Nygard, Dillard's, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart
Linked to Human Trafficking and Abuse of Young Women
in Jordan Sweatshop
- Nygard, Dillards, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart clothing is being sewn at the International British Garments factory, where 1,200 guest workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India-75 percent of whom are young women-have been trafficked to Jordan, stripped of their passports and held under conditions of indentured servitude.
- The women are forced to work 16-hour shifts, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week. There are also mandatory all-night 23-hour shifts at least once a week, from 7:00 a.m. straight through to 6:00 a.m. the following morning. The exhausted workers are routinely at the factory over 110 hours a week.
- The workers are cheated of over half the legal wages due them. Instead of earning $85.96 for working 102 ½ hours a week, the workers are paid-at most-just $35.77, or less than 35 cents an hour. The minimum wage in Jordan is 74 ½ cents an hour. The workers are paid just nine cents for each pair of women's pants they sew for Nygard and Dillards.
- When the workers ask for the return of their passports and to be paid correctly, they are slapped and threatened with forcible deportation.
- There are credible allegations of sexual harassment and even the rape of a young Sri Lankan woman. Workers report that at least two of their colleagues were overworked to death.
- The workers are housed in filthy, primitive dorms not fit for human beings. The dorms lack heat, and water is only sporadically available for one or two hours, three or four days a week. The dorms are also so infested with bed bugs that the exhausted workers have trouble sleeping. Shown pictures of the insects, a leading entomologist confirmed that the bed bugs were engorged with blood.
- The United States has a Free Trade Agreement with Jordan, but this has not helped the 1,200 foreign guest workers trapped in the IBG factory, where in broad daylight, every single labor law in Jordan has been blatantly violated for more than a year. In fact, the Jordanian Ministry of Labor has placed the abusive IBG plant on their "Golden List" of best factories!
- It is even more disturbing that the IBG factory in Jordan is owned by the world's largest security service company-G4S-which has not lifted a finger to prevent the gross human, women's and labor rights violations of its own workers.
Urgent Action Required by the Government of Jordan
The 1,200 foreign guest workers at IBG Factories 1 and 2 are in an extremely vulnerable position. They have been stripped of their passports by management and could at any time be imprisoned and forcibly deported on trumped up charges.
1.) We urge the Government of Jordan, the G4S Corporation that owns IBG and Nygard International to guarantee that there will be no retaliation against any of the workers at the IBG plants. All the workers have done is to speak the truth.
2.) An independent investigation is necessary, given the terribly flawed role played by the Jordanian Ministry of Labor over the last year or more, not only failing to uncover the flagrant violation of Jordan's labor laws but also going out of its way to reward IBG sweatshop, placing it on the Government's "Golden List" of best companies in Jordan.
3.) The National Labor Committee is ready to assist such an independent investigation.
International British Garments Ltd. (IBG)
Ad Dulayl Industrial Park
(Qualified Industrial Zone #13136)
Al Zarqa, Jordan
There are two IBG factories in the Ad Dulayl Industrial Park-IBG 1 and IBG 2-with a total of approximately 1,200 foreign guest workers, who were trafficked to Jordan and stripped of their passports. The guest workers are from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.
The IBG factory
Each factory has about 600 workers-300 from Sri Lanka, 200 from Bangladesh and 100 from India.
An estimated 75 percent of the guest workers are women between the ages of 18 and 30.
Mr. Anup Sharma, who is from India, is the head manager for both IBG factories. Mr. Ahamed Khan is the logistics manager for IBG, and Mr. Arlok is another manager from India.
The International British Garments Co. Ltd in Jordan is owned by G4S-Group 4 Securicor-which is the world's largest security service provider. With its headquarters in the United Kingdom, G4S is also the second largest private sector employer in world, with 585,000 employees and operations in more than 110 countries. In 2009, G4S' revenues were $10.7 billion, with profits of $334,210,000. G4S also owns the Indo British Garments factory in India.
Major companies outsourcing production to IBG in Jordan are the Canadian-based Nygard International, Dillards, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart.
IBG specializes in the sewing of women's pants. For eight or nine months a year, the company produces women's pants in navy blue, black, white and khaki. For three months a year, IBG produces men's and women's fleece and cotton jackets, with zippers and with buttons, in navy blue, white, black and green.
The major producer in IBG factory 1 is Nygard, with its "Alia," "TanJay" and "Investments (Slim Fx)" labels being sewn. (The attached labels were smuggled out of the IBG 1 factory between January and April 2010.)
IBG workers smuggled these Nygard labels from the factory
Nygard Should have Known of the Abusive Factory Conditions
Nygard garments account for majority of production at the IBG factory in Jordan
In just a recent three-week period, between January 28 and February 17, 2010, the International British Garments factory in Jordan shipped approximately 280,083 pairs of women's woven pants, worth $2.5 million to Nygard International through the port of New York.
In another 15-day period, between November 25 and December 10, 2009, 118,655 pairs of ladies woven pants worth $992,000 were shipped from the International British Garments factory to Nygard International in Gardena in Los Angeles County. These shipments also came through the port of New York.
We have been able to track shipments from the IBG factory in Jordan to Nygard International as early as January 2009. Between January 13 and January 17, 2009, IBG shipped $992,000-worth of woven ladies pants to Nygard International through the port of Long Beach, California.
Nygard could easily afford to pay the workers at least their legal wages:
The average landed customs value of the Nygard women's pants is $9.49, which accounts for all materials, production and shipping costs. Given that many of Nygard's pants retail for $38, this means that there is a mark-up of $28.51 -300 percent-above the cost of production.
The IBG 1 factory is also now producing for J.C. Penney -ladies extra large pants in khaki color.
In May 2010, Wal-Mart will start production at IBG 2. Wal-Mart samples are being sewn right now.
Nygard and J.C. Penney women's clothing-and soon Wal-Mart's-are being sewn by other young women from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, who are trapped under brutal and horrific conditions at the IBG factories in Jordan.
The Jordanian Ministry of Labor has certified IBG/Ad Dulayl to be among the best factories in Jordan and has placed IBG on the Ministry's "Golden List." Something is seriously wrong here.
Guest workers trafficked to Jordan, stripped of their passports and held under slave labor conditions.
* Workers' passports confiscated
* Routine 16-hour shifts, seven days a week
* Workers at the factory 111 hours a week
* Cheated of half their legal wages
* Workers slapped and threatened with deportation
* Reports of sexual harassment and abuse
* If, for whatever reason, a worker misses a shift, they are docked two days' wages as punishment
* Miserable, primitive dorm conditions, lacking heat, sporadic access to water, infested with bed bugs
IBG workers are forced to use a cramped dirty bathroom
Guest workers trafficked to Jordan and Stripped of their Passports
There are approximately 1,200 foreign guest workers, mostly young women, from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, who work at IBG factories 1 and 2.
In their home countries, the workers had to pay large amounts of money to local broker agencies to purchase their three-year contracts to work in Jordan. In the case of Bangladesh, the workers had to pay 120,000 to 160,000 taka --$1,735 to $2,313-to purchase their work contracts. It may not seem like a lot of money to people in Canada or the U.S., but the average cost of work contracts, $2,024, is more than a year's regular wages in Jordan, which is $1,860.46. It is common that whole extended families have to go into debt to send a daughter to Jordan. Interest rates in the informal sector are also extraordinarily high, so there is tremendous pressure on the young workers to toil long hours to pay back these loans.
The IBG guest workers' contracts guaranteed that they would receive free and decent accommodation, food and health care in Jordan. This turned out to be a lie.
When the guest workers arrived in Jordan, IBG management ordered the workers to hand over their passports. The workers did not voluntarily surrender their passports. Rather management confiscated the workers' passports against their will. Stripping guest workers of their passports constitutes a serious human rights crime and is considered a key indicator of human trafficking. The workers say that if they demanded the return of their passports, they would be slapped and threatened with forcible deportation.
Overworked to Death
The routine shift at the IBG factories is 16 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week
Routine 16-Hour Shift
|7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.||Work, 2 hours|
|9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.||Tea break, 15 minutes|
|9:15 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.||Work, 3 ¾ hours|
|1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.||Lunch, ½ hour|
|1:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.||Work, 6 ½ hours|
|8:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.||Supper, ½ hour|
8:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Work, 2 ½ hours
This schedule puts the workers at the factory 16 hours a day, while working 14 ¾ hours, including 6 ¾ hours of mandatory overtime.
The workers are forced to work seven days a week. To date, the only day they have had off in 2010 was on February 10, after an exhausted Sri Lankan woman was struck and killed by a truck as she walked home to her dorm at 10:30 p.m.
IBG workers on their way to the factory
But it gets even worse: It is common for the workers to be required to toil an all-night, 23-hour shift at least once a week. The shift stretches from 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning straight through to 6:00 a.m. Friday morning. Friday is the legal weekly holiday in Jordan, but not for IBG workers. When the workers leave the factory at 6:00 a.m. on Friday morning, after working 23 hours, they are allowed just eight hours off, and have to report back to work at 2:00 p.m. for an eight to nine-hour shift ending at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.
As incredible as it sounds, the mostly-young women workers sewing Nygard and other labels at the IBG factories are routinely at the factory 111 ½ hours, while actually working 102 ½ hours, including 54 ½ hours of mandatory overtime!
It is a long and exhausting day for the workers. They get up at 5:30 a.m. and have to leave their primitive dorm at 6:00 a.m. to make the half-hour walk to the factory. From 6:30 to 7:00 a.m. the workers are served a tiny breakfast consisting of a piece of pita bread with dahl (lentils). When the workers get off their shift at 11:00 p.m., it takes them another half hour to walk home. So their real work day stretches from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. -18 hours-leaving just five and a half hours to sleep.
Of course, all this is illegal under Jordanian law. All overtime must be voluntary, and cannot exceed 14 hours a week or 60 hours a month. This means that the work week cannot legally exceed 62 hours, including the permissible 14 hours of voluntary overtime. Yet the IBG workers are routinely forced to work 102 ½ hours a week, including 54 ½ hours of overtime, exceeding Jordan's legal limit by 289 percent.
As mentioned earlier, a Sri Lankan woman (Card # 16381) was killed on February 9, 2010, as she was walking home at 10:30 p.m.-after being forced to work a 39-hour shift. The poor woman had worked from 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning straight through to 10:00 p.m. Friday night. She left the factory exhausted and sick, walking and stumbling down the side of a highway when a truck struck and killed her. The workers are not only exhausted, the highway is dangerous to walk, both early in the morning and late at night. They pleaded with management to provide transportation to and from the factory, but management refused.
This Sri Lankan woman worker was killed on February 9, 2010
According to the workers, a Bangladeshi man, Mr. Kamruddin, who was employed as a helper in the packing section, died in December 2009 from overwork after being forced to work a 24-hour shift. He returned to the dorm in the morning, went to bed and died. The workers report that the dead man's family in Bangladesh has not received any explanation, apology, condolences or death benefit from factory management.
Wages: Workers cheated, Paid less than half the wages legally due them. When workers ask for their legal wages, they are threatened with forcible deportation.
The legal minimum wage for garment workers in Jordan is 110 JD (Jordanian Dinar) a month, the equivalent of $155.04.
Legal Minimum Wage
(110 JD per month)
74.5 cents an hour
$ 5.96 a day (eight hours)
$ 35.78 a week (48 hours)
$155.04 a month
$ 1,860.46 a year
All overtime must be voluntary and paid at a 25 percent premium (93 cents an hour) if worked during week days. Work on Fridays (the Muslim weekly holiday) is to be compensated at a 50 percent premium ($1.12 an hour).
There is a legal wage deduction of 6.5 JD ($9.16) per month to cover Social Security.
So for the standard 48-hour workweek, counting the Social Security deduction, the workers should earn a take-home wage of $33.66.
Nygard's Registered Identification Number
(listed under Tan Jay International)
The "Investments" labels produced at IBG are sold exclusively at Dillard's. This pair of "TanJay" pants was also produced under illegal and abusive working conditions at the IBG factory
We know that the guest workers are routinely forced to work a grueling additional 54 ½ hours of overtime each week. For the average 8 ½ hours of mandatory overtime on Friday (the weekly holiday) the workers should be earning $1.12 an hour, or $9.52 for the day. The 46 hours of obligatory weekday overtime should be paid at the premium rate of 93 cents an hour for a total of $42.78. So for the routine 102 ½ hour workweek, the workers should earn $85.96, hardly a lavish amount of money, averaging just 84 cents an hour.
But the guest workers do not earn anywhere near this. At the very most, the guest workers are paid just $35.77 for the 102 ½ hour workweek -far less than half of what they are legally owed!
Workers report earning from 105 to a maximum of 110 JD per month, or $147.99 to $155.04, which amounts to $34.15 to $35.77 per week.
Management cheats the workers in two ways. The company illegally deducts 26 JD ($36.65) per month to cover the cost of the workers' food. When the workers purchased their contracts to work in Jordan, they were guaranteed free food. The only way for management to legally deduct the $36.65 per month for food would be if the workers voluntarily and freely agreed to this, which they never did. The workers are not stupid, and would not give over more than a full week's regular wages to pay for food that their contracts promised would be provided free of charge. The Jordanian Ministry of Labor often disagrees, claiming that the workers do freely volunteer to lower their wages to pay for their food. Every worker we have spoken with says that the food deductions are forced and not voluntary.
A second even more egregious tactic employed by management is to set wildly excessive, mandatory production goals, which are impossible for workers to meet. When they do not reach the goal, they are not paid.
For example, in IBG Factory Number 1, management sets a mandatory production goal of completing 2,400 pants in ten hours. There are 60 sewing machine operators on each line. This means that the production line must complete 240 pairs of pants per hour, which amounts to four pairs of pants per worker per hour. This allows the workers just 15 minutes to sew each pair of pants. In actuality, the workers need 15 hours to sew the 2,400 pants, or 22 ½ minutes for each pair of pants. Since the workers cannot reach the mandatory production goal, they are not paid.
There is not any real need-other than greed-for management not to pay the workers their proper wage. Even if the workers need 22 ½ minutes to sew the pants, the direct labor cost to complete the pants would still be just 28 cents!
If the workers ask management to pay them their legal overtime wages, they are threatened with firing and forcible deportation.
Every Labor Law Violated in Broad Daylight
Not only are IBG guest workers forced to work grueling overtime hours, cheated of their wages, and forced to pay for food which their contracts guaranteed would be free, they are also housed in primitive and miserable dorms not fit for human beings.
Moreover, workers do not have the healthcare that was also guaranteed in their contracts. Under Jordanian law, workers are guaranteed 14 days paid vacation each year, along with eight paid national holidays and 14 paid sick days-all of which are routinely denied.
A doctor comes to the IBG factory three or four times a week for one hour. The consultation is free, but any prescriptions or other medical intervention must be paid by the poor workers. The extent of the medical care provided to the workers is free aspirins.
IBG worker dorms
Dorms Not Fit for Humans
Ten to fourteen workers share each overcrowded dorm room, sleeping on narrow, double-level bunk beds.
There is no regular supply of water at the dorm. At best, the workers have access to water just two hours a day-one hour in the morning from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and one hour at night, from 11:00 p.m. to 12 midnight. However, at least three days a week and sometimes four, there is no water at all. Workers have to store water in buckets. The water also has a horrible smell, which makes it difficult to drink.
There is no hot water, and there is no heat in the dorms, despite the fact that for five months (November through March), low temperatures average just 39 to 49 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, there is no air conditioning and not even a fan, though temperatures reach 85 to 88 F from June through September.
Still worse, the dorms are infested with bed bugs. Exhausted as they are after their 16-hour shifts, the workers report they cannot sleep because they are "tortured by bed bugs, which suck blood from our bodies." They have repeatedly begged management to fumigate and properly clean the dorms, but nothing is ever done.
A leading U.S. entomologist, Dr. Susan C. Jones of Ohio State University, confirmed that the photo sent by the workers of the insects in their dorm "appears to be numerous bed bugs, many of which are engorged with blood (their food)."
Allegations of Sexual Harassment and Rape
There are credible allegations that a top member of IBG's management staff raped a young Sri Lankan woman worker in late 2009. The workers believe the young woman was then deported back to Sri Lanka in October. At this point, these are just allegations, but they are serious ones, and a thorough, independent investigation must be launched.
Workers report that sexual harassment still exists on the part of members of top management. It is not constant, but it does still happen.
Workers Complain that the Food is "Awful"
Workers describe the factory food as stale, poorly cooked and not enough to survive on. Everyone complains that the food is "awful."
Breakfast: Pita bread with dahl (lentils)
Lunch: Vegetables with rice
Supper: Rice and Dahl
A small piece of chicken is supplied once a week.
Each month, management illegally deducts 26 JD ($36.65) from the workers' wages to cover food costs. The workers feel that the food is so little and of such poor quality that management must be pocketing some of the money.
Woman slapped and deported
When Ms. Nasma (ID #966) arrived late to work one morning and talked back to the supervisor, she was slapped and later forcibly deported back to Bangladesh. The workers think she was deported in November 2009. (We are in the process of trying to locate her.)
A Rare Ministry of Labor Inspection
The workers believe this happened seven or eight months ago, sometime around August or September 2009.
A Ministry of Labor inspector showed up at 9:30 p.m., while the factory was in full operation, accompanied by Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Indian translators. The inspector spoke with several workers, some of whom were brave enough to tell him the truth, describing in detail the numerous and serious violations.
Management responded by shutting the factory down and allowing the workers to leave "early" -at 9:30 p.m.
The workers waited and waited to see what would happen now that they had spoken the truth to the government inspector regarding the illegal and abusive conditions at the IBG factories.
But nothing changed. Despite the workers' testimonies, everything stayed the same.
When we pressed the workers that there had to have been at least some improvements after the inspector's visit, one worker told us: "If they [Ministry of Labor] helped us, how would we still be working every night to 11:00 p.m., working every day without a day off."
When asked, the workers told us that the Jordanian unions have never tried to help them. Certainly, there are language difficulties between the foreign guest workers and the Jordanian unions, which would make it extremely difficult for the unions to reach out to the guest workers.
Regarding the corporate codes of conduct for Nygard, Dillard's, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart, the workers at IBG have never heard anything about them. No explanation has ever been provided, and the workers were unable to even guess at how the codes of conduct might help them.
All the guest workers are asking is that IBG factory management respect Jordan's labor laws. It is not too much to ask:
* Immediate return of the workers' passports.
* Stop the excessive, mandatory 15 to 23-hour shifts. The workers are willing to work 62 hours a week, which is the maximum allowed under Jordanian law.
* All regular and overtime wages must be paid correctly. Workers are ready to negotiate with management for the payment of back wages owed them.
* Stop the illegal deduction of 26 JD ($36.62) for food. The workers' contracts guaranteed that food would be provided to them for free. The food should also be palatable and sufficient.
* Production goals must be set at reasonable levels and not used as a way to cheat workers of their wages.
* All sexual harassment must immediately cease.
* Factory dormitories must be fumigated and cleaned to end the infestation of bed bugs.
* When workers ask for their legal rights, they should never again be slapped and threatened with forcible deportation.
The Jordanian Ministry of Labor owes a serious explanation and an apology to the guest workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, as well as to consumers in Canada and the United States as to how such a miserable and abusive factory as IBG in the Ad Dulayl free trade zone ended up on the Ministry of Labor's "Golden List" of the best factories in Jordan.
Given that abusive and illegal conditions lasted for years at IBG Factories 1 and 2, there must be something seriously wrong with the way the Ministry of Labor monitors factory conditions. An independent investigation is necessary.
Kalifa, believed to be a G4S representative, left, with Mr. Peter Nygard in Winnipeg, Canada.
Kalifa with Mr. Denies La Point, CEO of Nygard.
Kalifa with Ms. "Pat" Nygard, Vice President and Ms. "Laine" Nygard, Operations Manager
Kalifa with Ms. "Jackie", Director of Nygard's Woven Division Sourcing
Kalifa with Mr. Guru, Nygard's General Magager of Regional Sourcing in Asia
International British Garments (Jordan) Factory Managers, Mr. Anup, with Kalifa in Nygard store.
IBG Factory Manager, Mr. Anup, with Kalifa in front of Nygard Store. The car on the right belongs to Bianca Nygard
Kalifa in Sears/Canada standing next to "Bianca Nygard" jerseys made in the IBG factory in Jordan
International British Garments has a Cozy Relationship With Labor Ministry Officials in Jordan
Kalifa with Mr. Anup, General Manager of the IBG factory in Jordan, and Mr. Raman, General Manager of IBG in India. G4S owns both factories. Photos taken in Jordan
Kalifa posing with Mr. David Hudson, G4S Regional President for North America and the Middle East. In 1998, Queen Elizabeth awarded Mr. Hudson as a Member of the British Emprie
Kalifa with the Chief Labor Ministry Official in charge of the Al Dulayl Industrial Park, where the IBG factory is located.
Kalifa warmly greeting Labor Ministry Official, Mr. Maazin Al Karimi
Kalifa with the Sri Lanken Ambassador to Jordan. Hundreds of Sri Lanken guest workers toil under abusive conditions at the IBG factory.
Kafila with Mr. Harsha, Logistics Director of the IBG factory in Jordan
Chairman: Peter Nygard
Nygard International Sales & Marketing
One Niagara Street
Toronto, ON M5V 1C2
Nygard Winnipeg Headquarters (TanJay/ åliå / Bianca / Collections / Signature / Distribution)
1771 Inkster Boulevard
Winnipeg, MB R2X 1R3
Nygard World Headquarters
New York, NY 10018-1909
Chief Executive: Nick Buckles
G4S plc Headquarters
The Manor, Manor Royal
Crawley, West Sussex
Phone: Social responsibility: +44 (0) 1293-554400; Media: +44 (0) 7973-672-649
G4S Corporate offices in Canada
G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd.
50 McIntosh Drive, Suite 252
G4S Cash Solutions (Canada) Ltd.
365 Bloor Street East, Suite 400
GS4 Corporate office in the United States
The Wackenhut Corporation (G4S Wackenhut)
4200 Wackenhut Drive
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Indo-British Garments (A G4S Subsidiary)
G4S Indo- British Garments (India) Pvt. Ltd.
Plot No. 48, DLF Industrial Area Phase - I
14th Milestone, s, Mathura Road,
Phone: 91-129-2270761, 91-129- 2270762, 91- 129-2270763, 91-129-2271037
Fax at 91-129-2270254
G4S India, Corporate Office