Port workers continue open strike protesting lack of work safety

(File Photo: AFP)
AMMAN — Hundreds of Aqaba port workers organized an open strike Wednesday in front of the city’s governorate building in protest against the lack of occupational safety measures in the ports, two days after a lethal gas leak killed 13 and injured hundreds at one of the ports when a tank that was being lifted onto a ship fell and ruptured.اضافة اعلان

On Tuesday, the union committee of workers at the Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and Management announced its intention to carry out an open strike by workers at all port sites and in all departments, starting Wednesday. They tried to organize a protest at the entrance of Prince Rashid Marine Club, but were dispersed by gendarmerie and security personnel.

The head of the union committee, Ahmad Al-Amayreh, told Jordan News that “we demand that the company adopt public safety measures and provide new handling tools, and this is the least we are asking for to protect workers’ lives.”

He said that all workers will participate in the open strike until a decision is made. But of the 2,300 workers employed by the company, only a few hundred are reported to have stayed away from work on Wednesday.

Amayreh said that the port administration never contacted the union even after a worker lost his life last year due to falling pipes.

He stressed that the majority of workers handle a variety of materials, some of which “are very dangerous, and this requires experience and ample preparation of staff”.

“The administration does not care about workers because they are not a priority, and every worker tries to protect himself in simple ways,” he added.

Several workers claimed that Monday’s tragic incident could have been averted if the company had replaced a worn-out steel cable that broke.

Committee spokesperson Salah Al-Btoush told Jordan News that he has been working in the port for the past 25 years “and things are getting worse. We feel fear and anxiety, especially in the presence of dangerous materials”.

One of the workers said that the work environment is inappropriate; there are no toilets or drinking water while they work under scorching temperatures.

Among other demands of the striking workers is the departure of the chairman of Aqaba Ports Management and Operation Company and of the chairman of the board of commissioners, who workers blame for poor safety conditions.

The union announced a sit-in on Sunday, when they will repeat their demands.

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