March 12, 2016 / 9:08 PM / in 4 years

Palestinian schoolteachers agree to end month-long strike

A Palestinian teacher holds a sign during a protest demanding better pay and conditions, in the West Bank city of Ramallah March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian schoolteachers agreed to end a month-long strike on Saturday, heeding a call by President Mahmoud Abbas to go back to work despite only some of their demands being met, the teachers’ union said.

More than 25,000 teachers in the West Bank have been on strike over pay and benefits since Feb. 10, causing chaos for schools, pupils and parents, and prompting the Palestinian Authority to deploy police on the streets of Ramallah.

“With pain squeezing our hearts, we can only thank President Mahmoud Abbas ... he came up with some new offers, even though they have not fulfilled all our needs and demands,” the teachers’ union said in a statement.

The official WAFA news agency said the teachers would receive back pay in four instalments by September, and a 10 percent pay rise from 2017-2018.

With the West Bank’s economy struggling, the Palestinian Authority in debt and Israel’s occupation causing constant pressure, little money is available to raise teachers’ salaries.

During the strike, thousands of protesting teachers thronged the downtown area of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government, complaining that they receive far fewer benefits than other government employees.

It was one of the most serious and extended work stoppages in the Palestinian territories and resulted in more than 540,000 children sitting at home or roaming the streets.

Reporting by Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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