Palestinian employers gather in Jordan to forge unified recommendations on draft social security law

As the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) prepares to roll out a historic comprehensive social security system to cover all private sector workers and their family members, the ILO gathers Palestinian employer representatives at a workshop to discuss the draft social security law and finalise their recommendations.

News | 16 September 2015
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(ILO News – Dead Sea, Jordan) The ILO brought together representatives from employer organisations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) to discuss the role of employers in a proposed ground-breaking social security system to cover all Palestinian private-sector workers and their families.

The four-day workshop this week gathered employer representatives from both the West Bank and Gaza Strip at a Dead Sea resort in Jordan, to discuss the draft social security law, which, once adopted, will prescribe implementation of the system.

"This is the first time the ILO has held a workshop on the national level to bring employers together from the West Bank and Gaza to discuss the draft social security law, currently under discussion by the tripartite National Social Security Committee in the occupied Palestinian territory,” said Lama Oueijan, Senior Employer Specialist at the ILO’s Regional Office for Arab States.

“The workshop is a much-awaited first step which paves the way for the ILO and its social partners to undertake a ‘one Palestine approach’ in all future discussions and work on national issues, including the revision of the ILO’s Palestinian Decent Work Programme," Oueijan added.

The ILO has worked assiduously alongside the tripartite Palestinian National Social Security Committee in formulating the comprehensive social security system to cover all private sector workers and their family members. The scheme’s framework was developed in 2013 in consultation with the ILO’s tripartite partners – the government, workers’ organisations and employers’ organisationS – and other stakeholders.

Increasing the reach of social protection in the oPt is one of the priorities of the Palestinian Decent Work Programme (2013–16), which prioritizes technical assistance in the areas of labour market governance, employment and social protection.

“This workshop has shed light on the importance of the social security law,” said Hussam Hajjawi, employer representative at the Social Security Steering Committee, which was charged with drafting the law alongside the ILO.

“We in the private sector value the ILO’s role towards its tripartite partners, and ask it for further support and guidance, especially concerning finalizing the draft social security law in order to promote social justice, as well as equilibrium between the tripartite social partners,” Hajjawi continued.

Participants in the workshop included the Federation for Palestinian Chambers of Commerce, the Industry and Agriculture board of governors and heads of chambers in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

“Employers’ organisations form one of the ILO’s tripartite partners who have worked to shape the new social security scheme,” said Ursula Kulke, ILO Senior Social Security Specialist for Arab States.

“It was imperative that they gather at this crucial juncture to iron out outstanding issues and formulate joint empoloyer recommendations on the adoption of the draft social security law, so that it will truly meet the needs of the Palestinian private sector,” Kulke added.

The workshop came ahead of a meeting on Monday 21 September at which the ILO will present the draft law to the 45-member National Social Security Committee, which includes employer representatives. It is expected that the law will be adopted by the Committee at the meeting, ahead of its adoption by the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister, and finally the President.