Mar 7, 2006

Slavery in Iraq

Chicago Dyke at Corrente Wire highlights this article that discusses how government-contracted businesses like Halliburton and Bechtel create elaborate --- and untraceable --- contractor and sub-contractor relationships with companies to hire folks (referred to as “third country nationals,” or TCNs) to help build the U.S. bases in Iraq.

And while the promise of increased income from these overseas jobs is an attractive lure for people from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, etc. what essentially happens is that these TCNs become part of the grand scheme of what is essentially, modern-day slavery (emphasis, as always, mine):
The menial wages paid to TCNs working for the regional contractors may be the most significant factor in the Pentagon’s argument that outsourcing military support is far more cost-efficient for the U.S. taxpayer than using its own troops to maintain camps and feed its ranks.

But there is also a human cost to this savings. Numerous former American contractors returning home say they were shocked at conditions faced by this mostly invisible, but indispensable army of low-paid workers. TCNs frequently sleep in crowded trailers and wait outside in line in 100 degree plus heat to eat “slop.” Many are said to lack adequate medical care and put in hard labor seven days a week, 10 hours or more a day, for little or no overtime pay. Few receive proper workplace safety equipment or adequate protection from incoming mortars and rockets. When frequent gunfire, rockets and mortar shell from the ongoing conflict hits the sprawling military camps, American contractors slip on helmets and bulletproof vests, but TCNs are frequently shielded only by the shirts on their backs and the flimsy trailers they sleep in.

Adding to these dangers and hardships, some TCNs complain publicly about not being paid the wages they expected. Others say their employers use “bait-and-switch” tactics: recruiting them for jobs in Kuwait or other Middle Eastern countries and then pressuring them to go to Iraq. All of these problems have resulted in labor disputes, strikes and on-the-job protests.
Halliburton’s numbers alone reflect that TCNs make up 73% of Kellogg, Brown & Root’s workers in Iraq. Kellogg, Brown & Root, you’ll remember, was that Halliburton company that basically overcharged the government $250 million and is going to get paid anyway.

These American companies - these companies with close ties to the Bush Administration - continue to reap the benefits from the blood, sweat, and tears of poor brown people. It's so disgusting. Is this how the War on Terror is to be won?

1 comment:

Kabooke Quantum Fighter said...

i knows peeps that have gone to iraq for this. i mean theyre not homies of mine but i know of them. these guys are everywhere though, all around europe, canada, states even, although obviously not contracted by a huge defence contractor and fed slop, but not far from it either. i think the phillipines largest export is infact, manpower. some countries just get the short end of the stick.
eZ now;