Better Work Jordan and partners celebrate the programme’s 10th year anniversary

17 Dec 2019

Amman – ILO News– Better Work Jordan, a partnership between the United Nation’s International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, met national stakeholders today (2 December) to celebrate a fruitful decade-long cooperation.

BWJ and its Project Advisory Committee (PAC), which includes members of Jordan’s Labour Ministry, apparel employer associations and the country’s garment union, discussed the garment sector’s past and recent achievements earned on the ground and ways to overcome new challenges.

“Today, we celebrate with our partners a ten-year journey amid a thriving garment industry,” said Tareq Abou Qaoud, Better Work Jordan Programme Manager. “This meeting is a great opportunity to understand where we stand, what we have accomplished, and to reaffirm the deepest meaning of our partnerships, which is to improve the living and working conditions of its employees and the businesses’ productivity.”

Almost doubling its size since BWJ’s inception, the sector was valued USD1.7 billion last year, making up 25 percent of the country’s total exports and employing some 73,000 workers. Women represent three quarters of the workforce. Ninety-five factories are currently affiliated with the UN programme.

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The continuous promotion of social dialogue and decent work alongside ever-improving compliance with international labour standards and Jordan’s Labour Law have cemented the country’s position as a preferred outsourcing production hub over the years.

Around the collaboration between the Ministry of Labour (MoL) and Better Work Program – Jordan, Director of Inspection at the MoL, Mr. Adnan Rababaa said, Meanwhile, the Committee commended at the gathering the increased number of Jordanians employed in the sector, the issuance of a unified, non-discriminatory contract for migrant workers – who make up the majority of the workforce -. The meeting also included an overview on 2019 research and academic papers published by the programme in addition to addressing the Dorm’s guidelines prepared by Better Work Jordan and suggested potential projects under the programme workplan for next year.

Mr. Patrick Daru, Senior Skills and Employability Specialist & ILO Coordinator for Jordan, lauded Better Work Jordan interventions saying, “Throughout its 10 operating years in the country, Better Work Jordan worked to promote social dialogue in the garment industry. We are also proud at ILO to launch the Sector Skills Council, which complements our work in the sector,” he added, “We hope to increase the number of Jordanians working in this sector, and we must work with our partners, especially the MoL, to identify the necessary steps to achieve this.”

During the meeting, the 4th Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed between the union, Jordan Garments, Accessories, & Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGATE) and the Association of Owners of Factories, Workshops and Garments (AOFWG). The three-year agreement is considered the most comprehensive of its kind in All over the Middle East and in the apparel industry globally. The agreement also includes new articles related to on eliminating violence and abuse in factories, providing health care to Jordanian and expatriate workers and paying more attention to health, medical care For Jordanian and migrant workers, with a special focus on giving more attention to workers’ mental health by referring them to specialized centers in Jordan.

A string of international partners has also actively contributed to the establishment, growth and effectiveness of BWJ’s work across the country’s industry in the past ten years.

Marking a milestone for the sector and paving the way for its further development, the United States Department of Labor (US DOL) removed garments produced in Jordan from its forced labour listing in 2016. The US DOL said that one of the Jordanian government’s most significant steps to combat forced labour in the garment industry had been the collaboration with the ILO on the BWJ programme, which was launched in 2008 with funding from the United States government and from participating garment buyers.

The government of Canada has also been a pivotal partner over the past year, enabling the programme to complement its ongoing activities at a factory-level, and strengthening the union’s capacity to organize and represent all workers in Jordan garment’s sector.

On the significance of this partnership, Mr. Mercier, of Employment and Social Development Canada said, “Canada very much values respect for fundamental labour rights, both domestically and internationally.  By supporting Better Work Jordan, Canada contributes in a concrete way to the promotion and advancement of labour rights in Jordan, a long-standing partner country.  Canada wishes to underline, in particular, the work that it has been supporting through BWJ to further protect migrant and female workers”.

Meanwhile, on the heels of the 2016 agreement between the Government of Jordan and the European Union – which allows companies of the Kingdom to export products to the European Union (EU)  under a simplified scheme of the Rules of Origin (RoO) – BWJ joined projects to boost investment and create jobs for both Jordanian and Syrian refugees hosted by the country.

Indeed, the simplified RoO scheme provides a bridge to the EU market, favours new job opportunities and will have long-term rewards for those factories who comply with the requirements. The new scheme is available for period up to 2030. Within this framework, BWJ has extended its factory-level core services to three further manufacturing sectors eligible to export to the European bloc under the new agreement. Nine EU-exporting factories are enrolled with the programme today, out of which, four garment factories are enrolled with Better Work Jordan since 2009.

In this respect, the European Union Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou said, “The EU believes that there is space for Jordanian companies to fully benefit from the simplified Rules of Origin (RoO) scheme and tap into the European market base, including the garment sector, and this opportunity should not be missed”.

To access the full text of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, kindly follow this link.

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