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The Histadrut labor federation is threatening to strike all the plants belonging to state-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI) in response to the company's failure to pay September wages to all 2,900 of its employees.

The chairman of the professional division at the Histadrut, Ofer Eini, said yesterday that the union intends to strike the entire public sector if necessary. "IMI is owned by the state, and the state has the responsibility to pay the company's workers wages on time, without any conditions," Eini said.

He said that the Histadrut would shut down IMI, just as it has acted against local authorities who did not pay their employees. He also said that the union was planning a strike by 700,000 public workers who had not signed a collective agreement for several years because of a cabinet decision to reduce veteran workers' non-contributory pensions.

IMI has been in a continuing crisis for the past two years, and owes suppliers hundreds of millions of shekels. The state has refused to transfer additional funds to IMI unless the employees agree to accept a recovery plan that would include the firing of hundreds of employees and salary cuts for those remaining.