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Bezek Wrings Hearts of Employees

The monopoly that Israel’s state-run telephone company has over international service is about to end – and not everybody is happy about it.

Bezek last week issued an offer for other companies to submit bids to handle overseas phone services.

Overseas services account for some $667 million in revenues for Bezek.

Companies have until February to take part in the tender issued Oct. 18 by Israel’s Communications Ministry.

Israel Radio reported that bids are expected to come from Israeli firms as well as form some well-known international firms, including British Telecom, Southwest Bell, BellSouth and Sprint.

The other services are expected to begin operating in 1997.

The tender offer prompted Bezek employees to hold a 24-hour strike the day it was announced.

All public service numbers, including information, operator-assisted overseas calls and the number to report technical problems were closed as a result of the strike.

Bezek employees called the strike to protest what they said was that Finance Ministry’s failed promise to conclude an agreement to protect employee’s jobs once the other overseas services begin operation.

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