* Garment Industry- Health and Safety:
Health and safety conditions in many garment factories are extremely inadequate. Long hours of repetitive work often lead to injuries which then go undiagnosed.
Workers who cannot keep up with production due to pain or discomfort would be fired. In addition to this, there is often no clean water available to drink, and workers are not permitted to use the toilet when they need it. Emergency procedure is often non-existent and many factories have no emergency exits. Poor conditions are degrading, humiliating and often very dangerous.
Many of the most pressing health issues for garment workers stem from the endless hours they spend working. Poor ergonomics combined with long hours and unrelenting pressure to meet production quotas lead to eye strain, fatigue and debilitating overuse injuries that often go untreated. Rather than adapting tools and tasks to prevent injuries, bosses routinely ignore complaints of pain and discomfort, and fire workers who can no longer keep up with production.
Workers may also be fired for taking time off to get medical care or to recover from an injury orr illness. In Bangladesh, a worker interviewed in 2003 was ill at work for two months before she missed a day to go to the doctor. Her manager then deducted two days pay,and she lost her full attendance bonus. On return she was told to work an extra eight hours unpaid to catch up with her target. In total, being unwell cost her 11 days’ wages.
08:04:43 local time PHILIPPINES
* Editorial: Boosting Philippine exports to Europe:
The Philippines seeks to increase its exports to the 27-nation European Union (EU) by applying for more duty-free privileges under the revised Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+) EU scheme to support less developed economies starting January 1, 2014.
The country now benefits from the general GSP arrangement which covers 6,209 products, 2,442 of which are subject to zero duty, while 3,767 are subject to reduced tariffs. Philippine top GSP exports to EU include crude coconut oil, pneumatic tires, spectacle lenses, canned tuna, prepared fruits, activated carbon, and imitation jewelry. Last year, the country shipped 1.076-billion euros or P62.8-billion worth of products under the GSP.
The GSP+ arrangement has a larger coverage of 6,274 products, all of which are subject to zero duty. Major products that will enjoy zero duties include textiles with 1,125 product lines, agriculture with 918 lines, and fisheries with 292 lines. If the Philippines qualifies for GSP+, the Department of Trade and Industry estimated that Philippine exports to EU may increase by 12% and create 270,000 jobs.
07:04:43 local time CAMBODIA
* City Hall strike draws thousands:
Thousands of garment factory workers yesterday blocked traffic in the city centre as they called for – and seemingly won – the return of hundreds of fellow employees who were fired earlier this week, allegedly for their union involvement.
The approximately 4,000-person demonstration in front of Phnom Penh’s City Hall by SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd blocked a busy stretch of Monivong Boulevard for three hours as SL employees flooded into the street.
Workers pumped their fists and chanted while standing between City Hall and Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where representatives of 25 international apparel brands were meeting yesterday to discuss industry issues, including wages and strike resolution.
The protest followed an announcement from management at SL – which supplies Gap, Levi’s and H&M – that they fired hundreds of employees less than a week after employees returned from a two-week strike.
SL only fired the 720 employees in an effort to intimidate the workforce, Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said as union members rallied protesters with speeches given through loudspeakers perched atop a tuk-tuk parked in the middle of the street.
* Cambodian garment workers protest over alleged mass dismissal:
Around 4,000 Cambodian garment workers protested on Thursday after a factory supplying global brands including Gap and H&M allegedly fired hundreds of their colleagues for striking over conditions.
Union leaders said the Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing factory fired 720 workers on Wednesday while more than 5,000 others were suspended after a two-week long strike.
Workers had walked out claiming intimidation over regular factory inspections carried out by an official flanked by military police.
The workers on Thursday marched some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the factory to Phnom Penh’s City Hall to urge the government to intervene in the dispute.
“We want the factory to allow the workers to go back to work,” union leader Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, told reporters.
read more. & read more.
* Garment workers protest in Cambodian capital:
Thousands of workers march in Phnom Penh against “unfair” sacking of their colleagues and poor salaries.
About 4,000 Cambodian garment workers have protested in Phnom Penh after a factory supplying global brands including GAP and H&M fired hundreds of their colleagues for striking over insufficient wages.
The demonstrators said on Thursday that the Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing factory fired 720 workers a day earlier while more than 5,000 others were suspended after a two-week long strike.
They had walked out claiming intimidation over regular factory inspections carried out by an official flanked by military police.
The workers marched about 10km from the factory to the capital’s City Hall to urge the government to intervene in the dispute.
“We want the factory to allow the workers to go back to work,” union leader Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, told reporters.
“But if they want to close they factory they must pay compensation to workers according to the law,” he said.
* What You Get When Firing 600 Workers…:
After ending their 10-day long strike at the SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd factory, some 600 workers, mostly members of the CAWDU (Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union) were fired by the management.
Today, about 1500 marched for three hours from their factory to city hall and blocked Monivong boulevard for several hours.
* Cambodia Garment Workers in Mass Protest Over ‘Unfair’ Dismissals:
More than 4,000 garment workers marched in Cambodia’s capital Thursday to protest their factory’s alleged mass dismissal of employees who had gone on strike.
The labor protest is one of the largest this year in Cambodia, an impoverished Southeast Asian economy heavily reliant on the garment industry as its main exports earner and biggest formal sector employer.
Union leaders and workers from the Singaporean-owned SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd. say they marched to Phnom Penh’s municipal-government buildings, where they lobbied authorities to intervene in a standoff that started two weeks ago.
Workers say they went on strike over what they described as workplace intimidation, citing the alleged presence of military police during regular factory inspections. SL Garment responded by sacking more than 700 workers on Wednesday and suspending more than 5,000 others, according to Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.
* After mass protest, 700 fired factory workers reinstated:
* BetterFactories Media updates 3-6 September 2013:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-09-03 Garment grievances to be aired
2013-09-03 Thai fishing industry under spotlight
2013-09-03 Unionists clock three months’ jail
2013-09-04 Gov’t warns unions on demo
2013-09-05 Dozens collapse at factory
2013-09-05 Mum’s the word at yearly brand forum
2013-09-05 Unionist fired, again
2013-09-06 City hall strike draws thousands
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-09-03 In Sao Paulo sweatshops, the Brazilian dream goes away
2013-09-05 Dozens faint at Korean- owned garment factory
2013-09-06 Activists blame short contracts for strikes
2013-09-06 After mass protest, 700 fired factory workers reinstated
* To read in the printed edition of the Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
* Cambodia appeals to garment workers not to participate in protest:
Cambodia’s Labor Ministry appealed to garment workers to remain calm although the opposition are set to hold a massive protest on September 7 against the results of the July 28 election in which the Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party won a majority of vote.
“The Ministry would like to appeal to workers, trade unions, employers to stay calm and fulfill their duties as usual, avoiding participation in any planned demonstration,” said a statement released to the Media on Wednesday.
The statement said the propagandizing of some politicians to attract workers to join the protest could affect workers’ living standards and create disorder in society.
* Cambodian pro-opposition trade unions urge garment workers to join mass protest:
The Cambodian pro-opposition trade unions on Thursday called on garment workers, civil servants and common people to join a massive nonviolent demonstration against the July 28 election results.
In the election, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s party gained the victory.
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) of long-time opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced to hold a mass protest on Saturday morning at the capital’s Freedom Park.
“The Free Trade Union of Workers would like to appeal to our 100,000 members and other workers to boycott overtime on Saturday in order to join the CNRP’s protest,” the Union’s president Chea Mony said in an appeal letter.
read more. & read more.
08:04:43 local time MALAYSIA
* Clear plan to prioritise low, medium income groups in Budget:
The government should come out with a clear plan in the tabling of the 2014 Budget by giving priority to the low and medium income groups who are facing the rising cost of living following the recent cut in fuel subsidy.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said Umno Youth in its meeting today agreed on several moves that should be introduced by the government to help ease the people’s burden, including tax reduction in a more specific way.
08:04:43 local time INDONESIA
20130904 * Workers go on strike, again, call for wage hike:
We want more: Labor unions grouped under the Jakarta Labor Forum stage a demonstration outside City Hall in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. The workers were opposed to a presidential instruction on the minimum wage for 2014 that limits raises. They also demanded the Jakarta administration set new a wage of Rp 3.7 million (US$323) next year. (JP/P.J. Leo)
Around 3,000 workers on Tuesday took to the streets, besieging City Hall in Central Jakarta, in a second attempt to pressure the governor into raising the minimum wage.
The demonstration, organized by the Jakarta Labor Forum, was the second after the city wage committee in July began discussing the 2014 minimum wage.
It was aimed to air participants’ rejection of the recent presidential instruction that said wage hikes would be based on inflation levels and limited wage hikes to a maximum 10 percent. The presidential instruction was issued to support the government’s economic policy aimed at defusing the economic downturn.
20130905 * Laborers March, Roads Closed:
As many as 6,000 laborers held a massive wave of protest at the Hotel Indonesia Boulevard, Jakarta. They were marching to the Presidential Palace at Jalan Merdeka Utara.
The laborers have flocked the streets starting from Semanggi to Sudirman. Senior Commissioner M. Chairul, Chief of Operation Bureau at the Jakarta Metro Police, suggested people to avoid the streets surrounding the march route. “We are so sorry for the inconvenience,” he said.
Commissioner Chairul mentioned that the laborers have secured a permit to march until 6 pm local time in the afternoon today, September 5. The laborers demanded a nationwide wage raise of 50 percent and a minimum regional wage of Rp 3,7 million for Jakarta. They also demanded their rights of health insurance and the promotion of outsourcing workers to permanent employees.
20130905 * Thousands of workers hold rally in Jakarta, demanding higher wages:
About five thousand workers from various unions held a rally in front of the Presidential Palace on Thursday, demanding an increase in their wages and the immediate implementation of the National Health Insurance (Jamkesmas).
The protesters conducted a marathon rally starting from the Indonesian Hotel area in Central Jakarta to the Presidential Palace, where they will centre their action.
The protesters brought banners and gave speeches with their demands to the government.
“Workers are in denial of their low wages and are demanding the government under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to increase the minimum wage standard by 50 percent in 2014,” said a protester.
20130905 * Jakarta Workers Rally for 50% Minimum Wage Increase; Employers Say No:
Some 20,000 Greater Jakarta workers rallied on Thursday to demand a 50 percent increase in regional minimum wage for 2014.
“We refuse the Presidential instruction that increasing the 2014 minimum wage would violate the 2003 law on manpower,” said Teguh Maianto of the All-Indonesian Workers Trade Union.
The protestors, drawn from several union and labor groups, gathered at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the State Palace, the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Health.
The wage increase was necessary, Teguh said, because of increases in commodity and subsidized-fuel prices.
The protesters also demanded no salary deductions for workers in the new social security plan to be implemented on January 1.
20130906 * Workers want more than 10 percent hike:
An estimated 7,000 workers from the city and surrounding areas staged a mass rally, demanding the government significantly raise the provincial minimum wages and retract a recent presidential instruction, which set the ceiling of wage increases to 10 percent.
The demonstrators, mostly members of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers’ Union (KSPI), marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the National Monument (Monas), causing traffic to back up along Jl. Thamrin, Jl. Sudirman and the streets around Monas Square for hours.
They also besieged the Presidential Palace but to no avail as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is out of the country on a visit to Poland and Russia.
However, the labor rally was not sullied by violence as the police deployed 11,000 personnel — including those from the Jakarta Military Command — to maintain security and order as well as to help ease the traffic congestion.
* Wage, labor issues annoy investors in Batam:
Workers’ rallies, ahead of the 2014 City Minimum Wage (UMK) discussion in Batam, Riau Islands, have raised concern among various parties, especially foreign investors.
The Batam Free Trade Zone Management Agency (BPK FTZ) has received complaints, especially from Japanese investors, on the unpredictable wage increase as well as rallies , which often ended in anarchy, and would eventually cause them to relocate their businesses to other regions.
* Rational Minimum Wage:
The plan to issue a Presidential Instruction (PI) regarding provincial minimum wage (UMP) in 2014, which increases to maximum 10% plus the previous year’s inflation rate, is rejected.
The labor assumed the PI will reinstate the low wage regime due to the rising price of basic needs motored by the subsidized fuel price hike will not be covered by the increasing UMP based on the PI.
The Jakarta Labor Forum, which consists of several labor unions, such as the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) and the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI) met with Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Thajaja Purnama or known as Ahok.
Despite rejecting the PI issuance plan, they also filed other claims: First, the addition of decent living standard (KHL) components to 84 items from 60 items.
* Jakarta to reduce workers’ living costs:
In a bid to provide quality living to industrial workers, the Jakarta administration is planning to build thousands of units of low-cost apartments around industrial areas.
The plan relates to workers’ demands for a 68 percent wage raise by next year, on the basis that living expenses had increased as a consequence of the July fuel price increase.
* Minister Stresses Need for Women to Fulfill Potential:
Across economies, whether developed or emerging, countries are not leveraging the full potential of 50 percent of its population — women.
Despite legal norms and women’s suffrage rights having largely been established, females are still battling the indirect and direct discrimination of social norms especially in education, the workplace and the overall economy, to name a few.
Socially, women not only face a glass ceiling in the workplace, but in many developing countries are unable to access education nor make their own choices. But women are not to be underestimated.
“The largest growing economic force in the world isn’t China or India — it’s women,” wrote CNN journalist Kevin Voigt in 2009 after the first astonishing findings of the sort were published in a World Bank report.
According to the World Bank, the global earning power of women is expected to reach $18 trillion by 2014, up $5 trillion from 2009 earnings — yes, bigger than the size of the US economy.
In Indonesia, the type of work women take up is both in formal and informal industries that have easy requirements in terms of capital and permits where no complex technical know-how is needed. These include the sector of food and beverages (F&B), handicraft and clothing. In F&B, women-owned SMEs make up more than 30 percent of SMEs, whereas the textile garment and leather industries show similar figures.
06:34:43 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Commission report highlights mistreatment of workers in Myanmar factories:
A parliamentary commission has released a report detailing the abuse of workers after surveying various industries and garment factories around Myanmar.
The Union Parliament Joint Commission has found that workers had to work 12 hour shifts a day and are even forced to work standing with only a 45 minute to 1 hour lunch break. Moreover, some foreign-owned factories treated their workers rudely and forced them to work overtime, with little extra pay.
“This is quite contrary to the International Labor Organisation Convention 1, Article 2. This is really affecting the health of the workers and the majority of the workers are not in good health and their morale is also very low because of consequences of working long hours,” the report says.
The preliminary commission investigated over 200 factories in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bago Regions. Later, the commission surveyed 79 factories and submitted their findings in the report to parliament.
05:49:43 local time NEPAL
* Exporters look forward to GSP facility:
With the government’s initiative to revise the list of exportable products for Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility, garment and pashmina producers are hopeful about receiving duty free export facility to the United States soon.
The US GSP programme for Nepal expired on July 31, 2013. According to the Trade and Export Promotion Centre, after the expiry of the facility, the US has asked for a new list of products that could be eligible for the GSP treatment, by October.
During the first meeting of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in the US, Nepal had raised the issue of GSP facilitation for garments and pashmina. Nepali entrepreneurs had also underlined the need to revise GSP during the first joint council meeting of Nepal and US to clear trade hurdles.
According to president of Nepal Pashmina Industries Association Pushpa Man Shrestha, along with the preparation for GSP treatment for pashmina and garments, the government should also make exporters aware about GSP to increase the rate of its utilisation and its advantages.
06:04:43 local time BANGLADESH
THE SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Geneva meet to fix compensation for RMG victims of Tazreen and Rana Plaza:
ILO facilitates global brands’ meeting Sept 11-12
An international meeting to determine compensation for readymade garment (RMG) victims of Tazreen and Rana Plaza disasters will be held in Geneva on September 11 and 12.
The meeting will focus on development of a collaborative process for determining the amount of compensation and the process of distributing those to those whose family life, economic well-being and health have been severely shattered as a result of these tragedies. The process will draw on an existing framework established following previous tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment industry.
Earlier the meeting was scheduled to be held in Dhaka on August 11 and 12 but was deferred due to sudden illness of a key union official and a strike threat in Bangladesh.
The first meeting will discuss compensation for the Tazreen victims while the second for the Rana Plaza and will seek to achieve proper compensation payments to the victims and survivors of the two industrial accidents, a statement issued by IndustriALL Global Union said Wednesday.
In an another statement, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC)– the largest global alliance of labour unions in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector– said the CCC is increasing its pressure on Benetton, Mango and other fashion brands to pay full and fair compensation to victims of the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.
All brands, including Walmart, which are linked to the Tazreen and Rana Plaza disasters are being called to attend the meetings.
* RMG victims compensation talks in Geneva next week:
The meetings will seek to achieve proper compensation payments to the victims and survivors of the two industrial accidents
Bangladesh compensation meetings, aiming to provide compensation package for victims of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen fire incidents, will be held on Wednesday and Thursday next in Geneva.
The meetings will seek to achieve proper compensation payments to the victims and survivors of the two industrial accidents, said a statement of IndustriALL Global Union.
“IndustriALL is working hard to get brands and retailers that sourced from Tazreen and Rana Plaza to participate in talks,” it reads.
The meetings will be hosted and neutrally chaired by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The message to brands from IndustriALL will be clear,” stated IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* Factory safety compliance to push up production cost:
Apparel manufacturers expect the cost of clothing production to increase sharply in the days to come, because of setting high the factory safety standards and wage hikes in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse.
Stakeholders, however, have assured that Bangladesh’s garment industry would still remain competitive in the global market.
Rising labour cost is going to be the main factor in the increasing cost of production, they said. Compliance costs, which involve the need to reduce factory subcontracting and commit to action plans, including the EU’s Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, is another factor.
“Manufacturing costs will be higher in the days to come,” said Rubana Huq, managing director of Mohammadi Group, a large manufacturer that supplies retailers such as H&M, Zara, Wal-Mart and Esprit.
“Prices of garment items may increase by some 15-20 cents after the implementation of a new workers’ wage board and factory safety plan,” she said. “Despite the increase, Bangladesh will remain competitive in the world market.”
* Buyers, stakeholders meet tomorrow to find common standard:
Stakeholders of the country’s apparel industry — the government, manufacturers, buyers, workers and International Labour Organisation — are going to meet tomorrow to work out a common standard for inspection of structural integrity and fire safety of the garment factories.
To finalise a comprehensive standard for the inspection, the decent work programme of the ILO is organising the meeting ‘technical workshop on common standards for assessment of building, fire and electrical safety of RMG factories in Bangladesh’ at the Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.
‘The programme is aimed at setting a unified code of conduct in the light of National Action Plan to ensure effective inspection system for all parties concerned,’ labour secretary Mikail Shiper told New Age on Thursday.
He said, ‘Representatives of EU Accord are coming Bangladesh for the second time since its meeting with the readymade garment sector leaders on July 30.’
‘We hope significant progress would be made in the meeting as both EU and North American buyers groups will attend the programme with a common goal,’ Reaz added.
* EPZ reforms on cards as govt seeks to revive GSP facility:
A committee the government set up in the past week to consider labour law changes for exports processing zones will need to work hard to strike a balance between the workers, who are seeking the same labour rights enjoyed by non-EPZ workers, and the foreign investors who are concerned about the introduction of trade unions.
Bangladesh has eight EPZs, which have till August received cumulative foreign investment of about $3 billion, according to the statistics available with the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority. In addition, local investment in the special zones is more tan $688 million.
The Prime Minister’s Office set up the committee in response to the United States Trade Representative’s office handing over an ‘action plan’ to be implemented by the government to revive the GSP facility for Bangladesh goods exported to the US market.
The United States on June 28 suspended the GSP facility for Bangladesh goods entering the US market citing, amongst other things, lack of workplace safety and shortcomings in labour standards in the country’s apparel sector.
05:34:43 local time INDIA
* Cotton exports to fall 22% this year as China buys less:
India’s cotton exports are expected to drop by a fifth this year on account of a slump in purchases by top cotton consumer China and higher domestic prices, a Reuters survey of traders and exporters found.
Lower Indian exports this year could provide some respite to soft world cotton prices which have shed nearly 12 percent since mid-August on expectations of higher output in the upcoming season in India, the world’s second-biggest cotton producer.
China holds about 60 percent of world cotton stocks in state reserves. A radical plan to ditch its stockpiling programme in favour of subsidies to farmers that could lead to a long-term cut in China’s imports has also hurt market sentiment.
05:04:43 local time PAKISTAN
* ‘Water conservation, a necessity in textile sector’:
The water availability issue in the country is likely to supersede the energy crisis in the coming years, experts have warned.
According to a case study by Kochi University of Technology Japan titled “Industrial and Household Water Demand Management”, the industrial sector in Pakistan was consuming 1.983 10×6 cubic metres of water in 2010, a figure that is estimated to increase to 2.613 10×6 cubic metres by 2020. According to the study, the textile sector is the largest consumer of industrial water, accounting for 69 percent of the total consumption.
Of the total water used by industries in Pakistan, the chemical sector consumes 10 percent of water, the paper industry five percent, the food industry five percent and other industries consume 11 percent.