15:23:09 local time VIET NAM
* Government wage hike plan draws criticism:
According to Government Office Chairman Vu Duc Dam, the government has received a regional minimum wage increase proposal with hike levels ranging between 14 to 17 per cent from the National Wage Council and is under consideration before making a final decision. The wage hike shall be applicable from January 1, 2014.
“We understand the importance of this wage increase to the lives of labourers, who are struggling against many hardships. However, we have to carefully consider the overall economy as well. We are being thorough and cautious,” Dam said.
When the National Wage Council proposed a regional 14-17 per cent wage hike for 2014, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour suggested 36 per cent and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry said 10 per cent.
Though a final decision is still pending, Dam said it is likely to be 14-15 per cent.
At current there are four minimum salary levels applied to labourers in different regions. The highest is VND2.35 million ($110) per month and the lowest is VND1.65 million ($79) per month.
* Textiles exports toast stellar 2013 performance:
Viet Nam’s textile and garment industry expects to surpass its initial 2013 export target of US$19 billion by an extra by $1 billion.
Pham Xuan Hong, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Textile and Garment Association (Vitas), said the textile and garment industry, despite of many challenges in production and business, was one of two industries reaching more than $10 billion in export value for this year’s first nine months.
Hong said the industry expected to achieve an annual growth rate of 15 per cent in export value for the year due to the Government’s export promotion policies and the textile and garment enterprises’ efforts.
* Leather tanner pollutes environment over 6 years:
Ho Chi Minh City-based Hao Duong Leather Tanning JSC was caught discharging untreated wastewater into a river last Thursday, the latest of ten environmental violations committed by the company since December 2007, despite having been fined each time they committed the illegal act.
The most recently violation was discovered on October 24 when anti-environmental crime police from the Ministry of Public Security and their counterparts in HCMC conducted a raid on the company and caught it releasing a large volume of untreated wastewater into the Dong Dien River behind it.
The raid was made after police spent three months investigating and monitoring waste-treatment related activities of the company, located in Hiep Phuoc Industrial Park in Nha Be District.
* Statistics about labor market unreliable:
The reports by relevant ministries and branches all showed that more jobs have been created and the unemployment rate has decreased in the context of the ailing national economy.
Dr. Nguyen Ba Ngoc, Deputy Head of the Institute for Labor Science and Social Affairs, commented at the recent workshop on the implementation of the national sustainable job program in 2012-2016, that the reports on labor and job do not truly reflect the situation of the market which has a close relation with the health of the national economy.
Ngoc said that state management agencies have not been well aware of the labor movement in the current conditions, when a series of businesses get dissolved or stop operation.
A report showed that 21,750 businesses in HCM City followed the procedures to stop their business in 2012, which did not include the businesses which halted their operation.
15:23:09 local time CAMBODIA
* Factory’s contracts seen as ‘test case’ for brands:
A garment factory’s alleged efforts to wipe workers’ contract histories clean could be a “test case” for how much international buyers tolerate factories negotiating outside of legal requirements, a labour-rights advocate has said.
After effectively being bought out of their contracts, about 300 employees of USA Fully Field garment in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district will return to work today on new contracts as the factory “reopens” under the same name.
Dave Welsh, country manager of ACILS/Solidarity Center, says workers have accepted less than they were owed by law.
“You cannot write off your obligations by forcing workers to sign below legal [requirements],” he said.
While the garment industry has experienced multiple cases of workers losing benefits when factories have closed then reopened under a new name, this case was more blatant, he added.
“This could be a test case for the industry,” Welsh said, adding that his office was trying to confirm whether several well-known US retailers bought from the factory.
* Victims wait on Bandith ruling:
Yet another ruling in the tumultuous trial of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith has been set, with the Appeal Court yesterday announcing a verdict date for next week.
After Bandith was convicted in absentia on the charge of unintentionally causing injury in June for non-fatally shooting three protesters at a demonstration of an estimated 6,000 people in February 2012, he filed an appeal from hiding.
Bandith was once again absent from court yesterday but his lawyer, Kay Visal, maintained his client’s innocence.
“My client is not guilty, and there is no one who saw my client shoot those three victims,” he said, requesting that the charges be dropped.
Bandith, he said, had gone to the protest at the Kaoway sports factory in Svay Rieng province’s Manhattan Economic Zone after receiving an order from Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An.
* Bundith Still a No-Show 20 Months After Garment Workers Shot:
Former Bavet City governor Chhouk Bundith failed to show up Thursday to the Appeal Court for the rehearing of his case for shooting three garment workers in February 2012.
It has been more than 20 months since Chhouk Bundith opened fire into a crowd of protesting workers during a demonstration for higher wages and benefits at Svay Rieng province’s special economic zone, injuring three garment workers.
Since then, Chhouk Bundith’s case has bounced back and forth between the provincial court and Phnom Penh’s Appeal Court.
After the provincial court announced in December that it had dismissed all charges against Chhouk Bundith, who has powerful friends in the ruling CPP, the Appeal Court reopened the case following a request from the Justice Ministry, which cited the need for a thorough investigation.
* Cambodia’s murder mystery: Who killed Vichea?:
The killers of a trade union leader remain at large, amid charges that the country’s justice system fosters impunity.
Who killed Chea Vichea? Sok Sam Oeun, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court and released from jail last month for the crime, is perplexed when asked the question.
“I did all this prison time, but I don’t know who exactly killed him,” he said from his family home in Takeo province, where he now lives with his wife and children. “I want to sell construction materials, but I don’t know who is going to help me. When you don’t have money you can’t think of anything.”
Little has changed at the newspaper stands where Vichea – the outspoken, captivating and much-adored leader of the Free Trade Union – was gunned down in broad daylight on January 22, 2004. Vendors sit on deck chairs selling stationery and newspapers to students and passers-by from rundown kiosks.
The same can be said for justice in what has become perhaps the most significant unsolved lawsuit in Cambodia’s 20 years of democracy. The killers have remained at large ever since shooting Vichea at point-blank range outside Phnom Penh’s Wat Lanka pagoda from a Honda motorcycle.
* ILO Governing Body adopts report of the Committee on Freedom of Association:
The Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) drew the special attention of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body to the serious and urgent cases of Cambodia, Fiji and the Philippines.
The Committee’s procedures define serious and urgent cases as those involving human life or personal freedom, or new or changing conditions affecting the freedom of action of a trade union movement as a whole. The CFA is a Governing Body committee, composed of an independent chairperson and six representatives each of governments, employers and workers.
The case of Cambodia concerns the murders of three trade union leaders over the last decade and the continuing absence of concrete steps to institute independent investigations into these murders.
In this context, the Committee welcomed the definitive acquittal of two individuals who had been serving sentences for the murder of the trade union leader, Chea Vichea, despite serious irregularities in the judicial proceedings.
* H&M to help strengthen industrial relations in Cambodia:
H&M has observed that the majority of the strikes that has occurred during last year have been in connection with terms and conditions of employment, including wages.
It believes that the Cambodian government should conduct an annual review of the minimum wage, taking into consideration national inflation and the consumer price index.
* BetterFactories Media updates 26 October – 1 November 2013, Hotline aids garment workers:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-10-28 Out with the old factory
2013-10-29 Three years for clothes heist
2013-10-30 Bandith lawyer ‘in dark’
2013-10-31 Hotline aids garment workers
2013-11-01 Factory’s contracts a ‘test case’ for brands
2013-11-01 Indonesian workers on strike
2013-11-01 Victims wait on Bandith ruling
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-10-31 Calls for more severe sentence in Bundith case
2013-11-01 Bundith still a no-show 20 months after garment worker shot
2013-11-01 Indonesia national strike demanding higher wages fizzles
BetterFactories media updates overview here.
16:23:09 local time INDONESIA
* Labors Demand to Meet Jokowi Regarding UMP:
The Jakarta Wage Council meeting to discuss provincial minimum wage (UMP) yesterday has been postponed and scheduled to be held today.
Jakarta Manpower Agency Chief Priyono said the meeting has been postponed since most of the labors’ representatives were absent at the forum yesterday. “There was only one person from the labors,” Priyono said.
The meeting was held at 10:00 on the ground floor of Block G, City Hall, Central Jakarta. Asrial Chaniago, Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) said a decision must be made today since Governor Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo must sign the Jakarta UMP meeting result.
* Indonesia hit with mass strike over wage hike demands:
Tens of thousands of workers went on strike across Indonesia Thursday, in the latest industrial action to hit Southeast Asia’s top economy as its citizens seek a greater share of the spoils from stellar growth.
Unions are calling for hefty pay hikes as the cost of living skyrockets due to surging inflation, which has been driven up in recent months due to an unpopular fuel price hike.
Factories producing everything from clothes to electronics, often for international companies, stopped operations as workers across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands downed tools.
Union leaders said that 1.5 million people took part in the strike on the main island of Java alone. Their figures are usually higher than those given by the police, which said early reports indicated 60,000 had taken part in the capital and surrounding districts.
In the manufacturing hub of Bekasi just outside Jakarta, large groups of workers sat in groups outside factories, brandishing banners that read: “Hike our wages by 50 percent”.
* National Strike Begins as Workers Demand Healthcare and Higher Pay:
As the Jakarta wage council sat down today to set the regional minimum wage for 2014, a two-day strike began across the country and workers took to the streets.
“Our protests are concentrated in industrial areas,” Said Iqbal, chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers (KSPI), told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “We stopped production because we are protesting policies that affect workers’ welfare.”
Two million workers in 20 provinces have joined the strike, he said, including 250,000 workers in the Pulogadung and Cakung areas and 300,000 in Bekasi.
The unions were demanding an average national wage increase of 50 percent, he said. In Jakarta, they hoped to see the minimum wage set at Rp 3.7 million ($334) per month.
Apart from wages, workers are demanding rules against outsourcing and universal health coverage for all Indonesians by Jan. 1, 2014.
* Indonesians strike over wage hike:
Tens of thousands of workers went on strike across Indonesia Thursday, in the latest industrial action to hit Southeast Asia’s top economy as its citizens seek a greater share of the spoils from stellar growth.
But the police estimate of participation in the strike was only around 100,000, far below the three million unions had predicted, taking some pressure off the government and employers who are seeking to limit wage increases.
Unions earlier claimed two million downed tools on day one of the two-day nationwide strike, but crowds appeared small in many cities and police forces across the country mostly reported only minor walk-outs.
The workers strike was called for workers to demand hefty pay rises as the cost of living skyrockets due to surging inflation, which has been driven up in recent months by an unpopular fuel price hike.
* Jambi workers reject new minimum wage:
A decree by Jambi Governor Hasan Basri Agus, which sets the province’s 2014 minimum wage at Rp 1,502,230 (US$133.7) has drawn protests from the provincial branch of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Confederation (KSBI).
The confederation is urging the Jambi governor to review the decree and increase the province’s minimum wage to Rp 1.6 million.
According to the KSBI, the newly set minimum wage does not reflect workers’ basic cost of living (KHL).
“A minimum wage of Rp 1.6 million must be introduced because our KHL value is set at Rp 1.6 million,” KSBI Jambi regional coordinator Roida Pane said on Thursday.
* Companies Prepare to Flee as Minimum Wage Hikes Loom:
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) says that as many as 128 foreign companies in the Jabodetabek area are ready to leave Indonesia following the minimum wage hike of 15 to 20 percent in 2014.
As many as 68 factories in Bogor, 20 factories in Tangerang, and 40 factories in Bekasi confirmed they would shut down operations in the country.
Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi added there are currently already some 65,000 unemployed workers in the Jabodetabek area due to factories shutting down. Investors that have fled the nation are mostly from Korea in the garment, shoe, and electronic sectors. Some Japanese investors that decided to leave were from capital-intensive industry that were prepared to replace workers with machines.
read more. & read more.
* Minimum wage hike will not affect inflation:
Deputy Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro says that an increase in the provincial minimum wage will not affect inflation in 2014.
Bambang said that inflation in 2014 would remain at 5.5 percent regardless of the hike.
Bambang added that inflation would only rise due to two factors – administered price policies, such as the ones regarding subsidized fuel and logistics prices.
“We can still manage inflation if those two factors remain unaffected,” Bambang said as quoted by Kontan.co.id.
Bambang said that raising the provincial minimum wage would in fact contribute positively to the economy as it would boost consumption.
* Batam minimum wage likely to be set at Rp 2.2m:
Surya Dharma Sitompul, a Batam Renumeration Board member from the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI), has said that Batam’s 2014 minimum wage would likely be set at Rp 2,172,973, which was based on proposals from the government, workers and businesspeople.
“The meeting to discuss the provincial minimum wage for 2014 will continue on Nov.6 at the Batam Mayor Office,” said Surya.
Thousands of workers in Batam took part in a nationwide strike, forcing approximately 1,000 foreign investment companies in 26 industrial estates to shut down almost all of their operations.
* Papua’s 2014 minimum wage set at Rp 1.9m:
Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has set the province’s 2014 monthly minimum wage at Rp 1.9 million (US$169.10), up from the current minimum wage of Rp 1.75 million.
“It has been signed, Rp 1.9 million or up by around Rp 200,000,” said Lukas in Jayapura on Thursday.
Although it had signed a decree on the new provincial minimum wage, Lukas said the Papua administration would make a study of minimum wages again because the current real value was too little compared to the prices of basic items in Papua.
“If the minimum wage is still perceived as too low, we will review it again because the cost of living in Papua is very high. Ideally, Papua’s minimum wage should be above Rp 2 million per month,” said Lukas.
* Labor Tensions Will Eventually Cease, According to Industry Officials:
Despite the recent uproar over labor rights throughout the country, which culminated in a mass strike on Thursday, many workers’ unions and companies believe the protests will be a thing of the past.
Mahendra Siregar, the chief of the Investment Coordinating Board, said that the government has a vested interest to better understand industrial relations as there are new dynamics in the country’s business climate.
“I’m in the process of restructuring our investment committee to include a representative from labor unions and an environmental activist,” he added.
* Despite workers’ boycott, council proposes minimum wage:
The Jakarta Remuneration Council gave Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo two provincial minimum wage options for 2014 despite labor union representatives refusing to attend the tripartite meeting on Thursday.
“Employers proposed Rp 2.29 million [US$203] whereas the administration put forward Rp 2.44 million. The governor will have to approve one of the options tomorrow,” Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency head Priyono said.
The options were decided on after a lengthy five-hour meeting that was attended by 23 representatives from the administration and local businesses. The seats for the seven workers’ representatives were empty.
Employers’ representative Bambang Adam said the amount employers proposed was adequate as it was “based on the basic cost of living components [and] in accordance to official surveys.”
14:53:09 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar steps towards ensuring safer factories:
The government is taking a step towards improving occupational health and safety, asking factories that lack adequate health facilities and safety standards to pledge that they will improve them, said U Htin Aung, deputy minister of labour, employment and social welfare.
If they fail to honor their pledge the ministry will crack down on them, he said, adding that ministry inspectors will also get tougher.
“Factories and industries must have fire security systems, sufficient emergency exits, purified drinking water, lavatories and cafeterias,” U Htin Aung said. “We are also encouraging them to stock medicine, have first aid kits and nurses on site and to provide transport for workers.”
14:23:09 local time BANGLADESH
* Bring to justice those involved in RMG sector irregularities: TIB:
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Thursday demanded the government bring to justice those involved in irregularities and abuse of power in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector to ensure smooth growth of the vital sector.
“There’s no alternative to bringing them to justice. If we don’t show the courage now to face the challenge, bigger disaster might take place in the RMG industry,” TIB Executive Director Prof Iftekharuzzaman said at a press conference in the city.
He said there is a lack of coordination among the government agencies related to the sector and demanded a separate ministry for the RMG sector for its uninterrupted growth ensuring labour rights and improved working condition.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more.
* Factory owners influence govt:
The Transparency International Bangladesh on Thursday said politically aligned owners of apparel industries were successful in influencing governments, whoever in office, to be in their favour and recommended not to induct any lawmaker having stakes in the sector in any parliamentary watchdog related to the principle export sector.
The corruption watchdog in its report on ‘Readymade Garment Sector : Problems in Good Governance and Ways to Transform’ said one-tenth of the lawmakers in the current parliament had direct stakes with readymade garment sector and much of them had indirect stakes.
It said there was lack of inspection due to lack of manpower at inspecting bodies and malpractices by the factor owners and inspectors. It also said factory owners also obstructed inspection using their socio-political network citing an example that a former chief inspector was about to lose his job after reporting harassment of workers at a factory of a relative of a former minister.
Visiting 80 apparel units in Dhaka, Savar, Ashulia, Gazipur and Narayanganj, TIB found lack of social compliance in most of the units and the owners’ trend to infringe rights of workers including trade union, lesser payment, terminating pregnant workers to skip awarding them maternity benefits and hiding statistics of overtime.
* Govt agencies run into graft at every stage of RMG business:
The readymade garment (RMG) sector lacks good governance as the relevant government agencies and a section of owners, buyers and workers’ representatives are involved in corrupt practices at every stage of the business, the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said in a report released Thursday.
The latest TIB report has revealed that an entrepreneur has to pay kickbacks ranging between Tk 0.7 million and Tk 2.0 million to 17 state-owned agencies or departments for obtaining different services and certificates before setting up a new apparel factory.
The state-operated institutions include the Directorate of Labour, Department of Factory Inspections, Fire Service and Civil Defence, Department of Environment, Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakkha, Board of Investment, Customs and Excises, utility service providers, city corporations, municipalities and unions, Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, and the National Board of Revenue.
Launching the report on “Readymade Garment (RMG) Sector: Problems of Good Governance and the Way Forward,” the local chapter of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) also suggested creation of a separate ministry for the US$ 21 billion industry.
“We must pay immediate attention to the issues for sustainable growth of the sector as revival of the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) highly depends on the developments here,” TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said at the report launching in the city.
* Corruption, greed doom RMG industry:
As 10% MPs are involved with the apparel businesses, they influence formulating any policy
Corruption and greed of public and private organisations, and buyers have doomed the RMG industry, the country’s mainstay of the economy, said a new report of Transparency International of Bangladesh (TIB).
The report revealed that irregularities are rampant in 17 public organisations as an owner has to pay additional from Tk700,000 to Tk2m at different stages of the organisations for setting up a new factory.
Factory owners make windfall profit by abusing political power and overlooking workers rights, which play a catalyst for occurring industrial tragedies like Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in April this year, it said.
Buyers could not also avoid their responsibilities for disasters in the apparel industry as they knowingly keep their eyes shut for financial gains, said the report.
The report on “RMG sector: problems of good governance and way forward” was prepared by taking interviews of stakeholders, experts and workers, and based on published reports in different print and electronic media. Information and statistics were collected between the period of June and October this year.
* RMG wage finalisation deferred again:
A government-formed wage board failed for the third time today to decide a minimum salary for garment workers and set November 4 as the fresh date for finalizing the much-debated wage structure.
As the board met in the morning to fix the new wage structure in the wake of weeks of street protests by the industry workers, the garment owners proposed a minimum wage of Tk 4,250 per month.
This, according to the owners, will include food subsidy.
Workers’ representatives however demand separation of the food subsidy from the employees’ monthly salary.
“We discuss the matter but could not reach a consensus. That’s why we are taking time till November 4,” AK Roy, chairman of the board form to finalise the minimum wage for RMG workers.
The main problem has centered over the food allocation, Roy said.
read more. & read more.
* Board fails to finalise minimum wage for RMG workers:
The board formed to fix the minimum wage afresh for the garment workers at its meeting on Thursday failed to reach a consensus in finalising a new wage structure for them.
“We’ve held a marathon meeting today, but couldn’t reach a consensus in finalising a new wage structure for the RMG workers as the owners’ representative proposed Tk 4,250 as minimum wage,” Sirajul Islam Rony, the workers’ representative to the board, told UNB.
He said Dr Kamal Uddin, an independent member of the wage board, proposed Tk 5,000 at the minimum wage for the workers. “But we’ve no room to accept his proposal as it’s a very poor amount.”Rony said,
“We’ve made a proposal of Tk 8,114 as the minimum wage in today’s meeting, but the owners’ side didn’t accept it. We’ve taken time up to November 4 next. We’ll place a fresh proposal to the board after negotiation with all the workers’ bodies.”
* RMG minimum wage: Board members far from consensus:
Owners propose TK 4250 monthly as the minimum wage while workers leaders propose TK 8114
Setting minimum wage for the RMG workers is being delayed again as the stakeholders could not reach a consensus on the minimum wage structure for a month.
“The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has proposed a minimum monthly wage of Tk4,250, including food allowance, as per their earlier pledge,” said AK Roy, president of the wager board.
“We could not reach a consensus despite having wide range of discussion,” he told a meeting of the board at its office in Dhaka yesterday. BGMEA submitted their proposal at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the independent member, Dr Kamal Uddin proposed the minimum monthly wage should be Tk5,000, excluding food allowance, as the leaders of workers did not agree the proposal of BGMEA.
Both the BGMEA and the workers’ leaders sought two to four days as could not come to a consensus over the minimum wage proposal of independent director. “That’s why the board decided to hold next meeting on November 4,” said Roy.
“We hope BGMEA and workers’ leaders would come up with an acceptable proposal,” he added. “We would be able to make a draft proposal on the day based on their fresh proposal.”
Meanwhile, RMG workers under different organisations staged demonstration in front of the wage board office, demanding Tk8,000 as minimum wage per month.
* RMG owners propose Tk 4,500 as minimum wage:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) delayed the date for fixing minimum wage for the garment workers as leaders of the factory owners and garment workers failed to strike a consensus.
The eighth meeting of the Wage Board was held at the Minimum Wage Board office at Topkhana Road in the afternoon.
The owners proposed Tk 4,500 as monthly minimum wage during the meeting while workers leaders proposed it as Tk 8,114.
* Labour leaders demand minimum wage Tk 8000:
Country’s labour leaders on Thursday demanded the announcement of a minimum monthly salary of Tk 8000 for garment workers within 15 days, or they would resort to tough movement.
“If the minimum monthly wage of Tk 8000 for the garment workers is not implemented within 15 days, 40 lakh garment workers will resort to a tough movement to realise it,” Tapan Saha, coordinator of Garments Sramik O Shilparakkha Jatiya Mancha, said.
The demand came at a sit-in programme organised by Garments Sramik Sangram Parishad and Garments Sramik Oikya Forum at Segunbagicha in the city.
“Although, five months have passed after the announcement of minimum wage, the owners of garment factories still could not bring definite proposal. The minimum wage was supposed to be announced within six months as per the law,” he added.
* Workers reject owners’ revised proposal:
The representative of garment factory owners to the wage board on Thursday submitted their revised proposal offering a minimum wage of Tk 4,250 for workers in the apparel industry, but the workers’ representatives promptly rejected it.
The eighth meeting of the wage board concluded without a decision as the workers’ representatives demanded further hike in basic wage and protested at the inclusion of subsidies in the wage structure.
During the meeting, a number of garment workers’ organisations staged protests outside the wage board office in the city.
Rejecting the proposal of the factory owners, the workers’ representative Sirajul Islam Roni said that inclusion of subsidies in the wage structure was not acceptable and the revised amount of the minimum wage was also not reasonable.
Despite long discussions on the revised proposal of the factory owners, the board failed to reach a consensus over the minimum wage and the meeting ended without a decision, the permanent workers’ representative to the wage board, Fazlul Haque Montu, told New Age.
‘Besides the revised proposal of owners’ representative, the independent member of the board in the meeting also placed a proposal for Tk 5,000 as minimum wage, excluding food subsidy, for an apparel worker. The board members discussed both the proposals for a long time but the workers’ representatives did not accept them,’ the board chairman AK Roy told reporters after the meeting.
* RMG workers reject Tk 4500 minimum wage proposal:
Workers’ representatives rejected Thursday the proposal of Tk 4,500 as minimum wage for garment workers placed by the apparel makers before the Wage Board meeting.
They did not also accept the proposal of the independent member’s proposal of Tk 5,000.
Following the disagreements over the proposed wage structure, the Wage Board, however, decided to sit again on November 4 to discuss the issues.
“The apparel manufacturers placed their revised proposal of Tk 4500 including food allowance as minimum wage for the readymade garment (RMG) workers on Thursday,” AK Roy, chairman of the Wage Board told reporters after the meeting.
After a long discussion, the independent member placed his proposal of Tk 5,000 excluding food allowance, he said adding: “The labour representatives did not agree with the offer. Rather they have sought three to four more days’ time for detailed discussion with other labour organisations.”
* RMG minimum wage talks drag on:
The wage board once again failed to reach consensus over the new salary structure for garment sector yesterday as the workers’ representative deemed the owners’ proposal too low.
“The offer [of Tk 4,250 per month] is way below our expectations. It is simply unacceptable,” Sirajul Islam Rony, workers’ representative on the wage board, told The Daily Star.
As a middle ground, Kamal Uddin, independent member of the six-member board, proposed for Tk 5,000 per month as minimum salary for garment workers.
Of the amount, Tk 3200 would be basic pay, Tk 1280 housing allowance, Tk 320 medical allowance and Tk 200 transport allowance. Food allowance, however, would have to be given separately.
“Even that is unacceptable as it would not afford us a decent living standard,” Rony said, adding that he would continue to bargain for a higher minimum wage.
Arshad Jamal Dipu, owners’ representative on the board, however, said it would not be possible to go beyond Tk 4,500.
Following the twin disasters of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse and the ongoing political turmoil, the garment owners are already on the back foot, he told journalists after the meeting.
“Global garment trade is a different beast now – it is extremely competitive. Increasing the minimum wage upwards of Tk 4,500 would break our garment industry.”
He cited the case of Vietnam, which exported garment items worth $17.80 billion in 2012 with only 1.5 million workers. In contrast, for a little higher export receipts (around $20 billion), Bangladesh used more than double the labour (four million).
“Were our workers’ productivity as high as Vietnam’s, we could afford to honour their wage demands as our garment exports then would have been around $50 billion.”
* RMG workers stage demo in capital:
Garment workers demand pay increase
Readymade garment workers staged a demonstration in the capitals Topkhana road area demanding a wage hike on Thursday morning.
The workers staged a demonstration in front of the Minimum Wage Board office, demanding a minimum monthly wage of Tk8,000 around 11am.
Sources said they staged the demonstration under the banners of different workers associations, including Garments Sramik Sangram Parishad and Garments Sromik Okkiya Forum.
Garments Sromik Okkiya Forum leader Moshtareffa Mishu said they would declare a blockade program if their demands are not met.
Meanwhile they also demanded compensation for the victims of Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashion.
* H&M wants quick, actual rise in RMG workers’ wages:
H & M, the Swedish multinational retail-clothing company and the world’s second-largest clothing chain, called for the Bangladesh government to increase the wages of the garment workers as this is the key issue for the development of the industry.
Head of Media Relations at H&M Camilla Emilsson Falk on Thursday sent a comment to New Age through e-mail with regard to the ongoing negotiations of wages in the Wage Board.
According to the mail, H&M urged the government of Bangladesh and the parties in the Wage Board to come to a quick decision regarding the revised minimum wage which would mean an actual increase in real wages.
read more. & read more.
* ILO calls for faster implementation of Bangla labour law:
Opening the conference “Bangladesh 2013: The Rising Demand for Labour Standards”, ILO Deputy Director General Gilbert Houngbo called for faster implementation of the new labour law to protect workers after the Rana Plaza building collapse which killed 1,130 workers in Bangladesh six months ago.
Mr. Houngbo underlined the need to maintain the momentum for further improvement of labour standards, in accordance with ILO recommendations and the EU Sustainability Compact.
“It is regrettable that only after the recent tragic events in Bangladesh all relevant parties have begun to understand the importance of labour standards, both for human rights and social justice, and also for social and economic development”, the ILO’s Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships said.
* Speakers at BGMEA meet call for garment workers safety:
Speakers at a certificate award ceremony emphasized ensuring workplace safety to regain the image of the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry that has been tarnished following a series of tragic incidents recently.
The programme was organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD) Training Complex at Mirpur.
“The government is working to ensure fire safety in all garment factories,” the home minister said in his speech on the occasion.
* European Union and GSP facility:
The comment of Finance Minister, AMA Muhit, that the threat from European Union to revoke Generalised System of Preference (GSP) was unjust.
I think we should not create more controversy by any loose remarks and try to mend the image of our RMG sector. The whole world will be watching closely Bangladesh for the next few months in order to know how we cope with the aftermath of Rana Plaza debacle and death of more than 1000 workers.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza victims continue to suffer:
Six months after the worst man-made disaster in Bangladesh’s history, safety conditions in garment factories have a chance to improve. But not the lives of survivors or the victims’ next of kin.
On April 24, the collapse of Rana Plaza factory building took 1,133 lives of mostly female workers. The disaster was too big to ignore. The unprecedented scale of the tragedy shocked people the world over, many of them dressed in clothes made in Bangladesh on request of giants such as Tesco, Carrefour, Benetton or Walmart.
Today, the site in the Dhaka suburb is enclosed by a barbed wire and metal fence covered with banners. “How long do we have to wait for compensation for the death of our parents?” asks one.
What was left of Rana Plaza can be seen from the top floor of a neighboring building. Debris has been cleared, but the bodies of two cars stick out of a vast pool of mud water.
“They were parked in an underground garage,” Hassan, one of the volunteer rescuers told IPS. His team, he said, took some 400 people out of the rubble.
A survivor, Hasina, pulled her scarf up showing a deformed right arm with extensive scars.
* Rebuilding lives:
In the midst of disaster there is always hope. But while a disaster may occur in a split second, hope is more often cultivated over time, with patience and effort.
Aparajeyo, a bag factory in Savar, may look like a small-scale enterprise, but there is more to it than that. It is an enterprise of hope.
“This establishment has helped me with my medical and household expenses as I support my elderly parents and myself,” said 27-year-old Sabina Khatun, who works at the factory.
Like the other 16 workers of Aparajeyo, she was a victim of the Rana Plaza tragedy.
The eight-storied building in Savar collapsed on April 24, claiming over a thousand lives and injuring scores. While it was the worst factory tragedy in Bangladesh, it brought out the compassionate side of people. Many came forward to help rescue and rehabilitate the survivors.
Like many Bangladeshis and others from around the world, Sami Al Islam was deeply moved by the disaster. Wanting to do something about it, he worked with a Facebook group called Mukto Tarunyo to set up an establishment that could offer the survivors an opportunity to earn a living.
“When we first collected donations from family and friends to help the survivors, we visited Enam Medical [at Savar] and other medical camps where many victims wanted to know if we could do something to help them earn again,” said Sami.
13:53:09 local time INDIA
* CCEA approves Rs 500 cr for ‘green’ scheme for textile units:
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved an Integrated Processing Development Scheme (IPDS) with a corpus of Rs 500 crore to make textile processing units more environment-friendly and globally competitive.
The fund will be used to set up four to six brownfield projects and three to five greenfield projects over the 12th Plan period addressing environmental issues faced by textile processing units, a Government release said.
The eligible projects under the scheme would cover Common Effluent Treatment Plants, captive power generation on technology preferably renewable/green technology, infrastructure such as storm water management, necessary roads and pipelines for water & wastewater and, facility for testing and R&D centres, the release added.
The scheme will support upgradation of existing processing clusters/centres specifically in the area of water and waste water management and also encourage research and development work in the textiles processing sector.
* Cotton crop this year may be a record:
This year, India’s cotton production is expected to be at an all-time high despite untimely rains in major growing areas, as this has only caused the yield to go up.
This year traders expect total production of cotton to be higher than last year at 3.7 million bales. The trade and industry estimates are coming a day ahead of the meeting of the cotton advisory board taking place in Mumbai tomorrow.
Last year total production of cotton was 3.4 million bales. The area under cotton last year was 11.77 million hectares.
13:23:09 local time PAKISTAN
* Trade unions to launch countrywide campaign against privatisation:
Represent-atives of 31 trade unions have rejected the government plan of privatisation and vowed to launch a countrywide campaign against it.
This was joint declaration of a day-long anti privatisation seminar organised by the anti privatisation coordination committee of labour union at the conclusion of the conference on Thursday.
Senator Saeed Ghani addressing the seminar said, “opposition would stand by the trade union in their campaign against the government planned privatisation and would raise the voice in the National Assembly and Senate on the issue.”
* Pakistan govt to resolve carpet industry issues: Minister:
13:23:09 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek Student Stabbed To Death In Dispute Over Cotton Picking:
A university student in Uzbekistan’s eastern Andijon Province has been stabbed to death, allegedly by a laborer who was hired to replace her during mandatory cotton-picking work.
An Andijon police official told RFE/RL on October 30 that 25-year-old Botir Yuldoshev has been charged with attacking Zulfia Akhmedova and her mother on October 25 after they reportedly refused to pay him.
Akhmedova’s mother is in serious condition in the hospital.
It is the 10th death to have occurred at mandatory cotton-picking sites in Uzbekistan in the last several weeks from a variety of causes, including suicide, electrocution, and a previous fatal stabbing.
Uzbek authorities have been criticized for coercing children to work in the cotton fields.
* Retailer sandblasting bans have changed little in the garment industry:
Three years ago, when Levi Strauss announced it had banned the use of sandblasting, labor advocates hoped the move by the top-selling jeans maker would help end the deadly practice, which gives denim a fashionable look but is linked to a fatal lung disease.
But even as Target and Gap joined Levi Strauss in proclaiming bans, sandblasting persists in factories that make those retailers’ clothes in China, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, countries responsible for the bulk of the five billion pairs of jeans made each year, research by nonprofits, medical groups and labor organizations shows.
“There clearly is sandblasting going on. I don’t know how anyone could really deny it,” said Katie Quan, associate chair of the Labor Center at UC Berkeley.
Counterfeit jean production, outsourcing in the supply chain and vast factories that make jeans for dozens of brands under one roof make it difficult to track jeans from production to the shopping mall. But the groups say their research establishes that workers in many of these overseas factories are sandblasting — spraying sand on denim to make it appear bleached or distressed — without the necessary protective gear.
* Focus on Women:
While rates vary somewhat from country to country, on average, women comprise approximately 80% of garment workers around the world.
Better Work outreach and research is dedicated to highlighting the specific concerns that women garment workers face, and promoting policy and business practices that help these workers reach their full potential.