* Tailored Wages – new report investigates clothing brands work on living wages:
Today, (monday) Clean Clothes Campaign have launched ‘Tailored Wages’ an in depth study of what the leading 50 clothing brands across Europe are doing to ensure that the workers who produce the clothes they sell are paid a living wage.
Based on a multi brand survey “Tailored Wages” found that whilst half of those surveyed included wording in their codes of conduct saying that wages should be enough to meet workers’ basic needs; only four brands – Inditex, Marks & Spencers, Switcher and Tchibo – were able to show any clear steps towards implementing this – and even they have a long way to go before a living wage becomes a reality for the garment workers that produce for them.
More action and less talk
“Although a living wage is a human right, shockingly none of Europe’s leading 50 companies is yet paying a living wage,” said Anna McMullen, the lead author on the report. “The research showed that while more brands are aware of the living wage and recognise that it is something to be included in their codes of conduct and in CSR brochures, disappointingly for most of the brands surveyed this was as far as they went. With millions of women and men worldwide dependent on the garment industry it is vital that these words are turned into definitive actions sooner rather than later.”
The survey did find some interesting work being carried out by some brands to increase the amount paid to workers. Swiss company Switcher has set up a fund to pay an additional 1% on top of the price paid to the factory, which will go directly to the workers. Whilst other companies such as Spanish retail giant Inditex is looking at ensuring better conditions by forming agreements with global union IndustriALL. However as Ms. McMullen adds “whilst this is all innovative work it remains in the pilot stage and workers can wait no longer.”
Struggle for living wages reaching critical point
* Decent work for women key to Asia’s economic, social progress – studies:
Giving women in Asia more opportunities to secure decent, productive work will have major social and economic spin-offs for the region and is essential for inclusive growth, say a series of new studies from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
According to an ADB press release, five interlinked publications analyze and make suggestions for improving gender equality in the labor markets in Cambodia, Kazakhstan and the Philippines. They also examine global best practices in law and social and economic policies, which have helped encourage greater equality in the workforce.
The economies of Cambodia, Kazakhstan and the Philippines have grown strongly in recent years but this has not translated into real improvement in gender equality, with the proportion of women’s annual earnings to men’s estimated at less than 71%.
Substantial gaps still exist between men and women across a number of metrics including labor force participation rates, unpaid domestic and care work, and access to decent work and social protection resources such as pension plans.
14:52:05 local time VIET NAM
* AWI considers setting up wool factory in Vietnam:
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has stated that it is in discussions with three Vietnamese companies and six foreign firms about the possibility of establishing a wool weaving factory in the Southeast Asian country.
Vietnamese producers are now importing wool yarn from China , India , Italy and Germany . Experts predict that domestic processing will help save import costs and time.
AWI is making efforts to intensify connections with Vietnamese businesses to help them access its natural wool products as well as Australia ‘s wool and yarn processing technologies.
14:52:05 local time THAILAND
* Salaries expected to rise 6% in 2014:
Overall salaries in Thailand are projected to increase by 6% this year, compared with 5.4% in 2013, driven mainly by the higher cost of living, says global professional services company Towers Watson.
According to its latest survey, factors taken into account by companies for salary changes include economic stability, domestic supply of talent and the unemployment rate.
Conducted from January to March, the survey covered 93 companies from the automotive, financial services, insurance, manufacturing, electronics, high-technology and chemical industries.
14:52:05 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers Hold Machines Ransom Over Wages:
More than 20 workers in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district are holding a small garment factory’s sewing machines as ransom over unpaid wages, said a district official.
The workers decided to disrupt production at the Korean-owned S-One factory in Choam Chao commune on Sunday after the owner failed to pay their wages on time, said deputy district governor Khem Sun Soda.
In an effort to resolve the situation, factory owner Byun Yong Jig agreed to pay back half of last month’s salary on April 10 and the other half the following month, Mr. Soda said.
* Cambodia’s garment workers fight poor working conditions:
Garment strikes hit Cambodia in record numbers in 2013, with disgruntled workers taking their calls for an increase in wages to the streets. This year, the protests have been even bigger and demands met with deadly force.
Seventeen-year-old Yon Chea had been working at a garment factory on the outskirts of the capital, Phnom Penh, for a little more than a year when government forces found him at the scene of a protest.
‘I heard fighting outside so I went down with my camera phone to see what was going on and take pictures,’ he said. ‘[But] when I was there military police surrounded me. They did not speak, they just charged at me.’
Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center, said January’s crackdown is just one example of the government’s ‘blanket assault’ on trade unions and workers. ‘It’s hard to imagine anything further from freedom of association than what we have here at the moment,’ he said.
‘It just shows how profitable conditions have been for manufacturers and buyers but not for workers,’ said Joel Preston, a consultant with the Community Legal Education Centre.
‘There is a huge amount of money to be made but none of it is making its way into the workers’ pockets.’
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, agreed: ‘Cambodia has more, so the workers should have more.’
* Phnom Penh Municipal Court trials for arrested workers and rights defenders:
Today, (monday) Phnom Penh Municipal Court announced that Sokun Sombath Piseth, Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia, will have his special medical request for temporary bail release to undergo surgery in Thailand decided on April 4.
Piseth was arrested in early January among 22 other workers and rights defenders and has since been detained in CC3 prison. He was severely beaten by state security forces at the arrest and broke his hand which he now needs surgery to repair.
Vorn Pao, President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA); Sokun Sombath Piseth; Theng Savoeun, Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC); Chan Puthisak, community leader from Boeung Kak Lake; and six other workers who were arrested on January 2 will be tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court at 8.00am on April 18.
At the same time, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will conduct two separate trails for those arrested on January 3. One trial will be held for Chea Sarath, Yon Sok Chea and Bou Sarith, while a third trial will be held for the remaining 10 of the 23 who were arrested in early January.
* Workplace deaths up:
Workplace deaths shot up more than 60 per cent last year when compared with 2012, while injuries and payouts to those injured also saw dramatic increases, according to data released yesterday by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
Speaking during a conference at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh yesterday, government officials said the sharp increase in deaths could be largely attributed to traffic accidents involving garment workers being transported to and from work.
Last year also saw more than 79,000 workers added to the NSSF registry in advance of the introduction of a national health insurance plan later this year and a pension fund slated for 2015.
“The health insurance program will benefit all workers’ well-being,” NSSF director Ouk Sam Vichea said at yesterday’s conference, which was aimed at promoting the new plan. “NSSF appeals to all factory owners and other employers to register with us so that their employees can receive these benefits.”
* BetterFactories Media updates 27- 31 March 2014, Union bosses called in:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-27 Unions to lead holiday strike
2014-03-31 Brands ‘failing their workers’
2014-03-31 Lawyer has hopes clients will be freed
2014-03-31 Rana Plaza payments start
2014-03-31 Union bosses called in
2014-03-31 Workers to file stories from the factory floor
20140-03-25 Families make plea for justice
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-29-30 Thirteen detained Veng Sreng Activists to face court in April
* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-31 Factory owner doesn’t pay wage for three months; workers confiscate sewing machines
2014-03-31 In a month, about 10000 workers do medical check up before getting hired
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
13:52:05 local time BANGLADESH
* Govt recruits 25 Class I factory inspectors:
The government recruited 25 Class I inspectors from the waiting lists of the candidates, who had earlier qualified Bangladesh Civil Service examinations, on Monday in line with the GSP action plan.
The Public Service Commission made the recruitment a day after the gazette notification of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments Recruitment Rules had been published.
Labour secretary Mikail Shipar told New Age that the gazette of recruitment rules was published on Sunday and 67 inspectors, who are first class non-cadre officials, would be recruited.
Twenty-five first class non-cadre officials have been recruited in the first phase and the rest will be appointed by the first week of April as existing rules does not allow recruiting people against more than 50 per cent of vacant posts, he said.
read more. & read more.
* RMG export rise is “morale-boosting”:
Ready-made garment industry of the country expects a 10-15 growth in exports for the current fiscal year ending June, despite factory safety issues and recent political instability.
The first eight months of the fiscal year fetched a “morale- boosting” 16.68 persent rise to US$16.13bn compared to last year`s US$13.83bn, Mohammad Hatem, acting president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told.
This shows “we are on the right path,” Hatem said, adding they are “ready to leapfrog” industry rivals in this race.
* BGMEA to update global stakeholders on remedial steps April 10:
ONE YEAR INTO RANA PLAZA COLLAPSE
Apparel manufacturers are going to sit with the foreign diplomats, representatives of donor agencies and global buyers on April 10 to update them on the steps the country’s readymade garment sector has taken to improve workplace safety and workers’ rights situation after the April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse which killed 1,134 people, mostly garment workers.
Just a few days before the first anniversary of the tragic incident the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has taken the initiative of holding the meeting.
BGMEA leaders said that they had taken the initiative with the aim of restoring the image of the garment sector abroad as the November 24, 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire and the Rana Plaza incident had hurt the image.
‘We expect that diplomats from 14 countries including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and those under European Union, and representatives of the donor agencies including IFC, GIZ and JICA and buyers’ representatives will be attended the meeting,’ BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age last week.
* UK minister for int’l dev arrives:
British State Minister for International Development Alan Duncan arrived in Dhaka this afternoon to check progress on health and safety standards in the garment industry and how the industry is supporting its workers, including the many women it employs.
He will also press for political dialogue to strengthen democratic accountability, according to British High Commission in Dhaka.
The minister will also call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Mahmud Ali and other political leaders.
With the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in April, Duncan is keen to see how the garment industry has responded, how it is looking after those affected and improving working conditions to prevent further tragedies, says a press releases issued by the high commission.
The British state minister will meet with people involved in the garment supply chain to discuss progress and challenges remaining.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* US to continue partnership with BD, says Mozena:
US Ambassador Dan Mozena said on Monday his country wants to work for continuing its partnership with Bangladesh. The upcoming four US-Bangladesh dialogues including the TICFA will be the key engines of the engagement, he said.
“These four dialogues are the key engines of engagement and we will work on how to deepen, broaden and strengthen the partnership,” he told the journalists at the American Club during a Meet-the-Press on Monday.
The 3rd annual security dialogue will be held in Dhaka soon, the first ever meeting of TICFA (Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement) at the end of April, the 3rd annual partnership dialogue in June and bilateral military dialogue later in the fall.
* RMG village to be set up in Ctg soon:
The Prime Minister has directed the concerned ministries to take necessary steps for setting up garment villages for the factories in Chittagong.
BGMEA in a press release said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the authorities concerned in the cabinet meeting held on March 24 in Dhaka.
“We on behalf of the standing committee on garment industrial region in Chittagong congratulate the Prime Minister on her directives in this regard,” the press release issued from BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) Chittagong regional office said.
* Work progressing well at Leather Industrial Park:
The work to install central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at the Leather Industrial Park is progressing at good pace, said officials of the Industries Ministry on Monday.
Speaking at a meeting to evaluate the progress made in the implementation of the Annual Development Programmes (ADP) of the current fiscal under the ministry, the officials also informed that so far 1,027 enterpreneurs have submitted the lay-out plans for the infrastructure projects against the plots allocated to them.
read more. & read more.
* 127 tanners submit design plans to Savar Tannery Estate:
Some 127 tanners, from among the allotted 155 tanneries, have submitted their building design plans to the Savar Tannery Estate Authority.
“Construction work of Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) has been going on at full pace and other related projects have also been approved ….127 tanneries have submitted their full design plans and these will also be approved within a short time,” said Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu following a review meeting held at the Industries Ministry.
Presided by Industries Minister, officers of Industries ministry and other organisations under the ministry were present including industries secretary Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah.
The meeting reviewed different projects of Industries Ministry under Annual Development Programme, of which the Savar Tannery Estate is the biggest.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza survivor begins European tour:
Shila Begum, who spent a whole day trapped under the rubble of the collapsed Rana Plaza building is bringing her story to consumers and brands in Europe in order to urge brands to pay up.
Shila Begum has never left Bangladesh before, and yet today she has flown from the Netherlands to Italy as part of a European speaker tour where she will be sharing her story with consumers, campaigners, trade unions and clothing brands in the hope that before April 24th – the one year anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza – brands will pay up into the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.
She is making this brave trip along with Secretary General of the National Garment Workers Federation Safia Parvin and Shahidul Islam Shahid as part of the Pay Up campaign being run by Clean Clothes Campaign and our partners across the globe.
With just three weeks until the annversary of the devastating collapse major brands including Benetton, Auchan and Adler Modermarkte are still to commit any funds to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund which needs US$40million in order to ensure all the families of the 1,138 who died and the thousands of suvivors like Shila receive the compensation they need.
13:22:05 local time INDIA
* Garment workers run riot after colleague’s death, 10 cops hurt:
Hundreds of workers of a garment export company in Udyog Vihar went on the rampage on Friday after the death by electrocution of a colleague, which they attributed to the company’s negligence.
In the violence by more than 1,000 Orient Craft workers, 10 policemen, including the ACP (city), were injured and several vehicles were vandalized on Friday afternoon.
The victim was identified as 34-year-old Sunil Kumar, a native of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh who lived in a rented accommodation in Sirhaul near Sector 18. Sunil used to work as tailor master in the company.
After the body of Sunil was found on the first floor of the company building, it was rushed to a nearby private hospital by company officials and several workers. The doctors there declared him brought dead and the autopsy report stated the cause of death as electrocution.
The management, however, claimed he had died of cardiac arrest, the workers said. Company officials did not answer repeated calls from TOI. “In the postmortem report, the cause of death is electrocution,” Dr Pankaj Mathur, who conducted the postmortem, told TOI.
When news of the autopsy report spread, many workers abandoned work and went berserk. They smashed cars belonging to the company brass parked near the gates. Police rushed to the spot, only to face the wrath of the workers, who attacked them with stones. The violence could be reined in only after additional police forces were called in.
* ‘Stringent punishment must to curb violence against women’:
College students called for stringent punishment for perpetrators of violence against women to bring about a deterrent effect in what they described as a “male chauvinistic” society at a debate organised in connection with International Women’s Day celebration by the Women Entrepreneurs’ Association of Tamil Nadu (WEAT), Erode Chapter, here on Saturday.
Students observed that the increase, of late, in reporting acts of sexual violence against women was a reflection of the courage gathered by the affected people owing to enhanced awareness brought about by the media.
The debate on women’s safety was followed by a seminar on ‘Entrepreneurial Opportunities for Women’ organised jointly by the WEAT and Textile and Garment Exporters Association (TGEA).
* Cotton yarn exports slow down:
For the textile mills in the region, cotton yarn exports have slowed down in February – March because of drop in demand.
Industry sources say that on an average 120 million kg of cotton yarn was exported a month from the country for 10 months from April last year. Textile mills say that it reduced in February and March.
China had increased purchase in December and January and slowed down in February.
Exporters are also facing a drop in price. Further, value of rupee against the dollar is strengthening and that of the Chinese currency is weakening.
The country is looking at export of 1,400 million kg of cotton yarn this year and it had exported 1,200 million kg in the first 10 months of the fiscal.
13:22:05 local time SRI LANKA
* SEP campaigns among villagers protesting water pollution:
Socialist Equality Party (SEP) supporters visited Thunnana in Hanwella, about 30 kilometres from Colombo, as part of the party’s campaign for tomorrow’s provincial council elections.
The village is currently under siege by government security forces following the brutal crackdown on a peaceful protest by local residents over water pollution on March 16.
The villagers were demanding closure of Hanwella Rubber Products (HRP), which is suspected of contaminating local water. HRP is a subsidiary of Dipped Products, which is also accused of polluting water in Weliweriya, in the Gampaha district. Both factories produce rubber gloves.
12:52:05 local time PAKISTAN
* Women workers in Pakistan: an invisible workforce?:
Afsheen Amed, 27, works in a sportswear factory in the north-eastern city of Sialkot, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
She works 10 hours a day and earns just 4,500 rupees (US$46) a month.
“There are more than 250 women workers in the factory but none of us get the same salary as our male counterparts” she tells Equal Times.
As is the norm with female workers, neither Afsheen nor any of her colleagues have a letter of appointment (a contract).
“We do not have separate washrooms or a kitchen in the factory, let alone a day care centre. There is no concept of maternity leave in our factory. Pregnancy means removal from the job.”
Afsheen says that harassment is common but that there is nowhere that female workers can express their grievances.
“The unions only listen to men. There is no representation of women because you need an appointment letter to become member of the union.”
Unfortunately, the situation at Afsheen’s factory is not unique. There are no accurate statistics on the numbers of working women in Pakistan, but as 50 percent of the country’s population, their needs are rarely taken into account.
In a country where working conditions are generally difficult, female workers bear the brunt.
The scarcity of labour inspectors in general, and the almost complete lack of female ones, doesn’t help.
* APTMA chief demands non-stop gas supply to textile industry:
Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has demanded uninterrupted gas supply to the Punjab-based textile industry in order to stop closure of mills and ultimately large-scale unemployment in the province.
He has urged the government to save Punjab-based textile industry without delay.
He said Punjab-based textile industry was confronted with a serious challenge of sustainability on account of energy shortage, particularly gas supply, which was not being provided with as per requirement.
On the contrary, he said the textile industry in other provinces was getting 24/7 gas supply and the widening disparity of the Punjab-based textile industry against other provinces was inflicting Rs 72 billion per annum as an additional cost.
That situation was resulting into large scale closure of textile mills in Punjab, he added.
read more. & read more.
* Textile sector in Punjab: PTEA urges government to increase gas supply:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has called upon the government to increase gas supply to export-oriented textile sector in Punjab as the domestic consumption has declined significantly due to warm weather.
Talking to newsmen, PTEA’s chairman and vice chairman, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood and Adil Tahir, respectively, said that textile industry in Punjab has been facing acute gas shortage since early November as most of gas supplies were diverted to domestic consumers.
Currently the export-oriented textile sector is getting 25 percent gas supply, they said and urged the government to enforce the revised gas management plan that gave priority to the industry in provision of gas.
As the demand pressures on the SNGPL network ease with rising temperature, the government should immediately divert the spare gas to export-oriented textile industry in Punjab to earn more much needed foreign exchange, they said.