20:52:10 local time PHILIPPINES
* KMU disputes ‘lies’ of those opposing wage hikes:
Fourteen years since the Philippine government shifted wage-fixing to regional wage boards, wage hikes all over the Philippines are now at their lowest levels compared to profits and prices, said the workers and allies of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
They picketed in front of the gates of Occupational Health and Safety Center in Quezon City, August 8, site of the final hearing on wage hike petition lodged by the government-backed Trade Union Center of the Philippines (TUCP).
For their wage hike demands, the KMU and other labor groups have opted to support the proposed legislated wage hike bill in Congress instead of lodging petitions before the regional wage boards.
* Exporters oppose wage hike:
Exporters are against new petitions for a minimum wage hike and an across-the-board wage increase, noting this could result in massive job losses and lost investments.
In a letter to Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board chairperson Atty. Alan Macaraya, PHILEXPORT President Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. said that another round of pay hike will undermine the viability of most enterprises in the country, particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“An upward adjustment in the minimum wage is the last thing that business, particularly struggling MSME-exporters need at this very difficult time, as it will adversely impact on their ability to sustain their operations and preserve jobs of their workers,” he said.
19:52:10 local time VIET NAM
* Companies urged to build brands:
Workers prepare fibre for export at Ha Nam Textile Company. Developing trademarks can boost business efficiency in many industries, including leather and footwear, garments and textile. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
Vietnamese businesses should pay more attention to building trademarks in order to increase the value of their products as well as profit margins, experts say.
A Thoi bao kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) report late last week quoted Ha Duy Hung, chairman of HCM City Leather and Footwear Association, as saying trademarks can add as much as 45 per cent to retail prices of the sector’s products.
Hung, who is also the general director of Dong Hung Ltd Co, said other factors that impact product value included research and development, logistics and sales services.
The report cited other experts as saying that in the textile and garments sector, although export turnover is high, profits are still small. They explained that domestic enterprises mostly did outsourcing, so they could only earn profits of 5-10 per cent.
19:52:10 local time CAMBODIA
* After Deadly Factory Collapse, Safety Improvements Scarce:
On May 16, immediately after the ceiling of a shoe factory collapsed in Kompong Speu province, leaving two people dead, promises were made to prosecute those responsible for the tragedy and to conduct a nationwide inspection of all factories.
“We will have a committee investigate clearly on this case and we will take legal action against anyone involved,” Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng said within view of the collapsed mezzanine level of the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd. factory in Kong Pisei district. “Secondly, the Ministry of Social Affairs and other involved ministries will inspect the building of all factories in use.”
19:22:10 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Bago region to have more factories:
Many more factories will open in Bago Region and the unemployment rate is expected to drop sharply in the area, according to Bago Region Minister Dr. Kyaw Oo.
Factories such as Carlsberg, garment factories from Taiwan and Hong Kong, and glove factory from Japan for golfers will be opened soon, the minister said.
“After opening the factories, nearly 8000 workers will be employed. So we are hoping to reduce the unemployment,” the regional minister said.
18:52:10 local time BANGLADESH
20130811 * RMG fire injures 15 workers in Savar:
At least 15 workers of JK garments factory were injured as fire broke out in the factory on Sunday evening.
Sources said around 150 workers were working at JK garments factory at South Dariapur around 7:30pm. At one stage, they saw a fire blaze which was originated from chemical warehouse at the 5th floor of the factory.
Around 15 workers were injured as they wanted to get down from the building in hurriedly.
On information, a team of Savar fire service station rushed to the spot and doused the fire within a short time.
The injured were admitted to Savar Enam Medical College and Hospital.
to read. & read more. & read more.
* GsP suspension & Bangladesh RMG sector:
The USA suspended the Generalized system of Preferences (GSP) facilities on the entrance of Bangladeshi product in the USA market has created lack drop in the economy.
Because of this suspension each and every Bangladeshi becomes very upset.USA is our long outstanding partner of development. In fact, there was no such kind of GSP facilities in garments sector in the USA. They have talk about the safety, development of the standard of the labor, not getting justice of murder of Aminul and some other minor issues.. It is unfortunate that, they have brought into consideration the accident of Savar Rana Plaza, Tazrin fashion, unsolved case of Aminul murder case. Since 2007, the biggest laborer union of the U.S.A, AFL- CIO has been persuading the USA to stop the GSP facilities for Bangladesh.According to The New York Times (July 25,2013) “Bangladeshi garment industry’s trade group has seen its influence soar as country has become a global garment power;” critics say group is a big part of the problems that have made Bangladesh a dangerous place for garment workers.
Though with the GSP facilities almost 4800 product of Bangladesh can enter in USA market without paying the duty but the Garments sector does not enjoy this facility in the USA market. There is a chance that suspension of GSP facilities will be reconsidered by USA during December of this year.Recently, the man made tragedy has been occurred at Savar Rana Plaza is certainly an unfortunate event for Bangladesh. We can know about the ill interest of a particular class of people ignoring the established rules and regulations, they change the design of the building. Due to this tragedy, almost, 1130 people have died a tragic death and almost 200 people got severely injured.
The tendency of ignoring the law of the country of some particular class of people is responsible for Savar Rana Plaza Tragedy. When a country turns into a developed country from developing country, then there was exploitation and deprivation of labor, although it is not accepted at all.
* Mozena hints Ticfa to be signed in US capital:
Ministries of Foreign, Labour and Commerce are working together to fulfil the conditions of the plan of action announced by Washington on July 19 for restoring the generalised system of preference (GSP)
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena has hinted that the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Bangladesh and US might be signed in the US capital.
“If everyone agrees to signTicfa, the best place to do so would be Washington,” he told the Dhaka Tribune after meeting with Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque at the ministry on Wednesday.
Commerce secretary of Bangladesh and an official of the US Trade Representatives would sign the agreement, he said after the hour-long meeting.
* RMG exports register 22-26% growth in July:
Exports of the country’s apparel products witnessed a robust growth of more than 26 per cent in July 2013, amid garment manufacturers’ apprehension that their shipment orders might fall following the tragic Tazreen and Rana Plaza incidents that killed more than 1200 workers.
Such a significant rise in the exports of readymade garments gave a boost to the country’s overall export earnings by 24 per cent in July 2013 over that of July 2012, according to the data of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) released Sunday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
20130807-11 * Bangladesh Factory Victims Wait as Compensation Meeting Delayed:
A meeting to determine compensation for victims of two factory disasters in Bangladesh was postponed until September after a union official fell ill, workers threatened to strike in Dhaka and European brands balked at attending over the summer.
“We thought it was a better solution to do this in Europe in September,” IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina, who is organizing the meeting, said by phone.
“The problem is Rana Plaza workers and families aren’t receiving money, so it’s not as it should be.”
The initial meeting to aid victims of the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen factory fire was planned for Aug. 11 and 12 in Dhaka.
The union and the Clean Clothes campaign want retailers including Benetton Group SA, Mango and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) to agree to a lump sum payment for pain and suffering as well as lost earnings for the victims and dependents of those involved in the disasters.
IndustriALL estimates the long-term compensation cost will be $71 million for the Rana Plaza collapse, where 1,131 people were killed in the nation’s worst industrial accident, and $5.7 million for the Tazreen garment factory fire, which killed 112.
read more. & read more.
20130809 * Bangladesh compensation meetings rescheduled:
The two compensation meetings for the victims and their families of the tragedies of Tazreen and Rana Plaza in Bagladesh planned to be held on August 11 and 12, have been postponed until September.
The meetings aim to put together a full and fair compensation package for all the victims and their families, and were to take place in Dhaka in August. After rescheduling the meetings will now be held in Geneva in September. The exact date has yet to be decided.
“With the sudden illness of a key union official and a strike threat in Bangladesh, we feel that the meetings will be more fruitful at a later date,” says IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina. “All major brands and signatories are invited and we are expecting a high level of attendance.”
Responsibility is shared between the brands and retailers sourcing from Tazreen and Rana Plaza, the factory owners, the BGMEA employers association, and the Bangladeshi government. The aim is to employ the industry’s best practice compensation mechanism that was developed after the Spectrum factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2005. That formula is in line with ILO Convention 121 on employment injury benefits.
20130812 * Meeting to fix compensation package for Tazreen, Rana Plaza victims due next month:
The scheduled meeting to determine compensation for victims of Tazreen and Rana Plaza disasters this month has been postponed until September and is now due to be held in Geneva. But the date of meeting is yet to be fixed.
“Due to sudden illness of a key union official and a strike threat in Bangladesh, we feel that the meeting will be more fruitful at a later date,” said industrial General Secretary Jyrki Raina in a statement published on its website.
“All major brands and signatories are invited and we are expecting a high level of attendance,” he added.
“Because of my sudden illness, the scheduled meeting was postponed,” Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of Industry — All Bangladesh Council told the FE.
Responsibility is shared between the brands and retailers sourcing from Tazreen and Rana Plaza, the factory owners, the BGMEA employers association, and the Bangladeshi government, the statement said.
read more. & read more.
20130809 * Workers decry non-payment of compensations:
Workers and relatives of the Rana Plaza victims slammed the government and the owners for denying them the compensations though three and a half months have passed by since the complex crashed down.
They observed a token hunger strike at the Shaheed Minar under the banner of Workers and Relatives Affected by Rana Plaza Building Collapse on the Eid day.
Rights activists, union leaders and leaders of the left-leaning parties also joined the demonstration expressing solidarity with the workers’ demands.
Many seriously injured workers are not getting the treatment as assured by the government and the owners, while the DNA-test of the dead bodies of about 300 workers is pending with the Dhaka Medical Hospital for an unreasonably long time, observed the workers and activists.
20130809 * Rana Plaza victims, families demo at Shaheed Minar:
Some 60 injured victims of Rana Plaza collapse and families of those missing and killed began a token mass sit-in programme at the Central Shaheed Minar on Friday.
The demonstrators, mostly women workers, gathered at the place around 11am and were chanting slogans demanding dues, Eid bonus, compensation and rehabilitation.
Jahangirnagar University teachers Prof Anu Muhammad and Prof Nasim Akhter Hossain, activists Rahnuma Ahmed and Arup Rahee, and Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal leader Razequzzaman Ratan went to Shaheed Minar to express solidarity with the agitation.
* Rana Plaza survivors take part in hunger strike:
Around 200 family members of victims and surviving workers of collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar went to the Dhaka Central Shahid Minar and took part in a hunger strike programme at about 11:00am Friday, the Eid-ul-Fitr, carrying out a prearranged programme.
Earlier, they started to gather on ground zero, renamed Shahid Bedi, of the Rana Plaza, at about 9:30am and left the place for Dhaka after half an hour.
A number of distinguished persons along with 10 to15 workers’ organizations expressed solidarity with the four-point demands of the protesters.
The demands include immediate compensation, payment of their outstanding salaries and Eid bonuses, permanent rehabilitation of the affected workers, publishing the DNA reports of the missing workers and settling their compensations, and declaring the missing persons as dead.
* Rana Plaza victims, families protest at Shaheed Minar:
Politicians, professionals and academicians expressed solidarity with the token sit-in programme demanding dues
Injured victims of the Rana Plaza collapse, along with the families of those missing and killed, staged a token sit-in at the Central Shaheed Minar on Friday demanding their dues, Eid bonuses, promised compensation and rehabilitation.
Some 70 workers and family members of the victims gathered at the location around 11am and continued till 4pm, urging the government and the garment owners to realise their demands immediately.
Politicians, professionals and academicians expressed solidarity with them, and urged the government to streamline the compensation and rehabilitation activities, and ensure transparency in distribution.
20130812 * Another succumbs to injuries:
After passing 107 days in a coma since the April 24 Rana Plaza building collapse, another victim succumbed to his injuries at the intensive care unit of Enam Medical College and Hospital in Savar on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 1,133.
The deceased Monwar Hossain, 22, used to iron clothes at New Wave Bottoms Ltd, housed in the nine-storey building, his father, Abul Hossain, told The Daily Star.
Hailing from Jadabpur village of Mithapukur upazila in Rangpur district, Monwar used to live with his uncle Atiar Rahman in Savar, he added.
The hospital’s Director (Media) Jahidur Rahman informed The Daily Star that the victim’s family members had received the body.
Right after his rescued, confusion had arisen over Monwar’s identity. His face was wrapped in bandages and two persons had claimed him as their child.
20130812 * Rana Plaza workers observe hunger strike on Eid day:
Politicians, academics and garment workers’ leaders on Friday at a mass hunger strike at the Central Shaheed Minar demanded adequate compensations for the workers affected by the collapse of Rana Plaza.
The affected workers of the Rana Plaza have not been compensated adequately and some workers still remain missing, the leaders said at the mass hunger strike rally.
The wounded workers and their families held a three-hour mass hunger strike on the Eid day.
The affected workers will hold a rally at Savar Adhar Chandra High School ground on August 23 to press home their demands, including sufficient compensation for the workers killed and wounded in the Rana Plaza collapse.
18:22:10 local time INDIA
20130809 * Workers’ panchayat to be held on August 11:
The Textile and Hosiery Workers Union is all set to hold a workers’ panchayat on August 11 at the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) ground on Chandigarh Road.
President of the union Rajwinder Singh said the union had been making preparations for the workers’ panchayat for past one week, and a campaign had also been carried out and pamphlets were distributed to ensure large participation of workers at the panchayat.
He said that a demand charter would be prepared after listening to the problems being faced by the workers. However, he said the problems of workers were manifold like low wages, infringement of democratic rights, depriving workers from employees’ provident fund and not providing identity cards to the workers.
The president said that besides these, workers were facing the law and order problems, as they were falling prey of miscreants, especially on the day of salary disbursement.
* Maximum mileage from minimum wage:
The labour ministry will soon seek Cabinet nod for raising the national floor level minimum wage (NFLMW) to R135 a day from the current R115, a move aimed at providing some relief to factory workers ahead of elections even though it may raise costs for small and medium-sized enterprises struggling to protect their margins amid the economic slowdown.
The government also plans to link the variable dearness allowance to consumer price index for industrial workers (CPI-IW), labour secretary M Sarangi told FE. “The proposals on minimum wage hike has been vetted by the law ministry and we are trying to take it up at the Cabinet soon,” he said. The wage hike could happen this fiscal, he added.
The plan to hike minimum wages for factory workers by 17.4% within two years may not affect big corporates who already offer salaries much higher than the NFLMW, but could raise costs and slow hiring in small and medium-sized companies at a time when the growth in industrial output and exports is crawling. However, it will help bridge labour shortages in India Inc by increasing labour migration to the industry from agriculture where wages have risen faster after the launch of the MGNREGA scheme where wages are linked to inflation.
Many textile companies, for instance, want to hire labourers at double the MGNREGS wages during the peak seasons to meet export targets.
* Powerloom sector worried over increase in POY prices:
Powerloom sector in the country’s biggest man-made fabric hub in Surat is facing tough times ahead with the yarn manufacturers have increased the prices by Rs 5 per kilogram in the last two weeks.
Industry sources said that the leading spinners had revised the prices of polyester yarn between Rs 1.50 to Rs 2 per kilogram on July 31 following the record downfall of rupee against the dollar.
Again the spinners announced price hike of Rs 2.50 per kilogram with effect from August 10.
* Weavers demand hike in scholarships for schoolkids:
Weavers have moved the government to increase the monthly scholarship of meritorious students from their community from Rs 100 to Rs 500. Students from Class IX to XII get this scholarship.
They said increase in the scholarship amount is necessary due to rise in price of essential items.
In a memorandum to textiles and handloom minister Sarojini Hembram, the weavers said they want the government to reimburse the admission and tuition fees of students, who go for higher and technical education, from their community, like it happens in Andhra Pradesh.
* Textile ministry wants more benefits to weavers under new TUFS:
The Textile Ministry has sought more benefits for the weaving sector under the revised Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS). On the other hand, spinning sector incentives are to be reduced.
The scheme that was very popular in textile industry just a few years ago is being restructured and will be part of the next five year plan. The ministry is going to submit revised scheme proposal to the cabinet for making it as a part of the next Five Year Plan.
The weaving sector is expected to get 6% interest rate subvention, which right now stands at 5%. The Textile Commissioner’s office which is an administering authority had held several rounds of consultation on this.
* Indian retailers must invent new technologies: Minister:
* Child Slaves Rescued After Police Raids:
India has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of child labourers under the age of 14.
These children are trafficked from the poorest parts of the country. All promised a better life in the bright lights of growing cities.
Some parents are paid just 3,000 Indian Rupees (less than £35 ) and a promise of more money later to part with their children. Traffickers quickly move them to the bigger cities and sell them to contractors.
Once in the clutches of a contractor, these children are put to work in almost inhuman conditions. They neither get their promised wages nor see their parents for years on end.
Kailash Satyarthi, of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, a child campaign group, estimates the number of child labourers in India could be around 50 million; close to 80 % of Britain’s population. Though the government maintains the figures are far less.
“Children are largely employed in the garment industry and a large number make products that are exported to the western world,” he said.
read & see more. (video report)
18:22:10 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s garment industry needs a second industrial revolution:
Sri Lanka’s apparel industry needs ‘a second industrial revolution’ in garment making,a top industry opines.
Sintesi Joint Managing Director Antonio De Micco Padula made this remark at the opening of the A2S Technology Centre, a cutting edge research, development and production facility operated by intimates and swimwear manufacturer Sintesi Ltd by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
The launch of the operation, according to Sintesi Joint Managing Director Antonio De Micco Padula – with perhaps only a touch of hyperbole – represents a ‘second industrial revolution’ in garment making.
It also further solidifies the reputation of Sri Lanka’s intimates manufacturing industry as a global leader of innovation. Sintesi is also bridging the ancient Sri Lankan art of the handloom, as well as one of the world’s oldest fabrics, with its new-age lingerie and swimwear-making technology.
By doing so, it’s hoping to provide jobs for thousands of rural women throughout Sri Lanka, in a project that moves beyond traditional corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts by creating a real and sustainable bottom line incentive for everyone involved.
* Fighting for clean water:
The ongoing investigations into the case of polluted water in Rathupaswela, Weliweriya has resulted in the temporary closure of a rubber gloves manufacturing factory in the area.
Following allegations made by the villagers that Dipped Products PLC – Venigros (Pvt) Ltd, (a subsidiary of the Hayleys Group), is the cause for the water pollution in the area, the factory was closed until investigations into the issue is complete.
The water pollution issue, commenced around a year ago, culminated with the deaths of three innocent villagers, as the government failed to address the ongoing problem in a timely manner.
According to the villagers, the factory was given an Environment Protection Licence (EPL) to operate one plant in Nedungamuwa. However, the factory presently operates five plants and releases around 60,000 litres of waste water per day,” villagers claimed.
An indication that the water in the area is not fit for consumption was further revealed when the tusker, Nedunraja, who carries the Sacred Tooth Relic during the annual Dalada Maligawa Perahera, refused to drink well water from the area.
* Keeping Dipped Products Glove Factory Closed Seems a Huge Mistake and a National Disaster:
MSc, MBA, FPRI ( UK ),FIChem, C.Chem
( Former President Plastics and Rubber Institute & Institute of Chemistry Ceylon )
I have read with great concern and sorrow, the reports that have appeared in the news papers regarding the events that have led to the temporary closure of Dipped Products Plc factory at Weliweriya.
This organization began as a joint venture between Hayleys Ltd and Richard Pieris & Co Ltd in the mid 1970s at Kottawa, to add value to raw rubber at a time when the latex based glove making industry of our country was in its infancy.
The venture began to produce gloves for the export market without any foreign technologists assisting, and has since then, grown to be the world’s fifth largest producer of household & industrial rubber gloves, in the world.
During this journey, Dipped Products Plc ( DPL ) has expanded operations to Weliweriya and Hanwella, generating employment to many Sri Lankans and has made a major contribution towards earning a good image for Sri Lanka in the global market, as a centre of excellence in rubber glove production.
* Investigations with little breakthrough:
Dipped Products PLC yesterday denied allegations that its factory in Weliveriya was functioning without the approval of the Central Environment Authority (CEA).
Responding to allegations that Dipped Products Factory in Weliweriya is operating without a valid Environment Protection License (EPL), its Managing Director Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma in a media communiqué said the CEA had granted the license on November 20 last year and was valid until the end of October.
“We wish to enlighten all our stakeholders, interested parties and the General Public that the said Factory operates with a valid Environmental Protection License (EPL). The Factory received its most recent license on November 20, 2012 which was issued by the Director General of the Central Environmental Authority and the Director – Environment Management of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and is valid until October 31, 2013,” he said.
Meanwhile, several investigations into the incidents are still ongoing with very little breakthrough. The Police last week said over 90 weapons used by the military during the Weliveriya incident on August 1 were taken into custody.
* HRW calls for independent and transparent probe into Weliweriya incident:
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that the Sri Lankan government should stop issuing misleading information and promptly hold an independent and transparent inquiry into the deaths of protesters at Weliweriya on August 1, 2013.
At least three people were killed and several injured after security forces fired live ammunition at protesters who were demanding access to clean drinking water.
According to news reports, soldiers fired on local residents and Buddhist monks who were demonstrating for clean water on the Colombo-Kandy Road in Weliweriya, Gampaha district, about 25 kilometers from Colombo.
The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa claims that the soldiers reacted in self-defense against protesters who hurled rocks and petrol bombs and shot at them. The unclear circumstances leading to the deaths and injuries, as well as government statements exonerating the solders involved, highlight the need for an independent inquiry, HRW said in a statement.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* The Cry For Water At Weliweriya:
Sri Lanka is legally bound by international human rights treaties to respect and protect the right to life and provide effective remedy when this right is violated. However, questions are being raised as to whether the government is abiding by these laws or whether they are limited only to paper.
Following the August 1 mayhem at Weliweriya which killed three people and severely injured more than 40 villagers reportadly, residents of Weliweriya and its neighbouring villages are pointing their fingers at the government for sending barrels of live ammunition instead of barrels of drinking water.
It is alleged by Rathupaswela villagers that the government had taken steps to safeguard the interest of Dipped Products PLC, a subsidiary of Hayleys Group of Companies.
When the villagers of Weliweriya and 12 neighouring villages reportedly came to know that their natural water resources have been contaminated due to untreated waste chemicals discharged by Dipped Products PLC- Vinigros Pvt Ltd, they made an appeal to the government to shut the factory and provide them with clean drinking water.
* Weliweriya Water Protests A Counter Point Of View:
It has become a habit to politicize selective events but ignore the core issue.
Before everyone is conveniently taken off track by politicized versions what needs to be reiterated is that the key issue was WATER, the people went on to the streets because of WATER and what resulted was because of WATER… or was it?
Why are the finger pointers not demanding action from authorities about the WATER? Why has the water been shoved into the background? From the commentaries that abound the shift is focused towards portraying the impression that the Sri Lankan military purposely went armed to fire upon “unarmed” civilians drawing parallels with May 2009 war effort.
* Weliweriya! People Speak Out:
The photograph of a grieving mother as she looks on her young son lying in a coffin has been imprinted in everyone’s memory- the terrible aftermath of what people are already calling ‘Black Thursday’ when the military opened fire on protesters in Weliweriya, killing at least three people.
As the island watched the events unfold in horror, The Sunday Leader turned to civil society, lawyers and politicians from the area to hear what they had to say on the tragedy.