So after issuing a report slamming the rights extended to workers in Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ), the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, and the US National Textile Association (NTA), are filing a lawsuit against Jordan.
The AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the US, representing more than 10 million workers, and the National Textile Association, which represents US textile producers, on Sept. 21 filed the first worker rights case ever submitted under the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA). "This is the first time a business association has formally joined in filing a worker rights case under a trade agreement," the AFL-CIO and NTA said in a joint press release issued last week. They called on the Bush administration to initiate dispute settlement proceedings under the FTA that would halt alleged workers’ rights violations in Jordan. The complaint charges that the Jordanian government failed to meet its obligations under the Jordan-US FTA’s labor chapter, both because its labor laws fall short of international standards and because the government has failed to effectively enforce its laws. Source: [The Jordan Times] [Complaint in full here. Or as PDF]
And here is the Jordanian government’s reaction:
"We would like to know what else is needed to prove that we are totally serious when dealing with these allegations," Minister of Labor Bassem Salem told The Jordan Times yesterday. "The ministry has increased the number of inspectors on the team to 164, to ensure that workers’ rights are protected," the minister added.
The ministry has also initiated a hot-line, in seven different Asian languages, creating a channel through which workers can lodge complaints. In its response to the allegations listed in the AFL-CIO and NTA lawsuit, the government reiterated its position that "it takes these allegations very seriously and will not tolerate any labor violations against guest workers and takes all steps necessary to ensure that the treatment of such workers is in accordance with international standards."
Source: [The Jordan Times]
It’s hard not to notice that there has been a lot of pressure on Jordan these days from international organizations. Just last week Human Rights Watch slammed Jordan’s alleged use of torture in detention centers. I guess being a US ally makes Jordan the subject of greater scrutiny.