Access to work in Jordan & Lebanon for Syrian refugees, migrant workers & host populations

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21 June 2017

'A challenging market becomes more challenging: Jordanian workers, migrant workers & refugees in the Jordanian labour market'

Author: ILO

Financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the ILO has conducted a study which aims to provide practical solutions to three potentially conflicting policy aims in Jordan’s labour market: boosting Jordanian employment, ensuring decent working conditions for all including migrant workers, and incorporating Syrian refugees into the workforce... The report examines five specific sectors: agriculture, construction, domestic work, manufacturing and tourism. Its findings and recommendations are based on thorough literature review and comprehensive primary data gathering among nearly 1,000 informants, including employers, Jordanian and foreign workers, government officials and other key actors. [The report recommends, among other things, to] enable Jordanians to compete for work by ensuring a clear and harmonised set of working conditions for all jobs; [to] develop programmes aimed at increasing employment of Jordanians; [and, to] consider modifications of the regulations governing migration and work permits.

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Author: منظمة العمل الدولية

سوق محفوف بالتحديات يغدو أكثر تحديا: عمال أردنيون، عمال مهاجرون ولاجئون في سوق العمل الأردني

أجرت منظمة العمل الدولية ... دراسة تهدف إلى ايجاد حلول عملية لثلاثة أهداف خاصة بالسياسة العامة قد تكون متباينة في سوق العمل الأردني: تعزيز تشغيل الأردنيين، وضمان ظروف عمل لائقة لكافة العمال، بمن فيهم العمال المهاجرين، ودمج اللاجئين السوريين في القوى العاملة. فقد فاقم دخول السوريين إلى سوق العمل الأردني وضعًا يزخر أساسًا بالتحديات. وبات سوق العمل الآن يضم ثلاث فئات من العمال في الأردن: الأردنيون، والعمال المهاجرون واللاجئون السوريون. ونظرًا لتواجد أعداد كبيرة من الفئات الثلاث، لا بدّ من معالجة تحديات أي فئة ضمن سياق سوق العمل ككل. وتهدف هذه الدراسة، القائمة على عمل ميداني مكثف، إلى المساهمة في النقاش حول ثلاثة تحديات تواجهها السياسة العامة: زيادة تشغيل الأردنيين، ضمان ظروف عمل لائقة في كافة الوظائف ودمج العمال السوريين في سوق العمل.

و تبرز الدراسة  ثلاث نتائج من العمل الميداني. أولًا، خلافا لما هو سائد حول ثقافة العيب، يتحدث العمال الأردنيون عن ظروف عمل محددة تؤثّر على رغبتهم وحماسهم للعمل، أياً يكن القطاع أو المهنة. ثانيًا، إن ظروف العمل السائدة في أوساط العمال المهاجرين واللاجئين السوريين تضع العمال الأردنيين في وضع سيء مقارنة بغير الأردنيين. ثالثًا، على الرغم من أن القوانين التي ترعى نظام الهجرة وتصاريح العمل في الأردن دقيقة، برز تباعد بين الأنظمة المتعلقة بالقانون من جهة، واحتياجات أصحاب العمل والعمال لترتيبات العمل قصير الأمد والعمل بدوام جزئي من جهة أخرى.

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5 June 2017

Jobs make the difference: Expanding economic opportunities for Syrian refugees & host communities

Author: United Nations Development Programme, Regional Development & Protection Programme, World Food Programme, Int. Labor Organization

The goal of this report is to provide pragmatic, empirically grounded evidence to support efforts by these three key actors—host nations, the international donor community and  the private sector—to achieve this  ambitious political goal of creating 1.1  million new jobs by 2018. This report does not assess the feasibility of creating this many jobs, where these jobs might be created (the London  Conference proceedings themselves are agnostic on this topic), the  relative share of new jobs that might  benefit Syrian refugees vis-à-vis host communities or the number of jobs  created thus far.

Specifically, the intent of this report is instead to identify approaches likely to expand “economic opportunities”—which include entrepreneurship, self- employment and formal employment in firms—for Syrian refugees, IDPs and host communities. The research explores the challenges faced in both accessing and creating economic opportunities, and examines how these challenges might be overcome, drawing on existing successes across  the region.

This analysis focuses on six nations in the region hosting Syrians displaced by the crisis: Egypt; Jordan; Iraq, specifically the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI); Lebanon; Turkey and Syria itself. The five neighbouring nations now host more than 5 million Syrian refugees, and an estimated 6.3 million  IDPs are hosted by communities  throughout Syria.

Though the London Conference did not explicitly include Syria in the aspirational 1.1 million new jobs, supporting access to jobs for Syrians inside Syria is an integral part of a comprehensive approach to fulfilling the London commitments, as expanding opportunities in Syria wherever feasible may mitigate the job creation burden in neighbouring countries…

The London Conference for Supporting Syria
and the Region, held in February 2016, set
an ambitious goal: create 1.1 million jobs for
Syrian refugees and their host communities
by 2018. Neighbouring nations hosting Syrian
refugees—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and
Turkey—made bold commitments to open
their labour markets and improve the domestic
regulatory environment; the international
community committed to support employment
creation programmes and access to both
concessional financing and external markets;
and representatives from the private sector
committed to providing new investments.

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5 June 2017

Jordan: Better Work 2017 report finds forced labour, abuses of freedom of association & health & safety commonplace in garment factories

Author: Better Work Jordan

"Annual Report 2017: Better Work Jordan", 16 Feb 2017

Better Work Jordan has been conducting assessments of the working conditions in Jordanian exporting apparel factories since 2009. Each assessment consists of a two-day on-site visit, which includes meetings with management and workers, document reviews, and observations from factory facilities and dormitories. The goal of the programme is to ensure continuous improvements in the industry working and thus raising the overall compliance level. This report illustrates findings from assessments conducted between November 2015 and December 2016 by Better Work Jordan in 67 factories. The data collected reports non-compliance with labour standards based on eight clusters: four based on ILO Core Labour Standards encompassing Child Labour, Discrimination, Forced Labour, and Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, and four clusters based on the national law regarding working conditions in regards to Compensation, Contracts and Human Resources, Occupational Safety and Health, and Working Time. Assessment results from factories covered in this report are largely consistent with findings of the past reports – with non-compliance concentrated in Occupational Safety and Health, Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining and Contracts and Human Resources...

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16 May 2017

IKEA to employ Syrian refugees at production centers in Jordan

Author: Marcus Fairs

“IKEA aims to take 200,000 people out of poverty in massive social sustainability drive”, 18 April 2017

IKEA is to employ refugees at production centres in Jordan this summer as part of a long-term plan to create employment for 200,000 disadvantaged people around the world through social entrepreneurship programmes. The centres in Jordan, which should be operational by August, will employ a mixture of Syrian refugees and Jordanians in the production of woven products including rugs, cushions and bedspreads. IKEA will build and equip the production centres, in which skilled craftspeople will work on handmade items.

The Swedish furniture giant is partnering with Jordan River Foundation, a non-governmental organisation established by Jordan's Queen Rania, which will manage the facilities and employ 100 people to start with, rising to 400 people within two years. Half will be refugees and half local workers…"Two-hundred thousand is our long-term ambition," said Jesper Brodin, IKEA's head of range and supply. "It may take 10-15 years. We want these people to be our future suppliers."…The centres will be located in and around Amman in northern Jordan, close to refugee camps strung along the border with Syria, from where an estimated 1.3 million refugees have poured since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011. "It's important that it's not only geared towards the refugees," Brodin explained. "We're also making sure that this benefits the Jordan population as well."

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9 May 2017

Jordan: Govt., EU & ILO launch EU-Jordan Compact pilot project to facilitate trade & create jobs for both Syrian refugees & Jordanians

Author: Laila Azzeh, Jordan Times

"Pilot project to reduce unemployment launched"

A new pilot project to help reduce unemployment and facilitate the relaxation of the rules of origin agreement was launched on Wednesday in cooperation between the government and international stakeholders. The Ministry of Labour, the EU and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) signed the agreement on Wednesday, under which Jordanians and Syrians alike will be put in contact with employers, raising their chances to find decent work opportunities. Under the one-million-euro project, the ILO will facilitate the implementation of the Jordan-EU agreement on simplified rules of origin, which seeks to help Jordan access the EU market. The relaxed rules will be applied once 200,000 jobs for Syrian refugees are created and when those Syrians are issued work permits, according to the agreement. For Jordanian industries to be able to benefit from the EU simplified rules of origin, each factory needs to have Syrian employees constituting no less than 15 per cent of its manpower. The rate will be increased to 25 per cent in the third year of the agreement. According to organisers, the ILO will extend the core services of one of its programmes — Better Work Jordan — to further manufacturing sectors, to help Jordanian companies abide by the country’s labour law and meet international labour standards. The pilot project also seeks to support the implementation of the EU-Jordan Compact, which includes assisting Jordanian companies to take advantage of trade opportunities provided by the new trade facilitation, leading to job creation for both Jordanian and Syrian refugees...

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9 May 2017

Jordan: ILO launches e-learning programme on labour rights & responsibilities for Syrian refugees

Author: Business Standard, Jordan

"e-learning programme on rights in Jordan for Syrian refugees"

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Tuesday launched an e-learning programme for Syrian refugees in Jordan that explains their rights and responsibilities under the country's labour laws. The programme is part of on-going efforts by the ILO to help formalise the work of Syrian refugees in Jordan, the international agency said in a statement. It outlines the benefits of working legally through obtaining work permits, as well as the procedures needed to obtain them...Developed with support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Corporation, the programme consists of video segments and other training material, covering work permits, workers' rights, sectors open to non-Jordanian workers, social security and occupational safety and health...The programme will initially be used by 500 Syrians in Irbid, Mafraq, Zarqa, Amman, working in the construction sector and the agricultural sector, where a large number of workers are women. It will be expanded to reach more workers in other sectors...


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19 April 2017

Jordan: 60,000 Syrian refugee children working in dangerous conditions

Author: Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor & Syrian Network for Human Rights

Dangerous exploitation of Syrian refugee children rampant in Jordan, 12 Dec 2016

Children who fled violence in Syria to find refuge in Jordan are increasingly forced to work long hours at low wages to help their families survive... It’s estimated that at least 60,000 children from Syria are working in conditions that are often dangerous, exploitative and without any real government oversight ... 51.4 percent (668,000) of the 1.3 million Syrians living in Jordan are children. An even more neglected group are the 16,000 Palestinians who fled to Jordan from Syria, of whom about 6,560 are children. Even adults from this group are prohibited from working in Jordan … the report outlines the dynamics that force children to work instead of attending school. The primary factor is the high cost of living; Amman, the capital city of Jordan, is considered the most expensive city in the Middle East. In addition, only about 10 percent of the refugees are eligible for cash assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Yet many of the families lost breadwinners in the civil war; 30 percent of the Palestinian-Syrian families are headed by women ... Other factors fueling child labor are the demand among Jordanian employers for low-wage workers and the inability of the country’s schools to accommodate the influx of refugees. The report documents that 80 percent of child workers are not allowed any holidays and are paid wages of 90-150 dinar per month (US$127-211) --far less than the minimum wage in Jordan. In Al-Zaatari refugee camp (the largest camp in the Middle East and the second-largest worldwide) 24 percent of child workers said in a recent survey that they do not receive any payment at all...

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16 April 2017

Jordan: New garment sector alliance seeks to create opportunities for refugees and local workforce

Author: Better Work Jordan

From policy to practice: A new garment sector alliance in Jordan will create opportunities for refugees, April 2017

A new garment sector-wide alliance in Jordan aims to create economic opportunities, improve the lives of refugees caught up in the Syrian crisis and help their host countries. The initiative, led by partners from the international community, was first set in motion at last year’s Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London. Backed by the World Bank Group, the Jordan Garment Sector Alliance has been formed by various partners including the International Labour Organization, Better Work Jordan, the Jordan Investment Commission, the Jordan Industrial Estates Company, the Jordan Garments, Accessories, and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGate) and the Jordan Chamber of Industry and Trade… The garment industry is seen as one of the sectors that can absorb both refugees and the local workforce since work is labour-intensive and more than half of its 70,000 workers already come from abroad, mostly hailing from South and South-East Asia. Jordan’s 1.6 billion USD apparel industry accounts for some 20 per cent of the country’s exports, said JGATE chairman Husam Saleh at a recent alliance meeting in Amman, stressing that the industry had registered a six per cent increase in apparel exports year on year… [an] official also suggested repeating the successful model of “satellite factories” for Jordanians—branches of large companies scattered across the country’s rural areas — for Syrians, establishing them next to refugee camps, for example.

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10 April 2017

Commentary: Why jobs in special economic zones won't solve the problems facing the world's refugees

Author: Heaven Crawley, The Conversation (UK)

...two Oxford professors, Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, are calling on politicians to harness "the remarkable opportunities of globalisation" to reorient the refugee system away from humanitarian assistance and towards development...One of the "big ideas"... is that global capitalism can ride to the rescue of the refugee system through the creation of jobs for refugees within special economic zones (SEZs) in countries such as Jordan...the increased interest shown by the EU and international organisations such as the World Bank is certainly new and clearly reflects more recent political and economic developments – particularly in the EU and Jordan...

Evidence from SEZs in Asia shows how labour rights have been compromised, resulting in extremely low wages, forced overtime and different forms of abuse. So much so that in India they have been dubbed "special exploitation zones"...the Jordan Compact has so far benefited a small proportion of refugees despite huge political and financial effort.The reasons are complex...they reflect a failure on the part of governments and international organisations to engage with the complex realities of the Jordanian labour market – which is already highly dependent on migrant labour – and the needs and aspirations of refugees themselves. Within SEZs, the jobs on offer are typically low- or semi-skilled with long and repetitive hours. Those who have tried to hire Syrians in larger numbers, for example within the garment industry, have found that the take-up has been poor. Whereas other migrant workers are typically single, many Syrians struggle with childcare responsibilities and poor transport links from the places they are living to SEZs.

SEZs are a tool for creating livelihood opportunities for some refugees in some contexts. But addressing the profoundly political problems that underpin the drivers of forced migration and have come to mark the international community's response to it will require.. the kind of alliances and allegiances that challenge and confront some of the profound inequalities with which global capitalism has come to be associated.

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