13:51:11 local time CAMBODIA
* Glue fumes cause mass workplace faintings:
Approximately 40 workers fainted at the TMI garment factory in Svay Rieng yesterday, police and workers said.
Workers at the factory began feeling sick and fainting when a heavy air of glue fumes wafted into the factory as workers returned from lunch, So Navy, 23, a TMI employee, said yesterday.
“I saw many workers in the workplace fall down and some vomited,” Navy added.
Workers were treated at a nearby health clinic and Chi Phou hospital, said Kao Horn, deputy police chief of Bavet. Their conditions were not serious, he said.
* BetterFactories- Media updates 23-31 July 2013, Union wins benefits for garment workers:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-07-25 Social Affairs Ministry to pay garment workers wages
2013-07-25 UK sugar firm investigating child labour claims
2013-07-26 Bundith triple shooting victims appeal for more compensation
2013-07-26 Child labour a consequence of evicting families from land
2013-07-30 Bangladesh struggles to check if garment factories are safe
2013-07-31 Court hears case of 4 charged with stealing garments
* To read in the printed edition of the Khmer Newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea Daily:
* BetterFactories- Media updates 1 August 2013, Garment workers faint at Svay Rieng Factory:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
13:21:11 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar, EU embark on full cooperation after sanction removal:
Myanmar President U Thein Sein has vowed to make full cooperation with the European Union (EU) following the latter’s total lifting of sanctions on Myanmar.
Meeting with an EU delegation led by Ambassador David Lipman in Nay Pyi Taw over the last two days, U Thein Sein thanked Lipman for ILO’s relaxation, reinstatement of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) and opening of EU office in Myanmar.
He called for EU investment in the country.
Lipman said EU has laid down comprehensive approach and constructive framework for Myanmar’s reform, and told U Thein Sein that an EU delegation comprising the task group leaders and eminent entrepreneurs, led by Catherine Ashton, would visit Myanmar in coming November.
12:51:11 local time BANGLADESH
* New pay scale for garment workers after Eid-ul-Fitr, says labour minister:
Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju on Wednesday said that new pay scale for garments workers would be announced after Eid-ul-Fitr.
The ‘minimum wages commission’ is working on it as the government wants to announce new pay scale as soon as possible.
The minister disclosed it after a meeting with visiting International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation at his secretariat office.
Assistant Director General of Asia and Pacific region Yoshiteru Uramoto led the ILO delegation.
“ILO assured Bangladesh to give assistance of US$ 40 million for the improvement of garments sector. Bangladesh has already taken some initiatives to ensure the improvement in this sector,” the minister told reporters.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* On the ground in Bangladesh:
Delegation of Steering Committee on Fire and Building Safety Accord, including UNI and IndustriALL, in Dhaka to take next steps
The international delegation is in Dhaka this week holding high level meetings with government officials, trade unionists and manufacturers. They are there to build relations with key stakeholders and ensure the Accord is coordinated with the National Action Plan as part of the implementation roll out.
The Steering Committee members have met with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), two organisations which are central to taking the Accord forward with Bangladeshi manufacturers. The BGMEA/BKMEA agreed that the Bangladeshi garment industry must become safe if it wishes to remain a market leader.
* EU buyers for ‘coherent’ RMG policy:
European buyers say they look forward to a ‘coherent’ policy for safety and development of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Atiqul Islam said they have been told in no uncertain terms that the situation in the RMG sector had to improve.
Earlier, buyers from the US had also agreed to push for a coherent policy to improve working conditions and safety in RMG units during a meeting with BGMEA Vice President Shahidullah Azim.
Although the government and the buyers from Europe and US had announced separate programmes to improve factory security, the entrepreneurs in the sector had been looking for a coherent policy which would be effective and easy to implement.
On Tuesday, Islam said a committee — comprising representatives from the government, entrepreneurs, buyers and workers — will be formed to visit the garment factories.
“Assistance will be provided to factories that lack capacity but those units who fail to reach the standards of safety and working conditions prescribed will be shut down. They can, however, start afresh or relocate, if they were willing to achieve the prescribed standards” he said.
* Govt seeks details of plan from European buyers:
The government has sought details of the factory safety programme from the visiting delegation of European buyers and stakeholders in fire and building safety accord for a planned and coordinated effort to ensure safety standards in the country’s garment industry.
“We’ve told the delegation to make a formal proposal of the details of their plan – what they want to do and how they implement it,” Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said after a meeting with the team held at his secretariat office Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by Philip Chamberlain of C&A, Aleix Gonzalez of Inditex, Christy Hoffman of UNI and Monika Kemperle of IndustriALL.
read more. & read more.
* Safety accord framework for garments industry:
The arrival of a five-member European delegation to discuss a safety programme aimed at ensuring fire and building safety of garments factories in Bangladesh is a clear indication of the importance the European buyers attach to the future of this country’s apparel sector.
Unlike the United States which has opted for stringent measures without sharing in the responsibility of the existing indiscipline and underdevelopment, the European nations have expressed their readiness to get involved with the process of streamlining the safety matters both on account of risks from fire and unsafe buildings as well as working conditions in factories.
The team’s visit will try to give a shape to a framework equal to the task of implementing a comprehensive safety programme. To that end, a nine months’ deadline has been fixed for inspection of the garments factories in Bangladesh.
* EU-led RMG safety forum to open firm in Bangladesh:
Each member to donate $500,000 for factory repairs or relocation
The European Union-led RMG Safety Accord has decided to set up a foundation in the Netherlands and open up a non-profit firm in Bangladesh within two weeks to run trainings and their factory-safety programmes in Bangladesh.
The forum of 84 clothing retailers and brands, mostly European, revealed their plan at a meeting with Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed yesterday.
Following the meeting, Mahbub told reporters that his ministry had given all types of assistance to the EU-led RMG Safety Accord team to ensure that the country’s garment sector was labour-friendly and to train the RMG workers and factory staff to guarantee building safety.
He added that the team identified 1,495 factories, which did not comply with the building safety code and labour standards. They also promised to provide funds for their repairs or relocation outside Dhaka.
The forum members also decided to donate $500,000 each to the foundation to run the firm, which would be overviewing the transition into safe and labour-friendly environment at the factories.
* American Eagle splits with Walmart over BD:
In mid-July, partly in response to public pressure, US garment manufacturer and retailer American Eagle Outfitters confounded media observers by signing on to the international Accord on Fire and Building Safety for Bangladesh, a compact among more than 70 international retailers, the bulk of the ready-made apparel industry that represents 80% of Bangladesh’s economy
Until that announcement, media reports had lumped American Eagle in with the Walmart-associated resisters — more than a dozen major US garment makers and brands that balked at joining the global accord and even snubbed it for requiring legally binding financial commitments to raise Bangladesh standards.
* Make TICFA public, discuss in parliament: seminar:
Politicians and academics on Wednesday at a discussion urged the government not to sign the proposed Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement with the United States.
Terming the proposed agreement contrary to the national interests of Bangladesh, they said that it would threaten the economy and the military strategies of the country.
The Communist Party of Bangladesh and the Socialist Party of Bangladesh, jointly organised the seminar at the CPB central office titled ‘TICFA and National Interests,’ chaired by the CPB president, Mujahidul Islam Selim.
The US is interested to sign the agreement to implement its imperialist designs in this region, Selim said.
He called on the left leaning political parties to unite to protest against the signing of the deal.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khalequzzaman said that the proposed deal would not benefit the people but might serve the purpose of the ruling parties.
read more. & read more.
* Garment workers set fire to factory over benefits:
Hundreds of garment workers set fire to their factory on Wednesday to demand a better bonus before the country’s main Muslim festival Eid-ul-Fitr, police said.
Firefighters battled to control the blaze which gutted the warehouse on the ground floor of the factory at Mouchak, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Dhaka.
“The workers angrily protested at the amount of bonus they got from the owners for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr festival,” local police chief Omar Faruq said.
“At one stage they walked out of the factory and set the godown (warehouse), which was on the ground floor of the factory, on fire,” Faruq said from the site.
Protests over poor wages and benefits have hit Bangladesh’s garment industry, the country’s economic mainstay, since April when a factory complex collapsed and killed more than 1,100 people.
The fire, which started at about 2.30 pm at the five-storey Libas Textiles factory, was now under control, said a police officer, Sanwar Hossain.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Workers set fire to textile mills in Gazipur:
A devastating fire was broken out at a textile mills here by angry workers on Wednesday.
The fire set by factory workers is now under control but the fire gutted 1st and 2nd floor of the mills.
Three fire fighting units from Gazipur and Kaliakoir brought the fire under control after four-hour restless effort.
Earlier, agitated workers of Libas Textile Mills set fire to an eight-storey garments factory demanding hike of Eid Bonus at the upazila in the district on Wednesday afternoon.
* Workers set fire to RMG factory over pay:
Workers of export-oriented Libas Textiles Limited at Nishchintapur in Gazipur went on work abstention on Wednesday, demanding increased bonus and overtime bills.
Around 2000 workers demonstrated on the factory premises after locking the main gate of the factory in the morning, demanding bonus to the tune of 60 per cent of the gross salary and overtime bills of May to July.
At one stage, the agitated workers set fire to the factory as a discussion with the owner on the payments ended without any positive result.
Fire fighters from Gazipur and Kaliakoir, however, controlled the fire after steady efforts.
The workers said they used to receive festival bonus at 60 per cent of the gross salary but this year the authorities announced that they would give festival bonus at 20 per cent.
Moreover, the workers alleged that the management did not pay overtime bills for last the three months.
* Owners urged to pay garment workers’ wages, bonus by August 5:
Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Unity Council (BGWUC) demanded of all the garment owners Wednesday to pay wages of July, overtime bills and Eid bonus to their workers by August 5, 2013.
The demand was made at a workers’ rally of the council held in front of the National Press Club in the city.
The workers’ leaders also urged the ministries concerned to take necessary measures in this connection. Presided over by the council’s chairman Amirul Haque Amin, the rally was addressed, among others, by its secretary general Salauddin Swapan, central leaders Kamrul Ahsan, M Delwar Hossain, Md Rafique, Rashedul Alam Raju, Md Kamrul Hasan and Arafat Zakaria Sanchay, said a press release.
to read. & read more.
* Tailors in Satkhira on strike for 10 days:
Workers at the tailoring shops in Satkhira are continuing strike for the last 10 days as their demand for wage hike remains unmet.
The stalemate in the district’s dressmaking industry for the workers’ strike has kept the townspeople in a grave worry as the Eid-ul-Fitr, greatest religious festival of the Muslims, is coming too close.
On the other hand, the tailors are determined to continue strike until their demand is met.
read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Alleged Lack of Support from BGMEA to Rana Plaza Victims:
Nearly Tk5m has been paid from the prime minister’s relief fund to cover the cost of DNA tests to confirm the identities of 321 bodies from the Rana Plaza disaster. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently issued a cheque for the amount to a government laboratory.
However, the state-run DNA lab did not send any request to the PMO regarding the expenses. Rather, they wrote a letter to the district commissioner (DC) of Dhaka to know who would bear the cost for the DNA tests.
The DC’s office also said they had written to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) seeking financial assistance for the tests, but not to PMO.
But the BGMEA did not respond to the request, nor did it pay a single paisa for the analysis of 900 DNA samples from 321 unidentified victims and their relatives.
The sources claimed that some BGMEA officials tactfully collected the letter from the DNA lab authorities and forwarded it to the PM’s office, apparently to avoid making the payment from its account.
* CID fails to finish Rana Plaza probe:
Gets 45 days more to submit probe reports
A Dhaka court granted 45 days more to Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to complete the investigation into two cases filed over the Rana Plaza collapse as it failed to submit the reports by Wednesday.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Kazi Shahidul Islam asked CID to submit the probe report by September 15.
Meanwhile, the court rejected the bail petitions of seven accused in the two cases.
The accused are: Abdul Khalek, father of Sohel Rana and also owner of Rana Plaza, suspended Savar municipality mayor and BNP leader Refayet Ullah, Engineer Rafiqul Islam, Rana’s relative Abdul Hassan, New Wave Bottoms Chairman Bazlus Samad and its managing director Mahmudur Rahman Tapash and Rakibul Hassan Russel.
* Police Consider Manslaughter Charges for Rana:
Police are considering charging the owner of a collapsed garment factory building with manslaughter after the industrial disaster killed more than 1,000 people earlier this year.
“We are thinking about it seriously,” said Bijoy Krishna Kar, assistant superintendent of police. He is investigating the case that involves deaths of factory workers.
Sohel Rana, the owner of the eight-story complex that collapsed in April, is among the 21 people arrested in two cases tied to the collapse that killed 1,131 people. The investigation will take more than two months to complete before the police submit charges to court, Kar said.
* Victims to get limbs by October:
Jaipur-based non-profit organization Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti-BMVSS of India wanted to help the people who lost their limbs in Rana Plaza collapse on April 24.
In an interview, Manager (P&C) of BMVSS Sanjib Kumar and Technical Supervisor Ranjan Laskar expressed the intention to banglanews on Wednesday.
BMVSS, which is the world’s largest organization for the handicapped, wanted provide assistance to some people of Bangladesh including 28 victims of Rana Plaza collapse ‘totally free of cost’.
Sanjib Kumar said they would start fitting ambulatory aids or other helps in the first half of October. In this view they will set a temporary camp in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar of the city.
12:21:11 local time INDIA
* A modern form of slavery:
Describing it as nothing but a new form of bonded labour, victims of ‘Sumangali Thittam’ or ‘Thirumagal Thirumana Thittam,’ most of them adolescent girls, have cautioned parents not to send their children to work in textile mills under the scheme.
Former spinning mill workers in Tirupur, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Theni and Tirunelveli, the girls narrated their experiences at a conference held here on Wednesday. They said appalling economic conditions and social discrimination forced them to drop out of school and enter the bonded labour system.
The ‘sumangali thittam’ provides jobs to young, unmarried adolescent girls for three years. The salary promised is Rs.35 a day for the first six months, with an increment of Rs.2 every three or six months. In reality, the girls do not get paid anything more than Rs.30 a day, in many cases Rs.15, the conference was told
M. Rani (23) of Thennampatti in Dindigul had worked in a mill near Vedasandur. She described the textile mills as prieons and warned people not to send their children to the mills under the bonded labour scheme. To support her family, on a wage of Rs. 50 a day, she joined the mill on a four-year contract through an agent in her village. She could not cope with the hardship and managed to come out of “bondage” in three years.
* Plea to ban all forms of bonded labour:
A demonstration was staged in the city on Wednesday against the Sumangali Scheme (Camp Coolie System) under which young girls are lured to work as bonded labourers.
The protest was organised by Campaign against Camp Coolie System (CACCS) in collaboration with a few other non-governmental organisations.
The protestors demanded that the Tamil Nadu government should ban all forms of camp labour systems such as ‘Sumangali Scheme’ or ‘Mangalya Scheme’ or ‘Thirumagal Thirumana Thittam.’
Keeping in line with the United Nations Convention of Child Rights, all those below the age of 18 should be considered child labourers.
They said all textile mills were supposed to have anti-sexual harassment committees, as per the Supreme Court’s guidelines in the Vishaka Case judgement.
* Water pollution:
Effluents from textile-processing units at Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district are being diverted to open gutters and the river with the result that the pollution has created health hazards.
President of the local municipal council Supriya Gondkar warned the Western Maharashtra Processing Association that if urgent action was not taken, the units would be banned.
* Streamline functioning of welfare board: unions:
Members of the AITUC, CITU, INTUC hold road blockades, court arrests
Police arrested 397 cadres of various trade unions, including 67 women, for organising road blockades at three places in Thanjavur district on Tuesday. They were demanding the functioning of welfare board for construction workers and unorganised sectors labourers to be streamlined.
In Thanjavur, the cadre held an agitation near the old bus stand. C.Jayabal, district secretary, CITU, C.Chandrakumar, district secretary, AITUC, Durai Vijayan of INTUC, and K.Xavier of trade union affiliated to the DMK took part.
Police arrested 99 workers, cadre including 31 women . Similar agitations were held in Pattukottai and Kumbakonam . The cadres demanded doing away with the practice of insisting on VAO certificates for getting benefits, and dispense with the personal appearance of labourers for registering and renewing membership.
* Rs 2000cr loan waiver for handloom workers coming:
After the mega debt-waiver scheme for farmers in 2008, the UPA Government is planning another writing off plan in the coming days.
This time it is for handloom weavers. Union minister for textiles, K S Rao said a scheme for waiving loans of handloom workers had been worked out and would be implemented this year.
The total amount involved comes to Rs 2,000 crore, according to initial estimates. Earlier the amount was pegged at Rs 3,400 crore as the scheme covered both individual weavers as well as members of cooperative societies. After deleting bogus members of the cooperatives, the amount was Rs 2,000 crore, said Rao. He was interacting with newspersons at Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) during his visit to the city on the invitation of local MP Vilas Muttemwar.
* Monetary policy: Garment exporters disappointed:
The status quo on key rates has disappointed knitwear exporters.
Reacting to the first quarter review of the 2013-14 monetary policy, A Sakthivel, President, Tirupur Exporters’ Association, said that at the current interest rate levels, it would be a tough proposition for the woven and knitwear garment exporting units to stay competitive.
The continuance of recession in EU market and subdued global growth is already impacting the garment exporters adversely.
* UNI urges India not to be pressured by Walmart on FDI:
UNI India Liaison Council writes to Commerce Minister warning yet again of Walmart’s harmful business model
UNI Global Union has urged the Indian government not to relax its foreign direct investment rules.
UNI says to do so would allow multinational giants such as Walmart to enter the country without enforceable conditions and safeguards.
Walmart says the current sourcing rules, which are designed to protect Indian businesses and workers, mean it is unable or unwilling to do expand its business in India. UNI says those sourcing rules need to be reinforced and fully enforceable rather than weakened.
In a letter to India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, UNI said the country’s people would fare better without Walmart, highlighting some of the company’s grave abuses against its workers in the United States and elsewhere. The letter said that Walmart has had a negative impact on both retail wages and employment in areas in which it operates.
“Walmart has a devastating impact upon small businesses in the surrounding areas and a negative impact on employment growth and the survival of small businesses,” the letter said. “Walmart’s suppliers and their workers fare poorly also. Its size allows it to dictate the terms of supplier contracts. This power depresses conditions in the supply chain for workers and businesses.”
12:21:11 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s apparel exports post marginal growth in 1H 2013:
In the first half of 2013, apparel exports value totalled US$ 1,873 million more or less at same levels recorded during the corresponding period in 2012, where apparel only exports stood at US$ 1,874 million, announced Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
Country’s non-BoI apparel exporters have been now integrated to the crucial global network called UNCTAD-initiated Asycuda World system“Today, Sri Lanka’s apparel sector is entering into a new phase.
As a result of Sri Lanka’s non-BoI apparel manufacturers directly integrating into the online ‘Asycuda World’ system, we have now cleared a major bottleneck in our apparel exports,” announced Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce on 30 July in Colombo.
11:51:11 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan puts cotton disease surveillance system in place:
The third quarterly review and planning meeting of the current fiscal year of ICARDA’s “Pak-US Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme” was hosted by Mr. Zahid Iqbal Anjum, Director Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI), Multan July 08, 2013. Dr. Khalid Abdullah, Cotton Commissioner, Textile Industry Division / Vice President, PCCC chaired the session.
Dr. Tassawar Hussain Malik, Cotton project Consultant from ICARDA-Pakistan Office, Islamabad elaborated major achievements of the project so far. He stated that selection of “Highly-Tolerant” cotton accession “Mac-07” against Cotton leaf curl virus disease screened from the imported USDA germplasm during 2012 was a great achievement of the project.
Consultant informed that a highly coordinated and disciplined national “Disease Surveillance and R&D System” has been in place and fully active under the umbrella of C-PEP programme that is not only helping to properly identify the disease and its vector but utilizing all possible traditional and non-conventional approaches for the development of disease resistant plants within the project tenure.
The system is model for the country policy makers, coordinators and scientists for adapting against any kind of stress in the future if its sustainability is ensured.