Expat workers in Jordan in trouble

Around 1,000 Bangladeshi garment workers in Jordan have joined their several thousand Asian colleagues in a strike demanding higher wages.

Sri Lankan workers first went on strike early this month and their fellows from India, Bangladesh and China followed suit, migrants in Amman said.

Workers are demanding an increase in minimum wage from Jordanian Dinar (JD) 110 to 150. (JD 1 = Tk 103)

The Jordan government, however, said it is not in a position to increase the salary abruptly, noted Toufiq Islam Shatil, first secretary of Bangladesh embassy in Jordan.

The company owners have stopped supplying food, water and electricity to the labour hostels for the last two weeks, Altaf Hossain, a worker of Starling Apparel Manufacturing at Al Tajamouat Industrial City in Amman, told The Daily Star yesterday evening.

“We are buying bottled water, candles and food on our own,” he added.

As per his five-year-old job contract, his wage is JD 110, but a year ago the Jordan government announced to increase it to JD 150, which the company owners are not complying with, complained Altaf.

The workers went to the labour court last Sunday, but it asked them to resume work at present wage.

He mentioned that there were clashes on Wednesday between police and workers. The law enforcers fired tear gas on the protesting workers.

Six workers including one Bangladeshi were arrested, but were released later, said embassy official Toufiq Islam Shatil.

Following the strike, embassy officials met the Jordanian labour department and authorities of the factories to address the issue. They requested the companies to offer an increment in wages.

He claimed the supply of water and food to workers is on.

According to Shatil, the Jordan government increased the minimum salary to JD 150 only for native workers. The foreign workers were left out because they get food, accommodation and transportation from employers.

After a sluggish trend for years, Jordan recently started to recruit large number of female garment workers. But if such strike lingers on, it would hamper Bangladesh’s labour market, he observed.

Representatives from Jordanian labour ministry and different related organisations have been discussing the issue with a foreign workers’ committee to reach a settlement, reported The Jordan Times on Thursday.

Since the beginning of 2010, Tajamouat has seen more than 17 work stoppages, added the newspaper report quoting the labour ministry.

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