Middle East

‘GUPT, Education Ministry agreement does not represent us, we will continue our strike’

In a statement issued on Friday, the Unified Teachers’ Movement 2022 in the West Bank rejected: “The agreement signed by the General Union of Palestinian Teachers (GUPT) with the Ministry of Education, on Thursday, because it does not achieve the minimum demands of the teachers.”

A well-informed source in the movement, who asked to remain anonymous, told Quds Press: “This refusal reveals the complicity of the teachers’ union with the government, specifically the Ministry of Education, and its compliance with its threats at the expense of teachers’ basic rights. It also reveals that the union’s recent strike, which started about a month ago and ended last week, was just an act.”

The same source pointed out: “The union did nothing against the Ministry of Education when the teachers went on strike with the movement. The percentage of those rallying behind the movement has increased remarkably.”

The source told Quds Press: “The percentage of teachers’ commitment to the movement’s strike in some governorates in the occupied West Bank reached 81 per cent, and was on average about 44 per cent, which frightened the union and delegitimised it, pushing it to sign a new agreement with the ministry yesterday.”

According to a statement by the teachers’ movement, the agreement ignored many important issues, such as: “The rise in the cost of living since 2013, spouse and children’s allowance, entitlements and the obligation to pay salaries on time.”

The statement noted: “Teachers are not beggars, nor are they asking for gifts or favours. They have rights, and they will not accept to pay the price of financial hardship and the lack of capabilities that the government claims. This result prompted the movement to announce the continuation of activities for the next week, with a partial strike, with teachers and students leaving after the third period.”

READ: Teachers continue anti-government protests in Palestine

“But the government, which was led at the time by Rami Hamdallah, used the security services to suppress the strike and work to politicise it, and when it failed, then PA President Mahmoud Abbas personally intervened and came out with a weak speech and made the minimum obligations for teachers,” according to the source.

He stressed that the demand of the unified movement, and the teachers behind it, is the departure of the union and the holding of fair elections that produce real leadership among teachers.

“We will not tolerate any penalty inflicted on any teacher during or after the strike, whether in the form of a salary deduction, transfer, retirement, dismissal or any penalty whatsoever. Any harm to a teacher is prejudice to all teachers.”

On 14 April, the GUPT suspended its protest after signing an agreement with the government, in which it was agreed to respond to teachers’ demands, calling for a return to work.

The teachers made several demands, such as paying the remaining cost of living allowance since 2013 and resolving all outstanding issues.

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