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Responses from Atateks

May, 09 2007 Share

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Dear Mr. Charles Kernaghan,

We are glad to see that your web-site is renewed with
more information from all over the world.

We would like you/your people if possible pay a visit
to our company to see the situation in Atateks Jordan Plant
with their own eyes.

We would also like to inform you that we employed 52 people
from some other companies (all Bengal employees) to help
them and get better conditions to work. These people became jobless
after their company closed down by Jordanian Government officials
due to wrong practices of work. As one of The Golden List Companies
in Jordan we are offered to assist them and employ as many as
we could.

Now, both they and us are enjoying to work together.
Also we are proudly carrying the title of The Golden List Companies
in Jordan.

Hope this extra information will help you to understand us more regarding
the other year's report that we had nothing to do but to obey the law and
government officials regarding some of our workers deportation.

That's why we had been reported to you on the basis of wrong information.
Anyway, we have a very clean page and have the aim to keep it clean.
We would be happy if you could delete our company name in your web-site
if possible, if not, then add this extra message to your web site.

Yours faithfully,
Ilhan Arslan
Atateks Jordan Company
General Manager

 Below: Atateks management responds to NLC Jordan report and update, saying it was the Jordan Intelligence Service who deported the Bangladeshi guest workers. We are also forwarding management's response to the Atateks workers for their comments. 

 

Dear Mr. Charles Kernaghan,

Thank you for the telephone conversation we had while my visit to New York City.
Sorry for writing to you late due to our long national Bayram Holiday.

I hope the information which I will submit below will be satisfactory for you. Any information
below is 100% can be documented if required including official documents on hand.
For the sake of justice and to keep our respectable reputation as good as before and
to help you to correct the distorted information you have we are ready by all means to
cooperate with you and with your colleagues at all times.  Hence, we welcome you to visit also
at our company at your soonest convenience.

What we require is, of course if you agree after you are convinced with the information beneath,
to write our version, too.  Unfortunately at the moment if any neutral opinion persona downloads
your web site and checks the photos or Jordan issues, our name looks the worst and open
to any kind of blame.  This does not reflect the correct situation. For your information, Atateks
has been rewarded by the Golden List of Jordan producers for good practices of work and conditions, and social conducts. Not many companies could get this reward , and unfortunately your web site shows the situation as if the worst company in Jordan is Atateks and some others.

I will try to make explanations in the order of your noted points on the NLC web site.

-Human Trafficking -

Atateks Company never been a part of human trafficking. The criteria while selecting to hire guest
workers was to help the most needed, the poorest country of the world as per GNP per capita. Despite the fact that most of the workers were not qualified, experienced sewers we gave the chance to the unskilled labor a thorough work training, and hence job skill developlments.   It worked and the workers are happy for their life. Hence they could be beneficial for themselves and as well as their families.

-Involuntary Servitude- 

Atateks did not utilize even one single hour of involuntary work.  100% of the workes are very well aware of their rights. For any reason, if they would like to leave the job and go back they are submitted a free ticket back to their country.  

As a matter of fact, we are the ones having problem if the workers are not doing any overtime. Because the workers are insisting to do overtime since they get 25% extra in weekdays and  5 0% extra on holidays.

We, as a company do not wish to have any overtime. By the way, our valued customers are not letting us work beyond legal overtimes, too.

To make both workers and customers happy we optimized the solution about 10 hours / week overtime only and this is 100% also on voluntary basis for each worker.. This is assumed as a reward by the workers due to higher payments.

-Striping Passports-
 

No guest workers were stripped of their passports. They all have their personal lockers, in the dormitory as well. Some prefer to keep their passports themselves, some prefer us to keep on behalf of them (with written authorization of the worker) in company safe box.  

After allegations like we are keeping the passports by force etc. we wanted to deliver all of the passports back to the workers, but still some of them (not all ) prefer us to keep the passports in safety box of the company. This is an extra service of our company with no extra charge for any in need. We invite you to correct this misunderstaning which is only a voluntary favor from our side.

-Paying Below the Legal Minimum Wage-

We are already over the minimum mandatory wage of Jordan Law. So, paying below minimum wage etc. allegations are totally baseless. We can prove with 100%documentation with every workers' signed payroll which is once a month basis.  Cheating never and ever can happen in wage / overtime calculation which is all electronicly computed.  If there is any penny left from workers' salary in our pocket, I am personally ready to give 100 times more back.  Salary payment issue has always been a matter of our dignity and made always to the full  and on time.

-Firing 10 Workers-

10 workers are definitely not fired by Atateks. When we applied for 28 of our employees for work permit time extention  (which is yearly basis) to the Ministry of Interior, the ministry approved renewal of only 18 of the employees , but rejected 10 of them on June 25, 2006  due to their security clearances which was not granted by the Jordanian Intelligence.  The 10 workers were black listed on the records of the Jordanian Intelligence Service.

Please note that, after rejection Atateks re-submit the documents for renewal!!, but this request rejected once again. (All are official papers and can be presented , all in Arabic letters )
Now, I guess you will give me my right and tell us we are not over law. Your information , I guess , was based on some deported workers' anticipation.  We had to act with law.  We followed Jordanian Law and we definitely cannot be a barrier with the law forces.

Keeping 10 workers till August was actually a success of Atateks Management , since they would be deported earlier, but we could at least postpone it by extra work for re-submits of our petetions thinking we might keep them in Jordan .

Please note that Bengladesh Embassy was always informed at any stage, and they also had no power or change of this outcome.

Please note also that, deportation process is taking a couple of days for government offices. During the process we supplied food while they were detained in the police station (not a prison, they have never been in a prison) since they were not used to eat the local cuisine.  

Additionally we paid their whole social security fund in cash by hand to the workers , otherwise they would be detainee more time in the police station. Also we rented a bus for their comfort to the airport, which normally could be less comfortable government facility.  

Hope we are clear of what we could do utmost while the process of deportation not firing!!

-Seeking Help,

The workers sought for help when they needed and Atateks Management was there ready. Normally any kind of unlawful meetings on the streets might be subject to a deportation by Jordanian Law, like any Western Civilized Country.   Also Bengladesh Embassy personally got involved with Jordanian Officials but they could also be no help for the 10 workers. Thanks God, we have no problem at all at the moment and hope there will never be.

-Abuse and conditions -

There is no condition of abuse in Atateks. Ideal working conditions has always been prevalent and our employees are happy to be part Atateks Family.  When we make social events they are all eager to join. Hence there can be no existence of abusive and tence conditions.

-Food, Taste of Choice -

Atateks hired 2 highly experienced cooks together with the Bengal workers . We will be happy if the cooks are trained for better cooking or any way to improve the food quality. Lately I myself questioned the cooks ability and found out that general idea is quite positive. To me the Bengal cuisine itself is very very spicy, but to them it is the way it should be.  All guest workers are 3 times a day served at Atateks cost.

SOME OTHER CONDITIONS IN ATATEKS COMPANY

-Democracy in Atateks , The Right to Vote -

For mutual better understanding we initiated free vote selected worker' committee.  They have direct contact with me and Atateks Management  any time. I myself attend to the meeting when I am present in Jordan (which is around once a month or six weeks).

The meeting is written article by article and the decisions taken are hung on the  board  (on the wall open to everybody's reading) after every meeting for everybody to read in 3 languages. (English, Arabic, Bengaly)  

To give you an idea and example how settled we are at the moment ;
One of last month's topics was 'The workers committee had asked to deliver fruit juices separately room by room instead of delivering them from kitchen in the dormitory'

Please note that this kind of extra (other than 3 times/ day food given at Atateks cost)   complimentary foods or beverages are a tradition in Ramadan Fasting Month. Even this kind of small details are respected and managed with full delight and satisfaction.

-Social Events, Social Awareness- 

Please note that workers' committee asked for a Ramadan Holiday (3 day religious holiday all over Muslim World)  to go for sight seeing and picnicing to Aqaba (a resort area).  We welcomed the idea at Atateks cost and we were very happy that also a significant number of local
workers also attended the tour.

This was an enormous step for us, if you could think 2 years ago locals and guest workers even did not eat on the same table or even did not want to work in the same production line. All these issues are over now. And we are happy that socially we could integrate them each other.
For your information we also donate to the less fortunate Jordanians , not working in our company, and believe that every organization should be socially and environmentally aware, as well.

Summary of our ideas;
Shortly, Mr Kernaghan, the report on your website did not hurt only our reputation but also our heart. Trying very very hard not to compete in the market only but compete in the race of fulfilling obligations to the society , when we confront with such negative allegations about us,  took a lot of our energy, our motivation to invest more, and slowed us down.

We assert that we are offering the very best conditions of work all over Jordan. This approach is our motto in all over the world operations not only in Jordan operations.

We will be more than happy if our version is also mentioned in your web site and 'truth but the truth' revealed soonest possible. After the allegations on your web site, I also personally monitored, focused and contemplated how we could offer better conditions which was already way over the standards of other investors. Now, I can challenge that we offer the best conditions and you are most welcome to see that with your own eyes.

Yours faithfully.

Ilhan Arslan
General Manager
Atateks Foreign Trade Ltd.