in the news on-line, 14 May 2013

15:36:29 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Bau Bang bids for industrial development:

20130513 VNNews
A cotton fibre production line of the Korean KyungBang Viet Nam’s $140m textile plant in Bau Bang. — VNA/VNS Photo Quach Lam

Land has been cleared for investment projects in Bau Bang, a new residential and industrial zone in the southern province of Binh Duong, according to Becamex Investment and Industrial Development Corporation (Becamex IDC), the zone’s investor.

“The zone was built in the northern part of the province with the main aim of reducing pressure at industrial zones in the southern part,” said Nguyen Van Hung, chairman and CEO of Becamex IDC.
On Friday, a new South Korean company, KyungBang Viet Nam Ltd, opened in the zone with a $140-million plant, considered to be the biggest textile plant in the region.
read more. & read more.

* Local footwear firms urged to develop effective supply:

The domestic leather and footwear industry should work to build up its raw material supply chains to ensure sustainable future development.

That was the suggestion from the Ministry of Industry and Trade in a recent statement offering growth advice.
The industry needed to invest more in raw materials as it was too reliant on imported parts, the ministry said, adding this meant the sector was vulnerable to price volatilities in the world market.
The ministry also encouraged footwear producers to restructure and expand retail networks, while paying more attention to advertising their trademarks in the international arena and seeking new export outlets.

The country’s footwear exports hit US$2.25 million over the past four months, up 9 per cent year-on-year, according to the ministry’s statistics.
Local experts said the industry had enjoyed favourable conditions for boosting exports as most local businesses received steady orders for the second and third quarters of this year.  read more in  BUSINESS IN BRIEF 14/5.

15:36:29 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Made in Cambodia:

Foreign industry ready to gear up in Asia’s next low-cost manufacturing base

20130513 BANGKOKPOSTGarment workers make Adidas apparel at the Shen Zhou garment factory in Phnom Penh.

More than a decade ago, global manufacturing companies staged a mass exodus to Asia in search of low-cost alternatives to increasing domestic wage demands and operational costs.

They expanded the regional supply chain that had formed in countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia, while taking advantage of low wages offered by the world’s largest exporter in China. The strategy bolstered many a bottom line, but now things are changing.

Since then, China has become increasingly prosperous with a rapidly growing middle class. Chinese manufacturers are rightfully turning their attention to their growing domestic customer base, leaving some exporters in the cold. What’s more, growing wage demands in China as well as in Southeast Asia’s light-manufacturing countries are forcing foreign manufacturers to consider other options as they search for the next low-cost destination.

The result has been a speedy realignment of the jigsaw puzzle that is Asia’s manufacturing supply chain. China has become bullish on foreign markets, investing billions of dollars in new factories and infrastructure development projects abroad. Vietnam, meanwhile, has earned the title of Asia’s new tech hub as its workforce moves away from sewing T-shirts to assembling microchips for consumer electronic goods.

Cambodia — a country where low-value garments last year made up nearly 90% of all its exports — is also overdue for an upgrade as investors have begun to develop value-added manufacturing plants, producing the likes of automotive parts, sporting equipment and small motors for various consumer products.  read more.
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* A non-binding justice:

When the government passed Cambodia’s Labour Law in 1997, it promised to establish a special court to assist workers and employers in a rapidly expanding industry known for unrest.

More than 15 years on, no such judicial body exists.

The independent dispute resolution body created to fill that vacuum, however, has quietly amassed an enviable track record. While its decisions are non-binding, more than three-quarters of cases dealt with by Cambodia’s Arbitration Council have been resolved, officials told the Post yesterday.
“Our success rate is 76 per cent,” said Ly Sokheng, communications officer for the Arbitration Council Foundation.

The Arbitration Council, which was formed with funding from the International Labour Organization, has heard more than 1,400 cases in its 10 years, about 90 per cent of which have occurred in the garment industry. In 255 cases heard last year, about 100,000 workers were affected by the outcomes.
By filling a gaping hole in the justice system – ironically, by issuing decisions that are not legally binding – many say the Arbitration Council has provided stability to industries and a model to courts.  read more.

15:06:29 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Minimum Wage Law to go to Parliament:

Myat Thin Aung, the chairman of Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone, said that he expects a new Minimum Wage Law to be passed in parliament in the first week of June.

“We are discussing all the aspects of a Minimum Wage law and want to have it motioned in parliament at the beginning of June,” he told Mizzima. “Factory owners and representatives are also being consulted.”
However, he cautioned that many factories would close if wages are raised. He urged all parties, including employers and employees, to be prepared to negotiate.

“Monthly salaries should be between 60,000 and 100,000 kyat [US$70 – $117],” he said. “Cleaning staff should be paid at least 60,000 kyat. Some groups are asking for a minimum wage of 90,000 kyat, and the government has also expressed a desire to raise wages. However, the whole issue must be addressed and passed in parliament.” read more.

* Garment sector leads the way for new foreign investment:

Almost half of all foreign investments approved by the Myanmar Investment Commission in the first four months of 2013 were in garment manufacturing, figures from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) show.

The commission approved 33 proposed foreign investments totalling US$815 million from January 1 through to the end of April, said Daw San San Myint, a director at DICA, which processes commission decisions.  read more.
myanmar times

14:36:29 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Cabinet okays draft of Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill 2013:

The Cabinet on Monday approved the Bangladesh Labour Law (Amendment) Bill -2013, aiming to ensure the interest and rights of the workers.

The approval came from a regular cabinet meeting held at the Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the amendments sought in the bill are designed to protect the interest of the workers.
In the amendment bill, the group insurance of the workers has been made mandatory for the companies with minimum 100 wprkers.

“If necessary, the government can declare a minimum wage structure for the workers of the industrial sector by issuing gazette notification after bringing changes to the current wages,” According to the proposed amendment.
“The wages of the workers can be paid through the bank account of the workers by electronic transfer,” the proposed law stated.
to read. & read more. & read more.
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* Draft of Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2013 okayed:

The cabinet today approved the draft of the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2013 aimed at protecting the interest and rights of the workers and ensuring their safety.

The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan briefed reporters.

He said the amendment to the Bangladesh Labour Act has been made to make the law time-befitting as well as protect the interest and rights of the workers and ensure their security. “It will also help increase productivity as it has a relation with the welfare of the workers,” he said.
The cabinet secretary said the existing labour law was enacted in 2006. But the law needed massive amendments as the contexts have changed in the meantime.
read more.

* RMG makers ready to accept Wage Board recommendations:

Appreciating the government’s decision on forming new wage board for the readymade garment (RMG) workers, country’s apparel manufacturers have underscored the need for involving sector related experienced persons in new wage board committee so that the RMG sector could retain its competitiveness home and abroad.

The apparel manufacturers will accept whatever recommendations will be come out from the New Wage Board Committee which will be formed to determine new wages for the RMG workers, they said.
However, they said the committee should be formed with the participation of those members who will provide decisions considering overall situation of the apparel sector.
On Sunday, jute and textile minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui said the government is going to form a new wage board by next week to recommend an acceptable minimum wage for the country’s RMG workers.
read more.

* More freedom for trade union:

Cabinet okays draft of new labour law

The cabinet yesterday approved the final draft on an amended labour law that gives greater freedom to form trade unions.

The `Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act-2013′ also keeps a provision for group insurance for 100 plus workers.
Briefing reporters after a meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said it would protect the interest of the workers and ensure their safety.
However, the cabinet has sent back a proposal by the commerce ministry on signing the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Shaikh Md Wahid-Uz Zaman said: “It was not on the cabinet’s agenda today.
It must be placed in the cabinet for thorough discussion before giving approval and signing as Ticfa is an important matter.”
The proposed labour law has made it simpler for workers to join trade unions and mandated a clinic when there are more than 5,000 workers in a factory.
read more.
daily star bd

* Cabinet nods trade union for RMG workers:

The cabinet on Monday gave final approval to Bangladesh Labour (amendment) Act 2013 ensuring trade union right to the garment workers.

The approval came at the weekly cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
According to the proposed law, there is a provision for groups insurance for the garment workers where there are at least 100 labourers.
The interest of the garment workers has been upheld with the amendment, M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, cabinet secretary, told reporters after the meeting.
to read.
daily star bd

* Law changes allow RMG workers to unionise:

The cabinet on Monday gave final approval to a bill seeking amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 removing barriers to trade union activities in the export-oriented apparel industry.

The amended law, however, would require non-government organisations to take permission from the labour ministry for working in the industrial sector, according to the draft.
‘The amendment to the 2006 act has been initiated to ensure better working conditions for workers and also to enhance productivity,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharaf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters.
He said there would be no barriers in the law for
RMG workers to form trade unions or participatory committees in the industrial units.
The labour ministry placed the bill at the weekly cabinet meeting with the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, in the chair, proposing mandatory ‘group insurance’ for workers.
‘Group insurance will be made compulsory for the garment factories employing a minimum 100 workers. If a worker dies, the factory authorities will pay the insurance money to their spouses after collecting it from the insurance companies concerned,’ Musharraf said.  read more.

* H&M to sign Bangladesh worker safety agreement :

Swedish fashion giant H&M said Monday it had agreed to sign an agreement drafted by global unions to improve safety in the Bangladeshi textile factories it uses.

The world’s largest fashion retailer by revenue has agreed to a five-year fire and building safety plan first launched in 2012 by global union federations Industry and UNI Global Union.
The agreement includes appointing an independent chief inspector who will “design and implement a fire safety inspection programme that is credible and effective.”
It also requires one or more qualified experts to “complete a full and rigorous review of current building standards and regulations” for garment manufacturers.
read more.  & read more.
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* H&M and Zara to support BD fire, building safety accord:

Swedish fashion giant H&M has announced to support the accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a company press statement said Monday.

The accord, initiated by IndustryALL and UNI Global Union, has been signed on fire and building safety measures in the readymade garment (RMG) industries in Bangladesh.

“The parties will be committed to the goal of a safe and sustainable Bangladeshi RMG industry in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures,” the statement said.
read more. & read more.

* Primark signs accord on building safety in Bangladesh:

Retailer Primark has committed to signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, it said in a statement
Primark said the accord will “align its activities with the NAP, and ensure a close collaboration, including for example establishing common programmes, liaison and advisory structures”.
The programme will “complement the work already being carried out by Primark’s Ethical Trade team in Bangladesh for a number of years,” the retailer said in a statement. to read.

* CCC &  ILFR welcomes H&M and Inditex decision to sign legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh:

CCC welcomes H&M and Inditex decision to sign legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

The Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes the monumental news that H&M and Inditex agreed to sign the legally binding, enforceable and transparent Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh with IndustriALL, UNI and Bangladeshi unions. CCC will sign the Accord as a witness.

* H&M and Inditex’s decision to sign the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is crucial: Pressure mounts on other key industry players to sign

* The leadership of PVH (Calvin Klein/Tommy Hilfiger) and Tchibo, the first two companies to embrace a binding agreement, has been vital.

Ineke Zeldenrust from the Clean Clothes Campaign says, ‘The Accord includes all of the components essential to be effective: independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory repairs and renovations, the obligation by brands and retailers to underwrite the costs and to terminate business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety upgrades, and a vital role for workers and their unions. At the heart of the agreement is the commitment by companies to pay for the renovations and repairs necessary to make factory buildings in Bangladesh safe’.

H&M and Inditex join co-signatories PvH and Tchibo, which were the first global brands to commit to a binding agreement on building and fire safety in Bangladesh. The leadership of PvH and Tchibo has been vital in pushing for reform in the industry.
read more. & read more.
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* Gap Ready To Sign Bangladesh Safety Accord — With One Major Condition:

The retailer says it will sign a fire safety and building improvements agreement provided a key clause about resolving disputes in court is renegotiated.
But is the company being disingenuous?

Gap Inc. says it is close to signing a landmark legally-binding agreement requiring retailers to pay for fire safety and building improvements in Bangladesh factories, following a garment factory collapse last month that killed more than 1,000 people.

Gap, which wasn’t making clothing in the destroyed factory, would join H&M, Zara-owner Inditex and others in signing the accord. The retailer has come under fire for refusing to sign the agreement, becoming the target of a “Gap Deathtraps” website campaign earlier this month that urges shoppers to protest at the store and deliver letters to managers.

In a statement released today, Gap said that it is ready to sign the agreement on the condition that the portion of the agreement stipulating that disputes be resolved in courts is renegotiated. read more.

* Europe, U.S. retailers divided on Bangladesh reform plan- Wal-Mart and Gap stay quiet :

Major U.S. retailers including Gap Inc declined to endorse an accord on Bangladesh building and fire safety backed by Europe’s two biggest fashion chains, a trans-Atlantic divide that may dilute garment industry reform efforts.

Three weeks after the collapse of a building housing garment factories, which killed more than 1,100 people, Western brands that rely on Bangladesh to cheaply produce clothing disagreed over how best to ensure worker safety.

Sweden’s H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Spain’s Inditex SA, the world’s two largest apparel brands, topped a list of predominantly European companies signing an agreement led by the International Labour Organisation, trade unions and other lobby groups.
Major brands and retailers set a May 15 deadline to join the agreement after talks in Germany last month. As of late Monday U.S. time, the only well-known U.S. company to announce it had signed on was PVH, which owns brands including Calvin Klein.
Gap said it was ready to join “today” but first wanted a change in the way disputes are resolved in the courts.
read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Major retailers join RMG safety plan:

Three weeks after a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers, several of the world’s largest apparel companies – including the retailing giant H&M and Inditex, owner of the Zara chain — agreed on Monday to sign a far-reaching and legally binding plan that requires retailers to help finance fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh.

Consumer and labor groups hailed the move by Sweden-based H&M – which is the largest purchaser of garments from Bangladesh – as an important step toward improving factory safety in Bangladesh, saying it would increase pressure on other Western retailers and apparel brands to do likewise.

Within hours of H&M`s Monday statement, C&A of the Netherlands and two British retailers, Primark and Tesco, also joined in. read more.
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* Bangladesh TU leaders accuse Primark of compensation delays:

The official death toll from the collapse of the eight-storey building on April 24 now stands at 1,120. Many of the deceased worked for New Wave clothing factory, which supplied Primark and Bonmarche, another British retailer.

Both companies have promised compensation and Primark representatives met Bangladeshi trade union leaders in Dhaka, the country’s capital, on April 27 and 28.  The unions want a package based on a formula devised after another disaster in 2005, calculated according to years of service and lost earnings.
If applied to Rana Plaza, this would amount to a payment of about £23,000 for the families of each dead worker, with foreign retailers contributing 45 per cent.
read more.

* 100 RMG units close after workers protest:

More than 100 Ready-made Garment factories had to shut shop on Monday in Savar’s Ashulia area after workers hit the streets to demand better wages, job security and much else.

Protestors blocked Dhaka-Tangail highway for almost an hour pelting stones and smashing windows of some factories , witnesses said.
Police baton-charged the protestors to bring situation under control, they said. Some workers were injured.
Sunday also witnessed similar protests with more than 100 factories including those of Envoy Group, Ha-Meem Group, The Star Link Style, Meddler Apparel and Ananta Group closing down after protests.
On Monday at around 8:00am, workers started demonstrations just after entering factory premises asking for wage hike and better security, Ashulia Police Station Inspector Mostafa Kamal said.
read more.

* All RMG factories at Ashulia shut sine die:

In the wake of labour unrest, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday decided to keep all the factories at Ashulia, Savar closed for an indefinite period from Tuesday for security concerns.

“We’ve decided to keep all the factories at Ashulai closed for an indefinite period at the request of factory owners and entrepreneurs for security reasons in the wake of violence,” BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam told a press conference.

He said the workers will not get their wages during the production suspension as they made the factory closure decision as per Section 13 (A) of the Labour Act.
Justifying their decision, Atiq said, “We can’t operate the factories any more. With our back pushed against the wall… we’re forced to take the harsh decision of shutting down the factories,” he told reporters.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more.
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* BGMEA changes decision on blanket closure:

BGMEA has changed the decision to indefinitely close all readymade garment factories in the Ashulia industrial belt apparently under pressure from the owners.

Hours before, on Monday afternoon, the apparel industry lobby had made the announcement of closure citing security concerns following a spate of labour unrest.
But as the decision made many garment owners unhappy, the BGMEA in a press release later in the night said that ‘the troubled garment factories in that area will be closed for an indefinite time’.
On Sunday, authorities had shut down at least 100 garment factories at Ashulia following a clash between police and workers who were demonstrating for better pay.
BGNEA President Atiqul Islam had said at a press conference they took the decision as per the Section 13 (A) of the Labour Act, meaning the workers will not get salary during the suspension.  read more.

* 30 hurt in RMG workers-police clash in Ashulia:

At least 30 people were injured in a clash between police and workers of a garment factory in Narosinghapur area under Ashulia Police Station on Monday.

Sources said the clash took place on Ashulia-Bypile road in the morning when police went to disperse a demonstration of the workers of Ha-Meem Garment Factory, a sister concern of Ha-Meem Group.
The workers took to the street demanding the arrest of the killer of their co-worker Parul who was found dead inside the factory on Saturday.
Workers put blockade on the road and vandalised several vehicles.
Later, they took position on the both sides of the road and obstructed the workers of other factories from joining their work.
At one stage, workers of the 30 factories joined them and started protesting demanding the immediate arrest of the killer of Parul.
read more.

* Protest demanding wages rise – Workers go berserk in Savar:

Readymade garments workers of Ashulia observed work abstention and staged demonstration on Monday morning demanding pay rise and trial of labour killings.

Earlier in the morning, the workers of Ha-Meem group alleged that a labour called Parul was killed and hanged in the toilet to stage the incident as suicide.
In addition to the killing, labourers demanded Tk 8000 (around 92 US $) monthly minimum wages.
read more. & read more.
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* New wage board move for RMG people hailed by activists, experts:

Industry people, labour activists and experts in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector have hailed the latest government move to form a new wage board for the industry.

They have suggested that all aspects including cost of living and external factors should be taken into account while enhancing the wages for the workers.
Apparel makers said the sector was now facing intense pressure both from local and international players due to the recent industrial blazes and building collapses. They felt the proposed wage hike would put yet another pressure on them. But in spite of all this, they said, they would abide by the decision of forming the wage board.
read more.

* Pay Bangladesh garment workers a living wage: Yunus:

Prof Muhammad Yunus speaks at a dialogue on "Savar tragedy, worker welfare and looming economic crisis" organised by Power and Participation Research Centre at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Amran hossain
Prof Muhammad Yunus speaks at a dialogue on “Savar tragedy, worker welfare and looming economic crisis” organised by Power and Participation Research Centre at Lakeshore Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Amran hossain

Nobel laureate and micro-loan pioneer Professor Muhammad Yunus Monday urged manufacturers and retailers to ensure living wages for Bangladesh’s millions of garment workers so that they don’t live like slaves.

The 2006 Nobel peace prize winner said he was in talks with Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International to fix an index for minimum wages in the countries which make apparel for Western retailers.

“The salaries we’re giving them (woman garment workers) that even the Pope now says that they’re being paid like slaves: $40 a month. We want to make it a thing of the past,” Yunus said.
He spoke at a seminar on the collapse of the nine-storey factory complex that killed 1,127 people in the latest tragedy to hit Bangladesh’s apparel sector — the mainstay of its economy but now under fire for poor wages and safety records.
read more. & RMG workers are human beings, not slaves: Yunus. & read more.
& read more.
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* Participation in Dialogue on Savar Tragedy- Dr. Younus proposed two measures for immediate solutions:

One is about fixing of minimum wages and second is creating a Workers
Welfare Trust.
Of these the second one is not only a very good proposal but also a practical and feasible one.

I welcome this proposal. However, first one seems to be good, but may not be practical and feasible one.
There are many buyers and sellers in this competitive global market and it may not be possible to come to an agreement by all to an amount that not less than 50 cent per hour would be given.
Normally buyers bargain on peace rate and can ensure that; but for them wage rate, given by the manufacturers, cannot be determined by them.

If one or more manufacturers give less wages and thus offer less piece rate to the buyers in order to get orders who could regulate and/or monitor that?
So on the issue of minimum wages it may be better to raise the existing wages, for example from Tk. 3000.00 to 6000.00 considering price hike since last enhancement.

Then a system can be agreed that each year considering inflation rate declared by Bangladesh Bank Govt., would declare actual wage enhancement.
If all parties agreed on this system then there would be no frequent labour unrest we see each year, on and often causing destruction of factories, machineries, police action, killing, injuring, arrest, termination, and dismissal etc., thus ended in a zero sum game.

However, all other facilities, ensured by existing labour laws, like allowances, over time payment, leave, maternity leave, and gratuity must be paid by the owners without hesitation, impediments.
Group insurance, for both life and health, not mandatory, but would be low
cost solutions for many problems.
As medium and long term solution: As Sir Fazle Hossain Abed and ILO DG
proposed, factory lever union registration and activities as per existing
labour laws, which is working for other type of factories, must be allowed
in Garment factories too.

Workers representation would allow social dialogue, thus resolving petty
issues peacefully within the respective factories, not taking issues,
dispute outside, solving by street fight.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) measures mentioned in existing labour
laws must be complied with.

That day in an interview Chief Inspector of Factories said that now the number of Inspector in their Institution is less than what they had in 1970, though number of factories is many folds.
When an accident takes places Govt., form a “High power committee”, then after some days after some meetings and decisions (but no implementation and follow up) its function ceased to continue.
Instead of this type of adhoc measures we need strengthening of this Institution and sufficient skilled manpower along with legal authority to take actions against the rule violators.
This institutionalisation build up would be a permanent measure.
One more measure is sufficient compensation package for dead and injured

Now as per existing law it is BDT 100000 (Equivalent to about Euro 1000), but time to time if the scale of disaster is big (like Tazrin factory) and nation wise hue and cry is there govt., BGMEA give more (for Tazrin Tk. 600000) per worker.
But that is adhoc basis step. If in another factory one or two workers die then compensation would be just Tk. 100000, not more.
So official compensation package must be raised depending on logical analysis, how much a workers would earn in his life time if s/he remains alive.

Now in Bangladesh all TUs and civil society people are demanding compensation on that basis, though calculations varies from one to other, of which minimum comes to Tk. 10,00,000 (about Euro 10,000) and maximum Tk 3000000 (Euro 30,000).
Through dialogue amongst the involved parties an amount can be agreed
This is logical demand not only helpful to solve immediate rehabilitation of workers (if alive with disability) and their families (if dead) but also will work as a deterrent for further accident as the owners will be cautious about safety of their factories in order to avoid big compensation money.

These are the concrete suggestions and proposals I could note down from yesterdays Dialogue on Savar Tragedy. There are some other proposals too which I missed, sorry for that. There are some good discussions points / analysis too which would be available in the official minutes of PPRC.

President, BGMEA
Proposed for another seminar to discuss how income is getting divided amongst factors of production (capital, labour, raw materials and others), can be organised to come to a rational distribution policy.

Ms. Nazma Akhter (Garment union)
OHS is very important for us. Compensation should be paid by forming Trust Fund.
Punishment to the responsibles of such kind of disaster must be there.
Politics with workers must be stopped.

Roy Romesh (TU)
ILO convention for freedom of association and unionisation must be complied with.
Adequate compensation must be paid; calculation should be based on future
earning prospect.
Living wages must be paid.
Victim’s correct database must be prepared.
Brand and buyers would come forward to ensure safety and some percentage
of compensation must come from the buyers.  Building construction must be safe.

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhuy (GK)
Productivity must be increased which requires nutrition –to be looked into.
Ration can be given like police and army Minimum basic wages should be raise to Tk. 6000.00 Group insurance and health insurance should be for the workers, for health insurance Tk. 500.00 pm (?) may be required of which owners should pay Tk. 300.00 and workers Tk. 200.00 may pay.
Independent union must be present like employers have their union.

Dr. Enam, Enam Medical hospital
1700 injured workers were treated in their hospital with around 1600 manpower in their hospital. 19 of them are permanently disabled and need permanent support services for survival. Others may go back to work.
Special Zone is necessary for Garment industries since working condition in EPZs are much better. Govt., already allocated 500 acres.

Mamunur Rashid, Banker:
Immediate needs for the workers-  money, food, and water were there sufficiently at the sight of the Rana Plaza, what is needed, long term rehabilitation of the permanently disabled workers. They are going to undertake a project for rehabilitation of 100 disabled workers who would require continuous support.

…………… , Ex-President, BGMEA
We have lack of skilled admn, HR and merchandiser staff. Mid-level management people shortage, 25% are expatriates. Despite assurances no specific zone is given to them for industry set up.
Need assessment is needed to be done for OHS BGMEA and BKMEA can not be
regulatory bodies, but supporting agencies. Inspectorate dept., need to be strengthen by recruiting at least 200 Inspectors, then giving them training and dev., capacity.

Mustafizur Rahman, CPD:
Tripartite negotiation is there, but we also need monitoring from civil and research organisations so that no one forgets this kind of tragedy after some time.

Engineer Mobassar, President, Planners and Designers Association
Awareness raising is necessary to overcome from greed, to avoid muscle power, to bring every criminals under law, to punish own cadres at first.
Their Association initiated tele-suggestion on construction problem and solution. RAJUK should only be a Regulatory body, should not indulge into any business.

First Secretary, EU (Pronunciation… could not comprehend,
will be available at their website).

Mr. Wajedul Islam, TU
All Factory Buildings must be checked, these should be suitable as factory building. Enough compensation must be given to the deceased families and wounded workers.

Ms. Lamiya, MD of one Business group, having Garment factory also.
1200 problem factories should be relocated. Buyers should not be disturbed.
Unionisation is to be accepted.

Mr. Nasiruddin, Retired Secretary, GOB
Our administrative culture must be changed- all decision should not come from one person, head of govt.

Ms. Shirin Akhter, TU
Many discussions, Dialogues are taking place and we are getting many recommendations – all these , especially the common ones should be compiled together. Not cheap labour and charity, but justifiable wages is needed. To increase productivity OHS is necessary In factories sexual harassment and intimidation must be stopped.

……., Chairman, Union Council, Gaibandha Zilla
From his district 41 workers died

Mr. Mahmudul ….. Businessmen
Engr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury,………..,
V.C, Private university
Mahbubur Rahman, Businessman
Prof. Rehman Sobhan, eminent economist

Mr. Dan Mozina, US Ambassador
Workers right to organise is necessary; they should have voice to stop intimidation Initiative of Labour law reform is good, should move forward. Safety and fire safety should be of maximum standard. Sound factory structure is necessary

Dr. M. Younus
A database is under preparation, and on modalities of support distribution-  discussion is taking place. Because of us buyers should not leave us, rather we should re-invite who left, and invite new ones. We can work together to influence policy makers Not only criticism we have to work like physicians – how to cure the patients, not to kill.
Wages must be increased to allow workers living wages. A transparency is needed for the Garment industries to know what is going on here, and he talked to TI in this respect. Our image crisis needs to be solved, and we must be able to lead this industry.

Hossain Zillur Rahman As social actors have many things to do and changes to bring. We initiated a project of continuous support 100 seriously injured / disabled worker . Some other discussants told about some other projects – they can come up with concrete proposals.
By Dr. Syed Tarique-Uz-Zaman
Coordinator, SAPRODEW


* Make list of missing victims: HC:

The High Court (HC) on Monday directed the government to submit a list of victims who still remain missing following the collapse of Rana Plaza.

The government will have to prepare the list on the basic of identity cards, photos, appointment letters and other relevant documents collected from their near and dear ones.
The HC passed the order during hearing of a rule issued on April 30 following the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar.
The nine-storey Rana Plaza housing five garment factories collapsed on April 24, trapping several thousand people mostly garment workers inside it.
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* BGMEA yet to make list:

Twenty days into the biggest industrial disaster in the country that has put an end to the lives of at least 1,127 garment workers (the death toll may still rise), the role of the BGMEA in addressing the plight of the affected workers remains in question.

Despite repeated appeals from the rescuers, journalists and rights groups, the apex apparel body has not yet published a full list of workers employed at the five factories housed at Rana Plaza.
It has not even announced what compensation, if any, will be given to the victims’ families and survivors of the nine-storey building in Savar that collapsed on April 24.
In the absence of an official notification, workers and victims’ families remain uncertain about the future. It is more so for those who can no longer work because of grievous injuries and those who have lost their sole breadwinners. read more.
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* Army plans to wrap up salvage operation as collapse toll reached 1127  :

The Army apparently planned to wrap up their 20 days of salvage campaign as toll from Bangladesh’s worst ever industrial disaster stood at 1127 since an eight-story building collapsed at suburban Savar.

“We have reached the fag end of our salvage operations here,” an army spokesman at the collapse site told newsmen.
He added that commander of the army-led salvage campaign Major General Chowdhury Hassan Sarwardy was expected to call a press conference at the site of the collapsed building which housed five garment factories, 300 shops and a branch of a private bank.
The spokesman’s comments came as a senior army officer familiar with the rescue operations said they nearly wrapped up searches for more bodies under the concrete ruins after rescuers only found few limbs of human corpses in the past two days.
read more. &   read more.
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 * Reshma describes her ordeal:

Reshma, a girl who survived the tragic building collapse and was rescued after being trapped inside the debris for 17 days, talks to the reporters at a military hospital on Savar on Monday.

Three days after her miraculous rescue, Reshma on Monday described the ordeal she suffered for 17 days since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar.
In her first formal appearance before the media, the girl said, “I never dreamt that I could come out of the rubble. I always called the Almighty Allah. And Allah has saved me.”
Reshma was rescued on Friday afternoon from under the rubble of the nine-story building that caved in on April 24, trapping an unknown number of people inside.
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* Rana Plaza rescue operation ends- Death toll stands at 1,127:

20130513 TAGESSHAU 1bangladesch(Foto: dpa)

Death toll now 1127; 834 handed over, 176 unidentified

No body was recovered from the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza on Monday as the rescue operation was declared finished on the 20th day of the operation.

Addressing a press briefing at the Army control room set up at the spot, General Officer Commanding of the 9th Infantry Division Maj Gen Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardi, who was in charge of coordinating the rescue operation, said they would hand over the responsibility of the site to the district administration at 6 am on Tuesday.
Sources at the control room said the death toll from the disastrous building collapse stood at 1,127.
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* 33 Rana Plaza victims buried unidentified at Jurain:

Thirty-three bodies of the victims of the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar were buried as ‘unclaimed’ at Jurain graveyard in the capital on Monday.

The 33 were among the bodies recovered from eight-storey Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24 leaving more than 1,100, mostly garment workers, killed.
Dhaka district administration handed over the 33 unidentified bodies from Dhaka Medical College Hospital morgue to Anjuman-e-Mufidul Islam for burial.
Officials said that the DNA samples of the victims were collected and preserved to facilitate their identification for the benefit of families desperately looking for the bodies.
Anjuman deputy director Sarwar Jahan told New Age that more unidentified bodies were kept at Mitford Hospital morgue and they might bury those unclaimed bodies on today.
Sarwar said that 267 unidentified bodies of the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster were buried at Jurain till Monday.  to read.

* Savar tragedy: accident or murder? :

Shanhina Akhter, whose eventually unsuccessful 110-hour struggle to stay alive under the debris has made her one of the public faces of the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar, the worst-ever industrial disaster in Bangladesh.

Rescuers said that, till her death, the 30-year-old garments worker had never abandoned the hope of getting out alive and reuniting with her toddler son. She fought on in the sweltering heat and suffocating stench of corpses trapped in their concrete tomb.
On April 29, into the fifth day of the collapse of the eight-storey structure, her valiant struggle ended in flames; fire broke out when a rescue worker tried to cut through iron rods with a mechanical cutter. ‘I have never seen anyone so brave in my whole life,’ said one of the rescue workers. He could not control his tears as he and other fire-fighters pulled Shahina’s dead body out of the rubble. read more.

* 10 lessons from recent Tragedy:

In the wake of Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1,100 people, it is time to ask some difficult questions about the activities of the brands sourcing from the Rana Plaza complex.

International attention has focused on poor health and safety practices, accusations of slave labor and the view, voiced in many places, that the price of clothing is now just too cheap.
These debates are set to continue, but there are some very specific lessons we must learn from this tragedy. That also leads to a number of questions that the brands sourcing from unsafe, illegal factories must answer.

The 10 lessons are, read more.
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* BD factory deaths prompt some foreign retailers to leave:

Since Savar Rana Plaza collapse April 24 that killed at least 1,100 garment workers in one of the deadliest industrial tragedies in history, Bangladesh has gone from one of the industry’s greatest assets to one of its biggest liabilities.

‘The risk factors have jumped off the charts,’ said Julie Hughes, president of the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, a trade group that represents retailers who import garments, says a report published in The Washington Post on Monday.
‘This is worse than what anyone had imagined.’

Working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry long have been known to be grim, a result of government corruption, desperation for jobs, and industry indifference.
But the scale of this tragedy has raised alarm among executives and customers, the report added.

According to the report, the Facebook pages of Joe Fresh, Mango and Benetton, a few of the brands whose clothing or production documents were found in the rubble of the collapsed building, are peppered with angry comments from shoppers.
Some warn they’re going to shop elsewhere now.
read more.
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* Value of labour and life of working class:

By Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled

There is an age old proverb that the “poor men’s sons build civilization and rich men’s sons enjoy it”.

This proverb has been anonymously coined on the basis of historical experiences of feudal and capitalistic civilizations around the world and is basically true in all countries of the contemporary world. Bangladesh a poor country is also not an exception to this.

But in the dawn of Islamic civilization and according to the cannons of Islamic labour participations in building civilization the case was not and do not permit so. We are aware that 90% of the Bangladesh populations are Muslims, then why it is not true in the case of Bangladesh? It is because Bangladesh is caught socio-economically and politically in the net of the sway of contemporary secular global capitalism and democracy. Then how Muslim Bangladesh can be an exception?

The gist of Marxian analysis about the characteristics of capitalism stands as: Under capitalism, the capitalist has his own views of the ultima Thule, the necessary limit of the working-day. As capitalist, he is only capital personified.
His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value (meaning excess of the wage received by the worker), to make its constant factor, the means of production; absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks.
The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consume the labour-power he has purchased of him. If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist. The capitalist then takes his stand on the law of the exchange of commodities. He, like all other buyers, seeks to get the greatest possible benefit out of the use-value of his commodity; suddenly the voice of the labourer, which had been stifled in the storm and stress of the process of production, rises.  read more.

* Thrust on concrete action plan to save RMG industry:

Speakers at a national dialogue called upon all the stakeholders on Monday including owners and buyers to come up with a concrete plan of actions to protect the country’s garment industry from manmade disasters.

The discussants who included garment owners, representatives of workers’ groups, industry experts, economists, members of civil society, ambassadors and other representatives of the international community also suggested continuous monitoring by the state-owned departments concerned over compliant issue to prevent anymore industrial incidents.

They also called upon the international buyers to play a responsible role and invest more for ensuring better and safe working condition inside the apparel factories from where they source clothings.

Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) organised the national dialogue titled, ‘Savar Tragedy, Workers’ Welfare and Looming Economic Crisis: What is to be done?’ at a city hotel to assess where the industry stands and the way forward in terms of specific action plans. read  more.

* The value of a garment worker’s life:

The building collapse in Savar has led to more than 1,000 deaths and left many more injured, adding to the increasing number of casualties from accidents at ready-made garment (RMG) factories over the last decade.

The proposed across-the-board compensation of Tk.20 lakhs ($$25,628) for injured workers and Tk.1 crore ($128,090) for deceased workers is undoubtedly generous, but it appears arbitrary, and the methodology used behind such estimates remains largely unclear. While it is nearly impossible to estimate the monetary worth of a human life or the long-term suffering of families of the affected, it is still necessary to determine a reasonable compensation amount for the affected workers and their families, based on a systematic analysis in the current domestic and global economic context.

We have performed the following analysis using data retrieved from government reports, garment industry releases and various online sources. The analytical framework has been created based on the wage structure of RMG workers, the age of the worker at the time of accident and the average age of retirement for workers in Bangladesh. read more.
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* No sound of sewing in Ashulia:

Every morning in Ashulia, it was seen that thousands of garments workers walked to various factories with Tiffin careers in hands and returned in the late evening.

But the situation was different on Tuesday morning, no workers were seen on the roads as Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) decided to shut down all garment factories for indefinite period in Ashulia area.
President of the apex body of the country’s garments sector Atiqul Islam made the disclosure at a press conference on Monday evening.
read more.
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14:06:29 local time map of india INDIA

* State versus corporate responsibility:


A woman was riding her scooter to work at a company providing data entry services to mostly overseas clients. While passing an intersection, a car from a side road suddenly swerved into the main road, knocking her down and she lost her life.

This is one of many such road deaths due to accidents as people get to work. Pressure is now building from NGOs on the foreign companies, asking them to ensure that employees working with their suppliers are safe while getting to work, and also to supervise traffic and make sure that road rules are being followed.

Does this story seem far-fetched? Well, think about how different it is from the situation in Bangladesh following the garment factory building crash on April 24 in Dhaka, that killed over a 1,000. read more.
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* Wal-Mart calls on Bangladesh to take action with three factories:

Wal-Mart called on the Bangladesh government on Monday to stop production at one apparel factory and investigate the condition at another until workers’ safety could be assured.

The unusual action followed the death of more than 1,100 people in the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh.
“The government of Bangladesh did the responsible thing last week by closing factories believed to be dangerous,” Rajan Kamalanathan, Wal-Mart vice-president of ethical sourcing, said in a statement.
Wal-Mart said that it had stopped production at Stitch Tone Apparels factory because it had discovered that a neighboring factory had structural problems.
read more.

* Apparel unit owners seek stabilisation of yarn price:

A meeting of 22 leading apparel entrepreneurs’ associations in Tirupur knitwear cluster convened by Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association (TEAMA) here on Monday has resolved to hold talks with the representatives of spinning mills’ associations to get the yarn prices stabilised.

This was a slight deviation from the earlier stance in which a section of apparel manufacturers representing some of the associations were planning to stop the procurement of yarn from March 15 in protest against the reluctance shown by the spinning mills to reduce the yarn prices despite the decrease in cotton prices.
read more.
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14:06:29 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

Marxist party claims massive downfall in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry despite moderate growth:

Sri Lanka’s Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) says the apparel industry has experienced a massive downfall under the current government.

JVP Central Committee member and former parliamentarian, Samantha Vidyaratne says that 520 garment factories have been closed in the country within seven years.
He said that out of the 834 garment factories that operated in the country in 2005, there are now only 314 factories.

Vidyaratne says the economic crisis faced by the country due to wrong economic policies of the government has resulted in the closure of a large number of industries.
However, the apparel industry experts say Sri Lanka’s apparel industry has moderately grown despite the global economic challenges in the main markets of US and Europe. read more.
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13:36:29 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* WHT, zero-rating and refund: APTMA takes up three key issues with FBR:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has raised three major tax-related issues with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) including amendment to Income Tax Ordinance 2001 for applicability of one percent withholding tax on supplies of goods and services to five major export-oriented sectors.

Sources told Business Recorder on Monday that APTMA has discussed these three key issues with the tax authorities at the FBR. According to APTMA, consequential amendment is required in clause (45A) of Part-IV of the Second Schedule of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 in view of amendments in Sales Tax SRO.1125(1)/2011. read more.



map of Asia


SAVAR COLLAPSE: under “special reports you can find an overview of articles.


* Bau Bang bids for industrial development
* Local footwear firms urged to develop effective supply

* Made in Cambodia
* A non-binding justice

* Minimum Wage Law to go to Parliament
* Garment sector leads the way for new foreign investment

* Cabinet okays draft of Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill 2013
* Draft of Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act, 2013 okayed
* RMG makers ready to accept Wage Board recommendations
* More freedom for trade union
* Cabinet nods trade union for RMG workers
* Law changes allow RMG workers to unionise
* H&M to sign Bangladesh worker safety agreement
* H&M and Zara to support BD fire, building safety accord
* Primark signs accord on building safety in Bangladesh
* CCC & ILFR welcomes H&M and Inditex decision to sign legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety
* Gap Ready To Sign Bangladesh Safety Accord — With One Major Condition
* Europe, U.S. retailers divided on Bangladesh reform plan- Wal-Mart and Gap stay quiet
* Major retailers join RMG safety plan
* Bangladesh TU leaders accuse Primark of compensation delays
* 100 RMG units close after workers protest
* All RMG factories at Ashulia shut sine die
* BGMEA changes decision on blanket closure
* 30 hurt in RMG workers-police clash in Ashulia
* Protest demanding wages rise – Workers go berserk in Savar
* New wage board move for RMG people hailed by activists, experts
* Pay Bangladesh garment workers a living wage: Yunus
* Participation in Dialogue on Savar Tragedy- Dr. Younus proposed two measures for immediate solutions
* Make list of missing victims: HC
* BGMEA yet to make list
* Army plans to wrap up salvage operation as collapse toll reached 1127
* Reshma describes her ordeal
* Rana Plaza rescue operation ends- Death toll stands at 1,127
* 33 Rana Plaza victims buried unidentified at Jurain
* Savar tragedy: accident or murder?
* 10 lessons from recent Tragedy
* BD factory deaths prompt some foreign retailers to leave
* Value of labour and life of working class
* Thrust on concrete action plan to save RMG industry
* The value of a garment worker’s life
* No sound of sewing in Ashulia

* State versus corporate responsibility
* Wal-Mart calls on Bangladesh to take action with three factories
* Apparel unit owners seek stabilisation of yarn price

* Marxist party claims massive downfall in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry despite moderate growth

* WHT, zero-rating and refund: APTMA takes up three key issues with FBR

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2