Palestinian workers in Israel strike over refusal to pay salaries in cash

Palestinian and Israeli authorities agreed salaries would be paid into banks

Palestinian workers in Israel strike against Israel and Palestinian Authority's recent agreement to have their wages transferred to bank accounts, at an Israeli checkpoint in Tulkarm the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Sunday. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Tens of thousands of Palestinians working in Israel held a strike on Sunday to protest over a refusal to pay their salaries in cash.

Palestinian and Israeli authorities agreed salaries would be paid into bank accounts as a more efficient and secure method.

But some are concerned over hidden fees and new taxes.

About 200,000 Palestinians cross each day into Israel or Jewish settlements for work.

Those workers can earn more than twice as much as those employed by Palestinian state bodies and businesses. Most of the workers do not have bank accounts.

Putting salaries on the books would create a new revenue source for the financially strapped Palestinian Authority, while bringing a windfall in service fees for Palestinian banks.

Under the arrangement, salaries will be paid weekly with bank fees set at $1 per transfer, a number of workers told Reuters.

Palestinian Labour Minister Nasri Abu Jaish said the new arrangement was meant to protect workers' rights and that there was no plan to impose new taxes.

No immediate comment was available from Cogat, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians.

The PA, which has limited autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is responsible for about 150,000 public sector jobs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Its budget was $330 million for 2021 and it relies heavily on foreign donors.

Mohammad Khaseeb, 43, who works at an aluminium factory in Israel, said he and thousands of others were protesting at a decision which he said was reached without taking workers' views into account.

"They decided without consulting the workers' union. Either a worker agrees or he loses his work permit," he said.

Bassim Al Waheidi, a 55-year-old construction worker, said that beyond losing money to bank fees and taxes, there was concern about other deductions being made.

"We reject having our salaries transferred to Palestinian Authority banks because we are afraid of the future and there is a crisis of trust," he said.

Workers' representatives said if the decision was not cancelled they would escalate their protest and might declare an open-ended strike.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 5:06 PM