Jordan signs milestone agreement for the inspection of factory dormitories

15 Nov 2016

The agreement has been hailed as a step to further improve the living conditions of the tens of thousands of workers in the apparel sector.

15 November 2016.

Amman – Jordan’s Ministries of Health and Labour signed late in October 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 Jordan (BWJ), a joint initiative between the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group. hailed the agreement saying it was 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 & 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, BWJ Programme Manager.

“BWJ believes the ultimate goal of signing this agreement is to make sure worker accommodations are safe and decent living conditions are provided, thus 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 Jordan. Now, inspectors from the Ministry of Labour will be allowed to visit and assess the sub-divided rooms where workers dwell, and punish 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 inspectors to be trained by the Ministry of Health amounts to a total of 70 in the country’s industrial zones,” al Jbour said, while explaining the deal’s implementation. “The decision, which is valid for three years, has been formulated in a way that strikes a balance of efforts between the two ministries.”

Jordan’s apparel industry employs some 40,000 migrant workers —the majority of whom originate from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. Factories are compelled to provide them with food and accommodation throughout their working residency in the country.

Legal consultant at the Ministry of Health, Radwan Abu Dames said the agreement was a breakthrough in Jordan and that the need of institutionalised inspections of the workers housing units has been a pressing one 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.”

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 a big and long-awaited achievement for Jordan’s garment sector.

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