The number of guest workers in the Kingdom with valid work permits stood at 235,258 at the end of 2012, the Ministry of Labour’s end-of-year statistics showed.
According to the ministry’s figures, 66.21 per cent of these workers (175,415) are Egyptians , mostly concentrated in the service, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
The report also showed that around 40,000 women from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia are working legally as domestic helpers in the country, while nearly 39,000 others are living in the Kingdom with expired work permits and residency visas.
The ministry’s annual report noted an increase in the overall cost of recruiting domestic helpers, to more than JD4,000, drove the ministry to open new recruitment destinations, adding that since an agreement was signed with Bangladesh in April, the Kingdom’s 150 recruitment agencies have contracted with more than 9,000 domestic helpers from the South Asian country.
Jordan signed a memorandum on domestic helper recruitment with Ethiopia in August and workers were expected to begin arriving in the Kingdom in September, but they were not mentioned in the ministry report.
The report said domestic helper recruitment costs remained high and expressed concern over continuing instances of unpaid salaries and physical and psychological abuse of domestic helpers, adding that the ministry has taken several measures to protect workers’ rights , such as requiring employers to open bank accounts for their domestic employees and setting up a joint committee comprising members from all parties concerned with the recruitment process to address problems that face the sector.
Despite these measures, labour rights advocates have said that the bank account requirement does not in fact prevent employers from withholding salaries and that oversight of the sector remains weak.
The ministry, which signed several agreements last year with private companies to train and employ Jordanian job seekers as part of its efforts to address unemployment, said in its report that by the end of December, more than 500 nurses and 600 IT technicians had received training and secured jobs through these programmes, in addition to more than 3,340 other Jordanians, mainly women from rural areas, who were placed in jobs in cooperation with the private sector.
With regards to measures taken by the ministry to enforce regulations , the report showed that labour inspectors conducted around 39,575 visits to more than 160,000 enterprises, issuing warnings to 3,282 employers and fines to 13,115 for failing to abide by labour regulations, while the ministry’s labour directorate last year helped resolve 7,695 labour disputes.
In addition, the labour inspectors caught a total of 483 institutions employing more than 554 children.
Recent data on child labour in Jordan have not been collected, but the report cited a 2007 survey by the Department of Statistics that showed that around 32,676 children under the age of 18 were working.
Moreover, the ministry said its campaign targeting illegal guest workers, which began last February, found 4,780 guest workers in violation of work permit and residency requirements, 3,775 of whom were repatriated while 639 opted to pay their fines and rectify their legal status.
Minister of Labour Nidal Katamine said last week that as many as one million foreign workers were living in the Kingdom illegally.