A collective bargaining agreement is said to be helping Jordan’s garment sector

A collective bargaining agreement is said to be helping Jordan’s garment sector

Progress is being made on worker relations in Jordan’s strike-hit garment manufacturing sector following the signing of a collective bargaining agreement earlier this year.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and Better Work Jordan (BWJ) facilitated the signing of the agreement in May, which aims to improve relations between factory bosses and 40,000 mainly South Asian workers employed in the sector.

Strikes in Jordan’s 14 Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) had been frequent in the past, centred on perceived labour rights violations, low wages, and poor working and living conditions.

The agreement aims to set out worker entitlements, promoting the equal treatment of all workers and boosting morale and productivity.

Signatories include two apparel employers’ associations – the Jordan Garments, Accessories and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGATEA) and the Association of Owners of Factories, Workshops and Garments – and the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries.

“The agreement did not come about easily,” said Farhan Afram, vice president of the JGATEA.

“It is a result of years of work and negotiations between workers, employers and the government to ensure that all sides are happy.”

One aspect of the agreement is that it allows the union to have access to factory workers, representing them in an “appropriate and healthy” manner, according to the union’s Mervat Abed Al Kareem Al Jamhawi.

He added that some factories had seemed more reluctant than others to implement their part of the agreement, although a number of areas were being worked on.

“Because this agreement is legally binding, everyone must comply,” Al Jamhawi said.

“But we still need help from Better Work Jordan, the Ministry of Labour and employer associations to make sure that the factories are complying, for example through labour inspections.”

Exports from Jordan’s garment manufacturing sector last year reached a record US$1.2bn.