* The ‘FACTS BEHIND FASHION’ : Urgent Appeals – Annual Review 2012:
As thousands of workers in Bangladesh continue to fight for their right to refuse unsafe working conditions, Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) today launches an interactive Urgent Appeal Annual Review that shows how the organisation supports these -and many other- workers in their struggle for safer work, compensation and freedom of association.
The Facts Behind Fashion annual review of 2012, presents the real stories from within the garment industry worldwide. The online annual review allows visitors to find out about the conditions in some of the factories where their clothes are made – and about how CCC works together with workers, local organisers and trade union leaders to stop violations of workers rights.
CCC took action on 30 urgent appeals to support workers in the garment industry throughout 2012. More than 38 companies were challenged to answer to the plight of the workers involved.
The maps and cases show the labour rights violations that CCC encountered in 2012. We have grouped the types of violations in four categories of labour rights: freedom of association, payment, contracts, health, fire and safety and gender discruimination.
Other labour rights violations include gender discrimination and other extraordinary violations including persecution and murder.
2012 also witnessed some of the worst factory fires to hit the garment industry in many years with 398 garment workers losing their lives after being trapped in the fires at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan and Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh.
The annual review includes a timeline – consisting reports, news articles, campaigns and videos – which follows KiK, the German discountretailer who sourced from both factories.
The year saw many highlights including the victory in the Kizone case early 2013, in which Adidas, after intense public pressure, finally agreed to contribute to the US$1.8 million compensation owed to 2800 workers when the Kizone factory in Indonesia shut down.
Many of the urgent appeal cases that have been successes for workers locally have also set precedents that have a significant potential spill-over effect towards improvements on a larger scale: victories gave inspiration to workers facing similar issues in other workplaces.
* Overview of all cases:
Urgent appeals in 2012
The garment industry, and also the rights violations that the Clean Clothes Campaign are dealing with, often concentrate on ‘hotspots’.
04:02:38 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers picket SSS anew, blast ‘shameless’ board:
Calling the Social Security System’s board “shameless,” workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno again picketed the SSS main office office in Quezon City this morning to demand that the board immediately return to the workers’ fund the P10-million bonus that its members pocketed.
To show their indignation, the workers burned an image of SSS president and CEO Emilio de Quiros with the agency’s logo with the words ” Sindikato ng mga Swapang sa Salapi” written under it.
” The SSS board is getting nothing but flak from SSS members and the public for deciding to pocket P10 million from the fund. It is shameless in refusing to return the huge bonus to the SSS fund despite the mounting outrage, ” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
03:02:38 local time CAMBODIA
* Levi Strauss quits garment factory amid on-going strike:
U.S. jeans giant turns back on workers seeking higher pay and better working conditions
Last week jeans giant Levi Strauss confirmed that it stopped sourcing garments from Singapore-owned SL Garment Processing (Cambodia).
Workers at the factory, which still produces clothes for the US brand Gap, have been on strike for almost two months, demanding an increase of minimum wage to $150 per month, the reinstatement of fired union leaders and the sacking of a company shareholder.
In an e-mail to Phnom Penh Post, Clara So, director of corporate affairs for Levi Strauss in the Asia Pacific region said the move came after one year of work with SL to meet the brand’s requirements. She did not stipulate when the decision to sever ties with the factory was taken.
“Like any company, we regularly assess our manufacturing relationships based on a number of criteria, including business rationale, manufacturing standards and vendor code of conduct,” she wrote.
But many factory workers are no longer willing to work for next-to-nothing pay and are increasingly demanding higher wages and respect for labour standards, challenging factory owners and forcing international buyers to have a closer look at their supply chain.
SL Garment made the headlines in early August when almost 4,000 factory workers walked out of the job as union members demanded that it severs ties with Meas Sotha, a key shareholder, after he ordered a military police presence at the factory. An arrangement the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) said was meant to intimidate unionised workers.
02:02:38 local time BANGLADESH
* Apparel workers block highway in Tongi:
Apparels workers of ‘water lily garments’ at Cherag Ali area of Tongi of Gaziprur city staged a demonstration and blocked the busy Dhaka-Mymensingh highway for about half an hour, demanding payment of their wages on Monday.
Al-Amin, a supervisor of the factory told New Age that the authority did not pay wages to the workers for the month of September.
The labourers did not also receive their Eid festival bonus. The company earlier told the workers that they would be paid in the afternoon, Monday.
Lily has some three hundred workers.
When the workers came to the factory in the morning, the authority refused to pay the total arrears and instead wanted to pay in part.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Workers-cops clash injures 30 in Ashulia:
At least 30 people were injured in a clash between readymade garments workers and police in Ashulia, outskirts of the capital, on Monday morning.
Sources said garments workers of Liberty Fashion Limited have been staging protests, for the last few days, demanding their due salary and allowances.
Additional police forces were deployed from Monday morning to avert further untoward situation.
Clash erupted when the workers tried to block the Jirani-Rangamati road and Nabinagar-Chandra highway at around 11:00am while police tried to obstruct them.
* Garment workers detain boss until he pays bonus:
Workers at a Bangladeshi garment factory on Monday freed a garment factory boss they had held captive in his office for more than 18 hours after he paid a promised bonus.
The incident was the first involving the forced confinement of a factory boss in months of confrontation between management and workers earning minimum wages equivalent to $38 a month, half what Cambodian garment workers earn.
A trade union leader said the incident was a “positive development” as workers had achieved their aim “peacefully”.
Police said workers went to the Tuba Group factory on Saturday to demand payment of their bonus for the Eid-ul-Azha holiday in overwhelmingly Muslim Bangladesh.
They forced their way into the office of owner Delwar Hossain and locked him in when he said no money was available.
Police, relatives of the owners and the factory owners’ group, the BGMEA, launched talks with the protesters and a police official said Hossain was released after bonuses were paid to 900 workers late on Sunday.
read more. & read more.
* Factories, barring one, pay up:
Workers of all garment factories, barring one, have received their salaries, BGMEA has claimed.
Acting president of the garment owners’ body SM Mannan Kachi made the announcement at a press conference on Monday in the backdrop of garment workers’ unrest over the past few days.
“We know that workers of almost all factories have been given their salaries and bonuses, and are enjoying their holiday. We faced some difficulty with 15 to 20 factories. Some owners were facing financial trouble and could not pay their workers in time.”
Mannan Kachi said there were issues about bonuses in Mirpur’s Liberty Fashion Ware, two factories in Jirani Bazar and in Badda’s Tuba Textile.
“Tuba Group sold off machines to pay their workers. Liberty Fashion is trying its best to pay up.”
BGMEA said it was actively supervising 1,000 small and medium factories after learning from detective agencies about possible workers unrest ahead of Eid.
“The BGMEA and the government took joint measures to ensure that the workers got their dues before Eid. Nine regional committees were formed for the 3,000 factories in Dhaka, Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia, and Narayanganj.”
* Salaries, bonus ensured for all workers: BGMEA:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday said the owners have arranged salary and bonus for all workers and employees before Eid-ul-Azha covering cent percent factories.
The BGMEA leaders made the claim at a press conference held at the BGMEA conference room in the city.
BGMEA acting president SM Mannan Kochi read out a written statement in the press conference.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG workers take to streets for dues before Eid:
At least 30 people were injured as garment factory workers blocked road and clashed with the police in Ashulia on Monday for wages and festival allowance.
Hundreds of workers of Liberty Fashions Wear Limited started demonstrations in front of the factory in the morning and blocked Jirani-Shimulia road as the factory authorities had not yet paid their wage arrears and festival allowance.
The police charged batons, fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the workers.
Later, the workers blocked Dhaka-Tangail highway and engaged in clashes with the police.
The workers of Ruposhi Fashions Ltd at Dakkhinkhan also staged street demonstrations demanding wages and festival allowance before Eid-ul-Azha.
Labour leaders said that eight factories, which are the members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, were yet to pay dues and festival allowance to the workers.
* All garment workers have been paid, BGMEA says:
Labour unrest still continuing over wage
Garment makers yesterday claimed that almost all the factories have disbursed salaries and festival bonuses to their workers in time so that they can celebrate the occasion with their loved ones.
“There were only 15-20 incidents this time,” said SM Mannan Kochi, acting president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
“Following reports from different agencies that labour unrest might take place in about 1,000 factories over wages and bonuses, we closely monitored the situation.”
The workers of Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd, however, staged demonstrations in Ashulia and Mirpur due to a delay in receiving their dues ahead of Eid.
“Liberty Fashion is facing a crisis due to lack of orders from international retailers. Still, the owner of the factory will pay the salaries and bonuses.”
British retailer Tesco recently cancelled an order worth $2 crore with the Savar-based factory after its surveyor team found problems with the building’s beams, slabs and columns, said Abdus Salam Murshedy, former president of BGMEA.
The owner is trying to recuperate the losses, Murshedy said.
The owner of Tuba Group, too, has been facing difficulties in clearing its payroll. “But he sold off the machineries from one of his factories to clear the dues,” Kochi added.
* New statement up on Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd.:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety was set up to ensure real and sustainable improvements to working conditions in the Bangladesh garment industry are implemented effectively.
As part of the programme, we are inspecting factories covered by The Accord in order to identify safety and fire hazards that pose immediate risks to workers.
At Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd, Tesco, Debenhams, Primark and Li &Fung reacted following a structural inspection of the factory and found that Unit 2 (the main sewing unit) was in danger of collapse and workers were in grave danger.
The factory agreed to close unit 2 on 9th June 2013 and brands mentioned along with K-Mart (Australia), Target (Australia) and Carrefour gave substantial financial support to Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd to ensure workers were paid for July and EID bonuses. By 20th September 2013, work on Unit 2 had not yet been undertaken suggesting that the Company is unwilling to take any steps or present any plan to repair the building, despite several months of encouragement.
The Accord fully supports its members in their dealings with the factory and believes that they have acted responsibly throughout this case, prioritising the safety of workers and offering financial and expert support to factory management to help them address the issues.
It is regrettable that factory management have not been willing to address the issues they face despite this support. We believe it would be dangerous to allow workers to return to work in unit 2.
* Accord condemns Liberty Fashion’s delay in repairing factory building:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was set up to ensure real and sustainable improvement in apparel sector, has condemned dillydally by Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd in repairing its factory building.
The Bangladesh Accord Foundation in a statement said Monday that the Tesco, Debenhams, Primark and Li & Fung reacted following a structural inspection of the factory of Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd where the inspectors found that its Unit 2 (the main sewing unit) was in danger of collapse and workers were in grave danger.”
The factory agreed to close unit 2 on June 09 last and brands mentioned along with K-Mart (Australia), Target (Australia) and Carrefour gave substantial financial support to Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd to ensure that workers were paid for July and Eid bonuses.
By September 20 last work on Unit 2 was not undertaken suggesting that the company is unwilling to take any steps or present any plan to repair the building, despite several months of encouragement.
* Liberty Fashion workers demonstrate for dues:
At least 3,000 garment workers of Liberty Fashion Wears Ltd demonstrated yesterday at Zirani Bazar point on the Dhaka-Tangail highway, demanding payment for arrears and the festival bonus, police said.
SM Badrul Alam, officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station, said the workers took to the streets and blocked the busy road at around 10am for an hour.
“Police rushed to the scene and used rubber bullets and teargas to bring the situation under control. Nobody was reported hurt,” Badrul told The Daily Star by phone.
Marzina Begum, a helper at the factory, said they received Tk 1,500 in the afternoon. “We waited for the money for two days, but management did not pay us. At last, we took to the streets Monday.”
* Project for inspecting RMG fire, building safety starts Oct 22:
The government, in association with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), will launch a project on October 22, paving the way for inspecting fire and building safety standards of the country’s readymade garment (RMG) factories, officials said.
A committee, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the ILO, at a meeting on Sunday finalised the checklist for the initiative. The checklist was finalised amid confusion as to whether the Accord and Alliance will also follow the same standard or incorporate their new requirements, sources said.
According to them, the Accord is yet to come up with its requirements while the Alliance provided its draft standard. Both the groups need more sittings for a common and unified checklist.
* $24m RMG sector safety project to be launched Oct 22:
The government and the International Labour Organisation are jointly going to launch a project to address the challenges the country’s readymade garments sector is facing now, labour ministry officials said.
They said the project would be commenced on October 22.
Under the project ‘improving working conditions in the RMG sector’, the ILO will provide $24 million to ensure fire and building safety and to secure lasting improvements in the working conditions in the sector, they said.
The officials said the fund would be used in inspection of structural integrity and fire safety of apparel factories and in training of stakeholders including owners, workers and trade union leaders.
Under a tripartite action plan, the government earlier decided that it would start inspecting building and fire safety of around 3,500 RMG units from September 15.
* Tanneries expect export turnover to reach $4-5 bn after relocation:
The annual export turnover from the leather sector, the second largest sector after RMG, is likely to reach 4 to 5 billion USD from its present level of earnings of one billion USD after implementation of the relocation to an environmentally compliant industrial estate, said the industry insiders here on Sunday.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘relocation of Leather Industry to Dhaka Tannery Estate’ was sigened among the concerned parties with Industry Minister Dilip Barua as the chief guest.
“Relocation of the leather industry by 2014-2015 would increase the overall export value to billions of dollars”, said the newly elected President of Bangladesh Finished Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA) Engr. M Abu Taher while speaking before signing of the (MoU).
* Plastic maker is the latest casualty of Disney’s exit:
New orders for plastic goods from Disney are not coming Bangladesh’s way after the company decided to stop sourcing from here because of poor labour and factory conditions, an official of PRAN-RFL said.
The US-based company however has kept its previously placed orders with the Bangladeshi companies in clothing and other items. The
company will stop sourcing from here by March 2014, exporters said yesterday.
Disney’s decision to stop sourcing from Bangladesh is going to affect both apparel and plastic makers.
“Our exports will suffer for Disney’s decision. We are going to be the victim of weak labour standards in another sector,” said a senior official of PRAN-RFL Group, seeking anonymity.
Its monthly shipments to Disney stood at nearly $600,000, he said, adding that Disney’s decision would affect 400 employees working at the PRAN-RFL plant.
“The decision from Disney came at a time when our exports to the company started growing,” he said.
“We are facing intense competition after the suspension of the GSP privileges by the US and Disney’s move will further affect our exports.”
Early this year, Disney said it would not allow production of its brand products in 44 countries, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, in line with its decision to consolidate production in a limited number of countries.
Less than 1 percent of the factories used by Disney’s contractors are in Bangladesh, reports The New York Times, quoting a Disney official.
The company took the decision in the face of repeated tragedies and the death of garment workers due to poor labour and factory standards.
Gazipur Garment factory Fire
* Workers of Aswad Garments get Eid bonus:
The workers of Aswad Garments Factory at Sreepur that was burnt to ashes in a devastating fire on October 8 evening got Eid bonus on October 10 afternoon.
More than 1,000 workers got Eid bonus that was announced on Wednesday by the factory authority to pay on Thursday. According to the announcement, the workers were gathering in front of the factory gate and waiting for bonus from afternoon and the management completed payment of bonus at around 7.00 pm. General Manager (Admin), Major (retd) Abdul Halim, Director Emdadul Haque, and Alamgir Hossain were present at that time.
General Manager Abdul Halim said, during the fire incident, many of the workers lost their identity cards, but they could be given bonus after identification by the lineman of the factory. Deputy General Manager Shakhawat Hossain, announced to re-open the factory on October 26.
After receiving the bonus, workers expressed their satisfaction and thanked the owners of the factory.
Workers said, on the occasion of Eid, all workers were demanding Eid bonus and advance salary for ten days of the current month before the incident. The authority also arranged a meeting to take decision about workers demands, but the factory caught fire a few minutes after the meeting. So, they were worried about the bonus.
* Kmart offers compensation to RMG inferno victims:
The factory owners have also announced Tk500,000 in compensation for families of each victim
Kmart has become the first clothing chain to offer compensation to the victims and their families of the readymade garment factory of Palmal Group that was burnt down in Gazipur on October 9, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Kmart has been the latest company to confirm that they had recently placed an order with the factory, offering financial compensation.
”Our team on the ground in Bangladesh are working with Palmal and the Accord team to ensure that all affected families are compensated and that the factory workers can find alternative jobs,” a statement from Kmart said.
read more. & read more.
* Kmart to compensate Aswad fire victims, their families:
Kmart, an Australian retailer, has confirmed paying compensation to the victims and their families of the Bangladeshi factory that was burnt down last week, leaving at least seven workers dead and injuring about 50 others, said a press release.
The company is one of the three Australian retailers, the other two being Big W and Target, to admit that material for its clothes was manufactured in the factory owned by the Palmal Group of Companies.
Kmart was the latest company to confirm that a recent order for fabric was placed at the factory and it was offering financial compensation.
“Our team in Bangladesh is working with Palmal and the [Bangladeshi Fire and Safety] Accord team to ensure that all affected families are compensated and that the factory workers can find alternative jobs,” spokeswoman of the company, Tracie Walker, said in the press release.
A seven-member panel is still examining the cause of last week’s blaze, and the factory’s safety regimen, the factory owner, Nafis Sikder, said claiming that the fire was not caused by any dereliction.
“The way the fire spread across the entire factory was mysterious. It spread in only 15 minutes,” Mr Sikder said.
( Eid-ul-Azha holiday for newspapers Oct 15-17 -Reported by: UNBconnect.
Reported on: October 8th, 2013 01:55:26 pm
Newspaper Owners Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) will observe holiday on October 15, 16 and 17, 2013 on account of holy Eid-ul Azha.)
01:32:38 local time INDIA
* Power table unit owners begin indefinite strike:
The Tirupur Power Table Owners Association that run around 2,000 knitwear stitching units in Tirupur, began an indefinite shutdown on Friday in protest against the alleged non-implementation of the recent raise in job work charges signed by them with hosiery manufacturers.
The association sources said that according to the recent three-year pact signed with the South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association (SIHMA), it was agreed for a 21 per cent raise in job work charges with effect from September 16.
But, many hosiery manufacturing units were not giving the job work charges at the revised slabs and hence, decided to go on strike, power table unit owners added.
* Handloom: activists’ plea to Union government:
Prasanna, renowned theatre activist and founder of Charaka, the women’s co-operative society, and B. Syama Sundari, the writer associated with Dastkar Andhra, have questioned the Union Textile Ministry’s reported move to change the definition of handloom sector.
In an open letter to K. Sambashiva Rao, Union Minister for Textiles, Mr. Prasanna and Dr. Syama Sundari have appealed to him not to tamper with the handloom tradition.
They said the Ministry wanted to examine the feasibility of mechanising any two out of the three basic motions of shedding, picking and beating. “By removing these motions from the purview of the weaver and hand them over to machine, the Ministry will be basically converting handloom in to power loom,” they observed.
Though the proposal initiated is said to be aimed at reducing the drudgery of the handloom weavers, the two activists have contended that “hand-driven processes are not drudgery” even though the workers are “pitiably underpaid.”
Weaver representatives from across the country who attended a meeting in Bangalore have opposed the idea. “We feel this proposal, if implemented, will effectively bring handloom weaving in the country to an end and the power loom sector, which is already the most powerful textile sector, shall become a near monopoly sector,” they observed.
They said handloom could not be standardised or homogenised.
* Garment exports up 15% in September:
India’s apparel exports grew about 15 per cent to USD 1.1 billion in September this year on the back of a rise in demand in American and emerging markets like Latin America, garment exporters’ body AEPC said on Monday.
“The garment demand is growing as buyers are placing orders ahead of the Christmas season. Also, some revival in the US along with emerging markets has contributed to the exports growth in September,” Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) chairman A Sakthivel said.
read more. & read more.
* Small textile units in Haryana oppose imposition of VAT:
These units, which make rugs, cotton and woollen durries, druggets and carpets, have already seen their margins squeezed by the escalating cost of power, labour and raw material
Micro, small and medium-scale textile units in Panipat, the textile cluster of Haryana, are up in arms over the imposition of Value Added Tax.
These units, which make rugs, cotton and woollen durries, druggets and carpets, have already seen their margins squeezed by the escalating cost of power, labour and raw material. They want a roll-back of the tax, which they fear may lead to the closure of many small enterprises, and point out that units making similar products in Gujarat and Rajasthan are tax-exempt.
* Gujarat govt notifies textile policy:
Almost one-and-a-half years after the announcement of the Textile Industry Promotion Policy 2012, the state government has published its final notification. Now, textile units will be able to receive government assistance.
Under the new policy, interest subsidy of 5% will be given without a ceiling for the period of five years on new plant and machinery for ginning and processing, 7% on new plant and machinery for cotton spinning as well as for second-hand imported cotton spinning machinery with certain conditions without a ceiling for five years.
Power tariff concession on new investment for cotton spinning will be provided at Rs 1 per unit for five years and there will be refund of VAT paid by the unit on the purchase of raw material.
The new policy is expected to attract an investment of over Rs 20,000 crore creating new employment opportunities for over 25 lakh people, 50% of them being rural women, during the next five years.
* ‘Indian textile industry should also take own initiatives’:
* Weavers to get hire-purchase offer:
The Union Ministry of Textiles has launched a programme called the ‘Hire-Purchase Scheme’ in the revised restructured Technology Upgradation Scheme (RR-TUFS) to give a boost to modernisation of the weaving sector.
A special purpose vehicle (SPV), promoted by a group of weavers, a large-scale textile manufacturer and a co-operative or an entrepreneur, will procure the machines and provide them on a hire-purchase basis to the weavers.
New indigenous or imported shuttle-less looms and pre-weaving machinery will be eligible for 30 per cent subsidy under this scheme apart from interest subsidy. Details of the ‘Hire-Purchase scheme’ are given in the Government resolution on the RR-TUFS that was issued recently for the XII Plan period. It will be a pilot project with an outlay of Rs. 300 crore, and will be monitored by the Office of the Textile Commissioner.
01:32:38 local time SRI LANKA
* Dying to Work?: Why Health and Safety in the Work Place is an Important Economic Issue for Sri Lanka:
This week another ten workers in Bangladesh lost their lives in a deadly fire at a garment factory, another in a series of incident ranging from building collapses to fires that have claimed over 1,500 lives in the past year alone.
This has brought new attention to working conditions in the garment industry in Bangladesh and has got everyone from policymakers and industrialists to human rights organizations and Western clothing brands very concerned.
Sri Lankan stakeholders reading news of these incidents, however, can be content that such deadly working conditions do not exist here, and rightly so.
Nevertheless, thinking more comprehensively about safety and health in the wider Sri Lankan work place context should be an important ongoing agenda.
As Sri Lanka enters its middle-income transition, these issues become increasingly more relevant.
Recognizing this, the Cabinet of Ministers in Sri Lanka has designated the second week of October as “National Occupational Safety and Health Week”. In this context, this article discusses the importance of occupation health and safety in ensuring a productive labour force in Sri Lanka and the public policy issues that must be addressed.
* Sri Lankan court bans public protests against glove factory in Weliweriya:
A Sri Lankan court today issued an injunction on public agitations against the Hayleys Group rubber glove manufacturer in Weliweriya.
The Acting Magistrate of Gampaha issued an injunction against meetings of more than five people and chaotic behavior in Weliweriya and Malwathuhiripitiya areas.
The injunction was issued on the request of police to guarantee the security and peace in the area. The ban will be valid till October 20.
The residents of the area have organized protests against the re-opening of the Hayleys glove making factory which they claim responsible for increase of acidity in their drinking water.
* Free ports to boost garment revenue:
The decision by the government to make both Colombo and Hambantota harbour ‘free ports’ will help the apparel industry to boost revenue by additional US$ one billion, said Governor Central Bank, Ajith Nivard Cabraal.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporter’s Association at Cinnamon Lakeside he said that the apparel industry targets exports to the value of US$ 5 billion.
“The free port benefit” will help to increase this figure by another US$ one billion,” he said. Cabraal said additionally the government is helping by expanding the economy towards US$ 4,000 per capita + US$ 100 bn economy through the 5 Hubs + 1 concept.
“Making the macroeconomic policy environment more conducive for exports by way of lower inflation, more flexible exchange rate, lower interest rates and better trade facilitation via maximization of the use of existing preferential and free trade agreements are some other areas in which the government is assisting the industry”.
01:02:38 local time PAKISTAN
* US should pay more attention to FTA with Pakistan: PTEA:
01:02:38 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Aid to Uzbekistan Should Not Help Forced Child Labor:
This month, the government of Uzbekistan submitted a request for $49.9 million to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a coalition that pools donor funds to strengthen education in developing countries.
The proposal has a few technical problems. It accurately identifies the need to increase preschool access for children three to five years old, yet the investment requested is large compared to the forecasted results. Furthermore, the proposed development of children’s books for family reading programs in only the Karakalpak, Russian, and Uzbek languages represents continued marginalization of the significant Tajik minority.
There are other reasons for the GPE to be cautious about the grant application. Uzbekistan has an abysmal human rights record, which includes the use of forced child and adult labor in the cotton fields under dangerous and inhumane conditions. Until the fall of 2012, the Uzbek government routinely mobilized hundreds of thousands of elementary, secondary and university students (as well as many adults) to pick cotton, closing schools for up to two months each year.
As cotton merchants head to Uzbekistan for its annual cotton fair which starts on Wednesday, Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) announced the latest numbers regarding corporate support of the Company Pledge Against Forced Child and Adult Labor in Uzbek Cotton.
136 international brands and companies with a combined estimated Market Cap of US$1.024 trillion* have now signed the pledge declaring their refusal to source cotton from the country until the forced labor of children and adults in the cotton fields ceases.
IKEA, lululemon athletica, and Marks & Spencer are the latest companies to add to the growing coalition of apparel companies taking a stand against oppression and forced labor in the Uzbek cotton industry. There can not be a stronger message to the Government of Uzbekistan (GOU) than having a trillion-dollars worth of the apparel industry stating they do not want any form of slave labor from entering the global market and taking actions to block it.
So, are all of the combined actions of the Cotton Coalition having any impact? In some ways yes, in some ways no. For example, the youngest children (aged 7 – 11) were not mobilized in mass quantities during the 2012 harvest.
However, as a result, greater numbers of older students and adults were mobilized.
This year is especially significant because for the first time the GOU is allowing the International Labor Organization (ILO) to conduct an inspection mission during the harvest (something the Cotton Coalition has been asking for since 2008). Although we all welcome the return of the ILO’s presence in Uzbekistan after being snubbed for many years, there is skepticism that the mission will produce accurate results.
ILO representatives will be accompanied by Uzbek officials, making it difficult for citizens to speak openly with ILO monitors.