21:21:02 local time BANGLA DESH
* More deaths as building with garment factories collapse in Savar, Bangladesh:
“Early in the morning came a thundering sound of …” said Rozina, a garment worker of a nearby factory who witnessed the collapse of “Rana Plaza”, an eight-storied building at ‘Savar’ on the outskirts of capital the Dhaka on the morning of Wednesday 24 April 2013.
At least 6 dead bodies have been recovered from till now, however the casualty figures may rise as several hundred people were feared trapped inside, said a fire service official. The identity of the deceased couldn’t be known immediately.
Three garment factories and several shops are housed from the second to eighth floors of the building. There remained parked several vehicles in its garage on the ground floor during the incident. Officials say that the factory collapsed at around 9:00 AM in the morning.
The building was already weak with prominent cracks growing since a long time now, some locals and workers reported. Neglected and illegal building structure is not uncommon as the demand for garment at “dirt money” climbed rapidly and many such factories with deplorable conditions started coming out like mushrooms across the city, most of them being subcontracting factories sharing the manufacturing load of the main sourcing factories of leading brands of the west.
“The only idea is to bring out cloth, the human factor is missing, they are considered to be factory oil.” read more.
* Rana Plaza collapses, many dead:
Three bodies have been recovered so far by rescue workers from the debris of the multi-storied Rana Plaza at Savar Bus Stand after it caved in on Wednesday.
Fire service control room officials told bdnews24.com they fear more fatalities as many were still trapped under the debris or down with critical injuries in hospitals.
Savar Model Police OC Asaduzzaman said the rear of the building suddenly started to collapse around 8:30am on Wednesday. Within a short time, the whole structure, except the main pillar and parts of the front wall, had caved in triggering all-round panic.
Locals alleged many bodies were removed from the collapsed building.
More than 100 injured were admitted to local hospitals, they said.
But many more are still trapped under the debris. read more.
* 10 dead, over 300 hurt:
At least 10 people were killed and more than three hundred injured on Wednesday when an eight-storey building collapsed in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital.
The casualty figures are set to rise as several hundred people are feared trapped inside, said locals.
Fire brigade workers and army personnel with their medical core joined the rescue operation with police and volunteers to search for victims who are trapped under the debris.
The building, “Rana Plaza” situated near Savar Bus Stand, collapsed around 8:45am. It had developed several cracks on Tuesday.
|The building housed a market, several garment factories and a branch of Brac Bank, reported our correspondents covering the incident. read more.
* Savar building collapse death toll climbs to 30:
At least 30 bodies were recovered from the debris of the building that collapsed in Savar bus stand area on Wednesday morning.
* Building collapse in Savar- 28 killed; more deaths feared:
At least 28 dead bodies were found and dozens others injured as an 8-storied building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar bus stand area of Dhaka on Wednesday morning.
The identity of the deceased couldn’t be known immediately while death toll may rise as many others were trapped in the collapsed building.
Army and Fire service personnel were conducting rescue mission. There were few garments and shops in the building. read more.
* 35 dead, over 300 hurt:
At least 35 people were killed and over 300 injured in Savar on the outskirts of the capital Wednesday morning when an eight-storied building housing four garment factories collapsed.
With few hundred more believed to be trapped inside, rescuers fear the death toll may rise significantly. read more.
* Hamid shocked at loss of lives in Savar building collapse:
President-elect Abdul Hamid on Wednesday expressed deep shock at the loss of lives in the tragic building collapse at Savar on the outskirt of the capital on Wednesday morning.
Hamid asked the authorities concerned to put in all-out efforts in the rescue operation to save the people still remained trapped inside the building and ensure the proper treatment of those injured in the tragic incident.
The President-elect asked the relevant authorities to take necessary steps to prevent such incident in the future. read more.
* Building Collapse: PM urges opposition to withdraw hartal:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called upon the opposition leader to withdraw their ongoing hartal to ensure smooth rescue operation in the building collapse near Savar bus stand on Wednesday morning and sending the injured to hospitals and also to allow the relatives of the victims to travel in to the sport from across the country.
* Scores dead in Bangladesh building collapse:
Survivors pulled from rubble after at least 70 people killed after eight-storey building collapses in outskirts of Dhaka
Hundreds remain trapped in the eight-storey building as the army organises rescue mission [EPA]
At least 70 people have been killed and many more are feared dead after an eight-storey building collapsed in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A massive rescue mission is now under way as officials said on Wednesday that hundreds of people were still trapped in the rubble.
Only the ground floor of the Rana Plaza in the Savar district, which also housed a garment factory, remained intact after the collapse at 8:30am on Wednesday morning, said the officials.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Dhaka, who is not being named for security reasons, described the scene as being chaotic.
“It is a scene of complete mayhem and chaos, hundreds of people are trapped under the rubble and a still being pulled out,” she said.
“The army has taken over rescuing people from the disaster. There were ordinary people on the scene but they are now being blocked as the army tries to make this an organised situation.” read more.
* Bangladesh factory building collapse kills over 70, injures hundreds:
An eight-storey block housing factories and a shopping centre collapsed on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital on Wednesday, killing more than 70 people and injuring hundreds, a government official said.
Fire fighters and army personnel worked frantically through the morning at the Rana Plaza building in Savar, 30 km (19 miles) outside Dhaka, to rescue people trapped inside.
One fireman told Reuters that about 2,000 people were in the building when the upper floors jolted down on top of each other.
Bangladesh’s booming garment industry has been plagued by fires and other accidents for years, despite a drive to improve safety standards. In November last year, 112 workers were killed in a blaze at a factory in an industrial suburb of Dhaka.
“It looks like an earthquake has struck here,” said one resident as he looked on at the chaotic scene of smashed concrete and ambulances making their way through the crowds of workers and wailing relatives of those still inside
“I was at work on the third floor, and then suddenly I heard a deafening sound, but couldn’t understand what was happening. I ran and was hit by something on my head,” said Sohra Begum a worker at one of the garment factories. read more.
* Savar building collapse death toll climbs to 85:
At least 85 bodies were recovered from the debris of the building that collapsed near Savar bus stand on the outskirt of the capital on Wednesday morning.
* Workers forced to “work”:
A number of workers of four garment factories in Savar alleged that they were forced to work in the morning.
At least 70 people were killed and over 600 injured when a nine-storey building housing four garment factories, a branch of Brac bank and a market collapsed Wednesday morning.
“We were forced to work in the morning. We were working inside the building risking our lives,” said a worker who was undergoing treatment at Enam Medical College and Hospital in Savar.
He was talking to reporters at the hospital. to read.
* No study done regarding building: Rajuk:
The development authority of Dhaka has criticised the local authorities for not conducting any study whether the Savar building, which collapsed on Wednesday, was fit to house garment factories.
“The local authorities have no engineer, architect or inspector. They only approve a plan by putting a signature,” said Emdadul Islam, chief engineer of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).
The local authorities pass on all the responsibilities to Rajuk whenever an accident takes place, he added.
Emdadul was talking to reporters shortly after a nine-storied building collapse in Savar that housed four garment factories Wednesday morning leaving at least 70 people dead and over 600 injured.
“Though Rajuk is authorised to make plan and carry out development structure in the municipality areas, local authorities like Narayanganj, Savar and Gazipur approve plans under the provision of Rajuk’s construction law,” said the Rajuk engineer.
He also blamed the local authorities as they carry out development work without any feasible study. to read.
* Rana Plaza housed 5 garment units: BGMEA:
The nine-storey building of Savar that collapsed Wednesday morning housed five garment factories, according to the latest member directory of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
At least 107 people were killed and more than 600 injured in the building collapse that took place around 8:45am.
Around 3,000 workers were supposed to be work in the factories when the building collapsed, the BGMEA directory added.
The factories are: Ether Tex, New Wave Bottoms, New Wave Style, Phantom Apparels and Phantom Tac.
According to the BGMEA directory, 377 workers were supposed to be in the Ether Tex, while 526 in New Wave Bottoms, 1,073 in New Wave Style, 739 in Phantom Apparels and 407 in Phantom Tac. to read.
* BGMEA says factories at Savar building kept open ignoring its instruction:
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at a meeting on Tuesday night directed the owners to keep their factories at the collapsed Rana Plaza closed fearing a major accident.
* Stern action against those responsible for Savar tragedy:
Home Minister Dr Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir on Wednesday said the government would take stern legal actions those responsible for the Saval building collapse that claimed over 100 lives so far.
* National mourning day Thursday:
The government has declared a national mourning day Thursday to pay respect to those who died in Wednesday’s Savar building collapse.
While making the announcement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “This will not be a holiday because we have already lost two working days due to the opposition-called hartal (shutdown).”
Talking in the parliament Wednesday afternoon, the PM thanked to opposition for withdrawing hartal. to read.
* Scores Dead and Injured as Savar Garment Building Collapse – RISE Society Updates right from the site:
Early at 9AM on Wednesday, April 24, 2013, a 9 storied building collapsed to rubble in seconds at the Savar area.
The ground floor till the 2nd story was a market of shops popularly known as the ‘Rana Plaza’. The floors from the 3rd to the 9th comprised of the RMG factories namely, “New Wave Style Limited”, “New Wave Bottoms Limited (sic)”, :Ether Garments Limited” and “Phantom Garments Limited”. Each floor housed a minimum of 800 workers. The eighth and ninth floor was made illegally.
Injured workers retrieved from the rubble said that they had seen the building crack the night before, due to which they refrained from working night-shift on the 23rd.April 2013.
When workers refused to work on Wednesday morning, fearing the growing ridge on the wall, they had been forced into the factory by factory goons and guards to continue their work as the next shipment was to be on 28th April 2013. The collapse only lasted a few seconds and moments later more than 5000 workers were amass a hill of rods, bricks and dirt all over them. read more.
* Labels Primark and Mango found after factory collapse Bangladesh:
Labour Rights groups mourn senseless loss of life
The Clean Clothes Campaign, along with trade unions and labour rights organisations in Bangladesh and around the world is calling for immediate action from international brands following today’s collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, in Dhaka Bangladesh. The collapse of the eight story building, covering three factories and a mall, cost the lives of at least 82 people and injured over 800.
Activists today managed to enter the ruins of ‘Rana Plaza’ and found labels linking major European retailers to this latest tragedy: Spanish high street brand Mango and British Primark. Rana Plaza also produced for a host of well known European and US brand names including C&A, KIK and Wal-Mart. These brands were also involved in the fire at the Tazreen factory, not far from Savar, where 112 workers died in a fire exactly five months ago. German costcutter KIK was also involved in the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan, where nearly 300 workers burned to death last September.
The killed and injured workers were producing garments for when their factory – with allegedly illegally built floors – suddenly gave way with a loud sound, leaving only the ground floor intact. This latest collapse provides yet further evidence that voluntary company led monitoring has failed to protect workers’ lives. Labour rights groups say unnecessary deaths will continue unless and until brands and government officials agree to an independent and binding fire and building safety program.
“It’s unbelievable that brands still refuse to sign a binding agreement with unions and labour groups to stop these unsafe working conditions from existing. Tragedy after tragedy shows that corporate-controlled monitoring is completely inadequate,” says Tessel Pauli from Clean Clothes Campaign. read more.
WILL BE UPDATED today.
23:21:02 local time PHILIPPINES
* No wage hike announcement on May 1–Baldoz:
Minimum-wage earners may have nothing to look forward to on the forthcoming commemoration of the international Labor Day on May 1, following Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s announcement on Monday that there will be no announcement of wage increase on that day.
“We are not expecting any wage increase announcement by May 1, Labor Day, for the minimum wage workers in Metro Manila because of the rule on the period of issuance of wage order,” Baldoz said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* On the DOLE’s announcement that there will be no wage hike on May 1:
Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz’s announcement that there will be no wage hike for the country’s private-sector workers on May 1 is not surprising but is still infuriating.
The Aquino government claims that it is still looking for “supervening conditions” before it raises wages. In truth, it is insensitive to the hunger and poverty being experienced by workers for years. It is an ardent defender of big capitalists’ profits.
Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, in a study published early this year, puts the daily cost of living at P1,030 – a far cry from the minimum wage levels in the country.
* Labor group hits DOLE for lack of wage increase:
A labor group protecting human rights criticized the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for its announcement of no expected wage increase on May 1 which coincides with the International Labor Day.
Rodelito Atienza lead organizer of the Union Presidents Against Contractualization (UPAC) said that Malacanang’s claim of economic growth was disproven by the statement of DOLE secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
The labor group coalition also slammed the DOLE for organizing only a “possibility” of non-wage benefits, job fairs and a traditional breakfast-date with President Benigno Aquino III branding it as a “classic photo-op fail” and will most likely circulate among social media networks as a source of comic relief.
“If the President thinks his political capital is infinite and can do about disregarding the true heroes of his much publicized 6.6% economic growth then he is really pushing us off the cliff. He must be warned of how desperate the forty million Philippine workforce has become these past months
22:21:02 local time VIET NAM
* Wage reform is delayed, why? :
After several times of delays, the salary reform scheme of the Government cannot be submitted to the upcoming Central Party Conference again.
Talking to VietNamNet Bridge about the cause of this delay, vice chairman of the Committee on Social Affairs of the National Assembly – Mr. Bui Sy Loi – explained that wage reform must be synchronized with other reforms. Vice chairman of the Committee on Social Affairs of the National Assembly – Mr. Bui Sy Loi.
“The goals of the salary reform scheme cannot be achieved right now because the current staffing of the state remains overcrowded,” said Loi. “The problem posed to the reformers here is to conduct total solutions to streamline the state staffing apparatus and evaluate the implementation of the mechanism of autonomy and financial responsibility to increase labor productivity and create financial sources for wage reform,” he added. read more. & read more.
* Vietnam’s minimum wage leaves its workers impoverished :
For decades Vietnam has failed to set a minimum wage that provides enough for people to live on, officials said at a meeting Friday.
Vietnam’s minimum wage only meets between 50 and 70 percent of the cost of people’s basic needs, officials said at the conference held by the National Assembly’s Social Issues Committee to discuss ways to calculate a livable minimum wage.
The figures came from a survey conducted by the Vietnam Labor Union last year, which estimated that people need between VND750,000 and VND900,000 (US$36-43) per month to ensure they can provide themselves sufficient nutrition – about 2,300 calories a day. read more.
* Labour Rights: From Policy to Reality:
* Garment, textile exports hit US$3.7 billion in first quarter:
The country’s total export value of garments and textiles reached US$3.1 billion in the first quarter of 2013, or a year-on-year rise of 18.3%, according to the General Department of Viet Nam Customs.
Exports to the ASEAN market reached US$111.4 million, a year-on-year increase of 44.4%, of which that from Cambodia contributed US$45.7 million, up 103% over the same period last year, making Cambodia the biggest importer of Vietnamese garments and textiles. read more.
* Garment exports pick up:
The garment sector is planning to boost its exports to the Republic of Korea, Turkey, Africa and Middle East.
The General Statistics Office (GSO) of Vietnam has reported that garment exports in the first quarter of this year reached US$3.7 billion, an increase of 18.3 percent over the same period last year.
For instance, those to ASEAN markets hit US$111.4 million, (up 44.4 percent), including US$45.7 million (up 103 percent) from Cambodia.
High export growth was also seen in Nigeria (1,200 percent), Norway (134.6 percent), New Zealand (120 percent) and Australia (37 percent).
To secure a firm foothold, Le Tien Truong, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Garment and Textile Group (Vinatex), urged export businesses to restructure their production, and invest more in improving the quality of their products to meet the increasing requirements of traditional markets like the EU, the US, Japan and Russia.
They should cooperate effectively with each other in maintaining the average annual growth of 10 percent to achieve US$2 billion in additional export value, Truong added.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 24/4 (6th item).
22:21:02 local time CAMBODIA
* Export values up 21 %:
Garment workers sort through material at a factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian export values increased more than 21 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, and officials said the rise was a positive sign for the Kingdom’s economic growth.
According to the Ministry of Commerce’s export data obtained by the Post yesterday, exports reached over $1.65 billion in the first three-month period this year, up from the goods exported during the same period last year, valued at $1.36 billion.
The garment sector saw a 16 per cent increase in exports to $1.34 billion this year compared with last year’s $1.15 billion, according to the data. read more.
* New companies opens in Cambodia every year:
606 new companies were granted operating licenses in Cambodia in the first Quarter of this year.
Many of the new companies come from China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam as well as Cambodian-owned businesses. The firms mainly deal in the textile and footwear industry, agriculture, tourism, construction and real-estate. read more.
21:06:02 local time NEPAL
* Carpet exports dive 17pc, lack of promo blamed:
Exports of hand-knotted woollen carpets dropped 17 percent in the first nine months of the fiscal year. According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre (TEPC), shipments of one of Nepal’s signature products have fallen in terms of both value and quantity.
The TEPC’s records show that export earnings decreased to US$ 43.32 million from US$ 52.17 million during the review period. Similarly, the quantity declined by 26.62 percent to 340,652 sq m.
Traders have blamed lack of government support to promotional activities for the drop in export s. Anup Bahadur Malla, president of the Nepal Carpet Exporters’ Association, said the absence of
branding and promos, among other reasons, were the main reasons behind the fall in business. read more.
21:21:02 local time BANGLA DESH
* Mid-level RMG officials get fire safety certificates:
A total of 65 mid-level officials of woven and knitting garments were awarded master trainer fire safety certificates at a function here recently.
Acting Director of BGMEA-GIZ Joint Project Md Sheikh Sa’di attended the function as the chief guest and Programme Coordinator Megnus Gabriel Smeed was present as the special guest. read more.
* Bangladeshi shutdown by opposition hits economy:
Party activists hold rallies to protest continued detention of leaders.
Opposition parties in Bangladesh are calling for a nationwide shutdown, or hartal, to demand the release of their leaders.
The political unrest has resulted in violence and numerous strikes across the country.
But the daily protests and clashes have threatened the economy by shutting down businesses and making it risky for people to get to work.
Al Jazeera’s special correspondent reports from Dhaka.
See Video about garment workers impact.
* RMG sector bleeds for hartal: Apparel exporters:
Depicting a gloomy picture of the RMG sector and huge losses caused by frequent shutdowns, frustrated leaders of the apparel sector on Tuesday renewed their request to political parties to refrain from enforcing hartal for the sake of the economy.
“Relieve us from hartal…You’re not seeing our internal bleedings. It seems that the industry (RMG) is being strangulated to death,” BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam told a joint press conference at the BGMEA conference room.
He urged the political parties to resolve the political crisis politically as soon as possible to save the highest export-earning sector of the country.
read more. & read more.
* Politicians urged not to kill RMG sector:
Upset at the ongoing countrywide shutdown, leaders of apparel and textile sector’s trade bodies at a press conference once again urged the political parties to refrain from any destructive programmes like Hartal for the sake of the country’s apparel sector.
“The industry, we have developed over the last 30 years, is now almost on the verge of collapse because of the political unrest,” said Atiqul Islam, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), while addressing a press conference at BGMEA Bhaban on Tuesday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Political unrest drives buyers away from Bangladesh: BGMEA:
Bangladesh may increasingly lose its competitive edge in the garment exports as buyers are opting for alternative sources mainly due to looming political unrest, a leading garment exporter said here today.
Citing an example of a prospective buyer Sri Lanka, M Atiqul Islam, President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said Lanka considered Bangladesh as alternative outsourcing country but it may look to either China or India in the present situation.
read more. & read more.
* Hartal starts to take its toll:
The garment sector loses around Tk 200 crore a day owing to the disruption in production caused by hartals, BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said yesterday.
International buyers are shifting orders to other destinations, as Bangladeshi garment makers struggle to maintain the lead time for shutdowns, he said at a press conference at the office of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Dhaka.
According to a BGMEA estimate, 32 garment factories lost orders worth $2.5 million, and had to give discounts worth $1.1 million and spend an additional $3.4 million on air shipment because of hartals between January 31 and April 20. The shutdowns also delayed shipment of garment items worth $9.28 million.
“This estimate covers only 32 of the 5,500 garment factories in the country,” said Islam.
The nation saw shutdowns for a total of 21 days between January 31 and April 20. And the BNP-led alliance was the first to observe a hartal this year on January 31.
The alarming news for Bangladesh is that the exports of garment items from Vietnam and Cambodia rose recently by 22 percent and 15 percent. “It means we are losing business to our competitors,” Islam said.
“We are really concerned over the current political situation. We want security for our factories.” read more.
* Bangladesh garment sector suffers from image crisis: WB:
The readymade garment industry of Bangladesh is suffering from a severe image crisis in the international markets because of concerns about labor safety arising from recent fire incidents in two garment factories, which resulted in a combined casualty of 119 workers, says a report released by The World Bank.
Because of the worldwide concern over labor safety and standards, large RMG factories are starting to remove subcontracting from small factories that are non-compliant, states the report titled ‘Bangladesh Development Update – April, 2013’.
According to the report, international retail giants such as Walmart and Inditex are considering a zero-tolerance policy and cutting ties with suppliers who are non-compliant (or subcontract to non-compliant factories). In the short term, such an action might result in some companies not being able to meet shipment deadlines.
read more. & read more.
* Remittances and readymade garments:
It is now widely acclaimed that remittances and earnings from readymade garments are emerging as key drivers in our economy.
Even during the recent recession that rocked the world, these two kept us on an even keel. Reportedly, remittances now constitute 26-30 per cent of the income of rural households compared to about 9 percent two decades back.
The growth rate of income from remittances soared at more than 15 per cent per annum, and more importantly, remittance now accounts for about 13 per cent of household income even of the poor; and it is growing over time.
A World Bank report shows that the growth of remittances has been robust with 27 per cent growth per year particularly during FY 2006-08. This helped maintain Current Account Surplus. Again, each additional migrant worker brings in $816/yr in remittance. Depreciation of exchange rate by one taka increases annual remittance by $18 million. On the other hand, earnings from RMG stand roughly at $9 billion shares 11 per cent of GDP.
A general presumption is that earning by the sweats of our workers of home and abroad helps us reap the sweets; raising foreign exchange reserves and enabling us to import more, domestic employment generation for women and domestic linkage effects. Have those earnings helped poverty reduction in Bangladesh?
* Specialised garment exports on the rise:
Bangladesh-made tents, sleeping bags and military uniforms see huge demand
Bangladesh has become a lucrative destination for the international buyers of technical clothing as the country offers lower prices, exporters said.
Tents, fire-hydrant jackets, sleeping bags and uniforms for army personnel top the international buyers’ demand list of such items.
The US, Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, the UK and South Africa are the major customers.
Of the $600 million tent market worldwide, Bangladesh has 60 percent share, according to a senior manager of the Chittagong-based Korean factory, HKD.
The country now meets 55 percent of the total demand for tents in the US.
Majority of the manufacturers of technical clothing, however, are foreign ones like HKD, who were compelled to shift their production units to Bangladesh from China due to escalating costs there.
Previously, China was the main supplier of tents to the US market, but now Bangladesh has grabbed the market. read more.
20:51:02 local time INDIA
* Cotton godown gutted in fire:
A major fire broke out in a godown stocked with cotton in densely populated Cooperganj area of the city on Tuesday. Nobody was injured in the mishap. The fire began from a corner of a godown and engulfed the entire premises. The entire godown was reduced to ashes. Seven fire tenders and fire fighters battled for two hours to douse the flames.
The fire-fighters had to break window panes of godown to release the smoke. Owing to the smoke, fire-fighters sprayed water from the broken window and tried to control the situation. The locals of the area along with the workers of the godown too helped in rescue operation. People used buckets to throw water on the flames. Chaos and panic prevailed in the area. Hearing about the fire, family members of the workers too rushed to the spot. Local police was called to control the ever increasing crowd.
* Textile sector hails 2% interest subvention for readymade garments:
The basket of schemes announced in the Annual Supplement 2013-14 to the Foreign Trade Policy (2009-14) has been widely welcomed by the textile industry associations. These associations see the various measures as steps towards improving the domestic textile and clothing sector.
Be it the extension of 2 per cent interest subvention to readymade garments or inclusion of Norway under the Focus Market Scheme or reduction in export obligation under the Export Promotion Capital Goods scheme, the announcements seems to have touched the right chord as far the textile industry is concerned.
* Indian technical textiles to tap 20% growth in 12th Plan:
20:21:02 local time PAKISTAN
* Factory fire revisits Lahore; millions gutted:
Goods, machinery, and valuables worth millions of rupees were reduced to ashes when huge fire erupted in a shoemaking factory at Bund Road in the Shafiqabad police limits on early Tuesday, police and eyewitness said.
Firefighters said the fire, which erupted because of short-circuiting, engulfed the entire factory building within no time. However, no loss of life or hurt was reported.
“Luckily, the workers were yet to arrive when the factory caught fire. Had the fire erupted in the presence of the workers, the situation would have been different,” one of the workers told reporters outside the burning factory.
Huge flame and smoke was visible from a considerable distance as the chemical drums, placed inside the factory building, exploded one after the other with powerful bang. Terror and fear gripped the entire locality as many houses and nearby shops were evacuated instantly to avoid casualties, triggering worst type of panic in the entire area. read more.
* Power ministry, APTMA at odds over electricity tariff: NAB seeks details of CPPs from NTDC:
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has reportedly sought details of Captive Power Plants (CPPs) from the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) along with purchased electricity from them, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
The sources said that both the Ministry of Water and Power and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) are making contradictory claims regarding the pricing of electricity being generated by CPPs.
The Ministry of Water and Power argues that textile units which have their own CCPs purchase electricity from NTDC at Rs 9 per unit and are selling it back to NTDC at Rs 12 per unit which implies that the textile units are earning Rs 3 per unit on each unit. read more.
* Aptma asks planners to appoint independent energy auditors:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) has asked government planners to appoint independent energy auditors to evaluate their efficiency.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, the acting chairman Aptma (Punjab) Mehmood Ihsan deplored the sinister campaign lodged by certain vested interests, depicting the captive power plants of textile sector as most inefficient.
He said the accusers should see the 2012 report of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) that stated that the government-owned gas power plants had 14 to 28 percent efficiency.
He said captive power projects in the spinning industry have efficiency of 35 percent, weaving 60 percent and processing 70 percent. “This efficiency has been measured through energy audits conducted in the mills with the assistance of a German non-government organisation GTZ,” he said, adding that average efficiency of captive power plants across textile is about 40 percent. read more.
* APTMA won’t brook any anti-industry conspiracy: Ejaz:
Group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz has said that any conspiracy against textile industry shall not be tolerated. He said certain quarters were hatching dollars five billion conspiracy against the Punjab-based textile industry by making a concerted effort to slash down the gas supply from 300mmcfd to 150mmcfd.
He said a very lame excuse had been made to conspire against the Captive Power Plants (CPPs) in Punjab that they were inefficient, but interestingly “those behind the conspiracy were fully aware that Article 158 of the Constitution barred any supply cut to the industries in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtuhkha and it was only Punjab where industry would be directly affected by gas supply cut. read more.
* Gas curtailment: Textile millers smell ‘conspiracy’:
Textile millers have chided the Ministry of Water and Power and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, saying they are hatching a “$5 billion conspiracy” against Punjab’s textile industry by curtailing gas supply from 300 million cubic feet per day to 150 mmcfd.
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) group leader Gohar Ejaz, while talking to a select group of journalists on Tuesday, described the allegation that Punjab’s captive power plants were inefficient as a very lame excuse. Ironically, he said, gas supply to Sindh mills was not being reduced because of Article 158 of the Constitution, which gives first right of use of the natural resource to the province where it is discovered.
Elaborating on the conspiracy, Ejaz said a 50% cut in gas supply would deprive the textile mills of Rs6 per unit electricity and they would be forced to purchase power at a higher price of Rs12 per unit from state-owned generation companies and independent power producers (IPPs).
“It is a conspiracy to close Punjab’s textile industry, which invested billions of rupees in captive power plants for electricity production back in 2006,” he alleged.
Ejaz stressed that the textile industry, comprising spinning, weaving and processing units, was running its captive power plants on an average 40% efficiency compared to 48% for the IPPs. read more.
20:21:02 local time UZBEKISTAN
* EU rhetoric/EU action: ending forced labour in Uzbek cotton industry:
European Parliamentarians deserve praise for blocking a textile agreement with Uzbekistan due to systematic and continuous human rights violations in its cotton sector.
This week, the parliament’s trade committee will review this position and in light of the Uzbek government’s lack of progress in bringing this practice to a meaningful end, should call upon the European Commission to launch an investigation into Uzbekistan’s trade preferences with Europe.
Uzbekistan is notoriously repressive.
The Uzbek government continues to use a state-order system of cotton production underpinned by forced labour of children and adults, despite international condemnation including by the United Nations.
The last harvest the government of Uzbekistan intensified the use of forced labour.
* New report rips the mask off the CSR industry:
After the huge organising drives of US workers in the 1930s and 1940s, a critical mass of garment workers belonged to unions – enough so that workers’ wages afforded them a secure and decent life. Most worked directly for manufacturers.
And when those companies began to use contracting shops, the organised strength of the workers enabled them to force employers to agree to critical measures that protected their jobs.
As a new AFL-CIO report titled Responsibility Outsourced relates, the key was the “jobbers agreement.”
Each manufacturer or brand could only place orders with union contractors, which were guaranteed steady work to keep workers permanently employed.
No new contractor could be used unless existing ones had a full supply of orders.
And the manufacturers had to give the contractors a high enough price to guarantee the union wages.
Then the bottom fell out, as US brands closed their own factories and searched the world for contractors that could produce garments at the lowest possible cost.
The same process took place in Europe. Today the world looks completely different as a result.
“Manufacturing work has left countries in which there were laws, collective bargaining and other systems in place to reduce workplace dangers,” the report charges, while “jobs instead have gone to countries with inadequate laws, weak enforcement and precarious employment relationships.”
Factory fires like that at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan in 2012, where 300 people burned to death – making it the worst-ever factory fire.
But it was hardly the only one.
Last year in Bangladesh, workers jumped from the windows of the burning Tazreen factory because the doors were locked. They fell to their deaths on the pavement below, just as their sisters had done in the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City in 1911. read more.
* Safety Inspections By Social Audit Firms For U.S. Companies Called ‘Facade’ By Labor Groups:
The leading federation of labor unions in the U.S. has issued a withering critique of so-called social auditing programs, the corporate-funded inspection systems now used by major American companies to monitor working conditions in their supply chains here and abroad.
Entitled “Responsibility Outsourced,” the 60-page report from the AFL-CIO (below) accuses such programs of catering to corporations at the expense of factory workers in places like Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Latin America, calling the certification process for garment plants a “facade” of voluntary and non-binding scrutiny compromised by conflicts of interest.
“Not only has it helped keep wages low and working conditions poor,” the report’s foreword states of the auditing industry, “it has provided public relations cover for producers whose disregard for health and safety has cost hundreds of lives.” It determines the “central failing” of such audits to be “short and cursory visits to factories and no proper discussion with workers.”
The report follows several high-profile workplace disasters in Asia, including a massive factory fire in Pakistan that claimed the lives of more than 260 garment workers last year. Survivors of that tragedy said locked emergency exits and bars over factory windows had turned the plant into a deathtrap. Even so, the facility had recently earned a certification under the authority of a leading social-auditing group, the non-profit Social Accountability International. read more.
* Free trade zone for Asia-Pacific? :
Sixteen Asia-Pacific countries are set to start talks next month on a free trade zone that would cover over half the world’s population, according to a document obtained by AFP Tuesday.
The start of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are planned despite deep rifts among potential members, including China, Japan and Southeast Asian nations, over rival territorial claims.
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who will meet in Brunei on Wednesday and Thursday, are expected to focus on kick-starting the talks after launching the process last year at a regional summit in Phnom Penh.
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