Global Unions Urge Jordan to Withdraw Harsh Labor Laws

Jordan’s Senate is set to consider amendments to the country’s labor code that will restrict worker’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining and that fail to address Jordan’s longstanding limitations on worker rights, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which is joined by global unions in condemning the proposal and urging legislators to withdraw it.

The amendments, passed in recent weeks by the country’s House of Representatives, increase restrictions on freedom of association by requiring the Ministry of Labor to approve union bylaws when they register with the government. The amendments also give the Labor Ministry the authority to dissolve unions and impose fines and imprisonment for those who continue union activities for a dissolved union.

(Tell the Jordan government to bring the country’s labor laws in line with international standards.)

Since 1976, no new trade union has been allowed to form in Jordan, which also prohibits migrant workers—who comprise a large portion of the Jordanian workforce—from forming unions. Jordan labor laws also permit unions in only 17 sectors set by the government, and only one union per sector is allowed to represent workers. Most recently, the government rejected the registration of an independent union in the agriculture sector because agriculture is not on the government’s list.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), which also sent Jordan’s minister a memo detailing the amendments’ violations of international labor law, has repeatedly pointed out Jordan’s failure abide by ILO conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Independent unions in Jordan are also pushing back on the proposed amendments, with workers protesting at parliament and union leaders writing open letters to the government urging lawmakers follow international labor standards.

Read the Jordan Federation of Independent Trade Unions press release and letter (Arabic) and the Jordanian Network for Human Rights letter (Arabic).