Jordanian electricity workers begin a strike

Published April 4th, 2012 - 06:28 GMT
Employees were demanding that the company raise their basic salaries and cover healthcare insurance
Employees were demanding that the company raise their basic salaries and cover healthcare insurance

Employees of the Central Electricity Generating Company (CEGCO) started an open-ended strike on Tuesday in an effort to secure increases in their salaries and benefits.

Electricity Workers Union (EWU) President Ali Hadid reiterated that only day shift employees are taking part in the strike, while night shift workers are working all day in order to prevent power outages.

“The night shift can handle the whole job because it consists of 35 employees and the group can handle the pressure of the work. If we find that they cannot handle the pressure, we will allow more workers to join the night shift,” Hadid told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.

During a press conference held at CEGCO’s premises in Amman on Monday, the company’s CEO, Abdul Fattah Nsour, said more workers would be moved to the night shift to prevent overworking the employees, but Hadid accused the company of doing so in order to break the strike.

Hadid said the employees were demanding that the company raise their basic salaries, modify the new salary scale system it has been applying since the beginning of this year, and cover the full cost of their healthcare insurance.

The union had worked out a deal in recent meetings with CEGCO management and Minister of Labour Maher Wakid under which the company would grant the employees raises and new benefits costing JD1.3 million, but Hadid said the EWU would no longer accept this figure.

“Before going on strike, we accepted this amount because we did not want to go on strike. Now, we have new demands,” the EWU president emphasised.

Nsour indicated that the talks had broken down after the EWU had demanded that the whole amount be distributed this year, while the company would not agree to this demand because they were applying a new salary scale.

Nsour said the new salary system ties employees’ raises to their performance. “We offered to distribute half the money this year and give the employees the second half next year in accordance with the new system, but the union refused,” he stressed.

Hadid claimed during a phone interview on Monday that the new system would be applied in accordance with wasta (favouritism), not in accordance with the performance of the employee. But Nsour said the company and employees would benefit from this new system in the future because it would give raises to the employees who deserve it.

“Why should the employee who sits at his desk doing nothing get a salary raise similar to the employee who works hard?” Nsour asked yesterday. He added that CEGCO is facing financial hardship and employees should not add more burdens on the company’s finances.

“If the employees keep adding more pressure on the company, CEGCO’s future is in danger,” he warned. Hadid said the employees would remain on strike until the company meets their demands.

“We will move to Amman on Wednesday and hold a demonstration outside the company’s premises in the Khalda neighbourhood from 8:00am until 2:00pm. Also, I am holding a meeting with Wakid and I hope that we will find a solution that resolves the issue,” he said.

CEGCO is the largest power generator in Jordan, with seven power generation complexes nationwide totalling circa 1700MW of installed power capacity from a mixed portfolio of technology and fuel types meeting around 51 per cent of the country’s current market share.

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