* TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE & SAVAR BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* Brands Failing Victims of Bangladesh Disasters:
* Over twenty brands refuse discuss compensation for dead and injured workers
* Twelve brands committed to attend meetings
* Clean Clothes Campaign urges all, including Walmart, Benetton and
Mango to attend
The Clean Clothes Campaign welcomes the news that 12 brands have agreed to attend meetings in Geneva to discuss the provision of long term compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza and Tazreen factory diasters in Bangladesh. However it remains shocked at the refusal of over twenty others to take responsibility. It calls
on the remaining brands, including Wlamart, Benetton and Mango to reconsider and take part in the negotiations.
The meetings have been called by the global union IndustriALL and will be hosted by the International Labour Organisation, who will also act as a neutral chair. The participants will discuss the setting up of a fund to pay out compensation to those families affected by the fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012 and the collapse of five garment factories housed at the Rana Plaza building in April 2013.
The compensation amounts under discussion should cover payment for pain and suffering, loss of income, educational costs for children who lost parents and medical expenses.
It is expected that funds will be contributed by all stakeholders including brands, the industry and the Bangladesh government.
“It is now almost nine months since the fire at Tazreen and five months since the collapse at Rana Plaza,” said Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Those families affected are struggling to cope in the aftermath of these disasters and we are hearing daily of families at risk of losing their homes and struggling to get the medical and psychological treatment they need. The issue of compensation is urgent and pressing and we hope for a constructive meeting and a positive outcome for these workers and their families.”
A number of brands and retailers have, to date, refused to accept responsibility for the fate of the workers killed and injured in the two disasters. Walmart, which was linked to both Tazreen and Rana Plaza, has yet to make any commitment to the payment of compensation in either case. Benetton and Mango, both of whom had orders at factories housed in Rana Plaza have also remained silent on whether
they will attend the meeting.
“These workers risked their lives earning a pittance to make clothes for Walmart, Benetton and Mango,” added Zeldenrust.
“As a result they have lost their jobs, their health and in the worst cases their lives. The least these brands can do now is commit to paying what is needed for these families to start rebuilding their future. We urge all of them to take responsibility for the lives ruined by these disasters and to attend the meetings this week.”
Update on brands associated with Tazreen and Rana Plaza and compensation.
15:43:31 local time PHILIPPINES
* TUCP to appeal P10 wage hike in NCR:
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is set to appeal the P10 increase given to minimum-wage earners in Metro Manila, saying the amount is “unacceptable for workers now facing high prices of rice and basic commodities.”
The regional wage board in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday ordered a P10 per day increase that hiked the minimum wage to P466 in Metro Manila.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the regional tripartite wage and productivity board in the NCR also decided to “integrate P15 of the existing P30 Cost-of-Living Allowance [Cola] under RTWPB-NCR Wage Order 17 into the basic wage effective January 1, 2014. This will bring the new basic wage to P451 and the new minimum wage to P466.”
14:43:31 local time VIET NAM
* Six workers at foreign-owned enterprise hospitalized of exhaustion:
At midnight, six workers in a garment company in Da Nang city was hospitalized for emergency.
The authorities determined that they had to work 17 hours per day.
At 2 pm on September 7, many garment workers of the Vietnam Knitwear Company (based in Hoa Khanh Industrial Zone, Lien Chieu District) panicked when seeing many people fainted.
Nearly an hour later, six workers were taken to the hospital of Lien Chieu District for emergency.
Mr. Nguyen Trong, deputy chief inspector of the Da Nang Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said the workers were fainted from exhaustion while working not because of illness or suffocation.
“Workers were forced to work overtime totaling 17 hours per day while the law only allows a maximum of 12 working hours per day. The Vietnam Knitwear Company will be fined for forcing workers to work exceeded the prescribed hours,” Trong said.
15:43:31 local time INDONESIA
* Competitive Advantage in Textile Declines:
Indonesia Textile Association (API) in West Java sees the economic turmoil which is still going on right now, has declined the competitiveness of the textile and garment sector (TPT ) in the global market.
Chairman of API for West Java Ade Sudrajat argues the Indonesia’s economy is now forcing industry players to rack their brains in maintaining its business, especially free trade ahead of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
“The rate of inflation is still high, while minimum wage was pushed to be increased and the increase in electricity tariff has burdened the textile industry. In fact other industries become minimalists,” he said, Sunday (8/9).
13:43:31 local time BANGLADESH
* The vicious circle of low wages:
Garment owners’ dithering when it comes to wage rises has become a topic of great discussion, but little do they realise that the low wages are severely affecting workers’ productivity.
The workers’ productivity is measured by Standard Allowed Minutes (SAM). Say, 100 minutes has been set aside to complete a task. A Bangladeshi garment worker is able to use only 35 minutes of that allotted time, to give the country a SAM score of 35 percent, one of the lowest in the world.
In contrast, its competitors in global apparel trade—namely, China, Vietnam, India and Pakistan—score upwards of 80 percent.
One of the reasons for low productivity is poor nutrition the low wages yield.
The minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh at present is Tk 3,000 after it was raised 80.45 percent in November 2010.
In contrast, the floor for workers’ wages in Pakistan is Tk 5,680, India Tk 7,862, China Tk 14,475, Philippines Tk 15,600 and Thailand Tk 9,318, according to Bangladesh Trade Union Centre (BTUC), a platform for garment workers.
It is a little wonder then that the workers’ productivity in those countries is much higher than in Bangladesh.
Subsequently, the workers proposed a minimum wage of Tk 8,182, which the stakeholders are mulling over.
* Sign safety accord, Bangladesh union leader tells retailers:
Warning against a repeat of the Rana Plaza tragedy, in which about 1133 workers were killed in a fire at a garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Amirul Haque Amin, President of the Bangladeshi National Garment Workers Federation, has called upon eight leading high street clothing brands in the U.K. to sign up to an accord on workplace safety and fair labour practices in the garment industry in Bangladesh, where 3.6 million people are employed.
These brands are Matalan River Island, Sports Direct/Republic, Jane Norman, Peacocks, Bench, Mexx and Bank Fashion.
Mr. Amin is in the U.K. to speak at the annual conference of the Trade Union Congress (TUC, an umbrella organisation of British trade unions comprising 54 unions and 6.2 million members) to be held in Bournemouth from September 8th to 11th.
“Our demands are to ensure a safe workplace for garment workers through compulsory inspections, a living wage, and the right to organise,” Mr. Amin told The Hindu. “The conditions that garment workers are in is totally unacceptable, with the minimum wage just 3000 taka [around $39] a month. Workers must work 12 hour days, and sometimes seven days a week.
But I am hopeful of the impact of the accord,” Mr. Amin said. Garment manufacture constitutes the biggest industrial sector in Bangladesh, he said, and over 79 per cent of its exports in 2011-2012.
read more. & read more.
* Unified standard a must for RMG factory inspection;
That the country’s garment sector is not going to wither in sudden lighting has been amply proved despite dooms foretold, following the incidents of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
The sector has grown over decades braving challenges and bizarre forecasts ever since it began to hint signs of becoming a predominant player in the global textile market. What this sector is today by world ranking must be traced to its ability to take on challenges of all hues. Its path has never been an easy one.
However, there can be no denying that the Rana Plaza incident did shake the entire industry than ever before. Slowly, as the dust is shifting from the rubble, things look to be moving in the way of reducing future worries, but the path is fraught with uncertainties from a lack of coordination among the agencies involved.
Amongst a host of measures that are going to be in place, almost simultaneously, the major work relating to factory inspection has been in a state of disarray in the absence of unified and common guidelines to follow.
There are reports of a number of government agencies sending teams to inspect roughly 5,000 factories. But lack of coordination among these agencies has not only impeded progress but also caused confusion as to the actual mandate of the inspection teams.
There is also a serious concern over the methods followed. Over and above, it is highly uncertain how long will it take for the inspection to be over. There are also conflicting reports saying that while some factories have been inspected by various agencies a number of times, others did not undergo a single inspection.
A Dhaka-based foreign media correspondent, who reportedly followed local inspectors touring in and around Dhaka, found overlapping of inspections with no specific findings.
* Norway to invest 1.78 million Euro in textile worker safety:
The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) is investing 14.3 million Norwegian kroner (1.78 million euro) for the Ethical Trading Initiative Norway (ETI) whose aim it is to “actively pursue programmes to improve conditions for textile workers in China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh”.
In view of the latest factory disasters in garment factories in Bangladesh, Norway is keen to support garment workers’ rights in the international textile industry. Through its imports of textiles and garments, the country creates thousands of jobs for workers in sourcing countries.
read more. & read more.
* Fire guts jute godown in Khulna:
A devastating fire gutted a jute godown in Chouddamile area of Phultala upazila on Monday.
Fire service sources said the fire broke out in a jute godown named LR Jute Garden at about 1 pm and spread soon.
On information, three fire fighting units from Daulatpur, Khanjahan Ali and Nauaprara rushed in and extinguished the blaze after two hours of frantic efforts.
Badrul Alam, assistant director of the Khulna Fire Service said the origin of fire could not be known immediately.
When connected Sheikh Ferdous Ahmed, owner of the godown, claimed that valuables including 30,000 maund of jute worth TK 5.5 crore were gutted in the fire.
* Terry towel makers go for fresh investment to produce high value export products:
Country’s terry-towel manufactures have taken a move for fresh investment to produce high value export products for traditional and non-traditional markets.
For meeting the growing demand abroad, the industry has invested more than Tk 20 billion anew in the last twelve months.
Country’s terry-towel (TT) is getting huge response from the US, EU countries and non-traditional markets including South Africa, Latin America, Oceania, Far-East Asia and Russia.
“Maintaining international standard and competitive price range has made Bangladeshi products very lucrative for the buyers,” President of Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BTTLMEA) M Anisuzzaman told the FE.
13:13:31 local time INDIA
* Weak rupee, high petroleum prices to hit textile industry:
The impact of rupee depreciation and higher petroleum prices is now being felt by the textile industry, as fabric and apparel makers remain hesitant to pass on higher costs to the final consumers on concerns over weak demand, raising questions on how the industry will cope with this challenge.
While the prices of petro-based raw materials such as PTA and MEG have gone up by close to 44% in the past three years, the rise in fibre, yarn and textile prices has remained between 12% and 35%, according to industry sources, creating margin pressures.
* Power loom units seek support:
About two lakh power loom units accounting for fifty per cent of the operating industries in the Western region of Tamil Nadu face closure due to inadequacy of raw material availability caused by faulty export policy, said M.S. Mathivanan, president of the Confederation of Indian Weaving Industries.
Power loom industries are unable to get enough inputs from the mills since export of cotton yarn and raw cotton has accelerated due to the fall in value of Indian rupee against US dollar. Garments do not get the same benefit since buyers offer only minimum price.
Cotton farmers are not benefited since cotton is procured on the basis of minimum support price.
Only the buyers’ profiteer by exporting, he said.
The Cotton Advisory Board, he said, has to take note of the requirement of raw cotton on large scale by small and established spinning mills. Of the 340 tonnes of cotton bales produced, 215 lakh tonnes have to be kept as stock for sustaining supply to the mills. Mr. Mathivanan advocated reconstitution of the Board through inclusion of representatives of power loom and handloom sectors.
Due to the fall in Indian rupee value power loom industries are unable to get enough inputs
13:13:31 local time SRI LANKA
* Historic Indo-Lanka textile agreement:
The first ever textile agreement between India and Sri Lanka will be inked tomorrow 09 September in Colombo.
The Memorandum of Understanding on new textile cooperation effort is the latest development in the aftermath of Indian announcement in September 2012 that Sri Lanka can export eight million apparel pieces at zero duty to India.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on new Indo-Lanka textile cooperation will be co-signed by Anura Siriwardena (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) and Ms Zohra Chaterji (Secretary of Indian Ministry of Textiles Ms Zohra Chaterji) tomorrow 09 September in Colombo.
12:43:31 local time PAKISTAN
THE KARACHI-BALDIA FIRE
* Baldia factory fire: ‘Buyers, inspectors equally responsible for catastrophe’:
Partly blaming the factory owners and government officials for last year’s Baldia factory fire incident which claimed more than 250 lives, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) has held international buyers, auditors, as well as, the safety inspection firms responsible for the catastrophe.
“Merely 10 days before the fire incident, RINA, an international firm, had issued a safety certificate to the factory, and they are as much to blame for the incident as the others,” said Nasir Mansoor, the central deputy general secretary of the NTUF. “What is more surprising is that they have also issued safety certificates to a hundred other factories in the city. We demand that these factories’ names be made public.”
Mansoor also lashed out at the international buyers who ignored the pathetic working conditions of the labourers, calling them murderers. “We are in quite a dilemma here. If we raise our voice for these workers, the contracts of the international companies might be cancelled and these labourers will end up unemployed,” he said.
To mark the first anniversary of the Baldia incident falling on September 11, the trade unionists gathered on Monday at the Karachi Press Club to release their own findings of the country’s worst industrial incident.Mansoor said that the electric gate of the factory had resulted in many of the casualties as people were not able to evacuate the premises. “The windows of the factory had been reinforced with iron grills and there was no escape for the workers. There were no exit points!”
* ‘Owners told workers to salvage goods’:
New report by labour activists claims the factory’s main gate and emergency gates were locked on the instructions of factory management
Two days before the anniversary of the tragic Baldia factory fire, a research report has put the blame of the enormous death toll on the owners, claiming that they had ordered the staff to salvage goods instead of allowing them to escape.
On September 11 last year, at least 257 workers were burnt alive when the Ali Enterprises garment factory caught fire.On Monday, the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) made its report public on the country’s worst-ever industrial disaster at the Karachi Press Club. Jalil Shah and Zehra Akbar Khan among other workers’ representatives were also present as the NTUF deputy general secretary shared the study with the media.
The owners, Nasir Mansoor said, thought it was a minor fire incident and ordered the staff to first salvage the material, machinery and finished products.The workers, who were interviewed for the study, confirmed that the emergency gates and the main electric gate were locked on the instructions of the factory management. All windows were already blocked permanently with iron grilles to stop the theft of merchandise.
More than 500 workers, including women and children, were inside the premises when the fire broke out at around 6pm on the first floor where all the supplies, including inflammable chemicals and materials, were stored.
The factory employed approximately 2,000 workers in different shifts in its 16 sections. Many workers, who were off-duty on the fateful day, were also inside the factory as it was the pay day. The majority of the victims were aged between 15 and 35 years.
* The right to be paid a living wage- a new WarOnWant report:
Winning the fight for social justice
The right to be paid a living wage is a basic entitlement of all working people the world over.
A living wage ensures that working people can earn enough to meet all their daily expenses and have some discretionary income left over to invest in their own or their children’s future.
A living wage, in other words, offers people a chance to work their way out of poverty. The call for a living wage has a long history stretching back to the 19th century. Yet it is only in recent times that campaigns from across the world have begun to form into a global movement for a living wage.
This report seeks to chart the rise of that movement and to highlight the different ways in which campaigns have mobilised in support of a living wage at the local, national and international levels. It also draws out conclusions from the most successful campaigns around the world, both as a guide to the positive alternatives that already exist and as an inspiration for what might be achieved elsewhere.
read more. & download the report here.
* Guide to Industry Issues:
Over the years, companies have developed a variety of responses to evidence of labour rights abuses in their supply chains.
Most began by denying that they had any responsibility for poor working conditions, saying that didn’t own the factories that produced the goods they sold.
Some even denied that working conditions were poor at all.
Use this section to find out different ways that companies can act to improve working conditions.