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Let’s Preserve What Remains of Jordan Labor Standards- Ahmad Awad

Information is leaking from multiple sources that there is an official intention in Jordan to review labor legislation once again, specifically the Labor Law, with the aim of reducing the current labor standards. This is intended to reduce operating costs for businessmen and investors.
In recent years, many amendments have been made to the Labor Law and the Social Security Law, with a significant portion aimed at weakening labor standards.
The most important of these amendments was depriving workers in institutions that are not members of labor unions from collective bargaining with employers regarding their working conditions. Additionally, the concept of labor disputes was redefined in the Labor Law, depriving workers who do not have labor unions (who constitute a large majority) from benefiting from tools for resolving labor disputes.
In practice, the very low minimum wage has been frozen for several years, in violation of the decision issued by the tripartite committee – composed of the government, employers’ unions, and trade unions – which stipulates raising it according to inflation rates. Amendments were also made to the Social Security Law, depriving young people under the age of 30 who join the workforce in certain economic sectors from old-age insurance for several years to reduce operating costs for employers. This will negatively affect the value of their retirement salaries in the future.
All these amendments fundamentally conflict with the content and objectives of the Social Protection Strategy approved in Jordan for the years 2019 – 2025. It is emphasized that the social protection system in any country is a safety valve for the stability of states and societies, and the responsibility to strengthen this system primarily falls on the state.
The social protection system includes fair labor policies and standards, including wages and social security, as well as cash assistance provided to the poor, social services in the fields of education, healthcare, and other public services. It is considered an essential part of the economic and social human rights system.
Policymakers who believe that pressuring labor standards, including wages, social security, and ease of dismissing workers, enhances investment and economic growth are mistaken. There is no scientific evidence to support this assumption. These economic choices serve the interests of specific social groups to the exclusion of others.
Looking at the US experience and others, which are based on the ease of terminating employees, is an oversimplification. What compensates for this ease there is the existence of very high wage systems compared to the levels of wages in Jordan, which are nearly ten times what they are in Jordan. If we move towards lowering labor standards, we should expect an increase in poverty and unemployment rates, and social inequality and economic disparity will deepen. This will negatively affect economic and social stability in Jordan.
It is worth noting here that the Labor Law contains clear and direct provisions that facilitate the termination of employees who do not perform their duties correctly and according to the standards set by employers, in addition to behavioral violations of work conduct rules. Therefore, I do not know which labor standards are to be weakened again to encourage investment.
The weak working conditions in place harm the social protection system in Jordan, and the recent amendments to it have not proven to reduce unemployment rates. We must preserve and strengthen the labor standards we have left, instead of weakening them, to ensure a better future for workers and the national economy.

ammannet 21-5-2024

 

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