15 November 2016
Amman – Jordan’s Ministries of Health and Labour have signed a breakthrough agreement that entrusts government officials to inspect the housing units where garment migrant workers reside.
The agreement is seen a positive step in improving the living conditions of the sector’s workforce.
Better Work, a joint initiative of the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, hailed the agreement as a long-awaited step in ensuring the health and safety of workers.
“Though this agreement has been signed between two governmental agencies, the Jordan Garments, Accessories and Textiles Exporters’ Association and the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing played a crucial role in convincing the government of Jordan of its importance,” said Tareq Abu Qaoud, Better Work Jordan’s Programme Manager.
“Better Work believes the ultimate goal of signing this agreement is to make sure worker accommodation is safe and that decent living conditions are provided, guaranteeing the full respect of human rights,” he said.
Until recently, the country’s Ministry of Health was responsible for all health-related issues across the Kingdom. Now, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour will be allowed to visit and assess the sub-divided rooms where workers dwell and sanction those failing to comply with international and national accommodation policies.
Abdallah al Jbour, Director of Labour Inspection, at Jordan’s Ministry of Labour said this was an essential step for the sector; one which stakeholders have been awaiting for the past five years.
“The Ministry of Health will train a total of 80 inspectors in the country’s industrial zones,” al Jbour said, explaining the deal’s implementation. “The decision, which is valid for three years, has been formulated in a way that strikes a balance between the efforts required by the two ministries.”
Jordan’s apparel industry employs some 49,000 migrant workers, the majority of whom originate from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. Factories are required to provide them with food and accommodation throughout their working residency in the country.
Radwan Abu Dames, a legal consultant at the Ministry of Health, said the agreement was a breakthrough in Jordan and that there had been a pressing need for institutionalized inspections of the workers housing units for the past three years.
“The Ministry of Labour will inspect the dorms and provide the Ministry of Health with professional reports and highlight any violations that might be found there,” he said.
Fathallah al Omrani, President of the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries welcomed the new agreement and stressed that this was an important and long-awaited achievement for Jordan’s garment sector.