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Jordan: the national Labour Law should uphold trade union rights, not deny them

Education International is in solidarity with its member organisation in Jordan, who challenge the amendments made by parliament to the labour law and signed by the King that make the labour law weaker, when there is a compelling need to make it stronger.

Writing to Education International (EI), the General Union of Workers in Teaching (GUWT) deplored that the national Parliament did not send them the expected amendments to the Labour Law, accepted by Jordan’s King at the end of April. It argued that migrant workers, a growing part of the workforce, must be able to join trade unions. In about one month, the trade unions will announce the creation of a domestic workers’ union.

Education International, in support of the GUWT, stressed that “unfortunately, rather than addressing long-standing problems in the Labour Law of Jordan, as identified by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Parliament has adopted legislation that makes the Labour Law even worse.”

EI  also condemns the fact that “already, the Labour Law denies workers their fundamental rights by limiting the right to organise and bargain collectively to only 17 sectors and by prohibiting union pluralism in those sectors. The law also bans migrant workers, a significant part of the workforce, from joining and forming unions. The legislation grants the Ministry of Labour broad discretion to register a union and to approve its bylaws and empowers it to dissolve a union without judicial oversight and to appoint interim union leaders. The legislation also imposes stiff criminal penalties for those who operate an ‘unauthorised’ union’. These reforms will only serve to limit further the exercise of the right to freedom of association in Jordan.”

“In the past few months, thousands of people inside and outside of Jordan wrote to the Parliament of Jordan to urge its members to drop these amendments and instead work towards improving the law,” EI also deplores that “their voices were ignored”. That is why it unsuccessfully had called on the King of Jordan to stand by the workers of his country and reject this legislation, “confident that he will do the right thing”.

Background

The GUWT already sent a complaint to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to be submitted to the ILO, on the following issues:

  • Classifying occupations should be backed by Jordan’s ILO tripartite committee rather than being in the hands of the Labour Minister, who would have the power to arbitrary dissolve unions.
  • Terminating unions should be left to a judge, not to the Minister.
  • The Minister should not have to validate union by-laws as union members should be given the right to agree on the by-laws themselves, as long as they comply with the law.
  • Respecting the right to collective bargaining – currently, if the financial statements of a company do not show profits, workers cannot request more benefits, infringing on the right to collective bargaining.
  • Concluding a new collective bargaining agreement every 3 years (previously every two years) – this should be changed as it also limits further collective bargaining.
  • Work on trade union law has been invalidated by negative changes in the new labour code that need to be amended.
  • Setting-up an in-service reward – 1 month for every year worked previously; it is currently only a half month, and this should be reversed.
  • The General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions and ITUC should support the idea of making incremental steps towards freedom of association.