in the news on-line, 3 Dec. 2013

22:20:44 local time map of china CHINA

* Roundup: Fire at garment plant in Italy kills 7 Chinese workers: media:

20131202 CHINAORG

A fire at a factory in central Italy early Sunday killed at least seven Chinese workers and seriously injured two others, local media reported.

The fire occurred at a garment plant in the suburbs of the city of Prato, just north of Florence in central Italy, where there is a large concentration of Chinese businesses which employ at least 30,000 workers, according to Rai state television.

Seven people lost their lives while two others sustained serious burn injuries, ANSA news agency said. A third victim, a woman, was reported to have suffered from smoke inhalation but was not believed to be in peril of life.

The fire broke out around 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) and trapped a dozen of people inside. Local police said some plasterboard cubicles in the factory, which were used for workers’ accommodation, collapsed and originated the sparks that lit the fire.
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* Italy factory fire kills seven:

At least seven people have died and two are badly injured after fire swept through a Chinese-owned clothing factory in the Italian town of Prato.

The blaze broke out in a loft where 11 people were sleeping, causing part of the roof to collapse, fire officials said.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Prato, in Tuscany, has become a centre for Chinese-run factories producing low-cost garments.
to read & see video report.

* China’s official trade union still fails to get the message:

After 35 years of rapid economic development, just about everyone in China accepts that something needs to change.

China’s workers understand this, the farmers understand this; even the newly installed leadership of the Chinese Communist Party now realizes the increasingly urgent need to create a fairer, more equitable and more economically sustainable society.

The only group that still seems oblivious to the need for change is the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). The world’s largest trade union stubbornly refuses to move with the times. It seems to be paralysed by fear, scared that if it does change it will lose its power and standing in China.
read more.

21:20:44 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* SL reps, unionists to sign deal to end strike:

A nearly four-month strike, punctuated by a violent clash between unionists and police that left one bystander dead, could come to an end this afternoon.

Officials from SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) – which represents a large majority of factory employees – are scheduled to meet at the Ministry of Labour at 2:30pm, where they are expected to sign a strike-ending agreement.
“We organised the meeting, where we will witness SL and C.CAWDU sign the agreement, as long as nothing changes,” Labour Ministry secretary of state Sat Sakmoth said yesterday.

If each side signs the five-point agreement, SL would reinstate 19 fired union leaders and activists, pay strikers half their salary for the time they were on strike, reinstate employees’ previous shift schedule and limit the role of shareholder Meas Sotha, in the factory’s day-to-day operations.
SL chief executive Wong Hon Ming yesterday said he would have to see the final language in the agreement, which was drafted by the Labour Ministry, before signing it.

C.CAWDU will sign the agreement if SL does, said Ouch Noeun, C.CAWDU secretary- general at SL.
“If [SL] agrees to all five points, we will sign,” Noeun said yesterday. “But if they refuse to any point, we would not sign.”
read more.
PPP new

* Factory inspection turns up unauthorised floor:

Inspectors from the ministry in charge of construction who were called to investigate a “shaking” garment factory last Tuesday discovered that an entire extra storey had been built without permission or oversight from authorities, officials said yesterday.

As workers returned to the Siu Quinh Garment factory in the capital’s Dangkor district after almost a week off, government officials said they had still not concluded whether the building was safe to work in or what had caused the reported shaking.

“[But] we found that … they were only allowed to build a ground floor and first floor, but they have built one more floor too,” Huy Nara, general director of the construction department at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said. “The building … is used to keep a lot of equipment and workers.”
read more.
PPP new

20:50:44 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Changes in store for FDI regulation:

20131202 MMTIMES garment-factory
Women stitch together clothes at a garment factory outside of Yangon. New investment rules could make it easier for foreigners to own certain businesses. Photo: Staff

The changes will focus on sectors in which foreign investment is restricted and are likely to be introduced in December or early next year, said Daw Mya Sandar, deputy director of the ministry’s Business Promotion Section.

“We are working to change it but the issue date depends on the senior officials,” she said.
“The revisions will focus entirely on the categories in which foreign investment can be allowed – for example, the service sector – and I guess that the number of [restrictions] will be reduced in that category.”
read more.

20:20:44 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Arson attack on Standard Group factory condemned:

Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre on Monday denounced the arson attack on the readymade garment (RMG) factory of Standard Group in Gazipur.

In a joint statement, Centre president Montu Ghosh and general secretary Kazi Ruhul Amin also demanded quick probe into the incident and arrest of those involved in it.
They called on all the workers to stand firm against such attempts to destroy the RMG industry of the country.
They also noted that the arson attack on the Standard Group factory has pushed the future of about 19,000 workers of the factory into uncertainty and called for proper actions by the authorities concerned to ensure their wages and benefits.
to read. & to read.
UNB newstodayBD

* Police arrest 40 people after factory arson:

Bangladesh police arrested at least 40 people in connection with a fire last week at a factory that makes clothes for retailers Gap Inc. (GPS) and Inditex SA (ITX)’s Zara.

The investigation is in progress and more people could be arrested, S.M. Kamruzzaman, an inspector of police, said by phone. Police had blamed a group of arsonists for setting fire to the 10-story building outside the capital Dhaka.
read more.

* Bangladesh’s garment factories still aren’t safe:

In April more than 1,100 workers died in Bangladesh when a garment factory complex called Rana Plaza collapsed. There’s no dearth of candidates to share the blame for the accident. Building codes were inadequate, inspections were infrequent and the enforcement of the law was lax.

Moreover, Rana Plaza is the tip of an iceberg. Bangladesh’s $20-billion garment industry has expanded rapidly in the past 10 years primarily because of low labor costs. With almost 5,000 factories in the country—more than two dozen members of parliament are among the owners—and with corruption rampant, weak enforcement of the law is inevitable.

Contrary to popular perception, Western governments and international organizations can exert little influence on the Bangladeshi government or companies.
World Trade Organization members cannot discriminate against each other, so no country can legally subject garment exports from Bangladesh to quotas or additional tariffs to ensure that the state enacts or enforces laws.
The World Bank deflects all labor issues to the International Labor Organization (ILO), whose conventions focus primarily on the rights of labor to organize and to strike for better conditions.
While the ILO has promoted workplace safety in recent times, its regular budget doesn’t support hiring on-the-ground inspectors, even if the Bangladeshi government would allow them to inspect factories and monitor the enforcement of safety regulations.
read more.

* Another probe committee formed over Standard Group fire incident:

A third probe committee was formed to investigate the fire incident of the Standard Garment factory at Konabari in Gazipur which was burnt to ashes on Thursday night.

Gazipur police administration formed this committee on Monday headed by additional superintendent of police in Gazipur Sanjit Kumar Roy, said superintendent of Gazipur police Abdul Baten in a press conference held at his office on Monday at noon.
The other members of the committee are: a representative of industrial police, additional superintendent of police Monowar Hossain, Officer in Charge of detective branch (DB) Abul Khair, Sub-Inspectors Delwar Hossain and Iqbal Hossain and incharge of Konabari police outpost Rabiul Islam. The committee was called to give their investigation report within ten working days.
read more.

* Business leaders going to meet Hasina, Khaleda tonight (Monday):

Amid the crippling blockade and worsening political violence, the country’s top business leaders decided to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia tonight (Monday night).

“We’ve already started for Ganobhaban,” former BGMEA president Abdus Salam said over phone. (UNB)
They will also hand over a memorandum to the Prime Minister seeking an amicable solution to the current political crisis, sources at the Prime Minister’s Office said.
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banglachronicle bdnews24 bss

* Business leaders meet PM, seek steps for defusing violence:

Amid the crippling blockade and worsening political violence, the country’s top business leaders met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday night and urged her to take effective steps to defuse political violence.

“Our backs are pushed to the wall… take more effective measures to defuse the ongoing political violence,” a source close to the meeting quoted a business leader as telling the Prime Minister.
In response, Sheikh Hasina asked the business leaders to tell Khaleda to stop violence.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Atiqul Islam, former BGMEA presidents, representatives from the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textiles Mills Association (BTMA), Dhaka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and other trade and chamber bodies were present at the meeting.

Later, the business leaders went to BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office with a memorandum requesting her to take steps for finding out a solution to the current crisis.
As Khaleda was not available in the office, her adviser Sabihuddin Ahmed received the memorandum.
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UNB FE bd daily star bd DHAKATRIBUNE

* Take initiative, apparel makers urge PM:

They will submit a memorandum regarding the incident of arson attack at the garment factory of Standard group

RMG owners have urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to come forward with steps to resolve the current political impasse.

They made the call in a memorandum handed to the premierin a meeting held at Gonobhabanon Monday evening.
read more.

* ‘PM assures businessmen of maintaining security of RMG industry’:

President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) today said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured the businessmen of maintaining security of the Readymade Garment (RMG) industry.

“We’ve told the Prime Minister that at present there is no security of the garment industry. The PM assured us of providing security of the industry,” M Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, told reporters after a meeting with the PM at Ganabhaban tonight.
read more.

* PM to visit Standard Group factory:

Prime minister will be visiting the factory site around 12:30pm

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit the site of Standard Group garment factory in Konabari industrial area of Gazipur on Tuesday afternoon.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) publication sources said the prime minister will be visiting the factory site around 12:30pm.

* Standard garment arson: Should the criminals go unpunished? :

Thousands of workers left the building couple of hours before the fire was set in the Standard garment in Gazipur on November 29, 2013 but a few of their co-workers stayed back.

For the former, walking into the building in the morning and leaving in the evening was the most important thing as it brings food in their plate, smile in their face, and whatever peace they had in life.
Yes, there have been problems with their pay, their rights, yet they did not leave this building.
They may have complaints against the owner of the factory, may even loathe him, yet the owner did not make them leave the factory or disown them. But their fellow-workers made them all jobless within a couple of hours.
They do not have to come to work anymore – in the name of establishing workers’ right and/or punishing the ‘greedy’ owner, some people destroyed their working space and opportunity.
read more.
FE bd

* Political impasse, RMG sector transition major hurdles : IMF:

 The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified the ongoing political impasse and transition in the apparel sector as major challenges for Bangladesh.

The IMF said strikes and uncertainties associated with the upcoming election, an attendant slowdown in growth, and an expected transition in the garment sector to higher costs and upgraded labour and safety standards pose challenges ahead.

“To manage them, it is important to persevere with a strong policy framework in the run-up to the national election and beyond,”Naoyuki Shinohara, deputy managing director and acting chair of IMF, said in a statement after reviewing Bangladesh’s economic performances.
read more.
FE bd

* Export to US sees 15.74 pc growth in July-Sept:

Export earnings from the USA, the largest export destination for Bangladesh goods, witnessed a healthy 15.74 percent growth during the first quarter (July-Sept) of the current fiscal (2013-14), mostly due to good performance of the RMG sector.

It totalled $ 1,466.65 million during the (July-Sept) of the current fiscal year (2013-14) compared to $ 1,267.19 million during the corresponding period of the previous year (2012-13). The amount represents 19.23 percent of the country’s total export earnings during the period.
According to recent statistics compiled by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), RMG export, including knitwear, to the US amounted to $ 1,356.08 million during the July-September period of the current fiscal compared to $ 1,148.81 million during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
read more.

* The dark side of Bangladesh leather:

Tannery workers in South Asian country face life-threatening conditions while earning little more than $2 a day.

The leather tanning industry remains a crucial part of the Bangladeshi economy.
Cheap Bangladeshi labour lowers the cost of leather goods sold in wealthy countries. However, the tannery workers, who early little more than $2 a day, face dire conditions as they are exposed to toxic chemicals and stink.
see video report.

* Tanners want Tk 1.0b loan for relocation from Hazaribagh to Savar:

Tannery owners want Tk 1.0 billion term loan at lower interest rate for bearing cost of relocation from the city’s Hazaribagh to Savar.

They met Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman recently seeking his help in this regard.

They are also trying to explore other local and international financial organisations including International Finance Corporation (IFC), a unit of the World Bank for loan. “We dearly need long term loan with lower interest rate for the relocation… we can’t bear all costs of relocation… if we do we can’t run our business,” President of  Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods & Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLFEA), Mohammad Abu Taher told The Financial Express Sunday.
read more.
FE bd

19:50:44 local time map of india INDIA

* Garment workers struggle silently with sexual harassment:

They are the faceless, voiceless women who keep the fashion industry in running condition.

But in the hundreds of garment units where they toil for a living, sexual harassment and abuse are an everyday affair.
But they have nowhere to go for any form of hearing or justice.

Garment workers’ union leaders admit their presence has done little to alleviate the travails of women in these sweatshops because of their gender. “Women workers complain to us about wages, work timings and other administrative issues but back out when it comes to reporting about sexual harassment,” a garment factory union leader, Jayaram, admitted.

The system isn’t woman-friendly, especially when it comes to the touchy topic of sexual advances. Jayaram cites the example of Bala (name changed), a worker in a garment factory in Peenya Industrial Area, who was raped by a cab driver and dumped in front of Bangalore University gate two years ago.

“Bala was returning home with three of her colleagues. Garment workers are so poor they can barely afford to travel by public transport. These girls boarded a Tata Sumo to go home. The driver offered them some soft drinks laced with sedatives. The girls started feeling giddy. While two of them got down on the way, the other two dozed off in the cab. The driver then raped Bala and dumped her in front of Bangalore University the next morning,” said Jayaram.
read more.

* I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me:

Aruna, a 19-year-old nurse I met in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a lot like some of my friends in Washington, DC—bright, single, self-assured, loves her job.

She speaks quickly and eloquently, not stopping to drink her tea and hardly ever even pausing to breathe. When I first meet her in Coimbatore, a city known for its textile industry, she is on her lunch break, wearing her freshly starched white uniform and a traditional red bindi dot on her forehead.

If Aruna were one of my friends in DC, no one would be asking her why she isn’t hitched yet. But in Aruna’s home village, if you haven’t secured a husband by your early 20s, you’re in for a hard ride.
“In India, a woman is auspicious because she is married,” says Srimati Basu, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky who is an expert on the status of women in India. “Lack of marriage is horrible for the person, the family, and the community.”
In order to get married, Tamil village girls like Aruna need at least three gold British sovereigns—bullion is the preferred currency for dowries—the equivalent of about $1,200. Together, Aruna’s parents make a little less than $400 a year.

As a child, Aruna dreamed of going to college. But by the time she was 15, when her government-subsidized schooling ended, she understood that she was too poor. Then, a stranger promised to change her life.
He offered her a job at a textile factory that has supplied companies including, until recently, UK-based maternity wear maker Mothercare. Her pay would be about $105 a month—enough for food for her family, her further education, and most importantly, the chance to build a dowry.

When Aruna arrived at the factory, about 40 miles from her home, she found a vast facility where close to 1,000 girls, many in their teens, lived 10 or 15 to a room.
From 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. every day, including weekends, she fed and monitored rusty machines that spun raw cotton into yarn. Her bosses often woke her in the middle of the night because, she recalls, there was “always some sort of work, 24 hours a day.”
Aruna made just a quarter of the $105 a month she was promised, about $0.84 a day.
read more.

* AFT unions to stage demo in New Delhi:

Trade union leaders here have decided to stage a three day demonstration in New Delhi on Dec 9, 10 and 11 seeking the immediate intervention of the Centre for the revival of Anglo French Textile mills.

A team of representatives of AFT unions will leave for New Delhi on December 6.
Members of various political parties are also expected to take part in the agitation aimed at pressing the Centre to take steps on a proposal seeking Rs.500 crore for revival of the mill.
V.S. Abishegam, Coordinator, struggle committee, said they would strive to bring the attention of Ministers and officials concerned to the status of AFT mills.
The union leaders also plan to meet the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Minister for Textiles.
Chief Minister N. Rangasamy also has plans to meet the Prime Minister in this regard, official sources said.
to read.
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* 30% powerloom production hit due to power cuts: PDEXCIL:

Powerloom industry in Tamil Nadu has suffered 30 per cent production loss due to power cuts in the past one month, a top official of the Powerloom Development & Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) said today.

There were 4.5 lakh powerlooms functioning in the state and they usually produce 50 lakh metres of cloth daily. But in the past one month, the industry along with others had been badly hit by power shutdown, bringing down the production by 30 per cent, PDEXCIL Vice-Chairman (South) V T Karunanidhi said.

Due to the decrease in production, the powerloom owners were facing heavy financial loss as they were not able to complete the orders taken, he told reporters here.
read more.
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* Textile units to focus on value addition:

Textile industry in the southern States is expected to focus on value-addition in the coming years.

Chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association T. Rajkumar and its former chairman S. Dinakaran told presspersons here on Monday that according to the revised Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), higher subsidy is available for textile mills that go in for value addition or integrated facilities. More weaving and knitting units are expected to come up in the south.
read more.
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 19:50:44 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* IndustriALL lodges OECD complaint against Ansell:

Ansell’s union busting in Sri Lanka and Malaysia has been condemned by over 8,500 supporters through the IndustriALL-LabourStart campaign. This week IndustriALL lodged an official OECD complaint against the multinational latex rubber producer.

See the full text of IndustriALL’s OECD complaint here.

The complaint, lodged with the Australian National Contact Point for the OECD, sets out breaches of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by Ansell in its operations in Sri Lanka and Malaysia, in relation to human rights, trade union rights, and occupational health and safety.

Responding to an automated reply to the LabourStart protest messages sent to Ansell, IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina said:
We were surprised to read the company’s claim that it was striving to resolve the matter in accordance with national laws. Ansell has treated every request and attempted intervention from the Commissioner of Labour in Sri Lanka with contempt and refusal to comply.

Large portions of Ansell Lanka’s products are exported to the US and Australia. Major purchasers of Ansell products include governments, military, health care institutions, correctional institutions, security agencies and companies, safety equipment supply houses, laboratory supply houses, and retailers.
read more.

19:20:44 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Garments city over 13 thousand acre land:

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said textile industry is backbone of national economy and country’s exports can be increased by promoting this industry.

He said that former rulers ignored this important sector of the economy during their five years’ tenure due to which irreparable loss was caused to textile industry. The Chief Minister said that due to timely and effective steps of present government, textile sector is improving.

He disclosed that Punjab government is setting up Garments City over 13 thousand acre land near Kala Shah Kaku Motorway for the benefit of industrialists. He said that funds have been provided for purchasing land for the establishment of Garments City. He said that all options would be considered for supplying gas to textile industry during winter.
read more.

* Textile industry: Shahbaz assures gas supply during winter:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab S M Tanveer led a 20-member delegation to the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Federal Minster for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday.

The delegation represented textile industry case for seeking uninterrupted gas supply during extreme winter so that Punjab based textile industry remain operative to produce textile goods predominantly meant for exports.
read more. & read more. & read more.

 19:20:44 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Uzbekistan wants to create cotton trading hub in Bangladesh:

Uzbekistan has made a proposal to Bangladesh for creating a hub of trading Uzbek cotton in the region by setting up a free warehouse in the country under the much talked about cotton agreement between the two countries, officials of the commerce ministry said.

They said that Uzbekistan had recently sent a modified draft of memorandum of understanding with a provision for establishing a free warehouse from where they would sell cotton to Bangladeshi users and export to other countries in the region.
The country has also offered to export up to 2 lakh tonnes of cotton annually to Bangladesh under the proposed agreement, they said.
read more.
BD new age


map of Asia


* Roundup: Fire at garment plant in Italy kills 7 Chinese workers: media
* Italy factory fire kills seven
* China’s official trade union still fails to get the message

* SL reps, unionists to sign deal to end strike
* Factory inspection turns up unauthorised floor

* Changes in store for FDI regulation

* Arson attack on Standard Group factory condemned
* Police arrest 40 people after factory arson
* Bangladesh’s garment factories still aren’t safe
* Another probe committee formed over Standard Group fire incident
* Business leaders going to meet Hasina, Khaleda tonight (Monday)
* Business leaders meet PM, seek steps for defusing violence
* Take initiative, apparel makers urge PM
* ‘PM assures businessmen of maintaining security of RMG industry’
* PM to visit Standard Group factory
* Standard garment arson: Should the criminals go unpunished?
* Political impasse, RMG sector transition major hurdles : IMF
* Export to US sees 15.74 pc growth in July-Sept
* The dark side of Bangladesh leather
* Tanners want Tk 1.0b loan for relocation from Hazaribagh to Savar

* Garment workers struggle silently with sexual harassment
* I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me
* AFT unions to stage demo in New Delhi
* 30% powerloom production hit due to power cuts: PDEXCIL
* Textile units to focus on value addition

* IndustriALL lodges OECD complaint against Ansell

* Garments city over 13 thousand acre land
* Textile industry: Shahbaz assures gas supply during winter

* Uzbekistan wants to create cotton trading hub in Bangladesh

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

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