Last week, I had to translate (to English) two letters submitted by the Union of Workers in Palestinian Postal Services. The letters were written by Imad Tmezi, the youngest trade union representative in Palestine. Imad is the chairman of the youth council at the General Federation of Independent Trade Unions-Palestine (GFITUP). He is the most active worker I have met so far in the federation.
Imad, 25 years old, has been working in the post office of his village Idna in Hebron for the past 6 years. I went to Hebron on Saturday to make an interview with him and met other trade unions. Hebron (Al-Khalil) is the largest city in the West Bank. The city is most notable for containing the Sanctuary of Abraham (Al-Haram al-Ibrahimi), which contains the burial sites of prophets Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their respective wives: Sarah, Rebecca and Leah.
Many private postal service companies work in Palestine, such as Wasel, Al-Barq, Aramex, DHL and others. However, PALPOST, where Imad works, is administered by the government. It is supervised by the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology–one of the most important ministries of the Palestinian National Authority.
Palestinian workers in the public sector have many rights that were acknowledged to them through the 1998 civil service law No.4. Since the Palestinian post office is part of the public service, its employees have also the same rights guaranteed by this law after the creation of the Palestinian Authority.
However many postal workers, like Imad, have been working for a long period without receiving the minimum of their rights as workers in the public sector. The government employs some postal workers on contracts that fall under the labor law that applies to private sector employees. In fact, since 2000, the government began to recruit new staff under unfair and illegal employment systems such as day labor and temporary contracts.
In addition, the government started using Palestinian Labor Law No. 7 of the year 2000, which is only applicable to the staff of the private sector and to NGOs. Consequently, new postal workers (nearly 200) have been deprived of their employment rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution to public sector employees, such as job stability and retirement.
Successive governments have tried to solve the problem despite the absence of a union fighting for the rights of these workers. The post’s administration was able to partially solve the problem. It reduced the number of precarious workers to 150 by integrating 50 employees in the public sector. However, this was done over a long period (10 years) of appeals and claims, which witnessed a serious shortage of staff in the post.
Therefore, in October 2010, Imad created the Union of Workers in Palestinian Postal Services, which is part of the General Federation of Independent Trade Unions-Palestine (GFITUP). Imad was elected as the president of the union for two successive years.
The main goal of Imad is to raise the voice of the 150 postal workers and get their rights. These workers do not have fixed jobs. Some days, they sell stamps, and on other days, they deliver mails or work in the administration of the post. They are paid a fixed salary with no increments, bonuses or allowances for transportation, according to a decision taken in 1999, that has not changed since.
In 2011, the Palestinian government solved 10 cases only and announced that it was unable to absorb the remaining workers, as public sector employees, due to financial circumstances of the Palestinian Authority.
The main goal of the letters I translated was to address unions of postal workers around the world to ask for their support. I hope this will end the wage discrimination faced by the 150 postal workers and help them raise their voice and get their rights.
Posted By Nur Arafeh
Posted Jul 26th, 2012