The Ministry of Finance Employees Union held its first elections in Ramallah on Tuesday which resulted in the selection of a 25 person council, 9 of which will also serve on the administrative committee. Following the elections, the soon to be established union held a general conference, which included a ceremony honoring those that helped them to first mobilize and eventually organize into a formal body. Among those in attendance at the ceremony were representatives from the DWRC, Public Service Employees Union and the Establishment Committee, which is the primary party that helped establish the union. The newly elected council members also voted on the establishment regulation, a document that outlines the articles upon which the union will be founded, with a majority voting to approve the document.
Although the document was approved and new council members remain optimistic about the future, it is without a doubt that the union, like all unions in the West Bank, are weary of the obstacles to being effective given that no laws governing unions currently exist. In 2001, with the implementation of new Palestinians labor law, all legislation that addressed labor unions was removed and has since not been replaced. Likewise, while the Palestinian constitution has provisions built in that allow for the creation of unions, without any laws to regulate the unions, problems are sure to abound.
One such problem is the fact that there is no “legal” way to formally declare a union. The closest that unions can come to being recognized officially is to obtain a slip of paper from the Ministry of Labor (MOL) claiming that they have attended a meeting and see the [union] efforts as legitimate. Moreover, this slip of paper is the only way for unions to open up a bank account because again, although no laws stating that this letter provides any kind of formal legitimacy exist, without the golden ticket, banks can and will outright refuse to open a new bank account.
Nevertheless, many in the union world continue to be hopeful about what unions will be able to do in the absence of union laws. A few even remain hopeful that the Ministry of Labor will bolster its efforts to push for laws governing unions to be passed into legislation – the likelihood of this happening, however, is still to be determined.
Posted By Rangineh Azimzadeh
Posted Jul 23rd, 2009