July 21, 2008: One of the many Vietnamese workers who returned home after striking against sweatshop conditions in Jordan attempted suicide last month, reportedly out of despair. Several other workers have not returned to their homes in the countryside. Instead, they are staying in Hanoi to avoid their creditors.
Most of these 170+ workers took out large loans, secured with their land titles, in order to pay fees to the labor export firm that sent them abroad. Despite the fact that these firms broke their promises by sending their victims to Jordan to be exploited by W&D Apparel, they have yet to return the money they collected.
In two or three months, if the Jordan workers can’t come up with a large amount of money to pay off their loans, they may lose their properties. This is a catastrophic prospect for people whose main means of survival is working the land.
This is the time to call and write to your local Vietnamese embassy urging them to communicate up government channels about the worldwide concern for the Jordan workers. A fairly complete listing of embassies can be found here; for other countries, a Web search should turn up the contact info. Please politely urge the ambassador to tell his or her superiors that the story of the Jordan workers is working its way around the world, and that the workers need debt relief and fair compensation for their unjust treatment.
For more information on this case, please search this blog under “Jordan.”