Alerts

Update--Violent attacks and threats continue at Galaxy Factory in Jordan; Workers desperate for help

November, 29 2010 Share

 

TO:  Key Contacts
FROM: Charles Kernaghan, NLC/Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights
RE:  UPDATE:  Violent attacks and threats continue at Galaxy Factory in Jordan;  Workers desperate for help.

 

The Galaxy factory in Al Hassan Industrial Estate in northern Jordan is run more like a prison than a factory, with its mandatory 15-hour shifts, seven days a week, and threats of imprisonment and forcible deportation for any worker daring to question the brutal factory conditions.  Yet Galaxy continues to export garments duty-free to the United States.  Workers have smuggled labels out of the Galaxy factory including Wal-Mart, Hanes, Macy's, Gap and Kohl's.  Over 130 foreign guest workers, the vast majority from Bangladesh, are trapped under violent and harsh sweatshop conditions.  Galaxy is planning to expand its workforce to increase sweatshop exports to the U.S.

 

Five Garment Workers Imprisoned on Trumped up Charges:

 

* Mr. Robiul Islam was the first to be arrested on false charges on November 15, 2010.  His real crime was that management suspected Mr. Robiul of alerting the NLC/Institute to the gross and illegal violations at the Galaxy factory.  In fact, on September 6, 2010, Galaxy's owner and managing director, Mr. Mohammad Nor Alam, wrote a "letter of appreciation" to Mr. Robiul, recognizing him as one of the best workers in the factory. (Please see below for the original letter and its English translation.)

 

Mr. Robiul Islam
Fathers name: Faruq  Mollah
ID (Card  number):137
Passport number - X  525069
Phone number - 00962786839478

* On November 24, 2010, Galaxy's owner asked Mr. Badal, Mr. Jashim and Mr. Manik to join him for a 3:45 p.m. meeting at the factory.  A half hour later, all three men were handed over to the police and imprisoned under similar fabricated charges.  Later that night, a female worker, Ms. Baby, was also detained and imprisoned.

Badal
Fathers name: Sakander Prodhan
ID (Card number):188
Passport Number - R 0041175

Jashim
Fathers name: Abdus Samad
ID (Card number):102
Passport number - X- 0219776
Phone number - 00962786742360 

(We are still searching for the ID and passport details for Ms. Baby and Mr. Manik, also imprisoned by Galaxy management on November 24.)

 

Jordanian police have confiscated the imprisoned workers' cell phones, so they now have no way of communicating with their co-workers or the outside world.  Galaxy workers have searched for their imprisoned co-workers, but cannot find them.  Officials at the Ramtha police station near Al Hassan Industrial Estate have said that the detained workers were not in Ramtha, but have refused to say where they are being held.  (Some believe that the imprisoned workers have been transferred to the Jarash police station.)

It is believed that the imprisoned workers have been denied blankets, despite the freezing winter temperatures and are surviving on only a small amount of bread each day.

* Galaxy's owner, Mr. Mohammad Nur Alam, has reportedly threatened the workers that no one can save the jailed workers and that should be a lesson to them.

 

 

Sign a Letter or be Imprisoned

 

* Galaxy's owner held a mass meeting on November 25, 2010, threatening all the workers to sign a clearly concocted letter insisting that Galaxy is a "good factory" and that "there are no problems."  Those who refused to sign the letter would be jailed just like the other imprisoned workers.

"We are doing maximum 12 hour duty.  We are getting 100% overtime...company providing medical service to us properly...workers, staff, management and the owner of the Galaxy Apparel Industry have a very close and good relation.  We feel each other because we have a common understanding.  Company never deny our demand...Every year we go picnic and celebrate the Eid, New Year, Bangla New Year etc. by company expense.  So if anybody complaining that company does not providing anything it is for his/her personal interest!!!..."

This ridiculous letter was no doubt drafted by Galaxy management.  It speaks volumes of how weak and ineffective legal labor rights protections are in Jordan, that a factory owner believes he can continue with his illegal sweatshop operations on the basis of such a childish letter.

 

The situation remains very tense, since Galaxy workers are terrified that they too will be imprisoned and forcibly deported.

Yes, even at Galaxy, outside pressure is leading to some improvements.  On Friday, November 26, the factory was closed, allowing the workers a rare day off.  (Friday is the weekly holiday in Jordan.)  Also, the factory has been closing at 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. rather than 10:00 p.m.

Much more importantly, most of the Galaxy workers have now had their passports returned to them.  Up to this point, management had illegally confiscated the workers' passports, holding the workers, illegally, under conditions of indentured servitude.

 

URGENT: 

  • More pressure must be directed at Galaxy management to immediately free the five workers illegally imprisoned on trumped up charges.  These workers should be immediately returned to their former jobs, with full back wages for the time they missed. 

  • The constant threats directed at Galaxy factory workers must cease. 

  • The Galaxy factory must be immediately and seriously investigated by the companies whose labels have been sewn at Galaxy under illegal conditions.  Galaxy must be immediately brought into compliance with all Jordanian labor laws and with all labor rights commitments agreed to under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. 

  • If Galaxy management continues with their threats and sweatshop conditions, Galaxy should be shut down and the workers relocated to better factories.

 

 

 

 

Galaxy Appreciation letter to Mr. Robiul
by the MD of Galaxy Apparel Industry (Translated):

 

Date: September 6, 2010

To: Mr. Robiul Islam
ID No. GB 137

Dear Mr.

The management of Galaxy Apparel Industry is pleased to inform you that you have completed four years at the factory with utmost sincerity, using your intelligence and skills. At this auspicious moment we congratulate you on working four years and express our gratitude for this.

In accordance with the company rules and regulations you have been entitled to enjoy an air ticket that would cost 250 JD. I would be happy if you kindly avail the opportunity to travel with the company tickets. Besides, due to your integrity and sincerity we would like to offer you a new contract for next three years.

This company hopes and expects that you will apply your experience and insight to be more attentive and sincere.

I wish you all the best and good heath.

 

 

Mohammad Noor Alam
Managing Director
Galaxy Apparel Industry

 

Original Letter to Mr. Robiul by the MD of Galaxy Apparel Industry:

 


Institute/NLC Report on Galaxy, November 10, 2010

Urgent: Four Workers Arrested at the Galaxy Factory, November 24, 2010

Send a Message to the Ministry of Labour in Jordan and the Embassy of Jordan in the U.S.