00:13:18 local time CHINA
* Bringing China’s workers’ movement to the world:
Following his well-received speech in Britain on the “fast emerging labour movement in China and its impact on the country’s future,” CLB Director Han Dongfang has published a commentary in the Financial Times and has been telling Canadian audiences face-to-face about the shifting dynamics of the Chinese labour movement.
At the invitation of the Christian Labour Association of Canada, Han gave a speech at the Vancouver Public Library on 16 September that outlined the current status and future prospects for the hundreds of millions of workers in China.
As in his Financial Times commentary, Han argued that the sympathetic stereotype of seeing Chinese workers as “victims” should be changed because workers were much more aware of their rights and working conditions continued to improve as a result of their efforts, the Chinese-language World Journal (世界新闻网) reported on 17 September 2013.
* Cotton pickers travel to harvest in Xinjiang:
Every fall, Yang Qizhi treks thousands of miles from Henan province to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to pick cotton.
For the past eight years, the 52-year-old has earned about 13,000 yuan ($2,120) for two months of work picking cotton in Xinjiang during harvest. Her monthly income picking cotton is three times what she would make in her hometown.
Yang is one of tens of thousands of cotton pickers from Henan province who travel to Xinjiang by train every fall. About 280,000 cotton pickers are needed this year for the 520,000 hectares of cotton to be harvested, according to the Xinjiang Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security.
To help this mass migration of Henan workers, the Zhengzhou Railway Bureau added 20 extra train services to Xinjiang since August.
“We prepared for the annual two-month cotton harvest a month ago, and will have a return-trip travel peak in November,” said Li Qingwei, a publicity official at Zhengzhou Railway Station.
Yang said picking cotton is not easy. Most of the workers have to get up at 5 am and work until 9 pm, repeating the movements of bending down, picking the cotton and putting it into bags thousands of times a day. The workers are so busy that they have their meals in the cotton fields to save time, Yang said.
Most of the workers are women because they are more skilled at picking cotton than men, she said.
00:13:18 local time PHILIPPINES
* On the 14th Month Pay Bill:
We consider the 14th Month Pay Bill or Senate Bill 1645 filed by Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III as salutary. This move aimed at granting workers not less than 1 ½ of the total basic salary earned by private- and public-sector employees within the calendar year is positive.
It will give some relief to workers suffering from extreme hunger and poverty worsened by the soaring prices of basic goods and services and by the Aquino government’s refusal to hike wages by a significant amount.
It springs from the recognition that the P10 wage adjustment approved by the Metro Manila wage board will do little in improving the lives of workers and signals regional wage boards across the country not to hike wages by more than P10.
Filipino workers, however, have been demanding genuine relief in the form of a significant wage increase, such as a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide. The country’s regional wage boards have utterly exposed themselves as capitalist instruments for pressing down workers’ wages.
23:13:18 local time VIET NAM
* Increase laborers’ productivity in industrial garment sector:
Among the industrial producing sectors in Phu Yen, industrial garment is developing in a stable way with increasing demands in laborers.
In the past years, the growth rate of the province’s industrial garment sector has been at fast pace with lots of garment enterprises established. Mr. Nguyen Tien Dung, general director of Phu Yen Technical food holding, let known, “With the investment of one industrial garment factory, at the very first steps, the enterprise is facing with numerous difficulties, and however, efforts have been made to stabilize production, meeting the current orders.
Also, we are possessing 10 sewing chains, but, to well implement all the steps, we need more and more laborers. Therefore, we are recruiting 100 laborers in the year 2013. Hopefully the business gets developed, we’ll need more and more laborers”.
23:13:18 local time LAOS
* Lao Garment Skills Development Centre produces over 500 workers:
The Garment Skills Deve lopment Centre reports that it has successfully developed human resources by training over 500 people as Sewing Machine Operators, Sewing Machine Supervisors, Sewing Machine Mechanics, Merchandisers and Patternmakers.
Director of the Lao-Garment Skills Development Centre, Mrs Borivon Phafong disclosed on 22 September.
Due increases in socio-economic development, and the requirements of a skilled labour force for large scale projects and enterprises in particular, vocational training institutes are attracting more high school graduates.
23:13:18 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers Say Large Military Police Presence at SL Factory:
More than 100 military police officers stood guard outside a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Monday and prevented workers from returning to work, employees and local officials said.
Workers from Singaporean-owned SL Garment Factory—which makes clothing for U.S. brands Levi’s and Gap—have been striking for more than a month to demand a lunch stipend, the reinstatement of fired union leaders and the firing of company adviser Meas Sotha, who allegedly brought in plainclothes military police officers to guard two SL-owned factories. The strike turned violent Friday, when protesting workers began rioting and damaged factory property.
read more. & here.
* ILO to Publicly Disclose Identity of Non-Compliant Factories:
The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program will start to publicly disclose the identity of factories that persist in operating outside of Cambodian labor law and international standards starting in January.
The decision came after researchers from Stanford Law School in February released findings that concluded the BFC program had failed to improve wages and standards for workers in the garment sector.
The researchers charged that the lack of transparency in the BFC program had actually set back garment industry standards for Cambodian workers, compared to their counterparts in China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
* Cambodia’s Dangerous Transparency Problem:
Public disclosure in Cambodian factories can help ensure workers aren’t putting their lives at risk.
This year was a particularly hazardous one for workers in the global garment industry. From the ashes of factory fires and the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh come a set of familiar and vexing questions: How to make factory conditions safer for workers, and who is responsible?
One answer to these questions can be glimpsed in another, more hopeful recent event. Earlier this year, the owner of the Kingsland Garment Factory in Cambodia shuttered the premises and fled the country without notice—and without paying his workers.
The workers began holding vigils and protests. Soon documentaries, international media and nongovernmental organizations highlighted their plight. Finally, with the world watching, the workers succeeded in moving the brands whose products had been manufactured in the factory, and the Cambodian government, to pay the wages they were owed.
* Factory management agrees on pay advance for holiday:
Management at the Chhin Chin garment factory yesterday agreed to meet workers’ demands to receive their wages before the Pchum Ben holiday after a 150-worker demonstration briefly blocked National Road 4 in front of the factory.
Workers at the factory, which is located in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, began demonstrating the previous day after management said it would pay workers half their salary in advance, rather than their entire month’s pay, said Va Sarorng, deputy chief of Por Sen Chey’s Choam Chao commune, who observed the negotiation.
“The workers need money … because the date they receive their salary is after Pchum Ben,” Sarorng said.
* BetterFactories Media update 14-24 September 2013, Cambodian Garment Factories Come Under Scrutiny:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-09-16 Forward steps for salary raise
2013-09-16 Rana factory talks fall short
2013-09-17 Shuttered schools, factories
2013-09-18 FDI into China up 6.37 pct
2013-09-20 Strike at SL eats into profits
2013-09-23 Fainting, food linked report
2013-09-24 Furious garment workers set their factories ablaze
2013-09-24 Labour monitor to name factories
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-09-19 British firm to contact garment workers in Asia by mobile phone
2013-09-23 Bangladesh garment workers stage biggest wage hike protest
2013-09-23 Report finds garment workers malnourished
2013-09-23 Riot at garment factory leaves 11 injured
2013-09-24 Workers say large military police presence at SL factory
* To read in the printed edition of the Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2013-09-16 SL representative accuses unions of leading strike to bother workers’ jobs
* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2013-09-21 Educating gender to union in garment
* To read in The Wall Street Journal
2013-09-23 Cambodian Garment Factories Come Under Scrutiny
2013-09-24 Cambodia’s Dangerous Transparency Problem
BetterFactories Media update Overview here.
* ILO-OHCHR Joint Statement on the Supreme Court hearing in the case of the murder of trade union leader Chea Vichea:
In December 2008 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Labour Organization (ILO)
welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of Cambodia to release on
bail Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun whom a trial court had convicted of
the murder of the trade union leader, Chea Vichea.
After more than three years of further investigations, the Court of Appeal heard the case again in November 2012. Despite the fact that limited new evidence was
presented in court, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were again found
guilty of the murder and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.
Once again, they appealed against their conviction.
During the 102th Session of the International Labour Conference held in June 2013 in Geneva, the ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards regretted that despite the remand of the Chea Vichea case to the trial court, full, independent and impartial investigations had not been carried out into his assassination and those persons previously convicted had been returned to prison without any new evidence being produced.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of both men for the second and last time on 25 September 2013, after which no further appeal will be possible. The Supreme Court will have the opportunity to either confirm their sentence or, recognizing the lack of sufficient evidence to prove guilt, let the rule of law prevail by acquitting and releasing Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun.
The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, and the OHCHR reiterate that impunity must be combatted through full and impartial investigations. Only such an investigation can ensure that those actually responsible for this murder do not remain unpunished.
* Rights groups call for release of ‘scapegoats’:
Rights groups and the United Nations yesterday urged the Supreme Court to drop the case against two men widely believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the slaying of unionist Chea Vichea when it convenes this morning.
Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were re-arrested in December of last year after spending nearly four years out of prison on provisional release after the Appeal Court issued a shock verdict finding the pair guilty of the 2004 murder.
“Prosecutors have long conceded that there was no basis for convicting the two men prosecuted for Chea Vichea’s murder, yet the government has persisted in this miscarriage of justice,” Brad Adams, Asia director of the US-based Human Rights Watch, said.
* Call to Release Men Convicted of Vichea Murder:
International rights organizations on Tuesday called for two men widely believed to have been falsely convicted of the 2004 murder of outspoken union leader Chea Vichea to be immediately released, ahead of the final hearing in their case at the Supreme Court today.
Chea Vichea was fatally shot in broad daylight near a newspaper stand at Wat Lanka on January 22, 2004. Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were tried and imprisoned shortly afterward but were released on bail in 2008, when the Supreme Court ordered a retrial. In December, they were sent back to prison on 20-year sentences each.
22:13:18 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG unrest continues:
Bangladeshi garment workers shout slogans during a protest in Narayanganj on September 24, 2013. Angry Bangladeshi garment workers blocked roads, set factories alight and clashed with police for a fourth day on Tuesday as protests demanding a minimum monthly wage of USD100 spread outside the capital. — AFP PHOTO
The readymade garment (RMG) workers, demonstrating for a wage hike, are continuing their protest in the capital and its suburban areas for the fourth straight day Tuesday.
In Dhaka, UNB reported, several thousand RMG workers put up a barricade on the Kuril Bishwa Road during a demonstration demanding Tk 8,200 as the monthly minimum wage in the morning.
The road blockade created severe traffic congestion on both sides of the Airport-Mohakhali and Airport-Progoti Sarani roads in the city.
* RMG unrest continues:
The apparel workers, demonstrating for salary hike, are continuing their protest in the capital and its outer edges Ashulia, Savar, Gazipur and Narayanganj areas for the fourth consecutive day Tuesday.
The unrest steamed from the workers’ demand to fix their monthly minimum wage at Tk 8,114.
At least 20 workers were injured when law enforcers tried to free Dhaka-Tangail and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways in Gazipur.
The demonstration erupts in the capital when around 2,500 workers of at least five local garment factories blocked Kuril Intersection around 9:00am, said SI Jewel.
Over 4,000 workers of six ferment factories of Ashulia including Mascot Garments, Macsuoka Apparel Limited and Reliance Garments Limited went on work abstention since the morning.
At least 20 workers were injured during sporadic clashes with law enforcers on Dhaka-Mymensingh highway at Mulaid area of Sreepur upazila.
The demonstration started afresh when the workers of Hasin Sweater, Talha Spinning Mill and Welltex Ltd barricaded the highway for two hours felling logs around 10:00am, creating over four kilometres tailback on the both sides of the highway.
The workers of several garments factories blocked Dhaka-Narayanganj Link road at Shibu Market area for one hour from 10:00am as the demonstration over salary hike spread to Narayanganj.
read & see more.
* RMG workers block Kuril Bishaw Road for hiked minimum wage:
Several thousand readymade garment (RMG) workers put up barricade on the Kuril Bishaw Road in the city during a demonstration for a hike in their minimum monthly wage on Tuesday morning.
The road blockade created severe traffic congestion on both sides of the Airport-Mohakhali and Airport-Progoti Sarani roads in the city.
Police and witnesses said workers, in their thousands, from several garment units, including Euro Zone Garments, put up barricade near level crossing at Kuril Bishaw Road at about 8:15 am to press home their various demands, including increased minimum wage of Tk8,000.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Violence in RMG sector spreads to N’ganj, Tangail:
Readymade garment (RMG) workers’ protest demanding Tk 8000 as a minimum monthly wage continued Tuesday also leading to suspension of production in a number of factories in areas in and around the capital city.
The labour unrest, which was limited to various parts of Gazipur, Savar and Dhaka industrial zones until Monday last, spread to Narayanganj district and Mirzapur industrial area in Tangail on the day.
Production at nearly 40 factories, mostly in Chandra, Mouchak and Konabari under Gazipur Industrial Hub, were suspended because of the latest spell of violence. Around 50 people, mostly RMG workers, were also injured in the fresh trouble on the day.
* RMG workers protest in Ashulia:
With the demand of minimum Tk 8,000 salary, RMG workers staged protest for the second day in Ashulia, outskirt of Dhaka, on Tuesday morning.
To avoid any unwanted situation six factories were declared closed for the day at around 09:30am.
Agitated workers of six factories and police locked into a clash when workers tried to vandalize factories and block Baipail-Abdullahpur road.
* Protest over pay rise in Gazipur- 12 RMG factories shut, 20 hurt :
At least 20 people were injured in garments workers protest and clash with police in Noljani area of Gazipur city on Tuesday morning.
Witnesses said that workers of Shafi Garment and Odesha Fashion started protest barricading Dhaka-Gazipur road. Police charged baton to disperse them and workers hurled brick chips aiming police and factory, leaving 10 people injured.
In another incident in Kodda area, workers set fire to a factory of Bhuiyan Ripid, leaving 10 workers injured.
Authorities of 12 garments in Konabari, Tongi and Borobari area declared their factories apprehending vandalism.
Inspector (investigation) of Joydebpur Thana Jahidul Islam said that the situation was under control.
* RMG workers continue agitation:
Apparel workers continued agitation to press home their demand for a minimum monthly wage of Tk 8,100 for the fourth consecutive day in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Tangail, ignoring the government’s call for joining their works.
The government held a tripartite meeting with factory owners and workers on Monday night and after the meeting shipping minister Shahjahan Khan on behalf of the government called on the agitating workers to join their works without reaching any specific decision.
Unrest in garment factories flared up four days ago with the demand for minimum wage of Tk 8,100 while the factory owners’ association agreed to pay only Tk 3,600 that added fuel to the agitation and the government branded the stances of both the sides wrong.
Violence spilled to Tangail on Tuesday as the agitating workers clashed with police at Hatubhanga and Gorai area of the district, leaving at least 35 people including a newsman inured.
Locals said the agitating workers of different apparel units assembled and went out on demonstration blocking the Dhaka-Tangail highway. As police tried to remove them from the highway, they clashed with them.
* Protesting workers say wages not enough to buy food:
Protesting Bangladesh garment workers complained Tuesday they cannot even afford to feed their families as they staged a fourth day of street protests demanding a near-tripling of wages.
Police fired tear gas at several thousand workers who blocked major roads near Dhaka’s main airport and at the key industrial hubs of Ashulia and Fatullah outside the capital in the latest demonstrations.
“Some 2,000 workers blocked roads at Ashulia. Industrial police fired tear gas to disperse them,” local police chief Badrul Alam told AFP.
The protests, smaller than ones in previous days when up to 200,000 took to the streets, resumed despite a senior government minister’s assurance late Monday of a pay rise for all garment workers by November.
Workers said the current minimum monthly wage of $38 dollars is not enough to cover food, rent, education and other basic family needs.
“I earn 4,000 ($50) taka per month that includes overtime bills,” said a female worker protesting at Kuril near the airport.
“It does not cover all my expenses. The house rent has gone up, education costs of my kids are rising all the time,” said Hamida Begum, 30.
“I can’t send money to my old parents. And there are days we don’t have proper food,” she added.
read more. & read more. & to read.
* The battles of RMG:
The police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) were on the road just the other day, clearing the protesting workers who had come out in the streets from the neighbourhood of Khilkhet and Bishwa Road.
The scene was not a pretty one. It’s never a relief to see law enforcement teams dispelling the crowd. This is the last thing a garment factory owner desires to witness. In spite of how many times garment-wallahs are publicly shamed, the reality is that the sector exists. In spite of many wanting to wish the ‘blood sucking’ owners away, the readymade garment (RMG) entrepreneurs still happen to provide the highest employment in the country.
Whether RMG is viable as an industry or whether it will survive at the pace it is advancing, is a critical discussion altogether. Sweeping suggestions on the sector producing better products, enhancing the skill of workers, enforcing good practices in the areaÂ
have all been a part of the current popular discourse.
One is yet to read a thought-provoking, in-depth study and suggestion on exactly how to take this industry forward and let’s reconcile with one fact: one can’t simply do with overnight wish lists.
Will the buyers be able to afford a 50 US cents increase to accommodate a Taka 8000.00 minimum wage scale? That’s a straight ‘No.”
Will the buyers pay 30-40 US cents? Very unlikely.
Will they at least give 20 US cents extra for the wage hike? Probably.
With a fairly simple calculation of 10 US cents increase per thousand, if the minimum wage is pushed to Taka 4400-4500,the customers would have to pay a 15 US cents up charge and with Taka 5000.00, the customers would have to pay 20 US cents. The guessing range is all within 10-20 US cents.
Now, how does the world market look? In reality, the European Union (EU) has been the saviour for Bangladeshi RMG with their everything but arms (EBA) scheme.
Unfortunately the internal market of the EU is depressed. In the period of July 2012-May 2013, the EU exports to their own EU member-states have declined by 11.6% though garment export from the EU to non-EU countries have registered a 12.1% increase. Chinese exports has fallen 22.4% to Germany, 14% to France and most of all, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands are no more the top buyers for China, as they used to be.
* ‘A minister behind labour unrest’- Fakhrul:
Bangladesh Nationalist Party acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said a minister – indicating towards shipping minister Shahjahan Khan – has started a new game to destroy the readymade garment sector.
He made the remarks while addressing a discussion organised by Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Muktijuddher Prajanma at the Jatiya Press Club.
The BNP spokesman said when the situation in the RMG sector was almost quiet and going on smoothly, suddenly a minister emerged as the ‘leader of garment workers.’
He said, the minister held a rally of apparels workers at Suhrawardy Uddyan by closing garment factories, unleashing vandalism and forcibly bringing the workers, by hiring vehicles and created a chaos.
‘As a result, now anarchy and unrest has erupted in the RMG sector and is going to destroy it’, said the BNP policymaker.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* CPD suggests Tk 8,200 minimum wage for RMG workers:
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think tank, on Tuesday suggested that the minimum wage for the garment workers be set at Tk 8,200.
CPD additional research director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem came up with the suggestion while revealing the findings of a study on minimum wage in the RMG sector at a dialogue in the capital.
The CPD organised the dialogue, titled ‘Minimum Wage for the RMG Sector: Analysis and Proposal’ at Cirdap auditorium.
Conducting the study on RMG workers in Savar, Tongi and Rampura in the city, the CPD estimated a revised minimum wage using three separate methodologies – poverty line data from national statistics, actual worker income and expenditure and a living wage based on aspirational model diet.
The minimum wage for entry-level workers is proposed Tk 6,445 at the poverty line, Tk 8,200 at actual worker expenditure and Tk 17,800 based on aspirational model diet.
read more.& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Workers’ demand justified:
Lawmakers, labour leaders and analysts back wage hike
Lawmakers, labour leaders and analysts yesterday called for at least doubling of the minimum wage for the country’s garment workers to help them lead a decent life.
“The garment owners’ proposal for a Tk 600 wage hike is inhumane,” said Wajed-ul Islam Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Council, said.
“These workers are demanding a wage that will allow them to lead a decent life,” he said at a dialogue, Revision of the Minimum Wage in the RMG Sector, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at the Cirdap auditorium.
The issue of minimum wage came to the fore after the government, following extensive criticism, formed a new wage board in June.
The workers’ representative on the board demanded that the monthly minimum wage be hiked to Tk 8,114 from the existing Tk 3,000, but the owners are willing to increase by 20 percent.
“There is no scope to set a minimum wage below Tk 8,000,” said Nazrul Islam Khan, secretary general of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS).
* Unrest hits Gazipur RMG belt for 4th day:
Simmering unrest hit the country’s RMG belt in Gazipur for the 4th day on the trot on Tuesday, forcing suspension of production at some 40 factories.
At least 10 people were injured as garment workers clashed with cops in different places in the city, and Kaliakoir and Sreepur upazilas demanding that their minimum wage be fixed at Tk 8,000 and the production wages of the sweater workers be increased.
Witnesses said garment workers staged demonstrations in Wireless Gate, Naojor and Rawshan Road areas in the city, Shafipur and Palli Bidyut areas in Kaliakori and Nayanpur and MC Bazar areas in Sreepur upazila.
The unruly workers went on the work abstention in the morning and took to the street.
* Unrest in RMG industry continues:
In some places they has peacefully moved away upon request from police, in most other places police has to charge batons
Thousands of garment workers took to the streets for the third consecutive day Tuesday demanding a minimum monthly wage of Tk8,000.
In several places in and outside the capital, agitated workers blockaded roads and highways, vandalised vehicles and factories and locked into clashes with law enforcers.
While in some places they peacefully moved away upon request from police, in most other places police had to charge batons, fire rubber bullets and teargas canisters to disperse the angry mob.
Workers of at least 15 factories in Khilkhet and Kuril areas in Dhaka, Ashulia of Savar and Fatulla of Narayanganj abstained from work and demonstrated on the roads.
* Logical minimum wage for workers by Nov, hopes BGMEA:
‘What’s happening in RMG industry is suicidal’ –
BGMEA warns of conspiracy, hopes minimum wage for workers by Nov
Mentioning that the country’s RMG sector is passing through a fragile time, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Tuesday said a conspiracy is on both internationally and locally to create anarchy in the vital sector.
“What’s happening in the RMG sector is suicidal…if such a situation continues, many owners won’t be able to pay salaries, bonus before Eid-ul-Azha,” BGMEA acting President SM Mannan Kochi said reading out a written statement at a press conference.
read more. & to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* Owners sound warning against unrest:
Apparel factory owners on Tuesday said that they would not be able to pay wages and festival allowances to workers if the unrest in the sector over wage increase continued.
The fresh unrest and vandalism in the apparel sector over an increase in wages creates new fears and the situation will hinder the sustainable growth of the industry, sector leaders said at a press conference at the BGMEA building on the current situation of the apparel industry.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Textile Mills’ Association organised the press conference.
The acting BGMEA president SM Mannan Kochi said that a vested interest quarter was creating instability when the government had set up a wage board to decide the minimum wage for apparel workers.
He alleged that national and international quarters were hatching conspiracy against the Bangladesh apparel sector. Local and international media are also involved in the conspiracy.
Mannan said that some local and international media were publishing negative reports on the Bangladesh apparel sector which is unwarranted.
Accusing media, he also said that local and international media are instigating labour unrest through publishing confusing information.
* Bangladeshi garment workers rally for a decent wage:
200,000 Bangladeshi garment workers mobilise for three days in Dhaka and elsewhere calling for a living wage and strongly rejecting a derisory employers’ wage offer in negotiations.
IndustriALL Global Union has long supported the calls of its Bangladeshi affiliates for a rise in the minimum wage for the sector in line with a living wage. The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) is united in its demand for an urgent increase in the minimum wage to well over US$100 per month.
Recent attention has focused on discussions inside the wage board created by the government to recommend an increased sector-wide minimum wage. IndustriALL has criticised the absence of a trade union representative on the wage board. One spark that ignited the mass worker demonstrations over the weekend however was the inadequate submitted proposal to this wage board from the BGMEA and BKMEA employers associations of 3,600 Taka per month, a raise of less than 20 per cent.
IBC general secretary Roy Ramesh stated: The IBC has proposed to fix the minimum wages based on the Millennium Development Goals and the cost of living which is equal to around US$120 per month.
* What should be the minimum wage for RMG workers? :
What should be the minimum wage for the ready-made garment (RMG) workers? The answer depends on what kind of society we intend to be.
The level of minimum wage can be translated into how much we care for the toiling masses.
In setting the minimum wage, the bare minimum that a society must ensure is the continuance of the current level of living standard of the working class. Otherwise, we will be singled out as a heartless society. The new wage must be adequate at least to meet the rising cost of living. Increase of cost of living depends on where one resides, in urban or rural area, and what one consumes. In case of the RMG workers, the most relevant proxy measure for increase in cost of living is the urban food inflation.
If we don’t want to be identified as a heartless society in the eyes of our next generation, whatever minimum wage we set should be adequate at least to compensate for the food inflation that occurred during FY10-13. Anything less would mean absolute decline in the living standard of the RMG workers who are already struggling hard for their subsistence.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) – the association of RMG manufacturers – has already announced the amount by which they would like to increase minimum wage for their workers.
They intend to accept an increase in minimum wage by Tk. 600, increasing it to Tk. 3600 from its current level of Tk. 3000.
Not to mention that not only the RMG workers but also many human rights activists are not happy at all with what BGMEA offered. Most likely the dialogue between the employers and employees of the RMG sector would continue to reach to an agreement.
* RMG workers’ demand, BGMEA apathy and politicking minister:
The latest spate of labour unrest over wages in the readymade garment sector, which has over the past few days seen agitated workers clash with the police and other law enforcement agencies, vandalise factories and vehicles, and even attack an ansar camp in and around the capital Dhaka, has induced the familiar clichéd response from the Awami League-led government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association — that agent provocateurs assigned by certain vested quarters are instigating the turmoil to destabilise the apparel industry.
If there was any provocation, it has come from the BGMEA itself in the form of its demeaning proposal for a Tk 600 increase in the minimum wage, from Tk 3,000 fixed in November 2010, on the eminently questionable rationale that such a raise is inflation-adjusted and thus justified, and that any further hike would translate into more losses for factory owners and could even lead to closure of a few factories and thus leave a number of people unemployed.
The minimum wage in the apparel sector is, and has always been, the lowest in the world. Even in Bangladesh, in comparison with many sectors, e.g. construction and timber (Tk 9,982), tannery (Tk 8,750), and oil mill and vegetable products (Tk 7,420), it fares quite poorly.
As pointed out by different quarters, at home and abroad, the minimum wage in the apparel sector, which happens to be the major foreign exchange earner, has never been commensurate with the cost of living.
A study pointed out recently that the minimum pay for RMG workers has remained static since November 2010 whereas their cost of living has increased at least 2.5 times in the meanwhile.
* Lack of representation turns RMG workers violent:
The recent spate of apparel industry unrest has spiralled out of control due to the absence of a recognised representation of workers who can effectively negotiate with owners over the prevailing dispute, industry insiders have said.
Neither the factory owners nor the labour union leaders could single out a factor or a group that might account for the recent, or for that matter the last three years’ spike in turbulence in the biggest foreign currency earning sector of the country’s economy.
“No single organisation or union can control the unrest. Besides, there is no organised group [that represent the workers],” said Nasir Uddin, a director of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“The general practice is that when workers demonstrate, we meet with them and settle down the issues through discussion,” he added.
* Fixing wages for garments workers:
The economic growth of Bangladesh is hugely depended on the readymade garments (RMG) sector.
Local as well as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has contributed to the radical change in this sector. The export of RMG increased to US $19 billion in the fiscal year 2012-2013 from only US $7 million in 1981-1982. This shows the true importance of RMG sector. By 2001, direct and indirect employment in RMG was about 3 million workers of whom 90 per cent are women and by 2013, there are about 4 million people, mostly women
* Wage hike needed for RMG sector:
Says German envoy
German Ambassador to Bangladesh Albrecht Conze yesterday said pay hike for garment workers is necessary as the garment industry here pays the minimum wage compared to other industries.
Talking to a select group of journalists at his office in the afternoon, he stressed the need for an agreed procedure to look into the wages of the garment workers every year to avoid any confrontation.
“Now again, it [workers’ wages] has become a big political issue. It should be depoliticised,” he noted.
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* Thousands demand higher wages in Bangladesh factory protest:
Tens of thousands of garment factory workers in Bangladesh protested for the third day in a row Monday, calling on their government to raise the minimum wage from about $38 dollars per month to $100.
The protests forced the shutdown of hundreds of factories in the industrial Gazipur neighborhood near the capital, Dhaka, where factory owners and government officials called for workers to return to work.
“We need to run our factories. We demand authorities ensure security to continue production,” S.M. Mannan, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told The Associated Press after meeting with a cabinet minister and workers’ representatives.
Western corporations that rely on Bangladeshi labor to make much of the clothing sold in their stores, including Wal-Mart, Gap and Macy’s, appeared reluctant to comment publicly on the protests — decisions that were criticized by labor-rights activists.
“If the corporations were to send a clear message that they are willing to pay higher prices to manufacturers so they can pay higher wages to workers, that could have a real influence on negotiations,” said Liana Foxvog, director of organizing at the International Labor Rights Forum, a U.S.-based group that advocates for workers in countries like Bangladesh.
But that’s unlikely to happen, Foxvog said.
20130925 * RMG unrest continues for 4-day in Gazipur:
Police fire rounds of bullets in air to disperse crowd
Around 500 garment workers took to the streets for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday demanding a minimum monthly wage of Tk8,000.
RMG workers threw bits and bats at the garment factories that were open in Kashempur-Konabari road area in Gazipur around 9:30am.
Sources said they demanded a closure of the factories that remained open in spite of the unrest.
Meanwhile, the protesters also brought out workers who were inside the factories. One of the factories was identified as Cotton Club Ltd.
On information, police went to the spot and fired few rounds of bullets in the air to disperse the crowd.
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* Orders to go away if RMG unrest lingers:
Global retailers warn as protests enter fourth day
Global clothing retailers have warned of grave impacts if the garment unrest continues and production remains halted for long, as protests continued for the fourth day yesterday after overnight negotiations failed to resolve the disputes over minimum wages.
A halt in production means delayed or costly shipment, or even cancellation of work orders, a senior official of a Spanish retailer said.
“We are observing the situation. Production suspension is an ominous sign when the sector was turning around after some deadly disasters,” the official said, asking not to be named.
Production at hundreds of garment factories in Dhaka and on its outskirts had remained suspended for three days until Monday due to the unrest that stemmed from the demand for a minimum wage of Tk 8,000.
* Lidl to investigate BD factory claims:
Lidl, a German-based supermarket chain, launched an internal investigation following claims made by BBC’s panorama that one of its Bangladesh suppliers abuses workers, grocer reported on Tuesday.
A documentary titled ‘Panorama: Dying for a Bargain’ featured undercover work at the Ha Meem sportswear factory in Dhaka which produces jeans and dungarees for Lidl.
In the programme BBC reporter Richard Bilton claimed that workers locked inside the factory working for 20 hours for £2.
A Lidl spokesman told The Grocer, “The investigation into this has begun. We are aware of the claims that have been made but until we see the programme and have all the details, we are unable to comment any further.”
However, the documentary was aired on September 23 on BBC1.
* India’s cotton export- BD call for not backing off:
Bangladesh high commissioner to India Tariq A Karim said India should not back off from the promise to supply cotton to his country despite New Delhi’s decision to freeze cotton export in the coming season.
Speaking at an interaction organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Coimbatore chapter on Monday evening, Karim added that Bangladesh’s total cotton requirement would be around 40 lakh bales and it was dependant on India for about 15 lakh bales.
Though India at the moment has promised to supply cotton to Bangladesh this year, it is yet to be officially inked on paper yet.
Karim said, “We are hoping that the Indian government will keep the promise and not withhold the supply of cotton to Bangladesh in the coming cotton season.”
* New ILO prog to aid BD RMG:
An “innovative” new agreement signed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Dutch, British and Canadian governments aims to support garment workers on Bangladesh.
Nearly three and half million Bangladesh garment workers, recently beset by industrial accidents and a staggering loss of life, will get essential support to improve working conditions, strengthen labour inspection and upgrade building and fire safety at their workplaces.
The efforts of the Government of Bangladesh and a range of national and international actors in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector have been boosted by an innovative programme of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in partnership with the governments of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada, launched in New York on September 23.
21:43:18 local time INDIA
* Bellary, Yadgir to get textile parks:
The Union Textiles Ministry has agreed to start new textile parks in Yadgir and Bellary and a skill development centre in Gulbarga for building capacity of workers engaged in textile production.
This was announced by Union Textiles Minister Kavuru Sambasiva Rao in the city on Monday. He was speaking to reporters after laying the foundation stone for basic infrastructure facilities at the Gulbarga textile park at the Nandur-Kesaratagi Industrial Estate on Shahabad Road.
* Cotton yarn export boom likely after Chinese policy shift:
To hit new milsestone of 2,000 million kgs this year on dramatic shift in Chinese policy on textile raw material import
Cotton yarn exports could double to hit a new milestone of 2,000 million kg this year due to a dramatic shift in Chinese policy on textile raw material import, which promotes purchase of yarn over cotton.
Indicating high demand from abroad, the registration for yarn exporters with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) jumped 50 per cent to 593 million kg in the first five months of the financial year from 397.2 million kg a year ago.
* Chinese buyers sign MoUs for Indian cotton and cotton yarn:
21:13:18 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan produces finest quality textile products: KCCI President:
President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Muhammad Haroon Agar emphasised that Pakistan produces world’s finest quality textile products; the leading international brands purchase their products from Pakistani textile suppliers. Textile also contributes over 50 percent of the total export share of Pakistan.
Pakistan has a network of textile industries across the country including all the major clusters like weaving, dying, printing, hosiery and knitwear, apparel, towel, bed linen, denim, etc. Exchanging views with Muhammad Hanif Kasbati, Chief Executive of Pakistan Textile City Limited, he asserted upon the need of more industrialisation in the textile clusters for enhancing exports which will ultimately uplift the economy. He admired the initiative of Textile City on public and private partnership basis which is in the interest of the country and its citizens.
* Textile City concept to develop industrial estate:
Pakistan Textile City Limited Chief Executive Muhammad Hanif Kasbati has said that the concept of Textile City is to develop an exclusive industrial estate dedicated to value-added textile products.
During his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries, he apprised that the Pakistan Textile City is an unlisted public limited company incorporated in May 2004 under the Companies Ordinance 1984. It is driven with the vision to develop and operate world-class industrial zones across Pakistan, dedicated to value-added textile industries and project Pakistan as hub of quality textiles.
* Aptma assured of support for EU market access:
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar has assured All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) of his support on market access and uninterrupted energy supply.
He was speaking at the Aptma house Punjab on Tuesday.
The governor said that he will work towards tabling the GSP plus bill in the EU Parliament when he visits the UK in early October. He lamented that the bomb blast in Peshawar has occurred at a time when the country is set to avail the GSP plus status.
“The GSP plus status will make a huge difference to the quality of life of textile workers in Pakistan,” he said. “Therefore, I will leave no stone unturned in pushing for its market access.”