in the news on-line, 23 May 2013

09:33:22 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers mark Ka Bel’s 5th death anniv with call for wage hike:

Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno marked the fifth anniversary of labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran’s death with a simple ceremony in front of the former KMU chairperson’s bust in Plaza Miranda this morning and with calls for a significant wage hike.

Joined by labor institute Crispin B. Beltran Resource Center, Mayor Alfredo Lim of Manila, partylist groups Anakpawis and Piston and other organizations, the workers offered flowers, songs and speeches to symbolize their commitment to continue Ka Bel’s struggle for the rights of workers and the poor in general.
read more.

08:33:22 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Having to pay higher wages, businesses trim workers’ allowances:

Business owners have been told to increase the workers’ wages in accordance with the roadmap set up by the management agencies. Meanwhile, their wage funds have become scantier in the economic crisis.

Businesses have to do what the government tells them to do. However, to cope with the new policy, they have been trying to cut down the allowances to keep the total labor cost unchanged.

Nguyen Thuy Hanh, a worker at an import-export company in Hoan Kiem district in Hanoi complained that though her monthly salary has increased, her total income remains unchanged.
According to Hanh, if the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) requests enterprises to increase the minimum wages, her enterprise would decide to cut down the monthly allowances. The managers of the company said that in the current economic difficulties, the company needs to fasten its belt by trimming some kinds of expenses.  read more.

08:33:22 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Footwear factory workers strike for second day:

Thousands of workers went on strike at the Taiwanese-owned Can Sport Shoes factory on Wednesday for second day in a row to demand better working conditions.

Thousands of workers went on strike at the Taiwanese-owned Can Sport Shoes factory on Wednesday for second day in a row to demand better working conditions.

The factory which is located along National Road Five, in the village of Chamkar Svay in the Sethey commune of the Samaky Meanchey district manufactures sport shoes.
A representative for the workers said the workers are demanding the reinstatement of Sean Sokleap, and 12 other list of demands. read more.

* H&M Says Garments Made in Cambodian Factory Without Approval:

Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB), Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, said some H&M garments were produced without its knowledge or approval at a factory in Cambodia where workers were injured in a partial building collapse this week.

A supplier of the Stockholm-based company placed two minor orders with an unapproved sub-supplier at the Hong Kong-owned Top World garment factory, H&M spokeswoman Anna Eriksson said today in an e-mailed response to questions. She said H&M has no business relations with the plant, where a shelter collapsed into a river injuring at least 23 people, according to Xinhua.

Concern has risen over worker safety in Asian apparel factories after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh last month, considered one of the world’s worst industrial disasters. The May 20 incident in Cambodia is the second in the space of seven days after a shoe factory crumpled last week, killing at least two and injuring five, Xinhua reported. read more.

* ILO prepares to name, shame errant Cambodian factory bosses:

The International Labour Organisation says it will give one last chance before ‘naming and shaming’ Cambodian garment factories that refuse to comply with safety and other labour requirements.

The sector was shocked by the partial collapse of a factory this month, which killed two workers and then, days later, the collapse of a walkway at another factory injured more than 20 workers.
The ILO’s Better Factories project has worked for years to improve conditions in Cambodia but says some factories make no effort to comply with the Labour Law, putting lives at risk. to read.

09:33:22 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* ‘Indonesian textile sector needs to improve efficiency’:

Indonesia’s textile sector needs to work on its efficiency to compete with the textile industries of other ASEAN countries, Ramon Bangun, director of textile and miscellaneous industries, at the Ministry of Industry of Indonesia, has said.
Unlike other ASEAN countries like Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos PDR, Indonesia has not entered a trade agreement which allows a special duty to export textile products to Europe and the US. As a result of which, the Indonesian textile industry lacks competitiveness, Mr. Bangun added, according to a Tempo Bisnis report.
Mr. Bangun hopes for an early signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Indonesia and the European Union, allowing the Southeast Asian country to trade freely with the EU and promote the textile industry. read more.

07:33:22 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* 15-20 hurt as fire broke out at Ashulia apparel factory:

At least 15 garment workers were injured when fire broke out in the Bandhu Design Ltd., a RMG factory in suburban Ashulia industrial zone, on Wednesday.

The workers were injured while trying to come out of the factory located at the ground floor of a six-storey building at Narashinhapur in the Ashulia industrial zone, our Savar correspondent reported.
The fire broke out in the factory at around 10.15 am and fire fighters from nearby Savar Export Processing Zone put-off the fire at 11 am, Abdul Hamid, a fire station officer of Savar EPZ, was quoted as saying by our correspondent.
to read. & read more.

* 5 trouble-hit Ashulia garment factories closed indefinitely:

Five troubled garment factories in Ashulia industrial belt were closed down indefinitely on Wednesday following workers unrest for last few days. Authorities shut down three factories of Sharmin Group and two other factories of Deco and Sinsin Group for indefinite period.

Witnesses said the workers of the factories found closure notice when they went to work in the morning.
They agitated workers of Sharmin Group alleged that they have been demonstrating for last few days to increase their breakfast allowance. Following their demand the authorities closed down the factories.
The workers of the other two factories were demonstrating to increase their salary.
to read.

* 10 RMG units shut for sine die:

At least 10 readymade garment factories were closed for indefinite period in Ashulia industrial belt on Wednesday in the wake of labour unrest demanding a pay hike and immediate reopening of their companies.

More than 30 people were injured when the agitating workers fought pitched battles with law enforcers in Narasinghapur and Jamgara during the demonstration, witnesses said.
The demonstration ensued from Sharmin Group around 8:30am when the workers of the factory in Narasinghapur saw a notice saying that the production at three units was suspended from Tuesday night, said Mohammad Moniruzzaman, a deputy director of Industrial Police.
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* Labour unrest forces closure of 11 apparel factories in Ashulia:

Agitations by garment workers for the third consecutive day Wednesday forced the closure of at least 11 apparel factories in suburban Ashulia industrial belt, industry sources said.

The workers are demanding a hike in their wages and immediate reopening of some of the closed RMG factories in the area.
Sharmin Group closed its four units in the area for an indefinite period, while Ananta Garments Ltd, Design Jeans Ltd, Jaco Garment, Priti Garment, Bandhu Garment, A1 Garment, and Shariar Garment also shut down their factories.
Ismail Hossain, owner of Sharmin Group, said they were compelled to shut their factories because of the labour unrest.
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* 13 Ashulia RMG units close amid labour unrest:

More than 13 readymade garment units in Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital remained closed on Wednesday amid labour unrest with some of the factories declared closed for an indefinite period and the rest for the day.

RMG workers of the area blocked the busy Dhaka-Tangail highway at different places at different times on the day demanding reopening of their factories, said witnesses and police sources. As police tried to disperse the demonstrators from the highway, clashes ensued between the two sides that left at least 40 workers injured, they said.
Workers of four apparel subsidiaries of Sharmeen Group at Narashinhapur of Ashulia burst into protests as they saw in the morning notices announcing indefinite closure of operations pinned to their factory gates.
The factories are Sharmeen Fashions Ltd, Sharmeen Apparels Ltd, AM Design Ltd, and a washing plant.
The Sharmeen Group management closed the units sometime in the preceding night in the wake of workers’ demonstration on Tuesday to press for demands including wage and tiffin allowance hike. read more.

* Boiler explosion: 15 RMG workers hurt in Savar:

Fifteen workers of a garment factory were hurt due to a boiler explosion at the factory in pourashava area on Wednesday.

Of the workers, 10 were injured in stampede, which took place following the blast.
Witnesses said a boiler at the iron section located on the third floor of the factory ‘Blue Tex Knitware’ blasted with a big bang, leaving five workers injured in the afternoon.
Following the explosion, other panicked workers together tried to come out of the factory building, leaving 10 others injured.
The injured were admitted to a local hospital.
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* Closed RMG units reopen today:

All the 10 closed garment factories at Ashulia, which were kept shut following labour unrests, will resume production today (Thursday).

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the leaders of the apparel sector with ministers for home affairs, shipping and labour at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) office in the city Wednesday.
read more.

* Garments owners did not accept wage board award sincerely: Latif:

Jute and Textile minister Abdul Latif Siddiki, MP, has said that garments owners did not accept the labourers wage board sincerely.

He added that conspiracy was being hatched to destroy the most viable sectors of the country. The Prime Minister gave the responsibility for the security of the industry and I suggested for wage board for the labourers. But the garments owners did not accept labourers wage board sincerely.
In this connection two newspapers carried false news items against me.
The minister said this as the chief guest while he attended a function in Kalihati on Wednesday.
The function was arranged by Jute Directorate. The jute growers of Kalihati were imparted training and fertilizer was distributed among the farmers on the occasion. read more.

* RMG workers wage board next week: Shajahan:

The shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, on Wednesday said that a gazette notification would be issued in the next week forming a wage board for garment workers.

He made the announcement after a meeting with the garments owners at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association headquarters in the evening.
Shahjahan Khan said, ‘We have talked to both workers and owners and prepared recommendations in accordance with their suggestions to resolve the problems, but it will take some time.’
He urged the garments owners to give dearness allowance to the workers until the declaration of new wage structure by the wage board. read more.

* US consumer body’s campaign for BD RMG workers:

A US consumer body today launched a Facebook campaign aimed at enhancing the safety of textile workers in Bangladesh after last month’s deadly factory collapse that killed over 1,100 people.

National Consumers League (NCL), a consumer and worker advocacy group, said that it is launching the social media campaign that enables consumers to inform retailers that they would be willing to pay 10 cents more for every garment purchased which will go towards improving worker safety in Bangladesh.
The NCL says, its ’10 cent’ campaign is based on scientific calculations. According to a Worker Rights Consortium calculation, rebuilding Bangladesh’s unsafe factories and installing appropriate safety equipment would cost USD 3 billion, or a $600 million investment every year for five years.
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* 70% Americans may buy fewer BD products:

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.
The Rana Plaza factory, an eight-story building in Savar, Bangladesh that housed garment factories, collapsed on April 24, killing at least 1,127 people. As rescuers searched for survivors in the following weeks the rising death toll brought increased media coverage. The incident, which is one of the world’s deadliest industrial accidents, has prompted more calls for reform in Bangladesh after a fire in an apparel factory there killed 112 people in November.
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* 2nd US-B’desh partnership dialogue in city on Sunday:

The second US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue that will begin in city on Sunday (May 26) will discuss current political uncertainty that makes investment difficult here apart from focusing on four key areas including investment and security cooperation, the US ambassador here said on Wednesday.

“Yes, this (political issue) is a very much part of the Partnership Dialogue. We’re friends, and friends talk to each other and that’s exactly what’s happening in partnership dialogue,” Dan Mozena said confirming that the political issue will be there on the discussion table.

He stated this at a crowded press conference at the American Center in the city. US Embassy’s Press and Information Officer Kerry S McCarthy was present.
Ambassador Mozena said that this the time when investment should be coming to Bangladesh because it is leaving China and flooding out of China.
read more.

* US to push for major factory safety reforms in Bangladesh:

A US government delegation will visit Bangladesh this weekend to press for a major overhaul of factory safety following the nation’s deadliest industrial accident, an official said Wednesday.

The collapse of a nine-storey factory complex outside the capital last month killing 1,127 workers highlighted appalling safety conditions in Bangladesh’s 4,500 garment plants.
The US delegation, led by the State Department’s Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, will arrive Sunday for a two-day visit and will meet officials in the Bangladesh government. read more.

* BD won’t sign in TICFA if needed:

Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Wednesday categorically said Bangladesh would not sign in Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) with United States if it hinders the business interest of the country.

“The TICFA agreement is important for our country but we will not sign in agreement if it hinders our interest. The agreement will have to be signed by maintaining the interest of both sides,” she said.
The foreign minister came up with the came up with the assertion in a press conference held at her office after her recent visit in United States of America.
She added: “In recent visit in United States I did not discuss it. However, I discussed to increase trade cooperation between us.”
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* Fate hangs in the balance:

Mozena, Dipu Moni talk on Ticfa, GSP only diplomatically

The much-talked-about Ticfa deal was not related to the GSP facility, assured Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and US Ambassador Dan W Mozena yesterday.

Asked about Bangladesh’s prospect of retaining the US Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facilities, Mozena at a press conference in American Centre in the morning said, “The GSP review process is probably too far a long way at this point. It’s being evaluated right now.”
At another press conference in the foreign ministry in the afternoon, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said there was no link between the US GSP facility for Bangladesh and the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa).
“Export to the USA under GSP is less than one percent of the country’s total export to the US. But the GSP facility is involved with the image of an exporting country like Bangladesh and we want GSP to continue so that it does not have any adverse impact on any other market,” she added.
Dipu Moni noted that it was important for all stakeholders including owners, buyers and the government to make contribution to retaining the GSP facility.
read more. & read more.
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* Regain buyers’ trust:

Acting Dutch Ambassador Carel Richter says people need to be protected

Bangladesh must show results in the coming months on pledges it has made to improve the working conditions and safety in the garment units to regain the trust of buyers in the European Union, said a top diplomat.

“In the coming months, we will have to show results. So, there is not much space for only talks,” said Carel Richter, acting ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh.
“Only results will convince markets like that of the European Union,” he told The Daily Star in an interview recently.
His comments came as the Netherlands accepted an offer to co-chair a group of donor countries, businesses and civil society groups to tackle rampant safety issues in Bangladesh’s apparel sector.
The Netherlands is also giving €9 million ($13 million) that together with funds from the textile sector will be put to improve working conditions.
Richter said the Netherlands would represent donor countries in dialogue with the Bangladeshi authorities and trade unions to coordinate and monitor international efforts to improve the plight of the garment workers. read more.
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* Excluding BD from free trade will hurt workers:

In regard of Washington Post’s report titled ‘U.S. may strip Bangladesh of tariff breaks’ published on May 17, M Shafiqul Islam, counselor for commerce at Bangladesh’s embassy to the United States, has written an article as below-

“Whereas some members of Bangladesh’s parliament might be linked to the textile sector, it goes too far to term a consortium of textile factory owners a “potent political force” in my country.
Legal action is being taken without regard to politics against the owner of the collapsed Rana Plaza textile center and the owners of the garment factories that were located in the building.
Since the Tazreen garment factory fire in November, the government has taken immediate and long-term steps to improve worker safety, including ensuring the punishment of violators, closure of some unsafe factories and passage of a comprehensive labor law. read more.
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* Primark’s compensation pledge is a significant move:

20130522 ITVA Primark label is seen in the garments left among the rubble in Savar, Bangladesh Photo: ITV News

In the last few minutes Primark has told ITV News that they will provide immediate financial assistance to the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Last night we reported that victims had not yet seen any sign of support from any of the companies who used suppliers at the site of the factory collapse.
But Primark is now promising to pay short term financial assistance to victims and their families, crucially not just those who were working for their suppliers, but to those who were working for manufacturers who supplied all of the western brands, some twenty or so. What’s more they have promised to do it within seven days.
As we reported last night, Primark said it was taking some time to work out a longer term compensation scheme. read more.

* Gap to sign Bangladesh safety accord, if tweaked: CEO:

Gap Inc chairman and CEO said on Tuesday the US retailer was ready to sign a global accord designed to prevent another deadly disaster in Bangladesh’s garment industry, provided there were some ‘very minor accommodations’, reports Reuters.

A series of incidents at factories has focused attention on safety standards in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry while creating a trans-Altantic divide between US and European retailers over ways to resolve these issues.
Some US retailers, including the owner of the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy chains, had said they would not join the European pact without changes to the way conflicts are resolved in the courts.
IndustriALL, a union organisation based in Europe which helped create the pact, had said the agreement could not be amended to address concerns of US companies. read more.

* More major retailers sign Bangladesh safety pact:

Italian fashion brand Benetton, Spanish retailer Mango and British retailer Marks & Spencer have become the latest global retailers to agree to sign a one-of-a-kind pact to improve safety at Bangladesh factories following a building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in the country last month.

The move, announced by the three companies Tuesday, comes after H&M, a trendy Swedish fashion chain that is the largest clothing buyer in Bangladesh, said Monday that it would sign the same five-year legally binding factory safety contract.
Within hours, C&A of the Netherlands, British retailers Tesco and Primark, and Spain’s Inditex, owner of Zara, followed.

The announcements come ahead of a Wednesday deadline imposed by worker rights groups that said they would increase pressure on brands that did not sign the agreement.
“We decided to support this agreement so that our group can be at the forefront of contributing to a significant and lasting improvement in working conditions and safety in Bangladesh,” Biaglo Chiarolanza, CEO of Benetton Group SpA, said in a statement.
read more. & read more. & read more.
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* US retailers see big risk in BD safety plan:

American retailers remain sharply opposed to joining an international plan to improve safety conditions at garment factories in Bangladesh as their European counterparts and consumer and labor groups dismiss the companies’ concerns about legal liability.

A few shareholders at Gap’s annual meeting this week questioned the company’s refusal to sign on to a plan that commits retailers to help finance safety upgrades in Bangladesh, where 1,127 workers died when the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed on April 24.

“In the United States, there’s maybe a bigger legal risk than there is in Europe,” Gap’s chief executive, Glenn Murphy, responded. “If we were to sign onto something that had unlimited legal liability and risk, I think our shareholders should care about that.”

Whether the new accord would subject retailers to substantial legal risks has been debated since nearly three dozen European retailers embraced the plan last week while almost all major American companies shunned it. The plan, called the Accord on Factory and Building Safety in Bangladesh, was forged by retailers, union leaders and government officials overseas.
Labor advocacy groups and other supporters of the plan pilloried the responses by Gap, Wal-Mart and other American retailers that have decided to rely on their own inspection systems rather than join the plan. read more.
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* Govt to provide all-out security to factories:

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir said government would make all out efforts to provide adequate security to the garments factories.

He came up with the assurance at BGMEA building while talking to reporters in an urgent press conference on Wednesday night.
Among others, Labor Minister Raziuddin Ahamed Razu, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan Khan and BGMEA President Atikul Islam were present during the time.
The Minister said, “Government won’t tolerate any rowdiness in garments sector. The government will make all out efforts to provide security to garments factories from Thursday.”
Labor Minister Raziuddin Ahamed Razu said, “Three ministers including me met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She directed us to us to meet workers of Ashulia and Savar areas directly within few days.” read more.
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* Bangladeshi volunteers haunted by rescue trauma:

Mamun was hailed a hero for pulling survivors from the ruins of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory complex but now he struggles to sleep, haunted by the memory of sawing off a young woman’s hand.

“I had never even touched the hand of a woman before but it was the only way to save her and the others,” said the 22-year-old in an interview ahead of the one-month anniversary of the disaster.
“My hand was soaked in blood by the end and I still can’t get that image out of my head.”

A total of 1,127 people died when the nine-storey building collapsed on the morning of April 24 in Savar, a suburb of the capital Dhaka, making it one of the deadliest industrial disasters of all time.
But the tragedy took its toll on others, including an army of volunteers who rescued hundreds but also encountered unimaginable horrors such as bodies decayed beyond identity. read more.

* Savar survivors need psychological support: experts:

Shahana, 23, could not say anything when she was asked about her physical condition. She was just staring with an expressionless face.

The mega disaster of Savar, collapse of an eight-storied building ‘Rana Plaza’ scathed the right hand of Shahana.
Her colleague, Maruf, got some minor fracture on leg. But when a doctor gave him a clutch to walk he got frightened and started believing that he could not walk anymore.
The doctor assured him that he would be able to walk very soon but Maruf was not convinced.
He started crying thinking of his future. He has just lost his confidence.

Both Shahana and Maruf are not only physically ill but their mental condition is also traumatized, they are emotionally numb and need psychological intervention.
Mental health experts stressed for extending psychological support to the survivors along with better physical treatment for returning them to normal life.
read more.

* Maimed survivors want limbs replaced as soon as possible:

The survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse, who had to have their limbs amputated after the tragedy, are worried about how and when prosthetic limbs would be attached to their  bodies which they want as soon as possible in order to be rehabilitated.

The maimed survivors are waiting anxiously in hospital beds for the artificial limbs to be attached to their bodies before they are released from the hospitals.
Many such patients were admitted to different hospitals, including Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka, Enam Medical College and Hospital in
Savar and the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation after being rescued from the Rana Plaza rubble.
read more.

 Families of 121 Savar victims get financial help from PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today distributed cheques for financial assistance to the families of 121 garment workers, who were killed in the eight-storey Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar on April 24.

The Prime Minister handed over the cheques among the families of the Savar tragedy victims at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) here this morning.
While distributing cheques, Sheikh Hasina consoled the ill-fated family members of the Savar building collapse victims. A heart-rending scene was created at that time when they (the family members of the victims) burst into tears.
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* Shipping Ministry donates Tk 1 cr for Savar victims:

The Ministry of Shipping on Wednesday donated Tk 1 core to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for the victims of Savar building collapse.

Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan handed over a cheque for the amount to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad.
to read.

* IBC demands $ 71 million in compensation for victims:

Industrial Bangladesh Council on Tuesday demanded $71 million for compensation and long-term rehabilitation of the victims of the deadly collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar.

The IBC urged the government, brands, buyers, BGMEA and factory owners to create the compensation fund immediately.
At a press conference on death of garment workers at Rana Plaza and proposed amendment to the labour law at the National Press Club, the IBC leaders also demanded formation of a judicial inquiry commission and  publishing the complete list of dead and injured workers.
They demanded filing of cases against the owners of Rana Plaza and five garment factories under section 302 of the code of criminal procedure and ensuring capital punishment for the killing of more than one thousand workers.
read more.

* DNA profiling to take more time:

DNA profiling of the 291 unidentified bodies recovered from under the Rana Plaza rubble may take more than three months.

This is because the number of DNA samples collected from the unclaimed bodies and the relatives of those missing is much higher than the lab handles in a year, said Prof Dr Sharif Akhteruzzaman, chief of the DNA profiling lab at Dhaka Medical College (DMC).
“As of Monday, we have bone and tooth samples of 321 highly decomposed bodies and blood samples of 520 family members of the missing people,” he added.
All the unidentified bodies have been buried at Jurain graveyard.
“Relatives of missing people are still coming in to provide blood samples. It is not possible to analyse and compare such a massive amount of data manually,” he added.
On the other hand, many relatives who gave their blood samples during the rescue operation but later found the bodies of their loved ones did not report to the National Forensic DNA Profiling Lab at the DMC.
So the samples collected from the relatives exceed the number of samples collected from the unidentified bodies. read more.
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* Probe body recommends lifetime imprisonment to Rana:

The probe body of  Rana Plaza collapse incident on Wednesday submitted report recommending lifetime imprisonment to Sohel Rana, the owner of Rana Plaza, for his negligence. Main Uddin Khandaker, head of the body additional secretary, placed the report to Home Secretary today.

He said, “We made 12 recommendations and three special recommendations in this report.”
On April 24, Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar around 3,000 people and at least 1127 people had been found dead.
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* Rana’s father on three-day fresh remand:

A Dhaka court on Wednesday placed Abdul Khaleque, the father of collapsed Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana, on a fresh three-day remand in a case filed under the Building Construction Act.

Senior Judicial Magistrate Tayebul Hasan passed the order when Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police produced him before his court seeking remand. read more.

* Rana Plaza killings caused by negligence of owners:

The inquiry committee formed by the home ministry has termed the collapse of the nine-storied Rana Plaza, in Savar, “a killing caused by sheer negligence”, and recommended lifetime imprisonment for those responsible for this tragic incident of April 24 that left at least 1,127 garments workers dead. Sohel Rana, the owner of the nine-storied building and a local leader of the ruling Awami League’s youth front, is very much responsible for the ‘Savar Tragedy’, said the report, which was submitted on Wednesday.

The committee also found the owners of the garments factories, housed in Rana Plaza, also responsible for the incident, and recommended their trial under Sections 304 and 34 of the Penal Code.
After submitting the report, the chief of the inquiry committee and additional secretary of the home ministry, Mainuddin Khandakar, told reporters that Rana was exceedingly greedy, and he was only interested in earning money.
The committee recommends sale proceeds of Rana Plaza land to compensate the victims.
He also said that the owners of the five garment factories located in Rana Plaza are also responsible for the tragedy, and they are likely to be tried under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), for insisting that the building was safe to operate, leading to the death of so many workers. read more.

* Rana Plaza was built poorly:

Extremely poor construction materials and violation of construction rules contributed to the collapse of the nine-storey Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24, revealed a government probe body yesterday.

The crash was one of the largest industrial building collapses in the world that claimed 1,127 lives and maimed over 2,000 others.
The probe body, formed on April 25 by the home ministry to investigate the reasons behind the collapse, revealed its findings to reporters at the home ministry after handing the report over to Home Secretary CQK Mustak Ahmed.
The investigation body recommended building owner Sohel Rana, his aides, and the authorities of the garment factories be tried under section-304 and 34 (manslaughter) of the penal code. A court could sentence them to life imprisonment if found guilty. read more.
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* Yunus calls for minimum int’l wage:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Prof Muhammad Yunus has called for an international minimum wage for garment factory workers to shield them from exploitation.

In an interview with the BBC Bangla Service yesterday, the founder of Nobel Peace Prize winner Grameen Bank said the minimum wage could be applied in all garment-producing countries.

“Everybody has to have the same minimum wage. Bangladesh will have the international minimum wage. Burma and Cambodia will have the international minimum wage.”
Prof Yunus said it has to be done “as we have all agreed that the workers will no longer be allowed to be exploited”.
“You may say that for a poor person in Bangladesh one US dollar is too much. I understand that. But why does a buyer from a western country want to exploit a woman from a rural village?” he said.
His comments came after the Rana Plaza disaster in Savar last month that left over 1,127 people dead, mostly garment factory workers. It was the worst-ever industrial disaster in the country’s history and it prompted the government to announce an initiative to look into raising the minimum wage.
Prof Yunus also said he did not think that Bangladesh would lose its competitiveness in the readymade garment sector with the rise of the minimum wage. read more.
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* BGMEA initiates biometric data for garment workers:

The country’s apex trade body for garment manufacturers instructed its member factories in Ashulia to prepare a biometric database of their workers within three months.

“We have been trying to make a central workers’ database for a long time now. You [garment owners] have to do it now,” said M Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“I repeat, it is a must. Otherwise, the BGMEA will not provide any service to your factory,” he said, while setting a deadline of August 30 for the Ashulia-based factories. The BGMEA has around 300 registered factories in Ashulia.

Islam’s comments came at the inauguration of a training programme for the mid-level management of factories, IT personnel and human resource professionals, at the BGMEA Bhaban yesterday.
The database will be prepared in association with Tiger IT and Systech Digital Ltd by taking finger prints of workers.
“It is a wonderful system of record-keeping. Once the worker registers, he/she will be given a unique ID, which will be valid at all BGMEA factories.”
read more.

* CBS News goes undercover in a Bangladesh clothing factory:

Many of the clothes in American stores are made in Bangladesh, which has a history of workplace disasters. Six months ago, 112 workers died when their factory burned down. Last month, another factory collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers in one of the worst industrial accidents ever.

If you own clothes that were made in Bangladesh, this is where they come from. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world.
And your clothes could have been made in a factory like Monde Apparels.
Read & See more (video).

* A business model for Bangladesh:

20130522 BANGLA24 bloomberg

The death of over 800 people in the collapse of Rana Plaza, a building with garment factories in Bangladesh, spurred widespread outrage over working conditions in offshore factories.

In the search for blame, many commentators point to the absence of building codes, lack of workplace safety rules, and the greed of US corporations.

Many of the solutions proposed are around paying people more to manufacture in the USA. But however well intentioned the ideas are, this is not the best use of one of the most productive workforces in the world. The true solution, we think, lies in understanding the changed nature of modern supply chains and identifying new business models better suited for managing them.
read more.
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* Indonesia may be a threat to local apparel manufacturers:

The country’s apparel sector is likely to face another blow as the manufacturers expressed their fear that Indonesia could be a threat to them following the rush of the buyers there, industry people said.

They said a large number of buyers are now thinking of bringing about a change to their sourcing strategy following frequent accidents and continuous unrest in garment units and political turmoil across Bangladesh in recent times.
They expressed their fear of the buyers’ diverting the orders especially for high value added apparel products as Indonesia has the capacity of manufacturing the items that Bangladesh has just started to make in a small scale.

The two industrial blazes at Tazreen and Smart along with the latest Rana Plaza collapse that housed five garment units claimed more than 1,200 workers’ lives within a span of five months. read more.

07:03:22 local time map of india INDIA

* Lessons from Dhaka:

The Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh has provided a dramatic illustration – at least for the public in Europe and the United States – of the real human cost of the permanent pressure to bring down prices of clothes for the mass market.

It has taken the deaths of more than 1,100 garment industry workers, who were toiling in totally unsafe and subhuman conditions, to spur a number of big international retail brands into action. Last week some of these companies finally entered into a legally binding agreement to finance safety improvements in their production facilities in Bangladesh. Besides, the government in Dhaka allowed the creation of trade unions in the garment and textile industry, which accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s exports.

Of course, the emotional impact of the images of human casualties and destruction, with people trapped under the collapsed building that housed overcrowded workshops, is already fading away from public memory. read more.

* Cotton sowing to drop 10-15%:

Cotton farmers are slowly losing their fancy towards the fibre crop. Lower yield and reduced realisation are likely to see them shift to other crops this kharif season, which starts from next month, leading to a 10-15 per cent drop in Cotton sowing.

According to projections given by the Textile Commissioner of India, the area under cotton cultivation is likely to be around 11.77 million hectares in 2012-13. In 2011-12, the area under cotton cultivation was reported at 12.17 million hectares.
read more.

07:03:22 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Sri Lanka unions say strike a success, government differs :

The Coordinating Committee for a Joint Trade Union Alliance of Sri Lanka says today’s token strike launched to protest the increase in the electricity tariffs is a success while the government says there was no effect in the public sector.

According to the co- convener for the Co-ordination Committee for the Trade Union Alliance, Wasantha Samarasinghe, over 900 trade unions and 15 political parties joined the strike action. He said 100 percent of the private sector employees and about 35 percent of the estate sector employees took part in the strike.
However, according to the Government Information Department over 93 percent attendance to work by public sector employees has been reported at government institutions. read more.

* Developing local apparel industry through its sustainable grow:

Polytex Garments Limited, a part of the global apparel giant the Esquel Group, has been an integral part of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry for the last 36 years, and continues to grow from strength to strength.

Specializing in the production of knit shirts, the company boasts of an impressive client portfolio which includes some of the most popular retail brands in the world such as Nike, Marks & Spencer, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Gap and so forth and records over US$ 75 million in turnover each year.

With five factories located in Ja-ela, Yakkala, Kegalle and Koggala, Polytex Garments currently employs over 6000 employees, many of whom are from the neighbouring cities, and thus the company is able to directly contribute to the development of the communities in which they are based in.
In line with the vision of its parent company, the Esquel Group, Polytex Garments is consistently focused on maintaining a safe and rewarding work environment without compromising on the quality of the output. Hence, a testament to its success is the high retention rate among employees, with an approximately 97% retention rate specifically among the graduates of its comprehensive management trainee programme, an achievement Polytex considers an extreme honour.  read more.

06:33:22 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Obtaining GSP Plus status a challenge for new government: Prgmea:

Pakistan Ready-made Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) said on Wednesday that the PML-N government should make it a top priority for obtaining Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status for Pakistan to strengthen the country economically, besides improving foreign exchange.

Prgmea Central Chairman Sajid Salim Minhas, while felicitating the PML-N leadership on massive victory in the general elections, observed that obtaining GSP Plus status for Pakistan is a challenge for the new government, besides overcoming energy crisis and putting value-added textile industry on track by working on a war footing. He also expressed the hope that the new government would take energy shortage as a challenge, enabling the industry to perform at optimum level, besides attracting new investment and increasing exports.
read more.

* Some B’desh garment orders may shift to Pakistan: PRGMEA:

The spate of accidents in the readymade garment (RMG) factories of Bangladesh have raised hopes for Pakistan’s garment manufacturing sector, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) South Zone chairman Shaikh Shafiq Rafiq has said, according to a Tribune report.
Mr. Rafiq said Bangladesh is losing its competitive edge due to the accidents and its two advantages—lower wages and duty-free access—are no more helpful for its manufacturing sector. On the other hand, Pakistan is working upon both fronts and expects some of the business from Bangladesh to shift to Pakistan.
read more.

* Pakistan yet to submit five more reports:

 Pakistan yet to submit five more reports

The value-added textile sector as suggested the upcoming government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that getting Generalized System of Preferences Plus status for Pakistan should be its top priority, as it will help strengthen the country economically.

The industry circles demanded the new government to hire competent lawyers to plead Pakistan’s case in the European Union (EU) for Generalized System of Preferences, as Pakistan would get the status once the legal formalities are completed.
Now the ball is in the court of Pakistan to effectively negotiate with EU to obtain GSP plus in 2014, they said and added that it is unfortunate that we still have to submit at least five more progress reports for our application to be processed by the EU.
“These reports relate to human rights, racial biasness, gender discrimination, covenants on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the human rights ministry (which currently falls under the ministry of Law) is dragging its feet and the matter is being delayed unnecessarily.” read more.

* KCA opposes introduction of Icotton Futures Contract at PMEX:

The Karachi Cotton Association strongly opposed the introduction of International Cotton (Icotton) Futures Contract at Pakistan Mercantile Exchange Limited (PMEX) as the same decision has been taken by the government without adequate consultation with the stakeholders of the cotton economy ie the KCA, APTMA, PCGA, FAP and PCF.

It is observed that ostensibly PMEX International Cotton (Icotton) Futures Contract is based on the NY Cotton Futures Contract and is a cash-settled contract, that is delivery is not contemplated. It was claimed that this contract will provide hedging facility for all those who are involved in the various activities in the cotton value chain. At the same time PMEX stated that trading is not based on local cotton. This is an apparent anomaly as both claims were contradictory.
read more.

* KCA decries introduction of cotton futures:

The Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) has strongly opposed the introduction of International Cotton (ICOTTON) Futures Contracts by the Pakistan Mercantile Exchange Limited (PMEX). In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the KCA said that the decision to introduce the contracts had been taken without adequate consultation with the stakeholders of the cotton industry.

The KCA spokesperson noted that ostensibly, the PMEX ICOTTON Futures Contract is based on the New York (NY) Cotton Futures Contract, but unlike the NY Cotton Futures, is a cash-settled contract, that is, upon expiration the buyer can take the cash position instead of the cotton. Although PMEX claims that this contract will provide hedging facility for all those who are involved in various activities in the cotton value chain, the KCA noted that the Federal Cabinet, realising the need, utility, benefits and advantages of hedge trading in cotton which involves delivery of cotton at the time of maturity of the contract, had decided to resume hedge trading in cotton under the aegis of the KCA in its meeting on March 24 2005. In light of this, the decision by the government to allow the PMEX to introduce International Cotton (ICOTTON) Futures Contract contradicts the decision of Federal Cabinet. It is also interesting to note that cotton from the United States (US) produces only about 15% of the world cotton crop and only US cotton is tenderable in NY Futures Contract. read more.The Express Tribune


map of Asia


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


* Workers mark Ka Bel’s 5th death anniv with call for wage hike

* Having to pay higher wages, businesses trim workers’ allowances

* Footwear factory workers strike for second day
* H&M Says Garments Made in Cambodian Factory Without Approval
* ILO prepares to name, shame errant Cambodian factory bosses

* ‘Indonesian textile sector needs to improve efficiency’

* 15-20 hurt as fire broke out at Ashulia apparel factory
* 5 trouble-hit Ashulia garment factories closed indefinitely
* 10 RMG units shut for sine die
* Labour unrest forces closure of 11 apparel factories in Ashulia
* 13 Ashulia RMG units close amid labour unrest
* Boiler explosion: 15 RMG workers hurt in Savar
* Closed RMG units reopen today
* Garments owners did not accept wage board award sincerely: Latif:
* RMG workers wage board next week: Shajahan
* US consumer body’s campaign for BD RMG workers
* 70% Americans may buy fewer BD products
* 2nd US-B’desh partnership dialogue in city on Sunday
* US to push for major factory safety reforms in Bangladesh
* BD won’t sign in TICFA if needed
* Fate hangs in the balance
* Regain buyers’ trust
* Excluding BD from free trade will hurt workers
* Primark’s compensation pledge is a significant move
* Gap to sign Bangladesh safety accord, if tweaked: CEO
* More major retailers sign Bangladesh safety pact
* US retailers see big risk in BD safety plan
* Govt to provide all-out security to factories
* Bangladeshi volunteers haunted by rescue trauma
* Savar survivors need psychological support: experts
* Maimed survivors want limbs replaced as soon as possible
* Families of 121 Savar victims get financial help from PM
* Shipping Ministry donates Tk 1 cr for Savar victims
* IBC demands $ 71 million in compensation for victims
* DNA profiling to take more time
* Probe body recommends lifetime imprisonment to Rana
* Rana’s father on three-day fresh remand
* Rana Plaza killings caused by negligence of owners
* Rana Plaza was built poorly
* Yunus calls for minimum int’l wage
* BGMEA initiates biometric data for garment workers
* CBS News goes undercover in a Bangladesh clothing factory
* A business model for Bangladesh
* Indonesia may be a threat to local apparel manufacturers

* Lessons from Dhaka
* Cotton sowing to drop 10-15%

* Sri Lanka unions say strike a success, government differs
* Developing local apparel industry through its sustainable grow

* Obtaining GSP Plus status a challenge for new government: Prgmea
* Some B’desh garment orders may shift to Pakistan: PRGMEA
* Pakistan yet to submit five more reports
* KCA opposes introduction of Icotton Futures Contract at PMEX
* KCA decries introduction of cotton futures

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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