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Unions threaten strikes over 'low minimum wage'

Oct. 8, 2012 9:51 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 9, 2012 11:31 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- After a national committee announced the first minimum wage in Palestine at 1450 shekels ($375), the general federation of Palestinian trade unions has threatened to take serious steps against the decision if it is approved by the cabinet.

“We decided to boycott the wage committee meeting on Sunday because we refuse the suggested figure,” secretary-general of the federation Shahir Saad told Ma’an Sunday evening.

The federation, he said, consists of 14 trade unions and 87,000 subscribers, and is united in its opposition to the minimum wage level.

Saad said the federation had agreed to lower its original proposal of 2,400 shekels ($620), in line with the poverty line in Palestine, to 1,750 shekels ($450).

They will never approve a lower figure, which "is too small compared to the high cost of living," he said.

He highlighted that the minimum wage in Israel is 4,300 shekels ($1,115), three times that of Palestine, despite the fact that the cost of living is quite similar. He warned that if Palestinian employers lower their salaries, more workers will seek better wages in Israeli settlements.

The federation will send a message to the cabinet ministers asking them not to approve the recommendations of the wage committee, according to Saad.

They are ready to organize demonstrations and strikes if the cabinet does approve the minimum wage level as it stands, he said.
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