In the news 14-15 April 2014

TIME

20140415

00:22:20 local time map of china CHINA

20140407 * Thousands strike at Nike, Adidas, Reebok factory in Dongguan over invalid contracts:

Thousands of workers took to the streets on Saturday at a shoe making factory in Dongguan under the Taiwan-based Pou Chen Group when workers discovered that the factory has cheated them by using invalid contracts and signing up long-term workers with temporary staff social insurance schemes.

Yuyuan shoe factory in Gaobu Town in Dongguan is the biggest shoe making factory for more than 30 world famous sportswear brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Salomon. It has been operating in Dongguan since 1998 and currently has more than 60,000 workers, China News reported on April 5. It was also the factory where basketball legend Michael Jordan visited in 2004 on a China tour.

One of the workers surnamed Li said he had been working in the factory for more than 10 years and was on a permanent work contract, but when he used the work contract as a proof to enroll his child into a local school, he was told the contract was not legally binding.
Many other workers also reported similar instances, the report said. Migrant workers in Guangdong must present documents proving their long-term residency in the province, consecutive five-year records of social insurance fees, and one-child policy certificates in order to enroll their children into local schools, according to article 27 in the province’s laws managing migrant workers.
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NANFANG

20140408 * Thousands protest at Dongguan’s largest shoe factory:

20140408 wantchinatimes dongguan
Police on scene at the protest outside the Yue Yuen factory in Dongguan, Guangdong province. (Internet photo)

Several thousand workers from Dongguan’s largest shoe factory, Yue Yuen, took to the streets on Sunday to protest a disagreement over benefits and labor contracts, reports Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po.

The protesters are accusing the shoemaker of deceiving staff by giving the same social security benefits to workers who have been with the company for more than 10 years as to casual staff and of signing void labor contracts. The factory has reportedly promised to give staff an official response by April 14 and claims that production has not been affected.

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, headquartered in Hong Kong and established by its Taiwanese parent company Pou Chen Group is the largest branded athletic and casual footwear manufacturer in the world. Its Dongguan factory was established in 1988 and employs more than 60,000 workers who make shoes for major brands such as Nike, Adidas and Reebok.
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WANTCHINATIMES

* Chinese shoe maker Yue Yuen in talks to resolve worker dispute:

Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd, which makes shoes for global brands including Nike Inc and adidas AG, said on Tuesday it is in talks to resolve a dispute over employee terms and benefits at a factory in southern China.

The demonstration, which began on Saturday, is the latest to highlight a growing trend of industrial activism in China amid a worsening shortage of workers that has shifted the balance of power in labour relations.

About 600 workers took to the street in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub of Dongguan due to a “misunderstanding” over social security benefits and different terms for local and migrant workers, a spokesman for Yue Yuen, the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes, told Reuters.
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reuters

* Statement on large strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory:

Tens of thousands of workers at the Taiwanese-owned  Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan, one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturing facilities, have gone on strike to protest unpaid social insurance and housing funds payments and improper labor contracts.

Yue Yuan makes footwear most of the largest international shoe retailers, and this strike is likely one of the largest Chinese worker strikes in recent history.

Yue Yuen workers first went on strike on April 5, but the factory did not fully answer workers’ demands. As a result, workers went on strike again today (April 14).

Unpaid and contested social insurance are problems that most manufacturing workers in China face. Among the more than 400 factory investigations that China Labor Watch (CLW) has conducted over the past decade, not one factory bought for its workers all of the social insurance items required by Chinese law.

The reasons for incompliance with social insurance laws are multivariate.
read more.
chinalbourwatch

* Lectra signs partnership with Ruyi Group:

Lectra, which provides software and cutting systems for the garment industry, aims to boost its presence in China by building a strategic alliance with one of China’s leading textile and apparel makers.

The French company, which counts fashion brands such as Chanel as clients, signed a strategic partnership with Shandong Province-based Ruyi Group on Sunday. Under terms of the deal, Lectra will support Ruyi in expanding operations at its plant in Taian, Shandong, in order to supply a growing number of international luxury menswear clients.

The world’s apparel market could double to US$2.2 trillion by 2025, led by markets such as China and India, according to Andreas Kim, China chief of Lectra, who cited third-party estimates.
read more.
SHANGHAIDAILY

22:22:20 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Bangladesh Union Organizers Allege Intimidation:

Bangladeshi labor activist Hasina Akter said she was signing up workers during a unionization drive at a garment-factory dormitory in Dhaka when a group of men burst in, beat her, tore her clothes and threatened to rape her.

Another organizer with the Bangladesh Federation for Workers Solidarity, Mohammad Selim, who was with Ms. Akter, said he was shoved to the ground and kicked until he lost consciousness. “I thought I was about to die,” he said.

Police are looking into the allegations.
The alleged assaults, described by activists and factory employees who say they witnessed the February incident, illustrate the difficulties Bangladeshi labor leaders and garment workers face as they try to form unions in an industry that supplies cheap clothing to U.S. and European retailers.
(…)

According to Labor Ministry statistics, unions represent workers at only 219 of the country’s roughly 3,500 operating garment factories—despite a spate of recent registrations. Most of the unions are at small plants, with few at larger-scale factories, according to the Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies.

“The vast majority of garment workers in Bangladesh remain without collective-bargaining rights,” said Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, the institute’s director. “Workers’ associations are struggling to make an impact because of legal barriers, their own weakness and opposition from factory management.”
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WSJ

* Strikes and Unrest Continue in Factories Cheating Minimum Wage 2013 Implementation:

Apart from factory inspections, the GSP, battle between Accord and Alliance, the social problems continue in some of the garment industries in Bangladesh.

While many Garment Factories have already implemented the minimum wage, some still deny their workers their wage rights, which in a way adds blemish to all the good work most factory owners are doing in implementing proper wages and safer working conditions.

Recently, there have been many hostilities in some garment factories regarding wage, and a good number of factories continue such behavior of creating restlessness out of what should have been by now a “settled issue”. Earlier on 11 April this year, ATS Pearl Ltd, a garment factory employing around 1,700 workers in Chittagong Export Processing Zone, agitated for yearly increment on the factory premises, an issue already settled in the epz minimum wage 2013.

In a case that is not only unsettling, but displays a vivid example of negative attitude, below is a case study collected from a worker in Dhaka’s Matrix Dresses Limited, where a worker expresses her story in bitterness, looking forward to a decision to end her painful experience by switching job into another factory even if she has to start all over again without benefits paid.

A female Operator, P**** (name concealed for her safety), Matrix Dresses Limited
P*** has been targeted for over a month now for her taking part in a strike to receive wages according to the minimum wage 2013 as declared and applicable from December 2013 and payable starting from January 2014. “I am simply helpless,” she says “I am failing to keep my children fed, looking for a new job these days is not so simple with the inspections going on and the new minimum wage being implemented”, she adds “all we wanted was our minimum wage being implemented as per the gazette published by government, but even that has not happened. Who is there to listen to our grief?”
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* Garment factory owners suffer from mandatory wage hike:

Garment factory owners in Bangladesh are suffering from rising costs primarily due to the increased wages of labourers amid international calls for better working conditions after the Rana Plaza disaster.

The owners nearly doubled wages and have less money for safety improvements at factories, as their profits are squeezed. In addition, a number of global retailers who source from those factories are not willing to share the rising costs, report agencies.

The cost concerns come as Bangladesh’s garment export industry is facing stiff competition from other low-cost Asian countries such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia.
(…)
As a result, authorities in Bangladesh and clothing companies, especially in the US and Europe, have pledged to increase wages and improve safety standards at the country’s factories. Europe and the US account for 60pc and 23pc of clothes export from Bangladesh, respectively.

Britain’s supermarket operator Tesco said in a statement to Reuters that it had lobbied for higher wages for Bangladesh’s labourers and would continue to work with suppliers to improve pay and shorten workers’ hours. US clothing chain Gap and Sweden’s fast-fashion retailer H&M also noted that they had pushed for increased wages in Bangladesh.
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UNB DAWNnew

   THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE

* ‘The Deadly Cost of Fashion’:

Last April 24, Ismail Ferdous, my co-director on this Op-Doc video, photographed the deadliest disaster in garment industry history: the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 workers and injured around 2,500.

His images capture not only the raw destruction and shattered lives, but also the citizen volunteers who worked tirelessly to help rescue victims in the rubble. In the video, he speaks candidly about the trauma of photographing the collapse, where the smell of dead bodies filled the air.

A year later, we explore the uncomfortable question: How does the Rana Plaza collapse relate to the lives of Americans? Much more than you might think. Companies and brands associated with factories in Rana Plaza include Joe Fresh, Mango, Walmart, J.C. Penney and The Children’s Place (though it’s unclear whether all of these had active manufacturing there at the time of the collapse). Some of the clothing labels that he photographed in the rubble can also be found in Manhattan stores.
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NYT

21:52:20 local time map of india INDIA

* Garment workers: numerically strong, but weak bargaining powers as voters:

The four-lakh strong garment factory workers in the Bangalore region have received a recognition of sorts during the run up to the Lok Sabha elections with some of the candidates campaigning even on factory premises, normally out-of-bounds for non-workers.

This is an interesting development considering that this segment of the city’s unorganised workforce — nearly 80 per cent of whom are women — remains largely invisible, in stark contrast to the workers of the Information Technology industry who are constantly in the spotlight.

Even so, there are no indications of their real workplace issues — casualisation of work, low wages, occupational hazards, unrealistic production targets and gender discrimination — getting attention as electoral issues. Bangalore is among the five major garment production hubs, producing exclusively for exports, others being Delhi, Mumbai, Tirupur and Chennai.

“Garment labourers do not exist as a political constituency of workers,” observed Supriya Roy Chowdhury, Professor at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) who has studied garment and other unorganised workers. Barely 10 per cent of them are unionised and their politicisation is minimal, she added.

 “They do not see themselves as a constituency in terms of their status as workers. So thrust is not on work, wages or terms of employments,” she said, adding that mainstream Left unions barely have a presence in this segment while the reach of the others is limited.

The issues facing garment workers have been highlighted by many studies.
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THEHINDU

21:22:20 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

400 power protesters booked in Kasur:

The A-Division police have registered a case against 400 people, including eight nominated, for taking out a rally and damaging public property in protest against the 20-hour power shutdown.

On Wednesday, thousands of powerloom workers and daily-wagers had taken out the rally. The nominated accused include Powerloom Owners Association president Maqsood Sabir Ansari, former district naib nazim Ashraf Gujjar, Cloth Merchants Association office-bearer Shafique Bhiji, Labour Union president Aslam Bhola, Waheed Khan and Shaukat Ali. The case has been registered against the accused under sections 148, 149, 427 of the PPC and 16-MPO.

Talking to The News, Aslam Bhola said that jobless workers would again come on roads if the case was not quashed against them. He said that the 20-hour power shutdown had deprived the workers of livelihood.
to read.
thenewspk

TIME

20140414

23:22:20 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment sector eyes localisation of inputs:

20140414 VNNews
In 2013, export turnover of the industry reached US$20.4 billion, an increase of 18 per cent year-on-year.— Photo baohaiquan

The domestic garment and textile industry aims to reach a localisation rate of 60 per cent by 2015 to increase profits and competitiveness, and reduce the need for the imports of raw materials, according to the vice president of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).

Le Trung Hai, who spoke with the media during the recent Saigon Tex exhibition for international garment and textile manufacturers and accessories makers, said the localisation figure would increase to 70 per cent after 2015.

Hai said this effort was being made to increase the export value of the industry, which depends heavily on imported raw materials and outsourcing for its major foreign clients.

The move to increase the localisation rate is especially important because Viet Nam is currently negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement and other regional trade and tax agreements.
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VNNews new

23:22:20 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Activists Hold Pre-New Year’s Ceremony for 23:

Anti-eviction activists stepped over flames and watched monks smash ceramic pots at a pre-New Year ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, hoping to expel bad luck for 23 men facing trial later this month for their roles in garment protests.

The 23 unionists, activists and garment workers were arrested on January 2 and 3 during protests for higher garment factory wages that ended abruptly when military po­lice shot into a crowd, killing five people and injuring dozens. The 23 men—two have been released on bail—have all been charged with inciting violence and the destruction of public property and are scheduled to be tried on April 25.

“After the Khmer New Year we want the government to lead the country with merit and justice and to serve the country and respect human rights,” said Tep Vanny, one of the activists. “We want the 21 to be freed.”
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CPP vows to increase monthly wage to 250 dollars for civil servants and 160 dollars for garment workers by 2018:

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has issued nine points of its policies for upcoming local council Election which will be held on May 18, 2014.

According a statement issued on Saturday, the policies included a promise to increase the monthly salary to 1,000,000 riel or 250 dollars for civil servants and soldiers and US$160 for garment and footwear factory workers in 2018 and strong commitment to solving land disputes.

CPP also mentioned the good governance, social order and development as its priorities.

The campaign for the Council Election will last from 2-16 May. Five political parties are eligible for the election.
to read.
CAMHERALD

22:22:20 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Over hundred sub-contracting apparel factories close down:

More than one hundred sub-contracting apparel factories, mostly non-compliant ones, have been closed and many others are at the verge of closure mainly for want of sufficient work, industry insiders said.

They said the sub-contracting factories have long been facing dearth of work as big garment makers, who take work orders directly, are either turning away from the third parties or are opting for the compliant ones in the face of strict monitoring of safety measures by the buyers.

Lower volume of manufacturing work of their mother companies has also played a role behind the situation.

Sources said, the sub-contracting factories randomly engage child labour in production and other safety measures like fire safety, exit facilities and their timely payments are rarely maintained. And after Tazreen and Rana Plaza incidents buyers have become cautious working with such factories.

“I had been doing sub-contracting work in my factory for a long, but after the deadly incidents, my local buyers have become cautious in giving me work citing poor working conditions and finally I had been forced to close down the factory last month for want of work,” Three Star Apparel managing partner Abu Ibrahim admitted to the FE.

Another subcontracting factory owner Khalilur Rahman said he and his three business colleagues who were running business on different floors of a rented building tried to upgrade their factories to compliant ones but failed to obtain certifications from the concerned authorities as they failed to fulfill qualifying criteria.

“Following continuous pressure from the mother companies after the deadly incidents, we have tried to upgrade our factories to a compliant one but failed as our landlord did not follow the building code while constructing his houses and finally we had to declare lay-off in our factory,” he added.
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FE bd

* Govt again fails to meet GSP conditions:

20140414 DAILYSTAR

The country has once again failed to fulfil the required conditions for reinstatement of GSP status to the US markets within the deadline of April 15, mainly due to bureaucratic tangles.

The commerce ministry is now set to submit a report which does not contain any account of substantial progress with respect to the 16-point action plan provided by the US for regaining the generalised system of preferences.
This is the second time that the government has failed to make an impression on the Obama administration. The first progress report submitted in November last year disappointed the US so much that the second deadline of April 15 was set, a month ahead of Obama Administration’s review of the suspension decision.

One of the major conditions was to recruit additional 200 factory inspectors by this deadline, but, so far, the labour and employment ministry has taken only 25 first-class inspectors through the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The delay in meeting the recruitment quota, Mikail Shipar, secretary to ministry of labour and employment, says is due to the need to amend the PSC rules to recruit manpower for non-cadre posts.

When asked how the 25 inspectors were recruited without amending the PSC rules, he said: “The ministry gets 50 percent quota. If I want to recruit 200 inspectors I need 80 percent quota. So we need to amend the PSC rules for recruitment of non-cadre posts.”
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daily star bd

* BD’s progress report on RMG action plan ready:

The government on Sunday finalised a progress report on ‘Bangladesh Action Plan 2013’ to submit it to the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) as the deadline for the submission expires on Tuesday.

An inter-ministerial meeting held at the Commerce Ministry reviewed the latest progress in line with the Action Plan and finalised the report to send it to the USTR anytime before the deadline expires.

Representatives from Foreign and Labour Ministries were present at the meeting held with Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed in the chair.

However, it is not confirmed yet when the review for reinstating Bangladesh’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits in the US market will take place.
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.
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UNB

* Bangladesh to send progress report on ‘GSP Action Plan-2013’ April 15:

Government today finalized the draft progress report in the light of the ‘GSP Action Plan-2013’ for submitting it to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday (April 15).

“A meeting led by Commerce Secretary today decided to send the progress report on April 15,” a commerce ministry official told BSS today.

High officials from different ministries including Ministries of Labour and Foreign Affairs and representatives from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) attended the meeting.
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BSS NEWAGEnew

* GSP: Progress report submission Tuesday:

A total of 97% of Bangladeshi goods enter the US market without any duty

The Bangladesh government has finalised the draft progress report in the light of the ‘GSP Action Plan-2013’ for submitting it to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday (April 15).

According to BSS report, a meeting led by the Commerce Secretary decided to send the progress report on April 15.

High officials from different ministries including Ministries of Labour and Foreign Affairs and representatives from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) attended the meeting on Sunday.

The US government will conduct its next review of the Action Plan-2013 in May, 2014.
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DHAKATRIBUNE

* Govt finalises action plan for submission to USTR tomorrow:

The government has stated in a report that some progress was made in respect of improvement in working conditions, appointment of factory inspectors and amendment to labour law in its action plan to be submitted to the USTR in a bid to regain GSP facility in the US market.

Other progress includes increase in fines for failure to comply with labour, fire or building safety standards, establishment of hotline for labour force to complain violation of workers’ rights, amendment to labour law to ensure freedom of association and collective bargaining, training programme for industrial police and creation of database for labourers. These will be mentioned in the ‘Bangladesh Action Plan 2013’ to be sent to the United States Trade Representatives (USTR) by tomorrow (April 15).
read more.
FE bd

* Government’s duty to help RMG factory improvements:

With four fifths of export income dependant on RMG, it is vital for the government to assist the sector

Three further RMG units employing 3000 people have been asked to suspend production for 15 days, after inspections found structural flaws in their buildings at Mirpur.

Since February 20, over 11,000 workers are reported to have lost their jobs following safety inspection-related suspensions.

As government safety inspections and those conducted by the two brand–led stakeholder safety initiatives, the Accord and Alliance, continue, all stakeholders have a duty to alleviate hardships caused to factory owners and workers affected by safety improvements and renovations.

Brands must work closely with the BGMEA and stakeholder initiatives to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to factory inspections, so that suspensions and layoffs are kept to a minimum and funds for remediation are directed to locations where there is most need to improve safety.

With 4 million people employed by the sector, and around four fifths of export income dependant on RMG, it is vital for the government to assist the sector with the costs of safety improvements.
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DHAKATRIBUNE

* Restoring US GSP: Is visibility all? :

With the passage of nearly one and a half years since the Tazreen fire and about a year after the collapse of Rana Plaza, many are concerned about knowing the current status of the works that were to be in place in a wide range of areas.

The task is a mammoth one and materialising all actions committed by the government in this one year does not sound plausible. However, taking stock of the works done and those under process would help understand where things actually stand at the moment.

It may be recalled that ever since talks on factory safety and labour rights issues emerged, reactions from various quarters have been blowing swirls of thick smoke, much to the disadvantage of the country’s highest export earner, the RMG sector.

What matters most at this stage appears to be the visibility of the actions taken in terms of compliance with the agreements of global retailers – Alliance and Accord on the one hand and measures suggested in the US Action Plan on the other. Visibility seems to be the key factor at the moment. Indeed, it was the lack of visibility that the USTR (United States Trade Representative) noted so strongly while temporarily scrapping Bangladesh’s GSP benefit following the Tazreen fire that killed more than hundred workers in November, 2012. So, all that the government is required to do now is delineate as clear a picture as possible of the activities undertaken to be able to claim legitimacy in the restoration of US GSP. A few days back, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed commented that the government has already put in place most of the compliance measures in keeping with the US Action Plan and that the US should count on these and consider restoring the preferential trade benefit.

It has been learnt that the government is currently at work on the submission for the USTR in this connection. It will be the second submission following the earlier one in November 2013.
(…)

The government will also bank on the enactment of the Labour (amendment) Act 2013, adoption of the National Occupational Safety and Health Policy, 2013, fixation of minimum wage for garment workers and drafting of EPZ Labour Act, 2014.
read more.
FE bd

* Huge progress made in revamping RMG industry: Mozena:

US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena on Sunday said the government of Bangladesh has made a huge progress in revamping the readymade garment (RMG) industry during the last one year after the Rana Plaza collapse.

He mentioned that the success of the government initiatives largely depends on the positive response from the industry.
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UNBINDEPENDENT NEWAGEnew FE bd BANGLA NEWS24

* RMG exporters to get more cash incentive:

Move to minimise losses due to last year’s turmoil

The government is going to provide more cash incentive to the ready-made garment (RMG) exporters to minimise their losses caused by the political unrest last year.

As per the decisions, the ministry of finance will provide more cash incentive at the rate of 0.25 per cent on the freight on board value of export of all types of RMG items.
“It will not be helpful for the apparel sector,” Mohammad Hatem, vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told the FE Sunday.
He also said it should be increased to at least 1.0 per cent instead of 0.25 per cent.

Currently, exporters from small and medium industries in textiles sector are getting cash incentive of 5.0 per cent while export-oriented local textile sector is receiving identical percentage of cash incentive against the use of local yarn, according to the BKMEA vice president.
read more.
FE bd

* BD missions abroad told to explore new markets for jute, jute goods:

The government has directed commercial wings of its foreign missions to boost the country’s exports and explore new markets for jute and jute goods, officials said.

The ministry of commerce (MoC) has taken up the initiative with a view to increasing exports of jute products to the international market, they said.

“The export markets of Bangladesh’s jute products are limited. We need to search new markets for exporting the golden fibre. The authorities concerned are working in this connection,” a MoC high official said.
read more.
FE bd

* Another shoe factory fire victim dies:

He died around 10pm while undergoing treatment

Another victim of the shoe factory fire succumbed to his injuries last night at the Burn and Plastic Surgery Unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

The dead Montu Miah, 40, along with three other workers, had sustained burns when a shoe factory at Alinagar in Kamrangirchar caught fire from an electric short circuit on April 10.

He died around 10pm while undergoing treatment, leaving behind his wife Nazma Begum and three children.

The death toll in workplace fire incidents in Dhaka rose to eight in the last 10 days: four workers died in a fire at Tejturibazar on April 10; three workers had earlier died in a fire at a perfume factory warehouse at Chawkbazar on April 2.
to read.
DHAKATRIBUNE

* Rising Wages Squeeze Bangladesh Garment Makers as Factories Await Upgrades:

Employees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in DhakaEmployees work in a factory of Babylon Garments in Dhaka January 3, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Andrew Biraj

Bangladesh garment factory owners say they are soaking up much of the cost of nearly doubling wages as some global retailers balk at price hikes, leaving less money for safety improvements urged by apparel chains after last year’s Rana Plaza disaster.

The task of coping with a 79 percent increase in the minimum monthly wage to $68, imposed last December at the urging of some retail chains, comes as competition intensifies among emerging markets producing garments for stores like Walmart and Zara. That is squeezing sales in Bangladesh’s main export industry.

At Dhaka-based clothing company Simco Group, one of the thousands of businesses the sector comprises, chairman Muzaffar Siddique said that before the wage increase his net profit margin was a little more than 2 percent. Now he’s losing money on orders, and reckons four out of every five garment makers in the world’s second-biggest clothing exporter after China are in the same boat.

“I approached one of my Western buyers to raise prices, and the relevant company said, ‘It is your business and you have to manage it … you cannot slip it to us’,” Muzaffar said. He declined to identify the Western buyer.

Nearly a year after the eight-story Rana Plaza building collapsed in Dhaka’s Savar district, killing more than 1,100 workers, Bangladesh’s garment export growth has slowed to the lowest rate in 15 years. Some buyers have shifted orders to countries like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia because of concerns about workshop safety, higher wages and political uncertainty.

Rana Plaza was the deadliest of a series of workplace tragedies in Bangladesh’s garment business. Some Western retailers have lobbied for higher wages and better standards for workers — and also have warned investors there may be a price to pay in terms of reduced profit margins.

‘Idle gossip’
Babylon Group, a garment factory in Dhaka that says it makes clothing for major global retailers, is another company struggling to adjust to the higher cost base. It employs more than 12,000 people, and since the wage hike has lost money making clothing for customers, according to documents seen by Reuters.
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jak-globe reuters

   THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE

* Families of 53 Rana Plaza victims to receive PM fund assistance tomorrow:

The assistance will be given from prime minister’s relief fund

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will provide financial assistance to the family members of 53 Rana Plaza victims recently identified through DNA tests.

The assistance will be given from prime minister’s relief fund, said an official of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He could not say about the amounts to be given. When contacted, the labour ministry officials said they were also unaware about the details of the assistance.

They said prime minister would decide regarding the matter.
So far, an amount of Tk23 crore has been disbursed to 813 workers from the fund.
Of them, families of 36 victims received Tk10-15 lakh each and others got Tk1-2 lakh each.

A source at the BGMEA said banks, insurance companies, individuals and garment owners have donated about Tk127 crore so far to the fund.
Of them, Bangladesh Association of Banks provided Tk80 crore and BGMEA gave Tk2 crore.
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DHAKATRIBUNE

21:52:20 local time map of india INDIA

* Man versus machine: Handloom wins over powerloom:

In a battle of man and machine, the former has won, for now.

The Centre has resisted orchestrated attempts by the powerloom lobby to alter the definition of handloom products and said that only genuinely hand-made materials be given the handloom tag and protection.

For nearly three decades, the uniqueness of manual skills involved in making handloom items was safeguarded by the Handloom (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985. The Act says the term handloom means any loom other than powerloom.

Powerloom unit owners had been lobbying hard for redefining the term handloom because they were hurt by the specific exclusion and threatened by Sections 9 and 10 of the Act.
These clauses provided for search and seizure of powerloom machineries and materials if they masquerade as handloom products or ape recognised handloom specialities.
As per the Act, violators could be jailed upto six months or fined, or both, besides an additional fine of up to 500 per loom per day during the period of contravention.
read more.
TOInew

21:22:20 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Call to release labourers :

Labour leaders have called for the release of labourers charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act, strict implementation of labour rights, including minimum wages and social security.

They announced holding a labour conference on the sidelines of the upcoming South Asia Labour Conference (24-26 April) if their demands were not met by the government.

Speaking at a press conference here Sunday, Hassan Muhammad Rana, Mian Abdul Qayyum, Sarwar Bari, Shazia Khan and Niaz Khan said the current PML-N government was attempting to present a positive image of labour rights in Pakistan, whereas the ground realities were different.

Talking to the press, Qayyum said the implementation of minimum wages in both government and private corporations, in addition to registration of eligible workers under the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution benefit scheme was embarrassingly pathetic.
He said trade unions’ freedom of protest was on the decline.
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thenewspk

* Government, stakeholders asked to give due rights to textile workers:

The rights of textile workers in Pakistan go neglected and all the stakeholders including government should take steps to address their issues, said Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF).

He said Pakistan is one of the leading Textile and Garment (T&G) exporting countries and millions of workers are engaged in different sectors of textile from cotton fields to readymade garment industries. The main markets of Pakistani products are European Union and North American countries.
He said Pakistan has been granted an especial status of General Schemes of Preferences Plus (GSP+) by European Parliament from 1st January 2014-04-04 for ten years.

The GSP+ is an especial status which means that the 9.5% duty on 23% of total Pakistani textile and garment exportable products to EU will be waved off which would result in increase of export to European market.
It is estimated that after granting of GSP+ status the export earnings will be stand at 10billion Euro yearly and nearly one million new jobs will be created in textile and garment sector.
He said one of the most important components of GSP+ mechanism is the observance of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights in real term at workplace which have been grossly neglected and violated in past.

The governments along with employers of textile and garments sector have made commitment through GSP+ instrument to implement the core conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) at workplaces.
read more.
daily times PK

* Punjab chief minister urged to save textile industry from collapse:

Punjab APTMA Chairman S M Tanveer has appealed to the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, to save the province-based textile industry from collapse by providing 24/7 energy supply to the mills.

He said his recent meetings with the Punjab Chief Minister as well as Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi were quite positive and he was fully confident about positive outcome of meetings sooner than later to ensure smooth operations of textile mills in Punjab.

S M Tanveer said the contribution of Punjab towards the national GDP was substantially crucial. He said the growth and development of Punjab-based textile industry has a significant bearing on provincial as well as federal economy.

Importance of the textile industry in Punjab can be measured from the fact that more than 66 percent cotton is being produced in Punjab. Besides, 70 percent spinning mills, 54 percent weaving and an organised power loom industry, 60 percent processing, both in organised and un-organised sectors, and 50 percent knitting units are located in Punjab, he said.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* Short-circuiting: Fire destroys shoe factory inventories:

Inventory worth hundreds of thousands of rupees burned down in a fire that broke out in a shoe factory at Bund Road on Thursday.

Rescue 1122 officials said the fire had erupted in one of the rooms of the two-storey building. They said the fire spread rapidly due to flammable materials that had been stored there.

They said 15 fire fighting vehicles were used to extinguish the fire. Malik Arshad, owner of the factory, told the police the fire broke out due to electric short circuiting in UPS wires in one of the rooms.  A man suffering from smoke inhalation was given first aid on the scene.
No other casualty was reported.
to read.
tribune

 

 

map of Asia

INFO:

Lots of New Year’s celebrations in several countries, so just a few news articles.
Here’s a update.

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

HEADLINES:

20140415

CHINA
* Thousands strike at Nike, Adidas, Reebok factory in Dongguan over invalid contracts
* Thousands protest at Dongguan’s largest shoe factory
* Chinese shoe maker Yue Yuen in talks to resolve worker dispute
* Statement on large strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory
* Lectra signs partnership with Ruyi Group

BANGLADESH
* Bangladesh Union Organizers Allege Intimidation
* Strikes and Unrest Continue in Factories Cheating Minimum Wage 2013 Implementation
* Garment factory owners suffer from mandatory wage hike
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* ‘The Deadly Cost of Fashion

INDIA
* Garment workers: numerically strong, but weak bargaining powers as voters

PAKISTAN
* 400 power protesters booked in Kasur

20140414

VIET NAM
* Garment sector eyes localisation of inputs

CAMBODIA
* Activists Hold Pre-New Year’s Ceremony for 23
* CPP vows to increase monthly wage to 250 dollars for civil servants and 160 dollars for garment workers by 2018

BANGLADESH
* Over hundred sub-contracting apparel factories close down
* Govt again fails to meet GSP conditions
* BD’s progress report on RMG action plan ready
* Bangladesh to send progress report on ‘GSP Action Plan-2013’ April 15
* GSP: Progress report submission Tuesday
* Govt finalises action plan for submission to USTR tomorrow
* Government’s duty to help RMG factory improvements
* Restoring US GSP: Is visibility all?
* Huge progress made in revamping RMG industry: Mozena
* RMG exporters to get more cash incentive
* BD missions abroad told to explore new markets for jute, jute goods
* Another shoe factory fire victim dies
* Rising Wages Squeeze Bangladesh Garment Makers as Factories Await Upgrades
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* Families of 53 Rana Plaza victims to receive PM fund assistance tomorrow

INDIA
* Man versus machine: Handloom wins over powerloom

PAKISTAN
* Call to release labourers
* Government, stakeholders asked to give due rights to textile workers
* Punjab chief minister urged to save textile industry from collapse
* Short-circuiting: Fire destroys shoe factory inventories

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