Friday, October 22, 2010

The Canada-Jordan FTA - a licence for human trafficking

On Monday the International Trade Committee heard devastating evidence from two US witnesses warning that the Canada-Jordan Free Trade Act will merely provide cover for human trafficking and primarily benefit only China and large multinationals like Walmart and Kmart.

Tim Waters, Political Director of United Steelworkers :
"The U.S.-Jordan trade deal immediately descended into the trafficking of tens of thousands of foreign workers to Jordanian factories."

A former champion of the US-Jordan FTA, Waters said he had believed it would benefit both US and Jordanian workers and help level the international playing field on tariffs. Instead, upon visiting Jordan, he found almost no Jordanians working in the factories there - over 90%, some 30,000+ workers, are all imported.

Factory owners from India, Sri Lanka, and China imprison 'guest' workers from Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines in compounds in Jordan where they are worked from 12 to 18 hours a day seven days a week in appalling conditions under constant threat of rape, beatings, and deportation.

Locked up after having their passports confiscated at the airport, these indentured labourers have no recourse to such laws as touted in the House by Lib Scott Brison, FTA pointman for the Cons once again, and echoed by Lib Martha Hall Findlay once again :
"following the precedent set by the U.S.-Jordan FTA ... the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and the elimination of discrimination."

Moreover, said Waters, although human rights provisions embedded in the core of the US bill were ignored in Jordan despite the US wielding the big foreign aid stick, the similar but weaker Canadian safeguards stand to be even less enforceable as they are only part of a side agreement to Bill C-8.

Gosh, another dubious LibroCon labour rights side agreement - just like Brison's previous precious - the Canada-Colombia FTA.

continued ...

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