El Al Workers Lose Court Battle over Liquidation of Airline
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El Al Workers Lose Court Battle over Liquidation of Airline

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El Al workers have apparently lost their court battle to prevent the shareholders from going ahead with plans to liquidate the national airline and place it in receivership. They also lost battles with local police. A Knesset motion charging police brutality in scuffles with El Al employes last night and this morning was stricken from the agenda today.

The angry demonstrations by airline workers followed the Tel Aviv labor court’s rejection yesterday of an appeal by Histadrut for a permanent restraining order. The national labor court in Jerusalem refused today to overturn the lower court’s decision and ruled that a temporary injunction issued last week pending the labor appeal, will expire this Friday. The El Al shareholders will then be free to petition in district court for a liquidation order and the appointment of a receiver.


Two El Al workers and two policemen were hurt last night in demonstrations outside the Herzliya home of El Al board chairman Nahman Perl. Police and workers skirmished outside the Abu Kebir jail south of Tel Aviv this morning where 10 airline employes arrested last night were being detained. There were no injuries. The workers called the police “Nazis” and chanted “police state.”

In the Knesset today, Labor MK Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino charged that the police used excessive force to disperse the demonstrators. She blamed certain “elements in the government” for encouraging them to take a “hard hand” against El Al workers. Police conduct was also attacked by Laborite Jacque Amir and Communist MK Toufik Toubi.

But Interior Minister Yosef Burg, replying for the government, said he left it to the police to decide what was “an acceptable use of force.” He asked the opposition MKs how they would “recommend the police to act when they are being called Nazis.” The Knesset voted 46-42 to strike the motion from the agenda.


The fate of El Al was sealed last week when the shareholders, mainly government proxies, voted to wind up the money-losing carrier. Histadrut and the workers accused them of bad faith on grounds that all of the airline workers, except the pilots, had agreed to stiff management terms to keep El Al flying. The pilots balked at demands that they work 16 hour shifts which they said would jeopardize aircraft safety.

But some El Al pilots were back at work today. The airline, which management grounded after a wildcat strike two months ago, resumed cargo flights to Europe this morning, carrying fresh cut flowers to West Germany.

The cargo flights were not affected by the original grounding order because of the urgent need to fly perishables to west European markets. They were suspended earlier this month when the pilots and other workers walked out. About 40 workers returned to their jobs today under court orders.

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