Protesting Jordanian workers demand better living conditions, job creation

Protests and sit-ins continued in Jordan this week. [Ali al-Rawashdeh/Al-Shorfa]

Protests and sit-ins continued in Jordan this week. [Ali al-Rawashdeh/Al-Shorfa]

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Despite the dismissal of Samir Rifai's government and the formation of a new one earlier this month, demonstrations and sit-ins continue in Amman and in a number of Jordanian governorates. Demonstrators are demanding better living conditions and more freedoms, as well as accountability of those guilty of corruption.

The Youth for Change Movement ("Jayeen"), which calls for constitutional political reforms, continued to hold sit-ins as did former government workers, who are asking for job opportunities after they lost their jobs with the government.

Sit-ins this week were staged by workers of Mu'tah and Hussein bin Talal universities, as well as by investors in Amman's Stock Exchange, who have reportedly suffered losses amounting to one billion dinars ($1.4 million) this month.

Workers of the Petroleum Refinery Company, the only refinery in Jordan, have called for a demonstration on March 7th, to protest the company's failure to increase wages.

Economic expert Dr. Yousef Mansour said that the protests come as a result of the deficit in the public budget, which has gone over $1.4 million; the debt that has exceeded $15 billion; and unemployment which has reached 14% according to government reports, whereas unemployment among Bachelors Degree holders has exceeded 20%.

"The [Rifai] government had announced that the country's budget for 2011 did not include job creation, which crushed the hopes of many, who are out of work," Mansour said. "In addition, the salary increases that were approved at the beginning of 2011 (20 Dinars or 28 Dollars), does not match the inflation rates."

Mohammed al-Sneid, the Chairman of the Committee of the Daily Wage Workers who were employed with the ministries and other government agencies, told Al-Shorfa, "The demands of the workers are fair, especially that hundreds of them were terminated or dismissed under the pretext that the projects they had worked on, had ended. This threatens their livelihood and their families".

Labour affairs expert Amal al-Damen, said, "The current labour movement is unprecedented in Jordan. Since the beginning of February, sit-ins and protests have intensified and have not stopped. They have several demands most important of which are to secure a decent living and job security."

She said that the demands, which have intensified, derive their strength from the wave of protests in the region. The sit-ins are characterised by peacefulness and are not intended to sabotage or cause harm, she added.

On February 20th, Jordanian King Abdullah II emphasised in a speech he made, during his meeting with heads and members of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, that, "Nothing can influence the policy of openness, the spirit of tolerance and the culture of pluralism and acceptance of other constructive and honest opinions, because these are Jordanian constants that do not change."

He added, "Reform is our unwavering will, because it is in the interest of our people. It means progress and keeping up with modern times." He said that he is waiting for the government to present him with its recommendations on the mechanism of a comprehensive dialogue, to discuss all the necessary measures to be taken in order to realise political and economic change.

Al-Damen said that "King Abdullah's speech reassured the citizens of his respect for their rights to express their opinion. It also called for the government to accelerate the pace of reform that is sought by the workers."

Teachers demand for union met

In the midst of the protests in Jordan calling for political and economic reform, some have succeeded in achieving positive results, such as the teachers' demand to form a teacher's union.

Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit told parliament on February 20th that it will establish a union for teachers if his cabinet receives a vote of confidence.

The Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the Revival of Teachers Union in Jordan, Mustafa al-Rawashdeh, told Al-Shorfa that "the sit-ins of the members of the committee asking for the establishment of a union to protect one hundred thousand Jordanian teachers, especially with regards to their low salaries, are fair."

He said that "the government of Samir Rifa did not respond to the demands at all, while the new government has begun to respond and has announced its support for the teachers' demands."

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    احسن محمود

    2011-3-10

    The Jordanian people are considered one of the peoples who lack many services and rights. They need a great deal of work by their rulers to achieve their demands, around which they have risen days ago to make these demands and to achieve them as soon as possible. As such, we demand that the government, appointed by the Jordanian king recently, and all the officials take the demands of the Jordanian people into consideration and work on achieving them, because the Jordanian people need them to improve their living conditions and develop them. They need to be supported by the officials, and they need serious and effective work to be done to destroy all kinds of corruption in the Jordanian governmental institutions, which has been suffered by the Jordanian people, as these institutions have not satisfied their needs and were only too busy with their own corruption. I demand that work be serious and that the demands of the Jordanian people be achieved, as they dream of living with more freedom and of having their conditions be improved in all aspects. We have had enough superficial reforms which have presented nothing but false promises to the Jordanian people, which changed nothing in the conditions of the Jordanian citizens for many of the recent years. The demands of the Jordanian people are legitimate and real. The ruling regime represented in the King of Jordan and his government has to respond to the demands of the Jordanian public, as the people are sick of waiting. Work must be done to achieve these demands and find the appropriate solutions that would help Jordanian citizens live a dignified life.

  • محمد عبدالله

    2011-3-8

    The King is certainly able to undertake reforms in the economic situation by creating an honest parliament and a democratically elected government that work for the benefit of the people under the guidance of the King in person. This government should focus on improving economic conditions and reduce the burdens of the Jordanian citizens, who are weary of the difficult life and high prices. It can provide fertile ground for investment to develop the economic situation by giving more support and coordination between all parties, as well as the exclusion of those who benefit from the current economic conditions. This also requires a quicker move than there was in the past. We must face the problems of unemployment, poverty and the debt and foreign aid issues in Jordan. All these things need a serious stance by everybody, not only by the king, to change the situation through cooperation among all the people of Jordan, its citizens, parties, politicians and unions, in order to improve the economic situation in the country and to make these amendments.

  • جمال عزيز

    2011-3-5

    I would like to talk about the demands of the brotherly Jordanians, who are claiming their legitimate rights. In fact, the Jordanian government must serve the people and provide them with all their necessary requirements. Arab peoples seek nothing but justice and equality in all walks of life. Jordanians, just like any other people, want an opportunity to lead a decent life, the provision of better salaries, and lower product prices. In short, they do not want any governmental deficiencies, so that they will not have to demonstrate and protest in the streets, which might aggravate the situation, hurt the citizens, and kill people by means of army bullets or other instruments. Such scenes are very common in countries where people demonstrate in the streets to claim their rights. Thus, the government and relevant parties must show concern for the cause of the Jordanians, and take into account the feelings of the citizens, who have suffered much injustice, poverty and unemployment. Indeed, Jordan ranks first among all the Arab nations in this respect. Therefore, I call on the officials to respond to the demands of the Jordanians, because they are ordinary people who need a helping hand, so that civilians and government members do not get hurt. Still, the latter must be more serious, in order to respond to all the demands of the Jordanian people. Therefore, serious work has to be done to implement the demands of the Jordanians.

  • حبيب فايد

    2011-3-4

    Many sectors in Jordan are experiencing very difficult conditions, due to the bad circumstances. This applies to the labor sector, which suffers from miserable and difficult conditions. The employees and workers in Jordan suffer from misfortunes as to the low salaries that are not commensurate with the long daily working hours.

  • نبيل حمود

    2011-3-4

    The conditions of the workers are very difficult, and they are the people who suffered much in Jordan, due to the sharp increase in the cost of living and prices. This laborer class suffers from neglect on the part of the officials, who do not enact the necessary laws to protect this social class from this difficult and tragic situation in which we now live in Jordan.

  • ربيعان

    2011-3-4

    The workers in Jordan suffer from very difficult living conditions, because they can barely get their basic needs and can hardly handle their daily affairs. In addition to the low salaries of the workers in Jordan, there is a great crisis in getting a job, because the chances are very difficult and rare.

  • 2011-3-4

    I call for reforms in Jordan that will involve all the joints and important sectors in Jordan to help the Jordanian citizen enjoy an honorable life.

  • 2011-3-4

    There must be radical political reform that responds to the popular demands, because the current situation is unbearable. The corruption must stop and we must stop the exploitation of the public offices, in which corruption is practiced publicly. There is a need for change and reform, in order to allow the Jordanians to live honorably and with dignity.

  • بسيم

    2011-3-4

    I think that the political reforms are the top priority, to allow the Jordanians to move forward and end this deteriorated situation, which was caused by some people in power.

  • حميد ياسين

    2011-3-4

    The labor sector in the Kingdom of Jordan is one of the deteriorated sectors, because of the difficult living conditions that the Jordanian workers are going through.

  • ابراهيم عبدالله ابراهيم

    2011-3-4

    Jordanian employees and workers are suffering from low salaries, which are not commensurate with the long working hours. The Jordanian employees complain because these salaries do not allow them to afford the difficult living conditions, in the view of the sharp increase in prices. Hence, we see that the employees suffer a great deal, due to the difficult living conditions in Jordan, because they represent the poorest social class that is disadvantaged because of the low salaries and difficult living conditions that adversely affect the people of Jordan, especially the government employees.

  • باسل احمد

    2011-3-4

    The Jordanian citizen suffers from the curtailment of freedoms and difficult living conditions, as a result of the unsuccessful policies of the Jordanian government, which failed in responding to the needs of its citizens. The conditions of the Jordanian citizen are very difficult and pathetic, because of the marginalization and deprivation.

  • شريف

    2011-3-4

    I demand that the Jordanian government start implementing reforms, especially as to the matters that directly affect the life of the Jordanian citizen. The conditions of the Jordanian citizens must be reviewed and improved through political reforms and by correcting the political course. This necessitates forming a government that is elected by the people and that can feel their suffering. We demand the elimination of the administrative corruption that contributed significantly to the terrible suffering of the Jordanians. There must be a serious stance taken, in order to make the reforms that will change the deteriorated reality in Jordan, in addition to eliminating the corrupt system and elements that have worked to steal the riches and misused their power for personal interests at the expense of the Jordanian people, who suffer from unemployment, poor services, difficult living conditions, low wages and soaring prices.

  • ياسين

    2011-3-3

    The Jordanian government should work for political reform in the country and follow up on the ministries and all the departments of the state, to create a better situation and to provide all the services that serve the citizens of Jordan. The political situation has become a problem to all the Arab people, especially in Jordan, because reform comes first through politics, and then it moves gradually to other areas that serve the citizens. So it is necessary to see a political reform to improve the situation in Jordan. The ministries should work better, and the government should pay more and comprehensive attention to all political sectors, because the political corruption has disadvantages that affect the country and its people.

  • تيمور

    2011-3-3

    It is very necessary that the politicians and all those who work in politics as members of the government, institute reforms to serve the citizens of Jordan, who ask the government to take serious actions of reform, lest the situation flare up against the government and politicians and people come out for demonstrations and uprisings that aim at bringing down the government and politicians working with the government. So, reform must be urgent and immediate, to achieve stability and calm in the country.

  • غسان

    2011-3-3

    The people of Jordan are suffering from extreme poverty and miserable living conditions, which have exhausted a lot of Jordanians, because the workers suffer from low wages and the high cost of living, which the poor people cannot endure anymore, especially as there are those who enjoy all the amenities and a decent living, and they are not concerned with how to get money or earn a living. But the majority of the people of Jordan cannot afford more. The government, therefore, must work effectively in order to help the people and provide a decent living for all those ordinary people who are tired of this way of living, which has become a heavy burden on their shoulders. The government should help the citizens to feel comfortable and improve the low wages received by the Jordanian workers. The government can support those workers by increasing their wages or by enacting a law to raise the workers' wages in Jordan, because these low wages upset the workers, and they always feel that they are in need of more money to support their families to meet the daily needs of life in Jordan. Also, the daily wages for Jordanian workers must be raised, in order to encourage them to perform better and work faster.

  • مرزوق حماد

    2011-3-2

    All parties must realize that the Jordanian citizen leads a very difficult life in Jordan, because of many factors that do not attract attention or receive enough care on the part of the government or the parliament, which is supposed to be the representative of the people, or from the king, who is the leader of the people. Hence, the people chose peaceful demonstrations in order to express their demands to give the people some freedom in Jordan. This is one of the most important demands and required reforms in the country, in addition to passing other laws that do justice to the citizen and eliminate unemployment, corruption and bribery, in addition to giving the people a chance to participate in the government and the parliament. The electoral system must be transparent and democratic, without any manipulation or fraud. In this way, the opposition will have a chance to participate in the government and other parties as well.

  • اشرف

    2011-3-2

    The conditions of the workers in Jordan are very bad and their living conditions are very difficult in light of skyrocketing prices and the low salaries of the workers in Jordan in all sectors. These salaries are not commensurate with the increase in rents and prices of materials and goods in general during the recent years. Because of this, all the workers complained a great deal about the poor living conditions and inadequate salaries that do not enable them to afford all the needs of the family. All families have students and they must pay tuition, but the workers cannot afford all these funds that would make them capable of managing their homes as required. The situation of the workers in Jordan is very difficult, and we need real help from the government that should either lower the prices or increase the salaries of the workers.

  • Maher

    2011-3-2

    I am a Jordanian worker, and I swear my living conditions are tough, because the salary that I get from work after strenuous efforts is insufficient, and I sometimes find myself forced to search for two jobs in one day in order to get higher pay. Nevertheless, the income is not high enough, and I still face great difficulty in providing the most basic needs of my house and my family.

  • عمار حسن

    2011-3-2

    I think that there has to be a budget for everything, because it is unreasonable for Jordanian employees to receive such low salaries, while prices are increasing exponentially and quickly. Hence, we demand that a budget be set aside for these things, because the employees now lead very difficult and miserable lives, and they feel that what they receive is not enough to cover even a quarter of the monthly expenses. Certainly, this is unfair to the Jordanian employees and workers.

  • اياد رشدي

    2011-3-2

    The reality of the Jordanian employees and officials is tragic, and their living conditions are very difficult, due to the absence of any care, help, or even any serious discussions of their problems with the aim of providing assistance to them. The employees complain about low salaries and soaring prices of food and rents at the same time. The prices and rents have doubled, while the Jordanian employees still suffer from low salaries. Hence, I demand that the Jordanian workers and employees be saved from this miserable reality and deteriorating situation. I hope that the government will work immediately to reform the system in Jordan and head directly towards solving the problem of workers and employees, by enacting a law specifying the minimum threshold of salaries, to ensure a balance between salaries and prices.

  • صديق

    2011-3-2

    We must form committees to study the laws that need to be changed or need to be more flexible, because this will be one of the most important foundations of political reform in Jordan. The reality of the elections and political parties must be discussed, because the parties in Jordan are weak and restrained. Likewise, the municipalities and services, as well as the economic situation of the country and improvement of the living conditions of the Jordanian citizen must also be studied. These matters require real movement on the part of the members of the government and the king. I think that mere statements are not sufficient, because the citizen needs real changes and real reform in the country. Allowing the parties to participate in the elections, the government and the parliament in a real way will allow the political life in the country, as well as the economic activity, to be monitored, because these authorities will include the real representatives of the people. The government should work to eradicate corruption and bribery, which are rampant in Jordan. Many people in all sectors take bribes, and if you want to complete any official application or the like, you have to pay, because they do not respect the law. That is because they know that no one will bring them to justice. This rampant corruption has destroyed the country economically and politically. We have to fight corruption and prevent the drugs, hashish, wine, and nightclubs that have destroyed the youth and spoiled them. In short, we need a comprehensive change in all areas.

  • 2011-3-1

    It would be better for the Jordanian government to meet its obligations towards the angry crowds that came out to express their suffering as a result of the failure to provide services and the basic needs of the citizens, especially after the government had increased prices, which led to the dismissal of the government headed by Rifai and assigning a new government headed by al-Bakhit. This government must deal wisely and patiently with the public pressure created by the recent events, in order to escape this impasse being created in Jordan. Therefore, the government should calm the frustration and anger of the masses of Jordan, in order to avoid the public outrage that may happen in the country. The government should lay out plans for political and economic reform, improve the lives of Jordanian citizens and lower prices, especially fuel prices, in order to overcome challenges and create a better future for the people of Jordan.

  • خالد

    2011-3-1

    All the Arab peoples are deprived of their rights, and all Arab rulers are inhuman dictators. But the Arabs are asking for their rights now, and the rulers are refusing to respond to all their demands. In addition, these rulers are sharing the cake and do not want the well-being of their compatriots. Indeed, the Jordanians are respectful people who are still protecting their honor and nation. Yet, the King does not know that his days in power are numbered, since the Jordanians do not want him anymore. Although they have asked for their most basic rights, they were rejected, and King Abdullah together with his agents declare that the citizens have no rights, and tell them to do whatever they like. I wonder what the Jordanians will do. Are they going to stay with their arms crossed? Definitely not. They will rise up and face their tyrannical ruler, and Jordan will restore its former good position. In fact, what happened in Egypt is a strong boost for all Arab nations to wake up from the long-term injustice in which they have been living. What do the people want? They seek only security and stability. Yet, the Arab leaders cannot respond to such demands. Thus, I wonder what they can do. Anyway, we call on them to respond to all the Jordanians’ demands; otherwise an unprecedented thing will happen. Let the ruler in Jordan know that the Jordanians are strong and brave people, who want to fulfill all their wishes and requirements. Everything will be fulfilled, God willing. Thus, I want to say to the Jordanians that they must not lose their rights, and they must do their utmost by all means to restore them, and may God be with them.

  • سامي العيسى

    2011-2-28

    All the Arab governments are disloyal and illegitimate. The poor Arab peoples do not know the crimes of their dictatorial rulers. However, they have revolted, from the Ocean to the Gulf. What happened in Egypt has awakened the Arab peoples who had surrendered to the oppression of those dictators. The Egyptians have opened the door for Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and many other countries in the future. All the Arab countries need change, and thank God for awakening the Arab peoples from sleep and this terrible nightmare that kept following them all these decades. We have demanded real changes in order to restore the confiscated rights and to stop the looting of the riches and money of the peoples. They used to anesthetize the peoples with empty promises of reform and a better life. However, they continued stealing without any letup. They sent their money to the banks of Switzerland. We demand restoration that this money be restored to the peoples, to feed the poor and the hungry people and to serve those who deserve it. It is illegal to keep these funds without allowing the people to benefit from them. We have to support the right and God will support us.

  • تمارا

    2011-2-27

    King Abdullah has realized the seriousness of the demonstrations which spread in the kingdom over the last weeks, and declared to his Members of Parliament that he has faced many hurdles. He also promised to respond to many old demands and talked about reforms. He said: “I would like to make a great and real reform.” He added that things would not remain as in the past. Yet, I wonder how long he will keep making promises to his people in vain. In fact, Jordanians need great and new reforms nowadays, in order to improve the situation. Indeed, the latter is not good, since the majority of workers in Jordan are going out on demonstrations, calling for their rights, in order to improve the living standards caused by their poor salaries, the alarming price increases and the deteriorating conditions. Thus, we call for political reform, since Arab leaders were so proud that they sinned and ignited dissension among the citizens with price increases and a shortage of job opportunities. In fact, Jordanians are asking for their rights nowadays, just like the other Arab people, who have woken up from their long-term nightmare. Thus, we call for political reforms now, in order to make the situation better than before. I would like to pray to God to protect Jordanians from any evil and improve the political situation there. I want also to advise King Abdullah to pay attention, or his destiny will be like that of Hosni Mubarak or Bouteflika. May God grant us success and pride.

  • بشار

    2011-2-27

    The poor conditions experienced by Jordanian workers, due to low wages and the high cost of living, have a lot of drawbacks, namely going on huge demonstrations to ask the government to respond to many demands. Besides, such demonstrations may be powerful, thus leading to more difficult demands. For instance, the protesters may ask the government to step down and pave the way for citizens to choose their ruler. In fact, uprisings and revolutions have occurred in many Arab countries, namely Egypt, Tunisia, now Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Thus, all Arab countries have revolted against their rulers and woken up from the nightmare in which they were living. Jordanians, mainly ordinary citizens and workers, are suffering from a cash shortage because of their low wages. In addition, the price increase in the Jordanian market has become another disaster. Thus, I wonder how you expect people not to rise up and go on demonstrations to ask for their rights. We call on the Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom to take control of the situation; otherwise the outcome will be unsatisfactory. However, we hope that they take control of the situation, in order to relieve Jordanians of the price increase, since the ordinary worker is not able to earn a living for his family.

  • بدر

    2011-2-27

    All Muslims are brothers. Thus, the Muslim must help his brother Muslim in all circumstances. Jordanian workers are living in dreadful conditions, since their wages are low and they cannot afford to live, in addition to the rampant price increases of all products in the markets. Food is very important for the life of citizens to satisfy their needs, to maintain a good family and to lead a peaceful life. Thus, the Jordanian government must follow up on such important issues and do its utmost to find suitable solutions, by increasing salaries and reducing prices. Furthermore, merchants must care more for citizens and remember that the daily bread comes from God. Merchants should also know that invoking God against the citizens will destroy their psychology, since merchants will lose money, and their commerce will be short-lived and will never prosper, as God the Almighty said: “Cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression.” In fact, all such things will make Jordanians aggressive and increase their demands. They will call for overthrowing the regime in order to get rid of the corrupt officials, whose ultimate objective is to take control of the situation alone, and who deny people’s rights. Thus, we pray to God to remove these hardships facing our brother Jordanians, and we pray that the government will care for them, so that the situation will improve.

  • محمد القلاعي

    2011-2-27

    Messenger of God Muhammad, peace be upon him: “Give the employee his due before he finishes his work.” In fact, the Messenger of God Muhammad noted that any worker anywhere, whose work is honest and free from bribery or other such harmful things, must be paid by his employer before the former finishes work in order for him to have a motivation and to encourage him to work. In fact, the worker will have moral as well as material support to make a greater effort at work. By so doing, he will deserve the wage he gets, since he is sure of his work and efforts. In addition, the employer must take an interest in his employees. In fact, it is desirable that there should be a Workers Day every year in May. Yet, I wonder how that Day will be this year, and what will happen, regarding the deteriorating conditions of Jordanians and particularly the workers who are poorly paid? Indeed, living conditions and the situation are difficult, as a result of the price increases. How can a relatively poorly paid worker live, especially since prices are extremely high? Where can he get money? Fear God, O government official, and remember that God is the most powerful. You have to know that your people desperately need work. Where can a poor man get his living for his children? Would you allow one of you to sleep without food? Of course not. Thus, you have to consider the situation of the poor. Therefore, we want to call on the government officials and Jordanian Royalty to protect the Jordanian workers and to act quickly in order to avoid problems.