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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 17:01 GMT
Israeli union ends general strike
A passenger stranded at Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv, during a November 2006 strike
Previous strikes have cost Israel tens of millions of dollars
Israel's main trade union has called off a general strike that halted most international flights, closed banks and shut down many public services.

The powerful Histadrut union ended the eight-hour strike after signing a deal with the finance ministry to end a crisis over unpaid wages.

The union said about 3,500 workers had not been paid for months.

But the union said a deal had now been struck and workers would be paid "today or tomorrow".

"I hereby announce that the strike is over and all workers can go back to their jobs," said Ofer Eini, the secretary general of Histadrut.

Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson said: "The government did everything so that this painful problem would be solved and not recur."

He promised workers would receive their wages and the economy would "continue booming".

'Municipal mismanagement'

About 400,000 workers went on strike at 0900 local time (0700 GMT) after overnight talks with the government had failed to resolve the row.

In the past, similar strikes have led to rubbish piling up in the streets and stopped phone and electricity services.

Israel has struggled for years with malfunctions in a number of its municipalities. There have been allegations of the mismanagement of funds, cronyism and in some cases embezzlement.

The strike's end will allow many England fans to fly to Israel to see their team play Israel in a crucial Euro 2008 championship qualifier match on Saturday.

The union had already agreed to an exemption allowing the England team's plane to land on Thursday.

At least 4,000 England fans are expected for the match, in a significant boost to Israel's tourism industry hard-hit by the country's war with Lebanon last year.

Palestinians strike over lost pay
23 Mar 07 |  Middle East

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