JORDAN: Minimum wage law in textile sector comes into effect

AMMAN: The minimum wage law in textile sector came into effect on January 1; Labour Minister Bassem Salem said on here on January 02.

Textile factories in the country will now have to pay their employees a JD110 monthly salary.

The minister said that all factories across the Kingdom were informed about the raise. They expect them to respect the law or else face the consequences.

The government raised the minimum wage from JD95 to 110 for all industries in June last year but it gave textile factories a grace period of six months.

The government said it wanted to give investors in the special economic zones enough time to adapt to the new wage system.

The minister said the factories were given enough time to prepare themselves for the new situation and must now respect the law.

Trade union leaders said the law would help thousands of families overcome financial difficulties, insisting that implementation was important.

Fathallah Emrani, president of the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile Industries said that they hope that the government would force factories to implement the law. But I am pessimistic about it.

The Labour Ministry should notify each and every company in the Kingdom about the law.

The law must be made public through the local press and direct letters to all textile factories, because they are facing legal and logistical problems. Some factories claim they have not heard about the law; he noted.

According to union figures, at least 27,000 Jordanian families and 38,000 foreigners would benefit from the raise.

A report by the US National Labour Committee in May last year severely criticised violations of workers’ rights in some of the country’s Qualifying Industrial Zones.

The report claimed that tens of thousands of foreign labourers working in the zones were stripped of their passports, trapped in involuntary servitude and forced to work without sleep. 

Reacting to the accusations, the government intensified inspection campaigns of the factories and several factories were shut down while others were given warnings.

But Emrani believes legal problems on payment of the minimum wage will always exist.

Companies’ methods of violating the law vary between including food and transportation in the monthly salary, extra working hours and delayed payments, according to him.

Economists believe it was the right time for the government to enforce the increase to make up for the rise in the cost of living.

The JD15 increase in the minimum wage, however, falls short of what workers had in mind.

Pressured by ongoing increases in prices of basic commodities and recent fuel prices hikes, the General Federation of Trade Unions petitioned the government earlier last year to raise the mandatory minimum wage to JD130 per month.

Labour unions believe the minimum wage is one of the most effective tools to encourage Jordanians to replace an army of almost one million guest workers engaged in low-paid blue-collar jobs shunned by most citizens.

The Minimum Wage Law went into effect in late 1999, setting the minimum wage at JD80. It was increased by JD5 on January 1, 2003, and by another JD10 in 2005.

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Added: January 3, 2007 Source: Agencies
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