Garment workers’ service centre opens in Jordanian industrial zone

New facility set to improve the lives of thousands working in Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones.

News | 09 October 2013
Amman (ILO News) – A multi-purpose service centre has opened at Jordan’s Al-Hassan Industrial Zone in a bid to improve the lives of the thousands of clothing factory workers employed there, the majority of whom are migrants from the Asian subcontinent.

The centre, the first of its kind in the country, includes facilities such as a computer lab and canteen. It offers support to workers in the form of skills training, legal advice, and mental health counselling.

The opening of the centre is a major step forward in efforts to improve the lives of tens of thousands of garment workers living and working within Jordan’s 14 Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs), particularly migrant employees who make up about 80 per cent of the workforce.

‘‘The workers' centre is a breakthrough that will allow us to further progress in the apparel sector in Jordan. It shows the commitment of all stakeholders to improving working conditions,’’ said Farhan Ifram, vice chair of Jordan’s Garment, Accessories and Textile Exporters Association (JGate) on October 9 at the inauguration of the centre in the city of Irbid, about 70 km north of Amman.

Better Work Jordan – a joint initiative between the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation – helped establish the centre with support from USAID, the Jordan Industrial Estates Corporation, the Irbid Chamber of Industry, apparel factories within the industrial zone, the General Trade Union for Garment and Textile Industries, JGate and international brands.

‘’We are pleased to be associated with this unique and innovative effort to improve the daily lives of workers in this industrial zone,’’ said Frank Hagemann, ILO Deputy Regional Director for Arab States.

The centre is managed by the national Workers’ Centre Association, which includes government, employer, and union representatives, as well as Better Work Jordan. It will oversee the overall operation of the centre and possibly others like it in the future.

The centre will be financed through contributions by factories and worker membership fees as well as through the sales of goods and services.

‘’Let us make sure that this remains a positive project for the workers and the employers at QIZs for many years to come,’’ said Stuart Jones, U.S. ambassador to Jordan who attended the ceremony.

Established in 1998, the Al-Hassan Industrial Zone now hosts approximately 15,000 workers. Over two thirds of Jordan’s 50,000 apparel workers are migrants from South and South-East Asia. The majority of migrant workers originate from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

‘’All sides, including the employers, made a great effort to achieve this. We want similar projects to be set up in other parts of Jordan and countries around the world,’’ said Fathalla Omrani, President of the General Trade Union for Garment and Textile Industries.

Better Work Jordan aims to improve the lives of workers by driving sector-wide, sustainable improvement in adherence to Jordanian labour law and international conventions, as well as promoting the business competitiveness of the apparel sector in Jordan within the global supply chain.