For the past month, the pension reform imposed by the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas has agitated thousands of private sector employees in the West Bank area. The reform that came into force on the 1st of November 2017 was heavily criticized by the Palestinians.
Demonstrations and actions have been going on for weeks in the West Bank, and despite the government’s decision to open consultation, the opponents are asking for the full withdrawal of the disputed measure.
Last Monday, the Ramallah Red Crescent reception witnessed the same scenario two years after the last major wave of protests; the “National Social Security Campaign”, a broad coalition of trade unions and organizations of all kinds, has resumed negotiations. On the agenda is the drafting of new amendments to the law on private pension reform which is expected to enter into force on the 15th of January.
In the absence of an effective pension fund, employees currently benefit from the “Labour law” which ensures more or less substantial coverage in the event of forced or deliberate departure from a company. But 18 years after its vote, only barely 50% of private sector employees are affected by this law.
Employees shouted their anger against the pension reform which now imposes a mandatory monthly contribution of 7% on 360,000 Palestinians in the private sector in the West Bank. Given the extent of the protest in the recent weeks, the government has put in place a consultation process. But for Bader Thalji, an employee in a telecommunications company, it is a matter of buying time for the Palestinian leaders. “They are just trying to force this pension reform on us because the Palestinian Authority is worried about money; they’re not listening to us“, he declared.
Palestinians seem to have lost trust in their leaders
This controversial issue has been tackled multiple times since 1994 in the Paris agreements. At the time, the principle of transferring this money from the Israeli system to a Palestinian fund was agreed, but since then, its implementation has still not been achieved.
Palestinians seem to have lost trust in their leaders. Some are even betting on an “imminent fall” of the Palestinian Authority that failed both on the social and political levels to meet their expectations.