in the news on-line, 18 December 2012

00:14:59 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* ILO study shows significant wage hike needed:

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the International Labor Organization’s most recent study on wages shows that workers in the country urgently need a significant wage hike.

KMU was responding to the ILO’s Global Wage Report 2012/13, which shows that the growth of real wages in developing countries has remained below the level before the eruption of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008.
The study also showed that workers are getting a smaller portion of companies’ incomes, which go mostly to profits, including shareholders’ dividends.

“The ILO study confirms that Filipino workers are receiving meager wages and capitalists are raking in big profits. These are global trends, not just local ones,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“The country should not go along with this global trend. That’s why we workers are pressing for a significant wage hike,” he added.

“Because of low wages, workers are suffering from greater poverty, hunger and indebtedness. A significant wage hike will provide some form of relief from these,” he said. read more.

23:14:59 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* 300,000 face deportation as NV ends:

More than 300,000 immigrant workers will be deported after the nationality verification (NV) deadline ended on Friday last week.

Pravit Khiengpol, chief of the Department of Employment, said migrant workers who failed to apply for NV by the deadline are now required to report to immigration offices at border provinces to be deported.
Of those facing deportation, 150,000 are Cambodians, 99,000 are Lao and 60,000 are Myanmar, he said. read more.

* Free Somyot- Trade unionist & garment worker advocate in detention on lese majest:

Report from Aljazera about the state abuse of the lese majeste law in Thailand here.

23:14:59 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Tai Yang strikers lose arbitration:

Workers from the Tai Yang factory block traffic on National Road 4 during a protest earlier this year. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Garment workers who say they were sacked for a months-long strike at three factories supplying Gap and Levi’s have hit a stumbling block in their bid for compensation.

In a ruling released on Thursday, the Arbitration Council said Tai Yang Enterprises, in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, had no obligation to reinstate or pay severance to 53 workers who lost their jobs in August after defying company and provincial court orders to end strikes.
The Arbitration Council “rejected their demands asking for their employer to reinstate 53 workers . . . or pay them for ending their contracts”, the ruling says.

Workers were aware of the provincial court injunction but had ignored it, the document adds. “So the Arbitration Council finds that they abandoned their work.”
On June 25, thousands went on strike outside three fact-ories – Tai Yang I, II and Cam-well – over seniority bonuses.
The strike, which involved 4,000 people at its peak but for the most part involved fewer than 100, lasted for more than two months. read more.

00:14:59 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Industry Ministry pushes for wage hike exception:

In an attempt to meet the country’s expected industrial growth by the end of 2013, the Industry Ministry has recommended that labor-intensive firms, including textile, garment and shoe manufacturers, be exempted from adopting a new minimum wage in the new year.

Industry Minister MS Hidayat said on Monday that his office was “upbeat” about the country’s non-oil and gas industry growing to around 6.8 percent to 7.1 percent next year, despite the challenges of poor infrastructure and the high cost of investment.

However, he said the estimated growth might not be realized if labor-intensive companies, which employed tens of thousands of workers, remained under the new minimum wage between 30 and 40 percent to around Rp 2.2 million (US$228) next year.

“If we force them to comply with the new minimum wages, they might have to lay off their workers, creating a huge amount of unemployed people.” read more.

22:44:59 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Myanmar dyeing firms hope to grow like garment sector:


An A Plus Three employee dries a t-shirt at the company’s factory in Hlaing township in December 2012. (Soe Sandar Oo/The Myanmar Times)

As the country’s garment industry prepares to grow with the help of new foreign investment, the local dyeing industry is facing problems.

Shortages of electricity, skilled labour and paint are handicapping the dye industry, some sources say.
“I have plans to enlarge my factories as the garment sector has great expectations, but I still face problems in getting enough electricity, labour and paint for the dyeing process,” said U Kyaw Kyaw last week, owner of A Plus Three Silk Screen Painting in Hlaing township.
Currently, the paint used in the dyeing process is imported from China, Thailand and Japan. Small companies cannot afford to buy the 15-60 kilogram (33- to 132-pound) cans, so they buy 5-pound (about 2.3kg) packets of paint powder instead, he says.
read more.

22:14:59 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

*       ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Tazreen fire was sabotage: Probe:

A government probe into a fire in Tazreen Fashions Ltd which killed more than 100 workers last month has found the blaze was an act of sabotage.

“It was an act of sabotage,” Main Uddin Khandaker, head of the probe committee, told The Daily Star over telephone Monday evening.
Khandaker, however, did not say who might have carried out the sabotage and why.
The finding came about three weeks after the deadly fire at the export-oriented factory in the city’s suburb of Ashulia burnt 112 people, mostly workers, to death on November 24.
read more. & read more.& read more.& read more. & read more.
 

* Probe report for owner’s punishment:

The investigation committee formed by the home ministry made five final and 16 general recommendations, including punishment of Tazreen’s owner Delwar Hossain.

Convener of the investigation committee Mainuddin Khandaker Monday submitted the probe report to the home ministry.
Mainuddin Khandaker told banglanews: ”The investigation has found that the fire was a subversive act. So, we have recommended punishment of the owner under section 304 (Ka).”

The report also suggested punishment of the medium level officers of Tazreen Fashions Ltd for their negligence.
In the third final recommendation, the probe body made suggestion for taking necessary action under Labour Act though visiting the garment factories.
read more.

* A cheap T-shirt or a human life? :

US companies, as well as consumers, must do more to ensure that overseas workers are not abused

A factory fire last month in which 112 Bangladeshi garment workers died raised questions not only about how a manufacturer with a poor safety record was allowed to continue its dangerous ways, but also about the responsibility of American companies to the workers they rely on around the globe.

At the time of the fire, Tazreen Fashions Ltd. was manufacturing clothes for well-known brands and retailers in the United States, including Disney, Sears, Wal-Mart and Enyce, as well as a licensee of the US Marine Corps.
There were no emergency exits at the factory, and employees alleged not only that fire extinguishers were inoperable but that bosses shut the main exit when the alarms sounded, ordering everyone back to work.
Disney, Sears and Wal-Mart have said that Tazreen was not authorised to be making their products, yet somehow it was. Wal-Mart said it had ended its relationship with the factory before the fire but that a supplier subcontracted with Tazreen without Wal-Mart’s knowledge or permission. read more.

MORE AND OTHER NEWS:

* BGMEA forms taskforce :

BGMEA-the country’s apex body for apparel– formed a high-powered taskforce Monday in a bid to ensure occupational fire safety in all the apparel units across the country.

The taskforce after assessment will recommend short, medium and long term preventive measures to ensure safety in garment factories.
The BGMEA’s move to form such taskforce came against the backdrop of the devastating fire incident at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia last month, which claimed at least 112 lives of workers and injured several others.
Earlier on November 30, BGMEA in an emergency meeting with foreign buyers announced that it would form the taskforce within a week. read more.

* RMG makers get $61.35m export order: BGMEA:

The country’s apparel manufacturers bagged export orders worth $61.35 million from the just concluded 23rd annual apparel show, organizers said today.

“Last year we got $66.35m but this year’s export orders are less than last year. Hartal and present unstable political situation had an impact on this year’s show,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). read more. & read more.

* Political unrest takes heavy toll on Batexpo-2012 :

Apparel manufacturers received spot orders worth $61.35 million in the just concluded three-day Batexpo-2012 which is $4.68 million less than that of last year due mainly to political unrest.

The political turmoil which created panic among the foreign buyers took a heavy toll on the annual apparel show, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said Monday. read more.

21:44:59 local time map of india INDIA

* Employment of persons up to 18 years to be treated as child labour:

Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge has said that the Centre is considering treating the employment of persons up to the age of 18 as child labour and ban it.

“At present, employing children below 14 years is banned. The Union government is now planning to extend the ban up to 18 years to prevent employment of adolescents in hazardous jobs. Steps are being taken to bring in a suitable amendment to the Child Labour (Abolition) Act,” he said.

Speaking to presspersons during his visit to a Special School for Child Labour, run by Nityajeevana, a non-governmental organisation, here on Saturday, Mr. Kharge said the objective was to ensure that children would go to school and make use of the Right to Education Act. According to him, the number of school dropouts, which was about 1.25 crore before the introduction of Right to Education Act, had come down to 49 lakh after the introduction of the Act and efforts were on to bring the number further down. The Deputy Commissioners had been vested with the task of implementing the Act effectively and thereby bring their number to zero, which would help eradication of child labour, he said. read more.

* ’21 Indian products under America’s glare for child labour’:

The US has placed 21 Indian products under its Trafficking Victims Protection Re-authorisation Act, 2005 list for alleged use of child labour, government said on Monday.

“On December 26, the US Department of Labour has released third update to the Trafficking Victims Protection Re-authorisation Act, 2005 list wherein 21 Indian products are listed in which child or forced labour was alleged to have been used,” minister of state for labour and employment K Suresh said in Lok Sabha.

He said though there are no explicit trade related references in the report, the “listing of products in these report does have a negative impact on India’s brand image”.

Out of the 21 goods listed, 15 goods like bidi, brassware, bricks, carpets, embellished textiles, soccer balls are already covered under the Child Labour Act, 1986 under which employment of children is banned, he said in a written reply.
read more.

* Exports in the garment sector drop by over 20%:

The largest employer, plus the most lucrative industrial segment in Gurgaon, the garment sector is going through tough times these days.

According to analysts, exports to countries in Europe have fallen by as much as 20%, and to the USA, the other big market, by around 8%. The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) which is headquartered here, has now issued a set of recommendations, which, it claims, can effectively remedy this decline.

The AEPC proposal, which is addressed to the department of commerce of the government of India, promises to enhance the export business by 10% by 2013, and by ‘100% in the next three years.’

“On behalf of the garment and textile exports our proposal was submitted to S R Rao, the commerce secretary,” said A Sakthivel, chairman, AEPC. The council has proposed that cotton yarn and fabric ‘be permitted imports without license at flat fixed customs duty rate.’ read more.

* TUF subsidy delay stalls powerloom expansion in state:

The much anticipated expansion of cotton-based powerlooms in Gujarat by the Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) has hit a roadblock since almost a year due to delay in the Textile Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS).

While PDEXCIL was looking to strengthen the powerloom sector in Gujarat by adding 50,000 more cotton-based looms, the Government of India’s delay in announcing a 30 per cent subsidy for the sector has derailed the former’s plans. “There are over 500,000 looms in Gujarat, of which 30-35,000 are cotton-based, while rest are synthetic.
Hence, last year we had set an ambitious target of adding 50,000 cotton-based powerlooms in Gujarat. But we are still awaiting the 30 per cent subsidy on powerloom as promised by the Centre,” said Bharat Chhajer, chairman of PDEXCIL.
read more.

21:14:59 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Gas ‘forced holidays’ cutting textile industry to the bone:

The industrialists and thousands industrial workers of Faisalabad have strongly resented “forced holidays” due to weeklong suspension of gas supply since December 8.

Labourers were of the view that they have been thrown out of employment as industries were virtually closed due to suspension of gas supply for the last seven days. “We have exhausted whatever savings we had and now our families are forced to face starvation” they added.
On the other hand, industrialists complained that they were finding it difficult to meet their export orders as a result of the weeklong forced holidays due to gas supply cut and incurring huge losses, while the country was also loosing much needed foreign exchange.

The industrialists said that industries were already running on 30% of their installed capacity due to six hours load-shedding of electricity and the suspension of gas supply over the last one-week has rendered the industrial wheel to a complete halt.
They said that the textile sector was the worst hit and it would not be able to fulfil the export orders for Christmas and the New Year on the one hand and on the other would not be able to avail the EU Autonomous Trade Preference Scheme (AUTPS) 25% quota granted to Pakistan. read more. & read more.
  

* APTMA chairman criticises SNGPL for gas woes:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan has criticised the SNGPL for suspending gas supply to textile industry for indefinite period, saying that it is anti-industry and anti-worker action and detrimental to country exports.

He said the SNGPL has suspended gas supply to industrial sector for indefinite period on account of severe winter across the country, increasing city loads on its network due to enhanced consumption by domestic sector. It has further stated that reduced supplies from sources have further deteriorated the situation therefore the SNGPL has left with no option except to suspend gas supply of industrial sector on its network till improvement of the system, he added. read more.

* Textile sans gas for 8th day:

Industrialists and daily wagers are facing huge trouble as the gas supply to textile industries of the city remained suspended for the eighth consecutive day on Sunday.
According to the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) sources, the decision of gas closure was made due to the gas crisis. It is to be noted here that the gas supply was to be restored on Sunday after four days’ closure.Owners of the industries said that they were facing huge loss due to the persistent suspension of gas supply. read more.

* Reject gas load management Textile mills set to resume operations today:

Industrialists attached with the textile sector announced on Monday that they would run their factories forcibly from Tuesday (today) and would not follow any gas closure schedule in future.

Entrepreneurs also staged a demonstration outside the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited offices on Sargodha Road and blocked traffic for more than two hours.

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association Vice-Chairman Zia Alamdar Shah led the rally. He was accompanied by representatives of the All-Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, the Council of Powerloom Owners and the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association.
Talking to Dawn, Shah said the industrial units had been closed for the last 10 days although they had been promised gas for three-and-a-half days a week. read more.

* Import duties: concessions for textile proposed:

Ministry of Textile Industry has proposed that concessions be given to the textile industry in import duties on energy related equipment, official sources told Business Recorder. The sources said that ECC of the Cabinet on October 23, 2012 had directed the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources to resubmit revised policy guidelines for energy efficiency of Captive Power Plants (CPPs) and natural gas boilers.

In pursuance of the direction of the ECC of the Cabinet, Petroleum Ministry sought the comments of Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Water and Power and Ministry of Textile Industry. Comments of Ministry of Textile Industry have been received so far who, while agreeing with the proposed guidelines for energy efficiency audit for the CPPs and boilers, has made following suggestions: (i) The textile industry requires a long term energy plan and it should be informed in future which technology needs to be installed, importantly, such information may be shared with Ministry of Textile Industry on urgent basis; (ii) spinning industry should be encouraged for investment in downstream industry so that they can also utilise heat recovery. read more.

PLUS

* Wal-Mart and Disney Another Fire Trap Waiting to Happen:

The tragic fire that raged out of control on Saturday evening of November 24 at the Tazreen Fashion garment factory in Bangladesh resulted in the needless and horrible deaths of at least 112 workers.

Fifty-three workers, and possibly more, were burned beyond recognition and their parents had to bury their children in a common grave.  Wal-Mart and Disney garments were being sewn at Tazreen where the fire burned for 12 hours.  Tazreen was a deathtrap, a tragedy waiting to happen — with no exterior fire escapes, no sprinkler system, fire extinguishers that did not work, and padlocked exit gates that trapped the workers.  Even if some of the gates had not been locked, the only stairways led down to the inferno — the ground-floor warehouse piled to the ceiling with fabric, yarn, garments and accessories.

Now, just three weeks later, on December 17, 2012, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights is releasing a new report that places Wal-Mart and Disney smack in the middle of another factory where emergency exits and fire extinguishers are blocked, while piles of flammable fabric, cotton, wool, yarns, thread and shipping materials reach to the ceiling. read more.

map of Asia

HEADLINES:

PHILIPPINES
* ILO study shows significant wage hike needed

THAILAND
* 300,000 face deportation as NV ends
* Free Somyot- Trade unionist & garment worker advocate in detention on lese majest

CAMBODIA
* Tai Yang strikers lose arbitration

INDONESIA
* Industry Ministry pushes for wage hike exception

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar dyeing firms hope to grow like garment sector

BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA- TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Tazreen fire was sabotage: Probe
* Probe report for owner’s punishment
* A cheap T-shirt or a human life?
* MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* BGMEA forms taskforce
* RMG makers get $61.35m export order: BGMEA
* Political unrest takes heavy toll on Batexpo-2012

INDIA
* Employment of persons up to 18 years to be treated as child labour
* ’21 Indian products under America’s glare for child labour’
* Exports in the garment sector drop by over 20%
* TUF subsidy delay stalls powerloom expansion in state

PAKISTAN
* Gas ‘forced holidays’ cutting textile industry to the bone
* APTMA chairman criticises SNGPL for gas woes
* Textile sans gas for 8th day
* Reject gas load management Textile mills set to resume operations today
* Import duties: concessions for textile proposed

PLUS
* Wal-Mart and Disney Another Fire Trap Waiting to Happen

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Convention on the Rights of the Child
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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
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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
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