The United Nations Relief and Works Agency reached an agreement with its Palestinian employees on Thursday to end a strike that has lasted over two months, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
The settlement, brokered by Interim Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, will compensate workers for strike days, according to PA official news organ Wafa.
Palestinian UNRWA workers went on strike in December, after the organization introduced a new policy under which Palestinians who have served sentences in Israeli prisons could not be employed by the UN agency, and subsequently laid off 55 workers.
The employees also protested their low wages compared to the salaries of non-Palestinian workers.
More than 5,000 Palestinians in 19 camps are employed by the agency, providing service to the West Bank’s nearly 730,000 refugees. The organizational shifting of funds toward Syrian refugees dispatched from their home during the country’s three-year civil war may have led to the layoffs.
“Syria has drained a lot of humanitarian resources,” UNRWA’s Commissioner General Filippo Grandi told The Associated Press in September. “When you have two million refugees, a catastrophic situation inside, neighboring countries burdened by this huge crisis, of course this will drain a lot of resources and the Palestinian crisis will seem less urgent because it’s been there for so long.”
Due to the strike, public services — including sanitation and healthcare — were suspended in areas of the West Bank and Gaza and countless schools were closed.
On January 12, dozens of Palestinian demonstrators blocked roads and clashed with police forces near Ramallah in the West Bank to protest the lack of services.
At least 50 people were injured during the demonstrations, Reuters reported, including 40 policemen.
In December, dozens of Palestinian UNRWA employees launched a hunger strike.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.