Sunday, April 30, 2006

Arab Potash Company Strike

The 2500 workers of the Arab Potash Company have been on strike for the last week. Their demands from the profitable and wealthy company are for better wages and benefits in response to the latest wave of price rises. Estimates are that the company is losing 1.5 million dinars a day, totaling about 10 million so far. Living and working conditions in the APC working area in the southern Dead Sea are less than optimal.

The APC has been in operation over 20 years, during which it has had little labor trouble. About five years ago, the government sold its controlling share to a Canadian company. As in the case of the Phosphate Company sale earlier this year, the share was undersold in exchange for protecting the rights of the workers in the overstaffed company. However, the new administration of the APC tried to get rid of its extra workers by creating spinoff companies for the production of other Dead Sea products (rock salt and table salt, magnesia and bromine). These spinoffs were failures, and the APC attempted to use their failure to get rid of the workers it had assigned to these companies. These attempts were unsuccessful (due to a court intervention), but left bad feelings between the company and its workers.

The old APC administration was generous with the local community, funding youth clubs and cultural activities. This has changed with the new administration. Of course, this has led to the souring of relations and thus a lack of good faith between the community and the company.

Today I read in Al Arab Al Yawm that the government is asking the workers to go back to work, in exchange for a chance to meet the PM (yippee) and a chance to have more negotiations. I agree with the workers reaction, which was to reject this request, and I would add that it is a shame that the government would take the side of the APC administration over the side of the workers.

Hurray for the workers on their labor day!

2 Comments:

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous kinzi said...

What an opportunity APC lost by not voluntarily increasing benefits before a strike! Do they think those workers don't know how much it costs to buy cement now?

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hi Kinzi! Long time no see.

 

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