IFC and ILO Team Up to Support Jordanian Clothing Exports through Improved Labor Standards
Jordan’s Minister of Labor, Basem Khalil Al-Salem, today announced the launch of Better Work Jordan, a project designed by the International Labour Organization and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, that will help improve working conditions for more than 54,000 workers in the country’s apparel industry and boost the sector’s international competitiveness.
Al-Salem gave a presentation entitled Labor Administration and Compliance in Jordan: A Multi-stakeholder Collaboration, at the Center for Global Development event. He outlined actions by the Jordanian government to improve labor administration and compliance, which include the Better Work Jordan project. He said, “The Jordanian government is proud to be supporting the Better Work initiative. The strength of this initiative is based on our shared values and the principle that providing decent working conditions and producing quality products at competitive prices go hand-in-hand.”
Better Work Jordan is the first of a number of country-level projects to be launched by the global Better Work Program of the ILO and IFC, which combines ILO expertise in labor standards with that of IFC in private sector development and brings together local enterprises, international buyers, governments, and workers’ organizations to improve labor standards and competitiveness in global supply chains. The program develops global tools and country projects.
The $4.7 million project in Jordan is financed by U.S. Agency for International Development, the Jordanian Ministry of Labor, and some of the largest international buyers of apparel produced in Jordan.
Daniel Rubinstein, U.S. Charge d’Affaires, praised the inclusion of private sector stakeholders in the discussions. He said, “Through sustained and coordinated efforts we can ensure that Better Work will be successful, and that Jordan will achieve its goals of meeting the highest standards of labor welfare for local and migrant workers.”
Mike Essex, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said, “We are excited about the Better Work program in Jordan. IFC’s experience shows that there is a clear and strong business case for companies to manage their environmental and social risks effectively. The project is an opportunity to demonstrate that responsible labor practices have the potential to open export markets.”
In 2007, the global Better Work team held a series of consultative meetings in Amman to design the Jordan project. Nada Al Nashif, ILO Regional Director for Arab States, said, “Through the project, stakeholders are working together to find solutions for challenges in the country’s export apparel industry. We are confident that we will see significant and sustainable improvements in labor standards, as well as a positive impact on the industry’s economic performance.”
A recent IFC survey shows that international apparel buyers rate labor standards as one of the most important business environment factors in selecting a supplier country or factory.
Better Work Jordan combines independent enterprise assessments with advisory and training services to support practical improvements through workplace cooperation. It is a voluntary, industry-based scheme designed to work at the enterprise level. The main components are independent enterprise, training and capacity building, and stakeholder engagement and sustainability.
Better Work Jordan will initially be managed by ILO, and a new Jordanian entity will take over its operations within five years.
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