We started with organizing the agriculture workers. Until then no union efforts focusing on the sector of agriculture workers had been developed, though the agriculture workers form more than 40% of the total Palestinian work force.
Globally, the agricultural sector comprises 1.1 billion workers and according to the FAO, ILO and International Union of Food and Agriculture sector, there are some 450 million paid workers in the agricultural sector.
The agricultural sector is particularly exposed to situations of instability situations and suffers miserable work conditions. For landless agricultural workers, lack of employment security, decent contracts, insufficient or lacking health and environmental safety regulations are the norm.
The lack of a Palestinian union for agricultural workers until now is due to the Jordanian law which was applied in the West Bank, and which did not include agricultural workers in its regulations. This changed only with the approval of the Palestinian labour law in 2000, which allowed the path towards a struggle for justice for this important sector of the work force.
On June 3 2006, the first union of agricultural workers was established and it received its official license from the Ministry of Labour on June 2 2007 under the name of “Union of Workers Associations in the Food Industries and Agriculture /Tulkarm”.
In 2011 we received licenses for the union branches we have established in Nablus, Ramallah, Salfeet and Jericho districts. Currently, there are union branches in other governorates awaiting their licensing.
The efforts to build the general union of workers associations in the Food Industries and Agriculture started after the successful struggles by the Tulkarm workers union. It defend the labour rights of hundreds of workers and lead many workers strikes in the local work places. It continues the struggle for workers rights and interests based almost exclusively on voluntary efforts.
In 2012, the unions presented an application for the license of the General Union to be able to unite all unions of the sector and with the saim aims. On February 29 2012, the General Union of workers Association in the Food Industry and Agriculture was born!
It held its first general assembly in the city hall of Ramallah and there it elected the first board of the General Union.
In 2013 the confederation for a number of trade unions was established as The Palestine New Confederation of Trade Unions. From that time the work has started to establish affiliates;
General Union for Agriculture and Food Industries, General Union of Public Services and Free Business, General Union of Construction Workers, General Union of Textile Workers, Union of Tourism, Union of Civil and Community Organizations, Union of Secretariat and Management Business, Union of Transports and Mechanics, Union of Finance, and Union of Fishing.