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Effective social dialogue vital for improving working conditions — study

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Oct 07,2019 - Last updated at Oct 07,2019

AMMAN — Improving working conditions cannot be achieved without conducting an effective social dialogue with all involved entities in the labour market, the Phenix Centre for Economic and Informatics Studies said in their "position paper on decent work" published on Monday.

The paper, a copy of which was sent to The Jordan Times, suggested that the government, business owners and employees should have independence as well as legal and social authority. 

Labour policies in the Kingdom have so far failed to produce the basic pillars for improvement, the paper said, adding that the main party of interest in the process of improving the policies comprises workers and their associations.

However, the paper said that "most associations in Jordan do not have independence and authority that enable them to effectively contribute to achieve progress in the field of labour conditions, as regulations still limit the rights of most paid workers to establish associations".

The Jordanian economy in the past few years "regressed significantly" in regards to the number of jobs created, falling from 70,000 new jobs created in 2007 to around 50,000 jobs in 2017, the paper said, citing figures from the Department of Statistics. 

The paper attributed the economic regression to the increase of energy costs and tax burdens, in addition to monetary policies that increased production costs. 

Monetary policies also led to imposing indirect taxes, a rise in salary deductions for social security and structural issues in the labour market as well as a gap between the market and higher and vocational education outcomes, the study said. 

The paper highlights high unemployment rates among young men and women, in addition to the decrease in salaries, citing 2018 Social Security Corporation figures, which stipulate that 66.1 per cent of workers in the Kingdom are not paid more than JD500. 

The paper’s recommendations for the government include focusing on productive projects that generate job opportunities, especially among youth. 

Reconsidering tax policies is one of the paper's recommendations, as well as focusing on vocational education and training while updating university majors to meet the demands of the labour market. 

The recommendations also include implementing core amendments to the Labour Law based on international labour standards and human rights laws, reviewing wage policies and increasing minimum wage, in addition to cancelling recent amendments to the SSC Law. 

The government's recent efforts to improve labour in Jordan include the launch of the national employment pact, under which it is committed to supporting the economy, reducing production costs, increasing the private sector's competitiveness and providing youth with quality training and employment enablers.

During a press conference held in light of the launch of the pact in mid-September by Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, deputising for HRH Crown Prince Hussein, Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh said the pact represents mutual commitments between the government and employers, but "it is not the only solution or a magical remedy to solve unemployment".

His Majesty King Abdullah, around three months ago, instructed the government to launch a national programme that supports youth projects, and HRH Crown Prince Hussein also voiced support for young people, Bataineh said at the time, noting that the most important part of the pact is the Inhad (Rise) platform.

Central Bank of Jordan Deputy Governor Adel Al Sharkas said then that the national self-employment programme Inhad project provides technical and financial services to youth, enabling them to start their own small- and medium-sized enterprises.

This week, an Italian embassy statement said that, in line with the Jordanian-Italian Development Cooperation Framework for 2017-2019, the Sector Budget Support Programme intends to sustain the Government of Jordan to implement the "National Human Resources Development Strategy 2016-2025".

Contributing 85 million euros to the Jordanian State Budget, the programme seeks to fall in line with the sector-based development approach to contextualise development partners’ support into an “organic and logically consistent” approach, said the statement.

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