remained in Jerusalem.

It was probably the first time an agreement between the government and labor federation had been signed by fax.

Details of the agreement covered a reported 29 points of the finance minister’s economic package, which included a reduction in the minimum wage, a 5 percent surtax on income tax to help pay for the absorption of Soviet immigrants, and a 2 percent hike in the value-added tax.

As the accord was signed, Israel Radio and Israel Television returned to the air.

Spokespersons for the two sides said agreement had been reached on most details, including the taxation of pension funds and employee-paid continuing education and training. Details were to be made available on Tuesday.

On the thorny question of reducing the minimum wage, the compromise reached stipulates that Moda’i will ask the Knesset’s Finance Committee to hold up discussion on the issue until mid-January, by which time, he said, he may reconsider.

According to the agreement, Histadrut reserves the right to repeat the general strike if Moda’i insists on pushing the measure through the Knesset.

The strike had kept tens of thousands of public-sector employees off the job, paralyzing the country. Government offices were closed, government-owned factories shut, the civilian airports closed and El Al grounded.

Aircraft bringing in Soviet immigrants were diverted to military airfields.

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