On the Sunday we went to the offices of the Democracy and Workers Rights Centre. We learnt about the present situation of the unions, particularly the democratic independent unions.
The new social security and health and safety laws are a mess. Unions have been campaigning for these for years, but they have to pay towards them, and people believe that the money will be taken by the Palestinian Authority. The implementation of laws are only partial, so severance pay, a legal entitlement is only paid to 25% of workers, while 50% don't get maternity leave, some of them get it in their summer holidays, and there is no paternity leave. Last year they were guaranteed one year of kindergarten, but workers there only get half salary. These workers are in a democratic union.
The Labour laws are different in Gaza, as Hamas has instituted its own. There, 70-80% of workers are paid half of the minimum wage. Hamas has its own union. Demonstrations of unemployed graduates are suppressed.
In the West Bank the Palestinian Authority banned the Union of Public Employees, which had 40,000 members, and carried out sanctions against its leaders. This had a big effect on independent unions, and although still active in banks, hospitals and colleges, they haven't had a congress for some time.
New laws on pensions and so on are not being implemented, and the judiciary does what the executive wants.
From here we went to the Yasser Arafat Mausoleum and Museum. Interesting for anybody who doesn't have knowledge of the history, and it declares that he was poisoned by the Israelis.