A strike demanding pay rises is being observed by around 7,000 UNRWA workers in Jordan, in a context where the agency faces financial crisis. Focus!
Thousands of UNRWA workers went on strike on Sunday October, 3rd in Jordan. As strike hits UN Palestinian agency, schools and health centres that provide services for refugees have been shut down. More than 2 million Palestinians are registered as refugees in Jordan and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides everything for them, from schooling to healthcare.
Jordanian schools, clinics and social services shut as UN Palestinian agency strikes
Around 7 000 UNRWA employees walked out after demanding raises, forcing a shutdown of agency facilities. They had joined the strike, as agency faces an unprecedented financial crisis. During this action, UNRWA’s work providing educational services, basic health and social protection to the Palestinian refugees almost came to a standstill.
UNRWA workers said the action would be “open-ended” and told pupils and students that they should stay at home, as schools and universities would remain closed. It is important to note that 169 schools are run by the United Nations in Jordan, where more than 120 000 students are enrolled.
UNRWA was set up in 1949 and it was responding to the needs of about more than 750,000 Palestinians refugees. Nowadays, it provides schooling, medical and social services to some 5 million Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied West Bank. In 2018, US ended the aid and suspended all funding to United Nations Agency supporting Palestinian refugees. This decision caused a financial crisis that threatened UNRWA schools and hospitals existence.
Agreement reached to end the strike
Employees have decided to put an end to the strike they started on Sunday, following an agreement reached between the UN agency and UNRWA Jordan Field Staff Union, mediated by the Foreign Ministry. Amman’s top diplomat said that the deal was reached by workers of the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, who agreed to resume work on Monday.
This agreement involves salary rises of between 70 and 100 Jordanian dinars (88 to 126 €) beginning in January, according to Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Foreign Minister. He added that the deal took into consideration UNRWA’s difficult economic conditions. Sami Mshamsha, the official spokesman of UNRWA said the union had demanded a salary increase of 200 Jordanian dinars (around 250 €) but agreed to ask for half that amount following negotiations with UNRWA.