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Halliburton employs the world's poor to make a killing in Iraq
1 July 2004

WASHINGTON, July 1 (HalliburtonWatch.org) - Much of Halliburton's government business in Iraq and Kuwait, potentially worth $18 billion, is being carried out by the world's poor people. Many of these people are underpaid, working for wages that are one-tenth of what U.S. workers receive, thereby saving millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. For example, Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, pays workers $7 per day to work in kitchens at military bases.

One worker from India told the Washington Post that he was tricked into going to Iraq by a recruiting agent who told him the job was in Kuwait. The recruiting agent, Subhash Vijay, officially hired him in June 2003 for a two-year stint at a catering company. The job would pay $200 a month -- five times the salary of his job in India. So, he paid the $1,800 fee to the recruiting agent, borrowing money to do so, and traveled to Kuwait. Once he arrived, however, he was shipped off to Iraq to work for Gulf Catering Co. of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was subcontracted to Alargan Group of Kuwait City, which was subcontracted to the Event Source of Salt Lake City, which in turn was subcontracted to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary. He and his co-workers were issued an ID card that said "Brown & Root" (a subsidiary of Halliburton). He said Halliburton treated its workers like animals and failed to provide adequate drinking water, food, health care or security for part of their time in Iraq.

Halliburton and its subcontractors employ recruiters throughout the Third World seeking cheap labor to work in Iraq. Popular countries for recruitment are Pakistan, India and the Philippines. Several million expatriates from Kerala, India work in the Persian Gulf region as support staff for professionals. Halliburton uses many tiers of subcontractors and employment agencies to recruit workers from the Third World, making oversight of the process difficult. Several layers of subcontractor recruitment firms make it easier to abuse workers who sign up for Iraq duty. There are no restrictions on how many subcontractors may be used by Halliburton to carryout its work. Halliburton employs 30,000 workers from 38 countries in support of the U.S. military.

South Korean workers in Iraq complained to the Post about not receiving flak jackets and helmets, even though their U.S. co-workers had received them. Some Filipino workers complained they were given others' spoiled food to eat. Indian workers told the Post about being transported into Iraq on buses with only gauze curtains to hide them from insurgents while other contractors came into the country on planes or in convoys with military escorts.

Although the foreign workers in Iraq are constantly threatened by gunfire and explosions, their biggest complaint was the horrible treatment they received by the soldiers and other personnel at military bases. "The attitude of the people was not friendly at all. We were doing a service for these people but they shouted at us and talked down to us," one worker told the Post. Moreover, they were forced to sleep in tents where the air was 100 degrees while their supervisors slept in air-conditioned trailers.

More Information:

Washington Post: Underclass of Workers Created in Iraq

HalliburtonWatch: Indian Contract Workers in Iraq Complain of Exploitation