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Farmers picket Parliament to protest decision to unify permit fees for guest workers

By Hana Namrouqa - Feb 14,2017 - Last updated at Feb 14,2017

Farmers protest outside Parliament in Abdali on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Representatives of the agriculture sector on Tuesday held a sit-in in front of Parliament in Abdali to protest a new government decision unifying guest workers’ permit fees.

Scores of farmers from all over the Kingdom, alongside members of agricultural corporations and unions, demanded that the government rescind its decision, describing it as “unfair and destructive to a sector already falling apart”.

The Cabinet decided last week to consolidate guest workers’ fees at JD500. Prior to this, work permits used to cost employers anything from JD180 to JD700, depending on the sector.

The government said the decision seeks to streamline the market and address the longstanding issue of guest workers’ illegal movement from the agricultural sector to other sectors.

The setting of fixed worker permit fees comes after the Labour Ministry announced in June last year that it had stopped the recruitment of new guest workers in an effort to regulate the labour market, and study the number of guest workers in Jordan.

The decision caused anger throughout the agriculture sector, with the government later granting exceptions for the sector.

Jordan Valley Farmers Union President Adnan Khaddam said on Tuesday that farmers have been suffering from losses due to regional instability for years now, adding that the government should be supporting the sector, instead of adding to its agonies.

“In today’s sit-in, we are telling the government that its decision unifying the fees is provocative,” Khaddam told The Jordan Times.

During the sit-in, farmers and sector representatives from 13 agricultural unions, associations and corporations also complained about mounting losses caused by a lack of destinations to export produce to.

Khaddam said several members of the Lower House met with the farmers and promised to hold a meeting with the government on their behalf.

“We are going to wait for the results of this meeting. If the government doesn’t respond, we will escalate [our actions],” Khaddam said.

In a statement to The Jordan Times on Tuesday, Minister of Labour Ali Ghezawi said the decision unifying guest worker permit fees seeks to reform the labour sector, noting that some were abusing the different work permit fees.


There are around 1.4 million guest workers in Jordan, around 1 million of whom are working illegally, according to Labour Ministry figures.

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