September 8, 2008

Update on the Crisis at the Mediterranean Factory in Jordan


September 8, 2008, 1:00 p.m.

We were able to speak just now by phone with the Mediterranean workers in Jordan.  All 1,200 to 1,400 foreign guest workers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India remain on strike.  They have been on strike since August 31.

The situation is worsening.  Food and water to the workers have been cut off by management.

The general manager of the Mediterranean factory is again threatening the workers, this time saying some workers could even be shot if they do not accept the monthly 30 JD ($42.37) deduction from their wages--$35.31 for food and $7.06 for the dorm.  (The agreements the workers signed when they purchased their three-year contracts to work in Jordan guaranteed free food, free housing and free medical care.)

The workers report that 15 of the strikers were beaten with sticks by Jordanian police several days ago.



The workers are also reporting some very disturbing actions by the Jordanian Ministry of Labor, which need to be investigated.  Dr. Amin, the chief labor inspector for the Labor Ministry, has met with striking workers on several occasions.  According to the workers, Dr. Amin is offering the workers two choices:  accept the 30 JD ($42.37) monthly wage deduction, at which point they will be allowed to return to work, or don't accept the wage deduction and face deportation.  If this is accurate, this is certainly not the role the Ministry of Labor should be playing.  It should not be the role of the Ministry to threaten and coerce workers to accept an illegal deduction which would cut their real wage by 27 percent.  The food and dorm deduction would only be legal if the workers of their own free will agreed to it.

The factory owner will no doubt claim that he cannot stay in business without the wage deduction, given the cut-rate prices Wal-Mart and Hanes are willing to pay for their garments.

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These Images Were Sent to Us by Mediterranean Factory Workers