Labor activists demand increased minimum wage

bread worker
Workers bake bread. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Labor activists called for an increased minimum wage to cope with soaring prices, challenging Minister of Labor Nayef Steitieh who said no raises were in the horizon.اضافة اعلان

The minimum wage is JD260, which activist say is barely enough to make decent living conditions and provide for their families, considering a rise in foodstuffs, fuel and other necessary commodities.

Steitieh said in a statement on Al-MamlakaTV in early July, that there was “no talk” about raising the minimum wage.

Mazen Al-Maaytah, president of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, said his group “will intensify its efforts to demand an increase in the minimum wage, improvement of working conditions and the achievement of new benefits for workers.”

“The significant rise in prices in the local markets calls for a review of the minimum wage because, as it stands now, it is widening poverty,” Maaytah told Jordan News.

He asserted the importance of job stability for workers to allow them to “earn a decent living with an adequate income that would reduce the current liquidity crisis they are going through.”

Hamada Abu Nijmeh, head of the Workers’ House, said that Article 52 of the Labor Law dictates that when setting the minimum wage, “consideration should be given to the cost of living, as issued by the competent official authorities”.

“It is agreed that several economic variables have occurred since the adoption of the current minimum wage,” he said. “Those variables have a significant impact on the level of cost of living, which requires reviewing the minimum wage and measuring the impact of these variables on it in order to secure the minimum standards of living for workers in the private sector.”

“Here, it must be noted that the Jordanian economy, like other countries in the world, has recently been affected by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, which requires an increase in the minimum wage in light of the slowdown in economic growth and average per capita income,” he explained.

In terms of the expected effects of raising the minimum wage on prices, Abu Nijmeh said that the “statistics indicate that the average wage cost out of the total production costs in industries does not exceed 10 percent, and therefore the expected rise in commodity prices in case of raising the minimum wage will be slight and marginal.”

Ahmad Awad, head of the Jordan Labor Watch, told Jordan News that “we have no choice but to undertake bold economic policies by relying on strengthening domestic demand in order to advance the economy, generate more job opportunities and combat the problem of poverty and unemployment.”

He said the moves were necessary “to face various economic challenges and to review the economic policies that have contributed to weakening economic growth for many years, especially with expectations that we are on the verge of a state of economic stagnation due to high inflation rates and high interest rates.”

“There is an urgent need for the government to review wage policies in the public and private sectors to confront poverty and the significant slowdown in the Jordanian economy”, he added.

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