Industrial relations in the ready-made garment sector in Jordan

The report aims to shed light on the status of industrial relations in Jordan’s garment manufacturing sector. It also seeks to inform forward-looking efforts led by ILO constituents and other stakeholders towards the continued establishment of a robust, sustainable system for addressing decent work deficits, and improving working and living conditions in the sector through social dialogue and respect for fundamental principles and rights at work.

The garment sector today in Jordan counts some fourteen Qualified Industrial Zones in which factories employ over 75,000 workers, the majority of whom are migrant workers from South Asia and Southeast Asia.

With the diversification of the workforce and growing corporate interest in promoting fair recruitment practices in international supply chains, the ILO has given increasing attention to recruitment practices from several countries including Bangladesh (Rashid and Watson 2017), Nepal (ILO 2019), and India (Fishman and Verma 2020). The impact assessment of the ILO fair recruitment pilot implemented from Nepal to Jordan showed that while fair recruitment had positive outcomes on workers’ self-assurance and wellbeing and on their performance at work, these benefits could be undermined in the long-term by poor working conditions. The reviews collectively found that improvements in living and working conditions would be needed to sustain positive outcomes resulting from operational improvements in recruitment practices from Bangladesh and Nepal.

In light of these and of additional challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ILO commissioned a diagnostic assessment on working conditions and industrial relations in the Jordanian garment sector. The study seeks to understand the perspective of multiple stakeholders including employers’ representative, trade unions, Jordanian labour department officials, and garment workers. It offers recommendations towards improved industrial relations and working conditions and discusses possibilities towards for long-term stability and growth of the Jordanian garment industry.

The study was commissioned by the ILO Integrated Programme on Fair Recruitment (FAIR Project, phase II), supported by the Swiss Development Cooperation, and is the result of technical cooperation across several branches of the ILO and its projects, in particular the UK FCDO-funded Work in Freedom (WIF) programme.