Breakthrough at Classic Rape Factory in Jordan producing for Hanes, Wal-Mart and Sears

September, 29 2011 Share

DATE:    September 29, 2011

TO:        Institute Contacts 

FROM:   Charlie Kernaghan GLHR

RE:        Breakthrough at Classic Rape Factory in Jordan producing for Hanes, Wal-Mart and Sears


Migrant rights organizations from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Egypt, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, India, Bahrain and Dubai demand an end to the rapes and gross worker rights violations of women migrant workers at the Classic sweatshop in Jordan.

See article: "Apathy in Jordan: The Classic Fashion Factory Exposed," September 28, 2011

"The Jordanian Labor Ministry's failure to protect the rights of these workers is consistent with its wider migrant practices... Migrant workers' voices are effectively silenced by ineffective ministries and oversight organizations..."

The organization Migrant Rights is affiliated with Mideast Youth, whose mission is "to raise awareness and to demand the rights of our fellow human beings."

On Tuesday, September 27, Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ) aired a half hour interview with Chicago area high school students and Institute director Charlie Kernaghan describing their struggle to end the gross sexual abuse of young women guest workers at the Classic sweatshop. (On average, 600,000 people tune into WBEZ each week. Download podcast.)



Why are we coddling two abusive Chinese sweatshop factories in Jordan?

Is this what the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement is all about?

  • Six hundred ninety Bangladeshi guest workers, 87 percent of them young women, have been on strike at the Chinese Maintrend factory in Jordan since September 12, 2011. The women are demanding an end to routine beatings, forcible deportations when workers cannot reach excessive mandatory production goals, filthy dorms, arbitrary wage cuts and humiliating "toilet passes" which severely limit access to the bathroom.

At 4:30 p.m. on September 22, dozens of Jordanian police charged the factory, firing teargas at the striking women and beating them with their batons. Dozens of women were hurt. Management has now stopped supplying food and water to the workers.

The Maintrend sweatshop produces for Sears/Lands End.

  • Three hundred seventy Bangladeshi workers, the vast majority young women, have been on strike at another Chinese-owned sweatshop in Jordan called International Business Garment Manufacturing (IBGM). Here too the young women were attacked and beaten by IBGM managers, one of whom threatened to begin raping the young women if they did not immediately return to work. Another manager grabbed a woman by her hair and struck her with his walkie-talkie knocking her down. In this factory too, the workers are routinely beaten for failing to reach the arbitrary and excessive production goals set by Chinese management. The workers' dorms are infested with bed bugs. Workers are required to get a "toilet pass" and are fined $1.00 a minute for overstaying their allotted time limit in the bathroom. The workers have no healthcare or sick days, and no rights.

By the way, both the Maintrend and IBGM sweatshops have been awarded "Golden List" status by the Jordanian Ministry of Labor, certifying them as among the best factories in Jordan. Something is seriously wrong here.


Could the end result of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement really be to coddle Chinese sweatshops that abuse young women foreign guest workers?

  • In fact, from the beginning and over the last ten years, the Government of Jordan deliberately blocked the guest workers' right to organize and join a union, which is supposed to be guaranteed under the U.S.-Jordan FTA. This is what the Jordanian government did: They wrote a special clause saying that guest workers would have to work in the private sector in Jordan for five years before they could legally join a union. The only problem is that guest workers sign three year contracts. Moreover, to guarantee that the guest workers would never be able to organize, Jordan stipulated that if the guest workers wanted to unionize, legislation would have to be passed in each of their home countries to allow the guest workers to organize.

  • Today, September 29, the U.S. Government announced yet another $359.3 million aid package for Jordan! Why can't we condition this aid on the Jordanian Government's adherence to the labor rights provisions in the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, which have been on the books for the last 10 years?
  • A free media? Ninety-four percent of journalists in Jordan report practicing self-censorship for fear of being fined $28,000 for any news story that offends the Government.
  • An independent union? It should come as no surprise that Jordan's garment union is largely controlled by the government.
  • U.S. Government representatives will join their Jordanian counterparts for an economic summit on October 22, 2011 in Amman.  Can't the issue be raised that it is imperative that Jordan immediately recognize and respect the labor rights protections which are central to the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement?



Please spread the word and keep the pressure up to end the sexual abuse and gross worker rights violations at the Classic sweatshop.

End the siege and torture of guest workers at the Maintrend and IBGM sweatshop factories.

  • Share the Migrant Rights article and the WBEZ Worldview stories by clicking on the "share" button on top of the pages to share them on Facebook, Twitter or email friends. 
  • Please spread the word: If you haven't already, please sign GLHR's petition on, which already has nearly 150,000 signatures. 
  • Do you have any ideas? How can we reach Hanes, Wal-Mart and Sears to increase the pressure on them to end the rapes and violations at the Classic sweatshop in Jordan?
  • Apparently, Jordan has no intention of respecting the labor rights protections in the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. How can we pressure the Government of Jordan to finally implement the worker rights provisions that are central to the U.S.-Jordan FTA?

E-mail us at Any ideas will be extremely helpful!!!