ASIA & GLOBAL
* Living wage conference calls for action:
Freedom of association and collective bargaining are prerequisites for a living wage. Building the commitment of governments, business, trade unions and other civil society organisations to work jointly towards living wages in international supply chains was discussed at the European Conference on Living Wages in November.
The conference, sponsored by the German and Dutch governments, took place in Berlin from 25-26 November. It brought together representatives from trade unions, multistakeholder initiatives, NGOs, governments and, crucially, brands and retailers that source from countries where wages fall far below a living wage.
A large contingent from Bangladesh included representatives of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the garment employers’ organization BGMEA and government. Their focus was on the responsibility of brands sourcing from Bangladesh to ensure fair pricing to enable factories to pay a living wage.
The discussions emphasized the need for collective action. In particular, brands need to work together to use their purchasing practices to ensure that living wages are paid in those factories from which they jointly source. Many participants referred to the Bangladesh Accord, signed by IndustriALL Global Union, UNI and more than 100 global brands, as an example of what is possible and a model for living wage initiatives.
00:42:18 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Setting up a minimum wage needs consideration:
The Ministry of Labour said it will cooperate with foreign experts, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), to set up an official minimum wage for workers in Myanmar. Currently, the ministry is conducting research with experts from the ILO to assess everyday costs of living and the current income per worker.
However, having a minimum wage doesn’t mean everything is dealt with, especially in developing countries. Economist Richard B Freeman writes that the main objective for setting up an official minimum wage is not to cut jobs but to share income with workers who have low incomes.
There may be different views over the issue. The optimists say income sharing through a minimum wage is good for workers with lower income. Pessimists say employers may cut jobs as a result of it to reduce costs. Those who lose jobs as a result may find their lives worse off than before.
00:12:18 local time BANGLADESH
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.
(these above articles-items were already to read in an updated bulletin
29 November 2013)
20131130 * BGMEA demands judicial probe into Standard Group factory fire:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Saturday demanded judicial probe into the arson attack on a readymade garment (RMG) factory of Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur industrial belt.
Addressing a press conference at BGMEA Bhaban, BGMEA leaders and the management of Standard Group accused the law enforcers of their failure in this connection.
The incident involved 200-250 outsiders who arrived at the factory gate in trucks, and the local people were instigated to take part in the attack by spreading rumours through the mike of the adjacent mosque, said Standard Group managing director Mosharraf Hossain.
read more. & read more. & to read.
20131130 * BGMEA: Trained goons attack Standard Group factory:
BGMEA leaders on Saturday claimed that the attack on Standard Group factory in Gazipur was pre-planned and perpetrated by trained goons.
The apparel makers’ trade body made the statement at a press conference on Saturday.
“The culprits set fire to the key spots pointed out in the factory‘s layout plan. They broke the lockers where cash money was kept in and took it,” said Mosharraf Hussain, owner and managing director of Standard Group.
read more. & to read.
20131201 * BGMEA, owners demand exemplary punishment:
The apparel factory owners’ association on Saturday demanded an exemplary punishment of the people responsible for the fire that took place in the multi-storey industrial unit of the Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur on Thursday night.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president, Atiqul Islam, at a news briefing at the BGMEA office, said that a vested interest group was working to destroy the apparel sector with the use of rumours.
He also demanded a separate law for the apparel sector. ‘Such incidents are committed one after another as the government is not sincere about punishing the people responsible.’
He said that the conspirators were busy thwarting the economic growth of the country.
20131201 * Probe into arson attack on RMG factory demanded:
Standard Group claims losses stand at Tk 12b
Owners of the Standard Group demanded a high-powered committee to identify the culprits who were behind the latest arson attack that cost at least Tk 12 billion (1,200 crore) to the country’s leading apparel maker.
The arson attack was launched on an apparel factory of the Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur Friday.
Terming the fire incident an act of sabotage, the factory management raised five questions to solve the mystery behind the arson attack.
The questions are: Who attacked the main factory gate after 10:30pm Thursday? Who instigated the workers on a loudspeaker to launch the attack? Who barred the firefighters from entering the factory compound? Who torched the factories pouring petrol/diesel at key points on each floor of the nine-storey building? And who will take responsibility of the loan money of Tk 4.0 billion that the group collected from banks against letters of credit (L/Cs)?
20131201 * Attack on RMGs part of conspiracy:
Weeping owners want judicial probe
The leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Saturday demanded judicial probe into the arson attack on the factory complex of Standard Group at Konabari in Gazipur industrial belt.
Addressing a press conference at BGMEA Bhaban in the city, BGMEA leaders and the management of Standard Group accused the law enforcers of their failure in this connection.
“The government must take immediate steps to ensure exemplary punishment to those involved in the crime like arson attack,” said BGMEA President Atiqul Islam at the press conference.
Atiqul also said, the international and the local conspirators are desperate to destroy the RMG industry and the Thursday night incident might be a part of that.
“There was another attempt to set fire to the Standard Group factory in November,” he noted. “The main aim of the conspirators is to break the backbone of the country’s economy,” he said adding, “We appeal to the government, the political parties and the civil society to save the garment industry and we urge the law enforcement to identify the culprits and take actions against them. If needed, a new law may be made to punish the destroyers of the economy, he said.
20131201 * Arson attack on RMG factory raises unpleasant questions:
The fire set allegedly by a group of workers to a multi-storey apparel factory of the Standard Group, the second largest company in the sector, at Konabari in Gazipur Thursday night, which not only burnt everything like fabrics, machines, furniture in the building to ashes but also caused the relevant authorities to declare the building risky, is by any definition a criminal act.
As New Age reported on Saturday, the miscreants also set ablaze at least 23 vehicles, including 18 covered vans laden with finished products, parked inside the factory compound.
Moreover, they reportedly put up obstructions on the way to the factory preventing fire fighters from reaching the area in time. However, taking note of the incidents that preceded the arson attack, one has reasons to believe there may be more than meets the eye.
As witnesses pointed out, some workers demanding wage hike staged demonstrations Thursday morning and again gathered at night in front of the factory that had already stopped operation.
Besides, they picked up a quarrel with the police deployed there to maintain law and order and pelted stones at the factory causing the latter to fire rubber bullets to force them out of the place, an incident that left a worker injured.
At one point, some people announced on the PA system of a nearby mosque that the worker had been killed due to the police firing which ended up engaging the agitated workers, along with some local goons, in the mayhem.
20131201 * Standard Group fire was ‘planned’:
Labour leaders blame arson on outsiders, jobless workers
The fire at Standard Group was a “planned incident” orchestrated by people who want to destroy the country’s apparel sector, leaders of several garment workers’ associations said yesterday.
Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh Jatiya Garments Sramik Karmachari League, said the factory is “one of the most compliant” in the country, with “no signs” of worker unrest.
“It is the outsiders and jobless workers in association with local people who led the mob. We also suspect the involvement of unregistered workers’ association.”
Rony, who was also a member of the wage board, said the workers have no right to set factories on fire or vandalise irrespective of their issues with the owners.
20131201 * Fire at Konabari apparel factory:
Citizens are now going through a tough time marked by widespread violence and uncertainty over poll-time government.
They are, in fact, tension-gripped and deeply worried by the chain of events that have already claimed a number of innocent lives and taken a heavy toll on the economy. In such a situation the incident involving the destruction of six units of a giant garment factory, belonging to the Standard Group, in a devastating fire allegedly set by outsides only heightens their anxieties.
Enraged by a rumour that the police had killed two factory employees, workers set the factory located at Konabari in Gazipur on fire on the early hours of Thursday last. It took more than 16 hours on the part of 15 units of the Fire Brigade to bring the fire under control.
But in the meanwhile, goods, machineries, equipment, documents and other valuables kept in all the nine floors of the apparel factory were burnt to ashes. The agitated workers turned so ferocious that they also torched 13 covered vans loaded with export items.
30131201 * Ominous sign:
The sights are raw and unthinkable. Over a million square feet of factory space lay charred. Truck after truck of brand apparels just to be exported turned to ashes.
The sights also send out a chilling anxiety over the future of not only the country’s booming garment sector but also the total industrial activities.
Just consider these points — Standard Group’s is the largest single garment factory of the country. It operated in the most ethical way with full compliance, it treated its workers ethically and it paid its workers dot on time. It can be termed as the jewel of the crown for Bangladesh. That jewel is now a smouldering heap.
This criminal act took place at a critical time for Bangladesh garment when it is seeing a fall in exports and orders. Take the last two months’ figures of which are available. From $2 billion exports in September, it came down to $1.6 billion in October. Orders from March next year have slumped because buyers are already worried about the long-drawn political violence in Bangladesh. In fact, if buyers had a ready option, they would have shifted much earlier.
The way the arson on the Standard factories was carried out needs to be very seriously considered. The criminals had spread rumours of workers being killed over the adjacent mosque’s microphone. They had blocked all the roads to the factories with tree trunks so that neither police nor fire fighters could reach there. And then they mercilessly torched the factories.
This all indicates a preplanned attack, not just a spur of the moment decision.
In our view, a few factors have led to such mindless acts.
Let’s check them back.
20131201 * Dream left in ashes:
Only two days ago, he was an employer of 19,000 workers at his apparel factory complex in Gazipur.
But a single mindless act of sabotage has taken Mosharraf Hussain, owner and managing director of Standard Group, to the brink of bankruptcy overnight.
Early Friday, some outsiders burnt valuables worth Tk 1,200 crore of his factory — a nine-storey and a six-storey unit — in Konabari to ashes.
“I am a beggar now,” said the 69-year-old as he lost control over his emotions during a press briefing at the BGMEA headquarters in the capital yesterday, nearly 40 hours after the incident.
Mosharraf gave vivid details of the incident, which came as a massive blow to the country’s already-under-pressure $20 billion garment industry.
UPDATE 13.30H (loc.time):
* Gazipur factory fire hits livelihood of RMG workers:
With their only source of income burnt to ashes, they see an uncertain future ahead
Ranjhana, 28, who is currently seven months pregnant, was left distraught on Friday as some unruly workers set fire to her workplace, a Standard Group garment factory in Konabari industrial area of Gazipur.
She had been working with the garment factory for over 10 years, but now, her livelihood and the future of her children is in tatters following Friday’s fire.
“The owner of the factory had promised me a special allowance for my coming children and I was waiting for that, but…” she could not complete the sentence while talking to the Dhaka Tribune as she was weeping.
Another worker, Melal Hossain, who was working at the factory as a quality inspector, said: “I have considered the workplace as my family. Now, after the fire broke out, we are left in dire conditions.”
Melal’s wife was also working at the same factory thus the couple’s livelihood is now in serious crisis.
Like Melal and Ranjhana there were several hundreds of workers who depended solely on the wage from this factory. With their only source of income burnt to ashes, they see an uncertain future ahead.
Almost all the workers at the Standard Group were seen waiting outside the factory building for the whole day on Saturday with blank looks in their eyes.
* RMG fires need to be investigated:
Garment factory fires have been occurring in Bangladesh with alarming frequency, and more often than not, the root cause remains unexplained
Workers allegedly set fire to three buildings of an RMG factory on Saturday following rumours of the death of two fellow employees. Reports indicate that a 10-story building and two six-storey buildings were completely destroyed as the fire raged on for over 13 hours. The total damage cannot yet be estimated.
Garment factory fires have been occurring in Bangladesh with alarming frequency, and more often than not, the root cause remains unexplained.
The BGMEA has called the latest fire at Standard Group an act of sabotage and has pointed at workers and trade unions as being groups with an interest in torching the factory.
As such incidents have become commonplace in Bangladesh, we urge the government to conduct proper investigations to get to the bottom of these crimes. Rumours abound as to the actual reasons behind the arson attacks, but in the case of fires that were deliberate and not accidents, the criminality behind the actions must be made transparent.
* Arson: foul play of outsiders:
Local influential people played key role
Friday’s fire at Standard Group’s factory complex in Gazipur was a clear case of arson by workers from neighbouring factories and some influential locals.
It all started on November 13, when a meeting was held at Baluchar, a neighbourhood near the factory, on how to organise demonstrations for higher wages.
The workers of Standard Group, one of the most compliant companies, stayed away from the meeting. More importantly, it was the only company at Konabari, Gazipur, that continued production during the wave of labour unrest which swept the garment industrial zones on the outskirts of Dhaka city.
It was a demonstration of confidence in their employer on the part of the Standard Group workers, but the workers of nearby factories — and some influential people of the locality – looked upon it as a breach of worker solidarity. It was unclear, though, why influential sections of people of Konabari got involved in the matter concerning the garment workers of the area.
They even put pressure on the Standard Group workers to join them in their act of rebellion, but in vain. Incensed, they beat up some workers of the Standard Group, just outside the factory premises.
In retaliation, the following day some angry workers of the Standard Group vandalised a number of shops owned by the meddling local influential people opposite the factory.
“That was the beginning of all our troubles. You could say a war broke out after the incident,” Rakibul Hassan, a pattern master at the Standard Group, told The Daily Star. Hassan is one of the 18 that The Daily Star spoke to at length to get to the roots of the matter.
* Standard garment factory attack pre-planned?:
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has blamed the law enforcement agencies and the government for their failure and unwillingness to prevent the recent wave of subversive activities against the sector, including Friday’s arson attack on the garment factories of Standard Group in Gazipur.
The apparel makers’ trade body made the comments on Saturday at a press conference held in the wake of the incident, which it alleged was carried out by a group of unruly workers and people with an interest in damaging the sector.
“The government has to ensure security so we can run our factories,” said BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, who demanded new laws to bring the criminals involved in all such incidents to book.
“If the government could have taken punitive actions against the masterminds behind all these incidents, there would have been no recurrence of such sabotage,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of RMG owners has blamed India for the recent violence in the country’s apparel industry. They said India wants to grab our market share by destabilising the sector through creating anarchy through their agents. They also argued that there were no incidents in the RMG factories owned by Indian citizens.
“Is there any law or justice in this country? If there is, I want justice and punishment to come to those who shattered my dreams by torching my factories,” said Mosharraf Hussain, owner and managing director of the Standard Group.
GMS Composite Knitting Industries Ltd has clarified that a rumour of assault on a female worker triggered the November 18 violence in the factory area in Gazipur.
In a statement, the GMS authorities said the claim that a factory official allegedly beat up a female worker of the sewing section was not true.
“The real fact was that some miscreants intentionally created a rumour that one female worker had been beaten by a production manager,” said the company in response to reports published in several news media.
UPDATE 21.30h (loc.time):
20131201 * BGMEA demands arrest of Gazipur arsonists:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) today demanded arrest of culprits, who torched six units of Standard Group in Gazipur, within seven days.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam said this while addressing a press briefing at his office in Karwan Bazar of the capital.
Garment workers torched six units of Standard Group in Konabari of Gazipur Friday, causing a massive damage worth hundreds of crore taka.
20131201 * Compliant factories are the targets now:
Garments factory units are being attacked one after another. Most of these violent attacks are instigating from rumours or insignificant incidents. Most of the time it is compliant factory units are being targeted. Recently Standard Group and Mondol Group have been the target of such attacks.
What befuddles the mind is that these companies are some of the largest RMG factories in the country. They operated with full compliance- paid wages on time, treated workers ethically and fairly and abided by all factory and labour rules and regulations. So why were these factories targeted?
Sources at BGMEA said after every such incidence a number of probe committees are formed but their reports rarely see the light of day. The main culprits go unpunished almost always which is why such incidents of sabotage are on the rise. They told Ittefaq both national and international groups are masterminding these incidents.
Data obtained from BGMEA showed that almost all the factories attacked in the last couple of months- Opex group, Sharmeen Group. Ha-meem Group, Bandu Design, Sterling, Anonta, Knit Asia, DBL, GMS etc are all well known for operating under full compliance.
20131201 * Businesses seek security; urge 2 top leaders to stop violence:
7-day ultimatum to arrest culprits involved in Standard Group arson
Top business leaders on Sunday sent out a strong message for two top leaders — Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia — and urged them to stop violence immediately giving space for smooth functioning of the country’s economy.
“We can’t be helpless witnesses to the gradual destruction of the sector (RMG). You (Hasina-Khaleda) can do politically whatever you like, but nobody has the right to destroy the RMG sector. The RMG sector is our pride,” President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed told reporters at a joint press conference.
He said there is a deep-rooted conspiracy to destroy all the compliant factories in the country where thousands of people are working. “If those factories are destroyed, the country’s economy will get destroyed. So, we seek security.”
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more.
20131201 * Hi-powered committee formed to probe arson attack at Standard Group:
The government on Sunday formed a high-powered committee to investigate the recent arson attack at Standard Group, a leading apparel factory, in Gazipur.
Standard Group is the largest single garment factory of the country which has been in operation in the most ethical way with full compliance and its clients include American Eagle, GAP, Zara, Tommy Hilfiger, KOHL’S, Sears, Abercrombie, and Fitch and Gymboree.
The decision of forming the probe body was taken at an emergency meeting with the top officials of the country’s law enforcing and intelligent agencies at Probashi Kallyan Bhaban in the capital in the morning.
read more. & to read.
20131201 * 3 bodies to probe Gazipur factory fire:
The committees will submit their probe report within 7 days
Three probe committees have been formed to investigate Thursday’s arson attack on Standard Group’s factory complex in Gazipur, Labor and Employment minister Engineer Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said.
The minister made the disclosure while speaking to journalists after holding a meeting with Gazipur district administration on Sunday.
He said: “The government will try the culprits, whoever they are, and ensure an exemplary punishment as such kind of incident is a hindrance towards flourishing the country’s readymade garments sector.
The minister informed that the Deputy Commissioner of Gazipur district and Deputy Secretary for Labour and Employment Md Aminul Islam would lead two probe bodies while another one would be led by home ministry officials.
* Living wage is a good target:
As many basic costs such as rent for accommodation are increasing faster than inflation, this process, which is based on improving industrial dialogue, can clearly benefit workers
The Swedish company, H&M, which is the world’s second-biggest clothing retailer, has pledged to pay a living wage to 850,000 textile workers in 750 factories around the world by 2018.
It is starting a pilot project to support factory owners at two textile factories in Bangladesh and one in Cambodia to enable them to adopt a fair living wage for workers by the end of 2014. It has also announced its intention to roll this out to cover all the factories that supply its stores by 2018.
There is no set definition of a living wage, but typically it is based on a formula that seeks to go further than the legal minimum wage by taking into account the amounts needed to provide minimum acceptable living standards.
* Thrust on ensuring environmental, other compliances in RMG sector:
Speakers at an international conference called Friday for properly ensuring environmental and other compliances in the county’s readymade garment (RMG) industry for the greater sustainability of the sector.
They also cautioned that the country’s overall economy would be affected if the RMG exports face any setback.
The speakers observed that the US had already suspended generalised system of preferences (GSP) facilities for Bangladeshi items and the EU threatened to follow the same, taking the country’s poor work safety and trade union facilities in the apparel sector into consideration. “All of the incidents happened in the RMG industry in the last few months were due to poor working environment and compliances.
* Political chaos costs $50m in losses to RMG accessories makers in 2 months :
The country’s apparel accessories makers incurred financial losses to the tune of US$ 50 million in last two months due to the ongoing political impasse marked with frequent hartals and blockades, their leaders said.
“Production and delivery of our items were disrupted as we faced some 20 days of hartals and blockades in last two months,” Bangladesh Garment Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) President Rafez Alam Chowdhury told the FE.
* Establishing orderly atmosphere in RMG sector:
Enraged by a rumour that the police had killed two factory employees, workers set fire to six units of an apparel maker in Konabari of Gazipur on Thursday causing a substantial damage to the factory worth millions of taka.
Reports say nearly 200 workers of Standard Group along with some non-workers stormed and torched the company’s three multi-storied buildings hearing the death announcement over loudspeakers of a nearby mosque. The loss is feared to be over Tk 9.0 billion. The fabrics, machineries, buildings, products awaiting shipment and other raw materials have all been burnt to ashes.
Such tragic incident is a glaring example of how the country’s potential garments industry is falling a prey to acts of sabotage and conspiracy. Not only that, the industry is also plagued by tragic fires, building-collapses, and other accidents, which left at least 730 workers killed during the past 11 years.
Most of the readymade garment factory buildings in Bangladesh are structurally unsafe. Buildings are illegally converted into factories that run day and night to meet production targets. Keeping the costs low is prioritised while widespread, fatal health and safety faults remain. Faulty electrical circuits, inadequate escape routes, and unsafe equipment are some of the major causes of deaths and injuries in accidents,
In fact, developments in the country’s apparel industry are taking place in quick succession after the tragic Savar incident. Some of the developments are ominous and contrary to interests of the industry while some others are drawing sympathies and criticism from the global buyers and retailers.
The brands are in a strong position to improve working conditions as they can insist that safety inspections take place and that essential work is carried out to make factories fit to work in. In fact, the government and major brands need to work together with suppliers to change the apparel industry into one in which there are safe factories, decent wages and respect for workers’ rights. However, it is important to note that gains will only be sustainable if the added labour costs are absorbed by buyers as well as manufacturers.
* DCCI worried over unrest in apparel sector:
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed deep concern over the current spell of labour unrest and violence that have been taking a heavy toll on the country’s prime export earning apparel industry.
‘If this kind of violence is not stopped right now, it will affect the whole industry which may cause a serious damage to our economy . . . orders from international buyers may shift to alternative destinations. We may also lose foreign direct investment,’ said the Board of Directors of DCCI in its 10th board meeting on Saturday.
‘If our RMG industry falls in peril, it will bring misery to both factory owners as well as workers. So it is the duty of all to save this big industry for the sake country’s greater interest,’ it said.
Such unrest will erode the confidence level of entrepreneurs, it said and urged the government to take stern legal action against the people who are responsible for such unrest and violence in industrial sector.
23:42:18 local time INDIA
* Trade Unions to march to Parliament on Dec 12 over labour issues:
The UPA government faces fresh turbulence on reforms and disinvestment as the central trade unions are planning a march to Parliament on December 12 to protest disinvestment in PSUs, delays in tightening contract labour laws and raising the minimum wages of workers.
G Sanjeeva Reddy, who heads the coordination committee of all trade unions and is president of Congress-backed INTUC, told FE that all trade unions will participate in the protest march. “We are trying to meet the prime minister as well on the 10-point demand,” he said.
The proposed protest march to Parliament on December 12 comes ahead of stake sales in Coal India and Indian Oil Corp, which are crucial for the government to meet the disinvestment target of R40,000 crore for 2013-14.
In May, the apex trade union body submitted to the PM a 10-point charter of demand which includes halting of disinvestment, raising minimum wage limit almost three times to R10,000 per month for industrial workers, a universal social security cover for all workers, assured pension for the entire working population, same wage and benefits for contract workers as regular workers for same and similar work and concrete steps to contain inflation.