September 26, 2006

Jordan Silk Report, Jordan

Three Workers Fired, Imprisoned, Beaten and Forcibly Deported for Asking for their Most Basic Legal Rights

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Jordan Silk Factory
Al Tajamouat Industrial City
Sahab, Jordan

Phone:  962-6-402-2150
Email:   [email protected]
Ownership:  Mr. Kane, Hong Kong
                 Mr. Law, General Manager

Workers: Approximately 480-plus workers-450 guest workers from Bangladesh, 21 Indian workers, and 10 Jordanian workers.

Production: Currently the Jordan Silk factory is sewing garments for J.C. Penney (St. Johns Bay activewear;  RN #45749;  100% polyester)

Three Workers Fired and Forcibly Deported:

Mr. Ahsan Habib (Passport No. W 0080596), age 28, arrived in Jordan on December 28, 2004 and deported on September 6, 2006. Mr. Habib had to pay 125,000 taka-$1,800-for his three-year contract to work in Jordan.

Mr. Tazimul Islam (Passport No. W 0708858), age 25, arrived in Jordan on December 14, 2004 and deported on September 6, 2006. Mr. Islam had to pay 130,000 taka-$1,870-to purchase his contract to work in Jordan.

Mr. Md. Jewel (Passport No. W 008059), arrived in Jordan on December 28, 2004 and forcibly deported on September 6, 2006. Mr. Jewel had to pay 125,000 taka-$1,800-to purchase his contract to work in Jordan.

Their "Crime":  Seeking Respect for their Most Basic Legal Rights:

  • Legal, regular eight-hour work day
  • Payment of the legal minimum wage
  • Return the workers' passports which management had confiscated
  • Provide the necessary residency permits
  • Guarantee regular access to running water in the workers' dormitory, and improve the quality of the food, which was substandard.

In mid-May, the workers' dormitory was again without running water for four full days-May 12th-15th. On May 16th, the workers informed the factory's general manager, Mr. Law, of the repeated lack of running water and asked how the problem would finally be corrected. The workers also asked that the legal eight-hour workday be respected, and that they be paid the legal minimum wage. Further, they requested that their passports be returned and that they receive their necessary residency permits, without which the workers could not venture outside of the factory or dorm without fear of being stopped and detained by the police.

Mr. Law refused to even consider the workers' demands and ordered them to return to work. The workers stayed out the following day, May 17th, and went to the Bangladeshi Embassy in Amman, where they asked for help in winning their legal rights under Jordanian law. (The workers first learned about their rights from an NLC/USW leaflet outlining Jordan's labor laws.)  The Bangladeshi Embassy official assured the workers that the Embassy would help. The workers returned to work on May 18th, but nothing changed.

The routine daily shift was 151/2 hours a day, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. In June, July and August 2006, the workers did not have a single day off. It was not uncommon for the workers to be at the factory over 100 hours a week. Overtime of 5 3/4 hours was mandatory each day.

Typical Workday
-15 1/2 hours- 
  • 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.   (Work, 5 hours)
  • 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.   (Lunch,  1 hour)
  • 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.     (Work,  hours)
  • 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.     (Overtime, 1 1/2 hours)
  • 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.     (Supper, half hour)
  • 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.     (Overtime, 2 1/2 hours)
  • 9:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.     (Break, 15 minutes)
  • 9:15 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.   (Overtime, 1 3/4 hours)

Mr. Ahsan Habib, Mr. Tazimul Islam and Mr. Md. Jewel had been threatened earlier with deportation in retaliation for leading the workers in presenting their demands to Jordan Silk's general manager in May.

Suddenly, on September 3rd, during the 6:00 p.m. supper break, the three workers were called to the office of another manager, Mr. Riod, where they were told that a television had been stolen from their dorm room and they needed to go to their dorm immediately. But it was all a ruse. When the workers went to leave the factory, they saw Jordanian police at the main factory gate. The police arrested the three workers, who were taken to the police station in Sahab, where they were beaten, punched and kicked.

On September 4, Mr. Tazimul Islam, Mr. Ahsan Habib and Mr. Md. Jewel were transferred to the Amman police station, only to be shifted back to the police substation at the Al Tajamouat Industrial City the following day.

They were forcibly deported on September 6, arriving back in Bangladesh on September 7. The workers were not permitted to return even briefly to their dormitory and were sent home without their belongings.

Mr. Tazimul Islam, Mr. Ahsan Habib and Mr. Md. Jewel want to be immediately returned to Jordan with payment of back wages and the option to work in a better factory where their legal rights will be respected.