NY Times Jordan sweatshop report has fallout

As expected, the story about Jordan’s sweatshop is being taken seriously by the Jordanian government.

AMMAN — Jordan vowed on Thursday to crack down on abuse of foreign workers in Jordan-based textile factories following what it called a "disturbing" US rights group report detailing alleged violations. "The National Labor Committee report actually gives us the added information to follow up on violators of workers’ rights in Jordan," labor minister Bassem Salem said in a statement.

He described the findings of the report, carried out by the New-York-based non-government rights task force between March 2005 and April 2006, as "disturbing but not surprising." The 168-page report "US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement Descends Into Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude" released this month gave a scathing account of the conditions of migrant workers employed in Jordanian textile factories that export garments to the United States exempted from tariffs. Source: [The Middle East Times]

It really is disappointing that a Western publication had to run this report before the government decides to intervene. I guess in the Middle East international pressure is the ultimate golden bullet! The husband got so annoyed he even weighed in a bit and Jordanian blogger Batir Wardam has also commented on the government’s intervention:

I do not know to how extent the NIC report was accurate, but it has been very useful in exposing this trend which will now be highly scrutinized. It is a shame why we always take moral responsibilities for our mistakes only after being exposed by an international report that threatens the credibility of the country. I think one of the main measures to be taken is to develop more stringent monitoring on the working conditions in the QIZs and not allow for another insult to the reputation of Jordan.

6 thoughts on “NY Times Jordan sweatshop report has fallout”

  1. What really matters in the first place not the reputation of Jordan,but the conditions under which people work. Jordan can have the best reputation, but yet, fall short from meeting minimum work right conditions. If there is no system to allow continuous monitoring of those conditions, and unbiased and objective audits with follow ups and continuous surveillance, then who guarantees the compliance ?And what are the Jordan standards in the first place, and how do they compare to international standards. ? I hope this report with its findings could also shed light not only on the QIZ zone from which merchandise would be exported to the US, but on all work sectors across the country.

  2. Jareer you are absolutely right. But as you certainly recognize, it’s not the plight that brings change, not only in Jordan but the world over. It’s unfortunate that it takes embarrassment to motivate governments, but it’s a technique that works. The fourth estate — the press — has a powerful role, although unfortunately stateside it’s devolved into info-tainment, leaving many actions of the government unchecked. While in Jordan it’s certainly a shame to find that the local press didn’t pursue this story and bring it to light. But Jordan’s press is a growing — evolving — thing. In the US the lack of investigation into things like Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the legitimacy of reasons for war are not shameful they are down right deplorable.

  3. Batir,
    Thanks for providing a link to the document.
    (Doesnt look that either side has signed the agreement though..!)

  4. I’ve heard that Jordanians working in these sweatshops are even worse off than the foreign workers, despite the fact that the NYT article states otherwise. If so, this is worse than we thought. 🙁

  5. Natasha,
    Thank you for blogging about the issue so thoughtfully. We really appreciate it. The more people around the world read about the issue and discuss it, the more active involvement we can all take in the way the world works.
    In response to Hal’s post, it is not our understanding, according to our investigation, that Jordanian workers suffered more. For the most part, we understand that Jordanian workers in these factories work less and are paid more than the guest workers.
    Again, thank you all for posting about the issue. It means a lot to know that people are concerned.
    In Solidarity,
    Christine Clarke
    National Labor Committee

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