08:29:35 local time VIET NAM
* Lack of inspection blamed for deaths:
The shortage of labour inspectors is to blame for the failure to prevent workplace accidents and occupational diseases, the Department of Labour Safety has said in a report.
The report shows there were more than 3,300 accidents in the first six months of this year, 262 more than in the same period of last year.
More than 300 workers were killed.
More than half of them occurred because employers flouted labour safety and hygiene regulations, and the rest due to workers’ violations.
08:29:35 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment Workers Break Through Police Barrier:
About 4,000 workers from three garment factories marched to the Ministry of Social Affairs in Phnom Penh on Tuesday after breaking through a police barrier that was set up to stop them advancing up Monivong Boulevard in order to express their grievances over the presence of armed officers at their workplace.
The workers left two factories belonging to Hong Kong-owned SL Garment Processing company—which make clothes for U.S. brands Levi’s and Gap—and the Next Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey district early Tuesday morning, but were met with a police blockade.
“The police put up a barricade in order to prevent workers from going to march,” said Ouch Noeun, a representative from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union. “Then workers then broke through, but no one was injured.”
L Garment workers have been protesting for several weeks outside the factories, occasionally blocking the busy Street 371 and calling for the removal of Okhna Meas Sotha, who was taken on as an adviser at the beginning of the month, because of unpopular changes he has made and the introduction of military police officers as guards.
07:29:35 local time BANGLADESH
* Tk 8,000 in minimum wage for RMG workers demanded:
Terming the new Labour Law a ‘weapon’ to persecute the workers, speakers at a roundtable discussion on Wednesday said the government formulated the law only to serve interests of the owners.
“The government formulated the anti-worker law as per the dictation of the garment owners even after two big tragedies of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire,” said Shahidullah Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre.
Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra (GSTUK) organised the programme at Pragati conference room in the capital.
Speaking on the occasion, eminent economist Prof Anu Mohammad said garment workers must be provided Tk 8,000 as minimum wage considering the present situation.
Labour leaders Quazi Ruhul Amin and Taslima Akhter Lima, among others, addressed the programme with GSTUK president Montu Gosh in the chair.
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* Roundtable on RMG workers’ wage held:
Politicians, academics and labour leaders at a roundtable in the city on Wednesday called for fixing basic minimum wage of the garment workers at Tk. 8,000 per month to maintain their families in the wake of price hikes of essential commodities.
The apparel workers now receive basic minimum wage of Tk.3,000 per month and government has formed a wage board for fixing the wage of the garment workers.
Garment Sramik Trade Union Centre organised the roundtable on ‘Fixing minimum basic wage of the garment workers for maintaining their livelihood,’ chaired by president of the centre Mantu Ghosh.
Joly Talukder, the joint general secretary of the centre, read out the keynote paper at the programme where she claimed that the workers, specially the garment workers, were mostly deprived as they get the lowest wage.
* RMG workers’ demo tomorrow (Thursday):
RMG workers want minimum wage to be raised to Tk8000
Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra will hold a demonstration in front of the National Press Club tomorrow, to demand an increase in minimum wage for readymade garment (RMG) workers.
RMG workers want minimum wage to be raised to Tk8000.
The decision to demonstrate was taken at a roundtable to discuss how to improve the living-standards of RMG workers in Bangladesh. Discussants sought ways to improve conditions in the sector so it can contribute towards the nation’s development.
Speakers said there is no alternative left but to demonstrate to ensure RMG workers receive appropriate wages.
RMG workers’ leaders said only if they were united and worked together would they be able to achieve their demands.
They said failure to protect workers’ rights would result in being at the mercy of garment factory owners’ and their musclemen.
Montu Ghose, president of Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra presided at the roundtable while several others, including Jalil Talukdar, joint secretary of the union spoke.
Meanwhile, Garment Sramik Samonnay Parishad, another platform of RMG workers, plans to hold a rally at Suhrawardy Uddyan on September 21 to announce their demands.
* EU, USA buyers to start apparel factoryinspection on September 15:
After getting certificates from the buyers, the manufacturers will be able to do business comfortably
Buyers from Europe and America are going to start inspection of at least 2,000 apparel factories in the country from September 15 to ensure proper structural designs and fire safety of the buildings.
“It is good for the industry,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) President Atiqul Islam told the Dhaka tribune Wednesday. “After getting certificates from the buyers, the manufacturers will be able to do business comfortably.”
The twin tragedies – fire incident at Tazreen Fashions and collapse of Rana Plaza – were the wakeup call for the industry as well as the buyers as they joined hands together to improve the labour safety and ensure workers’ rights.
* BD exports set to face toughest competition:
Bangladesh’s exports, mainly the ready-made garment (RMG), is set to face the toughest competition amid weakening of currencies of major competitors in global market as the development would erode its competitiveness significantly.
This warning came from the country’s leading economists.
Indonesia’s Rupiah, Indian Rupee, Turkish Lira, South African Rand all have weakened substantially against US dollar since May last.
The currencies have depreciated at the rate of 10 to 30 per cent in recent months.
* Rupee slide to dent garment exports from Bangladesh:
The ongoing slide of the Indian currency is poised to cause some major dents to Bangladesh’s garment business abroad, seeing that the two neighbouring countries compete in the same segments globally.
The rupee slumped to a record low of 68.75 to the dollar yesterday amid growing concerns over the health of the Indian economy.
Although both the Bangladeshi taka and the Indian rupee now have more or less the same denomination value against the dollar, the rupee’s downtrend suggests it is bound to get cheaper in the near future and in the process, divert Bangladesh’s orders to India.
Particularly affected will be Bangladesh’s exports to the US, where the South Asian neighbours enjoy a level-playing field but India has an edge due to its own cotton production.
“Even the confirmed orders will go to India if the rupee continues to decline this way,” said Abdus Salam Murshedy, a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
* Running BTMC mills profitably under PPP:
There has been a unique proposal to help boost the country’s ailing public sector textile mills. The Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) has recently proposed to run all its mills under public-private partnership (PPP) initiative with a view to making its debt-ridden units viable again, financially.
In a set of proposals to the government, it suggested that all the mills, either individually or in a group, could be structured like a separate and limited company, in cases where the corporation has either majority or minority stakes, depending on the extent of its investment. Such companies may be run under PPP arrangements or as joint ventures (JVs) with private companies of reputation, having experience and a sound track record in managing units profitably, particularly in the sector.
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Bangladesh textile workers await compensation:
Since the collapse of a building in Dhaka, which killed over 1,000 textile workers, victims and their families have yet to be compensated. Negotiations are due in September, but most companies have refused to pay so far.
Some four million people work in Bangladesh’s textile industry, an economic sector expected to drive the country into a better future. But also Salma, who had left her nine-month-old daughter back in her parent’s village to find work in a garment factory in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, had hopes for a better life.
In a video commissioned by the Dutch church organization ICCO, she talks about her desperate situation after the factory building collapsed in Rana Plaza on April 24 this year and how an injury to her spine paralyzed her. She doesn’t know how she will be able to earn a living now.
’25 years of lost wages‘
The collapse of the illegally constructed factory building killed 1,134 people. To this day it remains unclear exactly how many people were injured, but Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, puts the figure at 2,500. The unionist has called for binding and compressive compensation, based on the norms set by the International Labor Organization (ILO): “We calculate 25 years of lost wages for the victims,” Raina told DW.
IndustriALL, a federation with 50 million union members from 140 countries, recently invited the companies who had ordered garments from Rana Plaza to talk about compensation claims. The meeting, which is scheduled to take place in September, is supported by Clean Clothes Campaign, an Amsterdam-based organization focused on improving working conditions in the global garment industry.
* Govt to send rejoinder to NY Times editorial:
Rana Plaza victims’ compensation
The government has taken a move to send a rejoinder to The New York Times against its recent editorial on payment of compensations to the Rana Plaza victims.
It already asked the authorities concerned to take necessary steps for sending the rejoinder, sources mentioned.
There had been criticisms regarding the payment of compensation both at home in abroad, the sources said adding that labour leaders have been demanding specific announcement on the compensation package.
The NY Times said after the Rana Plaza disaster, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to give the relatives of each dead worker about $1,250 in cash and $19,000 in savings certificates.
The money was supposed to come from the government and from private donations by, among others, the factory owners.
But the government is yet to distribute most of that money. It has provided sums ranging from $1,250 to $5,000 to about 777 families, far short of the total compensation it had promised.
Also, many of the remaining families have not received any aid at all, because the government has not moved fast enough to identify nearly 300 bodies, it added.
On august 21, ministry of foreign affairs in a letter to the ministry of commerce (MoC) asked to prepare a rejoinder/report against the NY Times’ allegation of insufficient compensation, distributed among the Rana Plaza victims.
06:59:35 local time INDIA
* TNPCB orders closure of tannery after death of two workers:
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has ordered the closure of M/s. Veera Leather Exports, a tannery located in the SIPCOT Industrial Estate in Ranipet, owing to its failure to adhere to the safety measures recommended by the Board while carrying out the cleaning of the effluent tank, resulting in the death of two workers due to asphyxiation on August 18.
According to a release from the Collector of Vellore, following information that several factories did not follow the safety procedures in the process of cleaning effluent tanks, on the instructions of the Chief Minister, the TNPCB conducted awareness seminars last year among the factory managements on the safety measures to be followed by them to prevent death of employees due to the adoption of unsafe practices in the cleaning of effluent tanks and other processes in all the districts.
A meeting of representatives of all tanneries in Vellore district was held in Melvisharam on August 28, 2012 to create awareness among them about the safety procedures.
But, despite such meetings, a tragic incident had occurred in the above mentioned tannery resulting in the death of two workers on August 18.
* Indian textile weaving industry yet to modernize: Report:
* Indian textile majors post good FY’14 results:
Fibre2fashion.com’s finance research desk has analyzed financial performance of 18 large textiles-apparel companies for the quarter ended June 2013. These companies are mostly composite mills and large manufacturers focusing on exports & domestic market.
The initial study of the financial performance for these large companies for the quarter ended June 2013 shows positive trends. The aggregate gross sales of 18 large textile-apparel manufacturers for quarter ended June 2012 was Rs. 9658 crore, which has increased by 15.65% to Rs. 11163.86 crore for quarter ended June 2013.
This is considerably higher growth in comparison with other industries like automobile, steel, & infrastructure industries.
* Garment exporters fail to capitalise on rupee fall:
The consistent fall in the rupee against the dollar has aided the textiles sector but the volatility in the exchange rate isn’t allowing the segment to reap the full benefits of the currency’s fall.
Experts say a gradual fall is acceptable to buyers and is absorbed in the international market. But the rupee’s collapse and better realisations of Indian exporters aren’t appreciated by foreign buyers, which are trying to renegotiate contracts. “We have been asked to reduce prices, as our buyers are aware of the sharp fall in the rupee but the problem that would arise later is when the rupee appreciates, it would be difficult to raise prices, as it is a very competitive market,” said Mitesh Shah, vice-president (finance), Mandhana Industries, a garment exporter.
The textile industry is in a a Catch-22 situation — a renegotiation of contracts on the terms of buyers would result in huge losses once the rupee starts to appreciate. Two months ago, garment manufacturers had reduced prices 10-15 per cent. Now, they are being pressed to cut prices further. S P Oswal, chairman of Vardhman Group, says it might give a rosy picture, as the sliding rupee could fetch higher realisations, but the uncertainty in the market offsets all the gains in the short run.
* Pawar’s ‘promotion’ of GM crops draws activists’ flak:
A day after agriculture minister Sharad Pawar made a strong pitch for field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops citing the success story of Bt cotton, several anti-GM lobbyists dismissed his call for “sensible approach” to resolve food security crisis as his “mindless promotion” of GM crops.
Pawar, quoting increase in productivity of cotton and income of farmers after introduction of Bt Cotton in the country, had on Tuesday said, “I think the time has come that we have to take a sensible approach to resolve the problem of food security.”
Responding to members’ concern in the Lok Sabha over use of GM crops, he had emphasized that the farmers preferred genetically modified cotton for its higher yield, more disease-resistance and better profitability.
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