in the news on-line, 4 July 2013

15:32:18 local time map of china CHINA

* Amended labor contract law targets equal pay:

A new amended labor contract law has come into effect in China, which emphasizes that the so-called outsourced workers should get the same amount of pay as regular staff doing the same job.

Outsourced workers only sign contracts with their recruitment agencies, and not the companies they end up working for.
So some companies end up paying their outsourced workers less money than regular staffers.
The new amended law has given a clear definition of outsourced workers.
“Outsourced workers are temporary workers that hold contracts not longer than six months. They are supplementary, and do work to support the work of regular staffers. Lastly, they are backup workers to fill in for the regular staffers who are on leave,”said Uzhitu. who is the vice chairman of the Finance and Economic Committee of China’s top legislature.
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* ‘Chinese policy to determine world cotton prices’ – ICAC:

The Cotlook A Index rose to 96.65 cents per pound around mid-June 2013 before receding to the low 90s cents level towards the end of the month.

On June 12th, the USDA increased 2012/13 U.S. export estimate to 3 million tons due to continued strong sales to China, and lowered the estimate of 2013/14 U.S. production to 2.9 million tons due to drought in the southwest. The Cotlook A Index rose 2.90 cents per pound the following day.
A week later, the Federal Reserve’s signal that it could start scaling back its huge economic stimulus program later this year triggered only a modest drop of 1.75 cents per pound in the Cotlook A Index.
China’s national cotton reserve is estimated at close to 9 million tons as of the end of June, and the reserve may be down to 8 million tons by the end of July. Purchases into the reserve will resume in September as the 2013/14 harvest begins.
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14:32:18 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnam, EU begins new FTA round:

Vietnam and the European Union kick-started the fourth round of free trade agreement negotiations in Brussels on July 2, hoping to form a cornerstone of a complete pact.
20130703 DTI footwear_export_to_EU_copy
Footwear is one of Vietnam’s major exports to the EU 

Vietnam and the EU have agreed to exert a great effort to end bilateral negotiations in late 2014.
To this end, both sides have set a working agenda for negotiations, and they expect to go into substantive talks during the four-day round in Brussels this week, said Luong Hoang Thai, a senior Vietnamese trade official.
They worked on the major contents of the agreement and clarified their interests in the previous three rounds. They exchanged several key offers, including one on opening up the markets for their goods.
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14:32:18 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Ministry of Interior dismisses rumor of Chhouk Bandith’s arrest:

The Ministry of interior has dismissed the claim by Svay Rieng prosecutor who said Chhouk Bandith had been arrested Wednesday in Mondulkiri province.  

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for Ministry of Interior, immediately denied the statement after it was broadcasted that Chhouk Bandith, former Bavet governor, had been arrested.
Hing Bunchea, Svay Rieng prosecutor revealed the information after he heard of the arrest and added that the police would have to bring Bandith to appear before him before sending him to jail.
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13:32:18 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Jute Mills shutdown amid clash in Khulna:

The authorities concerned of private owned Sagor Jute Spinning Mills shutdown amid workers unrest on Wednesday afternoon.

The workers of the spinning mills vandalized the doors and windows of the administrative building after an altercation with the authorities.
Some of the workers told banglanews the mills authorities did not take any step to raise the payment of the labourers though they are staging the demand for a long time.
They also added even the authority did not implement the pay commission.
read more.

* RMG wage board sits today:

The newly-formed wage board for the garment industry will sit today (Thursday) to devise terms of references and next course of action, sources said Wednesday.

The wage board members said possible hike of wages and other benefits for workers may also be discussed in the meeting.
It will be the first meeting of the six-member board since its formation on June 06.
“The first meeting is an introductory one. It is expected to discuss the terms of references and what to do in the next phases for working out the new wage structure,” a member of the board told the FE.
“We will discuss issues like minimum wages, grade-wise list of proposed wages, festival allowances and duration of grade etc,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, a board member.
He is also the president of Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employees League.
read more.

* Bangladesh Government to Review Deficient Labour Law Proposal:

The ITUC is encouraged that the government of Bangladesh has heeded the demands of the international trade union movement to continue to improve its draft labour legislation.

The government is reported to have decided to review proposed amendments which had already been approved by the cabinet and a parliamentary committee. The decision by the US to suspend trade preferences due to Bangladesh’s continued non-compliance with ILO standards no doubt influenced the government’s decision. The EU is also in the process of reviewing market access for Bangladesh exports.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “The hard work of trade unions and the US decision to suspend trade preferences seems to have balanced out the dominance of employer interests over the Bangladesh government’s decisions on labour law. But we are still concerned that backdoor lobbying and influence from powerful garment bosses will weaken the government’s last-minute decision to finally accept that workers’ rights must be respected. The government must take this opportunity and make sure it gets it right.”
to read.

* 15 get garment-making training:

A group of people have received training on garment manufacturing under a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) partnership that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) terms ‘a big step forward’.

In a media release, ILO on Tuesday said that 15 sewing machine operator trainees passed out in the first batch while another 23 got enrolled in Gazipur Technical School and College (TSC).
The training has been given under CSR to bridge the gap between training and employment, it said.
ILO acts as a facilitator of better working environment and safety in Bangladesh’s main export sector – the readymade garment industry.
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* ‘After disaster, B’desh lags in policing its maze of RMG factories’:

Bangladesh’s garment industry, now the world’s second-leading clothing exporter, after China’s, is still struggling to recover from the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza, the deadliest disaster in the history of the industry.

Government officials and industry leaders called for inspections to ensure the structural integrity of the country’s 5,000 garment factories to address concerns about unsafe buildings.
But two months after the collapse, the inspections process is disorganised and haphazard, with unclear lines of authority, according to a New York Times report written by Jim Yardley.
The Ministry of Textiles is overseeing some inspections. An industry trade group is organising others.
The local development authority in Dhaka is involved, and the country’s top engineering school is playing a central role. Some global brands have also sent inspection teams.
read more.

* BD lags in policing it maze of factories: NWT:

Not even two months after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building claimed more than 1,100 lives, a team of engineers arrived to assess another factory in the centre of the capital.

It was named Al-Hamra Garments, and it was one of hundreds of factories undergoing post-disaster inspections as Bangladesh sought to prove that its critical apparel industry was safe.
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* After Disaster, Bangladesh Lags In Policing Its Maze of Factories:

Not even two months after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building claimed more than 1,100 lives, a team of engineers arrived to assess another factory in the center of the capital.

It was named Al-Hamra Garments, and it was one of hundreds of factories undergoing post-disaster inspections as Bangladesh sought to prove that its critical apparel industry was safe.
But this inspection, conducted in mid-June, was startling. The two engineers discovered that the eight-story factory was partly propped up by temporary cast-iron pillars placed on the ground floor. Several original beams and columns were cracked or disintegrating.
And the factory was open for business, with more than 1,000 workers producing clothing for a Bangladeshi apparel conglomerate whose customers include Walmart and Gap.
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* Walmart & Gap for improving safety in Bangladesh RMG units:

The US apparel retailers Walmart and Gap are aiming at improving the safety standards of the readymade garment (RMG) factories in Bangladesh by implementing new safety proposals in their stakeholder factories.
Although Walmart and Gap Inc. have not participated in the Accord for Fire and Building safety in Bangladesh, they have taken several steps for strengthening the safety standards of the garment factories in Bangladesh. (…) In an interview with fibre2fashion, senior director of Public Affairs at Gap Inc., Mr. Debbie Mesloh, said, “We share the goals of the European Accord, but differ on the best way to get there. Our view continues to be that the right path forward needs to also include local stakeholders such as the Bangladesh Government, local industry and worker representatives.”
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* Tesco to stay with local partners to solve safety issues:

The UK-based retail giant Tesco will continue business with its partners in Bangladesh and support them to address concerns wherever they are identified, the company said Tuesday.

The retailer in a recent move cancelled a work order worth $2 crore over building safety concerns of the Liberty Fashions factory in Savar when an engineer of Tesco identified some problems in the factory’s beams, columns and slabs.
But, later an expert panel of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology certified that the Liberty Fashions has no immediate risk or need of evacuation and it is fit to continue production.
read more.
daily star bd

* Bangladesh’s loss India’s gain! :

Indian textile sector hopes to benefit as global pressure grows on Bangladesh’s garment industries in the wake of two major industrial disasters that claimed over 1200 lives.

The US government last week suspended its GSP facility to Bangladesh expressing concern over its poor labour practices and industry safety.
Though this may not directly affect Bangladesh’s garment sector, as the item is not covered by the US GSP, India’s leading textile bodies say western buyers may review sourcing from Bangladesh.
The recent decision of the Walt Disney to stop sourcing its products from Bangladesh only further bolstered their hope.
Echoing the textile sector’s mood, Secretary General of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry DK Nair said developments in Bangladesh would result in some orders getting diverted to India.
But he was quick to add that India did not want to gain out of its neighbour’s plight.
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* Garment costing – the deciding factor in textile business:

The ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh has practically grown from nothing since the 1970’s, increasing by 20 per cent per annum.

Despite concerns over the end of the quotas in 2005, the RMG industry in the post-MFA (Multi-Fibre Arrangement) era has prospered instead of declining. The country has remained a successful producer-exporter of low-basic items of clothing and is positioned among the leading garment exporting nations of the world.

The skyrocketing labour wages in China are pushing the apparel retailers to consider alternative options, which can open more windows of opportunity for Bangladesh. But we shall still have to compete with India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and some other countries.
The competitive prices, low costing, the regional advantage of labour, customer services, grey market, adoption of new fashion trends, best logistics and the transportation system have made the customers more choosy. If you ask higher prices, you may lose business. On the other hand, if you ask less, then also you may be a loser.
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* 101 sewing machines seized in Ctg; 4 held:

Police seized 101 sewing machines from Bandartila area in the city early Wednesday while those were being taken in two covered vans from a garment factory at Chittagong Export Processing Zone for sale illegally.

The law enforcers also arrested the drivers and helpers of the two vehicles. They are Nur-e-Alam, Rubel, Nasir Ali and Hamed Habib.
Abul Mansur, officer-in-charge of EPZ Police Station, said they seized the imported sewing machines of ‘Siraj and Sons’ in the early hours as those were being taken for sale without permission of the authorities concerned.
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* BNP blames special agency men for spreading propaganda against Khaleda:

The main opposition BNP has blamed the government for spreading propaganda against its party chief Khaleda Zia over her write-up in US newspaper Washington Times seeking cancellation of Bangladesh’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) facilities in US market.

“People from a certain special agency published a write-up in the Washing Times on January 30, copying signature of our party chief Khaleda Zia,” BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claimed.
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logo DHAKATRIBUNE bdnews24 BANGLA NEWS24 daily star bd

* GSP cut and its fallout:

All eyes had been on the issue of generalised system of preferences (GSP) in Bangladesh, following the Rana Plaza tragedy in April. While the country has managed to cling to the GSP privileges provided by the European Union, it has not been lucky in the case of USA.

A petition for withdrawal of GSP was filed by the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisation (AFL-CIO) in 2007 when it called for improving worker rights.
Bangladesh had six years to be in accord with the needs of the US; however, the last straw came after the Rana Plaza building collapse and within two months of the incident, the trade waiver scheme was suspended.
Now there arrives a new line of thought sated with optimism that the suspension can actually act as a catalyst to improve labour rights and safety conditions of factories.
Undeniably this issue needs to be dealt with immediately starting foremost with the garment sector as this is a major lifeline to the economy and naturally attracts a lot of global attention in the face of an accident or mismanagement. But will suspension of the US GSP actually improve safety conditions in the crucial garments sector?
read more.
daily star bd

*  GSP suspension may hit FDI flow further: Moody’s:

Global rating agency Moody’s has said US suspension of trade benefits to Bangladesh may hit its foreign direct investment (FDI) flow further.

The FDI, which was already low at 0.9 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) in the fiscal year (FY) ended June 2012 versus the previous fiscal’s 2.4 per cent, is likely to decrease further in an uncertain operating environment, a report released recently by the agency said.
“Although the US’s decision to suspend trade benefits will have very limited immediate implications for export growth, the move may have negative signalling effects, since it could further deter investors who are already faced with the frequent occurrence of strikes and uncertainty over the future labour environment,” it said.
read more.

Rage among Dhaka’s ruins:

Lamia Begum, who lost her daughter in the factory collapse, cries holding on to a barbed-wire fence in front of Rana Plaza building on 24 June. Photo: CFP

A barbed-wire fence barricades the near-empty plot of land in the Dhaka suburb where the eight-storey Rana Plaza building once stood. Back then it bustled with the chatter of thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers and the hum of huge generators.

The sense of hopelessness has deepened for the garment workers left unemployed since the Rana Plaza building came crashing down over two months ago. Compensation has been meager and not enough to cover hospital expenses for the injured.
The April 24 building collapse killed 1,129 people and injured about 2,500. The injured workers were paid 5,000 taka ($63) each while the kin of the dead got 20,000 taka to pay for funerals. The government and union representatives have promised more money, but the workers feel left out in the cold. Many of the injured have lost an arm or hand, their only way to earn a livelihood in an industry where deft hands and nimble fingers are needed.
Harsh US decision
The Bangladeshi garment industry’s problems have been further compounded by the decision of the US government in late June to suspend Bangladesh from a program that provides tax breaks to developing countries. The move is being seen as a warning to Bangladesh to improve safety conditions for garment workers.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Atiqul Islam has termed the decision unfair. “I can see no logical reason for the US decision. They said we need to improve our working conditions. We are doing that. The government has amended the Labor Act. We are working on improving the workers’ lifestyle. We have informed the US about it,” said Islam.
Deadly conditions
In the country’s estimated 4,500 garment factories, the people work for long shifts, sometimes 14-15 hours at a stretch, in cramped quarters. The windows are mostly barred off with thick iron grills and only one door is kept for entry and exit to prevent possible theft of the expensive apparel they create.

According to a government probe released on May 22, extremely poor construction materials and violation of construction rules contributed to the Rana Plaza collapse. It has recommended that building owner Rana, his aides, and the owners of the garment workshops be tried under the law for manslaughter and that they be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty.
The poor condition of the building was obvious to many workers, but they had little choice if they wanted to keep their jobs and feed their families.

Mohammed Usman, 28, one of the lucky survivors, was on the sixth floor a little before the collapse, and became scared after seeing cracks. “I was unwilling to go up. But our overseer told us there is nothing to worry about. I also did not want to lose my salary by angering him,” he noted.
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* PM gives financial help to 144 kin of 101 victims of Savar tragedy:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday provided financial assistance to 144 family members of 101 victims, who were killed in the Savar building collapse.

She gave the assistance from the PM’s Relief and Welfare Fund in the 6th phase this time from her office (PMO).
So far, Tk 9.71 crore has been distributed among 654 family members of the victims who were killed in Savar Rana Plaza collapse.
Besides, the Prime Minister also distributed Tk 3.30 crore among the 30 wounded victims of the Savar tragedy.
read more. & read more.

* DU donates Tk 25 lakh to PM’s relief fund for Savar victims:

Teachers, officials and employees of Dhaka University (DU) on Wednesday donated their one-day salary worth Tk 25 lakh to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund for the Savar victims.

DU Vice-chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique handed over the cheque of donation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
DU Pro-vice chancellor (academic) Prof Dr Nasrin Ahmad, treasurer Prof Dr M Kamal Uddin, DU Teachers’ Association president Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed and DU Officers’ Association president M Ashraf Uddin were, among, others, present on the occasion.
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* Rehabilitation of injured Rana Plaza victims:

The collapse of Rana Plaza has been branded as one of the worst industrial disasters in the history of Bangladesh. This incident drew international attention due to the high death toll. However, one aspect that has not been highlighted enough is the plight of the injured people who have been rescued.

Many of the injured were the sole breadwinners for their families. Many of them have lost limbs which has made them handicapped for the rest of their life. For the time being, the government and some NGOs are providing them with financial assistance. However, one day this assistance is bound to stop and they will be pushed into uncertain and difficult life.

The government needs to come up with a long-term plan to rehabilitate these injured people. Those who are able to work in spite of their injury should have access to employment. For those who are unable to work, there should be assurance of proper compensation from BGMEA (Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association). Most importantly, the government needs to take proper steps to ensure that such tragic incidents do not occur in future.
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13:02:18 local time map of india INDIA

* Childline rescues three child labourers:

The city office of Childline, a national helpline for children, rescued three children who were pushed into illegal child labour by a dyeing unit owner in Vatva. The teens will be shifted to an observation home, said Childline officials.

Purnima Gupta, assistant director of Childline, told TOI that they had received information on child labourers being exploited at a unit in Vatva. Working off of a specific tip-off, officials raided the raided residence of Javed Ali in Mohammed Ali Park in Vatva with the help of the Vatva police.
They found three minors involved in the dyeing of cotton and synthetic cloth material. The trio is identified as Shahrukh Shaikh, 12, a native of Lucknow, Sajjad Ali Saiyad, 15, a native of Rae Bareilly, and Pradeep Kumar Pandit, 15, a native of Barabanki.
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* Call to ban sumangali scheme:

The need for checking the exploitation of women labourers by private textiles and garments industries in and around Coimbatore district was underlined by the speakers at a day-long seminar on ills of sumangali scheme organised by Centre for Social and Education Development, Avinasi, and a few organisations here on Wednesday.

They urged the State government to take drastic action against the textiles units implementing the scheme and impose a ban on it. Inaugurating the seminar, M.Chinnadurai, district secretary, CPI (M), said that textiles and garments industry in Tiruppur and Coimbatore adopted such schemes to exploit women labourers.

He said that women labourers of Pudukottai and Sivaganga districts were the worst affected. G.S.Dhanapathy, district chairman, Farmers Forum of India, underlined the role of NGOs in the fight against the scheme.
read more.
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* Rajasthan govt plans booster dose for ailing textile industry:

The state cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up of a ‘petroleum university’ to make available manpower and technical know-how in view of the upcoming refinery and petro-chemical complex at Pachpadra in Barmer.

The cabinet meeting, presided by chief minister Ashok Gehlot, also decided to extend a “special customised package” for the textile industry. The decision comes following severe criticism and strong attacks from the opposition over several textile units from Bhilwara moving to Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The state will adopt a new textile policy under the Special Customised Package 2013 cleared by the cabinet. The move aims at skill development, manufacture and export promotion and ensures a competitive advantage. With the rollout of the special package, an investment of 10,000 crore over the next seven years is expected in the state along with employment opportunities for about 50,000 people. The package will be extended to the existing ailing textile units in the state.
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13:02:18 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* “Trade for development and not aid for development” – government initiative hailed by the JAAF:

The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) has expressed delight on the announcement that consequent to the visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to China, a number of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) have been signed to improve and strengthen bi-lateral economic relations between the two countries, particularly on trade investment and tourism.

In a media statement issued by the office of the Secretary-General of JAAF Tuli Cooray, it was stated that the JAAF has been advocating in the past two years on the need to negotiate market access instruments with new and emerging markets particularly with China.
The statement referred to China as the priority market due to its enormous potential the country offers, Cooray points out.

Besides China being a top exporter of apparels to the global markets, it also has its own domestic demands and in the year 2012 alone China had imported apparels to the tune of US$4 billion, he said.
Last year Sri Lanka’s apparel exports to China were in the region of US$15 million. A new market need was emerging for top quality Chinese local brands with high level of GDP growth and rising per capita income have widened the middle class in China, he added.
read more.

12:32:18 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* PHMA sends SOS to CEO KESC: site area faces unannounced power outages:

Export-oriented textile manufacturing units in Site area of the city are facing power outages for the last 24 hours.

Pakistan Manufacturing and Exporters Association (PHMA) dispatched a letter to CEO of KESC, complaining of electricity cut to Site industrial area. Chairman South Zone, PHMA, Aamir Haider Butt expressed his concerns in the letter over the unannounced power outages and termed the electricity suspension “most alarming”.

“It is on record that on an undertaking by KESC that electricity would be provided 24 hours to the SITE Industrial Area without any break, the industries had shut off their generators and done away with it,” according to the letter, which was provided to Business Recorder. He feared the continuing electricity loadshedding will cause million of dollars loss to the export-oriented industries located in Site Industrial Area. He said the industry is already struggling hard to earn foreign exchange and meet the global export orders deadline on time.
read more.


map of Asia


* Amended labor contract law targets equal pay
* ‘Chinese policy to determine world cotton prices’ – ICAC

* Vietnam, EU begins new FTA round

* Ministry of Interior dismisses rumor of Chhouk Bandith’s arrest

* Jute Mills shutdown amid clash in Khulna
* RMG wage board sits today
* Bangladesh Government to Review Deficient Labour Law Proposal
* 15 get garment-making training
* ‘After disaster, B’desh lags in policing its maze of RMG factories
* BD lags in policing it maze of factories: NWT
* After Disaster, Bangladesh Lags In Policing Its Maze of Factories
* Walmart & Gap for improving safety in Bangladesh RMG units
* Tesco to stay with local partners to solve safety issues
* Bangladesh’s loss India’s gain!
* Garment costing – the deciding factor in textile business
* 101 sewing machines seized in Ctg; 4 held
* BNP blames special agency men for spreading propaganda against Khaleda
* GSP cut and its fallout
* GSP suspension may hit FDI flow further: Moody’s
* Rage among Dhaka’s ruins
* PM gives financial help to 144 kin of 101 victims of Savar tragedy
* DU donates Tk 25 lakh to PM’s relief fund for Savar victims
* Rehabilitation of injured Rana Plaza victims

* Childline rescues three child labourers
* Call to ban sumangali scheme
* Rajasthan govt plans booster dose for ailing textile industry

* “Trade for development and not aid for development” – government initiative hailed by the JAAF

* PHMA sends SOS to CEO KESC: site area faces unannounced power outages

latest tweets (& news)

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

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

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

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

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