300.000 Irregular Workers in the Jordanian Labour Market

Amman- There are 300.000 workers currently working irregularly in the Jordanian Labour Market according to Mr Hamdan Yaqoub, head of the Syrian Refugees Department at the Ministry of Labour.

Mr Yaqoub comment was part of his talk during a debate organised by Tamkeen Fields for Aid entitled “Does the presence of Syrian Refugees in Jordan affect local employment opportunities?”; adding that the problems in the Jordanian Labour Market are actually not connected with the presence of Syrians but to the irregular workers currently working in it.

He pointed out that the Jordanian labour market is one of the vital sectors affected by the Syrian crisis, especially in light of the influx of Syrian refugees in recent years. Yaqoub also said that the ministry has worked to facilitate the arrival of Syrian refugees to the labour market by issuing a Response Plan to the Syrian crisis accounting for both the internal and external factors that could aggravate the situation, including the tensions affecting the region as a whole.

The second speaker was the International Expert on Migrant Workers and Refugees Mr. Mohammad Al Maiatah who said that Syrian workers are mainly concentrated in sectors where Jordanians do not work, as the majority of them work in the agricultural and construction sectors.

Maiatah explained that the Syrian worker actually constitute an added value to the market, due to the unique set of skills and professionalism they contributed to the market. These new characteristics are especially evident in the various sectors they work in including: painting on glass, home-based catering, craft and other professions in the cities of Al-Mafraq, Irbid, Amman and Zarqa.

Other participants in the debate said that the influx of Syrian refugees has contributed to a surge in demands for consumer goods, as well as an increase in foreign aid, which in turn created plenty of jobs for Jordanians, particularly in international organizations and civil society organisations too.

On the other hand, another group of participants said that the inclusion of Syrian refugees in the Labour Market has resulted to a decrease in the status and conditions of work, as well as an increased number of violations of workers' rights and exploitation occurring whether in the form of salaries below the minimum wage or depriving workers of other rights guaranteed to them in the relevant laws.

In the same time, they also agreed that both Syrian workers and Jordanians are sometimes employed under difficult working conditions that include working for long hours that may exceed 12 hours a day; delays in receiving their salaries and sometimes not receiving them all; in addition of an array of forms of mistreatment that include preventing them from taking weekly day offs and not registering them under the umbrella of Social Security.

It is noted that Tamkeen Fields for Aid is a Jordanian non-governmental organisation established in 2007 and works on promoting the principles of human rights, combatting human trafficking; as well as protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups in society.