19:19:15 local time PHILIPPINES
* PH sets aside bid for garment concessions:
18:19:15 local time CAMBODIA
* ILO-Better Factories Cambodia Returns to Public Disclosure of Assessment Findings:
The International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program today announces its return to a practice of publicly disclosing individual factory information collected in its assessment reports.
BFC’s disclosure initiative makes it the only program in Southeast Asia to use greater transparency to accelerate improvements across the garment sector. More than 450 Cambodian garment factories are registered with the BFC program.
Starting in January 2014, BFC will publicly release information from its assessments reports about factories’ compliance with Cambodian labour law and international labour standards.
BFC will also for the first time disclose details about strikes and labour unions, noting unions’ compliance with legal strike requirements.
For all factories that have had two or more assessments, a dedicated public website will disclose each factory’s compliance on 21 critical issues including fire safety, freedom of association, child labour, and accurate payment of regular and overtime wages.
More information will be disclosed for a sub-set of factories that have been monitored at least three times and have failed to comply with a broader scope of legal requirements included in BFC’s assessments. Public disclosure reports will be published quarterly, and all factories and trade unions included in the reports will have the opportunity to provide information or update their progress directly on the website.
BFC’s Chief Technical Advisor, Jill Tucker, states: “We believe that our public disclosure program introduces a new and urgently needed tool for change.
We hope that public exposure will prove beneficial to factories that comply with the law, and encourage those in violation of these measures to improve. We urge brands, auditing firms, and corporate social responsibility organizations to join us in this step towards greater transparency and increased accountability in the apparel sector.”
Detailed information about the website and its contents can be found in the
factsheet and website.
& You can download the Factsheet here:
20130923 BF Public Disclosure Information Package EN&KH&CH
* Labour monitor to name factories:
Responding to deteriorating working conditions in the garment sector, the UN-backed Better Factories Cambodia program is going to make public, for the first time in years, how factories fare against international labour standards, the monitoring group said.
Starting in January, BFC, which is part of the International Labour Organization, will publish quarterly online compliance reports for more than 450 exporting garment factories that have already had two or more assessments and are registered with the program.
“We urge brands, auditing firms and corporate social responsibility organisations to join us in this step towards greater transparency … in the apparel sector,” said Jill Tucker, ILO-Better Factories Cambodia chief technical advisor.
The plan, however, has the government, stakeholders in the industry and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) all concerned that it could prompt buyers to relocate to another country.
“This public disclosure could result in a greater negative than a positive,” GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday.
Kong Athit, vice-president of the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, welcomed “responsible transparency”, but said a balance needs to be struck in which employers are also held to account during disputes.
19:19:15 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. Manpower minister backs down on wage cap regulation. Read the full article here
2. Healthcare preparation in chaos. Read the full article here.
3. Asia Pacific needs to prioritize structural reforms: World Bank.
Read the full article here.
4. Winning a case in Constitutional Court, this Ex-Security Guard smiles happily. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
5. Fixing the minimum wage hike: Does it matter? Read the full article here.
6. Labor Productivity and Employment Policy in Indonesia: Recent Development. Download the presentation here.
7. Cambodian Garment Factories Come Under Scrutiny.Read the full article here.
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
17:04:15 local time NEPAL
* Yarn, carpets top export list:
Yarn, woollen carpet, textiles, readymade garments and juices topped Nepal’s export list in the fiscal year 2012-13.
The products that topped the imports are petroleum products, iron and steel, machinery and parts, gold, electronics and electrical equipments according to the Trade and Promotion Export Centre (TEPC) that records the country’s export and imports. However, the overall import figure surpasses the export figures many times over, leading to a trade deficit of Rs 523 billion.
The TEPC data shows that the country exported yarn (polyester, cotton and others) worth Rs 5.83 billion in the fiscal year 2012-13. Despite securing the top spot in exports, the figure is lower compared to the previous fiscal year, when the volume stood at Rs 6.32 billion.
Uday Raj Pandey, president of the Garment Association Nepal (GAN), said that the garment industry has a bleak future. “Even the factories currently operating are running under capacity and taking a lesser amount of orders, fearing the consequences if they fail to deliver them on time.”
17:19:15 local time BANGLADESH
* Workers’ unrest in Gazipur; factories close:
Over a hundred factories were compelled to close down for the day because of mass demonstrations by readymade garment workers in Gazipur on Monday morning.
Dhaka-Tangail and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways were barricaded for more than three hours because of the demonstrations.
Clashes between workers and police persisted in Board Bazar, Bhogra, Barabari, Basan, Chourasta and other areas until 11:30am.
Hundreds of workers took to the streets around 8am in the morning for the third consecutive day of demonstrations, demanding a minimum wage of Tk8,000.
* Garment workers go berserk in Gazipur:
Readymade garment (RMG) workers went on the rampage in Gazipur industrial belt on Monday for the third straight day during demonstration demanding minimum wage at Tk8,000.
* RMG workers go berserk in Gazipur, Savar:
Garment workers ran amok in Gazipur and Savar for the third consecutive day on Monday demanding a minimum monthly salary of Tk 8,000.
The unruly workers vandalised over 100 vehicles in different areas, including Chandna intersection, Signboard and Rowshan roads, and damaged some factories with sticks turning a 10-km area into a battle field in Gazipur in the morning.
At least 50 people, including policemen and Ansar members, were injured as they clashed with the law enforcers at Bhogra.
Witnesses said thousands of workers took to the street in the morning, staged demonstrations and put blockade on Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Gazipur and Dhaka Bypass roads, creating a long tailback on the roads and causing immense sufferings to passengers.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 10-15 hurt in Savar apparel worker-cop clash:
At least 10 people, including a policeman, were injured as apparel workers clashed with police at different places in Savar upazila during a demonstration Monday.
The workers were demanding to set their minimum wage at Tk 8,000 a month.
The authorities were forced to declare at least 15 readymade garment factories closed for the day following the incident.
Officer-in-charge (Investigation) Aminur Rahman of Savar Police Station said workers of Al-Ihsan Garments, Al-Muslim Garments, Pride Group, HR Textile and some other garment units of Ulail and Karnapara area went on a work abstention in the morning and staged demonstration to push for fixing their minimum wage at Tk 8,000.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG workers stage sit-in in capital:
On Monday morning, workers from various garment factories took to the streetsin the capital’s Banani and Chairmanbari areas demanding higher minimum wages.
Deputy Commissioner of Gulshan Division Lutful Kabir said law enforcers had removed the agitating workers from the road after they had staged a sit-in there around 11:30am.
He said the situation had been brought under control but the workers were trying to organise demonstrations in other areas.
* Garment workers demonstrate at Savar, Gazipur : 100 injured:
More than 100 apparel workers were injured in separate incidents of clashes between the workers and the law enforcers at Savar and Gazipur while agitating on the streets today.
Demanding fixation of minimum wage at 8000 several thousand agitated workers blocked roads and highways and vandalized a large number of vehicles in different places of Savar and Gazipur.
The demonstrations caused serious traffic gridlock in different places of the highways at Savar and Gazipur.
Our Gazipur correspondent reports, more 100 garment workers and street people were injured when the agitated workers blocked Dhaka-Gazipur, Dhaka- Tangail, Dhaka-Kaliakoir and Dhaka- Mymensingh highways and vandalized scores of vehicles..
Quoting police and local people, BSS correspondent reports that thousands of workers from as many as 50 apparel factories including Inter- Stop, Tushka Garment, Inter-Link, Sunmoon at Konabari industrial area, Diganta Sweaters at Nawjore, Bhalmont Fashions and Mens Trust at Bhogra area and Sparrow, Prince and Jamuna apparels at Tongi and Gazipur Sadar area demonstrated since morning taking position on different highway points of the district.
* Some quarters active to divert apparel workers’ demand: Minister:
Shipping minister M Shahjahan Khan said on Monday some quarters are active to divert the apparel workers’ demand for wage hike.
He said those quarters were also involved in creating disorders in the clothing industry.
He made these comments in a meeting with garment factory owners and BGMEA leaders at the secretariat to resolve the ongoing crisis in the export oriented apparel sector.
The minister said he does not believe that the workers were responsible for the ongoing crisis.
* RMG Workers’ Demo over salary Hike – Gazipur Ansar camp attacked, arms, ammo looted:
Over 140 hurt as workers block highways, vandalise 115 vehicles, 10 factories; most RMG units in Tejgaon, Gazipur halt production
The apparel workers, demonstrating for salary hike, attacked an Ansar camp in Joydevpur upazila of Gazipur and looted firearms and ammunition as the agitation continued for third consecutive day Monday.
Four Ansar members including a commander were injured in the attack. They are now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Uttara of the capital.
The unrest in apparel sector, which stemmed from the workers’ demand for fixing minimum monthly salary to Tk 8,000, erupted in different parts of Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar in the morning.
At least 135 more people including six police personnel were injured as the aggrieved workers engaged in sporadic clashes with law enforcers in Gazipur and Savar, on the outskirts of the capital.
The workers of three garment factories attacked an Ansar camp in Bhogra By-pass area of Joydevpur upazila around 8:30am and looted eight rifles and 135 bullets, leaving four Ansar member injured.
The demonstration ensued around 9:30am in Tejgaon industrial zone when 1,000 workers of several factories took position at Nabisco industrial area.
The agitating workers then hurled brick chips at the roadside factories, breaking a close circuit camera of Ha-Meem Group unit.
At least 35 people including six policemen were injured during sporadic clashes between garment workers and law enforcers at Karnapara, Ulail and Savar Bus Stand areas on Dhaka-Aricha highway.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 150 more RMG units shut as violence spreads:
At least 150 garment factories were shut on Monday in the face of ongoing violent workers’ protest for wage hike that spread to some other industrial belts on the third consecutive day of their agitation.
The workers, infuriated by the owners’ proposal for a 20 per cent hike in their salaries, blockaded Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Aricha Highways, resorted to vandalism and clashed with the law enforcers on the day.
Meanwhile, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan at an emergency meeting called upon the leaders of BGMEA and apparel workers to restore peaceful working environment at their units from today (Tuesday).
* RMG unrest flares:
Workers attack ansar camp, battle with police in Gazipur, Savar, Dhaka, 135 injured
The police battled with violent apparel workers who vandalised factories and vehicles and attacked an ansar camp as labour unrest over wages flared in Gazipur, Savar and in the capital on Monday.
Garment factory workers, demanding a minimum monthly wage of Tk 8,100, fought pitched battles with law enforcers in Gazipur and Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka and at Tejgon, Mahakhali and Badda in the capital that left at least 135 people, including six policemen, injured.
Police charged batons, fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
Four ansar constables were injured when workers attacked their camp near Colossus Apparels factory at Bhogra of Gazipur.
The workers allegedly looted four rifles and 135 rounds of bullet from the camp. They burnt four rifles in front of the camp but the looted bullets could not be traced, the ansars at the camp said.
The authorities of almost all readymade garment factories in Gazipur decided to suspend production at their units for Monday amid violent protests, said Mosharraf Hossain, assistant superintendent of Gazipur Industrial Police.
Most of the garment units in Tejgaon industrial area also remained closed for Monday to avoid further vandalism.
The government, after a meeting between workers’ leaders, factory owners and a minister, called upon the agitating workers to return to work today and identify those who were inciting violence in the export-oriented industrial sector.
* 300 factories closed as RMG unrest spreads:
Bangladeshi garment manufacturers suspended production in around 300 factories following wage protests and unrest in all RMG hubs in and around the capital city for second consecutive days on Monday.
On Monday morning thousands of workers took to the streets in Savar and Ashulia RMG hubs demanding fixation of minimum salary to Tk 8,000, police and BGMEA sources said.
Local and police sources said thousands of workers from as many as 50 apparel factories, including Inter- Stop, Tushka Garment, Inter-Link, Sunmoon at Konabari industrial area, Diganta Sweaters at Nawjore, Bhalmont Fashions and Mens Trust at Bhogra area and Sparrow, Prince and Jamuna apparels at Tongi and Gazipur Sadar area demonstrated since morning taking position on different highway points of the district.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Govt to enhance security measures in clothing industry:
Shipping minister M Shahjahan Khan said on Monday the government will ensure adequate security to the crisis-ridden apparel factories so that the owners could reopen them as soon as possible.
He made these comments in a meeting with the garment factory owners and BGMEA leaders at the secretariat to resolve the ongoing crisis in the export oriented clothing industry.
The minister requested the factory owners to resume operation in their factories and urged the workers to join.
SM Mannan Kochi, acting president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said, ‘We have sought adequate security from the government, so that all the garment factories can resume operation.’
Garment workers trade union centre president Montu Ghosh said, workers would go for strike if their demand for raising minimum wages to Tk 8,000 were not met.
The minister M Shahjahan Khan also said some quarters are active to divert the issue of the apparel workers’ demand for wage hike.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* RMG factories at Ashulia reopen today:
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan on Monday urged all the garment workers to get back to their work as the factories which have been shut following labour unrest reopen on Tuesday, reports UNB.
“If anyone doesn’t respond to our request, we’ll think that s/he is working as an instigator of violence as part of a conspiracy against the country’s garment industry,” he said.
“Legal action will be taken against the conspirators after identifying them,” the Shipping Minister said while talking to journalists after a joint meeting at the secretariat on Monday with the owners of garment factories and leaders of workers’ union over maintaining stability in the readymade garment factories.
It was decided at the meeting that the closed factories in Gazipur, Tongi, Tejgaon, Mohakhali and Gulshan will reopen on Tuesday, he said.
About the demand for wage hike of workers, the minister said they have requested the wage board to fix their minimum wage as soon as possible after talking to the workers and owners.
read more. & read more.
* Tuku urges RMG workers to keep patience till new wage declaration:
State Minister for Home Affairs Advocate Shamsul Haque Tuku today urged the apparel workers to keep patience until declaration of new wage board.
“Readymade garment workers should keep patience until the announcement of their salary structure (wage board), as government is working on it,” he told BSS at his ministry office here.
The state minister said the government has been working sincerely for a wage acceptable to the workers.
Earlier, hundreds of RMG workers from several RMG factories took to the streets demanding fixation of their minimum monthly wage as Tk 8000.
* Factories vandalized as garment workers protest for third day:
Angry Bangladeshi garment workers blocked roads, set factories alight and clashed with police for a third day on Monday as protests demanding a minimum monthly wage of $100 spread outside the capital Dhaka.
Abdul Baten, police chief of the Gazipur industrial district near Dhaka which is home to hundreds of factories, told AFP that “up to 200,000 workers” had joined the latest demonstrations.
His deputy Mustafizur Rahman said about 300 factories, which make clothing for top Western retailers such as Walmart, were shut on Monday to contain the violence as protesting workers attacked plants that stayed open.
“The situation is extremely volatile. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the unruly workers,” he told AFP, adding dozens of workers and several policemen were injured.
* The Biggest Ever Minimum Wage Rally Continues in Bangladesh:
Hundreds of thousands of Garment Workers in Bangladesh gathered together on Saturday 21 September 2013 to rally against the proposed minimum wage of BDT3600 (USD 46.31) offered to the most important members of the most important export industry of Bangladesh, the Ready Made Garment Industry. This proposal in effect would be an increase of 20% of the minimum wage which is now at BDT3000 (USD 38.59).
The protests have brought together 52 garments workers’ federations of Bangladesh against the meager raise in the proposed minimum wage i.e. BDT 3600 at Sarawardy Uddan of the Bangladeshi Capital Dhaka. The demand from the garments workers’ federations is BDT 8114.
The protest was lead and briefed by the marine-transport minister, Shah Jahan Khan MP.
The protest, where hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets, was also to voice against the statements of Allama Shafi, an extreme right Islamist religious leader who made obscene comments on how women should work and study, creating a concern for the women workers who represent more than 80% of the workforce in the garment industries of the country.
The rally has continued till its third day today, 23 September 2013, with unrest surrounding Gazipur which saw tens of thousands of Garment workers taking to the streets protesting what they term as a brutalization.
The minimum wage of the Bangladeshi Garment Workers is the lowest in the world (IGLHR) and even after this meager hike it will still remain the lowest in the world for this second biggest exporter of ready made garments in the world.
The garment workers along with national and international NGOs and labor organizations have been pressing for a minimum wage which should be equivalent to a living wage (which is approximately over BDT 11000/month) for a garment worker in Bangladesh.
* RMG workers agitate for wage hike:
Industrial zones of Gazipur and Savar and parts of the capital turned into battle field as readymade garment workers clashed with police and blocked roads demanding a living wage on Monday.
An ansar camp was looted while at least 115 vehicles and 10 factories were vandalised, forcing the authorities to shut over 100 apparel units for the day.
The clashes left over 140 people injured.
Sporadic demonstrations over the week demanding minimum monthly wage of Tk 8,000 erupted into violence on Monday with a group of youths attacked an ansar camp at Joydevpur of Gazipur and looted firearms and ammunition. Four ansar members including a commander were injured in the sudden attack and admitted to a hospital in Uttara of the capital.
Negotiations for wage hike failed to reach a conclusion until last week as workers’ representatives asked for Tk 8,000 as minimum monthly wage while owners offered less than a half—Tk3,600, resulting in frustration among workers’ rights groups.
* RMG workers go berserk:
An Ansar camp was looted and more than 150 people, including law enforcers, were injured in Dhaka, Savar and Gazipur yesterday, during apparel workers’ agitation demanding a minimum monthly salary of Tk 8,000.
The workers, on the third day of their agitation, also vandalised dozens of vehicles and 10 garment factories in the capital and its outskirts, and blocked several roads and highways, including Dhaka-Mymensingh and Dhaka-Aricha highways and Tejgaon-Gulshan link road in the capital causing severe traffic jams.
Almost all the factories in Gazipur, around 15 in Dhaka and at least 17 in Savar were kept shut for the day fearing further vandalism.
Workers of three garment factories attacked an Ansar camp in Bhogra by-pass area of Joydevpur upazila around 8:30am.
They looted eight rifles and 135 bullets, leaving eight Ansar members, including a commander, injured. They set fire to four of the rifles.
Around 1,000 workers of several garment factories in Tejgaon industrial zone took position on Tejgaon-Gulshan link road and began demonstrating around 9:30am.
At least 40 people, including six policemen, were injured in clashes between apparel workers and law enforcers at Karnapara, Genda, Ulail and Savar Bus Stand areas along Dhaka-Aricha highway yesterday.
* BGMEA seeks security:
State Minister for Home Affairs assured the BGMEA of deploying law enforcement agencies to avert untoward incidents
State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Huq Tuku yesterday assured the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association of deploying law enforcement agencies to avert untoward incidents in the RMG factories.
The assurance came after a BGMEA team led by its acting President SM Mannan Kochi met Shamsul Huq Tuku and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan Monday night to discuss the issue of sudden unrest and find ways to tackle the present hazardous situation.
“We have urged the Home Ministry to deploy lawmen to avert any untoward incident in the factories, and the ministry assured us that it would take necessary steps,” said Riaz Bin Mahmood, director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The association sought security and cooperation of the government to restore a good working environment to the garment factories which became turbulent following the agitation of the workers demanding a hike in their minimum wages.
“We want security for our work. We do not want to stop production at the factories, but for that, we need cooperation of the workers’ unions,” said BGMEA acting President SM Mannan Kochi.
“All the factories will reopen from today since if they remain closed, we won’t be able to pay salary and bonus to the garment workers ahead of the Eid ul-Azha,” he said.
Mannan came up with these comments after attending a tripartite meeting attended by representatives from factory owners, the workers and the government.
The appeal for cooperation came at a time when workers’ unions are threatening to continue demonstration for their wage hike.
“As members of Garment Sramik Samannay Parishad, we demanded Tk8000 as minimum wage for the garment workers. Further demonstrations in support of our demand may be forthcoming, although those wouldn’t be violent,” said Montu Ghose, a rights activist involved with the agitation.
However, the BGMEA asked the agitating workers to join work. “On behalf of the government, factory owners and workers, I am asking all workers to calm down and join work. Those who will not join work will be considered conspirators,” Mannan said.
* Revised RMG wages likely by Nov:
The government has urged the garment factory workers to stop violent protests and resume work today and promised that a new wage for them would be announced as soon as possible.
At a meeting with the representatives of garment factory owners and workers on Monday night, the government also assured the apparel factory owners of adequate security after production resumed at their units.
The tripartite meeting involving factory owners, workers’ leaders and government representatives took place amid violent protests by workers in garment factories in Dhaka, Gazipur and other industrial zones for wage increase.
The meeting with shipping minister Shajahan Khan in the chair continued till late last night.
State minister for home affairs, Shamsul Haque Tuku, who was also present at the meeting, discussed with the representatives of garment factory owners and workers how to tackle the ongoing unrest in the apparel sector.
‘The government has assured the factory owners of providing adequate security for their units and requested the workers to resume work immediately,’ former BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedi told New Age at about 12:30am.
He said that the meeting has decided to request the wage board to announce the new wage structure for the workers by November instead of December.
* Angry Bangladesh garment workers protest over pay, factories shut:
More than 100 Bangladeshi garment factories were forced to shut on Monday as thousands of workers protested to demand a $100 a month minimum wage and about 50 people were injured in clashes, police and witnesses said.
Garments are a vital sector for Bangladesh and its low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China.
But the $20 billion industry, which supplies many Western brands, has been under a spotlight after a series of deadly incidents including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.
Workers took to the streets for a third day on Monday, blocking major roads and attacking some vehicles in the Gazipur and Savar industrial zones, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.
Bangladesh last increased its minimum garment-worker pay in late 2010 in response to months of street protests, almost doubling the lowest pay.
Recently, factory owners offered a 20 percent pay rise which workers refused, calling it “inhuman and humiliating”.
“We work to survive but we can’t even cover our basic needs,” said a protesting woman worker.
read more. & read more.
* Undervalued garment workers:
Garment workers, whose toils fetch the country $19 billion in export earnings, the highest among all the industrial sectors, get one of the lowest wages.
Thanks to cheap labour, the industry thrived over the last three decades and has gone on to become the second biggest apparel sourcing destination in the world after China.
“This is exploitation. Garment workers in Bangladesh are not only the worst-paid in the world but also locally,” said Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, assistant executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies.
The average wages in the garment sector, which provides jobs for 36 lakh workers, are the second lowest in Asia after Myanmar.
The sector’s minimum wage was last raised to Tk 3,000 in 2010, the lowest among the major industrial sectors that include jute mills, tannery, plastic, construction and furniture, oil mills and re-rolling mills.
“It is true there are differences in traits among the sectors, but even after accounting for those differences, the garment sector’s wages are not sufficient,” said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
An improvement in efficiency and productivity also added vigour to the growth of the industry and facilitated increased economic activities in other areas, he said.
But the garment workers, who mostly migrated from suburbs for livelihoods, have not got their dues in line with the improvement in productivity and efficiency.
“We have seen some adjustments through the minimum wage in 2010, but it is inadequate.”
* Too much, too little:
Analysts say Bangladesh may lose market competitiveness due to a huge wage hike, but Tk 600 increase is not acceptable
A 20% rise in wages is too minimal, while a 170 percent hike is too high. It begs the question: Why this huge disparity between the garment workers’ expectations and the reality?
The workers’ representative on the wage board called for raising the minimum wage to Tk 8,114 a month from the current Tk 3,000, but the owners are willing to increase it only by Tk 600.
“An industry that operates in a competitive global landscape will simply not be able to sustain the pay rise that the workers are demanding,” said Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
He singled out the small and medium factories, which would be hit hard by the 170.5 percent wage rise “given the local and global trends of business”.
In an industry of 4,000, there are 2,200 small and medium factories, according to Arshad Jamal Dipu, owners’ representative on the wage board. “That is more than 50 percent of the industry would be unable to bear the huge hike in salary.”
“But then again, a 20 percent wage rise that the owners are pushing for would not make much difference in the workers’ living conditions,” said Mustafizur of the CPD.
* Bangladeshi factory workers locked in on 19-hour shifts:
It’s the middle of the night and I am lying on the floor of a van in the sweltering back streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
I’m outside a factory making clothes for a western supermarket.
I can see dozens of workers inside. They’ve been in there since 07:00.
We’ve been told this factory – Ha Meem Sportswear – works incredible hours; we’re hiding in the shadows to get the proof.
There’s a guard sitting in front of the main gate. He hasn’t spotted us.
He’s about to do something shockingly dangerous.
At 01.15 – with workers still busy inside – he locks the main factory gate and wanders away.
This place had a fire a few weeks ago and they’re commonplace in the industry.
If anything goes wrong tonight, the workers are trapped inside.
The shift finally ends at 02.30. That’s a nineteen and a half hour day.
One worker agrees to talk. He earned about £2 for the shift and he’s exhausted. He has to be back at work again for 07:00.
He says: “My feelings are bad and my health is too. In the last two weeks, approximately, it has been like this for eight nights.”
Two days later, I return to Ha Meem Sportswear. I am going undercover as a buyer from a fake British clothing company.
I want to hear what the factory owners say about shifts.
read more. & to read. & to read.
* RMG workers locked in on 19-hour shifts:
A BBC investigation has found factory workers in Bangladesh forced to work 19-hour days in dangerous conditions.
Panorama secretly filmed workers making clothes for the supermarket Lidl, who were locked inside a factory in the middle of the night. They started work at 7:00am and were eventually let out at 2:30am. But when reporter Richard Bilton visited the factory posing as a western buyer, he was given timesheets that falsely claimed the shift ended nine hours earlier.
The programme found another factory, making clothes for retailers like Gap and H&M, that was also hiding long working hours.
Most western retailers have codes of conduct that limit the number of working hours and they are supposed to be enforced with regular audits.
Kalpona Akter, from the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, says many factories hide the truth about long hours from western retailers.
“The factory owners, they keep two different books. So one they show to the buyers, the other they show to the worker. These retailers’ so-called audits really don’t work.”
* The dark underworld of Bangladesh RMG:
Bangladesh’s clothes industry has created its own distinctive landscape on the northern edges of the capital Dhaka.
From the sprawl of one-room houses and shacks where workers live, scores of multi-storey factory blocks jut into the sky.
Clusters of steel-reinforcing rods poke from their rooftops – in the hope of adding yet another floor of sewing machines.
It’s a sign of what critics say is a boom gone too far, in the desperation to feed the West’s appetite for bargain clothes.
The Rana Plaza which collapsed this week was another of these high-rise stitching stations, with the UK’s Primark chain one of its customers.
Primark has said that it was “shocked and saddened” by the disaster and that it would work with other retailers to review standards.
But everyone involved in the industry is in the frame now – because it’s had plenty of warnings before.
It’s less than six months since a devastating fire at a plant that was making clothes for Walmart killed over 100 workers – Bangladesh’s last worst industrial accident.
* RMG units’ inspection starts early November:
Inspection of ready-made garment (RMG) factories under the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh will start from early November, and the inspection process will be completed within a year.
The disclosure came at a meeting between the visiting delegation of the Accord, headed by its Interim Executive Director Sean Ansett, with the leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at its headquarters in the city Monday.
“The Accord members have shared their initial plan of action regarding the safety programme with us,” BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim said after the meeting.
* EU retailers plan to start factory inspection Nov 1:
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a consortium of European retailers and apparel brands, is likely to start inspecting the garment factories in Bangladesh in early November with a plan to complete the process within a year.
A visiting delegation of the platform on Monday shared their initial action plan with Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association.
The delegation of EU Accord, a joint action plan of 87 EU retailers that stipulates inspection of their 1800 factory suppliers in Bangladesh to ensure they comply with safety standards, gave the assurance to RMG sector leaders at a meeting at the BGMEA Building in the capital.
The delegation agreed to work under a unified code of conduct while they would submit their assessment parameter to the government and International Labour Organisation for setting a common standard, BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told reporters.
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* More garment factories to be inspected:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has decided to increase the number of factories to be inspected to 1,800, up from the earlier stipulated 1,500, to make workplaces safer.
Initially, the five-year binding agreement had planned to inspect 1,500 garment factories when a number of international brands and retailers reached an agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union in July to improve the working conditions at apparel plants.
“Now they will inspect 1,800 factories in the next one year, with inspections beginning in November,” said Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The disclosure came after a team from the accord met with the senior leaders of the owners’ association at the BGMEA headquarters in Dhaka yesterday.
The four-member team led by its interim Executive Director Sean Ansett declined to talk to the media.
* Bangla garment sector agrees on common safety standards:
The adoption of common safety standards in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment factories has come a step closer, following a meeting of national tripartite partners, the Alliance and Accord and other key stakeholders in the industry.
The workshop, convened by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of Bangladesh, and the International Labour Organization, brought together all key national and international stakeholders from the RMG sector, representatives from different ministries and agencies, employers’ and workers’ groups and technical specialists on building and fire safety.
Participants attending the workshop at the Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka, agreed the need for a uniform approach to the setting of common fire, electrical and building safety assessment standards in the readymade garment industry (RMG).
* Committee suggests 11 measures for Bangladesh RMG units:
* Delay in GSP restoration feared:
Plea to relax terms for setting up TUs in RMG factories
Speakers at a roundtable Monday expressed fears over a delay in restoration of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Bangladesh.
They said the facility would remain suspended for long if steps are not taken as per a US action plan.
AKM Nasim, Senior Legal Consultant of American Center for International Labour Solidarity (ACILS), informed there are two hearings by the United States Trade Representative, one in December this year and another in June next year.
If the US road map is not followed by this time, GSP restoration might be delayed for a long time as there will be no hearing after June, he said.
The ACILS is also known as the Solidarity Center.
The Center organised the roundtable titled ‘Towards the Restoration of GSP Privilages’ in association with the USAID at a city hotel.
* Bangladesh’s GSP problem will go, US congressman hopes:
US congressman Peter King has expressed his firm conviction that the problem relating to the suspension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facilities for Bangladesh will be resolved.
“I hope that the GSP problem will be resolved as otherwise this issue would hurt the RMG sector of Bangladesh,” the Republican congressman said in a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Hotel Grand Hyatt on Monday, said PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad.
ASHULIA TAZREEN GARMENT FACTORY FIRE
* HC orders Tazreen victim’s treatment at govt cost:
The High Court directed the government on Monday to provide better treatment to a victim of deadly Tazreen garment factory fire.
Now the head of the Directorate General of Health Services has to ensure treatment of Sumaya Khatun in 72 hours at government’s cost.
The fire at Tazreen Fashions Ltd at Ashulia in Savar on November 24 last year killed at least 111 people and injured many others.
Monday’s directive follows three writ petitioners mentioning Sumaya, who has been seriously injured in the fire, is now suffering from cancerous tumor in her brain.
Three anthropologists– Naznin Akter Banu, Saydia Gulrukh Kamal and Mahmudul Hasan Sumon filed the petitions on April 28.
They also sought directives on the government to arrest the factory owner, Md Delwar Hossain, to ensure his trial for criminal liabilities.They recently submitted a supplementary petition along with the writ petition, saying Sumaya is now undergoing treatment at UnitedHospital in Dhaka at the cost of the petitioners.
In this situation, the government should take responsibility for the treatment, the petitioners said, adding that Sumaya has to be given radiotherapy five times a week, which will cost Tk 35,000.
* Use DNA test to identify 25 more Tazreen victims: HC:
The High Court on Monday directed the police to arrange collection of DNA samples of family members of 25 dead workers who could not be identified.
Names of 25 workers, not included in the official confirmed list of 111 workers who died in the Tazreen Fashions fire in November 2012, had been supplied to the High Court by anthropologists who had earlier petitioned the court to take action against government authorities for their failure to prosecute Tazreen Fashions owner Delwar Hossain.
A bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain also directed the Health Directorate’s director-general to shift Tazreen fire victim Sumaya to Dhaka Medical College Hospital from United Hospital in the capital in 72 hours.
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* TAZREEN FIRE COMPENSATION: HC turns down Anu’s opinions:
A High Court bench on Monday refused to accept an application which contained opinions of Jahangirnagar University professor Anu Muhammad that families of the workers killed in the Tazreen Fashions fire should be paid Tk 48 lakh each as compensation as per International Labour Organisation convention.
The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain also returned the application to lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua saying that a professor of economics could not address Supreme Court judges in a manner he did in the application.
Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque said that the court would require taking action against Anu Muhammad if it received the application which annexed Anu’s opinions on compensation.
Jyotirmoy represented three anthropologists who had filed the public interest litigation seeking action against Tazreen owner Delwar Hossain for the factory fire and compensations for the fire victims.
16:49:15 local time INDIA
* CITU to intensify agitation, if govt fails to enforce labour law:
The Left-backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions’ (CITU) Himachal unit accused the state government of failing to implement the labour law.
CITU state general secretary Kashmir Singh Thakur said many cases of violation of the labour law had come to fore in Himachal.
“Big and small business houses in the state are not allowing their employees to form a union, which is sheer violation of the labour law,” said Thakur, while addressing mediapersons here on Sunday.
“Every employees has right to form a union under the labour law, but some industrialists have been harassing the employees and terminating them without any reason,” added he.
* Trade unions’ to hold rally tomorrow:
The Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU) will organise a State-level protest rally on Wednesday in keeping with the decision of the National Convention of Workers to carry out nationwide protests.
The rally will commence from the Bangalore City Railway Station and culminate at Freedom Park. “The culmination of the rally will be marked by a public meeting that will be addressed by State leaders of central trade unions,” CITU State secretary K. Mahantesh said.
The demands of the trade unions include stringent measures to curb price rise and provide essential commodities at subsidised rates. In the backdrop of the downward spiral that the economy is following, the trade unions want the government to fix the statutory minimum wage for workers across the country at Rs 10,000 a month. In addition, the unions have demanded that the minimum pension per month be set at Rs 3,000.
* Zardosi unit owner held for employing child labourers:
A person, who had employed six child labourers in his zardosi unit in Limbayat area, was arrested by the police here on Saturday.
They were rescued from the unit on August 30 by a team of officials from the labour department. A police complaint against the zardosi unit owner Shambhu Bhonuram was lodged on Saturday by the labour department officials for employing child labourers.
The children are in the age group of 12 to 13 and are from Bihar. They were paid around Rs 1,000 per month and food by the accused.
“The children were forced to work around 12 hours. We are investigating and trying to find out more details,” said police.
“We did not lodge a complaint immediately. We wanted to verify the age of the six children, who have been found to be minors,” said M S Patel, assistant labour commissioner, Surat.
The rescued kids have been sent to children’s home in Katargam. They will soon be sent to their native places. tnn
The labour department and the child welfare committee will be contacting their parents shortly.
* Textile industry has high growth potential: Minister:
“There has been a resurgence in the textile sector. After a few years of slump, it is back to normalcy. It is creating jobs and earning valuable foreign exchange,”
Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, Minister for Textile, said here on Monday, after laying the foundation stone to the Gulbarga Textile Park at Keratagi on the Gulbarga-Shahbad Road.
More than 90 million people were working in the textile industry and the scope for growth was even more. Therefore, the Union government was promoting textile parks, he said.
The government was also taking steps like entrepreneurship development among communities involved in textile-related profession.
The Union government had released about Rs. 19,600 crore towards subsidies to various textile industries and groups, the Minister said.
16:19:15 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile exports shrink in August 2013:
The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) recently released exports data for the month of August 2013.
In this regard, though the textile exports in US$ terms rose by 3 percent on a YoY basis, they registered a decline of 9 percent compared to the previous month.
“We primarily attribute the reduced exports to the depreciation of the Indian Rupee (INR) against the dollar, while the seasonal effect has also played its part in contributing to the same. Overall in 2MFY14, textile sector exports stood at $2.3bn, a growth of 7 percent YoY,” according to Sabir Mohiudddin, Investment Analyst at Shajar Capital.