In the aftermath of a tragic incident in Jordan where nine agricultural workers, primarily refugees, lost their lives, the intersection of human and labour rights comes sharply into focus. This episode delves into the urgent need to safeguard the right of vulnerable workers to a safe and healthy working environment.
A Grim Reality: Hazardous Working Conditions
The recent loss of nine Syrian and Jordanian agriculture workers in a fatal accident underlines the severe consequences of hazardous working conditions. Beyond the immediate tragedy, this incident prompts a critical examination of the terms and conditions of work in the agriculture sector, especially for vulnerable groups.
The Role of Labour Rights in Human Rights
Labour rights are unequivocally human rights, extending beyond the individual worker to impact families, employers, and local communities. The Jordanian Labour Law’s provisions, including Article 2 considering any accident during the commute as a work-related injury, emphasize the interconnectedness of labour and human rights.
Flexibility vs. Protections: A Delicate Balance
Jordan, hosting over 1.3 million Syrian refugees, has made strides in providing access to the formal labour market. While flexible permits ease the entry of refugees into the workforce, the episode questions the balance between flexibility and adequate workplace protections. The tragic incident exposes the need for clear employer responsibility and the enforcement of labour laws to protect vulnerable workers.
The ILO’s Ongoing Support
The International Labour Organization (ILO) continues to play a vital role in supporting Jordan’s efforts to enhance worker protection. Acknowledging successes like the adoption of Regulation No 19, known as the agriculture workers bylaw, the episode emphasizes the importance of implementation, monitoring, and enforcement to ensure the bylaw’s effectiveness.
Steps Towards Social Justice
As Jordan grapples with the aftermath of this tragedy, the episode suggests actionable steps to reinforce existing efforts and address gaps in labour protections:
1. Ratification of Additional ILO Conventions: Jordan’s commitment can be underscored by ratifying conventions such as the Occupational Safety and Health Convention and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention.
2. Review and Enhancement of the Agriculture Bylaw: Identify and address gaps in the implementation of the bylaw to strengthen protections for vulnerable workers.
3. Inclusive Social Security Coverage: Advocate for legislative reforms to include all workers, regardless of sector, gender, or nationality, in social security schemes.
4. Capacity Building for Labour Inspectors: Strengthen the labour inspectorate’s functions, particularly in the agriculture sector, through enhanced outreach and capacity-building initiatives.
5. Inter-Ministerial Dialogue: Encourage cross-sector dialogue to address gaps in labour market protections, focusing on both legal and practical aspects of social protection.
6. Engagement with Trade Unions: Reconsider the right of agriculture workers to have a dedicated trade union, facilitating their role in promoting occupational safety and health.
7. Awareness Initiatives: Collaborate with local cooperatives, civil society organizations, and NGOs to increase awareness among workers and employers regarding labour rights and social security entitlements.
This episode serves as a poignant reminder that the pursuit of social justice demands continuous vigilance, proactive measures, and a commitment to ensuring the well-being and dignity of all workers.