Better Work Jordan: Influence and action
Since 2009 BWJ and its stakeholders have reached a number of significant milestones including fundamental human and labour rights goals.
In 2015, Jordan’s two main apparel employers’ associations and the country’s garment union signed a two-year extension of the sector’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) struck in 2013 and brokered by BWJ.
The CBA aims at strengthening workers’ representation and the stakeholders’ partnership, improving the sector’s working conditions of some 60,000 employees, as well as the productivity and competitiveness of the industry.
At the end of 2015, Jordan’s main apparel employer associations and the country’s garment union signed the guidelines for the implementation of a new unified contract for migrant workers in the garment sector under the supervision of BWJ. The contract has been a breakthrough in Jordan and still constitutes one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the region and, in the apparel sector, worldwide.
This marked a further step towards harmonising recruitment and employment policies among different employee nationalities. The contract will help end the practice of some migrant garment workers signing multiple contracts in their home country, and then signing different contracts when they arrive in Jordan. The unified contract will also give them a clearer understanding of their employment conditions.
In 2016 the unified contract was translated in all 10 languages spoken by Jordan’s garment sector workforce.
In collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Labour and employers, more satellite factories were also established in rural areas throughout the years, where mostly Jordanians live. This has had a positive impact in increasing the number of locals working in the garment sector and fighting the high unemployment rate in these impoverished areas.
BWJ and local stakeholders are campaigning for the creation of workplace nurseries to help mothers continue their career amid a challenging environment, while tackling Jordan’s low female employment rate. Currently there are six nurseries in Jordan’s garment factories and more are set to open their doors in the near future.
In the wake of 2016 Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, Jordan pledged to create jobs for Syrian refugees in the country’s vetted qualified industrial zones. In collaboration with national stakeholders, the ILO and UNHCR joined forces to arrange for 2,000 work permits to be issued to Syrian refugees to work in Jordan’s apparel sector.
BWJ has geared up to ease access to Jordan’s job market for Syrian refugees. The programme oversaw modifications to the unified contract for migrant workers to include coverage for refugees. Further, BWJ is working with international and local stakeholders to ensure an effective implementation of this summer’s relaxation of EU rules of origin for Jordanian exporters. This step is anticipated to boost investment and create jobs not only for local Jordanians, but also for thousands of Syrian refugees.