22:05:07 local time CHINA
* Weaving the new economic landscape:
The textile industry, which used to bring great honor and an enormous fortune to Wuxi, Jiangsu province, is facing a critical time in its transformation.
“I have been working in the textile business for half a century, and witnessed the industry tough out so many bad times, including the Asian financial turmoil. But I should say we are facing an unprecedented difficult situation now,” said Chen Zhengming, deputy secretary-general of the Wuxi Textile Association.
Textile profits slumped 6.19 percent year-on-year in 2012, Chen said. However, based on technological innovation and better allocation of resources, textile companies in Wuxi managed to maintain a 4.83 percent year-on-year growth for export value in 2012, higher than the national average growth rate of 3.09 percent.
Meanwhile, workers’ salaries have climbed to $450 to $500 per month, compared with $60 to $100 in Bangladesh and $120 to $180 in India.
“Companies have to bring up product prices to cover rising costs, and thus they are losing overseas market share,” Chen said, adding that Wuxi companies’ share of the Japanese market has shrunk from 80 percent three years ago to 73 percent last year. read more.
21:05:07 local time CAMBODIA
* Bandith no-shows trial:
Observers were there, Puma was there, but once again there was no sign of deposed Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith at the much anticipated re-run of his trial yesterday.
More than 15 months after he allegedly shot three women at a protest, the gallery at the Svay Rieng provincial court room sighed when presiding judge Leang Sour announced a stay in proceedings because Bandith’s lawyers were busy with other cases.
Bandith’s whereabouts remained unknown, while one of his lawyers was in Japan and another was busy with a case in Kampong Cham province, Sour told the packed courtroom. They had given no warning of their absences.
Eighteen witnesses as well as two of the three victims of the February 2011 shooting outside the Kaoway Sports factory, a supplier to Puma in Svay Rieng’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone, stood needlessly in the court room.
Buot Chenda, who was shot through the chest at the protest, said there was nothing surprising about yet another delay in the case.
“Our story has dragged on for a very long time and nothing is strange; it’s more of the same,” she said. read more.
* Fire truck sprays down striking factory workers:
More than 4,000 workers stood their ground at a protest for better benefits in front of the Sabrina Garment factory yesterday when the factory used a fire truck to spray them with water.
“They sprayed into the group of protesters for about five minutes, but no one was injured,” said Free Trade Union officer Thorn Thol.
He added that so far negotiations with the Kampong Speu factory had failed, and the workers would keep striking until the company agreed to their demands, including a minimum wage increase and money for transportation, accommodation and lunch.
* Standards building up safety fears:
When a 100-metre-long section of a Phnom Penh garment factory crumpled in on itself like a cheap pup tent, Sen Sok district officials promised an investigation.
Alhough no one was hurt, Phnom Penh Municipal Hall formed a committee, they said, to look into the structural failure of the just-finished building, which was slated to hold an inauguration ceremony with hundreds of guests only a few days later.
The results of that investigation, which was to have taken place more than a year ago, in March 2012, were never made public, and officials at the time refused to release the names of those who owned the land the building sat on or the firm responsible for its construction.
Another factory caved in on itself less than six months later, this time before its completion, just as its roof was being installed. Sixteen workers were injured, with some sustaining broken hips and legs in the collapse, which authorities attributed to cheap materials and shoddy construction. read more.
* ILO-BFC responds to factory collapse incidents:
News reports indicate that Monday, May 20th an external structure at the Top World Factory collapsed, injuring approximately 23 workers who were eating lunch in the space. Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) extends their sympathy to the injured workers, and will visit the factory, which is included in BFC’s monitoring program, and speak with workers and management in order to gather information on the cause of the collapse and assess further concerns regarding building safety.
Based on current information, we understand that the incident occurred in a gazebo located away from the production area, on a small lake. The area had in the past been suggested as a child care site, however, based on workers’ concerns and BFC advice that it was not safe for such purposes due to its location; management had converted the space to a storage facility. Recent monitoring visits to this factory show that the structure was being used for storage. read more.
* A Tale of Two Factory Disasters: What Cambodia Can Teach Bangladesh:
As the final death toll of the Bangladesh factory collapse reached 1,126 last week, a small section of the second floor of a shoe factory in Cambodia gave way.
Two people died, but witnesses said it was a stroke of luck that the number wasn’t much higher. Then, on Monday, 10 more workers in Cambodia, including a pregnant woman, were injured when an outdoor platform where workers took breaks toppled over. The incidents linked two low-income countries whose export-driven garment and footwear industries supplying major international brands were already being discussed together — but as opposites. read more.
* Union president summoned to court:
Free Trade Union President, Chea Muny, was summoned to appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday.
The warrant that was issued by Judge Kimroth Narin said, the court wanted to hear comments from Chea Muny concerning his demand to ban the Pine Great (Cambodia) Garments Co., Ltd from selling any of its properties.
Chea Muny had made a complaint asking the court to ban the company from selling its properties such as buildings and other materials. to read.
22:05:07 local time MALAYSIA
* Significant Future Earnings Growth Expected For Asia Brands:
The earnings of Asia Brands Bhd is expected to grow significantly, with less volatility in years to come, and following the recent acquisition of the Anakku and Audrey apparel brands.
Kenanga Research said Asia Brands’ net profit for its financial year ending 2015, is expected to jump in the range of 17 to 22 per cent, on the back of RM389.9 million to RM443.4 million in sales.
This would be higher than its peers, Padini or Bonia’s, estimated earnings growth.
“We expect the group’s earnings to be less seasonally volatile as half of the company’s revenue will now be driven by the Anakku brand,” the research house said.
It added that, from previously with a negligible market share within the highly competitive fashion retail segment, Asia Brands had now established itself to become a market leader within the baby apparel and lingerie segments with the two respective acquisitions. read more.
20:35:07 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Labour disputes on the rise in Myanmar:
Labour disputes between factory owners and workers continue to rise during this year statistics, according to worker representatives and worker advocates.
Tensions rose between the factory owner and workers after 49 workers from San Kaung Polyethylene Factory in Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone were dismissed for attempting to instigate a protest at the factory.
Over 300 workers from Lucky Shoes Factory from Hlaingtharyar Industrial Zone (2) have protested on May 14 after the employer broke the contract.
“We have agreed in the contract not to cut off overtime pay, living allowance, and transportation fee, but they were all cut off when we received our salaries on May 5,” said Thin Thin Cho, leader of Basic Workers’ Union from Lucky Shoes Factory.
Over 800 workers are on strike at Cho Cho Phyu Garment Factory in Shwepyithar Township since April 6 for salary cuts.
Around 700 workers from Bright June Garment Factory in Dagon Myothit (South) Township’s Industrial Zone (1) had a dispute with the employer on May 5 over the salary system.
22:05:07 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesia to be next destination for global apparel buyers:
* Sritex seeks 41% rise in net profits on ‘good looking’ China:
Southeast Asia’s largest textile company, PT Sri Rejeki Isman (Sritex), is aiming to increase its net profits by 41 percent with more orders from China.
The publicly listed company, which is working on its plan for an initial public offering (IPO), is estimating that its net profits will stand handsomely at Rp 325 billion (US$33 million) by year’s end.
The growth is in line with its sales of Rp 5.1 trillion this year, which will make up a 24 percent increase from Rp 4.1 trillion year-on-year.
Sritex president director Iwan Setiawan Lukminto said on Monday that the company would likely see increasing exports to China on the back of an improved world economic outlook this year. read more.
20:05:07 local time BANGLADESH
* Fire at a RMG factory in Ashulia:
A fire broke out at the godown of Bandu Design Ltd garment in Narasinghapur of Ashulia on Wednesday morning.
The fire was doused by locals before fire fighters rushed there and major damage.
The factory is owned by former vice president of BGMEA Siddiqul Alam.
Fire service control room said fire broke out at the ground floor of 4-storey building at 9:45am and five fire fighting units rushed to the spot immediately after hearing the news.
* Fresh protests hit five factories in Ashulia:
Workers of five garment companies in Ashulia took to the streets yesterday, demanding a pay hike and immediate reopening of the factories.
The demonstration that began in the morning at Medlar Apparels, Cosmopolitan Industries, Gilden Shahriar Garment, NASSA Group and Unicorn Sweater continued for one and a half hours.
The workers of Medlar Apparels gathered in front of their unit around 8am and started demonstrations, said SM Badrul Alam, a police inspector in Ashulia.
At one stage, a group of workers blocked the highway, halting traffic, he said. Locals said the police clubbed the workers to disperse them.
Production at Medlar Apparels has remained suspended following the unrest that began on May 1, said Reaz Bin Mahmood, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Garment makers kept around 200 factories closed in Ashulia for three days from May 13 due to continued labour unrest for a pay hike and attendance bonuses, Mahmood said. Most factories reopened after the shutdown.
But the owner of Medlar Apparels reopened the factory on May 17 only to shut it again following fresh labour unrest over the same demands. The factory has since remained closed. read more.
* Fresh labour unrest- RMG worker-cop clash hurts 10 in Ashulia- 4 factories closed:
At least 10 people were injured in fresh clashes between garment workers and police on Tuesday as demonstrations continued in Ashulia for wage hike and in protest at the closure of some RMG factories.
The workers blocked Dhaka-Tangail highway at Narashinhapur for more than one hour and damaged vehicles prompting the police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.
At least five garment units were closed amid the workers’ unrest. Several hundred workers of three other factories observed work abstention for the day.
Witnesses said around 2,000 workers of Meddler Apparels Ltd at Narashinhapur began agitating in the morning when they found a notice announcing the closure of the factory for an indefinite period. After altercations, the workers tried to force their way into the factory but the law enforcers prevented them.
The workers then took to the streets and blocked the Dhaka-Tangail highway. They hurled stones at passing vehicles and damaged several of them.
Police charged batons, fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the workers. The protestors retaliated by hurling a stones at the police. At least 10 workers injured in the clashes, witnesses said.
The management shut the factory for an indefinite period after the workers’ unrest on Monday which left at least 40 of them injured.
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* Do Americans really care how their clothes are made? :
Just two more months, the daughter promised her mother by telephone, then she’d be home for good.
Making shirts in this packed metropolis of 12 million people, Sheuli Akhter, 20, made decent money — about $140 a month — by the impoverished standards of rural Bangladesh. But she missed the family benefiting from the wages of her hard work.
Her mother, Ranjana Akhter, was found sobbing near the rubble of the Rana Plaza factory where her daughter worked, days after the eight-story complex collapsed and killed more than 1,100 workers. Viewing dozens of corpses a day, the 35-year-old woman still hoped her daughter had somehow survived.
The victims retrieved from the debris were crushed and unrecognizable in the South Asian heat.
“I am looking for her body, but they are all decomposed now. It’s getting harder to identify,” said Ranjana Akhter, tears falling from her eyes.
The scale of the mismanagement and breadth of the human tragedies in Bangladesh powerfully illustrated what years of abuse, inhumane conditions and unthinkable danger could not: Garment workers in Third World countries take enormous risks to earn a living in Bangladeshi-owned companies that produce clothing for Western retailers. read more.
* Labour leaders urge Wal-Mart, Gap to sign factory accord:
The local arm of IndustriALL, a global union federation, yesterday appealed to Wal-Mart and Gap to join a legally binding accord immediately to ensure safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories.
A total of 37 international clothing retailers have already signed the agreement designed by IndustriALL to contribute financially towards minimising occupational risks in Bangladesh’s garment sector.
“The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart and another US company Gap should join the process and give appropriate compensation to the building collapse victims of Savar,” said Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council.
The appeal mounts pressure on the two US retailers to make meaningful contributions towards improvement of factory conditions in Bangladesh.
The Europe-based organisation has already demanded $71 million in compensations for the Rana Plaza victims, Ramesh said at a press conference at the National Press Club yesterday.
“Huge financial assistance is necessary to support the families of workers who died or are still missing from the Rana Plaza collapse,” Ramesh said.
So, IndustriALL urged the government, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and international retailers to launch a relief and rehabilitation programme in a coordinated manner on a short-, medium- and long-term basis.
IndustriALL leaders also stressed for compensation in terms of loss of future earnings. read more.
* RMG sector reels under image crisis:
The country’s garment industry is reeling under tremendous image crisis in the international market following the recurrence of factory accidents and labour unrest, said Zafar Iqbal Siddique, MP and President of Bangladesh Garments Printers Association (BGPA).
“BGMEA as the apex trade body of the garment sector is trying to restore image of the industry. To do it, we need supports from all quarters, including owners, workers and government for salvaging reputation of the sector,” added Zafar.
Zafar, is also a MP, said, “We cannot undermine the potential of the industry as it has emerged as the lifeblood of Bangladesh economy. The industry is also helping flourish other businesses.
Moreover, the clothing industry has created nearly 4.0 million jobs most of whom are women and more than 15 million people are involved directly and indirectly with it.
“No doubt the Savar tragedy has severely tarnished image of the garment industry and the incident renewed the call for improving workplace safety,” he said, adding ‘it raised further concerns among the major trading partners of Bangladesh.’
Terming the incident as the failure of the regulatory departments, he said, it was an utter negligence of the regulatory bodies and they cannot escape their responsibility in this regard. He, however, noted that this kind of incidents are taking place one after another due to absence of rule of law. “We cannot stop such tragedy if the rule of law is not established in the country,” he added. read more.
* Support for B’desh RMG products growing in West:
Don’t desert the country, many advocate
Supports to retain Bangladesh as the main source of ready-made garment (RMG) products have been on the rise in the Western world.
This turns out to be a propitious development despite insistence of certain quarters to make the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) stop buying relevant merchandise from Bangladesh in the wake of the recent building collapse that killed 1,127 workers and maimed scores.
Being encouraged by the growing support for the Bangladesh garment sector in the Western world, leading garment manufacturers hope that instead of deserting the country’s apparel sector, the Western buyers will increase their funds to make Bangladesh factories more compliant. read more.
* Public outrage over RMGs condition spurs labour deal:
For a global retailer, it was the worst kind of publicity.
The Swedish retail giant is the largest buyer of clothes from Bangladeshi factories like the one above.
Two weeks after the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed in one of the worst industrial disasters in history, a brash human-rights ad went viral. It paired a smiling photo of the chief executive of H&M, the Swedish retailer that is the world’s largest buyer of clothes from Bangladesh, with a picture of an anguished woman at the Rana Plaza rubble.
It did not matter that no clothes produced by H&M had been found among the twisted metal and broken concrete as the death toll rose beyond 1,100. The refusal of a major Swedish newspaper to print the ad simply added to the notoriety online.
“They felt it was too tough,” Alex Wilks, the campaign director of Avaaz, the global advocacy group that created the ad, said of H&M. “But our feeling was this is a really tough topic. Lots of people lost their lives, so it’s worth escalating the discussions.”
In interviews last week, executives of the H&M Group, which operates six chains owned by H&M Hennes & Mauritz, said that the Avaaz ad had no
influence on its thinking that led to its signing an agreement that for the first time would legally bind Western retailers to invest in improving worker safety in Bangladesh and other low-cost countries. read more.
* Bangladesh worker deaths may change US buying, poll shows:
About 70 percent of Americans have heard of the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 people, and for some it means they’ll probably buy fewer goods made in the country.
Among those who learned of the deaths, 39 percent said they would probably buy fewer products produced in Bangladesh, according to a survey by Harris Poll of more than 2,000 adults from May 14-16. Women are more likely to change shopping habits than men, 42 percent to 34 percent, the poll showed. read more.
* Protesters Call on Gap to Sign Bangladesh Safety Accord:
Consumers Rally at Gap Shareholder Meeting and Flood Gap’s Facebook Wall with Messages
This morning fifty protesters, including South Asian activists, labor groups, students, and concerned consumers, held a demonstration in front of Gap, Inc.’s shareholder meeting to urge the company to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
“We are urging Gap to do its part to help prevent future garment industry disasters like the fire at Tazreen that claimed 112 lives and the building collapse at Rana Plaza that killed over 1,100 people. Gap should live up to their reputation for corporate responsibility,” said Claudia Fernandez, a Santa Clara University student who is a member of United Students Against Sweatshops.
“These names that you see here, they are not just names, they are lives. I urge the shareholders of Gap: ‘You need to do your job. Don’t skirt your responsibilities,'” said Tina Jabeen, another demonstrator, referring to signs displaying names of Bangladeshi workers who were killed in a Gap supplier factory in 2010.
* GSP recommendations go to US President May 31:
The interagency Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), which held the hearing on the continuation of GSP benefits for Bangladeshi products, is due to submit its recommendations to US President Barack Obama at the end of this month.
“We have information from the US State Department that the recommendations of GSP subcommittee of TPSC will be submitted to the US President on May 31,” a top government official told The Independent on Tuesday.
He said, “The recommendations were due to be submitted to the US President on May 17. But, they decided to delay by two more weeks presumably due to a high-profile Bangladeshi delegation’s visit to Washington prior to May 17.”
The delegation, led by Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, had a lengthy meeting with all the members the GSP subcommittee as well as some other officials of the US administration.
Another official said that the second Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue to be held in Dhaka on May 26-27 might be another reason behind the delay.
Any decision in this regard will come into effect after the signature of the US President.
* Dipu Moni to talk GSP with European leaders:
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni will fly to Brussels next week and meet European Union high-ups to convince them to continue the generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh.
During the three-day visit from May 27, Dipu Moni will hold talks with High Representative of the European Union Catherine Ashton and EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, foreign ministry officials said.
After the collapse of the Rana Plaza building that killed 1,127 people last month, the EU expressed concern and warned it would rethink Bangladesh’s preferential trade access to the EU market.
The EU also said it would take actions that encourage better safety standards and labour conditions in Bangladesh. read more.
* Info-graphic of the Bangladeshi Garment Sector:
It raises a question – “Is safety more expensive than loosing markets?” – Only the factory owners can answer this question.
* TANNERY RELOCATION TO SAVAR- Govt, not tanners, to bear costs:
The government has been forced to take liability of around Tk 800 crore in the next budget to complete relocation of tanneries outside the capital after the businessmen denied to bear any relocation cost.
Officials said the government’s liability will be borne for the construction cost of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at the new tannery park in Savar at a cost of around Tk 550 crore and Tk 250 crore as compensation fees.
An inter-ministerial meeting chaired by finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith on May 14 took the decision although the leather businessmen had agreed to meet the major portion of the liability.
Successive governments have long been trying to relocate the leather industries outside the capital for reviving the moribund river Buriganga that received about 21 thousand cubic meters of untreated effluent each day from tanneries at Hazaribagh.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Labour leaders sit in in Jurain graveyard:
The Garments Workers’ Action Council held a sit-in in the Jurain graveyard on Tuesday, demanding exemplary punishment of owners of Rana Plaza and the five clothing factories that were housed in the building which collapsed on April 27 leaving more than 1,100 people dead.
Owners of the building and the apparel factories cannot avoid the responsibility for the death of the workers, labour rights activists said at the sit-in.
Labour leader Rafiqul Islam Pathik demanded an exemplary punishment of the the building owner, Sohel Rana, and the apparel factory owners. He said that the government must ensure he safety of workers at workplace.
Pathik demanded Tk 48 lakh in compensation for each of the workers affected in the building collapse. read more.
* Survivors of Bangladesh Factory Collapse Speak Out:
“It was dark and hot with choking dust all around. The air was filled with the smell of decomposing corpses,” recalled Nasima, a 24-year-old factory worker who spent four days buried under the rubble of an eight-story building that collapsed in a suburb of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka last month.
The young woman recounted the terror that she and four fellow female workers experienced as they lay beneath glass and concrete, just “inches” from death. Rescue teams found them sandwiched between the fifth and sixth floors of the massive Rana Plaza that had housed five garment factories.
Nasima told IPS she was “too scared” to remember all the details of those 96 hours. “I saw my colleagues die, just a few yards from me, one after the other.”
Her only indication that they were dead was when she could no longer hear their voices calling out to her in the dark.
Nasima had joined Ether Garments, one of the many companies housed in Rana Plaza, only 20 days before the tragedy, Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident, which killed 1,127 workers according to the latest count. read more.
19:35:07 local time INDIA
* Karnataka plans Rs 1,000-crore mega textile park:
The Karnataka government plans to set up a 1,000-acre textile park at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore in the Assembly constituency of Gurmitkal in Yadgir district, state’s Textile Minister BaburaoChinchanasoor said today.
The state’s Textile Department would submit a proposal to the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board to earmark 1,000 acres of the total 3,500 acres acquired for industrial development for the proposed project at Kadechoor, he told reporters here. read more. & read more.
* ‘We have an open mind on GM crops’:
Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda has said that the department has an open mind on genetically modified (GM) crops, and it is left to farmers to make informed choices.
He told presspersons here on Tuesday that Bt cotton, first introduced in the State in the late 1990s, had helped farmers improve yields in an eco-friendly manner. “Nearly 90 per cent of farmers in the State are using Bt cotton seeds,” he said. “We must keep our minds open,” Mr. Byre Gowda said when asked to spell out the government’s stand on GM crops. to read.
* Cotton bales gutted:
An accidental fire in a private godown at Tirpally locality in Adilabad town on Tuesday reduced a large number of cotton bales to ashes.
According to the police, the godown had over 3,000 bales that belonged to a private party when the fire broke. to read.
19:05:07 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Power outages hampering textile industry’:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Ahsan Bashir has expressed concern over the prevailing energy crisis and its adverse effect on the textile industry.
Bashir said various textile mills are being exposed to 16-18 hours of power disruptions on a daily basis despite an exemption in place around the same time last year to curtail outages to the textile industry on independent feeders.
“The non-availability of gas and electricity is causing an adverse impact on the industry’s sustainability and growth, which contributes 9 percent to the country’s GDP.” read more.
* Textile exports grow 6.14% to reach $10.7bn in 10-month:
The textile exports from the country posted positive growth of 6.14 percent during the first ten months of the current fiscal year as compared to the corresponding period of last year.
The overall textile exports during July-April 2012-13 were recorded at $10.749 billion against the exports of $10.127 billion during July-April 2011-12, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
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* Industry seeks permanent solution to energy problem: APTMA:
Group leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Gohar Ejaz said on Tuesday that the industry is looking for permanent solutions to the energy crisis from the new government of the PML-N.
He was addressing a press conference after attending an emergent meeting of APTMA, attended by the APTMA members from throughout the country through video link. Central Chairman APTMA Ahsan Bashir and Chairman APTMA Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan besides other office bearers of the Association were also present on the occasion.
Gohar said the industry in the province of Punjab has been discriminated by and large and the labour class of the province has, therefore, given a clear mandate to the PML-N. The government should ensure recovery of bills immediately besides introducing a uniform energy policy and review of Article 158 that has excluded Punjab from the judicious use of natural resources of the country. read more.
* Tanners demand incentives in budget:
The export sector should be offered incentives and facilities in the next budget 2013-14 to increase foreign exchange earnings.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should introduce export-friendly policies and export targets might be fixed higher, Agha Saiddain Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (central) said on Tuesday. Agha opposed any increase in Withholding Tax (WHT) for the export sector and said that it would damage exports.
FBR has moved a proposal to the Ministry of Finance WHT rates might be enhanced in the budget. FBR has proposed increase in WHT of commercial imports from 5 percent to 6 percent, for export sector from 1 percent to 1.5 percent and non-corporate exporter 1 percent to 2 percent, on contracts of non-corporate from 6 percent to 7 percent, on supplies of corporate sector 3.5 percent to 4 percent, on cash withdrawal of corporate sector 0.20 percent to 0.30 percent for non-corporate 0.4 percent,” he added. to read.
* Historic Safety Accord Holds Companies Responsible for Contractors’ Working Conditions—Most U.S. Companies Lagging:
By Bjorn Claeson
Get ready to hear more about the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. For the first time since apparel brands and retailers started to contract production overseas, a sizable group of major apparel companies have accepted legal responsibility for workers’ safety in contractor factories.
The Accord, a binding and enforceable agreement between unions and so far 40 major apparel brands and retailers, is a radical departure from the voluntary, unenforceable and ineffective codes of conduct and social compliance programs companies have developed over the last 20 years.
The record for corporate voluntary social compliance programs has been dismal, and this year more so than ever. In the last eight months, more than 1,500 workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan have suffocated, burned, and been crushed to death making the most ordinary consumer good: clothing. Every worker who died made clothing for export, sold mostly by well-known brands and retailers. These companies assured consumers the clothing was made ethically, the factories audited for compliance and certified to be safe with decent working conditions. Yet, the factories were illegal, lacked building permits, and violated basic safety standards.
By contrast, the Accord requires companies to participate in and fund a program of independent safety inspections, remediation, and worker safety trainings with the involvement of trade unions. They must maintain commercial terms that enable factories to maintain safe workplaces and finance repairs. A Steering Committee consisting of an equal number of representatives of trade unions and companies and one representative of the International Labor Organization is empowered to decide disputes between the signatory parties. The parties may appeal Steering Committee decisions to an Arbitrator, whose decision is final and enforceable in a court of law.
Thus far only two U.S. companies have signed the Accord: PVH Corporation, parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger (the first company to commit to the agreement in March of 2012), and Abercrombie & Fitch. Gap has said it will not sign the agreement because it is enforceable in courts. Walmart has announced it will expand its own private, non-binding social auditing efforts with auditing giant, Bureau Veritas, rather than sign the Accord. The National Retail Federation said the Accord was a narrow “special interest” initiative and joined the American Apparel and Footwear Association in announcing another non-binding program that excludes unions and labor groups. That initiative, which reportedly includes JC Penney, Sears, and Macy’s, has not yet been made public. read more.