Histadrut Labor Federation Chairman Amir Peretz said Sunday that he had agreed in a meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on a 72-hour cooling-off period, during which the nationwide union would suspend strikes that had shut pre-schools and left garbage piling up on city streets, and would refrain from intensifying strike actions in other labor spheres.
Peretz said Sharon had called him to a meeting late Saturday at the prime minister's western Negev ranch to discuss Histadrut demands for cost of living increases.
Prior to the meeting, there were fears that the strike would be extended Sunday to include airport, telephone, postal, and railroad operations.
"We will allow pick-up of garbage and operation of kindergardens and pre-schools," Peretz told Israel Radio Sunday. "We will examine the situation in the other spheres in the course of the day."
The Histadrut leader said, "I very much hope that within 72 hours, we will end the very prolonged suffering of very many people in Israel, who want to feel that the state of Israel takes both their rights and their needs into consideration."
Should negotiations fail to yield a settlement within the 72-hour cooling-off period, Sharon will preside over a meeting to settle the dispute, Peretz said.