Palestinian hospital cleaners on strike as hospitals recover from Israel war
Palestinian Ministry of Health Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra - Photo courtesy of Ashraf al-Qedra Facebook page

CAIRO:  The cleaning staff union at Palestinian hospitals announced Saturday its members will continue their full work strike until their demands are met.

The workers said in a statement released by the Central Federation of Trade Unions of Palestine they will maintain their strike until receiving unpaid back pay for the past five months. The workers put up a picket line in an area near the Legislative Council in Gaza to press their demands.

Union head Samy al-Asi in the statement called for including cleaning work along the same lines as relief work, blamed the unpaid salaries on the Palestinian Ministry of Health and called on the national unity government to respond to the demands of around 800 workers.

“The health crisis is worsening and besieging the patients in Gaza Strip,” said Palestinian Ministry of Health Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra responding to the strike Thursday on his official Facebook.

All cleaning companies announced in early September they would go on partial strike in all Palestinian hospitals in Gaza protesting salaries unpaid since the Palestinian unity government was formed in April.

The situation escalated when they announced in a statement Tuesday a full work strike for three days starting from Wednesday, according to a statement issued from the Federation. They added that they talked with the concerned bodies in the unity government, but there was no response.

The cleaning companies are contracted with the Ministry of Health for 14 years and individual cleaners get around $200 a month, Al Jazeera reported.

On Sep. 17, more than 180 surgeries were postponed due to the company’s work strike, Qedra said in a brief statement on his Facebook Page.

Many Gaza hospitals were destroyed by Israeli bombardment during the 53-day war between Palestine and Israel before a long-term cease-fire was brokered by Egypt on Aug. 19.

The war killed around 2,083 Palestinians, including 561 children and 475 women, and injured more than 10,482, including 3,189 children, according to a Palestinian Health Ministry report released Aug. 21. Meanwhile, 68 Israelis, 64 of whom were military personnel, were killed according to Israeli media reports.

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