13:16:37 local time PHILIPPINES
* Chinese apparel firm seeks local listing:
Chinese sports apparel manufacturing firm Hengda Group Holdings Corp. has set its sight on listing in the Philippine Stock Exchange and is buying into a local competitor to establish a footprint in the country.
This is the latest on a number of Chinese nationals who brought investments into the Philippines, underscoring the Philippines growing attractiveness, analysts said.
12:16:37 local time VIET NAM
* Footwear sector strives for supply chain sustainability:
The footwear industry is set to expand its international cooperation and supply chain for long-term, sustainable growth.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has recommended the footwear sector capitalise on ongoing regional and global production transition trends to achieve higher growth.
It says the footwear industry must develop material production and focus on seizing the advantages of modern technology while keeping environmental concerns in mind. read more.
* Vietnam textile sector expects 15% rise in 2013: vitas:
Vietnam’s textile and apparel exports are expected to grow by 15 percent during 2013, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
Vietnamese textile & apparel sector witnessed a rise of 32 percent in exports during 2005-11. Last year, the country’s textile and clothing exports earned US$ 17.15 billion, registering an increase of 8.5 percent year-on-year.
Speaking to fibre2fashion, vice-chairman of VITAS, Ms. Dung Dang said, “We are expecting 10-15 percent growth in textile and garment exports by the end of 2013.”
read more. & read more.
* Employers complain amended Labour Code is ‘heavy burden’:
Some elements of the new amended Labour Code, intended to protect the rights of workers, have at the same time put a heavy burden on employers, company representatives said at a conference held in Ha Noi yesterday.
The conference, attended by policy makers and entrepreneurs focusing on the impact of new labour policies on business management, geared much discussion towards the impact of revised policies regulating overtime allowance, the operation of trade unions as well as ambiguities and uncertainties found in the amended Labour Code.
“As companies are climbing a high slope with great burdens on their shoulders, they need to be supported somehow so that the burden can be reduced instead of becoming heavier,” Vu Thi Mai Thu, deputy chairman of the Ha Noi Association for Woman Entrepreneurs, said. read more.
12:16:37 local time CAMBODIA
* Thousands go on strike at factories:
A bout 5,000 workers went on strike at the M&V garment factory in Kampong Chhnang province yesterday, adding to the list of incidents at the factory in the past two years that has also included mass faintings.
Noun Sam Ol, the Free Trade Union representative at the factory, said the issue this time was that a manager, Chan Narith, had been sacked without reason.
“He would always help the workers when we had problems . . . we need him back at work.”
Thousands went on strike at the factory last June, while hundreds fainted in August 2011.
Factory officials could not be reached yesterday.
Elsewhere, about 700 workers from the Pine Great (Cambodia) garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district blocked the road for half an hour, demanding due wages. read more.
11:16:37 local time BANGLADESH
* Mirpur RMG factory catches fire & doused:
A sweater factory, housed in an 11-stoery building near Bangla College in the city’s Mirpur area, caught fire on Wednesday night.
Fire Brigade sources said the fire broke out around 11:05 pm on the first floor of Tung Hai Sweater Factory at Technical Intersection under Darus Salam Police Station and it soon roared through its second floor.
On information, 11 units of firefighters rushed in and doused the flame around 01:10 am.
It was not still clear whether there was any worker in the factory and what actually caused the fire. read more.
* 7 killed in RMG factory fire:
At least seven people, including a police official, were killed in a fire at a garment factory in Darussalam of Mirpur last night.
Five of them have been identified as managing director of the factory Mahbubur Rahman, additional deputy inspector general (DIG) ZA Morshed, president of Comilla Uttara Zila Jubo League Sohel Mostafa Swapan, and the MD’s friends Syed Nasim Reza and Emdadul.
Identity of the other two deceased could not be known immediately.
The DIG’s bodies have been kept in Square Hospital. Bodies of Sohel and Emdadul have been kept at National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, while of Mahbubur’s at Apollo Hospital.
Fire fighters said most of them had been found on the staircase and all had died in suffocation.
The fire broke out at Tung Hai Sweater Ltd at about 11:05pm. All the units of the factory were closed then. According to fire fighters the fire originated on the second floor of the 11-storey building.
The fire could not spread as several fire fighting units from Mirpur reached the scene immediately. More fire fighting units joined them later. Clouds of smoke were coming out of the building until filing of this report at 2:00am.
About 200 to 300 workers worked at the garment factory until 10:00pm. But the MD, his friends and some staffs were on the 9th floor when the fire broke out.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 7 killed in city sweater factory fire:
At least seven people were killed when a sweater factory in the city’s Darus Salam area caught fire on Wednesday night.
Of the deceased, two were identified as Mahbubur Rahman, managing director (MD) of the sweater factory Tung Hai, and Morshed, additional deputy inspector general (DIG) of police.
Identity of the rest victims could not be known as of filing this report at 3:00am on Thursday.
Fire Brigade headquarters sources said the sweater factory, housed in a 12-stoery building on the Darus Salam Road near Bangla College under Darus Salam police station, caught fire on the first floor at about 11:05pm and it soon spread up to the second floor. read more.
* City sweater factory fire kills 8:
At least eight people including a DIG of police & its managing director were killed in a devastating fire at a sweater factory in capital’s Mirpur on Wednesday night.
Four of the deceased were identified as managing director Mahabubur Rahman, DIG Monjur Morshed, Comilla distrct Juba League president Sohel Mostofa Sapan and Emadur Rahman Badal.
Sources said that most of the workers left the factory at 7:00pm and factory MD and some other officials were at ninth floor of the 11-storey building.
The fire originated from the ground floor and soon it spread upto second floor at 11:00pm Wednesday. The MD and others felt sick due to smoke and some of them lost sense while tried to escape from the fire. read more.
* RMG fire in Mirpur kills owner, an additional DIG among 8:
A devastating fire that swept through a sweater factory last night at Mirpur here killing eight people including its owner and an additional DIG of police.
The blaze broke out on the second floor of Tung Hai Sweater Factory housed in an 11-storey building at Mirpur Technical crossing, around 11.05pm, fire service sources said.
ZM Monzur Morshed, additional deputy inspector general (transport) of police headquarters and Mahbubur Rahman, managing director (MD) of the factory and director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) died in the fire. read more.
* UPDATE: Fire burns valuables worth Tk 25 lak :
Two devastating fires gutted valuables worth about Taka Twenty five lakh at Matlab South and Kochua Upazilas of the district on Tuesday and Monday, said delayed reports. In the first fire incident occurred at Koladi area under Matlab South Upazila Sadar at dawn on Tuesday, a devastating fire suddenly broke out in a godown filled with various brands of cigarettes of Dhaka Tobacco Ltd belonging to its agent one Kazi Nasiruddin.
On hearing the shoutings of fire from an eye witness, locals actively came forward and with great efforts, doused the blaze of fire at last.
How the fire originated could not be ascertained immediately-said the owner Nasiruddin and his Manager Abdur Rahman.
Valuation of loss caused in the fire was about Tk 20 lakhs.
It may be noted here that there is no fire station at Matlab South Upazila Sadar, although traders and people have been demanding for it for many years. Another fire gutted three dwelling houses made with c.i. sheets and an amount of about eighty thousand taka cash of Md Sultan Contractor at Satbaria village under Kochua Upazila of the district on Monday last (6 May) at around 9 pm, said a delayed report. read more.
* Textile factory fined Tk38.40 lakh for pollution:
The Department of Environment (DoE) on Monday fined a textile factory Tk38.40 lakh for causing environmental pollution by discharging toxic effluent into a nearby marshland in Jirabo area of Ashulia.
M Alamgir Hossain, director (monitoring and enforcement) of the DoE fined Ring Shine Textile Limited in the area for releasing environmentally hazardous effluent into a nearby marshland by using faulty Effluent Treatment Plant.
However, the factory officials at the DoE office at noon the same day, admitting widespread pollution by them, promised to take immediate measures to stop it.
read more. & read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* More bodies lie under rubble:
Relatives still look for their loved ones who remain missing on the fifteenth day into the Rana Plaza tragedy. The death toll climbs up at 794 as more bodies are recovered at the site on Wednesday. (Photo: SK Enamul Haq-Daily Star)
Forty-nine bodies were recovered from the debris of the collapsed Rana Plaza on Wednesday, taking the death toll from the disastrous building collapse to 810.
Rescuers recovered the 49 bodies from the wreckage from 6am to 8pm today, said sources at the Army control room set up at Mansur Market in Savar bus stand area.
Of the recovered corpses, 594 were handed over to the families while 62 have been kept on the Savar Adhar Chandra Model High School ground.
Seventy-nine unidentified bodies after taking DNA samples have been buried at Jurain Graveyard so that family members of the dead can later find them.
read more. & read more.& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* Bodies coming out endlessly:
The disaster management control cell, formed to coordinate the rescue work at Rana Plaza site in Savar, hopes to call off the operation in two to three days, subject to no more bodies are found in the rubble.
However, bodies are still being found. A total of 73 bodies was recovered yesterday, as of filing of this report around 9:30pm.
With this, the death toll of the worst factory disaster of the country reached to 819. Of them, 613 bodies have been handed over to their families.
An officer of the disaster management control cell said they would wait for the rescuers’ final report before calling off their operation.
“If no more bodies are found, we will handover the responsibility of the operation to district administration, said Lt Col Saiful Islam, a member of the engineering rescue team.
He said that the rescuers had so far been able to reach 50 metres inside the rubble through the rear of the collapsed building and created access to the first and second floors through the front.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) continued to distribute salaries among the workers survived at Savar cantonment shooting ground.
However, BGMEA did not comply with workers’ demanded for four months’ salary for all workers irrespective of their joining date.
This sparked dissatisfaction over the payment in the workers.
* Haunted, forever:
Laboni springs up on her bed whenever someone tries to wake her up. Screaming and groaning, she frequently asks her father, “Get me out of the building. It terrifies me.”
The 22-year-old lost her left hand while being rescued 36 hours after the most tragic building collapse in the country’s history on April 24 morning.
On the late night of April 25, she was brought to the Intensive Care Unit of Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar from the wreckage of the nine-storey Rana Plaza that housed five garment factories on its top six floors.
She is now being treated in a ward on the seventh floor of the 10-storey hospital.
Her appalling experience of “coming back to life from death’s door” is a trauma too shocking to bear. But, when this correspondent interviewed her on April 27, she looked strong enough to describe what she had gone through since the collapse and also what she had been thinking about her future.
“My life is ruined,” said Laboni, who married in 2011 but still has no child.
“But I don’t want to see the life of any other man or woman is ruined like mine.
“I request the government to do something for me so I can live my life in a way so that none can neglect me or hurt me,” she told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
Minutes before the disaster struck, her father, Mobashwer Ali, had asked her over the cellphone to leave the building. But she had no time for that. read more.
* 1,776 Rana Plaza workers paid wages, arrears:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) disbursed wages and other arrears among 1,776 out of a total of 3,619 enlisted workers of the garment factories housed at the Rana Plaza.
“It took some more time to prepare the list of the workers of the Rana Plaza factories as all documents were destroyed during the accident,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said at a press conference held in the city Wednesday. read more.
* Rana Plaza engineer sent to jail:
A Dhaka court on Wednesday sent chief engineer of Savar Rana Plaza Abdur Razzak to jail after four days remand.
Dhaka Senior Judicial Magistrate Wasim Sheikh passed the order.
Earlier, a team of Detective Branch (DB) of Police arrested chief engineer of Savar Rana Plaza Abdur Razzak from his Savar residence on Thursday. read more.
* Rehabilitation of the victim families of Savar tragedy:
Rana Plaza building turned into a tragedy when thousands of men and women workers were forced by their employers to work in a place inspectors had previously ordered to close for safety reason.
The eight-story building collapsed on April 24, 2013. The rescue team, which is still working, has already found 772 bodies. More than 2400 people are severely injured. Many people are missing till May 07.
Meanwhile, anxious relatives of the missing people have been waiting at the Adhar Chandra High School ground in Savar. They do not have sufficient food, water, shelter from rain and heat. read more.
* “The Stench of Death Is Everywhere”:
Please Donate Now to Help Victims of Bangladesh Factory Collapse
More than ten years ago, when we first partnered with workers’ rights advocates in Bangladesh, we at the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights knew that their work for safer and fairer conditions was vital ─ and that many needless deaths would result from corporate greed before the system improved.
In our worst imaginings, however, we did not envision the devastation wrought this week. As of Monday morning, May 7, 717 workers are confirmed dead in the collapse of the illegally constructed Rana Plaza building, which housed five factories that produced garments for the U.S., Canada and Europe.
“The stench of death is everywhere,” we are told by our friend and colleague Rafiqul Islam Sujan, president of the Garment and Industrial Workers’ Federation. The death toll could reach 1,000 or more, given that only about half of the rubble has been removed. Sujan knows these workers well, as his office is one block from Rana Plaza. For years, his team of brave activists has fought to help workers there who were paid just 12 to 26 cents an hour, while toiling 90 to 100 hours a week.
Of course, corporations who abuse like this every day will fight tooth and nail to avoid compensating victims of their criminal greed. I am writing to you today because hundreds of workers and families need help ─ NOW.
We have to move quickly. read more.
* Savar Tragedy, Garments Industry and Bangladesh:
By Dr Muhammad Yunus
1.0 Savar tragedy is a symbol of our failure as a nation. The crack in Rana Plaza that caused the collapse of the building has only shown us that if we don’t face up to the cracks in our state systems, that we as a nation will get lost in the debris of the collapse.
Today the souls of those who lost their lives in Rana Plaza are watching what we are doing and listening to what we say. The last breath of those souls surrounds us.
Did we learn anything at all from this terrible massacre? Or will we have completed our duty by merely expressing our deep sympathy?
2.0 What should we do?
(a) Do everything to prevent such an incident from being repeat the future.
(b) What to do for those who have lost lives, their limbs or their livelihoods?
(c) What do we need to do to not only save our garments industry but make it even more strong?
(d) The collapse of the nine-floor building in Savar was not merely a collapse. The collapse of the building is just a precursor to the imminent collapse of all our state institutions. If we look closely at the collapse of the Savar building, we can read the symptoms of collapse of our state institutions. We will have to find ways to fix the institutions to protect them from complete collapse.
* Rana on fresh remand:
Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed high rise Rana Plaza, was placed on fresh remand for 12 days yesterday in two cases for illegal possession of a firearm and drugs.
The accused, now on 15-day remand, is being grilled in two other cases.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Taiyabul Hasan placed Rana on police remand for seven days in the arms case and five days in the drugs case, said Alamgir Hossain, officer-in-charge of Dhamrai Police Station.
The two cases were filed with the police station after detectives of Dhaka district recovered a pistol, five bullets and five bottles of phensedyl from Rana’s brickfield at Dhamrai on May 5.
Law enforcers arrested Rana from Benapole of Jessore on April 28, four days after his nine-storey building caved in, causing huge casualties. to read.
* Kaikobad, a face of humanity:
Kaikobad, the valiant man who sacrificed his life trying to rescue trapped garment workers from under the rubble of Rana Plaza in Savar, was in fact going to his construction site in Gazipur on the afternoon of April 25, a day after the building had collapsed.
A Good Samaritan from childhood, the 35-year-old could not sit quietly after he had watched television reports on the disaster, said his elder sister Nurunnahar.
On the afternoon of April 25, he started for Gazipur on his motorbike. As he reached near the collapse site, he parked his motorbike in front of a shop and jumped right into action. Over the next five days, the father of two did not think about anything other than the rescue of the victims.
Kaikobad had rescued alive at least 26 people, said rescuers and his family.
* Death toll rises to 892:
The death toll rose to 892 in Savar Rana Plaza collapse with the recovery of 15 more bodies the debris till 7:30 am Thursday on the 16th day of the incident.
Of them, a total of 632 bodies were identified and handed over to their families.
Confirming the death toll and body handover, Army control room said 15 more decomposed bodies were recovered from 6:00am to 7:30am. read more.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Yunus for min wage at int’l level, trust for RMG workers:
Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus has made a couple of suggestions to help improve the working condition in the country’s apparel industry.
He made the suggestions in a statement Wednesday following the deadliest-ever tragedy at Rana Plaza, Savar that has so far claimed lives of more than 800 people, mostly garment workers.
In his first proposal, Prof Yunus said foreign buyers should jointly fix a minimum international wage level.
For example, he said if the minimum wage is now 25 cents per hour in Bangladesh, then they will standardise minimum wage for garment industry at 50 cents per hour.
“No buyer will give any salary below this rate, and no industry owner will fix salary below this limit. It will be an integral part of compliance.”
Prof Yunus in his another proposal suggested creation of “Grameen (or BRAC) Garment Workers Welfare Trust” in Bangladesh by charging customers additional US$ 0.50 against per piece of cloth. read more.
* 10 secrets of Bangladesh garment industry:
The deadly collapse of a Bangladesh garment factory shined a light on the unsafe conditions so many of the industry’s workers grapple with on a daily basis. Yet any potential for large-scale change remains largely elusive. So for now, here are ten frightening truths that help explain life in the Bangladesh garment industry:
It’s risky work: Bangladesh garment workers often toil away in unsafe buildings where the exits and windows are often blocked. That’s resulted in part in more than 800 garment workers dying over the past decade as a direct result of their work, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The wages are very low: The minimum wage in Bangladesh is $37 per month, according to The New York Times. And the monthly entry-level wage for a garment worker is slightly above $40, just one-quarter of China’s, according to the WSJ.
The factories use child labor: Despite some progress, children are still involved in the production of textiles in Bangladesh, according to the Department of Labor.
Demanding higher wages can prove deadly: One labor leader who did just that was found murdered last year, according to the WSJ.
It’s difficult to access the factories in case of emergency: It took firefighters all night to put out a fire in a Bangladesh factory last year that killed more than 100 people, reportedly because the access road to the factory was difficult to traverse.
* Govt for shut risky RMG factory:
The government will shut down readymade garments factories, which seem to be risky.
“The government has already shut down 18 factories,” said Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui.
The minister came up with the assertion at a meeting on the garments industries held at secretariat on Wednesday.
He also said two taskforces were formed on fire fighting, and to extend and facilitate RMG industries. read more. & read more.
* 18 risky RMG factories closed:
Textiles and Jute Minister Latif Siddique on Wednesday said the government will take initiatives for closing the risky garment factory buildings in the country, reports UNB.
“Sixteen garment factories in Dhaka and two in Chittagong have been closed. The owners of the closed factories would get a chance to reopen their factories if they follow the building code,” he said.
The minister was talking to reporters after the cabinet meeting on garment industries.
However, the workers of the closed factories will get their arrear salaries, he said.
“The risky garment factory buildings won’t be allowed to operate. “From now on, no one would be allowed to launch new garment factory if they don’t follow the ILO law, the Bangladesh Labour Law and the building code,” he said.
Referring to tragic incidents at Rana Plaza, Tazreen Fashions and Spectrum garment factories, the minister said: “Those incidents took place due to the owners’ greed for money. They didn’t follow the building code, which led to the incidents.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Cracks in 65 units, 6 unsafe: BGMEA:
After the Savar tragedy, the BGMEA has reviewed the infrastructure and
safety mechanism in garment factories across the country and it found 65
factory buildings had cracks on the walls.
Of those, six buildings were found risky. Three factories have been closed down and are being relocated.
The decisions on the rest of three buildings would be taken on the basis of advice from RAJUK, BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said at a press conference on Wednesday. read more.
* Plaster cracks cause RMG workers to flee factories:
The country’s apparel makers have expressed their fears about cancellation of export orders worth millions of US dollars as production at over eighty export-oriented ready-made garment (RMG) factories has been put on hold, following ‘detection of cracks’.
Garment owners claimed that a group of ‘unscrupulous’ people were instigating garment workers to leave their work after noticing even a crack in the wall-plaster.
If such trend continues, then a good number of other garment factories will also be forced to postpone production which might render many of them bankrupt due to the cancellation of export orders by the overseas buyers, they stated.
Managing Director of Benetex Ltd in Narayanganj, Ratan Kumar told the FE that all of a sudden one of his staff informed him over phone that the workers of the factory were rushing out, upon finding a crack in factory building, three days after the Rana Plaza collapse. “But when I reached the spot, I found a nominal crack on a wall’s plaster.” read more.
* Can safety standards be ensured in RMG units? :
A high-profile International Labour Organisation (ILO) team visited Bangladesh last week after the deadly building collapse tragedy at Savar.
A joint statement was issued at the end of the team’s visit. The members of the ILO team had threadbare discussions with the representatives of the government, employers and workers for some days.
A tripartite partnership agreement has already been agreed upon, for taking short-and medium-term measures for the readymade garment (RMG) sector. Such measures, as the reports in the media said, will include incorporation of freedom of association and collective bargaining into the labour law, ensuring occupational safety and addressing the health-related issue of RMG workers. read more.
* BGMEA to sign MoU to supervise building code:
The Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) is going to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a group of American architect to supervise the building code of compliance of readymade garments industries in Bangladesh.
The MoU would be signed with American Association of Bangladesh Engineers and Architect (ABEA) on Thursday (today) at the BGMEA office in presence of the US ambassador in Dhaka, Dan M Mozena, according to sources. The signing of such a MoU became important in the perspective of a building collapse in Savar killing over 700 workers and injuring around 2000.
The BGMEA, however, reiterated its call to the opposition political alliance to withdraw Thursday’s hartal as a high powered business delegation from China is scheduled to arrive Dhaka with an aim to import huge quantity of garments from Bangladesh.
“I urge the opposition political parties to withdraw hartal for the greater interest of the apparel industries,” said BGMEA president Atiqul Islam.
* A follow-up on Rana Plaza disaster:
The Rana Plaza collapse was the third deadly incident in six months to raise questions about worker safety and labour condition in Bangladesh.
Clothes made in five factories inside the Rana Plaza building were produced for retailers in Europe and Canada. The European Union (EU) calls upon the Bangladeshi authorities to act immediately to ensure that factories across the country comply with international labour standard.
The Swiss-based Industry All Global Union has set a May 15 deadline to finalise a commitment to a fire and building safety plan for Bangladesh with Western retailers.
* EU envoys concerned over labour conditions:
Envoys of the European Union member states in Dhaka on Wednesday said that they were concerned about the labour conditions in factories in Bangladesh.
They called upon the authorities to act immediately to ensure that all factories complied with international labour standards, including International Labour Organisation conventions.
They made the remarks at a press conference on the eve of the May 9 Europe Day at a city hotel.
‘As the European Union is Bangladesh’s largest trade partner, its representatives are concerned about the labour conditions, including health and safety provisions, in factories across the country,’ said EU ambassador William Hanna.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Europe warns Bangladesh as toll rises:
As death toll rises in the Savar factory collapse, Europe’s top trade official criticized labor conditions for some in Bangladesh as “modern slavery” and warned that the European Union would consider suspending Bangladesh’s duty-free access to its market if steps aren’t taken soon.
“Now we see that…these people are, well, we can’t say underpaid, they are virtually unpaid and above all, they have to work in sanitary and security conditions that are totally unacceptable,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told Belgian media outlets RTBF and Le Soir over the weekend.
“It’s some kind of modern slavery.”
Mr. De Gucht said he would meet in coming weeks with European and U.S. clients of Bangladeshi factories to develop “a code of conduct” on ties to suppliers. “They can’t say that they are blind” to what is happening, he said. read more.
* FM to meet Kerry over GSP:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni is going to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry on May 17 in Washington in an apparent effort to retain Bangladesh’s GSP facility.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, she said she was scheduled to leave for New York on Sunday night to attend a high-level meeting on human trafficking on the next day in the United Nations.
“The UN General Assembly President has invited me to attend it,” she said.
The minister said she would meet with US Secretary of State where a whole range of bilateral issues including GSP would be discussed.
* Apparel Retailers Confront Tough Options:
The recent spate of garment-factory disasters in Bangladesh spotlights the poor working conditions in that country. But for big apparel retailers seeking better standards—without giving up low-wage workers—the prospects aren’t much better in other parts of the developing world.
The deadly apparel-plant fires in Bangladesh last year and last month’s building collapse, which killed more than 700 people, revealed safety hazards, labor-rights violations and unauthorized subcontracting of Western brands’ orders. But labor activists say the same problems are rampant in low-cost Asian countries, which produce most of the world’s clothing.
Concerns about such problems have intensified as retailers—increasingly nervous about relying on Bangladesh—are looking to countries including Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, where wages are often cheaper than in China, to potentially pick up some of the slack. read more.
* Bangladesh garment exports rise 11.5% in July-April:
* New cotton variety can help meet 50pc local demand by 2021, say officials:
Bangladesh can meet its annual demand of cotton consumption by 50 per cent in the next eight years if the government extends support to producers, officials said Wednesday.
The officials added that the country would be able to meet 50 per cent of the total domestic demand of cotton by 2021 if funds for research and development and a sector-friendly policy are there. Currently, local producers can meet only 3-5 per cent of annual cotton requirement. read more.
10:46:37 local time INDIA
* Apparel industry to grow to Rs 2.74 lakh crore in FY16: Care:
India’s apparel industry is likely to grow at about 8 per cent annually and reach Rs 2,74,600 crore over the next three years, credit rating agency Care Research said today.
“The domestic apparel industry will grow at a CAGR of about 8 per cent from Rs 2,02,600 crore in FY12 to Rs 2,74,600 crore in FY16. Policy reforms, revival in economy and entry of new brands to support recovery of apparel demand in FY14,” Care Research said in a report here today.
The industry grew at a CAGR of 10 per cent from Rs 1,26,000 crore in FY07 to Rs 2,02,600 crore in FY12. The growth is attributed to an upsurge in the economy coupled with the rise in per capita disposable income, it said. read more.
* Textile firms bank on manmade fibre for higher revenue:
Textile manufacturer Alok Industries plans to increase focus on polyester in FY14. In the current financial year, the company expects to have 41 per cent of the company’s revenue from manmade fibre, up from 38 per cent in FY13. In FY12, this was 35 per cent and revenues from cotton has fallen to that extent.
Alok is not the only company which is increasing focus on the manmade fibre business. In fact, there is a systematic shift happening from cotton to manmade fibres. read more.
* 10,000 green houses for weavers:
Government on Wednesday announced a scheme for weavers aimed at meeting their housing needs and mechanisation of their workplace.
In a suo motu statement in the Assembly, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said 10, 000 green houses would be constructed for weavers, along with the 60,000 to be built under the Chief Minister’s green house scheme, in the first phase during 2013-14.
Motorised spindles would be provided to 25,000 handloom weavers at a cost of Rs. 3.75 crore to minimise their workload and to double production. Pedal looms, attached with electric motors, would be given with subsidy to weavers of Tiruvannamalai, Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, Tirunelveli, Cuddalore, Vellore, Tiruchengodu, Salem and Madurai.
She also announced the payment of time-scale from January 1, 2013, for temporary employees of handloom and powerloom weavers’ cooperative societies with over five years of service on consolidated pay. read more.
10:46:37 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka trade union calls for complete withdrawal of electricity tariff hike:
Sri Lanka’s National Trade Union Center (NTUC) affiliated with the Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) affiliated says the government does not need to amend the increased electricity tariffs, but should take measures to completely withdraw them.
Head of the NTUC, K.D. Lalkantha in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said the people could not accept the electricity tariff hike.
“Following the continuous protests by political parties, trade unions and the working masses, you have taken steps to reduce the increased electricity tariff,” he has noted. read more.
* Sri Lanka’s textile & apparel exports grow 8.8% in Feb’ 13:
Sri Lanka’s earnings from export of garments and textiles have increased by 8.8 percent in February 2013, over last year’s figures, stated the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
10:16:37 local time PAKISTAN
* Ensure steady power supply to textile sector: FCCI to govt:
* Dying for the shirt on your back:
The deaths of more than 800 garment workers in Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory collapse April 24 is a tragedy that highlights widespread problems in the global apparel industry. But will it be the spark that finally leads to much-needed global reforms?
After disasters like Rana, or the fire at another Bangladeshi garment factory in November that killed 112 people, there is a tendency to play detective, to focus on the culprit, whether it be the owner, corruption or lax laws and missing enforcement. News article after news article focuses on finding the smoking gun, as if there were only one cause and as if minus that cause, those workers would be safe today. Or coverage treats these tragedies as natural disasters with a rush of charity before public attention turns to the next event.
Yes, we seek justice. But in our rush to solve the case or help the victims, we refuse to see the real culprits: the global apparel industry and ourselves for being complicit in supporting or ignoring a system of trade and offshoring largely designed to bypass regulatory policy of every stripe, while putting maximum profit before people.
* Minimum wages: Do we need them?:
Look up any standard undergraduate textbook in microeconomics. It would tell you that interfering with the market mechanism by imposing a minimum wage — and by the same token raising it — is bad policy. This would increase unemployment, which means loss of income for a larger number of low-income people, while benefiting only those lucky to get a job at that artificially set high wage. Thus, it would also increase inequality in income distribution within the labouring class.
Yet, in the US — the so-called citadel of free market — President Barack Obama has recently proposed to raise the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9 and to allow its automatic adjustment by linking with inflation.
The proposal is being supported on the ground that it would reduce income inequality by raising the income of low wage earners from janitors and nannies to hamburger flippers at restaurants.
So, who’s right?
* A living wage is a human right:
We believe that all garment workers should be paid a wage they can live on; because having a job should mean being able to support yourself and your family.
A wage you can live on
Most of the world’s garments are made in Asia, and yet while the clothing industry continues to make millions in profits for the big brands the workers, predominantly women, producing the clothes across Asia are being paid the least.
Workers, trade unions, campaigners and consumers are coming together to call for a living wage for all workers.
read & see more. See the story in this animation!
* FWF Wage Ladder:
Payment of a living wage is one of FWF’s eight labour standards. A living wage means that workers’ basic needs, including food, clothing, housing, healthcare and education, are met. The idea is simple: people who work a normal working week should be able to make a living.
The export-oriented garment industry has great potential to lift millions of workers worldwide out of poverty. In most low-cost production countries, however, wages are too low for workers to meet basic needs, like food, shelter, and health care. The obvious answer to relieving the poverty of workers participating in garment supply chains is to find mechanisms that increase the wages of those at the bottom of the supply chain.
While global garment supply chains generate enormous wealth, improving wages, has proven a challenge. Progress has stalled in discussions about what, exactly, constitutes a living wage. Sidestepping these discussions, FWF has developed a web-based tool that will help garment brands and factories to gradually improve workers’ wages. read more.