16:49:26 local time CHINA
* Thousands protest in Zhejiang city after safety crackdown closes more than 4,500 shoe factories:
Angry protests by thousands of shoemakers broke out in a city in coastal Zhejiang province after an extensive crackdown on workplace safety standards forced the closure of more than 4,500 shoe factories.
Local officials ordered extensive safety inspections of factories in Wenling, a city known for its thriving shoe-making industry, after 16 people were killed when a fire broke out at a shoe factory on January 14.
The local government quickly dispatched task forces to inspect more than 6,000 shoe-making factories in the city, many of them medium and small-sized workshops, ordering the closures of more than 4,500 of those incurring violations, including inadequate firefighting equipment, unlicensed business activities, or building code violations.
The factories found to have breached the safety codes will be allowed to reopen only when all workplace safety standards are met and pass inspection.
* Chinese clothing sector to benefit from RMB depreciation:
The depreciation of the Chinese renminbi (RMB) in the last few days is likely to benefit the Chinese clothing sector, according to experts.
In mid-February 2014, the exchange rate was US$ 1 = 6.06 yuan, which has depreciated to 6.15 yuan by first week of March 2014.
According to experts, the decline in RMB value is a normal fluctuation, and hence the depreciation is likely to be of short-term nature. But, from a market perspective, this depreciation in RMB value will benefit some export sectors, especially the textiles and clothing sector.
The companies exporting garments to the US will especially gain from settlement of foreign exchange or sales growth, according to market analysts.
16:49:26 local time PHILIPPINES
* Gov’t inaction on illegal layoff of 3,600 workers slammed:
Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Labor Department’s main office in Intramuros, Manila this morning to condemn the agency’s lack of immediate action on the illegal retrenchment of 3,600 workers by a British-owned garments factory based in Biñan, Laguna.
The labor group said the illegal closure of Carina Apparel Incorporated – which supplies products to brands like Marks & Spencer, Calvin Klein, Gap, Victoria’s Secret, Uniqlo, Forever 21, and Toray – last Feb. 21 shows that big foreign capitalists have been emboldened by the government to violate workers’ rights.
KMU said the real reason for the illegal closure is the company’s refusal to negotiate with the workers led by the independent Carina Apparel Incorporated Labor Union or Cailu for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, not the losses supposedly incurred by the company due to workers’ absenteeism and refusal to cooperate.
“Almost 3,600 workers are affected and it’s been more than a week after the illegal closure, yet the Aquino government has done nothing. It has clearly emboldened capitalists to violate workers’ rights and even to blame workers for such violations,” said Nitz Gonzaga, KMU vice-chair for women’s affairs.
* Laguna garment firm lays off 3,600:
Around 600 factory workers of the Carina Apparel Inc., a manufacturer of global garment brands based in Biñan, Laguna stormed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday morning to demand an order for them to return to work or for their separation pay.
British-owned Carina Apparel manufactures lingerie for Marks and Spencer, Uniqlo, Gap, Forever 21, Toray, Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret.
The DOLE was caught by surprise by the sudden and unexplained closure of the Laguna-based factory that laid off 3,600 employees in the middle of a collective bargaining agreement being worked out between the company and its labor union. The number of workers dismissed is the biggest in recent history.
read more. & read more.
15:49:26 local time VIET NAM
* Garment exports up 44.9% in February:
Vietnam garment and textile exports in February nearly doubled over the same period last year and tallied in at US$1.3 billion for the month.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) reported that Vietnam’s garment export markets show positive signs of improvement and production is picking up in pace following an unanticipated lull during the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.
In the first two months, garment export revenue saw a rise of 30.1% from a year earlier thanks to a sharp increase of 33% in casual wear exports, 36.9% in natural fabrics, and 6.5% in polyester fabrics.
The MoIT said that garment and textile businesses are reporting a solid upswing in export contracts and orders for the second and third quarters of this year.
The local apparel sector is also implementing a large number projects and devising concrete plans to seize new opportunities created by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is expected to be signed in the near future.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 5/3. (7th item).
* Vietnam PM earmarks 65bn dong for training textile workers:
15:49:26 local time CAMBODIA
* ‘Like animals in a cage’:
A day after union leader Vorn Pov was violently arrested during garment strikes in early January, he was driven to an unknown location and told by armed officers to get out of the vehicle.
“I was in shock and scared that I could be shot,” the 39-year-old told the Post inside Correctional Center 3 in Kampong Cham province on Monday. “At one stage, they stopped and, armed with guns, led me in handcuffs. But we were just told to urinate then get back in.”
Pov, the president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), shook slightly as he spoke with a reporter in a visitor’s room in the prison, also known as Trapaing Plong.
“We live here like animals in a cage,” he said of the place he and 20 other men – activists and workers – have been held since security forces cracked down on striking garment workers on January 2 and 3. “Wherever we walk, we have a security guard follow us. It’s completely unjust. Why did they arrest us? We are victims.”
* Park off limits; unions defiant:
Union groups said they will go through with a planned forum on labour rights in Cambodia’s garment sector at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday, despite the municipal government’s forbidding of the gathering yesterday.
In a meeting at City Hall yesterday morning, government officials told representatives of 18 union groups that the number of people estimated to attend – between 10,000 and 30,000 – exceeded the limit of 200 people allowed to gather at Freedom Park, said Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA).
“The municipality’s decision to forbid the forum shows that low- and mid-level authorities do not follow the government’s leaders,” Chhun Oeung said. “This is what makes people lose trust in the ruling government.”
* City Hall Denies Unions Permission for Freedom Park Forum:
A group of 18 labor unions and associations said they will proceed with plans for a public forum in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday, despite City Hall’s rejecting their request, citing public security concerns.
The unions, who are organizing a nationwide strike in the garment industry on March 12 for a higher minimum wage and other demands, sent a letter to City Hall on February 26 informing them of the public forum, to which government and opposition party leaders had been invited to address an anticipated crowd of 30,000 garment workers.
Denial of the unions’ right to gather at Freedom Park comes exactly a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed that he had reinstated the constitutional right to freedom of assembly, which he suspended in early January.
“Federations and unions who asked to hold the above event are being asked to hold it at their own offices in order to maintain a good security situation in Phnom Penh,” the municipality said in a statement after meeting with union leaders Tuesday morning.
* CNRP Looks for Quieter Plan of Action as Labor Strike Looms:
When a group of six unions organized nationwide strikes in December demanding a $160 minimum wage, the opposition CNRP aggressively took up the cause.
Opposition leaders rallied support outside factory gates around the country and tens of thousands of garment workers flooded into Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where CNRP president Sam Rainsy told them not to accept a dollar less than $160 a month.
More than two months after the government violently suppressed demonstrations by garment workers and supporters of the CNRP, labor unions are planning a second round of strikes, set to begin next week, in which workers will be asked to stay at home.
But this time, the CNRP is taking a much more passive approach to its support for workers.
Mr. Rainsy said that CNRP leaders have not discussed what role the party will play in the upcoming strikes, set to begin on March 12, which are being organized by 16 labor unions and associations.
* Factory ignored direct order: cops:
When commune police in Kampong Speu ordered Complete Honour Footwear factory administrators to open their gates and allow workers to leave last week, management there simply refused, police told the Post yesterday.
“The company did not listen to my order to open the door,” said Kheng Chan Thol, police chief of Kong Pisei district’s Chong Roc commune. “They worried about property destruction some union workers and workers may cause.”
In interviews with the Post on Monday, four employees reported that the factory locked its gates, preventing workers last week from participating in a week-long boycott of overtime work in protest at the government’s refusal to raise the sector’s minimum monthly wage to $160 and its continued detainment of 21 protesters.
* End Right to Unionize, Businesses Ask Hun Sen:
Prime Minister Hun Sen told business leaders and government officials Tuesday that he will not tolerate “illegal” labor strikes that harm investment, but avoided judgment on a request to withdraw ratification of a U.N. convention protecting workers’ rights to unionize.
Speaking at the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum, Mr. Hun Sen also referred to the opposition CNRP as an “extremist group” that had stirred unrest by enticing garment workers to take part in illegal activities during a nationwide strike two months ago.
“The opposition party and its unions have used a subversive policy that takes the workers to be a political [tool], and have instigated the staging of illegal strikes, especially to demand an extreme minimum wage, with the intention of destroying the investment climate, workers benefits, and job opportunities for the youth,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“The government would like to reaffirm that the implementation of the freedom to make demands [unionize] must be done legally,” he said.
“If it is done against the law, there will be no tolerance.”
* PM slams CNRP ‘incitement’:
Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that the government would not allow the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to use garment workers as “political hostages” in a strongly worded rebuke of what he painted as a conspiratorial relationship between the CNRP and a number of trade unions to incite protest.
“The opposition party and its trade union [allies] have been exercising political demagogy by using workers as their political pedal [and] inciting workers to illegally strike and demonstrate for an [unrealistic] minimum wage as part of their aim to pollute the investment environment, destroy workers’ benefits and job opportunities for youth,” the premier said in a speech at the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum.
* Cambodian PM says no more tolerance for illegal protests:
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated Tuesday that the government would no longer tolerate illegal strikes or demonstrations led by the opposition and its aligned trade unions.
Speaking during the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum, the premier said the opposition party and its trade unions have used demagogue to incite garment workers to hold illegal strikes and demonstrations to demand higher wages unreasonably.
“They are using workers as their political pedal with their aim to pollute investment climate and destroy workers’ benefits and job opportunities for youth,” he said at the forum, which was attended by some 400 government officials, business representatives, diplomatic corps and development partners.
* Hun Sen says wage hikes should be linked to increased productivity:
Prime Minister Hun Sen has told local business leaders that increased wages should be linked to improvements in the productivity of workers.
* Labour Anger Simmers in Cambodia:
An uneasy calm prevails in Cambodia after the government crackdown on protests by garment workers in January. With public gatherings banned and charges framed against 23 union leaders and activists, labour discontent may not be spilling on to the streets, but it is simmering.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has now called for removal of the ban on public assembly.
The government should not be suppressing the demonstrators if they want to prove that Cambodia is a democratic country,” Phorn Sreywin, a 26-year-old garment worker, told IPS.
She has the support of the Workers Information Centre (WIC), which supports women in the garment industry, but voices asking for higher minimum wages in this impoverished Southeast Asian country appear to have been muffled for the time being.
“There should never have been a ban as this contradicts the Constitution and treaties ratified by Cambodia,” Naly Pilorge, Director of the human rights NGO LICADHO, told IPS by e-mail.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), 93 percent of which comprises foreign business owners, mostly from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, has cited the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention number 87 to claim that workers have no “right to strike”.
Trade unions have also condemned GMAC for stating that it condoned the military action on striking garment workers Jan. 3 that killed four of them, left one missing and seriously injured over 30.
“The response from the Cambodian government is very oppressive,” said Pranom Somwong, a labour activist and consultant for the Clean Clothes Campaign who helped organise a protest in Bangkok in front of the Cambodian consulate.
She also told IPS that factory owners were “confrontational” vis-a-vis the unions. “Denying workers the right to freedom of assembly and the right to a living wage is unacceptable,” she said.
Tola Moeun, head of the advocacy organisation, Community Legal Education Centre, explained that factory owners have threatened labour leaders with lawsuits. “Yang Sophorn (president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions) was sued by suppliers (factory owners) for mobilising workers to strike,” he pointed out.
He highlighted another problem.
Despite 90 percent of garment workers being women, men tend to lead the labour unions, partly owing to the combative environment. “Women do not feel confident in their positions or are not provided enough opportunities to grow, especially due to their poor wages and short term contracts,” he told IPS.
* 28 complaints filed against protest union leaders:
28 complaints have been filed against labor union leaders who led and allegedly incited protests from December last year to January 5, 2014, said factory representative on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Government-Private Sector Forum, Nang Sothy, representative of working group of professional relations, said that the union leaders, who were sued, include Pav Sina, Ath Thon, Chea Mony, Mam Nhem, Yang Sophan and Rong Chhun.
He said the protests led by those union leaders caused property damages at the factories worth about USD75 million, urging the government to deal with establishment of unions in factories, and the court to launch investigation against those unionists.
* In Vietnam, ‘they don’t shoot their workers’; in Cambodia, they do:
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said Cambodia’s garment workers are paid a fair wage, comparing the new monthly wage of $100 to Vietnam’s. He suggests the unions are too demanding and that investors will flee. However, a researcher points out Vietnam is in flux too.
“In Vietnam there have been all kinds of strikes over the past 10 years. Tens of thousands of workers have gone on strikes. It’s a very active worker community,” said labor researcher Dennis Arnold. Arnold has written several reports on the garment industry in Southeast Asia and recently advised a fact-finding mission looking into the deaths of four Cambodian garment workers, with an additional one missing and assumed dead and over 30 injured. The report, titled A Day that Shook Cambodia, found that Cambodia’s military provoked protestors and that some of the military did double duty by working for Yakjin Factory where the crackdown took place, in addition to their regular job.
The government has alleged that the strikers were “extremists” but Arnold points out that strikes are common in Vietnam as well but are relatively unreported in the media compared to Cambodia.
“Unions [in Vietnam] mediate between the government and workers, they aren’t true representatives of workers’ interests,“ explained Arnold. “Yet you see a lot of ‘wildcat’ [worker-led, technically illegal] strikes there.”
However, he said “they don’t shoot their workers.” If that were to happen, Vietnam’s socialist image would take a hit. “But [Vietnam’s workers] are not yet seen as a political threat.”
* BetterFactories Media updates 5 March 2014, End right to unionize, businesses ask Hun Sen:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-05 Factory ignored direct order cops
2014-03-05 Like animal in a cage
2014-03-05 Park off limits; unions defiant
2014-03-05 PM slams CNRP incitement
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-05 City Hall denies unions permission for Freedom Park Forum
2014-03-05 CNRP looks for quieter plan of action as labor strike looms
2014-03-05 End right to unionize, businesses ask Hun Sen
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
* BetterFactories Media updates 3-4 March 2014, Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-03 A life forever changed
2014-03-03 Unions plan forum
2014-03-04 Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2013-03-03 NGO declares Coca-Cola’s visit compromised by police
* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-04 GMAC demands CLEC to clarify
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
16:49:26 local time INDONESIA
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:
1. Garment factories fall short on health and safety. Read the full article here.
2. Next government must address labor productivity : Experts.
Read the full article here.
3. Ahok Asks BPS to Conduct Decent Living Standards Survey.
Read the full article here.
4. Thai Unrest Spurs Japan Inc. to Turn Focus to Indonesia: Economy.
Read the full article here.
5. What Indonesia Needs Right Now Is Good Corporate Governance.
Read the full article here.
6. Menakertrans request for stronger relationship between businessman and workers. Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here
7. Workers strong solidarity brings good result to the people.
Read the full article here
Read the Google Translate English Version here
BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
* Anti Harassment in the Workplace, February 2014 « Better Work Indonesia:
Anyone at the workplace maybe prone to various forms of harassment .
There seem to be many cases of workplace harassment in the garment industry.
This may be due to various reasons of a large number of young, inexperienced, rural migrant female workers under the supervision of fewer men and many more. To offer more protection for workers in garment industry, Better Work Indonesia collaborated with Pulih Foundation to conduct an anti harassment training in the workplace in February 2014.
The training was located at PT Hansae Indonesia Utama, one of garment factory in Indonesia. The training was attended by representatives of workers and supervisor.
15:19:26 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Garment industry to increase foreign investment:
The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) expects the garment industry to gain US$ 1.5 billion in foreign investment by 2015 if political reforms continue.
Enterprises that deal in cutting, making and packing are creating job opportunities as foreign investment grows in the garment sector. Garment exports made record earnings with US$ 1.1 billion in the period from January to December last year.
“The garment enterprises are now increasing due to EU’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) system,” said Myint Soe, chairman for MGMA.
“The orders from the EU and the U.S. are increasing due to the GSP system. Now we have to meet U.S. investors because they want to offer the same system. But it depends on political situation in Myanmar … because the sanctions are being lifted step by step,” added the MGMA chairman.
14:49:26 local time BANGLADESH
* Accord finds flaws in RMG factory building, calls for evacuation:
The Accord, the largest platform of western retailers, has called for immediate evacuation of a readymade garment (RMG) unit in Tejgaon after its inspection team found major structural flaws in the factory building for the sake of its workers’ safety.
The Accord’s inspectors found some concerns about the main columns along two internal grids of the building, where the Jeans Care Ltd is operating, were measured to be less than half the size shown on a structural drawing. The team informed its chief safety inspector about the serious flaw.
Following the finding, the Accord conveyed the message to the concerned authorities including the factory owner, the BGMEA and the Labour Ministry.
In the message, the Accord’s Chief Safety Inspector Brad Loewen said: “There are some serious concerns with the structural integrity of the building you (the factory) occupy. In order to ensure the immediate safety of the workers, I request you to evacuate the building immediately.”
Immediately after being informed, a government-formed review committee took up the issue and rushed to the factory Tuesday to scrutinise the Accord’s assessment report.
A member of the review committee, however, told the FE that the committee reached a decision on continuation of the factory’s production for time being with reducing its load capacity.
* Accord finds ‘serious faults’ in a factory:
Accord, a platform of EU retailers, has detected a garment factory, Jeans Care Ltd, in the capital with some ‘serious’ faults in its structural integrity and asked the factory authorities to shut down the unit.
The review panel under the National Tripartite Committee, however, on Tuesday allowed the company to run its factory but asked it to take steps to remove some faults the panel found during a physical inspection to the factory following the Accord’s move.
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh chief safety inspector Brad Loewen on Monday sent an e-mail to the authorities of Jeans Care Ltd asking them to evacuate the factory immediately.
‘There are some serious concerns with the structural integrity of the building you occupy. In order to ensure the immediate safety of the workers, I request that you evacuate the building immediately,’ he said in his e-mail.
On February 28, structural inspectors of the Accord carried out a visual inspection to Jeans Care Ltd.
The authorities of the factory, however, said that they were running their business for many years in the commercial building which is situated at Tejgaon in the city.
‘I do not think there in any serious structural problems in the building for which the factory should be shut down,’ Md Shofiullah, managing director of Jeans Care Ltd, told New Age on Tuesday.
He said that they had informed the decision of the Accord to the BGMEA as a total of 700 workers were employed in the factory.
Shofiullah said, ‘The Dhaka office of a German retail brand has already made an enquiry that weather there is any structural fault in the factory as the Accord has also sent its primary observations to the brands and buyers under the group before the review.’
* Minimum Wage in the RMG Sector of Bangladesh: Definition, Determination Method and Levels:
Minimum wage in the RMG sector of Bangladesh is a debated issue, mainly due to lack of operational definition and method for calculation. This study is undertaken to come up with a definition and method for calculation of the minimum wage based on the ILO Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 (No. 131).
The underlying principle of this definition is that minimum wage should be sufficient enough to meet the basic needs of workers and their families, and should provide some discretionary income.
Based on the definition, the minimum wage has been estimated under three scenarios – poverty line, actual expenditure and aspirational diet. Considering the industry’s capacity, the study proposed a phase-wise implementation of the minimum wage under which about 80 per cent of the proposed wage (Tk. 8,200) equivalent to Tk. 6,500 could be provided in the first phase.
* Jute mills workers postpone strike:
Jute mills workers have postponed their 24-hour strike scheduled to be enforced in the country’s all state-run jute mills tomorrow (Wednesday).
Leaders of the jute mills workers took the decision during a meeting with State Minister for Textiles and Jute Mirza Azam at the Textiles and Jute Ministry on Tuesday.
Earlier, on February last, Bangladesh Jute Mills workers League, CBA of state-run jute mills and non-CBA Sangram Parishad jointly announced the 24-hour strike in the country’s all state-run jute mills on March 5 to press home their 11-point demand.
* Jute mill workers block road in Khulna:
Workers of nine state-owned jute mills of Khulna–Jessore industrial belt put up barricade on Tuesday at the Daulatpur new road intersection in Khulna city, demanding payment of their fourth installment of wages.
Road transport services remained disrupted from 9:00am to 11:00am on Khulna–Jessore highway.
The workers who are on movement to press home their 11-point demands will go on 24-hour work stoppage today in all these jute mills under banner of CBA and non-CBA Action Coordination Committee.
* Footwear export gains momentum:
Stress on marketing research, designing to stay in race
Bangladeshi footwear is getting a brand status in the global market and the export may cross $ 1.0 billion mark within next few years, sector insiders have said.
The optimism has come as the export growth is showing a positive trend with new export markets being tapped almost every year alongside the existing ones.
According to the data available from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 Bangladesh exported footwear worth $ 335.51 million while the export grew by 25 per cent to $ 419.32 million in the last FY 2012-13.
In the first seven months of July-January of the current fiscal the footwear export already fetched $ 349 million.
* Tofail holds talks on GSP with foreign diplomats today:
‘The diplomats would communicate the bilateral trade issues with the high-ups of their countries,’ he said
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed holds a meeting with six foreign diplomats and ILO representative in Bangladesh today to discuss the progress on execution of the action plan in getting back the generalised system of preferences (GSP) in the US market, official sources said.
Minister will inform them about the status of implementation of the fire and safety issues in the garments factories in the country, and how the government would make efforts to enhance bilateral trade with the countries, a senior official of the commerce ministry said yesterday.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Sweatshop activist demands Wal-Mart, The Children’s Place, others compensate Rana Plaza victims:
Ratcheting up pressure on the large apparel companies Benetton , The Children’s Place and Wal-Mart , a European anti-sweatshop activist group has released a letter endorsed by 40 signatories – 22 of them are Canadian – asking companies that bought clothing from Rana Plaza in Bangladesh contribute to a fund for victims of the disaster.
A week ago, five brands including Canada’s Loblaw , as well as Mango, Zara, El Corte Ingles, and Mascot, became the first contributors to the Rana Plaza Donors Fund. Activists are hoping to raise $40 million to be distributed to victims of last April’s factory collapse, which killed at least 1,129 people.
The disaster brought into sharp focus the conditions and wages of apparel workers in the developing world. At Rana Plaza, workers were ordered to keep stitching hours after some complained of cracks in the building’s supporting walls. At another factory fire months earlier, safety exits were padlocked shut.
14:19:26 local time INDIA
* ‘2.5 lakh bonded labourers in textile industry alone’:
At a time when government is boasting that bonded labourer system has been eliminated from the state, there are more than 2.5 lakh bonded labourers in the textile industry alone, P M Kumar, general secretary of Textile Workers Federation has claimed.
He was participating in the one-day training programme for vigilance committee members on ‘elimination of bonded labour system’ organised by the Society for Community Organisation (SOCO) in the city on Monday.
Activists working on the abolishment of bonded labourer system in the state urged the state government for stringent action and implementation of existing Acts to prevent people falling victim to the social malady. According to the activists, the bonded labourer system is rampant at present in the form of one or the other.
“We do not know why the government is not taking stringent action against bonded labour. While government is boasting that it has been abolished, district collectors’ action against the system in several parts of the state is frequently reported,” Kumar said.
“Sumangali scheme, a popular bonded labourer system, which has been in practice for several years, continues to grow. Several parts of the state including Erode, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Rajapalayam are notorious for this practice.
Even girls between the age group of 12 and 14 are found in several factories including textile, brick chambers and handloom units. They are forced to work for more than 12 hours, without holidays, proper food, provident fund and other employee benefits. They are forced to stay inside the units until the period, which is usually three years,” he said.
13:49:26 local time PAKISTAN
* Baldia factory fire: no one’s been found guilty 18 months later:
There has been no progress in the criminal case filed against the owners and officials because of one reason or another
Almost 18 months after the tragic Baldia factory fire, there has been no progress in the criminal cases registered against the factory owners.
Due to one reason or another, charges have still not be framed against the accused for the incident that left around 260 workers dead and hundreds more injured on September 11, 2012.
In the latest development, the case investigation officer (IO) has been issued a show cause notice to explain his failure to provide copies of the charge-sheet to the suspects.
In the last hearing, the accused, who were present in the court, were told the IO had yet to come. The hearing was put off and a show cause notice was issued to the officer when he came to the court.
Many say that due to the lethargic role of the IO, the trial is still at an initial stage. Almost all the accused have been granted bail and it is obvious they would plead not guilty as they all consider themselves to be innocent.
Apart from the Ali Enterprises owners, several directors and officials of civic agencies were also found negligent in taking proper safety measures for the factory workers, which ultimately resulted in the worst indusial disaster in the history of Pakistan.
All the allegedly negligent officials have, however, been granted bail, and now the case is fixed for the next date either due to the non-appearance of some accused or the absence of the IO.
The prosecutor, observers say, has failed to play a proactive role in concluding this case that had jolted the then rulers, who made tall claims of providing justice to the poor victims’ families. The leaders left no stone unturned in sympathising with the victims as the case brought a bad name to the country.
* Germany will facilitate Pakistan to get GSP plus benefits: envoy:
Germany will facilitate Pakistan to get maximum benefits from GSP Plus and in this connection extensive vocational training program would be launched to further improve the quality and quantity of exportable surplus from Pakistan.
These were expressed by the German Ambassador Dr Cyril Nunn at Pakistan Textile Exporters Association here today.
Addressing the members of PTEA Dr Cyril Nunn said that GSP Plus status is an opportunity to Pakistan for improving its relations with the European Union in terms of not only trade but also economic and political relations. Pakistan would have a competitive edge in the EU markets and this facility will contribute to the reduction of poverty and promotion of sustainable development by giving a boost to the trading industry.