PADICO unfairly dismisses employees; Palestinian Authority must intercede

PADICO unfairly dismisses employees; Palestinian Authority must intercede

LondonThe dismissal of 11 employees by Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO Holding) is based on trumped-up charges and can actually be traced to the workers’ refusal to resign or go on unpaid leave, charges ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The dismissal of the employees of PADICO’s Jacir Palace Hotel in Bethlehem (West Bank, occupied Palestinian territories) occurred in the midst of the economic crisis caused by the lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The employees, who had worked for the company for nine-plus years, had staged a “sit-down” in front of the hotel headquarters to protest management’s demand that they resign or go on unpaid leave for no less than a year.

"We received no prior notice or any legal justifications, despite our commitment to work rules and requirements," said the spokesperson for the protesting employees, Muhammad Taamrah, a father of three who now is no longer able to feed his children. 

We received no prior notice or any legal justifications, despite our commitment to work rules and requirements.

- Muhammad Taamrah, the spokesperson for the protesting employees.

Initially, PADICO management transferred the protesting employees to jobs in the agricultural and industrial zone in Jericho. However, management later transferred them again to another city and then, finally, issued termination letters.

In an October statement, the hotel said the employees were dismissed after showing their solidarity with one of their workmates and being late to work several times, "which caused damage to the company hosting them."

PADICO claimed the employees had arrived two hours late for work, without taking into account the distance between their homes in Bethlehem and their new workplace, along with Israeli checkpoints. Hotel management also accused one of the dismissed employees of embezzlement, without providing evidence or explaining why it didn't report the incident to authorities.

PADICO was established in 1993 and is led by businessman Bashar al-Masri. It invests in the financial and service sectors, real estate and tourism development, renewable energy and infrastructure.

It is the duty of the Palestinian Ministry of Labor to investigate the employee dismissals by PADICO, assuring that the required conditions for employee protection were met and that workers receive appropriate compensation.

Its dismissal of the employees violates Palestinian labor law and international conventions and agreements related to workers' rights. ImpACT is asking company management to reverse its decision and comply with its legal obligations. Article 38 of the Palestinian Labor Law states that work contracts do not simply expire when an administrative or judicial decision results in the closing or temporary shuttering of a facility. Employers must pay the wages of impacted workers for up to two months to assist with their transition.

It is the duty of the Palestinian Ministry of Labor to investigate the employee dismissals by PADICO, assuring that the required conditions for employee protection were met and that workers receive appropriate compensation. ImpACT further calls for enforcement of workers’ right to take their complaints to the judicial authorities, and to file suit to regain their employment or to be paid their just compensation.

ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies also states that the Palestinian Authority must fulfill its obligations to protect workers' rights, including the right to fair and timely compensation, as well as to provide aid to impacted employees, most of whom have no other source of income.

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