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Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 21:30:15 +0300
From: Roni Ben Efrat <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: WAC in solidarity with Palestinian teachers
WAC - Workers' Advice Center
Jaffa 972-3-6839145 050-586198 Fax 972-3-6839148 E-mail <odaa@p-ol>
MESSAGE FROM RONI BEN EFRAT OF CHALLENGE
(Israeli leftist Magazine)
Urgent Appeal 22.4.97
The aim of the arrests is to break the strike of 15,000 teachers in Government schools who demand better wages. WAC calls upon the PA to set the detained trade unionists free and enter negotiations with their Coordinating Committee.
25 Palestinian teachers from Nablus (19) Jenin (3) and Ramallah (3) were detained last night (21.4) by Palestinian Authority (PA) Security forces, in what could be described as a dangerous turn of events of the Teachers' three months struggle for better wages and work conditions. The detainees are known to be the members of the Higher Coordinating Committee of Teachers in the Homeland's School (HCCT) that leads the struggle of the teachers. Sources in Ramallah say that PA officials threatened to arrest every teacher that was found in school as part of the strike. A meeting of the HCCT that was supposed to take place today (22.4) in Nablus was canceled as PA forces closed the area of the meeting place.
Prior to the arrests the PA agreed for the first time for a meeting of the HCCT with Chairman Arafat. However the meeting that took place 19.4 was a failure. HCCT statement said that the PA neglected a previous agreement on 100-150 INS (30-45$) pay rise for all teachers as a first step for ending the strike. Further more according to HCCT the PA announced to the local press after the meeting the end of the strike in complete disregard to the position of the HCCT using its monopoly on the Palestinian Media. HCCT's statement refuted the announcement of the PA and called all teachers to continue their struggle.
HCCT announced that a Poll of teachers opinion will be taken 21-22.4 and a decision on the continuation of the strike will be taken accordingly. A poll in Ramallah area showed 1070 teachers (89%) supported the continuation of the strike while 137 (11%) called to end the strike.
The protest activity and partial strikes of the 15,000 teachers of the Governmental schools that are under PA responsibility started in mid January 97. Its main focus was the meager wages of the teachers (250$-450$) and the continuous neglect of the PA to its promises to raise wages.It is important to note that the HCCT was formed in the midst of the strike movement after the local Branch of the Palestinian Teachers Union sided with the PA against the teachers.
HCCT's statement emphasized in this respect that "the role played by the Inside (West Bank) Branch of the Teachers Union and its disregard to the teachers demands. HCCT emphasizes at the same time its commitment to the General Palestinian Teachers Union inside and outside the homeland and called for the building of a true trade union of teachers in the framework of the GPTU in the Government schools.
Workers Advice Center (WAC) that works inside Israel in defense of the rights of Arab workers supports fully the teachers struggle under the leadership of the HCCT and calls upon the PA to release immediately the detained trade unionists and enter negotiations with HCCT.
Protest massages are urgently needed. Send your protest to: Mr. Yasser Arafat PA President Fax: 972-7-822365-6 / Mr Yasser Amru Education Minister or Mr. Naim Abu ElHumus Deputy Minister Fax: 972-2-9985559 Spokesperson for the HCCT - Mr. Taha Nassar tel 972-2-9925277 (H) 972-2-9929938 (W)
Copies of protest massages and more information : WAC (addresses above)