ASIA & GLOBAL
* H&M’s living wage roadmap needs concrete benchmarks:
Clean Clothes Campaign is disappointed that H&M’s newly announced Roadmap to a Fair Living Wage fails to clearly state a living wage benchmark, we believe without such a definition it is both impossible to create a ‘roadmap’ to achieving its payment and similarly impossible to measure the roadmap’s success.
However, Clean Clothes Campaign does welcome theas a positive step forward in the brand’s approach to the payment of a fair living wage with some clear goals and deadlines. We believe that a living wage is the cornerstone of decent work and therefore the payment of a living wage must be an inherent and inextricable core element of any truly sustainable corporate accountability framework.
H&M’s statement that in order to achieve a fair living wage they are willing to pay more to their suppliers marks an essential commitment at the heart of any wage improvement. It is also encouraging that H&M is committed to improving its purchasing practices to decrease overtime and will develop a tool to measure real wage development. However, we believe that if H&M is truly committed to paying a fair living wage to the people who make their clothes then this roadmap must go further.
Firstly a definition of what they acknowledge to be a fair living wage is needed.
We call on H&M to adopt as a benchmark for a living wage the Asia Floor Wage, in order to be able to work towards a decent wage for all those working in their supply chain in Asia.
H&M’s stated commitment to negotiate between factory management and workers is vital in achieving a living wage and is to be applauded.
However, this alone will not achieve ‘fair living wages’. The wages that are possible in negotiations at a factory level, when the starting position is a minimum wage of only a quarter or a sixth of a living wage, will never reach an actual living wage sufficient to feed and support a family.
By setting real benchmarks for a living wage, H&M can raise the bar for the industry. Global brands have the power and money, and this money and power is needed to turn things around for workers.
The importance of factory level negotiations is a key inclusion in the roadmap. However we feel H&M should go further in ensuring the inclusion and critical role of local unions.
* Living Wage conference – 25-26 November 2013:
The conference was convened by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and brought together business, international organisations, NGOs and trade unions.
Clean Clothes Campaign and our partners in the Asia Floor Wage and the Bangladesh National Garment Workers Federation were in attendance.
In line with the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights, the Declaration of Intent calls upon all stakeholders to “ show their commitment to realizing living wages in international supply chains.” It also provides a “shared understanding of the concept of a living wage and it’s importance.”
Ashim Roy from the Asia Floor Wage Alliance said on the conference “it is a good step forward in bringing a focus on the living wage which was absent from the discourse of the companies. It is positive that the Dutch and German [Governments] are endorsing this shift towards more concrete forms of implementing a living wage. However this will prove difficult and not go uncontested without operationalization of the living wage concept. We urge buyers to enter into dialogue and negotiation with representatives of unions at both the sourcing country level and the factory level”
* News Analysis: Wage-induced inflation to dim Asian economic outlook:
When Monetary Authority of Singapore projected early this week that the city-state’s full- year inflation will range from 2.5 percent to 3 percent, analysts unanimously forecast that inflation next year would edge higher mainly due to higher pass-on wage costs, a problem also likely to overshadow economic outlook of most Southeast Asian nations.
Singapore consumer price increased to 2 percent on-year in October, up from 1.6 percent in September, but research houses such as Bank of America-Merrill Lynch Research expected inflation rate to edge higher to 2.7 percent in 2014, as the full impact of wage costs will likely be felt next year.
With the labor market remaining tight and inflows of foreign workers slowing in the city state, few analysts believed inflation woe will be dissipated for Singaporeans any time soon.
The wage-induced inflation is not only faced by Singapore but also by other major Southeast Asian economies.
The recent reading from Malaysia saw consumer price creeping higher to 2.8 percent on-year in October from 2.6 percent in September. While the latest inflation reading was in line with expectations, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch also forecast Malaysia ‘s inflation rate to edge higher to 3.2 percent in 2014.
Like Singapore and Malaysia, the future inflation numbers of Indonesia and Thailand will see higher pass-on from wage cost next year, fueled mainly by their hike in minimum wages.
read more. & to read.
* Global cotton production declined in 2013-14 cotton year:
In the 2013-14 cotton year, estimated production of global cotton is 25.5 million tons, the lowest of the recently four years.
And estimated consumption amount of global cotton is 23.5 million tons. Cotton consumption transfers from China to other countries, such as India, Pakistan and Turkey.
Cotton production in the United States and in China over the previous quarter declined significantly, which due to the bad weather and a decline in cotton acreage. In the Southern Hemisphere , large-scale cotton cultivation will begin in this month, 270 million hectares of cotton, the same as the 2012-13 cotton year.
World cotton trade is expected to reach 8.5 million tons in the 2013-14 cotton year, compared with the previous quarter, about a less of one million tons, most due to China ‘s cotton import’s falling.
World cotton inventory is expected to reach 20.4 million tons, compared with the previous quarter, an increase of 2.0 million tons. Chinese government began to purchase cotton from September. The amount is expected to reach 100,000 tons at the end of September. In the 2013-14 cotton year, China ‘s cotton reserve is expected to reach 11.4 million tons , an increase of 2,000,000 tons over the previous quarter.
However, the world cotton inventory will grow by less than 20 tons, therefore, China will have almost 60% of world cotton inventory at the end of the 2013-14 cotton year.
15:06:08 local time CHINA
* H&M stops making angora products after rabbit torture video:
Swedish fashion giant H&M said Wednesday it would stop making clothing containing angora hair after an animal rights group released video showing fur being plucked from live rabbits on Chinese farms.
“We are halting production” of angora products, said H&M spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson Falk.
“We need to check to be sure if the producers are conforming to our standards,” she said, although angora products already in H&M stores would not be withdrawn.
* Chinese textile mills buy 7mn tons of cotton till October:
15:06:08 local time PHILIPPINES
* Japan donates $500,000 for emergency employment program in Visayas:
The Japanese government has donated $500,000 through the International Labor Organization (ILO) to help sustain the recovery of displaced workers through an emergency-employment program in typhoon-hit areas in the Visayas.
ILO Regional Director for Asia Pacific Yoshiteru Uramoto said the funds were donated by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to assist the ongoing emergency-assistance program of the ILO to affected workers in the Visayas.
The ILO said 5.2 million workers have lost their jobs and source of livelihood due to massive devastation wrought by Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) on November 8. Of this, 2.3 million are in the vulnerable employment sector, or those workers without regular salary, health and social insurance.
“The ILO estimates that some 5.2 million workers have seen their livelihoods destroyed or disrupted. Among these, 2.3 million were already in vulnerable employment and living in poverty before the typhoon struck. This funding will help ensure occupational safety and skills training for workers involved in recovery activities,” Uramoto said in a statement on Wednesday.
Please don’t make our workers victims twice,” Baldoz said. “Pay them the correct wages and ensure their safety and health.”
Reports also showed these private employers and non-governmental organizations pay workers way below the minimum wage, or P78 per day, or 30 percent of P260 daily wage rate in Eastern Visayas.
read more. & read more.
14:06:08 local time LAOS
* Ministry leaves minimum wage unchecke:
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare officials have admitted they have insufficient staff numbers to carry out inspections to ensure employers have increased their wages in line with labour laws.
The Federation of Trade Unions has made repeated calls for the ministry to more strictly enforce the country’s minimum wage.
Although the wage policy came into force almost two years ago on January 1, 2012, the federation claims many businesses have still not increased th eir pay rates accordingly.
Under the regulation, the minimum wage for an unskilled worker increased from 348,000 kip per month to 626,000 kip, excluding supporting allowances for good performance, social welfare, overtime and more. Many businesses have been found to combine worker entitlements with regular payments to reach the 626,000 kip minimum.
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Ms Onchanh Thammavong, pledged in September the ministry would work together with unions and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to inspect workplaces and take measures to punish those found breaching the law.
14:06:08 local time CAMBODIA
* Labor Minister Proposes Annual Wage Rise:
The government is considering raising the minimum wage for the country’s garment workers every year for the next five years, Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng said after a meeting Wednesday with manufacturers and unions on increasing the current monthly salary of $80.
Mr. Sam Heng presided over a meeting with the four technical working groups tasked with determining a new minimum wage for the 350,000-plus workers employed in the $4 billion garment industry. The wage is set to be raised in January, but no amount has yet been specified.
“We will build a report for raising the wage of the garment workers every year for five years during this government mandate,” Mr. Sam Heng said. “If economic inflation happens, we will discuss again.”
Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Council of National Unions—a coalition of government-aligned unions—praised Mr. Sam Heng’s proposal of a gradual increase each year over five years. He added that independent unions’ current demand that the wage be raised to $154 a month is unrealistic.
“The amount raised by the unions seem a bit high, and I don’t know if [the government] can do that,” Mr. Aun said.
* Labor Minister urges workers to remain calm as wage talks are underway:
Ith Samheng, Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, appealed to all workers and unions to remain calm and wait for the results of the wage talks.
The appeal came Wednesday after representatives from the government, factories and unions met to discuss wage increases for footwear and garment workers.
The talks was held just two days after four main unions threatened to hold nationwide rallies if the salaries of factory workers are not increased to at least $154 per month.
The results of talks, which took place at the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, hasn’t yet been announced because another meeting is scheduled for December 16.
“After this meeting, we will write a report and find different avenues to raise the salary for workers,” Samheng told reporters after the meeting.
“We do not oppose to the raise in minimum wage for workers, but I appeal to all workers to remain calm because the wage talks are underway,” he said.
* Cambodia to discuss 2014 pay rise for garment workers next month:
Cambodia’s labor ministry, garment manufacturers, and trade unions set to talk about the increase of 2014 minimum wage for garment workers next month, according to a press statement on Thursday.
“The talks will be held on Dec. 16,” the labor ministry said in a statement. “The ministry would like to call on all garment workers to keep calm in order to give possibilities to the tripartite committee to discuss the pay rise for 2014.”
Earlier this week, four trade unions demanded that the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) raise the minimum wage of workers to 154 U.S. dollars a month, or they threatens nationwide strikes.
“We are demanding an increase in the minimum wage to 154 U.S. dollars a month,” the unions said in a joint letter sent to GMAC’ s president Van Sou Ieng on Tuesday.
read more. & read more.
* SL to reinstate fired unionists:
The chief executive of SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) yesterday said the factory has agreed to reinstate 19 dismissed union leaders and activists, a sticking point which could end a strike that has lasted more than three months.
Hours after the Ministry of Labour announced the garment factory had agreed to rehire the workers, SL chief executive Wong Hon Ming confirmed by phone that the employees in question would be allowed to return to work.
The move came three days after SL rejected a government order – given the same week a strike involving workers in Meanchey district left one woman dead – to rehire the workers.
“The ball is now in the court of the union,” said Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia.
Labour Ministry secretary of state Sat Sakmoth told a Post reporter earlier in the day that SL had retracted its agreement to allow the 19 workers back, but his account could not be confirmed.
Ek Sopheakdey, secretary general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), which represents a large majority of SL’s workforce, last night said he was aware of the Labour Ministry’s announcement, but remained sceptical that SL would actually allow the 19 workers back.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* The hazards of youth:
About 10 per cent of Cambodian children aged between five and 17 are “child labourers” – undertaking work deemed unsuitable or illegal for them – while almost 240,000 children are working in hazardous conditions, a report released yesterday says.
The Cambodia Child Labour 2012 report, compiled by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), the Ministry of Planning and the International Labour Organisation, says the Kingdom has about 429,000 child labourers, 383,000 of whom live in rural areas.
According to the report, half of the total number of child labourers had either dropped out of school or never attended in the first place.
About 236,000 of those children were undertaking hazardous work, the majority of them in rural areas, it adds.
“Five of every nine child labourers were engaged in hazardous labour.”
“Eliminating child labour in Cambodia is one of the most urgent challenges of the government,” he says.
Despite some high-profile issues with underage workers in factories, incidents of child labour in garment factories are in the minority, the report says.
“That’s been the case for the past 10 years,” Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday.
read more. & read more.
* Strikers block national road in Bavet town:
Workers at a factory in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town blocked National Road 1 yesterday morning for about two hours over unmet demands raised during a protest that began two weeks ago.
The more than 1,000 workers of Ging Ko Cambodia Co Ltd blocked the road because the company had not agreed to continue to pay their wages during the protest, a union official said.
Toun Saren, labour dispute resolution officer of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that after the provincial governor intervened the protesters agreed to lift the blockade at 10am.
“The workers do not want the factory to cut their wages and bonuses during their protest,” he said.
Chheng Chhon, general secretary of the CUMW, who went to meet with the provincial governor, said the governor had urged a swift resolution to the dispute.
“The governor pushed the employer to solve [the dispute] for the workers, but I do not know if they are willing to do this,” he said.
15:06:08 local time INDONESIA
* Protests Over Minimum Wage Rage On:
Thousands of workers rallied outside City Hall on Thursday as they once again protested against the Jakarta administration’s decision to ignore their demands for a higher minimum wage.
The protest, joined by some 13,000 workers across the Greater Jakarta area, followed a series of demonstrations in recent months by workers who demanded that Governor Joko Widodo and Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama raise the 2014 provincial monthly minimum wage to Rp 3.7 million ($325).
In Thursday’s protests, workers raised up to seven demands to the Jakarta administration, including revisions to the 2014 minimum wage for the Greater Jakarta Area, Karawang, Serang, Cilegon, Bandung, East Java, Batam and other industrial areas to between Rp 2.6 million and Rp 3 million, from the current figures of Rp 2.4 million in Jakarta and less elsewhere.
“The second one is to implement a minimum wage by sector in every region, with an increase of up to 15 to 30 percent from the revised minimum wage,” said Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions (KSPI) chairman Said Iqbal.
* Preparing For Scenario To Save Industry:
Manufacture industry is now worrying about the uncertainty of domestic economy. One of the factors is tight money policy by Bank Indonesia through the setting of BI Rate which is quite high at 7.5%.
Since June 2013, BI has increased the rate for five times from 5.75% into 7.5% intending to slow down demand for loan, particularly related to import. Through such policy, it is expected current account deficit can be minimized so that negative sentiments from the market die down.
The most susceptible industries to dismissal issue are labor-intensive sectors such as textile, footwear, and electronic.
Moreover these industries will soon be hit hard early next year related to the increase in minimum wage which is quite high. At the same time, they still face lots of problems such as illegal levy, inefficiency in transportation and logistics, the rampant smuggled goods which distorts the market, and high dependence on imported raw material.
* China is Uninterested to Cooperate With Local Companies:
China investors who are interested in Indonesia textile industry is prefer to invest alone without cooperate with local partner to focus on increasing profit.
13:06:08 local time BANGLADESH
* Gazipur RMG unit torched over rumour of two workers’ death:
Readymade garment (RMG) workers set fire to an RMG factory at Konabari in the city on Thursday night following a rumour over death of their two fellows in a clash with police.
Quoting locals, police said a group of workers were holding a rally in Jarun area near the Standard Garment Factory over their scores of demand at 11:30 pm.
Being informed, police went to the rally venue and fired several rounds of bullet and lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, triggering a clash.
As a rumour spread that two of their fellows died in the clash, the demonstrating garment workers flew into rage and swooped on the Standard Garment Factory and set the factory afire at about 11:30 am on its ground floor where there were stored packaging materials.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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* Fire at Gazipur factory on:
One building gutted, fire fighters fail to tame flames in another 9 hours after workers set fire over a rumour
Fire service were trying to douse flames in a factory at Konabari, Gazipur after workers set it on fire Thursday night over rumours that a fellow worker was killed by police.
Twenty two Fire Service and Civil Defence units from Dhaka, Tongi and Gazipur could not tame flames in nine hours until 9am Friday, fire fighters said.
An eight-storied building was completely gutted. Fire fighters were trying to douse flames of an adjacent 10-storied building.
Workers engaged in an altercation with police near factory premises around 11pm Thursday, Standard Garments Manager Mushfiqur Rahman said.
The altercation led to a clash and police lobbed some teargas shells to break the chaos, he said.
During this time, someone made an announcement from a loudspeaker in an adjacent mosque that a worker died from police firing, he said.
* Fire at 2 RMG factories in Gazipur:
Fire broke out at two readymade garment factories at Sreepur and Sadar upazila on Thursday evening.
Witness said fire broke out at Moni Fashions of Sreepur around 6:00pm. Some sources said agitating workers set the fire after vandalism as part of their movement.
Maona police station officer-in-charge Sanuar Hossian said the situation is now under control.
* Fire engulfs another garment factory in Gazipur:
A fire broke out from the packaging unit of a factory belonging to the Standard Group in Konabari, Gazipur at 12:00AM when the clock just entered 29 November 2013.
At least two hundred fire fighters from more than fourteen fire fighting units from different locations of the Tongi, Savar and other surrounding areas are at work to try and douse the fire which is still spreading across the different floors of the factory and also its adjacent buildings.
Although the cause of the fire is still unclear, agitated workers are being blamed for the incident by factory owners. Apart from the factory fire, nearby cars have also been crushed and torched by agitated workers in their protest against the minimum wage which has recently been added by the anger caused due to an alleged killing incident of a worker of Standard Group factory by Industrial Police gunfire. Worker’s later also tried to block to way for fire fighters to come to the building to douse the fire, which caused some delay for the units to start their work at the spot.
Since the beginning of the minimum wage protests 2013, Standard Group workers from Konabari, Gazipur have been in the forefront, demanding at least 8000BDT as a minimum wage with proportionate increase in the salaries of the other grades. Although most of the major and smaller worker federations have sidelined themselves from these protests after their meeting with BGMEA and press conference later, ordinary workers from factories across the country have been increasingly restless in forcing forward their demands which they feel is crucial for their basic survival. It must also be noted that worker federations barely represent less than 1% or workers in an industry of more than 4 million workers and even more indirectly related to the garment sector in Bangladesh.
UPDATED 17h -local time:
* Gazipur RMG unit torched over rumour of 2 workers’ death:
Readymade garment (RMG) workers set fire to a RMG factory at Konabari in Gazipur Thursday night following a rumour over death of their two fellows in a clash with police.
Quoting locals, police said a group of workers were holding a rally in Jarun area near the Standard Garment Factory over their scores of demand at 11:30pm.
Being informed, police went to the rally venue and fired several rounds of bullet and lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, triggering a clash.
As a rumour spread that two of their fellows died in the clash, the demonstrating garment workers flew into rage and swooped on the Standard Garment Factory and set the factory afire around 11:30pm on its ground floor, where packaging materials were stored.
The blaze in a moment spread to other floors of the 10-storey building.
They also vandalised 20 vehicles parked inside the factory.
On information, 13 firefighting units reached the area but the workers barred them from entering the factory premises.
Authorities of the factory claimed that the fire burnt valuables worth Tk 5,000 crore.
However, no causality was reported as there were no employees inside at that time.
The fire could not be tamed as of filing this report at 8:30am.
* RMG unit torched at Gazipur:
A group of miscreants set fire to a 10-storeyed readymade garment factory of Standard Group at Konabari area of Gazipur in early hours of today.
They also set fire to adjacent five more buildings and 18 covered vans including seven loaded vans with export goods parked inside the factory, police said.
An official of Fire Service in Gazipur Abu Zafar Ahmed said, “Each building was set on fire separately.”
“Fire was set in every floor but it spread very quickly from the 3rd floor,” he added.
They also set fire to the ground floor of another building beside the factory where chemical goods were stored, he said.
* Fire at Gazipur RMG unit under control:
The fire at the readymade garment (RMG) factory at Konabari in the city which RMG workers set ablaze on Thursday night was brought under control on Friday.
Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze after 12 hours of efforts at 11:00 am on Friday.
A group of RMG workers set fire to the factory following a rumour over death of their two fellows in a clash with police.
Quoting locals, police said the workers were holding a rally in Jarun area near the Standard Garment Factory over their scores of demand at 11:30 pm on Thursday.
Being informed, police went to the rally venue and fired several rounds of bullet and lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, triggering a clash.
As a rumour spread that two of their fellows died in the clash, the garment workers flew into rage and swooped on the Standard Garment Factory and set the factory afire at about 11:30 am on its ground floor where there were stored packaging materials.
read more. & read more.
* Arson blamed for huge Bangladesh garment factory fire:
Arson is being blamed for a huge fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh which makes clothes for Western brands, fire and police authorities say.
The fire gutted a 10-storey building at Gazipur, 40km (25 miles) from Dhaka.
Firemen are battling to extinguish flames in four adjacent buildings.
Police say that the fire follows protests by garment workers to demand higher wages and better conditions. A garment factory collapse in April killed more than 1,100 people.
No-one was reported injured in Friday’s fire.
A Reuters photographer at the Standard Group garment factory said that burnt garments were strewn at the scene bearing brand names from US and other international retailers.
Officials say that the factory was one of the biggest in the country and as many as 18,000 people worked there.
At least 15 trucks carrying garments were also reported to have been set on fire.
* Huge Bangladesh fire destroys key garments factory:
A huge fire on Friday destroyed a Bangladesh garment factory supplying key Western brands, authorities said, in a blaze touched off by workers angered over rumors of a colleague’s death in police firing.
Garments are a vital sector for the South Asian nation, whose low wages and duty-free access to Western markets have helped make it the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China. But a series of deadly incidents, including an April building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, has triggered global concern over weak safety standards in the $22-billion garment industry.
There were no initial reports of casualties in Friday’s fire, which gutted a ten-storey building at Gazipur, 40 km (25 miles) from the capital, Dhaka. Fire fighters were battling to put out the fire in four adjacent buildings.
“We are still struggling to control the flames,” said fire official Mahbubur Rahman, adding that 22 fire service and civil defense units from Dhaka and nearby areas were scrambled to fight the fire.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said burnt garments strewn on the floors bore brand names from U.S. retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc, Gap Inc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Other brands on the clothes included Li and Fung Ltd, Marks and Spencer Group PLC, Sears Canada Inc, Fast Retailing Co Ltd’s Uniqlo and Inditex S.A. brand Zara.
The factory was among the ten biggest in the country, said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of industry body the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
With the factory destroyed, workers there stood to lose their jobs, he added. “Now all the workers are at risk of becoming jobless,” he said.
As many as 18,000 people worked at the factory, its owner, Mosharraf Hossain, told Reuters. But they had left the building by 11 p.m., shortly before the fire started.
————- UPDATED 00.30h 30 november 2013 (loc.time)————-:
20131130 * Fire destroys large RMG unit in Gazipur:
A devastating fire gutted a large quantity of products and machinery at a multi-storey readymade garment (RMG) factory at Konabari in Gazipur, as violent workers allegedly set the unit ablaze early Friday.
Fire-fighters managed to extinguish the blaze Friday noon after 12 hours of frantic efforts.
Police said a group of RMG workers set fire to the factory following a rumour over death of their two fellows in a clash with police. The blaze in a moment spread to other floors of the 10-storey building. They also vandalised 20 vehicles parked inside the factory.
On information, 13 fire-fighting units reached the area, but the workers barred them from entering the factory premises.The factory official claimed that the fire burnt valuables worth Tk 8.0 billion. However, no official estimate of the loss was immediately available.
No causality was reported, as there was no employee inside the unit at that time.
20131130 * Workers set RMG factories on fire:
Rumour of 2 workers’ death in police action prompts attack; 13 lorries loaded with export items torched
Enraged by a rumour that police killed two factory staff, garment workers torched six units of an apparel maker of repute in Konabari of Gazipur early yesterday causing a massive damage worth hundreds of crore taka.
Witnesses said in the wee hours of yesterday, some people announced through the megaphones of a nearby mosque that police had killed two workers in the Standard Group factory for demanding a separate pay structure for the employees in the group’s jumper factory.
Hearing the announcement, at least 200 workers of Standard Group along with some non-workers stormed and torched the company’s three multi-storied buildings, brushing aside the policemen on duty at the gates.
The workers also torched 13 lorries parked inside the compound that were loaded with goods waiting for shipment.
Firefighters around 1:30pm yesterday were able to douse the flames in the three buildings that housed six factories, said Akteruzzaman Liton, a deputy assistant director of Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Locals and workers claimed that at least 20 workers were injured in the incident but police denied the allegation.
20131130 * RMG unit burnt over worker’s death rumour:
A group of miscreants set fire to a multi-storey industrial unit of the Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur on Thursday night, damaging the property that suspended the factory operation.
No casualties, however, were reported as 27,000 people working there had left eight-storey building before it had been set on fire.
Fire fighters took more than 15 hours to contain the flames, which burnt fabrics and machines, furniture and at least 23 vehicles, including 18 covered vans laden with finished products.
The authorities declared the building risky after the fire and stopped people from entering the building.
Witnesses said that some workers had gone on demonstrations about their wage increase on Thursday morning and they again gathered at night after the factory had stopped its operation about 10:00pm.
Mushfikur Rahman, a manager of the factory, said that ‘some workers’ had gathered in front of the factory about 11:00pm, picked up a quarrel with the police and started pelting the factory with stones.
The police forced people out of the factory area and fired rubber bullets. A man named Rashedul was injured.
Mustafizur Rahman, additional superintendent of police (Gazipur south), confirmed that what was announced on the PA system was a rumour and alleged that some miscreants had set the factory on fire in a planned manner.
The police were preparing to file case in this connection.
Insiders termed the incident part of an international conspiracy to destroy the Bangladesh apparel sector.
The Standard Group, the second largest company in the country’s apparel sector, supplied products to GAP, ZARA, KOHL’s, American Eagle outfitters, Tommy Hilfiger, Sears and Gymboree, among others, international clients.
The apparel factory owners also blamed the government for its failure to stop such conspiracies.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president, Atiqul Islam, said that such acts of sabotage had puzzled the entrepreneurs.
Many owners expressed their disappointment and said that they would reconsider whether they would run their business in such a situation.
20131130 * Sabotage! Gazipur RMG building turned into inferno after arson attack: Loss over Tk. 900 crore:
The firefighters were able to douse flames of the factory complex of Standard Group nearly after 12 hours of frantic efforts.
Miscreants set fire to two buildings of the factory complex located at Konabari in Gazipur district on Thursday night (11.30pm) following rumours that a fellow worker had been killed by police firing.
They also burnt 31 covered vans of the company. Of them, 18 were loaded with export consignments.
Standard Group is one of the largest apparel manufacturing companies in the country having over 40,000 full-time employees.
Claming the incident as an act of ‘sabotage’, the factory authorities, however, held the outsiders responsible for the arson.
They said both the buildings’a six storeyed and another 10-storeyed’ were fully gutted in the blaze causing losses worth Tk 900 crore.
But they did not report of any causality in the incident.
20131130 * RMG factory torched in Gazipur:
Following a rumour of the deaths of two fellow employees, workers set fire to three buildings of Standard Group garment factory in Konabari industrial area of Gazipur in the early hours of on Friday.
It took over 13 hours for fire fighters to tame the flames.
Earlier, workers of some adjacent sweater factories held a rally in front of Standard Group on Thursday afternoon demanding a wage hike. They called upon Standard Group workers to take part in the rally.
At one stage the agitated workers began to throw brick chips at the factory. Police rushed to the spot and drove them away by firing rubber bullets and teargas, local people who witnessed the incident told this reporter.
Later at night, the agitated workers returned in front of the factory and when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them they locked in clashes with police, they said.
* Int’l conf on living wages held in Berlin:
A tripartite delegation from Bangladesh, composed of 11 members from the government, business associations and trade unions, took part in the ‘European Conference on Living Wages’ in Berlin, Germany.
The conference was jointly organised by the governments of Germany and the Netherlands held on November 25-26, said a media release issued on Thursday.
President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Atiqul Islam and a senior official from the Ministry of Planning Hedayetullah Al Mamoon led the Bangladesh delegation.
read more. & to read.
* US GSP review in Dec unlikely:
The US is unlikely to review Bangladesh’s plea of reinstating the duty-free benefit to certain products next month because of the recently inked TICFA that has hampered the preparation process of review.
Commerce secretary Mahbubur Rahman told reporters on Thursday that the review might be delayed till next March.
Necessary papers in this connection would not be prepared by the next month, he said.
Mahbubur returned home in the morning after signing the controversial Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement in the US. He said the preparation process of the GSP review was hampered for signing the TICFA.
* GSP review may defer until March next:
‘They are satisfied with the progress of Bangladesh labour standard, but it does not mean that Bangladeshi exporters would regain the GSP facilities’
The review on regaining the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for the local exporters might be deferred until March next from December due to delay of review by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
“We have got the hints after the meeting with the USTR officials in Washington while signing Ticfa,” Commerce Secretary Mahbud Ahmed said on Thursday, after returning to Dhaka from the US visit.
He said the US government suspended the GSP facilities of least development countries for review.
“We also discussed with the USTR officials about the efforts Bangladesh made to improve the working conditions in the readymade garment factories.”
12:36:08 local time INDIA
* Cotton prices unlikely to fall below support levels despite pressure:
Cotton prices are likely to come under pressure but they may not drop below the minimum support price fixed by the Government this year.
“Currently, Shankar-6 is quoting at Rs 39,000-40,000 for a candy of 356 kg. Prices may drop another Rs 1,000 but not more than that,” said Anand K. Poppat of Saurashtra Ginners Association.
The Shankar-6 variety is the one in demand for exports.
“Prices will come under pressure once arrivals pick up, given the sluggish buying activity now. But farmers are smart enough not to allow a further fall in prices,” said A. Ramani, a cotton trade analyst.
A major reason why prices will not fall below the support level is that farmers are likely to hold back their produce as they have the financial power, said Poppat and Ramani.
12:36:08 local time SRI LANKA
* No relief to battle high cost of living:
After Budget 2014 was presented to Parliament on 21 November, the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa came under severe criticism, particularly from trade unions, including those affiliated to the government.
Trade unions representing transport, education as well health sectors highlighted the gap between their issues and the reliefs provided in Budget 2014.
Convener of the Joint Trade Union Alliance (JTUA) of Railway Employees, Janaka Fernando, said the government has not given any salary increments to public sector employees, but what has been given is only an allowance.
“The allowance proposed in the Budget is not enough to cover the increasing cost of living,” he stressed.
Convener of the Coordinating Committee for Trade Unions, Wasantha Samarasinghe, said they demanded Rs 10,000 salary increment in Budget 2014, but the government has provided only Rs 1,200 allowance to State employees.
* Sri Lankan court issues notice on controversial glove maker and government agencies over water pollution charges:
A Sri Lankan court today issued notice on the Central Environmental Authority (CEA), the Board of Investment (BOI) and the controversial glove maker Venigros (Pvt) Limited over allegations of water pollution by the company in the Rathupaswala area of Gampaha district.
The Appellate Court issued the notice when it took up a writ application filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) and a representative of a movement called Siyane Jalaya Surakeeme Jana Neguma (SJSJN) alleging the company of polluting the ground water in the area.
The CEJ and SJSJN are seeking a writ of mandamus compelling the CEA and the BOI to bring justice to the residents of Rathupaswala.
12:06:08 local time UZBEKISTAN
* International Labour Organization: child labor in Uzbekistan is infrequent and not systematic:
International Labour Organization (ILO) monitors have made preliminary conclusions about the use of child labor in Uzbekistan – there was no systematic use of child labor.
The ILO press service announced that the monitors will issue a report about their observation mission in Uzbekistan by the end of the year. The ILO body examining the application of ratified Conventions by the member countries is the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), which will make the final determination of child labor violations in Uzbekistan.
However the ILO’s press service has already said that no serious violations have been uncovered during the monitoring phase in the fall.
Sporadic use of child labor
The ILO’s press secretary Hans von Rohland told Uznews.net that the monitors observed the general awareness in the country that it is illegal to force children younger than 18 year old to work.
“Moreover, the monitors have concluded that there was no systematic use of child labor this year,” says von Rohland.
He did elaborate that some work still remains in order to bridge the gap between the country’s obligations under the child labor convention and the reality of sporadically using child labor in the cotton industry.
The ILO was fooled
Human rights activists however disagree with ILO’s findings. A number of human rights organizations comprising the Cotton Campaign that fights to end forced labor by children and adults in Uzbekistan issued their own findings which are quite different from the ones made by the ILO experts.