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Public sector union announces strikes across West Bank

Dec. 17, 2012 6:45 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 19, 2012 6:52 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority civil servants union on Monday accused Israel of collective punishment for withholding Palestinian tax revenues and announced strike action over non-payment of salaries.

Union chief Bassam Zakarneh said government employees would strike from noon Tuesday until the end of the week.Civil servants have not received November salaries and cannot afford transport to get to work, Zakarneh added.

At noon Tuesday, public sector staff will protest at ministries and government headquarters across the West Bank, Zakarneh said after a meeting between union leaders and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Zakarneh said Israel's decision to withhold around $100 million a month in duties it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority had put over a million Palestinians under the poverty line.

Israel says it will not transfer the PA's money until March at the earliest in protest at President Mahmoud Abbas' successful bid to upgrade Palestine's status at the UN.

Zakarneh condemned the silence of the international community over Israel's "theft" of Palestinian revenue and called on Arab countries to provide the financial security net pledged by the Arab League.

He also called on the government to try and pay employees, and urged electricity and phone companies not to cut services if public sector workers are late in paying bills.

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