01:34:05 local time VIET NAM
* President praises garment industry:
President Truong Tan Sang has called on the garment and textile industry to focus on supporting local designers and workers to raise the quality of garment products made in Viet Nam.
The President made the request at a meeting yesterday in Ha Noi with representatives from 50 of the country’s 60,000 garment enterprises. Representatives attended an award ceremony honouring outstanding businesses in the sector, hosted by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association.
President Sang used the opportunity to praise the sector’s contribution to economic growth, exports and job creation.
* Garment enterprises strive to take advantages of GSP:
Being aware that it is not easy to take advantage of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) mainly due to the certificates of origin of input materials, Vietnamese textile and garment enterprises are trying to take every available opportunity to increase their market shares.
A report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Economic News.
To boost exports to the European Union (EU) market, Executive Director of Garment 10 Corporation Than Duc Viet said although the GSP offers many preferential treatments for Vietnamese textile and garment imports to the EU, it is not an easy opportunity to seize due to obstacles in the rules of origin of input materials.
01:34:05 local time CAMBODIA
* CCHR launches “Where is My Justice?” campaign:
Immediately following the contested National Assembly Elections of the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”), which took place on 28 July 2013, Cambodian people were able to exercise their right to freedom of assembly in an unprecedented manner.
However, on 15 September 2013, security forces resorted to their old tactics and have since repeatedly and disproportionately used excessive force to crack down on protesters. The post-election violence has already led to the death of six persons, the disappearance of at least one individual and to dozens of injured. However, while protesters have been arrested and are currently facing charges, an independent investigation into the excessive use of force by Cambodian security forces has yet to take place.
CCHR´s “Where is My Justice?” campaign calls on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to conduct full and independent investigations into the human rights violations that took place, to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure victims´ right to truth, justice and remedy.
read & see more, and please sign here.
* Families make plea for justice:
For grieving mother Keo Sok Meng, 50, it’s a question that will never be answered in any way that makes sense.
“How can you shoot my son dead over a $160 salary?” she said tearfully yesterday as she spoke of 23-year-old Pheng Kosal, who was shot dead during a clash between security forces and protesting garment workers on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3.
“I will find justice for my son, even if it kills me. Why do Khmer kill Khmer like this?”
Sok Meng’s words came at the launch of a Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) campaign titled “Where Is My Justice?”, which calls on the government to conduct independent public investigations into the deadly force used by security guards since July’s national election.
At least six people have been shot dead, while 16-year-old Khim Saphath, who vanished during the deadly crackdown on January 3, remains missing.
Khat Samneang, a 24-year-old garment worker, bounced her baby girl on one knee as she spoke of how her husband Kim Phalleap, a 25-year-old garment worker, was killed on January 3 when security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd, injuring dozens and killing at least four.
“My husband died when my daughter was just two months old. No husband is like having a disabled leg and hand – I could not do anything [to support myself] because I had just given birth,” she said. “I appeal to NGOs and the government to help us find justice.”
* Campaign Calls for Justice After State Killings:
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) on Monday launched a one-month campaign designed to highlight “gross human rights injustices” committed by state security forces against civilians since July’s national election.
CCHR will collect 5,000 signatures for a petition to be sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen demanding “a prompt, public, independent and comprehensive investigation of the disproportionate use of excessive force by Cambodian security forces to crack down on protesters.”
The petition will also call for an “end to the cycle of impunity for the perpetrators by bringing them to justice; and uphold victims’ right to justice and remedies, including reparations.”
The “Where Is My Justice?” campaign was launched to coincide with the U.N. International Day for the Right to the Truth. It included a new video report featuring interviews with families of victims of state violence since post-election protests started in September.
“I was far away from him when my son died unjustly,” says Keo Samnang, whose son, Pheng Sam, was shot dead by military police on Veng Sreng Street during minimum-wage garment protests on January 3.
“I have raised him since he was a child and he died at the age of 23—can you imagine?” the father asked.
* IDEA activist denied bail:
Moments after Prak Sovannary heard the Court of Appeal denied her husband’s request for bail, she sobbed over a speaker affixed to the top of a tuk-tuk, condemning the decision to about 150 supporters.
“Release him! Release him!” said Sovannary, the wife of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president Vorn Pov, who was arrested at a garment worker demonstration in January.
“He was detained as a criminal, but he is a patriot and a peace lover,” she said.
Presiding judge Seng Sivutha said in court he denied bail because it could “affect judicial procedures”, said Kim Socheat, one of Pov’s attorneys.
read & see more.
* Union Leader Denied Bail, Barred From Hearing:
The Court of Appeal on Monday again denied bail to Vorn Pao, the leader of the main union for the country’s large informal sector. He was beaten and arrested by soldiers at a protest on January 2.
Mr. Pao, who is president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, was among 10 activists arrested by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces paratroopers during the suppression of a nationwide strike of garment workers that had dovetailed with opposition protests.
Kim Socheat, one of Mr. Pao’s two lawyers, said the Court of Appeal denied his client bail for procedural reasons.
“The Court of Appeal has decided to deny Vorn Pao bail because [presiding Judge Seng Sivutha] said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge has sent this case to be heard, and if bail is allowed it could affect the court’s procedures,” Mr. Socheat said, referring to preparations to try Mr. Pao.
* Appeal Court denies bail release for Vorn Pao:
This afternoon, Vorn Pao, the president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), was refused bail from the Court of Appeal in Phnom Penh as 300 of his supporters gathered outside the courtroom calling for his release.
Pao, who was not present for the hearing, was arrested with 22 other men, including rights defenders and workers, amid the January 2-3 lethal clampdown on the garment worker strikes. He has been detained in CC3 prison since then. Two of the 23, Yon Sok Chea and Bou Sarith, were released on bail on February 8. On February 11, the 21 other men were refused bail at the Phnom Penh Appeal Court and remain detained in CC3.
* Wing Star Workers End Weeklong Strike:
Workers at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kompong Speu province on Monday agreed to end a weeklong strike and return to work today after an agreement was reached not to cut workers’ pay during the strike and raise their bonuses by $2, officials said.
“The workers agreed to go back to work tomorrow because the company this morning promised that they would not cut their monthly wage during the strike and they will raise [their bonuses] by $1 per month for both travel and lunch,” said Phorn Phal, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union, which organized the strike.
“This is a small solution, but our workers agreed to accept this agreement, and we will continue to negotiate for the rest of the points,” he added.
Last week, thousands of workers protested for five days outside the Wing Star Shoes factory, demanding 11 points, including a $5 increase to their monthly bonuses.
* BetterFactories Media updates 25 March 2014, Union leader denied bail, barred from hearing:
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-25 Union leader denied bail, barred from hearing
2014-03-25 Wing Star workers end weeklong strike
* to read in the printed edition Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-25 Work-related accident increases in the last few years with 96 death
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
02:34:05 local time INDONESIA
* Transforming a Garment Factory into a Better Working Place:
“The training is really beneficial for the workers, we hope that our problem can be solved with the help of this traning,” says Sofia, female worker of PT Hansae Indonesia Utama.
Harassment is an unpleasant behavior which makes other people feel humiliated, intimidated and uncomfortable.
Anyone at the workplace may be 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 such as the presence of a large number of young, inexperienced, rural migrant female workers under the supervision of fewer men, high levels of production pressure and abusive disciplinary practices.
According to the baseline report “workers perspective from the factory and beyond”, which was published in july 2012, it was found that more than 80 percent of female workers were concerned about sexual harassment.
Additionally, more than 70 percent were concerned about verbal abuse such as shouting or vulgar language and around 87.4 % with physical abuse such as hitting or pushing in the workplace.
01:04:05 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Relaxed rules help Myanmar:
00:34:05 local time BANGLADESH
* EU concerned over RMG workplace safety :
The visiting European Union (EU) parliamentary delegation expressed its deep concern over the state of workplace safety in Bangladesh’s apparel industry.
“The EU and a lot of people who vote for us and who might vote for us have really been very concerned about the need to ensure safety of people working in the industry,” leader of the 10-member delegation Jean Lambert Monday told the media after a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.
Ms Jean, who is also the Chair of the Delegation for Relations with South Asia of the European Parliament, also said the delegation had discussed a number of issues, including the readymade garment (RMG) sector, during the meeting.
“So, we’ve been talking about the progress is being made by Bangladesh so far and I hope we’ll make certain announcement in the next few days regarding the issue,” she said, adding that Bangladesh has certainly made some progress.
* Most RMG factories fail to make bio-metric database on workers:
Pressure for safety measures diverts owners’ attention
Most of the readymade garment (RMG) factories are yet to introduce workers’ bio-metric database system even after ten months of a move initiated by the BGMEA in this regard.
Industry insiders attribute this to mounting pressure for meeting different safety-related measures and lack of finance.
The insiders claimed the RMG sector is now facing tremendous pressure both from local and international arena to introduce a number of safety measures to ensure safe workplaces in the factories especially after the deadliest incidents of Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza building collapse.
The one-after-another tragic incidents killed more than 1,200 garment workers only in a year. This also tarnished the image of the country’s largest foreign currency earning sector.
* Tofail promises RMG workers database by April:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Monday said the database of workers at the country’s thousands of garment factories will open on April 7.
The minister was talking to journalists after a meeting with the visiting European Parliament delegation led by Jean Lambert at his ministry.
The delegation wanted to know about progress of the action plan in the garment sector, said Tofail adding, “I was successful to convince them that we would be able to complete the three tasks by March.”
“The appointment of labour inspectors will be completed by March. We have talked to Public Service Commission in this regard. They will appoint 67 first class labor inspectors and 100 second class labor inspectors. Labour ministry have already appointed 43 labor officers.” Tofail said.
Tofail said that the delegation wanted to know about introduction of trade union at the Export Processing Zones. “ I told them that EPZ law is needed to be amended in this regard.”
* RMG workers database to be launched Thursday:
Commerce Minister said it after a meeting with 7-member EU delegation, led by Jean Lambert, at his ministry office
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said the workers database for the country’s readymade garments industry would be launch on Thursday.
He spoke about the schedule after a meeting with 7-member EU delegation, led by Jean Lambert, at his ministry office.
The visiting delegation wanted to know the progress of implementation of the Action Plan, taken after the Rana Plaza building collapse, he said. “I’ve informed the delegation there have been some visible improvement, and the remaining three conditions, which is under progress, would be done by March 31.”
Talking about appointment of factory inspectors, the minister said it would be completed by March as the government already had talks with the Public Service Commission.
* Recruitment of 200 inspectors for RMG factories soon: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today said the government will complete the recruitment process of 200 inspectors soon to examine the safety standard in the garment factories in the country.
Of them, a total of 67 first class inspectors will be recruited by March 31, he said, adding that labour ministry will inaugurate a database of garment workers on March 27.
He was talking to reporters after a meeting with the members of four-member delegation of the European Parliament (EP) at his ministry’s conference room here.
Chairperson of the EP delegation for Relations with South Asia Jean Lambert led the delegation. The EU delegation arrived here yesterday.
* New EPZ act not possible shortly: Tofail:
Enacting a new EPZ act will not be possible within April 15 deadline set by the USTR for a favorable outcome on the country’s lost GSP facility, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said on Monday.
‘We need more time to repeal the existing EPZ act and enact a new one in line with the provisions spelt out in the action plan of the US to restore the generalized system of preference facility,’ Tofail told reporters after a meeting with a visiting European Union delegation at his secretariat office.
The US in July last year suspended GSP for Bangladesh on the grounds of poor safety records and inadequate labour rights in the country’s apparel industry.
The US authorities subsequently asked Bangladesh government to implement an action plan that includes EPZ labour issues, among other must-do list to restore the lost GSP privilege.
The fresh deadline to comply with the US plan has been re-fixed on April 15 as the next review will be conducted in May by the USTR. Dhaka failed to qualify in the first round of review conducted in January, sources said.
Officials at the commerce ministry said Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the activities of the country’s about half a dozen EPZs, is reluctant to award the EPZ workers with freedom of association and right to call strikes in the factories housed in the exclusive zones.
* Sick mills’ owners seek PM’s intervention for waiving bank interests:
Owners of a group of sick mills urged Sunday Prime Minister’s intervention in implementation of government’s instruction to the banks regarding sick industries in respect of exemption of interests on bank loans.
The government in 1992 listed 1585 mills in different categories as sick and decided to give the mills scope to ‘bail out’ through waiving all types of bank interests on loans with an aim to save those from permanent closure.
After taking the decision, the finance ministry gave instruction to the banks concerned to act accordingly.
But the leaders of Bangladesh Specialised Textile Mills and Powerloom Industries Association (BSTMPIA) claimed that all the banks settled all claims with their parties amicably but Agrani Bank Ltd, a state-owned entity has not been complying with the instruction for a long time.
According to them, 31 mills under the association have been trying to resolve the problem but the bank authority from the very beginning showing negative attitude toward the millers’ demand.
* Salvaging jute mills:
The jute sector is in jeopardy and farmers are losing interest in cultivating jute owing to the fall of jute prices in the market.
There is a decreasing demand of jute products. As many as 15 jute mills of the country have been shut down and many more are on the verge of closures which is disappointing and scary news for our economy. The demand and price of Bangladeshi jute and jute goods have drastically declined in the international market for the last couple of months that forced many of our jute mills to be closed.
Bangladesh usually produces jute for making sacks and bags and exports these to different parts of the world including Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Sudan and many European countries. These countries have lost much of their interest in those goods. They have become, instead, interested in Chinese plastic and cotton products.
* 6 DEPZ factories fined Tk 5cr in Savar:
The Department of Environment fined the authorities of six factories in Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) at Ashulia in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital, yesterday Tk 5 crore for running those violating the DoE orders.
A DoE team, led by its Director (Enforcement) Md Alamgir, conducted the drive, said a press release.
Kung Keng Textile (BD) Co Ltd was fined Tk 38 lakh, M/s Grameen Knitwear Ltd Tk 20 lakh, M/s Ring Shine Textile Ltd Tk 1.6 crore, M/s Zong Shin Textile Industries Ltd Tk 1.6 crore, M/s Shah-Shah Denim Ltd Tk 1.23 crore and Queen South Textle Ltd Tk 5 lakh.
These industries were discharging untreated dying water into the river Turag through nearby Konda beel in Savar’s Gonokbari area and thus causing severe water pollution.
Earlier, a DoE team inspected the DEPZ industries and collected effluent water from the outlet of drain and unearthed bypass line and ineffective ETP.
The team found that these factories were also discharging untreated water into open field.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Sohel Rana bail protested:
They also demanded ‘April 24’ to be declared Mourning Day for RMG workers
Several hundred garment workers yesterday demanded the cancellation of Sunday’s High Court bail, awarded to Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, the building that collapsed on April 24 last year in Savar killing at least 1,100 people and injuring many more.
Sources said, a few hundred apparel workers who survived the collapse gathered in front of the debris of Rana Plaza in the morning, while more workers from nearby garment factories joined them to express solidarity with the demand.
During the programme, the workers identified Rana as chiefly responsible for the collapse and demanded capital punishment, through a murder case, be handed down to him for the offence.
They also demanded “April 24” to be declared Mourning Day for RMG workers.
* Fresh ultimatum to ensure compensation for victims:
Rana Plaza collapse anniversary Apr 24
The apparel leaders Monday gave fresh ultimatum to the government to ensure compensation for the Rana Plaza victims before the first anniversary of the world’s worst industrial tragedy.
They made the announcement at a protest programme held in front of the debris site at Savar on the outskirts of the capital. Bangladesh Garments Sramik Sanghati (BGSS) Monday organised the demonstration to realise their demands.
The protestors also strongly demanded declaration of April 24 as the ‘Labour Safety Day’ making it general holiday for the apparel makers. Among others, BGSS convener Taslima Akhtar, labour leader Firuz Ahmed and Dipok Roy addressed the rally.
BGSS convener Taslima Akhtar said that the survivors of the tragedy and the deceased’s families are yet to get the promised compensations except some emergency financial grants for medical treatment.
* Families of Rana Plaza victims continue to call for compensation:
Factory owners and apparel buyers continue to ignore the call for compensation despite repeated demonstrations by families of dead and injured workers of Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions.
About 200 children and relatives of the deceased and injured workers formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday, demanding immediate payment of compensation.
“We had a television set but it was sold to meet the family needs after the death of my father,” said Foara Akhter, who lost her father in the Rana Plaza building collapse in April last year.
Foara, who reads in class IV, said her family got nothing but Tk 45,000, and that too in phases, from a buyer.
Most of the money was spent on her grandfather’s treatment, said the 10-year-old girl. She was holding a photo of her father whose dead body was not found.
A couple of yards away was an eight-year-old boy, Shuvo Islam Bijoy, holding the photos of his parents both of whom worked on the fourth floor of the Rana Plaza building.
* Primark to pay Tk 50,000 to each NWB workers Mar 28:
The coordination committee started Monday the listing of compensation claims, paving the way for providing such benefits to the victims and their families of Rana Plaza building collapse
Earlier, the multi-stakeholders’ coordination committee, which was formed with international and Bangladeshi representatives from government, industry and the trade unions to deal with the compensation issues, is assigned to complete the payment of compensation under a Trust Fund.
“We just listed Monday 18 claims from the victims and their families,” Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary general of the IndustriAll Bangladesh Council told the FE.
About 50 claims would be processed daily while the number of workers including injured, dead and missing is 3400, he said adding that on March 28, the Primark will pay Tk 50,000 to each of the New Wave Bottoms (NWB) workers from where it sourced apparel products.
The rest will get the same amount on April 15, he added.
* Rana Plaza compensation begins:
The much anticipated process for the compensation of the victims of Rana Plaza tragedy began on Monday following a fresh documentation of the victims by the newly formed Rana Plaza Claims Administration.
Rana Plaza Claims Administration is operating under the auspices of the recently formed Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, which is composed of the ILO as the lead agency, and of the government, factory owners, trade unions, buyers, retailers, national and international non-government organisations.
The collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24 last year turned out to be the biggest disaster in the readymade garment (RMG) sector of the country, killing 1135 workers, according to the latest official estimate.
The Administration, headed by former UN official Moitaba Kazazi as the executive commissioner, is expected to complete the claims processing and the payment within the next six months.
read more. & read more.
* Survivors of the Rana Plaza Building Collapse to Start claiming Compensation:
From today, one month before the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, the families of the 1138 workers killed in the disaster and over a thousand workers left with life changing injuries can start registering claims for compensation to cover the financial losses and medical costs they suffered as a result.
As the claims begin campaigners are strengthening their call for brands buying from factories located in the devastated building, including Matalan, Benetton and Walmart, to pay millions of dollars in compensation into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up to finance these payments.
The Trust Fund, which has been set up by the International Labour Organisation has been open for contributions since February.
The Fund needs to reach a final target of $40million in order to pay out full compensation to all workers and their families. The experts involved in designing the process estimated that 25% of the final target would be needed to make the first round of payments to all workers.
The coordination committee now believe that sufficient funds are available and agreed to launch the claims process on March 24th, one month before the first anniversary.
The only barrier now in getting compensation to the victims of the garment industry’s worst ever disaster is the refusal of many brands, including Italian fashion brand Benetton, UK high street brand Matalan and retail giant Walmart to make significant contributions to the Fund.
Emma Harbour of the Clean Clothes Campaign states: “These brands already
failed these workers once by failing to ensure the factories they were using met national and international standards for safety. Almost a year later and they are failing them again – refusing to contribute what is needed to help these families to start rebuilding their lives”.
She adds: “For the first time ever we have a system in place for making sure payments get directly to those families that deserve them. Benetton has no excuse for not paying in and can easily afford a USD 5 million contribution to the fund. Any less would be an insult to all those who were killed and injured.’
“There is no time to wait – we have one month to find $40 million. We urge Benetton to make this contribution immediately and to confirm publicly that it has done so.”
* One month before anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse: compensation at last:
Today, one month before the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, the victims of the tragedy and their families can finally start applying for compensation
At least 1138 workers were killed and over a thousand were injured when the Rana Plaza building, which housed 5 garment factories collapsed.
Investigations into the cause of the collapse showed the building was illegally constructed and that workers had been forced back into the building despite cracks appearing in the walls the previous day. Now, 11 months on, all the families affected will finally be able to receive payments desperately needed in order to move forward with their lives.
All beneficiaries will be invited to submit a claim, with the aim to process and deliver all payments within the next six months. All beneficiaries will receive a minimum payment of 50,000 BDT by 24th April (the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy) as an advance payment towards their total claim. Those workers whose full claims can be fully processed by April 24 th will also receive their first full instalment, which will represent 20% of the total claim.
The claims will be calculated and delivered under one single approach. There will compensation based on ILO conventions 121 to all eligible victims or their families based on both international standards and national Bangladesh law. The Coordination Committee recognizes and acknowledges the hard work of the ILO in facilitating recent discussions between the Coordination Committee and Primark, and approved the inclusion of Primark as the eighth brand to publicly pay into the fund.
00:04:05 local time INDIA
20140319 * Demanding pay rise, 200,000 power-loom operators continue strike:
Over 200,000 textile workers employed at about 38,000 small to medium power-loom units in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts have been on indefinite strike since February 21 to demand better pay and working conditions.
These districts located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are known as the “Manchester of India” because of their massive concentration of textile industries.
The workers, who receive a pittance for back-breaking work, are demanding an 80 percent rise in their piece-rate pay. They are also demanding the establishment of a retirement saving fund scheme (Provident Fund), medical benefits known as ESI, and paid festival holidays. Workers often work twelve hours per day with a workweek of six days in cramped, dusty and unsafe working conditions.
The strike was called by the Coimbatore and Tirupur Districts’ Job Work Weavers Association. The workers took this action after eight rounds of talks with the big textile manufactures in the presence of state labor department officials who failed to make any progress on their demands. Around 12 million meters of grey cloth worth about $8 million are produced every day by these workers.
Small power-loom owner operators have also stopped work in solidarity with strikers.
Almost a million people depend directly and indirectly for their livelihood on the power-loom industries in these two districts. Work in neighbouring districts that are tied in one way or another to textile manufacturing in Coimbotore and Tirupur have also come to a halt as a result of the strike.
Wage agreements in the local power-loom industry are renewed every three years and no agreement has been reached in recent years without a bitter struggle, sometimes lasting months. The previous agreement of a forty percent increase in piece rates was won after a three month-long strike from August through October 2011.
The CITU and AITUC union federations—which are affiliated respectively with the two main Stalinist parties, the CPI (M) (Communist Party of India – Marxist) and the CPI (Communist Party of India)—are seeking to contain and suppress the power-loom workers’ struggle. After the strike had erupted independently of them, they formed a joint committee to “organize” the strike. This so called joint committee has mounted no campaign to mobilize support among the working class in this industrial area, let alone in the rest of Tamil Nadu and India.
World Socialist Web Site reporters recently travelled to Tirupur and spoke to striking power-loom workers and small-loom owners.
Selvan, a 35 year-old power-loom worker told the WSWS: “My employer owns 16 looms. There are another seven workers who work along with me. I run eight looms. I get paid about Rupees (Rs.) 300 (US $4.90) per day. It takes 12 hours of work for me to earn this since I am paid by piece rate. There is no provident fund or medical facility for us. They pursue ‘No work No pay’ policy. We don’t get any paid holidays for festivals. Some workers who are provided with accommodation are compelled to work even longer hours since they are paid less because they are provided with lodging.”
* Wage talks to continue on Tuesday:
Talks will continue here on Tuesday for revision of wages for the power loom unit owners in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts who do job-work for the master weavers.
Additional Labour Commissioner P. Marimuthu told The Hindu that talks were held on Monday with both, the master weavers and the owners of the job-working power loom units.
“The talks are positive and there are chances of reaching an agreement on Tuesday,” he said.
About 15,000 job-working power loom units having nearly two lakh power looms in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts are on strike from February 21 seeking revision of wages.
They have demanded 80 per cent hike in wages as the input costs have gone up.
The production loss a day because of the strike is estimated to be nearly Rs. 40 crore.
Since several rounds of talks have been held and an agreement is yet to be reached, the job-working unit owners are on indefinite fast from Monday at Somanur, Palladam, Mangalam and Kannampalayam. Those in Avanashi are expected to join on Tuesday, said P. Kumarasamy, secretary of Coimbatore district job-working powerloom unit owners’ association.
00:04:05 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s trade unions seek clarification on Sino – Lanka MoU on labour issues :
Sri Lanka’s trade unions have sought immediate clarification relating to contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in November last year between Sri Lanka and China on strengthening cooperation on labour-related issues as it was kept as a secret during the past three months.
Trade union leaders have been kept in the dark by the state authorities by not disclosing details of the Sino –Sri Lanka MoU, the Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ and GSEU) Anton Marcus said.
He told the Business Times that he has brought this to the notice of the Labour Minister Gamini Lokuge and ministry officials on this matter.
He noted that their main concern was as to whether the government is going to ease labour laws in the country providing advantage for employers like in China as the MoU deals with labour policy of the two countries.
It is not clear as to whether, this agreement was signed for the welfare of Chinese workers in the country, he added.
23:34:05 local time PAKISTAN
* Towel factory destroyed in fire:
A fire broke out at a towel factory in Bilal Colony and reduced goods worth million of rupees to ash on Sunday, said the Korangi Industrial Area police.
According to the Central Fire Station, the fire erupted around 3:15pm and engulfed the factory within minutes.
Four fire engines of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation arrived on the scene to douse the blaze, which caused thick clouds of black smoke to be seen in the far-flung areas of the city.
It took the firefighters around three hours to douse the blaze, whose cause could not be ascertained until this report was filed.
* Govt urged to avert Walt Disney blacklisting:
Entrepreneurs have urged the government to go all out to keep Pakistan on the list of Walt Disney Company, who is going to blacklist country by 31st of this month because of different deficiencies.
Walt Disney, a US licensor of Disney-branded consumer products, is dropping Pakistan from the Permitted Sourcing Countries list as the country failed to allay its concerns regarding certain UN standards. Pakistan is ranked low on World Governance Index (WGI).
The production of Walt Disney in Pakistan through its different licensors is about $200 million.
The chairman of Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, feared that removal of Pakistan from Permitted Sourcing Countries list would buffet the textile exports of Pakistan.
He said the decision of Walt Disney would also prompt other big retailers like WalMart, Macys, Sears, Target, Kmart, Kohls, Gap, JC Penny and others to disconnect their business ties with Pakistan.
Mr Mahmood feared that the blacklisting would cost Pakistan millions of dollars leading to closure of countless medium and small units rendering thousands of workers jobless.
* Outlook: Faisalabad hopes for a brighter, ‘power’ full future:
After five years of uncertainty, Faisalabad’s top industrialists are poised to make new investments — both for the purpose of expansion and to reap the benefits of the pro-industry policies of the new government.
For them it was the first winter season after years when their factories ran on optimal capacity due to uninterrupted supply of gas for most of the season, which was ensured by the federal government.
Businessmen in the country’s third largest city hope to cash opportunities through the 10-year duty free access to European markets and the possibility of trade normalisation with India, giving textile exporters one billion new customers.
Textile exports, which stood at $13.1 billion in fiscal year 2012-13, would cross $14 billion at the end of the current fiscal year 2013-14, according to textile experts.
Millions of rupees are being invested, which will fetch foreign exchange and also create thousands of new jobs.
Tanveer Yousaf, Yousaf Weaving Mills Faisalabad chief executive officer, who has recently invested to build a new factory, told The Express Tribune that Pakistan has great potential. He added that the country needed production at its fullest to meet international orders.
* Ethiopia earns $60mn from textile & garment exports in 6M: