in the news on-line, 25 September 2012

19:34:16 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

 * To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

1. Union boss adds another strike to plate. read more.
2. Protesters stage EU faint-ins.read more.

18:34:16 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Apparel workers demonstrate in Ashulia:

Several thousand workers of a readymade garment factory went on demonstration on Monday at Ashulia pressing for pay hike and other demands.
The workers of IBS Garments gathered began agitation on the factory premises about 8:30am, witnesses said.
Their demands include a hike in wage, conveyance and lunch allowance, space for prayer at workplace, housing and job security.
Some workers, on condition of anonymity, said the demonstration was organised after their attempts failed to solve the issues through meetings with the management.
Management declared to shut down the factory in the afternoon.
The agitation would continue, the workers said.
Factory authorities refused to comment on the situation.
Ashulia police officer-in-charge Badrul Alam said in the evening the situation was calm now. to read.

* Jute mill workers stage demonstration:

Privately owned jute, cotton, and textile mill workers staged a demonstration and blocked the road and railroad to press home their 10-point demand on Sunday.

As per schedule, jute mill workers from several industrial units under Khanjahan Ali thana came out from their mills at about 9am and staged demonstration at Phulbarigate area after blocking the railway and road to press home their 10-point demand including Tk 5,500 wage commission. read more.

* New jute pulp, thread industry soon thru’ joint initiative:

The country will soon get an industry which will produce jute pulp and thread, officials said.

The government along with a private company, Simura Group, and Chinese Hebei Jigao Chemical Fiber Company Limited will jointly establish the industry, said a PID handout.
The decision came during a meeting between Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, Simura Group managing director Mostaq Hossain and the representatives of the Chinese company at the Textiles and Jute Ministry on Sunday.

Welcoming the new initiative for ensuring diversified use of jute, the minister assured all possible help to the local and foreign investors for the development of the country’s jute industry.
Chairman of Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) Brig Gen Mahmud-ul-Hasan was also present in the meeting. to read.

* Glow of ‘golden fibre’ fades:

The fate of raw jute and jute goods seem uncertain this year due to decline in their demand in the international market and fund shortage at home.

Export earnings from jute and jute goods have declined in the first two months of the current fiscal year due to price cuts by buyers in the face of slackened demand, industry sources said.
Exporters linked political turmoil in the Middle East, economic gloom in Europe and fears of global recession to sluggish demand for the natural fibre, the second largest foreign currency earner after apparel.  read more.

* Beggar-Thy-Neighbor: How Burma Will Take Bangladesh’s Sweatshop Jobs:

Burma is poised to step into a special, advantageous trade arrangement with the European Union, and to see an end to the US import ban.

Last week, the European Commission adopted a proposal to bring the country back under the so-called ‘Everything But Arms’ preferential trade agreement, which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the European market for all products except for arms and ammunition.
The United States government is poised to reward Burma by removing all import sanctions.

Bangladesh received the same benefits years ago, and saw its garment industry exports skyrocket. Over the past decade, Bangladesh lifted itself out of ‘basket case’ status thanks to these trade benefits from both the United States and European Union.
Over three million jobs were created in the ready-made garment sector, employing young women who migrate to Dhaka from throughout the country to take these low-wage jobs.
They sew clothing for global brands: H&M, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Nike, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, Target, Gap, Levi Strauss and others. Bangladesh’s industrialists in this sector are perfectly aware that their single big competitive advantage is an unlimited supply of cheap labor. They are also perfectly aware of where the jobs are coming from: China, where wage rates have risen in recent years.

Burma now wants in on the act.
Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, in a much-publicized speech to the World Economic Forum in June, made a point of calling for investment in jobs.
“I’m extremely worried about the high level of unemployment in my country, particularly youth unemployment. That’s a time bomb,” she told reporters.
We would hope she does not have sweatshop jobs in mind for Burma’s youth.
This is a lose-lose scenario for both countries’ working people, but a real boon for investors seeking cheap labor – a classic ‘race to the bottom’ scenario. read more.

* Women to represent half of workforce everywhere in Bangladesh by 2021-PM:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said women would represent half of the workforce everywhere in Bangladesh including administration, services and leadership by 2021.

“I pledge to raise women’s political empowerment in Bangladesh through increasing their participation from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in parliament and in all tiers of leadership by 2021,” she said.

By this time, she said, half of Bangladesh’s total workforce will be comprised of women, and steps would be taken further for their economic empowerment and for their protection by implementing the law against domestic violence.

The Prime Minister was addressing a programme titled “Equal Futures Partnership” at Intercontinental Barclay Hotel here on Monday. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton convened the programme to help women’s empowerment across the globe.

Sheikh Hasina said, “Although the women’s empowerment is advancing across the globe in recent times, it’s still not enough.” read more.

* Outlook for exports brightens:

Bangladesh is taking a growing share of the global export market of textiles, footwear and many hard goods, said a senior official of a globally-reputed professional services firm.

While China remains the leading exporter of such products, other large Asian markets such as India and Indonesia are taking a growing share of the market, said Nick Debnam, regional chairman for consumer markets practice of KPMG Asia Pacific.

Rising costs and a tightening labour market are leading global consumer markets executives to reassess their sourcing strategies and explore new locations across Asia, he said at a roundtable on the outlook of sourcing in Bangladesh: potential for growth, key opportunities and requirements. read more.

18:04:16 local time map of india INDIA

* Weavers sit on fast:

Weavers observed fast in Kumbakonam on Monday demanding wage hike and 33 per cent bonus.
The fast was organised by the joint action committee of various weavers associations functioning in Kumbakonam and Thirubuvanam. Mohan, convenor of joint action committee, led the fast. They also demanded that raw materials be provided to them properly. Weavers of various cooperative societies and private companies took part. to read.

* Commerce ministry opposes labour ministry’s minimum wages proposal:

The commerce and industry ministry has opposed labour ministry’s move to give statutory backing to the national minimum wages, which it claims could impose a hefty burden on the industry.

Labour ministry, however, wants to press ahead with the proposal and is hoping to soon put out a Cabinet Note for wider consultation after the Cabinet Secretariat gives its comments, setting the stage for a potential showdown between the two ministries on the issue. read more.

* Power situation continues to be grim in Tirupur:

The industrial structure in Tirupur knitwear cluster, predominantly comprising small and medium scale units, is heading for a collapse as power situation continues to be grim.

Increase in load shedding hours over the months, recent escalation in power costs and now the diesel price hike have made the operation of large number of tiny and small scale units that are the backbone of the apparel production chain here unviable.

“Many of these small standalone units, which are not part of vertically integrated industrial groups but integral constituents of the production chain, cannot afford to have generators since the working capital used for its entire operations are negligibly small. read more.

* Protest against power cut intensifies in Coimbatore, Tirupur districts:

Demonstrations, picketing, fasts planned for September 27

With no relief from nearly 14 hours of power cut a day, the protests are growing louder and more and more units are set to join the September 27 protest that was announced by the micro industries a couple of days ago. Demonstrations, picketing and fasts are being planned for September 27.

Indefinite fast
The micro industries, numbering more than 25,000 and employing over three lakh people, will stop production for a day on Thursday.

Further, members of the Coimbatore Tirupur District Micro and Cottage Entreprenuers’ Association will go on indefinite fast and those of Tamil Nadu Micro and Cottage Enterprises Association will stage a demonstration in front of the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) office here.

Over 100 small and micro pumpset manufacturers will also down shutters on Thursday and join the protest. The small and tiny foundries will stop production for a day. read more.

17:34:16 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* PTEA hails EU approval of duty free access:

Textile exporters have hailed the European Parliament’s approval of duty free access for 75 Pakistani items and hoped that passage of the waiver will lead to increase textile exports to the European Union (EU) by 30 per cent and will generate significant economic activity in the country.

Talking to newsmen Rana Arif Touseef, Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) said on Monday that Pakistan has been trying hard for duty free access EU to enhance its exports and this would be a good sign for the ailing value added textile industry especially home textile exports, which are badly suffering due to various factors.

Pakistan’s exports to EU can surge by at least 30 to 40 per cent or 700 million dollars to 1 billion dollar in value if we fully utilise our existing potential and capacity in 75 items, now enjoying duty free access to the EU for two years, he added. European Parliament decision would help Pakistan to build up its capacity to become a more effective and competitive actor in international economic relations, he said and added that this would create more opportunities in domestic industry, resulting not only in competitiveness, jobs growth, exchange of technological know how, and development of skills but also lead to the empowerment of people to meet present and future challenges, he hoped. read more.

* EU trade concession: Textile manufacturers see 30% export boost:

 Textile exporters, while welcoming the European parliament’s approval of duty-free access for 75 Pakistani goods, have expressed the hope that the concession will help increase textile exports to the European Union by 30% and generate significant economic activity in the country.

Speaking to the media here on Monday, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Rana Arif Touseef said Pakistan had been trying hard for duty-free access to the EU to enhance exports and this facility would be a good sign for the ailing value-added textile industry, especially for the struggling home textile manufacturers.

“Exports to the EU can surge by at least 30% to 40% or $700 million to $1 billion if we fully utilise our existing potential and capacity.” read more.

THE KARACHI  FIRE:

* Worker Rights Movement Formed, Launching Movement Against Factory Fire Culprits:

A representative meeting of more than 70 trade union federations, plant level unions, labour bodies from industrial zones, leftist parties, youth, students, women, social organizations, labor rights and human rights organizations, professional organizations, and individuals was held on Saturday, September 22, at Karachi Art Council to discuss the 9/11 factory fire tragedy in Karachi/Lahore and to develop joint action plans to demand justice from the culprits and for workers’ rights. Yousuf Masti Khan, of Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), presided over the meeting.

Nasir Mansoor, of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), coordinated the meeting and briefed the participants about the current situation and the various measures taken by different organizations including the case in the high court, collection of information about the deceased and injured workers, and proposed future actions to cope with the situation.

The representatives stated that the government has been trying to give safe cover-up to the factory owners and sweep the fire tragedy under the carpet through the formation of a partial commission, which lacks the trust of worker-representative bodies.
The fact that the government has yet to initiate any compensation process shows that it has no sympathy toward the deceased and injured workers and the plight of their families.
The government is failing to respect the law and punish the culprits responsible for the tragedy. Rather the government is dragging on the process in the hopes that the people will forget it.
That is why it allowed the main culprit to go escort-free and facilitated the obtaining of preemptive bail, first from Larkana Bench and than from Rawalpindi.
This shows the state apparatus’ attitude toward the 300 workers who were burned alive in the tragedy. read more.

* Action against owners, state functionaries demanded:

The Garments Hosiery Labour Association (GHLA) has demanded of the Sindh government to take legal action against the owners of Ali Enterprises as well as the Civil Defence, Fire Brigade and Labour Departments for showing criminal negligence in the Baldia factory inferno that claimed the lives of 298 workers.

The association has also demanded for providing jobs to the affected labourers who lost their jobs due to the incident and till then they should be given unemployment allowance.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday, General Secretary GHLA Nawab Ali and other office bearers including Sohail Raza said that only a few hosiery garment factories that have been registered with the International Standard Organization (ISO) use to honour the code of conduct while most of the factories had been obtaining ISO certificate through foul means.
(…)
According to Nawab Ali, there are hundreds of hosiery garment factories in Karachi where around 800,000 labourers work, of whom 40 per cent are female. read more.

* Baldia factory blaze survivor speaks of a forenoon fire:

A survivor of the Baldia garment factory blaze told an inquiry tribunal on Monday that earlier in the day on Sept 11 a fire had broken out and been extinguished within 10 minutes.

Sharif, a young labourer, was testifying before the tribunal investigating the inferno that killed more than 250 people and wrecked the industrial unit.
Retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi, who is heading the probe body set up by the Sindh government, said he was surprised by the disclosure and called more witnesses to corroborate the statement.

The Ali Enterprises employee said that he, his father and three women coworkers escaped the flames though a second floor window of the building.
“Earlier in the day while we were busy working at 11am we heard that a fire had broken out on the ground floor of the factory that was put out in 10 minutes,” said Sharif insisting that the blaze that engulfed the industrial unit in the evening was not the first fire incident that fateful day.

“Did you see the 11am fire?” asked the tribunal and Sharif said he only heard about that. However, he said the talk about the forenoon fire was so common among his colleagues well before the evening fire that he was convinced that it did occur.
read more.

* Baldia factory fire: Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners:

The owners of Ali Enterprises, the ill-fated garment factory where 258 people died in a fire, have refuted all claims of negligence on their part and blamed the late arrival of fire tenders for the tragedy.

Shahid Bhaila and his brother Arshad Bhaila appeared before the two-member commission on Monday for the first time since the hearing began on September 17. The third owner, their father Abdul Aziz Bhaila, could not turn up because of health problems.
“Had the fire brigade arrived sooner, the loss could have been contained,” said Shahid Bhaila while testifying before the tribunal constituted by the Sindh government to determine the cause of fire.

Allegations of closed doors, an unregistered factory or no fire safety measures inside the building were all rejected by the owners.

Earlier, the chief fire officer, Ehtisham Saleem, informed the tribunal that fire tenders had reached the spot within 15 minutes and continued the operation till the fire was extinguished. But Shahid Bhaila disagreed, saying: “We rang up the fire emergency number many times, but did not get a response. I had to send my manager personally to the SITE fire station. Despite our hectic efforts, the first fire tender arrived after one hour.” read more.

* Our employees being harassed: Baldia Town factory owners:

Owners of the ill-fated factory in Baldia Town claimed on Monday that their employees were being harassed and added that they wanted to resolve the case immediately but were not being allowed to visit the factory, Express News reported.

Appearing in front of a judicial tribunal at the Sindh Secretariat, owners Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila said that the factory as well as its records are in the custody of investigative agencies.
The owners were recording their statements in front of the tribunal headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alavi.
The owners said that they had no information about any chemical which allegedly caused the fire and added that eight of the factory workers are in police custody.
read more.

17:34:16 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Uzbek government breaks promise to end child labor in cotton fields:

Uzbekistan’s prime minister pledged last month to end child labor in the country’s cotton fields. But as the harvest season gets under way, human rights activists say children as young as 13 are being put to work under grueling conditions, despite extreme measures to recruit adult labor.

“Every year, from the beginning of the first days of September, the entire country is immersed in a cotton hysteria,” said Hakim, a human rights activist based in Tashkent, who asked his last name not be used for fear of persecution. “Urban residents are in a panic looking for a way to escape slavery and not be sent to work.”

“Rural residents have long been resigned to it, and cotton is seen as an integral part of their lives,” he added. read more.

* Boycott Uzbek Textile and Companies Using It! Stop Worst Forms of Child Labour in Uzbekistan! – The Petition Site: 

Target:The Leaders of the European Union and the United States of America

We, the undersigned citizens of Uzbekistan and other countries, We call upon the European Commission and the U.S. Administration to withdraw Uzbekistan, its cotton and textile, from the General System of Preferences, which provides trade incentives, until the Uzbek government demonstrates that it meets GSP conditionality to protect fundamental human rights.
Please sign here.

map of Asia

CAMBODIA
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1. Union boss adds another strike to plate
2. Protesters stage EU faint-ins.

BANGLA DESH
* Apparel workers demonstrate in Ashulia
* Jute mill workers stage demonstration
* New jute pulp, thread industry soon thru’ joint initiative
* Glow of ‘golden fibre’ fades
* Beggar-Thy-Neighbor: How Burma Will Take Bangladesh’s Sweatshop Jobs
* Women to represent half of workforce everywhere in Bangladesh by 2021-PM
* Outlook for exports brightens

INDIA
* Weavers sit on fast
* Commerce ministry opposes labour ministry’s minimum wages proposal
* Power situation continues to be grim in Tirupur
* Protest against power cut intensifies in Coimbatore, Tirupur districts

PAKISTAN
* PTEA hails EU approval of duty free access
* EU trade concession: Textile manufacturers see 30% export boost
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Worker Rights Movement Formed, Launching Movement Against Factory Fire Culprits
* Action against owners, state functionaries demanded
* Baldia factory blaze survivor speaks of a forenoon fire
* Lazy fire brigade to blame for tragedy, say owners
* Our employees being harassed: Baldia Town factory owners

UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek government breaks promise to end child labor in cotton fields
* Boycott Uzbek Textile and Companies Using It! Stop Worst Forms of Child Labour in Uzbekistan! – The Petition Site

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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