18 February 2015, via Democracy and Workers’ Rights Centre – Palestine
On the occasion of the global day of action in defense of the right to strike, called for by the ITUC in response to attacks by employer groups at the ILO against this right, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine calls upon Palestinian trade unions and civil society to advocate for the removal of restrictions on the right to strike in the private and public sector, and upon the Palestinian government to ensure that Palestinian legislation respects international human rights law and international labor conventions.
The Palestinian Labor Law no.7 of the year 2000 guarantees the right to strike to all workers to defend their interests (Article 66). However, the employer and the Ministry of Labor must be notified in writing two weeks in advance and the reasons for the strike must be explained; the notification period is extended to four weeks in public enterprises. The written strike notice must also be signed by 51% of the workers. Likewise, employers have a right to lock-out, for which notice must be given under the similar terms (Article 67).
It should be noted that in the opinion of the Committee on Freedom of Association of the ILO, “The requirement of a decision by over half of all the workers involved in order to declare a strike is excessive and could excessively hinder the possibility of carrying out a strike, particularly in large enterprises.”
Although in the case of Palestine, most enterprises are middle-sized or small enterprises, this restriction should be removed in order to fully guarantee the right to strike in all enterprises regardless of their size.
Strikes in the public sector are governed by Law no.5 of the year 2008, issued through presidential decree, that entered in force on April 5th, 2008. This law had triggered strong protests at the time on part of public sector unions, yet was nonetheless adopted without being discussed and approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council (which was no longer fulfilling its functions).
Although the law recognizes the right to strike to public sector employees (Article 1), it imposes the conditions set in Article 67 of the Palestinian labor law for public enterprises (Article 2), which in the case of the public sector truly constitute an excessive hindrance to the exercise of the right to strike. In addition to obtaining the signature of 51% of employees to the strike notification, public sector unions should also notify the government and the Ministry of Labor one month in advance of their strike.
Furthermore, Article 3 gives the right to the government or any other party to appeal to the High Court of Justice to order the end of a strike that violates this law or causes “severe damage to public interest”. This law has been used by the Palestinian government on several instances in order to stop or hinder strikes in the public sector.
Based on the above, the Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine recommends:
- The modification of Article 67 of the Palestinian Labor Law No.7 of the year 2000 to remove restrictions on the right to strike.
- The cancellation of the law by decree no.5 of the year 2008 concerning the modalities of strikes in the public sector, which in practice denies this right, and its replacement by legal dispositions that will guarantee the right to strike of Palestinian governmental employees.
Source: DWRC Palestine