(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Improving work conditions and protecting labourers' rights will improve productivity in the garment sector and encourage more exports to international buyers, especially in the US, Labour Minister Maher Wakid said on Tuesday.
Addressing participants at the International Buyers Forum, held annually as part of the Better Work Jordan Project, Wakid said Jordan is seeking to improve workplace conditions and workers' rights in the garment sector and elsewhere by enforcing domestic and international labour standards, pointing to recent amendments to laws and regulations governing the labour sector.
Accordingly, the labour ministry's inspection teams have undergone extensive rehabilitation programmes through a recently established specialised work inspection centre, the minister said at the event, which was attended by representatives of international buyers, employers and investors in the Kingdom's garment sector.
Launched in February 2008, Better Work Jordan is a partnership between the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). It aims to improve compliance with labour standards in the garment manufacturing sector and unites the expertise of the ILO in labour standards with that of the IFC in private sector development.
Meanwhile, Phil Fishman, manager of Better Work Jordan, said the project aims to make the Kingdom's garment sector more competitive internationally by producing higher-end products, while at the same time encouraging the employment of more Jordanians.
"There are many factories that have been successful in enhancing their productivity and the quality of their product and at the same time primarily recruiting Jordanians. We aim to change the stereotypical image of the local employee via training and rehabilitation," he said, adding that the project issues annual assessment and progress reports to identify strengths and weaknesses to be addressed in future programmes.
According to a newsletter issued by the project, the number of factories participating in the programme has grown by more than 67 per cent since the ministry began enforcing the government decision requiring all factories producing garments for export to join the programme.
Currently, according to the newsletter, 55 out of 74 factories identified by the ministry have joined. These factories employ more than 35,335 workers, or 95 per cent of the sector's labour force, 61 per cent of whom are women.