Teachers at public schools in the West Bank were back at work yesterday after suspending a three-week strike that challenged the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
An education ministry spokesman said that “100% of classes have resumed” after teachers agreed to return to work following a pledge from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to improve conditions.
Facing mounting pressure from teachers and parents, Abbas on Saturday promised teachers a 10% pay rise, a management review and the implementation of a 2013 work agreement.
“The strike was suspended in response to the appeal of president Mahmoud Abbas,” one of the strike organisers told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that teachers were ready to go back on strike if the authorities do not meet their commitments.
Abbas’s promised changes will only take effect from September but he asked them to return to work on Sunday, the first day of the Palestinian working week.
There were large demonstrations in support of the teachers, who say they are underpaid in comparison with other government employees.
The PA, which spends nearly half of its budget on wages for its 180,000 civil servants, is facing a chronic economic crisis.
The monthly wage bill of nearly $150mn is 16% of Gross Domestic Product, one of the highest ratios in the world.
The PA was supposed to have been an interim body and be replaced in 1999 by a sovereign state of Palestine but a peace treaty with Israel has proven elusive and foreign aid to the administration has halved over the past five years.
Palestinians watch on a screen in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday as primary school teacher Hanan al-Hroub receives the Million Dollar Teacher award. Al-Hroub travelled from the West Bank to Dubai, where yesterday the Varkey Foundation, an educational charity, announced the winner of its second annual Million Dollar Teacher award, which has been dubbed the Nobel prize for teaching.