JERUSALEM (Jan. 24)
The Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) today condemned the strike of 6,000 engineers, chemists, architects and agronomists employed by public institutions which entered its third week this morning. The Knesset backed the Government’s non-compromise policy in regard to the strikers and voted against the strikers being paid their salaries during their period of idleness. It called upon the strikers to return to work immediately.
The vote in the Knesset was 53 to 28. The Knesset resolution also warned that, if the strikers fail to return to work, they would face a declaration of “emergency.” Under a state of emergency, the strikers could be assigned to any job prescribed by Government regulations.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, who returned to Israel yesterday after a month’s absence in the United States and Europe, opened his first direct negotiations with the striking union today. The strikers are demanding a 16.5 percent wage increase. A special committee, on which the union had been represented, has recommended a seven percent salary boost.
Although the strike is being opposed by Histadrut–the Israel Federation of Labor–as well as by the Cabinet and the Knesset, the walk-out has the strong support of physicians and other professionals in Government employment, including high school teachers.