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West Bank teachers strike over unpaid wages

Dec. 17, 2012 1:29 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 18, 2012 4:19 A.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Teachers in the West Bank went on strike on Monday to protest continued delays by the Palestinian Authority to pay their wages.

The general union of teachers decided late Sunday to stage a comprehensive strike in all West Bank schools as the PA failed to set a date for the payment of late salaries.

The union also decided that teachers would work a three-day week until the PA pays their salaries. The head of the teachers union in Nablus, Issam Dababsa, told Ma'an that extra classes would be held to cover the two days of strike action.

The decision to work a three-day week will also reduce the teachers' daily expenses on transportation, which many can't afford to pay, he said, adding that schools would begin to operate regularly as soon as teachers received their salaries.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority employees in Nablus suspended work at noon on Monday in protest over unpaid salaries, a measure to be continued until Wednesday.

On Nov. 6, the teachers union undertook large-scale strike action, forcing most schools in the West Bank to close for the day.

School teachers had last gone on strike on Oct. 23, when they joined university lecturers and civil servants in a mass strike over the late and partial payment of public sector salaries, paralyzing the West Bank.

Under interim peace deals, Israel collects some $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank -- money that is badly needed to pay public sector salaries.

Israel said it would withhold these tax revenues from President Mahmoud Abbas's administration until March in response to his statehood campaign at the United Nations in late November.

Israel has previously frozen payments to the PA during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the UN cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership a year ago.
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