Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 20:05 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Jordan

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Jordan, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cae228.html [accessed 18 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 5,900,000
Capital: Amman
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Trade union rights are restricted, and only a single union is allowed. Strikes and protests by migrant workers were brutally broken up by baton-wielding police.

Trade union rights in law

Obstacles to freedom of association: The government still has not ratified Convention 87 on Freedom of Association although it has committed itself to do so.

Workers in private companies and in some public corporations have the right to form trade unions, but there are many obstacles to freedom of association. Trade unions must obtain Ministry of Labour approval to become officially registered, and they must be directly linked to 17 professions and sectors in which trade unions already exist, effectively making trade union pluralism impossible.

Unions must belong to the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU), the only trade union federation. The government subsidises the GFJTU staff's wages and some of its activities. At its 2008 Congress, the GFJTU agreed to change its structure and that of its unions by replacing elected union branches with union committees.

The Labour Code does not protect workers against anti-union discrimination, but workers may complain to the Ministry of Labour, which is authorised to reinstate those dismissed for union activities. Civil servants, domestic staff, gardeners, cooks and agricultural workers are not covered by the Labour Code, and the ILO has said this should be extended to cover them.

Right to strike heavily curtailed: The right to strike is considerably limited, as government permission must be obtained beforehand. The Ministry of Labour can also impose cumbersome mediation or, if that fails, refer the case to a labour court consisting of a panel of Ministry-appointed judges. Alternatively, the dispute is transfered to the Council of Ministers and then to Parliament.

Strikes are prohibited during mediation and arbitration periods, but the law prohibits employers from dismissing a worker during a labour dispute. Strikes do take place, but without government permission, so they are deemed illegal.

Unions have the right to bargain collectively: Unions have the right to bargain collectively. The most common subjects of negotiation are salaries, safety standards, working hours and health insurance.

Export processing zones (EPZs) and qualified industrial zones (QIZs): There are a combination of free trade zones and qualified industrial zones (QIZs). Although they are subject to the national labour law, because 70% of the labour force is foreign and classed as "noncitizens", most of the labour force is not allowed to form or participate in unions, and as a result pay and conditions are poor.

No union rights for migrant workers: Foreign workers are barred from trade union membership, collective bargaining and striking. The unions have pressured the government to amend the labour law to allow them to join a union, without voting rights. And in 2008 the ILO "expressed hope" that the Labour Code would be amended to protect migrant workers.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: Jordan continues to be a relatively stable country in the Middle East, with some democratic structures. The main industrial unrest during the year consisted of protests by migrant workers.

Vietnamese migrant workers beaten for striking: More than 200 workers, most of whom were women, at the W&D Apparel Company on the Al Tajamouat Industrial Estate in Amman were attacked by police during a strike on 19 February. The strike was called to support the workers' demand that the company honour the terms in their employment contracts. Local police beat the workers with sticks leaving at least one woman unconscious.

The workers had started the strike on 10 February. The management cut off their food to force them to return to their jobs, offering money to those who had worked overtime and been the most productive. 85 strikers who then returned to work clashed with the 200 still on strike, prompting the police attack.

Police attack strikers with clubs: On 3 September police baton-charged and injured some of the 400 striking Bangladeshi workers at the al-Bunayyat-based MRAI Apparels factory. The strikers were protesting about their employers' deducting money from their monthly salary for food, accommodation and medical costs, when according to their contract these should have been free of charge.

On 10 September the workers returned to work having signed a tripartite agreement in which the company agreed to pay a special overtime rate in holiday time. It also agreed not to fine them for going on strike.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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