As the world marked Labour Day on Wednesday,  Jordan's Labour Ministry said it continues its efforts to organise the labour sector with inspection campaigns to detect illegal guest workers. 
Some 10 days ago, the ministry’s inspection teams, in cooperation with the police, launched a campaign to crack down on guest workers whose work permits and residency papers have expired, according to Labour Ministry Spokesperson Haitham Khasawneh.
He added that the campaign also targets employers who recruit illegal workers without rectifying their work status.
Such a campaign, Khasawneh noted, is aimed at identifying the labour sectors abandoned by Jordanians and working on replacing guest workers with local labourers.
“Through the inspection visits conducted by our teams, over 1,500 foreign workers were found working illegally; either changing their workplace without the proper paperwork or working without a permit,” he told The Jordan Times in a phone interview.
“They were given a 15-day period to rectify their status and avoid being repatriated. If they don’t, they will not be allowed to come back and work in the Kingdom for the next five years,” Khasawneh said.
The biggest challenge facing the ministry’s efforts lies in the agricultural sector, he noted, adding that most guest workers who had been recruited to work in this field leave because of the low pay and seek other sectors where they can get paid by the day.
He said the ministry suspended issuing work permits for guest workers in all sectors to minimise the impact of their problem on the efforts to legalise the work status of all labourers.
However, Khasawneh stressed that the ministry will soon resume issuing agricultural work permits under new regulations that will allow labour inspectors to conduct a field visit to the employers’ workplace in order to verify their actual need of workers “before we approve their work permit applications”.
The ministry will coordinate with the Agriculture Ministry in that regard, he noted.
“In parallel with the inspection campaign and based on our findings, we will establish a database containing all information collected from the field, including the names and addresses of the illegal workers.
“This will help us use those workers to offset the shortage and needs of farmers instead of recruiting new workers from abroad,” Khasawneh said.
In previous remarks, Labour Minister Nidal Katamine noted that Syrian refugees  pose a serious challenge to the ministry’s plans, adding that due to their humanitarian conditions, they accept any job at any salary offered to them by local employers, making it more difficult for unemployed Jordanians to find work.