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Teachers protest in Ramallah for union rights

Feb. 16, 2016 6:52 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 16, 2016 6:52 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- An estimated 20,000 Palestinian teachers demonstrated in Ramallah on Tuesday to call for the implementation of an 2013 agreement guaranteeing their rights.

Most schools in the occupied West Bank shut down completely in protest, while other establishments closed before noon, as teachers gathered in front of the Palestinian Authority’s cabinet headquarters to protest.

The demonstrators called for the resignation of the head of the teachers’ union, Ahmad Sahwil, and the organization of elections within the teachers’ union.

"Teachers are not against the union as a union, but against the behaviors and abuses of the union," one of the demonstrators, Adnan al-Durubi, told Ma’an.

Al-Durubi said the average Palestinian teacher's salary did not exceed 3,000 shekels ($766.70) each month. 

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average monthly expenditure of a Palestinian family in the West Bank is $1333, meaning many teachers live in precarious financial situations.

In 2013, the Palestinian teachers’ union signed an agreement with the government which notably guaranteed raises on their basic salary.

However, three years after a lengthy teachers strike over unpaid salaries, the Palestinian Authority has yet to make good on its promise to increase wages.

The teachers have called on the Palestinian government to comply with the raises agreed upon in 2013, as well as secure university education for teachers’ children, fix existing retirement legislation, enact promotions and bonuses based on experience.

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