Ayeh Maraqa, National Programme Officer on Migration and Development, SDC, Jordan
Al Hassan Industrial Zone is the largest garment export zone and one of the 14 qualified industrial zones in Jordan. In 2012, 17,000 workers were employed in Al Hassan factories, 79% of these are migrants, mainly from South Asia. The majority of these workers live in factory operated dormitories that are located within or in the outskirts of the industrial zone.
The isolated location of the industrial zones in Jordan with lack of access to health, psychosocial, educational or recreational activities for workers led to the innovative idea of establishing the workers' centre by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The first Centre was established as a pilot in Al Hassan Zone with the potential to be replicated and scaled up to other industrial zones once its value is demonstrated. The Centre is governed by a nonprofit organization called the Workers' Centre Association whose Board of Directors is formed from representatives of all stakeholders including the Ministry of Labour, the Jordan Garments, Accessories and Textiles Exporters Association, the Garment Union and the ILO. The Workers' Centre receives support from the Jordanian Government, employers and workers' representatives.
Al Hassan Centre was launched in February 2014. It provides a safe space for all workers in the zone to seek counseling and legal aid, meet the Union representatives, attend classes to improve their skills in computer literacy and languages, seek health care and psychosocial support, exercise and play sports, connect with their families through internet access, buy their grocery items and engage in social life. More importantly, the Centre provides opportunities for the empowerment of workers through their contribution to the management of the Centre, organizing and advocating for themselves. The attendance of workers at the Centre is high throughout the week and
reaching 800 visitors per day on the weekends. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is supporting the Workers' Centre through a two and a half year partnership starting July 2015, during which the Centre is expected to be transitioned to a more self-sustaining model through the services it provides. Furthermore, during this partnership, the Centre is expected to be replicated in a second industrial zone based on the lessons learnt from the pilot and the evaluation to be conducted in 2016.
Watch a video about Al Hassan Workers' Centre, from the ILO International Labour Organisation
Watch a video about Al Hassan Workers' Centre