Labor in Palestine
- Foreign control of Palestine has stifled development of its labor market, leading to persistence of low wages and high unemployment.
Source: Labour Market and Employment Policies in Palestine, a report prepared for the European Training Foundation (ETF) by the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), 2014
World Bank classifies Palestine as a lower-middle income developing country with a low and volatile economic growth rate.
Labor supply far exceeds demand; in 2012 unemployment was 19% in West Bank and 31% in Gaza. Unemployment among youth 15-24 averages 38.8% in the West Bank and 52% in Gaza.
Hiring in the public sector has been capped, and private sector employment is limited by restrictions on movement, lack of investment, and limited exports and imports.
Gaza used to rely on Israel to absorb 40% of its labor force, but residents of Gaza are now barred from working in Israel.
Wages in Israel are much higher than in the West Bank, but the number of work permits is very limited. Palestinian residents of the West Bank who work in the settlements are entitled to the Israeli minimum wage and health and safety regulations. Lack of enforcement, however, leads to very low wages and few protections.
The Israeli occupation is the main obstacle to economic growth, limiting access to land, resources, and movement, as well as stagnant growth and persistently high unemployment.
- Palestinian workers’ rights are continually eroded by Israeli policies.
Source: A Step Back for Palestinian Workers Rights — and for Israeli Democracy, by Stuart Appelbaum, Haaretz, August 23, 2016.
A new regulation instituted by the Justice Minister undermines Palestinian right to sue Israeli employers over abusive and unlawful labor practices and entrenches unequal laws for Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinian Workers Are Now Unionizing in the West Bank, by Miriam Berger, The Nation, October 4, 2017.
- US labor unions have been slow to support Palestine and Palestinian workers, but the tide may be changing.
Source: Are US labor unions finally speaking out on Palestine? by Charlotte Silver, The Electronic Intifada, January 19, 2017.
The AFL-CIO has a long history of supporting the Histradut, an Israeli union that played a prominent role in the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of Palestinians.
Moreover, the AFL-CIO has been a major buyer of Israel bonds: by some estimates, such investments are worth $5 billion.
A decision taken by the San Francisco chapter of the AFL-CIO earlier this month is among a series of small breakthroughs for Palestine solidarity in the US labor movement.
The San Francisco Labor Council, as the chapter is known, has taken a strong position against bullying by pro-Israel and Islamophobic groups.
Earlier this month, the council approved a resolution that declares full support for students and teachers at San Francisco State University (SFSU) who have suffered abuse over their campaigning on Palestine.
In 2014 UAW Local 2865, which represents graduate student workers at University of California became the first labor union in the US to endorse the BDS movement.
In 2015, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) voted to support BDS with leadership from North Carolinas UE Local 150 (https://www.ueunion.org/political-action/2015/BDS); and the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO voted to back key elements of BDS.