in the news on-line, 24 January 2013

15:52:51 local time map of china CHINA

* Wage defaulters face imprisonment:

An employer who postpones paying a worker 5,000 yuan ($804) may face up to seven years in prison, according to an interpretation of the part concerning delayed wages in Criminal Law released by the Supreme People’s Court, China’s top court, on Tuesday.

An employer who delays paying one worker 5,000 yuan for more than three months or 30,000 yuan to 10 workers can be considered to have delayed the payment of “a large amount of money”, according to the interpretation.

The employer can be sentenced to seven years in prison if the delay seriously affects the basic living of workers’ families or if the employer uses violence and threats against the worker demanding their money.  read more. & read more.
PEOPLEDAILY  XINHUAnet

14:52:51 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Japan step up to try Vietnam on for size:

Japan is forecasted to replace the European Union and become the second biggest garment and textile importer of the Vietnamese products in 2013.

Le Tien Truong, deputy chairman of Vitas, said that in 2013, the United States would continue to be the biggest export market of the Vietnamese firms. Japan was predicted to usurp the EU as the second biggest garment and textile importer of the Vietnamese products.

According to Vitas, in 2013 Vietnam’s garment and textile export turnover would increase strongly with $2.4 billion, up 18.5-19 per cent year-on-year from Japan’s shipment of garment and textile products.
In which, the shipments to the Japanese market makes up some 10 per cent of Vietnam’s overall garment and textile export annually. Kid’s clothes, jacket and T-shirt will be attractive products in Japan this year.  read more.
VNBusinessTIMES

14:52:51 local time map of laos LAOS

* Laos aims to have US$ 500 mln worth of annual garment export:

The Lao Garment Association has aimed to have US$ 500 million worth of annual export and create over 600,000 jobs over the next five years, according to Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Siaosavath Savangsuksa.

“Laos has signed trade agreements with 47 countries in the world and we have been committed to increasing job number up to 600,000 by 2015 from 300,000 in 2011,”Mr. Siaosavath told the 32nd ASEAN Garment Federation Meeting in Vientiane Capital on Jan 18.

“Recognising the facilitation of trade between Asean and international economic community, we have made numerous efforts in developing basic infrastructure to facilitate trade, investment, tourism, transport and service,” said Mr. Siewsavath.
to read.
LAO NEWS AGENCY

14:52:51 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* AI:Release human rights defender imprisoned for insulting the monarchy:

20130123 CCC somyot_image-by-Karnt_Thassanaphak
Image by Karnt Thassanaphak

The sentencing of a human rights defender to ten years in prison for publishing two articles allegedly insulting the monarchy is a serious setback for freedom of expression in Thailand, Amnesty International said.

The Criminal Court today found Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a magazine editor and labour rights activist, guilty under Thailand’s so-called lèse majesté law for allegedly publishing two articles defaming the royal family.

Somyot has been detained since 30 April 2011, and the authorities have repeatedly turned down his request for bail.

“This is a regressive decision – Somyot has been found guilty simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and should be released immediately,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
read more.
free-somyot-Eng 

* Somyot gets 11 years for lese majeste:

The Criminal Court convicted Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, editor of Voice of Taksin, on two counts of lese majeste and sent him to prison for 11 years on Wednesday.

He was sentenced to five years on each of the two charges, and the court cancelled the suspension of a previous one-year sentence – for a total of 11 years in prison, a cumulative sentence.

The severity of the sentence caught both Somyot and his family – his wife and son – totally by suprise, as it was harsher than previous rulings in other lese majeste cases, which usually were based on the minimum sentence of three years.

Karom Polpornklang, the defence lawyer, said his client would appeal against the verdict.
Right after the 50-minute-long reading of the judgement some people in the gallery burst into tears, hugging each other.
Many people went up to Somyot, shaking his hands and pouring out words of support and solidarity for him. read more.
bangkokpost

* Free Somyot – media update:

* Aljazeera’s article. here
* New York Times article. here
* CNN article. here
* ABC article. here
* The Australian’s article
. here
* Le Monde’s article. here
* The UK’s Independent Newspaper. here
* Statement from Asia Monitor Resource Centre. here
* UN Commissioner on Human Rights makes Statement. here
* EU Statement. here.
* More protest letters come in. Thailand_230113
* Sentenced to 11 years.
* Article in Bangkok

see and read more- complete overview.
free-somyot-Eng

* Somyot handed 10 years for lese majeste:

20130124 BKKPOST
Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, flashes a V sign before the verdict in his case at the Criminal Court yesterday. SURAPOL PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

The 10-year prison sentence handed down to Voice of Taksin editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk for lese majeste crimes has prompted criticism from human rights groups worldwide.

Rights advocates have denounced the verdict as a major setback for freedom of expression in the country.
The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced Mr Somyot to five years for each of the two charges against him.
He was accused of violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law, by publishing two articles in 2010 that were deemed insulting to the royal family.

The court also cancelled the suspension of a previous one-year-jail term imposed on Mr Somyot from a defamation case, raising his sentence to 11 years in prison in total.
His lawyer Karom Polpornklang said he will appeal against the ruling and seek bail.
Mr Somyot’s case has attracted the international spotlight as human rights organisations worldwide view it as a violation of free speech and have called for his immediate release.  read more.
bangkokpost

* Activist jailed for Lese Majeste:

Human rights groups decry 10-year jail term

After spending 21 months in detention – with 12 bail requests having been denied – Voice of Taksin magazine editor and key red-shirt member Somyos Prueksakasemsuk was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday for publishing two articles deemed offensive to His Majesty the King and King Rama I.

This is the first time a magazine editor has been sentenced to jail for violating the lese majeste law, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

The case attracted wide international attention. About 150 people, including supporters and observers from foreign agencies and embassies, including those of the US, UK, Germany, France and Finland, were present.

The four judges ruled that although the two articles never directly mentioned the name of HM the King or Rama I, their context suggested the fictitious name of “Luang Naruebarn” was in fact a reference to HM the King.  read more.
THENATION

* Editor’s jailing ‘setback for human rights’:

The conviction and imprisonment of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, former editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, has not only undermined freedom of expression but is also a setback to human rights protection and promotion in Thailand, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

In Geneva, Ms Pillay expressed her deep concern in a statement  Wednesday about the jsentencing of editor and prominent activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk.

Somyot was convicted of lese-majeste offences for publishing two articles ruled to be critical of the monarchy in his Voice of Taksin magazine. read more.
bangkokpost

14:52:51 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Cambodian Garment Workers Seeking Support – Walmart & H&M – Take Responsibility! :

20130123 CLEC Provided_by_Heather_Stilwell_001_JS
photo’s- provided by Heather Stilwell.

Dear Sisters and Brothers around the world,
We, the Cambodian garment workers of the Hong Kong owned, Kingsland Garment Cambodia Ltd factory are urgently seeking your support. We are garment workers that produce clothes for Walmart and H&M…

We’re writing to you now because our factory has closed and our employer is refusing to pay us our outstanding wages and severance of almost US$200,000.
For 4 months, the owner deducted 50% of our salary.
This is illegal.
Our last salary was so low that we didn’t accept it.
Also, we were never paid any severance or indemnity for our work at the factory. Some of us have worked at the factory since 1997.

We have decided to stay in front the factory 24 hours a day because we’re afraid someone will take out the machines and sell them instead of making the payment.
We’re facing lots of problems because we have no income, so we don’t have enough money to spend and we’re facing evictions from our landlords.
We need to find a resolution soon. We are mostly young women and are very upset by gangsters or cars that drive fast at night time.

We sleep outside the factory which is on a busy road. There might be accidents and they might crash into us.
Sometimes we’re afraid of bad guys or drunk people coming to harass us while we sleep at night.
We need your help to convince our employer, Walmart and H&M to show up here and find a solution for us.

They have refused to engage in conciliation with us. We only have 200 people here. The government should help us because it’s so hard for us here, but they don’t do enough.
Some of the workers are pregnant, they come to stay and sleep here, and some of them are old people.
There isn’t enough food or water, and some have already been evicted from their homes.
Some of us have gone to find other work at night and then we come back in the day time to guard the factory because we’re afraid someone will take the machines out and then no one will solve this problem.

Please help us to send a message to convince our employer, Walmart and H&M to find a solution for us.
We have just 200 workers left. Please help us because we are the workers that try to struggle to work for our employer and the Walmart brand.
We don’t expect much, just that they apply the Labor Law in Cambodia.
We would like to appeal to our sisters and brothers around the world to stand with us in our fight for justice.
In solidarity,
On Behalf of the  Workers of Kingsland Garment Cambodia Ltd.20130123 CLEC Provided_by_Heather_Stilwell_002_PR 20130123 CLEC Provided_by_Heather_Stilwell_003_WWU

Please see the video here.
CLEC

* Nearly 1,000 workers fired from Winson International garment factory:

Eight hundred and sixty-eight workers have been fired from the Winson International garment factory after they refused to obey a Kampong Speu Provincial Court injunction last week ordering them back to work within 48 hours.

Free Trade Union official Ry Sithinet said yesterday that the workers, who had been striking for better wages and the reinstatement of fired union members, would not agree to leave unless they were given benefits beyond the last wages the factory offered them.

“We are collecting the workers’ thumbprints in order to ask the employer to pay them compensation and other benefits, in accordance with the labour law,” Sithinet said.
read more.
PPP

* Hundreds commemorate slaying of union leader:

Hundreds of workers, opposition lawmakers and human rights activists marched Tuesday to mark the ninth anniversary of the slaying of union leader Chea Vichea.

Free Trade Union of Workers President Chea Mony, the late union leader’s brother, said during the march that a general strike would be held after the King Father’s funeral ceremony early next month.  read more.
CAMHERALD

13:37:51 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Garment export declines:

The export of Nepali readymade garments has dropped by more than half as compared to exports about a decade back.

Statistics of the Trade and Export Promotion Center reveal that Nepali readymade garments (RMG) that used to have an annual export of around Rs 12 billion some five to six years back has now dropped by more than half.
In fiscal year 2011-12, total export of Nepali RMG was worth Rs 4.05 billion while the figure of first five months of the current fiscal year is around Rs 1.55 billion.

However, garment exporters claim that exports might pick up once again if the government realises it to be one of the major exportable products of the country and provides the necessary facility and support. They have also repeatedly expressed the need to include Nepali RMG in the NTIS priority list to further promote and develop it.  read more.
HIMALAYAN

13:52:51 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Garment factory catches fire in Gazipur:

A fire erupted at a garment factory in Ambag area of Konabari in Sadar upazila of Gazipur on Wednesday morning.

 No casualties were reported.
Witnesses said the fire erupted from an unknown source at sweater factory Polycon Fashion on the top floor of the seven-storey building in Ambag area at around 11.00am.
 On information, fire fighters from Gazipur and Kaliakoir fire station rushed to the spot and doused the flame after an hour of frantic efforts.
 The loss in the fire could not be estimated immediately.
to read. & to read. & to read. & to read.
UNB  NewNation  bdnews24  FE bd

* EU asks Bangladesh, Pakistan to improve factory’s safety:

The European Union has called Upon Bangladesh and Pakistan to comply with relevant health and safety legislation in apparel industries and take effective measures to prevent recurrence of fire causalities in the textile-factories.

In a resolution adopted by the European Parliament at the end of last week MEPs regretted the deaths at the Tazreen factory in Dhaka that killed 112 people in November, as well as the 289 deaths in a textile-factory blaze in Karachi of Pakistan in September last year.
The resolution, available online, says hundreds of workers are killed every year in fire accidents all over South Asia, with an estimated 600 garment workers having died since 2005 in factory fires in Bangladesh alone, many of which could have been prevented.  read more.
NewNation

* ETI seeks to help improve fire safety standards in RMG sector:

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a UK-based alliance has written to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister (PM) to hold discussion with stakeholders about the fire safety standards in the country’s apparel units and help them improve the situation.

The ETI is an alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organizations that works in partnership to improve the lives of poor and vulnerable workers across the globe.

“A group of chief executives from European brands including M&S, New Look Retailers and Primark under the ETI umbrella signed the letter in the middle of this month and the letter has already been sent to the prime minister’s office (PMO) Tuesday,” a local official of a global retailer said in terms of anonymity. read more.
FE bd

* Worry over RMG safety standard:

EU seeks list of brands having supply deals with BGMEA

The Bangladesh Embassy in Brussels has requested the Ministry of Commerce to send the list of global brands which signed agreement with the BGMEA to improve safety standards in RMG factories, sources said.

The issue of safe workplace and workers’ safety came to the forefront of the global community after the devastating fire incident on the Tazreen Fashion Garments that claimed lives of 113 workers in November last year.
Tapan Ghosh, Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy, in a letter on Monday sought the list from the Textile Cell of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) in line with the requirement of the European Parliament.  read more.
NewNation

* ‘All should ensure workers’ safety’:

All stakeholders, including owners of garments factories and buyers of their products as well as the government, banks and insurance companies, should join hands for ensuring workers’ safety and facilitating enhanced production in the garments sector, speakers suggested at a seminar on Wednesday.

Representatives of labour organisations, NGOs and buyers of the country’s garments at the seminar emphasised the need for holding a social dialogue to ensure sound industrial development in the country.

They were speaking on ‘Multi-stakeholders’ dialogue on Bangladesh garments industry: Reinforcing positive image to global value chain: Challenges and way forward’, organised by ActionAid and other NGOs, at the CIRDAP auditorium.
The objective of the seminar was to find ways to ensure the security of the workforce in the garments industry, by addressing their problems and challenges with support from different stakeholders. read more.
INDEPENDENT

* Wal-Mart under fire for ‘unethical business practices’ :

Labour and garment industry leaders criticise US retail giant for distancing itself from Tazreen fire

Labour and garment sector leaders yesterday came down hard on US retail giant Wal-Mart over its conduct following the Tazreen fire, saying its business practices were unethical.

“After a fire, Wal-Mart cannot simply say that it would not take products from the factory,” Roy Ramesh Chandra, chairman of Bangladesh National Council (BNC), said at a discussion on the Bangladeshi garment sector.

Chandra, also a member of International Labour Organisation’s governing board, added: “The company will have to take responsibility for their part and give compensation to the workers for the loss of future earnings.”
“Otherwise, we will not allow Wal-Mart to do undisturbed business anywhere in the world,” he threatened.  read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
daily star bd  newstodayBD  UNB  BDtoday

* Wal-Mart to implement a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on standards from March 1:

Wal-Mart will be coming down harder on suppliers who violate its global sourcing standards, the company said Tuesday, according to a website report (CNNMoney).

The US largest retailer said it will implement a “zero tolerance” policy for any supplier who subcontracts work to factories without its knowledge. Effective from March 1, Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) will sever ties with suppliers who don’t comply. The company previously gave suppliers three chances to address issues.Wal-Mart will be coming down harder on suppliers who violate its global sourcing standards, the company said Tuesday, according to a website report (CNNMoney). read more.
FE bd

* Inclusive value chain to face RMG challenges stressed:

Leaders of the Readymade Garments (RMG) industry and factory owners at a dialogue today stressed the need for inclusive value chain and social compliance for addressing various challenges the industry is now facing, report BSS.

Compliance cannot only serve the purpose of workers but also help build capacity of mid-level managers of the multi- billion dollar industry, they said and called upon the stakeholders including owners, buyers, renowned brands and trade union leaders to work in a coordinated manner to that end.
Population Service Training Centre (PSTC), AWAJ Bangladesh and Actionaid Bangladesh have jointly arranged the multi spectral dialogue on ‘Bangladesh Garments Industry; reinforcing Positive Image to Global Value Chain: Challenges and Way Forward’ at CIRDAP auditorium here. read more. & read more.
newstodayBD  FE bd

* Govt to reopen three jute mills:

The government is going to reopen three more closed jute mills tomorrow and Saturday under the supervision of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) creating jobs for around 4,500 people.

“As per the pre-election pledges, the government is set to reopen Doulatpur Jute Mills in Khulna on January 24 and Karnaphuli Jute Mills at Rangunia and Forat Karnaphuli Jute Mills in Chittagong on January 26,” BJMC Chairman Major General (rtd) Humayun Khaled told BSS.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to reopen the jute mills,” he confirmed. “With reopening the jute mills, jobs for 4,500 people will be created,” he said adding that jobs had already created for around 12,000 people with the restarting of Peoples Jute Mills in Khulna and Kawmi Jute Mills in Sirajganj.
read more. & read more. & read more.
BSS  INDEPENDENT  NewNation

* Progress made in GSP commitments: official:

Bangladesh achieved substantial progress in fulfilling the commitments made in the third hearing in January last year on retaining duty waiver in the US market, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said yesterday.

Being the lead agency of the government for replying to the United States Trade Representative, the commerce ministry has already prepared the country’s position paper on the next hearing on the generalised system of preferences (GSP), he said.
“We will be able to respond to the hearing by January 31, the deadline set by USTR,” Ahmed told reporters at the secretariat in Dhaka emerging from a meeting with stakeholders. read more.
daily star bd

 * US-GSP controversies and branding problem:

Akramul Qader concluding his two-part article, Bangladesh in the US-GSP: An emerging nation’s fluctuating trade fortunes

Since 1997, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has been conducting fire safety training and fire drill at factories on a regular basis. Nineteen top-notch global clothing brands, including GAP Inc., H&M, JCPenny assisted BGMEA in their efforts. Two films on “what to do if fire occurs” have been made and screened at a regular intervals.

Healthcare initiatives: Aside from 12 healthcare centers run in Dhaka and Chittagong, the BGMEA has been constructing two full-fledged hospitals-one 150-bed in Dhaka and another 100-bed in Chittagong, only for the garments workers and their families. It is expected that both the hospitals would be fully operational by February 2013. BGMEA has also implemented a mandatory group insurance for workers and executives. The industry with support from the government has been implementing a 24-month stipend programme for lactating mothers with children below 2 years of age.  read more.
FE bd

13:22:51 local time map of india INDIA

* Zardosi units flourish, courtesy child traffickers:

Nine-year-old Mohammed Hasibur Israel from Solaganj in Katihar district of Bihar distinctly remembers how his father was lured by one Hasim Shaikh for a few thousand rupees to take him to Surat.

When Hasibur arrived at the Surat railway station along with 10 other kids of his age, they were handed over to an unidentified person who took them straight to a zardosi unit in Khatodara. Mohammed Hasibur, who was rescued by the labour department during the Tuesday’s raid operation among 24 others, is not an isolated case.
There are tens of hundreds of children in the age group of 8-14 years who are brought from Katihar and Purnia districts in Bihar by the child traffickers to work as the child labourers in the zardosi units located in different parts of the city.

Thanks to the well-oiled network of the agents in Surat and Bihar, the zardosi sector in the diamond city is flourishing on the child worker’s’ blood and sweat.
Though hundreds of children working in these units have been rescued, police and labour department have failed to arrest any agent till now.  read more.
TOInew

* Inter-Ministerial Group to study problems of textile sector:

The Central Government, on Tuesday, announced that an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) would soon be set up to take a look at the problems faced by the textiles sector, including high customs duty on synthetic fabric and labour-related issues.

“We will have a continuous dialogue with the textiles industry and like to have an IMG on textiles which will be set up soon,” Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth told reporters after inaugurating the three-day India International Garment Fair (IIGF).
read more.
THEHINDU

* Textile traders call for one-day bandh against VAT:

Textile traders in AP have called for a one-day trade bandh on January 24 to protest imposition of value added tax (VAT) on textiles by the state government. The traders resolved not to pay tax until it is implemented uniformly throughout the country.

Until 2010, textiles along with sugar and tobacco was on the centre’s additional excise duty (AED) list and was not taxed by the states.

After removal of textiles from AED, the AP government brought it under the purview of VAT in July 2011 imposing a five per cent tax. Traders in all districts agitated against the move demanding that VAT be introduced only when all states approved taxation on textiles. Traders protested the seizure of bales and levying of penalty for non-compliance by the commercial taxes department. read more.
TOInew

* Andhra Pradesh textile traders to observe strike on Jan 24:

To protest the levy of value-added tax (VAT) on textiles, members of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Textile Associations would observe a strike on January 24, 2013, Federation President Ammanabolu Prakash said.
Addressing media, Mr. Prakash said textile traders in the state are not denying VAT payment, but are seeking of the state government to keep it at one percent in abeyance, until the Central Government ensures countrywide imposition of goods and services tax (GST) or VAT.  read more.
Fibre2fashion

* ‘India must enhance focus on apparel & fashion industry’:

India should try to better showcase its apparel and fashion industry in the global, CII Eastern Region Chairman (Education & Skill Development Sub-Committee) Aloke Mookherjea has said.
The textile and apparel industry is the second highest foreign exchange generating industry in the country, and is also the second biggest employment generator. Hence, it is important to showcase the industry before the global market, Mr. Mookherjea said while addressing a seminar jointly organized by CII and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT).   read more.
Fibre2fashion

* Cotton Advisory Board scales up export, import estimates:

The Cotton Advisory Board on Wednesday scaled up the export and import estimates for the commodity for cotton year 2012-13 (October-September).

The board, restructured early this month, on Wednesday said export estimates had been revised from seven million bales to eight million bales.
Cotton imports were also rising; against the earlier estimate of 1.2 million bales, these were now expected to stand at two million bales, as southern mills still found imports viable, it added.
The cotton crop estimate for this year has been pared from 33.4 million bales to 33 million bales. read more.
businessSTANDARD

13:22:51 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Sri Lankan apparel sector can earn US$1bn more by 2016:

Adoption of the new multi-country consolidation business approach is expected to help the Sri Lankan apparel industry to boost its revenues by US$ 1 billion by 2016, Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Secretary General MP Tuli Cooray told Sunday Observer Business. 
There are no doubts that the new business model, resembling the one that is already prevalent in Singapore and Hong Kong, would help the Sri Lankan apparel industry, he said and urged the Government to create a legal framework similar to that exists in Hong Kong. read more.
Fibre2fashion

12:52:51 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

      THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Case against Baldia factory owners withdrawn:

Minister of State for Finance, Salim Mandviwala Wednesday disclosed that the case registered against the owners of Baldia Town factory has been withdrawn.

Talking to mediamen in Karachi, the State Minister said that the above case was withdrawn on the orders of Prime Minister.
He said Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had promised the office bearers of Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) to have the case withdrawn during his visit to the chamber.
It is pertinent to mention here that more than 250 employees were charred to death following the eruption of fire into the Baldia Town factory, dubbed as the worst fire incident in Pakistan’s history. to read.
PAKOBSERVER

* Baldia Town factory fire: Murder charges against factory owners dropped:

In a move that is likely to baffle most and one that reeks of a cover-up, murder charges against the owners of the Baldia Town factory – the worst factory fire in the world in recent times – have been withdrawn, confirmed Minister of State for Finance Saleem Mandviwalla on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, in a meeting with the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), assured members of the business community that murder charges against the factory owners would be dropped.

However, in a late night development on Wednesday, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad approached the premier and President Asif Ali Zardari to reconsider the decision. The governor told the media that the president had assured him that injustice will not be meted out to the victims’ families.

Moments after the telephonic conversation, Ebad contacted Sindh Inspector General Police Fayaz Leghari to continue the investigation into the case without changing the investigation officers. According to reports, Mandviwala is likely to arrive in Karachi soon to hold meetings with the business community and Sindh governor.
read more. & read more. & read more.
tribune  dawn  geonewslogo

* Ebad concerned over factory blaze remark:

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad has contacted President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez, expressing concern over the reports that the government dropped murder charges against the owners of a Baldia Town factory where fire killed over 250 people in the country’s worst industrial fire incident, Geo News reported.

The president assured the governor that all the requisites of justice would be met during the course of investigation into the incident.
The governor requested the prime minister that all the constitutional and legal requisites should be implemented so that justice could be provided to the victims.
He said that a case lodged against the owners of the factory under section 302 (premeditated murder) should not be withdrawn. read more.
thenewspk

* Minister changes statement over withdrawal of case against owners:

Minister of State for Finance Salim Mandviwala first disclosed on Wednesday that the case registered against the owners of the Baldia Town garments factory — where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year — had been withdrawn, and then clarfied that it had not, Geo News reported.

Earlier the minister had said that the case of the Baldia Town garments factory, where a fire had killed more than 250 labourers in September last year, had been withdrawn following directives from Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.
He had said the prime minister has promised the office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) to have the case withdrawn during his visit to the chamber.
(…)
Meanwhile, Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad, during a telephonic conversation with the prime minister, has expressed concern over the withdrawal of the case. He also informed Prime Minister Ashraf regarding the legal aspects of the case and asked him not to withdraw the case as it would be injustice with families of the victims.

Later, Governor Ebad directed the IG Sindh to proceed with the case and fulfil all legal aspects providing justice the families of the victims. The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement has also demanded fair and independent investigation of the Baldia factory fire case.
read more.
thenewspk

* Jawad Ahmed pays tribute to victims of Baldia factory fire:

Singer Jawad Ahmed is all set to make a comeback with his single Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon, a tribute to the victims of a fire that engulfed Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town and claimed over 200 lives on September 11, 2012.

Ahmed first became popular when the release of his single Allah Meray Dil Ke Andar, a song that talks about the transcendental existence of God. Listeners appreciated the catchy tune and quick rhythm, along with its message of inner peace. After appealing to his audience’s spiritual side, Ahmed is now trying to connect with a wider audience through Mein Bhi Insaan Hoon. The new track is part of his initiative to create awareness about labour laws in Pakistan.
It seems that Ahmed is leveraging his popularity to create social awareness and consciousness; if you ever see him out in public, you’ll notice that a crowd is usually following.

“People had said that the Baldia fire tragedy was a serious issue,” says Ahmed. “But the masses did not understand why.” He further added, “There are really no labour rights in this country. For me, this is important, because I am part of the working class and my efforts will now highlight the struggle of peasants and workers.”
read more.
tribune

MORE AND OTHER NEWS:

* Textile exports increase by 8.55pc:

Textile group exports from the country during the first two quarters of current financial year posted a positive growth of 8.55 percent as different textile products worth US$ 6.4 billion exported against US$ 5.9 billion of same period last year.

According the latest figures released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), exports of cotton yarn during the period from July-December 2012 grew by 39.0 percent as compared the exports of same period last year.

During the period under review country earned US$ 1.09 billion by exporting about 366,108 metric ton cotton yarn which was recorded at 241,7738 metric ton worth US$ 0.7849 billion in the first 6 months of last financial year. Meanwhile, the exports of cotton cloth from the country increased by 12.08 percent and about 912,134 thousand SQM cotton cloth worth US$ 1.295 billion exported as compared 928,693 thousand SQM cotton cloth costing US$ 1.156 billion of same period last year, it added. read more.
PAKOBSERVER

* Textile exports: growth prospects hinge on proper energy supply:

The textile industry circles said on Wednesday that possibility of half a billion dollar growth in textile industry exports were very much likely with uninterrupted energy supply to the industry.

According to them, the overall growth may have been much impressive in case there was uninterrupted energy supply to the industry.
“It would have been $1.5 billion in case there was a flow of electricity and gas to the industry during December,” said one industry analyst, adding: “The exports stood around $1.5 billion during the month of November when the energy supply was yet better against the month of December.”  read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* Bill to encourage value addition in textiles:

After a gap of eight years, and having failed to implement many of its approved policies, the ministry of textiles has prepared a draft bill envisaging wide-ranging measures to encourage value-addition in textiles and promote exports.

The textile sector contributes nearly eight per cent to country’s GDP, produces 24 per cent of industrial value-added products, employs 40 per cent of industrial work force, and absorbs 40 per cent of bank credit for manufacturing. Its share in total exports is around 54 per cent.

Despite tremendous export potential, the textile industry remains at the lower end of value addition. For instance, one million bales of cotton in Pakistan generates $1 billion, against India’s $2 billion and China’s $4 billion. read more.
dawn

* Energy crisis diverts $1bn export orders from Pakistan:

Textile industry saw helplessly export orders worth $1 billion diverted to other destinations like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as it lost more than one third of its production capacity during December and January due to power and energy crisis.

A number of Christmas orders for bed wear could not be executed due to unforeseen power disruption for 10 days in December, said Ali Asghar, former chairman of Pakistan Textile Exporters Association. He said the gas shortages were envisaged but never before was there a complete power shutdown for 10 days.
read more.
thenewspk

 

map of Asia

HEADLINES:

CHINA
* Wage defaulters face imprisonment

VIET NAM
* Japan step up to try Vietnam on for size

LAOS
* Laos aims to have US$ 500 mln worth of annual garment export

THAILAND
* AI:Release human rights defender imprisoned for insulting the monarchy
* Somyot gets 11 years for lese majeste
* Free Somyot – media update
* Somyot handed 10 years for lese majeste
* Activist jailed for Lese Majeste
* Editor’s jailing ‘setback for human rights’

CAMBODIA
* Cambodian Garment Workers Seeking Support – Walmart & H&M – Take Responsibility!
* Nearly 1,000 workers fired from Winson International garment factory
* Hundreds commemorate slaying of union leader

NEPAL
* Garment export declines

BANGLA DESH
* Garment factory catches fire in Gazipur
* EU asks Bangladesh, Pakistan to improve factory’s safety
* ETI seeks to help improve fire safety standards in RMG sector
* Worry over RMG safety standard
* ‘All should ensure workers’ safety’
* Wal-Mart under fire for ‘unethical business practices’
* Wal-Mart to implement a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on standards from March 1
* Inclusive value chain to face RMG challenges stressed
* Govt to reopen three jute mills
* Progress made in GSP commitments: official
* US-GSP controversies and branding problem

INDIA
* Zardosi units flourish, courtesy child traffickers
* Inter-Ministerial Group to study problems of textile sector
* Textile traders call for one-day bandh against VAT
* Andhra Pradesh textile traders to observe strike on Jan 24
* ‘India must enhance focus on apparel & fashion industry’
* Cotton Advisory Board scales up export, import estimates

SRI LANKA
* Sri Lankan apparel sector can earn US$1bn more by 2016

PAKISTAN
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Case against Baldia factory owners withdrawn
* Baldia Town factory fire: Murder charges against factory owners dropped
* Ebad concerned over factory blaze remark
* Minister changes statement over withdrawal of case against owners
* Jawad Ahmed pays tribute to victims of Baldia factory fire
* MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Textile exports increase by 8.55pc
* Textile exports: growth prospects hinge on proper energy supply
* Bill to encourage value addition in textiles
* Energy crisis diverts $1bn export orders from Pakistan

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