The Representative of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Munir Qleibo, said that the draft of the Social Security Law is in the best state that can be reached, considering the difficult challenges facing the Palestinian economy. Even though the calculation involved in the Law may be unjust to the workers, having no social security law is even more unjust.
Asma Marzouq – Palestine Economy Portal
Translated by: Tamara Barakat
The Social Security Law, whose draft was announced to ready to be presented to the Palestinian Cabinet for discussion before its approval by the President, has received many criticisms from various unions and civil society organizations.
This Law, if approved by the President, will be implemented within the next two years. The Law has been under study for three years by a national team comprised of 35 members from different relevant parties.
The Representative of the ILO, Munir Qleibo, said that the draft of the Social Security Law is in the best state that can be reached, considering the difficult challenges facing the Palestinian economy.
In an exclusive interview with the Palestine Economy Portal, Qleibo disapproved of the criticism to the Social Security Law coming from unions and civil society organizations, despite the agreement reached among the three relevant parties (employers, employees, and the Government) after long negotiations.
According to the draft law, the employees have to participate with 7.1% of their salary to the Social Security Fund, while the employers participate with 8.5%. The percentages are very close to each other in comparison with those applied in neighboring counties, where the Social Security Law makes the employers participate with two-thirds and the employees with a third.
Moreover, according to the Palestinian law, the workers’ severance pay will amount to 51% of their salary after 30 years of service.
Qleibo expressed that this calculation is unjust to the workers, but the alternative of not having a Social Security Law is even more unjust.
He said, “As a Labor Organization, we are fully aware that such an income is inappropriate for a dignified human being. However, if we force the employers to pay two-thirds during the difficult economic and political conditions in Palestine, they won’t participate, and so, there will be no social security system.”
Read also: Three Objections to Draft of Social Security Law
The numbers and percentages on which the Law was set were determined based on an actuarial study done by the ILO. The study involved a forecast about the Palestinian labor market for the next 100 years, and it relied on data published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and facts from the labor market itself. However, several parties objected to using this study as a basis for the Law and refused to see it as “sacred” since it is unjust to the workers.
Qleibo, on the other hand, believes that it is a scientific and economic study and its results should not be doubted. He agrees that it is not sacred, and thus should be reviewed every three years. He also mentions that the ILO did not force this study on anyone. It simply submitted it to the national team working on the Social Security Law, and it was discussed and used because it is built on the facts and realities on the ground.
He said, “It is normal for unrest about the matter to occur since we, as a society, are not used to making deductions from workers.” He believes that the objections made to the draft law, which was discussed in the first hearing in the Cabinet a few days ago, result from the lack of a social security culture.
He confirmed that the ILO has set a budget for an awareness-raising program to the workers, involving the three parties concerned with this Law, and emphasized the importance of its implementation after its approval.
The Law will cover pension, maternity leave, and death during work. It will force all licensed organizations and facilities employing workers to join the Social Security Fund and pay for their employees’ subscriptions to it.
Qleibo added that the ILO, which is overseeing the process of setting this Law, aims to begin implementing it in large organizations like banks, insurance, and telecommunication companies. After that, it will be implemented in more marginalized sectors.
After the Law’s approval, an Administrative Board will be formed for the Social Security Fund, consisting equally of representatives of the three parties (workers, employers, the Government). The Board will be responsible for making all of the Fund’s decisions, such as where to invest the money, how, and in what.
Qleibo wished that these three parties will be able to choose representatives who are qualified to fulfill this responsibility, and not nominate them according to political affiliations and nepotism.