Three Thousand Foreign Guest Workers on Strike in Jordan Sewing Clothing: Workers Beaten by Police, Allegations of Rape


[Item from Labourstart. Hat tip to A.L.]

Al Hassan Industrial City
Irbid, Jordan

Three thousand foreign guest workers, 50 percent of them young women–1,500 from Sri Lanka, 900 from Bangladesh, 400 from India and 100 from Nepal–have been on strike since Monday, December 10, 2007. The situation is critical. At least 10 workers were beaten today by the police. Before going on strike, the workers had written to the Jordanian Ministry of Labor seeking help, but received no response.

  • Workers paid less than half the wages legally due them, earning a take-home wage of just $30.95 a week for a minimum of 78 hours of work, while they should have been paid at least $64.88.
  • Routine 12 1/2 to 14 1/2-hour shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week with at most two days off each month. Workers are at the factory 80 1/2 to 93 1/2 hours a week.
  • Two young women report being raped by factory management.
  • Managers routinely shout and curse at the workers and even slap and beat them for falling behind in their production goal or making minor errors.
  • Workers say they are locked in the factory and afraid that if a fire breaks out they will be trapped.
  • The bathrooms are filthy.
  • Factory dorms are very cold, lack heat and are seriously overcrowded with 12 people crammed into each room.
  • Workers describe the factory food as too little and often stale, with an “awful” taste.
  • Factory management does not pay medical expenses and does not respect the workers’ legal right to 14 days paid annual vacation.
  • Workers are paid just 15 cents for each paid of jeans they sew for Wal-Mart and Gloria Vanderbilt.



12 1/2 to 14 1/2 hour shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week. At most the workers receive just two days off a month. Workers are at the factory 78 hours to 93 hours a week

Routine Shift

7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Work, 5 hours)

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Lunch, 1/2 hour)

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Work, 4 hours)

5:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. (Break, 15 minutes)

5:15 p.m. – 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. (Work, 2 3/4 – 4 3/4 hours)


Workers are paid just $39.10 a week and $169.42 a month (120 JD) for working a minimum of 78 hours a week, including 30 hours of mandatory overtime. On average, the workers are earning just 50 cents an hour, which is well below the 75-cent legal minimum wage, not to mention the legal overtime premiums due the workers. What makes matters even worse is that management deducts $35.30 each month for room and board, reducing the workers’ take-home wage to just $30.95 a week, which is less than half of the $64.88 the workers are legally owed.

Legal Minimum Wage in Jordan:
* 75 cents an hour
* $35.84 a week (48 hours)
* $155.30 a month
* $1,863.62 a year

* All weekday overtime must be paid at a 25 percent premium–93 cents an hour.
* All overtime on Fridays, the legal holiday, must be paid at a 50 percent premium–$1.12 per hour.

For toiling a minimum of 78 hours a week (6 1/2 days), the workers should have earned $35.84 for the regular 48 hours, $22,32 for the 24 hours of weekday overtime at 93 cents an hour, and $6.72 for six hours of overtime on Friday at $1.12 an hour for a total of $64.88 and not the $30.95 the workers are taking home.

Production Goals:

Each assembly line, with 70 to 75 sewing operators, must complete 2,400 pairs of jeans in the standard 12-hour shift. The production goal is mandatory. This means the production line must complete 200 pairs of jeans an hour with an average of 72.5 sewers. In effect then, each worker must complete 2.76 pairs of jeans per hour or one pair every 32 minutes. At a take home wage of just 40 cents an hour, this means that the workers are earning just 15 cents for each pair of jeans they sew.
The workers smuggled “Gloria Vanderbilt” and “Behold” labels out of the factory.

They also report routinely sewing clothing for Wal-Mart–which U.S. Customs documents confirm–and for The Gap. More information will follow.


Please ask the Jordanian Government to intervene immediately and to bring the Classic factories into strict compliance with all Jordanian labor laws.

Ask Wal-Mart, Gloria Vanderbilt and GAP to clean up their contractor’s plant.

HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad
Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the US
Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Telephone number: (202) 966 – 2664
Fax number: (202) 966 – 3110

Lee Scott
President & CEO
Wal-Mart Stores
702 Southwest 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
FAX: 501-621-2063

Gloria Vanderbilt:
Wesley R. Card, President & CEO
Jones Apparel Group Corporate Offices
1411 Broadway
New York, NY 10018
Tel: (212) 642-3860
Fax: (212) 703-9154

Glenn K. Murphy, Chairman and CEO
Gap Inc. Headquarters
Two Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
tel: (650) 952-4400
fax: (415) 427-2553

Another Labor Alert from the same factory!


At least two young women from Sri Lanka, recruited as foreign guest workers to work at the Classic Fashion Apparel factory in the Al Hasan Industrial Park in Jordan, report being raped by managers at the factory. The women sewed clothing for Wal-Mart, Jones Apparel/Gloria Vanderbilt and other U.S. companies.

The victims, both assaulted early in 2007, are Ms. Nisansala and Ms. Nine Maris. Both are now in Sri Lanka and willing to tell their stories.

Ms. Nine Maris was raped by Mr. Anil, a manager at the Classic factory. After becoming noticeably pregnant, she was deported back to Sri Lanka. Ms. Nisansala reports being raped by another factory manager, Mr. Sintaiker.

Receiving no help from the Jordanian authorities, Ms. Nine Maris filed a court suit against Mr. Anil in Sri Lanka. Apparently Mr. Anil has had to make several trips to Sri Lanka to deal with the suit against him.

In 2006, the National Labor Committee released a year-long undercover report documenting the descent of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement into human trafficking and involuntary servitude. We also named several garment factories such as Al Safi and Western, where young women had reported being raped. In Al Safi, a young Bangladeshi woman–according to the workers no more than 20 years of age–reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself in a bathroom after being raped by a plant manager. The Jordanian government said it was unable to discover any sexual assault or related crimes in any of its garment factories.

Hopefully the tragic case of the Classic factory will shed more light on past abuses, so that young women foreign guest workers will never again be exposed to the horrendous crime of sexual assault.

Under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, these garments come into the U.S. duty-free. Conditions at the Classic factory remain abusive, with excessive mandatory overtime, and workers being cheated of their wages.

For more background on this case, go to the full report.


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