From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Dec 04 1997 - 19:34:44 PST

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                    Israeli strike shuts down country for second day
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press
       LOD, Israel (December 4, 1997 8:23 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) --
       Hundreds of travelers camped on the floor and paced the halls of
       Israel's international airport Thursday, stranded on Day 2 of a strike
       that also has shut down railroads and banks.
       "The only thing I've been doing is sleeping and praying," said Gatan
       Goudreau of Montreal, who had been waiting with his wife, Merjolaine, at
       Ben Gurion International Airport since before the strike began. "There
       is no food, and we don't have any money. I'll never come back here
       The strike by government employees also shut down the Tel Aviv Stock
       Exchange and interrupted with telephone, electric and water service
       across the country. Parts of Israel reported water shortages because
       workers at the state-run water company were on strike.
       The Manufacturers Association of Israel estimated cumulative damages to
       the economy at $32 million.
       The national Histadrut labor union said it would continue the strike
       until it reached agreement with the Finance Ministry on pension plans.
       The strike was prompted in part by a ministry proposal to roll back a
       pension agreement signed by the previous Labor government.
       The union says more than 600,000 workers are striking.
       The Justice Ministry on Thursday night ordered the Finance Ministry to
       break off the negotiations until the union complies with a court ruling
       ordering the strikers back to work. Finance minister Yaacov Neeman said
       he would obey the instruction.
       The back-to-work order was issued by a national labor court Wednesday
       afternoon, but the union ignored, as well as appealed, it.
       Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein urged the union to comply with the
       court order, calling the violation "an assault on the fundamental
       values" of Israel that could lead to anarchy, Israel radio reported.
       At Ben Gurion airport in Lod, 10 miles east of Tel Aviv, television
       screens announcing arrivals and departures were turned off. Hundreds of
       travelers waited, frustrated, for word on when flights would resume.
       "It's absolutely dreadful," said 76-year-old Lillian Munley, who had
       been waiting more than 12 hours for a flight home to Ireland. "It's the
       longest day of my life."
       Trash piled up on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv because garbage
       workers were on strike.
       Kindergartens closed at midday, day-care centers were shut and calls to
       directory assistance met with the taped recording: "This service is
       temporarily disconnected."
       By GALIT BENZUR, Associated Press Writer

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