The Palestinian Association for Human Rights (witness)
Calls for the Amendment of the UNRWA Area Staff Regulations for Contradiction
with Legal Standards and Relative Justice
The UNRWA area staff regulations were promulgated in 1985 based on political and security considerations prevailing then. However, they remained a mere project for a long time and were not fully implemented in all areas. Thus, while the old electoral mechanism remained intact in Syria, some areas failed to adopt the unified executive council as is the case in Jordan.
In Lebanon, the old formula remained in effect until 1992 when the new regulations were implemented only to realize that they do not reflect the real size of union representation. Consequently, former executive councils amended these regulations thus changing the number of teachers from 1/50 to 1/30. They further dedicated many sessions to discuss with the administration the draft of changing the mechanism and the number of sectoral committees and conferences. It was noticed that the number of some sectors have decreased without this affecting the size of their representation. In addition, the number of members of the sectoral committee amounted to half plus one of the sectoral conference, which is in itself a setback for the democratic process. However, despite all their defects, the regulations were not amended thus causing a major gap in the Staff Union and undermining its work. Ultimately, a number of its representatives became disadvantaged and marginalized and were deprived of participation in the leadership bodies of the Union for reasons which have nothing to do with union work that requires to unite all efforts and mobilize all energies.
Based on the above and on other numerous facts, it is clear that UNRWA administration does not have any authority to form unions as the staff rules give employees the exclusive right to establish their unions and associations without having to refer to the administration. It follows from this right that the amendment or repulsion of such regulations and the adoption of new ones are the exclusive right of the employees as well. For its part, the administration has to comply with these rules in order to protect its neutrality and objectivity.
With the approach of the elections of the Staff Union in Lebanon, which are scheduled to take place on 4 April 2012, and after a careful reading of the electoral law and the mechanisms of the formation of the sectoral committees and the executive council, there seems to be a defect in the structure of this law as its implementation is in clear contradiction with the standards of relative justice. Worth of mention is that this election process is conducted once every three years in the UNRWA’s five fields of operation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.