Union head says Palestinians need alternatives to settlement jobs 5Dec10 December 6, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  5 December 2010

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Palestinians employed in settlements will not give up their jobs until the Palestinian Authority provides alternative work, Palestinian trade union official Shahir Sa’d said Sunday.

The PA issued a ban prohibiting Palestinians from working in West Bank settlements as part of a wider campaign which included a national boycott of settlement produce.

“This is a nationalistic decision we respect and support, yet on the condition that a real and sustainable alternative is provided so that Palestinian workers can live in dignity,” said Sa’d, head of the trade union federation.

Sa’d’s comments were made amid confusion over the deadline for Palestinian workers to quit settlement jobs.

Speaking to Ma’an TV, Sa’d said the union federation would support workers and defend their rights. “If the PA decides to implement the decision without giving alternatives, we will support workers,” he said, adding that Palestinian workers would accept appropriate and sustainable alternative jobs even if it meant accepting a 50 percent pay cut.

Meanwhile, the union chief confirmed media reports that Israeli employers were working with the Israeli government to replace Palestinian employees with Sudanese and Ethiopian workers who entered Israel illegally.

Sa’d said the move was a government attempt to pressure the PA. Further, Israeli employers had withheld Palestinian workers’ financial rights in response to the PA’s settlement boycott, he said.

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