20:03:55 local time CHINA
* China to overhaul workplace safety after deadly fire:
The Chinese government on Wednesday pledged to aggressively ensure workplace safety after a slaughterhouse fire claimed 120 lives in northeast China’s Jilin Province on Monday.
A nationwide workplace safety overhaul will begin soon and the government will not hesitate to harshly punish violators, according to a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council that was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.
The overhaul will target key sectors, such as the coal mining and hazardous chemical industries, as well as labor-intensive enterprises, according to the statement.
The statement also called for institutionalizing the overhaul and making its results public, as well as punishing delinquent government and corporate employees without lenience.
* Fatal fire rings alarm for factory safety:
Two days after a fire raged through a poultry plant in northeast China’s Jilin Province, leaving 120 people dead and 77 injured, the relatives of the deceased are participating in DNA testing in order to claim the bodies of their loved ones.
“We hope to see her one last time,” said Li Yanguo. His 20-year-old niece, Li Feng, went missing after the fire broke out early Monday morning at a poultry processing plant in the city of Dehui.
The State Council, or China’s cabinet, has dispatched a special work team to investigate the fire.
Although the investigation results have yet to come in, a question has been lingering among many survivors and the victims’ relatives: why were the doors of the workshop locked at the time of the fire, preventing many from escaping?
19:03:55 local time VIET NAM
* Garment sector changes direction:
Workers make T-shirts for export to the US at Garment 10 Co. Experts suggest the domestic garment and textile industry adjust its development strategy over the next 10-20 years. —VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
The development strategy for the domestic garment and textile industry over the next 10 to 20 years should be adjusted to meet the needs of global integration.
This was the main topic discussed at a conference collecting ideas to adjust the strategy, which was first approved in 2008.
Deputy minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa said the sector had contributed 8 per cent of GDP yearly – and taken the lead in the country’s exports with turnover of US$17 billion last year.
Thoa said Viet Nam was in the top five of the world garment and textile industry and had an average growth rate of 16 per cent a year during 2008-12.
She said the sector’s development has brought positive changes to the country’s socio-economic development as well as contributing to the shift from agriculture to industry.
* Africa, promising market for Vietnam textiles, garments:
Africa is not only a potential export market but also an attractive investment destination for Vietnam’s textile and garment enterprises as it has a large demand for textiles and fabrics, while most African countries are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and exports from Africa to the EU and the US benefit from preferential tariffs.
Although Vietnam is one of the world’s eight biggest textile and garment exporters, its textile and garment exports to Africa remain modest. In 2012, Vietnam exported textiles, garments and fabrics worth US$164.47 million to African countries, up 17 percent from 2011.
According to experts, Vietnam can increase textile and garment exports to Africa because Vietnamese textiles and garments are more competitive than those from many other Asian countries in terms of price and quality.
19:03:55 local time CAMBODIA
* Mass rally held demanding release of detained protestors:
Around 2,000 garment workers have gathered Wednesday in front of Kampong Speu Provincial Court, seeking for the release of eight people who are detained after a riot broke out at the Sabrina garment factory.
The eight protestors, seven of whom are members of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUC) and another from Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), were arrested earlier this week in a clash with police.
Police and military officers were deployed to the Taiwanese-owned Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment MFG Corp factory, a subcontractor of Nike, to stop the rioting.
The mass rally today was held after yesterday’s warning by Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUW).
* Strikers rally for jailed leaders:
Riot police stand watch across from Sabrina garment factory as workers protest in front of Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday. They are seeking the release of eight arrested union leaders. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
More than 1,000 workers from Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing factory gathered in the rain at Kampong Speu Provincial Court yesterday to demand the release of eight union members arrested on Monday.
At least 23 people – including nine police officers – were injured in clashes that occurred during factory protests, when strikers exchanged volleys of sticks and stones with employees who remained at work.
Despite heavy rain yesterday, the almost all-female demonstrators carried placards and peacefully stood outside the court, while many of the 100 or so police and military police officers present sought cover in the court compound.
No workers have been able to speak to the arrested since Monday, 29-year-old Srey Pov, who has worked at the Nike supplier for three years, told the Post yesterday.
“We went to the prison, but prison officials told us to go to the court, saying they would send them to the court in the evening. We would like the court to set them free because they have done nothing wrong,” she said.
The protesters would return to the court tomorrow and continue to protest until the Free Trade Union (FTU) representatives and workers were released, she added.
* Union Warns of Mass Demonstration if Protesters Are Not Freed:
The head of the Free Trade Union (FTU) has threatened a huge protest and national strike if eight people arrested during a violent demonstration Monday are not released.
FTU President Chea Mony called a press conference at the union’s office in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to address the arrest of three union officials at the Taiwanese-owned Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment MFG Corp. factory, which employs about 5,000 people, in Kompong Speu province’s Samraong Tong district.
* Factory Workers Demand Release of Eight Held After Protest:
About 1,000 garment workers on Wednesday demonstrated outside Kompong Speu Provincial Court calling for the release of eight people arrested during a protest this week over wages at a factory supplying U.S. brand Nike, a union official said.
Workers gathered at the factory at 7 a.m and traveled in vans to Chbar Mon City, where they protested outside the court calling for the eight union representatives and workers to be released, said Free Trade Union (FTU) spokesman Pich Ponreay. “The workers want to show that the eight representatives did not cause violence or damage to property, and demand their release,” he said, adding that the protest continued peacefully through the afternoon.
* Cambodian Workers Rally Over Arrested Nike Strikers:
Thousands of Cambodian workers protested Wednesday against the arrest of strikers during a police crackdown at a factory making clothes for US sportswear giant Nike, unionists said.
Cambodia’s workers are seeking to flex their muscles over discontent at low wages and tough conditions in the multibillion-dollar textile industry, which produces goods for top western brands.
Eight workers were arrested on Monday at the sportswear factory when riot police broke up a demonstration calling for higher pay, but the charges against them have not yet been announced, Free Trade Union secretary general Say Sokny told AFP.
About 2,000 to 3,000 garment workers rallied outside the Kampong Speu provincial court in southern Cambodia demanding their release, she said, as riot police stood by.
* Not Just Bangladesh, Garment Makers Pressured in Cambodia as Well:
As investment in Cambodia’s textile industry surges, so is labor unrest, putting pressure on suppliers to the world’s big garment brands to raise wages and improve sometimes grim conditions in one of the last bastions of low-cost factories.
Hundreds of angry workers rampaged this week through a textile plant in Cambodia that supplies US sportswear company Nike, clashing with police over their demands for a pay hike.
The violence came just weeks after over 1,100 workers were killed in the collapse of a building housing garment factories in Bangladesh, another impoverished Asian nation where mass-produced textiles are the biggest export earner.
Cambodia is considered one of the better locations in the world for low-cost garment manufacturing with the International Labor Organization monitoring pay and working conditions at many factories.
* Cambodia’s garment exports grow 17.5% in Jan-March’13:
20:03:55 local time INDONESIA
* Workers protest against outsourcing:
Hundreds of workers from PT Bali Taru Utama, a stationery company located in Tangerang regency, took to the streets to demand that the management abandon outsourcing, which they said was affecting their livelihood.
Demonstrators rallied on the main road leading to the regent’s office, hoisting banners protesting against the outsourcing and calling on the management to re-employ three workers who were dismissed for organizing resistance to the policy.
“We demand that the management renew the contracts of the three workers who were fired without clear reasons,” rally coordinator Imam Sukars said after speaking at a free speech forum held in front of the regent’s office.
In Karawaci, approximately 2,000 workers from PT Sulindafin, a subsidiary of textile company PT Shinta Group, went on strike, demanding the management fulfill their rights, including paying them the regional minimjum wage and social security.
18:03:55 local time BANGLADESH
* 20 hurt as apparel workers clash with police, hooligans in Savar:
At least 20 people were injured and 10 vehicles were damaged when apparel workers clashed with police and unidentified hooligans in suburban Savar on Wednesday, witnesses said.
As several hundreds workers who escaped death after a 8-storey building collapse were staging protests in Savar, blocking the busiest Dhaka-Aricha highway, unidentified group of hooligans attacked them with rods and sticks prompting a clash between them, our local correspondent reported, quoting witnesses.
The police who were deployed in the area also began chasing the workers at around 12.45pm. The clash and the road blockade created a 10-kilometre tailback in the highway.
The workers were employed in five apparel factories housed in the Rana Plaza that collapsed on April 24, killing 1,127 people.
The agitating seamstresses demanded that the government publish a missing list, compensate the injured and family members of the dead workers and rehabilitate the survivors.
* RMG workers, cops clash injuring 100 in Savar, Tejgaon:
At least 100 people were injured and 50 vehicles vandalised as police charged batons and fired rubber bullets and teargas canisters on protesting workers in Savar on Wednesday.
The workers put blockade on Dhaka-Aricha Highway, in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza, suspending all kinds of vehicular movements for about three hours causing severe gridlock on the busy motorway. Witnesses said hundreds of workers of collapsed Rana Plaza staged demonstration to put forward some demands including rehabilitation and the Savar victims, making a list of the missing and providing them with compensations, and awarding death sentence to the owner of the building.
The violence ensued as former president of Bangladesh Communist party Manzurul Ahsan Khan concluded his speech and left the scene. The workers instantly put barricade on the highway suspending all kinds of vehicular movement causing 10-kilometre long tailback.
“As we continued our demonstration, some leaders and activists of the Chhatra league and Juba League equipped with lethal weapons swooped on us in presence of police and tried to disperse us,” Shanta, a protesting worker told The Independent.
* RMG workers block road in city:
Workers of Shefali Garments blocked road in capital’s Tejgaon area on Wednesday to press home their 13-point demand including payment of dues, pay rise, lunch allowance, maternal leave etc.
The workers have been staging protest for the five consecutive days.
Labourers of 10 other garments including Arman Group, Ha-Meem Group, Kaniz Group and Arman Group, joined the protest over the same demands.
RMG labourers from Shefali Garments M Khokon told banglanews, “We are protesting with for payment of dues and pay rise for the last five days. But the owner is paying no heed to us.”
* Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2013 placed in JS:
Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was placed in the Jatiya Sangsad today to make the existing law time befitting for workers’ welfare.
Labour and Employment Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu placed the bill, which was later sent to the concerned parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny.
The bill proposed for specific provisions to ensure safety and professional health of the workers, easing the process of formation of trade union, giving compensation, child labour, hazardous work, introducing compulsory group insurance, formation of minimum wage board and labour court.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Govt takes steps for welfare of RMG workers: PM:
Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said her government has taken various measures to continue productivity by ensuring welfare of the garment workers, removing labour unrest and maintaining working atmosphere in the garment industries, reports BSS.
The Prime Minister said this in her question and answer session in reply to a question from treasury bench member Mahmud- Us-Samad Chowdhury.
The steps, she said, include fixing minimum wage for the garment workers at Taka 3000 from Taka 1662, formation of an 11- member ‘cabinet committee on the garment industry’ comprising 11 ministers and state ministers and the crisis management core committee to resolve labour unrest.
The Leader of the House said an 18-member committee has been constituted with the textile and jute minister as its chairman and state minister for labour and employment as the vice-chairman to ensure working atmosphere in the garment industries and welfare of the workers and check accidents.
read more. & read more.
* Delay in forming new wage board irks RMG workers:
The government’s ‘dillydallying’ in formation of a new wage board for garment industry has sparked frustration among workers and labour rights groups, said people close to the industry.
Besides, a serious confusion has been created regarding a decision that the proposed new wages for readymade garment (RMG) sector would be made effective from May 1, 2013, according to them.
They also expressed apprehension that further delay in formation of the new wage board might lead to fresh labour unrest, especially in the agitation-prone apparel manufacturing hubs.
Labour ministry sources said formation of the new wage board will take some time because of the delay in getting names of representatives of the sector.
Earlier, a meeting between the government and representatives of the apparel industry on May 12 was told that a new wage board would be formed shortly for the RMG workers. But no such announcement has been made yet.
However, according to labour groups, if the garment workers do not get the new wages for the month of May, which will be disbursed this month (June), it might create a further unrest among the workers.
The labour activists have claimed that the government itself is creating confusion among the workers that might result in a further chaos in the sector.
“The government’s announcement regarding implementation of the new wage board has made both the workers and RMG leaders confused,” Mahmudur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Textile Garment Sramik Federation, told the FE.
* UK announces £18m aid for Bangladesh factory workers:
The UK is to donate £18m to help train Bangladeshi garment workers, following the collapse of a factory in Dhaka that killed more than 1,100 people, reports BBC.
Minister Alan Duncan announced the aid as he visited those injured when the Rana Plaza building collapsed in April.
He also called on British clothes retailers to “assume responsibility” for the way their products are made.
Mr Duncan said the collapse had been a “wake-up” call and safety standards in Bangladesh needed to be strengthened.
The Rana Plaza collapse was one of the world’s worst industrial disasters and sparked global outrage.
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* 300- 400- 500- 1000 fall sick drinking impure water:
Several hundred labourers of Starlight Sweater of Bhogra area of the city were admitted to hospital as they became sick after drinking contaminated water on Wednesday morning.
Local sources said a few labourers became ill after drinking the water supplied by the sweater factory.
Later, the number increased as time passed on. More labourers were injured as the panicked labourers started to get down from the factory hurriedly.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* More than 300 Garment Workers Hospitalized In Gazipur:
More than 300 workers of Starlight Sweaters Ltd located near Bhogra in Gazipur (on the outskirts of the Capital Dhaka), which is also a sister concern of Labib Group, have been diagnosed of water poisoning today on 5 June 2013, at around 8:00AM in the morning.
Among them, 200 have been admitted in the Gazipur Sadar Hospital, Tongi Hospital and nearby clinics. Some of their conditions are critical.
Doctors blamed the poisoning on the factory’s water supply. District Civil Surgeon Syed Habibullah confirmed the factory’s water supply as the source of the problem. A team has been sent to the factory to investigate the cause, he said. The Police said they were looking for traces of ‘poison’ in the water tank of the ‘Starlight Sweater’ factory, where the workers started to fall sick since they joined work in the morning.
* 1,000 RMG workers fall ill after drinking water:
More than a thousand workers of a clothing factory at Bhogra in the Gazipur district headquarters fell ill after drinking water at the factory on Wednesday. They were all sent to hospital with complaints of stomach disorder.
Physicians suspect that the water was contaminated. None from the management of Starlight Sweaters, a factory of the Labib Group, and the district administration could confirm the number of workers who had fallen ill. The workers were admitted to different hospitals in Gazipur and at Uttara in Dhaka.
Industrial police subinspector Mohammad Selim said that that workers started falling ill two hours after they had joined work about 8:00am.
‘Many of the workers at one point started complaining of stomach pain and vomiting. The management then sent them to Gazipur General Hospital, Tongi Hospital and clinics near by,’ Selim said.
The resident medical officer at Gazipur General Hospital, Tapan Kanti Sarkar, said that many workers appeared weak because of continuous vomiting. ‘Some were also feeling acute stomach ache.’
* Buyers shifting orders:
Ashulia’s prolonged labour unrest shakes confidence
Big global apparel brands and retailers have started shifting their business from the Ashulia’s garment factories as a prolonged labour unrest in the area has severely shaken the confidence of some global buyers, industry insiders said on Tuesday.
The ongoing labour unrest in Ashulia industrial belt has raised concerns among the global buyers who have rated the area as ‘red zone,’ industry leaders said.
Ashulia is the home of more than 300 highly compliant factories which
contribute around 20 per cent of the country’s total apparel exports.
Most of the factories in the area are executing export orders for renowned global brands and retailers including Wal-Mart, Gap, JC Penny, H&M and Carrefour.
* Puma to join Bangladesh garment safety pact:
German sportswear giant Puma said Wednesday it has decided to sign up to a new safety pact for Bangladesh’s disaster-hit garment factories amid calls for Western brands to help improve workers’ conditions.
Puma said it will sign the Bangladesh safety agreement set up by global trade union IndustryAll and ensure that its six supplier factories in Bangladesh “adhere to high standards of social and working conditions, ensuring the safety and health of its workers”.
By signing the agreement, Puma’s supplier factories will have to undergo independent safety inspections and audit reports will be made public.
Carrying out repairs and renovations that result from the independent inspections are mandatory for the supplier.
read more. & read more.
* OECD puts its weight behind Bangladesh Accord:
OECD Secretary-General Gurria describes Rana Plaza tragedy as a dramatic wake up call for the international textile industry and offers OECD’s firm support for the Accord.
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria called on the international textile industry, governments, and other stakeholders to address the risks to prevent more tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment industry.
Gurria said the OECD was totally committed to the safety Accord driven by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union.
He said, “OECD supports the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Abandoning production in the country can deprive it of an essential pathway out of poverty and is not a solution. The responsible course is to work with stakeholders to guarantee the safety of workers, improve their working conditions and ensure respect for human rights”
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* Scrapping production in Bangladesh is not solution:
OECD ON RANA PLAZA TRAGEDY
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned global brands that abandoning readymade garment production in Bangladesh could deprive it of an essential pathway out of poverty.
OECD secretary general Angel Gurría in a statement on Tuesday said that the Rana Plaza tragedy was a ‘dramatic wakeup call’ for the international textile industry, governments and other stakeholders to address the risks before they resulted in such tragedies.
As many as 1,130 people, mostly garment workers, were killed in the collapse of Rana plaza that housed five garment factories at Savar on April 24.
The organisation of the rich countries said, ‘The responsible course [for solution] is to work with stakeholders to guarantee the safety of workers, improve their working conditions and ensure respect for human rights.’
Gurría has written to the president of Bangladesh to offer the OECD’s full support, said the statement.
He also extended support to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which was signed by many of the international brands, except some North American brands like Walmart.
* ITUC – International Trade Union Confederation : Gap Hitches Ride on Walmart’s Bangladesh Race to the Bottom:
The decision by US clothing retailer Gap to join Walmart in a non-binding and unenforceable “Bangladesh safety programme” is a sham, according the ITUC.
The two retail giants have ignored calls to join the global Bangladesh Fire and Safety Building Accord that has already been welcomed by the ILO and OECD, and signed by more than 40 US, Canadian and European brands.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Gap and Walmart are now unfortunate bedfellows in a public relations effort that aims to protect their business model rather than Bangladeshi workers. Their refusal to join the global, binding effort brings shame upon them.”
* Factory owners to explain safety steps to foreign envoys:
Owners of garment factories will explain safety measures to the envoys of the major export destinations in a bid to assure them of workplace upgrades undertaken in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse.
“We will soon hold meetings with envoys of the EU, the US, Canada and other major countries to show the safety measures we have taken in factories,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
More than 90 percent of the country’s garment exports go to the EU, the US and Canada, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.
“We want to send out a strong message to the Western consumers via their envoys that the country has taken the issue seriously and is working for further improvement.”
He, however, did not specify a date for the meeting.
* 57,800 bales of jute to be produced in Narsingdi:
A target has been fixed to produce 57,800 bales of jute in Narsingdi district in the current season.
A source in the Agriculture Extension Department (AED) said that there had been a bumper production of jute in the district last year. The demand for raw jute has increased manifold in the local and the global markets after the banning of polythene bags in the country in 2003.
Besides, the demand for jute fibre has also increased in the international market.
People in other countries prefer jute fabrics to synthetic, as clothes made of synthetic fibre pollute the environment, the source added.
The AED has taken up a programme to bring 6,500 hectares of land under jute cultivation with a production target of 57,800 bales of jute in the district this season. Of the total target, about 2,900 hectares of land has been brought under cultivation of local variety with a production target of 28,600 bales of jute, while the remaining land under Tosha variety with a production target of 29,200 bales of jute.
* Is the Bangladesh safety accord enough? :
Following the worst industrial accident ever seen in Bangladesh, the loss of 1,131 lives and many more maimed and injured, it is not surprising that the rest of the world wants to step in and help Bangladesh solve its problems.
There has been a need for garment buyers, international trade unions and governments to be seen doing something in the aftermath, and consumers from around the world have been calling for safer factory conditions in Bangladesh.
It is in this context that the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord, more commonly called the Geneva Accord or the EU Accord, has been put together. In fact, planning for this accord had started some time ago, initially as a GIZ plan; the work was then expedited following the Tazreen factory fire.
Clearly, the horrific Rana Plaza collapse catalysed the process further with many major international companies, alongside IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union, agreeing to work together to implement the accord as quickly as possible. Launched in April at the ILO offices in Geneva, it is hence known as the Geneva Accord.
But is an accord put together largely by foreigners and buyers in the best interest of the garments industry in Bangladesh?
The accord has some good points but sadly, excludes many of the factories that most need help and reform. It does not address the financing required to facilitate the reform. Since the accord has been put together by the buyers, large companies buying garments from Bangladesh, it relates only to the factories that these buyers are sourcing from. It is not, by any means, an industry wide solution and most certainly will not prevent another ‘Rana Plaza’ style disaster in the future.
We all want to see a stronger and safer garments industry in Bangladesh and the only people that can make this happen are those from this country. In light of this, a group of concerned individuals from various industries, including garments, came together and wrote plan that includes the whole industry.
It has a path to compliance for all noncompliant factories, ideas and suggestions for the financing of these and suggestions for the long term strengthening of the industry.
The 10-point RMG reform plan was released at a seminar last week. The working group behind the plan collaborated widely, both inside and outside the industry, both at home and abroad. It is a plan for Bangladesh by Bangladesh and puts the needs and issues of the whole garments industry first. It looks holistically at the industry and has suggestions for the immediate, medium and long term.
* Emerging from the Rana Plaza Tragedy: A 10-Point Reform Roadmap for a Sustainable Bangladesh RMG Sector:
In this paper, we first highlight the current state of the Bangladesh ready-made garment(RMG) sector and highlight some recent reform initiatives from various stakeholders, whichare aimed at improving the situation.
We then outline our 10 point reform agenda/roadmap that we believe covers
the key issues, both in terms of the immediate Post-Rana Plaza safety and compliance, as well as some broader strategic issues that, in our opinion, the industry needs to take in order to ensure thenext phase of growth.
We believe that by urgently implementing measures around these key issues, workers qualityof life will be improved with higher standards in the workplace, manufacturers will improveefficiency through better compliance and regulation, and the country’s RMG sector willenhance its competitiveness and economic sustainability in the global market.
Furthermore, global brands and their consumers can be confident that the
Made in Bangladesh productsremain affordable and of a high quality, whilst
being ethically and responsibly sourced.
The key issues, which we outline in this paper, which make up our roadmap
for sustainablereform, as we see them are as follows:
1) Factory Classification
2) Factory Health & Safety Standards/ Compliance Monitoring
3) BGMEA Responsibilities
4) New RMG Economic Zones/Unsafe Factory Relocation
5) Financing RMG Reforms
6) Minimum Wage increase/Increased Efficiency/Productivity Gains
7) Trade Unions/Better Worker Representation , ‘BRIDGE’ and Affiliation
8) Formation of New Worker Welfare Fund
9) Moving Up the Value Chain/Worker Productivity
10) Branding and International PR/Engagement
read more & download paper here.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Relatives block Dhaka-Aricha highway:
The relatives of victims of Rana Plaza collapse blockaded the Dhaka-Aricha highway on Wednesday morning demanding compensation and rehabilitation.
They brought out a protest procession at around 10:30am from Rana plaza and they took position on the highway.
Later, they declared that they won’t leave the road till their demands are met.
Meanwhile, the blockade created huge traffic congestion in the areas.
read more. & read more.
* PM gives financial assistance to 167 families of Savar victims:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday distributed cheques of financial assistance to more families of garment workers who died in the tragic ‘Rana Plaza’ building collapse in Savar on April 24.
The Prime Minister distributed the cheques among family members of 167 victims of the Savar tragedy at a simple function at her office in the morning.
PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said that so far some 452 families of the Savar victims received financial assistance of Tk 10-Tk 15 lakh from the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund.
Hasina also handed over wheel chairs among four critically injured garment workers. The injured workers will also get Tk 10-Tk 15 lakh from the PM’s Relief and Welfare Fund depending on the gravity of their injury and need.
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* Tk 6.24 crore provided to family members of 555 Savar tragedy victims:
Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina today said financial assistance of Taka 6,24,50,000 has so far been given from her Relief and Welfare Fund to the family members of 555 workers killed in Savar Rana Plaza collapse.
The family members of the remaining victims who were killed in the eight-storey Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 would also be provided financial assistance in phases, she said.
The Leader of the House said this in her question-answer session in reply to a question from treasury bench member Rawshan Jahan Sathi.
Sheikh Hasina said Taka 6,24,50,000 were provided to introduce ‘saving certificates’ for life for the 24 workers who were crippled in the tragic Savar incident.
She said Taka 1,42,14,000 were paid to different private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres in Savar against the treatment cost of the injured . Besides, she said, Madhumoti Bank has provided wheelchairs to the patients who were crippled in the Savar building collapse.
The Prime Minister said 2438 persons have so far been rescued alive under the rubbles of the Rana Plaza building. She said all out measures were taken for the treatment of the persons who were seriously injured in the collapse.
read more. & read more.
* 50 injured as police, BCL men attack Rana Plaza survivors:
At least 50 people were injured as alleged activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League and police on Wednesday attacked the survivors and relatives of the workers feared missing after the Rana Plaza collapse .
Witnesses said that the police and BCL activists launched the attack when over 1,000 survivors and relatives of missing workers were demonstrating in front of the collapse site in Savar demanding compensation and rehabilitation of the maimed workers. The disaster left over 1,100 people dead and scores missing.
The protesters, under the banner of Rana Plaza Garments Workers Union, blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway for about three hours from around 10:00am.
Suddenly a group of BCL activists numbering 25-30 attacked the demonstrators with iron rods when police were negotiating with the demonstrators.
The area virtually turned into a battle field when the police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the workers who retaliated by hurling stones at the attackers.
* Primark, Inditex set to hand out compensation to garment workers:
The affected workers of Rana Plaza and Smart Export Garments Ltd will soon receive financial support from their respective foreign retailers, Primark and Inditex, a labour leader said.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (ICB), the local arm of the global union of workers, brokered the deal with British retailer Primark, who has now agreed to compensate the injured workers and the families of the dead or missing ones, said Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of ICB.
He, however, declined to reveal the amount that would be disbursed, at a later date via bKash.
Chandra requested the beneficiaries to register their details at the field of Savar Cantonment Public School on June 7 between 8:00am to 7:00pm.
The injured workers have been asked to bring their voter identity card, company pay slip or hospital documents, while the family members of the deceased workers their voter identity cards together with proof of beneficiary of the deceased, he said.
The list of the dead and missing workers has been acquired from the Upazila Nirbabi Office and the injured workers from BGMEA’s salary sheet.
17:33:55 local time INDIA
* Powerloom weavers intensify agitation:
A total of 138 powerloom weavers were arrested at Sankarapandiapuram near here on Wednesday, when they were proceeding towards the graveyard to “settle there” pressing for their demands.
Powerloom weavers of Sathirapatti, Samusigapuram, Sankarapandiapuram, Vagaikulampatti, Iyanapuram, Rajapalayam and nearby villages are engaged in manufacturing surgical gauze and surgical bandage cloth. They have been on strike since May 4 seeking wage hike following the expiry of a three-year wage agreement.
Their other demands include 8.33 per cent bonus, night shift allowance of Rs.20, nine holidays a year, coverage under Provident Fund (PF) and Employees State Insurance (ESI) Schemes and maternity leave for a month.
* CITU seeks hike in minimum wages:
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has urged the Centre to revise the minimum wages and link it to the inflation index. It has also called for abolition of contract labour system, according to G. Sukumaran, CITU State general secretary.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Sukumaran said that the minimum wages needed upward revision. The wages ought to be fixed at Rs 10,000 a month and adjusted in tune with inflation. In the recently-held 45th Indian Labour Conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had agreed to the demand of the trade union for revision of wages.
* Implement labour laws without fail:
A district conference of AITUC-affiliated Load-workers and Informal-sector Workers Union held here on Wednesday has called for stricter implementation of labour laws at work places and demanded that better social security be provided to workers.
N. Periyasamy, state vice-president of AITUC, said that despite the norms set by International Labour Organisation and World Federation of Trade Unions limit the maximum load to be physically carried at 50 kg a person at any point of time, the workers on many occasions were forced to shift loads weighing as high as 110 kg in the case of sacks stuffed with sugar and 75 kg bags containing rice.
“Business men should take note of this and try to limit the weight of each sack to within the 50 kg as set by the ILO and other labour outfits for health reasons,” Mr. Periyasamy added.
* Monsanto to invest over Rs 2,000 crore on R&D in India:
Monsanto, the US biotech giant, will be investing over Rs 2,000 crore on research and development over the next 10 years in India but it sees a drop in cotton acreage by 5-7% which could impact its business.
Gyanendra Shukla, India region lead, Monsanto Company said cotton acreage will increase in Gujarat with conditions becoming favourable for the further advancement of the southwest monsoon during the next 3-4 days.
However, in other parts of the country, particularly in Vidarbha, it could fall with farmers opting for soyabean. “At this stage, farmers have made up their mind on what they want to plant. If there is a variation in rainfall, there might be a change in sowing pattern,” he said while adding that he was expecting a 5-7% drop in overall area under cotton.
“There will be a marginal impact on the business. As an agriculture company, we are used to this. You cannot expect things to always go up. A 5-10% swing is a normal thing,” he said while mentioning that farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab use more seeds for cotton unlike their Gujarat cousins.
17:33:55 local time SRI LANKA
* Garment factory ordered to compensate Rs 26.6 m to employees:
The management of a garment factory in Niyagama, Talgaswala, Galle was ordered to pay Rs 26.6 million as compensation to a group of 418 garment employees whose employment had been terminated in 2009, by Southern Provincial High Court Judge K.B.K.Hiruburegama yesterday.
The High Court Judge also ordered the appellant company to pay an appeal case fee of Rs 1,000 for each employee of a group of 224 applicant respondents who were at the final phase of the case.
The High Court Judge executed his order in respect of an appeal filed by Paradigm Clothing (Pvt.) Ltd pleading for the nullifying of the Galle Labour Tribunal order of September 24, 2010 awarding the above compensation to the group of employees who had litigated against the garment firm against malicious transfer orders served on them on April 8, 2009.
The garment workers in their plaint had cited the management of the garment factory for constructive termination of their services in the guise of transferring them to other two branches of the same establishment with a veiled plan to shut down the factory. The Galle Labour Tribunal chairman after a long hearing of the case had issued an order guaranteeing the above compensation. Accordingly, each employee was entitled to receive compensation calculated at the rate of three months’ salary per each year and any part thereof out of the total period of their service in the garment factory.
17:03:55 local time PAKISTAN
* Shoe factory gutted in Lahore:
Shoes and raw material worth thousands of rupees were burnt to ashes when fire broke out in a shoe factory at Timber Market, Ravi road here on Wednesday.
According to Rescue 1122, five rescue vehicles reached the spot and controlled the fire after hectic efforts. However, no loss of life was reported.
Cause behind the fire was stated to be a electricity short-circuit.
* Petition against loadshedding: Supreme Court issues notice to Ministry of W&P for 10th: APTMA:
A spokesperson of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has said the Supreme Court has issued notice to the Ministry of Water and Power for 10th June on APTMA’s petition against drastic increase in the loadshedding to industry in general and APTMA members in particular.
Lawyer Salman Akram Raja appeared on behalf of the APTMA along with APTMA Executive Committee members.
APTMA had moved the petition in response to the apex court’s order dated 21st May and 31st May respectively where the court desired equal distribution of electricity amongst consumers while taking suo motu notice on the news clipping published in a newspaper dated 17th April 2013.
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* Supreme Court issues notice to water and power ministry:
The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the water and power ministry for June 10, 2013, over a petition filed by All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA’s), said an APTMA spokesman.
The petition was filed against the drastic increase in the duration of power outages. Leading lawyer Salman Akram Raja appeared on behalf of the APTMA, along with the executive committee members. APTMA had passed the petition in response to the apex court’s order dated May 21 and May 31, respectively, whereby the court ordered equal distribution of electricity among consumers.
17:03:55 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Reports from the Uzbekistan Cotton Fields:
Forced labour of children and adults is a systematic and widespread practice in the cotton industry of Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek government continues to exploit its citizens making them work for free or neglible pay in cotton fields. Given the significant revenues generated by the cotton production system for the governing elite, Uzbekistan is not interested in conducting serious reforms to end forced labour. The 2013 cotton production cycle is underway and, by all indications, state-sponsored forced labour of children and adults is continuing this year.
This Spring, the authorities have already sent children, university students and public-sector employees to weed cotton in multiple regions.
* Moscow Illegal Underground City Raided:
A secret underground city where hundreds of migrant workers were kept illegally to work has been raided by police in Moscow.
Footage from the Russian government showed a web of rooms that formed a clothing sewing factory town, complete with living quarters, cafe, cinema, casino and even a chicken coop.
More than 200 people were arrested when police raided the dwelling hidden beneath the capital’s Cherkizovsky Market.
Tru News Media:
Moscow state police stormed a subterranean factory bunker on Tuesday housing an army of workers who appeared to run an underground clothes manufacturing plant. In these pictures provided by police, rows of sewing machines lined up in workspaces strewn with newly made clothes are clearly visible. The facility sheltered more than two hundred undocumented immigrants.
In the 200 hectare space, complete with bedrooms, communal eating space, a Turkish cafe with barbecue, cinema and poker casino, the inhabitants seemingly lived in their own world without sun. Police suspect that the migrant workers lived and worked below ground permanently, with supplies secretly shuttled in by confederates on the surface.
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