Facilitated by the ILO, the terms of the standardized contract were agreed upon by two apparel employer associations and Jordan’s garment union. It is one of the main provisions of a sector-wide collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013 between the Jordan Garments, Accessories & Textiles Exporters’ Association, the Association of Owners of Factories, Workshops and Garments, and the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment & Clothing Industries.
‘’The unified contract represents the culmination of many months of hard negotiations between the employers, the garment union and the Ministry of Labour and represents a significant step towards the elimination of discriminatory practices between the different migrant worker nationalities,’’ said Better Work Jordan Programme Manager, Phillip Fishman during the Buyers’ Forum which was attended by Jordan’s Minister of Labour, Nidal Katamine and U.S. ambassador to Jordan, Alice G. Wells.
The contract will help end the practice of some migrant garment workers signing one contract in their home country, and then a different contract when they arrive in Jordan. Also, the contract will give them a clearer understanding of their working conditions.
The sector employs approximately 40,000 migrant workers, the majority of whom originate from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.
The government said it was committed to supporting the adoption of the use of the contract by all garment factories in Jordan, by making it a precondition for the purpose of obtaining all required legal documents. It is hoped that over the next two years, all migrant garment workers will have the same contract.
‘’The Ministry of Labour will facilitate the introduction of the contract. Our responsibility will begin with the issuing of work permits as well as raising awareness among workers, through our inspectors. Our partners will also play an important role in promoting the implementation of this contract,’’ said Ayman Khawaldeh, director of the inspection department at the Ministry of Labour during the signing ceremony between the employer associations and union.
The signing ceremony took place during Better Work Jordan’s annual International Buyers’ Forum, which is held to discuss the sector’s latest progress as well as some of the challenges it still faces.
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Forum participants included international buyers, senior Jordanian government officials, foreign diplomats, union representatives, and factory managers. They focused their discussions on several pressing issues, such as the need for fair recruitment practices of migrant workers, dormitory standards improvement in line with Ministry of Health regulations, and greater accountability of sub-contracting factories.
’’We hope that your participation will continue to increase and we hope that you have first-hand experience of how serious we are in protecting the laws and by-laws of the labour law,’’ said Katamine.
Jordan’s billion-dollar garment sector is a vital component of the country’s developing economy. It mainly produces apparel ranging from jeans and sportswear to formal wear and undergarments. Most is made for export to the US market.
With support from Better Work Jordan, the garment sector has achieved several major milestones related to working conditions over recent years. A highlight has been the conclusion of a collective bargaining agreement between garment employers and workers, which was followed by the completion of the unified contract for migrant workers producing for the international market.
“The collective bargaining agreement, which increased access for unions in garment factories and improved standards of dormitories for foreign workers, is unique for Jordan, the region and the apparel global supply chain,’’ said Wells. ‘’It represents a commitment on the part of the employers and worker representatives to work together to improve working conditions and strengthen the sector as a whole.’’
The ILO is currently working with stakeholders on the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement. It is also working on the potential launch of an ILO pilot project on fair recruitment practices for migrant workers in the country’s apparel sector.