Minister orders factory closure after alleged abuse of guest workers

Labour Minister Ali Ghezawi on Thursday ordered the closure of a garment factory in Irbid for violations against its workers.

According to a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times, the plant in question was found in violation of the Labour Law.

Last week, guest worker advocacy groups accused the garment factory of violations that they said could involve human trafficking offences.

Located in Al Hassan Industrial Estate in Irbid, some 80km north of Amman, the plant has already been investigated, with the owner referred to court last year after alleged illegal practices were brought to the attention of the Public Security Department’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit.

“The case was referred to Ramtha’s prosecutor general last year on human trafficking counts, but no precautionary measure was taken by the authorities to protect the victims during the court procedures,” Director of Tamkeen Fields for Aid Linda Kalash told The Jordan Times.

She noted that violations had been ongoing against more than 100 Bangladeshi and Indian workers, including forced labour, physical and verbal abuse and inappropriate accommodation — every eight workers share a room that lacks proper ventilation and is full of insects.

After Tamkeen center followed-up the issue of workers since 2016 until this date, Ali Al Ghazawi the Ministry of Labour issued a decision to close the Top Tex factory in Al Hassan Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) in Irbid based on the provision of Article 9 paragraph (b) of the Jordanian Labour Law no. (8) Of 1996.

Where Tamkeen Fields for Aid has sent two notifications in 2016 and 2017, in which highlighted the abuses suffered by the workers in the factory.

Labourers are also prohibited from taking sick leave, receive their salaries 10 days later than agreed upon and “half of their pay is deducted in the case of mistakes, even minor ones”, Kalash said.

According to the ministry, it gave the factory ample time to rectify the situation, but the administration failed to abide by the regulations, prompting Ghezawi to decide to shut it down.