Management of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) has refused to increase the salaries of Palestinian employees in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA employees in Gaza staged a one-day strike, on Sunday, in protest of the agency’s dismissal of workers and its refusal to increase salaries, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) has reported.
The UN organization claims that it is facing a budget deficit due to refusal by donor countried to contribute additional financial assistance.
On Tuesday, UNRWA expressed regret for its inability to increase employee salaries. Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza, stated that the current living conditions in Gaza have rendered a strike untenable, due to the continued Israeli siege; the organization’s deficit this year stands at $65 million, according to Hasna.
In the West Bank, caretaker Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah met UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi, on Wednesday, to discuss the strike. At the meeting, Hamdallah spoke of an urgency to reopen UNRWA schools, which have been closed for 36 days because of a teacher strike.
Chris Gunness, a spokeman for UNRWA, said in a statement to the press that pay increases are not feasible, given that UNRWA worker salaries are already ’20 percent above’ the salaries for equivalent positions in the West Bank.
‘If we abandon our pay policy, our donors will get very upset,’ Gunness said.
The meeting between Hamallah and Grandi comes after more than one week of protests against UNRWA across the West Bank and Gaza.