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Appeal for Solidarity with Palestinian Municipal Workers

The following is reproduced from the Labourstart site

 



 

Palestinian Minister of Local Governments recognizes the right of Jericho municipal employees to have their union; Two weeks later Mayor of Jericho still fails to abide

 

The Mayor of Jericho has still not abided by the decision of the Palestinian Minister of Local Governments issued on 15/08/2004 which allows Jericho municipal employees to establish their union and requests the municipality to lift unjustified sanctions taken against members of the union’s establishing committee.

 

When Jericho municipal workers decided to exercise their fundamental right to establish a union in order to defend their rights and interests, they knew that this would not be an easy task in view of the negative stand generally taken by Palestinian employers towards union organizing, both in the public and private sectors, and the absence of a national trade union law guaranteeing workers’ freedom of association and union rights. However, they certainly did not anticipate the fact that the Mayor of Jericho municipality would use all his weight and authority to thwart their lawful effort.

Since the beginning of 2004, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine has been organizing a series of awareness meetings for municipal workers in the West Bank regarding their rights at work. Following the meeting held in Jericho, a number of workers and employees of Jericho municipality constituted an establishing committee for their union in June 2004. Almost immediately, the Mayor of Jericho Municipality imposed unjustified sanctions against 5 members of the union’s establishing committee, as follows:


- 2 employees were forced to take a 10 day holiday
- 2 employees were issued a warning combined with salary deduction, and 1 of them was suspended from work for a week

On 12 July 2004, the union’s establishing committee addressed a letter to the municipality’s legal adviser demanding the cancellation of these sanctions and raising a number of demands on behalf of the employees, including the right to conduct trade union activities inside the municipality. Their letter revealed an appalling situation as regards the labor rights of employees, and failure by the municipality to abide by the laws and regulations guaranteeing municipal workers’ rights. Some of the violations denounced were: systematic deduction of 2 days of salary for 1 day of absence; sick leave is deducted from annual holidays; more than one sanction is issued for the same fault and sanctions are not adequate to the fault nor gradual; since the beginning of the Intifada, payment of overtime work has been replaced by additional holidays, etc.

The legal advisor of the municipality declined several times to meet with the committee’s members. The municipality confronted the employees with a letter from a general director at the Ministry of Local Governments dated 14 July 2004 announcing that it was illegal for Jericho municipal employees to establish a union. Moreover, the sanctions were not lifted but expanded as one of the employees forced to take a 10 day holiday was arbitrarily dismissed under the slanderous and unsupported accusation of attempting to cause “disorder” in Jericho city, and another employee was also dismissed for union activities.

In view of the position taken by the municipality, the members of the establishing committee brought the case before the Minister of Local Governments. The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center also informed the Ministry. On 15/08/2004, the Minister of Local Governments, Mr. Jamal Al-Shobaki, rendered the following decision addressed to Mr. Abdel Karim Sader, Mayor of Jericho municipality:

"By virtue of the authority conferred to me in my capacity as Minister of Local Governments, and after studying the various aspects related to the issue of the establishment of their union by the employees and workers of Jericho municipality, as well as the measures, i.e. sanctions, taken by the municipality against a number of employees, I decide the following:

 

1. To allow employees and workers of the municipality to establish their own union under the name of “Committee for the Employees and Workers of Jericho Municipality”, akin to the committees established with the same goals in other municipalities.

 

2. To cancel all sanctions taken by the municipality against the following employees:


1- Raed Dweikat
2- Ahmed Barakat
3- Mohammed Al-’Amla
4- Wisam Al-Shweiki
5- Khaled Jaber

 

 The necessity to respect the laws and regulations in force, especially the articles related to sanctions, which must be gradual and non duplicated, holidays, etc"

This official recognition of the right to organize for municipal workers is a very positive step. However, Jericho municipal employees still wait for its implementation in their municipality, as the Mayor of Jericho has failed to this day to abide by the Minister’s decision.

 

Express your solidarity

 

You can help Jericho municipal workers in their struggle for their right to organize by sending letters to the Mayor of Jericho, Mr. Abdel Karim Sader, at fax: + 972 2 2322604 demanding of him to implement the Palestinian Minister of Local Governments decision dated 15/08/2004, and therefore lift sanctions taken against 5 employees of the municipality and respect the employees’ right to freedom of association and organizing.

 

Or e-mail: info@jericho-city.org  


Please send a copy of all your letters to DWRC at fax +972 2 295 2608

or e-mail: info@dwrc.org  

 

Please copy in: solidarity@btinternet.com

 

 

September 2004

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