in the news on-line, 24 May 2013

map of asia ASIA

* What to do when a human life is as cheap as a new T-shirt:

“This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed.

The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death,” Rose Schneiderman, a prominent socialist and union activist, said in a speech at the memorial meeting held in the Metropolitan Opera House on April 2, 1911, days after the March 25, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.

More than a century on, her remarks ring true, especially in light of a rapid succession of similar tragedies in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which employs more than 3 million workers, of whom 90 per cent are women.

According to reports, a total of 1,127 garment workers were killed after a garment factory building on the outskirts of Dhaka collapsed on April 24.

The tragedy, one of the deadliest in the history of the garment industry, came after a factory fire in 2012 that killed 112 workers in the same country. It appears that the death of 112 people was not serious enough to warrant action. The shaming and blaming of officials and other involved parties had to wait until a disaster killed 10 times as many, and did so in an election year, before anything happened. Human life is so cheap, as Schneiderman said.
And then consumers, including those in Taiwan, may also do something to improve the lot of garment workers in Bangladesh. Both people “born to shop and shop until they drop” and ordinary shoppers should understand there is a human cost to everything we consume, especially when some commodities are so cheap. Perhaps it is time for us to rethink unbridled consumerism.
read more. & read more.

07:36:14 local time map of china CHINA

* Shanghai to probe textile firm over silk quilt row:

Shanghai’s quality watchdog said yesterday it was investigating a local textile company after its silk quilts were found to contain less filler than stated on the label.

A 100 percent pure silk quilt made by Shanghai Homes Textile Co was found to contain 36.4 percent less silk filler than indicated on the label, the Beijing Consumer Association said last week.
The quilt actually contained 1,907 grams of filler, compared to the 3 kilograms marked on the label.
The Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau said some silk quilts made by the company failed quality tests in 2012 and 36 substandard quilts were confiscated. The company was fined and illegal profits totaling 89,893 yuan (US$14,498) seized from them.  read more.

06:36:14 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Textile firms enjoy numerous export contracts:

Many members in the local textile industry say they have won plenty of export contracts for this year and that they are running at full capacity to meet deadlines.

Nguyen An, general director of Garmex Saigon, said his firm had acquired a great deal of orders from foreign buyers and that the already-signed orders surpass its capacity by around 5%.
In the last two years, export orders earned by Garmex Saigon have mainly come from the United States instead of the Europe Union as before. Besides, the firm will start making products for the first order from a Japanese partner from November. read more.

06:36:14 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Save workers from brokers, TDRI urges:

Factory workers need legal help to save them from exploitation by subcontracting firms, a Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) researcher says.

Subcontracting firms serve as brokers that find labourers for factories and at the same time act as “employers” who pay the salaries to these workers.
Job seekers view this system as an easier way to work in factories as it is a shortcut that does away with many requirements.
But they end up receiving lower welfare benefits than those who apply directly to factory owners, Suwanna Tulayawasinphong, who has conducted a study of the system, said. read more.
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06:36:14 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* 5,000 Protest for Benefits in Kompong Speu:

About 5,000 garment workers from a factory in Kompong Speu province, which manufactures clothing for U.S. sports giant Nike, on Thursday blocked National Road 4 demanding additional allowances, such as transport and maternity bonuses, a union representative said.

The protest at Sabrina (Cam­bodia) Garment MFG Corp., in Samraong Tong district, has been going since Tuesday, said Sun Vanny, a Free Trade Union representative at the factory. The workers continued demonstrating for about half an hour on Thursday before the owner agreed to sit down and talk to the workers, she said.
“We blocked National Road 4 for half an hour and as a result, the director of the garment factory agreed to negotiate with our union representatives,” Ms. Van­ny said.
The workers’ demands include a 1,000 riel (about $0.25) bonus for every overtime hour worked, $8 a month as a transportation allow­ance,­ and that women who have newborn babies should receive $25 for milk for up to 20 months, Ms. Vanny said.  read more.

* Strike to continue after meetings fail at factory:

More than 4,000 Sabrina garment factory workers said they would continue to strike after meetings with the factory failed yesterday.

Workers stopped blocking National Road 4 when government officials arrived to lead negotiations, but in the meetings that followed, the factory refused to accept any of the workers’ demands, including an increase of basic monthly salaries to $94, overtime pay and $1 per day for lunch.

“The employers suggested they had no ability to carry out the demand,” said Thorn Thol, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union. to read.

* Factory victim’s widow accepts company offer:

The widow of Rim Roeun, the man crushed to death last week in a ceiling collapse at Wing Star Shoes factory, yesterday accepted an additional $9,000 compensation from the company and thumb-printed a document promising not to make a legal bid for more, she said.

Nuon Chhorvy, 21, who gave birth little more than a month ago, told the Post she does not have the time or money to fight the Kampong Speu factory, a supplier to Japanese footwear giant Asics.
“We decided to accept the $15,500, which includes the $6,500 they have paid us for a funeral,” she said. “We’ve now finished our problems with Wing Star because we don’t want to go to court and waste our time and money.”
But Rim Rorn, 29, Roeun’s uncle, said he was furious the family had accepted the amount.
“I detest this, but . . . we are poor, so they had to accept this or they might have got nothing.”
read more.

* ILO to Release More Information on Non-Compliant Factories:

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program has agreed to release more information on garment factories that fail to comply with labor standards, in an effort to hold manufacturers accountable for their employees’ safety.

“BFC will be releasing selected non-compliance information linked to factory names,” Mau­rizio Bussi, director of ILO’s Decent Work Team for South­east Asia, said by email on Tuesday. “We intend to roll out this public disclosure approach during the course of this year.”
Mr. Bussi did not say how much information related to factories would be released. However, the move does show a willingness by the ILO to render the current system—which does not disclose the names of factories flouting safety regulations—more transparent.
read more.

* ILO/BFC ‘s latest statement on factory collapse incidents:

Following the collapse of a structure at Top World factory yesterday, in which 23 workers were injured, Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) sent monitors to the factory to speak with management and workers to learn more about the incident and assess further concerns regarding building safety.

While BFC monitors do not have sufficient technical competence to undertake a comprehensive structural investigation, BFC has advised management that they should immediately undertake a full structural review of all factory buildings.

BFC is in discussions with national stakeholders regarding additional steps that are recommended for the industry to ensure due diligence in workplace safety. Furthermore, Better Factories Cambodia and Better Work stand ready to collaborate with buyers, government officials and factory owners in efforts address this critical issue. to read.

06:06:14 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Burmese Migrant Workers’ Group Receives International Award:

A Burmese migrant labor activist group has been honored with the International Labor Rights Award for its contribution to the labor rights movement and exposing work-related rights violations.

The International Labor Rights Forum on Wednesday jointly honored the Burmese Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), which is based in Bangkok, and Thailand’s State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC) for their “groundbreaking” work in defending migrant workers in Thailand.
In a statement released by the US-based ILRF, Executive Director Judy Gearhart said “MWRN is on its way to becoming a globally recognized representative of migrant workers on issues relating to trafficking, forced labor and other labor rights abuses in Thailand. read more.

05:21:14 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* CVD hurts Nepali exports:

An unclear policy and lack of proper observation on Countervailing Duty (CVD) at the Indian customs has left Nepali exporters with no alternative but to pay the CVD imposed on their products.

According to exporters of readymade garments and pashmina, they are bound to bear additional duty, which actually is not required for garments and pashmina products. Nepali garment exporters have to pay a CVD of six per cent on cotton products and 12 per cent on polyester products that is imposed on 30 per cent value of the maximum retail price (MRP) of the products.

“We recently forwarded a memo to the Department of Customs with all the required information and present export scenario which is focused on the additional duties that exporters have to bear at the Indian customs,” said president of Garment Association – Nepal Uday Raj Pandey. “CVD can be imposed only when importers have to pay excise duty but when there is no excise duty one cannot impose countervailing duty,” he said. read more.

05:36:14 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* 100 RMG units halt production:

Production at minimum 100 garment factories in Ashulia industrial belt was suspended on Thursday as the workers continued their demonstration refusing to join work.

The workers have been demonstrating for several weeks demanding a hike in their salaries.
All the garment factories in Ashulia opened around 8:00am Thursday following assurances of security by the government.
But workers of at least 100 garment factories refused to join work and left the workplaces around 8:30am, said Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Garment workers continue protests in Ashulia amid heavy rains:

The apparel workers in Ashulia industrial belt continued their protests for the fourth consecutive day Thursday amid heavy rainfall, as the garment factories refrained from resuming operations.

The workers also demanded a raise in their wages.
Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir on Wednesday urged the RMG owners to reopen their closed factories in Ashulia industrial zone and ensure ‘safety measures’ in factories.
The minister made the call after a meeting with the BGMEA leaders at its Karwan Bazar office where Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju and Shipping Minister M Shajahan Khan were also present. read more.

* 33 RMG units shut in Ashulia due to workers’ protest over pay hike:

Thirty-three apparel factories in Ashulia were declared shut again for the day on Thursday in the face of workers’ protest over better wages and workplace safety, owners and police said.

The trouble erupted minutes after apparel manufacturers resumed production there on assurance by the government of foolproof security arrangements against troublemakers.
Witnesses said the latest spell of violence took place at Designer Jeans at Jamgora of the country’s key apparel industrial hub at about 8:30am when its workers continued their demonstration after abstaining from work.

The workers demanding a substantial hike in their monthly salaries came to the street and attacked the nearby factories, including those of Envoy Group and Scandex Group, calling upon the labourers of the units there to join the protest.
The protesters were demanding Tk 8,000 as minimum monthly wage to cope with the growing inflationary pressure that frequently pushes up prices of daily essentials. read more.

* 50 RMG units halt production amid protests at Ashulia:

At least 50 garment units in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka suspended production on Tuesday as workers’ protest continued in the industrial zone for better wages and workplace safety. 

At least 20 workers were injured in clashes between the police and garment workers as the workers blocked the Dhaka-Tangail highway for about an hour and vandalised vehicles and factories for the fifth consecutive day.
The garment workers are pushing for higher wages, reopening of factory and workplace safety, among other demands.
The factory managements said they had suspended production as the police could not provide necessary security, but the Ashulia industrial police said they did as per their capacity.
Witnesses said several hundred workers of Design
Jeans Ltd started demonstrations after seeing a notice declaring closure of the factory. read more.

* Garment makers face huge losses as labour unrest continues:

20130524 DAILYSTAR
Law enforcers stay on alert against any untoward incident as many garment factories in the industrial belt of Ashulia remained closed over the last three days. Photo:Focus Bangla

Ashulia-based garment makers fear a massive loss due to the continuous production halt following the latest spell of labour unrest.

Production at minimum 100 garment factories remained suspended yesterday as the workers continued their demonstrations and refused to join work over the demand for a wage hike.
Some of the factory owners had to keep their units shut on Tuesday and Wednesday also following fresh unrest.
“If production comes to a halt at all my factories, I will face a loss of Tk 40 lakh per day, and will also have to send the goods through expensive air shipments,” said Ismail Hossain, managing director of Sharmin Group. read more.
daily star bd

* Closure of Ashulia factories:

At a time when all major stakeholders, both domestic and foreign, are actively engaged in thrashing out critical issues on safety, pay hike of workers in the garments sector, the Ashulia industrial belt is experiencing volatile protests.

The result has been the shutdown of some 60 factories. Needless to say, the demands for better pay, lunch allowance and other benefits reflect valid grievances. Yet they could not have come at a worse time.

The shutting down of production at so many factories has every chance of having a domino effect on other plants in other parts of the country. Were that to happen, it could deal a severe blow to an already strained apparels industry. The sector has been reeling under the pressure of frequent countrywide shutdowns due to the confrontational politics that has gripped the country over the past few months. Firm orders for garments are there with the industry and supply deadlines have to be met in a timely manner. read more.
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* Move to restrict NGO men from being involved in TUs:

Draft labour law to be passed in next JS session

The government has initiated a move to restrict individuals from being simultaneously engaged in the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions (TUs), aiming to contain labour unrest in garment industry, official sources said.

Keeping this in view, a process is on to incorporate new provisions in the existing labour law, they disclosed.
Under the proposed new provision, no NGO activist is to be allowed to be involved in TU activities while a TU activist cannot engage himself/herself in NGO activities.

After incorporating the provision in the draft labour (amendment) law, it will be sent to the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) for endorsement, a senior official said. He said the proposed labour law amendment bill is expected to be passed in the upcoming parliamentary session.
The government has taken the move following allegations that some NGOs and TUs are inter-linked. This is one of the causes for labour unrest in the readymade garment (RMG) sector especially in Ashulia industrial belt, he said.
read more.

* Minimum wages for RMG workers:

I was glad to listen to Dr Md Yunus, our Noble laureate, speaking for the RMG workers who have been exploited since long. The workers of RMG sector receive very low wages by any standard if we compare it to the living expenses nowadays.

It is heartening to know that many giant retailers have already agreed to help Bangladesh to improve its working condition of RMG sector. Only blaming the owners of RMG sector will not solve the problems. I believe it will take very little effort from the side of western buyers to solve the nagging problem of Bangladeshi RMG workers. I believe the call of Dr Yunus will make an impact on the western policymakers. The workers of RMG sector don’t want luxury rather they ask for the bare minimum. read more.

* Formation of new wage board for RMG workers to take some more days:

Announcement on formation of a new wage board for the garment workers will take a few days more due to non-availability of the sector’s representatives’ names, officials said Thursday.

Although Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan at a meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Wednesday said the new wage board would be declared Thursday. Ministers for home affairs and labour were also present at the meeting, held at the BGMEA office. read more.

* Inside Bangladesh’s garment industry:

A US government delegation is travelling to Bangladesh this weekend to press for a major safety overhaul following last month’s garment factory collapse.

More than 1,100 people were killed on April 24 after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed near the capital city of Dhaka.
Al Jazeera speaks to a 18-year-old who worked in Rana Plaza, was trapped and badly hurt. She has six dependents and was earning just $3 a day.
read & see more.(video report).

* Bangladesh’s garment industry still offers women best work opportunity:

A revised minimum wage could help women working in harsh conditions who have few other places to go, but employers say they are also suffering as a result of disrupted production.

The bulldozers have moved on and the eight-storey Rana Plaza building, in which more than 1,120 workers died when it collapsed on 24 April, is nothing more than a gaping hole in the ground.
For workers hurrying to their shifts at the scores of garment factories that dot the neighbourhood of Savar, 15km north of Dhaka, it is a grim reminder of the hazardous conditions that prevail in Bangladesh’s $20bn apparel industry.

Walking past the fenced-off building site every day, Bangladeshi seamstress Selina Begum, 23, relives the moment the roof crashed down on top of her. She was pulled out by rescue workers after roughly six hours, and she knows she had a narrow escape.
But Begum, who worked at a factory on the Rana Plaza’s sixth floor, says she is already scouring the area for work – in a garment factory. “We’re poor. I have to work to survive. Unless I go to work at the factory, who will feed me?” she says.

Begum is typical of the 3.6 million women who work in Bangladesh’s garment industry. In a country where the per capita annual income is only $850, the $60 per month she earns puts a roof over her head and food on the table – but only just. “It’s difficult to get through the month,” she says. “It’s long hours. But I hope I will earn more as I gather experience.”
read more. & read more.
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* BGMEA, BKMEA move on building safety draws poor response:

Only 250 of 4,600 units submit reports so far

Only 250 out of the country’s 4,600 existing apparel units, including those producing knit and woven wear, have so far submitted structural designs of their buildings ahead of the May 31 deadline.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) set the deadline last month for all their member factories.
It was intended to assess the safety standards of apparel units across the country following the Savar tragedy that claimed lives of over 1100 factory workers.
The two apparel manufacturers’ bodies announced on April 27 last that they would suspend membership of errant factories and stop other services to them in case of their failure to report on their buildings by the deadline. read more.

* BGMEA’s foot-dragging delays wage board for workers:

Formation of a new wage board for garment workers is being delayed due to dillydallying of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association in sending the name of its representative to the labour ministry.

Labour secretary Mikail Shipar told New Age on Thursday that the BGMEA
was supposed to send the name of its representative by May 22 but ‘we are yet to get the name’.
He said, as per the rules, the wage board would be formed comprising four permanent members and two sector representatives. read more.

* ‘Open factories, we’ll give protection’:

The government has urged the readymade garment owners in the Ashulia industrial belt to resume operations promising them ‘all safety measures’.

Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir made the appeal at a press briefing on Wednesday night.
“The law enforcers will enter any factory without the owners’ permission if there is any attempt to unleash violence,” he said after a meeting with the BGMEA at its Karwan Bazar office.
He said if there was any worker unrest at any factory, the ministers would hold talks with the agitators to take measures accordingly.
read more.

* EU urged to act to prevent factory accidents:

Following the recent fires and building collapse at factories in Bangladesh, Members of European Parliament on Thursday called for justice for victims and EU action to prevent similar events in future.

The Parliament recalls in the resolution adopted on Thursday that Bangladesh benefits from duty and quota-free access to the EU market and that these preferences can be withdrawn in the event of serious and systematic violations of the principles set out in different human rights conventions.
The MEPs call on the Commission to investigate Bangladesh’s compliance with these conventions and they expect an investigation to be considered if Bangladesh is found to be in serious and systematic violation of the principles laid down in these conventions.
The resolution insists that those responsible for the collapse of the Rana Plaza, the Tazreen factory fire or any other fire should be brought to justice, that the victims should have full access to the justice system, and that a financial compensation plan should be established.
read more. & read more.
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* US retailers find big risk in factory 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, said a report published on The New York Times.

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.”
read more. & read more.

* Rana Plaza and liability of regulators:

Over and above the constitutional obligations, Bangladesh has commitments to workers’ rights, having ratified several ILO conventions, while its laws guarantee health and safety and other working conditions. But deaths and injuries of workers remain unacceptably high, with little or no prevention.

The government is amending the Labour Law to meet the requirements for retention of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility in the USA market. What the Bangladesh government and the employers are doing on safety compliance is intended more to satisfy the overseas garment buyers than to ensure safety of the employees’ lives.

The recent series of incidents exposed the lack of proper law implementation. The issues of hazardous and outdated installations, ineffective machinery and inadequate safety tools and Personal Protective Equipment at workplace also came to the fore.

The Labour Law-2006 is the most significant legislation dealing with occupational health and safety in establishments in Bangladesh. The law has a wider scope of applying to all ‘establishments’. It defines an establishment as a: “shop, commercial establishment, industrial establishment or premises on which workers are employed for industrial work.  read more.


* Workers cannot claim further compensation:

ID cards surrendered while receiving salaries

Garment workers who survived the Rana Plaza collapse cannot claim further compensation because the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) took away their ID cards after disbursing their salaries in the first week of this month.

BGMEA Joint Secretary (labour) Rafiqul Islam told The Daily Star, “Workers were laid off as per Section-12 of the Bangladesh’s labour law, as there is no scope for the five garment factories to restart operations. Thus, those who had not lost their ID cards were asked to submit them during the salary disbursement so that they would not be able to use them to falsely claim any salary in future.”
Legal Counsellor to the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity AKM Nasim pointed out, however, that the workers could no longer file a lawsuit with the labour court for further damage claims as they would be unable to demonstrate proof of employment. read more.
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* Activists Protest Fashion Brands’ Failure to Pay Bangladesh Disaster Victims Compensation:

Clean Clothes Campaign activists are set to stage protests across Europe on 24th May calling on major brands to pay compensation for fire and building collapse victims in Bangladesh.

The protests take place exactly one month after the Rana Plaza factory collapse and exactly six months after the Tazreen fire killed 1239 in total.
Fake funerals, factory simulations and fashion shows will be part of the Europe wide protests at the failure to pay for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and medical care. Protests are held in front of stores of Benneton and Mango and other brands who have had production or placed trial orders in Rana Plaza.

Tessel Pauli of Clean Clothes Campaign says, ‘Workers’ debts are rising as brands fail to pay up. These two recent horrific tragedies in Bangladeshi garment factories left 1239 people dead and thousands injured. Compensation is owed to these workers and financial security is essential for families coming to terms with what has happened. Brands should pay up so families and workers don’t suffer any more’.

On November 24th 2012, lack of fire exits and poor fire safety meant 112 people were burned alive or jumped to their deaths when the Tazreen factory caught fire. Just five month later on April 24th 2013, 1127 more people were killed when the eight-story Rana Plaza building hosting five factories collapsed.

Amirul Haque Amin from the National Garment Workers’ Federation says: ‘We welcome the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, but brands still need to pay compensation to Tazreen and Rana Plaza workers and the families of the deceased. All buyers that have sourced from the factories share the responsibility of making sure that the full compensation is paid. It is unacceptable that companies like Walmart hide behind subcontractors or dates of orders placed. The buildings were unsafe long before the disasters happened.’

The frequency of factory disasters in Bangladesh has led to the establishment of a simple formula to calculate the compensation needed, based on ILO standards, and on an established formula developed following previous fire and safety accidents by Bangladeshi and international trade unions.

Based on this formula, the estimated long term compensation for Rana Paza victims will be more than 54 million Euros (71 million USD) for pain and suffering and long term loss of earnings. The compensation package for Tazreen victims has been calculated at 5.7 million US Dollars. In addition to brands, the government, the employers’ association in Bangladesh (BGMEA) and employers are also expected to pay into the fund.

 CCC calls on brands linked to Rana Plaza factories and Tazreen to:

* Commit to paying immediate relief and full and fair compensation to the injured  workers and families of the dead, in line with established practices and calculations proposed by the unions
* Engage with the Bangladeshi trade unions and organisations representing the victims as well as IndustriALL, the global trade union federation representing garment workers, to ensure all payments are done in a transparent and agreed upon process.

Only Primark have announced that they will pay long-term compensation to the victims of Rana Plaza, in line with the existing framework established by the Bangladeshi unions and used in the follow up on previous fires in Bangladesh. Other initiatives announced by brands risk undermining a transparent mechanism for fair and full compensation that involves trade union involvement.
Tessel Pauli from the Clean Clothes Campaign says, ‘Until all workers and families are fully compensated, no brand is off the hook’.

* Savar Tragedy: Probe panel for action against those responsible:

The committee, formed to investigate the Rana Plaza collapse, on Wednesday submitted its report recommending punitive actions against those responsible for the incident and giving compensation to the victims.   

“The use of low quality materials for construction of the building, disrespecting to the building code, presence of garment factories, heavy machinery in the commercial building and the building owner’s ignorance about garment factories were responsible for the incident,” said the probe panel chief Main Uddin Khandaker.
Main Uddin, additional secretary to the Home Ministry, was talking to the journalists after submitting the 400-page report to the Senior Home Secretary CQK Mostaque Ahmed.
The committee also made a 15-point recommendation, including three urgent ones. read more.

* Lists of injured, missing not yet completed:

The government is yet to complete the enlistment of the people injured and feared missing in the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar even after a month on Friday.

The eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed on the morning of April 24, leaving at least 1,127 people and about 2,000 injured.
Different government agencies, including the army, upazila authorities and the district relief and rehabilitation authorities, were still compiling the list of the people feared missing. Non-governmental organisations are also enlisting such names, officials said.

Major General Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy, who coordinated the rescue operation, at the last briefing at Savar on May 13, when the operation was wrapped up, said that 1,115 bodies had been recovered from the Rana Plaza rubble. Twelve of the 2,438 people pulled out alive later died in hospital.
Eight hundred and thirty-six bodies have so far been handed over to families, according to the district administration.
Two hundred and ninety-one bodies, which could not be identified, were buried in the Jurain graveyard in Dhaka, after DNA sampling for identification in the future and ten were buried in other districts without DNA sampling, the officials said.
read more.

* Aid for Rana Plaza victims:

A local English language daily reported on May 12 that banks are donating for the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.

The report also stated that the donation would be around Tk 80 crore. The news was really good to know. Already the government has handed out payments to the relatives of the deceased.
I assume that, in total, the number of victims will be around 10,000, including the deceased and injured workers and some small traders who had lost everything because of the incident.
What is needed now is prompt payment. It is essential as these people are engulfed in a tragedy. The target should be to complete settling all claims on or before the end of the financial year. No excuse for delays will be acceptable. The government should form an executive team with adequate authority including representatives from all interest groups. At the same time the distribution must be strictly monitored by the authorities.
This immediate financial relief is a matter of utmost priority. read more.


* BGMEA appeals for its building:

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) appealed to Appellate Division challenging the HC verdict that ordered to demolish the BGMEA building within 90 days.

The organization’s lawyer Barrister Rafiq-ul-Haque confirmed it to banglanews.
He said the appeal was filed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Further steps would be taken as per law, he added.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Reviving jute’s lost glory is daunting but not impossible:

Farmers, according to a report carried in this newspaper on May 21, are showing more interest than last year’s to cultivate jute. Conventional wisdom tells them this year jute will be in high demand and therefore fetch higher prices.

This is because, they reason, after two consecutive years’ price slump, the price ought to be competitive this time. This simple fact reveals some positive trends in the country’s agriculture. Earlier, farmers had few options and they were compelled to cultivate either paddy or jute. The ‘golden fibre’ as the jute was known then lost its status with the invasion of polythene bags and other artificial alternatives in the late 80’s. Also there was no serious research work with the fibre then for its diversified use.

With their backs to the wall, only those farmers who had no options other than cultivating jute in low land used to cultivate jute. Since the demand for the fibre was dull and price was far too low, irate farmers often made bonfires of their produce at marketplaces.
It is at this moment some dedicated people successfully carried out research with jute for its diversified use. Yet it was not enough to revive the crop’s fortune. But awareness of environmental pollution due to artificial packaging materials among people in the West was about to reverse the course in favour of jute. read more.

* Consumers won’t accept garments made in sweat shops:

Clothes will become more expensive after the factory collapse in Bangladesh, the world’s leading expert on ethical fashion has predicted, says a report published in online edition of The Daily Telegraph, Thursday.

Speaking at the Telegraph Hay Festival, Sandy Black, Professor of Fashion & Textile Design & Technology at the University of the Arts London, said consumers will no longer accept garments made in sweat shops.
She said the recent fire in Bangladesh that killed 1,000 people highlighted the human cost of cheap clothes. “These things have been happening over a period of time but this one has been so big it has finally hit the mainstream,” she said. As a result corporations will have to start paying workers a fair wage. read more.

* Global brands pull together on Bangladesh safety deal:

Major retail companies behind the global Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord showed their commitment to improving the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers at the kick-off meeting, held at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva today.

The companies alongside IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union agreed to immediately move forward with implementing the Accord. The aim is to have safety inspectors on the ground as quickly as possible in order to begin to fix the most urgent problems.
The participants, including the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Worker Rights Consortium who have signed as witnesses to the agreement, said that the Accord was an opportunity to rectify the unacceptable risks currently faced by Bangladeshi garment workers because of poor standards on factory safety.

More than 1,100 people died in the Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh’s largest industrial tragedy, sparking a worldwide debate on how to improve safety. read more.

* Lifting RMG out of the woods:

As the Savar rescue operation came to an end on the 20th day of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 people with many still remaining missing, one can only hope that the nation will not go again into hibernation and wait for another one to happen.

This is not the first time a building has collapsed. There had been many such incidents in the recent past. But we have not learned much from our mistakes. Each time an incident occurs like this, for a few days we see both the electronic and print media busy covering it. And, of course, our all-time favourite-the blame game-continues. After some days, the things are back to square one.

Our economy of about US$ 110 billion in size is driven by three major sectors-agriculture, remittance and export. Readymade garments (RMG) constitute 84 per cent of our total export earnings and the sector has around 5,000 manufacturing units, creating employment opportunities for four million people, of whom 85 per cent are women. In the fiscal 2011-12, the country earned US$ 19 billion by exporting garments and thus it emerged as the second largest garment and knitwear exporting country in the world. Experts are predicting that in the next five to ten years, Bangladesh will become the largest ready-made garment manufacturer when the volume of export will rise to around US$ 36 to 42 billion. This means it will create jobs for another 3 million people of the total workforce of 74 million. read more.

05:06:14 local time map of india INDIA

* Govt.-Trade Unions meet left issues unresolved, says CITU:

The government on Wednesday met trade union representatives in New Delhi to discuss their charter of demands which included abolition of contractual employment and a minimum wage of Rs 10,000, but no resolution was in sight on the issues.

The meeting came in wake of the trade unions observing a two-day general strike in February to press for implementation of their 10-point demands, and the government setting up a Group of Ministers under Defence Minister A K Antony to look into these.
“Nothing transpired in the meeting. We asked for concrete action but all the time they (the GoM) kept saying that things are under consideration,” the General Secretary of CITU (Centre of Indian Trade Unions) Tapan Sen, who attended the meeting, more.
Return to frontpage

* Integrated textile parks to generate 10 lakh jobs:

The 61 textile parks approved under the Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) are expected to generate over 10 lakh jobs. These parks will have total estimated investment of Rs 27,562 crore.

Commerce, Industry and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma launched 21 new Textile Parks on Tuesday. With these the total number parks go up to 61.
This scheme has been instrumental in development of wide range of models for greenfield clusters, including 1,000-acre FDI driven integrated clusters, 100-acre powerloom clusters and 20-acre handloom clusters. read more.
Return to frontpage

* Land troubles stall textile projects:

The prospect of setting up two textile parks in Belgaum district has faded, thanks to the hurdles in land acquisition.

The BJP government had approved both proposals and initiated the process of land acquisition at Waghavade village in Belgaumtaluk and border village Borgaon in Chikkoditaluk.

Both projects were planned to be implemented under Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) scheme of the central government. Under the scheme, societies registered under Companies Act develop and monitor the textile park for which central government allot up to Rs 40 crore grants. To avail the benefit of SPV scheme, availability of land is the major requirement. read more.

* AEPC proposes measures to boost garment exports from India:

At the initiative of Dr. A. Sakthivel, Chairman-AEPC, an Inter-Ministerial Workshop was organized under the Chairmanship of Shri Ajit Seth, IAS, Cabinet Secretary, Govt. of India. 

The meeting was attended by Secretary (Textiles), Finance Secretary & Secretary (Revenue), Secretary MSME, Commerce & Industry Secretary, DGFT, DG NIFT, JS Ministry of Textiles, JS Customs, JS Duty Drawback, JS Shipping, JS Financial Services senior officials of the Government of India.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. A Sakthivel stated that, “Textiles and clothing have been recognized as a thrust area for growth due to the sector’s potential to boost productivity, employment and investment. As such, it is imperative to design a framework to re-position the sector with a long-term vision (2025) to enable it to achieve 10 per cent share of the world textile trade.” read more.

* Textile processing units demolished:

A team of officials from Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has identified five unauthorised textile processing units and demolished them recently.

The board conducted a raid in a few parts of the town following widespread complaints from the people that the textile processing units were discharging huge amount of untreated, toxic effluents into waterways. to read.
Return to frontpage

* Make Bt cotton tech available to us, small seed firms tell AP:

Small and medium seed companies in Andhra Pradesh are up in arms. About 500 such companies feel that they are losing out the cottonseed business to the big players.

Unlike in the traditional business in varieties and hybrids, the small companies feel that dominance of multi-national companies will hurt their business interests.
“The domestic seed industry has grown on indigenous technology and benefitted by the public sector research system and agricultural universities by accessing technologies developed by them. In the subsequent period private companies have heavily invested in the seed research, while the contribution from public agencies has come down drastically,” S. Venkat Reddy, Honorary Secretary of Seedsmen Association, told Business Line. read more.
Return to frontpage

* Karnataka govt will not ban Bt cotton: Minister:

The newly-formed Congress government in the southern Indian state of Karnataka is in favour of allowing farmers to make their choices on the use of genetically modified (GM) crops like Bt cotton, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda has said.
Bt cotton was introduced some 15 years ago in Karnataka and it has since then helped the state’s farmers to increase their output. As of today, about 90 percent of the cotton acreage in the state is under Bt cotton. read more.

04:36:14 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Four die as shutdown, intense heatwave continue in Punjab:

Amid a record heatwave, electricity suspension continued for 14 to 18 hours in the urban and rural areas of the Punjab respectively, making people’s lives miserable.

In the provincial metropolis and other parts of the province, people staged protest demonstrations and blocked roads in different areas against the unending miseries of loadshedding. They were shouting slogans against the government and were demanding immediate restoration of electricity supply.
Correspondents add: In Faisalabad, the Small Powerlooms Owners Council (SPOC) members staged a demonstration against severe loadshedding threatening the government to reduce the shutdown duration within three days otherwise they would be forced to close their powerlooms for an indefinite period and stop paying taxes and electricity bills. read more.

* Ginners to file case against cotton futures:

In futures contracts, there is no physical buying or selling of cotton, but only profit or loss is calculated on the basis of price speculation. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMONS

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association has decided to file a case in the Federal Shariat Court in an attempt to stop Pakistan Mercantile Exchange from futures trading in cotton.

The recourse to legal action is aimed at preventing what ginners say anti-Shariah futures trading that will spell financial disaster for cotton growers, ginners and textile millers.
In a statement, PCGA’s ex-executive member Ihsanul Haq said cotton ginners will hold meetings in all cotton zones shortly to decide its future course of action and find a way to block futures trading in cotton.
He recalled that in 2005 the Karachi Cotton Association had started futures trading, prompting the ginners to approach the Federal Shariat Court. In the case, the court granted a stay against futures trading in cotton. read more.
The Express Tribune

* Solution to energy crisis: divert gas resources to power generation: APTMA:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab Shahzad Ali Khan has suggested the upcoming PML-N government to immediately form ‘energy committee’ with large stakeholders as integral part of it in order to resolve energy issues of the country.

Shahzad said the solution to the energy crisis was diversion of available gas resources to power generation like Iran where despite being third largest oil producer thermal generation was yet gas-based. He said a few circles were advising the upcoming government to increase electricity tariff in order to bring the cost of production at par with the sale price, which was not a prudent approach when the consumers were already crying against the high tariff.  read more.


map of Asia


The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 27 May 2013,

Unless events require an extra edition.

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


* What to do when a human life is as cheap as a new T-shirt

* Shanghai to probe textile firm over silk quilt row

* Textile firms enjoy numerous export contracts:

* Save workers from brokers, TDRI urges

* 5,000 Protest for Benefits in Kompong Speu
* Strike to continue after meetings fail at factory
* Factory victim’s widow accepts company offer
* ILO to Release More Information on Non-Compliant Factories
* ILO/BFC ‘s latest statement on factory collapse incidents

* Burmese Migrant Workers’ Group Receives International Award

* CVD hurts Nepali exports

* 100 RMG units halt production
* Garment workers continue protests in Ashulia amid heavy rains
* 33 RMG units shut in Ashulia due to workers’ protest over pay hike
* 50 RMG units halt production amid protests at Ashulia
* Garment makers face huge losses as labour unrest continues
* Closure of Ashulia factories
* Move to restrict NGO men from being involved in TUs
* Minimum wages for RMG workers
* Formation of new wage board for RMG workers to take some more days
* Inside Bangladesh’s garment industry
* Bangladesh’s garment industry still offers women best work opportunity
* BGMEA, BKMEA move on building safety draws poor response
* BGMEA’s foot-dragging delays wage board for workers
* ‘Open factories, we’ll give protection’
* EU urged to act to prevent factory accidents
* US retailers find big risk in factory safety plan
* Rana Plaza and liability of regulators
* Workers cannot claim further compensation
* Activists Protest Fashion Brands’ Failure to Pay Bangladesh Disaster Victims Compensation
* Savar Tragedy: Probe panel for action against those responsible
* Lists of injured, missing not yet completed
* Aid for Rana Plaza victims
* BGMEA appeals for its building
* Reviving jute’s lost glory is daunting but not impossible
* Consumers won’t accept garments made in sweat shops
* Global brands pull together on Bangladesh safety deal
* Lifting RMG out of the woods

* Govt.-Trade Unions meet left issues unresolved, says CITU
* Integrated textile parks to generate 10 lakh jobs
* Land troubles stall textile projects
* AEPC proposes measures to boost garment exports from India
* Textile processing units demolished
* Make Bt cotton tech available to us, small seed firms tell AP
* Karnataka govt will not ban Bt cotton: Minister

* Four die as shutdown, intense heatwave continue in Punjab
* Ginners to file case against cotton futures
* Solution to energy crisis: divert gas resources to power generation: APTMA

latest tweets (& news)

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

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

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

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

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