in the news on-line, 27 November 2012

00:32:22 local time map of china CHINA

* Self-owned brands account for 11% of total exports:

Among the exported products in China 10 years ago, the proportion of the self-owned brands was less than 10 percent and products like clothes were exported without brands or with foreign brands.
Due to lack of self-owned brands in the oversea market, most Chinese enterprises just could make a small profit. With unremitting efforts for 10 years, such a situation is changing historically.
Reporter learns from Ministry of Commerce recently that the amount of foreign trade enterprises with self-owned brands in China accounts 20 percent of the total, and the amount of export of self-owned-brand products accounts for about 11 percent of the total amount of export. read more.

00:32:22 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Govt dared: penalize 13th month pay offenders:

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno dared the Aquino government today to go beyond reminding employers of their responsibility to give workers the 13th month pay and to issue a categorical statement that it will punish employers who will not give workers the said allowance.

KMU was reacting to Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s statement reminding employers to grant their workers the 13th month pay and saying that failure to do so is punishable under the law.

“Reminding employers to issue the 13th month pay has become a yearly ritual for the government. Still, many capitalists observe the yearly ritual of refusing to give their workers the allowance,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
read more.

* Workers slam govt officials’ huge salaries and perks:

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned Pres. Noynoy Aquino today over the huge salaries and perks being enjoyed by Cabinet officials, saying the country’s workers are suffering from very meager wages, hunger and poverty.

KMU was reacting to the Commission on Audit’s 2011 report on government officials’ salaries and allowances, which showed many Cabinet secretaries earning more than P1 million in the past year, with Foreign Affairs Sec. Alberto del Rosario earning almost P3 million.

“Witness ‘daang matuwid (straight path)’ in action: legalized amassing by government officials of wealth from the people’s money. Those who pledge to serve the country through government positions are serving themselves and have become wealthier,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

“These salaries and perks come from workers’ and the people’s taxes. Government officials are making themselves wealthier out of the labor of people whose wages are not even enough for their families’ basic needs,” he added. read more.

* Labor dept, Aquino, blamed for employer’s hostility to unions, wage hike:

“Capitalists’ profits have steadily increased over the years because wages have largely been frozen and contractual employment has been assiduously promoted.” – KPMM

How many Filipino employees today are considered as “regular” on the job, enjoying benefits like social security, vacation and sick leaves, retirement pay and an assurance that they would be given due process? According to unionists who protested in front of the labor department offices in Metro Manila and in other regions, such regular employees are increasingly becoming an endangered species. There are now only 220,000 unionized workers compared to nearly 38-million employed Filipinos.

Unionists condemned the labor department’s various go-signals to employers to resort to contractualization, which they blame for helping employers to reduce workers’ wages and union membership. They condemned also the labor department’s opposition to the now decade-long P125 ($2.98) daily wage hike demand.

Nearly a hundred workers from various labor organizations trooped to the main office of the labor department in Manila this week. They called on Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to heed the workers’ demand for a P125 across-the-board daily wage hike nationwide and for an end to contractual employment. read more.

* Women’s groups slam government’s role in increasing cases of violence against women:

“As wars and development aggression ravage our world, rape as a tool of war and imperialist expansion is used as a tactic of submission against women who resist.” – International Women’s Alliance
Through fora, symposia, film showings and other activities, women’s advocacy groups and research institutions discussed women’s issues all over the Philippines and celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25.
They joined the rest of the international community in commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was designated by the United Nations in 1999.“Any case of a woman or child being battered, raped, tortured or incarcerated anywhere in the world, no matter what her skin color, belief or race, should be denounced by the whole of humanity. As Filipino women stand up to fight violence against fellow Filipino women and children, including human rights violations and state repression, we should also stand up in solidarity with women across all continents who are victims of VAW (violence against women and children),” they said. read more.

* ASEAN meeting addressing violence against women held in Manila:

A three-day workshop to address the growing phenomenon of violence against women in ASEAN countries began on Tuesday in the Philippines, a senior government official said here.

The Training Workshop on Strengthening Capacities of Communities, Practitioners and Policy Makers to Address Violence Against Women (VAW) is part of Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) commitment to advance the goals of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said.

“The workshop hopes to identify common approaches that service providers and practitioners can adapt to effectively address violence against women in the Asian region,” she said. read more.

23:32:22 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* TDRI decries wage hike without productivity gains:

The government’s policy to raise the daily minimum wage to 300 baht nationwide next year could cause economic growth to shrink by two percentage points from normal over the next three to five years if labour productivity is not improved, says the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).

The think tank, which projects base economic growth at 5% per year, estimates that the wage hike, assuming other factors are unchanged, could affect consumption by 2.47% and investment by 2.79% from baseline projections. read more.

23:32:22 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Court of appeal delays verdict over Chea Vichea murder:

 The Court of Appeal said Monday it had delayed its verdict over the murder of Chea Vichea, the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers who was gunned down in 2004.

The court was scheduled to announce the verdict on Monday after a review. Kao Ti, a lawyer for the slain union leader’s wife Chea Kim Ny, said a new date for the verdict had not yet been set.
The two convicted of the murder, Ban Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, were sentenced to 20 years but were released after  serving five years. read more.

22:32:22 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Nation to mourn Ashulia-Ctg tragedy Tuesday :

All RMG units across the country will also be closed for the day; Cabinet okays bill to double the fine for smoking in public places.

The government has announced national mourning day for Tuesday in memory of the people killed in garment factory fire in Ashulia and flyover collapse in Chittagong.

It also announced a one-day vacation at all ready-made garment factories across the country for Tuesday.
The decision came at the weekly cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
At least 111 people were killed and 100 injured in a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashion Ltd at Nischintapur on the capital’s suburb Ashulia on Saturday.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
      

* Ashulia holocaust:

At least 113 workers were killedin a devastating fire which swept through a multi-stored garment factory atAshulia on Saturday evening, leaving several hundred others seriously injured.Number of casualties may rise.

It razed like a holocaust in theeight storied building burning people alive and sending gushing smokes in theair. Never before the country’s garment industry saw such inferno killingworkers inside while rescuers and relatives were hapless witnesses to thetragedy.

The blaze broke out at 6.45pm at’Tazreen Fashions Ltd’ in the Ashulia industrial area on the outskirt of thecity. Tazreen Fashions Ltd, is a sister concern of Tuba Group which exportsapparels to reputed global brand and retailer like Wal-Mart and H&M.
read more.

* Ashulia RMG Fire: Workers stage demo, block road:

Angry garment workers staged demonstrations and blocked Abdullahpur–Bypile road in Ashulia on Monday, demanding punishment of those responsible for Saturday’s fire at Tazreen Fashion that claimed the lives of their 122 co-workers.

Witnesses said around 20,000 workers of different RMG units gathered in front of Tazreen Fashion at Nishchintapur on the outskirts of the capital at about 8:30am and staged demonstrations also demanding identifying the charred bodies.

The angry garment workers threw brickbats at the factory.
On information, police rushed in and dispersed them.
Later, the garment workers took to the street and blocked the Abdullahpur-Bypile road for two hours from 10 am. read more. & read more.
 

* Ashulia fire death toll now 111:

The death toll from Ashulia readymade garment factory fire rose to 111 on Monday, two days after the incident.

Meanwhile, several thousand garment workers staged a rowdy protest in Ashulia on Monday morning demanding punishment of the people responsible for Saturday’s fire.
Vehicular movements on the Dhaka-Tangail highway remained suspended for two hours since the morning following their demonstration, witnesses said.
In the meantime, police suspected that the fire incident was a premeditated one.

Some unidentified criminals might set fire to the factory in a pre-planned way and that’s why police filed a case against several unknown persons, said Badrul Alam Sheikh, officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station.
In the wake of the situation, most of the garment units in Ashulia zone have been declared closed for Monday to avoid any untoward incident, police sources said.
read & see more (video).

* Probe body in Ashulia:

A four-member committee formed by Home Ministry to investigate the Ashulia fire incident reached Nischintapur to visit the fire-damaged Tazreen Fashion Ltd Monday morning.

The team led by Mainuddin Khandakar, additional secretary of Home Ministry, reached the garment factory around noon.
The fire that broke out at Tazreen Fashion Ltd Saturday evening killed at least 111 workers.

The three other members of the committee are: Abdus Salam, director general of Uttara Industrial Police, Abdus Salam, director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Dhaka and Sayed Mahmud Belal Haider, deputy director (fire) of Home Ministry.
The committee that formed on Sunday will submit its reports and recommendations in 15 working days. read more.

* Sampling for DNA tests starts:

Forensic officials on Monday started sampling for DNA test of 59 workers who were charred beyond recognition in Ashulia garment factory fire on Saturday .
Hospital sources said officials of forensic laboratory of Criminal Investigation Department; and Forensic and DNA departments of Dhaka Medical College started collecting the samples from the remains of the bodies around 12:30pm.
The bodies are now kept at Dhaka Medical Hospital Morgue.

The bodies will be buried at Jurain Graveyard after completion of sample collection, the morgue sources said.
The forensic officials will later collect samples from the relatives, who will come to the hospital to identification of the bodies.
The death toll from Ashulia readymade garment factory fire rose to 111 on Monday, two days after the incident.
Of the deceased, the relatives and family members identified and took away the bodies of 52 workers. to read.

* Families keep searching through rubble:

Grief-stricken families were still looking for the members of their families in the rubble after the fire that had broken out on Saturday in Tazreen Fashions Limited at Ashulia in Dhaka, killing at least 111 people.

Eager to get their relatives back, even dead, they were searching every corner, the rubble of tiles, sewing machines and even bunt coils of electric wire.
They were running between the Nischintapur School where the bodies were initially kept for identification and Dhaka Medical College Hospital, where the injured were being treated or yet-to-be-identified bodies were kept in the mortuary. They were even visiting Anjuman-e-Mafidul Islam where some unclaimed bodies were kept for burial.
The authorities failed to say how many workers were still missing as a number of people were saying that they could not contact their relatives after the fire that broke out on Saturday evening. read more.

* Fakhrul visits fire-ravaged Savar RMG factory:

BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday visited the fire-hit RMG factory at Nishchintapur in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital.

Party sources said directed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia Fakhrul along with party vice-chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka went to Nishchintapur at about 2pm.
They visited the fire-razed factory and talked to the family members of the victims of the incident.
The BNP leaders also talked to the law enforcers to know the details of the incident and the extant of losses caused by the fire.

Talking to reporters, Fakhrul said his party is extremely shocked at the loss of lives of so many people in the divesting fire.
He urged the government to ensure quick and proper treatment of the injured in the incident and prayed for their early recovery.
Fakhrul demanded quick compensation for the family members of those killed in the fire. read more.

* HC order sought:

A writ petition was filed with the High Court seeking its directives to take action against the culprits of the fire incident, give compensation to the victims and investigate into the matter.

An HC bench comprising Justice Mirza Hossain Haider and Justice Kazi M Izarul Haque Akanda may hear the writ petition, said petitioners’ lawyer Barrister Dr Kamal Hossain.
Ain O Shalish Kendra, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Nijera Kori and BRAC filed the petition on Monday afternoon. read more.

* Ashulia tragedy: 2 arrested:

Two people were arrested on Monday in connection with the Ashulia factory fire tragedy.

The arrestees were identified as Sumi, a factory worker and Zakir, a floor- in-charge of the Tazreen Fashion Ltd, the home ministry sources said.
Habibur Rahman Khan, superintendent of police of Dhaka district, told The Independent that they are now being interrogated on police custody. read more.

* Ashulia RMG fire for Tk 20,000?:

Sumi Begum, 27, a worker ofDebunia Garments in Ashulia, made confessional statement on Monday noon beforea Magistrate that she set fire to the factory that she received Tk. 20,000  from an official of the factory.

Judicial Magistrate Wasim Shaikhrecorded her confessional statement. Earlier, Sumi with another accused MdZakir Hossain, 26, were produced before the court. Zakir was placed on afour-day remand.
Sumi confessed that she hadcommitted the crime after getting the amount from official Zakir Hossain.

The factory authority detectedSumi setting fire on the video of CCTV camera.
General Manager of the factoryNirodh Barua filed a case with Ashulia Police Station in this connection.
Investigation Officer Farid Ahmedsaid that police was investigating whether some others were involved in thefire incident. to read.

* Bgmea sees sabotage:

Leaders of Bangladesh GarmentsManufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday alleged that thelatest fire indecent at the Ashulia garments factory might be a ‘sabotage’ asthe apparel sector is facing local and international conspiracy.

“We cannot rule out thepossibility of a sabotage in the case of Tazreen Garment’s incident when thesector is facing local and international conspiracy,” said Md ShafiulIslam Mohiuddin, President of BGMEA at a press conference held in the cityyesterday.

He said Bangladesh has now becomethe leading apparel exporters in the world after China and its exports reachednearly $20 billion. “As the country is emerging as a leader of globalapparel business a vested quarters out to destroy the image of the industry sothat global buyers switch away,” Mohiuddin added.

“Local and internationalconspiracies emerged as a threat to the existence of the biggest export earnerand employer for the country and we are concerned about it,” he added. to read.

* BGMEA smells ‘foul play’:

Garment makers yesterday urged the government to open a probe into the possibility of sabotage in the nation’s worst factory fire.

“The recent fires might be acts of sabotage. The government should look into it,” Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said in a hurriedly-called press conference at the trade body office.
The police picked up two people on Sunday who were trying to set fire to Debonia Fashion Ltd, a garment factory, Mohiuddin said. The same day, the fire ripped through three garment factories housed in one building in Uttara, he said.

“We also found matchsticks at Babylon Garment. I believe it is happening to create instability in the garment industry,” Mohiuddin said. read more. & read more.
 

* Garment fire planned arson: PM:

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Monday said the incidents of fire in garment factories, including Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia and at Dakkhin Khan in the city, were not ‘accidents’ rather ‘planned arson’ and it was time to identify the evil forces behind such crimes.

The prime minister concluding an unscheduled discussion on a condolence motion for the dead in the Ashulia fire and girder collapse in Chittagong said they were not isolated incidents rather linked to the same string.

She led parliament in condoling the death of innocent people in the fire accidents in two garment factories in Dhaka and the girder collapse in Chittagong.
Hasina in this context referred to the incident in which a woman garment factory worker was caught after attempting to set fire to the factory of Debonair
Fashions in Ashulia on Sunday and her confession that someone had paid her Tk 20,000 for it. read more. & read more.
 

* RMG factory fire: Offenders to be brought to book: Home Minister:

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir on Tuesday said that those responsible for the incident of fire at a garment factory in Ashulia will be brought to book.

All the previous major accidents in the garment factories of the area will also be probed, he told the journalists during a visit to the fire-devastated factory at Nischintapur in Ashulia.
The RMG factory, Tazreen Fashion, caught fire on Saturday evening that left some 124 workers dead and over 200 others injured. read more.

* Factory Fire: Dr Kamal for probe commission:

Terming the loss of lives in Savar RMG factory inferno a loss of 16 crore people, eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain on Monday demanded an effective probe body with credible persons to unearth the real mystery behind the deadly fire.

“We need to carry out an intensive probe by credible persons to debunk as to why people could not come out of the factory after the fire raged through it,” he told a press conference.

Dr Kamal came up with the demand at a press conference arranged by Gano Forum at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on the terrible fire in Savar RMG factory, flyover collapse in Chittagong and the country’s latest political situation.

The veteran politician regretted that though the government forms enquiry committees after any terrible incident, their findings usually do not see the light. “Now time has come to constitute a probe commission to look into the activities of the committees.” read more.

* BGMEA forms probe committee:

BGMEA president Shafiul Islam could not give satisfactory answers to many questions raised by the journalist on Monday’s press conference where he claimed the fire incident might be an act of sabotage.

The journalists asked why the factory failed to put-off the fire with their extinguishers, why emergency exits were closed and why the floor managers misguided the workers insisting that there was no any fire broke.
The BGMEA president, instead argued, the death toll in Ashulia factory was very high because the panicked workers could not come out of the building due to thick black smoke at the ground floor of the factory.
On the other hand, the fire extinguisher in the factory did not work or probably none dared or did not get time to operate them during the emergency, Islam pointed out.
read more.

* Bangladesh blaze factory had 6 illegal storeys: govt:

The builders of the nine-storey factory in which 110 workers died in Bangladesh’s worst textile industry fire had only been granted permission for a three-floor construction, an official said Monday.

“We gave them permission to build a three-storey factory. But they expanded the building without any approval from us,” Habibul Islam, the government’s chief inspector of factories, told AFP.

Islam’s comments came as the government and police launched separate probes into the fire on Saturday at Tazreen Fashion that left at least 110 workers dead as many struggled to escape from upper floors.
Survivors told AFP that the factory, built outside Dhaka in 2009, did not have proper fire exits. read more.

* Western brands accused in Ashulia garment fire:

Western garment firms have been accused of hiding behind flimsy safety audits after the latest lethal garment factory fire in South Asia, where poorly paid workers often toil in dangerous conditions. The night shift at the Tazreen Fashion plant outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka was hard at work when the blaze erupted late Saturday, killing 110 employees with many trapped inside unable to escape the flames and smoke.

The fire came after 289 people died in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi in September, in a similar blaze that again highlighted the export garment sector’s dismal safety record.

“Many factory owners either deceive or buy their way to so-called safety compliance which is designed to satisfy overseas buyers keen to get garments at low prices,” said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch.
“This is another glaring indictment of the failure of the so-called private sector corporate social responsibility model,” he told AFP as Bangladesh held a mass burial on Monday for victims burnt beyond identification.

Tuba Group, which owns the Tazreen plant, said on its website that its factories make clothes for well-known global retail giants including Walmart, Carrefour, IKEA and C&A.
Tuba, which employs nearly 7,000 people, also says it has a certificate of compliance from WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), which promotes safe and ethical manufacturing.

The US-based WRAP, which is often criticised for being industry-funded, denied on Monday that it had certified the Tazreen factory.
State-run safety checks in South Asia are also poor, with Robertson describing them as “a world-class joke” and saying Western chains using the independently owned factories must take direct responsibility for workers.
(…)
The programme supports professional building inspections, training and a regular review of safety issues, but trade unions said it has had limited overall impact on the sector.
“The deal has not made much headway due to non-participation by major brands like Walmart, Gap and Carrefour,” Amirul Haque Amin, head of the National Garment Workers Federation, said.

“The problem is when it comes to workers’ safety, Western retailers mostly offer lip service.”
(…)
“We have become a huge garment exporter in the last decade, but it has come at the expense of workers’ lives,” Babul Akter, the head of Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation, said. read more.

* Bangladesh workers protest ‘deathtraps’:

Garment workers staged mass protests Monday to demand the end to “deathtrap” labor conditions after Bangladesh’s worst-ever textile factory fire, as a new blaze sparked fresh panic and terror.

Ahead of the first of a series of mass funerals for the 110 victims, survivors of Saturday night’s blaze joined several thousand colleagues to block a highway and march in the manufacturing hub of Ashulia.

“Workers from several factories have left work and joined the protest. They want exemplary punishment for Tazreen’s owners,” said Dhaka police chief Habibur Rahman, referring to a plant near the capital where the blaze broke out late Saturday.

Police said Ashulia’s more than 500 factories which make apparel for top global retailers such as Wal-mart, H&M and Tesco declared a wild-cat “holiday,” fearing that the protests could worsen and turn into large-scale unrest. read more.

* Dhaka workers demand action after factory fire:

Thousands of angry textile workers demonstrated on the outskirts of Dhaka after a fire swept through a garment workshop at the weekend, killing more than 100 people in Bangladesh’s worst-ever factory blaze.

The fire has put the spotlight on global retailers that source clothes from Bangladesh, where the cost of labour is as little as $37 (£23.70) a month for some workers – and rights groups have called on the big brands to sign up to a fire safety programme.

A second fire broke out at a separate clothes factory on the outskirts of the city today. Eight workers were reported to have been injured by heavy smoke inhalation.

Workers from Tazreen Fashions, the site of Saturday’s blaze, blocked roads and forced the closure of other factories in the industrial suburb of Ashulia, where the huge fire started, demanding that those responsible be punished. “I haven’t been able to find my mother,” said one worker, who gave her name as Shahida. “I demand justice, I demand that the owner be arrested. read more.

* Dangers facing RMG workers:

More than 100 people diedSaturday and Sunday in a fire at a garment factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh,in one of the worst industrial tragedies in that country.

Officials said there were notenough exits in the building.
It took firefighters all night toput out the blaze at the factory, Tazreen Fashions, after it started about 7p.m. on Saturday, a retired fire official said by telephone from Dhaka, thecapital. At least 111 people were killed, and scores of workers were taken tohospitals for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation.

“The main difficulty was toput out the fire; the sufficient approach road was not there,” said theretired official, Salim Nawaj Bhuiyan, who now runs a fire safety company inDhaka. “The fire service had to take great trouble to approach thefactory.” read more.

* Li & Fung pledges pay-outs for victims of Bangladesh fire:

Li & Fung has pledged more than HK$9,000 to each family of the victims of a fire at a Bangladeshi garment factory that killed at least 124 people.

The blaze is the latest industrial accident to raise concerns about the safety of workers who make clothing for companies such as Li & Fung, the world’s largest supplier of clothes and toys to retailers.

Li & Fung, whose clients include Wal-Mart Stores and Target, said the factory has made apparel for the company and is in contact with its owner. The Hong Kong-based company said it will conduct its own investigations into the cause of the fire. read more. & read more.
  

* Wal-Mart distances itself from Ashulia fire:

The garment factory in Bangladesh where a weekend fire killed at least 112 people had been making clothes for Wal-Mart without the giant US retailer’s knowledge, Wal-Mart said.

Wal-Mart said the Tazreen Fashions Ltd factory was no longer authorised to produce merchandise for Wal-Mart but that a supplier subcontracted work to it “in direct violation of our policies.”

“Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier,” America’s biggest retailer said in its statement Monday. “The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.”

The blaze on Saturday was one of the deadliest fires at a garment factory in Bangladesh and highlighted how its garment factories often ignore safety in the rush to supply major retailers in the US and Europe. More than 300 people have died over the past six years in garment factory fires in the South Asian country. read more.

* Bangladesh factory fire ‘troubles’ Walmart:

US retailer Walmart says it is troubled that a supplier subcontracted work without authorisation to a factory hit by a lethal fire in Bangladesh.

Walmart said it was cutting ties with the supplier.
The fire at the Tazreen Fashions plant outside the capital, Dhaka, killed more than 100 people last weekend.
The deaths triggered large protests in Dhaka, and many factories are shut ahead of a day of mourning on Tuesday. The cause of the fire is unclear.
Walmart did not name its supplier, which it said had subcontracted work “in direct violation of our policies”.
“The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh,” the firm said in a statement. read more.

* Fatal fire sends negative signals to garment buyers:

The fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia will send a negative signal to international buyers, who are targeting Bangladesh as the next major source of garment items after China, exporters and analysts said yesterday.

The tragedy struck the nation’s most important sector as leading apparel buyers were shifting their focus to Bangladesh and other Asian countries, with labour wages rising in China .
Some of the leading buyers have already raised concern about the safety of workers who make the clothing items for them.
Even the owner of Tazreen Fashions Ltd, where the fire incident took place on Saturday night, is in fear that his foreign buyers may leave him.
read more.  & read more. & read more.
   

* RMG industry ‘under buyer scanner’:

The fire in the multi-storied Tazreen Fashions has dealt a big blow to the image of Bangladesh as the readymade garment industry is under scrutiny of global buyers, economist Debapriya Bhattacharya believes.

“The incident is not good for Bangladesh’s image,” he said at the launch of UNCTAD’s LDCs (Least Developed Countries) Report 2012 at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) office on Monday.  A devastating fire that swept through Tazreen Fashions in the Ashulia industrial belt near capital Dhaka on Saturday has left at least 110 people dead.
“We have to carefully watch if there is any downward change in the buying orders and attitude of consumers towards Bangladeshi products,” he added.
The CPD Distinguished Fellow said such incidents would happen again unless full-fledged trade union was not introduced in the factories.
“The readymade garment sector is passing through a transformation of high wages for better productivity to produce high-end products but such type of incidents will make things complicated.”

read more.

* Sean Combs’ ENYCE labels found in Bangladesh factory fire:

Labels and documentation of US and European brands found in burnt out remains

  • C&A, Li and Fung and Piazza Italia confirmed as buyers

  • US rapper and producer, Sean Combs, more commonly known as Puff Daddy or P Diddy, is called upon by campaigners to take action today after his ENYCE brand was linked a tragic fire which killed 120 Bangladeshi garment workers on Saturday. Labels from his ENYCE brand were found in the wreckage of the burnt out Tazreen Fashion garment factory by local activists.

“We are sure that Mr Combs will be as shocked as we are to find that his company is implicated in such an horrific tragedy” said Liz Parker of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “We urge him to use his influence to make sure clothing factories are safe places for people to work”.

 Other labels and documentation found in the factory relate to Walmart, C&A, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Piazza Italia , Kik, Teddy Smith, Ace, Dickies, Fashion Basics, Infinity Woman, Karl Rieker GMBH & Co., and True Desire (Sears). To date only C&A, Piazza Italia and Li & Fung, a Hong Kong based sourcing agent, have confirmed they were buying from the factory at the time of the fire.

The Clean Clothes Campaign and its partners is working to seek confirmation from each of these brands on the sourcing relationship they have with Tazreen Fashion and is urging each company to publicly state their involvement with Tazreen or their owners TUBA group.

The Clean Clothes Campaign is also calling on all buyers from Tazreen Fashions to immediately investigate the full facts of the case and to ensure that adequate compensation is paid to the victims and their families. It is particularly urgent to ensure those injured in the fire receive the immediate medical treatment they require.

To prevent further factory fires the Clean Clothes Campaign along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world have developed a safety programme of independent and transparent inspections, mandatory repairs of building deficiencies, 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 to sign up to this programme immediately.
read more.

* UTTARA GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:


Photo: Jibon Amir/ banglanews24.com

* Huge clothes gutted in RMG factory fire:

A large quantity of clothes was gutted by a fire that broke out at the storeroom of a readymade garment factory at Mollartek under Dakshinkhan Police Station in the city on Monday morning.

Major Mohammad Mahbub, director (Operation) of the Fire Service, said the fire erupted at about 10:05 am on the first floor of 12-storey building ‘Afsan Plaza’ that houses RMG unit Swan Garments.
On information, 15 firefighting units rushed to the spot and doused the fire at about 1:25 pm with the help of the locals, he said.

Mahbub said though the fire burned down clothes at the storeroom of the garment factory, they could tame the blaze before it spread through the other floors of the high rise.
There was no report casualty.
The fire might have originated from an electrical short circuit, said the fire service official. read more. & read more.
 

* 2nd RMG factory fire in 48 hours:

A fire broke out in an apparel factory at Dakhinkhan on Monday morning barely 48 hours after 111 garment workers were killed in a  terrible blaze in Ashulia on Saturday night.
The fire originated from the warehouse on the second floor of Swan Garment, housed in a 10-storey building at Mollartek, at about 10:00am but it was put out by fire fighters in about two hours. No casualties were reported.
Most of the workers went upstairs while some climbed up the roof of an adjacent building by breaking open windowpanes on the 3rd floor of the building. read more.

* Fire alarm leads to stampede, 50 workers injured:

At least 50 workers, mostly females, were injured after a fire alarm triggered a stampede in a multi-storey apparel factory at Hemayetpur in Savar Monday evening.
The critically injured were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital and National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation.

The fire service sources said the fire broke out on the ground floor of six-storey factory of Abani Knitwear Textile Mills of Babylon Group at Rishipara at about 6:30pm but it was put out quickly before the fire engine reached the spot.
A short circuit is suspected to have caused the fire.

As the workers started rushing out of the factory hearing the alarm, the management tried to calm them saying that the fire had already been doused by the extinguishers.
But, the panicked workers continued coming down through the emergency exits, causing a stampede which left around 50 workers injured.
Savar police went to the spot and brought the situation under control at about 7:30pm. The factory’s senior manager, Shah Alam, said some 2,000 people were working at the factory and they were about to leave as their duty hour was over.
to read. & read more.
 

* RMG units having no emergency exits will be shut, says minister:

Factories having no or only fire and emergency exit will be shut down, Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju has said, reports bdnews24.com.
The minister made the announcement at a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
Raju admitted that the huge casualty in the fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia was due to lack of proper exits.
“It cannot be accepted. Each factory must have more than one usable (emergency) exit,” said Raju.
He held the meeting a day after 110 were killed in the worst-ever factory fire at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia.
He said teams headed by Chief Inspector of Factories will be sent to inspect garment factories in various areas. read more.

*Factory fire the deadliest of many in Bangladesh:

The fire alarm: Waved off by managers. An exit door: Locked. The fire extinguishers: Not working and apparently “meant just to impress” inspectors and customers.

That is the picture survivors paint of the garment-factory fire Saturday that killed 112 people who were trapped inside or jumped to their deaths in desperation. For Bangladesh, where such factories commonly ignore safety as they rush to produce for retailers around the world, the tragedy was unusual only in scope: More than 200 people have died in garment-factory fires in the country since 2006.

About 15,000 Bangladeshi workers protested blocks from the gutted fire Monday, demanding justice for the victims and improved safety. Some 200 factories were closed for the day after the protest erupted in Savar, a suburb of Dhaka, the capital.
read more.

* Why fires in South Asia kill more than blazes elsewhere:

If you were to invent a death trap, you’d use: unethical owners, crowded slums, corrupt inspectors and untrained firefighters

Blazes like the one in Dhaka on Saturday, which killed more than 100 in a garment factory, are sadly all too frequent occurrences around south Asia.

In September, in one of the worst incidents of its kind, 289 died in Karachi, Pakistan. The same month, 40 were killed in a blaze at a fireworks factory in the state of Tamil Nadu in south India.
Several factors combine to make death traps of factories across south Asia. Often exits are padlocked, basements used as store rooms for highly flammable raw materials and fire escapes missing. Smoke alarms and sprinkler systems are rarely heard of.

Survivors often describe the desperate crush as hundreds rush into narrow corridors filled with clouds of toxic smoke.
Fire is a constant hazard in the grossly overcrowded poor neighbourhoods of emerging world cities. read more.

* In shame:

Reports on private television channels were still showing the video clips of a factory building burning. The electronic media was still covering the event with one reporter being stationed there and giving a brief account of the incident every time the studio loops him or her in. At our end, as manufacturers, we crib and complain for being covered in such frequency; as human beings, we burn in shame.

Starting from the Mirpur tragedy in 1990, to 53 deaths in Choudhury Knitwear in 2000, to 24 deaths at Maico Sweaters in 2001, the nine in Nisco Supermarket building, the 23 at Shan Knitting, and of course the 64 in an incident of building collapse of Spectrum in 2005, the records wreak tragedy.

Tazreen Fashion Ltd, a unit of Tuba Group at Nischintapur in Savar, is reported to be exporting knit items worth $35 million. A factory, which was set up only three years ago, with a sprawling 49,000 square feet equipped with twelve production lines, 1,200 workers, a machinery strength of 650 sets, produces knitted polo shirts, fancy fleece jackets and basic t-shirts. read more.

22:02:22 local time map of india INDIA

  * National Peoples’ Tribunal  for  Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:

 FINAL PRESS RELEASE
Living Wage as a fundamental right of Indian Garment Workers:
National People’s tribunal verdict out
Bangalore, November 22- 25, 2012

The verdict of a National People’s tribunal to assess human rights violations faced by workers in the Indian garment industry was announced today in Bangalore. The verdict followed 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 is a pressing necessity in the industry.

The jury comprising of Gianni Tognioni, Secretary General, Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy;
Coen Kompier, Senior Specialist on International Labour Standards, ILO; Utsa Patnaik, Economist; Marina Forti, Senior Journalist, Italy; Hemlatha Mahishi, Distinguished Advocate, Bangalore; Mary E, John, Senior Fellow and Former Director, Centre for Women and Development Studies, New Delhi announced the verdict. Mr. Sripad, Deputy Director, Labour Dept. (Karnataka) was present.Although all textile brands in India were invited, only H & M was present, and Adidas group provided a written statement. Despite many cases of harassment and wage theft in GAP Supplying factories, GAP was conspicuously absent. Efforts were made to invite representatives from factory owners, suppliers and employers. Even the few, who responded, rejected the invitation.Testimonies were heard on forced unpaid overtime, inhuman productivity measures, systematic denial of social security payments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination, and active suppression of the right to unionise. A combination of long working hours and low wages amount to bonded and forced labour practices. Based on these testimonies, the jury presented recommendations and immediate action points directed to brands, suppliers, unions and government official and towards starting a sustainable multi-stakeholder dialogue. read more.

* Tribunal seeks ‘living wages’ for garment workers:

After hearing garment workers from across the country, the National People’s Tribunal on Sunday made out a case for immediate implementation of “living wages” in the Indian garment industry.

More than 250 garment workers from the major manufacturing centres of Bangalore, Tirupur and Gurgaon poured out their woes before the Tribunal during the two-day hearing which concluded here on Sunday.

The panel comprised Gianni Tognioni, Secretary General, Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy; Coen Kompier, senior specialist on International Labour Standards, International Labour Organisation; Utsa Patnaik, economist; Marina Forti, senior journalist, Italy; Hemalatha Mahishi, senior advocate, Bangalore; and Mary E John, former director, Centre for Women and Development Studies, New Delhi.
read more.

* AFWC seeks social justice for Indian garment workers:

The National People’s Tribunal organized by the Asia Floor Wage Campaign (AFWC) has urged the Government of India to declare and pursue an active employment policy to provide social justice to the garment workers in the country.

In its verdict, the National People’s Tribunal on ‘Living Wages as a Fundamental Right of Indian Garment Labours’ observed that the garment workers are exploited and denied of basic human rights.

While assessing the testimonials provided by the 20 labor organizations including All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU), the tribunal found sufficient evidence of violation of human rights consisting of low wages and long working hours along with sexual harassment and other violence against women.

On the basis of the findings, the Tribunal recommended the Central Government to consider an imperative policy tool to eradicate poverty.

According to the Tribunal, the Government needs to adopt and effectively implement new legislation regarding licensing and registration of labor brokers and employment agencies, in compliance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on private employment agencies.
The verdict states that the particular level of wages which constitutes a living wage can be determined on the basis of the existing information fairly, precisely and the way it will vary by regions. read more.

OTHER NEWS:

* More women getting harassed at workplace:

Anti-harassment cells non-existent in most of the firms

The Kerala State Women’s Commission has expressed concern over the rising incidents of mental and physical harassment of women at workplace.

Speaking to presspersons here on Monday, Commission member Noorbina Rasheed said both the men and women were found to have been involved in harassing their subordinates or colleagues at the workplace.
“In several of the firms from where complaints were reported, Anti-Harassment Cells were non-existent,” she said.

Explaining the strict guidelines of the Supreme Court with regard to the formation of Anti-harassment Cells in all employment firms, Ms. Rasheed said the Commission would shortly conduct a check to assess if private and government establishments were following the guidelines. read more.

* Make workplace harassment laws gender neutral, demand NGOs:

Workplace harassment laws in the country favour women and differentiate against men. These laws should be made gender neutral, demanded a coalition of multinational NGOs.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010 was passed by the Lok Sabha in September. NGOs like Save Indian Family Foundation, Men Seek Justice, All India Men’s Welfare Association, Indian Affiliate Chapter of Association for International Men’s Rights Activism and Welfare believe that the bill is a violation of the fundamental rights of any citizen not to be discriminated against on grounds like religion or sex.

“It is an outdated concept that only women are victims of sexual harassment. The bill was gender neutral to begin with till the intervention of the Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry and some militant women’s NGOs, after which the name of the bill was changed to The Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010,” informed Rajesh Vakahria of city unit of Save Indian Family Foundation. read more.

* No losses in textile industry after debt restructuring:

Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Textiles has informed that textile industry suffered a downturn in 2011-12, due mainly to the global economic slowdown and partially the high price volatility in the international and domestic cotton market. 
 
To ease the resultant financial distress, recognizing the Handloom sector as the most vulnerable segment of the Textile industry, Government announced a Handloom Revival, Reform & Restructuring Package under which Rs.3884 crore was allocated for waiver of loans of handloom cooperatives, individual weavers, etc. and for interest subsidy, margin money and credit guarantee for fresh loans.
Government also approved a debt restructuring package to help loss making textile mills, to be administered on a case by case basis by the banks within the prudential norms of the Reserve Bank of India. read more.

21:32:22 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile sector stirs into life at KSE:

Textile sector stocks have assumed prominence at the Karachi Stock Exchange where a wave of buying has propelled prices to highs not seen, perhaps in decades.

More than 30 stocks on the sector (composite, spinning, weaving) hit their ‘upper circuit’ in trading last Friday. The ‘upper/lower circuit’ is the maximum of Re1 or 5 per cent of the opening price of a stock, at which the rise or fall of scrip value a single day trading, is capped.

The mechanism allows ‘cooling’ effect lest an over-enthusiastic crowd of buyers or panicky investors spiral the price of a share up or down beyond reasonable limits. But the phenomenon of stocks hitting the ‘top’ is conspicuous by its presence in slow measure for most of the trading days since July.
“Now the bulls are all over the sector, tossing up prices of whichever stock they can lay their horns under,” says a trader. read more.

* Textile Policy initiatives in jeopardy: no amount released to MoTI during current fiscal year:

The government has not released any amount to the Ministry of Textile Industry (MoTI) during the current fiscal year, which may result in jeopardizing the key initiatives of the Textile Policy (2009-14), official sources revealed here on Monday.

The government’s failure to implement textile policy in letter and spirit and lack of power/gas utilities has negatively affected textile exports. Due to financial constraints, textile sector’s pending liabilities against the government under different schemes announced in the textile policy have swelled to over Rs 16 billion. This includes Rs 12 billion, as Drawback on Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL). Some textile millers have already moved the court against the government for outstanding liabilities, sources maintained.

Lack of utilities, certified cotton seeds and bad perception in the world about production capacity of the industry are the main reasons behind the current deterioration and decline of the textile industry. Availability of utilities and subsidies provided by competitor governments are putting the textile exports at a disadvantage in international market, said different stakeholders. read more.

 * Faisalabad textile sector gets special gas quota assurance:

Special gas quota would be allocated for the export-oriented textile industry of Faisalabad, Dr. Asim Hussain, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources, has assured. 
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman Asghar Ali said the Faisalabad textile sector has been assured of allocating gas quota on a trial basis for Khurarianwala industrial cluster for one week, and later on the same would be allocated to all regions. read more.

* TDAP’s apathy disturbs Pakistan textile exporters:

Textile exporters in Pakistan have expressed concern over the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan’s (TDAP) apathy in implementing the EU notification permitting duty free import of 75 items, mostly textile products.
In a statement to the media, Towel Manufacturers’ Association of Pakistan (TMA) Chairman Mehtabuddin Chawla said in spite of the delay in granting the Autonomous Trade Preferences (ATP) by the EU to Pakistan, they are contented by the move. However, TDAP’s apathy in fulfilling the ATP formalities like issuance of Certificate of Origin is troubling the exporters.
 TDAP is yet to implement the formalities like issuance of Certificate of Origin, required as per the EU notification, which is causing exporters to suffer huge losses, Mr. Chawla said. read more.

    THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Factory fire case Another accused granted bail:

A sessions court on Monday granted interim bail to an electrical inspector in the Baldia Town garment factory fire case.

Amjad Ali through his lawyer moved a pre-arrest bail application and additional district and sessions judge (west) Abdullah Channa granted him interim pre-arrest bail against the surety bond of Rs500,000 till Dec 1.

The police cited negligence of the SITE, labour, civil defence and other departments concerned as one of the reasons of the fire in an interim report, but did not name officials in the final charge-sheet.

However, a magistrate declared managing director of SITE Abdul Rasheed Solangi, director of the labour department Zahid Gulzar Sheikh, additional controller of civil defence Ghulam Akbar and electrical inspector Amjad Ali accused on Nov 14 for their alleged negligence in the case and issued their warrants for Nov 27. to read.

 

map of Asia

HEADLINES TODAY:

CHINA
* Self-owned brands account for 11% of total exports

PHILIPPINES
* Govt dared: penalize 13th month pay offenders
* Workers slam govt officials’ huge salaries and perks
* Labor dept, Aquino, blamed for employer’s hostility to unions, wage hike
* Women’s groups slam government’s role in increasing cases of violence against women
* ASEAN meeting addressing violence against women held in Manila

THAILAND
* TDRI decries wage hike without productivity gains

CAMBODIA
* Court of appeal delays verdict over Chea Vichea murder

BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* Nation to mourn Ashulia-Ctg tragedy Tuesday
* Ashulia holocaust
* Ashulia RMG Fire: Workers stage demo, block road
* Ashulia fire death toll now 111
* Probe body in Ashulia
* Sampling for DNA tests starts
* Families keep searching through rubble
* Fakhrul visits fire-ravaged Savar RMG factory
* HC order sought
* Ashulia tragedy: 2 arrested
* Ashulia RMG fire for Tk 20,000?
* Bgmea sees sabotage
* BGMEA smells ‘foul play’
* Garment fire planned arson: PM
* RMG factory fire: Offenders to be brought to book: Home Minister
* Factory Fire: Dr Kamal for probe commission
* BGMEA forms probe committee
* Bangladesh blaze factory had 6 illegal storeys: govt
* Western brands accused in Ashulia garment fire
* Bangladesh workers protest ‘deathtraps’
* Dhaka workers demand action after factory fire
* Dangers facing RMG workers
* Li & Fung pledges pay-outs for victims of Bangladesh fire
* Wal-Mart distances itself from Ashulia fire
* Bangladesh factory fire ‘troubles’ Walmart
* Fatal fire sends negative signals to garment buyers
* RMG industry ‘under buyer scanner’
* Sean Combs’ ENYCE labels found in Bangladesh factory fire
* UTTARA GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Huge clothes gutted in RMG factory fire
* 2nd RMG factory fire in 48 hours
* Fire alarm leads to stampede, 50 workers injured

* RMG units having no emergency exits will be shut, says minister
*Factory fire the deadliest of many in Bangladesh
* Why fires in South Asia kill more than blazes elsewhere
* In shame

INDIA
* National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:
* FINAL PRESS RELEASE
* Tribunal seeks ‘living wages’ for garment workers
* AFWC seeks social justice for Indian garment workers
OTHER NEWS:
* More women getting harassed at workplace
* Make workplace harassment laws gender neutral, demand NGOs
* No losses in textile industry after debt restructuring

PAKISTAN
* Textile sector stirs into life at KSE
* Textile Policy initiatives in jeopardy: no amount released to MoTI during current fiscal year
* Faisalabad textile sector gets special gas quota assurance
* TDAP’s apathy disturbs Pakistan textile exporters
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Factory fire case Another accused granted bail

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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