Workers in a clothing factory at Al Hassan Industrial Zone

Amman, February 12th 2017; Tamkeen Fields for Aid Center expresses its strong condemnation and denunciation regarding the inappropriate working conditions and degrading treatment, in which 100 workers in one of the clothing companies at Al Hassan Industrial Zone, amounting in some of them to Human Trafficking crime and forced labour conditions.

The center’s team was briefed on the details of the work environment by visiting the factory at the beginning of the year 2016, where workers are subjected to number of violations by depriving them from their basic human rights, where the abuse size and kind diversity against the workers referred to in the context of threatening Jordan’s image before the world, and embarrass Jordan in front of the workers’ countries. The violations against the workers, include the following:

 Some female workers were exposed to verbal abuse “screaming at” and the ill-treatment by the production management and a human resources employee called .
 The factory delayed in paying the salaries of workers for 10 days after the due date, which affect them and their families in their countries.
 The workers have been promised with better working and living conditions , but the reality was different from those promises, but the workers agreed to it because of the lack of jobs at their countries , in addition to the financial costs incurred on them to come to Jordan.
 Unhealthy housing environment, where every eight workers are staying in one room, poorly ventilated and solarization causing the spread of insects.
 Bad and unsanitary bathrooms.
 No kitchen is provided in the housing.
 Workers are not allowed to take sick leaves, whatever the case, and in the case of the absence of any of the workers, they deduct from his/her salary.
 Large amount of money are deducted from the salaries of the workers in case of a simple mistake, could reach the half of the salary amount. E.g.; one of the workers ha her salary deducted for one week because of absenting from work for one day because she was suffering from pain in her foot, and another worker had 70 JOD deducted from her salary because of absenting from work for three days because she was feeling pain in her eyes.
 The factory management refuse to allocate a private place for prayers in the housing of the workers.
 Eighty male and female workers from Bangladesh and India had their passports confiscated for four months under the pretext of completing the issuance of the work and residency permits, but until the date of the complaint no action was taken, not even a medical check, which is the first step to initiate the issuance of work permits, which indicates the lack of seriousness of the management and the bad intentions toward the workers, to keep them under their control, and vulnerability as they are not carrying any identification papers.
 None of the workers know his/her legal and labour status in Jordan, and none of them were handed over a copy of their employment contract, and all they know is that their contracts are for 3 years.
Accordingly, a notification was prepared and sent to the Anti-human trafficking unit contained the complaint details set forth by the workers to Tamkeen Fields for Aid center. After investigating into the workers allegations, a field visit by the Anti-human trafficking unit was arranged on January 8th 2016 to investigate further the workers’ complaint, which was attended by one of Tamkeen’s team along with a translator provided by Tamkeen Fields for Aid to contribute and facilitate communication procees with the workers.

By following-up the case of workersat the factory, we concluded the following results:

1. As a result of the conditions reported, the case was referred to Ramtha Prosecutor as an offense of human trafficking.
2. The factory manager and owner were charged with the same offense by the Prosecutor, and the assignment of the case to the competent criminal court of Irbid.
3. No precautionary action was taken by any of the authorities (the Anti-human trafficking Unit, Ministry of labour, and the Ministry of Health) to protect the victims during the investigation and trial stage.
4. The rational and facts for which the case was referred to the judiciary still exist and the workers continue to suffer from the same conditions and treatment by those in charge of the factory and, in particular, the female workers’ housing, which poses a threat in terms of health conditions and in terms of safety and prevention measures.
5. As a result of the poor conditions, the workers conducted a strike and after the intervention of the Union, Ministry of Labour, and the Embassy, it was agreed to continue to work (which workers had no other option to take) with conditions which were written, namely:
a) bathroom maintenance. b) elimination of insects. c) paying salaries on time. d) improving the treatment and the non-intervention of the supervisor. e)provide the workers with a kitchen, chapel and a cafeteria, but this agreement was never fulfilled by the factory management.
6. A fire at the floor under the female workers housing happened in 1/11/2016, and not for “God’s mercy” the workers would have paid the price of their lives, where the housing had only one way out which was the emergency exit.
7. The workers are subjected to verbal abuse and ill-treatment by the production managers under the direction of the factory management.
8. Any worker demanding for his/her right is exposed to threatening of deportation.
9. The factory has no mean of heating, and cool air and rain leaks from the roof.
10. Sometimes the food provided to the workers is rotten.
11. Un-known source of drinking water.
12. The delay in payment of salaries to more than ten days after the start of the new month.
13. The factory officials threatened the workers by bringing the labour inspectors who deceived them by informing them that they don’t have the right to protest and that the management is entitled to scream at them and they don’t have the right to reply.
14. The majority of the workers’ passports are held by the factory for the purpose of renewing their permits.
15. The workers began to demand for their rights, but they were threatened and delay of implementation of their rights under the pressure of fear of deportation and spare the workers’ livelihoods.
16. Twenty workers were selected for issuing a dismissal decision against them for daring to claim for their rights.
On Thursday, 2/9/2017 the workers were convinced by the factory management that the factory, housing conditions and treatment will change, and all disputes will be setteled, in addition to the implememntation of the agreement but after some time.

The workers were srprised that tha factory chose nine of the workers to be dismissed from work, and the action was taken by sending them to the employemnt office in the city to persuade them to submit their resignations.

The factory as well somehow exploit some instructions, in particular and without right, through the deliver of false information to the competent authorities (Ministry of Labour) to put pressure on the workers, leading to their deportation as punishment to claim their rights, to be an example to others (under the claim that the workers are on strike without a legitimate reason – or that their demands are illegal.

The center beleives that -according tot he testimonies of the workers- that the workers’ working conditions and actions of the factory and its owner and management which led to the establishment of the Anti-human trafficking unit strating the investigation and referring the case to Ramtha Prosecutor, who in turn felt that the acts carried out by those in charge of the factory pose a human trafficking offense and referred to the competent court, but the actions and ongoing violations did not change.

Since it is our duty to report an actual or potential victim of human trafficking to the Anti-human trafficking unit, and where that to continue keeping victims under the control and authority of the offender is supposed in contrary to the most basic rules of protection measures, we are without the slightest responsibility put situation between your hands to take the necessary duly measures, and to prevent the factory and its administration taking the instructions and regulations a tool to punish the workers and not giving them the opportunity to defend themselves or claim their legitimate rights.

In the face of these painful facts and serious violations of human rights and international conventions and standars, signed by Jordan to prtect the rights of workers, the center confirms that the poor working conditions is still existing, where the center documented the abuses suffered by the workers in an inappropriate working conditions, in addition to being insulted, threatened and other forms of inhumane treatment.

About that, Tamkeen center is requesting the competent authorities to increase efforts to protect the workers of the factory, provide a safe place for them, and increase the inspection campaigns, as well as to punish the perpetrators.

The center stresses the need to amend and activation of legislations to protect worker’s rights and redress, and activate the access to justice and redress for victims.