JERUSALEM (Apr. 21)
The strike by merchant marine officers, now in its second week, is creating havoc in Israel’s economy and there is a rising clamor for the government to intervene. So far, the government has taken no action, apparently for fear of precipitating a worse situation. One economist, Dr. Moshe Mandelbaum, estimated that the economy has lost at least $50 million since last month in disputes involving maritime labor. He said the week-long wildcat strike by longshoremen at Israel’s three ports in March cost some $15 million and the current strike by licensed ships’ officers has cost between $30-$40 million to date.
Mandelbaum said that 750 workers have been laid off by export industries and another 2-3000 will lose their jobs if the strike continues for one or two more weeks. The Zim Lines, Israel’s largest shipping company, said it would sell two old ships in an effort to minimize the strike damage. The licensed officers have urged the government to intervene in their wage dispute but the government has declined ostensibly because it has not been asked to by the shipping companies.