Socialist Worker

Protests in Gaza after Palestinian Authority slashes public sector workers’ wages

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2549

Rami Hamdallah

Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Rami Hamdallah (Pic: Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres)


Thousands of Palestinian public sector workers have taken to the streets in Gaza in protest against a pay cut.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) slashed the workers’ salaries by at least 30 percent last week.

Meanwhile PA employees in the West Bank received their full salary.

A protest of thousands in Gaza City last Saturday saw workers call on prime minister Rami Hamdallah and finance minister Shukri Bishara to resign. “Leave! Leave! Oh Hamdallah! Leave! Leave! Oh Bishara,” they chanted.

Irregular

Some 50,000 public sector workers in Gaza have received irregular, partial, or no salary at all from the PA for ten years.

The PA, which is led by the Fatah party, governs in the West Bank. It was forced out of Gaza in 2007 after a failed coup against the elected Hamas government.

It has continued paying the wages of some 70,000 workers who refused to work for the Hamas government after the PA ordered them to stop.

The other 50,000 who continued working have been punished with irregular salaries. But the latest pay cut is reported to affect all PA employees in Gaza.

The PA says the cut is due to a 70 percent reduction in funds it receives in international aid.

Occupation

But it is suffering a financial crisis caused by its cooperation with the Israeli occupation.

An agreement signed between Fatah leaders and Israel in 1993—the Olso accords—means Israel is responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the PA.

But Israel often withholds funding as punishment against Palestinians for resisting Israel’s military occupation.

A series of economic reforms have also subordinated Palestine’s economy to Israel’s. Now the PA is trying to make its own workers pay the price of the occupation.

Some 35,000 teachers in the West Bank struck for a month last year after the PA refused them a pay increase promised in 2013.

They won widespread support among Palestinians becoming fed up with the PA.

The PA clearly hopes to avoid sparking similar resistance by targeting workers in Gaza.

Instead, Fatah has provoked anger among its own members and supporters who stayed loyal by refusing to work for Hamas.


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