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Employer Syndicates
Book Language : English
Publication Date : 2014
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The establishment of the oldest Employer Syndicates dates back to the year 1963, with the formation of the Syndicate of Public Truck Owners; followed by the Syndicate of Public Vehicle Owners in the year 1964. Subsequent years witnessed the inauguration of consecutive syndicates; totaling 50 by the year 2014.
Most employers are members of Commerce and Industry Chambers; being the entities responsible for issuing professional permits. As such, the membership of employers in Commerce and Industry Chambers is compulsory in most cases; with membership in employer syndicates being optional. Worth pointing out is that the establishment of these syndicates is done in accordance with Law No. 8 for the year 1996.
The Business Sector is considered the backbone of the national bourgeoisie; which constitutes the pillar of the middle class in Jordanian society. In a general sense, middle and lower categories of this sector tend to belong to employer syndicates, which report to the Ministry of Labor; whereas upper categories have a tendency of belonging to entrepreneurial syndicates, which in are turn subject to various ministries - as per specialization.
As for business categories relevant to employer syndicates, the role of these is often extremely trivial in pushing for the state's adoption of economic policies that are harmonious with the overall national interests. Their capabilities are also dissipated towards defending the direct interests of the sector – as far as confronting the pressures of direct and indirect taxation. Accordingly, they have not benefitted from the "Jordanian Spring" milieu in advancing their general role on the country's political scene; which implies that they continue to be impeded by legislative restrictions imposed by the old Labor Law for the purpose of distancing employer syndicates from political activity.
So much so that the majority of employer syndicate leaders surveyed for their opinions on the constitutional and legal reforms completed over the course of the previous two years, saw no significance whatsoever in these reforms. In fact, one leader emphasized the negative repercussions of popular movements on the interests of the sector in areas witnessing demonstrations and popular sit-ins.
Only a minority of employer syndicate leaders evaluated the reforms in a positive manner, however differed with respect to their repercussions. For whereas one leader viewed amending the general assembly meetings – for instance – as being beneficial to the operation of syndicates; where only notifying the administrative in-charge would suffice while cancelling the prerequisite of obtaining his approval in advance, another leader described the constitutional amendments as being satisfactory.
However, that same individual did not foresee their impact on the nature of union work; hoping for the instigation of other reforms in future that would contribute to broadening the umbrella of social work. Yet in addition to the significant amendment of the general assembly law, which provides real and better opportunities for the business sector to become active in serving its objectives and to contribute to the public arena, one of the constitutional amendments provided Jordanians with the explicit right to form syndicates – in addition to that of establishing associations and political parties. Accordingly, the right to form syndicates, which represent business sectors and employers, has been elevated to the status of a constitutional right. In turn, this advancement may have been capitalized upon by having employer syndicates revert to the project that they have pushed for in vain for years; namely that involving the establishment of an Employers Union.
Therefore, it may be stated that following the overall performance of employer syndicates does not indicate that the syndicates seek to benefit from the materialized reforms; even if not all these reforms exert a direct impact on business sector interests; or from the new milieu imposed by popular movements in the country.
On the other hand, and even though this sector employs a large segment of the workforce, having numerous business sectors resort to the frequent utilization of foreign workers – as in the case of the gas sector, restaurants, bakeries, agricultural products, foodstuffs and others – weakens their socio-political role. Accordingly, a part of the corporate responsibility of these sectors must include devising plans that guarantee a gradual accommodation of the national workforce among their employees.
The advancing status acquired by the business sector from small and medium enterprise owners in the national economy warrants employer syndicates to further their syndical, social and political role; which necessitates operating in the following axes:
First: Employer syndicates to deal with a number of legislations regulating their operations – or with which they deal in the capacity of business sector. Indicators exist for the need of these syndicates to deepen their knowledge of these legislations in order to enhance their syndical role and to serve their members. Among the most notable of these legislations is Labor Law No. 8 for the year 1996, the Social Security Law No. 1 for the year 2014, Sales Tax Law No. 6 for the year 1994, Temporary Income Tax Law No. 28 for the year 2009 and the Owners and Leasers Law No. 11 for the year 1994.
Second: Employer syndicates to enhance their capacity for serving the sector they represent by ensuring – and at times obligating – membership, as is done with professional syndicates. This matter warrants the syndicates to realize that they are peddling against the front represented by international agreements and covenants that oppose the principle of obligation. Accordingly, if we take into consideration the various circumstances and occupations governing the Jordanian state's imposition of the obligation principle for the formation of professional unions, employers syndicates must realize that obligation is not a clear one, and that they must direct their efforts towards realizing their objectives in serving their sectors. This is by furthering their syndical role, first and foremost, and secondly, by seeking practical solutions that serve a similar purpose to obligation, in collaboration with relevant government entities and institutions.
Based on the survey conducted among numerous employers in various sectors, whom are not members of employer syndicates in their respective sectors, we note that it is the duty of employer syndicates to: obtain a definition from employers in their respective sectors as to their roles, objectives and achievements - via the construction of a web portal; compiling a database of employers in the respective sectors; ensuring communication with employers by utilizing conventional and cutting-edge technologies; acquiring the skills for holding workshops and discussion forums - for discussing the realities of the business sector or for inviting non-member employers to become members for the purpose of identifying their concerns and addressing the same; ensuring additional transparency and democracy and refraining from only serving the interests of the administrative body on the account of the interests of the remaining members.
Third: Despite the efforts exerted by employer syndicates for the establishment of a union in their name, and in spite of the legitimacy of this objective – to which a similar counterpart exists insofar as workers syndicates, which formed their own union in the year 1954 –the employers syndicates failed to realize this goal; in light of the Ministry of Labor's insistence that the Labor Law for the year 1996 does not contain a provision permitting the establishment of the said union.
While it is true that the Labor Law does not include a provision allowing for the initiation of such a union, yet it is also devoid of any provision that prohibits the same. In any case, it was possible to amend the law; or since the law does not acknowledge employer syndicates, then there is nothing hindering the issuance of a special regulation to tackle this issue. It must be pointed out here that the government - and upon the Ministry of Labor's rejection of forming a union of employer syndicates in the year 2007 - presented two amendments to the Labor Law. The first, proposed in 2008, included six articles; whereas the second, in 2010, included 39 from a total of 142 articles - or more than a quarter of the Law's provisions. What could have possibly hindered the amendment of an additional article as part of the two aforementioned amendments, or indeed issuing a new law altogether? It is also apparent that the Jordan Chamber of Trade has not demonstrated any understanding towards supporting the demands of the employer syndicates; with this being a hurdle that must be overcome. However, the initiative proposed by the heads and leaders of 15 of these syndicates during a conference held by Al Quds Center for Political Studies in January 2014 - for resuming the efforts of these syndicates towards forming their own union - is promising, insofar as advancements made for achieving this objective.
These truths emphasize three primary needs of employer syndicates; the first being the need for these syndicates to acquire the skills for obtaining the support of decision-making entities; the second is strengthening their knowledge of the constitutional mechanism for proposing and ratifying laws – since this would exemplify the ability to find a solution, such as through having ten MPs propose a law, or via a parliamentary memorandum submitted to the government – and the third is to reinforce their familiarity with relevant international agreements and covenants. This is for the purpose of bolstering the legitimacy of their demands – based on international agreements ratified by Jordan – and to avoid anything that contradicts with the same.
Fourth: The responsibility assumed by these syndicates in representing their sectors and safeguarding the interests of these sectors as well as the rights of their members, warrants an advanced level of dynamism in the media arena so as to make their voices heard to the general public and the relevant entities. This requires these syndicates to deepen their knowledge of the realities and capabilities of the media sector, in addition to acquiring the skills of media communication with the public and the targeted sectors – through the issuance of press releases, press conferences and the continuous updating of their web portals.
Fifth: Business sectors in general, face difficulties and challenges emanating from vocational classification within the same sector; in a manner that facilitates the stipulation of criteria to be observed and pricing products and services availed to citizens. This matter requires harmonization with relevant official institutions; such as the Vocational Training Corporation, which was recently assigned the responsibility of devising a comprehensive classification of professions and vocations – that was not completed. Problems also exist due to lack of compliance with the specifications placed by the Jordanian Standards and Metrology Organization and the Jordanian Food and Drug Association. This warrants the imposition of an institutional framework governing the relationship between employer syndicates and these organizations, for the purpose of reaching a common understanding of the needs of the business sector, as well as facilitating the tackling of arising problems. Needless to say, if an employer union is to be established, then it would constitute the appropriate framework for this relationship. Perhaps it would be beneficial if the Jordan Chamber of Trade and the Economic and Social Council were to provide a suitable incubator for this relationship; existing between employer syndicates and the aforementioned official institutions.