Thousands of employees of the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency in the Gaza Strip are striking against cost-cutting measures the agency is imposing to overcome a financial crisis.

The protesters say they want the commissioner-general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency to cancel measures that would allow the agency to impose one-year unpaid leave on staff and increase the number of students in U.N.-run classrooms.

Some 13,000 teachers, health workers and other employees are on strike. A demonstration Monday outside the agency's Gaza headquarters was the largest of a series of demonstrations in recent weeks.

Hamas-run schools in the Palestinian territory began the school year, but U.N.-run schools remain closed because of the strike.

UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the unpaid leave measure has been frozen.