Palestinian teachers resume strike over long-standing demands on pay and other work-related issues

Teachers decided to go on strike within days of ending their two-month strike after the government failed to honor its agreed upon commitments 

May 12, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Palestinian teachers on strike
(Photo: Palestine Chronicle)

According to reports on Wednesday, May 10, public school teachers in the occupied West Bank have embarked on a two-week-long strike demanding higher wages and drastic improvements in work conditions. The teachers resumed striking days after ending a two-month strike that was launched in February following assurances from the Palestinian Authority (PA) government. 

The main Palestinian teachers’ organization leading the strike action—the Independent Teachers Movement—said in a statement that the strike was resumed as the solutions offered by the PA government were “dead before they were born.” 

The government has not extended official recognition to this newly formed union, which has also led to anger among the teachers. 

The solutions offered by the government during earlier negotiations include a 15% pay hike, free and fair elections to the official teachers’ unions, and the right to form independent trade unions. The government had committed to fulfilling these demands by January of next year. 

Teachers still argue that the government has failed to reverse the punitive deductions to teachers’ salaries made while they were on strike. When the teachers finally received their salaries, they were not reimbursed for those deductions. The government, in response, said that the teachers were not reimbursed due to a “technical error” and that the dues would be paid in the coming weeks.

According to reports, previous strikes by teachers have been among the biggest workers-led collective actions in Palestine, especially one which took place in 2016 and saw the participation of 50,000 teachers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, affecting more than 100,000 students. The massive 2016 strike was organized by the teachers in defiance of their official union which had accepted the terms offered in talks with the government but were deemed inadequate by the teachers. Thousands of other workers across sectors have also staged strikes in the last years over similar pay and work-related issues, among them doctors, lawyers, and judges.