In the news 12-13 April 2014

04:52:41 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

20140411 * CCHR’s Open Letter to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng asking him to ensure the 23 are present at trial:

To His Excellency Sar Kheng
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Ministry of Interior
Phnom Penh,
11 April 2014

Open Letter calling on His Excellency Sar Kheng Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, to take all measure necessary to ensure that the 21 accused attend their hearing at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance.

Subject: Transportation concerns for the 21 accused detained in Correctional Center 3 (“CC3”) regarding their forthcoming hearing at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on 18 April 2014.
Reference:
– Criminal Case number 013 dated 03 January 2014, Criminal Case number 016 dated 04 January 2014 and Criminal Case number 019 dated 04 January 2014.
– An article published in the Phnom Penh Post on 07 April 2014.

Dear Excellency,
In reference to the above mentioned subject, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) would like to inform his Excellency that on 18 April 2014 at 8:00AM the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance is going to hear the above mentioned criminal cases.
CCHR is concerned by reports stating that the 21 accused held in detention at CC3 (Tra Paing Phlong, Kampong Cham province) may not be transported to attend
their upcoming hearing.

According to an English article published in the Phnom Penh Post issued on 07 April 2014 Mr. Kea Sovanna, CC3 Director stated that “There are more than 20. How can I have a car to bring them to trial? My car is only for going to the nearby market to buy food to cook for them. This car can’t be used for long-distance trips of
about 200 kilometers.”
Article 31 (1) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia stipulates that “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights.” Therefore, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) that Cambodia acceded to in 1992 is part of Cambodian Law. Article 14 (3) (d) of the ICCPR states that: “In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: to be tried in his presence […]”

Moreover, Article 300 of the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure of 2007 states that “the accused shall appear in person during the hearings at the court.” As such, any accused has the fundamental right to be present during his trial hearing. In addition, Article 60 of the 2011 Prison Law stipulates that “the detainee can be temporarily allowed to leave the prison under a court warrant for the purpose of appearing in court […]”
In addition, Article 61 of the same law states that “Prison’s Director shall be responsible for the security and safety of the detainee during transportation to the court […]”  Therefore, according to the law, the transportation of the accused to the court is the responsibility of the host prison and the General Department of Prison which is under the authority of the Ministry of Interior.

If the 21 accused do not attend their trial hearing on 18 April 2014 at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance, this would seriously violate their right to a fair trial, as well as a violate Cambodia’s obligation under domestic and international laws.

Considering the above, we would like, your Excellency, to call on you to take all necessary practical and legal measures to ensure that the 21 accused that are being held in CC3 will attend their upcoming hearing on 18 April 2014.

Yours Sincerely,
Chak Sopheap
Executive Director
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights
to read.
CCHR

20140412 * Trial of 23 Delayed By Municipal Court:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court delayed Friday the trial of 23 unionists and striking garment workers by one week.

Rights workers said the court’s move was politically motivated because unionists have called for a “stay-at-home strike” after the Khmer New Year holiday ends Wednesday, April 16. A trial during a strike could inflame emotions.

The court was originally supposed to try the men in three separate hearings on April 18. Now, they are to be tried April 25 on the same charges—causing violence and damage. The men were beaten and detained during lethally suppressed strikes on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street in January.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said he believes the decision was made after opposition CNRP leader Sam Rainsy failed to meet King Norodom Sihamoni Friday with Prime Minister Hun Sen. The two political leaders held talks on how to end a political deadlock that has seen the opposition stage protests and boycott the National Assembly.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140411 PPP KHMER NEW YEAR

20140411 CCHR NEW YEAR

03:52:41 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Future of 2 RMG factory workers uncertain:

The factories were shut down as they had failed to meet standards set by Bangladesh Accord Foundation

Workers of Softex Cotton Pvt Ltd and Fame Knitwear Ltd have been passing their days in uncertainty following temporary closure of both the factories a month ago.

Of a total of 6,000 workers, many are yet to manage jobs elsewhere following the decision of the authorities.

The factories were shut down as they had failed to meet standards set by Bangladesh Accord Foundation. This is a group of 150 global clothing brands and retailers who intend to improve RMG factory conditions and working environment.

A worker named Sufia said: “My daughter and I worked at Softex. We have already been paid for the next three months but we are concerned about what will happen next. I must find a new job to run my family.”

A worker at Fame Knitwear, Monwara Begum has four children, three of who are studying in school. Her husband is a rickshaw-puller.
“I could not find any job. It will be a burden for our family if I fail to manage another source of earning. I am worried,” she told the Dhaka Tribune.

Another worker Arju Akter said: “I worked at Fame Knitwear for the last four years. Now I am working at Poshomi Factory in Gazipur which is owned by the same owner.

On March 6, the officials concerned decided to close the two factories temporarily because they were dilapidated.
During a recent visit, the Dhaka Tribune saw owners of the factories evacuating the establishments. Most of the equipment and machinery were being transferred to other factories of the owners in Gazipur, Mirpur and other areas.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

* Three more RMG units closed in city :

Major structural flaws in bldg

The government panel has temporarily closed down three more garment factories after engineers hired by Western retailers’ detected major structural flaws in the building, sources said.

Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) told the FE that on April 10, the government panel ordered for, a 15-day closure of the three factories-Four Wings Ltd, Itune Fashion and Natural Sweater-housed in an eight-storied complex in the capital city.

The building is overloaded while structural flaws are also found there, he said.

Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), who is also a member of the official review committee, said the authorities concerned have asked for a detailed engineering assessment within next 15 days and during the period production would remain suspended there.

The three factories employ about 2500 workers, he said adding final decision would be taken after the detailed engineering assessment of the building is available.
read more. & read more. & read more.
FE bd NEWAGEnew DHAKATRIBUNE

* Garment workers’ safety demanded:

Garment workers federations on Saturday asked the Awami League- led government to ensure safety of apparel workers in their workplaces.

Though the issue of garment workers’ safety raised world wide concerns since last year’s Rana Plaza collapse at Savar  killed over 1, 100 apparel workers, little was done to ensure their safety, labour leaders said at separate programmes.

A national convention on the issue of garment workers’ safety organized by Bangladesh Textile Garments Workers Federation at National Press Club auditorium,   proposed 12 recommendations including strict enforcement of the building code while factories are built, proper issuance of occupational certificates and ensuring  fire safety.

Chaired by federation president Mahbubur Rahman Ismail, the convention was addressed by convener of Sramik Nirapatta Foum, Hamida Hossain, secretary of Sujan, Badiul Islam Majumder, labour secretary Mikail Shipar, labour leaders Roy Ramesh Chandra and Mesbahuddin Ahmed.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

* Ensuring safety of garments factory:

The safety record of the Bangladesh garment industry is one of the worst in the world.

Duty-free import of safety equipment for garments factories in the overall interest of Bangladesh can be justified.

Factory owners should immediately get needed safety equipment lacking in many garments factories. The duty-free import will help them ensure safety and security of the RMG workers by installing safety equipment as per the requirement of the global retailers.

Both the foreign exchange and local currency should be allocated for this essential capital expenditure for installing and testing all the needed safety measures incorporated for the first time in many garments factories.
The government should instruct the bankers on an urgent basis so that necessary LCs are established on or before June 30, 2014.
Factory owners should quickly obtain offers over the internet and get after this very important aspect of the factories with all dispatch so that LCs are timely opened.
I feel that this is a justified action which the government should immediately take on a top priority basis. Engr SA Mansoor.
to read.
FE bd

* Restoration of US GSP: Some observations:

We have for some time been locked in rhetoric and war of words over the temporary ‘loss’ of trade benefits under US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Emotional outbursts have taken centre-stage in the country on the modalities of winning back the lost privileges, with the US still sticking to the suspension. It is often said that Bangladesh will get back the trade facilities if the issue is not ‘politically twisted’.
In support of this claim, the oft-repeated argument being put forward is that out of 16 prescriptions, 13 have been followed — with the rest three being at the completion stage. Any encouraging response, however, from the US side has yet to be forthcoming.

Let us say a few words with reference to the GSP regime. It encompasses a unique offer to lift the less developed countries from the vicious cycle of economic backwardness and bring about economic development there.
The benefits accruable under the GSP facility are unilateral, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory for developing countries including special measures in favour of the least developed countries (LDCs). All products of a country are not covered under a GSP regime.
(…)
IT DID NOT TAKE PLACE ALL ON A SUDDEN: It would be pertinent to go for an in-depth look at the problems that continuously had afflicted Bangladesh in the past. The suspension of GSP benefits for Bangladesh has not occurred all on a sudden and abruptly. We have a long history of utter negligence and inability to abide by the prescribed conditions for years together.
For the last 23 years, the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO), a very powerful and influential labour organization, has been repeatedly hammering the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), an agency responsible for developing trade and recommending US trade policy to the President, for suspension of the GSP benefits for Bangladesh since 1990.
The AFL-CIO filed ‘country practice petition’ against Bangladesh to USTR in 1990, 1999, 2004, 2005, and, lastly, in 2007 complaining about flagrant violation of labour rights and labour rights limitations in the EPZs.
In the last petition, AFL-CIO unequivocally stated, “The government of Bangladesh has been too neglectful for too long shirking the duty to protect workers who are the backbone of Bangladesh economy……”
(…)
On February 09, 2014, a newspaper published an investigative report on some factories in Bangladesh as reported by ITV, a British television network.
Their findings include verbal and physical abuse of workers, slapping and kicking of workers for not working faster and forcing child workers as young as 13 years to work for 11 hours.
Managers of some factories intimidate, mistreat and threaten to kill the workers if they are involved in setting up unions.
Unions’ organisers are beaten and they even lose their jobs and are made to resign in the process.
Some factory owners employ local gangsters to threaten or attack the workers outside workplaces.
These are not auspicious signs and should not be taken lightly.
The BGMEA must identify these non-compliant factories and take action against the RMG unit owners to weed out such irregularities from the factories. If such incidents continue unabated, this may stand in the way of getting back the GSP benefits from the USA.
read more.
FE bd

* Law enforcers to be engaged to stop GSP certificate forgeries:

The government is set to engage law enforcement agencies to help stop forgeries of certificates under the European Union’s generalised system of preferences (GSP), a high official said.

The move came following a suggestion from the visiting team of European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) last week.
Under the GSP regime of the European Union (EU), goods from Bangladesh enter the bloc without requiring payment of any duties.

“A six-member OLAF delegation visited Bangladesh last week and requested us to employ detective police to stop the forgery of GSP-related certificates. They said only the cancellation of GSP certificates or annulment of enlisting local parties is not enough to stop the forgery,” a senior official at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) told the FE.

During the visit, around 267 GSP certificates were brought under scrutiny on suspicion of having been forged. Some 837 certificates were checked in 2012 for the purpose while the number of such certificates was around 3,200 in 2011 and 3,300 in 2010.
Officials said a number of Bangladeshi businessmen and a few countries, which are not eligible to enjoy EU’s GSP facility, were involved in this fraudulent practice.
read more.
FE bd

* GSP Restoration: BD to submit report on action plan Tuesday:

The government will submit a progress report on ‘Bangladesh Action Plan 2013’ to the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) by Tuesday though the review for reinstating Bangladesh’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits still looks uncertain.

The legal authorisation for the GSP programme expired on July 31, 2013 and the US Congress is considering a legislation that would extend the authorisation of GSP beyond this date, according to the USTR.

As long as the GSP programme remains with no authorisation, there will be no public hearing and no request for public comments for the ongoing GSP country and product reviews and no final disposition of these reviews.

“We’ll send the progress report by April 15 (Tuesday),” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told UNB on Saturday mentioning that he cannot tell about possible hearing or review on GSP restoration soon.
read more. & to read. & read more. & read more. & to read
UNB FE bd INDEPENDENT NEWAGEnew DHAKATRIBUNE

* Law enforcers to be engaged to stop GSP certificate forgeries:

The government is set to engage law enforcement agencies to help stop forgeries of certificates under the European Union’s generalised system of preferences (GSP), a high official said.

The move came following a suggestion from the visiting team of European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) last week.
Under the GSP regime of the European Union (EU), goods from Bangladesh enter the bloc without requiring payment of any duties.

“A six-member OLAF delegation visited Bangladesh last week and requested us to employ detective police to stop the forgery of GSP-related certificates. They said only the cancellation of GSP certificates or annulment of enlisting local parties is not enough to stop the forgery,” a senior official at the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) told the FE.
read more.
FE bd

* Non-traditional markets show great promise for garments:

Garment exports to non-traditional markets are rising at a faster rate than to the traditional markets owing to the stimulus package and duty benefits by emerging markets for Bangladesh.

In fiscal 2012-13, garment exports to non-traditional markets such as Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and so on rose 29 percent year-on-year to $2.98 billion, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau.
In contrast, exports to traditional markets of the US, Canada and European Union stood at $18.54 billion last fiscal year, up 10.93 percent year-on-year.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, credited the higher growth to stimulus package from the government and duty benefits from emerging markets such as China, Japan and India.
In a bid to offset any significant drop in garment export figures, the government in 2009 introduced a financial package to encourage garment manufacturers to explore new destinations.

Under the scheme, the government gave 5 percent cash incentive to garment exporters in fiscal 2009-10, 4 percent in fiscal 2010-11 and 2 percent in fiscal 2011-12. The exporters are still receiving 2 percent cash incentive for exporting to the new destinations.
Subsequently, exports to the new destinations took off. Moreover, some countries have also given duty-benefits to Bangladesh during this period.
read more.
daily star bd

* BTMA for keeping 15% income tax:

The apex trade body will seek for withdrawing tax at source for spinning, weaving, dying, printing and finishing mills

Bangladesh Textiles Mills Association (BTMA) will urge the government for keeping the existing 15% income tax on profits in the upcoming budget for the fiscal 2014-15.

The apex trade body will also seek for withdrawing tax at source for spinning, weaving, dying, printing and finishing mills as it plans to place its proposal to the National Bureau of Revenue (NBR) during a pre-budget discussion with NBR, to be held shortly, according to a proposal prepared by BTMA.
BTMA officials are also going to press its demand for tax cut at source in case of trading cottons through local letter of credits (LCs), as it has increasedthe yarn prices.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

   THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE

20140411 * A Year Later, Bangladesh Factory-Collapse Victims Still Wait for Compensation:

In the year since the Rana Plaza factory complex tumbled down outside Dhaka, the Bangladesh government has raised the minimum wage and changed the labor law to make it easier for workers to form unions.

International retailers have come together to form two separate safety pacts  aimed at improving safety in the country’s garment factories.

But little has changed for the families of the 1,138 men and women who died when Rana Plaza collapsed or for the more than 2000 survivors, at least half of whom are struggling with long-term injuries compounded by loss of income and rising medical costs.

With the first anniversary of one of the world’s worst industrial accidents just two weeks away, Rana Plaza workers and victims’ families say they’re still waiting for compensation. Although a mechanism for delivering compensation was established through negotiations between the International Labor Organization, labor groups and clothing companies, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund is facing a potentially serious shortfall.

Retailers that were sourcing apparel from Rana Plaza have so far contributed $15 million, far short of the fund’s $40 million target.  Jyrki Raina, of the IndustriALL Global Union, said: “The workers who survived this catastrophe and the families of those who did not are in desperate need. The brands can show that they can be part of the solution – but only if they pay up.”
read more.
WSJ

20140411 * ‘Seven-member body to oversee disbursement of $40m ILO fund to Rana Plaza victims’:

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) along with other industry people have formed a seven- member committee to oversee disbursement of $40m to the Rana Plaza victims.

“As a signatory to the ILO fund, we’ve formed a seven- member committee so that workers’ welfare fund is disbursed in a transparent manner,” Md Shahidullah Azim, Vice-President of BGMEA, told BSS today.

Azim, who was entrusted with the responsibility to look into fund disbursement from the association part, said the BGMEA will dedicate person to monitor whether genuine Rana Plaza victims are getting the financial support.

The ILO has a requirement of 40 million US dollars for the Workers\’ Welfare Fund and $16m has so far been mobilized.
(….)
A total of 3,080 victims will be compensated, with each victim receiving Tk 50,000 from the trust fund created by the international retailers, he said at a function in the city yesterday (Thursday).

IndustriALL, a global union federation; UNI, a global trade union; and Clean Clothes Campaign, a leading rights network for the garment sector, already demanded that the 29 brands which sourced from factories housed at Rana Plaza must pay towards the trust fund before April 24.
read more. & read more.
BSS FE bd

* Compensations for all victims demanded:

20140412 DAILYSTAR rana-plaza-compansation
United Federation of Garment Workers forms a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club in the capital yesterday demanding adequate compensations for all the victims of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire. Photo: Star

Leaders of United Federation of Garments Workers yesterday demanded that the government ensure compensations for all victims of Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire.

At a human chain formed in front of Jatiya Press Club in the capital, they also demanded the safety of garment workers at their workplaces.
UFGW President Roy Ramesh Chandra urged the government to form a welfare fund to provide financial assistance to the workers on emergency basis.
The coming April 24 will be the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy that killed at least 1,138 workers and injured several hundreds.
Meanwhile, a citizen group staged a rally before Bangladesh National Museum demanding arrest of all the responsible persons in Spectrum Sweater Factory Building collapse at Savar on April 11, 2005 and Tazreen fire on November 24, 2012 at Ashulia.
read more.
daily star bd

* Proper compensation for Rana Plaza victims demanded:

20140412 NEWAGE
The United Federation of Garments on Friday brings out a procession in front of the National Press Club demanding compensation for Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza collapse victims in accordance with the ILO convention. — New Age photo

United Federation of Garments Workers and Samajtantrik Sramik Front on Friday demanded appropriate compensation for the affected workers in the collapse of Rana Plaza and fire at Tazreen Fashion as per the International Labour Organisation convention.

The federation made the demand at a human chain and the front at a rally in front of the National Press Club.
Labour leaders, addressing the rally of Samajtantrik Sramik Front, a labour organisation, called on the government to declare April 24 national mourning day commemorating the apparel workers killed in Rana Plaza collapse.

Trade Union Centre general secretary Wajed-ul Islam Khan demanded exemplary punishments for the people responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashion fire and appropriate compensations for the workers affected in the incidents.

Jatiya Sramik Jote president Mesbahuddin Ahmed demanded implementation of announced minimum wage of Tk.5,300 for the apparel workers in every apparel factory.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

* Victims want to know account of foreign aid:

They said the government had failed to prepare a complete list of deceased, injured and missing workers in the last one year

Several hundred affected workers and the families of victims of the garment factories housed in collapsed Rana Plaza have demanded proper compensation for rehabilitation and urged the government to disclose account of the foreign aid which came in this regard. 

At a human chain formed yesterday morning at the collapse site in Savar, they also sought information about the relatives who have been missing since the devastating incident that took place on April 24 last year.
(…)
Expressing concern about the recovery of skulls and bones at the site in the recent months, they also called for further search operation. The speakers said over 300 workers were still missing.

In the first phase report on examinations last November, the DNA lab identified 157 victims – 116 women and 41 men; while the second phase report in February this year identified 43 more victims – 33 women and 10 men. As many as 541 families provided DNA samples for cross-matching with the 322 unidentified victims, whose bone and teeth were collected as DNA samples.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

* As the dreaded day appears, Rana Plaza Aftermath:

24 April 2014 will see exactly one year since the dreaded Rana Plaza building collapse which saw more than a thousand dead and several thousands injured among whom hundreds were crippled for life.

Since the tragedy came to pass there have been a global uproar for justice being served to those responsible and negligent for this catastrophic industrial disaster, stronger fire and building safety measures for garment factories, and urgent dissemination of compensation to the wrecked victims and their destitute families for their irreparable losses that Rana Plaza Tragedy forced upon them.

Justice Awaits
Mr. Sohel Rana, the owner of the 9-storied building named Rana Plaza which collapsed on 24 April 2013, was quickly brought behind bars after the collapse. Savar municipality authorities and police respectively filed two cases with Savar Model Police Station on April 24 and 25 last year for constructing the building without a Rajuk-approved plan and in violation of the rules and provisions of the Bangladesh National Building Code, and for negligence of the owners of the building and its garments factories which caused death of the people. A verdict is yet to be given and the criminals keep trying to get bails.
(…)

Safe and Sustainable Work-places?
The demand for measures strengthening fire and building safety, humane working conditions along with freedom to associate and form trade unions for Bangladeshi Garment factories have been voiced since many years prior to Rana Plaza. As factory disasters kept occurring and recurring with a cold consistency in Bangladesh, the voices kept gaining strength until the dreaded day of the Rana Plaza Tragedy came upon us. Rana Plaza is a massive shake to those who have argued against the reality of crumbling sweatshops thriving in our country under the blessing of blood sucking business ideals which bone-dry every moral space for ethical conduct of business.
(…)

Rights inside the Factory
The Rana Plaza Tragedy did not only uncover the catastrophic condition of factory buildings and their lack of the most obvious safety measures or any adherence to proper building laws, but it also unraveled the sad scenario of working conditions inside these factories. Pregnant women gave birth inside the rubbles displaying a vivid example of lack of maternity leaves, while child workers as young as 11 were amputated to be taken out of the carnage. Workers who came out alive gave vivid descriptions of being punished for the smallest mistakes and working in cramped factory floors. Workers were pushed inside the unsafe factory with the help of extra legal forces, threatened of being fired or losing an entire month’s salary.
(,,,)

The GSP Update
The effectiveness of holding back the GSP has been phenomenal in Bangladesh and the country saw considerable progress in the administrations attitude towards workplace safety and worker rights in Bangladesh in an effort to save its western market and regain the lost GSP so that to prevent losing the more lucrative European GSP as a domino effect.
(…)

Immediate Responsibility – The Rana Plaza Compensation
The most urgent of all tasks that need to be done after Rana Plaza is to pay its victims a compensation, however inadequate for their losses, but enough to sustain their lives and prevent a greater moral and psychological damage to the confidence of garment workers and their families in Bangladesh. The importance of a proper compensation is indispensable, apart from the greater humanitarian responsibility of brands for its workers at the bottom of the supply chain.
(…)

What Next?
The best highlight during the initial relief for the Rana Plaza victims was the bKash cash transfer method followed by Primark. A method which was very timely and appropriate considering the pain, hassle and harassment which was prevented for the workers which was previously suffered by workers of the Tazreen Tragedy.

A compensation process of this size would greatly benefit for efficient use of available resources. It will be important to manage such a large scale compensation plan in a transparent and organized manner so that none of the suffering victims are left behind. Thus for the implementation of the compensation scheme, it is important that it remains transparent and above questions.
read more.

* Global retailers asked to compensate Rana Plaza victims before April 24:

Global labour rights groups demanded all brands associated with Rana Plaza pay up and ensure the survivors and victims families receive the much needed
support before the first anniversary of the tragic building collapse on April 24.

IndustriALL and UNI Global Union and leading labour rights network Clean Clothes Campaign made the demand two weeks before the first anniversary of the devastating building collapse as the clothing brands contributions to Donor Trust Fund remain shockingly low.

The Donor Trust Fund, which provides a central coordinated approach to collecting claims and distributing the money, needs US$ 40 million in contributions to ensure that the 1,138 victims families and over 2,000 survivors receive much needed payments for loss of income and medical expenses.

To date just half the companies who have been connected to a factory in the building have made commitments, and the fund has just one third of the funds required.

“Currently 15 brands, including Benetton, Matalan, Adler Modemarkte and Auchan, have failed to even make an initial contribution to the Donor Trust Fund,” says Phillip Jennings of UNI Global Union, “we call on all of them to immediately make a
significant donation to the Donor Trust Fund – the only inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognised compensation programme for Rana Plaza victims.”

Not all of the brands who have made donations have publicly stated how much they have contributed, however those that have typically donated between US$500,000 and US$1 million.
read more. & read more.
BSS INDEPENDENT

* ‘Compensate Rana Plaza victims by Apr 24’:

20140412 FE rmg workers

A garments workers’ association has demanded that the compensations for the dead and the injured workers of Rana Plaza be paid by April 24.

The National Garments Workers Federation formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Saturday to voice the demand.
The families of the deceased, the injured and those still unaccounted for from the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen Fashion fire were present there.
Federation President Amirul Haque Amin said foreign buyers had pledged only Tk 17 million against the Tk 40 million in compensations estimated by the Rana Plaza Compensation Arrangement Coordinating Committee formed under ILO supervision. “This is not only frustrating, it’s humiliating.
The victims are not begging for alms, they are making legitimate claims,” he said, according to a news agency.
to read.
FE bd

03:22:41 local time map of india INDIA

20140412 * ‘Revise wages’:

About 20,000 job-working power loom units in Palladam and nearby areas have stopped production as some of the textile manufacturers are not paying the revised wages.

Nearly two lakh power looms in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts were on strike from February 21 for 34 days.
to read.
THEHINDU

20140313 * Power loom unit owners seek revised wages:

While the textile manufacturers at Somanur, Tirupur and Avinashi have started paying the revised wages, some in Palladam are reluctant to do so.

About 20,000 job-working power loom units in Palladam and nearby areas have stopped production as some of the textile manufacturers are not paying the revised wages.

Strike
Nearly two lakh power looms in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts were on strike from February 21 for 34 days as the owners of the job-working power loom units demanded hike in wages from the textile manufacturers. Labour Department officials held talks with the unit owners and the textile manufacturers and recommended 30 per cent increase in wages for job-working units that weave the Somanur variety fabric and 27 per cent for others.

Wages
While the textile manufacturers at Somanur, Tirupur and Avinashi have started paying the revised wages, some in Palladam are reluctant to do so. Hence, the power loom unit owners have gone on strike.
read more.
THEHINDU

* CITU flays move on PF payment methodology:

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has opposed the Government’s reported move to change the definition of ‘wages’ for the purpose of provident fund (PF) contribution.

In a letter to Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes, CITU President AK Padmanabhan, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation, said the move to amend the circular of Central Provident Fund Commissioner, dated November 30, 2012, relating to definition of wages would take a heavy toll on eight crore PF subscribers.

“After the circular was issued by the then CPFC RC Mishra, it was put in abeyance. A tripartite working group was formed to “examine various aspects of the circular” which had CBT members representing employers and workers and also higher officials of EPFO. …
read more.
THEHINDUBUSINESS

02:52:41 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ‘Anomalies’ in labour policy draft pointed out:

Trade unions and NGOs working for labour rights have criticised the draft labour policy shared with them at a recent stakeholders’ consultation by the Punjab government.

The labour policy is being prepared with the help of International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the wake of GSP Plus status the country has been given by the European Union under the condition of compliance with 27 global standards in the areas of labour, human rights, environment and governance.

The critics, including the Labour Education Foundation (LEF) and Pakistan Workers Federation (PWF), say the government should have convened a tripartite (employees, employers and government) conference instead of holding the consultation on the policy.

LEF director Khalid Mahmood says 80pc of the workers, who are not members of any trade union, remained unrepresented in the consultation. Most of those invited were elderly leaders unaware of the prevailing working conditions and the present day problems of the workers.
read more.
DAWNnew

* No gas: Punjab textile units on verge of closure:

Battered by gas shortages, rising exchange rate and high cost of electricity, Punjab’s textile industry is verging on closure. A good number of factories, small and large, are claimed to have already closed down or cutting production to avoid financial losses.

“Punjab’s textile industry is being deprived of gas supplies despite being third on the priority list. We are getting just one quarter of our allocated gas supply though domestic demand has dipped significantly on rising temperatures,” S M Tanveer, Chairman Aptma-Punjab, told Dawn on Friday.

On the other hand, other sectors of the economy that fall below on the priority list of gas companies are getting more gas than what is being supplied to the textile industry.
“This is increasing our cost of production and forcing factories to close down,” he said.
The manufacturers from Sialkot to Lahore to Faisalabad are crying hoarse over the government’s failure to increase the gas supplies to them.
read more.
DAWNnew

* Fast closure of mills in Punjab: APTMA calls emergency meeting to devise strategy:

Punjab-based textile industry despite being third in the gas allocation policy, is being deprived of gas supply as compared to other categories which are lower than the industry and is being supplied only 25 percent of allocated supply in summer.

Consequently, the industry is being forced to close down, said S M Tanveer Chairman APTMA.

He has expressed serious concerns over fast closure of mills in Punjab owing to insufficient energy supplies, rising cost of doing business and unmatched government support by the regional competitors to their industry. APTMA has called emergent meeting of the members on Monday to formulate strategy against discrimination.

He said the fast eroding viability of textile mills in Punjab has resulted into complete shutdown of a good number of mills while remaining are forced to close down one shift to mitigate losses.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* Textile machinery”s import up by 44.47 percent in July-February:

Import of textile machinery surged by 44.47 percent to $366.053 million in July-February 2013-14, official statistics say. Import of textile machinery posted an increase of $112.674 million during July-February 2013-14 as compared to the machinery import of $253.379 million in the same period last fiscal year, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) indicate.

In February 2014, import of textile machinery went up by $16.077 million (54 percent) to $46.050 million as compared to the machinery import of $29.973 million in February 2013, the PBS shows. Import of construction and mining machinery mounted by $63.94 million (64 percent) to $163.946 million in July-February this fiscal year from the machinery import of $100.006 million in the same period last fiscal year, the figures suggest.
Import of construction and mining machinery surged by $4.698 million (54 percent) to $13.402 million in February 2014 from $8.704 million in February 2013, the statistics say.
to read.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* FBR chief assures early refund of claims, says PTEA chairman:

Chairman Federal Board of Revenue vowed that FBR will strive to facilitate the textile exporters and assured exporters regarding removing bottlenecks and expediting payments of customs rebates and sales tax refunds, said Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, here on Saturday.

Briefing the newsmen after meeting with FBR Chief, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood said that a delegation of PTEA met with FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa on Friday, apprising FBR Chief of the problems confronting textile exporters.
The delegation informed that most ticklish issue is severe liquidity crunch as 30 to 35 percent working capital of textile exporters has been stuck up in sales tax, customs rebate and federal excise duty refund regimes if that amounts are released, exporters can invest that capital towards expanding their businesses, which in turn will help grow Pakistan’s export earnings.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

*  ‘Machinery, equipment offered by China are of global quality’:

Shah Faisal Afridi is the chief executive officer of Haier Ruba Group. His group launched Euro II-compliant tractors and a textile mill.

The News talks to him about business relationship with China.

Q. Why have you been China-centric in your business dealings?

A. Look at our success, which is second to none in this country. China is the second largest economy in the world. Only a country with huge technological advantage can attain this status.
The machinery and equipment offered by China are of global quality, while the prices are much lower than the similar machines supplied by developed economies. I am in fact surprised as to why other businessmen have not emulated us and ignored China to upgrade their technology.
Look at the Chinese cement plant operated by Lucky Cement that has the same capacity and efficiency as the one operated by DG Khan Cement in central Punjab. The capital cost is half but efficiency and profits are the same.
Our textile machinery is 100 percent Chinese made and one of the most profitable spinning mills in the country. We make our home appliances from Chinese technology and machines and have ventured into exports.
read more.
thenewspk

* Pakistan seeks WB’s help to avoid huge loss to exports:

Pakistan took up the issue of Disney Corporation’s decision to stop importing products from Pakistan worth $150 million per annum with the World Bank and sought its help for the revival of imports from Pakistan, official sources said on Friday.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar held a cordial and productive meeting with the Executive Vice President (EVP) of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Jin Yong Cai, in Washington DC on Friday, the officials said.

Dar requested the IFC EVP to play role in initiation of ILO’s Better Work Program in Pakistan so that the decision of Disney Corporation about Pakistan could be reverted.

Cai assured that the IFC will help facilitate towards this subject to Pakistan meeting the required formalities required towards its initiation for which the ILO needed to be taken on board.

The News has already reported on this very issue and had earlier highlighted that Walt Disney Company has deprived 16 Pakistani companies from exporting products worth $150 million to that particular company from April.

The News highlighted the issue on August 14, 2013, saying that the Disney Corporation had intimated the Pakistani authorities in July-August 2013 that it is going to cancel by April 1, 2014 and all the orders of $150 million as 16 Pakistani textile companies weren’t meeting international health and safety standards, while handling the orders, and in case Pakistan wants to avoid the cancelation of orders, then it would have to join Better Work Programme (BWP).

But the slackness in the corridors of power prevailed and Pakistan missed the bus in joining BWP, it said. However, when Pakistan awakened and initiated the diplomacy, the US department came forward to pitch the argument of Pakistan before the top management of the Disney Corporation but it refused to oblige the powerful organ of the state of America, saying this is the global policy of Disney Corporation and it cannot bail out Pakistan from the impact of its policy.

Pakistan’s total exports to the US stand at $3.6 billion, of which textile exports account for $3.2 billion.
read more.
thenewspk

 

 

map of Asia

INFO:

There are updates under ‘special reports’:

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 5: 20140307- NOW
* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307-now
* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW
* TAZREEN Fire Part 2 20 November 2013- NOW

CAMBODIA
* CCHR’s Open Letter to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng asking him to ensure the 23 are present at trial
* Trial of 23 Delayed By Municipal Court

BANGLADESH
* Future of 2 RMG factory workers uncertain
* Three more RMG units closed in city
* Garment workers’ safety demanded
* Ensuring safety of garments factory
* Restoration of US GSP: Some observations
* Law enforcers to be engaged to stop GSP certificate forgeries
* GSP Restoration: BD to submit report on action plan Tuesday
* Law enforcers to be engaged to stop GSP certificate forgeries
* Non-traditional markets show great promise for garments
* BTMA for keeping 15% income tax
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* A Year Later, Bangladesh Factory-Collapse Victims Still Wait for Compensation
* ‘Seven-member body to oversee disbursement of $40m ILO fund to Rana Plaza victims’
* Compensations for all victims demanded
* Proper compensation for Rana Plaza victims demanded
* Victims want to know account of foreign aid
* As the dreaded day appears, Rana Plaza Aftermath
* Global retailers asked to compensate Rana Plaza victims before April 24
* ‘Compensate Rana Plaza victims by Apr 24’

INDIA
* ‘Revise wages’
* Power loom unit owners seek revised wages
* CITU flays move on PF payment methodology

PAKISTAN
* ‘Anomalies’ in labour policy draft pointed out
* No gas: Punjab textile units on verge of closure
* Fast closure of mills in Punjab: APTMA calls emergency meeting to devise strategy
* Textile machinery”s import up by 44.47 percent in July-February
* FBR chief assures early refund of claims, says PTEA chairman
* ‘Machinery, equipment offered by China are of global quality’
* Pakistan seeks WB’s help to avoid huge loss to exports

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2