On Saturday afternoon activists from SFP visited the UNWRA workers solidarity tent in Nablus. The workers have now been on hunger strike for 33 days, with still no interaction or dialogue with the UN which is refuses their basic workers rights. UN schools have been closed for weeks and basic services to the refugee camps have ground to a halt. But the workers and community stay strong together in solidarity.
The workers are demanding the following:
- Equal Pay;
- Pay progression;
- End to contracting;
- Reinstatement of UN projects; and
- Reinstatement of sacked workers.
Many of the workers are paid vastly less than their international counterparts. In addition to this they have received no pay progression despite spiraling living costs and the majority of workers having worked for the UN for decades, building up huge experience. They also are often employed on contracts, unlike their international counterparts on permanent contracts. This makes it easier for the UN to sack them. Compounded by the fact that despite an agreement not to sack workers illegally arrested by the Israeli Army, the UN is now sacking workers. The majority of Palestinian men have been arrested by the Army at some point in their lives.
The UN claims it has no funds to either pay or continue vital projects. However, the Israelis have been pressuring the UN to cease its activities in the West Bank in order to further compound the Palestinians refugees right to return to their stolen land in historical Palestine.
SFP has been supporting the workers and organised several solidarity actions. We will continue to support them as they struggle for their rights. We ask all our friends to write to the UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi demanding he recognise and implement the workers demands, and keep the pressure up by also writing to your respective representatives, asking that they show their support for the workers.