On Sunday, 08 April 2018, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a panel discussion titled: “Reality of Private Sector Workers’ Rights in the Gaza Strip.” The panel discussion was attended by a group of experts representing civil society organizations, Ministry of Labor, trade unions, Professional Associations, and lawyers.
Khalil Shaheen, Director PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, opened the panel discussion, pointing out that this discussion aims at diagnosing the violations that the private sector workers suffer from, drafting recommendations that contribute to stop the violations of workers’ rights, and enhancing the protection of their rights according to the international and national standards of the right to work.
Fadel al-Muzzaini, a researcher at PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, reviewed the axes of a report currently being prepared by PCHR and addressing the private sector workers’ rights. He said that the preliminary results of the report indicate that most private business institutions do not respect the labor standards codified in international and national charters and conventions related to workers’ rights, including the Palestinian Labor Law No. 7 of 2000. He added that workers in private business institutions are exposed to various forms of violations that prevent them from enjoying their rights. He pointed out that the working women and juveniles are most vulnerable to these violations, despite the special importance that the Palestinian labor law and the international conventions related to workers’ rights attached to them.
The participants reviewed and discussed many notes; the most prominent of which were as follows:
- The catastrophic and aggravated economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip are the main challenges in the absence of commitment to the implementation of the Palestinian Labor Law and international standards relevant to the right to work. The participants attributed the deterioration to the Israeli successive policies, including the closure imposed rendering the Gaza Strip with no progress in sight at the level of economic conditions and not creating jobs that would contribute to the promotion of the private sector workers’ rights.
- The ongoing political division and its repercussions relevant to the absence of national policies to operate and support the private sector and apply the measures to oversight active institutions.
- The fragile role of Gaza trade unions in promoting the private sector workers’ rights and raising their awareness to adopt the human rights approach and economic struggle to promote the workers’ rights and protect them.
- Only 30% of the Palestinian Labor Law is applied in the private sector institution and exists only in the formal labor market.
- The participants expressed their concern over the recent increasing number of violations in the economic institutions of the formal labor market. The participants are also concerned over the manipulation of workers’ contracts so economic institutions can evade obligations under the Palestinian Labor Law. The participants stressed the need to apply the Palestinian Labor Law that requires raising workers’ awareness of their rights, raising the employers’ culture of the importance of complying with the rules of labor law, and activating the role of trade unions as the basic defender of workers’ rights.
- The need to activate and develop the Department of Inspection and Labor Protection in the Ministry of Labor in the private sector, due to the weakness of its human, logistic and financial capabilities. The participants also stressed the disparity in the ability of each private institution to enforce the rules of the Palestinian Labor Law due to the deteriorating economic situation and inability of employers to bear the employment costs. Moreover, the participants emphasized that labor inspection priorities should be developed in accordance with work reality and conditions, including safety, prevention and occupational health. This requires developing the role of the Ministry of Labor in promoting and protecting the private sector workers’ rights.
At the end of the panel discussion, Khalil Shaheen thanked the participants and pointed out that the report will take into account all interventions and recommendations until the issuance of the report.