in the news on-line, 16 September 2012

 20:13:14 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* The Free Somyot campaign- Thai campaign steps up:

The 112 Families Network submitted letters of protest and support to the Thai Courts today, in the final days leading up to Somyot’s next court hearing on the 19th September.
Over 95 organizations and 6000 individual signatories were collected, in support of Somyot’s immediate release on bail and a verdict of not guilty. read here.

* The Free Somyot campaign- International support in the last stages of Somyot’s Trial:

On the 19th September the court will set the verdict date for the trail of Thai journalist and labour organiser Somyot Pruksakasemsuk. Already held for over a year on remand, he could face up to 30 years’ jail for the publication of two articles that allegedly breach Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté law.

At the time, he was the acting editor-in-chief of the magazine in which the articles appeared. He did not write them, and neither of them even mentions the King of Thailand. Lawyers for the defence have asked the Thai Constitutional Court to determine whether the lèse majesté law is constitutional and meets international standards. He has already spent more than a year in jail on remand, and the difficult conditions have worsened his existing health problems. Ten successive bail applications have been denied.

The Free Somyot campaign has been running for 18 months, involving numerous international demonstrations, petitions, human rights reports and the highly publicised hunger strike by Somyot’s son. Over 12,000 individuals have signed petitions through LabourStart, Clean Clothes Campaigns and the 112 families network. read more.

* Govt to work on social equality:

The government will try its best settle the problems of social inequality and the income gap, Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Kittiratt Na-Ranong said on Friday.

His remark was made at a seminar on “Thailand’s Strategy over the Next Two Decades (2013-2032) under the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy”, held by the National Economic and Social Advisory Council.

Mr Kittiratt, who is also finance minister, said the government will work to try and ensure social equality and to the income gap between rich and poor, particularly by raising workers’ incomes. read more.

21:13:14 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* BetterWork Indonesia media update:

1. Field Survey is needed to determine Living Wage as base for Workers Minimum    Wage. Read the English translation here (By Google Translate)
& Read the full article here. (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
2. RI must brace for economic crisis. .Read the full article here.
3. Workers request for Dialogue with four ministers.Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia) Read the Google Translate English Version here .
4. Social security scheme waiting for proper political moment to win.
   Read the full article here.
5. H&M to Ban Hazardous Chemicals in Its Products by 2013.
Read the full article here.
6. Rupiah Has Biggest Weekly Gain Since June on Improved Trade Data.
Read the full article here.
7. Minister wants to speed tax breaks to boost investment. Read the full article here.

Complete Overview.

19:43:14 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* US to announce lifting of some import bans- report:

In a move to reward Burmese President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the US administration is planning to announce its intention to remove certain – if not all– import bans on Burma, according to reports.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who will arrive in the US on Sunday, has urged the lifting of the import ban. The action, if it comes, would have to be done through Congressional legislation, which would prevent it from taking place prior to her visit, officials said, in light of the presidential election and other factors.
(…)
Garments, footwear, frozen seafood and other food products – all employing relatively large work forces – were among Burma’s main exports to the west until sanctions kicked in 10 to 15 years ago. read more.

18:43:14 local time map of india INDIA

* Garment workers slog all day for peanuts:

Verbal and sexual abuse is part of their job. Their salaries range from Rs 100-Rs 250 a day, and even that is not paid on time

For thousands of garment workers of Bangalore, their factories are hellholes. Y Narayana Chetty, professor and director of Alampalli Sri Venkataram Chair on Labour Research and his team conducted a study on 2,000 labourers from the garment industry in Bangalore. It reflects a gloomy picture of the second largest unorganized labour sector of the state, with 73% of the workers surveyed saying they face multiple difficulties at the workplace.

The survey, released on Friday, concluded that 17.5% labourers said they were verbally and sexually abused at the workplace, 78% said heavy pressure to meet daily production targets was creating problems for them. “While 17.4% said they didn’t get any breaks during working hours, 12.1% said they didn’t get their wages on time,” stated the report. read more.

* 80 p.c. garment workers come to Bangalore for sheer survival:

As much as 80 per cent of garment workers in Bangalore are migrants from villages and tribal hamlets, pushed out because their traditional sources of livelihood have been “systematically destroyed”, says a sample survey report of garment workers conducted by Bangalore University.

The survey conducted by the Allampalli Venkataram Chair on Labour Research of the university, released here on Friday, says that 76.4 per cent among the migrant workers keep visiting their villages, making it a “circulating” labour force that sees urban migration as a “survival strategy”.

The workers mostly come from Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chickballapur, Kolar, Ramanagaram and Tumkur. Women constituted 72.8 per cent of the workforce. read more.

* Weavers protest outside Chief Minister’s residence:

Police took into custody more than 80 handloom weavers who tried to stage a dharna outside Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s residence at Madhura Estate here on Friday.

The weavers held the protest seeking fulfilment of their demands. The police did not allow them to move forward when they started marching towards Mr. Shettar’s residence. They were released later.

The protest was led by the Akhila Karnataka Kaimagga Nekar Sangha. Their demands include registration of houses in weavers’ names, hike in weavers’ wages and an inquiry into alleged corruption in the Karnataka Handloom Development Corporation (KHDC). read more.

* Textile policy ignites Gujarat, Maharashtra war:

A slew of policy announcements made by the state government in the textile sector has ignited a turf war between Maharashtra and Gujarat, each trying to outdo the other by way of attractive policy measures in trade and industries.

Maharashtra last week announced an ambitious plan to provide land to businessman from Gujarat at Rs 4 per sqft to open a textile plant along the border of the two states. Soon after the Narendra Modi government declared its own textile policy.

A look at the two policies show while Maharashtra is looking to generate 11 lakh jobs through along with an investment target of Rs 40,000 cr, the Gujarat government is promising 25 lakh jobs at half of Maharashtra’s target. read more.

* 15% hike in textile goods transportation charges:

It’s a double whammy for the textile traders in Surat. With the country’s biggest manmade fabric industry already hit hard by the dwindling demand of synthetic fibre, now comes an increase in transportation charges.

The textile goods transporters have announced a 15 per cent hike on per kilogram transportation charges. This follows an increase in the diesel prices by Rs 6.27 per litre. The hike in transportation charges is set to increase the end consumer prices of saris and dress material.

Industry sources said with the textile sector already reeling under inflation, high raw material costs and high interest rates, higher transportation charges would lead to compressed profit margins. Surat’s textile industry contributes 40 per cent of the man-made fibre demand of the country and has more than 6.5 lakh powerloom machines weaving about three crore meters of cloth per day. read more.

* Silk denim trousers will give huge boost to industry- Expert:

Silk, the delicate and lustrous fibre used for making saris and dress material, has now been used to fashion a tough and strong material for trousers, resembling the popular jeans.

A brainchild of the Central Silk Board, these trousers are waiting to make a commercial entry. The board has already made a prototype and completed all tests on the toughened silk material. A consumer survey done by the board has shown a positive response.

T D Koshy, Silk Mark consultant, Union ministry of textiles, said, “The Rs 25,000 crore silk industry in the country will get a huge boost once these trousers are available in the market.” The trousers will have a rough finish just like jeans and silk fibre needed for weaving two silk saris will be required to make one pair of trousers.
read more.

18:13:14 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

THE KARACHI  & LAHORE FIRES

* Factories in Pakistan more like death trap: traders union:

The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), on incidents of fire in factories, has stated that factories in Pakistan are more like death trap than work places, where workers are treated more like slaves than human beings.

It was darkest and saddest day in history of labour movement in Pakistan when more than 300 workers were burnt alive in severest accident of fire in a garment factory in Karachi on September 11. The fire accident at the factory was not the first one in this factory or in other factories, it has been an every day phenomenon but unnoticed until the most heinous crime occurred and got limelight in the media.

Society was so criminally brutalised in sense that no one paid heed to the voices of the downtrodden until the unimaginable damage inflicted upon them.

The same was the case with workers at Ali Enterprises, a garment factory at Hub River Road in SITE industrial area in Karachi, where a fire broke out in the past as well but no government agency took any action. Majority of the factories in Pakistan were not registered with Factory Act to avoid the rules and regulations and to deny the rights to workers. This factory was also established illegally. It was an export-oriented factory.read more.

* Karachi Inferno: Factory cleared after 41 hours:

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The factory which was gutted in a massive blaze claiming 289 lives was cleared on Thursday morning.

Chief fire officer Ehtishamud Din said the operation continued all the night long and after drainage machines pumped water out of the basement, the building was now cleared after 41 hours.
Talking to a private TV channel, he said the upper three storey had already been cleared, however, the basement that was filled with water became extremely hot as a result of continued 18-hour inferno. The fire officer Ehtisham asserted there is no more dead body left at the factory now. Earlier at night, the second storey of the gutted garment factory caught fire again, however, the fire-tenders brought it under control.
On Thursday morning, the affected families staged protest demonstration as the heavy machinery could not be transported to the blaze site, which delayed the relief work at the basement of the factory. The affected people warned they will themselves drain out the accumulated water after breaking the wall of the factory, if the administration continues to display disregard over the tragedy of so immense proportions. As many as 217 bodies were kept at Edhi Center; of them, 107 have been delivered to the bereaved families after identification process. read more.

* Families of missing workers still looking for bodies:

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Desperate family members of still missing workers were looking for their loved ones in the fire-struck garment factory in Baldia Town on Thursday afternoon, when search for more bodies had almost been abandoned.

It was the third day of the fire, which had erupted in the industrial unit on Tuesday at around 7pm when the three-storey-plus-basement factory was packed with 800 to 1,000 garment workers busy in their respective tasks on jeans being prepared for export.

Among the grief-stricken people were Rafiqunnissa and her family, residents of Baldia Town. The family members, all females, were sitting on a pavement outside the Baldia factory. They were holding photographs of four young women who and an aunt of theirs were believed to be burnt to death in the factory inferno.

“They all were employees of the factory and their male relative Ijaz had managed to get them at one place,” said one of the grieving women, adding that Ijaz had been in contact with the family even after the fire had broken out. read more.

* Factory fire tragedy: Punjab government announces Rs. 3 lacs aid package for victims:

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The leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Mian Nawaz Sharif has announced Rs. 3 lacs aid to the families of those killed in the Baldia Town tragedy, DawnNews reported.

Sharif arrived here on Friday to visit the Baldia Town factory which was the scene of Pakistan’s worst industrial disaster earlier this week.
When he arrived at the site of the incident, PML-N workers displayed disorderly behaviour in order to get closer to their leader. This caused much disturbance during Sharif’s visit.

While speaking to the media at the factory, Sharif said that the government must aid the victims’ families in every possible way. He added that Punjab government shall give Rs. 3 lacs in aid to the victims’ families. read more. & read more.
 

* Karachi fire: SHC bails accused:

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Three factory-owners facing murder charges over the deaths of 289 people in a huge fire in Karachi handed themselves in to court on Friday to request pre-arrest bail, their lawyer said.

Workers burned to death or suffocated in the massive blaze that engulfed Ali Enterprises clothing factory, which made ready-to-wear clothes for export to Western retailers, on Tuesday evening.
Police registered a murder case over the fire on Thursday, saying the owners — Abdul Aziz, Mohammad Arshad and Shahid Bhaila — had shown “utter negligence” about workers’ safety.
The trio, who have not been arrested, appeared in the high court in Larkana, 450 kilometres (300 miles) north of Karachi and were granted “protective bail” for eight days, their lawyer Aamir Mansoor Qureshi told AFP.
He said they went to the Larkana court as they feared for their lives in Karachi, the metropolis of 18 million people which came to a standstill on Thursday as a mark of respect for the victims of Pakistan’s worst ever industrial fire.
read more. & read more. & read more.
   

* Court grants bail to factory owners:

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The three factory owners facing murder charges for the deaths of over 250 people in their garment factory fire were granted protective bail till September 21 by the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) circuit bench Larkana on Friday.

Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila had appeared before the court through their lawyer Abid Mansoob Qureshi.
Reports said that the single bench, comprising Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi, after hearing the application of Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, granted protective bail to them till September 21 for Rs500,000 each.

The court, according to reports, has directed the Interior ministry to place their names on the Exit Control List (ECL), besides ordering the applicants to appear before the investigative officer in Karachi at 9am on Saturday.
The court also directed them to hand over their passports to the reader of the concerned court in Karachi.

Later, talking to the media outside the court premises, Arshad Bhaila said: “I don’t know how the fire started in the factory.”
According to him, the fire started in the warehouse of the factory and as soon as he came to know about it, he immediately called the fire brigade, which took one and half hour to reach the spot. read more.

* “We will prove ourselves not guilty,” say Baldia factory owners:

20120914
The owners of the fire-struck garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town, Shahid Bhaila and Rashid Bhaila claimed they got the bail from SHC in order to record their statements before the concerned authorities investigating the horrific incident.

” We want to be part of the investigation … we will prove ourselves not guilty, ” they added.
Talking to media representatives in Larkana, the owners alleged that despite their repeated calls to concerned authorities the fire brigade reached the site nearly 90 minutes late when entire factory was engulfed by the terrible flames.
They refused the allegation that the doors of the factory were locked.

Bhalia brothers revealed that they were present at the site till late at night but were threatened by somebody to leave the site adding they avoided to reveal the names of those persons.
They said that they were equally shocked over the sad incident and would not leave the families of fire victims alone in their grief and trouble. read here.

* Baldia Town factory owner alleges fire brigade arrived:

20120914
Arshad Bhaila, one of the owners of the factory, which became an infernal deathtrap for its hundreds of workers Friday bewailed the loss of precious lives, Geo News reported.

Talking to Geo News, after a court here granted him and other owners of the factory protective bail for eight days, Arshad claimed the fire first broke out in the warehouse and he himself called the fire brigade, which arrived about an hour and a half late.
Not only the firemen were late but they were also reluctant in extinguishing the fire blazing in the storage area and the main entrance, he alleged.

Arshad disclosed that, on that tragic day, he and his brother Shahid stayed put in the burning factory till midnight and did not leave until “someone” warned them to get out of there.

He however refused to disclose who that mysterious “person” was.
“I know that person very well but my tongue is tied”.

To a question he said that they got themselves bailed to share the grief of their deceased workers families.
“My workers were like my own flesh and blood”, Arshad said. read more.

* Sindh CM orders probe into garments factory fire incident:

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Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Qaim Ali Shah has ordered a thorough investigation into Karachi garments factory inferno killing around 300 workers. including female workers and for submission of the detailed report within next three days.

Shah, on behalf of Sindh government, announced to give Rs 0.3 million each for the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for the injured along with proper treatment on the Government expenses.

It is very necessary to fix the responsibility for this worst tragedy and learnt about the causes. The factory owners must come on the surface and play active part in the investigation otherwise they would be held totally responsible and taken to task, the chief minister said while talking to media during his visit to garments factory in SITE area, here on Thursday.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) member of National Assembly and president PPP Karachi Division Abdul Qadir Patel, Sindh Ministers Rafiq Engineer, Nadeem Bhutto and Haji Muzaffar Shujra, and Special Assistants to the CM Rashid Hussain Rabbani, Waqar Mehdi and Siddique Abu Bhai, and Commissioner Karachi Roshan Ali Shaikh, Administrator Karachi Metropolitan Corpo-ration Muhammad Hussain Syed were also present. read more.

* Factory fire highlights risks for workers:

20120914
The death of 289 workers in a devastating factory fire has highlighted Pakistan’s dismal approach to industrial safety and raised fears for the clothing sector vital to the nation’s struggling economy.

Western companies buying Pakistani garments and textiles are likely to scrutinise their suppliers’ working practices more closely after Tuesday’s disaster and there have been promises of a clampdown from officials in Karachi.
But in a fiercely competitive global market, analysts warn factory owners face a difficult dilemma, as higher safety standards means higher production costs.
Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and commercial heart, has around 10,000 factories on seven industrial estates, according to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
On top of that, there are at least 50,000 cottage and small industries in the informal sector based in residential areas.
Fahim Zaman Khan, Karachi’s former top administrative official, told AFP that Ali Enterprises, the factory destroyed in Tuesday’s blaze, was typical of many units in the city.
“There is not a single factory in Karachi, which is different in shape and facilities as the one gutted by the fire. Everyone, including our rulers, could see similar factories nearby the gutted one but avoid to take action,” he said.
Police records show Ali Enterprises exported ready-made garments to North America and Western Europe, though it is not clear which brands or chains were supplied. read more. & read more.
 

* Geo.tv- Full Coverage:

Khi factory fire: Sindh industry minister resigns 
Karachi fire: Factory owners granted interim bail

Karachi fire: garment factory sealed off

Karachi Fire: 177 bodies handed over to families
PM for Karachi fire victim families help

Karachi Fire: Three DNA camps setup

NA adopts resolution for commission on Lahore, Karachi fires

Karachi fire: security guard among ten apprehended for probe

Karachi fire: Factory owners appear before police

Karachi fire: MQM leaders to donate a month’s salary

Khi Fire: Factory owners shifted to unknown location

* Fire not caused by generator explosion, say investigators:

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In the first such finding during the course of investigation into the deadly factory fire, police officials on Friday ruled out the possibility that the fire was caused by a generator explosion, dismissing the earlier speculation and leaving several questions unanswered about the deadliest incident that has so far been seen as an accident.

The investigators, who are busy connecting dots to find the cause of the fire that killed more than 250 people on three floors of Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town along the Hub River Road within hours, found little success while decoding the CCTV (closed-circuit television cameras) footage installed on the first floor of the industrial unit.

“We have prepared a preliminary report of our findings so far,” said Muneer Sheikh, AIG forensic division.
“After a thorough examination of the building and its infrastructure coupled with wiring and other stuff, it is clear that there was no generator explosion.”
“All the generators are intact and safe,” he added. read more.

* Factory owners shifted to unknown location:

20120915
After appearing in a police station here the proprietors of the ‘holocaust factory’, which became a homicidal gas chamber for hundreds of workers, have went underground in the tightest of state securities, Geo News reported.

Earlier, the owners of the factory Abdul Aziz Bhaila, Arshad Bhaila, and Shahid Bhaila showed up in SITE-B Police Station to have their statements recorded, which they could not as the officer concerned was out of his office.

A new development in the case is a letter written to State Bank of Pakistan to freeze the accounts of the accused factory owners.
According to SP Investigation West, Saqib Sultan, the accused have been shifted to an unknown location to ensure no untoward incidents came in the way of justice.
Sultan added that standard investigation procedure would be employed in the case of factory owners who face murder charges under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). read more.read more.
     

* Fire tragedy: Is a resignation enough? :

20120915
The resignation sent in by Sindh Minister for Industries Abdul Rauf Siddiqi, after a factory inferno in Karachi killed a record number of workers, should be welcomed. More than anything else, this resignation will serve to highlight the administrative flaws in the services meant to forestall fires and undertake rescue operation after the blaze has taken hold.

The self-exonerating statement issued by the minister says that he found himself “helpless and with no authority to move against the people responsible for the deadly Karachi factory fire”. While it is a welcome break from the practice of not allowing the buck to stop anywhere and letting the citizens suffer without holding anyone responsible, one might still ask: why resign after the fact; why not walk out after the first feeling of ‘helplessness’?

Mr Siddiqi put his finger on the real cause of the tragedy: “Two key institutions — civil defence and the labour department — which are responsible for safety measures and labour rights are not under my authority and I was compelled to see people dying in the fire”.
The two departments that his ministry was in a way subordinated to are the most poorly handled institutions in the country. Nowhere in Pakistan has the industries minister ever done anything to remove this roadblock. Mr Siddiqi, too, did nothing, but to his credit, he has resigned to put the nation on notice that all provinces need to sort out the decades-old bottleneck that haunts emergencies caused by accidents and fires. read more.

* Rehman Malik rejects initial report on factory fire:

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Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday rejected the preliminary report on the Karachi factory fire adding that the element of terrorism behind the incident could not be ruled out and that other aspects into the incident were being examined, DawnNews reported.

While talking to media persons during his visit at the site of the tragic factory fire, Malik said that there was no confirmation in the report about the generator or boiler of the factory exploding and that simultaneous incidents of  fire at factories in Lahore and Karachi could be an act of terrorism.

Malik said that the factory had caught fire twice in the past and yet the owners made no safety arrangement adding that an insurance claim for a previous fire at the factory was also being investigated. read more. & read more. & read more.
 

* Baldia factory tragedy : Governor assures aid, jobs to fire-affected families:

20120916
Steps are afoot in collaboration with traders to provide financial support and employment to the affected families of Baldia Town fire tragedy, while a strategy is also under consideration for avoiding such mishaps in the future.

This was assured by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan at a ceremony held to hand over three buses to Karachi Medical and Dental College (KMDC here on Saturday.
He said that laboratories would soon be established for DNA tests which would be helpful in identification of the corpses. read more. & read more.
 

* Fire victims remembered:

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Political, social and trade union activists on Saturday held a procession on The Mall to mourn the loss of around 300 lives in Tuesday’s fires in Lahore and Karachi factories.

Leaders from the Pakistan People’s Party, Labour Party Pakistan, Awami Party, Workers Party, National Trade Union Federation, Women Workers Helpline, Progressive Youth Front, National Students Federation and Labour Education Foundation gathered and observed a two-minute silence in remembrance of the deceased labourers. read more.

* PRGMEA demands impartial inquiry into factory fire:

20120916
Pakistan Ready-made Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) requested the government to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the tragedy of fire incident in Baldia Town and take the culprits to task, may it be the owners of the factory, the governments agencies, terrorists, bhatta mafia, etc, as is currently being conjectured in the country and measures should be put in place that such an incident never occurs again.

While offering the heartfelt condolences and regrets to families of all the people who lost their lives in the terrible incident in the factory PRGMEA office bearers and members prayed that God gives the families of this tragedy the strength to bear this immense loss and those injured pray for their speedy recovery. PRGMEA requested the government to form a public/private committee to examine how such incidences can be avoided in the future and a policy should be formulated on their recommendations and implemented in letter and spirit. read more. & read more.
 

* Fires and shrinking exit doors:

20120916
We should begin by offering our thoughts and condolences to the loved ones of those who passed away in the horrific fires in Lahore and Karachi.

I do not possess any expertise on the subject of fire safety to make an elaborate comment.
However, someone has failed to do their job and we should insist on not only that investigation reports be made public and heads roll, but also a larger debate of worker safety and industrial regulation be conducted.
It is said that when a fire breaks out, there is sometimes not enough panic at the beginning and people suffocate when they could have saved themselves because they are too calm. In the alternative, as is likely to be the case in the recent fires, the exit door/s is inadequate.

As the fires in Karachi and Lahore burnt, there was some expression of outrage on the arrival of the UN Mission on Enforced Disappearances in Balochistan.
The lack of panic and the shrinking size of the exit door are useful, perhaps, unavoidable metaphors here.
There is some panic now, but not on the murder and strangulation of human rights in Balochistan. No marks for guessing, it is for our favourite blanket objection to everything; the perceived breach of our “sovereignty”.
It seems everyone important is refusing to talk to the UN Mission since we do not like them meddling in our domestic disputes.
This talk of sovereignty and isolation sounds unpersuasive coming, immediately after the 9/11 anniversaries (both the tragedy in New York and martyrdom of Salvador Allende), the murder of an ambassador for a mediocre, insensitive movie made thousands of miles away, and a controversy about the veracity of a telephone interview allegedly conducted by a US channel with a prisoner in heavy security in Pakistan. To put it simply, isolation is not a choice or even possible. read more.

* If the fire hadn’t killed them, lung disease might have:

The workers of the ill-fated garments factory, where a massive blaze killed almost 300 people, already faced the risk of dying in a few years as they were exposed to the hazards of manual sandblasting denim being practiced there, The News has learnt.

Sandblasting is used to gives jeans and other clothing a distressed, already-worn look. The technique has long been banned in many European countries and the US as it causes an incurable form of lung cancer.
Manual sandblasting involves firing minute particles of silica on high pressure at denim. Factory workers, who inhale the silica dust, are in danger of developing silicosis, a potentially fatal pulmonary disease.

The Clean Clothes Campaign, an international pressure group, has been running a drive to ban sandblasting in the production of denim garments.
It says that the technique is being practiced in developing countries including Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“Garments for a European brand were processed at the fire-hit factory,” Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), told The News.
“The authorities concerned should investigate this and sue the European brand in an international court of law for having its products manufactured here without taking the working conditions at the factory into consideration.” read more.

* Pakistani factory struck by fire believed to supply European market:

  • Clean Clothes Campaign calls on brands sourcing from Pakistan to undertake immediate reviews of their suppliers.
  • Ali Enterprises reportedly supplied the European market.
  • CCC warns that similar disasters could happen again if the root causes of these fires are not addressed urgently.

Information emerging from Pakistan today suggests that the Ali Enterprise factory in Karachi, which burned down on Tuesday killing over 300 workers, was supplying goods to the European market. The Clean Clothes Campaign is now calling on all brands and retailers sourcing from Karachi to undertake immediate reviews of all their suppliers.

Fire ripped through two different factories , killing over 300 workers on what unions have described as the ‘darkest day in the history of the Pakistan labour movement’. Pakistani unions are now calling for the arrest of the factory owner of Ali Enterprises. Demands are also being made for government officials who have acted negligently to be prosecuted.

Early reports suggest between 650 and 1000 workers were working in the Ali Enterprises factory at the time the fire broke out.  There was no fire fighting equipment inside the factory.
The high death toll has been attributed to the fact that workers were trapped inside the factory. Only one fire exit was available, windows on most of the floors were barred and stairways were blocked.
A number of workers were killed jumping from windows. It is believed many more workers died of suffocation in the basement after it became flooded with water. Unions say identification of the dead workers has been hindered by the fact that workers did not have a contract.

The National Trade Union Federation in Karachi state that although the high death toll at Ali Enterprises had led to extensive coverage of the fire, this is not an isolated incident but a regular occurrence in an industry that is poorly regulated and largely non unionised.

CCC also insists that the fire  follows a pattern of negligence occurring not just in Pakistan but throughout the garment industry. read more.

* ILO announces action plan to boost workplace safety in Pakistani factories:

ILO sets out a series of short and medium-term measures in response to the deaths of more than 260 workers in a garment factory in Karachi. 
The International Labour Organization has pledged to support the families of the victims of the Karachi garment factory fire and announced a plan to strengthen workplace safety,to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.
Francesco d’Ovidio, ILO Pakistan country director, flew to Karachi on Friday and held a meeting with Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, Governor of Sindh Province. D’Ovidio expressed his condolences on the death of so many workers and outlined how the ILO will help victims’ families and the Sindh Labour Department.
“In this tragedy, the ILO stands ready to provide support to the victims’ families, help them recover from their loss and strengthen the Sindh Labour Department to prevent a re-occurrence of such incidents in the future.
The ILO is ready to offer immediate- and medium-term assistance, including skills training scholarships to members of the victims’ families and link them with decent jobs,’ D’Ovidio said.‘We will help enterprises put in place a safe work culture in workplaces through the rapid training of labour inspectors in Sindh,’ he added.Dr. Khan welcomed ILO’s support and solidarity and said it will help the government’s efforts to address the tragedy.“ILO’s support to strengthen the Department of Labour to prevent re-occurrence of such incidents in the future is most welcomed,” he said.When the fire broke out, many workers were trapped because there were no fire exits and because windows were barred.
The ILO is calling for the restoration of labour inspections in all factories and will help build the capacity of Sindh Labour Department in order to improve inspections.
It will also help employers and workers develop a code of conductand will promote the idea of self-regulation by employers.
read more.

* Deadly Denim: Workers Burned Alive Making Jeans for Export:

By International Labor Rights Forum

You have ruthless buyers sitting in the U.S. who don’t care what you do, as long as you do it on time… We take a hit every time we’re late. That means lost margins. That means we do what we need to do to make our orders, fast. This factory owner may have been working extra shifts just for that purpose…

Ali Ahmad, Owner of Nizam Textiles in Karachi, Pakistan

In the aftermath of the deadly factory fires in Pakistan on September 11, 2012, Pakistani unions have called for the factory owner and local government officials to be held accountable.
ILRF expresses our deep sorrow for the pain, suffering, and loss of life caused by the owner’s, the buyers’ and the government authorities’ unconscionable neglect.
We stand in solidarity with the workers of Pakistan, and support the demands of the unions.
We also call on the brands and retailers that together buy $11 billion of Pakistani apparel each year to take responsibility for making Pakistani factories safe for workers.

More than 300 trapped workers were killed in two separate fires on the same day—289 workers in an apparel factory in Karachi and 25 workers in a shoe factory in Lahore—a day Nasir Mansoor, leader of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUF)—calls the “darkest and saddest day in the history of Pakistan’s labor movement.
”The Karachi factory, Ali Enterprises, operated illegally, without proper registration.
When fire broke out—reportedly for the fourth time within two years—more than 600 workers were trapped.
The main sliding door was locked to protect the merchandise; windows were barred with iron grills; stairs and doorways were blocked with piles of finished merchandise; and there were no emergency exits.
None of the workers had appointment letters and most of them were contract employees hired by a third party.  As contract workers they were not entitled to social security or workers’ compensation.
None of these workers had the security to voice their fears about the risky working conditions they found themselves in.
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INDONESIA
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BURMA/MYANMAR
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INDIA
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PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI & LAHORE FIRES
* Factories in Pakistan more like death trap: traders union
* Karachi Inferno: Factory cleared after 41 hours
* Families of missing workers still looking for bodies
* Factory fire tragedy: Punjab government announces Rs. 3 lacs aid package for victims
* Karachi fire: SHC bails accused
* Court grants bail to factory owners
* “We will prove ourselves not guilty,” say Baldia factory owners
* Baldia Town factory owner alleges fire brigade arrived
* Sindh CM orders probe into garments factory fire incident
* Factory fire highlights risks for workers
* Geo.tv- Full Coverage
* Fire not caused by generator explosion, say investigators
* Factory owners shifted to unknown location
* Fire tragedy: Is a resignation enough?
* Rehman Malik rejects initial report on factory fire
* Baldia factory tragedy : Governor assures aid, jobs to fire-affected families
* Fire victims remembered
* PRGMEA demands impartial inquiry into factory fire
* Fires and shrinking exit doors
* If the fire hadn’t killed them, lung disease might have
* Pakistani factory struck by fire believed to supply European market
* ILO announces action plan to boost workplace safety in Pakistani factories
* Deadly Denim: Workers Burned Alive Making Jeans for Export

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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
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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
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