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UNRWA staff to strike

November 9, 2016 at 4:19 pm

The union for local employees of UNRWA announced on Monday that a series of protests would take place across the occupied Palestinian territories after international organisations failed to meet the demands of employees and refugees.

A speaker of the union, Suheil Al-Hindi, told Ma’an in Gaza City that “the outcome of talks between the union and the administration of UNRWA is zero,” adding that the union had decided to shut down all of UNRWA’s main offices in Gaza City, including the main office in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, starting yesterday.

Al-Hindi added that employees would also go on strike in all offices in Gaza city on Monday, and protests would continue with the potential of open strikes being held in all UNRWA offices across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He said that there are currently 450 vacancies in UNRWA’s education sector adding that the agency “deliberately puts off hiring employees in order to win some time and save money at the expense of refugees.”

According to Al-Hindi, workers have also demanded UNRWA increase salaries to reflect the high cost of living and to stop reducing the services it offers.

In response to the strikes, UNRWA spokesperson Sami Mshasha told Ma’an that the organisation “remains concerned about the impact and ramifications” of the employee-driven work stoppages, calling the protests “counter-productive”.

He added that similar disagreements around employee salaries have occurred in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, but “they continue to earnestly discuss these issues with UNRWA away from service disruptions.”