Date: 19 April 2007
Time: 13:00 GMT
PCHR Calls upon the PNA to Meet the Just Demands of Employees of the Gaza Strip Municipalities to Prevent an Imminent Environmental Disaster
PCHR also warns of an imminent environmental disaster due to the accumulation of garbage in the streets, which some people have started to burn. The smell of garbage and the smoke resulting for burning it pollute the air and may cause diseases. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to meet the just demands of the employees and workers of municipalities in the Gaza Strip, which include the payment of delayed salaries and wages, through negotiating their representatives and the providing a mechanism that can ensure appropriate living conditions for them, especially in light of the deterioration in the economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), particularly in the Gaza Strip. The employees and workers of municipalities has initiated a strike calling for meeting their demands.
Employees and workers of municipalities in the Gaza Strip have been in a strike since Monday, 9 April 2007. PCHR had already warned official bodies of the consequences of not meeting the demands of those employees and workers and not taking any measures to ease their financial crisis. Earlier, on Wednesday, 4 April 2007, the employees and workers of municipalities in the Gaza Strip organized a partial strike, which resulted in the accumulation of garbage in the streets. They, excluding those who work in emergency departments, then started their general strike on 9 April 2007 as the official bodies had not paid their salaries and wages regularly since March 2006. All services provided by the municipalities have been suspended, including the removal of garbage from the streets, which may pose environmental and health dangers. The employees and workers of municipalities organized a similar strike in August 2006 for the same reasons, which makes it necessary to consider their demands.
PCHR warns of an imminent environmental disaster in the Gaza Strip due to the accumulation of garbage in the streets. PCHR expresses it solidarity with the just demands of employees and workers of municipalities. PCHR further confirms that their right to organize a strike is ensured by the Palestinian law and international human rights law. Consequently:
1) PCHR calls upon the PNA to meet the demands of the employees and workers of municipalities through direct negotiations with their representatives to reach a mechanism to pay their delayed salaries and wages.
2) As PCHR is aware of the financial crisis resulting from the suspension of aids to the PNA, it calls upon the PNA to deal with the issue of employees and workers of municipalities in the Gaza Strip the same way it deals with the issue of other public employees, through paying partial salaries are paid partial salaries.
3) PCHR calls upon the Ministry of Local Government to immediately pay the amounts of money devoted to municipalities according to article 22 of the Law of Local Councils of 1997.
4) PCHR calls upon the Ministry of Finance to pay the fee revenues, including those of collected on roads and cars, to municipalities.
5) PCHR calls upon the union of employees and workers of municipalities to take into consideration the impacts of the suspension of basic services in the Gaza Strip, including water supplies and public health services, and form emergency teams to provide basic services.
6) PCHR calls upon the local community to contribute to solving this problem, through paying the delayed fees to municipalities.
7) PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the donors, to reconsider the economic sanctions imposed on Palestinians, as these sanctions have had negatively impacted the Palestinian economic and social rights.