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ILO boosts job prospects for refugees and host community in Jordan.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) conducted a field visit to Amman, Jordan between 24. and 26. January 2017. Participants were donors of core voluntary funding (RBSA) and donors for ILO development cooperation from the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN). Norway, being one of the donors of RBSA funding, was represented by Charlotte Gede Vidnes from the Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN in Geneva and Lena Hasle from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the visit was to see how un-earmarked funding provided to the ILO is used to promote employment among Syrians and Jordanians in light of the current Syrian refugee crisis.

One of the projects put forth to increase employment of Syrian refugees is to award certificates of competence to participants of a month-long Recognition of Prior Learning-programme. With certificates recognizing their abilities in their field of work, it is easier for the refugees to get work permits from the Jordanian government that allow legal employment. The field visit included an attendance at a ceremony where 120 workers were awarded certificates in the construction sector.  

“Norway has a clear policy to support decent work for all. We are happy to see that RBSA funds are contributing to long-term development in Jordan. ILO plays an important role in promoting labour rights and social dialogue worldwide,” said Vidnes.

The efforts made towards Syrian refugees and Jordanians demonstrate the importance of core voluntary funding (un-earmarked funding). The use of 1,8 million USD of RSBA funds for activities aimed at this group has generated over 40 million USD from donors who have picked up on and decided to support the projects.

The trip to Amman also included a visit to the garment factory Classic Fashion. The factory takes part in the Better Work programme, which aims to improve working conditions in the garment industry as well as making the sector more competitive. The programme is a partnership between ILO and the International Finance Corporation, and is one of ILO’s flagship programmes.  In Jordan, the majority of those employed in the garment industry are migrant workers, many of whom are from Bangladesh, Nepal and India. These workers migrate to Jordan to achieve better working conditions and higher wages than what is obtainable for them in their home countries.

A challenge for the garment industry in Jordan is to provide decent working conditions and minimum wages for the garment workers, whilst still being able to run the businesses in a profitable and competitive manner. This is the reason why the garment industry is paved with migrant workers who have lower wages and work more hours, than Jordanians do. To be able to both run profitable and hire Syrians or Jordanians, some businesses has opened up to the idea of a combination of employing locals, refugees and migrant workers, but with different working conditions for the two groups. This is a way of increasing employment among nationals and refugees, but it creates a two-tier system in which one group of workers receives lower wages and/or employee benefits than the other, which is very little desirable.

Activities planned for the future by ILO include further contribution to legal access to work and income for Syrian refugees by getting work permits in the sectors permitted by Jordanian labour law. By now, approximately 37 000 work permits have been granted to refugees in Jordan.

The goal set forth at the London conference is to reach 200 000 by February 2018. More about the visit to the refugee response frontline can be read here.


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