From Adam Bouloukos, UNRWA Director of West Bank Affairs
Since Monday 23 January, the UNRWA West Bank staff union open strike has impacted on the Agency’s ability to deliver core services. Critical services to Palestine refugees in the West Bank, such as health, education and sanitation have stopped in response to the strike, while the situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem is escalating daily. UNRWA provides services to hundreds of thousands of people across 19 refugees camps and communities in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.
The West Bank UNRWA staff union states that the strike comes in reaction to the lack of response by the UNRWA management to a requested salary increase in the face of high cost of living. UNRWA respects the rights of staff to undertake industrial action. UNRWA has been engaging for months with the union to address these concerns in line with the Agency’s pay policy which closely matches our salaries with the equivalent job among the comparator which in our case is the Palestinian Authority. The last salary survey shows that a significant majority of staff salaries are above the comparator. The Management is committed to adjusting those that fell below.
While I commend the health and sanitation staff in the northern West Bank who have put their differences with the Agency aside and provided critical immediate services to those in need in Jenin Camp, the strike remains in effect denying Palestine refugees much needed support.
As the UNRWA Director in the West Bank, I call on the union to end the strike and resume activities for the benefit of Palestine refugees, including to reopen the schools so that more than 45,000 girls and boys are afforded a safe space. The last place we would want these children to be is on the streets, unsupervised, during heightened violence. UNRWA is and remains committed to constructive dialogue with the West Bank Staff union.