Anger as Palestinian gov’t cuts Gaza salaries and pays late
GAZA – Reuters
The Palestinian government cut salaries for its staff in Gaza by 20 percent on May 3 and failed to make up for skipping the previous month’s pay, leaving civil servants in the impoverished territory fuming they were pawns in a factional power struggle.
Some 38,000 civil servants in the Gaza Strip learned of the new disruptions to their incomes upon arriving at their banks on payday, intent on withdrawing cash ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on May 16.
Last month, they were not paid at all. Many were hoping for two months pay this month, but instead received a reduced rate of a single month’s pay, with no explanation.
The salaries in the other Palestinian territory, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, were paid in full.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, prompting Israel and Egypt to clamp down on the territory, where 2 million people live under a de facto blockade with the world’s highest unemployment rate.
In an Egyptian-mediated bid to end the rift and reunite the two Palestinian territories, Hamas said last year it would cede the territory’s control to Abbas’s authority. But many Gazans still feel like they are being used as pawns in a power-struggle between the two groups.
“If they’ve failed to resolve this issue through dialogue, it can’t be resolved by [using] the poor employee,” said Eyad Kalloub, a 40-year-old civil servant, as he queued at his bank.
The Gaza wage cuts were the second round in as many years imposed by the Palestinian government, which still administers the payroll for civil servants in the territory run by Hamas.
In April 2017, Abbas slashed Gaza salaries by 30 percent. He has also slashed state staff numbers in Gaza from 60,000 last year, by ordering early retirement for nearly a third of employees.