17:18:16 local time CAMBODIA
* Taxes too high for garment workers’ wages, says union:
Garment workers, whose struggle for a “living wage” has been a longtime union campaign point, are paying crippling taxes out of their bonuses, according to Free Trade Union president Chea Mony.
Mony on Wednesday petitioned Minister of Finance Keat Chhon to facilitate a reduction or release of garment workers’ taxation obligations, which are higher than for more lucrative salaries in other occupations because their bonuses are taxed.
According to the Ministry of Finance’s 2003 Prakas on taxation for garment workers, the taxing of bonuses is for the workers to gain benefits under the state budget.
18:18:16 local time INDONESIA
* Social demands bring Jakarta to a standstill:
Tens of thousands of Indonesian protestors took to the streets of Jakarta on Wednesday and Thursday to demand higher wages, better working conditions and free health care.
The Southeast Asian nation is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, but not all Indonesians are enjoying the benefits of economic growth, as almost 40 per cent, or up to 20 million, of 35 million people working in the formal sector, have been underpaid and left unprotected. read more.
* IndustriALL inspired by Indonesian trade union victory:
IndustriALL is celebrating a significant victory of its Indonesian affiliates in the campaign against outsourcing and low wages.
Pressure on the Indonesian government from the strategic, large-scale trade union campaign of lobbying, mobilization and action resulted in new legislation on outsourcing enacted on 21 November.
The victory restricts outsourcing in Indonesia to five sectors, namely: security, canteen, cleaning services, transport, and mining services.
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina saluted the Indonesian comrades for their impressive victory:
Once again you show what can be achieved with a well-planned strategy and mobilization. You are an example and inspiration to our whole global union family.
The powerful Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers’ Union FSPMI led by president Said Iqbal played a leading role in the campaign. Iqbal is also chairman of trade union confederation KSPI and had led the creation of a new workers’ council (MPBI) that unites the three major trade union confederations in Indonesia (KSPI, KSBSI, and KSPSI). This unity has built strength. read more.
16:18:16 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
Locals try to douse the flames in Tazreen Fashion near Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Ashulia last night. The fire gutted several floors of the eight-storied factory and nine workers perished when they jumped to their deaths to escape the fire. Photo: Palash Khan
* Fire kills 5 at a Savar RMG unit:
At least five workers were killed and around 100 injured in a devastating fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar yesterday evening.
Harunur Rashid, assistant manager of Women and Children Health Centre in Jamgara of Ashulia, told The Daily Star that they received the bodies of four female workers who died after jumping off the factory building.
A male worker died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 10:00pm.
The deceased who could not be identified immediately are aged between 20 and 28.
The injured were rushed to the hospital for treatment, said Harun. Ten of them were referred to different hospitals in Dhaka as their condition was critical.
Fire officials suspected that the fire originated from the ground floor of eight-storey Tajnin Fashion around 7:00pm and spread up to the fourth floor|.
The rescuers brought down many of the workers trapped on the rooftop of the building.
Nine firefighting units from Ashulia, Savar, Dhamrai, Gazipur and the capital were trying to douse the flame when the report was filed around 10:30pm.
Most of the victims — both deceased and injured — were female workers who suffered injuries after jumping off different floors of the building.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Ashulia RMG factory fire kills 5, injures over 100:
At least five workers were killed and more than 100 injured as a fierce fire broke out at a multi-storey readymade garment (RMG) unit at Nishchintapur near Jirabo in Ashulia on Saturday evening.
* 5 killed, over 300 injured:
At least five garments workerswere burnt to death and over 300 injured in a frive at a readymade garments(RMG) unit at Narshigopur at Ashulia under Savar on Saturday evening.
The identities of the ill-fatedworkers could not be known immediately.
Fire service officials said thefire broke out in the ground floor of the ‘Tazrin Fashion,’ a 6-storeiedexport-oriented garments unit, around 7:05pm and raged through the first andsecond floors where hundreds of workers were working in the evening shift.
Later, a plume of smoke shroudeddifferent floors of the building and forced hundreds of workers in thefactory to jump out from the inferno.
Sources said a warehouse of rawmaterial was located on the ground floor of the building.
On information five fire fightingunits from Gazipur, Tongi, and Savar EPZ rushed to the spot to bring the blazeunder control.
The fire fighters were trying todouse the fire while filing the report at 9.30pm.
to read. & read more.
* Savar RMG factory fire kills 9:
At least nine people, including seven women, died and over 100 were injured as a fire broke out at a Toba Group garment factory at Nischintapur in Savar on the outskirts of the capital Saturday evening.
The fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions Limited around 7:30pm and it came under control around 11:45pm, police said.
Ashulia Industrial Police Sub-Inspector Moktar Hossain told reporters that six bodies of the deceased female workers were at the Women and Children Health Centre at Narasinghapur in Savar.
Their identities could not be known immediately, he added. read more. & read more.
* At least 9 workers killed:
At least nine workers were killed and around 100 injured in a devastating fire at a garment factory near Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Ashulia last night.
The dead included seven female and two male workers of the factory, Officer-in-Charge of Ashulia Police Station SM Badrul Alam told The Daily Star around 1:45am today.
Police, fire-fighters and witnesses said those killed in the incident did not suffer burns, but they died after jumping off different floors of the eight-storey Tazreen Fashion at Nischintapur in a bid to escape the blaze that started on the ground floor around 6:50pm.
The flames soon spread up to the fourth floor.
Fifteen fire-fighting units from Ashulia, Savar, Dhamrai, Tongi and the capital were trying to douse the fire as of filing this report around 2:45am.
Panic-stricken workers, especially the women, started running helter-skelter and jumped off the building. This left many of them seriously injured.
Four of those who jumped died on the spot.
Harunur Rashid, assistant manager of the nearby Centre for Women and Child Health, said they received the bodies of four female workers. They were identified as Moriyum, 25, Morsheda, 26, Mousumi, 26 and Nurunnesa, 30.
A male worker, identified as Maruf, 22, died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 10:00pm.
The identity of the four other dead could not be known immediately as relatives took away their bodies from the spot, said OC Badrul.
Eight other workers with head, hand and leg injuries were undergoing treatment at DMCH.
The injured were first rushed to the Centre for Women and Child Health for treatment. “We treated 53 while 10 were referred to different hospitals in Dhaka as their condition was critical,” said Harunur Rashid. read more. & read more.
* ‘Savar fire death toll may cross 100’:
Police and fire-fighters on Sunday feared that the death toll from the fire at a garment factory in Savar’s Nischintapur might cross one hundred as many workers were still trapped inside the building.
Over 100 were also injured from the fire that broke out at the Tazreen Fashions Limited of Toba Group at around 7:30pm on Saturday. Ten units of fire service managed to douse the fire around 11:45pm.
Dhaka’s Superintendent of Police Habibur Rahman told bdnews24.com: “After speaking with the rescuers, I think at least 100 people have died in the fire.”
Rescue workers in the wee hours on Sunday had confirmed of recovering at least nine dead bodies, including seven of female workers. At least 100 workers were still trapped inside the factory until that time, they added.
Fire Brigade Director (Operation) Maj Mahbub on Sunday told bdnews24.com: “There are more dead bodies under the blazed wreckage inside the building. The rescue operation is still underway.” read more.
* Garment factory blaze kills 104 in Bangladesh:
More than 100 workers were killed when a fierce blaze tore through a busy garment factory in Bangladesh, forcing people to leap from high windows to escape the choking smoke and flames.
Firefighters battled for several hours to control the fire, which broke out in the ground-floor warehouse of the nine-storey Tazreen Fashion factory, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of the capital Dhaka on Saturday evening.
Survivors told how panicked staff, mostly women, desperately tried to escape the blazing building, which made clothes for international brands including Dutch chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.
“There were more than 1,000 workers trapped in the factory,” one worker who gave her name only as Romesa, 42, told local media from her hospital bed. read more.
* Bangladesh factory fire death toll soars to 121: fire chief:
The death toll from a fire at a Bangladeshi factory soared to at least 121 as rescue workers recovered 112 bodies Sunday, the national fire chief told AFP.
“We’ve found 112 dead bodies this morning,” fire brigade director general Brigadier General Abu Nayeem Mohammad Shahidullah told AFP.
“We resumed our search this morning and found the bodies lying on different floors of the factory building,” he said.
The fire broke out in the ground-floor warehouse of the multi-storey Tazreen Fashion factory 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Dhaka on Saturday evening, trapping hundreds of workers on the upper floors, police said.
Police inspector Mostofa Kamal had previously told AFP that nine workers died and about 100 workers were injured.
* Ashulia RMG factory fire rises to 124:
The death toll from a fire that raged through a garment factory in Ashulia rose to 124 till Sunday morning.
The fire that started at Tazreen Fashion near Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Ashulia on Saturday evening came under control around 5:55am Sunday, said Fire Service and Civil Defence sources.
Sources said the death toll may rise as rescue operation was going on when this report was filed around 11:12.
Initially nine deaths were recorded on Saturday night and more 115 charred bodies were recovered from the factory on Sunday morning.
Police, fire-fighters and witnesses on Saturday said those killed in the incident did not suffer burns, but they died after jumping off different floors of the eight-storey Tazreen Fashion at Nischintapur in a bid to escape the blaze that started on the ground floor around 6:50pm.
Meanwhile, Siddiqur Rahman, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told The Daily Star that the BGMEA will provide Tk one lakh to each of the death victim’s family.to read.
* Scores killed in Bangladesh factory blaze:
A fire in a garment factory leaves at least 120 dead while a flyover collapse in the south kills more than a dozen.
A deadly fire has swept through a clothes factory on the outskirts of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, killing at least 120 people, Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reported.
The fire at the nine-story factory, operated by Tajnin Fashion, in the Ashulia industrial area, started on the ground floor on Saturday night and quickly spread. Firefighters took nearly five hours to extinguish the flames.
Many of the employees fled the flames on the first floor and went to the top of the building, becoming trapped.
Most of the victims died because they jumped from the building to escape the flames, a police official said. The death toll could still rise, witnesses said.
The cause of the fire, according to the authorities, was a bad electrical circuit.
“There’s an investigation underway to try to find out [exactly] what caused this accident,” Haque said, adding that similar accidents “happen often”.
Since 2006, more than 600 people have died in Bangladesh because of fires and lack of safety standards in crowded factories.
Bangladesh has around 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for brands including Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penny, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s and Carrefour.
read & see more (video).
* RMG Fire: Official death toll stands at 111; rescue operation abandoned:
The death toll from the RMG factory fire at Nishchintapur in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital stood at 111 as the authorities abandoned the rescue operation at about 2 pm on Sunday.
“The death toll from the fire incident stands at 111,” said Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Yusuf Harun on completion of the rescue operation.
Contradicting the official figure, workers union leaders claimed that the death toll will be 125. “We don’t accept the official figure as the actual figure is 125,” said Sujon Mahmud of Jago Bangladesh Garment Sramik Federation.
Earlier in the morning, senior station officer of DEPZ Fire Service Station Anwar Hossain said the number of casualties in the fire already reached 125 and it would rise further as the rescue operation was going on.
Major Mahbub, Director (operation) at the Fire Brigade Headquarters, however, said, “The number of casualties in the fire incident would over 100 as we’ve recovered more bodies overnight.”
* Garment factory blaze kills 109 in Bangladesh:
Rescue workers in Bangladesh recovered 109 bodies today after a fire tore through a garment factory, forcing many workers to jump from high windows to escape the smoke and flames.
Firefighters battled for several hours to control the blaze, which broke out on the ground floor of the nine-story Tazreen Fashion plant, 30 kilometers north of the capital Dhaka last night.
Survivors told how panicked staff, mostly women, desperately tried to escape the factory, which the owner said made clothes for international brands including Dutch chain C&A and the Hong Kong-based Li & Fung company.
“There were more than 1,000 workers trapped in the factory,” one worker who gave her name only as Romesa, 42, told local media from her hospital bed.
The owner of the Tazreen factory, Delwar Hossain, told AFP by telephone that the cause of the fire was not yet known but he denied his premises were unsafe.
“It is a huge loss for my staff and my factory. This is the first time we have ever had a fire at one of my seven factories,” he said, confirming that the premises made clothes for C&A and Li & Fung.
Relatives of the workers made phone calls to those inside the factory as it burned, locals told AFP, and one witness said firefighters were helpless as the blaze took hold.
“I came to the factory premises and found workers crying for help,” Mohammad Ratan said. “As the fire spread to the upper floors, I saw many jumping from windows.”
According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, a Amsterdam-based textile rights group, since 2006 at least 500 Bangladeshi garment workers have died in factory fires.
* PM expresses shock at loss of lives in Ashulia garment fire:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed profound shock at the loss of lives of garment workers in a devastating fire in a factory at Ashulia last night.
The Prime Minister asked the concerned authorities for proper treatment of the injured persons and donated Taka one lakh as immediate support to the family of each the victims, PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said.
After receiving the information of the fire incident last night, the Prime Minister asked concerned officials to conduct the fire extinguishing and rescue operation with highest endeavor, Azad said.
Sheikh Hasina prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and expressed her deep sympathy to the bereaved family members. to read.
* Bangladeshi Factory Fire: Brands accused of Crimimnal Negligence:
The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world is calling for immediate action from international brands following yesterday’s fire in Dhaka Bangladesh, which cost the lives over one hundred garment workers.
The killed and injured workers were producing garments for international clothing brands when their factory, Tazreen Fashions, went up in flames. According to their website Tazreen produced for a host of well known brand names including C&A, Carrefour, KIK and Walmart. The Clean Clothes Campaign believes that international brands have shown ongoing negligence in failing to address the safety issues highlighted by previous fires, and that this leaves them with responsibility for yet another tragic loss of life.
Many of the workers jumped to their deaths trying to escape from the six story building, others, unable to escape the blaze, were burned alive. The death toll continues to rise as rescue workers plough through the remains of the devastated factory. One fire fighter at the scene reported that there wasn’t a single fire exit on the outside of the factory. First reports suggest the fire was started by an electrical short circuit. The cause of over 80% of all factory fires in Bangladesh are due to faulty wiring.
“These brands have known for years that many of the factories they choose to work with are death traps. Their failure to take action mounts to criminal negligence” says Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
Together with our partners in Bangladesh the CCC is calling call for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of the fire, for full and fair compensation to be paid to the victims and their families and importantly concrete action from all parties involved to prevent future tragedies.
“As we yet again mourn the loss of scores of garment workers in Bangladesh, we demand that brands step up their game. Tragedy after tragedy underlines our belief that simple, cosmetic changes to existing programmes simply aren’t enough. Action needs to be taken to address the root causes of these fires” said Ms Zeldenrust.
The CCC, together with local and global unions and labour rights organisations has developed a sector-wide program for action that includes an programme of independent and transparent inspections, an obligatory upgrading of the buildings supplying participating brands, a review of all existing laws and safety regulations, a commitment to pay prices that can cover the costs involved and the direct involvement of trade unions in worker training on health and safety. The Clean Clothes campaign is now renewing its demand for brands need to sign on immediately. read more.
* Ashulia Fire: Mourning Day on any day this week:
The government has decided to observe Mourning Day on any day this week as mark of respect to those killed in a tragic apparel factory blaze at Ashulia on the outskirts of capital Dhaka on Saturday night.
“A condolence motion will be placed in tomorrow’s (Monday’s) cabinet meeting in this regard and the Mourning Day will be observed on any day after that,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said after a meeting of Victory Day Observance Committee at her official residence Ganobhaban in the evening.
A one-minute silence was also observed at the meeting showing respect to the RMG workers killed in the devastating fire. read more.
* RMG units shut for workers’ unrest at Ashulia:
The demands include double payment for transport facilities and lunch stipend, salary hike, suspension of an official, job security, and stopping workers’ termination without valid reasons.The workers said in the morning that they went to the factory and saw the notice on the main gate, declaring the factory shut for an indefinite period.
Then the workers became agitated and tried to block the highway but a large contingent of police brought the situation under control, said onlookers.
Factory authorities said that they were ready to sit with workers for discussion once they join work. They also said the demands of the workers were unreasonable.
‘The authorities did not meet the demands and closed the factory at night to stave off any untoward incidents,’ said officials. read more.
* BGMEA team finds ‘participation committees’ in half of factories:
Only half of the 586 factories, visited by the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) officials, have ‘participation committees’ which deal with rights of apparel workers, statistics show.
However, labour leaders expressed doubt whether those committees are formed with real workers or ‘workers selected by the owners’.
“Each and every factory should have a ‘participation committee’ represented by real labour leaders, not those who only protect owners’ interest,” said Nazma Akter, president of Sammilita Garment Workers Federation.
“In most cases ‘workers backed by the owners’ represent the labourers’ sides in the participation committees. When unrest breaks up, workers hardly pay heed to those leaders,” she said
She said the labour law of 2006 allows formation of a committee in every factory ensuring representation of workers and owners. In the committee labourers’ sides will have one additional member to represent them.
The committee is entitled to look after workers’ welfare and rights as well as any issue that may appear.
Ms Akter said neither the factory owners nor the buyers allow trade union in the apparel factories. Thus the government has incorporated ‘participation committees’ in the labour law. read more.
* BGMEA expects more RMG exports to Russia:
The scheduled visit of a Russian business delegation, including representatives from the textile and garment industry, to Bangladesh in December this year has raised hope for the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry, which is currently exploring new markets, according to web news portal ‘fibre2fashion’.
Mohammed Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, First Vice President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said: “The Russian business delegates are expected to visit Bangladesh during the mid-December this year – a result of continuous market exploration initiative of BGMEA and BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association).”
Explaining the country’s opportunity to explore new export market, Chowdhury says, “Russia is one of the biggest economy in the world and exploring a new market is not a choice for Bangladesh, but it is a must.”
“Russian market could be a vital source of growth of RMG sector for the next few years. read more.
* Chinese team due in Dec to explore apparel sourcing:
A 22 member Chinese delegation will visit Bangladesh on December 4 in a bid to explore the country’s apparel sourcing and investment potentiality, industry people said.
They termed the visit as a great opportunity for Bangladesh which will help increase the export volume of the country.
Global buyers are now depending on Bangladesh for long term apparel sourcing as the country has the potential to supply quality garment products, apparel manufactures said. read more.
* Weaving mills starved of investment:
Fresh investments in weaving mills, a sub-sector of primary textile mills, have dried up in the last two years, mainly due to higher costs of funding and relaxation of EU rules, sector leaders said.
Weaving mills secured Tk 990 million of fresh investments in 2011 and 2010 each, down by 90.7 percent from 2009’s Tk 10.7 billion, according to Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
Overall primary textile sectors, however, registered 77.27 percent growth in new investment in the last three years, said Jahangir Alamin, president of BTMA.
The primary textile sector, which includes spinning, weaving, printing, dyeing and finishing, plays a vital role as backward linkage industries for woven and knitwear garments by supplying fabrics and yarn. read more.
* BD crosses Pakistan in textile weaving capacity:
Bangladesh has recently crossed Pakistan in textile weaving capacity, as local capacity in this sector has been gradually increasing over the past years, said the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF).
Bangladesh currently has 8.7 million installed spindles and 28,000 shuttle-less looms in aggregate, as the country added 2.83 million spindles and 21,850 shuttle-less looms between 2006 and 2011, according to ITMF data released last week.
15:48:16 local time INDIA
* ‘Mahapadav’ meet of trade union leaders, workers tomorrow:
Trade union leaders and workers from across the country will gather here tomorrow to protest against alleged exploitation of employees under various government schemes and demand fixing their minimum wage at 10,000 per month.
The ‘Mahapadav’ meet is being organised by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) with participation of leaders of central trade unions, industrial federations and MPs.
A “common memorandum” will also be presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spelling out the charter of demands, said CITU president A K Padmanabham. The demands include regularisation of the large workforce in the country and extending them benefits like pension, gratuity and provident fund.
“The government is exploiting lakhs of workers who are employed in various central government schemes and programmes. They are not recognised as workers and are called social workers, activists, and even given fancy and innovative names like friends, guests, ‘yashodas’ and ‘mamathas’ to hide their exploitation,” Padmanabham said. read more.
* National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:
* Worker’s case: Jesurani:
My father Dass and Mary are working as agricultural labourers in the farms of land lords in nearby villages and we do not own agricultural land. I have one elder brother and three sisters. I studied up to 10th standard and after that I could not continue my studies due to the financial problems in my family.
After completing my 10th standard, I was at home doing household activities. My father was approached a labour broker from a nearby village and briefed about the employment opportunities in textile mills in the Coimbatore district. He said that if I work for three years I would get Rs.35000/- after completing the contract period and I would be given a monthly salary of Rs.2000/-. The broker also said that accommodation and food are free of cost, so the monthly earnings could be sent to the family. My father was convinced about the scheme and asked me to join the mill. I didn’t know about the nature of job so I was hesitant to work in a spinning mill which is far away from my native place. But the family situation made me to work and so I joined in the mill in the year 2006. read more.
* Worker’s case: Ashok:
My name is Ashok Kumar Singh and I am from village of Jaunpur District of Uttar Pradesh. Due to miserable economic conditions, I came to Delhi ten years back with my elder brother. I am working in Modelama Export for the last six years, which makes garments for a brand like GAP.
Even though I work as a layer man, they pay me the semi-skilled grade of Rs. 5097/- per month. This is how our wage theft is done. Salary is so low that six to eight hours overtime is necessary to meet our expenses. My company gives us a double rate for the first two hours and after that a single rate. The increased salary of January was actually paid in April. We never get paid for our late night meal and even gratuity is not paid to the workers.
The factory canteen doesn’t serve good food and there is no food in the canteen late in the night when we do our overtime. Occasionally, workers have fallen sick after consuming canteen food. There is no facility of clean drinking water, only bore water without filter is available.
The union has two hundred members. We tried to set up a union secretly twice, but we received dead threats and our leaders were terminated from the company.
There is a pressure of targets in the company, each hour has target. Every hour a supervisor or in-charge person makes visit and irritates us. They force us to achieve more targets. If you complete your target in one hour, they just give you a bigger target for the next hour. That means every hour you get a target bigger than the earlier one. read more.
* Human Rights Trial on Garment Industry Concludes:
- Minimum Wages for garment workers should be fixed at Rs. 12,000
- Experts testify that minimum wage presently calculated grossly inadequate
- Major clothing brands and garment manufacturers condemned for wage theft
- Unions point to policy deficit which is contributing to low wages
- Experts and unions show how nature of garment industry is continuing to keep workers in the cycle of poverty
The National Peoples’ Tribunal for living wages and decent working conditions of garment workers continued today at Kannada Sahitya Parishad, with much rigour and conviction with the participation of experts, union leaders, brand representatives and workers.
In a short film on the lives of garment workers’ experiences, one of the issues highlighted was that unfortunately workers still consider sexual harassment as a norm, as it is tacitly condoned by those who are responsible to monitor and prevent it. The harsh environment of the factory does not enable workers to share or communicate these issues with each other. If it is considered a norm, there is no opposition to sexual harassement. read more. & read more.
* Human rights trial for workers:
Garment workers, clothing brands, trade unions and government representatives gave evidence at a tribunal in Bangalore this week, India to assess human rights, harassment and wage issues.
The independent jury included national and international specialists on international labour standards, economists, senior journalists, International Labour Organisation representatives and Permanent People’s Tribunal members and will assess whether textile workers in India earn a ‘living wage’.
The ‘National People’s Tribunal on the Right to a Living Wage’ was organised by the International Asia Floor Wage Alliance, in collaboration with workers’ rights groups and trade unions. It is the third tribunal of its kind held on issues in the garment industry, with the first held in Sri Lanka in 2011, and the second held in Cambodia earlier in 2012. read more. & read more.
* India’s clothing workers: ‘They slap us and call us dogs and monkeys’:
Human rights tribunal hears allegations of abuse and low pay against clothing companies that supply high street stores
Workers making clothes that end up in the stores of the biggest names on the British high street have testified to a shocking regime of abuse, threats and poverty pay. Many workers in Indian factories earn so little that an entire month’s wages would not buy a single item they produce.
Physical and verbal abuse is rife, while female workers who fail to meet impossible targets say they are berated, called “dogs and donkeys”, and told to “go and die”. Many workers who toil long hours in an attempt to support their families on poverty wages claim they are cheated out of their dues by their employers.
The allegations, which will be of concern to household names including Gap, H&M, Next and Walmart, were made at a human rights tribunal in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. The “national people’s tribunal for living wages and decent working conditions for garment workers” was convened to investigate widespread human rights abuses in the garment industry. read more.
* India’s sweat shop workers for top-end brands reveal rampant abuse and low wages hell:
Workers making clothes that end up in biggest stores in the UK have complained to human rights tribunal about a shocking regime of abuse, threats and low pay against Indian factories they work in.
The workers said that physical and verbal abuse is rife, while female workers who failed to meet impossible targets said that they are berated, called ‘dogs and donkeys’, and told to ‘go and die’.
They complained that their wages are so low that they would not be able to buy a single item they produce.
According to the Guardian, many workers who toil long hours in an attempt to support their families on poverty wages claimed they are even cheated out of their dues by their employers.
The allegations, which will be of concern to household names, including Gap, H and M, Next and Walmart, were made at a human rights tribunal in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. read more. & read more.
* The National Peoples’ Tribunal demand Minimum Wages for garment workers should be fixed:
The National Peoples’ Tribunal for living wages and decent working conditions of garment workers continued today at Kannada Sahitya Parishad, with much rigour and conviction with the participation of experts, union leaders, brand representatives and workers.
In a short film on the lives of garment workers’ experiences, one of the issues highlighted was that unfortunately workers still consider sexual harassment as a norm, as it is tacitly condoned by those who are responsible to monitor and prevent it. The harsh environment of the factory does not enable workers to share or communicate these issues with each other. If it is considered a norm, there is no opposition to sexual harassment.
Meenakshi Sundaram from (CITU) highlighted that the calculation of minimum wages took into account only food, clothing, shelter and a partial consideration for health and education. But in the current climate of privatization of these services, the minimum wage does compensate adequately. This has resulted in standardizing an inadequate wage for living. Without a strong process of unionization of workers, workers cannot achieve a decent wage.
Jeroen Merk, Senior Researcher, Clean Clothes Campaign, Netherlands stated that brands started social audits and adopted codes of conduct in the 90s, but since the picture continues to look grim, which reveals that there has no efforts made from the brands to address issues and concerns of workers.
Vijay Bhaskar, Asst. Professor from Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS) suggested that the Government has not done enough to assist the garment industry to become more competitive internationally. Utsa Patnaik, member of the Jury responded by saying that the Government is in fact attacking the industry by destructive policies such as making export of cotton easy, which led to the suicides by handloom weavers much before farmers’ suicides in India. read more.
* Garment tribunal verdict finds systematic human rights abuse:
The verdict of a tribunal to assess human rights abuses faced by workers in the Indian garment industry was announced today in Bangalore.
Judges found overwhelming evidence of ‘grave and systematic violations of individual and collective human rights’ suffered by garment workers and called for immediate action to be taken by a variety of stakeholders.
The verdict follows a two day hearing in which over 250 garment workers from Gurgaon, Tirupur and Bangalore gathered to give evidence pointing to the fact that a living wage and decent working conditions are a pressing necessity in the industry.
“You end up like a machine working on a machine,” said Akshay Kumar, 36-year-old garment worker from Gurgaon, speaking of what it feels like to cope with inhuman production targets in bad working conditions.
The judges verdict focused on the pressing necessity for a living wage to be paid to workers, and gave evidence of its status as a human right that must be addressed. It further acknowledged the prevelance of illegal compulsory overtime, inhuman productivity measures, systematic denial of social security payments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and active suppression of the right to freedom of association in the industry. read more.
Download full verdict document here.
* Delay in signing of Free Trade Deal with EU worries textile industry:
With Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between India and European Union (EU) not coming through, the Indian apparel industry is extremely concerned.
Exports to EU have drastically fallen this year with the region reeling under the worst ever economic recession in recent times. The FTA was expected to be signed in October-November this year but textile industry officials say that it has now been pushed back to the first quarter of next year.
In the EU region, India’s textile exports have suffered the most in Italy, where the exports are down by 33.65 per cent during April – September FY13 as compared to same period the previous year.
In France and Germany, exports are down by 31.28 per cent and 28.53 per cent respectively on a year-on-year basis. India’s overall exports of made-ups have declined by 5.76 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year to $11,960.74 million. read more.