22/06/2021, Gaza – The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center held a conference for street vendors in the Gaza Strip, during which they formed an establishing committee for their union that consists of 7 members. This conference is part of DWRC’s efforts to support female and male workers in organizing and realizing their right to freedom of association, whether they work in the formal or informal economy.
During the conference, attended by a 100 street vendors, participants agreed on taking further steps towards establishing a trade union that represents this category of workers, and to follow-up with official bodies to obtain the union’s recognition. This is the first time in Palestine that street vendors mobilize to form a representative body in order to defend their rights and interests.
Mr. Abdul Kareem Al-Khalidi, a unionist, opened the conference by highlighting the voluntary nature of union struggle and the importance of independent union work.
Mrs. Mona Rustom, DWRC’s coordinator in Gaza, introduced DWRC’s work and its role in supporting workers and union rights, indicating that one of DWRC’s most important objectives is to empower workers to establish trade unions, represent themselves, and defend their rights.
In his presentation, Adv. Ali Al-Jirjawi discussed the foundations of trade union action, its importance, objectives for establishing trade unions, competent authorities for the registration of trade unions, and procedures & interventions undertaken by DWRC to support street vendors. He also added that DWRC will continue its efforts in supporting street vendors until they achieve their demands and succeed in registering their trade union.
Street vendors in the Gaza Strip face many issues that affect their ability to earn a livelihood, including closure of street markets, and preventing them from working since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. They are demanding the immediate reopening of all street markets, as they are among the categories of workers most affected by ongoing closure. They also highlighted the fact that they need to work in order to support their many family members, and are exposed to legal actions from merchants, who have filed cases against them in courts, and the police, because of the accumulation of debts.