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).
Dominican Republic workers rallied on the eve of International Women’s Day. Credit: Geoff Herzog
Chanting, “No to Labor Code rollbacks, no to human rights rollbacks,”100 workers today marched on the Business Tower in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, to oppose corporate-backed attempts to weaken labor code protections for working women and men.
The Inter-Union Committee of Working Women (CIMTRA) organized the rally on the eve of International Women’s Day to highlight how business’s proposed changes would especially harm working women.
The Business Tower is headquarters of the National Council for Private Enterprise (CONEP). Unionists say CONEP is promoting a labor reform proposal that would drastically reduce existing labor rights. President Danilo Medina formed a commission to review and modernize the Labor Code last fall, and business and unions have both submitted proposals.
Eulogia Famila, CIMTRA spokeswoman and vice president of the National Confederation of Union Unity, addressed the crowd from the steps of the Business Tower.
“While the proposal from private enterprise would roll back rights for all workers, it’s particularly damaging to women,” Famila said. “It would exclude domestic workers from most labor rights and would allow the termination of contracts with pregnant women by ‘mutual consent’ without prior approval from the Labor Ministry. By putting the burden of proof on a worker filing a complaint against an employer, it would make it even more difficult for women to sue over discrimination and harassment.”
The business council refused to receive representatives from the group, even though workers had tried to make an appointment to present the council with a four-page letter from CIMTRA and the three main labor confederations.
“Today we mobilized women and youth to commemorate International Women’s Day and to oppose business efforts to roll back labor rights. From here on in, we will join with the three confederations continuing to take to the streets to defend our rights,” Famila said as the rally concluded.