Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Help Wanted 75-100K

Would you like to earn up to 100K a year? Well, dust off that resume. Kellogg, Brown & Root may be the answer to your dreams – or quite possibly the nightmare you’ll never wake up from.

According to In These Times, KBR is holding job fairs to find workers to fill positions in Iraq ranging from chefs, electricians, mechanics, medics, laundry, pest control, construction and water purification workers. The pay ranges from $75,000 to $100,000 a year — with the first $80,000 tax-free if you last an entire year. They currently have between 50,000 and 60,000 people in Iraq with orders to keep sending 200 to 300 more a week – with no end in sight.
The cardboard display on the table outside the hotel conference room promotes benefits like "integrity," "adventure" and "pride," but "the money is the big draw," says Dale, another of about 60 KBR hopefuls at this afternoon’s session, which consists of an hour-and-a-half long presentation by Peter Howatt, a recruiter with KBR’s special projects group. Six other recruiters out in the hallway sift through resumes while Howatt lays out a far more realistic scenario than the military presents to army recruits. "We don’t pull any punches," Howatt told In These Times. "People know exactly what they are getting themselves into."

For the most part, the Vietnam veteran stays true to his word. In the first 10 minutes of his talk, Howatt provides his audience with the official KBR contractor death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan (68 at the time). He tells the applicants that they’ll be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with 10 days off every 4 months. After a short film showing construction of a tent city in the desert, he advises the room full of military veterans, former Halliburton/KBR employees and average Joes and Jills (complete with a crying baby in the back) that if they are killed in an NBC (nuclear biological or chemical) attack and their remains are contaminated, they won’t be flown home to their families. Instead, they will be cremated.

But heads perk up at the mention of salary, and Howatt’s sales pitch to the group is tight: "If you owe back taxes, call the IRS, tell them you are gonna go overseas, make a ton of money, and they’ll be glad to let you go. Same with child support."

With 200,000 job applications on file, the KBR recruiter admits the poor economy “adds to our ability to go out and attract the right people.” It probably doesn’t hurt any that as of January 1, starting pay in the U.S. army will only range from $15,282 to $27,464 per year.

UPDATE: It appears that KBR is behaving just like any other typical corporation - they're outsourcing jobs. According to the United Press International, the U.S. military has paid Halliburton subsidiary KBR about $12 billion so far for logistics support and KBR in turn "hires 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."
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.

The workers also get a $40 a month cash allowance on top of that, but the contract states the money is a gift, and the amount discretionary and may be eliminated.

This whole scenario stinks, but you can bet your last dollar Kellogg, Root & Brown executives will make out like bandits.

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