Monday, February 09, 2009

Update on UNRWA West Bank "strike"

A Ma'an report last week said that UNRWA workers in the West Bank went on strike, so I emailed UNRWA:
Is there any comment about the UNRWA workers' strike reported in Ma'an? http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=35542

Which workers are striking? How is it affecting UNRWA services? How many are on strike? What is the minimum and average salaries for UNRWA workers in the West Bank?
Chris Gunness replied that he was much too busy to reply, but this morning I received an answer from Sami Mshasha, denying any strike:
1- Who are striking? No one.

The UNRWA West Bank Staff Union issued a circular last week calling for ‘protest activities’ to protest:

a-UNRWA not wanting to move its field operations work week from a six-days into a five-days work week. The Union believes that this is possible and would not affect services. UNRWA—and large segments of the population benefiting from UNRWA services—thing otherwise.

B- Increase in salary to correspond to cost of living increases and

c- compensating losses in the staff’s provident fund (retirement fund).

2- So far direct assistance to the refugees are not being affected. If and when the Union decides to go on strike, education, health and social services stand to be affected.

3- UNRWA employs some 5,000 staff members. Almost all of them are union members.

4- UNRWA’s salary scale is set on a scale of 1 to 20— Grade one being the lowest and grade 20 the highest (for nationally recruited staff).

Salary for grade one (average): Jordanian Dinar (JD): 370

Grade 20: JD1200.

Average salary: JD530.
I'm not sure if the 5000 workers are for all of UNRWA or just the West Bank.

A Jordanian dinar is worth about $1.41, so this means that the union employees average $9000 a year. Management, however, seems to make over ten times that amount.