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Business

Wage deal averts general strike in Israel

A looming general strike in Israel has been called off after unions and employers reached a deal at the 11th hour. The planned industrial action had threatened to cripple public life and disrupt travel for pilgrims.

Israel's government and the country's largest labor union reached a last-minute compromise deal to avert a strike originally scheduled to go ahead on Wednesday morning.

It would have been the first nationwide strike in four years, and would have affected airport workers, government offices, hospitals, schools and public transport.

But an agreement was struck between Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and the chairman of Histadrut labor federation just three hours before the walkout was set to begin.

Viable accord

Union officials said the deal would give public sector employees a substantial 7.5-percent salary increase spread over three and a half years, with the wage improvements applying to almost half a million workers.

Public sector employees would also receive a 2,000-shekel ($510, or 470 euro) grant in two payments, a Finance Ministry statement said.

The Manufacturers Association of Israel welcomed the deal. It had earlier warned that the strike would cost the economy some $230 million on its first day alone.

Local Christian groups on Tuesday pleaded with Histadrut to exempt air travel from any strike action. They had feared that a walkout of the planned scope could severely disrupt the travel plans of

thousands of Christian pilgrims

due to arrive in Israel for Christmas.

hg/nz (dpa, Reuters)

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