15:11:50 local time CHINA
* China is still manufacturing base for global textile firms:
* Wages, jobs increasing:
The number of employed workers in China rose by 2.84 million to 767.04 million in 2012, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said in an announcement released on its website Tuesday.
The average annual wages of the country’s non-private and private sectors reached 46,769 yuan ($7,633) and 28,752 yuan in 2012, up 11.9 percent and 17.1 percent respectively from the previous year, according to the announcement.
The announcement also revealed that a total of 25 provinces and municipalities hiked minimum wage levels last year, with the raises averaging 20.2 percent from a year earlier.
* China’s rising wages in quest for rural workers reach a critical milestone:
China has reached its Lewis Turning Point. This is a critical milestone for a developing economy, when urban factories, restaurants and other businesses have to start raising wages faster than the inflation rate to attract rural workers. Until that point, factory wages can remain flat and still attract farm workers living on subsistence incomes at home.
It will take years for China to reach the end of the turning point, when urban and rural wages are equal. In the meantime, real wage increases for unskilled workers are here to stay.
We saw further evidence of this in our recent survey of manufacturing clients in the Pearl River Delta region, the industrial powerhouse in southern China bordering Hong Kong. The annual survey, conducted after the Lunar New Year holidays, showed that manufacturing-wage growth across the region is likely to accelerate to an average 9.2 per cent rate this year, from 7.6 per cent last year.
14:11:50 local time CAMBODIA
* Cambodian factory workers clash with police:
Police use stun batons to end protest over pay at factory that produces Nike sportswear, injuring 23 workers.
At least 23 workers were hurt in Cambodia when police used stun batons to end a protest over pay at a factory that makes clothing for sportswear company Nike, a worker and a trade union representative said.
Police with riot gear were deployed on Monday to move about 3,000 workers, mostly female, who had blocked a road outside their factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kompong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh.
A Nike spokeswoman in the United States told Reuters by e-mail that the company was “concerned” about the allegations and was investigating.
Nike requires contract manufacturers to respect employees’ rights to freedom of association, the spokeswoman added.
Sun Vanny, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at Sabrina, told Reuters news agency the injured had included a woman who was two months pregnant and who had lost her child after military police pushed her to the ground.
* Pregnant worker at Nike factory in Cambodia loses her baby after police stunned her with CATTLE PRODS during protest against low pay:
* Around 3,000 mostly female workers blocked a road outside their factory owned by Sabrina Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province
* Police used cattle prods to move the group protesting over their low pay
* At least 23 women injured and a two-month pregnant worker lost her baby
Cambodian police used cattle prods to stun workers protesting over pay at a factory that makes clothing for U.S. sportswear company Nike – injuring at least 23 women and causing one to miscarry her baby.
Police dressed in riot gear were deployed to move around 3,000 predominantly female workers who had blocked a road outside their factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh, in Cambodia today.
Among the 23 women injured in the incident was a two-months pregnant worker who lost her child after military police pushed her to the ground, Sun Vanny, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at Sabrina said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Underage, overworked:
Child labour is being used at a footwear factory owned by the same Taiwan-based company as Wing Star Shoes – where two workers were killed in a ceiling collapse this month – numerous employees have told the Post.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a number of workers at Ying Dong Shoes in Phnom Penh told the Post this week that the company was employing 13-year-olds.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday that the factory, Wing Star and New Star Shoes in Preah Sihanouk province, are owned by the same company, while Japan-based footwear company Asics has confirmed that it buys from all three.
One worker at Ying Dong said girls as young as 13 were employed at the factory in Por Sen Chey district’s Kantouk commune, despite bosses firing more than 100 underage workers prior to Khmer New Year.
“The company removed about 100 workers in March or April because they were too young to work here,” she said. “Some were just 13 or 14, but they had used other people’s names.”
* Factories Asked to Voluntarily Assess Safety:
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia on Monday asked factory owners to voluntarily conduct structural audits on their buildings in light of building collapses at two garment factories that killed two people and injured 23.
On May 16, a ceiling at Taiwanese-owned Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd. in Kompong Speu collapsed, killing two workers. Four days later, a dining hall that was part of Hong Kong-owned Top World Garment (Cambodia) Ltd. in Phnom Penh collapsed into a pond, injuring 23 workers.
“In the aftermath of these partial collapses on factory premises, we are strongly advising a structural review of all buildings in all garment and footwear factories in Cambodia,” the letter says.
15:11:50 local time INDONESIA
* ILO Prepares Building Safety Guidelines for Indonesian Garment Factories:
The Indonesian office of the International Labor Organization on Tuesday said it was preparing new infrastructure safety assessment guidelines for Indonesian garment factories in the wake of a building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 people.
The ILO said it was drafting the new infrastructure assessment criteria under its Better Work Indonesia program, and would use it to appeal to Indonesian garment makers to ensure the safety of their factories.
“In a country that is prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, it is imperative that employers ensure their buildings are structurally sound by regularly making sure that their buildings are in line with government regulations,” BWI program manager Simon Field said in a press statement on Tuesday.
* Minimum Wage Increase Claimed to Shut Down SMEs :
Sanny Iskandar, Head of Industrial Zone Association (Hakki) claimed that the increase of provinces minimum wage (UMR) caused bankruptcy of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or UKM. He criticized the government for only willing to implement a populist policy.
“The Ministry of Manpower always claimed there are only a few enterprises which had to face bankruptcy,” Sanny said in Apindo Training Center.
In fact, Sanny said, many enterprises were going bankrupt. “In Bekasi, Tangerang, and Karawang, many businesses were shut down,” he said.
Sanny also stated that many footwear industries chose to close their companies and moved to other countries which provides cheaper labors. They did it silently to prevent protests.
* Businesses told to respect human rights:
Companies operating in Indonesia should refer to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to prevent human rights abuses while conducting their businesses, observers have demanded.
Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN, said the guiding principles would help corporations to apply human rights principles while running their businesses. “The guiding principles will provide direction to companies that might not have grasped human rights concepts yet,” Marzuki told a seminar in Jakarta on Friday. “With the guiding principles, the abstract concept of human rights becomes concrete.”
Makarim Wibisono, executive director of the ASEAN Foundation, noted that the United Nations encouraged the use of these principles to address prevalent conflicts between businesses interests and human rights. “Cases of human rights violations within the business sector have remained unchecked for quite a long time,” he said.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update:
1. Indonesia to be next destination for global apparel buyers.
Read the full article here.
2. Textile Export Reaches US$13.5 B. Read the full article here.
3. What to do when a human life is as cheap as a new T-shirt.
Read the full article here.
4. Indonesian textile sector needs to improve efficiency. Read the full article here.
5. Keeping SCORE with Better Work Indonesia; how one factory improved its production. Read the full article here.
6. Indonesia’s Capital Inflows is Getting Better in II-Quarter of 2013.
Read the full article here.
7.Labor – Bekasi only have 7 Labor Inspector for 913 Companies.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
12:56:50 local time NEPAL
* Workers’ monthly pay hiked to Rs 8,000:
After one-and-a-half month-long negotiations, a tripartite committee consisting employers, trade unions and the government on Monday agreed to increase the minimum monthlyof workers by Rs 1,800.
After Monday’s agreement, workers’ basic monthly
Now, industrial workers will get a minimum monthly of Rs 8,000 — a basic of Rs 5,100 a month and dearness allowance of Rs 2,900. Earlier, the basic was Rs 3,550, while the dearness allowance was 2,650.
The Minimum Wage Determination Committee has recommended the new wage structure to the government for its final approval.
13:11:50 local time BANGLADESH
* N’ganj factories catch fire:
Five people, including a fire fighter, were injured trying to control a fire that engulfed some factories and shops in Narayanganj early on Tuesday.
The fire originated from the ground floor of a building around 5:00am and soon spread to the Sher-e-Bangla market in the city’s rail gate-2, locals said.
Nine units from the city’s Mondalpara and Habiganj fire service stations fought for ninety minutes to control the flames, Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defence Deputy Director KM Saiful Islam told the news agency.
‘Short circuit or mosquito coil might have sparked the fire,’ he said.
Sixteen shops on the ground floor and 14 more small-time factories (producing garments like t-shirts and caps) on the second floor of the building were burnt in the fire.
All the shops had stored huge stocks of garments and caps ahead of the Eid-ul Fitr.
* 10 hurt as RMG workers clash with cops in Ashulia:
At least 10 garment workers were injured in a clash with cops at Ashulia here on Tuesday morning.
Police said the workers of ‘Sadadia Garment’ in Jamgarah area took to the street in the morning and staged demonstrations by blocking Abdullahpur-Baipal road demanding reopening of the factory and an increase in their salary.
They also vandalised several vehicles during the demonstrations.
At one stage, the unruly garment workers engaged in a clash with police when the law enforcers tried to disperse them, leaving 10 injured.
* 3 more RMG factories shut:
Authorities of three readymade garments shut their factories on Tuesday morning amid workers’ protest to press their 8-point demand including pay rise.
The factories are- Dynasty Sweater (BD) Ltd, Dynasty Knit Fashion and Millennium Sweater Ltd.
After seeing the closure notice on factory gate in the morning, the agitated workers started demo and blockaded C&B-Ashulia road.
read more. & read more.
* 11 RMG units shut down over labour unrest at Ashulia:
At least 11 ready-made garment (RMG) units in Ashulia were shut down on Tuesday in the face of workers unrest over better wages and other financial benefits, law enforcers said.
The protesters blockaded roads and clashed with the police that has prompted owners of the apparel units to declare holiday for the day to avert large- scale vandalism and violence.
Witnesses said the latest spell of trouble erupted at about 8:15am when workers of Dynasty Group found closure notice in front of the locked units – Dynasty Sweater, Dynasty Knit Fashions and Millennium Sweater, leading to the protest.
The workers being infuriated by the sudden decision of production suspension blockaded C&B-Ashulia Link Road for nearly two hours, protesting the decision.
The protesters alleged that the management of the group suspended production for an indefinite period without any prior notice only to suppress the workers’ legitimate demands. “We’ll not go back unless the genuine demands are met,” a protester said.
* RMG workers block highway in Gazipur:
At least 8,000 workers of four garments factories of Sreepur blocked Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and staged demonstrations for two hours demanding increase of their wage, medical allowance and festival bonus at Nayanpur area under Sreepur upazila of the district on Monday afternoon.
As a result, movement of all vehicles on the highway remained stopped from 3 pm to 5 pm. The workers also brought out a procession on the highway in support of their demands. Police sources said, some workers of Ridisha Knitex Limited started blockade programme demanding fulfillment of their demands on Dhaka-Mymensing highway at Nayanpur area. Then thousands of workers from the adjoining three other garments factories joined them.
* Labour law changes are regressive:
The world’s largest trade union federation says amendments go against workers’ interests
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest federation of trade unions, yesterday expressed deep concern over the proposed amendments to the labour law, terming them to be regressive.
The new amendments do not comply with even the most basic standards set out by the ILO, particularly when it comes to the main issue of workers’ right to union, said the ITUC activists during their visit to Bangladesh.
“Labour reform requires tripartite involvement — of labour, owners and government. But it is our view that the government didn’t take into consideration workers’ demands in formulating the amendments,” Wellington Chibebe, deputy general secretary of ITUC, told The Daily Star.
ITUC, which represents 175 million workers in 155 countries, criticised the stipulation of at least 30 percent representation of workers to form a union.
He said the imposition of minimum requirements is “obstacle” to freedom of association.
Referring to a new provision which states that a worker will not be a member of trade union of a factory if he/she loses job, Chibebe said, “If a trade union leader emerges as a threat to owners, the employer can simply fire him/her, thanks to this provision.”
* Slave Labor, Wal-Mart and Wahhabism: Bangladesh in turbulence:
The Bangladeshi elite are facing tough decisions in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory to curb the rampant abuse of the work force. Support for the government has been weakening and there has been a disturbing rise in radical Islam.
The streets of Dhaka have been awash with protests, violence, and killing in recent times as the Bangladeshi public expresses its resentment to the exploitation of garment workers in the aftermath of the country’s worst industrial disaster in its history, and the rising tide of Islamists demanding an end to the nation’s secular identity.
The public relations departments of major retail transnationals like H&M, Gap, Wal-Mart, and Benetton have been in full defensive mode following the late-April collapse of Rana Plaza, a shoddily constructed building where sweatshop laborers toiled producing all the latest western fashions for export.
The collapse took the lives of a shocking 1,127 workers, and still, Wal-Mart and Gap remain opposed to introducing broad agreements that would improve fire and safety regulations in factories, in fear of becoming entangled in legal liabilities; some corporations have refused to pay direct compensation to family members of the victims. Cost-benefit analysis yielded few benefits for the dead, unsurprisingly.
Activists of Magic Movement lie on the ground wearing traditional Muslim death robes as they stage a protest in front of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building in Dhaka November 29, 2012 (Reuters / Andrew Biraj)
Tens of thousands of protesting Bangladeshi garment workers attempted to make their voices heard in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital; worker demands for a fairer wage and safe working conditions were met with rubber bullets, stoking opposition and resentment against the ruling Awami League party, which is increasingly seen as a kleptocratic purveyor of the ‘Poverty Industrial Complex’ that promotes retail multinationals setting up shop in the dusty slums of Dhaka.
* Happy workers help earn more profits to RMG factory owners:
Higher wages, regular bonuses, free Lunch, medicare raise productivity
Some factory owners have set good examples in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector by providing higher wages, bonus, maternity leave, free lunch and medical treatment amid inhuman practices of deprivations elsewhere.
They said their profits have not declined. Rather it increased as the workers employed their best to help the owners achieve the targets in terms of quality and quantity.
Some factory owners told this to the FE while talking about the necessity of addressing the problems of the workers. They said the workers’ basic problems can be solved by paying their minimum humane attention for the sake of their business, image and the country’s economy as well.
“In our industry there is no system of addressing the workers’ basic problems, including their cost of living and giving adequate time in inquiring about their heath conditions,” said Asif Moyeen, managing director of Far East Knitting and Dyeing Industries.
He said in case of a minor problem in the machinery, the company owners instantly take initiatives so that their production is not hampered at all.
“But they remain careless in ensuring the due benefits of their workers with a view to achieving targets through cost cutting at the cost of workers’ reasonable benefits. But I think a worker will not be able to give his/her full capacity unless factory owners provide their minimum basic needs,” Mr. Moyeen said.
* Protecting RMG workers’ rights demanded:
Right activists at a press conference Tuesday urged the government for ensuring proper punishment to the culprits responsible for the devastating incidents in the garment industry including factory owners to ensure the sector smooth progress.
They also demanded to protect the workers’ rights and providing them with due facilities according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention.
Sushashoner Jonno Procharavijan (SUPRO) (Campaign for Good Governance), an awareness raising organisation, arranged the press conference at the Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) auditorium.
The speakers said Bangladesh has reached a mentionable peak in the context of garment production by the inhumane labour and dedication of the hundreds of thousands of workers.
But, the country is now passing a crucial time in the field of ensuring garment workers’ rights and working environment which posed a great threat to foreign investment in the sector, they pointed out.
* RMG makers unwilling to make fresh investment at Ashulia:
Relocation of factories to other places under consideration
Apparel manufacturers at Ashulia off the capital city are no more interested to make any fresh investment in this industrial belt because of frequent labour unrest there, industry insiders said.
Rather some of them are planning to relocate their existing factories from the agitation-prone Ashulia garment manufacturing hub to other suitable places while many others have put on hold their factory expansion plans, they mentioned.
According to them, many readymade garment (RMG) makers are in a dilemma as to whether they can run their businesses at Ashulia as workers’ unrest has become a regular phenomenon there.
The last year’s devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd and the latest Rana Plaza tragedy have also forced the manufacturers to seriously think over the relocation issue mainly to avoid production losses, they said.
* Uniqlo not ready to join Bangladesh garment safety pact:
Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo has joined a growing list of retailers which have so far refused to sign a safety pact for Bangladeshi garment factories, as the United States urged brands to help change the disaster-hit industry.
The Japanese firm said Tuesday it was still studying the issue. But a group of mostly US retailers such as Gap and Walmart have already declined to sign up to the “Accord on Fire and Building Safety” which has been promoted by workers’ rights groups.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Asia’s largest clothing retailer still indecisive to join ‘safety pact’:
First retailing Co, Asia’s largest clothing retailer, hasn’t decided if it will join a safety pact to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh following the country’s worst industrial disaster, a Bloomberg report said on Tuesday.
The agreement has been supported by other retailers including Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) and Inditex SA. (ITX) The measure comes in the wake of collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building that killed at least 1,127 people a month ago and as more than 1 million consumers signed petitions urging companies to join the programme.
“We are still considering if the company is going to join the pact, but we haven’t made the decision yet,” Naoto Miyazawa, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Fast Retailing, said in a telephone interview. Fast Retailing has no timeline for making a decision to join the pact, Miyazawa said.
Fast Retailing, the seller of Uniqlo, doesn’t plan to sign the accord “at this time” and will opt for its own safety-improvement plan for garment makers it hires, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing Yukihiro Nitta, head of Fast Retailing’s Corporate Social Responsibility group.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Loblaw outlines BD relief plan to Ottawa:
Loblaw chairman Galen Weston told shareholders earlier this month the firm is committed to raising working standards in Bangladesh.
Loblaw chairman Galen Weston told shareholders earlier this month the firm is committed to raising working standards in Bangladesh. Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press
Loblaw Cos. Ltd. further outlined plans Tuesday to create better protections for garment workers in Bangladesh, as well as reaffirm a company commitment to remain in the country, a global provider of low-cost textiles for Western firms but a state plagued by lax industrial standards and governmental oversight.
“Our approach is a combination of actions specific to Loblaw and some related to our participation in broader initiatives,” Robert Chant, senior vice-president of corporate affairs at the country’s largest food retailer, said.
* Most global brands now feel obliged to improve safety, labour rights:
Intense debate over the best way to help Bangladesh
Most global brands believe that they are obliged to help Bangladesh improve safety standards and protect labour rights in garment factories of the country.
The brands have started feeling like this after Bangladesh was shaken by severe shock following an unprecedented industrial mishap last month, traders and observers said.
But the brands are still debating among themselves to find out a best way for assisting Bangladesh, the second largest ready-made garment supplier of the world after China, they said.
The garment industry in Bangladesh has been in dire straits after the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar, which killed 1,129 garment workers and disabled scores physically.
The debate ensued as some 30 leading brands in Europe signed a legally-binding accord pact this month to assist the garment sector of the country while most brands in the United States (US), Canada and Japan differed on the pact.
However, among US companies Abercombie & Fitch and PVC Corp, whose brands include Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, have signed the legally binding pact, according to western media reports.
* Tk 1.0b JICA loan to repair risky RMG buildings :
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide Tk 100 crore in loan for repairing risky buildings of garments factories to minimize accidents like Rana Plaza collapse.
JICA informed Bangladesh Bank about this decision during a meeting today.
“It will give this soft loan under its small and medium loan programme”
said BB’s SME and Special Programmes Department General Manager Sukamal
He said an entrepreneur will be given highest Tk 10 lakh from this find,
he said, adding that a total of 250 garment entrepreneurs will get support
Loan will be allocated on the basis of inspection reports of the JICA
representatives. The loan amount is repayable by 10 years with a grace
period of two years.
* US says buyers ‘critical’ for Bangladesh garment safety:
The United States said Western brands buying clothing from Bangladesh had a “critical role” in improving conditions in the sector, even as leading US retailers refuse to sign a new safety pact.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Bangladesh, the world’s second biggest garment maker after China, to urge the government to learn the lessons of a building collapse last month that killed 1,129 workers.
She referred to the changes in regulations, building codes and inspections implemented in the US after the the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, which killed 146 workers.
* BD must avoid Rana Plaza incident in future: Mozena:
US Ambassador Dan W Mozena said Monday Rana Plaza incident is a crucial juncture point for Bangladesh, as the event can make the country a ‘preferred brand’ or make it a ‘tainted brand’.
Mr Mozena said Bangladesh now has two options – whether it will remain as a ‘preferred brand’ or will be a ‘tainted brand’.
The US Ambassador was speaking at a programme styled ‘Business to business meeting with private sector representatives of the US’ under Bangladesh-USA partnership dialogue, held at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka.
Mr Mozena said the Rana Plaza incident will not be forgotten by people across the globe. “If you think that the people of the world will forget it in five months, I think it will not be so.”
* Savar tragedy a watershed in RMG sector: French envoy:
Visiting French Ambassador at-Large for Human Rights François Zimeray on Tuesday said the Savar tragedy is a watershed in the garment sector like the Bhopal disaster in the Indian chemical industry.
“The Rana Plaza collapse was not only the collapse of a building, but the collapse of respect, collapse of law, collapse of justice and enforcement,”
he told a pre-departure press conference at Alliance Française in the capital.
French Ambassador in Dhaka Michel Trinquier was also present.
Calling upon the international buyers to face their responsibilities, Zimeray said, “We must put an end to the era of fashion cynicism. Ignorance, indifference and complicity are only one step removed. We refuse to be accomplices.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Buyers should play their role:
Visiting French Ambassador-at-large for Human Rights François Zimeray yesterday said the Rana Plaza tragedy is a watershed in the garment sector like the Bhopal disaster was in the chemical industry.
Zimeray urged international buyers to shoulder their responsibilities, and said, “When we go back to my country we want to give a strong message…We must put an end to the era of fashion cynicism.”
He arrived in Dhaka on Monday on a two-day visit following an outcry from French consumers over the death of 1,130 garment workers in the Rana Plaza collapse last month.
The French ambassador called upon the brands whose labels had been found in the building’s wreckage to contribute to the funds for compensating the victims.
* Don’t leave Bangladesh:
EU urges foreign compagnies
The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh on Tuesday urged the foreign buyers, particularly the European companies, to remain engaged and work with both the EU and Bangladesh to support and promote socially responsible supply chains.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht made the call in a joint statement issued in Brussels, according to a Foreign Ministry release.
“We also look forward to an early adoption of the government’s recent initiative to amend the existing Labour Law by Bangladesh Parliament, which has already been recommended by Bangladesh Cabinet,” the joint statement said.
Both the parties recognised that the EU’s preferential trade scheme ‘Everything but Arms’ has played an important role in expanding Bangladesh’s export to the EU, making it the largest and major export destination of Bangladesh and thus contributing greatly to economic development, employment, income level, in particular women rights, and most importantly poverty reduction in Bangladesh.
read more. & read more.
* ‘Bangladesh RMG sector needs to be understood in totality’:
* Costs and benefits of RMG industry:
The death toll from the collapse of a building at Savar, housing five garment factories, crossed 1,100 at the last count. This number, however, does not capture the agonies of thousands doomed to spend the rest of their lives with missing limbs, broken families and psychological trauma.
Many in the government and those waiting in the wing as well as the intelligentsia have joined the men on the street to blame the owner of the Rana Plaza and other stake-holders including the local authority, owners of the factories and the government agencies responsible for overseeing the safety standards.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Owners, BGMEA, buyers should pay compensation to Rana Plaza victims:
Citizen rights activists on Tuesday said that factory and building owners, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and buyers should pay compensation to the families of workers killed and injured in Rana Plaza collapse.
At a press conference, they placed a 21-point demand and said the authorities need to rehabilitate the affected workers of Rana Plaza which collapsed on April 24 and killed at least 1,129 people.
Campaign for Good Governance organised the press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
CGG director Samia Ahmed said a government-sponsored probe body investigating the Savar tragedy submitted a report to the home ministry last week, recommending punishment of the owners of Rana Plaza and the five factories with lifetime imprisonment under Section 304 of the Bangladesh Penal Code.
* Lack of punishment responsible for Rana Plaza tragic: Speakers:
Speakers today blamed the lack of punishment is the main cause of garments (RMG) sector accidents in this time including Rana Plaza collapse.
They said that there is no doubt that the deadly incident of Rana Plaza collapse occurred in absence of proper punishment against the responsible persons liable for ablaze of Tazrin Fashion (garments factory) and tragic collapse of the Spectrum garment factories.
The speakers said this at a press briefing organized by Shushashoner Jonno Prochar Ovijan (Supro) to ensure the proper rights of the workers of Rana Plaza at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) here. President of Shadhin Bangla Garment Sramik Karmachari Federation (SBGSKF) Shamima Nasrin said, “As there is no punishment, so the owners of the building encouraged the workers to bound the work at Rana Plaza.”
They also said exemplary punishment should be ensured for the owners of Rana Plaza and other garments so that none dare to push the workers into danger. Director of Supro Samia Ahmed places a 14 points demand to protect labor rights and save the garments sector.
12:41:50 local time INDIA
* Ficci opposes changes in basic wage structure for PF deduction:
Business chamber Ficci has opposed the proposed changes to the definition of ‘basic wages’ under the Employees Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act (EPF and MP Act) 1952.
The government had introduction a triple test – ‘Ordinarily, Necessarily and Uniformly’ – to define basic wages for provident fund deduction through a circular issued in November last year, but had later stayed its implementation.
Ficci warned that the proposal will have ‘huge financial implications both for industry and government and may even be counterproductive to the EPFO, as organisations who are extending coverage to employees receiving salaries above 6,500 may choose to opt out, depriving the employees coverage under a globally renowned social security scheme’.
* Rustompura up in arms against textile mill:
A lignite-based textile processing unit has made lives miserable for residents of Rustompura and Salabatpura in the walled city. The black ash coming out of the chimney and the polluted air have for many years now been creating health problems for the residents, who live close to the factory.
Krishna Ram Dyeing and Printing Mill is located in the middle of a residential area that has a population of 10,000 people. Few days ago, people from four dozen residential societies of Salabatpura and Rustompura submitted a memorandum to Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) demanding that the textile mill be shifted.
The residents threatened that they will not vote in the parliamentary elections in 2014 and sit on a fast-unto-death if their demand is not met.
“My kitchen window faces the textile mill’s boiler section. We have not opened it for many years as the black ash enters our house. The whole terrace is covered with ash,” a resident of Shraddha Saburi row house in Rustompura Ashok Kapadia said.
* Textile industry reaches out to China:
India’s new beginning with China is getting a push from Gujarat, courtesy the state’s textile industry. In order to spread the word on the new textile policy, Gujarat government has extended an invitation to the textile capital of China-Shaoxing City.
Recently, the India China Economic & Cultural Council (ICEC) presented a letter, written in hand embroidered textile handicraft of Gujarat, to the mayor of Shaoxing to visit Gujarat. A delegation of Chinese textile companies is also expected to visit next month.
“As there are several Chinese companies that are keen on setting up units in Gujarat, there is a need to spread the word on the policy,” said Jagat Shah, chairman, ICEC-Gujarat, who handed over the invitation.
Shaoxing city in Zhejiang province of China is considered as the centre of the Chinese textile industry and the biggest textile base of Asia. Chinese companies have expressed interest in setting up units in the state with huge increase in the production of cotton in Gujarat. The textile industries of China are working out strategies to set up their units in the state to reduce the cost on transportation of raw material as well as finished products.
* Rs3000 cr fresh investment in textile sector:
Textile giant Raymonds, which had announced its expansion plans in the region during the Advantage Vidarbha event held in February, has been allotted 25 acres of land this week for the purpose in Yavatmal district where the company already has a major presence, state textile minister MohdArif (Naseem) Khan told TOI on Tuesday.
The expansion plan may involve infusion of fresh capital of Rs300crore by the company.
“Vidarbha is expected to get much-needed boost with a fresh investment of Rs3000 crore likely in textile sector through 26 projects. These new ventures have a potential to generate 3500 new jobs,” Khan said.
The state textile ministry had announced a new policy around two years ago in which an additional 10% subsidy is given to investors coming to cotton growing regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. The state sponsored Advantage Vidarbha industrial promotion event had also attracted a number of investors to this sector.
* Bangladesh, retail FDI spark optimism among Tirupur textile exporters:
Bangladesh is a favourite talking point these days in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur, the largest textile exporters’ hub in India, on a chance to woo back foreign buyers. A close second is foreign investment in retailing, with special emphasis on groups such as Sweden-based Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and America’s GAP wanting to enter the country.
The Cabinet nod to furniture major IKEA for setting up shop in India also generates interest, though the company is not into garments and does not have a sourcing base in Tirupur, about 50 km from Coimbatore, in the west-central part of the state.
* Govt may include mechanised processes under handlooms:
In a virtual admission of the futility of funds thrown in year after year for the handlooms sector, the government is set to amend the definition of ‘handloom’ products with a view to entirely broad-base the scope of the product category to include mechanised operations processes in the manufacture of these items.
This, coming at a time when the handloom sector is faced with an existential crisis despite the monetary support from the government, marks a significant course-correction in the Centre’s “small is beautiful” philosophy that has been religiously followed in the textile sector since Independence.
Currently, under the Handlooms (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985, handloom has been defined as “any loom other than powerloom”.
* Heat wave likely to affect cotton crop:
The continuous heat wave prevailing in the region does not bode well for cotton crop. Though no damage has been reported from this district, there have been reports of burning of leaves from other parts of the state, leading to worry among farmers and agriculture officials.
According to agriculture experts, extreme temperature above 45 degrees in the coming week may damage the crop to some extent. The problem is more in store for farmers who have delayed the sowing.
The agriculture department, under crop diversification, has increased the area under cotton by 2,000 hectares, but if the heat wave continues, it would dash their hopes of increasing the area under cotton every year.
* Uttarakhand govt wants private partner for textile park:
12:41:50 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s trade union alliance to resort to legal action if workers are victimized:
Trade unions in Sri Lanka have decided to resort to legal action in the event workers are victimized in any manner for participating in the token strike on the 21st.
Member of the Coordinating Committee for a Joint Trade Union Alliance, Wasantha Samarasinghe said that some state institutions have questioned several employees who had participated in the token strike on the 21st.
“The government is engaged in various illegal activities like issuing letters and circulars that go over the mandate of the respective state institution office. We will resort to legal action in the event any state sector employee is harassed or punished in an illegal manner,” he has said.
* NDB conducts entrepreneurship training for Textile Training Institute students:
In another progressive step towards reviving and developing the handloom industry, the NDB recently conducted an entrepreneurship training programme for students of the Textile Training Institute in Moratuwa.
The Textile Training Institute, operating under the purview of the Textile Department of Sri Lanka, conducts a handloom textile training course, with the aim of providing technical skills for the future successors of the industry.
However, it had been revealed that 95% of the students who complete the course, do not pursue careers within the hand loom industry, but resort to other means of livelihood.
12:11:50 local time PAKISTAN
* Stop Factories Becoming Slaughterhouses of Workers:
The governments and International Brands are directly responsible for the gory incidents in Ali Enterprises Baldia Karachi and garment factories of Dhaka, Bangladesh, as their criminal negligence resulted in loss of lives of thousands of innocent workers. Strict steps should be taken to ensure proper safety of workers and stop turning the factories into slaughterhouses of workers.
This was said by labor leaders, addressing a large rally in front of Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Friday, staged by National Trade Unions Federation Pakistan (NTUFP) to express solidarity with the martyrs of garment workers of Bangladesh.
They said to avoid repetition of Karachi and Dhaka tragedies it is necessary that local and international labor laws be strictly applied in all textile and garment factories. The international industrial safety standards for labor should be implemented to save the lives of workers.
A large number of workers, trade union activists, political leaders, representatives of human rights organizations, intellectuals and students attended the rally. Carrying banners and placards they chanted slogans demanding safety measures for the factory workers.
The speakers said millions of Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers are related to textile and garment industries; however, in both countries these workers are even deprived of the rights guaranteed to them under the local constitutions and labor laws. They said working conditions for these labors are very poor and they have to work 12 to 14 hours a day.
They said hardly 3percent of these workers are registered with social security institutions. In their factories trade unions and collective bargaining agents are virtually non-existent. Many big factories, working for decades, have not even bothered to get themselves registered.
read more.& read more.
* PHMEA concerned over merger of ministries:
The apparel textile sector has raised concerns over the proposed merger of textile ministry with commerce ministry, saying the move is “alarming” for the ailing industry.
Last week, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMEA) Central Chairman Javed Bilwani highlighted the industry’s concerns in a letter to PML-N chief and prime minister in waiting Nawaz Sharif. In his letter, citing information about merger of the two key ministries, Bilwani termed the proposed merger “alarming”.
He said that the textile ministry was established on the demand of value-added textile sector, which helped the country’s textile exports flourish. “If textile ministry is run successfully the country’s export can grow up to $50 billion,” the letter said emphasising that retaining of the ministry would reduce commerce ministry’s burden and help the latter pay full attention to other export-oriented sectors.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Frame export-friendly policies: PTEA to new govt:
* Amidst crippling crisis, spinning industry experiences growth:
In the midst of an overall depression in the textile industry, a development has sparked new life in the spinning sector. Mills are inundated with orders from China these days – to the extent that even operating at peak capacity cannot meet demand for the material. In fact, orders are pouring in so fast that some spinning companies have decided to expand their operations.
Spinning mills have actually been riding this wave for some months now, as more and more yarn is being demanded by China due to a spike in labour and raw material costs in the country. This has pushed Chinese yarn buyers to look to Pakistan and regional competitors for cheaper raw material.
“Crescent Cotton Mills already has three units up and running, while a fourth is in the process of being completed,” Crescent Cotton Mills Director Naveed Gulzar told The Express Tribune. Even as yarn exports continue to grow, it is difficult to say exactly how many companies will go for an expansion, he said, as that will be the decision of the individuals who run them.
* Minimum wage increased to Rs 8,000, EOBI pension to Rs 2,000:
The minimum wage of workers in Pakistan has been increased to eight thousand rupees, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced on Tuesday.
Additionally, the Employees’ Old-Age Benefit Institution pension has been increased to Rs 2,000 from Rs 1,500.
Gilani, addressing a Labour Day event at the Convention Centre in Islamabad, also also handed over ‘regular’ appointment letters to the employees of Capital Development Authority (CDA), Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and the Higher Education Commission (HEC).
* South African garment workers strike on low wages:
10,000 Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) members embarked on a two day protected strike action against continued undermining of the clothing bargaining council and payment of wages below the legally prescribed levels.
The warning strike was in protest of violations by member companies of the United Clothing & Textile Association (UCTA). SACTWU’s core demand is immediate compliance with the legally prescribed minimum wage and an end to UCTA’s sustained attack on bargaining rights of clothing workers.
In Newcastle alone, where the prescribed minimum starting wage is as low as USD43 a week, 4,200 workers participated in the strike action. The rest of the workers supporting the strike were in other parts of the KwaZulu Natal region.