Alerts

D. Interview with Galaxy Workers

November, 24 2010 Share

* Send a message to the Minister of Labour in Jordan

 

November 23, 2010 - 12 pm PST

 

  • Spoke with "A"
  • Initially they had complaints about food, lack of drinkable water, lack of overtime pay, very low wages, but didn't complain about any of these - what drove them to complain to management was the lack of any type of heating whatsoever in their dorms, where it got extremely cold at night.  At this point, management got very angry and responded that they have what they have and that's it. 
  • They were told shift starts at 7, and they asked how long a shift would be.  Management was irritated, said I don't know, however long we tell you to work.  Ended up working 14-15 hours a day. 
  • 4 days after making complaint about heat, several workers went in at 7:30 instead because of extreme cold, still very dark out.  Didn't let "B" come in because they said he was late, even though everyone else was late as well.  The other workers said fine, if "B" is going home, send us all home.  (Unclear whether they were allowed to work or sent home at this point...)
  • Went to the union office and filed a complaint but union didn't help them at all - went to labor court to make a complaint about: food, lack of water, lack of heat and hot water, and refusal to allow holidays.
  • Jordan law allows 10 major holidays - on Nov 6th, asked company if they could please have at least 5 days and they would be happy with that instead of 10.  Gave them 3 days for Eid, but no other national holidays.  Company forced them to sign come kind of document, don't know exactly what it was.
  • Then NLC report came out and mgmt was very angry, threatened to cut pay, deport them, or jail them
  • Mgmt identified "A" as a leader, for instigating other employees - told all other workers that their conditions would get worse because of his and others' agitating and making reports to buyers.  Told workers they would cause them all to lose their jobs by going the factory and gave information to outside agents.
  • Are refusing to pay "A" him for month of October for providing information to outsiders
  • This problem has been going on for 5 years, but "A" has only been there 1. years - worked at other factories before and never faced such conditions
  • November 6th - were given even more work, "A" got into a fight with the boss, passports were returned and people were in distress because many had expired visas they needed to renew and company said you're on your own, we can't help you
  • After going to labor court, court promised them 12 hour days under Jordan labor law.  But when they went back to work, told if they can't work the 14-15 hours, they could be deported or jailed for violation of their contract
  • November 8th - mgmt had meeting with all workers saying if can't work 14-15 hours, will be cut 3 days of work, and possibly terminated/deported/jailed.  If any objections are made, police would be brought in immediately. 
  • November 8th - workers made a complaint to the buyer about violations under labor code
  • Workers made complaint to NLC about not receiving pay for Eid holiday (?) - asked again for the holiday but were told to just do their work
  • Police have been very cruel to women, who are terrified of being raped if sent to jail, and ask to please be deported rather than jailed (none have been deported/jailed yet).  Police act on behalf of company and are very rough with male workers who they are told to arrest. 
  • So far 5 workers have been denied pay: "C", "D", "B", "E" and "A" - 1 worker denied 2 months pay, the others denied 1 months pay
  • Labor minister told them they would be jailed if they keep making these complaints and going outside the factory (to give info)
  • November 14th - company had another meeting, very angry at "A" - wanted to know who gave complaint to buyer - said gives a very bad impression, so you won't get paid if any complaints are made - also said "I don't care, nobody can touch me, I don't care if you talk to NLC, government anybody, I'll take action against anyone who goes outside the factory and no one will be able to help you."
  • 5 workers suspended on 14th - 2 are told they will be dealt with later ("A" and "B"), 3 are dealt with now: "D" and "C" given warning letters to sign informing them that they will be allowed to work for one or two more months then deported and "E" taken to jail.  "A" advised "C" and "D" to take the deal and continue working calmly and wait to see what would happen. 
  • November 15th - 12:20 - "E" taken into office - 12:30, local police came in and took him to jail. "E" refused to give name which made them very angry, came and questioned the other workers, but everyone pretended not to know anything, even though everyone knew what was going on and had seen "E" being taken away. 
  • "E"'s situation: they are saying they jailed him because he made a complaint which got to the buyer, and also there was a case that had been filed against him previously for the same charge. Though that case was filed against several workers, all others had it deleted except for "E", who they identified as a leader working on behalf of the workers.  "If company obeyed laws of country, labor code, they should not be able to jail people without legitimate charges - but they don't care and the police act on behalf of company."  The police report, from what he has heard because has not been able to see it, says "E" was jailed for providing information about factory to outsiders.  Was able to see "E" twice in jail and take him some food and necessities, but tried to go today and was not allowed to see him - "E" is not doing well, in a desperate state, his wife is also there and is devastated and can't sleep at night.  Has not been given a date for deportation, and they don't know how long they will hold him in jail.
  • "A" and "B": currently not working and not receiving pay - "B" and "E" were given their back pay before "E" was sent to jail, but "A" has still not received a month's pay
  • "D" and "C": back at work, but today received warning letters from the company informing them that they can stay one or two more months and then will be deported
  • "A" can't sleep at night due to tension of when he too will be arrested - a police/security car watching him even during the call
  • Galaxy currently has 130 - 140 workers currently: 100 are Bengali, 12-13 are Sri Lankan, 18 are Indian, some others who came on tourist visas and began to work
  • Get no help from Bangladesh embassy, have to spend a lot of money just to come there - 2000 to 2500, which they will lose entirely through being deported
  • 60 or 70 workers have gotten passports back, but many are scared and want to go back home or want to go to another company but cannot go - before there was system that NLC set up that helped workers to go to another company if they don't like the one they are at - company tortures them now but can't get out - talk a lot to friends in other factories to find out conditions - but don't have any hope now
  • Currently there are no foreign buyers, but they are supposed to get another contract on December 1st
  • The current labels are Walmart, Sara Lee (?) and Macy's
  • Currently they are expanding the factory.  "X" has copy "E"'s current contract, and all company rules and regulations are listed there.
  • NLC the only one who helps - basically begging us to do something to save them.  Says "X" gives him courage to keep fighting and tells him everyone is backing him up and he doesn't need to be afraid.  That is why he will keep fighting and providing information as much as he can.  Unions there do not help at all.

 

 

Response to e-mail from Galaxy:

 

  1. "A" was with "E" when he was arrested.  "B" was also there in the office.  He was arrested in the office at the factory during lunchtime, and many workers saw him being taken.  They would even be able to identify the police that took him, because they are the same ones who always come to the factory to intimidate/monitor.
  2. "C" and "D" are not on leave.  See above about warning letters, etc.
  3. "B" has never received any warning letters.  "A" has received one warning letter, which was unrelated to this.  He was very sick, which he told "X" about and asked supervisor for time off but was denied.  He missed 2-3 days of work and went to a doctor.  He was given a warning for being absent when he returned.
  4. These actions are not coming down from the Labor Ministry at all.  Company is the one who calls police to take away workers.  They have to get permission from labor union when they do so (unclear if this actually happens or not).  Owner of company went to ministry to get them on their side, pointing out to them how inappropriate/insubordinate it was for workers to go so far as to go all the way to the ministry and go outside of the factory.  The ministry backed up the company.

 

 

 

NLC Report on Galaxy, November 10, 2010
Urgent-4 Workers Arrested at Galaxy Sweatshop in Jordan
Updates--Gross Worker Rights Violations Continue under US-Jordan FTA
Letter from Managing Director of Galaxy