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Israeli Nuclear Workers Strike

May 6, 2001

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Most operations at Israel’s main nuclear reactor in the southern Negev Desert were shut down Sunday due to a workers’ strike, a union leader said.

Ninety-five percent of employees failed to show up Sunday, the beginning of the work week in Israel, said union leader Shalom Shamla. The remaining workers turned up at the plant in Dimona, and were monitoring safety systems, he said.

The workers were striking over new contracts negotiated with the government-owned Nuclear Research Institute. Israel’s Finance Ministry has so far failed to approve the contracts, which include a 2.5 percent pay rise.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement that the strike was not arranged with the approval of the workers’ union, and was therefore illegal.

Israel has nuclear reactors for civilian use. The country is widely assumed to also have nuclear weapons, but refuses to reveal the exact status of its nuclear program.

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