Pay deal ends strike by UN Pales­tinian agency work­ers in Jor­dan

The National - News - - NEWS -

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

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