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JLW calls for support to proposed amendments to Labour Law

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Mar 06,2018 - Last updated at Mar 06,2018

Amendment proposals to the Labour Law include supporting workers' rights to join trade unions (File photo)

AMMAN — The Jordan Labour Watch (JLW) on Sunday launched its “Towards a Fair Labour Law” campaign, aimed at gaining support for the proposals recently submitted to Parliament to amend several articles of the Labour Law, which are currently being reviewed by the Lower House Labour Committee. 

The campaign will run for two weeks, during which the JLW will disseminate messages through social and traditional media to raise awareness on the importance of modifying the labour legal framework, in addition to hosting several meetings with activists and MPs in the field to gain their support. 

In a press statement issued on the day of the launch, the organisation called on “workers, labour leaders, civil society organisations, trade unionists and media professionals to join the efforts and express their thoughts and attitudes towards the Labour Law”.

The organisation previously called on the Parliament to halt the amendment of Article 2 of the Labour Law based on the temporary law written by the government in 2010, aimed at removing the phrase “group of employees” from the article’s definition of the concept “collective labour dispute”, in a way so that any conflict arising between employers and workers is handled by a labour union.

“The majority of the workers in Jordan are deprived from the right to form a trade union,” Director of the Jordan Labour Watch Ahmad Awad told The Jordan Times in a recent interview, stressing that “such a measure would deprive most workers from fighting for their rights”.

In this regard, the JLW stressed the need to amend Article 98 concerning the formation of trade unions in order to abolish the powers of the tripartite committee mentioned in paragraph d.1, which allows them to determine the professions and industries in which trade unions may be established.

“All relevant rulings prevent workers from establishing unions freely, thus depriving them from their right to bargain in the event of a work dispute”, Awad said, adding that “this distorts the relations between workers and employers turning them against the interests of employees”.

In addition, the organisation suggested amendments on Article 44 concerning the collective bargaining between employers and workers, noting that “negotiations shall be at the request of the employer or the workers, within a period not exceeding 21 days from the date of the written notice of the party wishing to negotiate”.

Regarding the arbitrary dismissal allowance regulated by Article 25, the organisation proposed that financial compensation shall be one month per each year of service, with a minimum allowance of four months plus the month of warning and other benefits stipulated in Articles 32 and 33.

In this regard, the JLW also recommended the amendment of Article 31 on the restructuring procedures of business establishments, stressing that the Ministry of Labour shall approve any action aimed to dismiss employees before its execution.

The demand was echoed by Labour Law expert Hamada Abu Nejmeh, who told The Jordan Times that “workers shall be protected against the consequences of any measure that their employers might take to terminate their contracts, provided that there are circumstances for them to do so — whether financial or administrative”.

“Employers claiming the existence of such circumstances shall notify the Ministry of Labour and justify their reasons for dismissal before taking any action against workers,” the expert added. 

“A tripartite committee comprising representatives of the employers, workers and the government should submit its recommendations to the Labour Ministry, which would either approve or reject the proposed procedures based on the committee’s recommendations,” he explained. 

In addition, Abu Nejmeh pointed out the need to “add explicit text on the Labour Law requiring employers to pay a fair and appropriate compensation for the workers in the event of the termination of their contract”, stressing that “the compensation should be commensurate with the duration of the service offered by the employee”.

Regarding the minimum wage, the organisation recommended the amendment of Article 52 to make it compulsory to raise the minimum salary on an annual basis according to the inflation indicators issued by the National Department of Statistics. 

“The tripartite committee formed according to the current Labour Law has the authority to review the minimum wage and submit their proposals to the Council of Ministers even if they differ among themselves,” Awad pointed out, stressing that “the minimum wage is currently set to JD220 — which is very low when compared to the high prices of the basic goods”.

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