Jordan- Samra workers strike may lead to power cuts

(MENAFN – Jordan Times)  Samra Electric Power Company (SEPCO) employees continued their strike for the second consecutive day on Monday in protest against their management’s “negative” reaction to their demands.

The workers warned that if the strike goes on, the night shift staff will not be able to work for three or four consecutive days, which may lead to power outages across the Kingdom, since the company accounts for 40 per cent of the country’s electricity supply.

Currently, the company’s night shift staff is not taking part in the strike to avoid leaving citizens in the dark, and a group of workers were assigned to operate the plant during the day to ensure there are no power cuts.

The employees began the strike on Sunday after a meeting between Minister of Labour Mahmoud Al Kafawin, the SEPCO management and the Electricity Workers Union (EWU) earlier this month failed to resolve the issue.

The employees changed the venue of their strike, moving from the Samra station in Zarqa Governorate to the company’s new premises on Amman’s Mecca Street to draw the attention of the media and the company’s management to their requests, according to EWU President Ali Hadid.

“The employees have been waiting two years [since they first submitted their demands] to have this issue resolved. The management has not yet found a solution to end the strike,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The workers’ demands include a JD75 monthly raise, JD60 in hazardous work pay, end-of-service compensation and full health insurance coverage, according to the EWU.

Hamzah Jawarneh, one of the station’s employees, said the hazardous work pay is the main request on the employees’ list of demands.

“We face many risks when working in maintenance. Besides, dealing with electricity is extremely dangerous,” the 34-year-old noted.

His colleague Waleed Zakarneh agreed, pointing out that workers are exposed to an “unhealthy” and “hazardous” environment in the company’s premises in Zarqa Governorate.

Some workers were admitted to nearby hospitals on account of the “unhealthy” environment they face daily, according to employees.

The 300 striking employees also claim that the company has no clearly defined salary scale, and that raises are “not granted fairly”.

Amani Sayed, who joined the company a year after it opened in 2005, described the raise percentage as low.

“It ranges between 3 and 5 per cent, so we receive a raise of between JD3 and JD7,” she said, adding that employees earn “very low wages”.

Nisreen Fares, who has been working in the company for seven years, complained of the absence of criteria for hiring employees, charging that new workers are appointed through “wasta and favouritism”.

Hadid said a meeting, arranged by MP Khaled Fanatseh (Maan, 1st District), will be held today between Kafawin, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan, the EWU and the company’s management in an attempt to come up with a solution to the dispute.

The workers yesterday insisted that they will not end their strike until the management agrees to their demands.

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