in the news on-line, 18 Sept.2013

08:06:17 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Shop ’til They Drop- Fainting and Malntrition – Report:

New Research shows clothing factory workers seriously malnourished
More than 20% of Cambodian workers shown to have BMI used to diagnose

As London Fashion Week continues to showcase size zero models, research
released today reveals that workers at the other end of the supply chain making clothes sold on the UK highstreet are seriously malnourished and
at risk.

The Shop ’til They Drop report, published by the workers’ rights campaign group Labour Behind the Label, shows that factory workers in Cambodia consume just 1598 calories a day on average – around half the recommended amount. BMI figures indicate that 33% of Cambodian garment workers are medically underweight and at risk, and 25% seriously so, displaying figures that would be used to diagnose Anorexia over here.

The study states that workers earn just £51 a month as a minimum wage.
The recommended 3000 calorie diet suitable for a woman doing a 10 hour day of industrial work, would cost £48 a month, which would leave just £3 for all other costs – a completely impossible task. A monthly living wage which could support a family, the report indicates, is more like £287.

These findings follow a continuing spate of factory faintings which have plagued the Cambodian garment industry in recent years, where up to 300 workers have been seen to collapse at one time. Researchers feel the findings of this new study underline the fact that there is a baseline of malnutrition across the board, which makes workers weak and prone to collapse.

One worker from a factory near Phnom Penh said: “We are constantly at the point of fainting all the time. We are tired and we are weak. It takes only a few small things to make us faint.”

Labour Behind the Label, through a campaign for a living wage for workers in Cambodia, is calling on brands to take this issue seriously.
As part of the solution, it is pushing for talks to start about providing free canteen lunches for workers each day to combat the immediate malnutrition issue.

“The downward spiral of cheap clothing has led to a situation where the people who make our clothes are paid starvation wages and can’t afford to eat or to feed their children. This has to end.” said Anna McMullen, the report’s author.  “The solution is for a living wage to be paid, but in the mean time, brands and factory owners must look to provide other benefits such as free lunches.”

Tola Mouen, from Community Legal Education Centre in Phnom Penh, who collaborated on the report, said: “Workers are living in conditions of modern-day slavery – handcuffed to the demands of their employers and international clothing giants through poverty wage. Profits continue to increase for brands and manufacturers but each day workers find it more and more difficult to satisfy basic needs.
Workers need real and immediate solutions – not more empty promises.”
You can read the Report here. & download here.
CLEC  labour behind the label

07:36:17 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Labor Laws Strengthened in Myanmar But Not Necessarily Working:

20130917 PRI-WORLD

Myanmar is changing. In June, the International Labor Organization lifted all restrictions on trade and investment in the country.

The Myanmar Investment Commission says foreign investment in the country is five times greater than what it was last year. As the demand for labor increases, workers are beginning to organize for better working conditions.

Kyu Kyu Win sits on the floor of her kitchen eating a bowl of watery rice porridge. It’s all she can eat these days because of stomach problems. Problems that might have something to do with her work as a labor organizer.
Last May, the Ministry of Labor polled factories about working conditions. Kyu Kyu Win was collecting the surveys at Esquire Shoe Factory, where she works.

“The survey asked 39 main points, like what is the daily rate with or without overtime, are the bathrooms clean, do workers have the freedom to form a union, is there any repression by the factory to the workers,” she explained.

She took the completed surveys from her factory to the Ministry of Labor. And when she got back, her boss called her into the office and fired her. According to Kyu Kyu Win, he said it was because she left work without permission. But Kyu Kyu Win is also a union leader actively involved in labor organizing. The boss fired four other union leaders at the same time even though they hadn’t left the office.
read more.
PRI theworld

07:06:17 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Owners propose Tk 3,600 as minimum wage:

Bangladesh’s garment factory owners on Tuesday submitted their proposal—offering 20 per cent hike in workers’ wages, to Tk 3,600 on an average as the minimum wages—to the wage board in its fifth meeting.

After the meeting, board chairman AK Roy told reporters that the owners’ representatives today submitted the written proposal to the board, countering what the workers’ representatives had put forwarded on August 18.
The board members discussed thoroughly the two proposals and set the next board meeting on October 21.
Arshad Jamal Dipu, the owners’ representative to the wage board, told New Age that they recommended the hike considering the industry’s efficiency.
Sirajul Islam Rony, the workers’ representative to the wage board, said that the owners’ proposal was completely inhuman and illogical.
read more.
BD new age

BGMEA proposes 20pc wage hike amid protests:

Labour leaders strongly protested Tuesday against the apparel trade body’s proposal of 20 per cent hike in wages for the garment workers.

Mr Arshad Jamal Dipu representing the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA) placed the proposal in the fifth meeting of the Wage Board, formed for the apparel workers, held in the city on the day.
He proposed the minimum wage at Tk 3,600 including a basic pay of Tk 2,400, a house rent of Tk 960 and a medical allowance of Tk 240 while the workers demanded a minimum wage of Tk 8,114.

Terming the BGMEA proposal ‘illogical and inhumane’, Sirajul Islam Rony, who was representing the garment workers at the meeting, said: “Owners’ proposal for a hike of 20 per cent in wages has frustrated us.”

He further said: “We had expected that the garment owners would offer higher wages taking into consideration the rising cost of living.”
Echoing Mr Rony, Executive President of Jatiya Sramik League Fazlul Haque Montu said: “We protested against it in the meeting. No question arises about accepting this illogical proposal.”
The members would also visit Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to learn about their wage fixation process and the benefits offered to their workers, he said adding the visit might take place at the end of the current week.
read more.

* Feud deepens over minimum wage for garment workers:

Owners’ proposal to hike salaries only by 20 percent for garment workers was “illogical and inhuman”, a labour leader said yesterday.

“I urged the owners to reconsider the proposal as it is too low from our demand,” Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative to the minimum wage board for employees, told The Daily Star.
At a meeting of the panel, owners’ representative Arshad Jamal Dipu proposed to increase the monthly basic salary by Tk 600 to Tk 3,600.
Earlier, Rony recommended a minimum wage of Tk 8,114 a month, a 170.5 percent rise from the current level, by taking into account the workers’ daily calorie intake and expenses.
He said the members of the wage board will visit Vietnamese garment factories on September 29 to review the salary structure, as the Southeast nation is seen as a major competitor of Bangladeshi garment business.
Dipu said 2,200 out of nearly 4,000 active garment factories belong to the small and medium categories, which are unable to bear a huge hike in salary.
read more.
daily star bd

* Workers-cops clash injures 10 in Gazipur:

At least 10 garments workers were injured in a clash with police in Monipur area of the district at 12:00pm Tuesday.

Sources said that hundreds of workers of Givency factory along with two others factories tried to block Dhaka-Mymensingh highway demanding salary and allowance hike.
On information police rushed to the spot and prevented the workers, triggering clash between police and workers, leaving at least 10 workers injured.
Naojor police outpost sergeant Ikbal Hossain confirmed the matter to banglanews.
to read.

* 15 RMG workers hurt clash with cops in Ashulia:

At least 15 workers of a readymade garment factory were injured in a clash with policemen at Zirani of Ashulia here on Tuesday morning.

Police said the workers of Ha-Meem Sweater Factory went on a work abstention in the morning as a rumour flied around that the authorities detained two of their fellow colleagues.
Later, the workers took to the street and blocked Nabinagar-Kaliakoir highway to press home their eight-point demand, including a hike in the wages.

On information, police rushed in and tried to disperse the workers from the road.
However, the unruly workers threw brick chips at the law enforcers, triggering a clash that left 15 workers injured.
to read. & read more.

* RMG workers demonstrate at Ashulia for arrears:

Workers of a garment factory at Unique Bus Stand of Ashulia industrial belt yesterday demonstrated on Dhaka-Tangail highway demanding their arrears.

Ashulia industrial police said the workers of RSM Fashion Ltd blocked the highway for their August arrears.
The factory authorities earlier assured them of paying the salary within September 10 but did not.
However, police managed to free the road within 20 minutes after the authorities promised them to make the payment today.
to read.
daily star bd

* RMG unrest: Production at 10 factories suspended in Gazipur:

Production at 10 garment factories in Hotapara and Monipur areas of Sadar upazila was suspended for a day on Tuesday following labour unrest.

Police said workers of several RMG units in the two areas went on a work abstention in the morning and staged demonstrations demanding a hike in their wages.
The unruly workers also vandalised a factory.
On information, police rushed in to bring the situation under control. However, the garment workers locked into a clash with the law enforcers.
Later, police dispersed the unruly workers by charging baton and lobbing teargas canisters on them.
Following the unrest, authorities of 10 garment factories suspended their production for the day.
to read. & read more. & read more.

* RMG workers’ bank account with Tk 100:

From now, all readymade garment workers can open a bank account with only Tk 100.  (Tk 100= 0.97 / 1.293 $) 

Bangladesh Bank (BB) has directed all government and private banks in this regard through a gazette notification.
BB assistant spokesman AFM Asaduzzaman confirmed the matter to banglanews on Tuesday.
Every garment worker can open a bank account by showing factory and national identity card, he added.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
BANGLA NEWS24 BDCHRONICLE bdnews24 daily star bd BSS

* Study on RMG Outsourcing- Bangladesh still Number One:

Retailers are betting on Bangladesh`s garment industry more than that of any other country in the coming years, new research shows, despite recent deadly factory accidents that have put their reputations at risk.

Bangladesh`s $20 billion garment business came out ahead of smaller rivals Vietnam and Cambodia in the ranking of countries with the highest potential for future sourcing, according to a new study by consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
“Bangladesh is still No. 1,” says Achim Berg, a partner in McKinsey`s German office, and the author of the study. “Recent events present a challenge for everyone, but there`s no alternative for doing big production volumes.”

The new research shows that production capacity and price appear to trump safety and labor when it comes to choosing where to source clothes. Bangladesh has suffered more industrial disasters than any other garment-producing country. But its low minimum wage and high number of garment factories have made it a magnet for global retailers.

Retailers including Hennes & Mauritz AB, HM-B.SK +3.97% Wal-Mart Stores Inc., WMT +0.56% Gap Inc. GPS +0.41% and Zara parent Inditex SA ITX.MC +0.59% are grappling with how the public perceives their role in Bangladesh`s problems. Labor unions have pointed fingers at retailers for turning a blind eye to safety violations in factories. The companies have formed safety pacts aimed at improving working conditions—but which also help improve their image.
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* Changing labour conditions in global supply chains:

“Rana Plaza had no effect on our sales,” stated Primark’s legal director yesterday in the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad. On 24 April, the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh.

1129 workers died, which makes it the largest industrial accident ever. The building hosted several textile companies that produce for well-known Western corporations like Primark, Mango and Walmart.
These companies all embrace the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Primark conducts their own inspections to see whether its suppliers abide by their code of conduct. Because these suppliers must adhere to the legal standards of the Bangladeshi governments as well, one would expect that decent labour standards would be better guaranteed than in non-export oriented work. Sadly, this is often not the case.

The disaster in Bangladesh occurred 102 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York. This fire, in which 146 textile workers lost their lives, was one of the biggest accidents of its time. It led to important changes in American legislation. One of the breakthroughs was the introduction of the 54-hour workweek for women and children. The Triangle fire had a lasting impact. One of the eyewitnesses was Frances Perkins, secretary of labour between 1933 and 1945, and the architect of the major social reforms of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The bulk of the legislation that Perkins introduced is still in force. The sweatshops, and the atrocities that Perkins’ measures tried to mitigate, have relocated from New York to Bangladesh and other low wage economies.
In a way, this is a logic result of the changing global division of labour, which provides economic opportunity to countries and individuals.
Economist Jeffrey Sachs famously stated that: “My concern is not that there are too many sweatshops, but that there are too few.” This does not mean, however, that there should not be a moral debate about the conditions in which our shoes, iPhones and plastic Christmas trees are produced. Not everything should be acceptable.

Labour conditions are more visible than ever.
No matter how complicated global supply chains are, journalists, NGOs and researchers show us the inside of places like Rana Plaza.
This gives us an opportunity to use accidents and abuses as catalysts for change. But who has to take responsibility for abuses in today’s global supply chains? And who defines what abuses are?
Of course there is an important role for Bangladesh. But the main problem for developing countries is not the absence of legislation, but the lack of (funds for) enforcement.
Governments thus look to the multinational companies that do business in Bangladesh. Arguably they have more funds available, and are therefore better equipped to improve labour conditions. (The gross domestic product of Bangladesh is $153 billion, whereas Walmart has a total revenue of $469 billion.)
read more.
LEIDEN universiteit

* Stricter factory inspection:

This is related to a write-up published in the business page of a local English-language daily on September 13.

One way out may be to have all factory inspections be duly recorded in details. All factories should be issued with an inspection query in two copies to be sent to each factory by the Factory Inspection Office.

The Inspection Department should fill in one section, giving all the data that is there in their record, related to the location and other details like products, people employed, shifts worked, and personnel strength on each shift etc. The other section will be a query, to be filled in duplicate by the factory authorities.
This section on queries should be on specific points related to safety, normal and emergency accesses, location, type and number of fire fighting facilities etc. The last section will be filled in by the factory inspector on his inspection, in the presence of owners/managers at the factory, which should also be who should sign from the factory.
All deficiencies and shortcomings must be spelled out in this last part of the report based on actual inspection, which should be on a scheduled working day, but with no prior notice from the factory inspector. If necessary, laws should be passed so that the inspector can fine for minor deviations, up to Tk 2,000 for each such deviation! For major deviation, the owner has to be immediately informed in writing. In this case, fines imposed should be higher!
SA Mansoor
to read.
BD new age


* No RMG compensation without DNA identification:

Earlier this year a Bangladesh clothes factory collapsed, killing more than 1,000 people. Five months later, many of the dead have yet to be identified – prolonging the anguish for relatives, and denying them the right to compensation.

A summer has passed since the Rana Plaza complex crashed to the earth. Plants are creeping over the tangled debris. Steel cables have rusted. Rolls of blue and cream fabric have gone moldy. A fading pair of jeans hangs from a jagged piece of wire.
A stone memorial remembers the 1,133 garment workers who died.

But hundreds of families who lost a mother or a daughter never have never been able to prove it to the authorities’ satisfaction.
The US offered relatives DNA testing kits, and samples have been collected – but Bangladesh doesn’t have the computer software to match those samples with the dead.

Every day Babul Soiaal walks to the Rana Plaza site, with a roll of papers and documents in his hand – and a small passport photo of a woman in a blue headscarf.
It is his wife Shahida. She’s still missing, and she’s probably among the nearly 300 people buried without being identified. Only when, or if, she is identified will the authorities provide financial help.

Soiaal has Shahida’s payslip to prove she worked in the Rana Plaza – but that’s not been enough to persuade officials to pay up.
“I have made a copy of these papers and given them to the government and other concerned bodies and I said if you have any doubt you can send an inspection team to our home town and they will find that she is still missing,” he says.
“I have five children. I have lost my partner. If the government would help us then we will find some way, but I don’t know what will happen to me.”
read more. & read more.
primenews  UNB

06:36:17 local time map of india INDIA

* Six child labourers rescued:

As many as six child labourers were rescued from a spinning mill, a knitwear unit and a workshop during joint raids conducted by officials of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and various departments, in the city outskirts on Tuesday evening.

NCLP project director D.V.Vijayakumaar told The Hindu that the spinning mill and knitwear unit were located at Vengamedu near Avinashi and the workshop was situated in the heart of Avinashi town.
“All the children belonged to other districts within the State and they came to Tirupur district in search of jobs,” he said.
The children were lodged at a shelter home near Ammapalayam and they would be produced shortly, before the child welfare committee functioning in the district.
Mr. Vijayakumaar said that action would be initiated against the employers.
to read.
Return to frontpage

* Fire at footwear factory:

Fire broke out in a footwear factory in Subhash Nagar area of west Delhi on Tuesday morning.

Thirteen fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the blaze that broke out at around 9am in the factory situated behind the Pacific Mall, fire officials said.
There were no reports of any casualty, they said, adding efforts were underway to put off the fire.
to read. & to read. & to read.

* Hike in duty drawback rates for garment to boost exports: AEPC:

The recent hike in duty drawback rates by the government would help boost the garment sector’s exports, exporters body AEPC said today.

Duty drawback is the refund of duties on imported inputs for export items.
Last week, the Finance Ministry has rationalised the duty drawback and brought more items under the scheme for tax refund to exporters to give a boost to overseas shipments.
read more. & read more.

* Indian govt must ensure cotton availability to mills: ICF:

The Government of India must ensure raw material availability to the domestic spinning mills by devising a raw material protection policy, J. Thulasidharan, president of the Indian Cotton Federation (ICF), previously South India Cotton Association, said at the 34th annual general meeting of the association in Coimbatore.
Mr. Thulasidharan said that the Bangladesh Government had prepared a raw material protection programme to ensure availability of raw materials like cotton in adequate quantities to the domestic textile industry.
read more.

* Some nations imposing ‘strict import norms on biotech cotton’:

Despite no evidence of consumers rejecting biotech cotton, some nations have imposed “exceptionally” strict regulations on import of such cotton, according to the US-based expert Round Table.

The Round Table on Biotechnology in Cotton Production that consists of experts from nine countries, has finalised the report to be unveiled later this month at the 72nd plenary meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).

“Data reported by the ICAC Secretariat indicate that since the commercial introduction of biotechnology in cotton in 1996, there has been no evidence of consumer rejection, nor is there evidence of price premiums or discounts for cotton with biotech traits in world markets,” the ICAC said.
read more.

06:36:17 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Lanka to tap Chinese domestic apparel market:

Sri Lankan apparel exporters plan to intensify their apparel export to China to meet the huge Chinese domestic demand, although China exports its apparel to other international markets.

“With the expansion of the Chinese economy and the increase of the per capita income/disposable income, the cost of production in China has increased more than Sir Lanka. Therefore, it was a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to penetrate into that market in a big way,” Secretary General- Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Tuli Cooray told the Daily News Business .
read more.

* China eyes Sri Lankan free-trade deal:

Fashion brands from Hong Kong, Europe and the United States could gain from a possible free-trade agreement between Sri Lanka and mainland China that would remove all tariffs on goods from the island nation.

Sri Lanka, whose earnings from garments account for half of its entire industrial output, has long been a manufacturing hub for upmarket lingerie, T-shirts and blouses. The country is the largest supplier for Victoria’s Secret and an important manufacturing hub for Gap, Marks and Spencer and other European brands.

“International brands could win big shipping their products from Sri Lanka to China if the free-trade deal is reached,” said Ashroff Omar, chief executive of Brandix, Sri Lanka’s largest apparel exporter.
read more.  & read more.
SL mirror XINHUAnet

*  ‘Labour laws are yet archaic from colonial times’:

Employers Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Director General Ravi Peiris believes that the prevailing labour laws are archaic  which have prevailed from the  times of the British  Raj while the United Kingdom itself has disposed of them years ago!

He also   says that the labour laws and the times  and hours of work for  women  employees in the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) and the KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) industries  should also be amended  to meet the challenges of modern times and in quest  for the US$ one billion  export revenue target from  these two  industries
Here, he is in conversation with the Ceylon FT on divergent issues on the industry.

Q:  What are the most important issues that employers face in relation to  employer – employees  relations issues and its framework ?
read more.


06:06:17 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* ILO observers to shortly start work in Uzbekistan:

Eight monitoring teams from the International Labor Organization (ILO) are shortly to start observation work in Uzbekistan.

The ILO observers are to begin working in Uzbekistan in the next few days, according to the ILO’s press service.
The work will be performed by eight teams and is scheduled to take place until the cotton harvest is completed. The ILO monitors plan to visit cotton fields and other cotton-related places all over the country.
Olga Bogdanova, ILO press officer, reports that the main objective of the ILO’s monitoring is the prevention of child labor being used during the harvest season.
read more.


map of Asia


* Shop ’til They Drop- Fainting and Malntrition – Report

* Labor Laws Strengthened in Myanmar But Not Necessarily Working

* Owners propose Tk 3,600 as minimum wage
* BGMEA proposes 20pc wage hike amid protests
* Feud deepens over minimum wage for garment workers
* Workers-cops clash injures 10 in Gazipur
* 15 RMG workers hurt clash with cops in Ashulia
* RMG workers demonstrate at Ashulia for arrears
* RMG unrest: Production at 10 factories suspended in Gazipur
* RMG workers’ bank account with Tk 100
* Study on RMG Outsourcing- Bangladesh still Number One
* Changing labour conditions in global supply chains
* Stricter factory inspection
* No RMG compensation without DNA identification

* Six child labourers rescued
* Fire at footwear factory
* Hike in duty drawback rates for garment to boost exports: AEPC
* Indian govt must ensure cotton availability to mills: ICF
* Some nations imposing ‘strict import norms on biotech cotton’

* Lanka to tap Chinese domestic apparel market
* China eyes Sri Lankan free-trade deal
* ‘Labour laws are yet archaic from colonial times’

* ILO observers to shortly start work in Uzbekistan

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2