July 08, 2007

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

AT FIRST BLUSH, IT SEEMS like a problem that would be nice to have: different bosses end up telling their workers they have different days off. For most folks, this would be a great way to take a long weekend. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is taking place in the Gaza Strip, and the poor civil servants are instead caught in the crossfire. The Scotsman has the story:


As if life was not already difficult enough for the 1.4 million people living in the impoverished and war-torn Gaza Strip, they have now been presented with an almost impossible dilemma. They can either take off the Hamas weekend of Thursday and Friday - and risk not being paid by Fatah - or face the wrath of the all-powerful Hamas gunmen by observing the Fatah weekend on Friday and Saturday.

While Hamas controls the streets of Gaza, it is the Fatah-aligned rival government in the West Bank that pays their salaries.

The dispute, which is due to continue today, turned violent on Thursday when ministry of finance staff arrived at work in keeping with the directive from the government in Ramallah.

They found the doors chained shut and guarded by troops from Hamas' Executive Force who threatened to arrest the employees if they did not leave.

According to workers, the Hamas militiamen fired in the air and when the employees still refused to leave, shot into the ground near one of them.


Now, I don't know about you, but for me this state of affairs wouldn't be exactly conducive to getting a lot of work done. Crikey, they're accountants, for God's sake -- you don't shoot at the accountants. In fact, I'd say I'd be rather passive-aggressive at this point.

As such, I wouldn't blame the poor finance ministry folks for putting in the minimal amount of work at their positions while spending most of their time engaging in more lucrative pursuits, such as currency speculation, hoarding goods and arms smuggling. Actually, since the Palestinian authorities now owe the workers 18 months back salary, I can't say I'd blame the workers if they put out tip jars right on their desks and explicitly made large tips a condition for getting anything done.

However, I do think that if the finance ministry workers got together with the other civil servants, they could put a stop to this foolishness quick enough. With the weekend dispute going the way it is, it makes perfect sense for the civil servants to take three days off. It's not much of a stretch, then, to take seven days off in a week and adhere to that schedule until the idiots running Gaza give in. Trust me, it would work:

GUNMAN: Hello? Hello! Yes ... wait, what? What do you mean I'm overdrawn? A service charge? What service charge? ATM withdrawals? We don't have any ATMs! Well, a service charge couldn't be ... how many shekels? Ya'llah! Get your supervisor on the phone! What do you mean, he has the day off? El khara dah?

SECOND GUNMAN: Heh. You're overdrawn again, aren't you?

GUNMAN: No I'm -- you stay out of this! Hello? Now listen up, you wad al haram, I'll put your frickin' head on a pike if you don't put the money back in -- *click*click* -- hello? Hello! Goddammit!

I'm telling you, if the machinery ground to a halt, this whole weekend business would fix itself faster than you could say Jack Robinson. You think the average gunman knows how to operate an automated clearinghouse?

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 8, 2007 08:54 AM | TrackBack
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