Palestinian teachers continue strike action with another mass protest in Ramallah

Palestinian teachers continue strike action with another mass protest in Ramallah
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Donia Al-Watan
Palestinian teachers at governmental school have now been on strike for more than one week in protest at low wages and amidst claims of the Palestinian Authority retreating on previous agreements made to them.

A mass demonstration launched the strike last week in Ramallah, with an estimated 20,000 teachers and supporters participating. Smaller protests have been taking place daily across the West Bank.

On Tuesday 23rd February a second planned mass protest was held despite attempts by the PA to prevent teachers reaching Ramallah. PA checkpoints were set up across the West Bank on all routes leading to the city and many buses filled with people attempting to reach the protest were turned back.

Within Ramallah, the PA security services blocked several routes towards the planned site of the action but an estimated 10,000 people still managed to participate in events that have become some of the largest strike actions of recent years.

Palestinian teachers in governmental schools are paid an average of between 2,000-2,500 shekels (approximately $500-$625) monthly. With living costs in Ramallah on a parallel with some parts of western Europe, teachers say that such salaries are vastly insufficient.

In 2013 the PA signed an agreement with the Palestinian Teachers' Union which laid out plans for salary increases and promotions as well as agreeing that the children of school teachers would be entitled to free university education. Teachers say that these promises have never been followed through and the wages have been frozen now for several years despite the rising living costs.

After the initial demonstration in Ramallah last week, 22 educators were arrested by PA forces and held for questioning for 24 hours before being released. The PA has repeatedly called for teachers to return to work and end the strike which is reported to affect around 1 million school students.