MOSCOW — Soviet air traffic controllers called off a potentially damaging strike late Monday, and another body blow to the faltering economy was narrowly averted.
Officials of the controllers' trade union said the government has agreed on an interim pay raise of 50% and further negotiations. The strike was suspended until Aug. 10. Further details were not available.
The controllers' leader, Vladimir Konusenko, was closeted with officials from the Civil Aviation Ministry and the state labor committee Goskomtrud from Monday morning until a few minutes before the midnight deadline.
The government had already agreed in principle to earlier retirement, longer holidays and shorter working days. But the controllers' demand for a 200% pay increase, later reduced to 100%, proved to be a sticking point.
The Civil Aviation Ministry had threatened to beat the strike by bringing in the military to man control towers. But the deputy commander of the Soviet air force, Gen. Pyotr Deinekin, said this would be impossible because military controllers are not familiar with civilian equipment.
Miners in the main Soviet coal fields struck for nine weeks earlier this year over a range of economic and political demands. President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's government has said they did incalculable damage to the economy.