Jordania - New legal amendments further restrict freedom of association

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.

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