in the news on-line, 13 September 2012

23:49:55 local time map of china CHINA

* It’s now time to re-tool the ‘world’s factory’:

China should accelerate innovation to support growth rather than remaining the “world’s factory”, though its traditional manufacturing role does help the country remain a leading driver of the world economy, said experts at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2012 that began in Tianjin on Tuesday.

Manufacturing has long been China’s major strength, but that can be replicated elsewhere, Bhaskar Chakravorti, an economist at Tufts University in the United States, said on the sidelines of the annual event.
Some foreign investors have already moved their manufacturing bases to other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and India where labor costs are lower.

Experts at the forum said China should realize its low-end manufacturing model is no longer sustainable.
“Every country needs to pick its own competitive edge,” said Chakravorti. “China has benefited from large-scale manufacturing-driven growth for a long time, so I think it’s time to divert from massive manufacturing and replication capability, and look into self-innovation.”

The economist noted that self-innovation capabilities require a much longer development period and deeper roots in education starting from kindergarten and primary school. read more.

22:49:55 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Russian garment factory fire kills 14 Vietnamese workers:

A fire swept through a garment factory outside Moscow on Tuesday, killing at least 14 Vietnamese migrant workers, Russian emergency officials said.

Firefighters sent to put out the blaze found 14 bodies in the factory in the town of Yegoryevsk, southeast of Moscow, and four victims were hospitalized with burns, the Moscow region emergencies department said.

All those killed were Vietnamese citizens, the Federal Emergency Situations Ministry said. The Interfax news agency said the garment factory was illegal.

Many migrant workers from Asian countries work in Russian factories in cramped conditions that are often at risk from fires. Death rates from fires are far higher in Russia than in Western countries such as Britain and the United States.

A fire in April on Moscow’s outskirts killed 17 migrant workers who had been living in makeshift quarters at a market warehouse, most of them from economically struggling  former Soviet republics in Central Asia.
read more. & read more.
 

* City plans to boost exports:

The HCM City Industry and Trade Department has drafted a plan to expand exports by 16 per cent annually this decade and double exports in 2011-15 to US$100 billion.
Until 2015, the city will continue to focus on industries that are labour-intensive and use locally-sourced raw materials like seafood processing, footwear, and textile and garment.

From 2015, technology products will account for 10 per cent of exports and software for 2 per cent.
The agricultural, forestry and seafood sectors will improve quality and choose their best products for export to make up 23 per cent of exports. read more.

22:49:55 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Thai apparel producer thrives on Vietnam demand:

Alliance One Apparel Co, the Vietnamese subsidiary of Thailand’s Liberty Garment, will develop its own brand next year to tap into thriving demand in the neighbouring country.

“Thai products are preferable in Vietnam thanks to good quality and reasonable prices,” said general manager Santi Jawtrakul.
Alliance One was set up and awarded an investment licence by Ben Tre province’s Industrial Park Authority in 2006.

The relocation was made to stave off Thailand’s high labour costs.
The Vietnamese unit started operating a US$15-million apparel plant in 2007 in Ben Tre’s Giao Long Industrial Zone in the Mekong Delta, employing 4,700 workers.
It recently built a $5-million second factory in the same area, this one employing 1,800 staff.
The two factories combined produce 700,000 pieces a month and generate annual revenue of $42 million, mostly from exports. read  more.

22:49:55 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Allegations of rioting, vandalism at now shuttered factory:

Two very different pictures of what occurred at the First & Main plush-toy factory in Phnom Penh on Monday emerged yesterday as workers alleged they had lost their jobs and the founder of the company spoke of rioting and vandalism sending him to ruin.

According to their representative Mech Mom, the factory’s 357 workers were told to take a two-week paid break on August 26, amid rumours the company was on the verge of collapse.

“But when we came back to the factory on Monday to receive our wage – as promised – we found it closed,” she said yesterday.

Gates were locked at the Sen Sok district factory and workers’ attempts to contact managers – scheduled to have been there – were unsuccessful, Mom added.

US-based First & Main president and founder Brad Holes, however, said a female representative he sent to negotiate with the workers had been prevented from leaving the factory after a number of people broke into the building and trashed teddy-bear manufacturing equipment. read more.

* Unpaid workers cry factory foul:

About 500 workers at Sein-Atree, in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Torng district, will march to the provincial labour department today to request intervention in a dispute yet to be solved after two days of striking.

“The workers have not received their full salary for August yet,” factory employee Sun Sameoun said, noting that he had received only half of last month’s wages.

In addition to on-time payment, workers are demanding revisions to the factory’s policies, such as not forcing employees to work overtime, promptly paying dismissed workers, paying workers on maternity leave 50 per cent of their salary in advance and not firing workers without just cause.

“The workers will be fired if they go to the toilet more than two times a day and talk on the phone,” Sun Samoeun said. read more.

* Factory workers faint after hearing ghost tale:

About 20 workers at Vanco Industrial in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district fainted while working yesterday, after an older colleague told them a ghost story about a suicide in the factory’s restroom.

Tuy Vang, labour dispute resolution officer at Collective Union Movement of Workers, who went down to see the factory yesterday and talked to the workers said that about 20 workers had become so spooked by the story that they passed out.
The workers have been allowed to stay home for two days to recover.
Company representatives could not be contacted yesterday.to read.

23:49:55 local time map of malaysia MALYASIA

* Minimum wage order finalised:

The National Wage Consultative has finalised the Minimum Wage Order Guideline 2012, said the Human Resource Ministry.

The guideline, among others, listed the minimum wage of workers who are on daily rate, and those without basic wage but are paid on piece-rate, tonnage, trips and commissions.
It also explains the restructuring of salaries after employers have consulted employees and the postponement sought by employers.

“For employers who employ six or more employees, the effective date of implementation is on Jan 1, 2013 and applications for postponement can be made to the council before or on Oct 2.
“For employers with five or less workers, the effective date of implementation is on July 1, 2013 and applications for postponement can be made before or on April 1, 2013,” said the ministry in a statement. read more. & read more.

* Oct 2 deadline for companies applying to postpone minimum wage adoption:

Companies that employ six or more staff can apply to postpone their adoption of the minimum wage rule, but only if the application is made before Oct 2.

The Human Resources Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that applications should be made to the National Wage Consultative Council’s secretariat before the deadline, failing which the companies will be expected to comply with the order as scheduled on Jan 1, 2013.

Companies with staff numbering five or less, on the other hand, will have until April 1 next year to send in applications to postpone implementation of minimum wage, otherwise they will be required to adopt the new system on July 1. read more.

23:49:55 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Social security scheme waiting for proper political moment to win:

The National Social Security System (SJSN) could be the hottest issue in the 2014 general election in connection with the mandated implementation of the National Healthcare Program as of Jan. 1, 2014, and the four labor social security programs in July 2015.

There are some differences in the behavior of voters compared to previous general elections; voters appear to be more intelligent and pragmatic, and they are expected to cast their vote for candidates and parties fighting for their political aspirations, as indicated in the ongoing gubernatorial election in Jakarta. read more.

21:49:55 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* The image factor in RMG sector:

Life is the most precious thing one has. Unfortunately, no matter how big is the claim to be the most civilised species in the world, human race is yet to get rid of killing each other for self-interest – sometimes in the name of illegitimate war, sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes for personal animosity. It happens all over the world.

Any unlawful killing by the state or any other entity is deplorable. So is the killing of Aminul Islam. No word is adequate to say how unacceptable his death is. Whoever is involved with this heinous act should be brought to justice without any delay.

Aminul is one of the many unfortunate victims of uncivilised act of his own race. But use of his death to pursue a particular propaganda is unacceptable. Since his death, a quarter is consistently spearheading the propaganda that Aminul was killed to stop the struggle for workers’ right in the readymade garments (RMG) sector of Bangladesh. The New York Times (NYT) is the latest addition to this chorus. By using his unfortunate death, it even goes this far to claim that “graveyard is the immediate destination for anyone working for the RMG workers in Bangladesh”. This is baloney. With due respect to Aminul, he was not a front-runner in the struggle for worker’s right in the RMG sector, and his death has no effect on the ongoing struggle for worker’s right in Bangladesh. Whatever the motive behind his killing, certainly it is not the claimed one.read more.

* Fire destroys 50 slum houses in N’ganj:

At least 50 houses and two warehouses were completely destroyed by a fire that broke out at Chandmari slum in Narayanganj town yesterday morning.

Witnesses and police said the fire originated from the house of one Edu Mia in the area around 11:00am and soon engulfed the adjacent houses and warehouses that used to store leftover fabrics of garment factories.
On information, five fire fighting units from Mondal Para and Hajiganj in the town rushed to the spot and doused the fire after an hour of hectic efforts.

More than half of the 100 houses in Chandmari slum were burnt to ashes in the fire incident.
The affected slum dwellers claimed the total loss of property and valuables from the fire to be around Tk 50 lakh.
Meahwhile, Alamgir, Khalil, Azmal and Monir Mia, the warehouse owners, claimed that the fire caused them losses worth up to Tk 30 lakh. read more.

* KUET introduces Textile Dept:

Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET) has introduced Textile Engineering Department from this session (2012-2013). As a result 10 per cent seats would be increased in the admission test of 1st year BSc Engineering Course of 2012-2013 educational year.

KUET sources said the Education Ministry has already approved the recommendations made by the University Grants Commission to open Textile Engineering Department and 60 students will be able to get chance of studying in the university with the introduction of the new department against the existing 665. The admission test will be held on November 09, 2012.to read.

21:19:55 local time map of india INDIA

* Workers, textile mill owners re-negotiate wage rates:

The textile department is yet to receive a final application from the mills regarding the revised wage rates

Following workers’ demand to match wage hikes similar to Arvind, other textile mills have begun re-negotiations for wage hikes. The textile department is yet to receive a final application from the mills regarding the revised wage rates.

“The textile mills and workers are re-negotiating over the wage rates. We believe soon they should arrive at a consensus. We are awaiting for the three textile mills to register their final re-negotiated wage rates with the labour department. So far, we have only seen Arvind register their wages with us,” said MV Jadeja, deputy labour commissioner, Department of Labour, Government of Gujarat. read more.

* Include handloom, handicraft workers in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme: State Alliance for Rights, Empowerment and Livelihood:

  The State Alliance for Rights, Empowerment and Livelihood (SAREL), a network of non-governmental organisations, staged a demonstration under the banner of Human Welfare Association (HWA) at the district headquarters demanding inclusion of skilled labourers of handloom and handicraft in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) on Tuesday.

Besides the representatives of SAREL network operating in 20 districts of the state, handloom weavers and handicraft artisans also took part in the rally. They put forth their demands to union ministries of rural development, textiles, small industries and the chief minister requesting the inclusion of handloom and handicraft sectors in MGNREGS projects.

Addressing the rally, the state convener of SAREL Dr Rajnikant said about 1.5 crore people of the state depend on handicraft, handloom and other cottage industries creating products like the famous Banarasi sari, carpets, metal, wood and stone craft, embroidery, terracotta, etc. It is unfortunate that they are not covered under the MGNREGS, he said, adding that a sharp decline of skilled workers was noticed in these sectors. read more.

20:49:55 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

THE KARACHI  & LAHORE FIRES

* Death toll of Karachi factory fire rose to 289:

20120912 17h Local Time
The death toll from a garment factory fire in Karachi’s SITE area rose to 289 as more bodies were recovered from the gutted building, the city’s top administration official said Wednesday.

“The death toll is 289. This is not final, search for more bodies continues,” commissioner Karachi Roshan Shaikh told AFP.

Karachi city’s police chief Iqbal Mahmood also said rescue teams were still trying to gain access to parts of the factory, which caught fire late on Tuesday, and the death toll could rise.

“We found dozens of people dead in a large room of the factory’s basement. It was totally burnt and parts of it were smouldering, which we put out before shifting the bodies to hospitals,” Karachi fire chief Ehtesham Salim told AFP.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
     

People gather at the site of the burnt-out Karachi factory. Picture-AP

* Death toll from Karachi factory fire soars:

More than 100 people are now known to have died in a fire at a factory in the Pakistan city of Karachi, officials say.

The fire broke out in the garment factory on Tuesday evening. Many other people were injured, including some who jumped from the burning building.
Some 40 firefighting vehicles were needed to tackle the blaze, an official told local media.
A fire earlier in the day at a shoe factory in Lahore killed 23 people.
The Lahore fire was attributed to a faulty electricity generator. Medical officials said some people had died of suffocation while others were burned alive as the fire took hold. read & see more. video.

* Hundreds killed in Karachi factory inferno:

More than 280 people killed in southern city, with many victims caught in basement with no fire exits and locked doors.

Factory fires in two major cities in Pakistan have killed more than 300 people and injured dozens more, including some who had to leap from windows to escape the flames, officials and survivors have said.
The most deadly blaze broke out on Tuesday night in a garment factory in the southern port city of Karachi, where at least 289 bodies have been recovered so far, according to Roshan Ali Sheikh, a senior government official.
At least 25 others were killed hours earlier in a shoe factory in the eastern city of Lahore.
Firefighters continued to battle the blaze in Karachi on Wednesday.

Most of the deaths were caused by suffocation as people caught in the basement were unable to escape when it filled with smoke, said the top firefighter in Karachi, Ehtisham-ud-Din. There were no fire exits, and the doors leading out of the basement were locked, he said.
Such safety issues are common throughout Pakistan, where buildings also lack emergency equipment like alarms and sprinklers and municipal rules are rarely enforced.

Workers on higher floors of the five-story building struggled to make it out of windows that were covered with metal bars.

Mohammad Ilyas, a factory worker who was injured as he jumped out of the building, said he was working with roughly 50 other men and women on one of the floors when suddenly a fireball came from the staircase.

“I jumped from my seat as did others and rushed towards the windows, but iron bars on the windows barred us from escaping. Some of us quickly took tools and machines to break the iron bars,” he said. “That was how we managed to jump out of the windows down to the ground floor.” .

Managers run
Sheikh said the factory’s managers had fled and were being sought by police. Authorities have placed the name of the factory’s owner on a list of people who are not allowed to leave the country, he said.

“The owners were more concerned with safeguarding the garments in the factory than the workers,” said employee Mohammad Pervez, holding up a photograph of his cousin, who was missing after the fire.
“If there were no metal grilles on the windows a lot of people would have been saved. The factory was overflowing with garments and fabrics. Whoever complained was fired.”  read & see more. video.

* FIA investigating fire incidents- Malik:

20120912 1240 PKT
Interior Minister, Rahman Malik Wednesday said that the FIA was investigating the factory fires in Karachi and Lahore which occurred almost simultaneously on the same day and will also probe if any element of terrorism was involved in it, Geo News reported.

Talking to the media outside the parliament house, Rahman Malik said that it has to been seen if there was any wrongdoing in the fire incidents in Lahore and Karachi.

On a query he said that 109 complaints relating to missing persons were sent to UN from Pakistan. UN delegation visiting Pakistan on the invitation of the foreign office and they would be taking our viewpoints in this issue. He said that UN mission has neither come for investigation nor it was permitted. We would brief the UN who were these missing persons—some of them are missing over here, but in fact working abroad, he said.
Interior minister said that he would be raising Dr. Aafia’s issue during his next US visit adding that this was our top priority. read more.

* Case lodged against garment factory owners:

20120912 1612 PKT
A case has been lodged against the owners of the garment factory which caught fire on Tuesday evening.

According to Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, the names of the owners has been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).
An investigation committee headed by DIG West has been formed to probe the fire, while the factory’s allotment has been cancelled.
At least 246 people lost their lives when the horrific fire broke out in the garment factory located in the Baldia Town area of the city. to read. & read more.

* 289 killed in Karachi factory fire:

20120912 1918h PKT
289 lives were lost in a horrific fire which engulfed a garment factory located in Baldia Town.

At least 1,000 workers were present inside the factory at the time of the fire to receive their salaries.
Eyewitnesses tell a horrific tale of what transpired in the factory after the fire broke out. Three of the four doors of the factory were closed to avoid theft on salary day and the lights were shut off.
(…)

Production in charge records statement
The production in charge of the garment factory has recorded his statement.
The production in charge in the statement said the fire broke out at approximately 6:30PM on Tuesday.
At 2:30PM the electricity went out at the factory following which the generator located on the ground floor was turned on. When the electricity supply resumed at 6:30PM, two to three explosions were heard from the location where the generator was kept following which the factory filled up with smoke.
The production manager added that after the smoke had filled the filled the factory he came out but people were trapped inside.

MQM announces 3-day mourning
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has announced three-days of mourning on the tragic deaths caused by the blaze in the garments factory.
The decision was taken in a joint meeting of the Co-ordination Committee in London and Pakistan.

CM Sindh announces compensation
Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced compensation for the families of the victims and those who were injured.
Rs300,000 will be given to the families of the victims while Rs50,000 has been announced for the injured. read more. & see video.

* Safety at suppliers responsibility big brands towards workers:

20120912
Devastating factory fires in two of Pakistan’s biggest cities have killed 314 people. Many lost their lives because they could not escape the blazes in buildings without basic safety features.

The horrific death toll highlights the poor state of industrial safety in Pakistan, where buildings are often old and unsafe and where many factory owners work outside the law.
The worst of the two fires, which both began on Tuesday night, was in a garment factory in Karachi. At least 289 people are reported to have died as fire-fighters battled the flames for hours.

The other fire broke out in the eastern city of Lahore, in a four-storey shoe factory. The blaze killed 25 people, some from burns and some from suffocation, local police chiefs said.
The factory was illegally set up in a residential part of the city and fire-fighters said most people died because the main escape routes were blocked.

It was a similar story of blocked exits and lacking safety equipment – like alarms and sprinklers – in the more deadly Karachi fire, one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan’s 65-year history.
(…)
According to senior government official Roshan Ali Sheikh, the Karachi factory only had one accessible exit, and all of the other doors were locked. Workers on higher floors of the five-story building struggled to make it out of windows that were covered with metal bars. Many were injured when they jumped from the building, including a 27-year-old pregnant woman who was injured in the fall.

Mr Sheikh said he expects the death toll to rise further as rescuers pull bodies from the wreckage.
“It is a criminal act to lock the emergency exit doors, and we are trying to know who did it, and why?” he added.

“The information we are getting confirms the usual pattern of locked exits, an untrained workforce, barred up windows – and an unnecessarily high death toll,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

She said that in many factories across south east Asia there were two key problems: firstly, the substandard buildings which house the factories, and secondly the lack of freedom for workers to speak out about their concerns.

In Pakistan the risks are higher as many businesses are forced to use their own generators to provide electricity to avoid blackouts. A spark from the generator igniting chemicals used in the shoe-making process is reported to have caused the Lahore blaze.
Many workers do not have contracts, so compensation is also an issue – and Zeldenrust said so far this seemed to be the case in Karachi and Lahore.

“On the one hand, there’s a sub-standard building and no respect for safety regulations. On the other there is a climate that is repressing freedom of expression, making it impossible for workers to ensure their own safety,” she said.
At the moment, the Clean Clothes Campaign is trying to ascertain which brands use the factories in their supply chains. read the complete article.

* 21 burnt alive in Lahore, at least 22 in Karachi:

20120912 18.30h LT
At least 22 workers, among them three women, burned to death and over 20 others were injured when a fire broke out in a garments factory in Site area of the city on Tuesday.

The injured were taken to Civil and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals for treatment of burns injuries and smoke inhalation.
Most of them died during treatment at the Burns Centre of the Civil Hospital.

“Fourteen bodies have been kept in Civil Hospital’s mortuary,” said a rescue worker of an ambulance service.
Three charred bodies were taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre because there was not much space left for keeping more bodies in the Civil Hospital.
Sources said the victims brought to the Civil Hospital had serious burns injuries. A large number of women were among the injured.

The fire had broken out on the second floor of the building at around 6pm and was raging till the filing of this report.
A senior fire officer said there were over 1,000 workers in the factory, but most of them had left at 5pm while about 200 stayed back for overtime.
read more.
& read more.  & read more.

* Investigation in factory fire incident:

20120912 23.12 PKT
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari of Sindh Police taking notice of the fire incident occurred in Baldia Town area had formed an inquiry committee under the supervision of Additional Inspector General of Police (Addl. IG) Karachi Iqbal Mehmood.

Moreover, a Senior Member of the inquiry team had termed the blaze as deliberately criminal negligence.

It may be noted here that, on Tuesday evening a huge fire was set ablaze within Ali-Enterprises in SITE-B police remits in which the death toll related to the factory fire has risen to 295 including 17 women, hospital officials and rescue workers said on Wednesday. An unknown fireman also expired during rescue work at the affected factory but, his name and identity was not revealed till filling of this report.

Afterwards the IGP Sindh had called upon a meeting at his office on Wednesday and had formed an inquiry team under the supervision of Addl. IG Karachi Iqbal Mehmood and the members were Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mohammed Farooq Awan, SSP West Amir Farooqi and SSP Investigation West.

The IGP Leghari in his orders said that the members had thoroughly investigate the incident from all angles and also took help from Sindh Police-Forensic Division for technical and scientific assistance to investigate. read more.

* Overall death toll from factory fires soars to 310:

20120913 08.45h LT
More than 310 Pakistanis perished in horrific fires that destroyed two factories in Pakistan, an unprecedented industrial tragedy that prompted calls Wednesday for an overhaul of poor safety standards.

At least 289 people died at a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and the capital of Sindh province, just hours after 21 died at a shoe factory in Lahore, close to the Indian border.
In scenes of horror, relatives watched as loved ones jumped from windows of the four-storey building in Karachi where hundreds were working in a bid to escape the blaze, which began late Tuesday.

Karachi fire chief Ehtesham Salim said rescue workers were facing problems retrieving more bodies from the basement as it was filled with hot water after efforts to extinguish fire.
“There are places in the basement which are still smouldering. Water we used to extinguish the fire has made a pool of hot water in the large area of basement and we are trying to cool it down.”
“There is no electricity in the factory. Our operation has slowed down but we have not suspended our effort.”
read more. & read more reports. & read more reports. & read more.
    

* Workers used sewing machines to smash windows:

Shahzad Ali swung a sewing machine into the window to smash it.

He is one of the 35 injured workers who were brought to Civil hospital from the inferno that broke out in the garments factory off Hub River Road. He jumped from the second floor. He’s been admitted to surgical ward No. 2 where he can’t stop crying. His neck and legs have been injured. He is covered in bandages.

Those who were lucky to get out are haunted by the images of their colleagues being swallowed up by the flames. Bakhtiar Gul, who was a mechanic on the third floor of the adjoining block, remembers waiting for his salary, as it was a pay day. “Suddenly, there were flames and we gathered at the other end of the room,” he said. Alert people outside threw them a rope and he managed to get himself and five to six women out of the room. “Everyone wanted to get out. I saw people behind me on fire,” he said terrified. read more.

* Tragedy: PM asks governor for report on factory fire:

20120913
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called Governor Latif Khan Khosa from China on Wednesday and asked him to prepare a report on the fire at a shoe factory at Bund Road. Ashraf told Khosa that on his way back from China, he would stop over in Lahore.

Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, the deputy prime minister, lashed out at the Punjab government for not making functional the burn unit the PML-Q government had “established” at Jinnah Hospital when he was chief minister. He said many of the people injured in the factory fire could have been saved had the burn unit been functional.
“How many lives do the rulers of the Punjab want to take?” he asked.

Separately, the Workers Party Pakistan called for Punjab government officials who had abolished labour inspections in 2003 to be held accountable. read more.

* Fire from hell:

20120913
How does one even begin to fathom the magnitude of the tragedy that has hit the nation in the form of two massive fires? Over 20 workers died in a factory fire in Lahore while in Karachi the tragedy was perhaps beyond the grasp of one’s imagination. At the time of writing of this editorial, the death toll was in the lower hundreds and rising, in all likelihood making it the world’s worst factory fire.

The fire broke out on the evening of September 11 and the factory in question is said to have employed over 1,000 people. It took more or less the whole of the following night to put the fire out and it is likely that the rain element played a role in this as well since Karachi experienced heavy rainfall during the nights of September 11 and 12.

The quotes of the men sent to fight the fire, mentioned in various reports including this newspaper, presented a hopeless situation. For starters, Pakistan has little or no concept of fire safety.
Schools rarely have fire drills, unlike in most developed countries, and this means that most Pakistanis grow up with no real awareness of the havoc that fires can cause to them and their immediate surroundings. More specifically, there is no system in the country of fire hydrants, which are used in the West to supply water at high pressure to fire tenders. This is why, whenever there is a massive fire, one hears of fire tenders running out of water — because they have to carry their own supplies with them, which usually do not last all that long. There is also the issue of equipment such as adequate number of snorkels, which allow firefighters to approach high-rise buildings or get close to a structure if the road approaching it is narrow and cannot accommodate a fire tender. read more.

* geo.tv- Full Coverage:

Fire erupts once again in Karachi garment factory
Karachi inferno: factory owner expresses grief over death of workers
PML(N), PTI, ANP call to defer Karachi strike
CM announces 0.3mn for each victim

* Global brands should ensure garment worker safety:

CCC mourns the senseless deaths of at least 250 garment workers who perished in three factory fires in Pakistan and Russia this week.

“These deaths could and should have been avoided”, says CCC International Coordinator Ineke Zeldenrust. “Emergency exits were absent or locked, and workers were trapped. This is the usual pattern: it is well known that many work places are unsafe, and that workers in key producing countries risk their lives on a daily basis producing clothes for Europe and the USA.”

CCC urges brands as well as governments and employers to upgrade the buildings and train workers and management.

Most importantly, they should ensure that workers can freely organize and speak out when safety regulations are ignored. Victims also need to have access to the best possible medical care and to fair compensation. Unions and labour groups in Pakistan have announced major protests today and tomorrow.

CCC is working with partners on the ground to obtain more information, and calls upon all brands sourcing from the suppliers in question to come forward. to read.

* Pakistani factory fire highlights lack of workplace safety measures, says ILO:

More needs to be done to protect workers’ safety and health, the ILO says, as Pakistan mourns the deaths of hundreds of workers in a garment factory fire in Karachi.The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for national action to protect workers’ health and safety, following the deaths of at least 240 workers in a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan.

Seiji Machida, Head of ILO’s SafeWork Programme, underlined the need for concrete action to prevent such tragedies. “We were shocked by the news we heard that well over 200 workers were killed in a factory fire today. Protection of workers’ safety and health is a fundamental human right. We need to reinforce measures to protect workers’ lives from hazards in the workplace. We would like to call for national action to improve the protection of all workers,” he said.

According to media reports, many victims were trapped in a basement with no fire exits and locked doors. Most died from suffocation when the basement filled with smoke. Other workers on higher floors rushed to windows to escape but struggled to get out because metal bars blocked their way. Hours earlier, at least 25 people died in a shoe factory fire in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Tragedies like these, said Machida, are all too common in the region. In 1993, 188 workers, mainly women, died in a toy factory in Thailand.

“Almost 20 years after the tragedy in Thailand, we still see similar disasters. The risk of death or injuries from fire hazards in the workplace, continue to be an important issue. I would like to call for the strengthening of legal and other supporting measures to improve workplace safety and health in all countries, particularly in developing countries. We call for action to realize Decent Work must be safe work for all.”

The ILO office in Pakistan added, ‘We have been highlighting the importance of Safe Work in Pakistan at forums organized with government, employers and workers and encouraging a Labour Inspection regime that protects the workers.” read more.

* Pak factory fires raise question about industrial safety as 310 killed:

Fires swept through two factories in Pakistan, one in the city of Karachi and the other in Lahore, killing at least 310 people, police and government officials said on Wednesday.

At least 280 people died at a garment factory in Karachi, in the worst blaze in decades to hit Pakistan’s biggest city, just hours after 21 died at a shoe factory in Lahore, close to the Indian border.

Dozens of others were hurt in Karachi as they jumped out of windows from the four-storey building to escape the blaze that began Tuesday evening in a bid to save their lives, as sobbing relatives of trapped workers scuffled with police overnight.

The death toll from the fires late on Tuesday is likely to raise fresh questions about industrial safety in the nuclear-armed south Asian nation and draw more criticism of the deeply unpopular government.

The cause of the garment factory fire was not clear. The garment trade is vital to Pakistan’s shaky economy.

According to central bank data, the textiles industry contributed 7.4 per cent to Pakistan’s GDP in 2011 and employed 38 per cent of the manufacturing sector workforce. It accounted for 55.6 per cent of total exports.

Critics say Pakistan’s government is too corrupt and ineffective to focus on the welfare of workers and a dizzying array of other problems, from crippling power cuts to widespread poverty to a Taliban insurgency. read more.

* HRCP asks govt how factories with bad working conditions can operate:

Although the firefighters did a good job, the capacity to fight fires even in the country’s biggest city is questionable at best, said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) while expressing concern over the death of at least 289 people who died in factory fires in Karachi and Lahore on Tuesday.

They demanded that immediate action should be taken to ensure that safety measures were taken to protect factory workers in the country.

In a statement issued by the commission on Wednesday, they said that although the government had promised to look into the case, many factors which contributed to the fire were common knowledge, including the bad working conditions at such factories. “We already know that due to the lack of multiple exit and entry points, the workers could not escape in time,” said the HRCP. “The factory in Lahore only had one entry-exit point and in Karachi, many workers died because they had to jump out of a four-storey building. Highly inflammable substances were stored inside the building and no safety measures were taken. The situation got worse as there were no fire alarms or fire extinguishers.” read more.

* ‘He was wearing black T-shirt and off-white trousers when he left for work’:

here was no limit to confusion on Wednesday at the mortuaries of the city hospitals where the SITE factory inferno victims’ bodies had been brought for identification.

Families of the victims were running from pillar to post to seek information about their loved ones. It was only after having lost hope for their survival that they decided to steel themselves for sorrow and head for the mortuaries.

Outside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s (JPMC) mortuary were Mohammad Amin and Noor Mohammad looking for their friend Mohammad Shafiq. “We know he is dead as he would have got in touch with us if he had been alive. We are here at the JPMC and three of his brothers are spread out at the Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) and the Edhi morgue at Sohrab Goth,” said Noor Mohammad.

Sitting in a chair at a roadside camp set up in front of the JPMC was Dilawar Hussain looking for his son Asif Aziz. “I have spent the entire night looking for him at the CHK and ASH and now I’m here at the JPMC, but there is no sign of him here as well,” he cried showing his son’s photograph.

“He was wearing a black T-shirt and off-white pants when he left for work on Tuesday.”

A young man waiting beside his motorcycle said that he had found the bodies of his maternal uncle and his son at the JPMC but four of their family members were still missing. “All the six worked in the same factory,” he said. “I’ll go to the other places to look for them there.” read more.

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* Textile policy 2009-2014 goes off course:

The Textile policy 2009-2014, it appears, has gone off course as most of the clauses included therein are either pending or no exercise has been carried out towards their implementation despite passage of almost three years.
The lousy approach of the textile ministry is causing concern among the value added textile sector stakeholders as their production schedules are being affected in the absence of clear cut government policies.

Although the government recognises the principle that exports should not be taxed and had assured that efforts will be made to identify all direct and indirect levies that add to the cost of doing business without appropriate compensation so that remedial measures could be adopted, a staggering amount of around Rs 50 billion is pending refund to the value added textile sector. read more.

20:49:55 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Uzbek teachers sent to cotton fields:

In many colleges, lyceums and universities in Uzbekistan classes have been reduced because most teachers have been sent to pick cotton.

At the Tashkent law college students have two classes a day instead of usual four because all male teachers and some female teachers have been sent to cotton fields in Tashkent and Jizak Regions.

Some female teachers were not sent to pick cotton because of their old age and they say colleges and universities in Tashkent will go back to their usual work pattern no earlier than mid-October. read more.

* Businesses forced to sponsor cotton harvesting in Angren:

Taxmen are handing out copies of an appeal by members of the local legislature to provide financial support to cotton pickers in Angren in Tashkent Region.

The campaign among shopkeepers has been underway for three days now.
The appeal says that on 27 July a sitting of the Council of People’s Deputies of Angren adopted the appeal calling for support to cotton pickers.
Shopkeepers are asked to help students of the Tashkent Region Pedagogical Institute, academic lyceums and colleges who are in cotton fields now.

Deputies asked for support in form of foodstuffs or any other form and indicated in an appeal the number of an account in Ipoteka Bank to which businessmen could send money.
The appeal stresses that the campaign is voluntary, but taxmen threaten to complicate the lives of shopkeepers if they refuse to provide aid which, taxmen suggest, should range between 200,000 and 300,000 sums. read more.

* “We Don’t Use Child Labor and No You Can’t Have a Look” :

It’s September and that means it’s cotton-harvesting time in Uzbekistan. As the kids return to school (often via the cotton fields), Tashkent has issued its annual denial that they are forced to pick the “white gold.” But forget trying to independently confirm there is no forced child labor in Uzbekistan. 

 The government continues to refuse to allow observers from the International Labor Organization, a branch of the United Nations that monitors international labor standards, to monitor the cotton harvest, the Cotton Campaign reports. [Editor’s Note: The Cotton Campaign receives support from the Open Society Foundations; EurasiaNet.org operates under the auspices of OSF.]
Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev announced in August that it is forbidden to use children to harvest cotton and that schoolchildren shouldn’t even be near the fields during harvest season. However, UzNews and Radio Free Europe’s Uzbek Service note that Mirziyoyev’s decree is a yearly song and dance, and that as early as September 5, students from Jizzakh, a town in Uzbekistan’s northeast, were rounded up into buses and sent off to pick cotton in fields about 70 kilometers away.
To give an idea of just how central the cotton crop is to the economy of 30 million people, customers at some banks in the capital are reportedly unable to make withdrawals because the banks’ cash supplies are being used to pay for the cotton harvest. UzNews reports that this is a normal problem around cotton-harvest time, when Uzbek banks, the majority of which are state-run, send their cash reserves to smaller, regional banks to pay cotton pickers. read more.

 

map of Asia

CHINA
* It’s now time to re-tool the ‘world’s factory’

VIET NAM
* Russian garment factory fire kills 14 Vietnamese workers
* City plans to boost exports

THAILAND
* Thai apparel producer thrives on Vietnam demand

CAMBODIA
* Allegations of rioting, vandalism at now shuttered factory
* Unpaid workers cry factory foul
* Factory workers faint after hearing ghost tale

MALYASIA
* Minimum wage order finalised
* Oct 2 deadline for companies applying to postpone minimum wage adoption

INDONESIA
* Social security scheme waiting for proper political moment to win

BANGLA DESH
* The image factor in RMG sector
* Fire destroys 50 slum houses in N’ganj
* KUET introduces Textile Dept

INDIA
* Workers, textile mill owners re-negotiate wage rates
* Include handloom, handicraft workers in Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme

PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI & LAHORE FIRES:
* Death toll of Karachi factory fire rose to 289
* Death toll from Karachi factory fire soars
* Hundreds killed in Karachi factory inferno
* FIA investigating fire incidents- Malik
* Case lodged against garment factory owners
* 289 killed in Karachi factory fire
* Safety at suppliers responsibility big brands towards workers
* 21 burnt alive in Lahore, at least 22 in Karachi
* Investigation in factory fire incident
* Overall death toll from factory fires soars to 310
* Workers used sewing machines to smash windows
* Tragedy: PM asks governor for report on factory fire
* Fire from hell
* geo.tv- Full Coverage
* Global brands should ensure garment worker safety
* Pakistani factory fire highlights lack of workplace safety measures, says ILO
* Pak factory fires raise question about industrial safety as 310 killed
* HRCP asks govt how factories with bad working conditions can operate
* ‘He was wearing black T-shirt and off-white trousers when he left for work’
* Textile policy 2009-2014 goes off course

UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek teachers sent to cotton fields
* Businesses forced to sponsor cotton harvesting in Angren
* “We Don’t Use Child Labor and No You Can’t Have a Look”

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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