17:10:24 local time PHILIPPINES
* Gov’t asks garments makers to look for markets other than US:
Garments companies are being urged not to pin all their hopes on the Save Our Industries Act which would grant preferential access to exports to the United States.
An official of the Board of Investments (BOI) said there are quite a number of new projects in garments manufacturing coming in, indicative that they still find the sector attractive.
But the official said BOI is pushing these firms to tap markets other than the US, or supply the domestic market.
The official added that while there are incoming players not dependent on the Save Act, others may anchor their projects on the yet-to-be passed bill.
16:10:24 local time VIET NAM
* VITAS signs MoU with CBI for promotion of garment exports:
16:10:24 local time THAILAND
* Thailand urged to wrap up EU FTA or risk falling behind:
Thailand has been warned that direct investment from the European Union (EU) might continue to fall as other Asean nations benefit from free-trade agreements (FTAs) with the bloc.
Foreign direct investment in Thailand has been shrinking while inflows into Asean, particularly Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, have surged, says the European-Asean Business Centre (EABC).
The EU is by far the largest investor in Asean and ranks second in Thailand after Japan.
The EU and Thailand are both each other’s third-largest trading partner in Asean, said the centre. read more.
* Supply chain SMEs at higher risk from baht:
Kasikornbank, the leader in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises, says the baht’s appreciation is more serious for supply-chain businesses than exporters as the latter can pass their forex-related costs to suppliers.
Supply-chain businesses, many of which are SMEs, have insufficient tools against currency volatility, said KBank executive vice president Patchara Samalapa.
Supply-chain SMEs in agriculture, wooden furniture, textiles, electronic parts and auto parts are at high risk from the baht’s appreciation as they have relatively low margins and are labour-intensive. read more.
16:10:24 local time CAMBODIA
* Shoes factory’s balcony collapses in Cambodia, over 100 workers trapped:
The balcony of a shoes factory collapsed in western Cambodia on Thursday morning and estimated more than a hundred workers were trapped in the wreckage, a district police chief said. to read.
* At least one killed, 60 injured in ceiling collapse:
At least one worker is killed and 60 others are believed to be trapped under the rubble of a collapsed ceiling of a footwear factory.
The concrete ceiling of the Cambodian-owned Wing Star Shoes Co, Ltd. collapsed Thursday around 7 o’clock in the morning.
Authorities have rescued six workers who were seriously injured and pulled out one body, and are now in the hunt for other survivors under the rubble of the building’s ceiling.
“One worker was killed and six others were injured,” National police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told AFP, adding that part of the concrete ceiling at the factory in southern Kampong Speu province had crashed onto staff while they were working.
* Workers killed in shoe factory collapse:
Police and workers scramble to assist people crushed after the roof of a building at the Wing Star Co., Ltd. shoe factory in Kampong Speu province collapsed this morning. Photograph: Ly Chheng
. . At least two people dead while authorities continue to search for bodies in the rubble
At least two people were killed and six seriously injured when a shoe factory collapsed this morning in Kampong Speu province, police have confirmed, while it is feared the death toll could be much higher.
Hundreds of police as well as members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit have been frantically trying to pull workers out of the rubble after a building at the Wing Star Co. Ltd. shoe factory collapsed at 7:30am, Kong Pisey district police chief Khim Sophanara, police chief said.
“Right now, two people have died and six are injured, but people are still trapped under the collapsed roof,” Khim Sophanara, police chief in Kong Pisey district said.
An 8 by 16 metre concrete, metal and zinc roof collapsed just after workers arrived this morning, he said.
The factroy supplies Japanese running shoe brand ASICS according to Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity. read more.
* Factory Collapse Kills At Least 2, Injures 6, Many Trapped:
A ceiling collapse at a shoe factory in Kompong Speu province killed at least two workers and left six seriously injured early Thursday morning, while an unknown number of people still remain trapped in the wreckage, a local official said.
The workers were killed as they entered the building to start their shift at the Taiwanese-owned factory.
“Two died, a male and a female worker, and six are in critical condition,” said Kong Pisei district governor Ma Savath. “My authorities are still trying to save the victims trapped inside.”
According to Mr. Savath, the factory collapse occurred at around 7:20 a.m. at the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd., a Taiwanese-owned factory located in Maha Russei commune. He said that more than 2,000 workers are employed in the factory complex, which consists of several buildings. read more.
* Three confirmed dead in factory collapse:
A third person has been confirmed dead after the roof of a building at the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd., shoe factory collapsed in Kampong Speu province this morning.
Seven people have also been confirmed seriously injured by union officials and police, hundreds of whom are scrambling to recover bodies from the rubble at the factory, which multiple sources have confirmed supplies Japanese footwear brand ASICS.
During a press conference at the scene this morning, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng said the third victim had died in hospital but was unable to provide any more details.
Sam Heng said the factory would be closed for about three days so the government could investigate the accident, which police said occurred at about 7:30am this morning, shortly after employees arrived to work.
He also pledged that the government would compensate the victims and said the fatal collapse was the first of its kind in Cambodia. read more.
* Roof collapse at Cambodian shoe plant kills three – minister:
Three people were killed when the ceiling of a warehouse fell in at a shoe factory in Cambodia, a government minister said on Thursday, adding to concerns about safety standards at Asian factories producing cheap clothing.
Cambodia has seen a rush of investment in recent years, especially into the shoe and garment sector, with Western and Asian firms attracted by its low-cost labor. The International Monetary Fund says garments account for about 80 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s exports.
Ith Sam Heng, minister of social affairs, told Reuters another six people had been injured in the incident at the plant in the Kong Pisei district of Kampong Speu province, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital, Phnom Penh.
“We will investigate the case and we will take measures against those involved,” he said, meaning anyone who might be held responsible for poor safety standards.
He said no one remained trapped inside the building. read more.
* Factory accident victim only 15, family says:
Three family members of a garment worker who was killed this morning when a mezzanine at the Wing Star Shoes Co., Ltd factory collapsed on her have said she was only 15 years old.
Sim Srey Touch was crushed by falling metal and concrete in an accident that government officials and Wing Star Shoes have said killed two workers.
Srey Touch, family members said, had worked at the factory only two weeks.
Three of Sim Srey Touch’s sisters also work at Wing Star, including 23-year-old Yim Pay, who said she watched police carry out her 15-year-old sister’s body.
“I was working in another building and heard a thunderous sound and ran to see what was happening,” the 23-year-old said.
“I came out and saw the police carrying my sister and I went into shock.”
Srey Touch’s mother, Noun Nget, told reporters her daughter was 15 and had lied about her age to get a job at Wing Star Shoe. read more.
* Garment Factory Collapse in Cambodia: At Least 3 Dead, 10 Injured and More Unaccounted For:
Only hours after international brands signed onto the Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Agreement, a building collapse at Asics supplier, Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd has claimed the lives of at least 3 Cambodian garment workers, injured at least 10 and left many more unaccounted for.
The Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) would like to send its utmost condolences to the families of deceased workers at Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd and condemn the absolute lack of responsibility that now typifies the Asian garment industry.
According to shipping data, Asics has received 148,641 lbs of product from Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd since October of last year. Asics claim they “respect the fundamental human rights of all persons in all of [their] corporate activities,” yet workers at Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd were not guaranteed their most fundamental right of all – their right to life.
We bring to the attention of Asics, the Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia and the Royal Cambodian government that you are obliged to act immediately.
We demand that Asics take responsibility for their failure to ensure the safety workers within their supply chain; to immediately send a representative to Cambodia and ensure medical treatment and compensation for the victims; and to ensure the safety of the remaining workers in this factory and others. read more.
* Workers crushed to death at shoe factory:
Two people were killed this morning, including a girl whose family members said was only 15 years old, when a mezzanine floor collapsed at a shoe factory in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisei district.
Hundreds of police and members of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit rushed frantically to pull victims from the rubble after a floor collapsed at a building in the Wing Star Shoes Co., Ltd. factory just after employees arrived to work at about 7:30am.
Twenty-four-year-old Reung Chak, whom colleagues said had just become a father a month ago, was killed along with Sim Srey Touch, whose mother said she had lied about her age to get her job.
“Up until now, I found that two workers are dead and 11 got injured, but two workers who went to get medical treatment got better and went back home already,” Kampong Speu military police chief Men Siborn said.
Earlier today, Minister for Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Ith Sam Heng, said at a press conference that the government would pay compensation to the victims. He also claimed three people had died, a figure the government later retracted, correcting the death toll to two.
17:10:24 local time SINGAPORE
* Wage rises likely to exceed inflation: Report:
Salary increases are likely to outstrip inflation this year so workers should be able to stay ahead of the rising cost of living, said a new report yesterday.
Consulting firm Towers Watson said company budgets for salary increments here are expected to go up by 4.5 per cent on average – a tad higher than the expected inflation rate of 3.8 per cent.
This means real wage growth is expected to stay positive this year.
The results – from an online survey in February and March – were gathered from about 1,600 responses from 18 economies across the Asia-Pacific region.
14:55:24 local time NEPAL
* Employers-employees agree on strike free corridor:
Employers of various industries in the Bara-Parsa industrial corridor and employees have signed a letter of agreement to make the industrial corridor a bandh- and strike-free zone.
Concluding that frequent incidents of disputes in the past over issues of wage and collective bargaining had adversely affected the industrial environment, the employers and leaders representing the employees have sealed a 19-point agreement. read more.
15:10:24 local time BANGLADESH
* No headway in talks on reopening Ashulia units:
A series of meetings between the apparel sector leaders and the government on reopening of the factories at Ashulia, on the outskirts of the city could not make any headway until Wednesday, two days after their shutdown, sources said.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) declared on May 13 last all the apparel manufacturing units at Ashulia shut for an indefinite period following unabated workers’ clashes with law enforcers over wage enhancement. read more.
* Ashulia RMG factories closed for second day:
Production at around 100 garment factories in Ashulia remained on hold yesterday, for the second consecutive day, as owners and workers failed to reach a consensus.
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will hold a meeting with Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju today to find a solution to reopen the factories soon.
“We are holding meetings with the labour leaders so that we can resume production soon,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said. read more.
* Bangladesh bosses, labour hail retailers’ safety pledge:
Bangladesh labour activists and manufacturers Wednesday welcomed plans by foreign retailers to improve shocking safety standards at garment factories after a disaster which killed over 1,100 workers.
The retailers’ promise followed last month’s collapse of a nine-storey factory complex outside Dhaka that killed 1,127 people in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.
Labour activists have campaigned for years for a Western retailer-led drive to improve factories where workers toil long hours in sweatshop conditions for paltry pay.
The retailers’ commitment represents a “huge victory”, said Kalpona Akter, head of the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity.
The agreement, backed by a Europe-based labour coalition called IndustriALL, is “going to benefit each and every garment worker”, he said.
* Bangladesh to Allow Garment Workers to Unionize, Raise Minimum Wage:
Bangladesh’s government agreed on Monday to allow the South Asian nation’s 4 million garment workers to form trade unions without seeking permission from factory workers, a milestone victory for labor-rights campaigners who have been lobbying for widespread reforms to the industry following a devastating building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people three weeks ago.
The decision came a day after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers, who are paid as little as $38 per month—a quarter of China’s current minimum wage—to sew clothing for brands and retailers in North America and Europe.
* Labour law for garment industry:
The necessary reforms in the labour law will soon see daylight. Although quite late, the chapter has finally been opened. It is a bitter truth that the unfortunate deaths of more than one thousand garments workers at the Savar have accelerated the reform process.
Provision for group insurance and gratuity facilities will be provided for industrial workforce, particularly in the garment sector. One wonders why it took such a long time. Was there an unholy alliance between the factory owners and the authorities concerned? The government deserves appreciation for getting this important work done.
* Labour law draft speaks more ‘in favour of employers than workers’:
The amendment to the labour law, as was approved by the cabinet, goes more in favour of employers than the workers in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, trade union leaders and some legal experts said.
Many provisions have been included in the draft amendment or withdrawn from the original law by putting some restraints on the workers’ rights to effective trade unionism and bargaining capacity, they said.
The experts and labour leaders alleged the proposed amendment, in many cases, does not comply with the standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), particularly when it comes to the main issue of workers’ right to unionism.
* US lawmakers press Bangladesh on factory reform:
US lawmakers are preparing to press Bangladesh to improve factory conditions, urging the government to commit to thorough reforms to prevent new disasters, according to a letter seen on Tuesday.
In a letter being drafted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, US lawmakers plan to urge her to put “the highest priority on aggressively enacting and enforcing comprehensive reforms” to ensure safety standards and the rights of workers.
“We believe there is simply no substitute for tough, comprehensive, uncompromising government support for legislation and fully resourced law enforcement and administrative action,” said the letter. read more.
* The bare minimum of RMG:
While the US has been pushing for improved working conditions and safety standards at garment factories in Bangladesh, the European Union has also voiced concerns.
The Savar tragedy has indeed triggered a fast reaction: the BGMEA has announced imposing compliance audits on all the factories, with the government increasing the number of factory inspectors to 200. A tripartite understanding with the International Labour Organisation has been reached in this regard. The amendments to the existing labor law of 2006 have also been drafted by the government to empower the labour force to have collective bargaining rights leading to formation of trade unions.
And last but not the least, the labour leaders have also pushed hard to revise the minimum wage level where the basic pay (without working extra time) is barely $38.
A few responsible government officials have rushed to some garment factories, shut a few shops and announced the construction of a minimum wage board along with the decision of paying retroactive salary with effect from May 1, 2013, which is testing the garment exporters’ community with the harshest of measures. At this point, we need to study the consequences.
* ILO welcomes new safety accord for RMG workers:
The United Nations labour agency has welcomed an agreement signed by international fashion brands and retailers, and trade unions to prevent workplace disasters.
“The need for urgent improvement in workplace safety requires the industry to work together to implement a scalable and transparent plan of action that supports the vital role of Government and employer and worker organizations in Bangladesh,” the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a news release on Tuesday.
The signatories to the Accord on Building and Fire Safety commit “to the goal of a safe and sustainable Bangladeshi Readymade Garment (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”, according to the ILO website.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Big retailers take fresh look at BD dealings:
Some of Australia’s biggest retailers, including Woolworths, Coles owner Wesfarmers and department stores Myer and David Jones, will review supply arrangements after the Rana Plaza collapse on last month which killed more than 1100 workers.
It comes as some of the world’s leading fashion chains, such as Swedish group H&M and the owner of Spanish company Zara, have pledged to better monitor the working conditions of factory workers in Bangladesh and help pay for repairs.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Major retailers stall on Bangladesh safety accord:
The clock is ticking for some of the world’s biggest retailers, such as Gap and Wal-Mart, to sign a landmark agreement to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety was initiated by IndustriALL, UNI Global Union, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and a group of NGO partners following the deaths of over 1,127 workers in a building collapse last month.
The legally-binding five year agreement was signed on Monday by a group of seven European retailers including H&M, Inditex (parent company of Spanish clothing and furnishing brand Zara) and Primark. read more.
* Bangladesh accord to cost global retailers only $2.5m each:
At least 24 retailers, including Hennes & Mauritz and Inditex, each have agreed to contribute as much as $2.5 million over five years toward the cost of improving fire and building safety in Bangladesh, reports Bloomberg.
The companies, also including Marks & Spencer Group, Loblaw and Associated British Foods’ Primark, will pay as much as $500,000 a year over the five-year term of an agreement announced by the IndustriALL global union on Wednesday.
However, trade union leaders in Bangladesh have accused Primark of dragging its feet over agreeing compensation for relatives of those killed or injured in the collapse of Rana Plaza, according to a Telegraph report.
read more. & read more.
* Global Breakthrough as Retail Brands sign up to Bangladesh Factory Safety Deal:
The world’s leading retail labels commit to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh before the midnight deadline. The Accord now covers more than 1000 Bangladeshi garment factories. Implementation starts now!
Clean Clothes Campaign in a powerful alliance with leading unions IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, and Worker Rights Consortium have changed the rules of the game for workers in Bangladesh. We welcome the decision of the companies who have signed up to the Accord for acting responsibly in the light of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Forty-eight hours ago H&M started the ball rolling and we now have the major global household brands on board.
As the countdown closed the following companies had signed on: H&M, Inditex, C&A, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Primark, El Corte Inglés, jbc, Mango, Carrefour, KiK, Helly Hansen, G-Star, Aldi, New Look, Mothercare, Loblaws, Sainsbury’s, Benetton, N Brown Group, Stockmann, WE Europe, Esprit, Rewe, Next, Lidl, Hess Natur, Switcher, A&F.
Ineke Zeldenrust from Clean Clothes Campaign says: ‘The fact that so many brands have signed the legally enforceable safety Accord that has unions and workers at the centre will bring historic change in the Bangladeshi industry. However, it is a shame that Gap and Walmart have not yet signed the Accord. We strongly encourage them to reconsider their position, as the evidence shows that the programmes they are looking to adopt will completely fail to address the root causes of poor safety in the industry and will marginalise workers. It is not too late for brands to sign the Accord which will mean workers no longer have to fear for their lives each time they enter their factory.’
IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina said, “The companies who signed up are to be applauded. H&M showed the way by being the first to sign this week. We will not close the door on brands who want to join the Accord after the deadline but we will be forging ahead with the implementation plan from today. Those who want to join later will not be in a position to influence decisions already made. The train moves on and these companies will drive the process – there can be no uncommitted passengers because the stakes are too high. We are talking improving the working conditions and lives of some of the most exploited workers in the world, earning $38 a month in dangerous conditions.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings said, “We made it! This accord is a turning point. We are putting in place rules that mark the end of the race to the bottom in the global supply chain.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* North American retailers devising own B’desh plans:
North American retailers discussed on Tuesday forging their own Bangladesh safety agreement, an alternative to a legally binding accord that many European retailers have signed on to, though details of any alternative accord were still unclear, reports Reuters.
The discussions on Tuesday were the latest in a series of talks convened by large retail trade organizations and including retailers such as Macy’s Inc, JC Penney Co Inc, and Sears Holdings Corp, to develop a response to fatal fires and a factory collapse in Bangladesh last month that killed more than 1,000 people.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), one of the largest U.S. retail trade associations, spoke on Tuesday afternoon with other trade associations and with its member companies about a possible accord among North American retailers. Details from those calls are not yet available.
The trade associations collaborating on a possible North American plan also include the National Retail Federation (NRF), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA), Retail Council of Canada and Canadian Apparel Federation, according to people familiar with the talks.
* U.S. Retailers Holding Out on Bangladesh Safety Agreement:
Labour groups here are stepping up pressure on U.S. firms to sign a binding building safety agreement for Bangladeshi factories after 10 major European garment companies signed onto the landmark agreement.
H&M, a major European apparel chain, signed the agreement Monday, and Benetton, which was under fire from activists after their clothing was found in the ruins of the Rana Plaza factory which collapsed in late April, signed on Tuesday.The nearly month-long search for victims in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse ended Monday, after the death toll had reached 1,127.
“H&M’s decision to sign the accord is crucial,” Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labour rights watchdog group based in Washington, said in a press release.
“They are the single largest producer of apparel in Bangladesh, ahead even of Walmart. This accord now has tremendous momentum.”
Other European companies that signed the accord, known as the Bangladesh Building and Fire Safety Agreement, included Inditex, C&A, Primark and Tesco. By Tuesday evening, the only U.S. company to agree to the accord was PVH, the parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, which signed last year.
According to the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), an advocacy organisation, the new agreement covers all major areas needed to ensure its effectiveness: “independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory factory building renovations, the obligation by brands and retailers to underwrite the cost of repairs, and a vital role for workers and their unions”.
“The fact of European brands signing on is very important for the Bangladesh garment industry,” Foxvog told IPS. “It’s time for U.S. companies to sign on as well.”
* “Not a single U.S. firm has stepped forward to help out victims of industry disasters in past six months” :
Penney says it’s changing Bangladesh contracting practices; Dickies says that information is proprietary
The scorecard is mixed on how U.S. brands are dealing with the garment factory disasters that have claimed thousands of lives in Bangladesh since 2005, including more than 1,000 in a recent building collapse.
In North Texas, JC Penney and Williamson-Dickie, owner of the Dickies brand, are examples of the very different tacks being taken.
Penney confirmed last week that it is tightening its contracting guidelines in Bangladesh following the tragic building collapse. However, Dickies has remained publicly silent on what it is or isn’t doing.
Neither Dickies nor Penney has offered compensation to families of those killed in plants where they had clothing sewn. And they are not alone. Not a single U.S. firm has stepped forward to help out their survivors, said Liana Foxvog of the Washington-based watchdog group, the International Labor Rights Forum.
* Wal-Mart, Gap under global fire:
24 retailers to fork out $60m over 5 years; 2 US giants opt out
The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart and another US company, Gap, yesterday came under fire from rights and labour activists as they opted out of a legally binding accord already signed by at least 24 other retailers to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh.
The companies, including Hennes & Mauritz, Inditex, Marks & Spencer, Loblaw and Associated British Foods’ Primark, each pledged to contribute as much as $2.5 million [ $500,000 a year] over five years under the agreement announced by IndustriALL, a global union.
The initiative has been prompted by the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24, which killed 1,127 people.
Wal-Mart and Gap’s refusal to sign the accord has come as an attempt to undermine or evade the safety plan devised to prevent disasters at garment units, a rights group said.
* Walmart won’t sign RMG sector accord:
US retailer Walmart said on Tuesday it did not plan to sign a Bangladesh fire and building safety accord drawn up by labour groups because it believed its current safety plans would get faster results, reports Reuters.
While AFP said the retail giant would conduct in-depth safety inspections at all 279 of its Bangladesh suppliers, in the wake of the building collapse at Savar that killed more than 1,100.
The legally-binding agreement, drafted by labour and non-governmental organisations Europe’s IndustriALL and UNI Global Union, had a May 15 deadline for retailers to sign on.
Many North American retailers were discussing whether to forge their own Bangladesh safety agreement as an alternative. read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Garment workers demand punishment of people responsible for Rana Plaza collapse:
Leaders of National Garment Workers Federation, a garment workers’ rights body, at a rally in the capital on Wednesday demanded exemplary punishments of people responsible for the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24.
At least 1,127 people, most of them garment workers, were killed in the collapse of the jerry-built building.
The NGWF organised the rally in front of the National Press Club to express solidarity and sympathy for the workers killed and wounded in the building collapse.
Amirul Haque Amin, president of the federation who chaired the rally, demanded exemplary punishment of the owner of the plaza Sohel Rana and the owners of the garment factories situated in the building. to read.
* Relatives of missing workers still gather:
People still continued to gather at different places in Savar till Wednesday evening in search of their relatives who were feared missing in the collapse of Rana Plaza even after the rescue operation was officially called off on Monday.
The relatives were seen roaming around the office of Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Adhar Chandra High School, Thana Stand and near the site of the collapsed building.
The eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed on the morning of April 24.
The Savar upazila authorities, meanwhile, started listing the names of missing people.
‘We are preparing a fresh list of missing people,’ an official told New Age at the control room set up at the UNO office.
* German support for industry mishap victims:
The Germany has pledged support to reintegrate Savar victims in jobs
According to a media release, German government as part of its engagement in Bangladesh’s garment sector has committed to inject 2.5 million Euro for “Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry” to help victims of industry mishaps.
The German Development Organisation (GIZ) and the Ministry of Commerce would implement the project that will also support other garment workers who suffered disabilities in different industrial accidents.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Traumatised survivors of factory collapse vow to leave city in drove:
A group of fortunate survivors of the Savar tragedy, having traumatised, have expressed their reservation about continuing their jobs in the readymade garment (RMG) sector.
The survivors have decided to go back to their homes and do farming work in the countryside.
“I am determined not to seek job in the city any more. I’ll request others to quit industrial job,” the 28-year-old Enamul Haque, , said.
The agony-stricken survivor of northern Gaibandha district revealed on Monday his personal decision on the sidelines of a donation programme at Dhaka University.
Business Studies Faculty of Dhaka University (DU) teachers and students organised the programme where 51 survivors of the building collapse received swing machines, rickshaws, vans and cash worth Tk0.5 million.
* Plan for mental treatment to Savar victims:
The government is going to take a two-year plan to ensure psychological treatment of the Savar building collapse survivors, according to Health Minister AFM Ruhal Haque.
He said the survivors would need ‘psycho-social’ treatment to return to their normal life.
The World Health Organisation would assist the government in this regard, he said adding that psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers would work ‘concertedly’ to manage their post-traumatic disorder. read more.
* Sohel Rana on 13-day fresh remand:
Two Dhaka courts on Wednesday placed Sohel Rana, owner of the collapsed building Rana Plaza, on a 13-day fresh remand for police interrogation in three cases.
Senior judicial magistrates Tajul Islam and Toyebul Hasan granted the remand when police produced him before the courts.
After the hearing, the courts granted six days remand for arms carrying case, five days for killing case and two days over the drug related case.
In his speech before the court, Sohel Rana claimed himself as innocent as there was no lawyer for him.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Savar accused to be tried under Penal Code Sections 304, 304(A):
The chief of an inquiry committee and additional secretary of the home ministry, Mainuddin Khandakar, said that those responsible for the collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar, are likely to tried under Sections 304 and 304 (A) of the Penal Code.
Talking to this correspondent at his secretariat office, on Wednesday, Khandakar said that the owner of the nine-stored building, Sohel Rana, a local leader of the ruling Awami League, is very much responsible for the ‘Savar Tragedy’, which claimed 1,127 lives and left thousands injured. Being exceedingly greedy, Rana was only interested in earning money, he added.
Sohel Rana, who built the high-rise building after grabbing land from Rabindra Nath Sarkar, who, incidentally, belongs to the minority Hindu community, should be punished by the authorities concerned, so that no garments manufacturer or building owner commits the same offence in the future, Khandakar said.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Bangladesh to become hub of labour-intensive industries:
Rising labour costs in several Asian countries are opening up the prospect for foreign investors to relocate investment to Bangladesh, said M Teresa Kho, country director, Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh Resident Mission.
She was speaking as guest of honour at the monthly luncheon meeting of the Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) at Hotel Westin in the city on Wednesday.
To unlock further potential for growth, Bangladesh needs to sharpen focus on trade, along with addressing other development priorities, including infrastructure deficits, said M Teresa Kho.
Bangladesh has the potential for higher growth given its advantageous location in a fast-growing region, and availability of a large labour force, she said.
read more. & read more.
* Is compliance only garment factory-specific? :
Ever since the term compliance began to fan hot air in the public domain in this country, it seemed the word meant something singularly unique shut within the walls of the garment factories — something meant to be tailored well enough as an essential byproduct and exported as well.
After the Savar tragedy, it ceases to be a byproduct anymore. It is ‘the product’ itself.
In a country where systemic noncompliance characterises its governance culture, demanding compliance in a particular sphere of activity sounds self-defeating. Five months into the Tazreen Fashions blaze, the Rana Plaza havoc has found a number of scapegoats. Lack of compliance is one, albeit, in a pathetically simplistic manner. A few questions are relevant. Is compliance only garment factory-specific? Can it be enforced in isolation?
* RMG: Pressures to take on:
Bangladesh’s garment sector is now a recurrent theme in local and international media — for no good reasons to cheer about.
What the Tazreen fire prompted little over five months back seems to be pulling things down the rock bottom after the Rana calamity. Authorities within the country appear to have sat up, wide awake suddenly, but still in a fix under the daze of a broken slumber as to where to start with. One has no choice but to hope that things are going to improve or, in other words, there is no choice but to improve.
Given what the government is capable of in the light of the past experiences, one may tend to be sceptical. But this is not going to help. The country will have to wait for the outcome in terms of grace under pressure. The pressure understandably is due to strong reactions from various overseas rights groups and prominent labour organisations.
Besides there are threats from the European Union (EU) of scrapping the all-important GSP (generalised system of preferences) – an incentive of duty-free access that for the most part allowed Bangladesh’s garment sector to not only emerge as a formidable manufacturing base but also to thrive in exports at an almost unbridled pace. read more.
* Giving ethical prices of RMG products:
Developments are taking place in quick succession in the Bangladesh apparel industry after the tragic Savar incident. Some of the developments are ominous and contrary to interests of its industry while some others are drawing sympathies and criticism from the global buyers and retailers.
In a recent development, factories in the Ashulia belt have been kept shut in anticipation of the widespread workers’ unrest. It happened at a time when the sector is struggling to cope with the losses caused by the spate of frequent hartals and stave off the negative impact of several fire incidents. Further suspension of production for an indefinite period has created a serious pressure on the industry. Many garment units are facing order cancellations, leading to shifting of buyers to other destinations. read more.
14:40:24 local time INDIA
* Trident to invest ‘1667 crore for expansion:
The Rs5000-crore Trident Group has charted out massive expansion plans. The company at its board meeting held on Wednesday approved a plan to invest Rs 1667 crore for expansion in various segments of towels, home textiles, yarn and paper units.
The company is already one of the top terry towel manufacturers in the world. The biggest chunk of the expansion funds will be spent at the company’s unit at Budni in Madhya Pradesh. The Barnala plant too will be expanded. read more.
* TEA appeals for reduction in cotton yarn price:
Knitwear garment exporters have yet again voiced their anxiety over the ‘abnormal increase in the yarn prices’.
Stating that the garment exporters were struggling to execute the existing orders and not in a position to take future orders as they were already operating on wafer thin margins, Tirupur Exporters Association President A Sakthivel said ‘the competition is severe in the international market and our sustenance is becoming difficult because of the steep increase in the input cost.’ read more.
* Farmers flocking to GM crops:
After scientists, farmers in India, China and the Philippines have given the thumbs up to Bt cotton and Bt corn. A study by Templeton Foundation of USA has shown that 93% cotton in India and China is of the Bt variety, while 59% of the corn in Philippines is also of Bt variety, despite opposition from anti-GM activists and NGOs.
These results were presented at a two-day international conference on ‘Adoption of biotech crops in developing world: case studies of farmers from China, India and Philippines’. The conference was organized by International Service for the Adoption of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) at Manila.
The results reflect the pivotal role of private sector, like technology developers and seed companies, the farm demonstrations by them as well as the word of mouth publicity among farmers, in the widespread adoption of the two genetically modified (GM) crops, and not the public sector. It is only in recent past that government agencies like universities in India and Philippines have chipped in to support GM crops. read more.
14:10:24 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile sector for monitoring of yarn export:
The value-added textile sector has drawn Mian Nawaz Sharif’s attention to the export of cotton yarn, the sorely needed raw material of the textile sector, at throwaway prices.
In a letter to the incoming prime minister, Javed Bilwani, coordinator of the value-added textile sector, said Pakistan’s entire textile sector was itself in urgent need of cotton yarn.
“Only value-added fine count cotton yarn should be allowed to be exported
with monitoring of the price which should not be lower than the
international price,” the letter said. “The greatest irony is that, along
with the unbridled export of cotton yarn, our precious raw material,
electricity and gas is also being exported very cheap while the industries
here are starving for electricity and gas,” he said. read more.
* PHMA highlights issues, makes proposals:
Value-added textile sector sets forth its first proposals to the elected government, mainly highlighting perennial problems of power, gas and cotton yarn facing the manufacturing units. Central Chairman of Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA), Muhammad Javed Bilwani invited the elected PML-N government to set a benchmark for cotton yarn export to spare a better amount to the industry.
“Capping mechanism is also placed on the export of coarse cotton yarn which is required by the value added textile sector,” he said. He said the export-oriented apparel industry is struggling to acquire gas, electricity and cotton yarn as their unavailability leaves manufacturing scaled down in crucial stages around the year.
14:10:24 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Labor Rights Watchdog Calls on U.S. Customs Service to Halt Imports of Forced Labor Cotton from Uzbekistan:
A formal complaint against the importation of cotton from Uzbekistan grown and harvested with forced labor was filed today by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a leading American human and labor rights watchdog organization.
Under the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. Customs Service is required to deny entry to goods that arrive at U.S. ports that contain materials made with forced labor.
Those who refuse are expelled from school, fired from their jobs, denied public benefits or worse. The government combines these penalties with threats, detains and tortures activists seeking to monitor the situation and continues to refuse the International Labor Organization’s efforts to monitor the cotton harvest. read more.