September, 27 2006 |  Download PDF |  Share

Atateks Report, Jordan

Atateks Garment Factory In Jordan

Producing for Target, J.C.Penney, Nautica and Russell

  • Human trafficking and involuntary servitude continue—foreign guest workers stripped of passports and denied their most basic legal rights.
  • Paid below the legal minimum wage and routinely cheated of overtime pay while being forced to work 94 1/2 hours a week.
  • For asking for their legal rights under Jordanian law—and guaranteed under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement—ten workers were fired, imprisoned, beaten and forcibly deported back to Bangladesh in August 2006.
  • The workers sought help—to no avail—from the Ministry of Labor, the Jordanian police, the Bangladesh Embassy and Atateks management.
  • Conditions in the Atateks factory remain abusive and tense—with the workers fearing further deportations.

Jordanian government claims workers were deported because they posed security threat

On September 26, the Jordanian government declared that 10 Atateks workers had been fired and forcibly deported after failing a security clearance review by Jordanian Intelligence, and that due to the sensitive nature of such reviews, no further information would be released.

The NLC finds these allegations very disturbing and difficult to believe.  For one thing, several of the deported workers entered Jordan in December 2004, and worked under very abusive conditions at the Atateks factory for the next 20 months.  Upon entering Jordan, Atateks management stripped the Bangladeshi guest workers of their passports and denied them their necessary residency permits.  The workers were routinely forced to work 14 to 16, and even 18-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., midnight or 3:00 a.m.  They worked seven days a week and received just one day off every one or two months.  The workers were paid below the legal minimum wage and cheated of their overtime pay.

Apparently these workers posed no security threat for over a year and a half while they were victims of human trafficking and held under conditions of involuntary servitude.

It was only after the workers learned their legal rights and set out in May 2006 to nonviolently win respect for their most basic labor rights under Jordanian law that these workers apparently failed to gain security clearance.

9/27/2006--We just spoke with the deported Atateks workers in Jordan who say the Jordanian government's claims are "untrue and fabricated." The workers say they were "never involved in anything related to any security issues."

The NLC sees this as a serious violation of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement and we urge the U.S. government to initiate an immediate review of this case.

If these forcible deportations are not reversed, it will give a green light to factories all across Jordan—which exported $1.1 billion-worth of garments to the U.S. last year duty free—that they too are free to fire and forcibly deport any workers asking that their legal rights be respected.

We encourage the American people to review the chronology following this report and to read in the workers’ own words, the account of their struggle for their legal rights.  This is the best way to decide if the workers are correct, or whether the factory management and Jordanian government are justified in these firings and forcible deportations.


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