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UNRWA union strikes in Gaza, says 3 dismissed unfairly

May 18, 2011 1:45 P.M. (Updated: May 19, 2011 1:22 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinians working for the UN refugee agency in Gaza announced a comprehensive strike for Wednesday, over the dismissal of three employees union officials say were wrongfully let go.

The strike will last all day Wednesday through Thursday, and see all of UNRWA's unessential services, like schools, clinics, and administration offices close. Nearly 11,500 workers will walk out of their jobs, effecting 238 schools and 25 clinics.

According to head of the workers union Salim Al-Hindi, three men were dismissed from their jobs because they had at some point come under investigation by local Gaza security forces. The three were all found not guilty but according to the official were fired anyway.

Details of the cases were given as follows:

K.H.W., a teacher, had "problems between him and his cousins," was investigated by local police and found innocent

A.A., a worker in environment health who was arrested by government security forces after being charged with involvement in the Rafah mosque take-over in 2009, when a Salafist group declared the city an Islamic emirate, an incident that ended in a mass gunfight leaving 22 dead. AA, however, was questioned and released without charge.

A.A., an employee in the services department, he was arrested along with two friends; all were charged with possession of prohibited drugs. The worker was interrogated by local security departments who released him without charge, but detained his two friends.

Al-Hindi called the dismissals "arbitrary," and was effectively an "execution of the workers and their families," who would have no other source of income.

"There must be respect for dignity," the official said, asking that the men be returned immediately to their post.

UNRWA spokesman in Jerusalem Chist Gunnes said "The staff members were dismissed following an inquiry and subsequent review, and under new internal justice procedures agreed between UNRWA and the unions they have the right to appeal."
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