Jordanian Electric Power Company (JEPCO) employees stopped receiving bill payments from subscribers on Monday as part of their open-ended strike , Ahmad Meri, president of the workers’ independent union, said.
He emphasised that although workers are refusing to accept money from clients, the company’s control centre and emergency offices had been excluded from the strike to make sure that power is not disrupted. "Though we reduced the number of emergency teams from 10 to four on Monday, no electricity disruptions will be caused," Meri told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
The union president had warned on Sunday, when the strike began, that the workers could cause power outages as early as Monday if the company did not meet their demands. The employees are asking for improved financial benefits, including four months bonus salary each year, end of service allowances, better health insurance and transportation services for all workers, Meri said, but the company has refused to negotiate.
"Some employees live far from Amman, so the company should provide them with free transportation services. Also, other employees who have vehicles spend half of their salaries on fuel," he added. Meri claimed that employees do not receive full health insurance coverage. "Sometimes employees pay from their own pockets because some medical services are not included in the health insurance coverage," he said.
The number of striking workers increased to more than 2,000 on Monday from around 1,300 a day earlier, according to Meri. The company has more than 2,600 workers and between 1,400 and 1,500 are registered with the union."We will not end the strike until they meet our demands," he stressed.
Meanwhile, Othman Budair, one of the company's Board Members, said that both the strike and the workers’ independent union were illegal. "We will take legal action against the employees who will not stop the strike and resume working at the company," Budair told The Jordan Times over the phone.
JEPCO was established in Amman in 1938 by a group of Jordanian and Syrian traders with a capital of 2,500 pounds to provide the capital’s streets with electric lights instead of using lamps lit by kerosene. The company is responsible for distributing electrical energy for about 66 per cent of all consumers in the country, according to its website.
Meanwhile, a meeting held at the Lower House on Monday between representatives of the Electricity Workers Union (EWU), the Central Electricity Generating Company (CEGCO), the Ministry of Energy and Labour Minister Maher Wakid failed to resolve a dispute between CEGCO workers and the company’s management. Abdul Fattah Nsour, the CEO of CEGCO, said the demands of the workers are still excessive and the company is still looking into them.
Ali Hadid, the president of the EWU, said there would be another meeting on Tuesday at 2:00pm and voiced hope that the issue would be resolved then.
"We want to assure people that there will be no power outages as the night shift employees are still handling the work. On Sunday, we replaced the night shift employees in Aqaba with new ones so that we can provide people with electricity," he told The Jordan Times over the phone.