Jordanian Union Leader, Arrested for Union Action, Back at Work

Tayel Alkhamayseh, president of the Independent Union of Phosphates Workers in Jordan, returned to his job this month after worker and human rights organizations denounced his November 6 arrest and suspension, pressed for his reinstatement and decried his arrest as a move to prevent unionization at the plant.

The Jordanian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (JFITU) sent letters protesting his detention to the Ministry of Labor and company management. The National Center for Human Rights and Jordanian civil society organizations generated additional support for Alkhamayseh, who was reinstated after a meeting with management in which it was established that he had no intention of declaring a strike.

The Phosphate Workers Union is affiliated to the JFITU, which is campaigning for the Jordanian government to adopt legislation to allow full freedom of association for all workers.

The JFITU says Alkhamayseh’s arrest and suspension indicate continuing pressure to restrict the practice of independent trade unionism in Jordan. The federation notes that his reinstatement is an important demonstration of Jordanian support for independent trade unionism.

The federation formed last year, when nine unions representing more than 7,000 workers joined forces to mobilize for improved economic conditions and greater political freedom.

Alkhamayseh, an engineer, works in the White Valley phosphate mine near Karak in the south of Jordan. As president of the workers’ union in Karak, he organized a meeting that included workers from several branches of the same company. Management then suspended Alkhamayseh and accused him of inciting a strike. In response, workers organized a protest and work stoppage.