16 May

AMMAN — Regulation issued in May last year to secure a decent work environment and raise the level of production in the strategic agriculture sector has yet to be abided by, people working in the field said.

The regulation ensures that, for first time in Jordan, agricultural workers have fundamental protections on the job, including guarantees for safe and decent working conditions.

It applies to all workplaces that employ more than three agricultural workers, ensuring that they receive 14 days annual paid leave and 14 days paid sick leave, or more, in cases of serious illness, and that women are guaranteed 10 weeks paid maternity leave. It also includes provisions for overtime pay, and, importantly, covers migrant agricultural workers, who are rarely protected by labor laws of the countries that employ them.

“Unfortunately, so far, regulation has not been implemented,” the head of the Jordanian Workers’ House Hamada Abu Nijmeh told Jordan News.

According to Abu Nijmeh, no inspectors or observers have been sent by the Ministry of Labor to check how employers adhere to labor-protective legislation regarding, for example, working hours, occupational health and safety, minimum pay, and other aspects.

“The Ministry of Labor is content with stating that it is still in the process of generating awareness about this regulation,” said Abu Nijmeh, who believes that working on raising awareness only shows lack of will to address issues, “diminishes legal protections for agricultural laborers, and obstructs Jordan’s vital legislative progress in including agricultural workers in the labor laws”.

This, he said, “is not in the best interest of either laborers or employers”.

The solution, Abu Nijmeh said, it to properly apply the regulation, encourage employers to follow it, and “secure oversight of their commitment to these rules, thereby strengthening this sector and enabling it to provide its best”.

According to Ahmad Awad, the head of the Jordanian Labor Watch, this regulation has been partially activated, but several provisions and articles were disrupted by defense orders issued during the pandemic.

Awad said that “its ratification was a step forward, and having agricultural laborers covered by the Labor Law is a significant and critical moment not only in Jordanian history, but also in the region”.

Saying that the number of infractions in this sector “was high due to its size and seasonal nature, as well as the previous lack of legal cover” of laborers, he emphasized that continued failure to abide by the stipulations in the regulation “means continued violations against not only employers, but the agricultural sector in general, which is globally regarded as a vital, strategic, sector because it is linked to food security”.

Ministry of Labor spokesman Mohammad Zyoud told Jordan News that the ministry is committed to implementing legislation related to agriculture workers, stressing that “the regulation has already been activated, but the inspection and control procedures are gradual”.

“The ministry is currently focusing on raising awareness and educating agricultural establishments on how to implement the regulation related to their laborers, whether in terms of social security contributions or creating a work environment that is designed to improve working conditions and make the sector more attractive to Jordanians,” Zyoud said.

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