AMMAN — Labourers held 901 protests and strikes in 2012, an 8 per cent increase compared with 2011, when the figure stood at 829, a recent report revealed.

Prepared by the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies in cooperation with the German Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung office in Amman, the annual report showed that nearly 760,000 workers took part in the protests, which ranged from partial work stoppages to strikes.

“There have been some cases of protests where the protesters threatened to commit suicide,” the report said, adding that 7.4 per cent of the demonstrations were staged by unemployed individuals who demanded that the authorities find them jobs.

“Nearly 50 per cent of the protests were implemented by workers in the public sector due to the fact that their… salaries are lower than their peers in the private sector,” the report said, noting that low salaries were the main reason for the demonstrations, with 42.2 per cent attributed to workers’ dissatisfaction with their financial benefits.

The report underlined that official figures issued by the Social Security Corporation (SSC) and the Department of Statistics (DoS) showed that the absolute poverty line in the Kingdom stood at JD400 in 2010, while 72 per cent of SSC subscribers had a monthly income of less than JD400.

“Only 10.6 per cent of SSC subscribers get pensions above JD500; this shows that the majority of Jordanian families live below the poverty line and find it difficult to make ends meet,” the report said.

It also cited recent figures released by DoS showing that 44.6 per cent of employed Jordanians are paid monthly salaries less than JD300, while 89.4 per cent receive less than JD500 per month.

Moreover, the report said the JD190 minimum wage limit according to the Labour Law is far from enough to meet the requirements of a decent life for the working category in society who usually have families to take care of.

Meanwhile, the report indicated that 82.2 per cent of last year’s protests were organised without any coordination with the relevant labour union, which shows workers’ lack of confidence in the ability of their unions to defend their interests.

Unlike previous years, the report said, the government used force against protesters in some cases, security forces’ intervention to disperse protests held by unemployed residents of the southern cities of Maan and Tafileh.

In light of its findings, the report called on the government to ensure that all employers provide decent work conditions, adding that the government should also reconsider the salary rates in the public and private sectors to ensure that workers are paid fair wages.

In addition, the report revealed nearly 44 per cent of the local work force is not covered in the SCC umbrella or by health insurance.