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Trade federation raises concerns over ‘workplaces turning into virus hotspots’

By Maram Kayed - Sep 26,2020 - Last updated at Sep 26,2020

AMMAN — The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions warned against workplaces and offices becoming coronavirus “hotspots”, especially after the Kingdom saw a record number of 634 cases on Tuesday.

The General Federation stressed in a statement that preventing further escalation “requires intensifying the attention given to occupational health and safety measures within the work environment in all economic facilities, by workers and employers alike, as the Kingdom was reaching the ‘red’ level of the government’s plan to deal with the virus”.

General Federation President Mazen Maaytah said on Wednesday that the “great jump in the number of cases recorded in this unprecedented manner requires commitment to the utmost caution by workers in various sectors to preserve both their safety and the continuation of the production process”.

As Maaytah stressed the need to adhere to Defence Order No. 11 and its instructions, some establishments have started conisidering remote work again.

“The advantage in working remotely, especially in an office like ours where there are more than 50 people in closely-arranged cubicles is that we do not risk widespread infections and the complete shut down of our business,” said Baraa Zayed, a manager at a call centre.

The problem with working remotely again according to Zayed is that the needed equipment for the calls are all available in the office, and working remotely would mean having to supply the employees with the needed equipment to take back home.

“This raises several issues related to theft concerns, technical assistance and ensuring the company's equipment is being used responsibly,” he added.

The recent developments in the epidemiological situation “need awareness and responsibility from everyone to live and coexist with the pandemic so as not to return to the strategy of closing sectors and having a comprehensive lockdown”, the General Federation said in the statement.

The president of the federation called on employers in the private sector to abide by all preventive measures such as physical distancing, and secure all sterilisation materials and preventive protection tools.

Maayath also recommended the formation of occupational health and safety committees in all establishments as stated in Article 85 of the Labour Law.

Meanwhile, going remote again is the last option some companies are considering.

“Working remotely will raise several problems, most important of which is the issue of salaries. If we go remote, that means that we will have to abide by the Defence Orders that give the employer the option to cut salaries,” said Nabil Ramahi, a copywriter at a marketing agency.

Ramahi said in a tweet that “employees have made their wishes clear in many companies that remote work should be the last option on the agenda”.

Maaytah highlighted the importance of having the trade unions affiliated with the General Federation follow up on the implementation of both the health and safety measures within the work environment and the perseverance of workers’ rights.

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