To commemorate the International Worker’s day, independent trade unions organized a march in Amman on Thursday demanding more rights for Jordanian workers.
Almost one hundred protesters from 11 independent unions participated in the march, which was held the day after the international holiday due to the government’s decision to postpone the holiday by one day, creating a three day weekend.
Sameer Bustami, Head of the Drivers Independent union, said the protest was to urge the government to safeguard the rights of Jordanian workers,
”Our march today is to convey our frustration at the lack of rights for workers, rights which are in the law and the constitution and are in accordance with international agreements. These rights are not implemented at all, and our march is to demand these legitimate rights,” he said.
Bustami added that their two main requests are to provide all workers with social security and healthcare.
The issue of women in the workforce was also addressed by the protesters.
Samah Massanat, head of the country’s Unemployment Association, said Jordanian women are taking a backseat in the workforce due to competition from foreign workers,
”The percentage of female employment in the private sector used to be at 13%, but now I believe this has dropped to two or three percent. This is a result of the competition imposed by refugee labor which entered easily into the country’s workforce.” said Massanat.
Jordan maintains an open border policy for Syrian refugees and currently hosts more than 400,000 Syrians, the majority of whom are living and working within local communities.
Additionally, according to the Jordanian Ministry of Labor, the number of Egyptian workers in Jordan is currently in the region of 400,000, only 177,000 of these hold work permits, the rest live and work in the country illegally.
For Jordanians like Ali Jazajzeh he says the government should do more to provide jobs for locals.
“I only demand one thing, if a person would like to become an official and represent me, don’t allow migrant workers to come here and compete with my source of income, that is all I ask. I don’t care who it is, my only concern is this, that no one from outside the country come in and compete with my livelihood. Here you will find Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, and more,” said Jazajzeh.
The international workers’ day is marked on May 1st in many countries around the world. It is a national holiday in more than 80 countries, including Jordan, and celebrated unofficially in many others.