18:00:54 local time CHINA
* Wage arrears cases continue to dominate worker protests in November:
Despite some signs of an economic upturn in China, the vast majority of worker protests continue to be over wage arrears and compensation for factory relocations. CLB noted at least 118 protests and strikes in November. However many of these reports lacked sufficient detail to be included on the CLB strike map.
The official manufacturing PMI was 50.6 in November, the highest in seven months, indicating accelerating growth in the manufacturing sector. However the employment indicator was 48.7 percent and has been below 50 percent for six consecutive months showing that demand for labour in the manufacturing sector keeps shrinking.
Most wage arrears disputes were in the construction industry as workers sought to get their back pay before the end of the year. Guangdong saw 20 wage arrears cases, followed by Shenzhen (eight cases) and Hubei (eight cases). There were also a few wage arrears that were triggered by factory bankruptcies, including an electronics factory and a textile factory in Dongguan. And in Jiangsu on 20 November, around 40 security guards at a housing complex went on strike in protest at wage arrears. read more.
* Greenpeace says textile firms hiding toxic trails:
Textile manufacturers responsible for some of the most well-known brands on the High Street have been accused of hiding their toxic trails by using government-run wastewater treatment plants.
Greenpeace International says a recent investigation found a wide range of hazardous substances in the effluent of two communal treatment plants.
The research focused on the discharge of hazardous chemicals from industrial zones in Zhejiang Province, where a high proportion of textile manufacturers are located. The facilities in the industrial zones generally send their effluent to centralized wastewater treatment plants, Greenpeace said.
The treatment plants in Shaoxing and Xiaoshan, serving the Binhai, Linjiang and Jiangdong industrial zones, dumped a wide range of hazardous substances into the Qiantang River, it said.
Many international brands source their products from facilities within the industrial zones, including Zara, Metersbonwe, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Esprit, Marks & Spencer, Gap and JC Penny, the environmental organization said. read more. & read more.
* CNTAC releases report on Chinese textile & apparel brands:
China apparel and home textile brand building achievement conference was held in the Great Hall of People in Beijing. “China apparel and home textile brand development report 2012” and the list of own brand enterprises were issued.
The enterprises were tracked and nurtured by Ministry of industry and information technology and China National Textile and Apparel Council. The launching ceremony of China textile and apparel brands net was also held.
“China National Textile and Apparel Council brand development report 2012” was the first thematic report, which was reflecting the overview of home textile and apparel brands. Around developing process, current situation as well as the next developing trend of own brand enterprises; systematic, in-depth and comprehensive research was made.
The review included fundamental condition of home textile and apparel industry, own brand developing process and types. Summary of own brands overview and analysis on quality, innovation, rapid response, culture, channel, service platform and other brand elements in the development status section. read more.
* Arson fire in clothing factory in China kills 14:
A former worker told state media today he set the fire that killed 14 young workers at a Chinese clothing factory because he was angry about less than US$500 (S$609) in unpaid wages.
The suspect, Liu Shuangyun, told the Guangdong TV broadcaster in a jailhouse interview that he started the fire “because I couldn’t get my salary,” which he had been owed since quitting the factory three years ago.
Asked whether he had thought about or regretted the loss of life the fire had caused, Mr Liu said, “I didn’t think about these things.”
Fourteen people were killed and one person was seriously injured in the fire yesterday afternoon in Shantou city in Guangdong province, the provincial emergency department said on its microblog.
The 14 victims were all women aged 18-20, the Southern Metropolis Daily said in an online report. The official Xinhua News Agency said the victims were 13 women and one man. It said Mr Liu, a 26-year-old migrant worker from Hunan province, had been arrested, but it didn’t specify what charges he faced.
Xinhua said he spent 40 yuan (US$6) on petroleum used to start the blaze and fled the scene after his alleged crime.
“The whole time, I’ve been very impulsive, very angry about this,” Mr Liu said during the television interview. “So I did these things.”
“In many of these places health and safety is not a priority,” he said. “Many of these factories are very unpleasant places to work in.”
Senior provincial officials set up a team to investigate and step up safety measures to avoid similar fatal fires, Guangdong’s emergency department said. The factory made underwear, it said.
Mr Crothall said unpaid salaries are a major source of worker discontent in China.
* S China arson suspect admits anger over labor dispute:
A suspect arrested for setting fire to an underwear factory in south China’s Guangdong Province confessed on Wednesday that he committed the crime out of anger over a labor dispute, according to investigators.
Fourteen people were killed in a fire that broke out at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the factory, located in the city of Shantou. A single injured worker is being treated at a local hospital.
The municipal emergency response office said Wednesday that the suspect is a 26-year-old man surnamed Liu from central China’s Hunan Province.
Liu was caught by police in the city of Puning around 10 p.m. Tuesday. He allegedly bought petroleum to set the fire and fled the scene afterward.
The fire was contained within half an hour and extinguished within one hour, consuming an area of more than 200 square meters.
Liu is currently being questioned by police. to read. & read more.
18:00:54 local time PHILIPPINES
* Artist helps improve ‘inabel’ makers’ lives:
A craft, a business and a social enterprise. Artist Al Valenciano has intertwined these endeavors in his “inabel” projects in the last 15 years, and one of the good outcomes he likes best is being able to help 65 men and women support their families from weaving the textiles that have been produced in the Ilocos region since the 16th century.
“They’re being fed better,” Valenciano says of the children of inabel makers he works with in communities in Paoay and Sarrat in Ilocos Norte, Santiago in Ilocos Sur, La Paz and Peñarrubia in Abra, and in Mountain Province.
The artisans weave the textiles right in their homes, using old wooden looms, the 44-year-old painter says at his Balay ni Atong (Home of Atong) beside the Pindangan Ruins in Barangay Parian in San Fernando City in La Union. “Atong” is the name he signs on his paintings.
Valenciano says he goes to the weavers to discuss designs, quality and size. “I don’t like putting them in a zoo [for viewing],” he says.
Wanting the weavers to be self-reliant, he taught them to save for capital.
“At first, I paid in cash. After three cycles [of production], I began paying in check for amounts like P30,000. But they told me they want cash. When I asked why, they said they did not have bank accounts and so I encouraged them to open bank accounts and they did. And that’s how they started saving money,” he says.
Several of the children or grandchildren of weavers are getting an education and one of them lives at the Balay ni Atong, which doubles as a study center for traditional weaving. read more.
17:00:54 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment Factory Protesters Clash With Police:
Hundreds of garment factory workers clashed with police at a factory in Phnom Penh yesterday during the latest strike in what is now a month-long campaign to have two union leaders rehired.
The workers from Nex-T Apparel (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. in Dangkao district were striking in support of two union organizers from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU).
A scuffle broke out when they confronted a representative from a union affiliated with the Cambodian Union Federation (CFU) who was urging the protesters to return to work, said San Sopha, a CCAWDU conflict resolution officer.
“The union in our factory was trying to explain to workers that there was no point for them to strike,” said Chea Sambath, the manager at the Nex-T factory. “Then a female worker got mad and wanted to slap the speaker. The police tried to stop them, and a fight started.”
Mr. Sopha of CCAWDU said the police then started beating workers with batons, and some of the workers retaliated by throwing water and stones at the police.
Police yesterday denied they were trying to prevent workers aligned with the CCAWDU from protesting.
“The workers have the right to protest,” said Phnom Penh municipal police chief Chuon Sovan. “But we also need to make sure they follow the rule of law and do not hurt other people or destroy other people’s property.”
“We’re asking the striking workers to wait for a solution while others can get back to work, but if they keep striking we will have to solve this based on the law,” said Ms. Sambath.
Mr. Sopha said that workers will strike again at the factory today. read more.
18:00:54 local time INDONESIA
* Minimum Wage Rises in Indonesia Won’t Hurt Investment: Economists:
Despite hefty minimum wage increases across the country next year, Indonesia remains an attractive destination for foreign companies due to the solid pace of its economic growth, global banks UBS and Deutsche Bank say.
Economists at the banks said foreign direct investment into Indonesia would continue at a rapid clip even though the wage increases, led by Jakarta’s 44 percent rise, may dampen sentiment slightly.
“We expect Indonesia to remain popular as an investment destination despite less friendly industrial policies being debated and introduced ahead of the 2014 election,” Edward Teather, an economist with UBS, said in a teleconference from Singapore on Tuesday. read more.
* Medan ‘paralyzed’ by labor protest over wage hike dispute:
Thousands of workers staged a protest in Medan on Wednesday over the provincial minimum wage increase that was set at Rp 1.35 million (US$140.63) per month because it was far less than the Rp 2.2 million they demanded, thereby “paralyzing” daily activities in the North Sumatra capital.
Several main roads leading to important facilities such as Polonia International Airport, Belawan seaport, Tanjung Morawa toll road and government offices were blockaded by the protesters from 9 a.m. local time. Activities were ground to a halt for several hours.
Activities returned to normal at about 2 p.m. when the protesters marched to the North Sumatra governor’s office on Jl. Diponegoro in Medan. read more.
* Better Work Indonesia: Garment Industry 1st Compliance Synthesis Report:
The Better Work Indonesia programme, a partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), aims to enhance enterprise-level performance and promote competitiveness of the garment industry by advancing compliance with Indonesian labour law and ILO core labour standards in garment factories.
The programme engages with participating factories by conducting independent assessments and offering advisory and training services. As part of its mandate of sharing information with all programme stakeholders, and encouraging continuous improvement, Better Work Indonesia will use aggregate factory assessment data to produce two public synthesis reports per year that review the performance of all participating factories in the reporting period.
This first synthesis report provides an overview of the working conditions of 20 factories assessed during the period July 2011–March 2012.
Please click here to view the Better Work Indonesia: Garment Industry – 1st Compliance Synthesis Report
15:45:54 local time NEPAL
* Garment entrepreneurs await NTIS listing:
Though a High Level Business Forum, under the chairmanship of prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, decided to include readymade garments in the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) a couple of months ago, the government is still clueless about the matter.
“The decision to include Nepali garments in the NTIS list was made about four months back but we have not received any concrete decision from the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies,” said president of Garment Association-Nepal (GAN) Uday Raj Pandey.
According to garment and carpet exporters, of the total exports of the country, garments and carpets worth Rs 10 billion are exported to third countries. But the government has failed to include them among the 19 priority products in the NTIS 2010.
However, joint secretary at the ministry Toya Narayan Gyawali said that the ministry will organise a workshop and discuss on the current situation of the products that have already been included and those that are waiting to be included in NTIS. “Through the workshop we will decide on whether to add new products or remove existing ones in NTIS,” said Gyawali. He also informed that the final report of the workshop will be forwarded to the cabinet for a final decision. read more.
16:00:54 local time BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Compensation, salary given:
Over 1,300 workers of fire-ravaged Tazreen Fashions Ltd yesterday received salaries and compensation from company officials under the supervision of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
Salaries and compensation disbursed to 990 workers in line with permanent job scheme and 328 others as per contractual job scheme amounted to Tk 1.2 crore, BGMEA officials said.
“We are giving them [workers] more than their expectations,” Mikail Shipar, labour secretary, told The Daily Star.
BGMEA had wanted to pay a month’s salary to the workers of Tazreen in Ashulia where a devastating fire on November 24 killed 111 people. But the workers demanded pay for another three months and 13 days.
Yesterday, Tazreen paid salaries and compensation to the workers under three categories, complying with the rules, said Shipar.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Compensation yet a day-dream to many:
Compensation to the families of the majority of the ill-fated garment workers who perished in the blaze at Tazreen Fashions Ltd last week hangs in balance. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over Tk 6 lakhs as compensation to each family of 37 victims on Tuesday.
But questions have arisen about the payment to 75 other families? Why these victims families are left to wait on alleged ground of finalizing their identity. It is only adding to confusion and fear of mishandling the package, the sources said.
Total number of dead formally recognized by law enforcing agencies is 112, according to official sources.
Out of them, 57 have been buried at Jurain graveyard in the city and they were burned to such extent that they could not be recognized by families. Raising the issue of their identification, compensation payment to their families remained unsettled although the victims’ families have lost their member. While these families are grieving and trying to overcome the shock, the time table for payment of their compensation is left uncertain.
The labour ministry has set up a four-member committee last week to establish the identities of the dead workers. The sources said, Tazreen Fashions Ltd management has been asked to provide the exact number of workers attending their job on that fateful evening along with their identity cards and the address of all the victims who are on the list of missing at the moment. read more.
* Do not fire workers:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Wednesday urged its fellow members not to terminate their workers without approval from the Ministry of Labour and Welfare and the BGMEA.
BGMEA second vice president Siddiqur Rahman made the appeal in view of the present situation prevailing in the country’s RMG sector following the devastating fire incident on November 24 that killed some 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia.
Addressing a press briefing at BGMEA Bhaban, Siddiq also informed that salary of the workers of fire-ravaged Tazreen fashions were disbursed on Wednesday at Tongi’s Industrial Relations Institute premises. More than 1,000 workers received their salaries along with other benefits.
“All workers were paid in accordance with the labour law as their factory was shut down after the deadly blaze,” said BGMEA vice president SM Mannan Kochi who was present during disbursement of salaries. The benefits included termination facilities because it reopening of the factory looks uncertain. The injured workers who are under treatment will get their salary and other benefits after recovery, said Siddiq urging them to contact the BGMEA officials. read more. & read more.
* Wal-Mart Nixed Paying Bangladesh Suppliers to Fight Fire :
At a meeting convened in 2011 to boost safety at Bangladesh garment factories, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) made a call: paying suppliers more to help them upgrade their manufacturing facilities was too costly.
The comments from a Wal-Mart sourcing director appear in minutes of the meeting, which was attended by more than a dozen retailers including Gap Inc. (GPS), Target Corp. and JC Penney Co.
Details of the meeting have emerged after a fire at a Bangladesh factory that made clothes for Wal-Mart and Sears Holdings Corp. killed more than 100 people last month. The blaze has renewed pressure on companies to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, where more than 700 garment workers have died since 2005, according to the International Labor Rights Forum, a Washington-based advocacy group.
At the April 2011 meeting in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, retailers discussed a contractually enforceable memorandum that would require them to pay Bangladesh factories prices high enough to cover costs of safety improvements. Sridevi Kalavakolanu, a Wal-Mart director of ethical sourcing, told attendees the company wouldn’t share the cost, according to Ineke Zeldenrust, international coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign, who attended the gathering. Kalavakolanu and her counterpart at Gap reiterated their position in a report folded into the meeting minutes, obtained by Bloomberg News.
Zeldenrust (CCC) called Wal-Mart’s position “shocking.”
“You know it is extremely important, and they say: ‘There’s no way we’re going to pay for that,’” said Zeldenrust, whose Amsterdam-based organization pushes for improved working conditions in the global garment industry. read more. & read more.
* Walmart refused to pay Bangladesh suppliers to fight fire:
At a meeting convened in 2011 to boost safety at Bangladesh garment factories, Walmart Stores Inc made a call: paying suppliers more to help them upgrade their manufacturing facilities was too costly, reports Bloomberg.
PVH Corp, which owns the Tommy Hilfiger brand, and German retailer Tchibo signed the memorandum earlier this year. Gap, which has pledged funding for safety improvements and hired a chief fire safety inspector, had been in negotiations to sign the agreement.
The retailer eventually declined, objecting to higher prices, publicly disclosing Bangladesh factories and to making the memorandum contractually enforceable, said Scott Nova, executive director of the Washington-based Worker Rights Consortium, who attended the meeting. read more.
* PM stresses upholding RMG sector’s reputation:
She reassures govt’s commitment to ensure workplace safety
Reaffirming her government’s commitment to provide all possible cooperation in ensuring safety in workplaces, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said it is the responsibility of all to uphold the reputation of Bangladesh’s apparel industry earned through public-private initiatives.
“Bangladesh’s apparel industry has earned global appreciation through public-private initiatives. It’s the responsibility of all to uphold the goodwill,” she said while addressing the inaugural session of a two-day international conference on ‘Positioning Bangladesh: Branding for Bangladesh’ at a city hotel.
Hasina also urged all, including the owners, officials and workers, to remain alert against the recurrence of tragic incident like the recent Ashulia factory fire in which a good number of workers died.
Mentioning that the goodwill earned through rigorous efforts over a long period can be destroyed within a moment because of the negligence or a minor fault, she said adding, “There must not be minimum compromise in this regard.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* No more such fire tragedy:
PM asks industries to ensure workplace safety
She urged all to remain alert so that no tragic incident like the recent one occurs at any garment factory in Ashulia.
“Bangladesh’s apparel industry has earned global reputation through the public-private initiative. It is the responsibility of all to uphold the goodwill.
“I would like to request all concerned including workers, employers and officials to remain alert so that any tragic incident like that of Ashulia does not occur in future,” she said. read more.
* Factories resume operation at Ashulia amid sporadic clashes:
Garment factories in Ashulia resumed production amid sporadic clashes between the police and workers on Tuesday as labour unrest in the industrial zone on the outskirts of the capital still continued 11 days after the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions.
Workers and the industrial police said garment workers had joined their duties at the factories in Ashulia although an opposition political party had enforced a nationwide shutdown on the day.
Garment units in Ashulia had suspended operation after the country’s worst factory fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Nishchintapur killed at least 111 workers and injured more than a hundred on November 24.
Witnesses said the workers of S Suha Garments at Jamgora rallied at the factory in the morning demanding safety at workplace, adequate compensation for the Tazreen Fashions workers, killed and injured in the deadly fire and stopping of termination of workers.
The police charged baton to disperse the workers who retaliated by hurling stones which left 10 people injured, sources said. read more.
* Tazreen probe finds proof of negligence:
Tazreen Fashions managing director Delwar Hossain on Sunday said he was facing difficulties in clearing the wages of the workers of the factory gutted by a devastating fire on November 24.
‘I am mentally disturbed …,’ he told New Age minutes before going to face an interrogation by an inquiry committee under the ministry of home affairs in the evening.
He said he was worried because of the huge liabilities of clearing the payments of the workers.
Delwar said he would go by the decision of the BGMEA, the association of garment factory owners, to settle the issue.
He said he was not to blame for the tragic fire on November 24 that killed 111 workers.
He said foreign buyers would not give work order if his factory was found non-compliant.
Main Uddin Khandaker, chief of the four-member investigation committee and additional secretary to the ministry of home affairs, said they had found enough evidence of negligence by the factory management that caused so many casualties.
‘So many people would not have died if the management had shown a little more responsibility,’ he said, adding that collapsible gates had been locked despite fire alarm.
Main Uddin said the committee might recommend arrest of the owner even before completing the investigation as he could not avoid responsible for the fire.
Home ministry officials said Delwar was asked to answer 29 questions. Besides, the committee questioned him as part of the interrogation. Delwar tried to shift the blame on others.
They said it was not yet decided whether the probe report would be made public.
* BGMEA to publish probe report on Tazreen fire by Dec 20:
BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) will publish its investigation report on the devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia by December 20. The fire claimed at least 112 lives of workers and injured several others.
“This time we will definitely publish the report,” vice president of BGMEA Md Siddiqur Rahman said Wednesday at a press briefing at the association’s office in the city.
Admitting the delay in publishing the report, he said investigation was going on slowly due to the unavailability of banking documentation of the factory, without elaborating on details. read more.
* Should the BGMEA wake up? :
Wal-Mart, the biggest chain outlet of garments in the USA and abroad has indicated to refrain from buying apparels from Tazreen Fashions because of the recent tragedy in Ashulia, Dhaka.
As is usual in this country, there is presently a blame game going on. There are people who are attributing the fire to sabotage and conspiracy, while others are putting the blame on the building design, closure of collapsible gates, lack of proper emergency exits, inadequate safety measures in the factory to fight the break-out of fire etc.
It is time we should take a serious look at the state of things in the readymade garment sector. The fire, worst of its kind in the history of factory fires in the country, claimed as many as 111 lives as per official estimate.
It has caused limitless suffering to hundreds of families. The first thing that should be done immediately is to investigate into the matter as quickly as possible to identify those responsible for the deaths of so many innocent workers. There should not be any mercy to those whose murderous neglect led to the tragedy.
There are people in the country who opine that the role of the BGMEA is questionable. The Association, most people in the country know, is housed in a massive building raised on unauthorised land. read more.
* Most garment factories in Ctg lack fire safety checks:
Most garment factories in Chittagong do not have concealed electric wiring systems, and their emergency stairs are too narrow to be effective in case of fire incidents.
They lack water storage capacity and fire-fighting tools, according to findings by seven teams of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence.
The teams consisting of four officials in each inspected 74 garment factories in the port city in the last three days.
Inspection of the fire safety systems started in Chittagong on Monday, as part of an effort to inspect the country’s garment units after the Ashulia tragedy on November 24.
The firemen will check 916 factories and submit a report to their headquarters in 20 days. read more. & read more.
* Key buyer backs pay hike for RMG workers:
Bangladesh needs to deal with four specific issues immediately — a wage hike for workers being one of those — to maintain higher export growth of its readymade garments, said a major international buyer yesterday.
The other issues are ensuring safety in factories, developing mid-level management and improving infrastructure, said David Savman, country manager of Swedish retail chain H&M. read more.
* Factory fire: a call to action:
Mozena advises Bangladesh to fix workplace safety problems to obtain duty-free privileges from US
US Ambassador Dan Mozena yesterday advised Bangladesh to fix workplace safety and labour rights problems immediately — to obtain duty-free privileges from his country. read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more.
* Clothing patterns for US marines found at fire site:
Order forms and design specs for sweatshirts and tank tops emblazoned with US Marine Corps insignia and logos have been found inside the smouldering wreckage of the Tazreen Fashions factory, activists in Bangladesh have told ABC News.
Worker rights groups in the US expressed outrage that an overseas factory with clearly identified safety problems would be selected to manufacture clothing for a licensee of the United States Marines.
“The fact that Marines logo clothing was found in the rubble of the sweatshop fire should serve as a wake-up call to the US government to put into place safeguards to ensure decent working conditions in government supply chains and among licensees,” said Liana Foxvog of the International Labour Rights Forum.
As with Wal-Mart, Disney, Sears, and other well-known American clothing brands whose clothing was found on the Tazreen factory floor immediately after the blaze that killed 112 workers last week, both the US Marine Corps and the North Carolina-based company that was making items under a licensing agreement with the Marines said they did not know about or approve of any arrangement to make garments there. read more.
* RMG sector: Secret of success and causes of unrest:
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector is the life-blood of Bangladesh economy achieving higher export growth every year. The sector is now the largest contributor not only to overseas trade but also to the national economy.
Bangladesh textiles and RMG industry comprises 155,557 units – 148,000 handlooms units, 3,284 mechanised primary textile units, 5150 export-oriented readymade garments manufacturing units and 273 garments washing-dyeing units. The sector is a major foreign exchange earner for Bangladesh contributing 77 per cent to the country’s net exports. At the end of the fiscal year 2011, total export of Bangladesh garments was worth US$ 23 billion, a 43 per cent increase over the previous year, accounting for almost 25 per cent of the GDP (gross domestic product).
Indirectly, the garment sector, which has started its journey in Bangladesh in the early 1980s, employs scores of people in the country. The sector alone directly employs 4.2 million skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Of them, an overwhelming number of workers are women. This has made an impact on the social status of many women coming from low- income families. read more.
* Trade unions and labour groups’ demands to buyers from Tazreen Fashions:
Bangladeshi trade unions and international organizations are calling on all brands sourcing from the devastated Tazreen Fashions factory, which burnt down last weekend killing 112 workers, to provide emergency relief, medical costs and compensation to all those affected by the fire.
They are also being asked, along with other key brands and stakeholders, to ensure an immediate and transparent investigation into the events surrounding the fire and to take urgent steps to prevent future tragedies in the industry.
The full demands being made of brands sourcing from Tazreen Fashions are:
1. Full redress for the victims
2. Full and transparent investigation
3. Prevention of future incidents
Brands sourcing from the Tazreen Fashions factory should send a delegation to Bangladesh to meet victims and their families, trade unions and labour rights organisations and work with other buyers to ensure these demands are met.
* Vigils at European C&A stores for Justice Tazreen Fire Victims:
* Vigils in Spain, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria follow actions in Hong Kong, India and the US
* Brands must pay compensation and sign Bangladesh Fire and Building
* Need for independent investigation into the root causes of the fires
This week Clean Clothes Campaigns in Spain, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Austria organise candlelight vigils in front of C&A stores. The labour rights group calls upon C&A and other buyers from the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh to ensure compensation to the victims, take credible steps to prevent future tragedies in the industry and support a full and transparent investigation into the
C&A and Li&Fung have confirmed that they were sourcing from Tazreen at the time of the fire that caused the death of at least 124 workers, and injured more than 50. Other companies that confirmed sourcing from Tazreen in the past year include Spanish companies Sfera and Hipercor (subsidaries of El Corte Inglés) and the German discounter KIK.
“With the vigils we want to pay respect to the victims, and expect from companies sourcing from Bangladesh that they join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement to ensure nobody has to die to produce our clothes” says Christa De Bruin, International Coordinator at CCC The Netherlands.
In Hong Kong, labour groups took to Li & Fung’s head office to demand immediate action from the sourcing agent. In India and the US, labour unions and supporters groups lit candles in remembrance of the victims.
To prevent future tragedies, campaigners also call on brands to sign on to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, developed prior to last week’s tragedy by Bangladeshi and global unions and labour rights organizations.
The agreement provides for, amongst other actions, independent inspections of supplier factories, public reporting, mandatory repairs and renovations, a central role for workers and unions in both oversight and implementation, supplier contracts with sufficient financing and adequate pricing, and a binding contract to make these commitments enforceable.
Companies PvH (Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein) and Tchibo have already signed this Agreement. The Agreement becomes effective once four companies sign up. Allowing trade unions to freely operate in workplaces will also play an important role in fire prevention by giving workers a voice in their workplaces.
“It is not sufficient to just pay humanitarian aid. C&A and Li&Fung are responsible for full redress of the victims. They should contribute to the loss of income and compensation for pain and suffering, in line with international standards”, says Tessel Pauli from the Clean Clothes Campaign International Secretariat.
In addition to compensation to the families of the deceased for damages and loss of earnings, the brands are expected to provide compensation for injured workers, cover costs of emergency relief and medical treatment and to compensate loss of earnings suffered by workers recovering from injuries and for those left unemployed as a result of the fire. read more.
* Apparel trade unlikely to achieve target:
Already hit hard by the global economic downturn, the country’s largest foreign-currency earning readymade garment (RMG) industry is now at stake. The situation has aggravated further because of the recent labour unrest and Tazreen fire incident accompanied by other non-compliance issues.
The industry now accounts for more than three quarters of the country’s exports is unlikely to meet its trade in the current calendar year 2012, industry sources said.
Underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of utility services especially the power and energy is seriously impeding the apparel trade’s growth, they said.
Apparel industry occupies a unique position in Bangladesh economy. It is the largestexporting sector which experienced phenomenal growth during the last three decades.
“The industry experiences an export growth of 25 per cent in 2010 and 30 per cent in 2011. But this year we may not even achieve the target,” said BGMEA vice president Faruque Hassan while talking to the Independent. He fears that RMG may have a negative growth in 2012 especially in the USA and EU markets, the major destination of the country’s RMG export. read more.
* Garment accessories manufacturers target $12b turnover by 2018:
Manufacturers of garment accessories expect more growth and hope the demand would reach three times more by 2018 due to increased demand both for deemed and direct export.
Bangladesh Garment Accessories Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAMEA) President Rafez Alam Chowdhury said in the last fiscal turnover of the locally manufactured accessories was $3.75 billion which is more than 15 per cent of the total export earnings in the FY ’12. read more.
* Sewing machines distributed:
A swing machine distribution programme was held at the residence of Advocate Md Abu Zahir MP in Habiganj on December 4.
The programme was arranged by the Department of Child and Women Affairs of Habiganj. Advocate Md Abu Zahir, MP of Habiganj-Lakhai constituency, formally distributed the sewing machines among the poor and helpless families. Khadija Khatun, district Women Affair Officer, Abdur Rashid Talukder Iqbal, General Secretary of Sadar Upazila Awami League, Mahbubur Rahman Hiro, Awami League leader, were present on the occasion.
A total of 15 poor families in Sadar upazila received the sewing machines.
The Child and Women Affairs organisation distributed the machines among the poor to create self-employment opportunity. to read.
15:30:54 local time INDIA
* Child Labour Still Prevalent In Indian Cities:
While campaigns against child labour continue globally, more than 5,000 under-aged labours employed in various sectors have been released in the last seven years in Western Indian state Maharashtra, where child labour is banned by law.
Quoting figures from the State Labour Ministry, Press Trust of India (PTI)reported that a total of 5,215 children, under the age of 14, have been rescued since 2005 up to September 2012.
Out of the 5,215 child labourers rescued, 3,505 are from outside the state, while 1,665 are from Maharashtra, it said.
As many as 3,333 establishments were raided and 1947 employers were arrested in this regard, it said. read more.
* ‘Extend textile upgrade scheme during 2012-17 Plan period’:
The benefits of Textile Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUF) should be extended during the 2012-17 Plan period to the spinning industry to help the textile sector tide over the present crisis, according to R. Rajendran, Director (Finance) of the Coimbatore-based Lakshmi Machine Works Ltd (LMW). He said the India International Textile Machinery Exhibition-India ITME 2012, which is being held during December 2-7 at Mumbai, in which LMW is showcasing its products, gave an exposure to the textile industry to zero in on modernisation and to plan new projects.
Speaking to Business Line, he said LMW played a dominant role in the textile sector accounting for about 34 million spindles out of the total spindleage of 48 million installed in the country.
He said the company was showcasing in the India ITME 2012 Card LC636 designed for higher production of up to 250 kg/hr with increased working width of 1,500 mm to achieve better carding sliver in every variety of cotton, man-made fibre and blends, paving the way for better space utilisation.
Also on display at the show was the Comber LK69 with a production of up to 2.1 tonnes/ day @ 600 npm that was achieved by innovative design concept – Precisely Accelerated Combing Technology that ensured gentle fibre transfer from feed to detaching zone. LMW displayed its Compact Ring frame LRJ 9 series that offered the simplest and cost-effective compacting technology.
Innovative products displayed at the exhibition by LMW were mainly focused on improved productivity with automation becoming important due to shortage of skilled manpower in the spinning industry, he said. read more.
* Tirupur textile industry hopes to bounce back:
Country’s knitwear hub Tirupur in Southern Tamil Nadu has become the first textile cluster in India to arrive at the Zero Liquid DischargeTechnology.
It may be noted, the Madras high Court earlier directed the dyeing & processing industry in Tirupur to shut stating that the units are creating pollution problem. This inturn had a severe impact on the Rs 12,000 crore textile industry in Tirupur.
In a statement today Tirupur Exporters Association President and Chairman AEPC A Sakthivel said that at present all Dyeing & Processing units are using 100% Zero Discharge technology and units in Tirupur created and generating more than 2000 MW in Wind Mill Energy. read more.
15:00:54 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile industry seeks reduction in interest rate:
Textile industry demanded reduction in interest rate by 250 bps to 7.5 percent in the monetary policy, likely to be announced shortly, as growth of Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) sector is stalemate due to short of investment.
They said the industry off-take has reduced by Rs 100 billion since September 2010 to September 2012 that has arrested growth in the Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) of the industry.
However, they added, it has a dire impact on the investment front, as all investment plans have been withheld by the investors due to high interest rate, which has yet to witness the regime of single digit to compete with regional competitors. It may be noted that the State Bank of Pakistan has already reduced interest rate by 400bps during last two years that has played vital role in stopping nosedive decline in industrial growth.
However, still the industry is badly looking for substantial reduction in interest rate, in line with the regional competitors, to make new investments and avail the upcoming trade opportunities from the EU, including recently trade concession on 75 items and upcoming GSP Plus. read more.
* Textile sector rejects increase in gas prices:
Textile exporters rejected the proposed raise in gas prices by the government and termed it an unwise move, as it will further increase the cost of business, hamper production and affect exports.
Earlier, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), in a summary to the petroleum ministry, recommended a hike in gas prices by 9.87% to Rs31.12 million British thermal units (mmbtu) for Sui Northern Gas Pipelines and 6.14% to Rs28.28 per mmbtu for Sui Southern Gas Company consumers. The notification, if approved by the government, will be implemented from January 1, 2013.
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) said the decision will paralyse the industry already facing the energy crisis and liquidity crunch, thus the government should cut taxes instead of putting additional burden on the sector. read more.
* WRAP to impart fire safety courses in Pakistan:
Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), in partnership with Accordia Global Compliance Group and in collaboration with several Pakistani trade bodies, will offer 5 fire safety training courses in Karachi and Lahore during December 2012.
This will mark the first time that an international training workshop addressing the crucial industrial needs of fire safety and risk assessment is being organized in Pakistan by WRAP. These courses will be highly beneficial to the industry by providing essential education on creating safe working conditions in export-oriented production units.
The sessions will focus on fire prevention and will cover a range of topics including Pakistani fire laws, fire safety & protection, fire spread & combustion, routine fire prevention measures, effective response during fire, and risk assessment.
THE KARACHI FIRE
* Families try to prove that loved ones were lost in fire:
Syed Nazeef Shah believes his son is dead – for all he knows is that young Obaidullah was working at Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012 when a raging fire killed more than 250 people at the factory.
But what he does not have is closure as his son’s body was never found and the DNA test reports came back without any answer. Without proof, he cannot get a death certificate issued as well. Obaidullah reportedly joined the factory two weeks before the fire broke out but when asked for documents that could verify his employment, his father hands over irrelevant papers such as a matriculation certificate instead of a company card.
The only verification Shah can offer is through his neighbours and other residents, such as the shopkeepers and the bus conductors, who he says can vouch that Obaidullah worked at the factory.
“I have visited leaders of three political parties as well as the deputy commissioner for compensation. All of them turned me back saying that I should bring the body first,” said Shah who lives in one of the impoverished colonies of Baldia Town. “We deserve compensation. But what am I suppose to do now?”
Families still waiting
Shah’s son is among the 61 people who, as claimed by their families, were working in the factory and are still missing, their remains apparently disintegrated and washed away from the premises. read more.
* KIK & The Karachi Garment factory Fire disaster :
Thursday 6 Dec. 2012 – 21.45h (loc.time) Panorama: A update about KIK and the Karachi fire. German Television: ARD – DasErste. (NDR-Panorama production von Christoph Lütgert) (German spoken.)