16:32:40 local time CHINA
* Li Keqiang’s report on the economic situation at the 16th National Congress of ACFTU:
Third, increase efforts on resolving problems closely concerning workers’ vital interests during economic and social development
Everybody is concerned about workers’ interests.
Trade unions are the bridge and link between the Party and millions of workers. They care about workers’ interests, and uphold their rights.
This is natural! Promoting economic development and protecting workers’ interests are not mutually exclusive but consistent with each other. We hope that the millions of workers and all the people will work hard. But, at the same time, you cannot get milk from a cow without feeding it. That does not work. At this point, I want to emphasize several things:
Firstly, we must implement a proactive employment policy. We must strive to help those workers and first time job hunters find jobs, provide them with work opportunities, and strive for high-quality jobs.
Secondly, we should build a social security safety net. We will promote restructuring. Within this, the major task is to let consumption play an important role. In many developed countries, consumption accounts for the largest proportion of GDP.
Thirdly, we should increase incomes, economic development and productivity at the same time. It’s not enough to only improve social security to solve our worries for the future, we should also increase incomes.
Of course, we are concerned most about the ordinary workers. The average minimum wage in 24 provinces and cities has increased by 18 percent this year, which has put pressure on companies and affecting the competitiveness of their exports. But we have to choose between these two difficulties, because we have to build common prosperity step by step.
Fourthly, we should strengthen training for workers. People once said that China has a demographic dividend.
We should also give our full attention to work safety. Safe production concerns people’s lives, so we should be vigilant at all times.
15:32:40 local time VIET NAM
* “Do Thi Minh Hanh, imprisoned for 7 years in 2010 for handing out leaflets demanding better pay, must be released immediately” :
Silenced Voices: Prisoners of Conscience in Viet Nam examines how laws and decrees are used to criminalize freedom of expression, both online and in the streets. It also lists 75 prisoners of conscience in Viet Nam, some of whom have been locked up in harsh conditions for years.
“Viet Nam is fast turning into one of South East Asia’s largest prisons for human rights defenders and other activists. The government’s alarming clampdown on free speech has to end,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Viet Nam Researcher.
“This year, Viet Nam is both debating a revised constitution and vying for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. The government is telling the world about its respect for the rule of law, but the repression of dissent violates Viet Nam’s international commitments to respect freedom of expression.”
Once imprisoned, prisoners of conscience face harsh conditions and are sometimes held in solitary confinement or isolated from other prisoners, while some are subjected to torture or other cruel and inhuman treatment.
Among them is Do Thi Minh Hanh, a 28-year-old labour rights activist who was imprisoned for seven years in 2010 for handing out leaflets in support of workers demanding better pay and conditions. She has suffered badly in prison, including through several beatings by fellow prisoners that guards have done nothing to stop.
“Do Thi Minh Hanh, and all the others like her are prisoners of conscience who have done no more than peacefully express their opinion. They must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Abbott.
15:32:40 local time CAMBODIA
* Garment Workers Block Road, Protest for Higher Wages:
There were major traffic delays along Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard in Pur Senchey district Wednesday after about 200 garment workers from the Alim Cambodia Co. Ltd. garment factory formed a gated roadblock and protested for higher wages.
A line of halted container trucks stretched for hundreds of meters in either direction from the protest site from 8 a.m., when the roadblock was set up, until about 2:30 p.m., when it was disassembled because of rain.
“I joined the protest because I want the factory to increase my payment and give me 4,000 riel [about $1] for lunchtime,” said 37-year-old garment worker Chan Socheat.
“They need to increase our salary, since this current money cannot cover my expenses and I need to borrow some from friends or other people when I get sick.”
* Anger, grief after clash:
Only one of the 31 people arrested over Tuesday’s violent clash between garment workers and police was an employee of the SL Garment factory, police said yesterday.
Choun Narin, deputy municipal police chief, said police had sent two people to court over the riot in the capital’s Meanchey district, which began with more than 600 striking SL workers and ended with police opening fire, killing 49-year-old rice vendor Eng Sokhom.
“Among 31 people, there is only [one] SL worker and the others are opportunists who used the violence to attack police and destroy public property – that’s why we arrested them,” he said.
However, none of the 29 who walked free yesterday, a figure that included a number of monks, was charged with a crime, and many spoke of being arrested at random.
Speaking to Post reporters from inside a cell at Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters, Krong Soknet, 30, a motodop, alleged police beat him up before arresting him, even though he wasn’t part of the protest.
“I don’t know why the police targeted me and beat me like an animal.”
* Dismissed SL workers key to resolution:
A meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training yesterday, held amid a three-month strike that led to a deadly riot on Tuesday, failed to reach an agreement between SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd and union officials.
The negotiation, attended by SL chief executive Wong Hon Ming, lasted about four hours, during which he refused to reinstate 19 employees who are members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) and who have been sued by SL.
“Those 19 unionists are responsible for our company losing a lot of profit, so we can’t accept those people back,” he said through a Cambodian-Chinese translator.
C.CAWDU and SL management agreed on several points, including an agreement that SL would pay workers 50 per cent of the wages they would have earned during the strike, and that shareholder Meas Sotha – who hired armed military police to stand guard inside the factory – would no longer be associated with the factory.
David Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center/ACILS, questioned the singling out of the 19 unionists, though held out hope for an agreement.
* Hun Sen Set to Weigh In on SL Garment Factory Dispute:
Officials at the Ministry of Labor who mediated talks Wednesday between the management of SL Garment Factory and union leaders who have led a three-month-long strike at the factory said that they would send the results of the meeting to Prime Minister Hun Sen to review the dispute.
The meeting came one day after a bystander was shot dead during clashes between police and protesting SL workers.
“Tomorrow I will submit the report to the head of the government Prime Minister Hun Sen to [look at] this case,” said Sat Samuth, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labor who led the meeting at the ministry.
Mr. Samuth said that while the two sides had agreed in principle to a number of conditions, they failed to agree on whether 19 sacked union leaders would be allowed to return to work at the factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district.
“The factory owner, he has disagreed with [the demand] that 19 union activists can keep working at his factory, and he raised the reason that unions have brought damage to his factory,” said Mr. Samuth.
* Police in strike shootings to be investigated:
Police officers who defied orders not to open fire on rioting garment workers on Tuesday – an act that resulted in the fatal shooting of 49-year-old rice vendor Eng Sokhom – could lose their jobs, a National Police spokesman said yesterday.
Kirt Chantarith told the Post that a committee had been set up in the aftermath of Sokhom’s death to investigate why police had used live ammunition on protesters, the second death of an unarmed civilian on the capital’s streets in less than two months.
“The [National Police] Commissioner General [Neth Savoeun] ordered them not to use guns,” Chantarith said, referring to the violent crackdown on workers from the SL Garment factory on Tuesday that left at least six others with bullet wounds. “He ordered them just to use water and tear gas.”
The police officers who violated those orders would “face disciplinary action, according to the investigation”, he added.
Such action could include dismissal, he said.
Buth Bunchhean, a Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) legal officer who was involved in the clash on Tuesday, said his union would launch its own investigation into the shooting.
“We’re going to investigate [why police fired guns] to crack down on the workers,” he said. “We cannot accept what has occurred. Police must investigate this woman’s death.” The police, he added, must press charges against officers who had fired their guns, in order to avoid further deaths.
Dave Welsh, country manager for labour-rights group Solidarity Center/ACILS, said it was critical that Sokhom’s death be investigated.
“Using live ammunition is totally unacceptable,” he said. “It is critical that [Sokhom’s death] be investigated and some liability be attached.”
* Police Deny Responsibility for Shooting Civilians:
Police on Wednesday denied any responsibility for the shooting death of a street food vendor after they fired live rounds during clashes with garment factory workers in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Tuesday, with a government spokesman saying the security forces can use “any means” to protect themselves and the “State.”
Eng Sokhom, 49, was serving food to customers when she was shot in the chest and killed during the clash between SL Garment Factory workers, civilians and riot police in Stung Meanchey district.
The SL factory workers had attempted to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house, but were prevented from doing so by police. Tensions escalated and rocks were thrown at the police, who responded initially with water cannons and then tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds from automatic pistols.
* Hun Sen’s Sister Linked to Private Security Firm at SL Factory:
The younger sister of Prime Minister Hun Sen is the owner of a private security firm that has been hired to protect the SL Garment Factory from its workers, who have been on strike for more than three months, officials at the firm said Wednesday.
Hun Seng Ny, the prime minister’s sister, is the owner of Garuda Securities, according to her assistant at the company, Sareth Thol, who added that the number of security guards employed at SL factory has been ramped up in recent months since strikes began in September.
“We just placed a small number [in the SL factory] at the start, but we increased the number because workers have been protesting for the past few months,” Mr. Thol said Wednesday, adding that there are now 75 Garuda security guards stationed at the factory on a daily basis, up from 10 when the security firm was first hired by the factory in December 2012.
* Victims of Tuesday’s riot press charges on police officials:
Victims of factory protest turned violent riot at Stung Meanchey filed assault charges today against police officials involved in the crackdown.
One of the victims filed charges Thursday with Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Major General Rath Srieng, Phnom Penh Police Military commander, and General Chuon Sovann, Phnom Penh police commissioner for intentionally assaulting him during their crackdown of rioting factory workers.
* Local residents condemn crackdown on SL workers:
Local residents living around yesterday’s riot area in Stung Meanchey, which ended in one death and many more injured, have condemned and criticized the authorities in their crackdown of protesting workers.
They said that the police had also beaten residents such as motorcycle taxi drivers and coconut vendors, and even those who were waiting to pick up their children in front of Stung Meanchey primary school.
“It would not be a problem if the authorities only just crack down on protesting workers, but it’s serious when they suppress and beat innocent residents,” a resident said, asking not to be named.
“Those who sat in front of their house and the people who were waiting for their kids in front of the school were also arrested and sent to the police station after being beaten,” he said.
* Cambodia – escalating violence against workers results in shooting:
Over the last eight months, violence against workers has been escalating in Cambodia. Recently police shot and beat workers demonstrating to improve working conditions in the garment industry.
On 12 November workers marched to the Prime Minister’s Office in Phnom Penh to demand help to solve a conflict with SL Garment. The response was water shots by police and military troops, with violence escalating to the point where one woman was killde and least eight other people were heavily injured. Some of the demonstrating workers were charged with criminal offenses and brought to jail.
The conflict at SL Garment started when the management began using police and military troops as security guards on the factory premises. Workers felt threatened by the presence of armed police, and felt that operational changes were made to their disadvantage. IndustriALL affiliate C.CAWDU sought dialogue with the management, demanding withdrawal of armed militaries and policemen, dismissal of the manager who is harassing the workers, and that the operations are reverted back to the original shifts.
With no answer from management workers went on strike; a strike that has lasted three months. Major brands supplying from the factory have asked the management to come in good faith to the negotiation table, but to no avail. Instead, the presence of military troops has intensified, also intesifying the feelings of anxiety and frustration among the workers. And despite the loss of a life and several injured, the owner of SL Garment owner still refuses to have a constructive dialogue with the trade union.
* ILO expresses concern over the escalation of violence around garment factory in Cambodia:
The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR has been following with deep concern the escalation of violence between striking garment workers and armed forces that has claimed the life of a bystander and left several injured persons in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey district.
We strongly condemn the use of violence by both authorities and protesters and urge all involved parties to respect the rule of law, exercise maximum restraint and express their views peacefully.
We also call on all parties to apply the principles of social dialogue and negotiate a resolution to this industrial conflict through peaceful and existing dispute resolution mechanisms.
The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR also demands that competent national authorities take the measures necessary for the protection of trade union leaders and to ensure the full exercise of trade union rights in keeping with relevant ILO Conventions and principles as well as Cambodia’s obligations under ratified international labour standards.
to read. & read more.
* BetterFactories Media updates: 14 November 2013, Hun Sen set to weigh in on SL garment factory dispute:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-11-14 Anger, grief after clash
2013-11-14 Dismissed SL workers key to resolution
2013-11-14 Police shooters to be probed
2013-11-14 H&M tries exclusivity agreement
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-11-14 Bangladesh garment factories close amid protests
2013-11-14 Garment workers block road, protest for higher wages
2013-11-14 Hun Sen set to weigh in on SL garment factory dispute
2013-11-14 Hun Sen’s sister linked to private security firm at SL factory
2013-11-14 Police deny responsibility for shooting civilians
BetterFactories Media Updates overview here.
* BetterFactories Media updates 2-13 November 2013, 2013-11-13 Woman killed as police open fire during garment worker clash:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-11-04 Fears SL strike could get ugly
2013-11-04 H&M CEO, PM tete-a-tete
2013-11-05 Alarm bells as workers panic, faint
2013-11-05 ‘Bandith has to be in jail’
2013-11-05 New hope for SL strike resolution
2013-11-06 ‘Ban’ for three more unionists
2013-11-06 SL strike ‘bad’ for industry’s rep, says union
2013-11-06 Union leader ‘threatened’
2013-11-06 Workers injured Dozens hurt in garment truck crash
2013-11-13 Strikers, police clash
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-11-05 Chhouk Bundith’s Triple Shooting Case Called a ‘Mockery’
2013-11-05 H&M Calls for Yearly Minimum Wage Review
2013-11-06 Bangladesh seeks garment worker pay rise
2013-11-13 At Embattled factory, an unmovable manager
2013-11-13 Woman killed as police open fire during garment worker clash
* To read in the printed edition of the Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2013-11-08 About 500 workers from Smart Tex Factory go on strike to Svay Rieng Provincial Hall
* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2013-11-05 Appeal court upholds and orders to arrest Bandith
BetterFactories Media Updates overview here.
* H&M tries exclusivity agreement:
Clothing giant H&M is testing the garment production waters by entering into exclusivity agreements with factories in Cambodia and Bangladesh, according to a report from Bloomberg News yesterday.
This means that Sweden-based H&M would buy all of the factory’s output. H&M, it seems, would still be free to source from other producers in Cambodia.
Anna Gedda, H&M’s social sustainability manager, told Bloomberg the initiative would allow the company to “try different things” on a larger scale across their supply chain. H&M did not disclose the name of the factory.
Ken Loo, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary general, was unaware of the agreement, but welcomed any initiative that gave better consistency of orders.
“It is definitely good for the factory, and then in turn, the factory will be able to give better job security to its workers,” he said.
16:32:40 local time INDONESIA
* Two Regencies Propose Lowest Minimum Wage:
Banjarnegara and Purworejo are the regencies that propose the lowest amount of monthly minimum wage (UMK) in Central Java with an amount less than Rp 1 million (around US$85.92).
“Banjarnegara proposed an UMK of Rp 920,000 [around US$79.04] while Purworejo proposed an UMK of Rp 910,000 [around US$78.19],” said the Coordinator of the Struggling Laborers Movement (Gerbang) Prabowo, in Central Java.
Prabowo mentioned that the proposed minimum wage is far from the decent living standard.
“It should be re-evaluated because it is definitely a disadvantage for laborers,” said Prabowo.
* The power of the working class:
The Indonesian working class is fighting to end the age of cheap labor. A little over a year after the national strike on October 3, 2012, Indonesian workers launched another national strike. The demand: a fifty per cent increase of the minimum wage.
In Jakarta, workers demand that the minimum wage, which varies from region to region, is set at Rp 3.7 million ($334) monthly. Jakarta is known to have an exceptionally high cost of living for Indonesian standards. An inflation rate that is predicted to hit ten per cent end this year is also pressuring real wages. Apart from wage increase, the movement demands universal health care by January 1, 2014 and the elimination of outsourcing.
* Indonesian Laborers to Protest Outside SOE Ministry:
Thousands of workers will stage a rally outside the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises on Thursday over the continued use of “outsourced” — or contract — labor by government-owned companies, a controversial practice that has been banned in most sectors.
“Around 5,000 laborers from all over Indonesia will stage a protest at the SOE ministry,” Mudhofir, president of the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union Confederation (KSBSI), told the Indonesian news portal Tribunnews.com. “We demand [that the minister] immediately follow up on the recommendations to save the lives of millions of outsourced workers in state-owned enterprises.”
The practice, which bars employees from benefits such as job security and annual bonuses, has come under fire in recent years. The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration outlawed the use of outsourced workers in most industries in 2012, limiting the hiring of contract workers to select fields. Companies are free to use outsourced workers for office support staff — colloquially known as “office boys” and “office girls” — as well as cleaning staff, catering, transportation, security, and mining or oil laborers. All other sectors are off-limits to outsourcing, according to the regulation.
* Yogya minimum wage to increase by 10%:
Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwo X said that the minimum wage in the province (UMP) 2014 would be increased by around 10 percent compared to last year.
Speaking after a meeting with the mayor and regents at the gubernatorial office compound in Kepatihan on Wednesday, Sultan said that the new minimum wage of the province’s four regencies and municipality were based on the proposals filed by the remuneration board.
The board comprises representatives of the local administration, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Workers Union (SPSI).
15:02:40 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Japan and China buy land plots under Myanmar citizens’ ownership:
Japan and China have been using Myanmar citizen ownership to close recent purchases of high-rent land plots in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, real estate agency sources say.
“Currently, Chinese are buying buildings in the Shwe Pyi Thar industrial zone, doing business with local businessmen as usual.
After the government fixed land prices based on square footage, dealings in the real estate sector almost stopped. For foreigners, rent is higher than last year for the Chinese.
They were planning on renting space for the garment industry and storage for machinery. [Through purchase in the industrial zones] it may be assumed that Myanmar has opened business opportunities for foreigners,” said an unnamed staffer from Baho real estate’s agency.
14:32:40 local time BANGLADESH
20131112 * Fire at Gazipur factory:
At least 15 workers of a Gazipur dye factory were injured when they tried to escape a fire on Tuesday
The fire erupted from an oven on the third floor of the Riyad Dying at around 8am and spread quickly, said a Gazipur Fire Service official.
Station Officer Abu Zafar Ahmed said firefighting units from Gazipur and Kaliakoir doused the flames after nearly an hour’s effort.
He said panic-stricken workers tried to get out of the factory and at least 15 of them were injured in the melee.
None suffered burn injuries though, Ahmed said.
* All RMG units at Ashulia closed for today:
Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Wednesday announced closure of all apparel factories in Ashulia industrial belt for today amidst workers’ protests demanding Tk 8,000 as the minimum monthly wage.
The association in a release announce the closure on security grounds, while about 75 apparel factories in Savar and Gazipur was declared closed for Wednesday following clashes between workers and the law enforcers that left about 100 injured.
Earlier on Tuesday, the owners of 257 apparel factories at Savar declared closure of the factories for Wednesday amidst workers’ protests.
At Savar, the workers on Wednesday demonstrated in Padma Kan Intersection of Hemayetpur and Birulia of Savar Bazar.
Witnesses said that several thousand workers gathered in the Padma Kan Intersection at about 7:00am. They blocked the Hemayetpur-Shingair road.
The clash began when police tried to disperse them.
The clash continued till 10:15am leaving at least 30 injured.
The police fired tear shells to disperse the protesters.
* Workers clash with police in Ashulia, 50 hurt:
About 50% of the units located in Hemayetpur has been closed for the day in wake of violence
At least 50 were injured when readymade garment workers locked horns with law enforcers in Hemayetpur of Savar on Wednesday morning.
This is the third day in succession that clashes took place in Savar over standard wage limits.
On Tuesday, authorities cited security reasons and announced holiday for the RMG units of Ashulia belt after days of clashes.
Witnesses said workers of Jamuna Group began demonstrations in the morning and was soon joined by other workers in the area.
At least fifty people were injured in the clashes that took place in spells, they said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG unrest: 70 RMG units shut in Gazipur, Savar:
Production at 70 ready-made garment (RMG) factories in Gazipur and Savar were suspended for Wednesday after workers clashed with cops demanding implementation of the new salary structure recommended by the government-appointed wage board.
In Gazipur, at least 50 RMG units in the city suspended their production as the workers of several garment factories staged demonstrations demanding a hike in their salary in the morning.
Witnesses said garment workers from Konabari, Kashimpur, Laxmipura and Chandana areas of the city took to the streets and staged demonstrations in the morning to press for immediate implementation of their new minimum wage of Tk 5,300.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
November 13th, 2013 10:22:56 pm * Ashulia RMG units to remain shut Thursday, too:
the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday decided to keep their units closed for another day on Thursday for security reason.
Mustafizur Rahman, director of Ashulia Industrial Police, said the all garment units in the RMG belt will remain closed on Thursday as per the decision of the owners.
All factories in the zone remained closed on Wednesday for the same reason.
The decision to keep the garment factories came apparently in the wake of labour unrest in the RMG belt over a hike in the wages of the garment workers.
* Urgent meeting over RMG Thursday:
Labour and Employment Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju will hold an emergency meeting with the leaders of readymade garment workers to resolve ongoing unrest in the sector.
* RMG workers-govt meeting at noon:
Labor and employment minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu is set to hold meeting with readymade garments workers’ leaders to remove ongoing unrest in garment sector on Thursday noon.
Information and Public relations officer of the ministry SM Arifuzzaman confirmed the matter to banglanews.
He said that the meeting will be held at ministry conference room at 12 noon where 50 workers’ organizations were invited to join.
* Fight for better wages:
Production in some 200 garment factories in Ashulia was suspended as workers fought police demanding implementation of the new minimum wages recommended by a government-appointed wage board.
* BGMEA director loses cool at meeting on minimum wage:
Commerce Secretary and Labour Secretary on Wednesday came under fire when a BGMEA director came down heavily on the government for what she says the government is only focusing on the RMG sector for wage hike.
Though the surprised secretaries – Mahbub Ahmed and Mikail Shipar – tried to correct her notion, BGMEA director Vidiya Amrit Khan kept on arguing with her point with support from her some fellow owners.
Amrit Khan, also Managing Director of Desh Garments Ltd, raised her finger at both the secretaries and wanted to know why the government should fix the wages for the RMG workers and argued that it should be fixed by the owners. “You (govt) are only focusing on us.”
Labour Secretary Shipar said, “You’re making mistakes from the very beginning. There’re separate wages for 42 sectors. For example, minimum wage for the tannery sector is Tk 6000 plus.”
The Commerce Secretary said the government is not fixing the wages. ‘It’s the wage board, and your representative is also there. So, you’re wrong.”
He said there is no reason to lose temper. “Sky is the limit for us. There’s nothing to be frustrated. We need to move ahead keeping both heart and head cool.”
* BGMEA and BKMEA accept government’s minimum wage proposal:
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) have accepted the minimum wage scale for garment workers fixed at Tk5,300 by the government on Wednesday night.
Abdus Salam Murshedi, former president of BGMEA, told the Dhaka Tribune that they have agreed with the government’s minimum wage proposal at the request of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a meeting with the BGMEA and BKMEA leaders at Ganabhaban.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Sirajul Islam Roni, president of the Bangladesh National Garment Sramik Karmachari League and also representative of the workers at the wage, thanked the BGMEA, BKMEA leaders as well as the factory owners for accepting the new wage scale and urged the owners to implement the new wage scale from November.
However, Moshrefa Mishu, president of Garments Workers Unity Front, partially differed with Roni saying that they would request the factory owners to increase the basic salary of the workers.
read more.& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Owners accept Tk 5,300 minimum wage for RMG workers:
Garment factory owners, after a meeting with prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday night, accepted a monthly minimum wage of Tk 5,300 as recommended by the minimum wages board.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association vice-president, Reaz Bin Mahmood, emerging from the meeting with Hasina at her official residence Gana Bahaban, told New Age that the apex trade body that represents the export-oriented woven, knit and sweater garment manufacturers and exporters of the country had accepted the minimum monthly wage of Tk 5,300 for entry-level workers.
‘We have accepted the recommendation made by the minimum wages board to fix the garment workers’ minimum monthly wage at the entry-level at Tk 5300,’ said Reaz Bin Mahmood.
Labor ministry will make the detail public on Thursday (today), he said.
A delegation of leaders of the country’s two apparel sector apex bodies — the BGMEA and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association — held a 45-minute meeting with Hasina beginning at about 9:00pm.
The labour secretary, Mikail Shipar, told New Age that BGMEA and BKMEA leaders accepted the minimum wages board recommendation after intervention of the prime minister.
A meeting source, however, said the acceptance was tagged with conditions.
‘The leaders have said they will pay Tk 5,300 but will reduce the amount of basic and adjust the amount with others allowance,’ the source said.
* BGMEA to seek ‘exit plan’ for small factories:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is set to seek an ‘exit plan’ from the government soon for about one fourth of the country’s total apparel makers as the struggling factory owners expressed their inability to implement Tk 5,300 minimum wage.
The owners, mostly small and medium size factories, rather opted to shut down their business and sought liberal conditions to implement their closing option.
Around 500 owners of medium and small garment factories sought the exit plan, citing their inability of affording Tk 5,300 as minimum wage recommended for the workers. The garment owners submitted their plea to the BGMEA from November 5 to 12.
The factory owners demanded to include an exit policy in the final recommendation of the minimum wages board giving them four months time to decide on the implementation of minimum wage or winding up their factories.
The BGMEA leaders have decided to lobby with the government for the unique demand of ‘exit plan’ sought by the factory owners.
‘A total of 470 factory owners have so far submitted their applications to BGMEA seeking exit plans, expressing their inability to afford the proposed minimum wage of Tk 5,300 due to their dull business and soaring costs,’
BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age on Tuesday.
He said that the frustrated apparel exporters also demanded freeing them from their bank liabilities and giving immunity from paying three months wages to the currently employed workers as stipulated in the Labour Act before shutting down their factories.
* Garment factory owners demand fair price to ensure compliance:
The garments owners at a view exchange meeting on compliance issues on Wednesday demanded fair price and uniform code of conduct while maintaining compliance in the factories.
They also demanded a national standard of compliance instead of unilateral requirements by the western buyers.
The owners alleged that the auditors often give different requirements on various matters while recommending for compliance certificate.
Protesting the minimum wage declared recently for the workers, they alleged that the government imposed a minimum wage for the workers in garments industries ignoring the prevailing conditions in the sector.
“We are ready to pay more wages to the workers if we make profit,” said a garments owner.
“But at this moment 500 factories are closed and there is no guarantee that a completely compliant factory would remain out of workers wrath,” he adds.
“We are completely confused which formula of compliance should be followed” said BGMEA president Atiqul Islam. Referring to a recent study by a German university, Atiqul islam said, buyers play a double standard as they want best quality with cheapest price as well as compliance at the factories.
* RMG factory owners agree to pay Tk 5,300 wage:
Owners of ready-made garment factories on Wednesday night agreed to pay Tk 5,300 in minimum wage for entry-level workers.
The announcement came after a meeting of representatives of the garment owners with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban, chief of the apparel trade body said.
“Yes, we’ve agreed to the new minimum monthly wage,” M Atiqul Islam, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told UNB over phone.
He said it will be decided in a day or two as to from which month the new salary structure will be implemented.
read more. & read more.
November 14th, 2013 12:15:45 am * Ashulia RMG units to remain open Thursday:
In the latest development, owners of garment factories at Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital have decided to keep their RMG units open on Thursday.
The decision came after the garment owners agreed to pay Tk 5,300 in minimum wage for workers following a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban on Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, the owners decided to keep their units closed for another day on Thursday for security reason.
All factories in the zone remained closed on Wednesday for the same reason.
read more. & read more.
* Baipail-Abdullahpur highway blocked:
Workers of readymade garments again locked into fierce clash with police, demanding minimum salary Tk 8, 000 per month in Ashulia, on outskirt of Dhaka on Thursday morning.
At one stage of agitation, the workers put barricade on Baipail- Abdullahpur highway and vandalized some vehicles.
Sources said ten factory workers including Hamim Group, Knit Asia, Artistic Design Limited and Cathay Apparels Limited started protest procession at around 8:00am.
* A living wage in Bangladesh:
The government of Bangladesh is expected to soon announce an increase in the minimum wage for workers in the country’s clothing factories, which are big suppliers to Western retailers like Walmart and H&M.
Its decision could improve the lives of millions of families that struggle to eke out an existence on as little as the equivalent of about $38 a month, the current minimum wage.
A government-appointed board last week recommended to the labour ministry that the minimum wage be increased to about $68 a month.
Factory owners, who wield tremendous political power in Bangladesh, have argued that they cannot afford the proposed increase and are pushing for a smaller one.
But workers have said that they would not settle for less than $100 a month and have been protesting in the streets to press their case.
Here are some facts: The minimum wage was last increased in 2010. Since then, consumer prices have risen by 28 percent, according to government data.
A basic diet that meets the needs of a family of three alone costs about $67 a month, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Policy Dialogue, a respected research organisation based in Dhaka.
At the same time, the garment industry, second to China’s in exports, has grown at a stunning rate in recent years and can afford to pay workers more.
Bangladesh exported $19 billion in clothes last year, up more than 50 percent from two years earlier.
* Call to implement amended labour law to please RMG stakeholders:
Speakers at a view-exchange meeting Wednesday emphasised the proper implementation of the amended labour law-2013 with a view to ensuring the compliance with the issues that the global community had been focusing on the matter.
They also felt the need for significant, visible changes in the area of compliance to restore the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility in the USA and for continuation of it in the European Union (EU) markets.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) jointly organised the meet titled ‘Exchange of Views on Compliance Issues of RMG Sector in Bangladesh’ held in the city.
Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, Netherlands Ambassador to Bangladesh Gerben de Jong, Deputy Chief, Political and Economic Section of the US Embassy Tobais Glucksman, BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam and its office bearers, and BKMEA vice president Md Hatem, among others, were present there.
Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar in his speech called on the garment owners to fully implement the labour law that had incorporated many safety-related provisions including simplification of process for forming trade unions, forming participatory committees through election, welfare boards and funds for export-oriented sectors, security and safety measures for workers to ensure compliance at the garment factories.
“My earnest request to the owners is to implement the amended labour law as buyers, brands and other global entities are closely watching you, and you need to implement all these,” he added.
* BD at risk of losing second largest RMG exporter status:
Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of ready-made garment (RMG) after China, is likely to lose its position to Vietnam in the near future, if the ongoing violence over political impasse and workers’ agitation for adequate wages linger in the country, sector insiders said Wednesday.
Strikes, protests and deadly violence including arson, are on rise in the country, slowing manufacture and export of RMG sector, as there is no sign of negotiation between the ruling and the opposition parties.
Also there is a lack of agreement between the RMG workers and the owners over minimum wage, recently fixed by the wage board concerned.
As a result, many of the garment units have turned into a daily battlefield, while hundreds of them remained closed, especially at Savar and Ashulia, over the past several days.
* Let RMG work as engine of economic growth:
The readymade garment (RMG) workers have long been on the streets chanting slogans and attacking factories for a reasonable minimum wage.
Undoubtedly they need a wage that meets their minimum living costs and thus promotes their productivity. The owners have expressed their unwillingness to respond to the workers’ needs. In this tug of war, apparel factories are now almost on the verge of shutdown.
In the meantime, frequent hartals have begun to impose heavy tolls on readymade garment industry: pickets torch the lorries carrying RMG goods, the buyers postponing their trips to Dhaka and switching over to other destinations. The RMG sector in Bangladesh is seemingly on its way to a serious crisis it has ever witnessed.
It is high time that the government and the opposition, owners and workers take a fresh look at the conundrums pertaining to this industrial lifeline of the economy. The rationale is as follows:
* H&M grabs more control of Asia factories amid Bangladesh unrest:
Three decades after it started doing business with suppliers in Bangladesh, Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) is seeking greater control of production in a nation where it is among the largest purchasers of clothing.
H&M this year agreed to become the sole client of two factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia, helping convince building owners to offer satisfactory conditions and wages, Anna Gedda, H&M’s social sustainability manager, said.
We see these a little like test centers where we can try out different things that we can then push out on a larger scale in the entire supply chain,” Gedda said in an interview.
H&M, which normally shares factory space with other labels, is seeking tighter control over production in countries like Bangladesh, where thousands of workers held protests yesterday to demand higher wages.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Comply with factory safety issues to get US GSP revived:
Speakers at a meeting on Wednesday stressed on fire and safety compliance of the country’s readymade garment factories to facilitate retention of the Generalised System Preferences (GSP) to be reviewed in December by the US authorities.
They made the observation while exchanging views on compliance issues of RMG sector in Bangladesh jointly organised by Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association in Dhaka.
The RMG sector is passing through a crises moment especially after the Tazreen Fashions fire incident and Rana Plaza collapse, and suspension of GSP by the US government on June 27, said Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed.
“At any cost, we should not allow any destruction to the RMG sector as it contributes 20% to the GDP and earns 18% of foreign currency.”
The government has reviewed the progress of Bangladesh Action Plan imposed for the revival of the suspended GSP facility. The review witnessed remarkable progress in some areas, he said.
“We will send the progress report to the US government by November 14 (today) as the paper has been prepared having discussion with all parties.”
* Country set to send position paper on GSP for USTR Thursday:
Bangladesh is expecting retention of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facility in the US market as the Ministry of Commerce is set to submit the country position paper on the GSP to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Thursday.
“There is a progress in all stages of fulfilling commitments made in the latest hearing on retaining duty waiver in US market. We will send the country position paper to the USTR tomorrow (Thursday),” Commerce Secretary Mahmud Ahmed, told reporters here.
Commerce Ministry is the lead agency of the government for replying to the USTR on the GSP issue.
read more. & read more.
* Nov extremely important for further RMG sector dev: Envoy:
Netherlands Ambassador in Dhaka Gerben De Jong on Wednesday said this November is extremely important for further development in the readymade garment sector as two important decisions will be taken during the period which will help Bangladesh become the number one producer in the world.
“Because, in November there are two decisions to be taken – one on joint standards to inspect factories and secondly the discussion on the minimum wage,” the envoy told a function in the city.
13:32:40 local time PAKISTAN
* Workplace harassment: Victims can now lodge e-complaints:
The victims of workplace harassment can now electronically lodge complaints at the Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat’s website.
The Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat (FOS) for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Wednesday launched a Grievance Redressal System, which is a webpage where complaints can be filed in English or Urdu and is backed by an SMS tracking system.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Federal Ombudsperson against Harassment Justice (retd) Yasmin Abbasey said the website will provide easy access to men and women who face harassment at work and are unable to visit the ombudsman’s office to register their complaints.
* Exporters to relocate industrial units to other countries: PHMEA:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMEA) on Wednesday announced that the exporters would be relocating their industrial units to other countries due to the government’s continued indifference to protect the country’s export-oriented sectors.
The PHMEA said that a committee, headed by Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) Chairman Javed Bilwani, had intensified negotiations with other countries to finalise arrangements to shift export-oriented industries from Pakistan.
According to a PHMEA letter sent to all its members, the committee had increased its efforts to relocate manufacturing units of the association’s members who intended to cease operation in Pakistan after failing to gain the government’s support for their ailing businesses.
read more. & read more.
* Sustaining production in gas crisis: experts ask textile sector to opt for SNG technology:
Experts at a seminar on ‘Natural Gas Crisis’ urged the textile sector to opt Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) technology as an alternative energy source to sustain their productions without troubles.
The seminar was organised by Towel Manufactures Association (TMA) of Pakistan at TMA House here on Wednesday.
In his presentation, CEO of Korean Gas Engineering, Do Yeon Kang, highlighted the significance of SNG as alternative to Natural Gas in Pakistan. He said that his company was providing technical assistance to the Pakistani companies in the installation of SNG plants. Kang said that SNG technology was being used world-wide including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Middle East, USA and other countries.
* Govt asked to end goods transporters’ strike:
Pakistan Yarn Merchants Association (North Zone) has urged the government to take up the issue of Karachi goods transport companies’ strike and pursue the transport owners to call of the strike.
In a joint statement, PYMA (North Zone) chairman Ubaidulllah Sheikh and vice-chairman Farooq Allah Wahla said a large number of textile fabrics export containers were piled up at the Karachi port due to prolonged strike of the goods transport owners.
They feared that buyers from America and European Union countries might cancel purchase orders for import of textile fabrics from Pakistan for sale during Christmas days, inflicting a colossal loss of $10 million to Pakistani exporters. They said that big stores and textile importers of European Union, America and other western countries start importing textile fabrics from Pakistan and other countries in November every year to pile up their stocks for sale during Christmas days, but this time textile exporters would not be able to supply their orders till mid December due to the strike.
They appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to intervene and resolve the issue forthwith.
13:32:40 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Back from the cotton harvest:
Angren college students are back from the cotton works and are sharing their experiences during the “battle” for harvest 2013.
The youth were taken to the cotton works in Achmajli village in Bukinskiy region of Tashkent province in the beginning of September.
The students lived in cluttered school rooms. They slept on the mattresses that they brought with them from home. Only a few students had camping beds. In order to create some sort of privacy the youth hung up pieces of fabric on the windows of their make-shift homes.
Washing stations were set up in the school court yard – several sinks inside of plastic cabins. One for boys another for girls.
The make-shift kitchen was also nearby, in the school yard – a big pot over an open fire.
The school where the cotton pickers were placed remained in session and the children would spend their recess breaks in the very same court yard.
The cotton pickers’ diet consisted of a piece of bread with a bit of margarine with a cup of sweet tea for breakfast; soup with bread and tea for lunch with no second course. The second course was instead served for dinner. Rice pilaf on Sundays.