4,000 restaurants shut down in past 2 years

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AMMAN —  Nearly 4,000 restaurants went out of business in the past two years, and the sector is expected to face another wave of closures, said Omar Al-Awwad, president of the Jordan Union of Restaurants and Confectionery Proprietors.اضافة اعلان

“This is due to the fact that the Ministry of Labor prohibited the sector from bringing in expatriate workers, and has not provided an alternative source of labor,” Awwad told Jordan News.

He explained that expatriate workers already in the Kingdom have been asking for higher wages, which is an added burden to restaurant owners. He said that the cost of importing foreign labor is also expensive, estimated at JD2,500, which is coupled with social security enrollment fees and labor permit expenses.

He said he expected that a “large number” of restaurants are on the verge of going out of business because their owners are unable to bear the “unprecedentedly high” operating costs.

He stressed that local labor is an inappropriate option because  it is not qualified to work in restaurants.

Restaurant owner Abu Ameer told Jordan News that he plans to close shop after eight years of being in the business because of the high operating costs, and the lack of expatriate workers.

“I tried to employ local workers, but they could not do the job appropriately,” he said. “This receding quality of service reflected negatively on my business, leading to a drop in the number of customers, and ultimately a shrinking profit.”

“Sometimes, we feel that the Ministry of Labor is working against us by prohibiting us from sponsoring expatriate workers,” he proclaimed.

“But in light of a shortage of workers, our condition has worsened,” he said.

The Ministry of Labor said in a written reply to an inquiry by Jordan News that a freeze on importing foreign worker, which went into effect in early June, was meant to have Jordanians replace foreign workers, easing a soaring unemployment in the domestic workforce.

“The recruitment of expatriate workers was suspended for the purpose of replacing them with Jordanian workers,” the ministry said.

It said prior to the decision, 55 percent of restaurant workers nationwide were non-Jordanians, with the remainder being domestic laborers.

But following the implementation of the decision, the percentage of Jordanian restaurant workers climbed to 65 percent, up from 45 percent, while the number of foreign workers fell to 35 percent, the ministry noted.

“The Ministry of Labor allows the recruitment of skilled non-Jordanian workers in specialized professions, according to regulations in force,” the ministry pointed out.

It said that Jordanian workers are being trained in professions related to the restaurant sector by specialists from the private sector and the Vocational Training Corporation, to gradually replace the expatriate workers, and ultimately reduce the number of foreign workers in the sector.

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