Al-Rai newspaper is the largest daily newspaper in Jordan and the Jordanian Social Security Investment Fund (SSIF) holds the majority of its shares. The journalists have accused the SSIF, which controls its board of directors, of mismanaging the newspaper for years by appointing inexperienced directors and bosses who aggravated its financial crisis and failed to lead the newspaper into the new digital era.
The workers at Al-Rai have been struggling since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic following the pay cuts. Ibrahim Qbailaat, board member of IFJ affiliate, the Jordanian Press Association (JPA) who joined the demonstrators said Al-Rai journalists are facing a very serious social crisis and any proposals to address the crisis facing the newspaper that ignored their plight will lead to an explosion.
Khaled Qudah, JPA board member, who works for Al-Rai and was among the demonstrators explained: “There are currently around 300 journalists and media workers at Al-Rai. In addition to the low wages, most didn't receive their salaries for seven months. We have been burned by this crisis. The demonstrating journalists noted that while the top managers of the newspaper are paid monthly salaries between 5 000 – 8 000 Jordanian Dinars (7 000 -10 000 USD), journalists are paid as low as 300 Jordanian Dinars (500 USD).
The National Center for Human Rights in Jordan urged all parties involved in Al-Rai “to contain the current crisis while respecting the legitimate demands of the employees.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We send our full solidarity and support to our colleagues in Al-Rai. It is shameful that the management of the newspaper are enriching themselves while the journalists and their families are going hungry. The journalists social and professional rights must be respected, and the owners must fulfill their financial obligation and pay the salaries without further delay.”
Miquel Sánchez Colom