in the news on-line, 28 November 2012

 23:42:21 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Untapped market in children’s clothes, bra segment:

Despite the government’s call to ‘Be Vietnamese Buy Vietnamese’–an effort to help domestic enterprises expand in the consumer market–some sectors like the textile and garment industry have failed to tap potential in many segments which look promising.

Home textile and garment firms have not focused on children’s clothes in the age group from 7-12. Vietnamese parents nowadays have 1-2 children and want to give their children the very best of things and don’t hesitate in spending large sums on items such as clothes.

However, the local textile and garment firms have been disappointing and hence there is a huge void in this segment which is being filled by foreign made children’s clothes, mainly being brought into the country in small quantities by tourist agents or flight attendants. read more.

23:42:21 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Unverified workers face deportation next month:

An estimated 1 million legal and illegal migrant workers from Myanmar who have yet to apply for nationality verification ahead of the Dec 14 deadline could face deportation.

Despite the large numbers, the Employment Department will close all national verification centres and deport migrant workers who fail to undergo the verification process by Dec 14.

It is estimated that 1 million Myanmar workers have not applied, prompting a request for a deadline extension by Myanmar labour officials. read more.

23:42:21 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Footwear factory strike shows no signs of flagging:

A strike of hundreds of workers at the Global Footwear factory in Kandal province dragged into its 10th day yesterday with no end in sight over a list of 12 demands including a $9 monthly pay raise.

Mao Mol, representative of Free Trade Union at Global Footwear in Ang Snuol district’s Poeuk commune said that the strike for better pay started November 15 and that workers have informed both the factory and provincial labour department in advance.

“Our basic salary is $61, but we want a raise up to $70 like the other nearby factories,” Mol said.
He added that workers also asked the factory not to violate their contracts and not to file lawsuits if a negotiation is not brokered. read more.

00:42:21 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Minimum wages lift salary levels of non-executives:

Rank and file employees will be the major benefactors in anticipation of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage, according to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

In its latest Salary Surveys for Executives and Non-Executives 2012 publication, the MEF revealed that non-executives were granted the highest ever average salary increases in the past decade. read more.

00:42:21 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Labor-intensive industry gets wage freeze:

Bowing to pressure from businesspeople, the government has decided to allow labor-intensive firms including textile, garment and shoe manufacturers, to seek a delay in raising the minimum wages for their workers.

During a limited Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked related ministers to provide a mechanism for companies to enjoy a suspension in adopting the new minimum wages.

“If you feel burdened by the new minimum wages, you can lodge complaints with your respective provincial administrations who will audit your firms’ financial performances. An audit is required as part of the process for the suspension,” Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said. read more.

* Textile Industry Warns of 100,000 Lost Jobs From Jakarta Wage Hike:

The Indonesia Textile Association warned on Tuesday that some 100,000 workers could be laid off in the wake a 44 percent minimum wage hike as companies look to cut costs.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo approved the new minimum wage amid intense lobbying from the capital’s manufacturing and textile industries. On Tuesday, the textile association held a press conference announcing the possible layoffs.

“We’ve talked with foreign companies,” secretary-general  Ernovian G. Ismy said. “They said they would cut about 100,000 workers.”  read more.

* Jakarta faces massive layoffs following salary hike, says Apindo:

The Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) has said that at least 10,000 workers could lose their jobs when the Jakarta administration implements the new minimum wage at Rp 2.2 million (US$228) next year.

Apindo wages and social security division head Hariyadi Sukamdani said Tuesday that the 44 percent increase would hit employers hard.

“Until now, 100 garment companies plann to shut down their businesses due to the raise,” he told tempo.co. He added that shoe manufacturers had also considered the same action. read more.

* Ramayana expects higher sales on minimum wage increase:

PT Ramayana Lestari Sentosa (RALS) said that the minimum-wage increments, although a burden on operating costs, would ultimately benefit the retailer as their target market, the middle and lower income segment, would have a higher disposable income.

Several administrations in Indonesia, especially those that are home to large industrial complexes, have increased their regional minimum wages. The Jakarta administration recently fixed the 2013 minimum wage at Rp 2.2 million (US$228), 44 percent higher than that of 2012. read more.

* Sritex Builds Rayon Fiber Factory:

PT Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex), textiles and garment producer, builds rayon fiber factory in Sukoharjo, Central Java, with investment cost reaching Rp3.5 trillion, Bisnis Indonesia reported this morning.

Iwan Setiawan Lukminto, president director of Sritex, said the factory named PT Rayon Utama Makmur will produce 80,000 tons of rayon fiber per year.
He said the construction of factory is expected to complete within next 2 years, and  will have production capacity of 40,000 tons during the first three months of operation, then the capacity will be raised to 80,000 tons per year.
Currently, national fiber consumption consisting of man-made-fiber (57%), natural fiber (37%) and other fiber (6%). to read.

22:27:21 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Exports of garment, carpets, pashmina decline in Q1:

Exports of the country’s major three export items—readymade garment, woollen carpets and pashmina products—fell in the first three months of the fiscal year. Labour shortage, fluctuation in the US dollar value, increasing cost of production and financial crisis in eurozone countries have been blamed for the decline.

According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), exports of readymade garments dropped by 30.7 percent, woollen carpet by 24.8 percent and pashmina products by 17.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012-13 compared to a year ago.

Over the review period, Nepal exported readymade garment worth Rs 1.04 billion, against 1.50 billion a year ago. Uday Raj Pandey, president of Garment Association of Nepal (GAN), said traders were receiving fewer orders due to the ongoing economic crisis in European countries. “Carpet traders do not have high expectations from their business es now. They are even struggling to sustain their business ,” said Pandey. read more.

22:42:21 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Death-trapped in a burning cage – the Ashulia inferno:

…cheap clothing to the West has its price….

Another fire in a Bangladeshi garment factory, over 120 lives lost and more than a hundred injured – the only difference this time from the hundreds of other factory fires in the past 30 years is the scale of the deaths and human suffering.

It is this that makes it ‘worthy’ of comment, for a brief moment, in the international media. But fire is an occupational hazard for both bosses and workers in this industry(1). For employers – and their foreign buyers whose brand names are on the labels – it is merely part of a cost and profitability equation and an element of Corporate Image management. This particular death-trap factory was operated by Tazreen Fashion Ltd in the Dhaka industrial suburb of Ashulia and supplied, among other major brands, C & A in the UK and Walmart in the US.

That factory fires have for decades been such a common occurrence in the ready made garment (RMG) industry means that fire risk is, in effect, factored in as an influence on decisions on how production is organised.
With fast turnaround times demanded by buyers for foreign orders in the highly competitive global fashion retail markets, time is always tight and any production stoppages edge businesses ever-closer to invoking contractual financial penalty clauses for late delivery.
Inevitably, corners are cut and workers’ health & safety is a low priority(2). (Employers claim that fires have been reduced in recent years. But it may only be that – as production models develop and their scale increases – that though there may be less fires, bigger factories will mean their death count becomes larger when fires do occur.) read more.

* Death of workers in Ashulia fire is ‘mass murder’: Intellectuals, activists:

Intellectuals, artists, and cultural and political activists on Tuesday claimed the death of 111 garment workers in the fire incident at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was a ‘mass murder’ caused by negligence and violation of compliances by the owner.

Addressing a rally in front of the National Museum, they demanded immediate arrest of the owner.
 The speakers at the rally accused the government of deflecting the issue of labour exploitation, and lack of compliances and safety measures through propagating a conspiracy theory of the massive fire and the loss of lives.
They also raised questions on the ‘silent’ role of the parliamentarians of all parties, given the reality that no action has ever been taken against any of the owners who are responsible for many similar ‘mass murders in fire’, occurring frequently in the factories. read more. & read more.
 

* 52 unnamed fire victims laid to rest:

Fifty two unidentified bodies of Ashulia garment factory fire were buried at Jurain graveyard in the capital on Tuesday.

Anjuman Mufidul Islam, a social and charitable organisation, arranged the burial.
The bodies were buried after a namaz-e-janaza was held around 2:30pm at the graveyard, which has now turned into a human sea.

Earlier, on Monday, a team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) along with forensic doctors of the hospital collected samples from 57 unidentified bodies to find out their identities through DNA tests.
Meanwhile, two bodies have been handed over to their relatives who confirmed identifying the victims by ornaments and body shapes.
On Saturday, 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.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
        

* Demo in front of Tazreen Fashion:

The angry relatives and families members of the fire victims and workers staged demonstration in front of blazed Tazreen Fashion Limited on Monday.

They brought out a procession when police prevented them from entering the factory for searching their kith and kin.
Police said none but members of probe committee and journalists are allowed to enter the factory. read more.

* Ensure workers safety, PM tells businessmen:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the businessmen to ensure the safety of workers while setting up industries and factories.

“When you set up buildings, do not block any waterbody,” the PM said adding “The fire that raged though the Ashulia garment factory Saturday evening could not be doused immediately due to absence of any water source near the factory.”
She was inaugurating the fifth textile fair ‘Texbangla 2012’ at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.

Bangladesh Textile Mills Association organised the three-day fair.A number of committees have been formed to investigate the Ashulia garment fire incident that killed 111 workers and the committees were asked to submit their reports immediately, the prime minister said.

“Action will be taken on the basis of those reports,” she said.
read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
          

* Units without 2 exits to be shut:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in parliament yesterday that the Ashulia garment factory fire was “pre-planned” and urged the people, garment owners and workers to remain alert to foil any subversive activities in future.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju said the government would shut down garment factories which had no or only one fire and emergency exit.
read more.

* ILRF for independent, transparent probe:

International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), based in Washington, has called for an independent and transparent investigation into the causes of fire in a garment factory at Ashulia Sunday.

It also called on brands to join fire safety programmes following the deadly fire in the factory supplying US and European brands from Bangladesh. read more.

* Statement: National Garments Workers Federation, Bangladesh:

Factory owners, Government, Buyers and BGMEA should take effective step so that in future not a single garment worker has to die in factory-fire. We do not want to see such incident, which workers return to their home as dead body after they came to work. So, the garment factories should be developed as ‘safe workplace’. Factory owners, Government, Buyers and trade union organizations should work together for this. NGWF leaders this today.

They said this while addressing a garment workers gathering—before black & red flag mourning & protest procession—organized by National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) to protest the killing of 125 workers in Tazreen Garment factory-fire at Ashulia & to pay tributes to the deceased workers and demanding greater compensation (as per definition of loss of earnings) to deceased workers families, necessary medical treatment to injured workers and developing garment industry into safe workplace.
The program was held at 12:00noons in front of National Press Club in Dhaka city. More than 1,000 garment workers took part in the program.  read more.

* Deaths of RMG workers in factory fire condoled:

Ministers, foreign diplomats, business chambers, human rights organisations, trade bodies, political parties and civil society members have expressed their concern at the tragic fire incident in a readymade garments factory at Ashulia that claimed lives of scores of RMG workers on Saturday morning.

In separate messages Monday, they condoled the deaths of RMG workers and conveyed sympathy to the bereaved family members. read more.

* BGMEA blames wrong planning for RMG fire, moots separate estate:

The BGMEA leaders Monday urged the government to set up an organised industrial estate with a view to bringing down the incidents of fire in garment (RMG) factories.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin at a press conference on the recent fire said unplanned industrialisation was mostly responsible for the occurrences of fire in the industry.
read more.

* Dhaka to learn lesson from Ashulia fire to ensure grow of RMG: US envoy:

US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena advised Bangladesh to learn important lessons from the Saturday’s fatal fire in a garment factory in Ashulia to ensure the growth of the country’s apparel sector.

“I think there are important lessons to be learnt from the incident, and I am hopeful that these lessons would be learnt to ensure continuous grow this industry,” he told reporters after a closed-door meeting with leaders of Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF) in the city on Tuesday.
Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) arranged the meeting at its conference room. BEF president Fazlul Haque chaired the meeting.
Leaders of the MCCI, BEF and leading businessmen attended the meeting that lasted around two hours. At the beginning of the meeting, one minute silence was observed in honour of the fire  victims.
(…)
US Ambassador Dan Mozena, who did not want to see the journalists inside the meeting, talked briefly to the reporters after the meeting. He said: “I think there are important lessons to learn from the (recent) incident (of Tazreen Fashion fire in Ashulia).”
read more
. &  read more.  & read more.
    

(Note: Mozena, ‘wise guy’ -with, almost always, his beautiful ‘public relations’ words-, could realize that a major responsibility lies with his ‘friends’: usa- garment firms.…..
Dan, hopefully, you’ve learned something….. and now you support the introduction of truly free trade unions!
editor j.)

* EU ready to help Bangladesh raise safety in apparel sector:

The EU Heads of Mission in Dhaka on Tuesday said the European Union had always been very clear about the need to improve working standards and safety in the apparel sector of Bangladesh.
The EU Heads of Mission in a statement said they recognised the importance of readymade garments to Bangladesh and appreciated that the European market was the largest export destination for the country’s apparel and textile products.
read more.

* Ashulia fire offenders to be brought to book: MKA:

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir on Tuesday said those responsible for Ashulia garment fire incident will be brought to book.

All the previous major accidents in the garment factories of the area will also be probed, the home minister told reporters during a visit to the fire-devastated factory at Nischintapur in Ashulia.
The fire killed 111 at Tazreen Fashion Ltd as Saturday evening.
During his visit around 10:30am, the home minister went round different sections of the eight-storied factory building.

Talking to the press, MK Alamgir said stern action will be taken against those responsible for the incident.
The government will take all-out measures including giving compensation to the families of the deceased, he added.
The home minister also talked to the owners of some garments in the locality.
read more. & read more.

* Debunia garment fire for Tk 20,000:

A worker of Debunia garment in Ashulia admitted to setting fire to the factory taking Tk 20,000 from an official of the factory.
Sumi Begum confessed before the Senior Judicial Magistrate court of Wasim Sheikh.

Earlier, two accused—Sumi Begum and Jakir Hosaain–were produced before the court which later placed Jakir Hossain on four-day remand.
Sumi Begum confessed that she had set the fire after getting Tk 20,000 from official Jakir Hossain. read more.

* B Chy warns govt over Ashulia garment fire:

Former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury on Tuesday warned that they would try persons in the government who are responsible for the Ashulia garment fire.

“It is the concerned minister (labour minister) whose negligence has led to the inferno causing loss of over 100 lives,” Badruddoza, also the chief of Bikolpodhara Bangladesh, said this while speaking at a discussion at Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium.
The BDB organised the discussion titled ‘Prof B Chowdhury’ and Dr Kamal Hossain’s Call For National Unity Against Corruption and Crime – Thoughts of Non-Resident Bangladeshis’.

Badruddoza asked, “Why did the respected minister and his ministry ignore that the gutted factory did not have any fire extinguishing system? Why did they fail to notice that the factory did not have enough passages and staircases for the workers to exit in case of such incidents? And why did the workers not have any group insurance?”
read more.

* 3 Tazreen officials held over fire link:

Detective Branch of police arrested three officials of Tazreen Fashions Ltd late on Tuesday for their alleged involvement with the fire that raged through the factory three day’s ago, leaving 111 workers dead.

On information, a team of DB police conducted drives in Rampura and Badda areas of the capital and arrested the trio, Gazi Rabiul Islam, assistant commissioner (Public Relation) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told The Daily Star on Wednesday.
The arrestees are an administrative officer, a store in-charge and a supervisor of the factory, the DMP official said. read more. & read more. & read more.
    

* Marginal impact of Bangladesh factory fire on Li & Fung:

In response to queries received from analysts, Li & Fung Limited wishes to clarify that the value of orders placed with Tazreen Fashions Limited in Bangladesh where a tragic fire has occurred will not have any material impact on the financial performance of Li & Fung.

The total value of orders placed for the year with Tazreen on behalf of Kids Headquarters, a division of LF USA amounted to approximately US$111,000. Li & Fung also confirms that the Company has not placed orders for other customers with Tazreen. read more.

* Walmart blames its supplier:

US global retailer Walmart yesterday said Tazreen Fashions, the garment factory where a fire killed at least 111 people, had been making clothes for the retailer without its knowledge.

But the website of Tuba Group, a major Bangladeshi garment exporter that owns Tazreen Fashions, shows Walmart on the list of its top 29 buyers.

The Daily Star called the group’s Managing Director Delwar Hossain on his mobile phone twice yesterday. His assistant answered the phone both times and only said Delwar was at a meeting.
In a statement released on Monday, the US retail giant said Tazreen was no longer authorised to produce merchandise for Walmart. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragedy.”

“A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorisation and in direct violation of our policies. Today, we have terminated the relationship with that supplier,” America’s biggest retailer said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
       

* BKMEA asks factory owners to abide by labour law, environ act:

BKMEA — the country’s apex body for knit products — called upon the apparel factory owners to follow labour law, environ Act and compliance for the sustainable growth of the sector.

It also directed all the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) members for re-examining electric distribution board, switch board and circuit, fire extinguisher, smoke and heat detector in their factories.
read more.

* Global media highlights RMG factory fire:

Global media highlighted the devastating fire incident of Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia, on the outskirts of Dhaka, taking note of the fact that Bangladesh’s garments industry has poor fire safeguards without any precautionary measures against any accident or fire.

Reports of the New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, BBC, Al Jazeera, Reuters and PTI also said that though Bangladesh manufactures garments items for global brands like Tesco, Wal-Mart, JC Penny, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Kohl’s and Carrefour, many factories operate with minimal safety measures.
(…)
It also said since 2006, more than 500 Bangladeshi workers have died in factory fires, according to Clean Clothes Campaign, an anti-sweatshop advocacy group in Amsterdam.

Experts say many of the fires could have easily been avoided if the factories had taken the right precautions. Many factories are in cramped neighborhoods and have too few fire escapes, and they widely flout safety measures. The industry employs more than three million workers in Bangladesh, most of them women, added the report. read more.

* A Girl Named ‘Lovely’ Demands Change After Factory Fire Kills 112:

As labor activists push for a major safety overhaul after a garment factory fire that left more than 100 workers dead, the teen survivor of an earlier blaze has launched an on-line petition calling on three major U.S. clothing companies that buy clothes from Bangladesh, including Wal-Mart, to commit to fire safety in their overseas factories.

A girl who calls herself “Lovely” says she was 11 years old in 2006 when a fire swept through the clothing factory where she worked. Lovely and 150 other workers were injured, and more than 60 people died. She said the building where she worked was a “death trap” – and that six years later, conditions at Bangladesh factories haven’t changed.

“Every day I wonder,” asked Lovely, “Is this the day when there will be another fire and more people will die?”

On Change.org, Lovely, who didn’t give her last name, started a petition calling on Wal-Mart, Gap, and H&M, the top three buyers of garments from Bangladesh, to pledge support for “a real fire safety program that will save the lives of the companies’ sweatshop workers.” read more.

* Trade union is the solution, Debapriya says:

Economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya (of Bangladesh) yesterday said trade union should be allowed in the readymade garment factories (of Bangladesh) to protect the workers’ interests. “Neither the government nor the factory owners see the interests of the workers,” Bhattacharya told reporters at the Centre for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) office in Dhaka.

His comments came after the devastating fire that killed more than 100 workers in a garment factory at Ashulia near Dhaka on Saturday night.
“Trade unions should be allowed since other institutions seem to have failed to protect the workers’ safety and interests,” the economist said.
“Otherwise, this type of incidents will occur again and again,” he said.

Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the CPD, also said the latest fire incident will damage the country’s image and the apparel industry, which is on a path of improving its productivity further.
“Retailers and consumers will be confused to buy Bangladeshi apparels,” he said.

The economist said it is a big blow at a time when labour and human rights issues in Bangladesh continue to be a source of serious concern for the outside world. Bhattacharya also criticised the government for ignoring real issues of the economy.
read more.

* Fire highlights harsh lives of workers:

Clothing is king in Bangladesh, a country that exports more garments than any other in the world except China. It is responsible for four out of every five export dollars and has turned factory owners into members of parliament and leaders of sports clubs.

That strength has often been turned against the workers in those factories, especially those who complain about poor working conditions and pay that can be less than $40 a month. A law-enforcement agency called the Industrial Police is specifically assigned to deal with unrest in factories, and labour activists accuse government forces of killing one of their leaders. Employees are barred by law from forming trade unions, even though Bangladesh allows workers in other industries to unionise.

Workers hope that could change following the industry’s latest tragedy, a fire Saturday that killed more than 100 people at a factory that made T-shirts and polo shirts for Wal-Mart and other retailers around the world. But they have their doubts.
read more.

* Over 500 RMG workers die in factory fires in 22 years:

At least 500 workers have been killed in factory fire in the readymade garments sector in last 22 years, according to Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies.
The BILS statistics showed that from 1990 to 2012, 431 workers had died in 14 major fire incidents in several RMG factories.

A BILS official said the statistics were based only on major fire incidents and might not be the accurate number of deaths in RMG factory fires.
Besides this, there are a number of incidents where one to six workers had died, which were not integrated in the statistics, he said.
The BILS official also said they prepared the report according to the statistics of the government and Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
The number of deaths in factory fires varied between the statistics of BILS and BGMEA.
BILS statistics showed that 431 workers had died in only 14 major fire incidents in last 22 years while BGMEA showed that a total of 388 workers were killed in factory fires in the sector during the period. read more.

* Ashulia workers stage rowdy protest:

Garment workers were staging a rowdy protest in Ashulia on Wednesday demanding safety of workers at workplace, three days after the fire tragedy that had claimed the lives of 111 workers.

The marauding workers also vandalised a number of factories there and picked up a clash with police.
Transport movement on Ashulia-Baipail road remains suspended since 9:40am following the vandalism and the clash, said Moktar Hossain, deputy directory of Industrial Police in Ashulia.

Authorities of at least 25 garment factories suspended production for today (Wednesday) fearing further vandalism, Moktar said.
Police said the clash ensued when around 20,000 workers of a garment factory of Ha-Meem Group came out of their factory around 9:30am following an electric short circuit. read more.

* Citizens demand justice for deaths in Ashulia fire:


Jatiya Garments Sramik Federation brings out a procession from the capital’s Jatiya Press Club yesterday, mourning the deaths of 111 garment workers in Saturday’s fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia. Photo: STAR

Outraged citizens in a protest programme yesterday demanded justice for the unwarranted deaths of garment workers of Tazreen Fashion, who died in a devastating fire at the factory on November 24.

Citing the incident as murder, speakers addressed the inhumane and unsafe work conditions of the workers at the factory.
They demanded factory owners to be held accountable for defying labour laws and minimum safety standards, and also the state for failing to ensure and implement existing laws.
Government is trying to shirk their responsibilities by giving conspiracy theories, they added.
The programme was organised in front of the National Museum in the capital.
read more.

* RMG workers damage vehicles, block Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for arrears:

Several hundred workers of a garments factory at Sadar upazila took to the street and blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for one hour on Tuesday night demanding their arrear salary.

The agitating workers told journalists that the management of `Asla Sweater` a ready-made garments (RMG) unit situated at Chhaidana at Sharifpur, has not been paying their salary and other dues for more than two months.
Police and witnesses said, the slogan chanting workers came out of the factory and hurled stones at passing vehicles damaging a dozen different types of vehicles at 8pm.
At one stage they blocked the highway by placing barricades on it creating huge traffic jam on both sides.
However, the road blockade was withdrawn following police intervention at around 9pm. to read.

* Ashulia garment units announce daylong closure:

All garment factories in Ashulia industrial zone announced a sudden daylong closure on Wednesday morning after several thousand workers blockaded Dhaka-Tangail highway demanding safety at workplaces.

The workers took to the streets following a rumour of breaking out fire in a factory.
Ashulia Industrial Police’s Director Abdur Rouf said traffic on Dhaka-Tangail highway remains snapped from 10am in the wake of the protests.
He said demonstrators vandalised a factory of Azmat Group at Kathgora at Ashulia before setting two motorcycles parked in front of it afire. read more.

* Tazreen tragedy: At stake is the RMG sector:

Once again, the horrible happened — this time at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia on Saturday. More than hundred garments workers died in a fire. They came from poor background.

They came with dream. Poverty drives them out of home. Poverty drives them to work in an apparently unsafe working environment risking their lives to ensure the bare minimum for their family. In the end, life is the ultimate price that they paid for undertaking this risk. But until their death, they contributed more than they were paid.

In every opportunity we got, we used to glorify them as the backbone of the country’s economy. They were the brand ambassadors of Bangladesh to the rest of the world. And the brand was ‘hard working cheap labour’. Yet we failed to protect their lives from fire. The fire that did not come as a thunder out of the blue rather originated in the factory and spread fast as a result of unbounded greed of the owners of factory and the corrupt public servants who were jointly in charge of ensuring the existence of emergency fire exit in the building. That is why these deaths are unacceptable, people responsible for them are criminals, and should be tried. read more.

* It is high time; we fix our apparel sector:

I was watching the regular ‘morning music’ programme in a leading television channel Monday morning. Even the lady anchor was crying- remembering so many deaths at a garment factory last Saturday.
No — we don’t want recurrence of such tragic incident, we don’t want any more unwanted, untimely, uncared and ghastly deaths in our manufacturing plants. No civilised nation can afford to maintain its competitiveness on a sustainable basis in an irresponsible way.

We got to fix our apparel sector. Be it the issue of human resources or industrial relations or labour standards or minimum wage or productivity or skill development or safety and security of workers Bangladesh got to address all issues in its apparel sector in order to maintain its competitiveness in the global apparel ‘supply chain’.
read more.

* Employers moved with pity, call for urgent action to improve RMG situation:

The highly tragic fire incident in garment factory has created an urge among the employers as to how an utmost security for the workers can be ensured in the industries by improving working environment.
The buyers abroad are upset, as we are…. We are human beings. We feel the pain in our heart. We should be more cautious to avoid recurrence of any such incident,” said SM Mannan, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA)
“We need to protect our business and lives simultaneously,” Mannan, who is also the managing director of Seha Design (BD) Ltd, told the New Nation adding that the BGMEA leaders were seriously discussing about how to improve the situation and restore confidence of all.” read more.

* An Other Fire- Fabrics gutted in RMG factory fire in Ashulia:

A large quantity of fabrics was gutted by a fire that broke out at the godown of a garment factory at Palashbari in Ashulia on Tuesday night.

Badrul Alam, officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station, said the fire erupted at the godown of Shahriar Garments at about 7:20 pm.
 On information, four firefighting units from the Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Dhamrai rushed in and brought the blaze under control after half an hour.
The fire burned down fabrics at the tin-shed godown. However, no casualty was reported as there were no workers at the factory due to holiday on the occasion of national mourning day.
DEPZ senior station manager Anwar Hossain said the fire might have originated from an electrical short circuit.
 All garment factories across the country remained closed on Tuesday as the nation mourned the deaths of 111 workers killed in the inferno at Tazreen Fashions Limited in Ashulia on Saturday night. to read. & read more. & read more.
    

22:12:21 local time map of india INDIA

* Asha’s, Usha’s, Yashoda’s, Atma’s and others come to Delhi demanding minimum wage:

There are ten million of them and they came knocking at the doors of Delhi on 26thand 27thNovember.
Urban India has probably never heard of them but in the villages these ‘scheme workers’ are handling almost every kind of crucial care-giving work – deliveries and small ailments, looking after children and pregnant or nursing mothers, cooking food for students, helping out in hospitals, teaching small tots, etc.
Many are handling economic activities too like running self-help groups, teaching new farming methods and implementing MGNREGS.
They are the business end of the many schemes that have been floated to provide people in the rural hinterland with essential health, nutrition, education and employment services. read more.

* Surat textile industry hikes wages of workers up to 15%:

Following the shortage of textile workers in India’s biggest textile hub of Surat, most of the textile units have decided to give 10-15 percent wage hike to the workers.

Mr. Arun Jariwala, Chairman of Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry (FIASWI), told fibre2fashion, “There is huge shortage of workers in the textile industry since only 75 percent of the laborers have come back for work after Diwali vacation”.
“Due to the existing shortage, the textile units have decided to give an average of 10-15 percent wage hike,” he adds. read more.

* 35,000 workers in Rajasthan to receive textile training:

Looking to benefit from the substantial workforce it has, the Rajasthan government proposes to train 35,000 workers in the textile industry during the span of the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).
Pursuant to a programme backed by the Union Textiles Ministry and the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (RIICO), the Apparel Training and Design Centre (ATDC) would train the said workers.
Training would be imparted through SMART (skills for manufacturing apparels through research and training) TOT (training of trainers) Academy and 25 ATDC-SMART centres, ATDC Vice Chairman Hari Kapoor said while speaking at the ‘Vastra-2012’ textile seminar. read more.

* ‘Textile business potential stalled by ignorance’:

A cluster-level dissemination workshop on environment, occupational health and safety, social security and market linkage was organised by the Human Welfare Association (HWA) in association with European Commission and All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association (AIACA), New Delhi on Monday.
The workshop was organised under the South Asia programme of Sustainable Production and Sustainable Consumption practices in Textile sector.

Addressing the participants of the workshop, Mayank Trivedi, an expert from New Delhi said that due to lack of a resource-cum-facilitation centre in Varanasi, weavers and artisans in the region are bound to face various problems. read more.

* MP to match Maharashtra, Gujarat in luring textile cos:

New units to get investment subsidy of 10% of eligible capital investment of up to Rs 1 cr

The government of Madhya Pradesh intends to compete with its Gujarat and Maharashtra counterparts in attracting more investment in the textile sector. Maharashtra and Gujarat have policies in place to get units from the north and south to relocate, impelled by problems in the latter, such as power shortage. MP expects to have a similar policy out next month.

“A discussion in this regard is on. The industry wants incentives at par with those available in Gujarat and Maharashtra. The state industry department will soon discuss with the finance department in this regard, as the chief minister had already announced it in the recently concluded Global Investors’ Summit in Indore,” a well-placed source in the department of industry told Business Standard.
read more.

* India will not ban cotton exports – Textile Minister:

There is no ban on cotton exports from India for the season 2012-13.

According to an official press release, Anand Sharma, Cabinet Minister of Textiles, India, in a written reply today to Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament stated that there will no ban on cotton exports for this season.
The letter also states that according to Cotton Advisory Board, India will have an exportable surplus of 7 million bales (170 Kgs each). According to the Minister, export registrations till November 5th this year have reached 450,000 bales.
According to Government projections, India is estimated to produce 33.4 million bales this season (October 2012-September 2013).  to read.

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

* Garment workers demand ‘living wage’ as basic right:

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 were issues that cropped up repeatedly at a people’s tribunal on the plight of garment workers in the country.

The verdict of the tribunal at the end of two days of public hearings was clear: a combination of long working hours and low wages is amounting to bonded and forced labour practices in the country.

The mandate of the tribunal, which heard over 250 garment workers from Gurgaon, Tirupur and Bangalore, looked at’ Living Wage as a Fundamental Right of Indian Garment Workers’.
Although all textile brands in India were invited to participate, only H&M was present; the Adidas group provided a written statement.

Despite many cases of harassment and wage theft in GAP’s supplier factories, GAP was absent. “Efforts were made to invite representatives from factory owners, suppliers and employers. Even the few, who responded, rejected the invitation,” the organisers said. read more.

* Labour Contract Practice : A Tool For Exploitation:

According to the recent statistics of the World Trade Organization (WTO), India is ranked third in the world, after China and the European Union, for exporting readymade clothes. In 2010-11, 45 per cent of the total textile export was of readymade clothes.
The report of the Textile Ministry on 26 March, 2012 says that India has gained a net worth of 55 million dollars in the last year. Not only this, 14 per cent of the Total Industrial Output of our country comes from textile industries, which is about 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The textile industry is a sector in which about 35 million people of the country are involved. These statistics seems to be very encouraging and also enough to appease any Indian citizen. But have you ever thought about the condition of the workers who work in the textile industries? How much payment do they get and how much torture do they bear? Come, let’s see in this report.

More than half the total population of India lives in villages and towns. Our economy too mostly depends on agriculture. But in the last few decades, the scenario seems to have changed, and strangely so.
Farmers and labourers in the villages began thinking that to get a better life they should move towards the cities. Now the question is : have the people who went to cities in search of work to earn more money through which they could make their life better, provide good education to their children, succeed in fulfilling their dreams or did their life become more miserable than before ?

Most of the people who are migrating towards the cities are neither well educated nor talented. These people earned money through their hard work even in their villages and after migrating to the cities, they try to find a source of income for which there is no need of any educational ‘degree’.
It is obvious that to reach the cities such migrants must be in touch with others from their village who are already residing in the cities and are employed. It is from here that a villager who is uncertain about his future in a city begins to get caught in the web of contractors. Here we are only talking about the labourers who work in the textile factories of Gurgaon, Haryana. read more.

* Talks under way to end weavers’ stir:

Indefinite strike launched by the powerloom weavers of Sircilla demanding increase in wages as announced by the government, entered the second day on Tuesday.

All the 20,000 and odd pairs of powerlooms have stopped production of fabric following the strike by around 12,000 odd powerloom weavers in the textile town. The powerloom weavers trade unions — AITUC, CITU and IFTU — have been supporting the strike and demanding the powerloom owners to increase the wages.

Demanding bonus to the weavers, they also sought minimum eight hour working conditions for the health of the weavers. They also demanded that the government abolish night-shifts and distribution of identity cards and appointment letters.
read more.

22:12:21 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Apparels record stellar growth- Part 1:

Compiled by Subhashini Abeysinghe, Senior Economist, Economic Intelligence Unit, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

The share of apparel as a percentage of total exports has declined over the years. In 2000, apparel exports accounted for 49% of total exports of the country and by 2011, the share has dropped to 38%.
The two main export destinations for apparel from Sri Lanka are European Union (EU) and United States of America (USA).  EU accounts for nearly 50% and USA for nearly 40%.

USA is the second largest export destination of Sri Lanka after EU. The share of USA as a percentage of total exports of Sri Lanka has also declined over the years. In 2000, USA accounted for nearly 40% of total exports of Sri Lanka and in 2011 accounted for only 20%. Apparel is the main export item destined to USA accounting for nearly 80% of total exports from Sri Lanka to USA. read more.

* Apparels record stellar growth- Part 2:

Total exports of apparel under HS Chapter 62 into USA from the world has declined in 2008 and 2009 but have picked up thereafter.

The total imports during the first three quarters of 2012 have declined by two per cent compared to the same period last year. Compared to growth in imports under HS Chapter 61 (41%), the growth in total exports under HS Chapter 62 (11%) during 2003-2011 has been sluggish.

Total exports of apparel under HS Chapter 62 into USA from the world has declined in 2008 and 2009 but have picked up thereafter. The total imports during the first three quarters of 2012 have declined by two per cent compared to the same period last year. Compared to growth in imports under HS Chapter 61 (41%), the growth in total exports under HS Chapter 62 (11%) during 2003-2011 has been sluggish.

China accounts for slightly over 40% of the US market for apparel items falling under HS Chapter 62 followed by Bangladesh which accounts for nearly 10%. Top 10 suppliers account for nearly 80% of the market. The market share of Sri Lanka is around three per cent.

Five countries have recorded positive growth in exports into USA during the first 3Q of 2012 out of the top 10 countries; Vietnam, Mexico, Italy, Sri Lanka and Honduras. The sharpest fall in imports is experienced by Thailand (11%), followed by Cambodia and Indonesia (eight per cent). read more.

21:42:21 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile sector’s listed companies show robust profitability:

While textile production is said to be on a decline, the sector’s listed companies in particularly Sindh and the Punjab are showing robust profitability and seeing their share prices soar, say analysts.

“Historically, the textile sector remains immune to the trading patterns of the country’s capital market,” said one analyst. “In the last four months, however, there has been a great surge in the share prices of textile companies.” read more.

       THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Officer given two days to justify guards’ arrest:

 A district and sessions court hearing the Baldia factory fire case has directed the investigating officer to bring witnesses and provide proof within two days justifying the arrest of two security guards of the factory.

The police had arrested two guards, Ali Muhammad and Fazal Mehmood, on their alleged involvement in the factory fire which claimed over 250 lives in September this year.
The guards’ lawyer, Muhammad Tamim Khan, urged the court to release the suspects on bail as the police have not produced any evidence against them since their arrest and kept them behind bars for no reason.

Putting off the hearing until November 29, the fifth additional district and sessions judge (West), Abdullah Channah, ordered the prosecutor and investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, to provide evidence against the suspects within two days.
read more.

 

map of Asia

INFO:

* In the Menu under “National Peoples’ Tribunal” you can find: an overview of articles about the Indian National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions

* In the Menu under “Karachi Fire” you can find: an overview of articles about the Garment factory Fire in Karachi (and Lahore) UPDATED.

HEADLONES TODAY:

VIET NAM
* Untapped market in children’s clothes, bra segment

THAILAND
* Unverified workers face deportation next month

CAMBODIA
* Footwear factory strike shows no signs of flagging

MALAYSIA
* Minimum wages lift salary levels of non-executives

INDONESIA
* Labor-intensive industry gets wage freeze
* Textile Industry Warns of 100,000 Lost Jobs From Jakarta Wage Hike
* Jakarta faces massive layoffs following salary hike, says Apindo
* Ramayana expects higher sales on minimum wage increase
* Sritex Builds Rayon Fiber Factory

NEPAL
* Exports of garment, carpets, pashmina decline in Q1

BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Death-trapped in a burning cage – the Ashulia inferno
* Death of workers in Ashulia fire is ‘mass murder’: Intellectuals, activists
* 52 unnamed fire victims laid to rest
* Demo in front of Tazreen Fashion
* Ensure workers safety, PM tells businessmen
* Units without 2 exits to be shut
* ILRF for independent, transparent probe
* Statement: National Garments Workers Federation, Bangladesh
* Deaths of RMG workers in factory fire condoled
* BGMEA blames wrong planning for RMG fire, moots separate estate
* Dhaka to learn lesson from Ashulia fire to ensure grow of RMG: US envoy
* EU ready to help Bangladesh raise safety in apparel sector
* Ashulia fire offenders to be brought to book: MKA
* Debunia garment fire for Tk 20,000
* B Chy warns govt over Ashulia garment fire
* 3 Tazreen officials held over fire link
* Marginal impact of Bangladesh factory fire on Li & Fung
* Walmart blames its supplier
* BKMEA asks factory owners to abide by labour law, environ act
* Global media highlights RMG factory fire
* A Girl Named ‘Lovely’ Demands Change After Factory Fire Kills 112
* Trade union is the solution, Debapriya says
* Fire highlights harsh lives of workers
* Over 500 RMG workers die in factory fires in 22 years
* Ashulia workers stage rowdy protest
* Citizens demand justice for deaths in Ashulia fire
* RMG workers damage vehicles, block Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for arrears
* Ashulia garment units announce daylong closure
* Tazreen tragedy: At stake is the RMG sector
* It is high time; we fix our apparel sector
* Employers moved with pity, call for urgent action to improve RMG situation
* An Other Fire- Fabrics gutted in RMG factory fire in Ashulia

INDIA
* Asha’s, Usha’s, Yashoda’s, Atma’s and others come to Delhi demanding minimum wage
* Surat textile industry hikes wages of workers up to 15%
* 35,000 workers in Rajasthan to receive textile training
* ‘Textile business potential stalled by ignorance
* MP to match Maharashtra, Gujarat in luring textile cos
* India will not ban cotton exports – Textile Minister
* National Peoples’ Tribunal for Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment workers:
* Garment workers demand ‘living wage’ as basic right
* Labour Contract Practice : A Tool For Exploitation
* Talks under way to end weavers’ stir

SRI LANKA
* Apparels record stellar growth- Part 1
* Apparels record stellar growth- Part 2

PAKISTAN
* Textile sector’s listed companies show robust profitability
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Officer given two days to justify guards’ arrest

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

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2