Palestinian teachers strike to continue, as PA offer is rejected

Palestinian teachers strike to continue, as PA offer is rejected
Palestinian teachers have called for more pay and the founding of a union, following rising costs in the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
West Bank
24 March, 2023
Palestinian public teachers have been on strike since early February [Qassam Muaddi /TNA]

Palestinian public sector teachers said Thursday they will continue their strike after an offer by Palestinian Authority (PA) was rejected.

Teachers launched a general strike in the occupied West Bank in early February, demanding the implementation of an agreement between the PA and teachers last year ending another two-month strike.

The agreement included a 15 percent pay rise for teachers from the first salary of 2023 and allowed for the formation of an independent union.

Teachers went on strike in early February after their January salaries didn't include the agreed raise while the union was still waiting for approval from the PA.

Ibrahim Milhem, the spokesperson of the PA, said Thursday that the government will agree to a 5 percent raise to teachers' salaries in March while ten percent will be added when the resources become available.

Milhem added that all punitive measures against striking teachers will be ended, in exchange for an end to the industrial action. This offer has since been rejected by the teachers.

"We refuse any solution that does not include the full implementation of all our demands, including the right to form a democratic union representation body, with unconditioned membership," the Teachers' Unified Movement, the unofficial body leading the strike, said in a statement late on Thursday.

"Ending the punitive actions was never part of our demands and it cannot be discussed as a demand to end the strike."

A source in the teachers' movement, who asked not to be named, told The New Arab that the punitive measures include deductions from teachers' salaries for the time they were on strike.

"This is why teachers are now going to schools and marking their presence while abstaining from giving classes," said the source.

"Some received threats of being sent to early retirement, as I did myself."

They said that teachers know that if they return to work without their demands being met, the situation will only get worse.

"There is no turning back and there will be no solution without all our demands being met," they added.

Palestinian public sector teachers first mobilised for better salaries and union representation in 2016, when the first general strike by them was held.

Since the most recent round of strikes, teachers from across the West Bank have rallied three times in Ramallah, voicing their demands.