Israeli factory repeatedly violates workers' rights in Jordan

London- The management of Israeli factory Hilbash Moshe in Jordan must stop violating workers' rights, which has escalated during the coronavirus pandemic, warns ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The London-based think tank was informed of workers’ complaints, including nonpayment in unsanitary conditions in the factory, located in the Al-Hassan Industrial Estate in Irbid.

"Forty-one workers, some of whom are Bengali and Indian migrants, have complained of not receiving their salaries since last January," reports ImpACT International.

However, Hilbash Moshe has a long record of illegal and oppressive practices against its workers, especially related to wages and other rights. Many workers, for example, say that they are forced to surrender their passports upon employment to prevent them from traveling without management permission, which is a form of modern slavery and is a violation of their right to freedom of movement.

Moreover, workers complain of an unhealthy working environment, lack of food and clean water, and restrictions on their external communications.  

ImpACT International attempted to contact the factory's officials but received no response.

Hilbash Moshe is among the factories that benefit from the QIZ (Qualifying Industrial Zones) agreement signed between Jordan and Israel in 1997. QIZ were established in collaboration with Israel to take advantage of the latter’s free trade agreements with the United States. Under the QIZ deal, goods produced in Jordan can be sold into U.S. markets under Israel’s advantageous terms without tariffs or quotas. To qualify, goods produced in these zones must contain Israeli parts/ingredients.

Factory managers were previously convicted of human rights violations, including trafficking, uncompensated overtime work, unsafe housing conditions, and imprisonment or deportation of foreign workers.

Factory managers were previously convicted of human rights violations, including trafficking, uncompensated overtime work, unsafe housing conditions, and imprisonment or deportation of foreign workers.

Despite the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the management of Hilbash Moshe has confined workers, most of whom are Asians, in small, overcrowded accommodations without adequate cleaning procedures and toilet facilities. They also lack kitchens, forcing workers to prepare food in their rooms. In addition, no source of heat or hot water is available in their accommodations, despite temperatures that sometimes reach the freezing point.

ImpACT International has documented the management’s practice of forcing foreign laborers to work seven days a week, with the average number of hours per day ranging between 12 to 13.  They also are forced to work on official holidays without being paid. 

ImpACT calls on the management of Hilbash Moshe to respect workers' rights, including payment of wages on time, payment for overtime hours, safe working conditions, fair hours and non-discrimination.  

Likewise, the Jordanian authorities must monitor work in the factory and fulfill its obligation to enforce international covenants and agreements, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 7 of the latter assures "the right of everyone to just and favourable working conditions. These are in turn defined as fair wages with equal pay for equal work, sufficient to provide a decent living for workers and their dependents, along with safe working conditions."