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Stakeholders join forces for effective partnerships in garment sector

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Aug 04,2018 - Last updated at Aug 04,2018

The garment sector was the focus of Better Work Jordan’s programme to improve workers’ wellbeing and ensure reliable income (File photo)

AMMAN — President of the Textile, Garment and Clothes Union Fathalla Emrani on Thursday called on key stakeholders in the industry to “formulate effective partnerships that further ensure that all standards of compliance are met”, stressing that “better working conditions increase profit at garment factories”.

His remarks came during a high-level discussion on the future of the garment industry in the Kingdom, hosted by the International Labour Organisation’s Better Work Jordan (BWJ) programme. The event brought together foreign officials, representatives of the ministries of labour and industry, development organisations and labour unions who shared the latest policy developments on labour issues in the sector.  

“Forums of this nature are essential because they provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to address key issues,” Emrani told The Jordan Times, noting that “the primary focus was to further boost the productivity and competitiveness of the sector”. 

The increase in employment opportunities in line with the expansion of satellite factories in rural areas, the training of over 20,000 Jordanian employees and future commitments between partners were some of the stories highlighted by Emrani, who provided insights on the union’s activities for 2018 in accordance with Jordan’s Economic Growth Plan 2018-2022.  

“This year, we [BWJ] have focused on the workers’ well-being, including mental health issues and the activation of digital payments in order to provide them with better ways to control their income and ensure that they surpass the minimum wage,” said BWJ Programme Manager Tareq Abu Qaoud, adding that “the working conditions of migrant workers are also one of the key themes as expatriate workers from South-East Asia account for almost 75 per cent of employees in the sector”.

“But the programme’s activities are not limited to the garment industry  and they could soon be expanded into other factory sectors, agriculture and construction,” he told The Jordan Times, noting that BWJ is currently working with the EU to apply their model to all entreprises exporting through the 2016 EU relaxed rules of origin. 

EU Head of Trade and Economic section Olfa Alouini said: “The EU’s work with BWJ will build on lessons and successes from the garment sector to cover the broader industrial sector. Through [the EU’s] development assistance, we work with the government and the private sector to encourage the creation of decent jobs for all people living in Jordan.” 

Dutch Ambassador to Jordan Barbara Joziasse brought the focus on the importance of gender equality in the workplace, saying “the Kingdom of The Netherlands is a proud promoter of economic empowerment, and we recognise the social and practical challenges that women face while entering the labour market”.

“I am pleased to hear that energies are being put into that endeavour,” Emrani said, pointing out that “women account for 73 per cent of the workers in the garment sector, and it is essential to support all of them to sustain their participation in the labour market.”

Minister of Labour Samir Murad outlined the government’s strategy to promote employment opportunities in the Kingdom, noting that “we will concentrate our efforts on developing skills and technical knowledge that match the market’s needs — as only through empowering our human resources we can strengthen our middle class, grow our economy and combat unemployment”.​

Yasmeen Khriesat, Head of the Rules of Origin Section at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply, stressed: “The promotion of local raw materials and the facilitation of imports are the types of activities that help create backward linkages and overcome many challenges in the economy,” highlighting the ministry’s efforts to support businesses and accelerate investment. 

Paths to fostering inclusiveness, boosting productivity and ensuring decent working conditions for workers were presented by acting deputy chief of mission for the US embassy Jim Barnhart, who stressed the role of the United US-Jordanian Free Trade Agreement in enhancing labour conditions and creating employment opportunities in Jordan. 

“The agreement facilitated $3.6 billion in bilateral trade last year and helped improve labour standards, strengthen labour law compliance and protect workers in Jordan,” the official noted. 

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