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Phosphate company trainees riot in Maan

By Muath Freij - Jan 17,2013 - Last updated at Jan 17,2013

AMMAN — Two hundred trainees at the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC) rioted in Maan on Thursday to demand that the company provide them with the same benefits as its workers, police and witnesses said.

The 200 Maan residents, who began a one-year paid training programme at the company last year, “received salaries and social security insurance, but they want to be added to the company’s payroll, so they took to the streets and began riots in the city”, Public Security Department Spokesperson Lt. Col. Mohammad Khatib told The Jordan Times over the phone.

Khatib said the rioters began shooting at banks and were trying to burn down the city’s court building, adding that Gendarmerie forces protecting the government premises did not shoot back at the rioters.

One of the rioters, who did not reveal his name, said the JPMC had promised to hire the trainees and give them the same benefits as the rest of its staff.

“They paid us JD250 and this year increased our salaries by JD50. They promised to put us on the payroll on January 15, but they did not do so. We want health insurance and we demand that they hire us,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone during the riots, which he said began at 4:00pm and were still ongoing at 7:00pm Thursday evening.

The 22-year-old added that the rioters had burned tyres and blocked the main street of the city, and planned to hold an open-ended demonstration until the company met their demands.

“Some local websites claimed that we threw Molotov cocktails at security forces. We did not do that,” he claimed.

Ibrahim Abu Rakhiah, 27, confirmed that Gendarmerie forces did not attack the rioters and said the riots had not disrupted most residents’ daily lives.

“Despite the events, life was normal in the city and everyone was out either shopping at the market or visiting their relatives or friends,” he said, but stressed that the riots were unacceptable.

“Every company wants to make sure that its trainees are up to the job. These trainees do not have enough patience. Most Maan residents are upset about what happened in the city,” he told The Jordan Times.

“These people want high salaries. The salaries they receive are the same as other people are paid in Maan,” he noted.

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