Good morning, everyone.
I'll start by telling you that my position with Nygård is executive vice-president of operations and technical designs. A very large part of my responsibility is sourcing: sourcing accessories, fabric mills, fabric suppliers, and garment factories for our production. We are currently in nine countries and are using 32 garment factories.
My first foray into Jordan was in 2003. We started some production with a couple of factories at the time, but the quantities weren't very large at the time. However, we were able to start this with JC Penney in the U.S., and in order to take on their business we really had to come up with some competitive pricing, which meant working with countries that were duty-free to the U.S.
JC Penney, in addition to regular compliance, has some pretty tough rules to follow. One of the things they insist upon is that any factories where their production is being done are on what they call the “golden list”. Not every country has a golden list, but certainly Jordan does.
In 2006 we began work with IBG, which was then known as MF Textiles. I believe IBG bought it over in 2008. In starting to do business with them, Nygård does have a supplier compliance policy. We did send some documents, but unfortunately it was too late for them to be translated, so they aren't with the committee members.
Our compliance policy covers all the rules and regulations relating to labour standards, worker health and safety, and the environment. It calls for no discrimination in terms of hiring, employment practices, disabilities, sexual orientation, etc.
Suppliers cannot use forced or indentured labour and strictly no child labour, as defined by local law, but definitely and specifically not children under the age of 15.
Suppliers will treat all workers with respect and dignity and shall not use corporal punishment, threats, or any form of physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal harassment or abuse.
Suppliers shall permit their employees to enjoy all civil rights granted under the constitution and laws of the country in which they are employed.
It then speaks to workplace safety and health, and environmental laws. We do get our partners to sign these compliance policies in order to do business for us.
We don't take this lightly. We do monitor. We don't just get factories to sign these and then walk away. For the countries of Jordan and Egypt, I have in place a country manager who lives in Egypt but spends 10 to 11 weeks a year in Jordan. I have a regional manager who lives in Singapore and that is his region. He visits Jordan four to six times a year. I myself go twice a year, and I have three Nygård employees permanently stationed at the IBG factories.
In addition to that, we know that the ministry of labour, through their directorate of worker...I'm not quite sure what the title of that is. Anyway, they deal with the inspections and make sure that all of the laws and compliance towards the golden list are being kept.
There is one more. The exporters' association also get involved. As of the last couple of years, IBG has also been working with Better Business Jordan and has set up a committee. There is a certificate to that effect.
I find, working in Jordan, that all of the government and human rights agencies, Better Work Jordan and so on, are all very approachable; they are all very helpful. I met with four out of five of these organizations last year. They're all very open to speaking about labour issues and how they can contribute and give advice on how we can do things better.
I visit the sites and talk to the people. I visit the dormitories. I visit the canteens. I meet with some of the individual workers and talk to them. Here are some of the things that I have found. One thing is that workers migrate to Jordan. As we've already said, the vast majority of the workers specifically in our industry come from other countries.
One of the main reasons they do it is they can receive double to triple the wages they would earn in their own country. To that point, they also have the added advantage of having free room and board. I think most of us know they send most of their money home to support their families and overall have a better way of life.
Food and board is free. Even though that is not specifically in the contracts that these workers sign, there could be a deduction. As of May 1, 2010, IBG has waived that deduction. There are other benefits offered by IBG. There's a full-time doctor on staff between the two factories and there is a full-time nurse at each of the facilities.
Of the workers, 26% of the migrant workers are on their second or third term with the company. Certainly there are people who have their leave after their first contract is over and then sign another contract to come back. I think 26% is quite a high return.
I think one of the benefits of a free trade agreement is that it would employ more people in Jordan. Certainly we would increase our production. Right now, I only make goods that ship to the U.S.A., but I would add that all of my product that could be produced there...I would do so. For our company, it's to market to both Canada and the U.S., respectively.
I think other things may come up in question and answers.
I'll close with that. I don't know whether Mr. David Hudson has anything he might want to add.