Palestine: EI explores alternative solutions as teachers continue strike over salary arrears

"The public authorities are ignoring the union’s demand to resume paying salaries to the public school teachers," says Mohammad Sowan, President of the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT). Teachers have not been paid since March 2006. More than 80% of them are on strike, despite increasing pressure exerted by the Palestinian authority to resume classes. The authorities accuse the union of having organised a "political strike". Sowan rejects the accusation and stresses that his members’ families had no income for seven months and are facing serious financial problems. Some 1,200 public schools on the Westbank and in Gaza, attended by 750,000 students, have been closed since 2 September. Private schools, which do not depend on public funds, are not taking part in the strike. The financial crisis facing Palestine’s public services is the result of the refusal of the newly elected Palestine authority earlier this year to recognise the state of Israel. The international community has made its financial support to the Palestinian authority dependent on this recognition. This is also why tax revenues from outside Palestine have not been released. At the request of the GUPT, Education International is exploring alternative ways to make these funds available for payment to the Palestinian public school teachers. GUPT leaders met with EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, and NUT General Secretary, Steve Sinnott, in East Jerusalem and Bethlehem on 22-23 September to discuss possible alternatives, as well as EI’s own solidarity assistance programme.

[Mon, 25 Sep 2006 16:52:26 +0000] | DIGG THIS

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