* End nigh for Asia’s ‘ridiculously cheap’ labour:
China’s affluent cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen will raise their minimum wages by 19 per cent in the manufacturing heartland of Guangdong province tomorrow, to coincide with International Labour Day.
Similar hikes in the minimum wage have been seen this year in Southeast Asia, one of China’s main rivals in labour-intensive industries such as garments, shoes, toys and processed foods.
Thailand in January introduced a nationwide minimum wage of about US$10 a day, an increase of 65 per cent. Malaysia announced its first-ever mandatory minimum wage of $300 a month, up 50 per cent from previous guidelines.
In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, the minimum wage rose 40 per cent to $226.
The wage spikes top a decade of gradual pay increases for workers in the region.
21:36:48 local time PHILIPPINES
* Garments industry hurt by high labor, power costs:
The garments industry is hurting from the increasing cost of doing business in the country, particularly expensive labor and power costs.
According to Marites Agoncillo, executive director of the Confederation of Garment Exporters of the Philippines Inc. (CONGEP), labor is the highest cost component in garment manufacturing and is also a major factor that influences decisions in investment locations.
At the moment, operations of most members of CONGEP are concentrated in Regions 3, 4A, 4B and 7 where CONGEP is discussing possible wage flexibilities with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). If this is approved, Agoncillo guarantees that about 3,000 workers may be employed. read more.
* Philippines’ garment exporters support 2-tier wage system:
* Non-wage ‘gifts’ derided- Needs not met, says militant labor:
The good news: Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz yesterday said health and insurance benefits would form part of the non-wage package that will serve as the government’s “gift” to workers on the 111th Labor Day celebration.
The bad news: In order to avail of them, the worker would have to be injured or would have to die after which survivors would be the ones to benefit from government’s “gift.”
Baldoz said President Aquino will likely announce the benefits during his meeting with moderate labor leaders in Malacañang today.
But according to labor groups, they cannot accept what the government will give them since it will not be able to answer their basic needs. read more.
* National industrialization, a workers’ call – KMU:
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino today for saying that the phrase “national industrialization” is passe and represents a 1950s or 1960s mindset, saying industrialization remains a most important call for the country’s workers.
Justifying the government’s move to end peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda last Monday said the NDFP’s use of “national industrialization” and similar phrases has hampered the talks’ progress.
“That’s precisely the reason why most Filipinos remain poor and hungry – because the government has not implemented national industrialization and its twin policy, land reform. Only these policies can foster a development that can create decent jobs for Filipinos,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson. read more.
20:36:48 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam seeks to put off switch to living wage :
The labor ministry is considering delaying a push for a living wage, news website VnExpress has reported.
The current minimum wage in the foreign-invested and domestic private sectors is only half the amount required for basic expenses, while in the state sector it is around 70 percent, officials admitted at a recent meeting of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee.
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs has submitted a proposal to increase it to a level adequate for basic living needs by 2015, but it is now considering putting off the deadline, fearing employers cannot afford it that early.
The minimum wage is now set at VND1.65-2.35 million (US$78.9-112.4) per month.
20:36:48 local time LAOS
*Trade union federation working to halt labour oppression:
The Lao Federation of Trade Unions will continue making efforts to set up trade union representative bodies in business units, despite many of the business owners being reluctant to cooperate.
The federation’s Labour Protection Department Deputy Director, Mr Samanxay Khanthanuxay, made the comment in an interview with the Vientiane Times yesterday about the current situation for workers in the country.
“We will continue to try and establish union representation in enterprises and factories despite many business owners disagreeing with the concept, because we are confident that this will help to prevent labour oppression in the future,” he said.
There are almost 500,000 people working in 18,600 business units throughout the country. Out of this number about 200,000 are women who are mainly working in garment factories.
From Vientiane Times monitoring, the lowest wage that a garment worker can earn is between 25,000 and 28,000 kip per person per day, while the rate is 50,000 kip and upwards for a construction worker. read more.
20:36:48 local time CAMBODIA
* An Open Letter to International Garment Brands Sourcing from Cambodia:
May 1, 2013‐ On this International Labor Day, we, the undersigned civil society groups call upon all international garment brands sourcing from Cambodia to publicly denounce two recent baseless judicial decisions related to the garment sector.
The first is the recent imprisonment of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. The two men were scapegoated and wrongly convicted in the 2004 murder of labor leader Chea Vichea.
The second is the government’s failure to appropriately prosecute Chhouk Bandith, a well- connected former town governor who shot and severely injured three female garment factory workers. Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were imprisoned for Chea Vichea’s murder in 2004, convicted in 2005 after spending a year and a half in pre‐trial detention, and courageously released by the Supreme Court in December 2008. The high court ordered further investigation into the killing amid extensive evidence of their innocence. But on December 27, 2012, Appeals Court Judges Chhoun Sunleng, Seng Sivutha and Khoun Leang Meng shocked observers by reinstating the previously vacated, grossly unfair verdict.
The brief appeal hearing, which occurred on November 7, 2012 nearly four years after the Supreme Court’s ruling, aired no new evidence of Sam Oeun and Samnang’s guilt, nor did it give any indication that a new investigation into the case had been completed as ordered by the Supreme Court.
On the contrary, the appellate judges systematically dismissed and refused to address the mountain of evidence and testimonies in favor of the two, all of which has been repeatedly described in multiple published reports both in Cambodia and internationally.
The men’s innocence is also the subject of the award‐winning documentary “Who Killed Chea Vichea,” which is banned in Cambodia. read more.
* Workers petition parliament and government on Labor Day:
Around 10,000 workers from about 100 unions in Cambodia met Wednesday morning to mark International Labor Day on May 1st.
After the mass rally at Democratic Park, union workers marched to the National Assembly and the government to present petitions.
The workers were led by Ath Thon, President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) and Rong Chhun, President of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions. read more.
* Civil society asks brands to speak out on issues:
Civil society groups have called on brands that source clothing from Cambodian factories to denounce two “baseless” judicial decisions relating to the Kingdom’s garment sector.
In an open letter sent to coincide with International Labour Day, the groups asked buyers to criticise last year’s jailing of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun – who the groups say are innocent – over the 2004 murder of Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea.
They also asked brands to criticise the government’s “failure to appropriately prosecute” ex-Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith over the shooting of three garment workers last February. to read.
* Social justice still lacking:
Garment workers make clothing at a factory in Kandal province last year. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
International Workers’ Day may trace its origin to the late 19th century, but the values and ideals that underpin it are as relevant in 2013 as they have ever been.
While the day originated to mark the labour traditions of Western Europe and North America, the sense of injustice and opportunity that inspired it are just as present in Southeast Asia today.
These issues are at the very core of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) mandate and are central to its work in this region.
Countless men and women around the world continue to work without even the most basic guarantees for their safety and wellbeing. Obvious examples come from the horrific workplace disasters that have claimed hundreds of lives this year alone in South Asia and other parts of this region. read more.
* ADHOC says activists at risk:
The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) said, activists are at risk because of their participation in protecting and promoting human rights.
A statement issued Tuesday said, 234 human rights defenders in 2012 were threatened, scared and faced lawsuits, while the first quarter of 2013, 48 activists faced the same issues, making it a deep concern for ADHOC. read more.
21:36:48 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage plan ‘not feasible’:
Pakatan Rakyat’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to RM1,100 will be “darn tough” to implement, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
Dr Subramaniam said Pakatan’s minimum wage as announced in its manifesto could increase unemployment and inflation while making it less attractive for foreign direct investment.
“The higher the range of minimum wage, the higher the risk of unemployment and inflation. Even at RM900, our small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) are crying. At RM1,100, I don’t what they are going to do. When it comes to implementation, it is going to be darn tough,” he said, adding that the sum was not feasible. read more.
21:36:48 local time INDONESIA
* Labor Group KSBSI Discovers Fake Bomb at Jakarta Office:
A fake bomb was left outside the offices of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union Confederation (KSBSI) in an apparent intimidation attempt before Wednesday’s large May Day protests, police said.
The National Police Bomb Squad (Gegana) was called to the KSBSI’s East Jakarta office on Tuesday to investigate a suspicious black bag with the letters “KSBSI” scrawled across the plastic. The bag seemed to contain an explosive device, but was later found to be a fake. read more.
* 80,000 workers to surround palace on May Day:
Chairman of the Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) Said Iqbal said 80,000 workers would rally in front of the state palace to observe International Workers Day — May Day — on Wednesday.
“These 80,000 workers will be at the front of the state palace until 6 p.m.,” Iqbal said at a press conference at the Jakarta Police Office on Tuesday Kompas.com reported. read more.
* Workers need more than a holiday on May Day: Unions:
Labor activists have applauded the government’s decision to make May 1 a national holiday starting next year but they called on the government to better uphold the rights of workers in the country.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to officially proclaim May Day a national holiday on Wednesday. Chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) Said Iqbal said the plan was just the first step in a long journey to improve the lives of workers in the country.
“After more than 10 years, the government will finally establish International Workers Day as a national holiday. It is of course symbolic because making it a national holiday would not directly improve the welfare of Indonesian workers. Nonetheless, it is important to show that the state actually recognizes the labor movement in this country,” Iqbal told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. read more.
19:36:48 local time BANGLA DESH
* Death toll rises to 391 with 2 more bodies found:
Two more bodies were recovered from the wreckage of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar on Tuesday morning in the second phase of rescue operation, raising the death toll to 391.
Nearly 111 hours after the Rana Plaza collapse, the 2nd phase of rescue operation using heavy equipment started at 12:10 am Monday.
With the recovery of two more bodies from the debris between 7:30 am and 10 am today (Tuesday), the death toll from the Rana Plaza collapse now stands at 391, said director of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society Jafar Imam Sikdar.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Terrorists? Arrest ‘Em (Unless They’re Walmart):
When terrorist bombers killed three people in Boston, the FBI moved heaven and earth to apprehend them. When suppliers to Walmart and other brands in Bangladesh killed more than 360 people April 24 in one of their garment factory death traps, the FBI sat on its hands. But those responsible—Walmart’s board of directors—are well known and could be easily apprehended.
On the very day of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, one of the survivors of a November 2012 fire at Tazreen Fashion, near Dhaka, Sumi Abedin, was in San Francisco. She and another former garment worker from Bangladesh, Kalpona Akter, had tickets to attend a gala fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel for the Latino Community Foundation, which is led by Aida Alvarez, a prominent member of Walmart’s board.
Not surprisingly, the Foundation denied Abedin and Akter access to the fundraiser, along with other Walmart workers from the Bay Area and Southern California who’d planned to attend. Instead, they and their supporters rallied outside the Fairmont, demanding justice for Walmart workers all along the supply chain. read more.
* Ether Tex violates labor law:
Ether Tex, one of top garments situated at the collapsed Rana Plaza, lacked government registration and approval of design, which is ‘violation of labor law’.
Labour Ministry sent a letter to the factory mentioning some discrepancies and to take necessary steps in this regard.
On April 3, a team of the government inspected the factory and reported that it had violated nine articles of Labour Act-2006. The team, however, found no sign of crack in the building then.
The letter mentioned that Ether Tex had no workers’ register, no fire extinguishing instrument and no emergency exit.
Ether Tex also didn’t take approval from factory inspector about working time table. The factory didn’t check electrical instruments regularly. read more.
* Primark says it will pay compensation to Bangladeshi victims:
Clothing chain Primark said it will pay an unspecified amount of compensation to the victims of the Bangladesh building collapse who worked for its supplier New Wave and urged other retailers to “come forward” and offer help.
Compensation will include long-term aid for children who have lost parents, financial aid for the injured and payments to parents of the deceased, the London-based company said today in a statement.
Primark said its supplier shared the building with other retailers and that the retailer is “fully aware of our responsibility.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Loblaw to pay compensation:
Canada’s Loblaw Companies Ltd on Monday became the second Western fashion retailer to promise compensation for the families of victims of the Bangladesh garment factory collapse that killed nearly 400 people last week.
Loblaw, which had some of its Joe Fresh clothing line manufactured at Rana Plaza, followed British retailer Primark in offering to compensate victims of the South Asian country’s worst industrial accident.
“We will be providing compensation for the families of the victims who worked for our supplier,” said spokeswoman Julija Hunter in an email.
read more. & read more.
* Benetton Paper Trail Discovered in Rana Plaza Rubble:
Benetton’s relationship with Rana Plaza factory supplier New Wave Style extended beyond the ‘one-off’ order
Italian fashion giant Benetton had a prolonged relationship with at least one supplier based at the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh which collapsed last Wednesday, documents found on the rubble and obtained by IBTimes UK can reveal.
The company, which on the day of the tragedy denied that garment factories in the Dhaka building were suppliers to Benetton Group, has admitted that “a one-time order was completed and shipped out by one of the manufacturers involved several weeks prior to the incident”.
The illegally constructed, eight-storey building collapsed last Wednesday leaving at least 382 people killed.
However, documents found in the Rana Plaza rubble and photographed by the Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) and Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) fand passed onto the International Labor Rights Forum, indicate Benetton had a protracted relationship with New Wave Style Limited.
* HC orders confiscation of Rana, factory owners’ property:
The High Court on Tuesday directed the government to immediately confiscate all the movable and immovable property of Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, and the proprietors of five garment factories housed in the Savar building that collapsed on Wednesday.
The HC also ordered the inspector general of registration to issue a circular to all the registrars across the country to take step so that their properties are not transferred or sold.
The four other accused are: Anisur Rahman, chairman of Ether Tex; Aminul Islam, chairman of Phantom Apparels Ltd and Phantom Tack Ltd; Bazlus Samad Adnan, chairman of New Wave Buttons; and its managing director Mahbubur Rahman Tapash. read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Savar Tragedy: Quader for quick trial of those responsible:
Communications Minister Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said the trial of those responsible for the Savar disaster would have to be completed quickly, if necessary through the Speedy Trial Tribunal.
“It’s another type of crimes against humanity. The responsible persons will have to be tried as soon as possible. If necessary, they’ll have to be tried under speedy trial tribunal,” he told reporters while visiting the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar. read more.
* Victims’ relatives stage sit-in:
Around 100 relatives of the victims of the Savar tragedy whose dead bodies are yet to be recovered from the debris staged protests in front of the national press club on Tuesday. to read.
* 100 RMG workers hurt in police action:
At least 100 Ready-Made Garments (RMG) workers were injured as police charged baton on them on the collapsed Rana Plaza compound on Tuesday morning.
Of the injured, 22 were admitted to different local hospitals and private clinics in critical condition.
Witnesses said thousands of RMG workers, aggrieved over the Rana Plaza collapse that claimed 391 lives so far, from different garment factories in Savar-Ashulia industrial belt started gathering on the compound with processions from different places of the belt since 10am. read more. & read more.
* Workers’ protest in N’ganj; factories shut:
The agitated garment workers blocked two highways in Kanchpur on Tuesday morning demanding capital punishment to Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza.
The authorities of all garment factories in the area closed their factories amid the protest on Monday morning.
Police and witnesses said, RMG workers stopped working and started staging protest in Kanchpur. They blocked Dhaka-Sylhet highway and brought out rallies demanding capital punishment to Sohel Rana. read more.
* Three more bodies retrieved, ceaseless efforts continuing:
Rescuers today retrieved three more bodies as their second phase of salvage campaign using heavy equipment is underway since Sunday midnight at the site of collapsed eight-storey Rana Plaza.
“We have recovered three bodies this morning . . . until the last body, dead or alive, is retrieved our (salvage) efforts will continue ceaselessly,” commander of the salvage operations Major General Chowdhury Hassan Sarwardy told a press briefing at the collapse site.
He said the rescue officials estimated as high as 3,200 people used to work in the building while over 2,800 survivors and bodies were retrieved since the structure caved in six days ago.
Sarwardy added that two army sniffer dogs were kept ready to be engaged in tracing out bodies from under tonnes of concrete rubble but the rescuers were examining if there was any restriction in using the animals from religious points of view.
“It is very unlikely that someone is still alive under the rubble after passing nearly 148 hours of the building collapse . . . but Allah knows better,” he said.
read more. & read more.
* Dogs used to locate bodies:
Rescuers are using trained dogs to recover dead bodies from the debris of a high-rise collapse in Savar near the capital Dhaka.
The idea came from Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy of the Bangladesh Army’s 9th Infantry Division at a media briefing on Tuesday.
He said the army had two such trained dogs and that they would suggest the government to use them.
However, army personnel were seen using dogs to locate bodies at the wreckage site soon after the press conference ended.
Nine-storied Rana Plaza collapsed on Apr 24 killing nearly 400 people. Over 1,000 are still missing. read more.
* Labourers are dispossessed by a number of ways in B’desh: Unnayan Onneshan:
Unnayan Onneshan, an independent multidisciplinary think-tank, states that the development in Bangladesh is an aggregate product of multiple factors while labour remains at the core, yet labourers are dispossessed by a number of ways.
* Union is the way, not outside pressure: Abed:
BRAC founder Fazle Hasan Abed says garment workers should be allowed to organise union to ensure basic pay and safety standards but he strongly discourages outside pressure on the nearly $20 billion industry.
In an op-ed column — Bangladesh Needs Strong Unions, Not Outside Pressure – that appeared in the New York Times on Monday, he warns against the consumers in the West stopping purchasing ‘Made in Bangladesh’ apparels following Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster in Savar.
Abed terms the Savar tragedy “one of the saddest chapters since we won our independence in 1971, precisely because the tragedy could easily have been prevented” even though Bangladesh suffers disasters quite frequently.
Dwelling upon the sentiment in the West following the latest deaths, he says: “I appreciate the unease a Westerner might feel knowing that the clothes on his or her back were stitched together by people working long hours in dangerous conditions.
* Garment owners become bloodsuckers: Dr Wazedul:
The garments factories have turned into a valley of death at the hand of a section of profit-mongering industrialist due to their avarice and greed.
Dr Wazedul Islam Khan, coordinator of Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad (SKOP) and general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, said this in an exclusive interview with the daily Kaler Kantho.
He accused the successive governments of protecting these entrepreneurs. A free trade union is indispensable to salvage workers from humanitarian catastrophe.
Had trade union been allowed, workers’ suffering might have ended contributing to increase in production.
He discussed various issues related to labour movement, economic-political character of the garment owners and the role of successive governments.
* Savar victims’ families, injured to be rehabilitated: PM:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday reiterated that her government will take necessary steps for the rehabilitation of the families of the garment workers who were killed and injured in the disastrous Savar building collapse.
* Wounded rescuer to be flown to S’pore:
A rescuer, who sustained burn injuries while trying to rescue trapped garment worker Shaheena from Rana Plaza rubble Sunday night, will be flown to Singapore for treatment.
Abdul Aziz, whose details could not be learnt immediately, is scheduled to be sent to Singapore on a special flight.
“We have decided and taken steps to send him to Singapore for better treatment,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told members of Peshajibi Samunnay Parishad during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) around Tuesday noon.
The PMO will bear his treatment cost, estimated to be around Tk 1.40 crore, sources at the PMO told The Daily Star.
to read. & read more.
* BGMEA to help garment workers replace their limbs:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will help the injured garment workers, who lost their limbs in the Savar building collapse, to replace the limbs.
“We held a fruitful discussion with CRP’s Sister Valerie Tailor on Monday to replace the limbs of injured workers. CRP, BGMEA and some NGOs will help the injured workers to replace their limbs,” BGMEA president Atiqul Islam said at a press conference at the BGMEA Bhaban here Tuesday evening.
About the number of injured workers, he said nearly 515 garment workers are currently under treatment at different hospitals and clinic in the capital and in Savar.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Donation & help pours in for Savar victims:
Different organisations and an individual on Tuesday donated over Tk 3 crore to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the assistance of the Savar tragedy victims.
Briefing reporters, PM press secretary Abul Kalam Azad said that chairman of United Group Hassan Mahmud Raja handed over a cheque of Tk 2.5 crore to the Prime Minister at her office.
Besides, the Authorities of Fareast Islamic Life Insurance Company gave a cheque of Tk 25 lakh, chairman of Bagerhat Sea Food Industry S M Amjad Hossain personally donated Tk 25 lakh while President of Old Foujian Association Major retired Sabur gave a cheque of Tk 2 lakh.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* AG for Tk 1cr compensation for each family:
Attorney General Mahbub-e-Alam on Tuesday proposed Tk 600 crore as compensation to the victims of Savar Rana Plaza.
He came up with the proposal when the owner of Rana Plaza and concerned Garments’ owners were produced before an HC bench comprising Justice Mirza Hossain Haider and Justice Muhammad Khurshed Alam.
In the hearing, he said, “All the main perpetrators of the ‘collapse and its consequences’ are detained. Taka one crore has to be compensated to each of the victims’ families.”
He added: “Half of the money could be paid by the building owner and the other half by the RMG factory owners.” read more.
* Rana Plaza Graft: ACC team visits site:
A team of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on Tuesday visited the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar to probe the allegation of serious irregularities in the construction of Rana Plaza and amassing of illegal wealth by its owner Sohel Rana.
* Allegations of concealing Bodies- It’s not true says rescue coordinator:
Relatives of Rana Plaza victims who are still missing said on Tuesday that some bodies of dead victims were concealed, an allegation the rescuers rejected outright.
Saying that it is their first priority to rescue the survivors from under the rubble, if there is any, Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Suhrawardy of the 9th Infantry Division, which is leading the rescue operation now, said they were putting their best efforts to pull out the bodies unhurt.
“It would be very painful if people think this way. We are rescuing people risking our lives and this kind of thought will break our mental strength,” he said, referring to the allegation.
His reaction came at a press briefing near the nine-storey collapsed building Tuesday following allegations made at the site and at a demonstration in front of the Jatiya Press Club (JPC).
Around 100 relatives of the missing victims started a sit-in in front of the JPC at about 11:45am. read more.
* Rana’s father on 13-day remand:
A Dhaka court on Tuesday remanded Abdul Khalek, father of Sohel Rana, owner of a collapsed building in Savar, for 13 days in two cases — one filed for violating the building code, and the other for loss of lives and damages.
Khalek was arrested from Moghbazar in the capital on Monday.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Wasim Sheikh passed the order after the Detective Branch of police produced Khalek before him with a 20-day remand in the cases.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* HC bans transfer of wealth of Rana, 4 RMG owners:
The High Court (HC) on Tuesday imposed a ban on the transfer of all moveable and immovable property of Sohel Rana, owner of the crashed Rana Plaza, and the four owners of five garment factories housed in it.
The four garment factory owners are Aminul Islam of Phantom Apparels Ltd and Phantom Tex Ltd, Anisur Rahman of Ether Tex Ltd, Bazlus Samad of New Wave Bottoms Ltd and Mahmudur Rahman Tapos of New Wave Style Ltd.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Another held for helping Sohel Rana to flee:
Detective Branch (DB) of police on Tuesday morning detained a man on charge of helping Sohel Rana, the owner of collapsed Rana Plaza, to flee.
DB source said they detained Abul Hasan (43) from a building in city’s Malibagh area around 11 am.
Four days after the Savar tragedy, members of elite Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) arrested Sohel Rana from Benapole in Jessore on Sunday, foiling his bid to flee to India.
The death toll from the disastrous building collapse has reached to 391 till Tuesday.
* How Rana fled after rescue:
Murad Jong phones him 20mins into building collapse; taken away by the MP’s vehicle
While ruling-Awami League lawmaker Murad Jong has been denying any kind of association with Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed building in Savar, Rana’s mobile phone record shows how close they were.
According to Rab sources, at 9:05am on Wednesday, just 20 minutes after the collapse, Murad Jong had called Rana over the mobile phone to enquire about his condition. Rana, however, could not receive the call, as he got trapped inside the building and was almost unconscious.
After his arrest Rana told Rab that he had gone to his office in the basement of Rana Plaza around 8:00am that day. He was holding a meeting with his five aides on an anti-hartal procession. When the building collapsed about 45 minutes later, he had fainted.
His associates soon pleaded the locals through a crushed window to rescue them. Rana was rescued with a minor injury in a hand, he told Rab.
* 10 hurt in cop-worker clash in Savar:
At least 10 people were injured in a series of clashes between workers and police in Savar on Tuesday.
The agitating workers vandalised 20 vehicles, disrupting traffic movement on the Dhaka-Aricha highway.
The workers have been demonstrating against the deaths of their fellow workers in Savar building collapse and death penalty to the building owner, Sohel Rana.
Rana Plaza, a nine-storey building housing five garment factories, a branch of Brac Bank and a shopping complex, collapsed on April 24 trappings several thousand people inside it. The building collapse death toll now stands 386.
Locals said hundreds of workers started demonstration at different points in Savar including Hotapara, Genda, Urail and Rajfulbaria since 8:30am Tuesday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Over 300 RMG units forced to suspend production amid protest:
More than 300 garment units at Savar and Ashulia on Tuesday were forced to suspend production amid workers’ protest demanding capital punishment of Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana, Rana Plaza garment units’ owners, arrest of the local lawmaker Murad Jong and Savar upazila nirbahi officer Kabir Hossain Sarder.
The workers blocked the Dhaka-Tangail highway at Zamgora and Zirabo of Ashulia and Dhaka-Aricha highway at Ulail and Fulbaria for three and half hours blocking traffic movement on the highways.
At least 25 workers were injured as police charged baton and fired rubber bullets to disperse the agitating workers from the highways. read more.
* PM urges workers to refrain for violent acts to protect industry:
Terming unleashing violent acts in mills and factories by so-called workers as suicidal, Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina today made a fervent appeal to the workers to refrain from such activities to protect the garment industry.
“Attacking and vandalizing mills and factories in the name of expressing of grievance are what type works? I don’t believe that all of them are workers as the real workers cannot attack or vandalize the mills and factories which earn bread and butter for them,” she said.
“I would like to tell the workers to keep their head cool, keep mills and factories operative, otherwise you would become unemployed,” she added.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Vested quarter out to destroy RMG industry, says BGMEA:
Apparel industry leaders accused on Tuesday a ‘vested quarter’ of having been engaged in destroying the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry by creating anarchy and unrest in the name of Rana Plaza collapse.
“Many factories in Ashulia, Savar and Gazipur remained closed today (Tuesday) and a vested group is instigating the workers for creating unrest,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Atiqul Islam said at a press conference held at the association’s headquarters in the city Tuesday.
He called upon all workers to join the factories on Thursday and resume production for the betterment of the sector and to make timely shipment of the products.
* Law enforcers remain alert at apparel hubs :
Law enforcement agencies have been asked to remain alert around the country’s apparel industrial hubs on fear of violent protests by workers centring May Day.
The law enforcers have also been directed to handle the protesting workers with patience so that the violence, if it happens, cannot further flare up that could jolt the garment factories.
The authorities engaged to ensure smooth law and order in apparel belts took the precautionary measures following intelligent report that a vested interest group can instigate workers towards massive protests to cash in Rana Plaza tragedy.
* Leathergoods manufacturers extend help to Savar victims :
Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) donates Tk 50 lakh for the medical treatment of the Savar Victims while pledging to absorb 1,000 employees from the Savar tragedy into the leather sector.
A team of delegates from the association, led by its President Syed Nasim Manzur, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office Saturday to convey their condolences and extend all out support from the organization to the victims of the Savar tragedy.
The delegates conveyed their deepest appreciation for the earnest efforts rescue workers and the timely response from the state in ensuring proper medical and logistical support to the victims. read more.
* Govt for sustainable growth of apparel sector: Inu:
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu today said the government will implement the recommendations of the probe committees for smooth functioning of the garment sector of the country.
“The cabinet along with the apex body of the country’s apparel sector Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have already formed two high profile probe committees to detect any fault in other factories located at the multi-storey buildings in the country”, said the minister at a press conference at his secretariat office here.
The government will take necessary action to implement the recommendations of the probe committees for smooth and sustainable growth of the apparels industries of the country, the minister pointed out. read more.
* Many still missing in Savar:
Relatives see no hope of getting back their dear ones alive; 4 more bodies found
With unnumbered decomposed bodies remaining stuck in concrete slabs of the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar, rescuers yesterday recovered four more bodies while removing the building debris.
With this, the number of bodies recovered rose to 388 on the seventh day of the rescue operation. No person was rescued alive in the last two days.
Also yesterday, rescuers used two trained dogs to trace the dead.
Relatives of those still missing are losing patience. Neither the police nor the military could say the figure of the missing persons. Many estimated the number would be several hundred.
“We are not going for massive demolition since there are bodies at different places of the building. We are trying to recover the bodies without any deformation,” Lt Col Moin Uddin of Third Engineering Battalion (Savar Cantonment) told The Daily Star.
It could take another 12-15 days to remove the debris if a concerted effort is made. However, it might not be possible as the rescuers become careful whenever a body is found, he mentioned. read more.
* Survived, only to suffer:
Rikta Moni suddenly attempts to sit up on her bed, forgetting that a fracture in her spinal cord and several wounds in her body will not let her do so. Groaning in acute pain, she starts screaming, “Sister, get me out of here. The building is crumbling down!”
The building was not falling down. She just heard a very low sound of thunder. Neither was there Asha Begum, her elder sister whom a shuddering Rikta was calling out as she lay in a bed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on Sunday evening.
Eighteen-year-old Rikta was a sewing machine operator working on the third floor of Rana Plaza that caved in last week. Aasha, a quality controller on the same floor, is yet to be found.
“Any minor sound can cause panic among this type of victims so much that they may start to hallucinate in any situation,” Muntasir Maruf, assistant registrar of National Institute of Mental Health, has told The Daily Star.
* Savar tragedy sheds light on workers’ safety:
It has become a common newspaper heading for the last few years that workers have died of some sort of accident to at their workplaces. The epic tragedy of “Rana Plaza” is one of the most unfortunate mass deaths this country has seen.
Before this, the fire break-outs took more than 100 lives in “Tazreen Fashions” factory in Ashulia, 25 lives in “Garib and Garib” garments factory in Gazipur and eight in Shampur, Dhaka.
In most cases, according to various news reports, investigation team(s) has been working to find out the internal malfunctions resulting into such devastations.
The police said charges would be brought against the owners of the factories possibly for manslaughter, which is a form of unlawful killing. But the truth is there is no specific law for punishment of the persons responsible.
Even if punishment is inflicted under the Penal Code, putting a few of the factory owners behind bars is not going to improve the neglecting attitude of the owner class. read more.
* Owners probe owners’ fault:
The BGMEA’s initiatives to ensure safety compliance in apparel factories seem to be an eyewash to cover up the faults of factory owners.
The trade body forms committees and taskforces after accidents in garment factories, but they never come up with any concrete findings that would eventually help ensure workers’ safety in factories.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association formed a committee led by its member Ali Azam Khan to probe the Spectrum Sweater factory collapse that killed 64 workers in April 2005. The committee was asked to submit report in seven days, but it has yet to do that even after seven years.
Following a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012, the trade body formed a taskforce to check whether apparel factories were complying with safety regulations.
read more. & read more.
* Little signs of life in the rubble:
Huge cranes on Tuesday continued lifting away debris from the collapsed Rana Plaza with the authorities using sniffer dogs and sensor devices to search for bodies or survivors who might have still remained trapped under the rubble seven days into the disaster.
The authorities said the number of bodies still trapped under the rubble could hover around four or five hundred as they estimated that the number of people who were staying inside the building when it came crashing down on Wednesday morning might be around 3,200.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association vice-president SM Mannan had told New Age after the disaster that 3,400 people used to work in the garment units in the building while the survivors and locals put the number at about 5,000.
Though police stationed
at the Adhar Chandra High School premises listed over 1,000 missing workers, the control room set up by the army said they had no idea about the list. read more.
* After the Savar factory tragedy:
There is still no exact figure of how many people were in the building when the Rana Plaza collapsed in the Dhaka suburb of Savar on Wednesday, 24 April but different estimates suggest that the figure was over 5000.
As of Sunday, the Combined Rescue team started using heavy equipment as there is little or no possibility of finding any more survivors.
Even after 100 hours, a worker from one of the garment factories, a Mr Shajahan, was rescued alive. However, I do not know if any more dead bodies will be found in the building at the last moment.
It is feared that as many as 1000 people are still missing.
One of Bangladesh’s leading English-language daily newspapers, the New Age, reports that the final number might even be as high as 1050 people. Many families and friends are waiting for news of their loved ones.
The latest figure has reached 397 but in one newspaper the death toll had crossed 400. I have not been able to watch the TV coverage of the rescue operation as I find it intolerable to see the pain and sufferings of human beings forced into such inhuman conditions.
In the meantime, several factory bosses and Rana Plaza owner Mohammed Sohel Rana have been arrested. Workers have been demonstrating since the building fell but various groups, such as students and teachers, have also staged demonstrations in front of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association office.
Speaking to activists in Savar just now, I have come to know that relatives of missing people are staging demonstrations there too.
The basic problems are this:
1. Employers are more powerful than the administration, but they do not care about the welfare of their workers
2. Except for a few, all workplaces in Bangladesh are unsafe
3. Health and safety laws are not enforced
4. Governor inspectors never inspect the factories.
5. Building codes are ignored
6. Inadequate law to punish the employers and building owners
7. No or few trade unions both government and employers do not want trade unions
* ILO to send high-level mission to Bangladesh following the Rana Plaza Building collapse:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) will send a high-level mission to Bangladesh in the coming days to offer its support and expedite action by all parties following the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building in Savar, which left at least 380 people dead.
The high-level mission will be led by ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations, Gilbert Houngbo.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said he was writing to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, urging immediate action to prevent a recurrence of the latest in a series of entirely avoidable workplace tragedies. read more. & read more. & read more.
* Missions abroad need to convince buyers: BGBA:
The Bangladesh Garment Buying House Association on Tuesday urged the government to give instructions to the Bangladesh missions abroad to sit with the buyers and inform them about the government initiatives over the recent Savar tragedy.
Overseas buyers have expressed grave concern over the workplace standard in Bangladesh following the recent collapse of Rana Plaza, a nine-storey building that housed five garment factories along with other business establishments, killing nearly 400 garment workers.
To earn confidence of the buyers the government and authorities concerned need to take prompt action over all the incidents in the garment sector
read more. & read more.
* Badal for building monument for Savar tragedy victims:
The ruling Grand Alliance lawmaker and JSD leader Moinuddin Khan Badal today proposed in parliament for building a monument for Savar tragedy victims on a one-acre plot.
This monument will expose two things-firstly the symbol of greedy men and secondly indomitable courage of Bangali nation, he said standing on a point of order.
Lauding the government’s actions within just 20 minutes of the incident,
Badal said the recovery of 2825 persons, including 2437 alive, is a rare example in the history of rescue operation. read more.
* May Day today- Today is the historic May Day:
Tens of thousands of working people of the country along with the rest of the world will join street rallies and other activities to raise iron voice for ensuring their rights and working safety along with upholding spirit of May Day today (Wednesday), reports BSS.
The Savar catastrophe will surely add fresh vigour to worker’s voice in this year’s May Day while every faction of the society marked this manmade tragic incident as a wake up bell for ensuring workers’ safety.
Workers groups and trade unions, political parties, different government and socio- cultural organizations chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day under the theme ‘Safe working- environment, Bangladesh to Advance’.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* May Day today:
May Day, as the International Labour Day is known in this country, will be celebrated in Bangladesh today with heavy hearts in the backdrop of hundreds of workers losing life in apparel factory collapse at Savar.
The workers are demanding exemplary punishment to those responsible for the culpable homicide of the unsuspecting workers.
Bodies of at least 387 apparel workers could be
recovered from the debris of the multi-storied Rana Plaza at Savar, housing five apparel factories, that collapsed on April 24.
May Day commemorates the 1886 workers uprising at Haymarket in Chicago for their legitimate rights including eight-hour working day. read more.
* Message of May Day 2013:
The historic May Day had its roots in Haymarket in Chicago of the United States. On May 1, 1986 some workers were shot dead by the police when they started agitating for fixing working time of eight hours a day. They made history. The communist parties in Europe, through the Congress of Second International, introduced 1st May as the International Workers’ Day.
Today in 2013, Savar, on the outskirts of Dhaka city, epitomises the repeat of the Haymarket lessons in Bangladesh. Here about hundreds of garment workers became victims of a man-made disaster, caused by their employers. Countless decomposed corpses remained under the debris of a collapsed 9-storey building Rana Plaza by name on April 24, 2013. Here about 3,000 ill-fated garment workers did not bring out any procession nor did they take part in any demonstration. They were called in and forced to come to work in a building that developed cracks earlier.
The readymade garments (RMG), which is the single largest export sector of Bangladesh, employs about eight million workers. The low cost of production is due to low wages. Female workers constitute about 80 per cent of the labour force in the garment sector. They are not only low-paid but also they do not earn enough money for their proper housing and medical facilities. Generally, these workers are used to live in nearby slums and come to the factories on foot. read more.
* Extreme pricing. At what cost? :
Take a few moments to browse fashion retailer Joe Fresh’s crisp, minimalist website and you might just succumb to sticker shock. For once, it’ll be because you can’t remember the last time you saw a pair of jeans this cool for $19.
Old Navy charges $34.50 for their incarnation of this season’s colourful denim trend, and they do so without Joe Fresh’s cachet as the fun new kid on the fast fashion block.
The brand is the brainchild of Joe Mimran, perhaps Canada’s best known merchant and the co-founder of Club Monaco, which he sold to Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1999. In 2004, Mimran was hired by Canada’s second richest person, department store billionaire Galen Weston, to develop a clothing line for his supermarket chain Loblaw Inc. Since its 2006 debut, Joe Fresh has grown far beyond the confines of supermarket aisles into a household name, with over 300 stores in Canada.
* Global labour rights groups want BD to strictly abide by bldg, safety codes:
International labour rights’ groups want Bangladesh to strictly abide by its building and safety codes to avoid future tragedies in the country’s apparel sector.
The groups are also in favour of maintaining internationally recognised labour standards in readymade garment (RMG) and knitwear making factories in Bangladesh that fetch more than US$19 billion annually in gross export receipts.
The global labour rights’ groups raised their strong voice especially after the Savar tragedy which took a total of 387 lives (until 4.30pm on Tuesday) of workers, mostly women, in the apparel-making sector in Bangladesh.
The rights’ groups, based in the USA and Europe, are mostly dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting workers’ empowerment in the global garment industries.
The labour rights’ groups also want introduction of trade unions in the apparel industry.
Many of them want a fully transparent supply-chain in the apparel sector and ‘respect’ for workers and a decent wage-payment structure for them.
“We’re urging all brands and retailers to source clothing from Bangladesh by joining the fire safety programmes of PVH and Tchibo with workers’ representation before more workers are killed in garment factories,” Liana Foxvog, a spokeswoman at the Washington-based International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF) told the FE through e-mail. read more.
* Labour law amendment in the offing:
The government is planning to bring drastic changes in the labour law that would provide greater benefits to apparel factory owners but marginalise the workers, labour leaders said.
On April 22, the cabinet approved a draft bill seeking to amend the Bangladesh Labour Law Act 2006.
Labour Ministry officials said that the drastic changes in the existing law were proposed in consultations with the apparel industry owners.
The draft bill seeks to exempt the apparel industry from Section 232 of the law, which requires all factory owners to share five percent of their profits with the workers.
But Bangladesh Employers’ Federation had requested the government to exempt all the export oriented industries from the provision.
Labour Ministry officials said that the apparel factory owners never contributed to the labour welfare fund since it was created. read more.
* Two more bodies found, death toll reaches 389:
Two more bodies were recovered from the debris of the collapsed eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar on Tuesday morning.
With this, the death toll rose to 389, Dhaka district deputy commissioner Md Yusuf Harun said. Nearly 111 hours after the Rana Plaza had collapsed, the second phase of the rescue operation using heavy equipment started at 12:10 am on Monday. Nearly 2,435 people have been rescued so far, and the search for survivors is still going on, Harun said.
So far, 343 bodies have been handed over to the victims’ families. Of those rescued, one died at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) on Tuesday, executive magistrate Shamima Shanti said. She also said that there were 23 dead bodies at the DMCH morgue and 22 bodies at the Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital morgue. read more.
* EU considers trade action:
The European Union voiced strong concern over labour conditions in Bangladesh after a building collapse there killed hundreds of factory workers, and said it was considering action to encourage improvements, including the use of its trade preference system.
Anger has been growing since the illegally built structure collapsed on April 24, killing at least 388 people. Hundreds remain unaccounted for but rescue officials said on Tuesday they had given up hope of finding any more survivors.
It was the third deadly incident in six months to raise questions about worker safety and labour conditions in the poor South Asian country, which relies on garments for 80 percent of its exports. read more. & read more.
* Pledge to protect workers’ rights:
The historic May Day is being observed in the country as elsewhere across the globe on Wednesday with a renewed pledge to protect the rights of workers.
The day came when Bangladesh is dealing with Savar tragedy that killed 388 people, mostly garment workers.
The disaster occurred on April 24 when nine-storey Rana Plaza housing five garment factories, a branch of Brac Bank and a shopping mall collapsed, trapping several thousand people inside it.
So far, 2,437 people pulled out alive beneath the debris of the building.
It is reported that the factory owners forced workers to join at work following a false assurance on the building’s safety, though several cracks had developed on some pillars and a few floors of the building following a jolt, a day before the collapse, violating labour rights. read more.
* Death toll rises to 404:
At least 404 garments workers have been found dead and thousands others injured as an 8-storied building–Rana Plaza–collapsed in Savar bus stand area of Dhaka on Wednesday morning.
The rescue team identified some 354 bodies and handed over to family and relatives.
Death toll may rise as many others were still trapped in the collapsed building. Police and hospital sources confirmed the matter to banglanews. read more.
* Stop The Killing! Demand safety for Bangladeshi workers:
Over 370 people were killed in the Bangladesh Rana Plaze building collapse.
On Wednesday 24th April thousands of workers went to work at one of their garment factories located above the Rana Plaza shopping centre in Savar, Dhaka. They had been told to return to work despite noticing large cracks appearing the building only the day before. Over 370 of these workers were killed and over a thousand injured when that same day the building came crashing down, trapping them under tons of rubble and machinery.
The dead and injured workers in the Rana Plaza tragedy were producing garments for North American and European high street brands when their factories collapsed. A number of brands have already acknowledged production with these factories including Primark (UK/Ireland), Bon Marche (UK), Joe Fresh (Loblaws, Canada), El Corte Ingles (Spain) and Mango (Spain). Benetton labels were also found among the remains of the factory. More are still being identified.
This tragedy has devastated the lives of thousands of families. The injuries suffered by many of these workers are horrific and will require both immediate and long-term medical care.Brands must take immediate action to make sure emergency relief is in place and compensation is paid. read more & please sign here.
* ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE:
* Families of Tazreen fire victims demand compensation:
The families of Tazreen fire victims on Tuesday expressed frustration over non-payment of compensation even after five months of the blaze that left 112 workers killed at Tazreen Fashions Limited at Savar.
At a protest rally outside Jurain graveyard, 37 families, whose relatives were buried there, demanded compensation from the government.
The families of the victims organised the protests in collaboration with Garments Sramik Oikyo Forum and Activist Anthropologist.
A fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions Limited at Ashulia of Savar on November 24, 2012 that left 112 workers killed and scores injured.
Just five months after the Tazreen fire, eight-storey Rana Plaza at Savar, which housed five garments factories and a market, collapsed on April 24, leaving about 400 killed and scores injured, said the speakers at the rally. read more.
19:06:48 local time INDIA
* A garment May Day:
Those who have watched the global garment saga swell and decline chaotically in the past half-a-century can tell that this was a disaster waiting to happen anywhere in Asia or Africa. Even then, the fellow garment workers and media from the South have been slow to respond. Instead, the loudest public outcry has come from European and American consumers who have put a different spin to this human disaster in Bangladesh.
What is worrying about the western coverage is its first-worldism. “Another preventable tragedy in Bangladesh,” reported The New York Times, a statement echoed by BBC, The Globe and Mail, Reuters and others, who refuse to see this crisis as anything but yet another third world mishap that has to do with greedy businessmen, corrupt politicians, incompetent bureaucracy, and the large swathe of the poor with no other options but to put themselves in the line of death.
Since this kind of discourse considers the crisis to be locally embedded, it is then assumed that someone local will eventually take the blame. This orientalist notion is also rationalist, which leads bourgeois shoppers to believe that the solution entails the problem be solved by arresting a few factory owners or fining his western buyers. read more.
* Apparel exports down 5.75% in 2012-13: AEPC:
The US and Europe together account for over 65% of the country’s garment exports
India’s apparel exports declined by 5.76% to $12.92 billion in 2012-13 due to the demand slowdown in major markets of the US and Europe.
In 2011-12, the sector’s export stood at $13.71 billion.
“Exports have declined to the country’s major destinations – the Europe and the US,” Apparel Export Promotion Council Chairman (AEPC) A Sakthivel said in a statement.
He said India’s export to the EU region during January-February, 2013 period declined by 6.5% to $1.1 billion. read more.
19:06:48 local time SRI LANKA
* Public sector real wages fall, private sector rises: CB:
While the nominal wages of employees in both the public and private sectors increased in 2012, only private sector employees (in the formal and informal sectors) saw their real wages increase, after adjusting for inflation, the Central Bank said.
“The increase in both nominal and real wages was significant among the employees in the formal private sector whose wages are governed by the Wages Boards Trades. Both the nominal and real wages of informal private sector employees whose wages are determined freely in the labour market by demand and supply factors also showed a considerable increase, particularly in nominal terms, during 2012,” the Central Bank 2013 Annual Report said. read more.