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Migrant factory workers centre marks fourth anniversary

First in region, Irbid centre provides legal aid, healthcare services for factory workers

By Camille Dupire - Mar 04,2018 - Last updated at Mar 04,2018

Swiss and Mexican ambassadors Hans-Peter and Enrique Rojo tour the Al Hassan Workers' Centre in Irbid on Friday (Photo courtesy of ILO)

IRBID — Jordanian and foreign officials on Friday celebrated the fourth anniversary of Irbid's Al Hassan Workers’ Centre, the first centre for garment migrant workers in the Middle East.

Launched by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in February 2014 to support migrant factory workers and provide them with various social and general health services, the centre is considered "the first of its kind" in the region, according to the ILO. 

"The centre was opened as part of ILO’s efforts to ensure access to adequate services for migrant workers, by providing its members with a space where workers can socialise and have access to a variety of recreational activities, sign up for classes to learn new skills, and benefit from healthcare and legal aid," said Hélène Bohyn, the Workers' Centre project coordinator. 

“It is important for us to make sure that migrant workers are aware of their rights, and that they have access to legal aid and advice when they need it,” said ILO Country Coordinator Patrick Daru, adding “we work closely with all the partners and stakeholders to guarantee that migrant workers operate in a safe environment, and that their rights, dignity and wellbeing are safeguarded."

The ILO official was accompanied by representatives from the Ministry of Labour, the Swiss and Mexican ambassadors Hans-Peter Lenz and Enrique Rojo, as well as representatives from the Jordanian Garment Union. 

The centre consists of a number of facilities, including an advocacy office, a medical counselling room, a canteen and recreational activities space, a computer lab, a gym and dance studio, two classrooms, two multipurpose rooms, and a hair salon. 

“Migrant workers work very hard, they earn little, and they are far from their families and their countries,” said Swiss Ambassador to Jordan Hans-Peter Lenz, stressing that “Switzerland is committed to ensuring that their experience abroad is a positive one, for themselves, their families, their countries, as well as for Jordan".

"With its legal services, recreational facilities, and opportunities to learn new skills, this Workers’ Centre is really key for making that happen,” Lenz added. 

Since its opening, the centre has empowered a number of migrant workers by providing a safe space to voice their concerns and outline their daily challenges.

"Migrants can share their concerns and get legal advice, while having the opportunity to interact socially, which helps speeding up the integration process of the newly arrived," Bohyn noted.

In addition to these services, the centre also offers support in the event of gender-based violence. 

"This centre embodies the leading role that Jordan has demonstrated in the region in the welfare and wellbeing of migrant workers — which can encourage replicating this centre model in other countries across the region," Bohyn said, citing the ILO's plan to replicate the model in the industrial zones of Dulayl and Al Tajamouat.

An ILO initiative, Al Hassan Workers’ Centre is handled by the Workers’ Centre Association and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the UK Department for International Development.

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