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Jordan: National Labor Committee (NLC) report accuses garment factories of abusive working conditions, incl. beating of workers (Los Angeles Times article - includes responses by Atateks, JC Penney) [free registration required]

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17 October 2006

[DOC] Target response regarding Jordan factories

Author: Target

Target takes very seriously the protection of human rights and the fair treatment of factory workers. While we work with vendors and not directly with the factories, Target expects all vendors and their factories to adhere to the local laws and Target’s Standards of Vendor Engagement... We continue to monitor and work closely with the vendor who uses Atateks. Target is committed to taking corrective action -up to and including termination of a relationship—for vendors who violate the law or our Standards of Vendor Engagement.

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17 October 2006

[DOC] Wal-Mart letter regarding Silver Planet Apparel to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Author: Rajan Kamalanathan, Vice President of Ethical Standards, Wal-Mart

In September 2006, Wal-Mart auditors conducted an on site audit of Silver Planet and as part of our audit process we identified violations and sought management’s commitment to rectify the violations observed. In October 2006, we revisited the factory as part of our follow-up to the audit, and we have noted the following improvements:
• Working hours are properly recorded
• Overtime is tracked and paid
• Workers are compensated (paid) in accordance with Jordan’s Labor Laws
• Excessive working hours have been addressed
• Passports of guest workers have been released to those workers preferring to retain their own passports
... Wal-Mart expends great efforts in working with our suppliers and their factory management to remediate issues of concern that we have identified in our audits... The labor conditions in Jordan are complex and cannot be corrected over night; however, improvements have been observed by us. Wal-Mart is working collaboratively with other retailers and brand owners, the Government of Jordan, and the International Labor Organization to address issues of concern and to create sustainable improvements.

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16 October 2006

Group Accuses Jordan of Failing to Enforce Labor Rights

Author: Evelyn Iritani, Los Angeles Times

For more than a year, the Bangladeshi garment workers toiled as long as 16 hours a day at a factory in Jordan's free trade zone, sewing women's apparel for companies including J.C. Penney Co. and Target Corp... Last spring, 175 workers walked out of the Atateks garment factory in Al Tajamouat Industrial City in Sahab, Jordan,...after their request for more money and better working conditions was refused... [The] 10 workers who led the protest were beaten by police, detained and deported to their homeland in early August, said Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee... In a report..., the National Labor Committee accused apparel factories in Jordan of abusing thousands of foreign workers..., subjecting them to harsh working conditions and confiscating their passports to prevent them from fleeing the factories or complaining to authorities. In some cases, the report says, workers were beaten and raped... Ilhan Arslan, general manager of Atateks, denied the labor group's accusations about his company, saying they were "99% false statements." He said that his factory in Jordan was on the government's Golden List of best suppliers and had never failed an inspection by its U.S. customers... J.C. Penney spokesman Tim Lyons said his firm's inspectors found no evidence that Atateks, which was audited in May 2005, was guilty of violating any labor laws. Target did not respond to a request about Atateks, although it said in a written statement that it was reviewing the records of all its suppliers in Jordan.

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Company response
14 October 2006

Response of Horizon Clothing Manufacturing to report raising concerns about working conditions at its factory in Jordan

Author: Marwan Zalatimo, Horizon Clothing Manufacturing

We confirm that Horizon clothing Manufacturing co. treats all labor form Bangladeshi and Jordanian in accordance with Jordanian and int’l laws with no abuse or violation...All labor Bangladeshi and Jordanian feel very good and happy working with Horizon...Some Bangladeshi workers have been working happily in this factory for five years...[L]ast week Jordan labor Ministry visited our factory and found no violations. We have also fulfilled all requirements for the Golden Certificate...The private Audit Companies which visited our factory, acted in personal manner, as they mistreated our Management, and had badmouth, and negatively criticized Jordan. They therefore were asked politely to leave the premises...Please feel free to visit us at any time without prior notice.

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13 October 2006

[DOC] Response of Nautica/VF Corporation to report raising concerns about working conditions at supplier factory in Jordan

Author: Nautica/VF Corporation

On behalf of Nautica and VF Corporation I would like to respond...regarding the NLC report on Atateks Foreign Trade facility in Jordan...Back in September 2005 Nautica approached Atateks as a potential supplier. When we contacted the factory to schedule the inspection, Atateks presented us with a valid certification from a recognised factory certification program. Based on this certification we placed a small order of sleepwear at the factory...The inspection of Atateks and interviews of selected factory employees revealed some issues that were consistent with the NLC report...Based on our inspection findings and lack of positive response from the factory we had decided not to place any future orders with Atateks.

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