Pay deal ends strike by UN Palestinian agency workers in Jordan
An agreement was reached to end a strike in Jordan by employees of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees hours after the walkout began on Sunday.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and union representatives announced the deal involving salary increases of between 70 and 100 Jordanian dinars (Dh362 and Dh517) per month from January.
“Consequently, it has been decided to put an end to the strike,” said Riyadh Zyghan, leader of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency employees’ union in Jordan.
More than two million Palestinians are registered in Jordan as refugees with UNRWA, which provides everything from health care to schooling.
About 7,000 workers had joined the strike, forcing a shutdown of agency facilities, Sami Mshamsha, UNRWA spokesman in Jordan, said.
Mr Mshamsha said the union demanded a salary increase of 200 Jordanian dinars, but agreed to ask for half that amount after negotiations with UNRWA.
The union had said the action would be “open-ended” and told schoolchildren to stay at home.
The strike came as the agency faces an unprecedented financial crisis. Last year, the United States cut all of its funding for UNRWA, causing a shortfall that threatens to close its schools and hospitals.
Those woes were compounded by allegations of abuse by the agency’s management, leading other key donors such as the Netherlands and Switzerland to withhold payments.
In June, UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl said the agency faced a $211 million (Dh775m) shortfall this year.
The agency runs 169 schools in Jordan, as well as 25 primary healthcare centres and other services.
UNRWA was established in 1949 after more than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel’s creation the previous year.
It provides vital education and medical services to about five million Palestinians in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem.
About 7,000 workers joined the strike, forcing many agency facilities to shut down before the strike was resolved