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AMMAN, Jordan – In an important development for the future of the Jordanian garment industry, the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries in Jordan has launched a five-year strategy to reinforce the organizational capacity of the union. Better Work Jordan discussed the strategy with Union President Fathalla Al Imrani, who shared that the plan focuses on improving communication and engagement with garment workers, including those with special needs or gender-related needs, advancing industrial relations, and strengthening the union’s governance.
“The strategy builds on efforts of the union and focuses on providing decent working conditions”,” said Union President Al Imrani. Jordan’s garment sector employs 65,026 workers, 72 per cent of whom are women. Migrant workers make up 76 per cent the workforce.
The strategy, which was developed in partnership with the Better Work Jordan Programme, is designed to advance union governance and democracy, enhance mechanisms for communication with workers, develop inter-industry relationships, and secure the union’s financial future. The union was first established in 1954.
“Elected union committees of female and male workers of different nationalities in every factory will hold routine meetings with the union, and ensure these objectives are met,” Al Imrani says.
Under union bylaws, the strategy will regulate and organize the factory-level work of union committees, as well as the work of migrant workers’ committees at the level of Jordan’s industrial zones. This new strategy will affect a significant percentage of Jordan’s workforce.
“Holding union elections was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. An internal election therefore was organized to form a new executive/administrative body comprising nine members, including six women,” he adds.
Voices of workers
The strategy enhances union mechanisms for monitoring and assessing factories through stronger elected committees, increased union visits, and clearer formulation of bylaws. In particular, these bylaws would regulate the work of sub-committees of the administrative body that support the duties and tasks of the union president.
“Our new strategy also emphasises the importance of collective bargaining and makes the voices of workers heard through consultations with workers ahead of every bargaining round,” says Al Imrani. “This mechanism can be implemented through the elected workers’ committees.”
The union has initiated collective bargaining with employers’ representatives to conclude sectoral agreements providing unified employment contracts. It continues to improve working conditions, including through bilateral agreements between the union and factories.
Al Imrani expresses “pride in the partnership between the union and Better Work Jordan.” In addition to strengthening partnerships in the industry, the union is seeking a closer relationship with media and has recently appointed a new spokesperson. ”The strategy seeks to increase union visibility through the media and on social media platforms,” he says.
The country’s garment industry has seen significant growth in the last ten years. Garment exports in 2020 were valued at USD 1.6 billion and made up 22 per cent of all of Jordan’s exports.