Workers in Palestine now have even more support for their efforts to achieve rights and respect at work: The National Alliance for Social Justice in Palestine, launched in Ramallah in recent days, seeks to craft Palestinian labor law in line with international labor standards and expand equitable legislation for all Palestinians. Alliance leaders say such coordination is especially essential to advance social justice standards and worker protection during COVID-19 lockdowns.
The 41-member alliance, headed by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), includes the majority of professional unions, trade unions and Palestinian civil society institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. PGFTU spearheaded the coalition with support of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in March 2021.
Among the Code of Honor Principles:
- Adopting the principles and standards of sustainable and alternative development to build a national economy and reject all forms of normalization
- Adopting a participatory, holistic approach in implementing the Alliance’s plan and programs
- Promoting and adopting mechanisms to advocate and campaign for policies and regulations on economic and social rights and amendments to the labor law in line with international labor standards
- Believing in the coalition that will build labor law, policies and social protection systems
- Believing in the necessity of unifying demands on issues of social justice, economic and social rights, and trade union demands for all member institutions of the coalition
Among the Alliance Founding Partners:
- PGFTU (president)
- General Union of Palestinian Workers
- The General Federation of Independent Trade Unions
- The General Union of Palestinian Women in West bank and Gaza Strip
- Sharek Youth Forum
- Wasel Foundation for Youth Development
- Women and Media Development Association – TAM
- Center of Psychosocial Counselling for Women
- The Palestinian Foundation for Empowerment and Local Development – Reform
- Center for Feminist Studies
- Palestinian Broadcasting Union
- Palestinian NGOs Network
- Union of Palestinian University Professors and Employees
Solidarity Center programs in Palestine support the PGFTU in building coalitions with civil society organizations to combine efforts with the labor movement to advocate for national policy reform, campaign for labor rights and address the important issues for workers collectively.
While all work has value, not every job is a “good job.” Millions of workers around the world, especially those in the informal sector, cannot enjoy the benefits of their own hard work and often are denied safe working conditions, social protections like health insurance, professional security and union rights and freedom.
The Solidarity Center partners with unions and other allies to support workers seeking to achieve decent work and dignity on the job, together. In Palestine, the Solidarity Center supports activists fighting for labor law enforcement and sustainable jobs, to improve the lives of all working people.
A new Solidarity Center photo essay, ’Sometimes I Am Lucky to Get A Task for Three Days’: Etaf Awdi Hamdi Eqdeeh, offers a look into the life of a mother and agricultural worker Etaf Awdi Hamdi Eqdeeh who lives and works in Khuza’a, near Khan Younis, Gaza.
Now in her 60s, Etaf visits area farms daily to look for any kind of temporary job because she cannot find a permanent job—and she helps support her multigenerational family.
“Sometimes I am lucky to get a task for three days,” she says.
ITF-affiliated bus drivers in Gaza are among workers affected by the current conflict. Credit: ITF
On an ordinary working day, activists from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)-Gaza conduct labor rights education and outreach to worksites around Gaza. In the past six months, Organizing Department Head Ahmad Hillis and other union officials have visited more than 180 workplaces including hospitals, pharmacies, universities and construction sites. (Arabic version of this article here.)
Through one-one-one conversations, the organizers have documented exchanges with 234 workers and informally registered 54 new union members. (PGFTU-Gaza is not currently able to maintain offices or collect membership fees.)
Today, as the fighting rages, the union’s outreach work is different. Trade unionists spend their days checking on other families and injured persons, talking with employees and owners of razed workplaces, trying to provide assistance where they can and helping to get people to United Nations agencies and aid organizations, where they can receive lifesaving and other assistance.
In coordination with PGFTU sisters and brothers in the West Bank, and with Solidarity Center staff and colleagues from across the international labor movement, the PGFTU has worked tirelessly to develop the federation’s role as a representative civil society organization with a truly national reach.
The brave and peaceful work of these unionists serves a social movement for greater equality and respect for human rights.
The institutions of the international trade union movement have been speaking publicly about the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict. For more information: