One of the most significant actions that took place during the past year is signing a sectorial collective agreement covers all the workers Jordanians and Migrants of the national plants inside and outside the QIZs.
This agreement included many benefits like the annual raise of 5 JDs as a minimum for all workers as well as providing a safe working environment within the health standards and the formation of special committees for this purpose, and the formation of trade union committees to represent all nationalities according to the workplace. As well as standards for housing, education and training and the provision of transportation and provide job security and how to resolve conflicts and work to find a unified contract for workers.
It is worth mentioning that the continuous support of the workers to the trade union helped a lot to achieve these increases. As a result of these efforts, the minimum wage law is now applied to all the workers in Jordan including the textile workers.
During the year 2013, the Union managed to settle many collective and individual issues, and deal with strikes as detailed in this report.
- Individual Cases
Total number of individual cases that has been solved during the year 2013 was (815) cases. These individual cases included: securing travel ticket prices, collecting workers’ allowances and rights and giving them to their beneficiaries before they traveled back homes (including wages and social security savings), and addressing dismissals, warnings and arbitrary deductions.
- Collective Issues
(63) cases were solved and number of beneficiaries was (2359) workers.
During the reported period, 19 strikes were organized in 2013 where 10151 workers of all nationalities took part. The total strike days throughout the year were 64 days.
Strikes achieved various outcomes including:
- Improving the food quality
- Paying for workers’ medication and sick leave.
- Alleviating/ Stopping abuse of workers by supervisors and medium managers
- Not to force workers to achieve production rates exceed their abilities and their energies and commitment to what is known as the “Target”, and not to force workers to overcome them during working hours
- Respect of human workers’ rights
- Issuing work and residency permits
- Allowing migrant workers to go back to their home countries without paying penalties
The Administrative Body has exerted much effort to improve the situation of the local and migrant workers through signing collective agreements during the past two years, including: raising salaries, providing transportations, improving food, water, residence, health care, providing medication and suitable work environment.
These outcomes have been achieved through signing 9 separate collective agreements with different companies included all the local and migrant workers plus the sectoral agreement that was signed 25 May, 2013.
Health collective agreement
In 2013, the trade union signed nine health collective agreements.
The trade union introduced health care and provision of free medical check-ups and free medication to 71,938 workers through the trade union practices.
The Union helped finding jobs for 196 Jordanian workers and other 9 migrant workers after their companies had closed down and those workers resorted to the Trade Union which has provided them with decent work, residence and food.
The Administrative Body of the trade union has paid much attention to the labor education in cooperation with UAZENSEN, ITUC, FES, LO and ILO who helped conduct 20 workshops for local and migrant workers in 2013. In addition to that the trade union members participated in other 14 workshops at the national, regional and international levels. The number of beneficiaries from all these workshops was 155 Jordanian workers and 147 migrant workers.
Moreover, and due to the distinguished relations with the textile workers in Palestine, the trade Union conducted joint workshops between the Palestinian and Jordanian cadres in the Union’s office in Irbid city-Jordan. This workshop which reflected positively on the performance of the trade union cadres was sponsored by UAZENSEN.
Trade Union Committees
The Union paid attention to forming trade union committees where a number of committees were elected from different factories and nationalities. These committees represent the communication channels between the workers and the trade union administrative body in all of the industrial areas in Jordan. Now, we have 19 trade union committees in 19 plants, and the number of their members is 155 workers of different nationalities: (Jordan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Burma and Pakistan).
Publication and Media
The Union has continued to issue its periodical newsletter for the fourteenth year in a row; 3,000 copies are distributed free of charge to workers and interested MPs and to whom it may concern. We also have published guiding brochures in many languages: (Arabic, Indian, Bengali, Sri Lankan, English and Chinese) to explain the workers’ rights and duties and clarify the vital role that the trade union plays to defend workers’ rights and raise the level of awareness among them. The newsletter was sponsored by FES.
Trade Union Organization
Although the Jordanian Law prohibited migrant workers from freedom of association, the Union had dialogue with the representatives of the ILO and some of the international organizations to practice pressure on the Jordanian government in order to amend the relevant article in the Law in such a way to make it compatible with international labor standards and conventions.
On Aug 15th, 2010 the government cancelled the article that prohibits migrant workers from the freedom of organizing, and presented a new article to the parliament to review. We hope the parliament will ratify this article soon, so that we become legally covered. However, the Union did not let this article hinder its action; we involved migrant workers in the Union to defend their rights without any discrimination between the local and the migrant workers.
The total number of the Jordanian and migrant workers in the QIZs until December 31, 2013 is 48,836: 13024 of Jordanians and 35812 migrant workers.
These workers are employed in 70 companies in the five QIZs. They produce garments exclusively for the USA. The total annual exports are about 1.3 billion US dollars.
Jordanian workers refrain from working in the QIZs for the following reasons:
- Wages in these zones have been revolving around the minimum wage for many years which forced thousands of workers to quit in 2006. The textile sector was excluded from the increase in the minimum wage from JD 95 (USD134) to JD110 (USD155). Also the sector was excluded in 2009 from the minimum wage increase from JD110 (USD155) to JD150 (USD 210), As a result many workers have quit their jobs within the past six years. In 2004 the number of Jordanian workers in our sector was 23387, and now they are 10032 workers; which shows clearly the bad results of the wrong government decisions and lack of planning.
- The workplaces are not suitable due to the different cultures and the way managements deal with workers inside the plants.
- The workers were not trained on the basic operations and were hired in subsidiary jobs.
- The Jordanian Workers did not enjoy the same privileges and perks of the migrant workers; i.e. in terms of health care and benefits.
The Challenges facing the Union in dealing with Migrant Workers:
- Different nationalities, cultures and languages
- Migrant workers lack knowledge about the trade union work; they hardly differentiate between the trade union and the MOL
- Most of them know nothing about the Jordanian Labor Law
- The majority of the migrant workers are illiterate, which makes it more difficult to communicate with them
- Some workers, who are close to the employers, influence other workers and this negatively affect the trade union work
- Some workers leave or run away from the workplace illegally; some of them infiltrate the borders of neighboring countries
- Disputes among workers from different nationalities are a matter of concern for the Union; this makes problems worse and more difficult to solve
- The Union does not have an adequate number of translators/interpreters to communicate with all these nationalities
- The Union lacks funding to cover the salaries of an adequate number of staff to follow up all the emerging problems.
A message to our brothers and sisters working in our industrial sector
This trade union was created to tell you about your rights and duties, and defend your interests and gains. Its administrative body is elected by you, and they are workers like you, and the efforts they make return to you.
This trade union is for you, and it is stronger with you, and you are stronger with it. We cordially invite you to visit the trade union offices in the main industrial zones in Jordan, or at its head office in the capital, Amman. We also invite you to communicate with the trade union committees at your job sites who are supposed to represent you and convey your problems and thoughts to the trade union’s administrative body. You will always find them there for you. Please keep in touch with your trade union, and make benefit from the educational workshops and training courses it conducts. Please be positive by joining the trade union and participating in its elections, activities and actions.
If you face any kind of problems or difficulties at any time, please feel free to contact the trade union or any of the representing committees. Please, never save any participation, ideas or suggestions come to your minds, every simple idea or piece of information counts and can make a difference.
Please, always read the trade union’s newsletter and other publications and be always fully acquainted with the latest developments in your industrial sector and labor issues.
Let’s work together, side by side to improve our work conditions, wages and the labor laws and regulations. This is the way to achieve both private and public interest and have a better national economy.