in the news on-line, 15 May 2013

08:27:33 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Pro labor need not be anti employer:

My good friend Ed Lacson, president of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), sent me a kilometric-long text message reacting to a previous column on labor issues and a reader’s suggestions on labor benefits. I value his views, and thus am giving him the floor. Here goes.

“I read your article today on employment, wages, and profit sharing for workers. Allow me to share with you and all opinion makers the views of employers.”
“ECOP does not advocate a “labor economic zone” to bring down labor cost to starvation level. We are merely asking policy makers for decades to stop the yearly mandated “one size fits all” minimum wage increase.”
“The minimum wage order equally and at the same time rewards the high performers, lazy or incompetent workers, and those placed in cold storage who cannot be dismissed at will because of the labor code provision that requires just cause for any employee termination.” read more.

07:27:33 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment sector returns to home turf:

The garment sector is shifting to the domestic market by diversifying product designs while maintaining the same quality as for export markets.

Garment businesses are supplying high quality products at reasonable prizes for the domestic market in order to maintain continuous production and generate stable jobs for workers.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa says garment exports in the first four months of this year are estimated at nearly US$5.1 billion, up 20.3 percent over the same period last year.
However, the sector’s profits are in danger of declining compared to last year due to smaller orders and competitors’ lower prices, large inventories of ready-made clothes and limited domestic purchasing power.   read more.
VOV Online Newspaper

* Leather and footwear exports exceed US$2.25 billion :

Statistics show that the leather and footwear sector earned US$520 million from exports this April and US$2,252 million in the first four months of this year, a nine percent increase from a year ago.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade said that the growth in these months had been the slowest since last April. Vietnamese leather and footwear exports are still risky as a result of changes in the world market and Vietnam’s great reliance on material imports including tanned and artificial leather. The local content of products by material has reached only 40-45 percent mostly including soles and sewing thread.
read more.

* Vietnam garment workers take lessons in fire prevention:

The Fourth Safety Fun Run organized in Vietnam’s southernmost province of Binh Duong by Better Work Vietnam attracted participation of over 3,600 garment workers.
The focus of the annual event this time was “Putting Fire Safety First”.
The event was meant to generate awareness regarding ways to avert fire incidences in the country’s garment factories by fortifying the ties between employers, employees, buyers and the community.
The event also provided a platform to the participants to share their views on preventive measures to avoid fire incidences.  read more.

07:27:33 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Foreign journos held at garment factory:

Two foreign journalists were briefly detained in a Kandal province garment factory yesterday and ordered to delete photos they had taken, police confirmed yesterday.

Sitbou commune police chief Mey Sarin said the journalists – working for Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail – were held for about half an hour at Dignity Knitter Limited after entering the factory without permission.
“They entered through the small factory door at the same time as the workers were leaving through the big door and the security guards did not see them,” Sarin said.
“When the security guards saw them they called them to sit in the guard room for a warning and made them promise not to come inside the factory or take photos without consent from the factory anymore.” read more.

06:27:33 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Garment and industry workers welcome new RMG wage board:

The leaders of Bangladesh Garment and Industry Workers Unity Council (BGIWUC) on Tuesday appreciated government’s decision for declaring the new wage board for the garments workers in order to improve their living standards.

The BGIWUC president Advocate Deloare Hossain and secretary Md. Touhidur Rahman showed immense and heartiest respect to the government through a press release.
The BGIWUC president considering government’s decision in a welcoming manner that will help the deprived workers to obtain their rightful right.
He said the workers are eagerly waiting for increasing their salary and others benefits that will definitely enhance their living of standards like other neighboring country’s garment’s workers.
read more.

* Bangladesh Labor Law amended into “Bangladesh Labor Act 2013″:

The cabinet 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.
Bhuiyan said the proposed law brought outsourcing companies under registration to improve management of the company and prevent exploitation of the workers.
In the proposed law, he said, the group insurance of the workers has been made mandatory for companies with minimum 100 workers. read more.
RISE Society BD

* Security beefed up at city RMG units:

The law enforcing agencies have taken tight security measures at the Ready Made Garment units in the capital to maintain law and order apprehending labor unrest.

Huge contingent of Police took position at different RMG units in city’s Shyamoli, Mirpur-1 and Mirpur-10 areas from morning.
Police forces with water cannon are seen patrolling in Mirpur-14 area.  MBM Garment of the area remained closed. Some workers staged demonstration here, a spot account said.
Workers of the garment factory alleged that the authority has hiked wages of only 12 to 13 workers out of 2, 700 employees of the factory.
read more. & read more.
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* Ashulia peaceful, yet factories shut:

Frustrations grip workers
20130515 DAILYSTAR
These two garment workers look at the notice declaring all factories in Ashulia closed yesterday for an indefinite period. Photo: Rashed Shumon

At midday on Monday, Sabina Yasmin returned home after management of the factory where she works had announced leave in the face of demonstrations and violence in Ashulia industrial area.

In the evening, she heard the news, which was not good for her, that all the garment factories in Ashulia would remain closed for an indefinite period.
“I felt bad hearing the news. We are poor and have come to Dhaka to have better earning and a better living. A day’s closure means a reduction in our income, at least from the overtime,” said Sabina who had to sit idle at home.
She is not alone. Her colleagues at The Rose Dresses Ltd and others working at different production units also had to stay at their tiny rented rooms amid the shutdown enforced by the garment factory owners.
It turned the entire industrial area, which buzzes in other days amid busy foot stepping of the workers, quiet.
read more.
daily star bd

* Indefinite closure of Ashulia units a severe blow to RMG sector:

Industry people observe, brace for bad days

The country’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry is set to face yet another blow following the declaration of the indefinite shutdown of its manufacturing units in the Ashulia industrial belt. The belt accounts for about 30 per cent of the total apparel export production, industry people said Tuesday.

They said the $20 billion industry was already facing several challenges like tremendous pressure and criticism from both local and international quarters. Its image had already been immensely tarnished following the two successive industrial blazes at Tazreen and Smart factories and the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar that housed five garment units. read more.

* RMG units face acute shortage of workers:

Country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry is facing a shortage of workers in the aftermath of Tazreen and Savar tragedies, industry insiders said.

They also said for shortage of workers the apparel industry cannot properly utilise their hundred per cent production capacity.
“Tazreen and Savar tragedies created a panic among the RMG workers, it has been very difficult to recruit new manpower,” Managing Director of Nassa Group Khandakar Mohammed Saiful Islam told the FE.
read more.

* In Bangladesh rubble, the prices of profit:

Order dockets found in the rubble of a Dhaka garment factory where over 1,100 workers died show just why it pays foreign stores to buy from Bangladesh – clothes made for as little as a tenth of what they sell for in the West.

Rana Plaza, which collapsed three weeks ago, supplied big names in global retail; documents plucked from its ruins by labour activists and seen by Reuters bring into sharp focus the price of putting shirts on the backs of cost-conscious shoppers.
In one case, polo shirts of a brand sold in London for $46 were offered for sale from Rana Plaza for just $4.45, a typical transformation in an industry where manufacturers across Asia and retailers in Europe and North America are locked in war to get catwalk trends ever faster, and ever cheaper, to consumers.
Found at the site, where rescuers dug out bodies of hundreds of seamstresses and factory hands, were orders from Spanish chain store Mango to Phantom Tac, a supplier based in Rana Plaza, where owners are accused of sacrificing safety to profit.
It is no secret that retail price labels, whether for a $5 T-shirt or a $5,000 suit, reflect manufacturing costs that are a fraction of what the wearer eventually pays. But the mark-ups revealed by the Rana Plaza documents – of 5 to 10 times from factory gate to store window – offer a precise insight into the relationship of one end of a global supply chain to the other.
read more.
daily star bd

* “Call for labor rights? – NO WORK, NO PAY” – BGMEA:

unrest ashulia

We don’t want to suspend production but have been forced to do so as the owners feel insecure following the continuous unrest” – BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, May 15, 2013.

BGNEA President Atiqul Islam at a press conference further said that they had taken the decision to shut factories as per the Section 13 (A) of the Labour Act, meaning the workers will not get salary or their dues.
The workers blockaded the Dhaka-Tangail Highway for about an hour in the morning. They also threw brickbats in some factories and tried to vandalise vehicles on the highway.
There are over 300 garment factories enlisted with the BGMEA in the industrial belt that supllies almost 20 percent of the country’s total export-focused apparel produces.
read more.
RISE Society BD

* Closing down factory is not a solution:

The provision for sharing 5% profit with workers of garment industry was already in the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006. In April, the cabinet approved a proposal for excluding the provision.

In place of profit sharing, a new provision for creating a welfare fund for the workers has been incorporated in that proposed amendment. TWorkers’ demand for profit sharing is different from the proposed welfare fund.
Trade union right was also in the 2006 Law. With regard to trade union, workers have three demands. First, the workers would not need to send lists of the workers’ representatives to the owners to inform them about the trade union leaders. It usually happens that after getting the list, the owner sacks the leader. The government has changed this provision, and the list will now be sent to the government, and they will look after the issue.
Secondly, according to present law, only workers in service can participate in trade union. Therefore, it happens that when a person is elected as representative of a trade union, the owner immediately sacks him and he loses membership. Before 2006, it was in the law that a trade union member can remain member of the union after losing the job or retiring. In 1969, even a person from outside could be a member of a trade union.
read more.
daily star bd

* Retailers back Bangladesh factory safety pact:

Major retailers agree to monitor suppliers and pay for repairs after more than 1,100 dead in factory collapse.

Four of the world’s largest retailers have agreed to a pact to improve safety at some of Bangladesh’s garment factories after a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in the country last month.

H&M, C&A, Primark and the owners of Zara have agreed to monitor suppliers and pay for repairs following the worst industrial disaster in the South Asian country.
The agreement on fire and building safety, which is being led by the International Labour Organisation, trade unions and other lobby groups, has been under negotiation since the Rana Plaza building located near the capital, Dhaka, collapsed on April 24.
It comes as the three week search for survivors ended on Monday and Bangladesh’s cabinet paved the way for parliament to allow garment workers to form trade unions without prior approval from factory owners.
read & see more (video-interview).

* Final Countdown for companies to sign Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord before 15 May midnight deadline:

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh now covers more than 1,000 supplier factors after several multinationals signed up (H&M, Inditex, C&A, Primark/Penny, Tesco, PVH, and Tchibo).

However IndustriALL, UNI Global Union and its NGO partners say it’s the final countdown for other companies to confirm their commitment before the 15 May midnight deadline (CEST). These companies are urged to do the right thing and sign up.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings said, “The clock is ticking for companies such as Gap and Carrefour to show they care about their Bangladeshi supplier workforce. Their corporate reputations may be on the line but more importantly, so are the lives and livelihoods of these vulnerable factory workers in Bangladesh. Sign up before it’s too late, save lives and show you are a responsible employer. We are building a momentum for change and it won’t stop here.”
read more.

* Italy’s Benetton to sign Bangladesh safety deal:

Italian fashion house Benetton said Tuesday it would sign an agreement to improve working conditions in Bangladeshi factories after a plant there collapsed killing more than 1,100 people.

The promise by Benetton, which has around 6,500 outlets in 120 countries, came in the wake of similar pledges by other global clothing giants Inditex and H&M.
“We have taken the decision to sign the deal on building and fire safety proposed by global union federations IndustriALL and UNI,” a Benetton spokesman told AFP.
read more.

* US, EU retailers split on Bangladesh RMG sector reform plan:

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

On Monday, clothiers such as H&M, Primark, Inditex and C&A put their names on a five-year pledge that requires them to conduct safety inspections, be more transparent about work conditions and promise to pay for regular repairs and maintenance at Bangladeshi factories that supply them with garments, says CBC News. read more. & read more. & read more.
daily star bd 

* Accord with RMG retailers:

The sector needs to be totally reformed

We welcome, congratulate and thank the six big retailers for agreeing to sign a far reaching and legally binding plan to finance fire and building safety improvement in Bangladesh.

It is expected that other buyers will also join in the effort. We are glad that our international business partners, who hugely benefit from Bangladesh’s attractive cost advantage, and going to share in the transformative process which is now crucial for the future of our RMG sector.
However, the transformation that we need extends far wider than changes in the infrastructure. It must encompass the following steps:
(1) Workers must be paid internationally comparable salaries and given the different types of insurance coverage that are standard in the industry;
(2) Trade unions must be permitted;
(3) Understanding must be reached with foreign buyers not to push prices below a certain level; (
4) Renovation work in all factories—shared and purpose built—must start immediately to adhere to safety standard;
(5) Long-term plan for zoning of the RMG factories must begin now, starting with the relocation or closing down of the most vulnerable factories;
(6) Separate ministry for the RMG sector, like we have for the manpower sector, must be immediately formed. The importance of the sector and its potential for growth demand it;
(7) Punish all those responsible for major accidents of the recent past.
The above changes are a not only to preserve our $20 billion industry but also to realise its potential whose near-term forecast is around $50 billion. to read.
daily star bd

* 6 retailers join factory pact:

Walmart Plans Solo Effort

Six major retailers, including Carrefour, Marks & Spencer and El Corte Inglés, announced on Tuesday that they would participate in a landmark plan to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh.

As American retailers face mounting pressure to join a landmark plan to improve factory safety in Bangladesh, newly found documents indicate that apparel had been produced for Wal-Mart at one of the operations in the factory building that collapsed last month, killing more than 1,100 workers.

The Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity has provided The New York Times with photos of several documents not disputed by Wal-Mart, that were recovered in the building’s rubble showing that a Wal-Mart contractor from Canada had produced jeans last year at the Ether Tex factory, which had been situated on the fifth floor of the collapsed Rana Plaza building.

While both the contractor and Wal-Mart denied any knowledge of the production orders there, Wal-Mart on Tuesday announced that it would put in place new safety measures at the factories it was using in Bangladesh.

Saying it was unwilling to sign on to the broad safety plan embraced by more than a dozen European companies this week, Wal-Mart said its factory monitors would “conduct in-depth safety inspections at 100 percent” of the 279 factories it uses in Bangladesh and publicize the results on its Web site. read more.
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* Walmart checks Bangladesh factories; retailer accord elusive:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc stepped up Bangladesh factory inspections while US and European retailers pursued separate accords to try to prevent another disaster in a garment industry where more than 1,200 workers have died in the past six months.

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, said it does not plan to sign a fire and building safety agreement backed by some of Europe’s biggest apparel brands because it believes its own safety inspection plans will get faster results.
Wednesday is the deadline for retailers to decide whether to join the consortium, led by labour groups such as Europe’s IndustriALL.
Other US retailers including Gap Inc said they would not join the European pact without changes in the way conflicts are resolved in the courts. US companies have been reluctant to join any industry accord that creates legally binding objectives.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Why shoppers don’t care about Bangladesh:

More than 1,100 people were killed in the clothing-factory collapse in Bangladesh last month, yet most consumers will probably continue to buy clothes without asking questions about their origins, experts say.

The eight-story Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, which collapsed on April 24, housed five garment factories. Clothes for Loblaw Co.’s Joe Fresh brand and U.K.’s Primark were among the labels found there; both companies apologized on their websites.

Western clothing brands are increasingly under pressure from consumer advocates to improve the safety conditions of the country’s 5,000 factories. On Monday, H&M , fashion retailer C&A of the Netherlands and Zara parent Inditex agreed to sign a fire-safety agreement in Bangladesh. But as The Wall Street Journal reports, it was Americans’ taste for ultra-cheap clothing that helped keep demand high for Bangladesh’s factories. In fact, adjusting for inflation, clothing prices here have actually declined over the last decade.  read more.


* Clean Clothes Campaign estimates $ 71m compensation for Rana Plaza victims:

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), the garment industry’s largest alliance of labour union and non-government organizations, estimated an amount more than US$ 71 million as compensation for the Ranan Plaza victims.

With the death toll rising to 1,126 on the evening of the May 12, and an estimated 1650 workers admitted to hospital following the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, the estimated long term compensation will be more than 54 million Euros (US$ 71 million), said the Netherlands based CCC. This calculation is based on ILO standards and an established formula developed following previous fire and safety accidents in Bangladesh, developed by Bangladeshi and international trade unions, the CCC said in its website.
The figure includes compensation for pain and suffering, as well as long-term loss of earnings for families of deceased workers, and injured workers not able to return to work. It does not include medical costs for the physically injured workers, psychological support for all workers or their families involved in the collapse or payment of wages and legal severance payments to the Rana Plaza workers who are all now left unemployed.
read more. & read more. & read more.

* Bangladesh compensation fund sought:

Activists are pressing some Western retailers to contribute more than $70 million to a fund that would compensate victims of the collapse of an illegally constructed Bangladesh factory last month, killing more than a 1,100 garment workers and leaving thousands of others injured or unemployed.

Nearly three weeks after a factory collapse killed more than 1,100 people, the world’s biggest clothing companies are committing to safety standards that could play a key role in policing the country’s main industry.

Several weeks into clean-up efforts at the site of the collapsed factory in Bangladesh, many were still searching for missing family members. The high death toll from the collapse of Rana Plaza calls for a unified clearinghouse that can collect payments from brands and maintain a transparent database of injured and dead workers, said Tessel Pauli of the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign, which is among the groups working to create the fund. read more.
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* More than 54 million euros compensation demand for victims Rana Plaza:

With the death toll rising to 1126 on the evening of the 12th of May, and an estimated 1650 workers admitted to hospital following the Rana Plaza collapse on 24th of April, the estimated long term compensation will be more than 54 million Euros (71 million USD). This calculation is based on ILO standards and an established formula developed following previous fire and safety accidents in Bangladesh, developed by Bangladeshi and international trade unions.

The figure includes compensation for pain and suffering, as well as long-term loss of earnings for families of deceased workers, and injured workers not able to return to work. It does not include medical costs for the physically injured workers, psychological support for all workers or their families involved in the collapse or payment of wages and legal severance payments to the Rana Plaza workers who are all now left unemployed. Reports from the ground indicate that many workers and families are facing desperate situations as they are unable to pay medical bills, rent and daily expenses.

Tessel Pauli of the CCC says, “The families and injured workers need to know that their immediate and longer term rights to compensation will be assured, and therefore brands that have had production at Rana Plaza need to step forward immediately and put plans for paying compensation into place”.
read more.

* PM receives more donations for Savar victims:

More organisations and individuals provided financial assistance to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund on Tuesday to assist the families of those killed and injured in the tragic Rana Plaza collapse at Savar on April 24.

Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told reporters that Sheikh Hasina received cheques of donation in her office.
The organisations and individuals that provided cheques to the Prime Minister include Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB), BADC, Bangladesh Police Welfare Trust, Fisheries and Livestock Ministry, AMTOB and Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, PKSF, Bay Footwear Limited, Walton Hi-tech Industries Limited, BIAM Foundation School and College, Bangabandhu Parishad Central Committee, Privatisation Commission, RDRS Bangladesh, Adv Anwarul Islam of Rangpur Awami League and housewives of Eskaton Garden Officers Quarter.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Missing victims’ relatives stage protest:

The relatives of missing victims of Rana Plaza tragedy on Tuesday staged demonstration on the ruined site demanding capital punishment to the building owner.

RanaPlaza housing several garment factories collapsed on April 24 after owners Sohel Rana forced several thousand workers to work there even after cracks had developed on some pillars and floors the day before.
Around 40 to 50 relatives holding photos of their missing near and dear ones were seen chanting slogans, “Hang Rana, hang Rana,” reported our correspondent from the scene.
They also demonstrated demanding body of their dear ones who remain missing since the collapse of the building.  read more.
daily star bd

* The wait not over yet as Rana Plaza lies in ruins:

The families of the workers feared missing and their fellows on Tuesday staged demonstrations at the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza in Savar, demanding the bodies as weary rescuers left the site after 20 days of relentless operation.

The peaceful protesters chanting ‘return the missing bodies’ also demanded highest punishment of the people responsible for the deadly building collapse.
The eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed on the morning of April 24.
The demonstrations took place minutes before a special prayer was offered near the collapse site after the army-led search and rescue operation was formally declared closed on Monday after 20 days of gigantic efforts that saw 1,127 bodies recovered from the rubble.
The demonstrators holding posters with photos, names and addresses of missing people were shouting ‘why our brothers were killed, why our sisters were killed, we want justice.’  read more.

* 286 unclaimed bodies buried at Jurain:

Nineteen more bodies of the victims in the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar who could not be identified were buried at Jurain graveyard in the capital on Tuesday.
With the 19, the number of unidentified bodies of the Rana Plaza victims buried at the graveyard reached at 286, said Anjuman-e-Mafidul Islam deputy director Sarwar Jahan.

On Tuesday morning, Dhaka district administration executive magistrate Sara Sadia Taznin handed over the 19 bodies from Mitford Hospital morgue to Anjuman.
She told New Age that DNA samples of the bodies were preserved so that their identity could be established through DNA tests if anyone comes claiming relationship with them.
Sarwar said that the graves were numbered according to the DNA samples of the victims for possible identification by the relations later.
read more.

* Hundreds join prayer as Bangladesh wraps up salvage campaign:

Hundreds of people joined a special prayer along with rescuers as Bangladesh wrapped up its biggest salvage campaign launched after its worst ever industrial disaster when an eight- story building collapsed at suburban Savar.

Government leaders and officials joined the prayers, seeking eternal blessings for the victims as 1,127 people were known to have died in the collapse while rescuers said at least 176 people were still missing after 20 days of search operations when army troops, fire fighters and ordinary volunteers rescued 2,444 people alive.

“The rescue operations for bodies and survivors are declared ended,” commander of the salvage campaign Major General Chowdhury Hassan Sarwardy earlier announced at the site while a statement by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mourning the deaths and thanking the rescuers was read out ahead of the prayer.
read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Rana Plaza changed it all:

It was only a one-year plan of Shamsul Alam to work at a readymade garment (RMG) factory and then to concentrate on his graduation at a local college, but the Rana Plaza collapse changed it all.

“It has shattered my dreams. I wanted to save money from my income so as to be able to buy the books for my graduation courses,” said Shamsul Alam, who joined New Wave Style, housed in Rana Plaza, just after he passed the higher secondary certificate (HSC) exam from Rajshahi board in 2012.

Barely two months back, Shamsul went to his village home in Naogaon. He stayed there for four days and completed his admission for the graduation at a local college.

“Now I doubt whether I’ll be able to stand on my feet again. How hard it will be if I have to pass the rest of my life lying on a bed like this,” he murmured as he was lying like a paralysed man on a bed at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (Nitor) on Tuesday. read more.

* Who cares about relatives of the missing? :

Although the rescue operation at the Rana Plaza tragedy site officially ended on Monday with a firm claim by army officials that no dead body is left there, the relatives of the missing garment workers are still hanging around for the remains of their near and dear ones.

“I’m here in search of my missing daughter for 20 days. I still haven’t found her. Now I don’t need any sympathy from anyone,” burst out Rahman Sheikh in front of Rana Plaza, just a few minutes after a special prayer (Milad) arranged by the army and the district administration on Tuesday afternoon.

“Even this prayer has given me no peace. They’ve arranged the prayer and now they’re getting away. No one is here to tell us what to do,” he added.
read more.

* Govt to acquire Rana Plaza land:

To be used for rehabilitation of victim families

20130515 DAILYSTAR2
On this soil at Savar stood the nine-storey Rana Plaza, which came crashing down three weeks ago, causing heavy casualties. The site looks like plain land yesterday, completely devoid of any life. Photo: Rashed Shumon

The government will acquire the land of the collapsed Rana Plaza, which came crashing down on April 24, and take up a long-term plan to rehabilitate the victims’ family members there.

Jahangir Kabir Nanak, state minister for local government, made these comments while talking to reporters at the collapsed Rana Plaza site after a prayer service for the victims.
Earlier in the day, the army turned control of the site over to the district administration a day after it ended a nearly three-week search for bodies among the rubble.
Declaring the site a reserved zone, the district administration yesterday put up a barbed-wire fence around it.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd

* Rana has 23 bank accounts:

The Anti-Corruption Commission has found 23 bank accounts used by Mohammed Sohel Rana, the owner of multi-storeyed Rana Plaza that had collapsed in Savar last month.

But the authorities were yet to ascertain how much money he had in all these accounts, said ACC’s Public Relations Officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya.
The national anti-graft agency began an investigation soon after the collapse of the building following allegations that Rana had amassed wealth through corrupt means.
read more. & read more.

* Rana’s father remanded again:

Abdul Khalek, father of Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed building in Savar, was placed on a four-day fresh remand on Tuesday afternoon in connection with the disaster.

Senior Judicial Magistrate Wasim Sheikh in Dhaka granted his remand in a case filed over the deaths and damages in the April 24 tragedy.
On April 30, he was placed on a 13-day remand in two cases including the above mentioned one.  read more.
daily star bd

* End of rescue operation does not mean closure of Savar tragedy:

While the army-led search and rescue operation at the collapsed Rana Plaza was formally declared over on Monday, with 1,115 dead bodies recovered and 2,438 people pulled out alive, 12 of whom died later in hospitals, from the rubbles in 20 days since April 24, the greatest ever industrial tragedy in Bangladesh, if not the world, is farthest from a closure, not least because, according to a report published in New Age on Tuesday, at least 98 people remain unaccounted for and 293 dead bodies unidentified, including 234 already buried after their DNA samples had been collected.

The tragedy at Savar, as we have commented in these columns, has not only highlighted the murderous greed of the few but also the empathy and fellow-feeling of the many.
While the army has more or less efficiently and effectively coordinated the operation, with significant input from members of the fire service and civil defence department, security and law enforcement agencies, it is the ordinary people, mostly belonging to the poor and marginalised sections of society, who had spearheaded search and rescue in the first phase until the deployment of heavy equipment.
Without any protective gears and equipped with dogged determination, relentless courage and, most importantly, unending fellow-feeling, they defied all odds, put their life on the line and rescued many from the jaws of death. In the process, at least two persons died; they are martyrs, indeed.
read more.

* Savar tragedy and a few questions:

It was on April 24 that Rana Plaza collapsed at Savar, killing more than 1,100 and injuring nearly 2,500 people.

The building housed shops centre, a bank, garment factories and other commercial offices. It is estimated that on an average day near about 4,000 people used to work in the building. The latest available information at the time of writing this article on May 12 evening is that 1,117 dead bodies have been recovered and 2,438 have been rescued alive.
Quite a few are still not accounted for. Amongst the rescued, perhaps a few more may have succumbed to their injuries and over hundred have become permanently disabled. This makes the incident the worst industrial tragedy only second to the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. We express our profound grief and sorrow for the loss of lives; and our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. We also pray for the recovery of the injured.
read more.


* Walmart asks Bangladesh to take action with 3 factories:

Walmart 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, Walmart vice president of ethical sourcing, said in a statement.
read more. & read more. & read more.

* Mozena hopeful on signing Ticfa:

The US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena on Tuesday expressed hope that Bangladesh and America would ‘soon’ be able to sign Ticfa.

He made the comment when Bangladesh was grappling to retain its GSP facility in the US market that allowed some of its products duty-free access.
The Foreign Minister Dipu Moni is in Washington now and expected to meet the Secretary of State John Kerry in a maiden meeting on May 17 when the issue will be discussed among a range of bilateral issues, the ambassador said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
bdnews24  newstodayBD

* Textile millers get 45 days for seeking cash incentive:

Bangladesh Bank (BB) extended the time limit by 15 days for the textile millers to submit applications seeking cash incentive.

Currently, they are allowed to submit such application in one month. But with this change, millers will now get 45 days for this purpose.
The central bank in a directive issued today said the owners of the textile mills would be allowed to submit applications for cash incentive in one month and 15 days from the “issuing date of this circular”. read more.

* The RMG industry in a tight spot :

The ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh experienced the most devastating fire incident in its history on November 24, 2012, which occurred at Tazreen Fashions at Ashulia, an industrial hub near the capital city Dhaka.

The intensity and publicity, at home and abroad, of that disastrous incident has beaten records of all such previous incidents in the industry. The tragic occurrence at Tazreen Fashions raised serious questions about the ‘credibility’ of the 100 per cent export-oriented garment sector, which the industry had earned in the last three decades.

Questions have arisen about the industry’s capability, capacity and sincerity concerning the compliance issue at the factories. The developed world, which comprises many of the buyers of our products, almost lost their confidence in us. Following the Tazreen tragedy, buyers, in many cases, conducted visits to the factories by themselves.
Different departments concerned of our government and the industry’s apex bodies considered the fire incident as a kind of a wake-up call. The fire occurred at a time, when Bangladesh was branding itself in a positive light and its RMG industry was being rated highly by international firms and financial organisations — more importantly by the world-renowned buyers. read more.

05:57:33 local time map of india INDIA

 * Centre revises wages under MGNREGS:

The Centre has revised wages under its flagship rural jobs scheme — Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) — from April 1 to factor in inflation.

The maximum wage of Rs 214 has been fixed for Haryana and a minimum of Rs 135 for the northeastern states, an official release said on Tuesday.
It claimed that MGNREGS has benefited women and unskilled labourers the most and has also had a positive impact on agricultural wages and wages in general in rural areas, which had been stagnant for a long time.
read more. & read more.
The Economic Times Return to frontpage

* MNREGA wage rate hiked:

There’s some good news for the beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) as the wage rate per day has been revised with effect from April 1.

The revised wages were withheld in the State on account of elections to the State Legislative Assembly and enforcement of the model code of conduct.
The revision in the wage rate indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL) will come into effect retrospectively from April 1 and will prevail for the year 2013-14.
Compared to the wage rate per day in 2006-07, it has been more than doubled this fiscal.The State government issued an order hiking the wage per day from Rs. 155 to Rs. 174, an increase of 12.25 per cent. With this revision, the wage rates have been revised seven times since the launch of the job scheme in 2006-07 by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA-A) government. read more.Return to frontpage

* ‘MGNREGA reduced wage discrimination’:

The 66{+t}{+h}round of National Sample Survey has confirmed that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has reduced the traditional wage discrimination between men and women which was apparent in several States in the country.

According to a press release from Press Information Bureau, the scheme had generated 1,408 crore person days of employment till March 31 this year from its launch in February 2006. It is being implemented in 632 districts. read more.
Return to frontpage

* THICO Silks new team announces wage revision:

A new administrative committee comprising of the following members have taken charge of the Thirubuvanam Silk Weavers’ Co-operative Production and Sales Society (THICO Silks) at Thirubuvanam near Kumbakonam recently.

L.S. Jothi is the president of the committee, G.K. Baskar, vice-president, and directors are R. Srinivasan, N.P. Nagendran, V. Narayanasamy, Ms. R. Varalakshmi, and Ms. M.J. Vijayakumari, said a release issued here by THICO silks.
The new president has announced 10 per cent wage increase for weavers of society with effect from May 1, 2013. The society hopes to achieve a sales target of Rs. 50 crore before March 2014, the president said. to read.
Return to frontpage

* Exports of Surti fabric to Pakistan surpasses US, Saudi Arabia:

Pakistanis are fast lapping up saris and dress materials bearing ‘Made In Surat’ tag!

For the first time, Pakistan has become the biggest importer of man-made fabric (MMF) from Surat, surpassing even the US and Saudi Arabia. The textile ministry’s figures show that man-made fabric and yarn export to Pakistan increased by 30 per cent in 2012-13 and touched Rs 21 crore, as compared to Rs 16 crore in the previous year. The exports to US and Saudi Arabia, in fact, fell year-over-year.

Industry sources said that Surti traders exported dress materials, saris and other fabrics worth Rs 11 crore to Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore alone during the year.
Narayan Agarwal, regional chairman, Synthetic Rayon Textile Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC) told TOI, “Earlier, the fabrics were exported to Pakistan via Dubai and Afghanistan. However, since two years, traders are able to sell their products directly to Pakistan market.”  read more.

* AEPC Chairman hails favorable Foreign Trade Policy:

Dr. A Sakthivel, Chairman AEPC, on behalf of the entire Textiles Industry has complimented Shri Anand Sharma for bringing in the favorable Foreign Trade Policy and timely interventions that lead to this turn around in the exports of RMG and Textile.

Chairman AEPC said, “I welcome the positive growth of exports in the readymade garment sector for the April 2013. The RMG exports grew by 8.6% in the April 2013; as compared to the last financial year on month to month basis. April 2013 RMG exports are now 1150 million compared to the last year which was 1059 million.”
read more.

* SBI: Won’t give up on textile-sector bad loans:

State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri on Tuesday said non-performing assets (NPAs) remained an area of concern for Indian banks. He attributed the build-up of NPAs to the slowdown in the domestic economy over the last couple of years.

Citing the example of the textiles hub in Kanpur, Chadhuri said there was sickness in industry. “While disbursing loans, the bank had anticipated timely repayment by industry. But, the borrowers are not able to repay,” he said, adding even the occupancy rate of hotels had come down drastically, signifying a slowdown.
read more.

05:57:33 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Sri Lanka unlikely to benefit from Bangladesh apparel industry accidents: expert:

Despite multiple apparel industry accidents in Bangladesh it is unlikely that Sri Lanka, a neighboring competitor, will see an increase in its revenues from retailers preferring to switch to better labor standards, experts said here on Monday.

The social situation in Bangladesh will not provide additional benefit to the Sri Lankan apparel industry as higher labor cost proves to be a significant deterrent for global retail companies seeking low expenses.
Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association Chairman Yohan Lawrence told media that the industry has not seen any changes as a result of the situation in Bangladesh so far and is likely to not see any difference due to the price point differentiation.
“We have no competition with the price point offered in Bangladesh,” Lawrence said. “Unless the end customer is willing to pay more, I do not see any immediate shifts to our markets in the near future.”  read more.

* B’desh turmoil revives local apparel industry:

Board of Investment acting Chairman and a member of the Apparel Association Channa Palansooriya said that the internal conflicts in Bangladesh has increased the demand for Sri Lankan apparels, but the local industry was facing a severe shortage of workers.

He said that false propaganda had claimed closure of factories, but there were hardly any shutdown, while others merged to form new companies.
He said prior to 2005 there were more than 800 factories operating under the quota system which merged and created 350 strong and stable companies afterwards.

According to him the apparel sector is facing a shortage of 7,800 employees.
He also rejected allegations that many BOI factories were employing large number of cheap foreign labour and no job opportunities were created for locals. read more.

05:27:33 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Readymade garments: Pakistan’s exports to rise as Bangladesh comes under fire:

Pakistan is set to enter the European Union’s GSP Plus programme that will provide garment exports duty-free access to the EU. PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS

As Bangladesh’s textile industry comes under pressure to improve working conditions, Pakistani garment makers hope to see a rise in exports to global retailers, which increasingly focus on safe factories to place orders.

“We expect to see some of the business shifting to us,” said Shaikh Shafiq Rafiq, Chairman South Zone of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA). “The same thing happened to us when there was a factory fire in Karachi. The buyers are wary of public backlash.”

Over 1,100 people, many of them women, were killed on April 24 when a Dhaka building housing garment factories collapsed. The disaster sparked angry reaction from international human rights organisations and labour groups to poor working conditions there.  read more.
The Express Tribune

* PML-N’s victory delights textile industry:

On behalf of the textile industry, Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Ahsan Bashir has felicitated Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Mian Shahbaz Sharif on securing landslide victory in the general elections in centre and the province of Punjab.

He has expressed the hope that the new government would take the energy shortage, particularly in Punjab as a challenge enabling the industry to perform to the optimum for achieving growth, new investment, increase in exports and employment once the sustainability is in place. read more. & read more.


map of Asia


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


* Pro labor need not be anti employer

* Garment sector returns to home turf
* Leather and footwear exports exceed US$2.25 billion
* Vietnam garment workers take lessons in fire prevention

* Foreign journos held at garment factory

* Garment and industry workers welcome new RMG wage board
* Bangladesh Labor Law amended into “Bangladesh Labor Act 2013″
* Security beefed up at city RMG units
* Ashulia peaceful, yet factories shut
* Indefinite closure of Ashulia units a severe blow to RMG sector
* RMG units face acute shortage of workers
* In Bangladesh rubble, the prices of profit
* “Call for labor rights? – NO WORK, NO PAY” – BGMEA
* Closing down factory is not a solution
* Retailers back Bangladesh factory safety pact
* Final Countdown for companies to sign Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord before 15 May midnight deadline
* Italy’s Benetton to sign Bangladesh safety deal
* US, EU retailers split on Bangladesh RMG sector reform plan
* Accord with RMG retailers
* 6 retailers join factory pact
* Walmart checks Bangladesh factories; retailer accord elusiv
* Why shoppers don’t care about Bangladesh
* Clean Clothes Campaign estimates $ 71m compensation for Rana Plaza victims
* Bangladesh compensation fund sought
* More than 54 million euros compensation demand for victims Rana Plaza:
* PM receives more donations for Savar victims
* Missing victims’ relatives stage protest
* The wait not over yet as Rana Plaza lies in ruins
* 286 unclaimed bodies buried at Jurain
* Hundreds join prayer as Bangladesh wraps up salvage campaign
* Rana Plaza changed it all
* Who cares about relatives of the missing?
* Govt to acquire Rana Plaza land
* Rana has 23 bank accounts
* Rana’s father remanded again
* End of rescue operation does not mean closure of Savar tragedy
* Savar tragedy and a few questions
* Walmart asks Bangladesh to take action with 3 factories
* Mozena hopeful on signing Ticfa
* Textile millers get 45 days for seeking cash incentive
* The RMG industry in a tight spot

* Centre revises wages under MGNREGS
* MNREGA wage rate hiked
* ‘MGNREGA reduced wage discrimination’
* THICO Silks new team announces wage revision
* Exports of Surti fabric to Pakistan surpasses US, Saudi Arabia
* AEPC Chairman hails favorable Foreign Trade Policy
* SBI: Won’t give up on textile-sector bad loans

* Sri Lanka unlikely to benefit from Bangladesh apparel industry accidents: expert
* B’desh turmoil revives local apparel industry

* Readymade garments: Pakistan’s exports to rise as Bangladesh comes under fire
* PML-N’s victory delights textile industry

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

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