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Unemployment threaten Palestinians’ ability to feed their families

Many Palestinians don't see they have any other choice but to work on Israeli settlements

Source : MiddleEastMonitor with WAFA / 01 May 2014

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas should permanently join the International Labour Organisation and sign all its conventions, Secretary General of Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) Shaher Sa'ad said yesterday.

At a press conference in its headquarters in Ramallah on the eve of International Workers' Day, the PGFTU called for Abbas to join international conventions related to workers in order to guarantee a means through which the Palestinian workforce can be protected.

Sa'ad spoke about the difficulties Palestinian workers face especially in the Israeli labour market. He also spoke of the unemployment figures which have reached 370,000.

Regarding the difficulties facing Palestinian workers, he said that 41 died in work accidents since 2013, while 65 per cent of the workers in the private sector earn low wages that do not allow them and their families to live above the poverty line.

In addition, he said that the unemployment rate and poverty among workers is steadily increasing. That pushed more Palestinian workers to work inside Israel or in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where Israeli employers do not recognise their rights.

The secretary general called for Palestinian investors abroad to return to the Palestinian territories and start businesses there in order to afford work opportunities for Palestinian workers.

He said that the federation plans to get an area of land allocated for housing projects for the workers and discussed the option of setting up a social security programme for them.

Basemeh Al-Battat, secretary of the PGFTU, called for finding alternatives for Palestinians working in Israeli settlements. She noted that the rate of female workers among those working in settlements is increasing. She attributed this to the increasing poverty rates.

Al-Battat said that of the 110,000 Palestinians working in Israel, 6,000 are women. This leads to social disintegration because most of them are mothers and they spend a lot of time away from their children, she explained.

She called for Palestinian labour laws to be reviewed in order to ensure better rights for women.

There was a rise in unemployment among new graduates aged 20-29 years in 2012 compared to the previous year, said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on Monday.

It said in a special press release on new university graduates that there are around 30,000 graduates annually from Palestinian higher education institutions.

It said in the 2012/2013 academic year, around 87,000 high school students took the general matriculation exam that allows them to enter college.

According to the PCBS, unemployment rate in 2012 rose to 50.6% among graduates aged 20-29 years with a bachelor degree or an intermediate diploma - 40.9% in the West Bank and 63.2% in the Gaza Strip. In 2011, the unemployment rate for this group was 46.5%.

The highest rates of unemployment among graduates aged 20-29 years with a bachelor degree or an intermediate diploma in the Gaza Strip were teacher training and education (73.0%), social and behavioral sciences (71.7%), humanities (70.3%), life sciences (68.9%) and computing (60.8%).


The highest unemployment rates in the West Bank for the same age group by area of study were teacher training and education (54.8%), social and behavioral sciences (52.4%), mathematics and statistics (51.2%), humanities (45.9%) and journalism and information (44.7%).


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