Palestinian Authority workers shut down schools, clinics and some municipal services for a third day on Wednesday due to a strike.
Some 3,700 workers participating in the job action are demanding an across-the-board pay raise of $281.81 – 200 Jordanian dinars – in their monthly salary from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The agency that was founded to help Arab refugees from the 1948 and 1967 Arab wars on Israel is the only such agency in the world that has perpetuated the refugee status of succeeding generations from those who fled the wars.
And now, UNRWA is facing a funding squeeze that it has passed on to its workers in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, plus those at agency branches in Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
“All indications are that it is going to be a difficult year,” warned UNRWA’s spokesperson in Gaza City, Adnan Abu Hasna.
The agency issued an appeal on Tuesday for donations to close its $1.6 billion funding shortfall.
But for now, a lack of funds means salaries are at risk of not only not be raised, but in fact could be cut – the same way high-tech companies around the world are being forced to tighten their belts.
UNRWA workers in Gaza, however, are not striking, due to pressure from local residents for the humanitarian supplies they have been receiving for years, according to the Al Arabiya news network.
Nevertheless, UNRWA workers in the Palestinian Authority have vowed to continue their job action. “The strike will go on until UNRWA accepts our demands,” union chief Jamal Abdullah said.