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Women’s commission criticises reported plan to lay off female employees at Ad-Dustour

By Rana Husseini - Apr 13,2015 - Last updated at Apr 13,2015

AMMAN — The Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) on Monday voiced its dismay over reported restructuring plans by print media outlets that entail terminating the services of some of their female employees.

A JNCW statement said this was an “unacceptable discriminatory act against female employees”.

The JNCW cited a statement by Jordan Press Association (JPA) Spokesperson Ali Freihat stating that “the restructuring plan by the administration of some newspapers will affect the lives of journalists in general and will work to end the jobs of some of the female employees there who are doing their job in the best manner”.

“The JNCW is outraged about this decision and sees this intention as strengthening the stereotypical image of women and shelving their economic participation,” the statement said.

JPA President Tareq Momani said the association rejects such acts and warned against going through with them.

“We heard about measures by Ad-Dustour newspaper to lay off some of its female employees and reporters to try to overcome their financial crisis and we immediately objected,” he added.

“There are reports that Ad-Dustour withdrew these suggestions fearing a backlash,” Momani told The Jordan Times.

“We learnt that the plan was to end the jobs of some employees who reached early retirement age, and they had a list that also included a good number of female employees.”

A female journalist at Ad-Dustour, the Kingdom’s oldest daily, confirmed that “the newspaper had a list that includes the names of several female employees.”

“It is unfortunate that they are targeting some female employees whose salaries are already low. I hope they will not do it,” she told The Jordan Times on condition of anonymity.

Ad-Dustour Managing Editor Hamdan Haj dismissed as baseless reports that the newspaper was taking such decisions.

“This is not true and at this point in time anyone could lose his or her job including myself,” Haj told The Jordan Times.

The JPA on Monday commended the JNCW’s support for print media, thanking the Lower House for its efforts to come up with a way to salvage the sector.

In a related development, Ad-Dustour employees submitted an initiative to the board with proposed solutions to avoid restructuring, according to Awni Dawood, head of the daily’s economy department.

Under the initiative, employees who have reached early retirement age will be encouraged to resign in return for four months’ worth of salaries and financial benefits until April 21, he told The Jordan Times.

Dawood, who is a JPA member, said the paper currently employs 320 staff members, down from 580 two years ago, noting that the drop is due to many employees reaching retirement or early retirement age.

Noting that many employees have expressed interest, Dawood said he expected “tens” to accept the proposal.

Journalists at the newspaper, established in 1967, say they have not received their salaries for the past four months.

Earlier this month Tayseer Smadi, the chairman of the Jordan Press and Publishing Company, which publishes Ad-Dustour, and five other board members resigned.

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