Unpaid Hospital Cleaning Workers Strike in Gaza

Cleaning workers at hospitals in the Gaza Strip declared a 24-hour strike on Wednesday in protest of not being paid their salaries, a union official said.

Sami al-Amsi, president of the Federation of Palestine trade union, told Ma’an that the cleaning workers had not been paid their meager monthly salaries of around $200 for the past five months.

“Today we are staging a 24-hour strike, and we will give them the opportunity to meet our demands because we are not interested in aggravating the crisis in Gaza hospitals which already suffer from shortage in medicines and power supply,” al-Amsi said.

Some 750 cleaning workers are participating in the strike, he said.

He said the union had contacted both Gaza’s health ministry and the national consensus government to inquire about the salaries, but did not receive a response from either.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra did not comment on the salaries but warned of negative repercussions if the workers continued to strike.

“The strike will have catastrophic results on patients,” al-Qidra told Ma’an.

Cleaning workers in Gaza have been striking on and off for over a week.

The workers used to be paid by the Hamas-run government in Gaza, but the Islamist movement and the Palestinian Authority are odds over responsibility for payment of salaries in the Strip.

In April, Hamas and the Fatah-led PLO signed a unity agreement to bring the West Bank and Gaza under the jurisdiction of one government.

Since the new government was officially sworn in in June, Hamas has demanded it take responsibility for paying its 45,000 employees, 27,000 of whom are civil servants.

But the unity government has been noncommittal, and earlier this month Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said he was under pressure from the international community not to pay Hamas employees’ salaries.

After a period of at least outward unity during Israel’s assault on Gaza, tensions between Hamas and the PA have come to the fore, with the PA accusing the Islamist movement of running a “shadow government” in Gaza and the latter accusing the unity government of inaction in the Strip.

(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)

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