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Violation of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement: Human Trafficking Returns to Jordan

December, 22 2014 Share

Thousands of Guest Workers Stripped of Their Passports

The U.S. State Department, the Government of Jordan—including Jordan’s Ministry of Labor—and prominent U.S. labels Ralph Lauren, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Arizona and Eddie Bauer, all of which are contracting work to the Century Group factories are responsible to assure the immediate return of the guest workers' passports, while guaranteeing that their fundamental labor rights are respected under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.

Jordanian garment factories enjoy duty-free access to the U.S. market conditioned on respect for fundamental workers rights.

These duty-free privileges should be suspended until the rule of law is returned.

Century Miracle factory


Some 2,700 foreign guest workers from China, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have been stripped of their passports at the Century Miracle, Century Sweater and Century Wear factories in the Al-Hassan Industrial Park in Irbid, Jordan.  Stripping workers of their passports constitutes the crime of human trafficking.

Workers photographed bed bugs which make sleep nearly impossible.

Foreign workers are forced to toil 15 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. or midnight, putting in a grueling 107 to 110 hours each week.  At night, management drapes heavy cloth over the windows of the factory so that lights on the shop floor cannot be seen from outside.

On average the guest workers earn just 53 cents an hour.  If a worker is out sick, management cuts their wages for three days.

The workers are housed in primitive dorms, sleeping on double-level bunk beds, which are infested with bed bugs.  On any given night, only 25 percent of the workers have access to hot water.  In winter, temperatures in Jordan hover around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but there is no access to heaters.  Nor do the workers have access to medical care.

The major label being produced at the Century factories is “Ralph Lauren.”  (Ralph Lauren Enterprises is now worth $8.2 billion!).  Other labels buying from Century Group include Kohl’s, JCPenney’s “Arizona” and Eddie Bauer.

 

Please write Ralph Lauren and the U.S. Department of State.

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