speaking of 50 cents

KBR workers in Iraq paid 50 cents an hour
By Pamela Hess Dec 2, 2005, 15:25 GMT


WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- While the United States spends billions on troop support in Iraq, the people serving the meals, scooping the ice cream, and washing the dishes make as little as 50 cents an hour.

The U.S. military has paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR about $12 billion so far for so-called logistics support to U.S. military personnel in Iraq, the largest contract of its kind ever. Around 80,000 troops are served meals at dining facilities every day under the contract -- the other 60,000 or so fend for themselves in field kitchens or by eating military issue 'Meals Ready to Eat.'

KBR in turn hires that work out entirely to subcontractors whose job it is to recruit, transport, house, feed and pay 'third-country' nationals to stock, prepare, serve and clean up at the dining facilities at 43 bases across Iraq.

Those workers are recruited from countries with already low wages, where jobs are scarce. And as pressure to keep the logistics contract cost down has increased, subcontractors have moved from country to country in search of cheaper labor markets.

That is what brought around 770 workers from Sierra Leone, Africa, to Iraq in July to work for ESS Support Services Worldwide, A British-based food service company specializing, according to its Web site, in 'remote site, defense and off-shore locations.'

Most of the workers are deemed unskilled and work seven days a week for 12 hours a day, according to their contracts, one of which was obtained by United Press International. In practice, workers said in interviews, most only work six days a week.

There is no provision for sick leave. Any employee who threatens a strike or attempts to organize is subject to immediate dismissal and the employee required to pay for his return plane ticket.

For this they are paid $150 a month, roughly 45 cents an hour.

Salaries are deposited in bank accounts in Africa so the money is available to the workers` families.


and that's if they were getting paid at all

from may 2004:


COCHIN, India -- Four Indians said yesterday they were held against their will by U.S. troops in Iraq to do menial work in an Army camp([search]) amid insurgent attacks.

The U.S. Embassy said it was investigating the report.

Aliyarkunj Faisal, Abdul Aziz Shahjehan, Haniffa Mansool and Hameed Abdul Hafiz said they signed up in August with a recruiting agency to work for a caterer in Kuwait.

When they reached the Kuwait airport, a U.S. soldier ordered them to board a bus that took them to a base near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, they said.

"There were some 20 Indians in the bus. Once we knew that we were inside Iraq, we protested," Faisal said. "But the Americans told us that they had paid a Kuwait agency $1,000 for each man and therefore it was a must that we work for them."


around that same period

Iraq Kurds Say They Were Shortchanged on Massive U.S. Cash Drop

An Iraqi Kurd who served on the U.S.-appointed Governing Council said that airlifting $1.4 billion in cash to Irbil was an attempt to win the silence of Kurdish leaders after the Coalition Provisional Authority had squandered the rest of the money.


IRBIL, Iraq — The $100 bills were all new. They came wrapped in plastic and loaded on wooden pallets. Altogether, the money weighed 15 tons, enough to fill three U.S. military helicopters. It totaled $1.4 billion.

In a little-known operation during the final days of the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority, American military helicopters flew the shipment of cash to Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan's largest city.

U.S. troops were waiting on the ground at the airport to unload the money and take it under heavy guard to the headquarters of the province's central bank in the city's core.

The cash payment, which was approved by outgoing U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III, was delivered on June 23, 2004, five days before he returned sovereignty to a new Iraqi government in Baghdad and left the country. The money, which came out of prewar oil revenue, was given to top officials with Iraq's two Kurdish provincial governments.

"For us it was so strange," said Rashid Taher, director of finance in Irbil province. "We received it as cash at the airport. Paul Bremer delivered it to us, and we still have the money."

Kurdistan officials say the secret, last-minute shipment highlighted the sometimes-questionable handling of billions of dollars by the United States during the 14 months Bremer ran Iraq.

They say the cash was only part of the $4 billion the region was owed under the United Nations oil-for-food program. And they contend that Bremer improperly used Kurdistan's remaining $2.6-billion share of the U.N. fund for other purposes during his administration of Iraq.

Mahmoud Othman, an Iraqi Kurd who served on the U.S.-appointed Governing Council during the Bremer era, charged that airlifting $1.4 billion in cash to Irbil was an attempt to win the silence of Kurdish leaders after Bremer had squandered the rest of the money. Othman has called for an investigation into the handling of the funds.

"He did this, which is not normal, because he himself had made a mess," said Othman, who serves in the transitional Iraqi National Assembly.

"He had spent part of the $4 billion, and he had to do this to keep their mouths shut about it."

Efforts to reach Bremer, who has said little in public since leaving Iraq, were unsuccessful.


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An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war.
-- Mark Twain
Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)

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