Palestinian employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip started a two-day strike yesterday in protest against redundancies and staff cuts, Arab48.com has reported. The agency’s work in the education, health and welfare sectors has been affected.
The head of the employees’ union, Amir Al-Mishal, added that his members are angry that UNRWA appears to be ignoring their demands. He warned that the strike could be extended beyond Wednesday if UNRWA does not respond.
“The coming days will be decisive,” Al-Mishal pointed out. “We are going ahead in our legitimate and peaceful action until we achieve our just objectives.”
On Sunday, the union announced that UNRWA had sacked six of its members over their activities, including participation in the protest against reduced services. The following day, the agency withdrew a number of its international staff in the Gaza Strip, “after a series of worrying security incidents” affecting its personnel.
UNRWA has been suffering from a budget deficit resulting from the ending of US funding for its activities. However, the union claims that the staff cuts and reduced service provision are political moves. It noted that UNRWA appears to have collected donations to cover most of the deficit.