3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Jordan is the General Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions (GFJTU).

Jordan ratified Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining in 1968 but has not ratified Convention No. 87 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.

In practice

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Persecution of teachers’ union members continues31-10-2021

On 10 August 2021, Jordan’s security services interrupted a Jordan Teachers’ Association (JTA) protest in Karate, southern Jordan. Thirty teachers were arrested, including the deputy head of JTS, Nasser Al-Nawasra, and council members Kifah Abu Farhan, Abdul Salam Al-Ayasra and Ghaleb Abu Qadis, as they headed to Al-Thaniya roundabout in Karak, where the sit-in protest would have been held. Eyewitnesses reported that the security forces intensified their presence in the area, closed all roads leading to it to prevent teachers from arriving, conducted identity checks on those present in area, and detained a number of teachers and took them to a nearby government building. These actions violate the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and labour rights that are guaranteed in relevant local laws.
This latest incident follows the events of 25 July 2020 when police raided JTA headquarters in Amman and 11 of its branches across the country and detained all of its council members before releasing them over a month later.

On 29 September 2021, the attorney general rejected the appeal filed by the JTA against its dissolution and the one-year imprisonment of all its 14 board members.

On 5 October 2021, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day celebrations, the Jordanian security forces again arrested and detained 14 leading members of the JTA. Riot police were deployed to stop peacefully demonstrating teachers denouncing the crackdown on trade union rights. The 14 members are Ahmad Ali Ahmad Alzaboun, head of the JTA; Nasser Nawasra, vice president of the JTA; and the following members of the JTA Council: Ghaleb Mansour Abu Qudia; Nidal Awwad Al Hisa; Kifah Suleiman Abu Farhan; Feras Awad Shteiwi Al Sarhan; Basil Mahmoud Al Houroub; Sulaiman Farhan Jaber Al Hayyer; Ibrahim Shaker Khalaf Assaf; Adbassalam assan Moussa Ayasra; Mustapha Annabeh; Iyad Albustanji; Moatassem Abdelrahman Beshtawy; and Noureddin Yusuf.
On 26 October 2021, the offices of the Jordanian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (JFITU) were stormed by the security forces. The security forces were used to also prevent the congress of the JFITU from taking place on 23 October 2021, in spite of compliance with Covid regulations, by threatening the owners of the venues they contracted to host the congress.
On 13 December 2020, the Ministry of Education sent a letter to the director of education instructing him to proceed with the early retirement of 25 employees based on provisions of article 64/A of the social security law no. 1 of 2014 and article 173/b of the civil service law no. 9 of 2020. Workers should refer to the General Organisation for Social Security to settle their financial rights. Up to today, at least 65 teachers have been forced into early retirement.
At least 18 JTA teacher unionists were arrested in Irbid, Jordan, in February 2021.
In a positive development, the Amman Court of Appeal decided on 31 October 2021 to cancel the decision to dissolve the Teachers’ Syndicate Council and to reject the lawsuit filed for its dissolution because it did not have a legal basis and there was lack of evidence. However, the JTA board members are still not allowed to resume work. Also, the government reinstated a few teachers, but the majority are still without jobs.

New legal amendments further restrict freedom of association01-11-2019

In early 2019, several amendments were adopted by the Jordanian Parliament which further limit the right of trade unions to form and carry out their activities without interference. The legal framework in which unions in Jordan operate is already extremely restrictive and severely hinders the creation of an independent trade union movement.

Section 98 of the Labour Code gives discretionary power to the Labour Minister to classify industries and economic activities in which trade unions may be established “so that no industry or economic activity shall have more than one trade union”. As a result, since 1976, no new trade union has been allowed to form. The limitation of one union per sector serves to exclude independent unions from organising workers in those recognised sectors. The government has repeatedly denied recognition to independent unions.

Newly amended section 100 provides that the General Federation of Trade Unions establish and deposit with the Registrar of Trade Unions the internal structure of trade unions, including the objectives for which the union is formed and the conditions and procedures to become a union member, to exclude a union member, to be candidate to a union office and to set up union committees. This section constitutes an undue interference in trade union affairs and gravely infringes the rights of trade union organisations to draw up their constitutions and rules and to elect their representatives in full freedom.

Finally, the amendments still provide that a union may be dissolved for any violation of the Labour Code, including articles that themselves violate the right to freedom of association and to collectively bargain. Section 119 prescribes an imprisonment penalty of three months and/or a fine of not less than 500 dinars and not more than 1,000 dinars for any person who pursues trade union activities in the name of a dissolved union or its administrative board.

The legislative provisions concerning unions in Jordan are clearly contrary to ILO principles on the right to freedom of association.

Aqaba port arrests09-02-2015

In October 2014, around 150 workers employed with the Aqaba Container Terminals, which is run by APM Terminals, were dismissed for taking strike action. The strike began on 13 October 2014 following a stalemate in negotiations over the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement. Police interfered and stopped the strike by arresting the workers. Despite this crackdown, workers continued to insist on their demands. The industrial action ended when the government guaranteed that the grievances of the workers would be addressed by the national labour court and the company waived penalties imposed on workers during the strike.

Replacement workers22-07-2013

In a joint press conference with the Ministers of Interior and Finance it was announced that the government was taking measures to restore working conditions at the Jordan Customs Department where some workers had instigated a strike demanding pay raises and transport allowances. The Minister of Finance considered the strike as “not justified” and called on the workers to return to work and to put an immediate end to the strike. The Government has replaced the striking workers with police officers and is considering hiring retired workers as replacement.

Security forces prevent strike19-05-2013

Security forces prevented workers at the Justice Palace from entering the building where they had been demonstrating for 19 consecutive days calling for better work conditions and increased wages and bonuses. Specifically, workers asked for an inclusion in the bonus system, the restructuring of incentives regulations, the amendment of wages for third category employees and the amendment of the Social Security Fund regulations. The strike had caused delays in court proceedings in Amman but also in other cities where workers joined the strike, in particular in Irbid and Tafileh.

Teachers’ union finally established28-03-2011

Teachers followed up their protests of March and April 2010 with a week-long strike in late March 2011 demanding that they be able to form a teachers’ professional association with mandatory membership. They demanded financial and administrative autonomy and the right of teachers who are members of the association to demand improved wages. Jordan’s Higher Council for the Interpretation of the Constitution ruled in favour of establishing the syndicate on 28 March, revoking a 1994 decision that considered such an organisation unconstitutional. The draft law to establish the teachers’ professional association was passed by the Lower House on 24 July and allows membership in the union for all teachers working for the education ministry, along with administrators, technicians and engineers.

In February, professors at Jordanian universities began to discuss establishing their own professional association - ’The Institutional Committee for a University Professors’ Professional Association’.

Strike action despite restrictions30-11-2010

Data from October stated that Jordan had witnessed an unprecedented 607 labour-related protests and work stoppages over the first nine months of 2011. Strikes took place throughout the year despite restrictions on workers’ right to strike. Electricity workers held several actions over wages, public sector workers including bus drivers threatened strike action, journalists protested over lay offs and wages as did workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and potash workers. HSBC staff also went on strike over unannounced layoffs while public sector doctors demanded higher salaries and held various strike actions during the year.

Abuse of Egyptian workers in Jordan31-12-2010

According to most recent statistics by the Ministry of Labour, 71% of the approximately 458,000 foreign workers employed in Jordan are Egyptian. There are repeated reports of ill treatment of Egyptian workers despite several efforts to protect their rights. A recent report stated that agricultural workers are brought to Jordan under circumstances resembling human trafficking with agricultural workers working long hours and denied weekly holidays.

An August report found around 10,000 cleaners, attendants and cafeteria staff in the public and private health sector subjected to conditions similar to forced labour and denied basic rights with most working involuntary overtime and receiving less than the minimum wage without annual leave or sick pay. In many instances social security insurance is not paid despite begin deducted from salaries.

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