* Call for Urgent Action to Avoid another Potential Death in Malaysia:
Upon returning to Cambodia, the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) expresses its grave concern for the health of Cambodian garment worker Ms. Sry Ratha, who is currently detained in Kluang prison, Johor, Malaysia. After failing an annual health test Ratha’s visa was cancelled and she was subsequently arrested and detained on 9 September, 2013.
Last week CLEC traveled to Malaysia to conduct further investigation into the arrest of the Nike supply chain worker. However, upon arriving at Kluang prison on 19 October, 2013 CLEC’s program officer was denied entry to visit Ratha.
Despite the claims of the Cambodian embassy and the factory management, all independent reports indicate that Ratha’s health is quickly deteriorating. Reports confirm that there is blood in her urine, she is experiencing abdominal pain and swelling, itchy genitals, as well as fever and intense coughing. Further, the symptoms are so severe that she has not been able to sleep for the past five nights.
In addition, Malaysian partners confirm this is not the first such incident involving the Nike supplier, Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd.
Rather than helping Ratha to get the treatment she needed following her failed health test, for two months she was subjected to a further five health tests at the behest of the factory management.
Factory management also encouraged Ratha to travel back to Cambodia by road without a visa. In addition she was delivered to Immigration Police as opposed to the Cambodian embassy.
Further, the details of her arrest were not passed onto other Cambodian workers or the family of the victim. Alternatively, the factory purported to workers that Ratha was fine and was being hidden from police. Only three days later was Ratha able to contact workers to inform them of her arrest and detention.
The seriousness of Ratha’s sickness requires immediate action. If this is in fact a kidney infection there is the possibility of long term damage or even death before her scheduled release on 30 November, 2013.
* Sick worker being held in Malaysian jail: NGO:
A local NGO says Malaysian authorities have held a Cambodian garment worker in prison for nearly two months due to a visa issue, despite her severely deteriorating health.
Sry Ratha was arrested and detained in Kluang prison in Johor, Malaysia, on September 9, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Community Legal Education Center.
“We [tried to] visit her [in prison], but the Malaysian police didn’t allow us,” CLEC worker Bo Pao said of the NGO’s October 19 attempt to check on Ratha’s well-being. “When they found out we were CLEC, they didn’t let anyone talk to her.”
Although officials from Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd – a Nike supplier – and the Cambodian embassy have said Ratha’s health is improving, her brother, who also works at the Nike supplier, told CLEC members that she suffers from abdominal pain and swelling, fever, intense coughing, and blood in her urine that continues to worsen, Pao said.
Her symptoms first caught the attention of Honsin Apparel when Ratha failed a health screening necessary to renew her visa, Pao said. Rather than seeking healthcare, Honsin officials suggested a bus ticket back home.
16:35:15 local time VIET NAM
* Hao Duong Company continues to dump wastewater in river:
The Environment Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security raided the Hao Duong Leather Tanning Joint Stock Company in the early hours of October 24 and caught the company red-handed while it was discharging toxic and untreated wastewater into the Dong Dien River.
The company was stealthily discharging untreated wastewater directly into the river via two underground pipelines. In addition, the company also designed a self-overflow system in its sedimentation tanks, from which untreated wastewater can flow directly into the river instead of going into the wastewater treatment system of Hiep Phuoc Industrial Zone.
* Workers sickened by contaminated beef:
Contaminated fried beef caused a food poisoning outbreak at shoemaker Lien Phat Co Ltd in southern Binh Duong Province on October 18.
Provincial Department of Safety and Food Hygiene Vice Director Nguyen Ngoc Hung made known that tests revealed that the beef was contaminated with Clostridium perfringens.
Hundreds of employees were hospitalised at provincial general hospital Thu Duc with dizziness, diarrhoea and vomiting.
The company hired a restaurant to provide workers with over 700 rations worth VND 11,000 (US$0.5) each, according to Giang Loi, a company representative.
16:35:15 local time CAMBODIA
* Bandith lawyer ‘in dark’:
The lawyer of wanted fugitive Chhouk Bandith yesterday said key witnesses had not been summonsed to an appeal hearing of the sentencing of the powerful former Bavet town governor, scheduled for Thursday.
Defence lawyer Sun Bannarith told the Post he had found out about the hearing from the media and claimed not to know where his client was hiding out.
“I have yet to receive any information on the Appeal Court [hearing] besides getting questions from reporters.… I cannot say where my client is because he hasn’t told me where he is either,” he said.
The Svay Rieng Provincial Court in June ordered Bandith to serve an 18-month prison term and pay 38 million riel ($9,500) in compensation to three victims who were shot during a protest of thousands of workers outside the Kaoway Sports factory, a supplier to Puma in Svay Rieng’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone.
* ILO-BFC releases first ‘Outstanding Worker’ report:
The International Labor Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia program (BFC) releases its first report Wednesday from its mobile-phone call in project entitled Kamako Chhnoeum (‘Outstanding Worker’ in Khmer).
During the first two-months of operation, beginning September to October of 2013, the project received 3,245 valid phone calls using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to educate garment and footwear workers in Cambodia about labor rights, occupational safety and health, and personal health.
Of the three topics, the greatest number of callers chose to answer questions on Salaries and Allowances (35%), followed by Occupational Health and Safety and Personal Health (both at 24%), according to the report.
* ILO- BFC Releases First Results of Worker Mobile Phone Project:
The International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia program (BFC) today releases the first report from its mobile phone call-in project aimed at educating garment and footwear workers.
The mobile phone project entitled Kamako Chhnoeum (‘Outstanding Worker’ in Khmer) received 3,245 valid phone calls in its first two months of operation (September and October 2013).
The project uses an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to educate garment and footwear workers about labour rights, occupational safety and health, and personal health. The program includes a monthly lucky draw to encourage workers to participate.
The first report from the project (attached) provides details of the level of knowledge workers possess on specific labour-related topics. Findings from the report demonstrate that callers displayed good knowledge of much of the
occupational safety and health and personal health issues featured in the program’s quiz questions. However, knowledge gaps were found in some areas related to workers’ rights. For example, 32% of callers incorrectly believed that workers on strike are entitled to receive their wages and 47% incorrectly believed that workers who have worked for less than one year are entitled to paid maternity leave.
Jill Tucker, BFC’s Chief Technical Advisor says: “There are nearly 500,000 workers across Cambodia’s garment and footwear industries. Each of them has a mobile phone, thus phones provide a real opportunity to educate workers about rights and entitlements.”
You can download here:
20131030 BFC Kamako Chhnoeum Report final. (eng)
20131030 BF Kamako Chhneoum report (KH) (khmer)
* Cambodia’s Textile Export Increases:
Cambodia’s textile and garment exports have increased by 21.8 percent in the first nine months of this year if compared with the same period last year, according to a report of the Ministry of Commerce released recently.
From January to September 2013, the country has exported textiles and garments to international markets with a total value of US$4.19 billion, up 21.8 percent from US$3.44 billion during the same period of 2012, said the report.
Experts attributed the growth in export to the political and economic stability as well as good security in Cambodia.
17:35:15 local time INDONESIA
* Labors Forum Negotiates Minimum Wage with Jokowi:
Jakarta labors forum will stage a large-scale demonstration to demand an increase in labor’s wage to Rp3.7 million in front of Jakarta Governor and Legislative Council (DPRD) office today. In the agenda on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, the forum also planned to negotiate with Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo.
“Today, we will go on a national strike in front of Jakarta and DPRD office. We demand the commitment of the Deputy Governor to realize the demand to increase labor’s wage to Rp3.7 million. Ahok has promised that minimum wage in Jakarta will be Rp4 million,” Chief of Jakarta Labors Forum, Muhamad Toha, said in a press conference on Tuesday, October 29, 2013.
* No More Outsourcing, Workers Demand:
The Joint Movement of Workers and Labors (Geber BUMN) urges the State Owned Enterprise Ministry to immediately implement the recommendation of the House of Representatives’ IX Committee to on the practices of outsourcing by SOEs.
Maruli, a representative from the Jakarta Legal Aid said on Monday that abolition of outsourcing can be done by appointing the freelancers and the temps as permanent employees, fulfilling the employees’ basic rights and by combating union busting practices.
“The outsourcing system is inhumane and not much different from slavery,” said Joko Santoso, the protest coordinator.
* Workers, employers must build harmonious relations: Jokowi:
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said employers and workers should develop harmonious relations so they could jointly decide upon a basic minimum wage without having conflicts.
“What is important now is creating harmonious relations between workers and their employers. They are together as management, so their relations should be built harmoniously,” Jokowi said here on Tuesday.
He added that harmonious relations should be maintained so workers and employers could always communicate well.
* Businesses lose Rp 220b per day from strike:
The Riau branch of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Riau says the two-day provincewide strike resulted in a revenue loss of Rp 220 billion (US$19.8 million) to the business sector in Batam as workers walked off their jobs to join the strike, forcing factories to suspend operations.
The losses could get even higher if a two-day national strike from Oct.31 to Nov.1 takes place as scheduled.
* Apindo concerned over labor actions driving away investors:
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) expressed concern over labor actions in the country here on Tuesday, saying that unless they are controlled they could drive investors away.
“Some investors from South Korea, for example, have already asked to leave, but we can still ask them to stay,” Apindo`s General Chairman Sofyan Wanandi said.
He noted that South Korean investors often seek labor-intensive manufacturing, especially those operating in the shoe manufacturing, garment and electronic industries.
16:05:15 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* MIC grants permission to new foreign-funded enterprises:
Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has granted permission to various new foreign-funded enterprises, according to official reports.
During a meeting on Thursday, the MIC granted permission to foreign enterprises from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands and Australia to run businesses in various sectors.
The enterprises will be involved in garment, animal breeding and foodstuff manufacturing as well as foot wear and have been approved according to the Foreign Investment Law.
The garment enterprise will be carried out as a joint venture between Australia and Myanmar entrepreneurs in Hlaingthayar Township, Yangon.
15:35:15 local time BANGLADESH
* 10 garments factory announced closed in Gazipur:
Agitated workers also vandalise factories, try to block the nearby Dhaka-Tangil highway demanding wage hike
Authorities of at least 10 garments factories on Tuesday announced their factory closed due to labour unrest at Kaliakoir area in Gazipur, where workers of those factories observed strike and protested for a wage hike.
Workers of some of the factories at Chandra Palli Biddut area under Kaliakoir Upazila of the district started protests and observed a strike inside the factory in the morning demanding a minimum wage of Tk8,000, Assistant Police Super Samsur Rahman of Gazipr industrial police told the Dhaka Tribune.
read more. & read more.
* Discussion on Women in RMG to be held on Wednesday:
A daylong consultation on ‘the Women in the Readymade Garment (RMG) Sector of Bangladesh’ will be held in the capital on Wednesday aiming to identifying various challenges of women facing in everyday life in the garment factories.
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), Nijera Kori and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) will jointly organise the consultation at Brac Centre Inn, Mohakhali.
The overall objectives of the consultation are sharing experiences of women suffering from occupational hazards in garment industries (the experiences of the survivors of Tazreen and Rana Plaza) and developing advocacy plans on the basis of the discussions or recommendations for the national and international level to contribute in the working group’s thematic reports.
Heisoo Shin, expert member of Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR); Kamala Chandrakirana, member of Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice, and Milena Pires, expert member of Committee on CEDAW will speak in the consultation.
Representatives from human rights organisations, BGMEA, government officials and RMG workers will present at the meet.
* Businesses meet PM to talk garment wage:
Business leaders yesterday met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to consult the issue of remuneration for garment workers ahead of the wage board’s final meeting tomorrow.
“We mainly talked about the wage issue [of the garment workers] and sought time from her to discuss the current political scenario and the economy,” Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), told The Daily Star after the meeting.
“She assured us of an appointment as soon as she is able to,” he said, adding that Hasina did not fix any salary structure but only discussed the matter.
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association; AKM Salim Osman, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association; and former FBCCI presidents AK Azad and Salman F Rahman were present at the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, the six-member wage board formed to fix the minimum wage for the garment sector is due to finalise a salary structure tomorrow, AK Roy, chairman of the board, said.
The owners’ representative has already proposed a minimum wage of Tk 4,680 per month, said a source in the wage board.
The new salary structure was scheduled to be finalised on October 27 but it was deferred to October 31 due to general strike.
BGMEA president could not be reached for comment despite several attempts.
* Calculating a living wage for clothing workers:
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 recommend that the Bangladeshi minimum wage needs to be adjusted.
The researchers have devised a formula to calculate the minimum living wage of at least Tk 8,200 for entry level workers who are currently paid Tk 3,000 per month. The wage increase would help workers meet the basic needs for themselves and their families while providing some discretionary income.
* Govt works on act for EPZ labour rights:
The government has plans to enact the EPZ Labour Act 2013 aimed at fully-fledged labour rights, including right to association and collective bargaining activities, that other workers enjoy outside the export processing zones.
The move, with the draft of the law now being in final stages, has been taken as part of the implementation of a United States Trade Representative ‘action plan’ to revive GSP facilities that were withdrawn in June because of poor labour standards in apparel factories, both in EPZs and outside.
The secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Molla Waheeduzzaman, also convener of the seven-member working group set up two months ago to review the existing EPZ0related laws and to recommend further amendments, if any, in the past week put the draft into the final form, the officials said.
‘An act on labour issues with EPZ workers in focus is under process to introduce labour rights in line with the International Labour Organisation convention,’ Mahbub Ahmed, secretary to the commerce ministry that which coordinates the implementation of the US ‘action plan’ involving government agencies, told New Age.
* Political unrest bites exporters as buyers scrap $30m orders:
Bangladesh’s export sector now faces serious obstacles as orders worth some US$ 30 million placed with dozens of RMG exporters have been cancelled due to political unrest over the last three months. Concerned sources said that 35 garment factories have already lost shipment orders.
Cargo handling activities, delivery of imported raw materials and export cargo shipment of readymade garments and frozen foods, the number one and number two export items of the country, have been stalled completely from October 27.
Reza Fashions Ltd in a rejoinder clarified a report headlined “50 RMG workers injured in stampede” published by The Daily Star on October 27 that the factory has four spacious staircases, not one as mentioned in the news report.
Our correspondent has visited the factory in Savar and found it to have four staircases. We regret the error.
15:05:15 local time INDIA
* State may hike minimum wages for garment factory, hotel workers:
The State Government is contemplating on increasing the minimum wages for garment factory and hotel workers, Minister of State for Labour P T Parameshwar Naik said on Monday.
Naik told reporters here that his department was planning to hike the present minimum wages for workers in these two verticals as they have been facing lot of hardships.
“The present minimum wages in the garment industry is Rs 4,700 per month. We are considering at hiking the wages to ensure a proper livlihood for workers. A decision will be taken after having a detailed discussion with the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah,” he said.
The department is also planning to provide some job security measures for those employed on a contractual basis or employed by agencies that accept outsourcing works. The measures include providing provident fund and Employeess State Insurance (ESI) schemes, he added.
* Wool trade dying a slow death in Bikaner:
Not just for its sweets and bhujiya but Bikaner has earned its name for high quality of wool and woolen trade across the globe.
The business which started in the district some 150 years back has given it a unique identity. But shortage of labour and unabated slaughtering of sheep’s for meat has posed a major threat on this once flourishing industry in the region.
Wool trade prospered in Bikaner in late the fifties when traders after domestic consumption started exporting their produce to western countries. Wool was properly cleaned, sorted and graded in Bikaner and bale (unit for measuring wool) was later send to companies in UK and Russia.
“Bikaner and surrounding area produced very good quality of chokla and magra wool beside regular quality of wool ranging from 30 to 38 micron which is very much suitable for production,” Kamal Kathuria, expert in woolen trade.
The woolen yarns have also come up in huge numbers spinning high quality carpets. With some industrialists moving to state of art machinery the district is poised to become a hub for woolen carpet manufacturing.
* Textile park to open job avenues for 5k weavers:
Maharashtra government is planning to set up an integrated textile park, a common facility centre for handlooms and powerlooms, which would open employment avenues for nearly 5,000 weavers here.
The government has initiated necessary formalities to table a formal proposal before a ministerial group in the state for launching the first phase, where 2,500 spindle units, 1,000 powerlooms, 300 handlooms and 50 units of readymade garments would be set up here, Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar said.
* Cotton seen rising on concerns over quality and crop damage:
Cotton futures in India, the world’s second-largest grower, are expected to rise this week after rains disrupted supplies, while concerns over quality and some damage to the standing crop in parts of Andhra Pradesh are also seen aiding prices.
Rains in Andhra Pradesh, the third largest grower state, have raised concerns about possible damage to the crop and the quality of supplies, spot traders and analysts said.
Andhra Pradesh has received heavy rainfall in the past few days. Rain in the state is expected to continue for another 24 hours, the India Meteorological Department said in a bulletin on its website.
“Heavy rains in our area are expected to spoil the quality of the crop and disrupt harvesting operations,” said Naveen Kalva, a trader from Warangal, Andhra Pradesh.
read more. & read more.
* Spinning mills told to pay salaries through banks:
Officials of the Directorate and Industrial Safety on Tuesday advised spinning mills to credit salaries of workers in their bank accounts.
At a meeting of spinning mill owners that the Directorate convened at Sathyamangalam, the officials said the measure was necessary in the wake of complaints that some of the mills were not paying workers, particularly those employed from Northern States, properly.
Salary payment through banks would safeguard the industries as well from blame, the officials explained. The meeting was conducted in the wake of a complaint registered by the Puliammpatti police against a spinning mill on the charge of having employed bonded labourers of Northern States.
14:35:15 local time PAKISTAN
* Two tannery workers die, three faint:
Two workers died while three others fainted due to poisonous gas in a tannery at Din Gar in B-Division police precincts here on Monday.
During the processing of leather at Akhtar Tannery, a big rotating wooden drum dislocated and fell on the ground. Worker Muhammad Saleem climbed to the top of the drum and opened it. Due to the poisonous gas, emanating from the drum, he fainted and fell into it.
Four other workers, namely Jamil Ahmed, Khalid, Iqbal and Munir, went to help their colleague but they also fell into the drum. Other workers smashed the drum with hammers to get their colleagues out.
Saleem was recovered dead while Jamil, Khalid, Iqbal and Munir fainted.
14:35:15 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Police in Angren force children to pick cotton:
The Automation and Service College in the city of Angren is working with police to force its students to either do cotton work or to pay a cash bribe.
College professors and administrators regularly show up at the home of those students who are neither doing cotton work nor submitted the required payoff (to the amount of 400,000-500,000 soms – $180). They are always accompanied by a police officer.
The reason for such visits is to exert pressure on the students who are avoiding the cotton harvest.
If a student still refuses to go to the cotton harvest, the visitors then demand money so that a replacement worker can be hired. Alternatively, food to feed the cotton pickers can be bought for this amount and left with the college administration.
While attempting to convince the student to “volunteer” in the cotton harvest professors and administrators threaten all kinds of consequences for their non-attendance, ranging from “problems with grades” to being kicked out of college.