19:48:33 local time PHILIPPINES
* Sagada weavers face harassment:
Three years after the workers of the Sagada Weaving organized themselves into a union, they are now facing harassment and intimidation from the employer leading to dismissal.
As of press time, five workers who are members of the Sagada Weaving Workers Union (SWWU) were indirectly dismissed from their jobs.
Agnes Capuyan, SWWU vice president, was the first to leave the company five months ago due to emotional and psychological stress. As recounted by the members of the union during a group discussion on October 10, their employer, Ezra Keithly Bondad Aranduque was always angry with Capuyan for accommodating other weaving jobs at home.
Aranduque gave her a memorandum that she would be working on a take home basis since she has weaving equipment at home. When Capuyan resisted, the employer said that he would call her if there are job orders available for her. But up to this time, Capuyan did not receive any job order from the company.
This situation was also experienced by Marilou Ticlaen, Tessie Cayangen, Mary Udlos and Nellie Lonogan, all members of the union.”He wants us to get tired and volunteer to resign,” Felisa Calangeg said in Ilocano during the discussion. This, they said, is an act of the company to get rid of union members and be excused for the separation pay and other benefits.
* Workers storm SSS, slam calamity loans for Bohol, Cebu:
Hundreds of workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno stormed the Social Security System’s main office along East Avenue, Quezon City this morning to condemn the agency’s calamity loans for members in Bohol and Cebu who were hit badly by last week’s earthquake, saying the agency should give out direct financial assistance to these members instead.
The workers, who marched past the SSS gates to show their disgust, continued to condemn the P10-million bonus pocketed by the SSS board for 2012 and the recently-approved 0.6 per cent increase in members’ premium contributions.
“We are outraged that the SSS leadership is most insensitive to the plight of its members. It refuses to return its huge bonuses even as it asks members to pay a bigger premium and offers mere loans, not financial assistance, to members struck by the earthquake,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
18:48:33 local time CAMBODIA
* Sabrina workers out after months in jail:
Eight unionists locked in prison in Kampong Speu province since violent clashes at the Sabrina Garment factory in May and June were released on bail yesterday, court and union officials said.
Cheum Rithy, a provincial judge, said he had decided to release the eight Free Trade Union members because they had been “detained long enough” and because the plaintiff had withdrawn demands for compensation.
“I see they have been detained for four months – that’s long enough,” he said.
The eight men still face charges of inciting violence and destroying company property at the factory, charges they deny.
They will be re-arrested if they “do something wrong”, Rithy added.
Chea Mony, FTU president, yesterday claimed credit for the unionists’ release, saying the decision had been a direct result of his urging garment workers to join opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party protests that begin in Phnom Penh tomorrow.
“Yes, of course they decided to release them immediately after I announced to all workers that they should join … to demand the court release the eight workers and increase wages to $150 per month.”
Mony added that he will continue to make demands for a wage increase through the Labor Advisory Committee.
19:48:33 local time INDONESIA
* Workers warn of nationwide strike:
Thousands of workers from various associations staged a protest in front of the House of Representatives on Jl. Gatot Subroto on Monday morning, occupying the main thoroughfare and causing congestion in the surrounding area.
The Traffic Management Center (TMC) announced diversions on its official Twitter account at 10:15 a.m. as the protesters began to arrive at the rally location.
The police closed some parts of the road and redirected Slipi-bound vehicles to Jl. Asia Afrika and Jl. Gerbang Pemuda in Central Jakarta, while Transjakarta buses did not use their regular lane, entering the inner city toll road instead.
The workers held the rally to demand a more than 50 percent increase in the minimum wage. They also urged the government to implement social security (BPJS) on January 1, 2014 and to ban the practice of outsourcing. Currently, the provincial wage (UMP) in Jakarta is Rp 2.2 million (US$202) per month, the workers are demanding an increase to Rp 3.7 million.
The forum has called on Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama to improve the standard cost of living (KHL) index, including house rental and transportation costs. The forum claimed that the demand to raise the minimum provincial wage to Rp 3.7 million was reasonable as the country’s economy and per capita income were improving.
* Megawati Asks Laborers to be Reasonable:
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chair Megawati Soekarnoputri has called on laborers to understand the conditions of their companies in demanding their rights, especially when the companies are on the brink of bankruptcy.
“For laborers, don’t just ask for your rights without understanding the problems. If a company goes bankrupt, its laborers will be dismissed,” Megawati told reporters at her residence on Jl. Teuku Umar, Menteng, on Monday, October 21, 2013.
Megawati made this statement prior to departing for PT KMK Global Sports factory in Tangerang together with other PDI-P officials, including PDI-P secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto and lawmaker Rieke Dyah Pitaloka at around 10.20 today. “I want to go to a factory that was almost out of business,” she said. “Not as a mediator, but perhaps more of an observer,” she added.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. Minister of Manpower and Transmigration ask governors to construct minimum wage roadmap. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
2. Minimum Wage Protests Test Investor Sentiment. Read the full article here.
3. Indonesia Seeks to Get Back Its Manufacturing Mojo. Read the full article here.
4. Minister Urges Businesses to Employ Disabled Persons. Read the full article here.
5. Starting January 1st, Govt provide Health Care Insurance for 140 Million BPJS Members. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
6. New economic package on horizon: Deputy Minister. Read the full article here.
7. Global Recovery to Aid Exports. Read the full article here.
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
18:18:33 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Worker organisations fight resistance from employers:
Some employers are refusing to negotiate with worker organisations and even firing leaders, say activists
Most worker organisations formed under new labour laws are still facing strong opposition from factory owners, a number of activists and workers have told The Myanmar Times.
They say factory owners regularly fire labour leaders and even start their own organisations to divide workers. But the organisations are also denied other basic rights outlined in the Labour Organisation Law, which reintroduced the concept of organised labour in 2012, decades after unions were declared illegal by the military
“Though workers organisations were formed under the labour law, most of them do not have full rights,” said U Htay, a labour activist and lawyer who regularly helps workers involved in disputes. “They don’t get a chance to meet inside the factories, or make regular meetings. They also cannot meet with those on the management level.”
17:48:33 local time BANGLADESH
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana plaza tragedy: Pregnant wife of a slain worker left ‘abandoned’:
Asha has received only two packets of biscuits and eggs worth of Tk300 till date. She received no compensation yet from the government or any other organisations
Abandoned by in-laws ever since her husband died in the Rana Plaza collapse back in April, Asha Akhter, 18, is now suffering from malnutrition seven months into her pregnancy because of poverty.
“In April, my husband and I were celebrating my pregnancy. In the same month my husband died. I remember the morning of April 24. Before leaving for his workplace, he said ‘I will make sure you are being well-fed. Our kid will be a healthy one,’ and I smiled at his joy. He used to work in a factory on the fourth floor of Rana Plaza,” Asha told the Dhaka Tribune with a blank look.
Following the incident, Asha has received only two packets of biscuits and eggs worth of Tk300 until date. Neither she received her husband, Abu Zafar Sentu’s due wages, nor did she get any compensation from the government or any other organisations.
Asha claimed that none of her in-laws came to see her after she had moved in with her mother at Bakhtarpur, Savar due to pregnancy. Her in-laws live in a different area of Savar.
“I understood the fact that they do not want me anymore. Although I have heard they will take my child away if it is a boy,” said Asha.
* Rana Plaza survivors encouraged by Bangladesh Accord:
A group of survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh say they have been encouraged by news of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the landmark agreement that aims to improve factory safety in the country’s garment sector, but called on global brands to step up compensation payments.
In a visit to the site of the tragedy, in which 1,129 workers lost their lives six months ago, representatives from IndustriALL and UNI, the two global unions that drove the accord, spoke to survivors and explained the series of new commitments, to which over 100 global brands have now signed.
Compensation negotiations are continuing on the international level, chaired by the ILO, convened by IndustriALL and supported by UNI. Whilst Primark has lead the way by paying six months worth of wages to families, the payments run out this month and all other brands are still to follow suit.
* DNA test to identify dead garment workers soon:
The identities of those killed in the Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashion tragedies will be revealed within two weeks, said experts of the National DNA Testing Laboratory at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
DMCH sources said about 300 bodies have been identified and out of all the DNA samples taken, only 20 to 25 are yet to be matched with the deceased RMG (readymade garments) workers. Considering the task as highly sensitive, the whole process is being directly supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said sources in the PMO and DMCH.
The laboratory has reportedly used the ‘Combined DNA Index System’ software to successfully match the DNA samples donated by the relatives of Rana Plaza victims, a source said.
Talking to The Independent, Sharif Akteruzzaman, adviser of the National DNA Testing Laboratory, said, “From the second step of DNA test, we are analysing the collected DNA sampling and after completing it, we shall make DNA profile of the deceased RMG workers.”
* Compensation for Rana Plaza victims :
As the dust has settled down on the rubble, the much-talked-about compensation package for the Rana Plaza victims is yet to show prospects of materialising.
There were moves, some quite determined, both at home and abroad, to push things forward so that the brunt could be shared by all stakeholders involved in garment making, buying and selling.
But that the things did not kick off the way it was designed from the verbal promises of the stakeholders is becoming sadly apparent. Of the stakeholders, it is the retailers who constitute a crucial component.
It all began with the poor turn-out of the retailers and clothing brands last month in a meeting in Geneva to establish compensation funds for the victims of the two Bangladesh garment disasters — the collapse of the Rana Plaza in April this year killing 1,129 people and the fire in Tazreen Fashions in November last year that took 112 lives. The meeting chaired by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and coordinated by the international labour union, IndustriALL, was attended by only nine out of the 28 brands which sourced from the factories in Rana Plaza.
Shocked, the IndustriALL spokesperson told Reuters, ‘It is difficult to understand why some brands are using any excuse to try to avoid responsibility.
The workers are waiting for money and medical assistance.’ The Primark discount chain owned by Associated British Foods, present at the meeting, also expressed frustration saying, ‘the company remains concerned about the length of time it is taking to agree on a framework for long-term compensation.
As a result the company will now pay a second round of emergency aid, lasting three months.’ So far, Primark has been quite forthcoming to respond positively to the victims of the factory accidents.
However, hoping that things may not actually be as bad as they look like, the IndustriALL spokesperson said the group that attended the meeting agreed to contribute to a fund, but would meet again to create a compensation fund, coordinating the process with parties including the Bangladesh government and the employers.
This does not sound strong enough to suggest that the group of nine — in the event of the majority of the retailers staying away from a combined endeavour — would be encouraged to go ahead with their commitments.
MORE AND OTHER NEWS:
* New RMG wage structure Oct 27:
A new wage structure for the garment workers now will be announced on October 27.
Justice AK Roy, chairman of the board formed to finalise the salary structure for RMG workers, told this to reporters Monday.
The board earlier fixed Monday to finalise and announce the salaries but it could not do so due to Puja and Eid holidays, Justice Roy said.
He was talking to the reporters after holding the sixth board meeting at his Nayapaltan office in the capital.
The minimum wage for garment workers is likely to be set at Tk 5,000 per month, a 67 percent rise from the current Tk 3,000.
The breakthrough comes after both the workers’ representative and garment owners’ representative of the wage board decided to make a compromise so that the new wage structure could be announced at the earliest to avoid possible labour unrest.
Originally, the workers’ representative bargained for a minimum salary of Tk 8,114 per month, while the owners’ representative was willing to provide a 20 percent raise to Tk 3,600.
The new wage structure would take effect from the first of next month.
The labour and employment ministry formed the six-member wage board in June with Justice Roy as chief.
to read. & to read.
* Bangladesh poised to hike garment wages:
Bangladesh’s garment factory owners are pencilling in a minimum wage increase of about 50 to 80 percent and will ask retailers to pay more to defray the cost, as the government tries to end a wave of strikes that hit nearly a fifth of workshops last month.
The world’s second largest clothing exporter hopes to announce a new minimum wage early next month, bowing to international pressure after a string of fatal factory accidents that thrust poor working conditions and pay into the spotlight.
Workers want the minimum wage, which was last raised in 2010, to go up to 8,000 taka ($102) a month – 2-1/2 times the current rate.
Factory bosses have formally offered 3,600 taka. Several, however, told Reuters they anticipated that Bangladesh’s official wage board would set rates in the 4,500 to 5,500 taka range, and they intended to seek between 5 and 15 percent in price hikes from retailers.
The wage board was due to meet on Monday before submitting a draft proposal to the government.
read more. & read more. & to read. & to read.
* Garment factory owners want to pay minimum wage of Tk 4,500:
The minimum wage board for garment workers will hold another meeting Monday. Today’s meeting is supposed to fix the minimum wage for garment factory workers. However, sources at the wage board said the chances of forming a draft of the minimum wage structure are very less.
The core committee formed on wages by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) was supposed to meet yesterday but the meeting was cancelled for some unexplained reason. The wage board will hold a meeting today and tomorrow.
A source on condition of anonymity told Ittefaq the garment factory owners want to fix the minimum wage at Tk 4,500. This reliable source said even this concession may force some small and medium sized factories out of business but the owners are willing to take the risk.
Earlier, in a meeting on September 16, the owners wanted to raise the minimum wage by Tk600 and fix it at Tk3,600. However, this wage was not acceptable to workers.
They protested violently in demand of a minimum wage of Tk 8,114. However, the workers’ representative on the wage board Sirajul Islam Rony hinted that workers may be willing to adjust their demand in consideration of the reality. He told Ittefaq, “We understand we may have to make some compromises and we are willing to make them as long as they are logical.”
When asked what their response will be if the minimum wage is set at Tk 4,500, Sirjaul Islam said, “Then like the last time we’ll once again request the Prime Minister to interfere.” Note that in 2010 the Prime Minister intervened to set the minimum wage at Tk3,000.
* BGMEA leaders seek more time:
The meeting of the Wage Board for RMG industry ended Monday without taking any decision as the apparel makers failed to submit their final proposal for the wage structure.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders sought more time instead for a “better, acceptable and realistic proposal.”
“It is true that we have sought more time. We want a sustainable wage structure so that there is no movement in the coming days,” Arshad Jamal Dipu, who is representing the owners, said after the meeting.
“We have prepared a revised proposal and talked about it but we were unable to submit it before the Wage Board as we are yet to discuss it with all our members,” he said adding that during the last one month BGMEA’s core committee on wage met five times.
There are both skilled and unskilled workers in the garment industry and an equal distribution for all seven grades need to be taken into consideration, he added.
Meeting sources said the owners are likely to place a proposal for Tk 4500 to Tk 5000 as minimum wage for garment workers.
Sirajul Islam Rony, who is representing workers at the Board, said, “We agreed hoping that they (owners) would place an upgraded and better proposal in line with our demand of Tk 8114.”
“The next meeting must be the last one so that the Wage Board can submit its recommendations to the labour ministry and the workers can get new wages from December this year,” he added.
* RMG owners seek one more week to submit wage proposals:
Factory owners failed to submit their proposal on increasing minimum wages for apparel workers to the wage board at its sixth meeting on Monday and sought one more week to submit it.
The representative of factory owners failed to place the proposal at the meeting as they could not discuss the issue earlier among members of the core committee of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) for finalization of their proposal.
The BGMEA core committee could not hold meetings due to shortage of time mainly because of unusually long Eid and Puja vacations, holding of the annual apparel exposition Batexpo and board members’ visit to three East Asian countries to learn about the wage-fixation process.
BGMEA representative Arshad Jamal Dipu said he would submit the proposal at the next meeting of the board on October 27, which, he added, would be acceptable to all.
* RMG owners get more time to submit revised proposal to wage board:
The representative of the apparel factory owners to the minimum wage board on Monday sought three more days to put forward an ‘acceptable and realistic’ proposal for minimum wages for workers.
Quoting the owners’ representative, the minimum wage board chairman, AK Roy, told reporters that the representative sought few more days to submit a ‘better’ proposal.
‘The BGMEA representative told the meeting that they have failed to finalise their new proposal as the sector leaders cannot sit for a meeting due to Eid, Puja and Batexpo. So, they need more time,’ the board chairman said.
At a media briefing after the meeting, AK Roy said the members of the board agreed to allow more time as the owners’ representative said that their proposal would be better and it would protect the interests of owners, workers and industry.
As per the decision taken at the meeting, the seventh meeting of the board would be held on October 27 and the owners have to submit their proposal on that day, he said.
‘If the board members accept the new proposal, then the board will finalise its proposal,’ he added.
Replying to a question, he said that the wages of the workers in Vietnam and Cambodia are higher than Bangladeshi workers, but they have no freedom of choice.
Sirajul Islam Rony, the workers’ representative to the wage board, said that the owners’ representative discussed their new proposals and it is likely to propose Tk 4,500-Tk 5,000 as minimum wage.
* ILO to launch prog to improve factory safety:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the government of Bangladesh will launch a new programme on Tuesday, aiming to improve workplace conditions in Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) sector.
The three-and-a-half year programme will focus on improving RMG factory building safety and workers’ rights and conditions in Bangladesh, officials said on Monday.
ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations Gilbert Houngbo will unveil the programme at Hotel Ruposhi Bangla in the city.
read more. & read more. & read more. & to read. & to read. & read more.
& read more. & read more.
* Factory mishaps, political unrest affect export to new RMG mkts:
Some major tragic industrial incidents, including the Rana Plaza collapse, have apparently blocked the passage of Bangladesh’s apparel export to ’emerging and potential markets’ in recent months.
However, the traditional EU and US markets remain unharmed, industry sources said.
Besides, the prevailing political uncertainty has also started undermining the ready-made garment (RMG) manufacturers’ efforts to diversify their export destinations by exploring new ones, industry people noted adding the country’s troubled politics with its fractious nature and confrontational character is sending negative signals to the global community, impairing its image abroad.
According to the July-September official data, apparel exports to Brazil, Korea and South Africa fell by 2.57, 18.15 and 13.75 per cent respectively.
* Pollution by Hazaribagh tanneries:
Tanneries located at Hazaribagh, a densely populated area in the capital Dhaka, have been creating high pollution decades after decades.
The lifeline of the city, the river Buriganga, is dangerously polluted mainly by the tanneries. Fish and other aquatic life forms cannot survive in the river. Dolphins are hardly seen in the Buriganga nowadays. The water of the Buriganga looks like sewerage waste.
Bangladesh has an environment protection law. According to the law, any industrial unit is supposed to treat its waste before disposal so that it cannot cause harm to the environment in any way. The Department of Environment is primarily responsible to enforce the law to protect the environment from pollution. But if anyone looks at its past role, it would be evident that the department generally remained mum about pollution by Hazaribagh tanneries.
To honour the environment law, the department it must conduct drives, along with a mobile court, inspect the tanneries and impose heavy fine to environment polluting tanneries.
17:18:33 local time INDIA
* Garment workers, domestic head to cracker factories:
Don’t be surprised if your domestic help doesn’t turn up for work over the next few days. In the run-up to Diwali, women like Vijayalakshmi Velu, a domestic help in Hebbal, head to work in cracker factories to earn a quick buck. Her husband too has joined her as this can be quite lucrative.
Her daughter comes as her substitute to many households. “My domestic help has been taking leave off and on for three months and every time, she comes up with some excuse. This time, when I threatened to sack her, she sent her daughter. Her daughter told me her parents are working in cracker factories at Hosur,” said Madhavi R, a homemaker in Hebbal.
Garment factory workers too are making crackers or packing them. Garment factory workers’ union leaders say making crackers can be very tiring and are not sure how many of their sector’s workers are giving their regular job a miss to earn more money in Hosur. There are 857 registered garment factories in Bangalore, of which 20% are in Bommanahalli, Jigani, Anekal and others areas off Hosur Road.
“Workers take sick leave for seven days for which they get half their daily wage and earn Rs 500 to Rs 600 per day for working in cracker factories,” said union leader Pratibha R.
A garment factory HR professional confirmed that absenteeism has been high over the past couple of months. An unskilled garment factory worker is paid Rs 193.50 per day for 26 days as per the government rules and and a skilled worker gets Rs 201 per day. “But I’m sure no one gets as much as she’s supposed to get. The working conditions are no better and they have to stand for 10 hours at a stretch,” said a union leader for garment workers.
* Implementation of state textile policy may be hit:
Competitive policies by other states, unseasonal rains are reasons cited by experts
Similar and perhaps better textile policies by other states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Rajasthan coupled with recent unseasonal rains damaging cotton crop may impact Gujarat’s textile policy implementation.
Industry players and experts are of the view that while Gujarat already faces tough competition from other states, especially Maharashtra, in attracting investment in textile sector through policies, the recent unseasonal rains may further impact the state policy.
Among the other states, Maharashtra’s textile policy is the most competitive for Gujarat. While Gujarat has expressively stated its focus on spinning and technical textile industry, Maharashtra has been able to offer several subsidies for almost every vertical in the textile value chain.
* Karnataka Cabinet approves Textile Policy 2013-18:
17:18:33 local time SRI LANKA
* Show of solidarity with Ansell Lanka workers on strike:
Nearly 1,000 workers at Ansell Lanka Pvt. Ltd., Sri Lanka, have been on strike since 11 October.
The dispute between the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU) of Sri Lanka and Ansell Lanka, producers of latex rubber products, is only the latest in the long history of a company that has fled its native Australia to exploit vulnerable workers in developing countries.
The most recent provocations began when company management unilaterally decided to increase production targets and the use of contract workers. Around the same time one of the branch union leaders was harassed by physical threats, and a number of charges related to his union activities, being brought against him. He was then suspended from work.
In a response to this flagrant violation, the workers at Ansell went on strike on 11 October. After FTZGSEU’s complaint to the Commissioner of Labour, Ansell was asked to withdraw the suspension. However, a few days later the company responded by terminating the branch union’s employment. Ansell has since taken steps to fire further leading union officers.
16:48:33 local time PAKISTAN
* Garment-makers for duty-free inputs to maximise exports:
While the European Union is expected to open up its markets to duty-free imports from Pakistan next year, the country’s garment industry remains far from ready to grab the opportunity.
Garment manufacturers claim the government’s restrictive import policies are blocking their access to new raw materials, which they require to diversify their product lines to take full advantage of the duty-free access under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus scheme.
According to the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), the country could utilise only three textile categories out of the total of 73 that it was given duty-free access to under the EU’s limited, unilateral trade concessions from November last year.
“This is because we do not have access to finer, synthetic fabrics used to make products like ladies’ garments, sportswear, etc., which involve high value addition to fetch higher prices. Our garment industry is still forced to produce low value added garments,” said Ijaz Khokhar, a leading exporter from Sialkot and former chairman of the PRGMEA.
* Pakistan textile garments and Leather workers Federation held a meeting :
Pakistan textile garments and Leather workers Federation held a meeting
with textile garment workers for issue of poor facilities of health and safety at plant.
* Turf battle: Ginner loathe to new sugar mills:
The installation of new sugar mills are resulting in shrinkage of cotton crop area, a leading ginner has complained.
He pointed out that despite cotton crop zones earmarked by the Punjab and Sindh governments, the new sugar units continue to crop up, which may necessitate huge imports of cotton by the country.
“The huge import of cotton due to shrinking of production area may cause pressure on foreign exchange in the future to meet textile industry’s needs,” Ihsan ul Haq, Member Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) said.