in the news on-line, 29 January 2013

10:06:17 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* On last 6 session days of Congress, workers press for passage of P125 wage hike bill:

20130128 BULATLAT

Members of labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) trooped to the gates of the House of Representatives January 28 in the hope that lawmakers would heed their demand to pass the P125 ($3.08) wage hike bill. They brought noisemakers and held noise barrages to catch the attention of lawmakers.

“It is important for the P125 wage hike bill to be submitted for plenary discussions by the House Committee on Labor (and Employment), before Congress takes a break,” Elmer “Bong” Labog, chairman of KMU, told Bulatlat.com. Failure of the committee to do so — even after the House Committee on Labor had conducted all required regional consultations and announced it was already set to write the report for submission to plenary — would force back the wage hike proposal to stage 1 come next Congress, Labog explained.  read more.
bulatlat_tagline

09:06:17 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

*  US will continue to be top importer of Vietnamese garments:

The United States will continue to be the top importer of Vietnamese garments and textiles in 2013, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).
In 2012, Vietnam’s apparel and textile exports to the US grew by 8 percent year-on-year to US$ 7.8 billion, according to official figures.
 While the Vitas has forecasted a three percent year-on-year growth in Vietnamese textile and clothing exports to the US in 2013, the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham) expects the exports to grow to US$ 8.4 billion in 2013, US$ 9.1 billion in 2014 and US$ $9.7 billion in 2015.  read more.
Fibre2fashion

09:06:17 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Facing up to lese majeste:

The trial and conviction of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk has once again put Thailand in an uncomfortable spotlight. At home, there is concern about how lese majeste cases are decided, prosecuted and punished.
Outside the country, Thailand is increasingly criticised as a nation where authorities trample on the media and on freedom of expression. Action should be taken to address and correct both these views.

A major problem in addressing the very real flaws in prosecuting and punishing lese majeste offences is the passion that the law brings to any discussion. There can be no updates to lese majeste legislation so long as this continues. Certain groups in the country inflame the debate with baseless charges, which in essence accuse those wishing to amend lese majeste laws of lack of patriotism, or worse.

In this, advocates of legal change too often play into the hands of the knee-jerk ultra-nationalists.
The key to any reasonable amendment of the Criminal Code cannot proceed rationally from simple opposition to a law. The question is what the country needs, and what best serves the nation and all its institutions.  read more.
bangkokpost

09:06:17 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Refusing Responsibility: H&M responds to Kingsland garment workers:

Last week, we filmed the above video about the ongoing struggle of Cambodian garment workers at Kingsland garment factory in Phnom Penh.

It’s getting a decent chunk of shares online from people around the world who are pretty appalled at what they’re seeing – 200 women at the bottom of the fashion supply chain speaking up about why they haven’t received full wages since September, why they’ve been sleeping on the street for almost a month, and why they need Walmart and H&M to act.
When H&M was notified last week about the situation at Kingsland, a local representative responded by saying that:

“Kingsland is not [an] H&M factory…”

Hmmm.
Despite their certainty that Kingsland was not an H&M factory, H&M went on to say that they would do an investigation. It can’t hurt to check, right? It turns out that after playing detective, H&M discovered that the factory has supplied their company. But they were quick to emphasize that the business relationship with Kingsland ended in June 2012 – and that was supposed to shut us up. read  more.
HEATHER

 08:36:17 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Garment industry body sees bright future, with growth outside Yangon :

20130128 MMTIMESgarment-factory
A Myanmar Garment Human Resource Development Centre trainee practices her sowing at a factory in Insein township last week.( Ko Taik/ The Myanmar Times)

The garment industry has been growing rapidly in the past two years on increased orders from Japan and South Korea, a spokesperson for the key industry body said last week.

U Aung Win, vice president of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, said the value of orders from Japan more than doubled between 2010 and 2011, to US$350 million from $170 million. Orders from South Korea increased to $240 million in 2011 from $120 million in 2010.
He added that the statistics for 2012 are still being collected but was confident export earnings would at least match the results from 2011.

“Garment industry export earnings are rising, which we predict will lead to an increase in the number of factories,” he said. “We are providing training at Myanmar Garment Human Resource Development Centre (MGHRDC) in Yangon. But most factories are located in Yangon and the labour density is too high already.
read more.
myanmar times

08:06:17 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

           ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:

* Workers’ ultimatum to arrest Tazreen, Smart owners:

Three organisations of garment workers on Monday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to arrest the owners of Tazreen Fashion Ltd and Smart Export Garments Ltd.

The organisations threatened to besiege the Labour Directors’ Office on February 3 if their demands were not met by the deadline.
The organisations issued the ultimatum from a two-hour sit-in since noon in front of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building in the capital.

Around 500 garment workers along with writers and socio-political personalities took part in the programme jointly organised by Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, Bangladesh Garment Workers Unity Council and Bangladesh Textile Garment Workers Federation.  read more.
daily star bd

* Cultural activists give ultimatum to arrest owners of Tazreen, Smart:

Cultural activists yesterday donned white burial shrouds, symbolising the seven garment workers who died in a recent factory fire, at a rally to protest the unsafe garment factories.

A 48-hour ultimatum has been given to the government to arrest the owners of Tazreen Fashions and Smart Export Garment — the two garment factories where fire killed at least 119 workers in the last two months.

The owners of the garment factories should bear the responsibility of the deaths caused by factory fires in the last couple of months, said the leaders of garment workers’ associations who spoke at the rally, also attended by leaders of several left political parties.

Should the owners still remain at large after January 31, the activists threatened to cordon the Directorate of Labour on February 3.
read more.  & read more. & read more.
daily star bd  newstodayBD  INDEPENDENT

* RMG workers threaten strike, road blockade:

3-day ultimatum issued to arrest Tazreen, Smart owners

Garment labour leaders on Monday issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the government to arrest the owners of Tazreen Fashions Ltd and Smart Export Garments Ltd or face tough agitation programmes like strike and road blockade.

They also threatened to lay siege to the labour directorate office on February 3.
The ultimatum came from a demonstration staged by the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, the Bangladesh Textile Garment Workers’ Federation, and the Garment Workers’ Unity Forum in front of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association Bhaban at Karwanbazar in the city.

The demonstrators demanded lifetime compensation for the families of the
dead and for the injured workers in the fire incidents, arrest of the owners and other people responsible for the deaths, and ensuring work place safety in the garment sector.  read more. & read more.
BD new age

* Arrest Tazreen, Smart owners in 48 hrs: Workers’ bodies to govt:

Several organisations of garment workers on Monday gave the government a 48-hour ultimatum to arrest the owners of Smart Export Garment Ltd and Tazreen Fashions Ltd in connection with the fire incidents at the two factories that killed 119 workers.

At a rally in front of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Bhaban, they also threatened to take the law into their own hands to confine the garment factory owners if police fail to arrest them by the deadline.

Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, Bangladesh Garment Sramik Oikya Parishad, Bangladesh Textile Garment Workers Federation and some other organisations of garment workers arranged the rally.

Speaking at the rally, relatives of the deceased, injured and missing workers of Tazreen Fashions also claimed that they were being harassed by BGMEA officials in their pursuit of getting the compensation.  read more. & read more.
UNB FE bd

* BGMEA sit-in calls for arrests:

20130128 BD24 Ashik+Hossain-Photo-1Apparel workers on Monday held the owners of Tazreen Fashions and Smart Fashions responsible for the death of at least 118 workers in devastating fires, demanding they be arrested by Jan 31.

They hit the authorities with the deadline from a sit-in demonstration in front of the BGMEA Complex at the capital’s Karwan Bazar.

The readymade garment workers threatened of tougher agitation programmes if their demand remained unmet.
Moshrefa Mishu, General Secretary for Garment Sramik Oikya Forum, said, “The office of the Director of Labour will be cordoned off on Feb 3 at 12 noon if our demands are not met. If necessary, we will stage blockades and strikes with garment workers across the country.”

’Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra’, Bangladesh Textile Workers Federation and ‘Garment Sramik Oikya Forum jointly staged the sit-in.
They also demanded safe working environments for workers and fair compensation for the lives lost to the incidents of fire.  read more.
bdnews24

* Plea filed seeking arrest of Tazreen, Smart owners:

A petition was filed with the High Court on Tuesday seeking its directive upon the government to arrest the owners of Tazreen Fashion Ltd and Smart Export Garments Ltd where fire killed at least 119 workers in the last two months.

Advocate Eunus Ali Akand, a Supreme Court lawyer, filed the petition.
In the petition, he also sought HC order on the authorities concerned of the government and the two garment factories to pay adequate compensation to the family members of the deceased and the injured workers.

The petition also said the workers were killed in separate incidents of fires at the garment factories due to the negligence of the owners in taking adequate safety measures.
The owners did not pay compensation to the family members of the deceased and the injured workers, the petitioner said. read more.
daily star bd

MORE AND OTHER NEWS:

* Left in the lurch– About 350 workers of Smart ‘garment factory’ look for help, find none:

The lives of some 350 workers of fire-ravaged Smart Export Garments Ltd hang in the balance.

Their jobs are gone since the fire took place on Saturday. The factory owners went into hiding, Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) denied taking any responsibility and the government is in silence; it now seems that these workers are confined to a bleak future.
They are not even certain about getting this month’s wages, let alone any compensation. Besides, they remain clueless about severance allowance, overtime and other benefits.

Moyna Akhter, sister of deceased Kohinoor Akhter, an employee of Smart Export, said she wanted justice first and then compensation.
“No one has contacted us or given us anything except for Tk 20,000 that we have received from the government. Is that what my sister’s life is worth?” she said with anger in her tone.  read more.
daily star bd

* Bangladesh probing if factory’s 1 exit was locked:

 Bangladesh’s government is investigating allegations that the sole emergency exit was locked at a garment factory where a fire killed seven women.

The fire Saturday at the Smart Export Garment Ltd. factory occurred just two months after a blaze killed 112 workers in another factory, raising questions about safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which exports clothes to leading Western retailers. The gates of that factory were locked.

Government official Jahangir Kabir Nanak said Sunday an investigation has been ordered into the cause of Saturday’s fire and allegations that the emergency exit was locked.
(…)
“When I tried to escape through the emergency exit I found the gate locked,” factory worker Raushan Ara was quoted as saying by Dhaka’s Prothom Alo newspaper.
read more.
HIMALAYAN

* Survivors Describe the Tragedy — Smart Fashion Factory Fire Update and Photos:

Workers told us that approximately 400 to 450 workers were in the Smart Fashion Export factory when the fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 26.

Workers had to break open locked window grates, many jumping from the second floor to escape the flames and dense smoke. One of the factory’s two main exits was also locked. Seven garment workers were killed. The New York Times is reporting that at least eight other injured workers were hospitalized. (Institute’s original January 26 alert, Another Fire in Bangladesh – Seven Women Killed at Smart Fashion.)  read more.
global labour & human rights

* Smart Garments never applied for fire licence:

Neither extinguisher nor emergency exit found in the ravaged factory

The fire-ravaged Smart Export Garments Ltd in city’s Mohammadpur area has no minimum fire safety measures that led to the deadly blaze Saturday last, claiming seven lives, fire investigators told the FE after visiting the spot.

They also said owners of the apparel unit even did not feel the necessity of obtaining fire licence before going into production.

“We did not find any fire safety initiatives by the owners at the factory to protect its workers as well as valuables of the unit,” Director (Operations) of Fire Service and Civil Defence Major Mahbub Uddin said.  read more.
FE bd

* IndustriALL demands real action after fire in Bangladesh:

7 die and 20 are injured in a blaze at a garment factory in Dhaka only two months after the tragic fire at Tazreen factory in November last year which took the lives of 112 people.

The fire emerged during lunch time on 26 January at a small garment factory Smart Fashions in Bangladesh capital Dhaka. The 7 reported victims have all been identified and are all female workers between 15 to 28 years old. The factory is said to employ 300 workers.

Reportedly, garments for some famous brands including Bershka and Lefties (Inditex), KIK, New Look, were found on site. Inditex says that it was not aware of an unauthorized subcontractor to an Inditex supplier with poor fire safety conditions. Inditex and IndustriALL Global Union have agreed on joint action based on their global framework agreement. It covers also suppliers and their subcontractors, which shall provide a safe and healthy workplace to their employees. The incident demonstrates the difficulties major companies have in controlling their global supply chains.

Soon after the tragedy at Smart Garments, Inditex and IndustriALL exchanged information they received from their partners and affiliates in Bangladesh, and started working on a remediation action plan. A joint mission will arrive in Dhaka on Tuesday 5 February to examine the situation and discuss necessary measures to minimize the effects of the incident to the victims. read more.
INDUSRIall

* Sunday’s garment fire a new blow to shaky export market:

The Sunday’s fire incident in a garment factory that left seven workers dead is not only tragic; it is being considered as a serious blow to the country’s economy as the country’s total export business was already in threat.

The US has already warned of canceling GSP benefits, EU has taken a resolution criticizing Bangladesh’s lacking in safety legislation in apparel industries, while Walmart has announced “zero-tolerance policy” for violations of its global sourcing standards.
All these moves follow a November fire at Tajreen garments at Ashulia that not only killed 112 people but also revealed a miserable picture of working condition in the factories and shacking the humanity across the globe.  read more.
NewNation

* Safety elusive for profit chase:

The second fatal fire at a Bangladesh garment factory in two months has intensified the debate over providing consumers with the latest fashions and putting lives at risk.

Apparel sold by Inditex SA, a Spanish company that owns Zara and helped pioneer faster fashion cycles, was found at a factory that caught fire on Jan 26, killing seven people. As a precautionary measure, the company stopped doing business with two suppliers linked to the blaze, Inditex spokesman Jesus Echevarria said. Both companies denied handing off production to unauthorised suppliers, he said.

Fast fashion has trained consumers to expect a steady flow of new garments in stores and has allowed the likes of Gap Inc and Urban Outfitters Inc to generate sales and profits in a tough economy. The challenge for apparel companies is how to maintain a flexible supply chain that can feed stores with new fashions in the future without putting garment workers at risk.  read more.
daily star bd

* Regulatory authority virtually absent Repeated fire in RMG factories:

Apart from the negligence of factory owners, poor surveillance and improper enforcement of law by the regulatory authorities are to be blamed for the repeated fire incidents in the industrial belt, especially ready-made garment industries (RMG), analysts opine on Monday.

At least 1000 garments workers have so far been killed in fire incidents, including the latest one at Smart Fashion in the city.
“First and foremost liabilities of a fire incident should go to the owners of the factory, and then it goes to the regularity departments,” Israfil Alam MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour Ministry, told The New Nation yesterday.

The departments with inadequate manpower and logistics and are not capable in paying factory-to-factory visit due to such shortcomings, he added.
“The capacity of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments is to be reviewed as it has only 26 factory inspectors.
A similar situation is also persisting at the Fire Department, he said, questioning: how can you smoothly run the inspection work with a limited manpower and logistics.”
read more.
NewNation

* Govt to inspect 500 unlicensed RMG units:

Owners of Smart Export Garment asked to appear before a probe panel

The government will inspect at least 500 unlicensed garment factories in next two weeks to check their fire safety measures and compliances, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian said yesterday.

“We will trace 450 to 500 garment factories, who are noncompliant or not the members of any trade body or have no fire safety measures,” Sufian said.
She spoke at a meeting with the leaders of two garment trade bodies and other government high-ups in the secretariat in Dhaka.  read more. & read more.
daily star bd  FE bd

* IFIC Bank to offer loan at 6pc for fire safety at RMG & other industries:

The Board of Directors of IFIC Bank Monday decided to offer loans at 6.0 per cent interest mainly for the safety and prevention of fire incidents in readymade garment (RMG) and other industries.

The decision came in the wake of a series of fire incidents in the RMG industries that took dozons of lives of workers in these industries.  read more.
FE bd

* RMG sector is in a rush to pick ‘compliance officials’ for units:

Skilled manpower dearth worries businesses

Demand for executives to deal with compliance-related matters has witnessed a sharp increase in export-oriented industries at a time when the major export earner, the ready-made garments (RMG), is facing shortage of skilled manpower, industry people said.

Demand for such executives increased both in RMG and non-RMG industries after the Tazreen fire incident, the concerned business circles told the FE.

According to exporters, almost all types of export-oriented factories across the country are in a rush to appoint ‘compliance experts’ to their factories following continuous pressure from their buyers for ensuring standard working conditions at the factories.  read more.
FE bd

* US manoeuvring dominance over dead bodies of workers’:

Activists and economists on Monday alleged that the United States is maneouvering its dominance in the country standing upon the dead bodies of readymade garment (RMG) workers.

As an importer of Bangladeshi readymade garments (RMG), US must admit its share of responsibility for the non-compliance of safety measures in the factories that has become a ‘death trap’, they said.
Addressing a rally in front of the BGMEA Building in the city, they cautioned that the US authority should not try to exploit the dead bodies to pursue its dominance in various ways including the threat to withdraw its GSP (Generalised Scheme of Preference) facilities for Bangladeshi RMG products.

Organised by a number of workers’ unions and organisations to protest the killing of workers in fire incidents in recent times, the rally was also participated by a good number of professionals, intellectuals, writers, cultural activists and journalists.
Economist Prof Anu Muhammand, also the member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port, said that as a beneficiary of the RMG industry of the country, the United States is also responsible for the pitiable condition of the workers in the sector.
read more.  & read more.
UNB  NewNation

07:36:17 local time map of india INDIA

* Weavers worried as price of unfinished fabric decrease:

Weavers in the powerloom sector in the country’s biggest Man-Made Fibre (MMF) hub in the city are facing tough days ahead with the prices of grey or unfinished fabrics witnessing a sharp decrease in the past one week.

Industry sources said the demand for unfinished fabrics has decreased in the local market and that the prices have gone down by Rs 1.50 to Rs 2 per meter with the textile traders discontinuing the purchase due to less demand from the key consuming centres across the country.

Grey fabric traders in the city said there is a sharp fall in the demand for unfinished fabrics as the buying for the marriage season is almost over. There are no fresh orders from the textile traders as the demand for saris and dress material has decreased significantly in the past one week.  read more.
TOInew

* Outlook for cotton textiles negative-to-stable: India Ratings:

This year’s outlook for the Indian cotton textiles is “negative-to-stable” due to subdued demand, though margins are likely to benefit from softening of raw material prices, India Ratings has said in a report. The outlook for synthetic textiles, however, remains negative, it said.

“The outlook for cotton textiles remains negative-to-stable for 2013….The outlook for synthetic textiles remains negative for 2013 due to reversal of substitution demand and oversupply in domestic partially-oriented yarn, pressurising selling prices and margins of synthetic textile companies,” it said in the report ‘2013 Outlook: Indian Textiles’ here.

Muted international demand for cotton and surplus production are likely to keep cotton prices stable and range- bound during 2013.
“India Ratings expects cotton yarn manufacturers to benefit from slow but steady pick-up in domestic demand, the likely higher demand of cotton yarn from China, and improving margins on account of low cotton prices and firm cotton yarn prices.
read more.
THEHINDUBUSINESS

* Handloom weavers to get loans to buy powerlooms:

The government had decided to extend loans of Rs two lakh each to handloom to enable them to buy powerlooms, State Textiles Minister Govind Karjol said here on Thursday.

Here to attend the Hampi Utsav, Karjol  said handloom weavers were in distress as they were unable to compete with powerloom weavers.

Hence the government was extending the loans at low rates of interest. Of the loan, Rs one lakh would be subsidy.


read more.

decanherald

* Weavers worried as price of unfinished fabric decrease:

Weavers in the powerloom sector in the country’s biggest Man-Made Fibre (MMF) hub in the city are facing tough days ahead with the prices of grey or unfinished fabrics witnessing a sharp decrease in the past one week.

Industry sources said the demand for unfinished fabrics has decreased in the local market and that the prices have gone down by Rs 1.50 to Rs 2 per meter with the textile traders discontinuing the purchase due to less demand from the key consuming centres across the country.

Grey fabric traders in the city said there is a sharp fall in the demand for unfinished fabrics as the buying for the marriage season is almost over. There are no fresh orders from the textile traders as the demand for saris and dress material has decreased significantly in the past one week.  read more.
TOInew

* Women urged to join trade unions:

CPI national executive committee member and AITUC State general secretary Kanam Rajendran has called for ensuring greater participation of women in trade unions.

Inaugurating the delegates’ meet of the NREG Workers Federation, affiliated to the AITUC, organised in connection with its State conference here on Sunday, Mr. Rajendran expressed dismay over the low attendance of female delegates in the session.
While nearly 95 per cent of workers employed in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme are women, the top echelons of the union remained male-dominated.
Women must be encouraged into the top tiers of trade unionism, he said.  to read.
THEHINDU

* A factory rots away, awaiting State decision:

The dusty calendars on the walls point to the same time period – December 2008. A long line of sewing machine stands, with the machines themselves missing, adorning the centre of the room. On the floor are wage books, bills, bits of cloths and a computer monitor.

These are a sampling of the sights that greet you if you manage to wade through the thick forestry that now surrounds the Commonwealth Trust (Comtrust) Textile factory building, which closed down in 2008.

The building now stands as an edifice which symbolises a past when everything went perfect like clockwork. Still listed as one of the ‘must see’ places in Malabar on the Kerala Tourism Department’s website, its impressive facade hides the sights of an entire factory rotting away.  read more.
THEHINDU

07:36:17 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Garment industry giving way! :

As factories close down and people lose livelihoods, the questions that arise are is the industry feeling the effects of losing (GSP+) concessions, is it inefficient management of factories or the lack of diversification of markets and products? Charundi Panagoda gets the views of different stakeholders in the industry

The garment industry is in crisis as the consequences of losing the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences Plus (GSP+) concessions are just being felt. The European Union’s (EU) GSP+ scheme granted Sri Lanka duty-free access to EU markets, especially for the garment industry that makes up the bulk of the country’s exports to the EU. Sri Lanka lost GSP+ concessions in 2010, amidst political controversy.
(…)
About 1,100 workers at Crystal Sweaters and 600 workers at Firefox are now without jobs, B.I. Abdeen, organisation secretary of the Inter Company Employees Union, said.
“Also, about 1,500 more workers lost jobs in Gampaha because of the GSP+ issue,” he said. “Thousands of workers have lost permanent jobs and hundreds of families have lost their only source of income. The government is responsible for this loss of livelihood.”.
read more.
STM-long

* Feeling the pinch of GSP+ loss:

More than two years after the European Union withdrew the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) facility, citing allegations of human rights violations, the garment industry, one of the country’s largest income earners, has begun to feel the impact.

The withdrawal of the GSP+ has resulted in several garment factories closing down, and there is a risk of more factories following suit, several trade unions alleged. They claimed that two Board of Investment (BoI) approved factories had closed down in December 2012, as a direct result of the loss of GSP+, which in turn has resulted in around 1,500 employees losing their jobs.

“Both companies claimed they were affected by the withdrawal of GSP+ and, therefore, unable to continue manufacturing in Sri Lanka. The machinery of both factories is to be sent to Bangladesh, which receives the GSP+,” Organizing Secretary, Inter Company Employees’ Union (ICEU), B.I. Abdeen, said.
read more.
CEYLONTODAY

07:06:17 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

        THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:

* SHC issues notices to PM’s principal secretary, others :

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to Ayub Qazi, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and others for Feb 14 for allegedly interfering in the Baldia factory fire case, DawnNews reported.

A local NGO had filed a petition in the court requesting it to take notice of interference from Prime Minister Ashraf in the Baldia factory fire case and had asked the SHC to declare the alleged intrusion as illegal.

The case filed against the owners of fire-struck garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town was withdrawn on the prime minister’s discretion, State Minister for Finance Salim Mandviwalla had said on Jan 23.
The petitioner argued that the prime minister had acted in violation of the Constitution and the decision to withdraw the murder case was against provincial autonomy.
read more.
dawn

* ‘Jobless of Baldia factory fire tragedy being given jobs’:

The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said those who lost their jobs in a Baldia factory fire tragedy were being accommodated in other garment factories.

KCCI said the employers were also providing ration and necessary medical help to the victim’s families and injured. KCCI will make sure the owners compensate the victims adequately.

Karachi Chamber and all the business and industrial community of Karachi had reservations from the day one in respect of handling Baldia fire tragedy, instead of conducting fair and impartial investigation and as a result thereof fixing the responsibility/charges, an FIR was lodged against the owners with PPC 302 (Premeditated murder) along with other clauses pertaining to negligence/accident etc.

KCCI has been agitating the application of PPC 302 in an industrial accident case, as KCCI believes no industrialists or businessmen would purposely destroy his own factory and commit murder of his own workers and it is also not according to the law.
read more.
daily times PK

* Baldia fire case SHC issues notices to PM’s PS, others:

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to Ayub Qazi, the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, and others for Feb 14 for allegedly interfering in the Baldia factory fire case.

A local NGO had filed a petition in the court requesting it to take notice of interference from Prime Minister Ashraf in the Baldia factory fire case and had asked the SHC to declare the alleged intrusion as illegal.

The case filed against the owners of fire-struck garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town was withdrawn on the prime minister’s discretion, State Minister for Finance Salim Mandviwalla had said on Jan 23. read more. & read more. & read more.
PAKOBSERVER  thenation

* Fair probe demanded into Baldia fire inferno:

Reacting on the debate ongoing all over the media and in the parliament regarding the factory fire incident in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry reiterates its position on the matter for all the concerned.

KCCI said, “It was undoubtedly a horrible incident of fire and the loss of 259 lives is a colossal tragedy and by all means it should be investigated fairly.” It said the responsibility be fixed and whosoever was found at fault or negligent must be punished accordingly as per the law of the land and all such measures be taken to avoid such reoccurrence in future.

Karachi Chamber strongly believes that all the affected families must be compensated accordingly that is why Karachi Chamber had requested all the concerned to compensate the victim’s families including the owners. It is pertinent to mention here that federal and Sindh governments have already compensated the victims’ heirs.
The KCCI has also been able to get other garment factories to adjust the employees who have lost their jobs in the said incident. The employers are also providing ration and necessary medical help to the victim’s families and the injured. It will make sure that the owners compensate the victims adequately.  read more.
thenation

* Notices issued on plea against removal of murder charge in Baldia factory fire case:

The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the principal secretary of the prime minister, the Sindh chief secretary and others in a petition against the removal of the murder charge on a direction of the PM against owners of the Baldia Town garment factory, where a devastating fire had claimed lives of over 250 workers.

The petition was filed jointly by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research, the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, the National Trade Union Federation, the Hosiery Garments Textile and General Workers Union, Javed Iqbal Burki and Syed Ammad Bin Tahir.

The petitioners, represented by Advocates Faisal Siddiqui and Waseem Iqbal Malik, also impleaded the home secretary, the provincial police chief, the director-general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, the Sindh labour secretary, secretary of the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the Regional Inspection and Certification Agency (pvt) Limited, RINA Services of Italy and the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency as respondents.

A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar issued notices to all respondents and put off the hearing to Feb 14.  read more.
dawn

MORE AND OTHER NEWS:

* New weaving rates pinch income:

The powerlooms sector stung by power and yarn crises has reduced the weaving rates for which the workers have been protesting for years. About one million labourers are directly and indirectly attached to the textile sector of Faisalabad.

Akhtar Ali, powerloom worker of Iqbal Town, said the shortage of yarn and electricity had made their lives miserable. Exploiting the economic condition of labourers, powerloom units` owners have reduced weaving rates from Rs170 to Rs160 per 100 metres.
He said they had no option but to accept the revised rates as scores of labourers had already been rendered jobless due to the crises. He said revised rates and less work had forced him to sell household items to incur daily expenses.

“Factory owners don`t help workers and only offer them a debt of not more than Rs1,000,” Mr Ali said.
“A powerloom worker earns Rs1,000 to Rs1,200 per week after the revised rates. Earlier, a worker would earn Rs2,500 to Rs4,000.”
The electricity shortfall of 4,000 megawatt (MW) has also affected the powerlooms sector.  read more.
dawn

GENERAL

* Will Walmart’s fire safety initiative save lives? :

Following exposure in the media that at least two Walmart suppliers were using the Tazreen Fashions factory, Walmart recently announced a Zero Tolerance Policy and Ethical Sourcing Program Enhancements.

The company committed to a policy of “zero tolerance” for suppliers that use unauthorized subcontractors, has promised to terminate suppliers who subcontract to unauthorized factories not authorized by Walmart, and to publish a list on its website of factories not authorized to manufacture goods for Walmart.
In an effort to increase workplace safety, Walmart implemented a ban on factories in multi-use buildings in Bangladesh and promised that facilities found to have violated safety regulations must take corrective actions within thirty days.

Furthermore, the new regulations require all factories to have an electrical and building safety assessment by an independent, certified agency, all barred windows to have an emergency mechanism to allow for escape, all floors and buildings to have a secondary exit, and all factories to have proper access for fire trucks and firefighting equipment. To fund the program, Walmart is “considering” participating in a revolving fund that would provide loans to Bangladeshi factory owners. read more.
ilrf

 

map of Asia

HEADLINES:

PHILIPPINES
* On last 6 session days of Congress, workers press for passage of P125 wage hike bill

VIET NAM
* US will continue to be top importer of Vietnamese garments

THAILAND
* Facing up to lese majeste

CAMBODIA
* Refusing Responsibility: H&M responds to Kingsland garment workers

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Garment industry body sees bright future, with growth outside Yangon

BANGLA DESH
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Workers’ ultimatum to arrest Tazreen, Smart owners:
* Cultural activists give ultimatum to arrest owners of Tazreen, Smart
* RMG workers threaten strike, road blockade
* Arrest Tazreen, Smart owners in 48 hrs: Workers’ bodies to govt
* BGMEA sit-in calls for arrests
* Plea filed seeking arrest of Tazreen, Smart owners
* MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Left in the lurch- About 350 workers of Smart ‘garment factory’ look for help, find none
* Bangladesh probing if factory’s 1 exit was locked
* Survivors Describe the Tragedy — Smart Fashion Factory Fire Update and Photos
* Smart Garments never applied for fire licence
* IndustriALL demands real action after fire in Bangladesh
* Sunday’s garment fire a new blow to shaky export market
* Safety elusive for profit chase
* Regulatory authority virtually absent Repeated fire in RMG factories
* Govt to inspect 500 unlicensed RMG units
* IFIC Bank to offer loan at 6pc for fire safety at RMG & other industries
* RMG sector is in a rush to pick ‘compliance officials’ for units
* US manoeuvring dominance over dead bodies of workers’

INDIA
* Weavers worried as price of unfinished fabric decrease
* Outlook for cotton textiles negative-to-stable: India Ratings
* Handloom weavers to get loans to buy powerlooms
* Weavers worried as price of unfinished fabric decrease
* Women urged to join trade unions
* A factory rots away, awaiting State decision

SRI LANKA
* Garment industry giving way!
* Feeling the pinch of GSP+ loss

PAKISTAN
* THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE:
* SHC issues notices to PM’s principal secretary, others
* ‘Jobless of Baldia factory fire tragedy being given jobs’
* Baldia fire case SHC issues notices to PM’s PS, others
* Fair probe demanded into Baldia fire inferno
* Notices issued on plea against removal of murder charge in Baldia factory fire case
* MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* New weaving rates pinch income

GENERAL
* Will Walmart’s fire safety initiative save lives?

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