On May Day in Gaza: Everyone Takes the Day off Except for Workers

Representatives of civil society reading a statement intended for the Obama Administration from the Gaza headquarters of UNSCO on April 27. (Photo: Mohammed Alsindawi, Palestine Chronicle)

By Yousef Aljamal – Gaza

Across the world, the 1st of May is a day to celebrate workers as a gesture of appreciation of their contribution to the society. Workers across the globe take the day off, but this is not the case for Gaza’s workers, many of them are jobless due to the suffocating siege imposed on Gaza.

According to the latest statistics, 250,000 workers are jobless in Gaza, making it one of the highest rates in the world.

Dozens of workers took place in a sit-in organized by the Workers Union in Gaza in front of the Ministries Complex in which they called for “improving the conditions of Gaza’s workers.”

Workers were seen in Gaza on May Day at various construction sites, as taking a day off is a luxury they cannot afford. Taking the day off would make it harder for them to bring food to their families’ tables.

After nearly ten years of siege, and with the lack of governmental support of these workers, many of them used to work in Israel; Gaza’s workers are still in limbo.

“I worked on May Day in Gaza, because my priority is to bring food to my family’s table. I do not feel I should take the day off; Gaza’s workers get the least rights. The situation is really bad,” Abdallah Altawil, 35, and a father of five, who runs a cell-phone repair shop in Gaza told Palestine Chronicle.

Gaza’s workers feel that their situation will not get better anytime soon. For a drastic change to take place, the siege of Gaza has to be lifted.

In a press conference organized on April 27, the Palestinian civil society called on the American Administration to work to lift the siege of Gaza.

Mohammed Shehadeh of the Palestinian Civil Society delivered a statement to journalist that in part read:

“The closure created a man-made catastrophe exacerbating civilians’ suffering. According to the World Bank, unemployment increased to 43%, while 40% of Gaza population is below the poverty line. Gaza would be unlivable by 2020 according to UN.”

The siege of Gaza made the situation even worse for workers and their families.

“For us to survive, the siege has to be lifted,” Altawil said while placing a cigarette in his mouth. Even the process of tobacco has skyrocketed “due to taxes and the siege,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinians keep struggling in the costal enclave, waiting for salvation after three offensives, which claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians and exhausted the people of Gaza.

– Yousef Aljamal is Palestine Chronicle Correspondent in the Gaza Strip.

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