Posted by: BPSOS | April 2, 2008

In the News: “Free-Trade Bondage” in Jordan

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Exterior of free-trade zone factory in Jordan.

“[F]actory conditions are reminiscent of the 19th century’s early industrial age: The hangarlike buildings have poor ventilation, and the workers sit on backless benches in long rows, performing the same tasks over and over, thousands of times a day.”

“The workers, mostly from Bangladesh, China, India and Sri Lanka, are barred by Jordanian law from joining unions. In most cases, their passports are confiscated at the airport when they arrive. Only a handful are given valid work permits, but without one they can be arrested and jailed. That’s why employees rarely leave the guarded compounds where they live and work. Bangladeshi employees I interviewed secretly at night outside their compound spoke of unpaid overtime, wages withheld for months, filthy living conditions, inadequate food and mental and physical exhaustion from the long hours.”

Here’s a Nation article from 2006 that lays out in detail the harsh reality facing the foreign workers stuck in Jordanian factories tied to the free-trade agreement with the United States. While the nationalities of the workers have changed, if the W&D Apparel case is any indication, very little else seems to have changed. Click here for more.

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