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Blood, Sweat & Tears: Asia’s Poor Build U.S. Bases in Iraq

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posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 06:11 AM
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Thousands of low-wage Asian laborers are traveling to Iraq to work for U.S. military contractors like First Kuwaiti and Prime Projects International in the hope of sending money home to their families. Trapped and exploited under inhuman conditions, many of them are now fleeing the country to save their lives.



Called “third country nationals” (TCN) in contractor’s parlance, these laborers hail largely from impoverished Asian countries such as the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as from Turkey and countries in the Middle East. Once in Iraq, TCNs earn monthly salaries between $200 to $1,000 as truck drivers, construction workers, carpenters, warehousemen, laundry workers, cooks, accountants, beauticians, and similar blue-collar jobs.

Jing Soliman left his family in the Philippines for what sounded like a sure thing--a job as a warehouse worker at Camp Anaconda in Iraq. His new employer, Prime Projects International (PPI) of Dubai, is a major, but low-profile, subcontractor to Halliburton's multi-billion-dollar deal with the Pentagon to provide support services to U.S. forces.

But Soliman wouldn’t be making anything near the salaries-- starting $80,000 a year and often topping $100,000-- that Halliburton's engineering and construction unit, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) pays to the truck drivers, construction workers, office workers, and other laborers it recruits from the United States. Instead, the 35-year-old father of two anticipated $615 a month – including overtime. For a 40-hour work week, that would be just over $3 an hour. But for the 12-hour day, seven-day week that Soliman says was standard for him and many contractor employees in Iraq, he actually earned $1.56 an hour.

Tens of thousands of such TNC laborers have helped set new records for the largest civilian workforce ever hired in support of a U.S. war. They are employed through complex layers of companies working in Iraq. At the top of the pyramid-shaped system is the U.S. government which assigned over $24 billion in contracts over the last two years. Just below that layer are the prime contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel. Below them are dozens of smaller subcontracting companies-- largely based in the Middle East --including PPI, First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting and Alargan Trading of Kuwait, Gulf Catering, Saudi Trading & Construction Company of Saudi Arabia. Such companies, which recruit and employ the bulk of the foreign workers in Iraq, have experienced explosive growth since the invasion of Iraq by providing labor and services to the more high-profile prime contractors.

This layered system not only cuts costs for the prime contractors, but also creates an untraceable trail of contracts that clouds the liability of companies and hinders comprehensive oversight by U.S. contract auditors. In April, the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of the U.S. Congress concluded that it is impossible to accurately estimate the total number of U.S. or foreign nationals working in Iraq.

While the exact number of TCNs working in Iraq is uncertain, a rough estimate can be gleaned from Halliburton’s own numbers, which indicate that TCNs make up 35,000 of KBR’s 48,000 workers in Iraq employed under sweeping contract for military support. Known as the Logistics Civilian Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), this contract – by far the largest in Iraq -- is now approaching the $15 billion mark. Citing security concerns, however, the Houston-headquartered company and several other major contractors declined to release detailed figures on the workforce that is estimated to be 100,000 or more.

Source:
CorpWatch

I guess there is not Limits to Corporate Greed.

When Corporations, like Halliburton, are getting Billion Dollar Contracts directly from the Pentagon and earing Big Bucks - it is becoming clear where are they "Saving Money".

On Workers - the so-called TCN's (third country nationals) come from Poorest countries in Asia and they work for less then 2$ an Hour for a Work in a Warzone with constant Threats of being shot at and possibly Killed.

Exploatation?

Not to mention that some TCN's were belived to be signing to work in Kuwait - but instead when they got to Kuwait their Deal suddenly "Changed" and they were Transferred to Iraq.

How's the Food like for TCN's? Well, as one of the Contractors said:

“We ate when the Americans had leftovers from their meals. If not, we didn’t eat at all.”

Sounds like these Men are being treated like Dogs!

Randy McDale, who rose to be a KBR foreman for heavy construction equipment at Camp Victory and other installations near the Baghdad International Airport, confirmed many of the other contractors’ and TCN’s charges of miserable conditions and inadequate safety.

Sounds to me like More Corporate Scandal in Iraq.




posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 08:21 AM
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Sounds like when the french imported Chinese to help with the War Effort in WWI.

Nothing new, just Bush selling peace for a cheap buck to Haliburton, and of course, if you consider that if you work in Iraq you have a 25% chance of not coming home, its hard to hire workers so...

"hey! I have an idea says Mr Capitalist lets import slaves to do the work for us and act as human shields for our dreams of exploiting the world yippieeeee!"



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 08:52 AM
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Originally posted by The Middle Kingdom
"hey! I have an idea says Mr Capitalist lets import slaves to do the work for us and act as human shields for our dreams of exploiting the world yippieeeee!"

Correctumondo!

You have nailed it Perfectly.

The problem is that there is alot of these "Slaves" that will actually go to Iraq and work for 2$ an Hour - becuse for Their Standards thats alot of Money.

Corporate Dream.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 09:08 AM
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dont forget to include the coporations of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who are doing the same thing as well. so dont expect the American corporations are not the only ones that dont provide the care for the laborers.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 09:14 AM
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Originally posted by deltaboy
dont forget to include the coporations of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who are doing the same thing as well. so dont expect the American corporations are not the only ones that dont provide the care for the laborers.

OOps.

I am sorry - I forgot to Mention the biggest US Allies in the Middle East.

Thanks for Correcting my mistake.




posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 11:15 AM
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As far as I can tell, nobody is going to these failed socialist and communist or dictatorship countries where they are so corrupt that they cannot build an econonmy, and kidnapping these workers to Iraq or Kuwait.

So, it is a free choice these workers are making. Correct?

If they are being so mistreated, tell them to go back home and get a job.

This has happened throughout history. Sometimes, the workforce was actually enslaved! Imagine that!

Many people of different races have managed to work hard and rise above the standard of poverty. Very succcessful Restaurantauers, construction companies, etc. all across America.

The people you speak of should not expect to be subsidized all their lives.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 06:21 PM
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have you ever read the Jungle? Essentially what it depicts is the Industrial Revolution in America where it shows from the POV of Lithunanian Immigrants and shows how a single meat packaging plant ruthlessly exploited its workers.

The book had the effect of making America suddenly aware what goes into their meat and changing majorly all the policies concerning the meat industry.

Yet the intent of the book to improve the quality of life for the workers failed, imgagine that.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 06:26 PM
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Has anybody been wondering why SE Asians are being hired instead of Iraqis? The unemployment rate in Iraq if pretty high, there is shortage of everything, doesn't it look like a logical thing to do -- to give them a priority in getting jobs to rebuild their own country? Among other things, at least they know the local language. I just don't get it.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 06:29 PM
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Originally posted by Aelita
Has anybody been wondering why SE Asians are being hired instead of Iraqis? The unemployment rate in Iraq if pretty high, there is shortage of everything, doesn't it look like a logical thing to do -- to give them a priority in getting jobs to rebuild their own country? Among other things, at least they know the local language. I just don't get it.


lets just say that people fear of infiltration....theres somthing to think of. and u have to spend alot of time to make sure the Iraqi person is not an insurgent. hiring people outside of Iraq is far more safer in the employers view.



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 06:36 PM
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Originally posted by deltaboy

Originally posted by Aelita
Has anybody been wondering why SE Asians are being hired instead of Iraqis? The unemployment rate in Iraq if pretty high, there is shortage of everything, doesn't it look like a logical thing to do -- to give them a priority in getting jobs to rebuild their own country? Among other things, at least they know the local language. I just don't get it.


lets just say that people fear of infiltration....theres somthing to think of. and u have to spend alot of time to make sure the Iraqi person is not an insurgent. hiring people outside of Iraq is far more safer in the employers view.


Yeah, but it's quite tragic that the Iraqi are sort of left out of the loop. Nepalis are building sewers in Baghdad. How screwed is that?



posted on Oct, 6 2005 @ 06:38 PM
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So, it’s their choice if they want the work or not, and they get paid for their work, yup sound like slavery alright.


Now, if you guys have a problem with this then you should protest the biggest abuser of cheap labor, that right Middle Kingdom, your beloved China.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 06:23 AM
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Contracting, Sub-contracting and sub-contracting.. its the capitalistic way!

Unfortunately, conditions and pay just get worse and worse as you go down the chain. Though 80-100k is one HELL of a gap to the 12k they could possibly earn a year. Though they sound like pretty slavish-conditions to me.

Though its really just another case of Third world exploitation, only in this case, if they cant exploit them in their own country, just ship them to where you can exploit them.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 06:47 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
So, it’s their choice if they want the work or not, and they get paid for their work, yup sound like slavery alright.


Now, if you guys have a problem with this then you should protest the biggest abuser of cheap labor, that right Middle Kingdom, your beloved China.

Western Corporate Model has created a New Slavery that is going on in Asia especially. That's why Nike and Adidas have Factories in Tailand. Thats why probably all the Big Corporations have their stuff made in Asia, where the Work Labor is Cheap and they don't Complain and they make better Profits. That's all there is: PROFIT in their Minds. And they won't stop at Anything to increase it. If that means hiring a few Third World People and then Abuse them (as usual) - well thats just What they will do.

Who is going to STOP them anyway?



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 07:16 AM
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Originally posted by Souljah

Western Corporate Model has created a New Slavery that is going on in Asia especially. That's why Nike and Adidas have Factories in Tailand. Thats why probably all the Big Corporations have their stuff made in Asia, where the Work Labor is Cheap and they don't Complain and they make better Profits. That's all there is: PROFIT in their Minds. And they won't stop at Anything to increase it. If that means hiring a few Third World People and then Abuse them (as usual) - well thats just What they will do.

Who is going to STOP them anyway?


You're right there Souljah. Infact when i first read it "Nike" and "Adidias" were the first two companies I thought of that use this model, though slightly altered.

It is slavery, although.. every job is slavery still it's just people in the US and 'more developed' countries don't stand for such bad conditions and pay. These people are left without many other choices to feed their family and keep a roof over their heads. That is called exploitation, i dont know who said it wasn't, especially when somebody else doing the exact same job for the company 'above' it gets almost 10X as much. There is no other way to look at it.

Here our government in Australia is trying to change the employment laws and conditions so employers can make us work up to 70 hours a week (this country used to be the 'we dont work an hour over 40 a week and we are proud of it country') and for basically no extra pay. Why? Our government needs to get our 'productivity' up so we can compete with China and other south-east asian countries in the region.

You can't compete with that! Those being exploteted cant even survive on the money they get. But is 25% of what you need to live on better than 0%? of course it is, so they do the work so they can at least have a bit of food to live for another day or two..

And these companies make all this money off them, when do they help them? When? I'd like to see all this 'profit' going back to those that helped them make it. But of course that will never happen, because 'that is a rather communistic approach' now isn't it?

I really don't see what is so communistic about human decency.

Sorry for my little rant.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 07:29 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
So, it’s their choice if they want the work or not, and they get paid for their work, yup sound like slavery alright.


Now, if you guys have a problem with this then you should protest the biggest abuser of cheap labor, that right Middle Kingdom, your beloved China.



Lets see how youll like it when mexicans drop your wages to 3$ per hour



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 11:40 AM
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Quite frankly while some may not like the idea of children making my shoes or bullets they usually volunteer so that they can help feed their families, alot of people volunteers, if wages are cheap thats also because in China the labour isn't professional enough to warrant higher wages and also because the cost of living is dramatically lower in china everything costs less and your american dollar here goes alot farther with food and rent.

If we made it so that Children couldn't work tof eed their families or if workers couldn't work more then 40 hours a week then we'ld have hundreds of millions of unemployed or starving people.

We do what is nessasary to support the population with jobs and food.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 12:11 PM
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Originally posted by Souljah
Western Corporate Model has created a New Slavery that is going on in Asia especially. That's why Nike and Adidas have Factories in Tailand. Thats why probably all the Big Corporations have their stuff made in Asia, where the Work Labor is Cheap and they don't Complain and they make better Profits. That's all there is: PROFIT in their Minds. And they won't stop at Anything to increase it. If that means hiring a few Third World People and then Abuse them (as usual) - well thats just What they will do.

Who is going to STOP them anyway?

Certainly not the corrupt governments of Asia, eh, Souljah? Even though it is their citizenry and their responsibility to do so.

Take some time and muse over this one little paragraph:

The Soviet system of forced labor camps was first established in 1919 under the Cheka, but it was not until the early 1930s that the camp population reached significant numbers. By 1934 the Gulag, or Main Directorate for Corrective Labor Camps, then under the Cheka's successor organization the NKVD, had several million inmates. Prisoners included murderers, thieves, and other common criminals--along with political and religious dissenters. The Gulag, whose camps were located mainly in remote regions of Siberia and the Far North, made significant contributions to the Soviet economy in the period of Joseph Stalin. Gulag prisoners constructed the White Sea-Baltic Canal, the Moscow-Volga Canal, the Baikal-Amur main railroad line, numerous hydroelectric stations, and strategic roads and industrial enterprises in remote regions. GULAG manpower was also used for much of the country's lumbering and for the mining of coal, copper, and gold.
www.loc.gov...

I don't think the Gulag slaves earned even a penny for their lives, did they Souljah?



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 12:30 PM
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At least they did not end up in virtual slavery in Saudi Arabia where their employers would confiscate thier passports and hold them in house arrest.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 12:33 PM
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China produces cheap goods because they use prisoners as labor. It is easy to undercut the competition when the only thing you have to pay for labor is a bowl of rice and roaches each day.



posted on Oct, 8 2005 @ 12:36 PM
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Originally posted by jsobecky
Certainly not the corrupt governments of Asia, eh, Souljah? Even though it is their citizenry and their responsibility to do so.

I know whats a Gulag, no need for a History Lesson mister.

I just wonder if it's a-OK with you that Slavery is being used by AMERICAN Corporations in Iraq? They Hire these Workers to do the Dirty Work for them. If they were SO against it and thought its an evil slavery stalinistig gulag thing, then they would not hire them anyway. But for less then 2$ an hour - I guess they will do. Especially if they work in areas where NOBODY else wants to go.

Just Gotta love modern Capitalism.

[edit on 8/10/05 by Souljah]



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