in the news on-line, 22 Nov. 2013

09:25:58 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* ILO, DOLE push emergency jobs program:

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is working with the government, businesses and workers in country to launch an emergency employment program to help the estimated three million people who have lost their livelihoods in the wake of the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Haiyan.

“The loss of life and the scale of the destruction are heart-breaking, and there are millions of people in desperate conditions,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

“They need food, water, shelter, medical care – and they need to start rebuilding their lives right away. We’re working with government and social partners in the Philippines, and with our UN sister agencies, to help the communities affected by the tragedy and we call on the international community, and the public, to be generous in their support.”
read more.

08:25:58 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Minimum wage set to rise:

20131122 VNNews
Workers of Arksun Viet Nam JSC in the northern Nam Dinh-based Hoa Xa Industrial Park. As of January 2014, monthly minimum wage for employees will see an increase following a decree issued recently by the Government. — VNA/VNS Photo Danh Lam

A new decree issued by the Government will lead to an increase in the monthly minimum wage from January 1.

Decree 182 will see increases of up to VND2.7 million (US$130) per month, and will apply to enterprises, co-operatives, household businesses, foreign companies and international organizations operating in Viet Nam.
The new arrangement replaces the current Decree 103/2012/ND-CP, applied from December last year and which also stipulated minimum payments for Vietnamese staff.

The minimum wage will be applied in four different regions in Viet Nam with four separate benchmarks determined by living standards in each area.
The thresholds will be VND1.9 million, VND2.1 million, VND2.4 million and VND2.7 million, accounting for an increase of VND250,000-350,000 compared with the current minimum wage.
read more.
VNNews new

* Garment exports to RoK surge nearly 50%:

Vietnam’s garment and textile exports to the Republic of Korea (RoK) fetched US$1.37 billion in the past ten months of 2013, up 49.2% compared to last year’s figure, according to the statistics of General Department of Customs.

Vietnam is the RoK’s second largest trade partner in terms of garment and textile. Its key commodities exported to the RoK included coats, jackets, trousers, shorts, sportswear, T-shirts and gloves.
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* Footwear export achieves high value:

Footwear has turned out to be one of Viet Nam’s leading exported items, making its presence in many markets all over the world, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

According to the General Department of Viet Nam Customs, export value of footwear surged from US$6.55 billion in 2011 to US$7.26 billion in 2012. Of the figure, US$1.7 billion came from domestic enterprises and the remaining US$5.56 billion were made by FDI enterprises.
As by October 15, footwear export value reached US$ 6.3 billion. The largest importer was the USA which made a value of US$1,933 million. It was followed by Europe countries: the UK  US$399 million, Belgium US$356 million, Germany US$296 million, the Netherlands US$260, Spain US$210 million, Italy US$159 million, France US$156 million.
In Asia, footwear importers were China US$256 million, Japan US$290 million, and the Republic of Korea US$179 million.
to read.

* TPP can strongly boost Vietnamese garment sector: VITAS:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, likely to be signed later this year, can strongly boost the Vietnamese garment sector, Le Tien Truong, vice chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS), said while addressing a conference on ‘TPP Agreement and participation of Vietnam’, Vietnam Plus reported.
The conference was jointly organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Hanoi.
read more.

08:25:58 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Mass fainting at Kandal factory:

About 50 garment workers fainted yesterday at the King First Industrial factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, union representatives said.

Khouth Touch, the Free Trade Union president at the factory, said a number of workers had experienced stomach aches and diarrhoea that morning.
“When the other workers saw their workmates like this, they went into shock and fainted one by one,” he said, adding that officials from the Ministry of Labour were investigating the circumstances more thoroughly. Those who fainted were treated at nearby clinics, while the remaining workers had been allowed to go home.

Chea Houth, the company’s administrative officers, said ventilation had not been a factor.
“There was no smell in the factory. We suspected it was caused by the workers’ breakfast they ate at home, because the problems started when they arrived,” he said.
Labour Ministry officials could not be reached for comment.

According to FTU’s tally, more than 700 garment workers have fainted at work this year.
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PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* SL Workers Demand Representatives Reinstated:

About 200 workers protested outside SL Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district Wednesday demanding that managers reinstate 19 union representatives before a 15-day deadline set by the government elapses.

The Council of Ministers has ordered the factory to rehire the fired unionists or face punitive measures by the Ministry of Labor, an order factory director Joseph Kee Leung Lee promised to follow Monday.
But SL’s general manager and founder both said Wednesday that the workers’ reinstatement was not ensured.
“It’s not about whether we accept back the workers or we don’t accept back the workers. We have never said that, that’s only what the government said,” said Raymond Wong, the company founder, by telephone.
“We have not promised anything yet to accept them,” he said. “There is still no result, we are still discussing.”
read more.

* Meas Sotha—The Man at the Center of the SL Factory Strike:

Meas Sotha is not leaving the SL Garment Factory.

As tensions between management and workers have intensified over the past five months, Mr. Sotha and his role at the strike-plagued factory have moved center stage.

Workers claim that since Mr. Sotha took over from a previous SL factory administrator in June, he has taken an increasingly active role in managing staff and, they claim, stifling union activities. They accuse him of having a hand in the removal of 19 of their union leaders.

Now, Mr. Sotha has to go.
The Coalition for Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU) has made Mr. Sotha’s removal from his position a key demand in negotiations to end their monthslong strike, which has twice turned violent.
At his office just a few minutes down the road from the SL factory, CCAWDU President Ath Thorn railed against Mr. Sotha, and his presence at the factory that, since July, has paralleled an increasing intolerance for union activity among the firm’s employees, he claimed.

“We see he is the one who is weakening our union and blocking unions from organizing,” Mr. Thorn said.
CCAWDU, the country’s only independent union, began organizing at the factory in June 2012 and counted 3,800 members within a year, Mr. Thorn said, adding that it was the first union at SL factory that had dared to stand up to management.

“Between 1998 and 2012, the company used short-term contracts and workers were often required to work for 12 hours a day. They gave unions no rights to do anything,” Mr. Thorn said.
“That’s why the owners now are not happy. Before, they treated people like animals. Now, they must do things properly,” he said.
read more.

* Exports Grow Despite Record Number of Strikes:

The protests at the SL Garment and Alim Cambodia Co. Ltd. garment factories this week were the latest in a record number of strikes to have taken place this year.

The week’s events—which saw workers from Alim Cambodia in Por Senchey district set up a roadblock on Wednesday to prevent container trucks from passing, while workers from SL Garment on Tuesday violently clashed with security forces in Stung Meanchey—underscore the growing number of strikes that have been plaguing the sector.

According to figures from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the number of strikes in the first seven months of the year hit an all-time high of 83, compared to 81 the previous year and just 18 in 2011.
read more.

* BetterFactories Media updates 15-22 November 2013, Meas Sotha- the man at the center of the SL factory strike:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-11-15 Anniversary marked by inaction
2013-11-18 Export to the US rise, slightly
2013-11-18 Government steps in
2013-11-19 No violence main goal, SL exec says
2013-11-21 End strike or go to court, gov’t says
2013-11-21 Strike reaches city hall
2013-11-22 Mass fainting at Kandal factory

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-11-15 Bangladesh factories agree to pay raise, but protest continue
2013-11-15 Exports grow despite record number of strikes
2013-11-18 CNRP to protest in solidarity with SL workers
2013-11-19 SL management agrees to reinstate 19 fired union members
2013-11-19 Union to hold 5,000 strong march during CNRP protest
2013-11-20 Despite denials, Levi’s still producing at SL garment factory
2013-11-21 SL garment factory is no longer manufacturing for Levi’s
2013-11-21 SL workers demand representatives reinstated
2013-11-22 Meas Sotha- the man at the center of the SL factory strike
2013-11-22 More than 60 garment workers faint in Kandal

BetterFactories Media updates overview here.

07:25:58 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Owners and workers reach consensus on RMG wages:

The basic of the minimum wage has been fixed Tk3,000

The minimum Wage Board commission has fixed Tk 5,300 as the minimum wage (including expenses) with a 5% yearly increase in basic salary for entry-level garment workers, as both the workers leaders and factory owners came to a consensus on Thursday.

The basic salary of the minimum wage without expenses has been fixed at Tk3,000.
The Chairman of the commission, AK Roy, made the announcement after a meeting with the factory owners and workers leaders at its city office on Thursday afternoon.
He said: “The new wage scale will be sent to the labour ministry today and hopefully the ministry will issue a gazette in this regard soon.”
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* Apparel Labour Bodies demand upward wage adjustment:

Different garment labour rights bodies on Thursday in the capital demanded reviewing the announced minimum wages for the apparel workers.
The minimum wage for a worker has been set at Tk 5,300, a month.

Garment Sramik Shilpa Rakkha Jatiya Mancha, a combine of the 14-grament labour rights bodies at a protest rally in front of the Minimum Wage Board on Topkhana Road demanded upward adjustments.
Abul Hossain, leader of the combine, said, following the rally that the garment workers would not accept the announced wage, as they cannot support their families with that pay.
He demanded revision to the announced wage immediately.

Tapan Saha, the coordinator of the combine demanded implementation of the trade unionism in the apparel industries immediately for the sake of ethical clothing industry.
Garment labour leaders Ferdusi Begum, Shah Alam, Golam Rabbani Jamil and others spoke.
Garments Sramik Oikya Forum, an apparel workers’ rights body at a press conference in Nirmal Sen Auditorium also demanded revision of the announced minimum wage for the garment workers.
read more. & read more.
BD new age BD new age

* Board fixes minimum wage for RMG workers at Tk 5,300:

The board formed to re-fix the minimum wage for the garment workers on Thursday finalised the new minimum wage structure at Tk 5,300.

At its 10th meeting at the Minimum Wages Board’s office, the wage board also decided to award a yearly increment of 5 percent to the newly fixed minimum wages until the formation of another wages board for the readymade garment (RMG) sector.
Earlier on Nov 4, the RMG sector wage board at its 9th meeting came out with its primary recommendation to raise the minimum wage of the workers to Tk 5,300, of which Tk 3,200 was recommended as the basic wage.
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UNB BANGLA NEWS24  FE bd  BDCHRONICLE  primenews newstodayBD

* Tk 5300 minimum wage for RMG workers fixed:

The Wage Board finalised its recommendation Thursday fixing Tk 5,300 as minimum monthly wage for garment workers at entry point with some changes made in the proposed basic pay, food subsidy and implementation timeframe.

The fixation of minimum wage, which is around 77 per cent up from the existing structure, took place following a consensus between the representatives of the apparel makers and workers at the tenth meeting of the Wage Board held in the city.
The Board, however, also kept its previous recommendation for a 5.0 per cent annual increment unchanged.

“A minimum wage amounting to Tk 5,300 has been fixed unanimously at the meeting. Besides, a recommendation has also been made regarding a 5.0 per cent annual increment for the workers, which is a very positive development,” Chairman of the Wage Board AK Roy told reporters after the meeting.
Mr Roy further said the Board has taken around 500 written appeals made by different organisations into consideration while deciding on the wage structure.
read more.
FE bd

* Minimum wage for garment workers at Tk 5,300:

Reducing the basic wage by Tk 200 from Tk 3200 of the proposed recommendation, the minimum wages board for the garment workers on Thursday made its final recommendation of Tk 5,300 as minimum monthly wage for entry-level workers.

The board also recommended for five per cent increment of the basic every year at the 10th meeting at the board’s Topkhana Road office.
Despite reducing basic pay, the amount of minimum wage remain unchanged in both the proposed and final recommendations as food subsidy has been increased but the wages in other six grades have been reduced from proposed amount as wages of those grades are supposed to increase proportionately.

‘The board has taken the decision of minimum wage of garment workers at Tk 5,300 unanimously and the final recommendation will now be sent to the labour ministry for gazette notification,’ the board chairman AK Roy said at a briefing after the meeting.
He said that the board on November 4 recommended Tk 5,300 as minimum wage and published a gazette on November 5 asking for objections and opinions, if any, on the recommendations by 14 days.
read more.
BD new age

* It’s final: 77% hike in garment wage:

Pay for workers under other grades also rises proportionately

Minimum wage rose about 77 percent to Tk 5,300 a month for garment workers, but their basic salary will be lower than the previous recommendation.

A trainee or apprentice worker will get Tk 4,810 as the minimum salary. The working period for a trainee worker will be three months, extendable by another three if owners fail to see an improvement in standards.
After that period, trainees will be appointed as permanent workers under Grade 7, the lowest rung.
As per the revised structure, a Grade 7 worker will receive Tk 3,000 in basic salary that had previously been recommended at Tk 3,200 on November 4.
read more.
daily star bd

* Rights groups demand enhanced minimum wage for RMG workers:

Apparel labour rights groups on Thursday demanded an upward revision of the recently announced monthly minimum wage of Tk.5,300.

Garment Sramik Shilpa Rakkha Jatiya Mancha, a platform of 14 apparel labour rights groups, at a protest rally held in front of the Minimum Wage Board at Topkhana Road demanded an increase in the minimum wage announced recently.
Abul Hossain, the combine’s leader said that the minimum wage was not acceptable to the garment workers as it was far too inadequate for a worker to maintain his or her family.
He called for an immediate revision of the minimum wage.
Tapan Saha, the coordinator of the combine demanded trade union rights be given to the workers employed by the apparel industry immediately for its betterment.
read more.
BD new age

* RMG minimum wage set at Tk5,300 with 5% of basic as yearly increment :

Replying to a query, Kamal Uddin, independent member of the board said they had to cut Tk200 from the proposed basic to reach a consensus

The government-formed wage board has finalised Tk5,300 as minimum wage with a basic of Tk3,200 for entry-level garment workers.

“The wage board has unanimously decided the minimum wage at Tk5,300 with a 5% yearly increment on the basic, having thread bear discussion on the objections placed to the board by the owners and the labour leaders as the both party came to a consensus,” AK Roy, chairman of the board, said at a press briefing on Thursday.

The representatives of owners, workers and independent members agreed with the proposal, he added.
The new minimum wage, which is 76.66% higher than the existing Tk3,000, will be in effect from December 1, which means the workers will receive the new wages in January next year.
read more.

* Bangladesh approves wage hike for garment factory workers:

Garment workers in Bangladesh will get a 77% pay increase from December as the government tries to end a wave of strikes that have roiled the world’s second largest clothing exporter in recent months.

The official wage board approved on Thursday increasing the monthly minimum wage for entry-level garment industry workers to 5,300 taka ($68) from 3,000 taka currently, a raise that was in line with the expectations of factory owners who had said they would ask retailers to shoulder part of the costs.

Workers had asked for the minimum wage, which was last raised in 2010, to go up to 8,000 taka a month, but the wage board negotiated a compromise which was acceptable to all sides, said Sirajul Islam Rony, a member of the government appointed committee.
read more. & to read.
reuters Ittefaq

* Bangladesh garment factories reopen after unrest:

Bangladeshi garment workers returned to their factories Thursday, where they stitch clothes for Western retailers, after the prime minister demanded an end to days of protests over a new minimum wage.

“All the plants have reopened today and the workers have joined duty,” said Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, a vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, which presents 4,500 factories.
“We hope the worst part is over, but now we have to make up for lost time,” Mahmood said.
Thousands of workers have taken to the streets in deadly protests over the new minimum monthly wage of $68 —  a 76 percent hike but still lower than those in many other major garment-producing nations.
Several hundred factories, including some of the biggest, have been forced to close since the protests started on November 11, crippling the sector, a mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called on the workers to abandon the protests on Wednesday which she branded unjustified as police launched a crackdown, arresting five garment union leaders.
read more. & to read.
BD new age Ittefaq

* RMG workers join work in Ashulia:

Workers of Readymade Garment factories in Ashulia area joined their work from Thursday morning after couple of days’ protest demanding salary hike.

No violent incident was reported as production is underway peacefully in garment units of Baipail, Jamgora, Shimultola, Norsinhapur, Ghosbagh, Jirabo and Katgora areas in the industrial hub of the country.
Regarding the matter, Ashulia industrial police-1 director Mostafizur Rahman told banglanews that several meetings were held among owners of garment units, workers and government on the issue of minimum wage of the sector.
read more.

* RMG units in Ashulia, Konabari reopen after days of violence:

Hundreds of apparel factories in Ashulia and Konabari reopened Thursday amid tight security as uneasy calm returned to the key industrial hubs after days of production suspension caused by the recent workers’ unrest over better wage.

Thousands of workers in long queues streamed into the open gates early in the morning as police with bullet-proof vests and helmets stood by to stave off any trouble.
Owners said almost all the factories located at the industrial areas resumed production following assurance from the government that it would deal with the troublemakers with heavy hand.

“The workers joined in time at about 8:00am and the manufacturing of garment products is going on smoothly,” Chairman of Sterling Group Siddiqur Rahman, said.
He said the workers should show their patience as garment owners have agreed in implementing the latest wage structure of Tk 5300 from December.

He said the workers should not engage in any form of violence as their minimum monthly wage has been raised to US$ 68 from the previous US$ 39.
The Jamgora-based Sterling Group is one of the country’s leading apparel conglomerates and it makes clothing for the world’s leading retailers. It employs 12,000 workers.
read more.
FE bd

“I doubt that there are genuine workers behind the individuals who are here as labour representatives,” said Raju.
“There would not have been protests if the workers considered these people as their leaders.”
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bdnews24 NEWNATIONnew

* RMG sector faces serious threat:

The number of export orders in ready-made garment (RMG) sector has been reducing for the last couple of months.

The country’s largest export earnings sector has received at least 30 percent less export orders in October of the current year in comparison with that of the last year.
Some of the garment owners said this ongoing crisis will be more acute as a result of setting the minimum wage at Tk 5,300 for survival of the garment factories if export orders keep on falling in such a serious pace.

The country has witnessed laborer crisis at many garment factories around the year.  Moreover, the current political turmoil and violent activities like hartal has been creating more and more hurdles for this export oriented and labour intensive industry.
The exporters pointed out falling of rupee against dollar, continuous laborer unrest, and political crisis as the reasons behind the sharp fall in export orders. They said if the causes and situations remain the same then the sector would face serious trouble over its existence and many factories might face closure shedding thousands of jobs.
read more.

* Retailers agree on BD safety standards:

Two groups of global retailers, one dominated by American companies and the other by European enterprises, have agreed to work with a common set of programmes to improve safety standards in garment factories of Bangladesh.

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (ABWS), the group led the Americans, and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (AFBSB), that dominated by the Europeans, said Wednesday they had signed a new agreement to ensure safety standards in the garment factories of the country.

ABWS and AFBSB were formed after the Rana Plaza factory building collapse that killed 1,131 workers and maimed many at Savar near Dhaka on April 24 this year.

The groups have agreed to conduct joint inspections in thousands of garment factories as part of their effort to improve workplace safety in Bangladesh, where frequent industrial mishaps like fire and building collapse continue to take tolls, industry sources said.
The agreement on safety standards signed by the global brands will help Bangladeshi owners to follow the guideline and implement the safety standards in their respective factories.
read more.
FE bd

* American, European retailers agree on common standards:

20131122 NEWAGE
The file photo shows the collapsed Rana Plaza at Savar on April 25. The building, which housed five garment units, collapsed on April 24, killing more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers. — New Age photo

EU Accord, North American Alliance and National Tripartite Committee, the three initiatives to ensure fire and building safety in the readymade garment sector in Bangladesh, on Thursday signed an agreement on common standards for the safety assessment in the garment factories.

After completing some minor modifications in the inspection standards, the representatives of EU Accord and North American Alliance agreed on the standards formally at a meeting in the labour ministry, the labour secretary Mikail Shipar told New Age.
‘Now there is no barrier to starting safety inspection by the Accord and the Alliance in the garment factories and we have urged them to begin their inspection programmes within a short time as the assessment tools have been finalised,’ he said.
The North American and European retailers on Wednesday announced that they agreed on the fire and structural inspection standards for thousands of garment factories in Bangladesh for improving the workplace safety, said a news release of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
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BD new age

* Major Retailers Agree to Inspection Standards in Bangladesh:

Two groups of retailers — one dominated by American companies, the other by European brands — announced on Wednesday that they had agreed on joint inspection standards for thousands of garment factories in Bangladesh as part of their effort to improve workplace safety there.

The American-led group, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, comprises 26 retailers, and the European-dominated group, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, with more than 100 members, said that the new agreement was considerably tougher than the previous standards used by many individual retailers and by the Bangladeshi government.

“I think it’s great — we had very productive meetings,” said Brad Loewen, the chief safety inspector for the accord, whose members include H&M, Marks & Spencer and Carrefour. “These standards are very robust, but also reasonable and will make a big difference in the safety of garment factories in Bangladesh.”

The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and the International Labor Organization participated in the talks to develop the new standards and they, too, agreed on them.
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NYT  primenews newstodayBD BANGLA NEWS24

* Bangladesh Bank Governor calls for upgrading RMG sector:

Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, has given a call for strengthening and upgrading the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector.
The Governor was speaking at a seminar on ‘Responsible Business Lessons for the Bangladesh Ready Made Garment Sector’, organized by the CSR Centre, Dhaka.
He termed the contribution of the garments sector in Bangladesh for the past three decades as simply outstanding in terms of employment generation particularly for women, export earnings and domestic demand creation.
read more.

* Factory inspections start today, at last:

Garment factory inspections on a full-fledged basis will at last take off today, with 200 units to come under the microscopes of BUET experts over the next eight weeks.

The development comes following a meeting yesterday at the ministry of labour, where a common checklist for inspection on the country’s 4,000-odd active garment factories was agreed upon.
The 200 factories to be inspected, both for structural integrity and fire and electrical safety, would fall under the 2,000 factories that the government agreed to as part of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) efforts to improve factory safety in Bangladesh.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, an alliance of more than 100 European-based retailers, would inspect another 1,500 factories, while the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, another coalition of 26 retailers mainly based in North America, would look into 500 more.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd FE bd

* RMG factory inspection begins today:

BUET will assess the factory buildings that are not part of Alliance or Accord, both for structural integrity, and fire and electrical safety

Inspection of all export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) and knitwear factories in Bangladesh begins today.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will assess the factory buildings that are not part of Alliance or Accord, both for structural integrity, and fire and electrical safety.
This was decided at a meeting of the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) held on Thursday with Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar in the chair.

The Committee comprising the key stakeholders in the RMG and knitwear industry, including key government agencies, employers (BEF, BGMEA and BKMEA) and trade unions endorsed the harmonised minimum standards against which the building assessments will be carried out.
Representatives of Accord and Alliance were also present at the meeting.

The decision follows the joint development and finalisation of the standards at an ILO-facilitated workshop earlier this month by technical experts of the three initiatives: Accord, Alliance as well as BUET on behalf of the NTC.
read more.

* RMG bldg safety inspection to begin Friday after major breakthru:

Inspections of all export-oriented readymade garment (RMG) and knitwear factory buildings in Bangladesh will begin on Friday.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will assess the factory buildings that are not part of Alliance or Accord, both for structural integrity, and fire and electrical safety.
This was decided at a meeting of the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) held on Thursday with Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar in the chair.
The Committee comprising the key stakeholders in the RMG and knitwear industry, including key government agencies, employers (BEF, BGMEA and BKMEA) and trade unions endorsed the harmonized minimum standards against which the building assessments will be carried out.
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UNB daily star bd BD new age NEWNATIONnew

* BD to push GSP, RMG in post-deal meeting:

TICFA signing on Nov 25 in Washington

Bangladesh would press for preferential market access for its apparel items and revival of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) in the first meeting after signing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TICFA) with the US on November 25 in Washington, a top trade official said.

Dhaka seemed optimistic that the US administration would give a green signal by next month about revival of the GSP facility following signing of the TICFA, he added.
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FE bd

* Government to introduce genetically modified cotton:

20131122 DHAKATRIBUNE GM-cotton

The government has made a move to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties at farmers’ level in the country, following the release of four brinjal varieties for demonstration last month.

However, the GM variety named Bt cotton would not be prepared in the country. The seeds will be directly imported from Indian seed producer Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) or other companies from China.

“We have already talked to Mahyco and they agreed to provide us an ample supply as per our requirements,” said Md Abdul Latif, executive director of Cotton Development Board (CDB), adding that China was yet to show interest on the CDB’s proposal.
read more.

* Bangladesh BGCCI inks MoU for garment workers’ training:

The Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) and the German development cooperation agency Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in order to set up a training school for garment sector workers in Bangladesh.
The MoU between the two entities was signed at the GIZ Dhaka office with the aim of addressing the issues of shortage of skilled workers and mid-level managers in the garment sector of the country, reports Dhaka Tribune.
read more.

* GETCO to provide ERP software for textile, apparel industry:

GETCO Digital Limited, an ICT service provider company under GETCO Group, aims to automate the textile and apparel industry of Bangladesh using Datatex’s integrated ERP software, so that the industry can be managed in a fully automated process with real-time information handling ensuring better management and reducing revenue leakage.

A manufacturing company, in general, can expect a reduction of 15-25 per cent revenue leakage by adopting an automated business model.
A partnership agreement was signed recently between Datatex A.G, a tier 1 textile and apparel ERP software provider, and GETCO Digital Limited.
Ronen Hagin, president of Datatex and K.M. Mobarak Hossain, managing director of GETCO Digital Limited signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.
read more.

* Bangladesh Parliament passes Handloom Board Bill 2013:

Jatiya Sangsad, the Parliament of Bangladesh has passed the ‘Bangladesh Handloom Board Bill, 2013’, aimed at development and expansion of the handloom industry in the country.
The proposed law, drafted in Bangla as per the higher court verdict, has a provision for holding the meeting of the Handloom Board once in every two months. It also allows the authorities to hold additional meetings if necessary, as per their need.
The Bill was moved in the House by Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, and was passed by voice vote as the opposition abstained.
The new law, once implemented, would replace the Bangladesh Handloom Board Ordinance, 1977, which was promulgated during the martial law period.
read more. & read more.
fibre2fashion  DHAKATRIBUNE

* Output fall, political chaos raise raw jute prices:

Prices of raw jute have increased by 25-30 per cent in local market in the last two weeks, as millers are in a race to store the produce.

Apprehension of its low production and growing political uncertainty inspired the millers to take such a cautious stand, sector insiders said.
Raw jute of different varieties are selling at Tk 1,800-2,200 per maund (Tossa) and Tk 1,300-1,400 (Desi) at different markets in Faridpur, Madaripur, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Gopalganj, Bogra, Rangpur, Dinajpur and Jessore.
read more.
FE bd


* One year after Tazreen fire, the fight for justice continues:

Twelve months after at least 112 people lost their lives trapped in the Tazreen Fashions factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, families of the decased and survivors are still waiting for full and fair compensation.

On November 24, 2012, Tazreen Fashions, a clothing factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh, supplying global clothing brands was engulfed in flames.

One year after the fire, Clean Clothes Campaing and International Labor Rights Forum are still calling for immediate and urgent action by all brands associated with the Tazreen Fashions factory to:

  • commit to working together with other brands and stakeholders to ensure full and fair compensation for all the victims of Tazreen fire, drawing onthe Arrangement established for Rana Plaza, and
  • commit to making a fair financial contribution to the process and ensuring that a fund for full and fair compensation is fully financed.

Only C&A, Karl Rieker, El Corte Ingles and Li&Fung have signalled their intention to work with other stakeholders to develop a compensation framework for Tazreen victims.

To date only C&A has committed any substantial compensation and developed systems to ensure funds are distributed among the victims. Li & Fung has also made payments. While some brands linked to Tazreen have stated they will make voluntary contributions, no other brand has yet paid adequate amounts. These companies include: Delta Apparel (USA), Dickies (USA), Disney (USA), Edinburgh Woollen Mill (UK), El Corte Ingles (Spain), Enyce (USA), Karl Rieker (Germany), KiK (Germany), Piazza Italia (Italy), Sears (USA), Teddy Smith (France), and Walmart (USA).

Mirjam van Heugten of Clean Clothes Campaign says: “While brand executives lean back and dodge responsibility, survivors and families of the dead have lost their only source of income, and have high medical costs and injuries which prevent them from finding new work, including painful psychological scars. By taking no action or delaying payment of deserved compensation brands are condemning people to live in poverty and pain.”

Amirul Haque Amin, general secretary of the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) reports: “Some workers were thrown out of families because they cannot earn a wage anymore and are using expensive medication after the fire. It is a shame that brands make these people, who often have lost loved ones, stand on hold for 12 months.”

CCC and ILRF single out US retailer Walmart in particular for having taken no action even though the largest portion of the factory’s production was destined for Walmart.  “As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart has a major responsibility to ensure the safety of the people that make their clothes.  Their repeated claim of unauthorized sub-contracting is no excuse for abdicating responsibility. By taking no action at all to provide compensation to victims since the devastating Tazreen fire, Walmart has shown complete disregard for human life,” says Liana Foxvog from International Labor Rights Forum.
read more.
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* Less than 200 euros compensation for Kalpona:

On 24th November 2012, Kalpona, a garment worker from Bangladesh, jumped from the third floor of the burning Tazreen factory and fell to the ground, breaking her leg. She was rushed to the nearest clinic like many others. She has been waiting for compensation for twelve months and wants to move on.

Kalpona (22) lives in a small village of Kurigram District (in the north of Bangladesh). She was born in Kurigram but she did not live with the rest of her family for long because they were too poor to sustain her.

When Kalpona was 16 years old, she moved with her husband to Dhaka to earn a better living and support an aging mother back in the village. In Dhaka, Kalpona gave birth to a baby boy, but two years later, her husband died.

That’s when she started working in the Tazreen factory. She sent money to her ill and aging mother and supported her son. She had to leave her son along in the slums of Nischintapur while she was away in the factory. One day she returned home from work and found her son’s arm was broken.

“We worked such long hours in the factory that it was impossible to take a day or even an hour’s break to attend an emergency like this,” she says.

The government and the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association) publicly promised that the victims would receive medical and wage compensation, but Kalpona has not received this.
read more.

* Tazreen one year on – factsheet:
Downlaod : CCC Tazreen one year on – factsheet-2
* Tazreen one year on – brand positions:
Download: CCC Tazreen one year on – brand positions


* IndustriALL marks one year since Tazreen fire:

As negotiations continue toward a compensation agreement, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union are marking one-year since the factory fire that killed at least 112 workers on 24 November 2012.

Tazreen survivors and members of victims’ families shared their stories of the day with IndustriALL and UNI at the site in October.
Watch the video to hear one of these accounts.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said:
“The stories of the Tazreen survivors are so harrowing.  Still now, one year after the deadly fire, anyone visiting the site can see the fire damaged building where workers jumped from the third floor windows to escape.  Many of those survivors broke their legs when jumping to safety.

The psychological scars are worse than those on their legs.  Many survivors talk of being ordered to remain at their posts while managers safely escaped via stairways, of hearing their colleagues scream, and of never seeing their friends and relatives since the moment the smoke filled the factory.

I hope these stories are known by those complacent brands who have stayed outside of the compensation negotiations after sourcing from Tazreen.  

One year has passed and families are in extreme hardship because the Tazreen factory was allowed to become a death-trap.”
to read.

06:55:58 local time map of india INDIA

* Trade unions demand steps to check price rise:

Different central trade unions including those affiliated to the Left parties as well as the Congress and employees’ organisations on Wednesday criticised the spiralling prices of essential commodities and demanded that the Centre as well as the State government take corrective steps.

Describing the Trinamool Congress government as “anti-people”, the trade unions, in a joint statement, accused the West Bengal government of “safeguarding the interests of hoarders and unscrupulous traders who are involved in black-marketing.” It was due to this that the prices were ruling higher in the State than in many others.
read more.
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* Textile experts to seek more trade with Pakistan:

Trading of man-made fabric (MMF) between Surat and Pakistan is all set to get a boost.

Four textile industry leaders have been invited for the regional chambers of commerce roundtable conference on ‘Normalizing India-Pakistan Trade’ on November 26 at Karachi.
The roundtable is being organized jointly by Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), New Delhi, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPand the Institute of Business Administration (IBA).

The experts from Surat’s MMF sector – Ashok Jain, Riyaz Padela, Kamlesh Yagnik and Devkishan Manghani – will be deliberating on increasing the direct trade between India and Pakistan and discuss about the target fabrics to be exported to Pakistan. Yagnik is also the president of Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI).
read more.

* Indian apparel exports zoom 30.9% in Oct:

Releasing the apparel exports data for the month of October 2013, Dr A Sakthivel Chairman AEPC stated, “Apparel exports were to the tune of USD 1190 million in October 2013-14 with increase of 30.91 per cent against the corresponding month of last financial year. In rupee terms, the exports have increased by 53.3 per cent in Oct. 2013-14 over the same month of previous FY.”

Export in dollar terms for April-Oct. of the FY 2013-14 has increased by 15.5 per cent over the same period of previous FY and reached to USD 8259 million however, in rupee terms exports increased by 26.18 per cent compared to same period of last FY.
read more. & read more.
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06:25:58 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ‘Pakistan needs to exploit textile value addition potential’:

Pakistan needs to exploit its value addition potential in textiles to bring it at par with the regional competitors, as China generates textile exports of $14.7 from one pound of cotton, Bangladesh $13.31, India $2.96 and Pakistan only $2.46, experts say.

“Let us be realistic in admitting that the market access is not the only issue that is impeding our textile exports; low value addition is a greater issue,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) leader Gohar Ejaz said.

Bangladesh edged out Pakistan because of lucrative market access but India and China export their textile products at same duties as levied on Pakistan; still they generate higher revenues per pound of cotton used, he said.

China is the largest consumer of cotton in the world. In 2012 its mills consumed 7.838 million tons of cotton to generate textiles and clothing exports of $254 billion, Ejaz said, adding that Pakistan being the third largest consumer of cotton processed 2.395 million tons of cotton but its exports were restricted to $13 billion only.
read more.

* Three-month gas suspension: textile sector unlikely to meet export orders:

The government may suspend gas supply to the textile sector for the next three months (December to February), which will make it difficult for the textile units to meet export orders.

Official sources told Business Recorder on Thursday that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources was likely to move a summary to the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) soon, seeking suspension of gas supply to the industry for three months. Currently, the industry in Punjab was getting two days a week gas supply, they added.

The sources said that the textile industry, which accounted for 50 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings, was likely to face an estimated loss of $2-3 billion if the proposed gas suspension plan was implemented.
Expressing serious reservations over the plan, the sources said that currently the industrial sector was facing ten hours power loadshedding daily, and if gas supply was completely suspended, the industry would not be able to operate.
Under the Textile Policy (2009-14), it was committed to providing regular gas and power supply to the industry. However, the policy was never implemented in its true spirit, resulting in huge loss to the industry.
read more.

* Textile exports post paltry growth:

Export of textile and clothing products witnessed a paltry growth of 0.40 per cent to reach $1.114 billion in October this fiscal year (FY14) from a year ago.

Export proceeds from these sectors decelerated after substantial decline in export of raw cotton and low value-added products, showed data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
In October 2012, the export of textile and clothing was $1.110bn.
The products that witnessed a negative growth in October 2013 over the same month last year are raw cotton, cotton yarn, cotton carded, towels, tents, readymade garments and art silk.
read more.

* Canada to support Pakistan for GSP Plus status: Envoy:

The economic condition of Pakistan will improve after getting GSP Plus status from European countries and Canada will play its role for the purpose.

These views were expressed by Canadian High Commissioner Greg Giokas while talking to Nawa-i-Waqt Group Managing Director Dr Majid Nizami and Deputy Managing Director Rameeza Majid Nizami n Thursday.
The Canadian envoy said his government wants peace in this region. He suggested that Pakistan should cement bilateral and trade ties with neighbouring countries.
“Canada wanted to boost trade ties with Pakistan,” he said, adding that measures have been adopted for wooing foreign investments and the Pakistan government should play its positive role in enticing Canadian investors.
read more.

* PCGA reacts strongly to inflated cotton estimates:

Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has strongly reacted to inflated cotton estimates of 16.4 million bales, saying that total cotton production of Pakistan will not be more than 11.3 million bales in any case.

PCGA President Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch, while talking to Business Recorder on phone, said he strongly condemned the estimates, as it had hit badly the growers and ginners at large.

Baloch said the Cotton Crop Assessment Committee had also estimated a total of 11.95 million bales for 2013-14, which would actually be not more than 11.3 million bales. According to him, the ginners are perturbed over the report of 16.4 million bales and criticising him for not responding to the situation.
read more.

* Bursting at the seams: Out of house, home and prison cell:

There are 8,211 inmates – men and women – incarcerated in prisons and lockups across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) whereas, at maximum capacity, these institutions can just about accommodate 7,596 inmates.

With two major prison breaks in the last two years, it seems the government has few actionable plans to reduce overcrowding – something which considerably detracts from a safe-house’s security level.
A vast majority of these inmates are currently on trial, colloquially referred to as hawalati; their number stands at 5,100. There are 2,922 are convicted prisoners, excluding those on death row
He pointed out in Sialkot most prisoners were engaged in manufacturing of sports goods and were even paid minimum wages.

“There are banks inside the prison where inmates can open an account and deposit their earnings.”
He argued this was equally beneficial for prisoners as well as industrialists because prison is a cheap source of labour. “We should follow their example but it is not possible until the K-P government takes a decision.”
“There is a workshop for carpet weaving in Haripur but is hardly functional,” he added.
read more.


* Dismissed Turkish Workers at Punto Deri Continue to Struggle:

28 dismissed workers at Punto Deri, members of IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Deri-Is, have been picketing for more than three months for their fundamental rights.

Located at Istanbul’s famous leather zone Zeytinburnu, Punto Deri produces for may international brands suchs Burberry, ZAPA, Strenesse, Lacoste, Laurel, Armani, Beckham, Bijing Sheng, Denham the Jean Maker, Girgio Sam, Hugo Boss.

Deri-Is started its organizing campaign earlier this year since Punto workers were seeking to improve their working conditions since they faced with long working hours, low premiums, inability to fully use official holidays and non-payment of overtime works.

Three months ago majority of Punto workers joined Deri-Is, but the answer from the management was to dismiss pioneering union members even though they merely exercised their fundamental right to join a union which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the country as well as international conventions ratified by the Turkish Government.
read more.



map of Asia

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 25 November 2013,
Unless events require an extra edition.

Under ‘special reports’ you can find:
* TAZREEN Garment Factory Fire- 24 Nov 2012: one year overview of articles


* ILO, DOLE push emergency jobs program

* Minimum wage set to rise
* Garment exports to RoK surge nearly 50%
* Footwear export achieves high value
* TPP can strongly boost Vietnamese garment sector: VITAS

* Mass fainting at Kandal factory
* SL Workers Demand Representatives Reinstated
* Meas Sotha—The Man at the Center of the SL Factory Strike
* Exports Grow Despite Record Number of Strikes
* BetterFactories Media updates 15-22 November 2013

* Owners and workers reach consensus on RMG wages
* Apparel Labour Bodies demand upward wage adjustment
* Board fixes minimum wage for RMG workers at Tk 5,300
* Tk 5300 minimum wage for RMG workers fixed
* Minimum wage for garment workers at Tk 5,300
* It’s final: 77% hike in garment wage
* Rights groups demand enhanced minimum wage for RMG workers
* RMG minimum wage set at Tk5,300 with 5% of basic as yearly increment
* Bangladesh approves wage hike for garment factory workers
* Bangladesh garment factories reopen after unrest
* RMG workers join work in Ashulia
* RMG units in Ashulia, Konabari reopen after days of violence
* Labour leaders warned against RMG unrest
* RMG sector faces serious threat
* Retailers agree on BD safety standards
* American, European retailers agree on common standards
* Major Retailers Agree to Inspection Standards in Bangladesh
* Bangladesh Bank Governor calls for upgrading RMG sector
* Factory inspections start today, at last
* RMG factory inspection begins today
* RMG bldg safety inspection to begin Friday after major breakthru
* BD to push GSP, RMG in post-deal meeting
* Government to introduce genetically modified cotton
* Bangladesh BGCCI inks MoU for garment workers’ training
* GETCO to provide ERP software for textile, apparel industry
* Bangladesh Parliament passes Handloom Board Bill 2013
* Output fall, political chaos raise raw jute prices
* One year after Tazreen fire, the fight for justice continues
* Less than 200 euros compensation for Kalpona
* Tazreen one year on – factsheet
* Tazreen one year on – brand positions
* IndustriALL marks one year since Tazreen fire

* Trade unions demand steps to check price rise
* Textile experts to seek more trade with Pakistan
* Indian apparel exports zoom 30.9% in Oct

* ‘Pakistan needs to exploit textile value addition potential’
* Three-month gas suspension: textile sector unlikely to meet export orders
* Textile exports post paltry growth
* Canada to support Pakistan for GSP Plus status: Envoy
* PCGA reacts strongly to inflated cotton estimates
* Bursting at the seams: Out of house, home and prison cell

* Dismissed Turkish Workers at Punto Deri Continue to Struggle

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2