22:05:13 local time CHINA
* Migrant workers swarm into Xinjiang to pick cotton:
A worker picks cotton at a modern agriculture park in Hami City, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Oct. 26, 2013. Migrant workers from different regions swarm into Xinjiang, the biggest cotton production base in China, every year to pick cotton. (Xinhua/Cai Zengle)
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22:05:13 local time PHILIPPINES
* Minimum wage too low? :
Epifanio Salamanque is just an ordinary employee working in a famous shopping mall in Manila and receiving only a minimum wage.
His P456 minimum daily wage is not enough to sustain his family’s daily needs since prices of basic commodities and services constantly rising while his salary remain hard-and-fast.
With this condition, Salamanque could not prevent himself from doing extra job after his duty just to sustain the basic needs of his family and the schooling of his two children, who are now in high school.
In a study conducted by labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), the cost of living in Metro Manila has risen to P1,200 for a family of six members.
It said that the cost of living in the capital now stands at P1,217 a day or nearly triple the P456 minimum wage in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“This estimate shows that the gap between the P456-minimum wage in the NCR and the present cost of living is a yawning P761, or 167 percent of the ordinary wage,” PM chair Renato Magtubo said.
“The minimum wage is not a living wage but a libing [burial] wage,” said Miranda, adding that the cost of living for a family of six in Metro Manila had already reached P1,217 a day.
21:05:13 local time THAILAND
* Leather-shoe makers face demand and cost challenges:
Freewood International, a local manufacturer of men’s leather shoes, says producers of such footwear are facing several challenges, including the rising cost of rawhide due to shortages and consumers’ weak purchasing power.
Surachai Alongkornchotikul, managing director of the company, said that for long-term survival, small and medium-sized enterprises like his would need to adapt to higher costs, improve quality, and create brand awareness.
Leather footwear is not a high-growth industry, he said, noting that at Freewood, which has served the market for 26 years, annual sales revenue stayed around Bt80 million to Bt90 million. However, the margin has gradually declined as it has been hit by higher costs, especially for rawhide.
He said there was a shortage of rawhide, leading some tanneries to shut down while others had to import hide from overseas, increasing the price by 12-15 per cent.
21:05:13 local time CAMBODIA
* Out with the old: factory:
Amid concerns of legal violations on the part of their employer, about 400 workers at the USA Fully Field garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district accepted payouts for their factory closing – even though it hasn’t.
Workers protested last week in fear that the factory was shutting its doors, leaving them left without seniority benefits accrued from as far back as the 1990s.
But a factory representative, who declined to be named, said yesterday that the factory would stay open under the same name and owner, but would mark a new beginning on Friday with new contracts.
“The company is not going to close, but we just appointed a new general manager and have made new contracts,” he said. “Workers who want to stay here have signed a new contract and will come here on [Friday].”
Soy Nakri, a worker representative, said that meant long-term workers had accepted $650 to end their previous contracts.
“There are 22 workers who have worked for longer than 10 years who did not accept,” Nakri said, adding they were entitled to more compensation.
22:05:13 local time INDONESIA
* Government braces for nationwide labor protests:
The government has called on workers to remain peaceful during an upcoming five-day national strike, which is expected to start on Monday.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto urged workers not to vandalize public property or disturb public order.
“It is their right. However, since nationwide rallies have implications, we are taking certain steps ahead of the strike. We have prepared measures to deal with any workers who take to the streets and commit acts of violence or vandalism,” Djoko said at the State Palace on Friday.
They claimed their demand to raise the minimum provincial wage to Rp 3.7 million was reasonable as the country’s economy was booming.
* Thousands of police to guard labour protest:
At least 1,500 members of the Jambi Regional Police are to be deployed to maintain peace during labor protests planned to take place from October 28 to November 2, 2013.
“We hope all security personnel members will control their tempers and avoid reckless actions in securing the rally,” said the Head of Jambi Regional Police Brigadier General Satriya Hari Prasetya here on Friday during a troops preparation exercise.
* Strike planned for Monday: KSPI:
Tens of thousands of workers will strike on Monday in preparation for a two-day national strike slated for Oct. 31 to Nov.1.
“Workers will participate in the action across several regions,” Confederation of Indonesian Worker’s Union (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal said in Jakarta on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Around 10,000 workers will strike on Pulogadung Industrial Estate and KBN Cakung in East Jakarta. Around 50,000 workers will strike in Bandung and Cimahi cities as well as Bandung and West Bandung regencies in West Java.
“Workers in Karawang, West Java, and several other regions will also hold a convoy,” said Said.
He said millions of workers would attend the two-day national strike to demand that the government abolished the outsourcing system.
“Three million workers will participate in the national strike. The action will become a proof that we, the workers, are not just playing in voicing our demands,” said Said.
The three demands comprise appropriate wage, social protection scheme and the abolition of outsourcing.
* Hundreds of Textile Factories Need New Machines:
Industry Minister Mohamad Suleman Hidayat has called on textile factories to immediately replace their old equipment with new more modern machines. Out of some 1,500 textile factories and producers, 500 are in dire need of new machines in order to boost quality and production quantity.
“They need to be revitalized because the machines and technology are an average of 25 years old,” he said after attending a coordination meeting at the transportation and logistics department of the Surabaya Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.
He said that renewing the machines at textile factories is an extremely strategic move to encourage quality improvement. Unfortunately, Indonesia still imports textile machines from China despite considering China to be its number one competitor for textiles.
* 500 Indonesian textile mills need revitalization: Minister:
* 3rd Edition of Better Work Indonesia Quarterly Newsletter, 2013:
BetterWork Indonesia Newsletter Contents:
2.Better Work Indonesia dan FSB Garteks: SMS Grievance System
4.Better Work on the big screen
7.Profile : Elly Rosita Silaban
8.Industrial Relations Exercise for Better Work Enterprise Advisors
You can download the newsletter here.
* BetterWorkIndonesia Media Updates:
1. Jakarta Wage Council set Living Wage at IDR 2,229,869.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
2. Labors to Gather in East Jakarta for Wage Raise. Read the full article here .
3. Union not in once voice regarding national strike plan.
Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
4. Minister of Manpower and Transmigration claimed Government
Regulation Proposal on BPJS as not problematic.
Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
5. Indonesia investments stand tall despite market turbulence.
Read the full article here .
6. Industry Minister Projects 6.5% Year-end Growth. Read the full article here.
7. BANGLADESH: New $24m package includes Better Work scheme.
Read the full article here.
BetterWorkIndonesia Media Updates overview here.
20:05:13 local time BANGLADESH
* FIRE PANIC- 15-50 RMG workers hurt in stampede:
At least 15 workers of a garment factory in Ashulia were injured when panicked workers rushed up towards exit hearing fire alarm this morning.
The workers of Reza Fashions housing in a six-story building at Gorat area got panicked around 10:00am when the fire alarm went off accidentally, said Abdul Hamid, station officer of Dhaka Export Processing Zone Fire Station.
The 15 workers sustained injuries when a huge number of workers at a time were running through the staircases for safety, he added.
The injured received primary treatment at two local hospitals, reports our Savar correspondent quoting the fire official.
Later, the factory authorities shut production for the day.
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* RMG factory in Ashulia closes abruptly:
Workers fear non-payment of arrears
Without any previous announcement, authorities of a readymade garment factory in Ashulia’s Zirani Bazar declared it shut yesterday for an indefinite period, creating apprehensions among its around 5,000 workers on payment of arrears.
In three days from October 12, at least 60 workers were injured as they clashed with police, vandalised the factory property and assaulted its officials demanding arrears of August and September and a bonus.
The management of Liberty Fashion Wears Limited had closed it on October 15 for the Eid-ul-Azha holidays, assuring of paying the arrears once the factory opened yesterday, one worker, Raihan-Al-Islam, told The Daily Star.
The factory’s Deputy General Manager Zahir Al-Mamun Khan could not be reached over phone despite repeated attempts.
Ashulia Industrial Police Director Mostafizur Rahman said they were trying to contact the management.
* 22 RMG workers hurt in clashes:
At least 22 readymade garment workers were injured on Sunday in separate clashes with the authorities and law enforcers in Narayanganj and Gazipur.
In Narayanganj, at least 20 workers of Abir Fashions at Katherpool under Fatulla were injured as the workers clashed with the factory staff in the morning.
The workers were locked in an altercation with the officials as the authorities issued show causes to 22 workers over keeping wastage on stairs of the factory.
The agitation spread inside the factory and when they saw police on the spot, they went out and vandalised their factory and a few nearby ones, witnesses said.
Witnesses and agitated workers said a total of 20 workers and staff were injured during the clash.
The situation was under control, said industrial police inspector Rezaul Karim in the afternoon.
In Gazipur, two officers of Rubub Fashions at Kunia Boardbazar were injured as the workers attacked them following a rumour that the authorities had been torturing two garment workers in a room of the factory.
The injured officials, administrative manager Md Shohel Rana and production manager Md Mamun Mia, were rescued by police and admitted to Tongi Hospital, Gazipur industrial police inspector Md Semim Mia said.
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* RMG workers demonstrate after rumour about torture of colleages:
Workers of a garment factory demonstrated on the factory grounds and beat up two of its managers in Gazipur yesterday after hearing a rumour that the factory authorities held two workers in confinement and tortured them.
Workers of Rubub Fashions Limited in Kunia Boardbazar area vandalised the factory and beat up managers Md Shohel Rana (administration) and Md Mamun Mia (production).
Inspector Md Selim Mia of Gazipur Industrial Police said the rumour spread in the factory at about noon yesterday. Hearing the rumour, the incensed workers vandalised the factory and beat up the managers.
He said on information, police rushed to the spot around 3:00pm, dispersed the workers and sent the two managers to a local hospital.
Manager Shohel Rana said some workers had ransacked the factory before Eid-ul Azha demanding an increase in their wages.
Later, those workers were sacked as per regulations, he said, adding that they and their relatives, who still work in the factory, might be the ones spreading the false rumour.
* BGMEA sets Tk 4500 as minimum wage:
Manufacturers of readymade garments (RMG) have decided to propose minimum wage of garment workers at Tk 4,500 before the Wage Board, sources said.
They will also sit with the concerned government authority before placing their proposal, they added.
However, labour leaders are still adamant on their demand of Tk 8,114 as minimum wage.
The owners’ representative is expected to place the proposal of wage hike before the Wage Board scheduled to be held today (Sunday).
“We are going to propose nearly 30 per cent hike in the basic wage considering affordability of the industry,” Arshad Jamal Dipu, who is representing the owners, told the FE Saturday.
The gross wage would be about Tk 4,500 including 40 per cent house rent, medical allowance, Tk 250 transportation and food subsidy, he said. Inclusion of the two subsidies is for a better and acceptable wage structure, he added.
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* Owners’ final proposal Tk 4,680:
The garment owners are set to propose a minimum wage of Tk 4,680 per month, their final salary offer, for the workers at today’s meeting of the wage board.
The figure, although an improvement over the owners’ original proposal of Tk 3,600, falls way short of the workers’ demand of Tk 8,114.
The amount provides Tk 3,900 as basic salary, house rent and medical allowance, Tk 520 as food allowance and Tk 260 as transport allowance, said a source in the wage board.
“I am still firm on my previous position of Tk 8,114 as minimum wage. But, there is a room for further negotiation,” Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative on the wage board, said yesterday.
Regardless, the new wage structure would be locked in today’s meeting as it will be the final one of the six-member wage board, he added.
* RMG owners likely to propose Tk 4,430 as minimum wage:
Garment factory owners are likely to submit a revised proposal to the wage board suggesting Tk 4,430 as minimum wage for workers in the face of frequent protests and criticisms by workers and civil rights groups.
Garment sector leaders said that they had made a revised proposal for a 30 per cent hike in the basic wage along with food and transport subsidies.
Labour leaders, however, said that they would not accept such proposal without a reasonable hike in the basic wage alleging that inclusion of subsidies in the wage structure was a ploy of the factory owners to deprive the workers.
‘Hopefully, we will offer about Tk 4,500 as minimum wage in our new proposal to the wage board on Sunday with a 30 per cent increase in the basic wage along with food and transport subsidies,’ owners’ representative to the wage board Arshad Jamal Dipu told New Age on Saturday.
He said that Tk 300 as food subsidy and Tk 250 as transport subsidy had been included in the revised proposal.
‘We want to talk to the government to convey that it should set the minimum wage within Tk 5,000. If the minimum wage crosses the amount, we will not be able to run the business,’ Arshad said.
* Still not enough:
New Age reported on Sunday that readymade garment factory owners were likely to place a revised proposal to the wage board, suggesting Tk 4,430 as minimum wage for workers, in the face of protests and criticisms by workers and civil rights groups.
The proposal is 30 per cent higher in basic wage along with food and transport subsidies. It seems garment owners’ plea is not reasonable. The workers must be remunerated fairly so that they can lead a decent life.
As the government has formed a wage board to re-fix the minimum and other wages of garment and knitting factory workers, advice may be made to the board not to fix the minimum wage at a figure less than the minimum aggregate wage of a public sector worker. Group insurance covering life and accidental risks for every worker is to be made mandatory for the garment and knit factory employers. Owners have to follow provisions of the Labour Law 2006 in case of permanent, full or partial disability of a worker occurring in an accident. It is to be made mandatory that in the event of absence of insurance, double compensation is to be given to the victims by the employer.
It is learnt that, on an average, a Chinese garment worker gets a wage that is four to five times higher than that of a Bangladeshi worker. A Vietnamese worker is paid three times higher than a Bangladeshi worker. Even an Indian worker gets more than double the wage of a Bangladeshi worker. In such circumstances, the minimum wage for RMG workers in Bangladesh should not be less than double the current wages.
* New RMG wage now to be finalised by Oct 31:
The garment owners will now finalise a new wage structure for garment workers by October 31.
Earlier, the board formed to finalise minimum wage for the garment workers set today (October 27) to propose the final salary but it deferred the date as two board members remained absent at their meeting, AK Roy, chairman of the board, told reporters.
Arshad Jamal Dipu and Dr Kamal Uddin, owners’ representative and an independent member on the wage board respectively, could not reach its Topkhana Road office for today’s meeting due to the BNP-led 18-party alliance’s hartal, he said.
“We will finalised the salary and sent it to Labour and Employment Ministry by October 31 for approval,” Roy said.
The ministry will later declare the salary, he added.
The four other board members however were present at the office.
The garment owners were to propose a minimum wage of Tk 4,680 per month for the workers at the meeting scheduled to begin at 11:00am.
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* WB for RMG workers to submit report on wage hike Oct 31:
The Wage Board (WB) for the garment industry will submit its recommendation on wage hike for the RMG workers after getting the final proposal from the owners’ representative in the next meeting deferred to October 31.
“The owners’ representative was supposed to submit his revised proposal for fixing the minimum wage at Sunday’s meeting, but he couldn’t attend the meeting due to ongoing hartal,” WB Chairman AK Roy told reporters Sunday.
The meeting was deferred until Thursday next as Arshad Jamal Dipu, owner’s representative and an independent board member could not attend on the ground of hartal and it has caused the delay, he added.
“We hope, the owners’ representative will place final proposal on Thursday and we will try to send our recommendation to the concerned ministry on that day,” Mr Roy said.
* RMG minimum wage finalisation held up by hartal:
The new wage structure for garment workers was not finalised yesterday as previously announced, after two of the six-member wage board failed to attend the meeting due to hartal, said board chairman AK Roy.
Yesterday’s meeting has now been rescheduled to October 31, Roy told journalists at the board office in Dhaka yesterday. “We want to complete the process as soon as possible as the board has time only up to December 26.”
The absentees at the meeting were Arshad Jamal Dipu, owners’ representative, and Kamal Uddin, an independent member of the board, he said.
“If the board fails to finalise the minimum salary by October 31, we will sit with different labour organisations and decide our next course of action,” said Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative on the board, while warning of fresh labour unrest if the announcement of the new structure is delayed any further.
Meanwhile, Dipu said the new wage will take effect from November, regardless of the timing of finalisation of the salary structure.
“I was going to the board meeting. But, the decision was changed due to hartal. I hope I will be able to submit the proposal on Thursday’s meeting as all the formalities has been completed.”
Dipu said the owners have already finalised the minimum salary at Tk 4,500 per month and the government might increase it to Tk 5,000.
* Workers allege owners delay wage decision process:
Labour leaders on Sunday said that apparel factory owners were delaying the decision on worker’s minimum wage by repeatedly seeking time for the submission of the proposal to the wage board.
The owners were scheduled to submit a revised proposal to the wage board at its seventh meeting Sunday but the owners’ representative did not attend the meeting.
The date was decided at a meeting on October 21 when the representative also failed to submit the proposal.
The board’s chairman AL Roy after the meeting on Sunday said that the wage issue had not been discussed at the meeting as the owners’ representative could not attend the meeting because of the general strike.
The opposition alliance on Sunday began enforcing a 60-hour countrywide general strike demanding a non-party, election-time government.
The board will meet again on October 31. ‘We hope the owners’ representative will submit the revised proposal on October 31. We will try to finalise the wage structure draft and send it to the labour ministry on the day,’ the board chairman said.
The workers’ representative to the board, Sirajul Islam Roni, on Sunday told New Age that it was unfortunate that the owners’ representative had not attended the meeting.
‘It was nothing but a means to delay the process. Four others on the board, including the chairman, attended,’ he said. Setting aside the allegation, the owners’ representative to the board, Arshad Jamal Dipu, said that he had tried to attend but he could not do so because of the strike.
* Peg minimum RMG wages to cost of living: analysts:
Economists and rights activists yesterday favoured a system of determining the minimum wages for garments workers by considering the cost of living, not just by taking food inflation into account.
“It will be unwise to fix minimum wages by considering inflation. Factors such as the cost of education, health and others should also be taken into account,” said Salehuddin Ahmed, a former Bangladesh Bank governor.
He made the suggestion at a roundtable organised by Chintar Chash, a research firm, on the rights of garments industry workers from the perspective of globalisation, at the National Press Club in the capital yesterday.
He said workers’ productivity is linked to wages. “How would a worker pay attention to work if he/she is malnourished?”
The call comes at a time when a new minimum wage is expected to be announced soon for the country’s 35 lakh garment workers.
Garment workers, mostly women, receive one of the lowest minimum wages among the major industrial sectors in Bangladesh; it is also the lowest among Bangladesh’s competing countries in Asia.
Both owners and workers are human beings and society expects humane behaviour from owners as they are well-educated, said researcher and columnist Syed Abul Maksud.
* RMG, democracy and solution of problems:
Readymade garments (RMG) is one of the important stakes and a pillar of our economy.
Despite many indiscretions like labour unrest, poor wages, disrupted power supply; Bangladesh remains a leading country in garments export in the whole of Asia. With booming exports, and tragedies like Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen fire incident, we are going ahead with success and failure stories.
We are along with these success stories because we have democracy, have a large number of manpower, our labourers are hard working, owners are innovative and as a nation we want to go forward. We are together with failure stories because, we have democracy, we create opinion without any hesitation, we have huge manpower but limited land and wealth, and our workers are not well trained. Apart from these a long undemocratic rule spoiled our values; and a group of people, devoid of moral ethics, want to make quick money.
So democracy stands as a common cause in our success and failure stories. It is for democracy the whole world knows how Rana Plaza collapsed?
It is for democracy the pressure is on to all the stakeholders-the owners, government, builders, producer, the buyers and sellers to remedy it. No one can avoid the liability of Rana Plaza tragedy.
In line with the opinion and feedback of the foreign buyers and the different international agencies, the state and the RMG owners can take corrective measures.
Having got the real picture, the world media and various world bodies have not raised their voice only against Bangladesh but they have also criticised the buyers and manufacturers of Bangladeshi products.
This opportunity has been created by transparency and democracy. Apart from building a world opinion it also reminded the world community of their responsibilities. This is the power of democracy.
* Stakeholders’ meet next month to set RMG inspection standards:
Stakeholders will sit again next month to fix a set of unified standards for safety inspection programme for the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry, amid doubts over reaching a fruitful consensus by them, sources said.
The three-day meeting is scheduled to begin on November 6 at a city hotel.
Representatives of the government, the EU Accord, the North American Alliance, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are expected to attend the meetings.
* No common checklist yet on RMG factory inspection:
Accord, Alliance, National Committee to hold meeting Nov 6-8
Readymade garment factory inspection by three parties — the European Accord, North American Alliance and National Tripartite Committee — could not be started yet as the parties could not agree on a common checklist on fire and building safety six months after the Rana Plaza collapse.
The three parties, however, are going to hold a meeting in Dhaka in November 6-8 to finalise a common checklist for fire and building safety inspection.
Sources involved with the process expressed their doubt over the harmonisation of common standard in the meeting as the EU Accord has some differences relating to the fire safety issues and it had yet to place its checklist to the government.
Earlier, the stakeholders including the government, factory owners, Accord, Alliance and the ILO in a meeting held on September 7 agreed on setting common fire, electrical and building safety assessment standards.
* Int’l buyers pushing exporters to obtain standard certificates:
Many international buyers are pushing local exporters to obtain international standard certificates to ensure decent working conditions in factories from where they source their goods, industry insiders said.
Officials at local certification bodies said the demand for such certifications has increased dramatically among the exporters after Tazreen fire incident and Rana Plaza collapse mainly because of buyers’ demand.
Certificates like ISO-series, OHSAS-18001, GFSI, FSSC etc are only available for products, management and environmental issues when the compliance of the industries are up to international standard.
* Economist holds aloft case for Bangladesh RMG industry:
Despite the continuation of deadly industrial mishaps, Bangladesh ready-made garment (RMG) industry is booming as global brands have little option for diverting orders from the country, which has advantage over most of its competitors, British weekly The Economist said on Friday.
“It (Bangladesh) will remain Asia’s primary production base outside China for cheap clobber, with exports on track to rise by a fifth, to $24 billion, in the current fiscal year,” said The Economist in its online publication from London.
As the demand for cheap wear is increasing in the developed world, Bangladesh, which has minimum labour costs, eyes quadrupling its clothing exports over the next 20 years.
However, in order to reach the target the factories needed to be injected more capitals for improving safety standards and rights of workers, and upgrade productivity and efficiency, said The Economist in a report under a headline that read: “As workers continue to die in unsafe factories, the industry keeps booming.”
* UK warns over Bangladesh factory safety:
Momentum must not be lost in the drive to tackle poor safety and labour conditions for workers in the Bangladesh garment sector, International Development Secretary, UK, Justine Greening has warned six months on from the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka that killed more than 1,100 people.
She set out how new UK support to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will build on action already taken by brands, factory owners and both the Bangladesh and British governments to improve safety and conditions.
Justine Greening said, “April’s factory collapse took a dreadful toll on people in Bangladesh and galvanised much-needed action on safety. The UK government has already demanded improvements from clothing manufacturers and sent experts to advise on building safety.”
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* UK warns over Bangladesh factory safety:
Momentum must not be lost in the drive to tackle poor safety and labour conditions for workers in the Bangladesh garment sector, International Development Secretary, UK, Justine Greening has warned six months on from the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka that killed at least 1,133 people.
She set out how new UK support to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will build on action already taken by brands, factory owners and both the Bangladesh and British governments to improve safety and conditions.
Justine Greening said, “April’s factory collapse took a dreadful toll on people in Bangladesh and galvanised much-needed action on safety.
The UK government has already demanded improvements from clothing manufacturers and sent experts to advise on building safety.”
Six months on, the UK will now support the ILO to help the Government of Bangladesh, employers and manufacturers make improvements on safety and conditions, Justine Greening said, according to a web release.
* Bangladesh RMG sector fails to pay living wages: Report:
A professor from Northumbria University, Newcastle, is calling for a new minimum wage to be adopted for clothing factory workers in Bangladesh.
Doug Miller, emeritus professor of Worker Rights in Fashion at Northumbria, has worked with the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) – a Bangladeshi think-tank – and Dutch-based consultancy Berenschot to calculate a living wage that takes into account the food and living costs faced by workers.
The research examines the upper poverty line, family size, a realistic picture of everyday expenses, purchasing power and a model diet that includes energy and nutritional values. It concludes that there is a huge gap between the monthly income factory workers need in order to live and the wage they are currently paid. The team therefore recommends that the Bangladeshi minimum wage needs to be adjusted.
* Adidas signs binding pact on Bangladesh:
Adidas AG signed a legally binding pact made up of 100 mostly European retailers to improve the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh, six months after a factory complex collapse killed 1,100 people and focused international attention on the South Asian country, according to a report of Wall Street Journal.
The German maker of sneakers and sportswear, which wasn’t connected to the April factory collapse, initially snubbed the agreement because of its limited production in a half-dozen Bangladesh factories. But after months of talks with companies that have signed the agreement, Adidas reversed course and said it had signed the accord on Oct. 23.
* Working conditions in RMG sector: Foreign diplomats happy over progress:
Foreign diplomats on Sunday expressed satisfaction over the progress in implementation of a compact signed three months ago to improve conditions for workers in the country’s ready-made garment factories.
The satisfaction came when diplomats, including EU ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna and US ambassador Dan W Mozena, held a meeting with the government officials at the state guesthouse Padma.
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert W Gibson and representatives from Canada, Australia and France were also present at the meeting.
After the meeting, the EU ambassador termed the meeting ‘very fruitful’ saying, “We shared common agenda.”
Over the progress of the compact signed in July last, he said, “I think a lot had been done in the last three months. The change is essential. It will bring stability in the garment sector.
It is technical meeting and very useful discussion. The meeting covered all the crucial aspects related to the RMG sectors. They highlight three broad areas including labour reform.”
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* MoC to send letter to USTR over progress on BD action plan soon:
The ministry of commerce (MoC) will send a letter to the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) relating to progress on Bangladesh Action Plan-2013 soon for the revival of generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility offered by the US government.
“We have made progress on the action plan. We will send the letter to the USTR by November 15 next,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told the FE Sunday after a meeting on reviewing the progress of the action plan held at the conference room of the ministry.
* GSP action plan to be sent off to US on Nov 15:
The commerce ministry is set to send off the progress report on the action plan outlined by the Obama administration for regaining trade benefits on
The United States Trade Representative (USTR), the chief trade negotiation body for the US, is due to review in December the country’s eligibility for the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme, suspended on June 27 on grounds of serious shortcomings in factory safety standards.
* Export to US sees 10.09pc growth in July-Aug ’13:
Export earnings from the USA, the largest export destination for Bangladesh goods, witnessed a 10.09 per cent growth during the first two months (July-August) of the current fiscal year (FY), mostly due to moderate performance of the readymade garment (RMG) sector, reports UNB.
The earnings totalled US$ 977.59 million in July-August of FY 2013-14 as against $ 888.03 million during the corresponding period of the previous FY (2012-13). The amount represents 19.41 per cent of the country’s total export earning during the two-month period.
The major exports to the US market during the period were woven garment ($ 675.42 million), knitwear ($ 235.98 million), frozen shrimp ($ 12.79 million), cap ($ 6.58 million) and home textile ($ 12.22 million).
* KTM closed for 4 years: Subhuman lives for hundreds of workers:
Once a lifeline for a good number of workers-employees, Kushtia Textile Mill (KTM) now falls utterly abandoned following its closure in 2009.
Sources said the KTM began its first journey in 1967 at Swastipur village, 7 kilometres west of Kushtia district town, beside Kushtia-Jhenidah highway on 142 bighas of land under a private initiative.
The mill did not get back its past golden days. The wages of the workers and electricity bills remained unpaid.
* Surge in RMG machinery import: BB suspects money laundering:
Bangladesh Bank has launched an inquiry into the recent substantial increase in garments machinery import despite ongoing political turmoil to see whether there is any attempt to siphon off money abroad through over-invoicing.
The opening of LCs for import of capital machinery increased by 23% in July-August period of the current fiscal year over the same period of the last fiscal year, according to the central bank figure.
The value of LC opened against capital machinery stood at $428m and settlement stood at $380m during the period as compared to $348.31m and $334m respectively in the corresponding period of the last year.
In the first 10 months period of 2012-13 fiscal, the amount of LC opening increased by almost 32% which was 26% lower during 2011-12 fiscal, as per Bangladesh Bank’s statistics.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Emerging from Rana Plaza ruins:
When Minu’s limp body was piled onto the mass of corpses after Rana Plaza collapsed, she prayed that someone would notice that she was still alive.
Too weak to call out, she had been smothered under dead bodies in the rubble without food or water for three days. As they laid her out in the makeshift mortuary on the Adhur Chandra High School playground in Savar, someone heard the faintest of cries and realised she was still alive.
“As I laid on the school oval, I thought I couldn’t even make enough noise for someone to notice me. I had nothing left in me at all – I was just like another one of the bodies in the pile,” she recalls.
Minu Aktar had been working in Phantom Apparels on the fourth floor of Rana Plaza for four and a half years. She still suffers from physical injuries sustained during the collapse, as well as ongoing trauma, from being trapped under the building.
Six months on, however, Minu is starting to overcome her grief with the support of her family and through the ILO’s Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Reform Project in partnership with Brac, a major non-governmental organisation.
* Primark, Loblaw pay out to Bangladesh factory victims:
British clothes retailer Primark and Canadian grocer Loblaw laid out plans on Thursday to pay more compensation for the collapse of a Bangladeshi factory that killed almost 1,130 people, as protesters demanded other brands follow suit.
The disaster on April 24 has galvanised most of the clothing industry’s big names to try to improve safety standards but they have failed to agree on a compensation fund for victims despite months of wrangling.
It was the world’s most deadly industrial accident since the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India and turned a spotlight on working conditions of those making clothes for global household names for a fraction of what they cost in the West.
Children carried placards reading “Please come forward, our parents were killed while working for you. Compensate us”, during a rally on Thursday of hundreds of survivors and victims’ families at the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza complex.
Primark, the only retailer to pay compensation so far, said it would pay another three months of wages to workers and their families of its Rana Plaza supplier, a pledge matched by Loblaw Cos Ltd for those who produced garments for its Joe Fresh brand.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Compensate Rana Plaza victims asap:
It has to be made sure that nobody is able to get away with their crime and the culprits are taken to task
It is six months since more than a thousand people lost their lives and many others were injured in the Rana Plaza collapse. This incident, understandably, had adverse, long-term implications for many families.
The rescue operations have had substantial contributions from the mass people, and individuals have tried hard to stand by the affected in an effort to rehabilitate them.
What has been lacking is any substantial initiative from the sectors concerned and responsible for the accident due to negligence. The RMG sector and the government have, until now, failed to deliver on their promises of compensation.
Six months is enough time for these people to have been compensated and parties concerned should not be allowed to escape their responsibilities again, having failed to ensure a secure work environment for the labourers and having failed to assess the risk of working in a building that already had cracked walls.
19:35:13 local time INDIA
* State misses HC deadline on garment workers’ wage:
In March, the court directed the Labour Department to issue fresh notification on minimum wages within three months
Nearly five months past the deadline set by the High Court of Karnataka to notify minimum wages for workers in the city’s vast and vital garment sector, the Labour Department is still in the process of forming a subcommittee to fix wages.
Workers in the largely unorganised garment sector, which employs an estimated 6 lakh people across the State — out of which an estimated 4.5 lakh work in around 400 units in Bangalore — have been waiting for a revision in minimum wages since 2009.
In 2009, the government in a draft notification set a minimum wage of Rs. 96.20, which was, in a fresh notification in 2010, revised to Rs. 114.10 (around Rs. 193, including Dearness Allowance). Workers’ unions, however, claim the orders were never implemented, barring in a few large-sized export-oriented companies where employees take home between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 5,500 a month (for unskilled workers).
In March 2013, the High Court, responding to a public interest litigation petition filed by garment workers’ unions, quashed the 2010 notification and directed the government to “pass appropriate orders as expeditiously as possible, and in any event not later than three months from the date of receipt of copy of this order.”
* Upward revision of job guarantee scheme wage likely in April next:
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said here on Saturday that wage under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) was likely to be revised in April next. The current wage is Rs. 174 a day.
He was replying to a question at a press conference here after launching seven rural development programmes and unveiling 15 handbooks on different schemes. A proposal to hike the MNREGA wage was being looked into by the Union government, he said.
* 30% textile units shut as of 2010-11, led to huge job losses: Assocham:
“Of the total 17,987 textile factories across India, 12,688 factories were operational and around 5,300 were non-operational as of 2010-11,” the study said.
Consequently, the share of jobs lost due to shutdown of operations of textile factories also rose from six% in 2000-01 to 42% in 2010-11, it found.
“This is a matter of grave concern as organised textile sector, apart from creating 14 lakh jobs, also contributes four% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 10.1% to the total exports earnings,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.
* Poor outlook for garment business ahead of Deepavali:
The readymade garment manufacturers at Puthiyamputhur in Ottapidaram taluk, which is known for the trade for many years, are not content with the business ahead of Deepavali this year.
A majority of the population of Puthiyamputhur has been involved in readymade garments production. This year, the business started picking up in the middle of October as against the usual time of August.
In view of the large-scale involvement of the people in garment manufacturing, the government should set up an industrial park at Puthiyamputhur, T. Manoharan, president, Clothes and Readymade Garment Traders Association, told The Hindu here on Friday.
* Rains damage cotton crops in 40,000 ha in Khammam:
The continuous spell of rain for the last three days inflicted a major blow to the farmers, particularly cotton, paddy, and maize growers in the district.
According to unconfirmed reports, heavy rain that lashed several parts of the district in the last few days caused severe damage to standing cotton crop in over 40,000 hectares.
The unexpected rains also damaged standing paddy crop on an extensive scale mainly in Thallada, Kallur, Sattupally, Wyra, and several other mandals at the crucial harvesting stage, sources added. Maize, chilli and vegetable growers also suffered major losses due to the rain devastation in Bayyaram, Mudigonda, Yellendu, Tirumalayapalem, Kusumanchi, Wyra and various other mandals across the district.
* Struck out! :
For four years, workers of the Comtrust Handloom Weaving Factory, Kozhikode, have been fighting the lock-out by the management. The author chronicles their long battle.
The air smells of decay in the long verandah of the Commonwealth Trust (Comtrust) Handloom Weaving Factory, the once proud abode of the British Queen’s favourite weavers.
The factory was shut down on February 2, 2009, and the weavers, who were locked out a day prior, have been fighting a losing battle against an unbending, faceless management. At every turn, they have been outsmarted, mocked at, and every promise given to them has been broken.
The factory was built in 1844 by the German Basel Evangelical Missionaries and was called the Mission Shop till 1919, when the British seized it and formed the Commonwealth Trust (England) Ltd. also called Comtrust. In 1977, it was renamed Comtrust (India) Ltd. Chunks of this 169-year-old heritage property have been sold to private entities.
The Commonwealth Trust, Kozhikode (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Bill of 2012 was passed after years of personal sacrifice by the weavers. However, the government’s bid to take over the factory has made no headway. The Bill was passed unanimously by the State Legislative Assembly in July 2012 but has been unable to find its way to the President’s table. Incidentally, Rashtrapati Bhavan was once a prized client of the weavers.
19:05:13 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile exporters eye on EU GSP plus status:
Textile exporters have pinned their high hopes for a significant surge in textile exports after getting duty free access to EU following GSP plus status.
Textile industry has the potential to double its existing 1.5 per cent share in global textile trade by reaping the benefits of GSP plus.
Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, chairman and Adil Tahir, vice chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) said that textile industry is expecting to finally get duty free access to EU in January next year and is planning to boost textile exports at least 100 percent in next 4 years through value addition. Pakistan exports 2.7 billion dollar worth of yarn and 2.5 billion dollar worth of plain and dyed fabric annually to Bangladesh and other countries, which are benefiting from our raw material by adding value and export to EU.
read more. & read more.
* Trade preferences: Germany backs Pakistan’s bid for EU GSP Plus status:
As the European parliament is going to consider Pakistan’s request for duty-free access to its markets, Germany – Islamabad’s biggest European trading partner – has provided its support for the country’s bid to qualify for the trade preferences scheme.
“Germany’s position on the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus is known and it supports Pakistan’s application,” said German Ambassador to Pakistan Cyrill Nunn while speaking at a press conference here on Friday.
He said the European parliament would consider at the beginning of next month the GSP Plus package for 10 countries including Pakistan and the ball was in its court. The European Commission has already approved the package that will allow the 10 developing countries to export their products without any duties.
* CM Punjab approves Garments City project:
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has granted approval to the project of setting up Garments City near Kala Shah Kaku Motorway.
He said that the Garments City would be set up over 1000 acres of land where Pak-China industrial zone would also be established. He said that all facilities would be available to the industrialists under one roof in the Garments City while a labour colony, hospital and other facilities would also be provided on priority basis.
He was presiding over a high level meeting at Model Town which was attended by Provincial Ministers, Colonel Shuja Khanzada (Retd), Muhammad Shafique, Tanvir Aslam Malik, Hameeda Waheed Uddin, Advisor Dr Ijaz Nabi, MPA Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, acting chief secretary, senior member Board of Revenue, chairman Planning & Development, secretaries of concerned departments, office-bearers of Pakistan Garments Association and senior officials. Advisor to Chief Minister Dr Ijaz Nabi gave a briefing on the proposed project of Garments City.
read more. & read more.
* Rains, floods: Cotton crop worth Rs 1.84 billion damaged in Punjab:
Punjab government has estimated a Rs 1.84 billion cotton loss. The crop – sown on 2,46,110 acres – was damaged by recent rains and floods across the province, it is learnt.
According to a report of Agriculture Department of Punjab, cotton was sown on 5.40 million of acres, whereas 2,46,110 acres have been affected by floods.
According to the report Rajanpur is the worst-hit district where cotton crop on about 1,08,584 acres was damaged, followed by Multan where cotton on 19,791 acres was damaged. About 18,195 acres having cotton crop was damaged in Jhang, 16,279 acres in Khanewal, 14,596 acres in Bahawalpur, 16,279 acres in Vehari, 3,525 acres in Pakpattan and 7820 acres in D G Khan.
* Pakistan may lose Rs4b leather export as 30pc hides damaged :
Severe power breakdowns have damaged around 20 per cent hides of sacrificial animals which may touch the level of 30 per cent, causing loss of about Rs2.5 billion to both tanneries as well as hide dealers, as the leather industry is presently facing electricity loadshedding of more than six hours.
This was stated by Pakistan Tanners Association Central Chairman Sheikh Saqib Saeed while talking to The Nation. Discussing the latest figures of hides’ collection, gathered from all over the country by the PTA, he said that apart from direct loss of around Rs2.5 billion due to animals skin damage, the country will have to suffer additional loss of over Rs4 billion foreign exchange, as the industry could not make value-addition to leather of about 60 per cent.
19:05:13 local time UZBEKISTAN
* In Uzbekistan, ‘slave labour’ used to harvest cotton:
Uzbekistan sponsors slave labour, activists say, forcing 2 million of its people, including children, to pick cotton for little or no pay.
In Uzbekistan, this time of the year is the cotton harvest. It is also a time fraught with peril.
One warm evening this month, Safarboy Karimov was at a public meeting in the western region of Karakalpakistan where he was humiliated by government officials for not picking enough cotton. At least one official said he would be better off hanging himself if he couldn’t meet the quota.
A few days later, the father of four committed suicide. He was found hanging from a tree.
On Sept. 15, Amirbek Rakhmatov, 6, suffocated beneath a heap of raw cotton in the Bukhara region, also in western Uzbekistan. Amirbek had not gone to school that day. Instead, he went to a cotton field to help his mother, who had been “mobilized” by the government for the harvest. As she picked the white fluffy cotton balls, he climbed into a trailer and fell asleep. The other workers didn’t notice the little boy and dumped raw cotton on top of him all day.
The child’s body was found at a raw cotton storage facility.
* European Conference on Living Wages November 25-26 in Berlin:
Various initiatives by multi-stakeholder platforms, businesses, governments and trade unions in Europe have undertaken activities aimed at working towards a living wage in international supply chains.
Nevertheless, questions still remain referring to best practices to integrate the living wage concept into corporate strategy and the implementation in supplier factories on the ground. Equally, it is becoming increasingly important to coordinate different approaches and combine efforts.
In 2012, the Round Table Codes of Conduct, which is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), organised a dialogue meeting on the living wage. In parallel, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BUZA) also organised a round table on the living wage in Utrecht in 2012. Joining forces at European level, the Round Table Codes of Conduct and the ministries involved decided to work together to maximise their impact. They agreed to actively involve companies, unions, similar multi-stakeholder forums, other European governments and further relevant stakeholders in order to create a joint action plan to be discussed and finalised at a European Conference on the living wage on 25 and 26 November 2013.
What is the aim of the action plan on living wages and of the European Conference?
The aim is to draw up an action plan on implementing living wages specifically in the industrial sector in Asia. This action plan should be drafted and discussed during an ongoing stakeholder engagement process and should form a central part of the conference in November. It is intended to become a key element of the follow-up process after the conference.
The action plan should define the roles that different actors play in addressing the challenges of implementing living wages, building on the foundations laid in the international normative framework (UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) MNE Declaration). Existing initiatives and approaches will be a central part of this process and solutions will be found to promote the topic of the living wage. In addition, new stakeholders with an interest in the subject who are willing to incorporate living wages into their agenda will be involved in this process.
The conference will bring together a significant number of decision-makers from Europe as well as partners from developing countries to take action and discuss the implementation of the plan. They will share best practices, discuss the coordination of existing approaches and also agree upon a possible follow-up structure involving current initiatives.
What is a living wage?
A living wage is a wage that meets the basic needs of the worker and his or her family. Basic needs are food, housing, clothing and other expenses, such as education and medical costs. Even though legal minimum wages exist in many developing countries, they often do not cover basic needs. Sometimes minimum wages are high enough in theory, but they are not applied and enforced in practice. Workers in these situations will take on excessive amounts of work in an attempt to raise themselves and their families out of poverty.
Corporate responsibility to respect human rights
A living wage is internationally considered as a human right. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and various declarations and conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognise the need for workers to receive ‘fair wages and equal remuneration’ (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) that are ‘adequate to satisfy basic needs of the workers and their families’ (Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, 2006). The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011), endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, state that business enterprises have the responsibility to respect human rights in countries where they operate. This responsibility applies to their own activities, as well as to their business relationships in the supply chain. A living wage is thus a part of corporate social responsibility and responsible supply chain management.