Labour Day in the Gaza Strip is unlike in any other place in the world as workers here continue to work today. Yes, they continue to work here as a consequence of the dire economic conditions that result from the long-standing Israeli blockade of the Sector, as well as the varied impact of the occupation in general.
It is not that labourers here do not want an annual holiday, but most need to work today in order to be able to provide the basic necessities of life to their families who depend on them. Moreover, the majority of labourers are unaware that today is Labour Day as holidays are confined to government employees.
On this day, many demonstrations and activities have been organised demanding rights for labourers and calling for them not to be forgotten by the authorities. It is worth mentioning that the Government in Gaza deducts 5 per cent of staff salaries to provide labourers in the Gaza Strip with the minimum living standards.
Palestinians labourers have stood bravely in extending their services to Gaza in its time of need – including to dig border tunnels south of the Strip and saving the lives of thousands. Moreover, the building sector has witnessed significant development since labourers have shouldered the burden and difficult economic conditions with a view to alleviating the oppression and injustice of the blockade.
The trade union has also called for a minimum wage for labourers to be set to enable them to be able to provide the basic necessities for their families. It also demanded that the government in Gaza make the condition of labourers one of its priority so as to alleviate their suffering and called on the UN to assume its responsibilities toward refugee workers; to help give them to decent lives as one of the most basic rights guaranteed by international law, instead of reducing the amount of aid they are given.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad