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A Strike by Israeli Civil Servants Hits at Commerce, Threatens More

A strike by over 60,000 Israeli government employees widened Sunday, disrupting railroad services and commerce.

The strikers threatened to include telephone, postal, radio and television workers within a few days if their demands for wage increases were not met.

No serious negotiations have been held since the strike began last Thursday with workers’ demands for a 35 percent wage increase, to be implemented in stages over the next three years.

The Finance Ministry announced it would not negotiate with strikers and would only consider increases of a maximum 3 percent per year for three years.

Chaim Haberfeld, the secretary-general of the Histadrut trade union federation, warned the government that if it could not order its financial negotiators “to budge from their illogical positions, they could expect a strike likely to last for weeks or even months.”

The extension of the work stoppage to the railroads, in addition to the strike by customs officials in the ports, has had an immediate effect on the economic life of the country.

Many merchants and industrialists said they would not be able to continue their businesses for much longer, as they were running out of raw materials or goods to stock their shelves.

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