19:01:30 local time CHINA
* Dark legacy of Fumian’s factories:
Workers make jeans at YZY, one of about 1,600 jeans factories in Fumian that post annual sales of 3.5 billion yuan. The effect of chemical runoff on nearby streams, however, is a sour note in the area’s sweet economic success. By Huo Yan / China Daily
Manufacturing jeans brought wealth but also environmental woes, reports Li Yang in Guangxi
After French newspaper Libration reported on Fumian’s prospering jeans industry in 2004, the town in Southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region proclaimed itself “world capital of jeans”.
Ten years on, the title comes at a high cost for the town, in terms of both the environment and working conditions.
Asked why they only make jeans, the workers reply it’s because they are easy to make and always popular.
From its outward appearance, with boxy three-story buildings lining narrow lanes, Fumian does not seem very different from any other town in Southwest China.
But with a population of 300,000, it produces nearly 300 million pairs of jeans each year, though few of the products find their way into developed markets, because of their low quality and heavy residue of dyeing chemicals.
But its cheap labor costs faded by the decade’s end, when locals awakened to the notion of registering their own brands.
A pair of jeans sold for 20 yuan in 1998 in Fumian. But after the factories in Shenzhen and Guangzhou stitched a brand onto the jeans, the price multiplied to hundreds of yuan.
Now, Fumian has 1,600 jeans factories with annual sales of 3.5 billion yuan and nearly 200 registered brands, though most of them are known only to wholesalers.
The last and most polluting procedure is washing the jeans, which determines their shade.
Today’s trends include stone wash, enzyme wash, sand wash, chemical wash, bleach wash, destroy wash and snow wash jeans.
But none of these looks can be achieved without a strong base, strong oxidants and other chemicals, such as potassium permanganate, that can harm human health and the environment.
It is estimated that 20 washing factories operate in Fumian, processing more than 600,000 pairs of jeans each day at a cost of about one yuan per pair.
Yet the environmental cost is much higher because of the wastewater discharged by the factories.
“Most of the factories did no processing of wastewater until 2005, when the government launched a campaign to tackle the pollution,” a local official said.
But local residents, some of whom used to work in the washing factories, said the so-called processing facilities were basically just a concrete settling pond.
“The smelly water they discharge is not dark as ink, as before. But I am sure the damage the water does to humans and the environment is no less than before,” said one resident, who asked to remain anonymous.
The water quality of the three local rivers of Nanliu, Beiliu and Jiuzhou has not improved much since becoming contaminated in the mid-1990s. The towns and counties in the region, include Fumian, did not begin building sewage disposal plants until just a few years ago, and some have not functioned until recently.
read more. (4 pages).
* Zhejiang silk firm weaves plan for growth:
High Fashion Silk (Zhejiang) Co Ltd, a leading global woven silk and knitting fabric producer, plans to transform itself from a traditional manufacturer into a more creative enterprise producing higher value-added items, its chairman said.
“Our focus is to make the transformation and become a cultural and creative company, based on supportive policies and our own advantages,” Lin Ping, chairman and chief executive officer, said.
Revenue was essentially flat last year at 1 billion yuan ($164 million). Net profit was more than 30 million yuan.
Its production in the past three years totaled 2 billion yuan, with $80 million in exports. The company has an annual production capacity of 10 million meters of woven silk, 1,000 metric tons of silk knitting fabrics, 3 million pieces of home textiles and 3 million silk neckties.
The main brands, designers and retailers the company cooperates with are Uniqlo Co Ltd, Calvin Klein Inc, Diane von Furstenberg and Macy’s Inc.
18:01:30 local time CAMBODIA
———– 20140212 ———
* Freedom denied for 21:
Tears rolled down Prak Sovannary’s face as she sat on a curb in front of the Court of Appeal surrounded by her damp-eyed children and supporters yesterday afternoon, minutes after a judge denied her husband’s bail request.
“My husband and the other 20 workers have not done anything wrong,” Sovannary said. “But the court will not drop the charges against them.”
Union leaders, legal aid workers and other supporters stood in shock yesterday when Appeal Court Judge Khun Leangmeng refused bail for Sovannary’s husband, Vorn Pov – president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) – and 20 other men arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike early last month.
Two of the original 23 arrested during the January 2 and 3 protests, Bu Sarith, 27, and Phon Sokchea, 17, were released on bail on Saturday.
* Dismay over bail rejection:
Defence attorneys will now turn to the Supreme Court after a Court of Appeals judge denied bail this morning for all 21 people still detained from clashes with authorities during garment strike demonstrations last month.
The presiding judge said he decided not to allow bail based on speculation that the detainees’ release would “disturb public order”, Sam Sokung, a defence attorney representing six of the defendants, said outside the courtroom minutes after the decision.
“We are shocked,” said Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center, which also provided legal representation for some of the defendants. “There was not enough grounds to keep them in prison.”
Weeping in front of the courtroom after the decision was announced, were the wife, two sons and daughter of Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), who was arrested at a demonstration in front of the Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc. garment factory on January 2.
Guards at the court shut the gates to keep out about 200 people gathered outside from coming in, after land rights activist Yorm Bopha rushed into the courtroom complex after hearing the decision, falling to the ground and wailing next to Pov’s family.
* Appeal Court Denies Bail to 21 Jailed Protesters:
A protester holds a sign Tuesday calling for the release of Chan Puthisak, who was denied bail Tuesday by the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh along with 20 other activists and workers who were imprisoned during garment strike demonstrations on January 2 and 3. (Siv Channa)
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday denied bail to 21 workers and activists who were arrested and placed in a maximum security prison last month following the government’s deadly suppression of minimum wage protests in the garment sector.
Representatives of nine garment worker unions plan to meet today to organize a strike in response to the denial of bail for the detainees, while lawyers for the 21 said they will file an appeal with the Supreme Court this week.
None of the 21 were present in court for the bail hearing.
“We ruled to uphold the municipal court’s ruling,” said Presiding Judge Nhoung Thol.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided last month to deny bail to a total of 23 detainees, who have yet to stand trial, from the strike protests, citing the alleged risk that the detainees posed to society and the need to question them further.
On Friday, a municipal court judge granted bail to two of the imprisoned protesters, including Yon Chea, 17, the only minor in the original group of 23.
* Detainees not being used for leverage: Yeap:
A senior ruling party lawmaker has rejected allegations that the group of 21 activists, unionists and workers arrested during protests last month and denied bail for a second time yesterday are being used as a political tool by the government to force the opposition party to join the National Assembly.
Cheam Yeap, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, yesterday insisted that the detainees’ cases were under the court’s control and that the ruling party would not be able to influence the legal outcome.
“These 21 individuals are in the hands of the court. You already know that the constitution states that there are three [separate] powers in Cambodia: legislative, executive and [judicial]. Each [branch] cannot interfere with each other’s internal affairs,” he said.
* NO BAIL!!! :
The 21 workers, activists and union leaders who were arrested on January 2nd and 3rd during a violent crackdown (see HERE) by the army on a workers’ strike which also resulted in at least 4 being killed by bullets and numerous wounded, were being tried at the Appeals Court for a bail request. Only the lawyers were allowed in the courtroom, the 21 having been kept in their cells at the Kompong Chham prison.
The bail was refused.
The 21 will remain in jail…
UPDATED at 14:54 with additional photographs about the stand-off between riot police and protesters, disappointed by the verdict, who gathered at Preah Ang Dong riverside pagoda before attempting to march to the Royal Palace where they were dispersed by important forces of riot police…
read & see more. (photo report).
* Bail refused for 21 workers and human rights defenders:
The Cambodian government must immediately and unconditionally release the 21 garment workers and human rights defenders who have been detained since early January, FIDH and its member organizations Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) said today.
* Anger as 21 Cambodian activists are denied bail:
A group of 21 garment workers, protesters and rights activists were denied bail on Tuesday, a month after the group was arrested in Phnom Penh during protests which were violently put down by the Cambodian authorities.
According to defense lawyer Sam Sokong, judges in the closed-door hearing ruled that releasing the group posed too many threats.
“They said if they released all of them on bail, it will affect public order. Or they will all escape from Cambodia and it will be difficult to call them all to court,” he said.
* Gov’t-aligned union’s strike quietly ended:
Workers at Dongdu Textile in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district ended a two-week strike yesterday after their bosses agreed to reinstate 11 union leaders and activists fired in January.
Chhin Sony, president of the government-aligned Union of Cambodia, said more than 2,000 workers returned to the factory at Vattanac II Industrial Park in the morning.
“The workers agreed to go back to work from today after we signed an agreement to finish the dispute and the company accepted those 11 unionists back,” he said.
Workers had been striking in front of the factory since January 25, without the presence of authorities. This was despite a ban on public gatherings plus police crackdowns on protesters elsewhere in the capital in recent weeks.
* Labor Ministry Ignored Its Own Research on Minimum Wage:
The Labor Ministry on Tuesday defended its failure to act on the results of its own study, which in November found that the minimum livable wage for garment factory workers is between $157 and $177.
In its annual report, the ministry listed its wage study, carried out in conjunction with labor unions from both sides of the political divide, as its top achievement of 2013, despite the fact that it ignored the results and raised the minimum wage to just $95, since revised to $100 after mass strikes in December.
Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Suor said Tuesday that with plenty of extra hours worked in factories, workers could earn the wage they had demanded.
“The workers, most of them, they do get the $160 they have been demanding,” Mr. Suor said.
“They are allowed to work overtime and they also get other bonuses that give them enough money to live and also enough money to save and send to their families,” he said, referring to the country’s more than 400,000 garment factory workers.
* Cambodian protesters denied bail despite global concern:
Twenty-one Cambodian activists and workers arrested during a bloody crackdown on a garment industry strike last month were denied bail on Tuesday, despite international appeals for their release.
The case has heightened concerns among rights campaigners about the recent suppression of street protests intended to challenge strongman premier Hun Sen’s nearly three-decade rule. At least four civilians were killed last month when police opened fire on protesting textile factory workers who were demanding a minimum wage of $160 a month to make clothes for brands including Gap, Nike and H&M.
Police arrested 23 activists and workers during the crackdown. Two of the detainees were released on bail over the weekend while 16 others began a hunger strike on Sunday, according to prison authorities.
No date has yet been set for their trial. Rights groups say if convicted they could face up to five years’ imprisonment on charges including committing intentional violence. In an open letter to Hun Sen, a dozen international rights organisations on Monday urged authorities to release the detainees. The International Trade Union Confederation has launched a campaign to “Free the 23”, urging workers to lobby Cambodian embassies around the world.
* Australia Urged To Push Cambodia Over Garment Worker Crackdown:
A Victorian state Member of Parliament born in Cambodia says Australia should put pressure on Phnom Penh over a crackdown on protesting garment workers which left five people dead.
Hong Lim, the MP for Clayton here, says he was in Cambodia this month, when five protesting garment workers were shot dead in Phnom Penh.
Striking workers, armed with sticks, rocks and petrol bombs, clashed with police in the Veng Sreng factory district in Phnom Penh over wages and conditions.
————– 20140211 ———–
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) condemns today’s decision by the Court of Appeal to deny bail to 21 of a group of 23 human rights defenders, activists and protestors arrested during demonstrations in early January in the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”).
The two other men were granted bail during a hearing on the morning of 7 February and released under judicial supervision the next day.
* ADHOC Condemns Court’s Decision Not to Release Detained Human Rights Defenders, Activists and Workers:
The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) condemns the Court’s decision today to continue to detain 21 demonstrators arrested during peaceful demonstrations in early January, 2014. ADHOC provided lawyers to 15 of the 23 people arrested at Yakjin Factory on 02 January 2014 and at the Canadia Industrial Zone on 03 January 2014.
ADHOC urges the Courts to drop all charges against the 23 demonstrators, and to compensate them for the time they have been illegally detained. Citizens of Cambodia have a constitutionally protected right to demonstrate, a right which has been denied through the use of deadly force to crackdown on demonstrators and the ongoing ban on assemblies.
Four people have been killed; one young man is missing and scores more have been injured since the start of January. As yet nobody has been held to account for the violence, highlighting the culture of impunity which plagues Cambodia.
The use of live ammunition on demonstrators is in breach of international standards of proportionality and has been widely condemned by rights groups and observers.
* Workers on strike to demand annual leave, administrator be ousted:
Around 1,000 garment workers from a factory producing jeans in Bith Trang Special Economic Zone in Prey Nop district went on strike to protest against administration chief in their factory.
The striking workers demanded that Sok Kong, administration chief, be ousted because he cut workers’ salaries and discriminated against workers.
They also demanded the annual leave of 18-21 days per years, which were rejected by the factory employer who preferred providing bonuses to annual leave.
Yov Khemera, Sihanouk’s chief of Department of Labor, said that the strike was not so serious because the officials are discussing to find a solution for them.
* Fate of teen still a mystery:
The fate of Khim Saphath, the 16-year-old boy missing since clashes between striking garment workers and security forces erupted on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3, continues to differentiate fatality lists compiled by rights groups.
He was last seen lying on the ground with a bloody chest wound, according to eyewitnesses, before vanishing without a trace.
After investigation, Adhoc has officially concluded that the boy – who lied about his age to work in a Chinese-owned garment factory – was killed, senior investigator Chan Soveth said on Thursday, with the organisation’s death toll thus standing at five.
“We have evidence and witnesses who saw the son shot to the ground on the spot that day,” he said.
But Licadho – which counts four dead – still treats Saphath as missing and is yet to conclude its investigation, technical supervisor Am Sam Ath said.
“We still do not have clear sources, so we have kept him on the missing list.”
But Saphath’s father, Khim Souern, said he has not approached police because he does not trust them to carry out a proper investigation.
He added that small bribes were needed for local authorities to sign a letter allowing him to claim $180 of his son’s remaining salary from the Hua Hsi garment factory.
Meanwhile, many of the more than 40 protesters and bystanders injured during the January 3 clashes are yet to fully recover from their wounds.
Factory worker Prom Phearum, 22, who was shot in the leg, said doctors have told him that he might need an amputation, as blood is stuck between fractured bone.
* News flash: 21 Cambodians refused bail:
Clean Clothes Campaign expresses bitter disappointment and continues the fight for their immediate release.
Clean Clothes Campaign has reacted with dismay at the refusal to release on bail 21 of the 23 Cambodian men who were detained during January’s wage struggles.
The bail hearings were held in a closed session this morning, February 11th, with none of the 21 men in attendance.
All 21 men remain in the CC3 jail, located in the Kampong Cham province north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, which is notorious for its harsh conditions..
Two of the original 23 detainees, were released on bail last Saturday.
Clean Clothes Campaign is extremely disappointed at this decision.
“We will continue to fight for their immediate release alongside our partners in Cambodia and around the world. We call on the Cambodian Government to immediately release the 21 men and drop all charges against all 23, and resume good faith wage negotiations.” said Emma Harbour of Clean Clothes Campaign.
“A wage you can live on, which was at the heart of the protests, is a right everyone deserves and Clean Clothes Campaign will continue to support all garment workers in their struggles for a living wage.”
Campaigners across the world showed solidarity with the 21 detained men on Monday 10th January with actions outside Cambodian Embassies in Seoul, Brussels, Geneva, Washington D.C., Hong Kong, Berlin and Dhaka, amongst other actions on a global day of solidarity with Cambodian workers.
* Dismay over bail rejection:
21 jailed activists remain behind bars
Video Report here. by
* BetterFactories Media updates 1-11 February 2014, Unions threaten nationwide strike if 21 prisoners not released*
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2014-02-03 CNRP to try to visit jailed 23
2014-02-04 End the union-busting HRW
2014-02-04 For Myanmar garment sector, labour missing
2014-02-04 Garment exports rose 20 per cent last year
2014-02-04 Illegal factory floor removed
2014-02-05 Migrant abuse down, not out
2014-02-05 Rip-offs strike wrong chord
2014-02-05 Union eyes morning wage meet
2014-02-05 Workplace inequality pervasive
2014-02-06 Groups tell ILO to retract right to strike claim
2014-02-07 H&M exec talks Cambodia vision
2014-02-07 Strike debate a red herring
2014-02-07 Threat of mass strike looms
2014-02-10 Fate of teen still a mystery
2014-02-10 Supporters of 21 to march to embassies
2014-02-11 Demos for 21 allowed
2014-02-11 Unions opposition hindering wage talks
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2014-02-01-02 Rights groups want access to 23 detained prisoners
2014-02-03 UN concerned over suppression of rights
2014-02-04 Human rights watch says anti-union activities must end
2014-02-04 No results in protest shooting investigations
2014-02-05 Families, lawmakers denied access to 23 prisoners
2014-02-05 Garment export value up 20 percent in 2013
2014-02-05 Garment workers injured in Svay Rieng crash
2014-02-05 Three jailed after stealing garments from truck
2014-02-05 Unions argue over wage committee reforms
2014-02-06 United Nations envoy visits after protest deaths
2014-02-06 Government says US praised protest Patience
2014-02-07 Factory owner refuses to negotiate as strike continues
2014-02-07 UN envoy raises assembly ban concerns
2014-02-07 Unions to march after failure to address minimum wage
2014-02-08-09 Two of 23 jailed protesters granted bail; release date unknown
2014-02-10 Bailed garment workers speak of injustice
2014-02-11 Unions threaten nationwide strike if 21 prisoners not released
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
19:01:30 local time MALAYSIA
* FMM: Review minimum wage:
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has proposed to the government to review the implementation of minimum wage especially in the manufacturing sector as many companies in the industry have expressed difficulty in complying with the policy.
Delegates from the FMM met the International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and discussed issues pertaining to minimum wages and also other issues affecting the manufacturing industry, such as market competitiveness and foreign labour processes.
“If we are competitive, we can increase exports and at the same time Malaysian companies can capture a larger domestic market. We will work with FMM in formulating ideas to increase and enhance competitiveness in domestic market and exports,” he told reporters at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Networking session with the private sector in conjunction with Chinese New Year 2014 yesterday.
19:01:30 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. The Challenges of Running Responsible Supply Chains. Read the full article here .
2. 8.5 million employees registered as BPJS members as of January: Ministry.
Read the full article here.
3. Provincial Minimum Wage postponement approved, workers threat the companies. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
4. ‘Financial Sustainability’ Is Key for Indonesia’s Social Security Program, JICA Says. Read the full article here.
5. BPJS: Many Complaints in the first month of JKN. Read the full article here
Read Google Translate English Version here.
6. Indonesia January Inflation at 8.22 Percent. Read the full article here.
7. Analysis: GDP growth: More acceleration expected to occur in second half, this year. Read the full article here.
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
17:31:30 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Enabling Sustainable Value Chains in Asia’s Apparel Frontier: Riding the Power of Total Resource Productivity:
Economic progress over the past three hundred years has been driven by a linear logic: economic growth largely results as a function of one-time use of additional factors of production.
This model served humanity well until the mid-twentieth century, when the finite nature of resources and the impact of human activity on the planet came to the forefront. Looking ahead, estimates indicate that from 2010 to 2025, global food caloric consumption could increase by 24 percent, food spending by 57 percent, packaging by 47 percent, and end-of-life materials by 41 percent.
What this trajectory means for the current population growth scenario of 9 billion by 2050 is not promising, but it will most likely mean good news for residents of Myanmar, a country that is abundant in natural resources and near universally has the lowest population density of its neighbors (80 people per square km of land area; only Laos has a lower population density with 20 people per square km).
The Circular Economy May Be around the Corner
Production in a variety of industries is now gradually shifting to a circular model, from cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave, as a response to growing resource scarcity.
This means that attention is increasingly focusing on the total resource productivity of the factors of production through materials, product and process innovation, and the avoidance of unnecessary waste (e.g. in packaging, as well as the reuse of waste and extension of the lifespan of products). Not only would this improve the industry’s environmental footprint, it would also allow for greater resource independence.
The textile and garment industry is traditionally known as being energy-intensive with a heavy environmental footprint.
17:01:30 local time BANGLADESH
* Fire at a Savar textile:
A fire broke out at a textile factory adjacent to bus stand in Uline area at Savar, on outskirts of the capital, Wednesday noon.
The fire originated from standard machine at ground floor of two-storey building of Anlima Textile around 12:00 noon.
On information, two fire fighting units of from Savar Fire Brigade rushed to the spot and are trying to douse the blaze.
The extent of loss could not be known immediately.
to read. & to read.
* No let up in sufferings of RMG female workers despite many efforts:
Despites undertaking multifaceted initiatives by the government to upgrade working condition and living standards of the people employed in the country’s most labor intensive readymade garment (RMG) industry, the vast majority women workers in the sector are yet to get the maximum benefit.
According the industry sources, women suffer the worst from poor working conditions because they hold low-skilled jobs where occupational hazards are greater due to overcrowding, poor ventilation and inadequate fire-prevention measures.
Female workers are mostly employed in the lower category of jobs like operator, finishing helper and others. These jobs are very monotonous in nature. Because of the nature of their jobs, female workers sometimes lose interest in work and become depressed.
Sources close with RMG employees said female workers are sexually harassed by their co-workers in the factory or by police or by ruffians in the street.
There are frequent cases of female workers being trapped in factories during extra hours at night where no supervisors are present and many die in unhindered fire accidents.
* Trade union calls for implementation of wage board at RMG:
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre on Tuesday said many readymade garment factories have not yet implemented the new wage board for workers.
The minimum wages for the garment workers, effective from January, have been set at Tk. 5,300.
Addressing a press conference at Mukti Bhaban, the trade union alleges many factory owners have resorted to termination of the workers as they demanded news wages.
read more. & read more.
* Over 300 apparel factories sued for non-compliance:
Before taking action, the non-compliant factories were given 10 days to correct their faults, but nothing they did
The government has filed cases with Labour Courts against more than 300 apparel factories which were found short of adequate fire and building safety measures during inspection, said labour ministry officials.
The factories were sued on the basis of findings by the labour and employment ministry inspections recently to a number of over 3,460 factories across the country.
The inspection was conducted in a seven-month period after the Rana Plaza collapse, which found over 300 factories keeping fire exits locked during working hours, having escape gates not clear, skipping appointment letters to workers and not maintaining regularity in salary payment etc.
“Inspection focused on fire and building safety especially, as it is a main concern now after several deadly incidents,” said Mikail Shipar, secretary of labour and employment ministry.
* ‘Compensate RMG victims, ensure unions’:
Kalpona Akter places recommendations at the US Senate committee hearing.
Retailers in the United States were urged to compensate for the victims of Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza at the US Senate committee on Tuesday.
Kalpona Akter, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, placed the recommendation at the committee hearing.
She also urged the retailers to sign an accord regarding fire and building safety in Bangladesh and voiced for participation of firms resourcing Bangladesh in the garment sector.
Kalpona recommended for ensuring trade union-rights for workers and withdraw false charges against labour leaders before rewarding Bangladesh with GSP facility.
She urged for ensuring workplace safety and transparent probe in labour leader Aminul Islam murder before reinstating the GSP privilege.
Pressures were also recommended for reformation of labour laws in line with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.
The last recommendation was made for providing mental health services for garment workers who suffered the trauma of tragic incidents.
to read. & read more.
* GSP still far off, US official hints:
Bangladesh is lacking in some key aspects in the conditions set for retaining the status, the official says
The progress of Bangladesh is “not enough” for regaining the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) in the US, its labour ministry said at the US Senate hearing.
“Bangladesh needs to work harder,” the acting associate deputy undersecretary for international affairs in the Bureau of international labour affairs Eric Biel said.
Bangladesh has fulfilled 13 of the 16 conditions set by the United States for regaining the GSP status, Bangladesh’s Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said.
Speaking at the regular parliament session on Tuesday evening, the minister expressed hopes that the remaining conditions will be fulfilled soon.
* American Retailers’ Garments “Made With Violence Against Women” in Bangladesh, Miller Says:
Women working in Bangladesh’s garment factories are caught in a web of exploitive social and economic structures, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said today after meeting with a teenage garment worker who was trapped in the building collapse at Rana Plaza that killed more than 1,100 workers and injured 2,500 more.
Following a meeting between Reba Sikder, the 19-year-old garment worker; Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity; the International Labor Rights Forum; and multiple members of Congress, Miller released the following statement:
“Young women like Reba Sikder make up the vast majority of workers in Bangladesh’s garment factories. They are the driving force of the industry and the majority of its victims.
* BD must do more to regain GSP:
United States said Bangladesh needs to do much more on improving labor standards to win back duty-free trade benefits suspended after the global textile industry`s worst disaster.
The country senior officers came up with the observation at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing titled “Prospects for Democratic Reconciliation and Workers` Rights in Bangladesh” Tuesday night.
Washington suspended the benefits last June, two months after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Savar, on outskirt of the capital that killed 1,129 people. The disaster put a grim spotlight on low wages and lax safety in the impoverished nation`s lucrative apparel business that exports nearly $5 billion annually to the U.S.
Among those providing written testimony to a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Bangladesh was Reba Sikder, 18, who was pulled from the rubble of the Rana Plaza after being trapped for two days. She recounted her struggle to recover, reports associated press.
“What has been most debilitating is the trauma and panic I still feel, which has made it virtually impossible to find work,” said Siker, who attended the hearing, but did not speak in person. “I feel afraid just looking at tall buildings and I am scared to go inside. I worry there will be another collapse.”
* GSP revival seems uncertain:
Bangladesh has not yet made sufficient progress, US labour dept official tells Senate hearing
The US yesterday said Bangladesh did not make sufficient progress in improving labour standards to justify revival of duty-free trade benefits.
Eric Biel, acting associate deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the US labour department, said, “Late last month, the US government conveyed to the government of Bangladesh its conclusion that Bangladesh had not made sufficient progress to date under the Action Plan to warrant reinstatement of GSP benefits.”
He was speaking at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing styled “Prospects for Democratic Reconciliation and Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh” yesterday.
In June last year, the US suspended Bangladesh’s trade benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), citing Bangladesh’s failure in ensuring internationally-recognised worker rights.
* Focus on int’l standard: Mozena to RMG owners:
Stressing the importance of maintaining international standard, US Ambassador Dan W Mozena on Tuesday called on the RMG factory owners to reject ‘business as usual’ and lead ‘enthusiastically and creatively’ the transformation of the sector to avert tragedies like Tazreen and Rana Plaza.
“I believe business as usual is a recipe for more Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza tragedies, which will destroy the prospects for Bangladesh’s apparel sector in the global marketplace,” he said.
The US diplomat was addressing the launching ceremony of a documentary film on the RMG sector, titled ‘It’s not all about the price tag’, at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).
Citing an example, Mozena said early this month at a meeting with government officials some factory owners made clear their opposition to bringing their factories to international standards for worker safety and labor rights, claiming the standard is too high.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* US to establish full-time labour attaché in Dhaka:
The United States Department of Labour is working actively to establish a full-time labour attaché for its embassy here to ensure ‘greater engagement’ on workers’ rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh in the coming months and years.
“…we’re working actively to establish a full-time labour attaché in our Embassy in Dhaka,” said Eric Biel, acting Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Lbour Affairs at the US Department of Labour.
He shared the plan while making his statement at a hearing to examine the ‘prospects for democratic reconciliation and workers’ rights in Bangladesh held at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington on Tuesday.
read more. & read more.
* Dutch support sought to implement Garment Village project:
Bangladesh has sought Dutch government support for implementing the proposed ‘Garment Village’ in Munshiganj to help grow the vital sector further maintaining the global standard.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam conveyed it to Netherlands Ambassador in Dhaka Gerben De Jong during a meeting at his office at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
The State Minister appreciated the possible Dutch support for building a deep-sea port in Sonadia and thanked the government of the Netherlands for its contribution to the Better Work Programme aimed at improving the working conditions in Bangladesh’s RMG industry.
During the meeting, the Dutch envoy observed that political stability is needed for the smooth functioning of trade and commerce, and deplored violence in realising political goals, according to a Foreign Ministry media release.
read more. & read more.
* Global textile players turning to BD, says BTMA chief:
A four-day textile and garment machinery exhibition opens today (Wednesday) at Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) in the city.
The 11th Dhaka International Textile & Garment Machinery Exhi-bition (DTG) will continue till February 15.
The annual fair is jointly organised by Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), Chan Chao International Co., Ltd. Taiwan, and Yorkers Trade and Marketing Service Co, Ltd, Hong Kong.
The exhibition is an ideal platform to demonstrate new products and technologies, as well as meet with manufacturers, traders and buyers, and exploit business opportunities, Jahangir Alamin, president of BTMA said at a press conference.
* ‘Investment in textile sector faces setback’:
Jahangir Alamin, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) yesterday said both local and foreign direct investment in the textile sector have been hindered mainly due to three problems: lack of gas and electricity connection to industrial units, the political situation and high interest rate of bank loans.
The BTMA president made this observation at a press conference on the 11th Dhaka International Textile and Garments Machinery Exhibition (DTG) 2014 in the BTMA office of the capital.
Many entrepreneurs could not make any investments in the textile sector due to the discontinuation of gas and electricity connections, Alamin said. There are some apparel entrepreneurs who failed to start production in their newly built factories because of having no gas and electricity connection, he noted.
Moreover, the recent political turmoil across the country also hindered overall investment in the last couple months. Foreign investors have been observing the country’s business atmosphere, which has heavily deteriorated due to the long political unrest in the last two months of 2013, he added.
* Knitwear, woven items export: BD earns Tk 92,772.85cr in July-Dec‘13:
Bangladesh earned Tk 92,772.85 crore by exporting knitwear and woven items in the first half of the current fiscal (2013-14).
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed disclosed this in Parliament, replying to a written question of M Abdul Latif (Chittagong-11).
He said that in the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal, the country earned Tk 106,491.46 crore by exporting knitwear, woven items, home textile, footwear items, frozen foods, jute and jute goods, and leather and leather goods.
* Bangladesh earns $27.02bn from exports in last fiscal:
Bangladesh earned US$ 27.02 billion in the last fiscal (2012-13) by exporting 705 items to 192 destinations across the world. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed informed this in Parliament while replying to a starred question of Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury (Sylhet-3), reports UNB.
Tofail said that the post-independent Bangladesh started to export with only 25 items in 68 countries and earned US$ 348 million in its first fiscal year.
“In the last 43 years, the average growth of export was 12.19 percent,” he added.
* Govt aims to retain GSP status soon:
Bangladesh is only three conditions short of the conditions set by the US, minister says
Bangladesh aims to regain the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) privileges from the United States soon, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said.
“The government has already met 13 of the 16 conditions set by the US,” the minister said at the regular parliament session on Tuesday evening.
“We are hopeful of meeting the three remaining conditions as early as possible,” Tofail said in reply to a supplementary question in the Jatiya Sangsad.
The conditions are appointment of 200 inspectors, permitting trade unions at export processing zones (EPZs) and solving allegations of torture on workers in 19 factories, the minister said.
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* ‘Restore GSP facilities’:
They also urged all to work together so that accidents like the Tazreen blaze or the Rana Plaza collapse do not occur again
Politicians, economist and factory owners yesterday urged the US government to restore Bangladesh’s GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facilities, saying that the government and business entities have taken necessary measures to improve working conditions in the garments sector.
They also urged all to work together so that accidents like the Tazreen blaze or the Rana Plaza collapse do not occur again.
They made the request while speaking at the premier of a documentary, titled “It’s not all about the price tag,” by journalist Mohammad Mufazzal, at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity. The premier was also attended by State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W Mozena.
* Formation of ‘Ticfa working group on GSP, labour affairs underway:
The United States (US) is planning to create a ‘Ticfa Working Group on GSP/Labour Affairs’ to provide an ongoing, formal mechanism for Bangladesh and US to address labour concerns.
“As agreed by the government of Bangladesh in the meeting following the Ticfa signing in late November 2013, we plan to create a Ticfa Working Group on GSP/Labour Affairs…,” said Lewis Karesh, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Labour, office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Government, BGMEA dillydallying with payment of compensation:
The speakers made the call at a press conference, jointly organised by Garment Sromik Trade Union Kendra and Rana Plaza Garment Sromik Union at Mukti Bhaban in the capital
Two apparel workers organisation yesterday called on to the authorities concerned to provide proper compensation to the Rana Plaza victims and publicise the list of people who were still missing from the deadly collapse on April 24.
The speakers made the call at a press conference, jointly organised by Garment Sromik Trade Union Kendra and Rana Plaza Garment Sromik Union at Mukti Bhaban in the capital.
They alleged that the government and owners of the factories were dillydallying in paying the compensation to the affected workers and their families and publishing the list of missing people in the collapse.
“From the very day of the collapse, the government and the BGMEA are promising compensation, but were yet to pay the affected families,” Emdadul Islam, president of Rana Plaza Garment Sromik Union, said.
16:31:30 local time INDIA
* Wage agreement reached for NTC workers:
Following an agreement reached on the wage issue for workers of the National Textile Corporation (NTC) mills in the State, the workers will return to work from midnight on Tuesday after a 22-day strike.
Labour Department officials held talks with representatives of the trade unions and the NTC management on Monday and Tuesday in Madurai and on Tuesday evening, representatives of four trade unions (CITU, INTUC, LPF and NDLF) signed an agreement with the NTC management in the presence of the officials. C. Padmanabhan, general secretary of Coimbatore District Mill Labour Union (CITU), told The Hindu that the five-year agreement was for increase in wages by Rs. 1,650 a month for each worker, payment of arrears for seven months, from June 1, 2013.
* Weavers walk 457 km to meet Governor:
A team of 25 handloom weavers from Chirala walked 457 km to the city to give a representation to Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan about various problems being faced by the handloom sector in the State.
Under the banner of the All-India Federation of Handloom Organisations and Rashtra Chenetha Jana Samakhya, the team set out from Chirala on January 1 and reached the Raj Bhavan here on Tuesday. The padayatra is part of a month-long satyagraha to highlight the issues plaguing the handloom sector.
In their representation, the workers requested for strict implementation of the Handloom Reservation Act which mandates protection of 11 varieties of handloom from the market forces. The Act is never implemented strictly and some times, State-sponsored exhibitions also allow a mix of products from handlooms and power looms, the organisations complained.
Restoration of the Thrift Fund scheme to benefit the handloom weavers, and 30 per cent wage incentive scheme for them based on monthly production were other demands put forth.
Public meeting tomorrow
A public meeting will be held by the weavers near Indira Park on February 13.
* Textile sector on cusp of revival:
However, textile industry reviving and some of closed mills could restart if they can manage to upgrade themselves
The textile sector in India, in crisis for the past few years, may now be on the cusp of revival. Experts are turning optimistic as some spinning mills could restart if they manage to upgrade themselves.
Last year was encouraging and the current one is also likely to fetch good business. Demand (export orders) is consistent and supply of crop good. Non-operative units, said millers, might restart operations with the revival of the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme.
About 383 spinning mills are non-operational. Of these, 184 are in Tamil Nadu. The latter and Gujarat have 70 per cent of non-operating mills. Gujarat has the second-highest number of closed mills.
16:31:30 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s textile & garment exports up 26.9% in Dec 2013:
Sri Lanka’s earnings from export of textiles and garments grew by 26.9 per cent year-on-year to US$ 454 million in December 2013, according to a press release on ‘External Sector Performance – December 2013’ issued by the Economics Research Department of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
16:01:30 local time PAKISTAN
* Labour Convention Workers want laws implemented:
Representatives of different labour unions have demanded that the government strictly implement the labour laws to stop widespread exploitation of the workers class.
They were addressing at a Sindh Labour Convention at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) in the memory of founder general secretary of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) Saleem Raza on the occasion of his seventh anniversary.
The moot organized by the NTUF was presided over by their central president Rafiq Baloch and was attended by labour leaders belonging to all provinces the country.
NTUF central deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor said the process of privatisation has already failed in Pakistan.
Giving the example of the privatisation of KESC, he said consumers were not facilitated after the privatisation but instead the electricity went costlier and the duration of load shedding further expanded.
He said the consumers are paying more bills just for more load shedding. He said the proposed privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Railways, PIA and other state-run institutions would further destroy the national economy.
He suggested to run these institutions profitably with the cooperation of their labour unions.
* Finance ministry asked to release funds for export promotion:
The Export Development Fund (EDF) Board on Monday urged the finance ministry to release the withheld amounts collected from export proceeds meant for implementation of export promotion measures.
The board meeting, headed by its Chairman Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has recommended to the finance ministry to release the amount as per the Export Development Act 1999.
An amendment was made in the EDF in 2005, which binds the ministry of finance to transfer the entire collection of export development surcharge (EDS) to the EDF for spending on the export promotion measures from the country.
* Job creation: Carpet industry vies for a stake in PM loan scheme:
The Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA) has asked the government to collaborate with the body on disbursement of loans through the Prime Minister’s Youth Business Loan Scheme.
The carpet industry’s representative body believes the industry is best suited for job creation in rural areas, which is the primary focus of the loan scheme.
PCMEA Chairman Akhtar Nazir Khan, in a letter written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stressed that business loans could be used to set up small manufacturing units in rural areas consisting of five to 10 handlooms and offered the association’s assistance in assessing and recommending eligible candidates.
* Aptma hails decision to import LNG:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chairman S M Tanveer has welcomed the assurance of importing LNG by November on war footing basis by provincial Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and expressed the hope that it will mitigate the energy constraints of the Punjab-based textile industry, a statement said.
The chief minister had already been supportive to the Punjab-based textile industry and provided gas and electricity supply on hourly basis in the wake of GSP plus facility from the EU, he said.
The approval of Aptma’s energy formula by the Punjab chief minister has eased down the energy constraints of the Punjab-based textile industry to a certain extent and the industry is highly grateful to him.
* US textile & apparel imports touch $104bn in 2013: