Jordans apparel industry makes up nearly 20% of its total exports

Jordan's apparel industry makes up nearly 20% of its total exports

A new project has launched in Jordan aimed at supporting and empowering the 230,000 migrant workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Indonesia currently living and working in Jordan.

Launched last week at the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries by the Arab Migrant Resources Centre (MRC), the initiative focuses on tackling the problems faced by migrant workers through the application of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on items such as decent work conditions, working hours, healthcare, justice, equal pay and gender equality.

The initiative builds on a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations TUC in 2015, where the organisations agreed to carry joint action to advance trade union solidarity and strengthen the cooperation among both parties for the protection of migrant workers coming from Asia to the Arab region, according to a report published by The Jordan Times.

"The MRC has an important role to play in the empowerment and protection of migrant workers' rights in Jordan," ATUC office coordinator Hind Ben Ammar told the publication.

In addition, the programme – implemented with the support of the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions – aims to guarantee the right of migrant workers to join trade unions in Jordan, focusing on the legislative constraints they face when seeking representation.

"In most cases, migrant workers are not allowed to join trade unions, and even when they do, they are not granted the right to vote or to become a workers' representative," Ammar told The Jordan Times.

"Migrant workers are the missing piece of the Arab trade union movement...this movement can't be complete if we continue ignoring this workers category".

The MRC plans to expand the initiative to other members of the League of Arab States following its implementation in Jordan.

According to an overview of Jordan on re:source, the new online strategic planning tool from the team behind just-style, the country's apparel industry makes up nearly 20% of its total exports, of which the US is the primary market.

The local apparel industry has enjoyed enormous growth since 1996, when garments manufactured in Jordan were first granted preferential duty free and quota free access to the US under the terms of a Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) Agreement. In 2001, a Free Trade Agreement between Jordan and the US further expanded the sector.

A report in May found that while working conditions in Jordan's garment sector are continuing to make "important progress", a lot remains to be done if the industry is to move beyond compliance.