Summary:The agriculture sector in Jordan provides a critical source of sustenance and income, particularly for the poorest segments of society. Yet, the sector is largely comprised of waged workers and small-scale farmers. Workers are generally among the more vulnerable, partially due to their limited bargaining power, informal working arrangements and lack of representation.
Recent studies and assessments carried out by the ILO have identified persistent deficits in decent work and employment conditions for workers in Jordan’s agricultural sector. These include a lack of wage protection, lack of written contracts, an absence of social security coverage for workers, and poor occupational safety and health measures. Child labour is an ongoing challenge in the sector, for both workers and employers and lack of nearby schools and transportation are the main reasons for children not attending school. Monitoring decent work in the sector is a challenge, as work sites are often at a distance from population centres and agricultural wage workers move frequently between employers. The informality of much of the sector only serves to reinforce poor working conditions and undervaluation of the work force.
In addition, a large number of farm workers live in substandard accommodations near the farms where they are employed. A recent ILO survey which examined housing conditions in 31 farms, found that the majority of surveyed households were living in structures classified as tents, lacking windows, adequate ventilation and sufficient lighting. As many as 77.9 per cent of surveyed households were found to have deteriorating infrastructure, placing residents at risk of sickness or injury. The large majority of households lacked basic sanitation, including showers, toilets, sewage and rubbish disposal systems.
Building on recent initiatives and activities achieved under the Programme of Support, this ILO project is developing a compliance model for the agriculture sector in efforts to improve the living and working conditions of those working in the sector. Key areas being addresses include: (a) lack of regulatory frameworks and support structures to govern agriculture activities, protect its work force and address concerns collectively; (b) decent work deficits at the farm level including instances of child labour, force labour, fraudulent recruitment practices, insufficient occupational safety and health measures, poor housing and accommodation and lack of social protection coverage; and (c) inadequate work skills and knowledge to support safe working environments and enhanced productivity.
At least 2,000 agriculture workers (including Syrian refugees, migrant workers, in addition to Jordanian workers) and 20 farmers will directly benefit from pilot interventions. Women farmers of all nationalities are key target in this project, through special activities and gender inclusive measures to ensure the inclusion of women in the sector.
Objectives:Advance decent work and the status of agriculture workers – Jordanian, refugee and migrant workers - through a compliance model that strengthens productivity, national labour legislation and adheres to international labour standards.
Main Activities:Develop and support improved national regulatory frameworks and structures for the protection of workers in agriculture, through:
- Developing a compliance model for the agriculture sector;
- enhancing worker’s representation through worker management committees;
- advancing work on a Bylaw under the Labour Law for workers in the agriculture sector;
- designing dispute and resolution mechanisms for agriculture workers and employers in the agriculture sector;
- developing a code of conduct for fair recruitment in agriculture to safeguard against fraudulent and abusive recruitment practices; and
- developing and piloting a model for the inclusion of agricultural workers under the national Social Security Corporation.
- Identifying children working in agriculture on participating farms and referring them to appropriate services;
- developing and piloting model contracts that provide workers freedom to move between employers in the sector and that adhere to the minimum wage;
- developing a code of practice for effective labour inspection between farmers and labour inspectors;
- ensuring that Occupational Safety and Health provisions and decent accommodation, including the supply of equipment and suitable housing arrangements, are made available and piloted on at least four farms; and
- building the capacity of agricultural cooperatives to play a larger role in supporting decent work.
- Improving the skills of at least 500 agricultural wage workers to enhance their employability and contribution to farm level productivity;
- enhancing organisational capacity and human resource management of farmers and members of local agricultural cooperatives;
- establishing an alliance of farmers and national and international investors;
- supporting 200 female agriculture workers’ access to agriculture work; and
- improving the quality and availability of employment services to 2,000 agriculture workers.
- Agricultural workers on participating farms benefit from enhanced access to work permits and information on labour rights through mobile work permit vans;
- 500 agricultural workers have their skills developed and certified in collaboration with the Jordan Agricultural Engineers Association;
- 1,200 agricultural workers provided with work injury insurance;
- capacity building for 16 agricultural cooperatives through training of trainers on ThinkCoop; and
- 500 agricultural workers provided with enhanced, on-farm accommodation.
Achievements to-date (June 2019):
- Capacity built for 35 members of the Jordanian Agriculture Engineers Association (JAEA) on occupational standards and job portfolio development;
- two occupational matrixes updated for a) animal production sub-sector, and b) plant production sub-sector. This included a review of the existing occupations and jobs in each sub-sector; determining the importance of these jobs and occupations for training and employment purpose; merging some occupations; and proposing some micro businesses;
- arrangement made to begin training and certifications of 500 agricultural workers, in collaboration with JAEA;
- a supply side study conducted targeting a representative sample of 501 job seekers as a part of a comprehensive supply-demand labour market needs research targeting the Southern region of Jordan;
- a compressive skills data base designed and maintained;
- an assessment study about agricultural workers’ accommodation and housing conditions conducted in targeted locations by the project; and
- four consultation meetings held with the JAEA to establish a national skills sector council in Agriculture.