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Ofer Eini lost no time in rattling his saber. First thing tomorrow morning the relevant committee at the Histadrut labor federation will convene and declare a general labor dispute, said the uber-union's chairman upon hearing the plan to slap a tax on study funds (kranot hishtalmut). "I call on the finance minister to take back his declaration, and if not, after 14 days a general strike will break out and he'll be the one who'll have to explain it to the public," Eini said at a press conference yesterday.

Eini applauded Roni Bar-On's decision to lower income and corporate taxes, "even though it's being done too late," he added. "However, the decision that the finance minister tried to hide from the eyes of the cameras is just a cheap imitation of the proposal by former finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both said they would not honor previous accords and collective agreements."

The Histadrut's policy has been to discuss things, Eini said, and indeed his policy has been to avoid calling strikes insofar as he deems possible. "Striking is not a goal for us," he said yesterday. "The way to solve problems is to sit down at the negotiating table. The finance minister has elected to return us to the methods of battles at the expense of the general public."

Indeed, neglecting to factor in Eini's reaction was a mistake by Bar-On. Eini has been a relatively non-combative union leader, but he couldn't possibly have let a fresh tax on the study funds, which affects the most powerful workers, pass without comment - and gunfire.