In the past few days, trade and professional unions have been doing a great deal of work. First, they denounced the reprinting of the cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in a Danish newspaper, which is an act that conjures an overwhelming sense of deja vu, calling on the government to sever economic ties with Denmark in retaliation. Second, they’ve lashed out at the Ministry of Health for issuing invitations to Jordanian doctors to attend a training course in Israel, urging the doctors to reject the offer. Third, they’ve lashed out against Christian missionaries who were caught preaching to Muslims and subsequently deported, calling it an agenda that “opposes the political and social stability of the country”. Fourth, they organized a demonstration in solidarity with Gaza, calling on the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
By definition, a trade union is an organization of workers that seeks to address, through the science of power in numbers and the art of collective bargaining, major issues that concern its members. Fair wages, labor laws and regulations, workplace safety, complaint and conflict management, defending worker rights and if worse comes to worst, organizing strikes and sit downs.
In a country where worker rights are vague and in a year where inflation is unprecedented, isn’t it time for unions to do what they were created to do? It seems the separation of political power from unions and associations in Jordan has had an effect that has lasted for nearly three years. Perhaps a new generation of socialist-thinking-worker-minded professionals need to take over from the generation of old men who just won’t let go of go-nowhere politics. The people are in need of a Gompers or a Hoffa. That collective spirit needs to emerge, and urgently.
Because in the coming months and years, the Jordanian people will really need someone who truly represents them and defends their rights in the face of the government’s potentially catastrophic economic policies.
But that’s just my two piasters.