Annual Report for the year 2016
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center in Palestine has been working to promote democracy, social justice and equality for the past 23 years in the West Bank & Gaza Strip, as well as in the Arab region. In 2016, DWRC started implementing its new strategic plan for the period 2016-2019, which was elaborated with the participation of partner unions.
DWRC New Strategic Goal & Objectives for 2016-2019
Strategic goal: A Palestinian social movement capable of influencing policies and achieving change, with a democratic trade union movement at its core.
1. Strengthening the representative and bargaining power of trade unions
2. Empowering Palestinian women at the economic, political and social levels
3. Establishing a social protection system
4. Strengthening DWRC’s organizational capacity
Through its new strategy, DWRC specifically seeks to reinforce the role of Palestinian civil society as an organized and strong grassroots movement that actively promotes and defends human rights. While continuing to focus on its core mandate and its main target groups, female and male workers and trade unions, DWRC has sought to reinforce its work with youth and women, and cooperation with their representative bodies and other CSOs that defend their rights.
The year 2016 was marked by a further deterioration of the political, economic and social situation, with high unemployment rates, widespread violations of labor rights and wide gender gaps in the labor market. It was also characterized by difficult labor relations and a series of crises that illustrated the problems faced in representativeness and developing effective collective bargaining and social dialogue in public and private sectors.
To address the situation, we developed our partnerships with local and international organizations. We signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Labor to strengthen and expand our cooperation, we continued our active participation in two quadripartite consultative committees presided by the Minister of Labor (the National Committee for Women’s Employment, and the National Committee for Occupational Safety & Health) and the Child Protection Network. We also developed our cooperation with trade unions, local CBOs and NGOs, including organizations focusing on women’s rights, as well as youth initiatives and representative bodies. Thus, we implemented two projects in partnership with women’s rights organizations, the Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development (PWWSD) and the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), one of them also in partnership with the Italian non-governmental organization COSPE. We developed the scope of our cooperation with CBOs and trade unions by launching sub-granting mechanisms, which are enabling us to reach additional areas and build the capacities of these organizations to defend and promote workers’ rights. Despite the deteriorating overall context, DWRC was able to support Palestinian female & male workers, youth and trade unions in defending & claiming rights, and raising their voices to Palestinian decision-makers. DWRC also worked with duty-bearers to improve monitoring of law implementation, in particular with labor inspectors in West Bank and Gaza Strip. We were able to benefit 7274 workers & citizens, 37.7% of them women through our activities or services. Among them, 424 activists and unionists and 55 labor inspectors benefited from skills development through training. An additional 150,400 workers & citizens were reached through social media.
By working with trade unions and youth representative bodies and initiatives, as well as spreading rights awareness messages on social media, our work has affected a wider circle of female and male workers, youth and citizens in general.
Our main achievements in 2016 were as follows:
In relation with our Strategic Objective 1 “strengthening the representative and bargaining power of trade unions, we raised awareness of fundamental rights & liberties, developed skills and capacities, supported organizing initiatives, provided legal representation, consultations and technical assistance, and advocated for improved policies and legislation, with a particular focus on the draft law for union organizing and the social security law. Our work allowed to strengthen democratic governance in trade unions and activate their role in several sectors, and increase the number of workers organized. It enabled workers to claim rights and financial compensations due to them, and contributed to improved implementation of law in workplaces in terms of work conditions and circumstances in general, and occupational safety and health standards in particular.
Under strategic objective 2, “Empowering Palestinian women at the economic, political and social levels”, through our focus on targeting women workers in awareness, training, legal aid and assistance, mobilizing and advocacy work, we achieved the following progress for expected outcomes:
Under Strategic Objective 3, “Establishing a social protection system”, we contributed in the adoption of a social security law for private sector workers respecting basic rights. In partnership with other members of the National Committee for Women’s Employment, we drew attention to the draft law’s shortcomings and gaps in relation to gender equality and advancing women’s rights prior to its issuance in March 2016 (in particular, gender-based discrimination in survivor’s benefits entitlement, and need to improve maternity leave benefits). After the law’s issuance, we contributed in widening the discussion of the law through organizing several workshops with trade unions and CSOs, and submitted additional recommendations for amendments with regard to lower retirement age for workers in hazardous professions, possibilities for increase of employer’s contribution, preserving workers’ right to dispose of their benefits that exceed the minimum stipulated by labor law, in addition to above-mentioned recommendations.
Under Strategic Objective 4 “Strengthening DWRC’s organizational capacity”, we benefited from training courses organized by partners and donors to develop the capacities of our staff, started developing a comprehensive Monitoring & Evaluation system and data-bases for our departments, finalized our new strategic plan, and developed a new financial and administrative system.
In 2016, DWRC general assembly elected a new board of directors, in which women form the majority (5 members out of 9). DWRC was also re-elected as a member of PNGO board in the Gaza Strip and as a member of the permanent bureau of the National Committee for Women’ Employment.
In the area of socio-economic empowerment & reducing the effects of unemployment & poverty, our intervention was focused at the policy level in 2016. DWRC Gaza coordinator represented PNGO in the board of director of the Fund for Employment and Social Protection, as well as the employment council in Gaza, and contributed in shaping their policies. We supported youth activists in their advocacy for the urgent implementation of job creation programs in Gaza for graduates. In addition, we maintained contacts with cooperatives we had helped create.
In addition to its extensive local networking, DWRC spoke to several foreign delegations of activists and unionists about the situation of fundamental rights and freedoms, socio-economic context, labor rights and unions in Palestine, and participated in EU consultations with civil society. During a visit tour in the UK organized by UNISON, our director met with unionists in several regions. We participated in developing the strategies of the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Network during its international strategy meeting with member organizations, and shared our experiences with other labor resource organizations from several countries at a workshop organized by the Palme Center with its partner organizations.
For further details, please click on the pdf file: "DWRC- Annual Report of the year 2016"