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Workers’ Rights according to the Palestinian Labor Law

The Institute of Law - Gaza Office, with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, organized on 25 May 2011 a legal encounter on “Workers’ Rights according to the Palestinian Labor Law” by the speaker Mr. Ziyad Najjar- Member of the Palestinian Bar Association and Deputy Secretary General.

Ms. Leena Tunesi, IoL Gaza office coordinator inaugurated the meeting by welcoming the speaker and attendants and reiterated on the importance of cooperation between IoL and the Palestinian Bar Association in Gaza under the 2011 legal encounters program. Deputy Chair of the Bar, Attorney Salamah Besseisso, also attended the meeting in addition to another 26 lawyers representing different institutions.

Mr. Ziad Najjar started the meeting by discussing Article (6) of the Palestinian Labor Law, explaining that this article is not strong enough and did not enable the Palestinian legislator adequately interpret its scope; he added the law addressed the minimum rights of workers.

He then moved to speak about work injuries, explaining that profession-related illnesses are deemed as work injury even if the symptoms appear two years after leaving the job. Consequently, if such an illness causes death of the worker or his/her permanent disability, heirs in the first case should be entitled to certain rights and in the second case, he/she should be entitled to a cash compensation equal to the wage of 3500 workdays or the equivalent of 80% of his/her basic salary for the remaining period until he/she is sixty years old, whichever sum is higher. He added that if such injury resulted in permanent partial disability, the injured should be entitled to a fair compensation equal to the ratio of disability compared to a permanent total disability.He proceeded by explaining Article (122) of the Palestinian Labor Law, pointing out it is inadequate and that subsequently any court will depend on the medical committee report and employer’s certificate.
Mr. Najjar additionally addressed arbitrary dismissal provisions and provident fund and social insurance law, concluding that workers’ rights should not fall by prescription and that all institutions and the labor union must cooperate to ensure workers enjoy their rights by all legitimate means, whether it be by reporting to the police to prove a case or to summon witnesses or evidence or via an employer’s testimony.

Important questions and interventions were also raised by attending lawyers to differentiate work injuries from profession-related illnesses and to explain why workers’ rights should not fall by prescription since some profession-related illnesses exhibit symptoms two years after leaving a job. They also addressed the fact that workers should be entitled to challenge the appreciation of the rate of disability, showing awareness and interest in the topic under discussion. In the end of the meeting the Institute of Law in Birzeit University thanked the participants for their active contribution to making the meeting a success.