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Palestinian cabinet approves revised Social Security Act after backlash

Sept. 28, 2016 5:36 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2016 1:06 P.M.)
Logo for the National Campaign for Social Security
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) – The Palestinian cabinet on Tuesday ratified a revised version of the controversial Social Security Act No. 6, after a draft approved in February was met with fierce opposition from the public and sparked protests by thousands of employees in the private sector.

The cabinet said in a statement issued at the end of its weekly meeting held in Ramallah that it ratified the law and forwarded it to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for his approval, “after reaching an agreement on all the comments raised regarding some clauses,” according to state-run news agency Wafa.

If and when Abbas signs it into law, a board will be named to manage the new social security system.

Protesters took to the streets earlier this year, saying that the law failed to provide adequate protection for workers, putting those with disabilities, retirees, and private sector workers at a disadvantage.

Thousands of demonstrators at a rally in April demanded that the law be suspended until discussions were held on a national level, in order to address concerns that the law acts as a detriment to employee savings without guaranteeing security from the state.

Protest organizers said that under the new social security system, “expected retirement income won’t be enough to enable retired employees and workers to live in dignity.”

A number of political parties in parliament, civic organizations, and trade unions also reportedly opposed the law.

Following the backlash, the cabinet withdrew the law for revision in consultation with various groups and organizations from the public and private sector.

The rally came amid an increase in public demonstration against the PA for a variety of issues. Also in April, a large group demonstrated in Ramallah demanding the PA release three Palestinians detained on suspicions of planning an attack against Israel, who were ordered to be released this month after reportedly being tortured in custody and later launching hunger strikes.

In March, a teachers’ strike brought the largest public demonstrations against the PA in years.

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