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June, 13 2011 |  Share

Chinese Guest Workers Flee Living Hell in Jordan

Reminiscent of slavery, young women flee, running away from the 93 hour work week at the Rich Pine Factory.

Sewing clothing for Liz Claiborne, Macy's, Kohl's, Ralph Lauren, Hudson Bay, and others.

 

Rich Pine International Ltd.

Cyber City, Irbid
Jordan

  • Taiwanese owned
  • Approximately 750 Chinese guest workers, 95 percent of whom are young women; some 175 Bangladeshi workers; and nearly 300 Jordanians.
  • Producing for: Liz Clairborne (exclusively at J.C. Penney); Macy's; Kohl's; Polo Ralph Lauren; Hudson Bay Company.

While young Chinese women guest workers are fleeing the grueling 93-hour workweek at the Rich Pine Factory, the Jordanian Ministry of Labor has rewarded Rich Pine its "Golden List" status, placing it among the very best export garment factories in Jordan.

 

 

Labels smuggled out from Rich Pine factory in January 2011: Liz Claiborne (exclusively at JCPenney), Macy's Karen Scott, and Kohl's Apt 9 as well as 212 Collection.

 

 

"It Is Not a Life of a Human Being."

"Every month, every week Chinese workers flee from the factory as they cannot survive all the excessive work hours...

"Our health and mind are broken.  Here nobody takes care of us.

"It is not a life of a human being.  We have no enjoyment or recreation in our daily lives...

"Workers have no freedom at all.  The company keeps us so busy that we do not have time to even call our families each week...

"We have very little time to even wash our clothes.  Exhausted."

---Rich Pine Guest Worker

 

 

Grueling and Illegal Hours

14 hour shift

Working seven days a week

It is routine for the guest workers to be at the Rich Pine factory 93 hours a week.  Saturday through Thursday, for six days, they put in a 14 hour shift, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  On what should be their weekly holiday, on Friday, it is mandatory to work a nine hour shift from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  This puts the workers at the factory 93 hours a week while toiling 80 hours, including 32 hours of obligatory overtime.

14 hours shift

08:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Work-4 hours

12:00 noon to 01:00 p.m.

Lunch- 1 hour

01:00 p.m. to 05:00 p.m.

Work-4 hours

05:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Supper-1 hour

06:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Overtime-4 hours

 

There are also some 15 hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., once or twice a week, though this was more common earlier in the year.  When the workers are kept to 11:00 p.m., management provides the workers a piece of pita bread at 10:00 p.m.

The Rich Pine guest workers also work through national holidays.  For example, May 25th was Independence Day in Jordan, but the guest workers were kept for a 14 hour shift.

On average the workers are allowed one, or at the very most, two days off in the course of two or three months.  On May 27, 2011, the workers had their first Friday off in two months, but they were forced to work on the following Friday, June 3.


Karen Scott

Women's pants for the Karen Scott label are sewn on a production line with 30 to 32 sewing machines.  The women must complete 50 to 60 pairs of pants per hour, depending on the complexity of the sewing.  On average, the workers are allowed just 33.8 seconds to complete each pair of Karen Scott pants, in which they would be paid 28 cents.


 

It Gets Even Worse

The workers get up about 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. every morning to join the queue to use the bathroom.  Breakfast is at 7:00 a.m.  (The workers eat the exact same meals day after day, year after year.  The food has no taste, and is often out of date and smells bad.)  They leave the dorms at 7:45 a.m. to walk to the Rich Pine Factory.  They start work at 8:00 a.m.  At noon, the workers walk back to the dorm, leaving them just about 30 minutes to eat and rest.  When the shift ends, they return to the dorm at 10:30 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. to eat their supper which they say is "awful" and is "always cold" by the time they eat.  By midnight, they crawl exhausted into their bunk beds to sleep. It is not much of a life.  They have very little time to wash their clothes, which they usually do on their "holiday", when they get out at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays.

 

 

Primitive Dorms Conditions

Six to eight workers share each dorm room, depending on the size of the rooms which are 10'×10' to 12'×12', sleeping on double level metal bunk beds.

The workers "shower" using a bucket to wash with.  There are no showers.  Also, there is very limited hot water, so on average, each worker gets two buckets of lukewarm water each week to wash with.

Nor is there heat in the dorm, which makes it especially miserable during the winter.

There are no electric outlets in the dorm rooms so the workers cannot even have a television.

 

 

86 ½ Cent Base Wage

The base wage for guest workers is $180 a month, which amounts to 86 ½ cents an hour.

Base Wage

86 ½ cents per hour
$7.79 a day (8 hours)
$41.54 a week (48 hours)
$180.00 a month
$2,160 a year

The Jordanian workers earn $1.02 an hour, and $211.50 a month.  Overtime is voluntary for the Jordanian workers but it is strictly obligatory for the guest workers.

Guest workers can earn up to $300 to $350 a month, or $75 to $80.77 a week for putting in 80 hours of work, including 32 hours of overtime.

Workers have very little idea how their wages are calculated, and believe they are being shortchanged of their legal wages.

 

 

Factory Monitoring is a Farce

Last Thursday, June 9, monitors from one of the apparel companies were sent to tour the Rich Pine Factory. The planned audit was announced in advance and management instructed the Chinese workers to report that everything is fine and that they have every Friday off. They were to say, "We never work on Friday."

The auditors are mostly local Arab representatives working for U.S. companies in Jordan. They bring translators with them, but they spend most of the time with management meeting in their offices. When they tour the shop floor they speak with very few workers.

Recently the Jordanian Ministry of Labor has started to visit Rich Pine every month or two. According to the workers, the Ministry of Labor inspectors meet with the factory owners, never speak with the workers, and never conduct audits at night or on a Friday. The workers have never seen a Ministry of Labor representative speaking with workers on the shop floor.

 

 

Pseudo Healthcare

The Rich Pine Factory has two medical doctors, one Chinese and one Jordanian, at its clinic, along with a nurse. The doctors will prescribe medicines, which the workers have to purchase with their own money at a pharmacy. Sick days are not allowed. If a worker is out sick, her wages will be docked.

 

 

 

Sexual Harassment

Male guest workers believe there is widespread sexual harassment of the young Chinese women, but they are too timid, isolated and terrified to speak of it. This may be one of the reasons so many young Chinese women are fleeing Rich Pine Factory.

 

 

 

 

Kohl's APT 9 label smuggled from Rich Pine factory in May 2011

 

Bill of Lading

SHIPPER
RICH PINE INTERNATIONAL GROUP LTD
P.O.BOX 630007, IRBID 22110, JORDAN
962-27095622    TELEX 962-27095620

CONSIGNEE
AMERICAN LIVING WOMENSWEAR,
A DIVISION OF POLO RALPH LAUREN CORPORATION
9 POLITO AVENUE,
1-3366325235    TELEX 1-3366325476

   
 PACKAGING INFORMATION
SHIPMENT DETAIL
 Weight: 9101.4  Country of Origin:
 Jordan
 Quantity: 2,684 Cartons
 Arrival Date:
 1/2/2010
Estimated Value: $100,639.82
 Vessel:  MAERSK LINE
     Port of Arrival:  Los Angeles
     Port of Departure:  T J PELEPAS
    
AMS COMMODITIES

Description

 

SHIPPER
Damco SCM on Behalf of Rich Pine LTD.
P.O. Box 630007
Irbid 22110 Jordan
TEL:962-2-7095622 FAX:962-7095620, 962-27095622   
TELEX 962-27095622

CONSIGNEE
HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY
401 BAY STREET, 5TH FLOOR
TORONTO, ONTARIO M5H 2Y4,
1-6049418228  TELEX 1-8003084319

   
 PACKAGING INFORMATION
SHIPMENT DETAIL
 Weight: 1,806.68  Country of Origin:
 Jordan
 Quantity: 521 Cartons
 Arrival Date:
 05/09/2011
Estimated Value:
 Vessel:  MAERSK SEALAND
     Port of Arrival:  New York
     Port of Departure:  AQABA
    
AMS COMMODITIES

Description