DWRC’s 10th annual trade union forum focuses on labor legislation and how to enhance workers’ rights protection
From 26 to 28 September 2019, DWRC organized its 10th annual trade union forum in Jericho, attended by 72 participants, about half of them women. This year, the forum gathered representatives of 22 unions, including general unions, branch unions, company/workplace unions, and one local sectorial federation from the governmental higher education sector, the post and IT, health, charitable associations, kindergarten & day-care, electricity, local authorities, and insurance sectors. The forum also hosted guest speakers from the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Local Authorities and the PNA Employees’ Bureau, as well as a Palestinian-Israeli labor lawyer.
On September 26, DWRC General Director Hasan Barghouthi gave an opening speech in which he welcomed participants, and talked about DWRC’s work, the forum’s objectives and its importance in view of the union situation in Palestine. He announced the election of a new board of directors at DWRC, and thanked former board members. Dr. Hanna Issa, DWRC’s new board president, introduced himself and thanked union representatives for participating in the forum. After the opening session, participants formed working groups by sector to discuss their situation, and union’s successes and challenges in defending and promoting workers’ rights and interests.
On September 27, representatives of each working group reported about their discussions on the previous day, the general conditions in their sector, achievements and difficulties faced, main demands and perspectives for the future. Participants were then able to join workshops about the reform of labor legislation, which were held simultaneously. One workshop hosted Mrs. Manar Adawi, a legal advisor at the Ministry of Local Authorities, who presented and discussed the amendments to the Regulation for Local Authorities’ Employees with representatives of the Federation of Local Authorities Employees in Hebron governorate and Qalqilia Municipality Employees’ Union. Another workshop with representatives from private sector workers’ unions focused on amendments to the Palestinian Labor Law and the law’s reform process, hosting Mr. Jihad Al-Shrouf, a legal advisor at the Ministry of Labor. A third workshop tackled proposed amendments to the Civil Service Law and hosted Mrs. Ayat Yousef Amro, a legal adviser at the PNA Employers’ Bureau. This was followed by a side meeting for women unionists that focused on their plans, challenges faced and needs. In the afternoon, two plenary sessions took place. Mr. Feras Abu Hamad, the director of the occupational safety and health department at the Ministry of Labor, presented and discussed the new Law on Occupational Safety and Health and Committees and Supervisors, as well as the steps taken by the Labor Ministry towards its implementation. The second session included a presentation of the newly adopted ILO Convention No. 190 and recommendation No. 206 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, and a discussion of forms of violence at work that union representatives have experienced, witnessed or been informed about in Palestine.
On September 28, the first session enabled participants to discuss the draft law on union organizing, its importance, and union’s comments and recommendations concerning the draft law with Mr. Jihad Al-Shrouf. The second session hosted Adv. Yousef Al-Sane’, who specializes in representing Palestinian workers in the Israeli labor market. Adv. Al-Sane’ focused on characteristics of Palestinian labor in Israel and main violations that workers face in the Israeli labor market, particularly in the absence of adequate protection of their safety and health.