Labor strike on Jordan’s border delays Saudi travelers
A worker’s strike on the Jordanian border has seen Saudi and other travelers, including truck drivers, delayed for hours.
The Saudi Embassy in Jordan had to intervene by asking the authorities to facilitate the movement of Saudis stranded at border crossings. The strike involves workers of the Jordan Customs Department.
Hamad Al-Hajri, Saudi deputy ambassador in Amman, told the local media that the embassy received several calls from Saudi citizens stranded at border posts, but said there were no reports of harassment or clashes.
“The cases involve delays in entering or leaving Jordan because of the strike,” said Al-Hajri. “It seems that things have begun to return to normal for individual passengers, but not for truck drivers.” The customs workers began an open-ended strike last week bringing cross-border commercial activity to a halt, which led to hundreds of trucks queuing up at the Al-Omari, Haditha, Halat Ammar and Durra outlets, with drivers waiting to complete the necessary procedures.
The authorities in Jordan are reportedly moving to end the strike and facilitate the flow of trucks, goods and passengers at the Haditha outlet.
The strike also affected students studying in Jordan, with their vehicles still parked in the parking lots of the customs department.
Traveling from Jordan through the Al-Omari crossing, Khaled Al-Jumaili told a local newspaper that he spent 12 hours on the first day of the strike trying to complete formal procedures to drive his car over the border. “Not a single customs employee was sitting at his desk, until finally one officer came out to my rescue,” he said.
Director General of Al-Haditha Customs Department Zayed Al-Zayed said the movement of passengers stopped completely two days ago because of the strike. The department advised passengers to postpone travel arrangements until the strike was resolved.
Al-Zayed rejected reports on social networking sites that shooting took place at Al-Omari between army forces and strikers. “I have contacted the Jordan authorities and they confirmed that no shooting happened there. What took place was a quarrel between truck drivers and customs employees, but things were under control without injuries on any side.” A Jordanian security source said that strikers are asking for Ramadan bonuses of JD 125 (about SR 661) that the country’s finance minister has stopped paying, raises, overtime payments, bigger housing loans and exempting their cars from customs fees.
The source said that if the crisis continues the department would ask retired customs officials to help out temporarily.
The Jordan Chamber of Industry said it was worried about the strike.