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West Bank civil servants to strike Thursday
Published Wednesday 19/02/2014 (updated) 20/02/2014 16:14
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(MaanImages)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- West Bank public sector employees will strike on Thursday in protest against the government's failure to implement previously agreed-upon cost of living pay increases, their union head announced.

Bassam Zakarna said in a statement that the union's leadership convened Wednesday and expressed anger at the government for "deliberating ending the debate by not responding to letters from the union and not implementing previously signed agreements."

The council of the union concluded by calling for a general strike on Thursday as well as March 2-3.

The governmental office of employees, however, announced in response that Thursday would be an official working day.

In a statement the office said that based on the PA cabinet's instructions, Thursday would be a regular working day for all ministries and governmental organizations, and anyone who failed to be in their position would be treated as absent.

Zakarna said that the demands of the employees focus on ensuring the implementation of a previous agreement which included cost-of-living pay rises for the years 2013 and 2014, as well as a risk pay rise for engineers and those who work in potentially dangerous jobs.

The demands also include applying the official payments for transportation and overtime, returning pay cuts previously taken from Gaza employees, increasing the salary of those below the level of director, and providing better work prospects for those who have less than a bachelor's degree.

The Western-backed PA has struggled with falling international donations and domestic revenues, and had to delay payments to its 153,000 public sector workers several times in 2013.

A World Bank report released in October said that Israel's control over Area C -- more than 60 percent of the West Bank -- deprives the Palestinian economy of an estimated $3.4 billion a year, equivalent to some 35 percent of the Palestinian gross domestic product in 2011.

A UN report released in September, meanwhile, said that the PA loses about $300 million a year due to "leakage" from customs, purchase and value-added taxes that Israel keeps instead of transferring to the PA. The sum is equivalent to 17 percent of total tax revenue.
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