Jordan businesses pledge solidarity as 15,000 face job losses over Israel boycott
Around 15,000 Jordanian workers could lose their jobs due to a boycott of companies that are perceived to support Israel, but local businesses have pledged support for those made unemployed.
The head of the Jordanian Labour Observatory, Ahmad Awad, believes it is highly likely that Jordanian companies operating under international brands - especially in the restaurant, food, and soft drinks sectors - will lay off thousands of workers in the coming period due to the public protest campaign.
There has been a surge in support for the boycott of companies in Jordan believed to be supportive of Israel's brutal assault on Gaza.
Awad said many Jordanians will likely lose their jobs, or face other pressures, as a result of the BDS campaign but local businesses appear ready to step in to support sacked workers.
In light of the fears for the workers, some Jordanian businesses, for example "It's Friday" (a restaurant in Amman), have launched the campaign #EmployThem, which has used the hashtags #SupportLocal and #LocalSupportsYou.
This aims at opening the door to workers who lose their jobs in a show of solidarity with not only Jordanians but also the people of Gaza.
Boycott risks must be acknowledged
Awad estimated that as many as 15,000 workers could be affected, meaning a rise in already high unemployment and poverty rates in the kingdom, with the potential for more job losses if the campaign continues into the long term or widens in scope.
Awad believes impacted businesses should support their workers and ensure their salaries are maintained, while the Social Security Corporation, a government-run cooperative insurance scheme, could contribute to the salaries of those laid off.
He believes the affected establishments will need to bear some of the brunt but are financially capable due to the huge profits they have amassed over the years.
Brand changes one way forward
Companies operating as franchises of international companies could change their brand names. That may cost money, but this could be mitigated by the government paying some of the costs, he added.
Local Jordanian companies that benefit from the boycott also have a responsibility to absorb some of the laid-off workers, he said, as some are already seeing increased demand for their goods and services.
Western pro-Israel multinationals targeted
The boycott campaign in Jordan has so far focused on American restaurants such as McDonalds and Pizza Hut, and cafe chains like Starbucks, which are widespread in Jordan.
These brands are perceived by the populace to be linked to Israel, although the chains themselves have distanced themselves from any affiliation with the Israeli government or military.
Coca-Cola, along with cosmetics and electronics companies, have also been targeted.
Jordanian activists have used social media platforms to highlight possible solutions to the financial crisis if international companies sack workers.
One proposal includes selling their franchise licences so the companies no longer have a presence in Jordan, as happened in Russia during the Ukraine war.
They can then create new branding allowing them to retain their workers and uphold the same quality of products as before.
The observatory stated it was important the government, civil society, and the private sector all cooperate to absorb any workers who lose their jobs as a result of the boycott campaign.
This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Zaid Dbeisieh on 30 November 2023. To read the original article click here.