New report by Tamkeen Center: Poor Implementation of Jordanian measures to protect migrant workers hampers redress

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Oct 1 2012

Tamkeen Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights stated in its report issued today that although Jordan is one of the first countries in the region to have passed legislations that protect migrant workers in the labor law, by including domestic workers in the labor law:by not applying these provisions and laws thereby making the legislation lose its value.

The report “Between A Rock and A Hard Place: Migrant workers caught between employers' abuse and poor implementation of the law” monitored the status of domestic workers and Egyptian workers in Jordan from 2011 until mid-2012. The report included the abuses that migrant workers in Jordan are subjected to such as: confiscation of passports, withholding wages, and poor living conditions such as inadequate sleeping places, long working hours, and denial of the one day off rule in addition to the mistreatment by employers.

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To view the report, “Between A Rock and A Hard Place: Migrant workers caught between employers' abuse and poor implementation of the law,”
ENGLISH: http://tamkeen-jo.org/books/website_eng.pdf
ARABIC: http://tamkeen-jo.org/arabic/books/website_arab.pdf

For more information, please contact:
Linda Alkalash: Amman- Jordan ( +962 79 640 4408) linda at tamkeen-jo.org
Taleb Alsaqqaf: Amman-Jordan( + 962 77 787 8688) taleb.saqaf at gmail.com
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This report was based on the cases received by Tamkeen, the monitored follow-up procedures of these cases, and the meetings and discussions between Tamkeen Center, decision makers, and employers from 2011 until the middle of 2012. During this period Tamkeen monitored 922 cases of different nationality migrant workers from different sectors. Of these cases: 747 were domestic workers, 29 cases were individual cases, eight cases were groups of migrant workers working in the garment sector , and 138 cases were brought by Egyptian workers.

The report criticized the inaccessibility for workers to gain work permits and residency permits of their own accord. Instead it is only the employer who can obtain these visas for the worker. If the employer fails to provide work and residency permits it is then the worker who must pay the related fines and is exposed to the possibility of detention due to the breach of residency and foreign affairs law. This promotes the sponsorship system, which is considered a form of modern slavery in spite of the fact that there is nothing in the Jordanian legislation that refers to anything called “sponsorship system”.

In the year 2011, there were 43,593 domestic workers that held proper work documentation. There are others who are undocumented. These workers were deprived of medical care while facing inadequate health and safety measures. Due to poor safety measurements, some domestic workers fell from high balconies while cleaning.

The number of Sri Lankan domestic worker deaths was 19; however, 6 of these were suicide cases. The number of deaths of Indonesian domestic workers was 22 , in addition to 68 work related injury cases.

Of the 747 domestic worker cases followed by Tamkeen, 530 cases concerned passports confiscated by either the employer or recruitment agency. Some of these workers had received their passports after paying the recruitment agency or their employer. Theseactions breach Article 18 of The Passports Law Number 3 (est. 2002) and Article 222 of the Jordanian Penal Code. Also, 465 domestic workers had theirwages partially or fully withheld by their employer. The Ministry of Labor issued a verdict that employers must open a bank account for their domestic workers. However, employers see this as necessary only to obtain the work permit.

The Ministry of Labor is praised for the amendment made on September 13, 2011 that regarded domestic workers. This amendment removed the provision that required employees to have the employer’s approval prior to leaving the house and replaced it with informing the employer prior to leaving the house. The Ministry of Labor must take the appropriate actions to enforce this new measure since many workers are still forced to confinement.

The Ministry of Labor is criticized for exclusively allowing the recruitment and employment agencies to recruit domestic workers. Some of these agencies treat domestic workers as a service by using the logic of profit and loss. Some employers authorize agencies to settle the affairs of domestic workers and deport them. These agencies then steal the money provided by the employer and exploit the domestic worker by forcing them to work; hired out on a day-by-day basis.

The report disapproved of excluding migrant workers from the newly raised minimum wage, which is up to 190JD from 150JD. The report also disapproved of the instructions issued to regulate the entrance, vacation, and final departure of Egyptian workers who have obtained work permits in the Kingdom. These instructions included the required employer’s approval prior to a worker’s vacation or final departure. It also stated that there should be a kind of clearance between the worker and the employer in case of final departure. The clearance made many Egyptian workers victims of blackmail by their employers.

"Jordanian government has to protect the rights of migrant workers and take into consideration the amount of their contribution to the gross national product and to stop considering them a burden on Jordan" Said Lawyer Taleb Alsaqqaf , The experts in Human Rights advocacy.

Twenty percent of the work force in Jordan is comprised of documented migrant workers (280,275 workers). This percentage does not include those who are undocumented workers (approximately 200,000), 135,000 of which are Egyptian. Therefore migrant labor in total, including both documented and undocumented workers, constitutes forty percent of the workforce in Jordan.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East