In Photos: International Workers’ Day demonstration

On May 2, as part of its International Workers’ Day actions, the New Unions joined a popular march organized by the Minimum Wage Campaign.

The gathering began in the middle of Ramallah, at al-Manara circle. Participants from labor and farmers unions, women’s organizations, and other left and progressive forces gathered in circle. There, they chanted slogans condemning the occupation and the assaults by capital on the Palestinian poor and working class. Demanding political unity and government action, they began a march along one of the main streets of the city, heading towards the seat of the Palestinian Authority (PA) president at the Muq’ata.

While PA traffic police cleared the roads, plainclothes officers followed the demonstration. The march proceeded to the edge of the city where it was blocked from reaching the presidential complex by a line of PA riot police, supported by other police and military personnel. Plainclothes and uniformed police also openly filmed demonstrators. In spite of the increased police presence, demonstrators gathered at the police line to continue their protest, which dispersed sometime later without further escalation.

The Minimum Wage Campaign, of which the New Unions is a member, began in 2014. A project of various left and progressive forces, it seeks to address the interconnections of the class and national struggles. One of its central goals is to lift the minimum wage, which currently stands at 1480 shekels a month (about $400) to 2480. Organizers see this demand not simply in terms of wealth redistribution. In the context of Israeli settler colonialism – which spreads through the slow destruction and deformation of Palestinian ownership, labor, and production – an increase to the minimum wage serves as a vital safety net that could allow Palestinians to better resist exploitation by Israeli capital and build alternative economic relations that sustain community and protect land and resources.

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International Workers’ Day statement

The first of May encompasses the best of human values: freedom, justice, equality, and peace. Human history coalesces through the blood and oppression of the workers and downtrodden who sacrificed – and still do – on the social, political, and economic stage. The liberation of human potential and labor from any form of exploitation and robbery has been one of the most prominent struggles which, throughout history, has embodied the highest universal values. Many have been martyred for the sake of these values, and the first of May is symbol of this struggle and an honor to those it has claimed.

The workers of the world mark the first of May this year in the shadow of intensity complicated political, economic, and social conditions resulting from the changes in the balance and concentration of forces, both globally and in the Arab countries. These shifts have reflected on the Palestinian cause. And still, global capital continues to dominate the abilities of the people of the world, relying on force, colonization, and discrimination to do so.

On the other hand, however, the first of May represents the symbol of the global class struggle, which continues to defend the freedom, human dignity, and rights of workers. And in Palestine, the conflict is intensifying between humane project of the Palestinian people and the racist, settler colonial project of the Israeli state and its supporters.

The Palestinian people, with the workers, the peasants, and all the oppressed constituting the overwhelming majority of those on the front lines, continue to struggle for the sake of freedom, independence, and the right of return – in short, the right to define their own fate. Despite all the frustration and despair, they continue to do so; the right to a life of dignity, free from all forms of oppression, is as lofty as it is inalienable. In order to strengthen the resolve and continue the national struggle, it is necessary to strengthen that which elevates the struggles of our people towards the realization of our national goals.

On the first of May, on International Workers’ Day, we continue our national and union struggle, beginning with strengthening the internal national front for the sake of working to end the political split and all that it has wrought on our people, especially the poor among them. We direct all energies towards continuing and deepening the confrontation with the occupier, and providing the means to support economic and social policies that provide social justice and protect the workers and the poor from unemployment, poverty, the predations of capital, and violations to their general rights and freedoms.

On the first of May, we renew our promise to you to continue our national and union struggle until we take our legitimate, human rights, our freedom, and our human dignity.

Workers of the world, workers of Palestine, unite!

1/5/2018

The New Unions welcome international delegation to Palestine

On April 28, the New Unions welcomed a delegation from three international trade unions to the West Bank city of Tulkarm.

The three unions – the Basque LAB, CUT from Galicia, and the Federation of Alternative Unions for Catalonia – learned about the situation of Palestinian workers and the various challenges they confront within both Palestinian and Israeli establishments. The discussion focused on the role of unions in defending and raising awareness among workers of their rights, as well as the development of the New Unions and the future horizons of the labor movement through the organization of workers committees. The New Unions’ Women’s Section discussed the struggles of female workers for rights and equality with their male counterparts.

On the morning of April 29, representatives of the New Unions joined the delegation in a visit to the Tulkarm checkpoint which serves as a terminal for Palestinians with permits to work in Israel. Workers are forced to arrive in the early hours of the morning and face hours of waiting and humiliating forms of surveillance and inspection in hopes of being allowed to reach their places of work.

The two day visit concluded with hopes of continuing and deepening international solidarity with the Palestinian people and its working class.

Making Women Visible in the Labor Struggle

As part of wider project to build up women’s organizing capacity within their respective unions, the New Unions concluded a 3-day leadership training at their central office in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on March 19.

Under the slogan “Making Women Visible”, 14 Palestinian women participated in a series of workshop that explored the significance of women’s role in the labor movement and sought to impart practical skills regarding participation in strategic planning, communication, and collective action. Feminist comrades from the Norwegian trade union movement took part in these workshops, sharing experiences and techniques with Palestinian participants over a period of three days.

This series of events is part of a broader strategy to strengthen the leadership role of women within the New Unions, both through an increase in the number of women constituting the rank-and-file as well through providing women the skills and knowledge they need to organize around their collective interests. Female workers in the sectors organized by the New Unions face unique struggles, including forms of social pressure, sexual harassment, and pronounced wage inequality when compared with their male counterparts. These issues are further complicated by the fact that Palestinians are subjected todifferent legal regimes (and thus shifting forms of exploitation), depending on whether they work inside PA-controlled areas, beyond the Green Line, or within Israeli settlements.

In order to meet these challenges, the New Unions seek to provide training, rights-based education, and perhaps most importantly, a space for women to articulate their particular demands within a wider collective struggle for labor justice and national liberation.

General Union of Workers in the Service Sector – General Conference

The General Union of Workers in the service sector held its General Conference, with the participation of representatives of (local) trade unions from Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, Salfit, and Tulkarem.

Union leader president Mohammad Jawabreh reviewed the reality of trade union action and workers in Palestine, stressing the need to

– ensure freedom of trade union work and work on completing the organization of law guarantees freedom of trade union action
– completion of the social security system
– intensify the effort to address the issues of workers in all sectors and to ensure a free and dignified life which enhances their steadfastness and their contribution to achieving the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to freedom and independence.

The conference discussed the administrative and financial reports for the previous period and approved the election of a new administrative body of the Union:

Mohammed Jawabreh, president
Rashad Karajah, vice president
Ammar Hammad, treasurer
Wafa Nassif, Security Fund
Ashraf Hamamrah, Khalil Mustafa, Nariman Bjawi and Inas Mashni as members of the administrative board

Training representatives

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We have conducted the second training course for the first level

”Building the Capacity of 20 male/female participants in Food and agriculture industries union workers” by 36 training hours.

03/03/2015 Hussein Sheikh:  Communication skills
04/03/2015 Suhail Salman:  What is the union
05/03/2015 Mohammad Bleidi:  Managing meetings