By Haim Bior

The Histadrut labor federation has decided to start industrial actions in ten days, gradually working up to a full-blown nationwide strike.

The union, the biggest in Israel, means to paralyze the nation unless the Manufacturers Association enters talks over its demands for cost of living wage increases, after consumer prices climbed during the first half of 2002.

Unless talks are held and progress is made, the Histadrut, headed by Knesset member Amir Peretz, will begin labor disruptions including at government ministries, local authorities, public societies and government companies.

The Ben Gurion International Airport and the ports will also be affected by the labor dispute.

Manufacturers Association president Oded Tyrah called on the Histadrut to restrain from shutting down the country, at this time of economic crisis, and in view of the possibility of war with Iraq.