Jordan: Country profile 2013 - 2018

This country profile summarizes the findings of the Social Rights Monitor carried out in Jordan between 2013 and 2018. The Social Rights Monitor is a tool developed by SOLIDAR members and partners to allow partner organizations and allies based in the country to assess the situations in terms of social protection, decent work and an enabling environment and track the progress made since the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and the partnership priorities established with the EU. Most of the reports have been developed in the framework of a regional programme “Mobilizing for Social Justice: Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa region” led by SOLIDAR.

Concerning the case of Jordan, the overall perception of the respondents to EU-Jordan relations is positive, recognizing that there are several projects implemented in the country which benefit from EU support. The respondents actively follow bilateral relations and have been consulted by the EU delegations at national level. Nevertheless, they note the sporadic nature of these consultations and regret that the EU-Jordan partnership remains focused on security, stability and refugees related issues.

The Civicus Monitor, that tracks civil society space in the world, is rating Jordan as ‘obstructed’ (3/5). They positively note that mass citizen mobilization during the Arab Spring resulted in a sense of empowerment for Jordanian civil society.

In the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index, Jordan improved its rating to 3/5, which however means that yet regular violations of labour rights occur.

In such an environment, EU-Jordan partnership framework shall promote rights-based sustainable and inclusive socio-economic policies.

 

In light of it, our recommendations towards the EU and its European Neighborhood Policy are to:

  • Promote sustainable socio-economic policies
  • Promote an enabling environment for Jordan’s vibrant civil society
  • Promote universal social protection with a human rights-based approach
  • Approach economic growth from a comprehensive point of view encompassing sustainability, job-creation, inclusion and redistribution
  • Ensure that private sector development within the partnership has a clear mandate to enhance productivity and improve productive sectors with added-value production while fighting corruption, informality, tax havens and illicit financial flows

 

SOCIAL RIGHTS MONITOR – SUMMARY

2013

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2013 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (2) Freedom of expression and information; (3) Democratic transition and civil dialogue; (4) Respect for labour rights and decent work; (5) Access and coverage of quality services; (6) Ensuring income support.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Extension of services programmes to cover 56% of workers
  • Lack of health insurance benefits
  • Lack of social stability for 44% of the population

Decent Work

  • Legislation not ensuring decent labour standards
  • Poor working conditions
  • Gender labour discriminations
  • A third of youth unemployed
  • Child labour
  • 72% of salaries below or at the poverty line
  • Minimum wage too low despite increase

Freedom of Association

  • ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise not ratified
  • Collective bargaining only allowed for recognized trade unions covering 5% of workers
  • Creation of CSOs, trade unions and political parties need government approval
  • Government control over CSOs agendas and compulsory annual reporting
  • Refusal to register new trade unions
  • 250 people arrested during mass demonstrations

2014 

SOLIDAR invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to provide feedback on the 2014 Progress Report on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy 2014 and to comment against six benchmarks which include (1) Access to Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCRs); (2) Ability to establish associations and their access to funding; (3) Participation in decision-making processes (including EU delegations); (4) Setup of social protection floors; (5) growing informal economy and indecent work; (6) Respect for migrant workers’ rights

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • No improvement of education and health policies (increase demands from Syrian Refugees)
  • Launch of a 2013-2020 poverty reduction strategy
  • Implementation of the 2012-2016 Social Security Cooperation strategic plan
  • Low social services coverage (56%)
  • No health insurance for retirees

Decent Work

  • Labour legislation discriminating women
  • 12-14% unemployment rate
  • Minimum wage not applicable to migrants
  • Sponsorship system fostering forced labour practices
  • Forced labour not criminalized by Jordanian law
  • Increase of child labour especially amongst Syrian refugees
  • Legislation’s amendment to improve migrant workers’ rights

Freedom of Association

  • Some demonstrations deemed as illegal assembly without proper justification
  • Authorities ability to reject CSOs’ registration and reception of foreign funds

2015

SOLIDAR, the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), and the Euromed Non-Governmental Platform invited civil society organizations, think tanks, social movements, local development agencies and independent trade unions to comment the 2015 Progress Report developed by the EU on the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The purpose is to see how the ENP, and its related programming documents, include (or not) the promotion of social protection for all or any of the following benchmarks and indicators: (1) Improving equitable access to essential services; (2) Ensuring Income security; (3) Promoting a Rights Based Approach to Social Protection; (4) Freedom of association; (5) Financing Social Protection.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Low access to and poor quality of basic education and health services worsened due to massive refugees’ influx and despite a 2015-2019 amended health strategy
  • Unequal access to health services and to education
  • Fragmented social protection system
  • Basic needs subsidies only granted to Jordan citizens
  • No real unemployment subsidies (conditional lend)
  • Vocational and Education Training to be improved to meet job market demands
  • 65% of the population covered by formal social protection
  • Special set of services for vulnerable categories but of poor quality
  • Consistent levels on spending on education, health, pensions and social safety nets, ensuring human rights development progresses

Decent Work

  • Expansion of informal sector covering 50% of total economy
  • Increased youth unemployment
  • Low minimum wages
  • Labour rights discrimination regarding women and Syrian refugees
  • Child labour

Freedom of Association

  • Obstacles to register associations and trade unions
  • Labour law restricting workers from establishing and joining independent trade unions
  • Anti-terrorism law amendment threatening CSOs’ freedom of speech
  • CSOs’ administrative burdens to register and receive funds

2018

Consultations with civil society organizations, including SOLIDAR members and project partners, have been conducted within the seven countries covered by the project ‘Decent Work, Social Protection and Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa: Mobilizing for Social Justice by strengthening and promoting CSOs, social movements and independent trade unions’ role in reforms and democratic changes’. Qualitative feedback was collected on the basis of a questionnaire, the so-called ‘Social Rights Monitor’, offering room for civil society organizations and independent trade unions to explain and provide input along three dimensions, namely social protection, decent work and freedom of association. It includes the following indicators: (1) Access to essential services in particular health care; (2) Income security; (3) Poverty reduction and opportunities; (4) labour rights and working conditions; (5) Employment; (6) Social dialogue; (7) Civil society space; (8) Freedom of peaceful assembly and association; (9) Freedom of expression; opinion; and rights to information.

Key fact-findings:

Social protection

  • Tangible improvement in public services and infrastructures
  • Lack of universal access to essential services
  • Variation of services’ quality and affordability between public and private sector
  • Insufficient pensions
  • Limited effects of special government programs to enhance social protection for vulnerable groups
  • Lack of sustainable programs to limit effects of worsening economic situation
  • Half of the national workforce covered by social security

Decent Work

  • Minimum wage insufficient despite recent increase
  • Minimum wage not applicable to non-Jordanians
  • Wage discrimination towards women and refugees
  • Unsafe and illegal working conditions
  • Unemployment rate increase to 18%
  • Labour policies not addressing structural problems and hitting productive sectors

Freedom of Association

  • Only state union are allowed participation in collective bargaining
  • Active civil society despite government suspicion
  • Gap between constitutional principles on freedom of association and practice
  • Absence of recognized independent, democratic and effective trade union movement
  • Denial of permission to demonstrate and excessive use of force
  • Withdrawal of amendment proposed to penal code to ban sit-ins and labour strikes

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