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Clothing sector seeks return to government’s hard-hit sectors list

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Sep 25,2020 - Last updated at Sep 25,2020

AMMAN — Representatives of the clothing sector on Thursday demanded that the government reconsider its decision to remove it from the list of hard-hit sectors due to the coronavirus crisis as of September.


On Wednesday, Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh announced in a press statement that a number of sectors are not included in the “hard-hit sectors list” any longer, basing the decision on the regular re-evaluation that a joint committee from the ministries of industry and trade, and labour, conduct regularly using fixed standards.

“We were listed as a hard-hit sector as of May, which led us to expect that there will be economic and executive bundles to help the hard-hit sectors to combat the repercussions of the crisis; whether through loans, Central Bank of Jordan programmes, liquidity influx or measures related to reducing taxes, customs fees or shop rents,” Jordan's Textile and Readymade Clothes Syndicate President Muneer Deyeh said on Thursday.

However, in spite of such expectations, Deyeh said that since May and until now, the only beneficial feature from the list with a very minimal impact was the ability to reduce a worker’s pay by 20 per cent upon mutual agreement from the employee and the employer, or sending the worker home and paying them only 50 per cent of their salary, which is no less than the minimum wage of JD220.

“August and September were the hardest months for us this year, and ever actually. For the first time we are seeing days with absolutely zero sales at many shops. There is no liquidity and the challenges of paying operational costs and salaries have become too pressuring for employers, especially since the government, so far, has not provided any clear economic programme to face the repercussions of the coronavirus crisis,” Deyeh said during a phone interview.

Bataineh, in the press statement, said that workers in sectors not listed as hard-hit any longer deserve their full pay whether they are working on site or from home, and it is not allowed for employers to send the worker home and cut their pay any longer as well.

“We thought that by remaining on the list, we would benefit from potential future government decisions to resolve our problems, but then to our surprise the labour minister announced that we are no longer on the list, and we want to understand the standards that led to this decision, when all of our reports from the beginning of the crisis showcased our lack of liquidity, tough economic conditions and dropping sales, all of which should have kept us listed as hard-hit,” the syndicate president said.

He concluded that without enough liquidity, it will be very difficult for employers to pay their financial dues and commit to paying their employees the law stipulates.

The Jordan Times tried to contact Bataineh and Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri to better understand the standards that led to removing the sector from the hard-hit sectors list, but neither was available for comment.

Asaad Qawasmi, a representative of the clothing, garment and jewellery sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, said that the decision will cause problems between employers and employees, which in turn will create further disturbances in the sector.

Qawasmi said that the sector is facing the worst conditions with no sales or purchasing power, two issues that should be the standards to keep the sector listed as a hard-hit one.

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