If traders go through with a nationwide strike next Sunday to protest the Landlords and Tenants Law and rising electricity tariffs, consumers said they did not expect the work stoppage to greatly affect their daily lives.
Consumers interviewed by The Jordan Times on Tuesday said that since large shopping centres would remain open for business, the planned strike would not affect them. West Amman resident Lina Salloom said shopping centres and hypermarkets are nowadays the major destination for shoppers, adding that consumers only go to small- and medium-sized stores to purchase urgent needs. Another consumer, Hania Qaqish, agreed, noting that the strike would not have much impact on her daily life. She expressed support for using protests to send messages to policy makers, but voiced her rejection of strikes that also hurt the country's interests. "Consumers will not have any problem buying their needs from the many shopping centres in Jordan," she said. "At the end of the day, merchants are the ones who are going to lose." Hussam Al Amoudi, vice president of Sameh Mall, which has over five branches in Amman and Zarqa, said the mall supports merchants' demands, particularly in relation to the increase in electricity tariffs, but insisted that the shopping centre's branches would not be closing down on Sunday. "We will continue to offer our services to customers," he stressed. Strike uncertain The government's decision to suspend an unpopular rise in electricity tariffs, however, may push traders to cancel the strike altogether, a trade association leader said on Tuesday. "I’m optimistic that a solution will be reached before the strike takes place," Foodstuff Traders Association President Samer Jawabreh told The Jordan Times yesterday.
The Cabinet decided on Tuesday to freeze a hike in electricity tariffs that prompted a popular backlash from activists and traders alike. The Jordan Chamber of Commerce (JCC) planned the work stoppage to protest against the 2011 Landlords and Tenants Law and put pressure on the government to reconsider recent hikes in electricity rates. Jawabreh said merchants want to grab the government's attention through this move. In a protest last month, traders called on the government to scrap Article 5 of the controversial law, which requires long-standing tenants and their landlords to negotiate new rental fees or, if they cannot agree on a new rate, have it determined by a court.
According to Mohammed Ababneh, president of the Jordan Pharmacists Association, the sector will also observe the strike, but some pharmacies will remain open. He said pharmacists are affected by the Landlords and Tenants Law, because they have to abide by certain rules when selecting a location for their pharmacies, which makes it difficult for them to find suitable premises. But Pharmacy1, the largest chain of pharmacies in Jordan with 53 outlets across the Kingdom, said they had no idea about the planned strike. Amani Abu Hilal, senior vice president for corporate affairs and communications at Pharmacy1, told The Jordan Times that the management had not received any notification regarding the strike.
Earlier last month, the Kingdom's merchants observed a one-day strike called for by the JCC to protest against the law, while around 30 landlords gathered outside the Prime Ministry to urge the government not to amend the law. Also Tuesday, Bakery Owners Association President Abdul Ilah Hamawi said the association had decided late Monday night to suspend its plans for a strike by the Kingdom’s bakers in response to the government’s decision. Despite several attempts made by The Jordan Times to contact JCC President Nael Kabariti, he was not available for comment.