Alerts

Human Trafficking and Gross Worker Rights Violations Continue Under U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement

September, 05 2008 Share

  • The Mediterranean Garment factory in Jordan's Ad Dulayl Industrial Zone produces garments for Wal-mart and Hanes.

  • Human Trafficking: Sixty percent of the 1,400 foreign guest workers at the factory have been stripped of their passports--which have been confiscated by management.

  • Grueling and Illegal Hours: Routine 16 to 16 1/2 hour daily shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. or 12 midnight, with an all-night 19 1/2 to 22 hour shift on Thursdays, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 or 6:00 a.m. the following morning if they are to recieve Friday off, which is supposedly the weekly holiday. Workers are at the factory 99 hours a week.

  • Beatings, Threats of Imprisonment and Forced Deportation; Women Trapped in the Industrial Park: Women workers report being cursed at, threatened, slapped and beaten by factory managers. Any worker daring to ask for their legal rights is threatened with imprisonment and forcible deportation. Currently 20 workers are being threatened with deportation. Women workers are trapped within the confines of the industrial zone. Management physically prevents the women from leaving the zone, even to shop or visit friends.

  • Cheated of their Wages: Including forced overtime without pay and other illegal deductions, the workers are routinely shortchanged of 37 percent of the wages legally due them, earning just $45.63 for an 80-hour-plus workweek. Women are paid just eight cents for each pair of White Stag women's pants they sew for Wal-Mart.

  • With all other options exhausted, the workers strike for their rights: All 1,400 foreign guest workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India have been on strike since August 31. The workers situation is desperate and they need immediate help. Some workers report being beaten, while others are threatened with firings and forcible deportation. Management has cut off food supplies to the workers.

[The above information was provided to the National Labor Committee directly by the factory workers]

A more detailed report will be available tomorrow afternoon at www.nlcnet.org

 

 

PLEASE WRITE TO THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE AND ASK HER TO TAKE ACTION!

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab
United States Trade Representative
Office of the USTR
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508

Tel: 202-395-7360
Email: kwashington[at]ustr.eop.gov

Dear Ambassador Schwab:

I appeal to you to intervene immediately with the Government of Jordan to help resolve a crisis at the Mediterranean Garments factory in the Ad Dulayl Industrial Zone in Jordan, which sews garments for export to Wal-Mart and Hanes.

Human trafficking continues at the Mediterranean Garments factory, where 60 percent of the 1,400 foreign guest workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India have been stripped of their passports--which have been confiscated by management. Women workers report being beaten. Any worker who asks that their rights be respected is threatened with imprisonment and forcible deportation. Workers are routinely forced to work 16-hour shifts, with an all-night, 19 1/2 to 22-hour shift required each Thursday. Workers are at the factory 99 hours a week, while being shortchanged of over 30 percent of the wages legally due them, earning just $45.63 for an 80-hour-plus workweek. Women workers are also trapped in the industrial park and physically prevented from leaving no matter what the reason.

With all other options exhausted, the 1,400 foreign guest workers began a work stoppage on August 31. Twenty workers are currently threatened with firing and forcible deportation. Some workers report being beaten. Management has apparently cut off food and water to the workers.

All the workers are asking for is that their legal rights be respected and their passports be returned. The workers want the beatings and threats to end, and to be paid properly for all the regular and overtime hours they work. Right now, factory management is threatening the workers, pressuring them to sign an agreement that would allow the company to deduct $49 each month from their wages to cover food costs. This would actually result in cutting the workers take-home wages in half. These poor guest workers and their families spent $2,000 to $3,000 each--an enormous amount of money for them--to purchase their three-year contracts to work in Jordan. These contracts specified that they would receive free food and healthcare--neither of which is now the case at Mediterranean.

In light of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, I am certain that your intervention could prevent further beatings and deportations and could restore respect for legal worker rights standards at the Mediterranean factory.

Thank you for your concern and actions.

Sincerely,

[Name]