in the news on-line, 30 November 2012

20:12:58 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* So-called record growth not felt by people – KMU:

“The so-called record growth of the country’s economy is not felt by the Filipino workers and people.”

This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to the 7.1 per cent growth in the country’s Gross Domestic Product, saying whatever growth the economy has shown has not resulted in higher employment and incomes for workers and the people.
The labor center said the growth was fueled by the services sector, not by the manufacturing sector which has stagnated or by the agriculture sector which has even deteriorated.

“The economy’s third-quarter performance shows once again that the GDP can grow without increases in employment and ordinary people’s income. The Aquino government and big capitalists may be rejoicing but for the Filipino workers and people, there’s nothing to celebrate,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
read more.

* Workers announce Nov. 30 protests:

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno announced today a nationwide protest on the 149th birthday of working-class hero Andres Bonifacio to condemn imperialist plunder and intervention and the Aquino government’s puppetry.

KMU said the ideals for which Bonifacio fought and died are yet to be achieved by the Filipino workers and people, as their realization are being hindered by the continuing dominance of US imperialism over the country and the Aquino government’s puppetry.

The labor center blamed the intensifying poverty, hunger and unemployment in the country on the continued domination over the country of big monopoly capitalists and the elite few represented by the Aquino government. read more.

19:12:58 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vinatex to auction shares in brewery company:

The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) will auction almost 1.7 million of their shares in the Sai Gon–Quang Ngai Brewery Company at a price starting from VND10,000 (US$0.48) a share, the HCM City Stock Exchange has announced.

Information about the auction and depositing is available from today, and the auction will take place at 2pm on December 28.
The Quang Ngai-based company has a charter capital of VND450 billion ($21.5 million). It incurred losses from 2010, posting a loss of VND1.09 billion ($52,000) in 2010 and VND68.2 billion ($3.3 million) in 2011. This year, it is expecting another loss of VND71 billion ($3.4 million), as the new factory has yet to generate profit this year.
to read.

19:12:58 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Dismissed Mölnlycke workers continue their struggle:


Ms. Nutpapas, present Mölnlycke union leader

Mölnlycke Health Care (Thailand) Ltd. sacked the unionized workers following their participation in what the gown manufacturer describes as an ‘illegal strike’ in August 2011. According to the union and their federation it was not a strike.
Instead, when the workers heard that their union representatives, who had negotiated a new collective agreement, had been victimized by way of “suspension order” they went to the supervisors and management in large numbers to ask for an explanation.

More than one year of worker’s struggle has not moved the company Mölnlycke Health Care (Thailand) Ltd., the Thai subsidiary of a Swedish multinational, to reinstate 22 union members that were unfairly dismissed in September 2011.
The company produces hospital gowns for among others public health institutions in  Sweden and  Norway.

Norwegian health institutions  recently announced it would be particulary hard to sign a new contract with Mölnlycke given the company’s continued refusal to reinstate the workers even after a national tripartite body ordered them to do so.

Mölnlycke produces a wide range of other medical devices in several countries, including Indonesia, Belgium, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Make Mölnlycke Care!
Please take action to support the Thai workers, more information here.

* Economists say minimum wage hike will cost workers in end:

Salaries ‘should be tied to inflation rate’

Academics say next year’s nationwide minimum daily wage hike and subsequent two-year freeze are unrealistic because the rate will fail to keep up with the long-term rising cost of living.

Pokpong Chanwit, of Thammasat University’s economics faculty, said the suitable minimum daily wage rate should reflect the real purchasing power of workers.
The Central Wage Committee has resolved to implement the 300-baht minimum daily wage across the country from Jan 1 next year and maintain the rate for two years.
Mr Pokpong said workers should receive a wage that would give them a better quality of living.
With a fair wage, the workers could feed their families and support their children’s education, the economist said. Over the past 10 years, low workers’ wages have benefited only business operators, he said. read more.

* Wage hike compounded by tougher labour rules:

Tougher enforcement of labour laws is adding to the costs of businesses already shouldering the higher daily minimum wage, says Adecco, the Swiss human resources firm.

“Apart from the wage increase, hiring an employee includes Social Security contribution, worker’s compensation and other benefits, in line with Labour Ministry rules,” said Tidarat Kanchanawat, regional director for Thailand and Vietnam.
She said these costs are calculated based on the minimum wage paid, causing costs to rise further. read more.

19:12:58 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* IndustriALL affiliates in Cambodia sign unity agreement:

IndustriALL Cambodian affiliates identified trade union division as a major obstacle to advancing workers’ rights in the country and pledged to work together to tackle their common concerns.

Meeting on 25 November, all seven IndustriALL affiliates: CLUF, TUWFPD, CLWLFU, CUF, CIFTU, NIFTUC, CCAWDU sought to identify major common priorities of their members. The country has 80 trade union federations, and IndustriALL’s affiliates in Cambodia see disunity as an immediate challenge to overcome.

Under the leadership of IndustriALL and the support of IF Metall (Sweden), the affiliates collectively signed an agreement where they endeavour to work together and in unity to address the following issues:

* Short term contracts: garment workers have three-month contracts that are   renewed for a period of two years.
After one year in the factory, the worker receives a seniority bonus. When the contract has been renewed for two years, the next contract offered considers the worker as a new employee; therefore the seniority bonus is lost.
Apart from the work precariousness, workers who are 80% women cannot get paid maternity leave unless they have worked for one year, and a contract for three months does not guarantee this even if the workers have been in the same factory for more than a year.
* Organizing and Collective Bargaining: read more.

20:12:58 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Clearer definition needed:

I refer to the letter “Minimum wage saga” (The Star, Nov 28) by Datuk Rahmat Ismail, focusing on the application of minimum wages in the security services sector and his plea for a postponement of the order.

I think there are employers in many other sectors as well who can make a passionate plea as to why their sector should be excluded from the order or the implementation date postponed. There will be no end to such applications.

In the first place there is no provision in the National Wages Consultative Council Act 2011 for the granting of any deferment or postponement of the Minimum Wages Order 2012.
Asking employers to apply to the council for a deferral (as stated in the order) has given a wrong impression to employers that since they have applied for a deferral, they need not implement the Minimum Wage Order for the moment. read more.

20:12:58 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Employers to file suit against wage increase:

A number of business associations from several regions are preparing to file a lawsuit against the regulation governing provincial minimum wages for 2013 at administrative courts and the Constitutional Court, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) says.

The associations included textile and footwear business associations, along with Apindo and Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) chapters in Batam, Banten, East Kalimantan and Jakarta, Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi said on Thursday.

This action was being taken because local firms could not cope with next year’s provincial wage increases, which could amount to more than 40 percent, he added.
read more.

* Minimum Wage Rise Undermines Cooperative Dispute Resolution: Business:

Two powerful business lobby groups have called for the 44 percent Jakarta minimum wage increase to be reviewed, arguing its calculating undermined the established cooperative approach to resolving industrial disagreements.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) on Thursday held a media conference at which they called on the government to rethink its decision on next year’s pay minimum.

Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi said the increase will hurt labor-intensive businesses as well as small and medium enterprises. Large businesses, Sofjan acknowledged, will be able to meet the new wage requirements. read more.

* Analysis: Wage Hike No Cause for Worry:

Indonesia has had a labor cost advantage over many other countries in Asia. However, this gap could narrow going forward.

The Jakarta provincial government has recently approved an average minimum wage of Rp 2.2 million ($228) per month for 2013, or a 44 percent increase on 2012.

Given the scale of recent labor demonstrations, we may also expect strong wage momentum in other regions, such as nearby provinces that also host industrial areas. read more.

18:12:58 local time map of bangla_desh BANGA DESH

* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Labour rights group presses for binding safety agreement:

International labour rights group Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) yesterday called for international pressure on Bangladeshi garment makers to get them to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety (BFBS) agreement.

The purpose of the agreement is to prevent and correct the dangerous fire safety risks prevalent at many of the garment factories in Bangladesh.
The move comes in the wake of the 111 deaths due to inadequate fire safety precautions at Tazreen Fashions Ltd in Ashulia.
CCC, based in Amsterdam, is an alliance of trade unions and nongovernmental organisations from 15 European countries, geared towards the improvement of working conditions in the garment industry. read more.

* Labor Rights Groups urge Us and European governments to press apparel brands and retailers to sign on to Bangla Desh fire and building Safety Agreement: 

Walmart Supplier Factory is Latest in a Series of Deadly Fires; Groups Promote Comprehensive Solution to Save Live

Labor and human rights groups in the US and Europe are calling on [1]  U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and European governments to press apparel brands and retailers to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement [2] , after a fire in Bangladesh claimed the lives of 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions.
The purpose of the Agreement, which has been signed by PVH, owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and German retailer Tchibo, is to prevent and correct
the dangerous fire safety risks that have now resulted in more than 700 worker deaths over the past decade.

     The core components of the Agreement are as follows:
Inspections by trained fire safety experts operating independently of the brands and the factories being inspected;
Public reporting of the results of all inspections;
Mandatory repairs and renovations to address all identified hazards – and a      requirement that brands must cease doing business with any  supplier that refuses to make needed repairs and operate safely;
A central role for workers and unions, including worker-led safety committees in all factories and access to factories for unions to educate workers on how they can protect their rights and their safety, including their right to refuse unsafe work;
Contracts with suppliers that ensure sufficient financing and adequate pricing to cover the cost of eliminating deadly hazards and operating in a safe manner; and
*   A binding contract between the brands and worker representative that make these commitments enforceable – so the brands have to follow through, even if it means increased costs or longer turnaround times on orders.

As we have seen in the recent deadly fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan, corporate-controlled monitoring has failed to protect workers’ lives and unnecessary deaths will continue unless and until brands agree to an independent and binding fire and building safety program.

“The Agreement we are proposing involves a number of critical elements that distinguish it from the voluntary corporate social responsibility programs that have allowed these deadly fires to continue,”_ said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium.

Tessel Pauli of the European Clean Clothes Campaign said _”Brands need to prevent anymore unnecessary factory worker deaths. Signing this Agreement and working with trade unions in Bangladesh is the first, essential step. ”

“Proper worker safety measures, such as those that will be required by the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, could go a long way toward saving lives in the case of fire, or even preventing fires from occurring. Workers need to be central to the solution, not victims of bad management.”_ said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum.
to read & to read.
 

* Garment factory fire prompts calls for better safety norms:

The recent fire tragedy in a garment factory in Bangladesh, in which nearly 110 lives were lost, has once again raised heckles of activists who have raised the pitch for better safety standards in these units and calling upon global apparel brands to make sure compliance levels are met in these factories.

Bangladesh is the second biggest apparel producer in the world, behind China on the strength of being amongst the world’s low cost producers. Apparel workers here earn as little as 21 cents an hour, according to international labor rights organizations. Around 700 garment workers have lost their lives in fires while at work in the last five years, according to the anti-sweatshop – Clean Clothes Campaign in
Amsterdam.
(…)
According to Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS), who was at the accident site within 30 minutes of the fire happening, “Supervisors were slow to choose human safety over production quotas, which resulted in such a big death toll”.

India based – Anannya Bhattacharjee of the Asian Floor Wage Alliance said, “The continuing negligence demonstrated by multinational brands and retailers is irresponsible and criminal causing the killing of hundreds of workers in the region. Multinational companies continue to manufacture their products in factories that disregard national laws and hold workers’ lives in contempt”. read more.

* Ashulia returns to life:

Five days into the deadly fire at a garment factory, Ashulia has returned to life as workers of apparel factories rejoined work Thursday morning.

At least 111 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the devastating fire that raged through Tazreen Fashion Ltd at Nishchintapur in Ashulia on Saturday night.
The workers staged protest and resorted to vandalism in Ashulia following the fire incident that halted production at most of the garment units in the area since Sunday.

But, all the factories suspended their production on Wednesday fearing violent protests.
Thousands of workers returned to their workplace on Thursday morning and no untoward incident took place, a commercial officer of a garment factory told The Daily Star seeking anonymity.

Workers have been demanding punishment to owners of Tazreen Fashions Ltd and its officials holding them responsible for the fire and casualties.
They are also demanding safety at their workplaces. read more (+video).

* Workers demand arrest of Tazreen Fashions owner:

Production in RMG factories at Ashulia in Savar, on the outskirts of the city, resumed Thursday. Apparel makers declared suspension of production on Wednesday amid violent protests by workers demanding justice for the victims of country’s worst ever garment factory fire on Saturday last. The devastating fire that left Tazreen Fashions Ltd to ashes claimed the lives of 111 workers.

Meanwhile, Workers’ representatives in the garment industry Thursday demanded immediate arrest of owner of Tazreen Fashions Ltd to remove all kinds of confusions created among the apparel workers.

They also warned the authorities concerned of tougher movements that could severely affect the US$19 billion industry following mounting tension among the labour community due to tragic fire incident. read more.

* RMG fire safety largely ignored:

The government yesterday launched a nationwide drive to identify readymade garment factories with dismal safety system, five days into the nation’s deadliest industrial blaze in Ashulia.

Fifteen teams from fire service inspected 73 garment factories in Ashulia and found that one-third of the factories did not have sufficient fire safety measures and security for workers.
The issue of workers’ safety in factories has come up strongly following the devastating fire that killed at least 111 workers at Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia on November 24.

It was found that the factory neither had any emergency exits nor adequate fire safety measures. And fire-fighting equipment on its different floors had not been used during the fire accident.
Moreover, the eight-storey factory had the permission to have only three floors.
The teams comprised of 70 officials would inspect as many factories as possible between November 29 and December 2, said M Abdus Salam, director of Fire Service and Civil Defence (administration and finance), who led the drive with the help of police.

He said they would submit a report to the home ministry on Monday with recommendations for taking punitive measures against factories with dismal safety system.
Salam said they might recommend cancellation of fire service licence of noncompliant factories. read more. & read more. & read more.
   

* MD unaware of safety:

The sheer ignorance of factory safety rules and awareness of fire hazard protection of garments industry’s management is simply unbelievable and surprising where fire incidents are frequent. I would like to propose the following suggestions to the BGMA in order to overcoming this drawback and to implement those.

All officials, including the board members and all top level managing and supervising officials of garments factories, must read, understand and memorise the Factories Act as well as Shops and Establishment Act. Further, they should be aware of factory accident prevention and safety rules and regulations. read more.

* JS body wants task force to monitor RMG factories:

A parliamentary standing committee on Thursday asked the government to appoint a tripartite task force headed by a minister or a state minister to monitor the apparel industrial sector in the wake of Saturday’s devastating fire at Tazreen Fashion Limited which claimed the lives of at least 111 workers.

Bangladesh’s worst-ever apparel factory fire prompted the committee on Labour and Employment Ministry to ask the government take the move.
‘The task force could comprise representatives from the government factory owners and the workers,’ labour secretary Mikail Shipar later told reporters after the meeting was over at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban. read more. & read more. & read more.
 

* Formation of judicial probe body demanded:

Dhaka University Teachers’ Association on Thursday demanded constitution of judicial probe body to investigate into the fire incident of Tazreen Fashions garment factory of Ashulia .

Addressing a human chain at Aparajeya Bangla, they also demanded exemplary punishment of those involved in the incident.

They opined that there was no alternative but to ensure maximum safety to the employees of garment industries. The probe committee must perform their task fairly and transparently, they also emphasized.

DUTA acting president ABM Faroque said, ‘The garment employees across the country are being deprived of fundamental rights including those of security measures to protect them from accident.’ read more.

* 75- 100-130 workers injured in Savar fire stampedes:

Around 100 workers were injured in stampedes sparked by fire panic in two factories in Savar on the outskirts of the capital on Thursday.

Shimul Saha, an official of Enam Medical College and Hospital in Savar, told The Daily Star that 63 workers were undergoing treatment at the hospital. Of them, eight were in critical condition.
Fire Service and Civil Defence officials said around 2:45pm the officials of a shoe factory — Crescent Leather– at Hemayetpur informed them that a fire had originated in the ground floor of the three-storey factory building. The officials told them that the fire started from a short circuit from an electric motor.
Employees of the factory doused the flame before fire fighter units rushed to the spot.

Abdul Baten, industrial police deputy assistant director (Savar Zone), told The Daily Star they had information that around 15 to 16 people were injured in the fire incident.
In another incident, a tube light at Vision Apparels Ltd sparked on the first floor of the five-storey building around 2:30pm and created fire panic among the employees.
While rushing downstairs, around 80 people were injured in stampede.
read more.
& read more. & read more.
   

* Disney, Sears used factory in fire:

Amid the ash, broken glass and melted sewing machines at what is left of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory, there are piles of blue, red and off-white children’s shorts bearing Wal-Mart’s Faded Glory brand. Shorts from hip-hop star Sean Combs’ ENYCE label lay on the floor, along with a hooded Mickey Mouse sweatshirt from Disney.

                                                         

An Associated Press reporter searching the Bangladesh factory Wednesday found these and other clothes, including sweaters from the French company Teddy Smith and the Scottish company Edinburgh Woollen Mill, among the equipment charred in the fire that killed 112 workers on Saturday. He also found entries in account books indicating that the factory took orders to produce clothes for Disney, Sears and other Western brands.

Garments and documents left behind in the factory show it was used by a host of major American and European retailers, though at least one of them – Wal-Mart – had been aware of safety problems. Wal-Mart blames a supplier for using Tazreen Fashions without its knowledge. read more. & read more.
 

* BGMEA wakes up, but slowly:

Garment owners promise to bear expenses of fire victims’ families for 10 years

It took four days for the trade body of garment makers to take a mere decision to form a taskforce that will give the factory owners a deadline to upgrade their fire safety measures.

The BGMEA still does not know when the taskforce will be formed and when the factory owners will be given the deadline.
The BGMEA came up with a promise never heard of: If the owners do not meet the deadline, the taskforce will close their factories.
read more.
& read more. & read more.
   

* BD factory fire underscores retailers’ sourcing challenges, says Wall Street Journal:

The fire that killed 112 garment workers in Bangladesh last weekend underscores the challenges retailers face trying to track health and safety conditions at the far-flung, low-cost factories that make the clothes they sell, according to a report of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) of the USA.

The WSJ report noted: “Several of the companies – including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT +1.53% and Sears Holdings Corp. SHLD -3.41% – said supplier subcontractors had chosen the factory without their consent and that they did not discover their products, such as some of Wal-Mart’s in-house Faded Glory clothing brand, were made there until after the fire. read more.

* Time to bring peace and patience in garment sector:

The apparel sector of our country apparently has been passing through a crucial time. No one can change the present situation overnight and no one should have such an unrealistic expectation.

We must wait and have patience to improve the present condition. But it seems we are becoming impatient and expecting a rapid change. We do not hesitate to make violent protest; but such unruly behaviour will only prove harmful to our collective well-being. We must not forget that the garments sector is earning the largest amount of foreign exchange and has provided women with jobs for improving their lot.

The investors in the sector are facing a hard time due to the ongoing global economic recession and the recent scams have cornered our banking sector into a tight spot.
The worker of garments sector must not resort to violent method to press their demand. Through discussion and mutual agreement all problems can be sorted out gradually.
Recently we are witnessing a lot of upheavals in the garments sector and that has caught the attention of world media. This will surely create a negative impact on our garments export in the future. Rumana Sharmeen-Dhaka University.   to read.

(Note: SAFETY  FIRST, but please don’t forget: there’s another safety problem: WAGES ! -edit.j,)

* Tazreen Fashions to get Tk 18cr insurance:

Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia will get a fire-insurance of Tk 18 crore as a compensation for the devastating blaze that broke out on November 24 killing 112 workers of the readymade garment (RMG) industry.

The RMG had a one-year fire-insurance with Karnaphuli Insurance Company Limited in 2011.
The Tazreen Fashions is going to get the compensation as tenure of the year-long insurance would be effective till December in 2012, just before a month of the completion of the tenure. read more.

* Tk 2 core donates to PM relief fund for Ashulia, Bohadderhat victims:

Pubali Bank Limited today donated Taka two crore for the families affected by Ashulia garment fire and Bohaddarhat girder collapse in Chittagong, an official handout said. to read.

* Garment makers bash media:

Garment factory owners yesterday came down hard on the media for “exaggerating” the November 24 Ashulia fire incident and thus denting their good name.

Participating in an Extraordinary General Meeting of the BGMEA at its auditorium in the capital, the apparel makers vented their anger on the press for what they said was lopsided coverage of the Ashulia tragedy that claimed at least 111 lives and injured more than 100 others.

However, at the same meeting, leaders of the Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association took the responsibility for the tragedy and said they were sorry for it. “We could not identify 53 people among those died…. We apologise to the nation for this,” said Faruque Hassan, vice-president of BGMEA.

Falcon Group Director Mahtabuddin Ahmed is one of those who launched a scathing attack on the media, saying the media was “inciting” the nation through spreading propaganda about Saturday’s blaze. read more.

* BGMEA flays media:

Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Thursday decided to set a timeframe for apparel factories to improve working condition and ensure workers’ safety.
The BGMEA at an extraordinary general meeting in the wake of Saturday’s deadly fire at Tazreen Fash
ions Limited which killed at least 111 workers also decided that the factories which would fail to improve the working condition and ensure compliance within the timeframe would be shut down.
(…)
They said the media was making ‘sweeping criticism’ of the industry which was ‘not fair’.
Falcon Group director Mahtab Uddin Ahmed named New Age editor Nurul Kabir and Dhaka University law professor Asif Nazrul and said that they engaged in ‘tall talk’ without having any knowledge of the apparel sector.
‘The way they talk generates amusement,’ Mahtab said. ‘We will give them 25 per cent of the ownership of this sector and let them run the sector if they can.’
read more.

* Ashulia: Time for change and putting people first:

Worker safety and Ashulia seem to be the most repeated words to fill the smoke-free boardrooms of overseas Bangladesh garment buyers this week. The world media also has a bulldog grip and it is unlikely to let go soon.

The devastating fire that swept through Tazreen Fashions in Ashulia last Saturday leaving 114 people dead is the loudest wake-up call this country has heard in its 41-years of existence.
Other than the factory owners, no one really cares about the loss of the building, machinery, garments and material, all are replaceable: life isn’t.

While on the surface 114 people – a deplorable number by any yardstick – have died in unimaginable excruciating pain in the worst-ever fire at a readymade garments factory in Bangladesh, countless more will suffer as a consequence.

Parents… grandparents…siblings…children, the list goes on.
Most people who work in the industry come from poor families and have dependents, in varying numbers, to support.
What will happen to them?
It’s fine for the factory owners to be compensated through their insurance policies, perhaps even make a profit, but what’s going to happen to the poor and downtrodden families who eagerly await the arrival of the (meagre) hard-earned wage packet to come through the mud hut door each month, that pays the rent, medical bills, grocery bills, their children’s school tuition fees and guarantees their sustenance for another month? read more.

OTHER NEWS:

* Aggrieved RMG exporters plan demo against Indian trade show:

A group of local apparel exporters along with their workers have planned to demonstrate against the single-country exposition of India in Bangladesh, demanding immediate release of export payments from, whom they alleged, a ‘fraudulent’ Indian importer.

The aggrieved Bangladeshi apparel exporters said they have no other options now but to stage demonstrations as neither the government of India nor its business leaders took any practical step to help disbursement of the payments against the exports even after repeated requests. read more.

* SGS Bangladesh opens garment lab in Ctg:

Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, acting president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, opened a garment and textile laboratory of SGS Bangladesh Ltd in Chittagong on Wednesday.

He said the laboratory will help the local apparel market ensure sustainable growth by providing quality testing services and will play a vital role in developing business in the port city as well as in the country.
The initiative of establishing such a lab will promote the prospects of Chittagong, said Urs Herren, ambassador of Switzerland, who attended the event as the special guest. read more.

* Exporters gear up drives for new leather goods markets:

Local exporters have reinforced their drive to explore new markets for leather and leather goods export as shipments to main destinations have gradually been shrinking due to the global economic meltdown, industry insiders said.

As part of the move, some businessmen recently visited China, Hon Kong, Japan, Russia and Latin American nations.
“We are now fully dependent on the US and the European Union countries for leather goods export. It will be risky for us if recession or something like that occurs any time,” former president of Bangladesh Tannery Association (BTA) Mohammad Shahin told the FE. read more.

17:42:58 local time map of india INDIA

* Weavers’ indefinite strike enters fourth day:

Crisis is looming large in Sircilla textile town following the indefinite strike, launched by the powerloom weavers demanding the increase of their wages, entering fourth day on Thursday. TRS local legislator K Taraka Rama Rao visited the striking camp and held talks with the weavers.

The production of fabric has come to a grinding halt whereas the trade union leaders are worried over the state of daily-wage weavers who get their wages only when they work.

The labour department authorities held a round of talks with the owners of powerlooms, but in vain as the owners agreed to increase the wages by only one paise per production of 10 pics of cloth on the looms. They also claimed that they were incurring losses due to slump in the market.

Powerloom Workers’ Union affiliated to AITUC president Samalla Mallesham alleged that the negligence of the labour department in implementing GO. 53 (which orders the powerloom owners to provide wages of Rs 0.18 paise per 10 pics for the weavers) was leading to the crisis. Presently, the powerloom weavers were getting only Rs 0.14.5 paise per 10 pics of production with a loss of Rs. 50 to 60 wages per day. read more.

* Government-textile traders’ tussle may revive:

The tussle between the government and textile traders, that had mellowed down following a ‘gentleman’ agreement between the two some time back, is likely to be revived as traders have stated that they will not pay tax until there is a uniform taxation rule in all the states of India.

The traders’ community strongly agitated over the government’s move to impose VAT on textile last year. Protests were marked by bandhs, trade holidays and hunger strikes.

They refused to collect tax from purchasers stating that absence of tax in other states would make them lose their competitive edge. Negotiations with the government resulted in a breakthrough in March when traders presented two proposals to the government for consideration. read more.

* Cotton production to dip by 33% in state: JAU study:

Junagadh Agriculture University(JAU) has estimated 33 per cent lower cotton production for Gujarat as compared to last year.

A recent agricultural economic study report of JAU noted that in spite of lower production, prices of cotton is expected to remain stable due to large stockpiles in China and at international level. read more.

17:42:58 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Industrial zones have 21,000 vacancies for workers:

Sri Lanka Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said yesterday that the Katunayake and Biyagama export zones alone have 21,000 vacancies for workers unfilled.

He said that shortage of labor is a severe problem in other export industry zones as well.
Most of the factories in the industrial zones make garments for world class brands and the majority of the employees are young women.
The Deputy Minister of Economic Development said the income from the garment industry had increased by about 50 percent compared to 2004.

He pointed out that the US$ 790 million income earned from the industry in 2004 has increased to US$ 4.2 billion by 2011.
Rejecting rumors and concocted stories regarding the collapse of garment industry, the Minister revealed that more requests have been received to start factories.
to read.

* Sri Lanka’s top apparel producer to invest US$ 70 million in automated knitting plant:

Sri Lanka’s largest intimate apparel manufacturer, MAS Holdings will invest US$ 70 million to set up the largest, automated knitting plant in the region at Thulhiriya, within the MAS Fabric Park.

The company is fully renovating a 200,000 sq. ft. facility to accommodate the knitting plant in the Export Processing Zone at Thulhiriya.
“There is a lot of innovation and technology involved in this project, which makes this a strategic step for MAS and Sri Lanka in the field of textile and apparel,” Sri Lanka’s investment promotion agency Board of Investment (BOI) said in a statement.
read more.

* Sri Lankan apparel sector studies Turkish model:

Sri Lankan apparel industry is studying the feasibility of following Turkish model to achieve the Government-set target of US$ 5 billion in revenues by 2015. 
Mr. Rohan Abeykoon, immediate-past chairman of the Sri Lankan Apparel Exporters Association, said they have analysed the Turkish model and found it to be a good system to set standards, particularly in view of the trade that Turkish apparel industry enjoys in spite of enduring three-times higher production costs than the cost borne by the Sri Lankan garment sector. read more.

17:12:58 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ‘Fate of Pak-BD factory workers is same’:

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research has expressed profound grief and sorrow over the deaths of 120 workers in a garment factory in Bangladesh and offered its condolences to the relatives of the deceased.

In a statement here on Tuesday, Piler condemned industrial incidents and the unnecessary loss of human lives, which occur due to lack of occupational health and safety measures at work places.
The Tazreen Fashion Limited Bangladesh clothing factory is a multistoried building in which workers were trapped by the fire due to the lack of emergency exits as all three staircases down to the ground floor were closed.
Numerous workers lost their lives when they tried to escape through the windows and hit the ground.
A similar type of incident happened in Pakistan recently, which caused the deaths of an estimated 300 industrial workers in a garment factory in Karachi.
The Bangladesh factory, which was opened in 2009 and employed 1700 workers, is the subsidiary of the Tuba group which makes products for WalMart, KIK, Carrefour and IKEA.A statement by PILER claimed that employers have a legal compulsion to provide a safe and secure working environment to all its workers. read more.

* APTMA seeks uninterrupted energy supply to textile sector:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Ahsan Bashir has said that the textile industry is not being supplied with uninterrupted electricity supply despite lowest domestic demand at present.The industry is usually in dire need of electricity in this season to meet export orders from around the world. But the industry is facing with six hours a day load shedding at present.
The Ministry of Water & Power had assured the APTMA of complete exemption from load shedding after 10th of Ashura, requesting to bear with the situation until 10th of Moharram. However, the decision to this effect is yet pending on the part of the Ministry.  read more.

GENERAL

* ITUC, IndustriALL, CCC and UNI submission to UN Working group on Business and Human Rights:

On November 23d 2012, the International Trade Union Confederation, IndustriALL Global Union, the Clean Clothes Campaign and UNI Global Union, submitted the attached paper called “The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the human rights of workers to form or join trade unions and to bargain collectively” to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

The right to join or form a trade union and the right to bargain collectively are established human rights falling within the scope of almost every business enterprise in almost every situation or context. Yet the corporate responsibility to respect these human rights is too often not being met, with the result that millions of workers the world over are denied their rights.

As global unions and worker rights organizations, we are providing this paper as a contribution to the better understanding of what it means for business enterprises to exercise due diligence in relation to the human rights of workers to form or join trade unions and to bargain collectively.

This paper sets out what it means for a business enterprise to respect the rights of workers to join or form a trade union and the right to bargain collectively:
* Do nothing that would have the effect of discouraging workers from exercising their right to form or join a trade union
* Not seek to avoid any genuine opportunity to bargain collectively
* Exercise due diligence in identifying and preventing anti-union policies and practices as well as mitigating the adverse impacts on the exercise of these rights by other business practices. read more. & read more.
     

 

map of Asia

INFO:

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 3 December 2012, unless there is “breaking” news.

HEADLINES TODAY:

PHILIPPINES
* So-called record growth not felt by people – KMU
* Workers announce Nov. 30 protests

VIET NAM
* Vinatex to auction shares in brewery company

THAILAND
* Dismissed Mölnlycke workers continue their struggle
* Economists say minimum wage hike will cost workers in end
* Wage hike compounded by tougher labour rules

CAMBODIA
* IndustriALL affiliates in Cambodia sign unity agreement

MALAYSIA
* Clearer definition needed

INDONESIA
* Employers to file suit against wage increase
* Minimum Wage Rise Undermines Cooperative Dispute Resolution
* Analysis: Wage Hike No Cause for Worry

BANGA DESH
* ASHULIA-SAVAR GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Labour rights group presses for binding safety agreement
* Labor Rights Groups urge Us and European governments to press apparel brands
* Garment factory fire prompts calls for better safety norms
* Ashulia returns to life
* Workers demand arrest of Tazreen Fashions owner
* RMG fire safety largely ignored
* MD unaware of safety
* JS body wants task force to monitor RMG factories
* Formation of judicial probe body demanded
* 75- 100-130 workers injured in Savar fire stampedes
* Disney, Sears used factory in fire
* BGMEA wakes up, but slowly
* BD factory fire underscores retailers’ sourcing challenges, says Wall Street Journal
* Time to bring peace and patience in garment sector
* Tazreen Fashions to get Tk 18cr insurance
* Tk 2 core donates to PM relief fund for Ashulia, Bohadderhat victims
* Garment makers bash media
* BGMEA flays media
* Ashulia: Time for change and putting people first
OTHER NEWS:
* Aggrieved RMG exporters plan demo against Indian trade show
* SGS Bangladesh opens garment lab in Ctg
* Exporters gear up drives for new leather goods markets

INDIA
* Weavers’ indefinite strike enters fourth day
* Government-textile traders’ tussle may revive
* Cotton production to dip by 33% in state: JAU study

SRI LANKA
* Industrial zones have 21,000 vacancies for workers
* Sri Lanka’s top apparel producer to invest US$ 70 million in automated knitting plant
* Sri Lankan apparel sector studies Turkish model

PAKISTAN
* ‘Fate of Pak-BD factory workers is same
* APTMA seeks uninterrupted energy supply to textile sector

GENERAL
* ITUC, IndustriALL, CCC and UNI submission to UN Working group on Business and Human Rights

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