TEL AVIV (Jul. 7)
Work in Israeli government offices, courts and hospitals virtually ground to a halt Wednesday as more than 60,000 state employees staged a strike for higher wages.
Representatives of the striking workers announced at midnight Tuesday that they were beginning an open-ended work stoppage to pressure the Treasury into accepting their demand for salary increases of some 35 percent, to be paid over three years.
The Finance Ministry has responded by offering three annual 3 percent increases.
On Wednesday morning, the government obtained court orders against 15 percent of the strikers, ordering them to return to work immediately to ensure a continuation of minimum services by essential workers.
The strikers included non-medical workers in government hospitals and all employees in ministerial offices, the National Insurance Institute, the Public Works Department, the Meteorological Service and civil and religious courts.
Educational Television programs were off the air throughout the day, and Israel Radio and Television services were due to close down after their 9 p.m. news broadcasts Wednesday evening.
Customs officers were not at work at air and seaports.
The strike committees announced that the work stoppage would probably be extended to other groups of civil servants on Thursday, possibly including all radio and television services, as well as post offices and Bezek telephone services.