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Work issues

Oct 10,2017 - Last updated at Oct 10,2017

On the occasion of the World Day for Decent Work, Jordan has received yet another reminder that working conditions are below the expectations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on the issue.

The Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation raised the subject in a report released on the occasion, which highlights the inability to secure minimum wage and social security for all workers, thus ensure that they enjoy a decent standard of living.

According to the authors of the study, “even though the ILO agreement is there, we cannot reach decent working conditions in Jordan as long as the law itself keeps on contradicting the agreement”, which then makes “improving the law” paramount to enforcing social protection, assuring social security and a minimum monthly salary.

Besides the ILO Convention, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates, in Article 7, that workers should be provided with a minimum wage that allows them and their families to enjoy a “decent living”.

The report claims that Jordan’s declared policies on the issue are “slogans rather than deeds”. The director of the Phenix Centre criticised the lack of vision among trade unions about labour and economic policies. 

Social security coverage in the country is rather low because companies and employers are reluctant to have their workers covered for fear of the extra expenses they would have to bear.

Moreover, many workers are employed in the informal economic sector, which does not even need to bother to have them covered by social security.

Jordan is still a developing country with a precarious economy overburdened by nearly 1.3 million refugees from Syria.

Under the circumstances, neither the ILO nor any other critics can blame Jordan for its shortcomings; at least not until the economy can recover from all the hardships it is facing.

Still, that does not mean that the country should not try harder to ensure that workers get a fairer standard of living and better work conditions.

Yet again, as Article 2 of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates: “Each state party... undertakes to take steps, individually and through international assistance and cooperation… to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realisation of the right”.


“International assistance” is yet to arrive to the level promised. And Jordan is in fact trying to progressively enforce labour rights, so that is how it should be judged at the end of the day.

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