In the news 24 March 2014

00:29:03 local time map of china CHINA

* Chinese, Italians arrested over deadly factory fire:

Five people were detained on Thursday as part of an inquiry into a fire last December that killed seven people in a Chinese-run garment factory in Italy’s Tuscany region.

Five people were detained on Thursday as part of an inquiry into a fire last December that killed seven people in a Chinese-run garment factory in Italy’s Tuscany region.
Two of those held were the Italians owners of the building, located in the textile town of Prato, just north of Florence.

Also held were three Chinese — two sisters and one of their husbands — who ran the factory, and were inside when the blaze struck, managing to escape while others were trapped by security bars across the windows.
All face charges of multiple manslaughter and exploiting illegal labour.

Eleven workers had been living and sleeping in close quarters on makeshift beds when the fire broke out.
“There are violations so serious and dangerous that it’s not a question of asking what laws have been broken, but which ones were respected,” prosecutor Piero Tony wrote in the arrest warrant, according to Italian media reports.
read more.
channelnewsasia

23:29:03 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Lend your solidarity: We never forget : Bring the message of Free Somyot, Political Prisoners of 112 in the May Day 2014:

Dear comrades and friends,
Warm greetings!
We wish to update you the  2014- Jan-March 2014 update of new  lese majest case conviction, potential new cases and also the coming  event <30 April 2014> to remember the  3 years imprisonment of labour activist Somyot.

Despite the political crisis within the elites of Thailand that caused the unstable political and governance in Thailand since last Nov 2013.
The continuous of prosecution and victimized rights activist and civilian is continue under the draconian lese majeste law in Thailand.

 We also call upon you to bring the message of Free Somyot, Free Political Prisoners of Thailand and Abolish Lese  Majeste Law in the coming May Day rally in your country. <refer the posters in this text below>

1.     Amnesty International call for sending protest letter to Thai government from 24-30 Jan 2014: call for Free Somyot!
Amnesty International has declared Somyot as political prisoner of conscience .They have launched international appeal to call for release of Somyot.
Amnesty International this week calls on us to make  our protests to Yingluck Shinawatra  on behalf of Somyot. He has just completed one year of his 11 year sentence and we need your support to strengthen the appeal process for his release.
read more.
free-somyot-Eng

* Send your protest to Yingluck now:

Amnesty International this week calls on us to make  our protests to Yingluck Shinawatra  on behalf of Somyot. He has just completed one year of his 11 year sentence and we need your support to strengthen the appeal process for his release.

Please send your messages here or send by fax to +6622884016 or +6622825131. You can cut and paste the following Amnesty text below.

Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to raise my concerns about Somyot Prueksakasensuk’s imprisonment and urge you to release him, dismiss the charges against him, and overturn his conviction. I ask you and teh Royal Thai Government to protect people who are peacefully exercising their right to Freedom of Expression and amend Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code to bring it in line with International Human Rights standards.
Yours…
to read.
LIBRof BKKPRISON

23:29:03 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Campaigners call for disappearance probe:

Local and international civil society groups, including some of the world’s largest trade unions, are urging the government to immediately and thoroughly investigate the case of 16-year-old Khim Saphath, who mysteriously disappeared during a violent crackdown on protests in early January.

Saphath was last seen lying on Veng Sreng Boulevard with blood pouring from his chest on January 3 amid clashes between striking garment workers and security forces, who shot dead at least four people.

A friend and co-worker of Saphath, who saw him with the apparent bullet wound, told the Post on January 12 that he later heard from others that Saphath had been taken away in a military police truck.

Despite separate investigations by local rights groups Adhoc and Licadho, no eyewitnesses have been able to corroborate this.

But the 54 groups that signed yesterday’s open letter argue that given the context of Saphath’s disappearance, there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that he might have been subject to an “enforced disappearance”.
read more.
PPP new

* Public Letter Urging an Immediate Investigation into the Disappearance of Khem Sophath:

We, the undersigned civil society groups, express our deep concern over the disappearance of Khem Sophath, a 16-year-old boy missing since the violent crackdown by Cambodian security forces against striking garment workers on 3 January 2014 near the Canadia Industrial area on Veng Sreng road, Phnom Penh.

We call on the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to take all appropriate measures to immediately, thoroughly and impartially investigate Khem Sophath’s disappearance and inform his family of his fate or whereabouts.

The crackdown, which started on 2 January 2014, resulted in at least four people killed, dozens injured and 23 workers and human rights defenders arrested. Khem Sophath was last seen on the morning of 3 January 2014 lying on the ground on Veng Sreng road with blood pouring from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest. More than two months later, his whereabouts remain unknown.

The RGC acceded to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICCPED) on 27 June 2013 and is therefore legally bound by the terms of that treaty. Under Article 2 of the ICCPED, an enforced disappearance occurs if a person has been deprived of his or her liberty in any form by a State agent or person acting with the support or acquiescence of the State and, subsequently, the State refuses to acknowledge the deprivation or conceals the person’s whereabouts.
read more.
CLEC

* Appeal Court decides today on prominent protest leader’s bail request:

The Court of Appeal is to hear case of a protest leader Vorn Pov for second time this afternoon after his bail request was rejected last month.

Only Vorn Pov, who was arrested in protest crackdowns in January, is seeking his release on bail for the second time at the appeal court after the Supreme Court sent his case back to the Appeal Court.

Pov and other 22 protesters who were arrested during the deadly crackdown on January 2-3 have been accused of intentionally committing violence and damaging property.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Wing Star workers to end strike:

Employees at the Kampong Speu shoe factory where a ceiling collapse killed two workers last May are headed back to work today after more than a week on strike, but will take their demands to the Arbitration Council.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media updates 20-24 March 2014, NGOs urge gov’t to keep searching for missing Veng Sreng teen:

 * to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-20 All quiet on the garment front
2014-03-20 Bail request for Pov as union seeks property
2014-03-20 Bangladeshi unions aim at Primark
2014-03-20 Inditex reports slowdown
2014-03-20 Infighting at garment union
2014-03-20 Pepsi to buy only ‘clean’ sugar
2014-03-20 Report no partnership ILO
2014-03-20 The protester clause
2014-03-20 Wing Star workers hit the road
2014-03-21 Cambodia is on the move
2014-03-24 Wing Star workers to end strike

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-20 As Wing Star shoes strike enters third day, workers block road
2014-03-20 Bangladesh women find some independence in hard labour
2014-03-21 ILO, EU in talks on study of economic land concessions
2014-03-21 Wing Star threatens to close factory over strike
2014-03-21 Worst factories named, but will they change
2014-03-22-23 Doubt cast over Vorn Pao’s presence at hearing
2014-03-22-23 Regional unions push for minimum wage hike
2014-03-22-23 Wing Star workers strike despite closure threat
2014-03-24 NGOs urge gov’t to keep searching for missing Veng Sreng teen

* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-20 About 100 workers at two factories walk to Ministry of Labour

BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
BF NEW

22:59:03 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Garment sector to hit $1.5b revenue mark:

20140324 MMtimes garment
Factory employees stitch garments at a site in Yangon. Photo: Staff

Revenues in the garment sector are expected to grow by as much as 50 percent for the 2013-14 fiscal year and reach US$1.5 billion, experts said.

Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe, secretary of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers’ Association, told The Myanmar Times that the sector has continued to benefit from relaxed trade rules from abroad, while the country has seen a distinct uptick in foreign interest in the sector.

“After we officially got GSP [Generalised System of Preferences] status from the EU in mid-2013, exports began to substantially increase,’’ she said.

With revenues growing and international brands such as Tesco, UK-based Dewhirst and US apparel giant Gap Inc looking to invest in Myanmar in the near future, growth would likely continue in the coming years, she said.
read more.
MMtimesnew

22:14:03 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Jute mills get tax breaks while others cry unfair:

Jute mills based in the Biratnagar have been given massive discounts on electricity charges. Around 10 factories have received exemptions on their energy bills worth Rs 120 million.

The government has been providing a 70 percent waiver on electricity charges citing the huge employment they provide. Also, the daily load-shedding has been cut by 5 hours for jute mills while other factories suffer the full length of the power outage.

Moreover, the government has exempted them from paying import duty on around 2,000 varieties of spare parts needed for the machinery used by them. Arihant Multifiber, Biratnagar Jute Mill, Raghupati Jute Mill, CM Jute Mill, Guheshwori Turban Plant, Baba Jute Mill, Swastik Jute Mill, Nepal Jute Industries, Chandra Shiva Jute Mill and Pathivara Jute Mill are among the jute mills receiving a 70 percent subsidy on the electricity tariff.
read more.
EKANTIPUR

22:29:03 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Apparel sector avoids recruitment of workers:

Recruitment in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) industry, the largest job providing organised sector, has declined significantly in recent times mainly due to the fall in export orders and the hike in wages, sector insiders said.

According data available with the research cell of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the RMG industry on an average recruits more than 0.5 million employees every year. However, the cell does not have data on the new entrants in the apparel job market every year.

In the last eight months (July-February) of the fiscal 2013-14, RMG factories recruited nearly 50,000 workers. The estimated recruitment stood at 4.00 million in the FY 2012-13 and 80 per cent of them were women, mostly coming from the rural areas.

The owners of apparel units said the new wage structure has turned out to be a barrier to fresh recruitment of workers. They claimed that they were facing problems with the implementation of the new wages. The drop in export orders in recent months has only aggravated the situation.
read more.
FE bd

* City garment factory catches fire:

A devastating fire broke out at garment factory incity’s Farmgate area, near to Purnima Cinema Hall, on Sunday afternoon.

Local sources said that the fire broke out at the seventh floor of a multi-storey building in the area around 2:10pm.
On information, three units of fire fighters rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
The reason behind the origin of the fire could not be known immediately. However, no casualty was reported in the incident yet.
read more.
BANGLA NEWS24

* NBR set to offer tax cut for RMG exports for 15 months:

The National Board of Revenue is set to issue a statutory regulatory order reducing tax at source on export of apparel items to 0.30 per cent from the existing 0.80 per cent for 15 months, officials of the NBR said.

They said that readymade garment exporters would get the benefit for maximum 15 months as the revenue board decided to offer the tax waiver up to June, 2015.
‘After getting approval from the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, last week, the revenue board on Sunday sent a draft of the SRO to the law ministry for vetting,’ a senior official of the NBR told New Age.
read more.
BD new age

* NBR to hold pre-budget meets from April 1:

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) will hold pre-budget meetings with all business associations and trade bodies from April 1 to prepare the participatory budget proposals for the fiscal year 2014-15.  

A total of 18 meetings will be held until April 29 on the NBR premises.
(…)
Jute, textiles, yarn sectors and exporters, with bonded warehouse facility, including ready-made garment, knitwear, composite products, packaging and accessories sectors are scheduled to attend pre-budget meetings with NBR on April 17.
read more.
FE bd

* Stimulus fails to prop up textile stocks:

The textile sector yesterday slipped 0.27 percent despite news of the government’s stimulus package for the sector to recoup the losses from political unrest of last year.

The package, which has already been approved by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, consists of cash incentives and cutback in export tax to 0.3 percent from 0.8 percent.
read more.
daily star bd

* European Parliament delegation in city:

A delegation of the European Parliament (EP) arrived here Sunday night to discuss post-election scenario in Bangladesh and see the progress made in the readymade garment industry after the Rana Plaza building collapse.

Chairperson of the Delegation for Relations with South Asia Jean Lambert is leading the EP team  just ahead of the first anniversary of the catastrophic Rana Plaza building collapse, which cost over a thousand lives of garment workers.

The other members of the cross-party EP Delegation are: John Attard-Montalto (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Salvador Sedo i Alabart (European People’s Party), and Niccolò Rinaldi (Alliance of Democrats and Liberals).
The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will discuss with relevant stakeholders the implementation of the measures adopted to improve factory safety and workers’ rights, notably the EU-Bangladesh Global Sustainability Compact.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
INDEPENDENT DHAKATRIBUNE BSS FE bd

       THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE

* Rana Plaza owner gets bail:

Savar police has also filed a case against six people on charges of negligence that caused deaths

The High Court has granted bail to Sohel Rana in a case filed under the Building Construction Act and Building Code in connection with the Rana Plaza collapse.
The bench of Justice Md Rezaul Hasan and Justice Khurshid Alam Sarkar passed the order on Sunday afternoon.
Deputy Attorney General Md Selim told the Dhaka Tribune that the court granted six months bail to Rana in the case filed for violating the Building Construction Code.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE FE bd daily star bd UNB INDEPENDENT

* Soheil Rana gets bail – will the murderer slip away from justice? :

The infamous Soheil Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, was given bail today on 23 March 2014 by the High Court.

Rana Plaza was the work place of more than 3600 garment workers housing 4 garment factories which collapsed on 24 April 2013. At least 1136 lives were lost in this catastrophic incident while thousands were critically injured for life.

The court granted Rana a six-month bail in the case filed by RAJUK. Md Helal Ahmed, an official of the Capital Development Authority in charge of Savar Model Thana, filed the case after the devastating collapse.

Rana’s father Abdul Khalek, also an accused in RAJUK’s case, was granted bail by the High Court in September 2013. Those accused in the case may get up to two years in prison if the court finds them guilty of the charge.
read more.

* Bail for Rana Plaza owner:

The High Court yesterday granted six months’ bail to Sohel Rana in a case filed for violating building code in constructing Rana Plaza, which collapsed last year killing over a thousand garment workers.

The bail order prompted angry reactions from the labour leaders.
The HC bench of Justice Md Rezaul Hasan and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar passed the bail order following a petition by Sohel’s lawyers yesterday.

However, the bench refused to hear another bail petition filed by Sohel in the case filed for the loss of lives in the collapse.
The nine-storey Rana Plaza that housed a number of readymade garment factories collapsed on April 24 last year, killing 1,138 people, mostly garment workers.
However, Rana will not be released from jail since he is arrested in the other case filed by police, Deputy Attorney General Md Selim told The Daily Star.
Selim also said the government would file an appeal before the Supreme Court challenging the HC bail order.

Meanwhile, different workers’ groups have given angry reaction and demanded death penalty of Rana.
“With due respect for the court, I want to say the bail order is shameful. Because of Rana, 1,138 workers died and numerous received severe injuries,” said Amirul Haque Amin, president of National Garment Workers’ Federation.
“Rana had forced the workers to enter the factories though big cracks appeared in the building. We are not satisfied at the bail order to such a person,” he added.
read more.
daily star bd

* Rana granted bail in 1 case, denied in other:

The High Court on Sunday granted bail for six months to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana in a case filed by Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) under the Building Construction Act.

However, the Juba League leader has to remain behind the bars as the HC vacation bench comprising Justice M Rezaul Hasan and Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarker dismissed his bail pleas in the murder case filed over the Rana Plaza collapse that killed over 1100 people last year.
Deputy attorney general Mohammad Selim stood for the state while Abdul Quader Bhuyian argued for Rana.
Rana Plaza, a multi-storey building at Savar on the outskirts of the capital, came down crashing on April 24 last year. Rajuk filed the case with Savar Model police station against Sohel Rana for violating the Bangladesh National Building Code on the day.
Police also filed a case accusing six people, including Sohel Rana, on April 25 on murder charge
to read.
BD new age

* Rana Plaza owner gets bail in building law flouting case:

The High Court granted bail to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana for six months

The High Court yesterday granted bail to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana for six months in a case lodged for flouting building construction law.

The vacation bench of Justice Md Rezaul Hasan and Justice Khurshid Alam Sarkar passed the order following a bail plea placed by defence lawyer Abdul Kader Bhuiyan.
Deputy Attorney General Md Selim told the Dhaka Tribune that the court granted the bail as it found the offence bailable. During the hearing, Selim opposed the plea.
On February 2, the High Court bench of Justice Nizamul Huq and Justice Jahangir Hossain rejected the bail petition of Rana.
Selim said the defence placed fresh petition yesterday.
(…)
The investigators found that Rana got approval for a six-storey building, and later, violating the related law, illegally obtained approval for four more floors. The building was first a commercial one, and then it was approved as an industrial structure.

Rana rented out the floors to the factories to install big and heavy machines. The building thus became more vulnerable. The Savar municipality helped his illegal activities by providing trade licenses to the five garment factories in the commercial building.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

21:29:03 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Call to protect labour rights :

Heads of various trade unions as well as labourers on Sunday called for measures to protect labour rights and combat widening disparity.

They were speaking at a ceremony held at Bakhtiar Labour Hall on Nisbat Road in connection with the Pakistan Day.
The speakers included National Bank of Pakistan Employees Union General Secretary Akbar Ali, Irrigation Labour Federation President Khushi Muhammad Khokhar, Pakistan Textile Workers Federation General Secretary Osama Tariq, All Pakistan Wapda Hydroelectric Workers Union Deputy General Secretary Syed Zulqarnain Shah and Pakistan Workers Federation General Secretary Khurshid Ahmed. Commenting on today’s sectarian divisions, Khurshid Ahmed said both Muhammad Ali Jinnah and labour leader Bakhtiar wanted Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Sikh workers in Pakistan to transcend their religious differences and unite for a strong labour movement.
He said the founder of this country wanted Islamic values of tolerance and freedom of expression to be embodied in the state.
to read.
thenewspk

21:29:03 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Uzbekistan exports textile products to 40 countries:

The light industry of Uzbekistan—which includes textile and garment sectors, is one of the fastest growing industries, and currently the country is exporting its textile products to over 40 nations, informed the Uzbek State Joint Stock Company—Uzbekyengilsanoat, during a recent press conference held in Tashkent.

According to a statement issued by Uzbekyengilsanoat, the press conference was held with an objective to discuss the latest developments in the light industry of the country, especially increasing the export potential of the textiles sector.

At the press conference, Uzbekyengilsanoat representatives informed that last year the country produced light industry goods worth 7.995 trillion soums, indicating a rise of 13.2 percent year-on-year.

According to Uzbekyengilsanoat, more than 300 enterprises which operate under the company, exported light industry products (including textile and garment goods), to more than 40 countries, especially underdeveloped markets of countries such as Austria, Hungary, Finland and Canada.
read more.
fibre2fashion

 

 

map of Asia

INFO:

There are updates under ‘special reports’:

* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW
* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307-now

CHINA
* Chinese, Italians arrested over deadly factory fire

THAILAND
* Lend your solidarity: We never forget : Bring the message of Free Somyot, Political Prisoners of 112 in the May Day 2014
* Send your protest to Yingluck now

CAMBODIA
* Campaigners call for disappearance probe
* Public Letter Urging an Immediate Investigation into the Disappearance of Khem Sophath
* Appeal Court decides today on prominent protest leader’s bail request
* Wing Star workers to end strike
* BetterFactories Media updates 20-24 March

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Garment sector to hit $1.5b revenue mark

NEPAL
* Jute mills get tax breaks while others cry unfair

BANGLADESH
* Apparel sector avoids recruitment of workers
* City garment factory catches fire
* NBR set to offer tax cut for RMG exports for 15 months
* NBR to hold pre-budget meets from April 1
* Stimulus fails to prop up textile stocks
* European Parliament delegation in city
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* Rana Plaza owner gets bail
* Soheil Rana gets bail – will the murderer slip away from justice?
* Bail for Rana Plaza owner
* Rana granted bail in 1 case, denied in other
* Rana Plaza owner gets bail in building law flouting case

PAKISTAN
* Call to protect labour rights

UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan exports textile products to 40 countries

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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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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