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Civil servants' union announces strike

July 31, 2011 11:31 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2011 11:41 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The union of civil servants in the West Bank on Sunday called for an open strike to begin Tuesday in protest over the late payment of salaries.

Union chief Bassam Zakarna dismissed the Palestinian Authority's claims that it could not pay employees' wages on time because of a financial crisis.

"This financial crisis is made up, and the government adopts a policy of blackout to frustrate employees and citizens while the treasury has enough money to pay full salaries," Zakarna said in a statement.

He added: "The government has not updated the union on anything."

Zakarna said the union had asked government officials when salaries would be paid for July.

"We asked different concerned officials and all they say is: 'We asked the prime minister and minister of finance when salaries will be paid, and they just do not get back to us.'"

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad said Tuesday that the government needed $300 million "urgently" to help ease a cash crisis.

Speaking at an extraordinary meeting of Arab League representatives, Fayyad said the crisis stemmed from the fact that pledged aid had not materialized.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki told AFP that President Mahmoud Abbas had requested the meeting as the PA faced the possibility of being unable to pay the salaries of its employees for July or August.

Zakarna said Fayyad was "trying tactics" as shops were forced to close and the country's economy was "collapsing."

The union leader said government employees were not able to buy goods for the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, and could not pay for their children's university applications.

"They don't even have money for their transportation to work."

The union official urged people to tie-up any pending business with government ministries ahead of the strike.

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