Phosphate workers want company back for Jordan

Published May 14th, 2012 - 11:28 GMT
The majority of the company’s 3,800 employees are expected to take part in the demonstration
The majority of the company’s 3,800 employees are expected to take part in the demonstration

Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) employees are planning to gather outside JPMC headquarters in Abdali on Tuesday to demand that the privatised firm be returned to state ownership.

Secretary of the Independent Union of Phosphate Workers (IUPW) Ahmed Qaisi told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday that JPMC employees as well as activists will hold a sit-in to call for terminating the agreement with the Brunei Investment Agency, represented by Kamil Holdings, Ltd., under which the agency acquired over one-third of the company.

The protest, Qaisi said, is scheduled to coincide with a meeting of the JPMC board of directors to select a member to represent Kamil Holdings and is aimed at demanding that a Jordanian government representative be selected as chairperson.

According to the JPMC website, major shareholders of the company are Kamil Holdings Limited, which owns 37 per cent of overall shares, Jordan’s finance ministry with 26.2 per cent, the Social Security Corporation with 16 per cent and the Kuwait Investment Authority with 9.3 per cent.

In a statement issued by the IUPW yesterday, the employees stressed they wanted the company to be directed by an “honest” Jordanian.

“We will refuse to have a chairperson from Kamil Holdings, who will adopt the same agenda” of predecessors, the statement said, adding that “keeping the phosphate resources underground is better than stealing them”.

According to Qaisi, the majority of the company’s 3,800 employees are expected to take part in the demonstration.

The former chairman, Walid Kurdi, resigned after the 2006 JPMC privatisation agreement stirred controversy in the Kingdom, pushing a Lower House committee and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate several suspected corruption cases related to the company.

However, a majority of deputies voted in favour of the committee’s recommendations for the government to terminate the JPMC privatisation agreement on grounds of its “unconstitutionality and illegality”, grant concession rights for the exploitation of phosphate in other regions in the Kingdom and rectify the status of the board of directors of the formerly state-owned JPMC.

The privatisation case was settled with a verdict issued this week by the Higher Council for the Interpretation of the Constitution which ruled that the move was completely constitutional.

The ACC is probing other suspected files of corruption in the company, but no lawsuits have been filed in this regard so far.

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