Workers worldwide are demanding a boost in the minimum wage—a fair’s day pay for a fair day’s work.
In Palestine, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) spearheaded a successful campaign for a minimum wage boost, effective in January, that for the first time in years enables workers to earn above poverty-level wages. The PGFTU is the umbrella federation for unions across the West Bank and Gaza.
“We connected this achievement with activating labor courts to look through workers’ cases that are delayed at the courts. And there are bottlenecks at courts that may reach 10 years. So, we wanted this to be accelerated, and to give the workers their rights,” says Mohammad Badri.
Badri, who works in the West Bank at the Palestinian cellular firm, Jawwal, where he heads up the union at the company, describes the campaign on the latest episode of The Solidarity Center Podcast. (Arabic)
Solidarity Center Executive and Podcast host Director Shawna Bader-Blau says, “Unions in Palestine have an especially high hurdle to ensure workers are paid a decent wage because getting a minimum wage agreement with the Palestinian Authority is only the first step.
“Mohammad describes a tedious, time-consuming process that involves connecting with individual employers, many of whom are hostile, to ensure workers are paid the new wage.
“The employers are very greedy. They did not commit to this resolution and they don’t want to give higher salaries for their workers,” says Badri, who recently was elected to PGFTU’s executive committee and general secretariat.
“We will keep struggling and working at the federation, and we will not give up labor rights. We will protect the rights of our workers.”
Listen Wherever You Subscribe to Podcasts!
Listen to this episode and all Solidarity Center episodes here or at Spotify, Amazon, Stitcher, Castbox or wherever you subscribe to your favorite podcasts.
Download recent episodes:
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.
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: