In the news 18 April 2014

21:51:34 local time map of china CHINA

* 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.
read more. & read more.

* Strike reveals loopholes, rising labor cost crunch:

A massive worker strike over social benefits in South China’s Guangdong Province has exposed loopholes in the country’s social security scheme and the growing pressure on manufacturers to keep up with rising labor costs.

The strike at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd., a footwear maker in Dongguan City, entered its third day on Wednesday, with thousands of workers shelving their tools and gathering at the factory compound.

About 600 workers from the plant first stormed onto the streets on April 5, blocking roads and demanding that social insurance and housing funds be fully paid.

After failed negotiations with management, more workers joined what became a massive strike on Monday and Tuesday.

As talks between workers and management went on and the local government intervened, the number of people on strike subsided and the crowd dispersed on Wednesday morning after talks with management representatives.

A senior company executive surnamed He told reporters that the company had initiated a cash award to encourage workers to return to their posts.
read more.

* Thousands of China workers on strike:

Labour disputes pop up regularly in China, but one strike in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan is attracting attention because of its size.

On Monday, 40,000 workers walked off the job at seven giant Yu Yuan shoe factory locations across the city. They say they are owed social security payments of 11% of salary by the factory owners and the government – theirs by law.

A vocal minority have also been involved in loud, sometimes violent protests. Some people have been injured but protestors say they will stick with their battle until they get what they are owed.
read & see more (video report).

* Workers Strike at Shoe Factory Over Benefits Dispute:

20140417 NYT
Striking workers gathered at Yue Yuen Industrial in Dongguan on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of workers at one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers are continuing a strike in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan in a dispute over benefits.

Employees of Yue Yuen Industrial accuse the company of failing to match monthly contributions for social insurance and housing benefits workers say they were promised. The company, which makes shoes for major sportswear companies including Adidas, Nike, Converse and New Balance, had sales of $7.58 billion in 2013. In 2012, it said it had more than 400,000 employees in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. About 60,000 work in its factories in Dongguan.

As many as 40,000 workers in Dongguan have been on strike since Monday, said one worker reached by phone. “They haven’t been paying for us. They’re ripping us off,” the worker said. She declined to provide her name, citing concerns about losing her job.

The worker, who has been employed with the company in Dongguan for more than a year, said she takes in about 1,300 renminbi, or $210, a month, and has paid 100 renminbi a month for social insurance, an amount she had believed the company was matching.
read more.

* China shoe factory strike shows welfare Achilles’ heel:

Zhou Hujun, one of thousands of shoe factory workers on strike in southern China, drove his motorbike to the local government’s Social Security Department seeking answers. After a few minutes, he left clutching spreadsheets that just raised more questions.

Zhou and other striking workers believe Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd (0551.HK), which owns the factory making footwear for Nike (NKE.N), Adidas (ADSGn.DE) and others, has for years underpaid into workers’ social insurance accounts – government-mandated nest eggs for disability, unemployment and retirement.

The issue goes far beyond the shoe plant, and highlights a looming problem for China: the workforce that has transformed the country into a global manufacturing powerhouse over the past 35 years is coming up to retirement age.

The strike at Yue Yuen – which says it is the world’s largest branded footwear manufacturer, making over 300 million pairs of shoes last year – is not just one of China’s biggest in recent years, it’s also more clearly driven by workers’ fears that they have been scammed by an opaque and convoluted welfare payment system.

Today’s workers in China – a total workforce of some 920 million – know more about their rights and are more proactive in using both collective action and the law to protect their interests.
read more.

20:51:34 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Stay-at-home garment strike off to weak start:

A weeklong stay-at-home garment worker strike over wages began with a whimper yesterday as factories remained closed after a holiday and some workers were ambivalent about the action.

A day after the end of Khmer New Year, the official kick-off date for the boycott, steel gates at factories were closed along the typically bustling National Road 2 spanning Phnom Penh and Kandal province.

“Do we call it strike or not? We don’t care,” Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said yesterday. “It gives the impression to the owners that the strike threat won’t go away unless they resolve the existing conflict.”

The impact of the industrial action will likely not be seen until Monday, when most factories plan on opening their doors after the holiday and the weekend, Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center, said.

Lacking a specific number, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, yesterday said some factories tried to open but had too few employees to operate.
read more.
PPP new

* Little Appetite for Garment Strike in Phnom Penh:

Most garment factories did not open for business Thursday, choosing to extend the Khmer New Year holidays—which officially ended Wednesday—rather than face industrial action in the form of a planned nationwide stay-at-home strike.

However, a number of workers interviewed Thursday said they knew nothing about the strike, called by eight unions to demand a higher minimum wage and the release of 21 unionists and factory workers arrested during the last round of strikes in December.

Motivated by the fear of violence, the need to earn every dollar they can, or simple indifference, they said they would be back at their workstations as soon as the factory doors opened in the next few days.

Touch, who gave only her first name, was playing a game of cards with fellow garment workers in her dormitory along factory-lined Veng Sreng Street. The unions behind the strike are asking workers to stay home until Wednesday. But Touch said she had not even heard of the strike and would be back at work on Monday, as soon as her factory reopened.
read more.

* Cambodian Garment Workers commence strike for a Living Wage:

Today, thousands of garment workers in Cambodia will stay at home as part of a new series of actions to demand of a Living Wage

The stay at home strike is supported by 18 Cambodian unions and international campaign groups such as Clean Clothes Campaign, and will last for seven days. Workers are calling on major clothing buyers like H&M, Inditex, C&A, Next, Tesco, Puma, Levi’s, GAP and Adidas to take immediate action to ensure an increase in the minimum wage.

Cambodian workers and their unions are demanding an increase in the minimum
wage to USD 160 per month. After unions called for a national strike on December 24th, 2013 the police and military responded with violence on January 2nd and 3rd, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.

Athit Kong from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) calls on the brands to resume good faith wage negotiations:

“Diplomatic pressure from brands is not enough any more. It is high time brands take their responsibility and use their buying power to take concrete steps and tackle the issue which lies at the heart of our protests: a living wage.”

In ‘Crackdown in Cambodia ‘, a recently published report by the the US based Worker Rights Consortium, the labour rights monitoring organisation reveals how garment workers in Cambodia have been confronted with growing repression of their human and labour rights. State authorities have banned public gatherings completely and still continue to hold 21 workers in detention.
The workers have reportedly been beaten after being seized by authorities and security forces continue to put down any sign of worker protest.

Clean Clothes Campaign is supporting the workers in their demand of:

* A minimum wage of USD160 per month for garment and other workers

* The release of the remaining 21 prisoners arrested in the early January
crackdowns on garment worker strikes and the dropping of charges against all 23 charged.

* To stop the persecution and targeting of unions and workers, including legal actions against unions by GMAC, the Cambodian Garment Manufactures Organisation, – which represents the suppliers of mayor buyers like H&M, Inditex, C&A, Next, Tesco, Puma, Levi’s GAP and adidas.

* Respect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining and resumption of good faith minimum wage negotiations.
to read.

* Trial of ‘the 23’ delayed from today to next week:

Judges at Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear the cases of 23 people arrested in early January during garment sector demonstrations next week, rather than today, according to labour and human rights groups.

Dave Welsh of Solidarity Center and Am Sam Ath of Licadho both said yesterday those arrested during violent demonstrations on January 2 and 3 – the latter of which ended with at least four shot dead by security forces – will be tried in separate courtrooms on April 25 on charges ranging from inciting violence to aggravated intentional violence.

Court officials couldn’t be reached.
read more.
PPP new

* Brands ‘violating contract rights’:

Exclusive use of short-term contracts continues to impede progress in Cambodia’s garment sector, with major brands still sourcing from factories violating the statutory two-year limit on temporary employment, labour rights groups have warned.

According to a report released last week by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the widespread practice of employing regular, full-time staff under fixed-duration contracts (FDCs) is partly responsible for the unrest that has marred the sector.

“The Cambodian garment industry’s shift to FDCs as its standard employment arrangement helped set the stage for this crisis,” it says, alluding to a spate of strikes that culminated in deadly clashes in January.

The report urges brands and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to heed a WRC-commissioned report from 2011, which called for FDCs to be given only to temporary staff.

According to a 2012-2013 WRC survey of 127 Cambodian factories, which supply to buyers including H&M and Puma, most plant owners employ most or all of their workers on FDCs.

“It is the biggest illegality [in the garment industry] and all brands, factories [and] GMAC are well aware of it,” Dave Welsh, country director of Solidarity Center, said.
read more.
PPP new

21:51:34 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Indonesian textile exports may touch $13.3bn in 2014:

The value of textile exports from Indonesia is likely to touch US$ 13.3 billion, which would be an increase of 5 percent year-on-year, due to economic recovery in the US, the country’s biggest market, Ade Sudrajat Usman, chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association (API) said while addressing a press conference at his office in Jakarta.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s textile exports to the EU are also expected to gain momentum as the Southeast Asian nation and the EU are planning to restart negotiations on a trade agreement. Once materialized, the EU-Indonesia trade deal is expected to increase Indonesia’s textile exports by three times within a five-year period.
read more.

19:51:34 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Buyers cancel $110m RMG order:

Foreign retailers and buyers cancelled work orders worth about US$ 110 million from 57 ready-made (RMG) factories mainly due to lack of fire safety and working environment.

After inspecting 419 garment industries in the last six months, the Accord and Alliance recommended to shutdown 13 garment units running in shared buildings where some 11,500 workers were working. “They also cancelled work orders from 57 RMG units situated in shared buildings,” said BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam while addressing a pre budget meeting with the NBR (National Board of Revenue) officials in the city on Thursday.

Held at the NBR conference room, the meeting was addressed among others by the Bangladesh Textile Mills Associations (BTMEA) President Md Jahangir Alamin, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association ( BKMEA) First Vice-President Mohammad Hatem.
“Although, they did not find any major faults in this shared building and there is no bar to produce the products, the buyers cancelled the orders which made the RMG makers frustrated and worried”, said the BGMEA president.

The BGMEA chief pointed that about 40 per cent of the country’s garment industry are located at shared buildings adding that the working conditions of these buildings are not safe as per the observation made by the Accord and Alliance inspection. The BGMEA leader apprehended that cancellation of orders might be increased in future if necessary steps are not taken immediately to improve the fire safety and the working environment of the workers.
read more.

* Closed Garment Factories – Alliance to provide 50pc salary:

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety will pay 50 percent of the total salary of the garments which are temporarily closed or will be closed.

The Alliance chairperson Ellen Tauscher informed garment owners on Thursday evening.
She came up with the assertion while addressing a seminar on ‘Building Safer Workplace Together’ at a city hotel.

Ellen Tauscher said the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety will pay 50 percent of the total salary of those garments which are temporarily closed or will be closed.
It will continue for two months in each factory, she added. Fund will be given through the owners of the factories.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* RMG sector seeks NBR tax benefit for compliance-related steps:

Fire safety tool import, unit relocation

The country’s ready-made garment (RMG) product exporters have sought tax benefit on import of fire safety equipment and relocation from shared buildings to stay competitive and compliant to the international buyers.

Leaders of the sector said the foreign buyers have tagged the condition of relocating the RMG industries from shared buildings within the shortest possible time for continuation of their import from Bangladesh.

“Around 40 per cent of the RMG units are currently situated in shared buildings. We have to shift those in phases by next four years,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam said at a pre-budget meeting Thursday.
read more.
FE bd

* Apparel makers seek policy support to relocate plants:

Garment makers yesterday sought policy support to immediately relocate their factories to purpose-made buildings to ensure workers’ safety.

“We are under pressure to relocate hazardous factories to safer places in bids to continue exports globally,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Expor-ters Association.
In the last six months, global retailers cancelled orders worth around $110 million from 57 factories housed in shared buildings, he said at a pre-budget discussion with the National Board of Revenue at the tax administrator’s office in Dhaka.
So far, BGMEA has shut production at 13 risky buildings in and around Dhaka during factory inspection, he added.

“It is an urgent need to relocate the factories from faulty buildings. So we want duty waivers for building materials.”
The government currently imposes 61 percent duty on the import of pre-fabricated building materials, he said. “So we want a 100 percent waiver on such items to minimise the relocation costs.”
read more.
daily star bd

* Workers in Savar Strike For Wage:

Workers of CPM Knit Composite Limited in Savar, the northern outskirts of Dhaka, went on protest this morning for their wages from the month of January 2014.

As minimum wage 2013 still remain unimplemented in almost half of all the garment factories, unrest for wages are erupting and promises given by management to quickly adjust with new wages are going empty.

As the strike went on from the morning, at least 200 workers went on towards violent demonstrations through breaking windows and pelting stone at about 11:00AM; 15 workers were injured during their clashes with police as they rushed in to stop the protesting workers with baton. Later, the Ashulia Industrial Police came in equipped with riot gear, firing rubber bullets at the agitated workers who were in turn pelting stones at them.
read more.

* Businessman abducted:

Abu Bakar Siddik, husband of green activist Syeda Rizwana Hasan, was abducted by an armed group at Bhuigarh on the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road on Wednesday afternoon.

The abduction of Abu Bakar, a businessman, when he was returning to Dhaka from his factory at Fatullah in Narayanganj triggered concerned among green campaigners and rights groups.
Police units such as the Detective Branch and the Rapid Action Battalion began drives to Siddik, managing director of Hamid Fashion and Sweater Factory. The police could report no significant development in their search till 10:30pm.
‘I want my husband back unhurt,’ said Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association.

Rizwana, also a Supreme Court lawyer who won the Goldman Environmental Prize 2009 and the Magsaysay Award 2012, has been vocal against environmental pollution, hazardous ship-breaking and land grab.
Rizwana suspected that the people who were affected by her campaign could have been involved in the abduction.
Abu Bakar, also a lawyer from Narayanganj, began his apparel business in February.
The family and the police said that seven to eight armed miscreants in a microbus stopped the vehicle Abu Bakar was in near a filling station at Bhuighar about 2:45pm and abducted him at gun point.
Intelligence officials, however, said that miscreants had picked him up when he had got down from his car after a microbus had hit the car. The abductors drove him off towards Dhaka.
Witnesses said that Abu Bakar had cried out for help.
Ripon who was driving Abu Bakar’s car told reporters that miscreants, in T-shirts with hair trimmed short, were in a blue-coloured microbus. The miscreants sprayed chilli powder on Ripon.
read more. & read more.

* RMG workers demonstrate in N’ganj seeking Siddique’s rescue:

Fake number plate used in abductors’ vehicle

Workers of Hamid Fashions Ltd, a garment factory where abducted businessman AB Siddique worked as the managing director, demonstrated at Fatullah here on Thursday morning demanding Siddique’s quick rescue.

Miscreants abducted AB Siddique, husband of Syeda Rizwana Hasan, the chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (Bela), from Fatullah area on Dhaka-Narayanganj link road on Wednesday.

Rizwana filed a case with Fatullah Model Police Station on Wednesday night in connection with the incident but the missing businessman could not be traced till Thursday afternoon.

Witnesses said the workers of Hamid Fashions, owned by State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu, took to the streets around 10 am and staged demonstrations demanding immediate steps to rescue Siddique.
read more. & read more.

* Intervention of PM sought for rescue of Siddique:

Eminent citizens and civil society members on Thursday sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to rescue abducted Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (Bela) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan.

“We hope the law enforcing agencies will regain the trust of people in them and government by rescuing abducted Abu Bakar Siddique immediately. We seek the honorable prime minister’s intervention in this regard,” TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman told a press conference on behalf of the citizens at BRAC Centre Inn in the capital.

Speaking at the press conference, Syeda Rizwana Hasan said the law enforcing agencies are trying their best to rescue her husband. “I haven’t yet lost my hope of having my husband back…I ‘m getting visible support from the law enforcing agencies and the government.” Replying to a query, Rizwana said she had not informed about her husband’s conflict with anyone in her 20 years of conjugal life.
read more.
FE bd

* First image of microbus emerges:

Registration number fake, officials say as Siddique’s whereabouts remains unknown

With no information found yet on the whereabouts of Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Narayanganj police today said the abductors drove towards Dhaka.

The blue microbus crossed the toll plaza of Mayor Hanif Flyover at 2:53pm, Narayanganj police said after scrutinising the video footage recorded on the toll plaza cam.

Abu Bakar Siddique. Photo: Courtesy of family

Abu Bakar Siddique. Photo: Courtesy of family

The vehicle was carrying the registration No. Chittagong Metro-Ga-17-8327, according to police officials in Narayanganj.

“But BRTA (Bangladesh Road Transport Authority) officials in Chittagong told us that the registration number is fake,” Syed Nurul Islam, Narayanganj superintendent of police, told The Daily Star.
Managing director of Hamid Fashion, a Narayanganj-based garment factory owned by Awami League lawmaker and State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid Bipu, Siddique recently set up his own garment factory there.
read more.  & read more. & read more.
daily star bd DHAKATRIBUNE BSS

* Human chain demands Siddique’s immediate rescue- Expedite efforts for safe return:

Speakers at a human chain on Thursday demanded immediate rescue of businessman Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of green activist Syeda Rizwana Hasan.

Writers, artistes, politicians, academics, lawyers and journalists formed the human chain in front of National Press Club in the afternoon.
Unidentified miscreants abducted Abu Bakar Siddique from Bhuigarh on the Dhaka-Narayanganj Link Road under Fatulla Police Station in Narayanganj on Wednesday afternoon.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* PM’s intervention sought for Siddique’s rescue- 24-hr ultimatum by SC lawyers:

20140417 NEWAGE

Eminent citizens and civil society members on Thursday sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to rescue abducted Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (Bela) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan.

“We hope the law enforcing agencies will regain the trust of people in them and government by rescuing abducted Abu Bakar Siddique immediately. We seek the honorable prime minister’s intervention in this regard,” TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman told a press conference on behalf of the citizens at BRAC Centre Inn in the capital.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* Siddique’s rescue: Police form 5-member body:

The committee has been formed comprising of police, Rab and DB official

A five-member combined committee comprising of the DMP Police, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and Detective Branch, has been formed to accelerate the search operation to rescue Bela chief Rizwana’s husband Siddique.

Qamrul Ahsan, senior information officer at the police headquarters, told the Dhaka Tribune that headed by Sheikh Mohammad Maruf Hassan, additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), the committee has been formed by the Police Department on Thursday afternoon, a day after the abduction of the lawyer-entrepreneur.
read more. & read more.

* ‘Siddique abducted by my foes’:

Police do not disclose the name to the suspected abductors

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, a prominent environmental activist of Bangladesh, has claimed that her husband was not abducted for his activities; rather he was abducted for her activities.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Rizwana Hasan, who is vocal against damages, caused to the environment, said: “My husband was abducted by the people who have directed their wrath against me.”

She told to the law enforcing agents that she suspected that a few organizations were behind this malevolent act and disclosed their names to police.

However police did not want to disclose the names immediately for the sake of proper investigation, Syed Nurul Islam, Superintendent of Police of Narayangonj told to the Dhaka Tribune.
read more.

* Environment culprits linked?:

PM asks law enforcers for quick rescue

Armed miscreants yesterday abducted the husband of Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), in Narayanganj.

The incident happened in the city’s Fatulla around 2:30pm, when Abu Bakar Siddique was coming to Dhaka by his car.
He is the managing director of Hamid Fashion, a Narayanganj-based garment factory owned by Awami League lawmaker and State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid Bipu. Recently, Siddique also set up his own garment factory there.
The motive for the abduction remains unclear, but Rizwana said some real estate and ship-breaking companies might have links with it as she filed several cases against them as part of her professional duties.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd NEWAGEnew

* Abductors set Siddique free:

Nearly 35 hours after his abduction, police rescued businessman Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of green activist Syeda Rizwana Hasan, from a CNG-run auto-rickshaw near Kalabagan field in the city as the abductors set him free in the wee hours on Friday.

Deputy Commissioner (Ramna Division) Maruf Sheikh told UNB that a police team from Dhanmondi Police Station was checking vehicles setting up a check-post near the Kalabagan field shortly after midnight.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.

* Abu Bakar on way to Narayanganj court:

Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of prominent environment lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan, started for Narayanganj to give his deposition before a court over his abduction.

Additional superintendents of police in Narayanganj Mazhar and Shahidul (full names were not known immediately) reached Bakar’s Central Road residence in the morning and started for Narayanganj along with Bakar around 10:30am.
read more.
daily star bd

* What impedes the revival of GSP facility by USA?:

The government has finally sent the progress report on implementation of Bangladesh Action Plan 2013 for the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in a bid to get back the suspended trade facility – Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) — in the US market.

The commerce minister has been reported to have stated that substantial progress has been made about implementing the action plan.

However, the real scenario is yet to match well what the minister has said. Bangladesh, as reported in a section of the media, has, once again, not been able to fulfil the ‘required conditions’ for reinstatement of GSP status in the US markets within the stipulated deadline, mainly due to bureaucratic tangles.

The US suspended the GSP facility on June 27 last year following tragic disasters such as the Rana Plaza collapse and the Tazreen Fashions fire in the RMG sector. However, the RMG exports by Bangladesh to the USA have not been enjoying this facility for the purpose of exemption from import duties by the US government.
read more.
FE bd

* Initiatives taken to boost foreign investors’ confidence:

The government has taken up a number of initiatives including road show, seminar and discussion meeting in order to boost confidence of the foreign investors, officials said.

They said Bangladesh is going to hold a road show in Hong Kong in the first week of May, 2014 with a view to branding the country and attracting foreign direct investment in the country.

“After the general election on January 5, the most challenging task of the government is now to bring back the confidence of the entrepreneurs for new or reinvestment,” Nabhash Chandra Mandal, director of the Board of Investment (BoI), told the FE.

He said they have planned to arrange several meetings on investment with local and foreign entrepreneurs.
“We are going to hold road show in Hong Kong to attract new investment”, he added.
The BoI has planned to arrange several meetings on investment in China, Hong Kong, Korea and Qatar, he disclosed.

Another director of BoI told the FE that they were actively looking for local and foreign direct investment (FDI) in several sectors including textile, plastic, light engineering, home textile, information and communications technology (ICT), software development, jute and jute goods, pharmaceuticals, hospital and medical equipment, tourism, infrastructure development and rubber products.
“The international buyers are now turning to Bangladesh and are placing a lot of orders as the country’s political situation is better now”, Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told the FE.
read more.
FE bd

* Govt releases Tk 6.48b cash incentive for exporters:

The government has released the last or fourth instalment of cash incentive amounting to Tk 6.48 billion for disbursement among major exporters for the fiscal year (FY) 2013-14.

The ministry of finance (MoF) advised the central bank Thursday to start disbursement of the money for the period of April to June 2014.
This is the last part of the Tk 25.92 billion the government had decided to disburse in cash incentive this fiscal.

The country’s jute and jute goods sector will get Tk 945 million out of the total amount in the last or fourth instalment. And the rest of the exporters will get Tk 5.53 billion while the total cash incentive in these sectors are Tk 22.14 billion in the FY 2013-14.
read more.
FE bd

* Workers-police clash injures 50:

At least 50 people have been injured as the workers of a jute mill locked into sporadic clashes with police in Sharishabari upazila in the district on Thursday evening.

Sharishabari police station Officer-in-Charge Billal Uddin said: “The workers of Alhajj Jute Mill have been staging demonstrations from last couple of day demanding dues and other allowances. They were promised to be paid the dues on Thursday. But, the authorities reportedly started to make excuses without giving them the due salaries.

“At one stage, the agitating workers confined the top officials of the factory and went on a rampage in the factory premises. Later, they locked into clashes with the law enforcers as we went there to rescue the confined officials,” he added.
read more.

* Fashion buying habits changing:

Victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse died making clothes sold in western high street stores. 28 brands have been linked to the factory complex including Primark, Matalan, Benetton, Bonmarché, El Corte Inglés, and Mango.

Huge numbers of people use shopping as their primary leisure activity, and for some it is an addiction. The fast fashion industry relies on a year-round production flow, low stock levels in stores and a supply chain that responds to rapidly changing demands.

Buying a piece of clothing was once a celebrated occasion – in 1900 15% of household income was spent on clothing, compared to 2.8% in 2010. And it`s not because we`re spending more on a few quality items, in 1997 the average woman bought 19 pieces of clothing, and 10 years later 34.

More than 1,134 people died making clothes sold in western high street stores last April.
The Guardian has published news to take readers opinion whether Rana Plaza tragedy has changed their fashion buying habits.
The English daily has raised some questions to readers like–Do you know where your clothes are made? Did the Rana Plaza Complex change your shopping habits?
Guardian staffs have chosen below comments as those contributes to the debate—
read more.


* Global Day of Action: PAY UP! Justice for Rana Plaza victims:

Thursday, April 24, 2014 (All day)

At clothing outlets, big box retailers, malls, corporate sourcing offices, and online everywhere!

Join workers and consumers around the world in a day of action on Thursday, April 24, 2014, to stand in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh.

One year after the Rana Plaza building collapse killed at least 1,138 people and injured more than 2,500 in the worst garment industry catastrophe in history, concerned citizens around the world will demand that The Children’s Place, Walmart, Benetton, and other apparel brands and retailers pay full and fair compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.

We will also call on Walmart to pay compensation to the victims of the Tazreen factory fire, which took place on November 24, 2012, and where Walmart was the largest customer. The fire killed 112 workers and was the deadliest fire in the Bangladesh garment industry. It’s time for Children’s Place and Walmart to take responsibility and to pay their fair share of compensation to the survivors and families who lost loved-ones.

It has been nearly a year since the Rana Plaza collapse and victims of this tragedy continue to suffer, struggling to cope with the trauma of the disaster and the tremendous financial burdens they now face.
Many families have had to pull their young children out of school and send them to work to keep from starving while many of the injured workers have accumulated massive debts just to pay their hospital bills.
Meanwhile, Children’s Place, which had an ongoing relationship with the largest factory in the building and whose clothing was found amid the rubble, has refused to pay the full $8 million it owes – less than half of CEO Jane Elfers’ $17 million salary and a drop in the bucket for a company whose 2013 profits exceeded $655 million.

In an effort to deflect public pressure, The Children’s Place and Walmart recently announced that they were making a small contribution to the ILO-sponsored compensation fund.
But the amount that is being contributed falls far short of what the victims are owed. The Children’s Place gave just $450,000, which amounts to less than 6% of $8 million and less than $200 per affected family.
Walmart paid in $1 million – less than $500 per family.  We are calling on Walmart to pay $16 million more to Rana Plaza victims and $5 million to the Tazreen victims.

In Europe, demonstrations are called for at Benetton stores. Benetton made $203 million in 2011 before the company went private, and yet they still haven’t paid anything to the Rana Plaza victims.

On April 24th, join us in calling on The Children’s Place, Walmart and Benetton to pay the full amount they owe to the injured workers, families, and children who were orphaned by the Rana Plaza building collapse.

read more.

* Rana Plaza Survivors Call on Brands to Pay Up:

Produced by Rainbow Collective, Clean Clothes Campaign, and International Labor Rights Forum.
see video.
Rainbow Collective - Documentary Production

* Compensations continue to elude Rana Plaza victims:

The Rana Plaza victims are yet to get promised compensations though nearly one year has gone by since the tragic incident, causing untold sufferings to the several hundred affected families, victims and labour leaders say.

Except a few pledges made and initiatives taken so far by the global buyers and other stakeholders, no specific announcement has been made nor any decision taken yet about the payment of the compensations, they say.

Although some financial and humanitarian supports have been extended to a number of victims and their families, most of the affected families are still in the dark about payment of their due compensations. None can say when and how the compensation money will be paid, they say.

Different labour rights groups and social organisations have long been demanding rightful compensations to the victims and their families after the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013. The deadliest disaster in the RMG sector left at least 1130 workers dead and several hundred others seriously injured.
read more.
FE bd

* $15m collected for fund:

A UN-backed scheme to compensate victims of Bangladesh`s Rana Plaza factory collapse is barely one-third full, despite pressure on dozens of western brands to assume some financial responsibility for one of the world`s deadliest industrial accidents of modern times.

A year after the tragedy, which killed more than 1,100 workers and injured another 1,000, the scheme backed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a UN agency, has raised only $15m (£9m), well short of the $40m (£24m) target.

Of the 28 brands linked to the Rana Plaza factory complex by campaigners, only about half have paid into the fund. They include the British retailer Bonmarché, Canada`s Loblaw and Spain`s Mango and Inditex.

But pressure is intensifying on those brands who have not paid up, such as Matalan, the Italian brand Benetton and US retailer JC Penney. All are now thought to be considering making a contribution after months of stonewalling. Matalan is being asked for £3m.

Sam Maher, of the workers` rights group Labour Behind the Label, said: “For Matalan and its owners, £3m is pocket money. For those families struggling to survive after losing not only family members but much-needed income it means the difference between remaining destitute or being able to rebuild their lives.”
read more.

* Compensating Rana Plaza victims:

As the Rana Plaza tragedy approaches its first anniversary — a grim reminder of the terrible catastrophe — on April 24, one of the issues that has emerged prominently is the compensation for the victims.

However, compensation in no way can make up for deaths and the plight of those who have become crippled for no fault of theirs.  Yet handing out a sum of money to their families or the victims themselves who suffered the worst manmade tragedy in the country’s industrial history is, at its best, an expression of empathy and a little material help.

Ever since the issue emerged months ago, there were conflicting statements from various quarters, carried out by the media, on issues such as the amount to be paid in compensation, who would be the donors, the mechanism through which to work out the compensation process etc.
No doubt, these have only added to the agony of the surviving workers and the families and dependants of the deceased. International rights organisations and trade unions were the staunchest of the campaigners who, beside raising voice for worker’s rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh garment sector, pooled a fund of $40 million to be spent as compensation to the victims of the factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 workers nearly a year ago.

Global trade unions, including IndustriALL and UNI, said in a joint statement recently that compensation should reach the victims or their families before the first anniversary of the manmade tragedy.
In their statement they said all the brands and retailers (29 in all) who sourced their goods from the garment factories located in the Rana Plaza Complex must contribute to the compensation fund, calculated at less than 0.2 per cent of their combined annual profit.
But so far, only one-third of targeted $40 million has reportedly been raised. It has furthermore been reported that 15 retailers did not even make any initial contribution to the trust fund.

Meanwhile, the Country Director of International Labour Organisation (ILO), following a meeting with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), stated that handing out the compensation money would commence before the first anniversary of the factory collapse.
A total of 3,080 victims will be compensated, with each receiving Tk 50,000 from the trust fund created by international retailers.
read more.
FE bd

* Properties of Rana confiscated:

The government confiscated all properties of Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, in connection with tragic collapse of the building in Savar killing that killed over 1,134 people.

Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Sheikh Yusuf Harun confirmed the matter while talking to journalists on Thursday afternoon.
He said, “The government confiscated 18 percent properties of Rana Plaza, 10 percent of Rana Tower and his immovable properties at Dhamrai upazila.”The matter would be disclosed through a circular, he added.
to read. & read more.


19:21:34 local time map of india INDIA

* Weavers now face yarn price hike:

It’s a double whammy for the weaving sector in the country’s biggest man-made fabric (MMF) industry.


At the time when the weaving units have been facing a severe shortage of workers, the yarn manufacturers have increased the prices of polyester filament yarn and other yarn qualities by almost Rs 6 per kg in the last fortnight.

Industry sources said that several weaving units, mostly smaller ones, are finding operations difficult. Around 70 per cent of the total 6,000 units have stopped operating night shift due to the shortage of workers.

Recently, the anti-social elements in the industrial areas like Udhna, Bhatar, Bhestan and Unn had forced the closure of more than 8,000 weaving units, demanding wage hike. As the strike went on for about a week, around 10,000 migrant workers are believed to have gone to their hometowns.

Around 40 per cent of the migrant workers employed in the weaving industry have gone to their hometowns during the Holi festival and yet to return back. Most of the workers are from Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, where the elections are going on.

Ramesh Vakharia, a weaver in Bhatar said, “I am unable to run the unit. My 40 migrant workers are yet to return from their hometowns after the Holi festival. On the other hand, it is difficult to cope up with the production cost due to increase in the yarn prices”
read more.


* Sircilla weavers hoping for better times:

Young skilled workers feel a stable govt. receptive to sufferings of downtrodden can bring change

Trying to put behind the nightmare of starvation deaths and suicide by beleaguered weavers of this town, known as ‘second Sholapur’, young skilled workers from the weaver community are hopeful that which ever government that comes to power in the new State of Telangana would change their lives for better.

Without pitching for either the TRS or Congress, all that the dominant weaver community in the bustling town, 35 km from district headquarters town of Karimnagar, want is a stable government, which is receptive to the sufferings of the downtrodden, particularly the weavers.

A visit to the town and the Textile Park established by the Government of Andhra Pradesh a couple of years ago 10 km away from here gives an insight on how the young weavers are trying to reconstruct their careers by going for skill up gradation.
read more.

* Ministry of Textiles to formulate cotton security policy:

Aims to make India cotton surplus by next decade

The proposes to formulate a cotton security policy so as to avoid any domestic supply distortions across the textile value chain and make India a nation in the next decade.  This is proposed to be implemented in the new plan period by 2016-17.

According to officials, the cotton security policy will be worked out going by the global shortages and price volatility for raw cotton which is expected to continue over next few years. Thus this policy will be formulated in consultation with the Prime Ministers’ Economic Advisory Council, ministry of finance, ministry of agriculture and ministry of commerce and industry.
read more.

* Cotton exports hit as China shifts policy:

The country’s raw cotton exports are expected to plummet around 20 per cent in the next crop year, with demand from China fading as Beijing unwinds a controversial stockpiling scheme.

That would be greater than the nearly 6 per cent drop touted for this year, with the change in Chinese policy coming on top of rising cotton consumption in India and a spurt in exports of finished yarn, industry officials said.

Cotton markets around the world have been watching closely as China abandons a stockpiling scheme under which it has amassed more than 10 million tonnes of the fibre – around 60 per cent of global cotton inventories.
read more.

* CITU to protest:

CITU will organise a protest at Palladam on April 18 demanding an early solution to the wage revision issue for job-working powerloom units in the district.

The units are on strike demanding implementation of the revised wages in this sector.
to read.

18:51:34 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Minister discusses plans with secy for South Asia Labour moot:

Provincial Minister for Labour and Human Resource Raja Ashfaq Sarwar met with Secretary Labour Muhammad Yousaf and other government officials on April 16 to discuss preparations for upcoming South Asia Labour Conference, April 24-26, expected to be attended by 350 participants.

The meeting at the Labour and Human Resource Department was attended by MPA Saira Iftikhar, MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt, PESSI Commissioner Farhan Aziz Khawaja, officials from Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) and District City Government Lahore.

Addressing the officials present, Secretary Yousaf said Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif would address the opening session of the South Asia Labour Conference whereas Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would deliver the concluding remarks and give thanks to SAARC member countries representatives on April 26. A special display of arts and culture of Pakistan is also being organised for foreign delegates at Governor’s House, added Yousaf.
read more. & to read.
labourwatch  thenewspk

* Punjab CM to be briefed on issues related to textile industry: minister:

Punjab Minister for Industries Ch Muhammad Shafique has said that summary will be moved to the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for April 20 meeting on resolution of energy-stricken Punjab-based textile industry.

He was talking to media after meeting held with APTMA members at the APTMA Punjab office on Thursday. Provincial Secretary Industries, Commerce & Investment Ali Sarfraz Hussain, Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer, Senior Vice Chairman APTMA Seth Akbar besides the APTMA members were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer said that the Punjab-based textile industry was passing through a serious crisis.
In this regard, he said, Aptma delegation had already called on the  Chief Minister  Punjab last week, where a sub-committee was constituted under the provincial minister for industries. He said the APTMA members have informed the provincial minister-led committee that the Punjab-based textile industry was facing Rs.80 billion per annum loss due to inter-provincial disparity on energy supplies.
read more.
daily times PK

* APTMA laments energy situation again:

At a time when Pakistan should enjoy the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status to its fullest, Punjab-based industrialists are fearing the closure of around 100 textile spinning and weaving units by the end of April that could result in one million people being rendered jobless.

Energy crisis remains to be the bane of the industry and it had previously brought 50% of the textile mills to a halt. There are around 300 textile mills in Punjab and these are generating direct and indirect employment for around 15 million people.

“Currently, 45 mills have been closed and the rest have cut down a shift due to the increasing energy crisis,” said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Punjab Chapter Chairman SM Tanveer.

The textile industry, in general, still has hopes over the resolution of this pressing issue which is the main hurdle in achieving the targets of post GSP Plus status. The Aptma management hopes to double exports to $26 billion in the next five years.
read more.

* ST on supply of yarn: APTMA apprehensive about unnecessary notices by FBR:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has apprehended that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) may issue unnecessary notices to the textile mills for recovery of sales tax on supply of yarn under SRO 1125(I)/2011 so a sales tax clarification be issued to put things in the right perspective.

It is learnt on Thursday that the APTMA has taken up the matter with the FBR on the interpretation of clause (IV) of SRO 1125(1)/2011 relating to local supply of textile yarn.

According to the association, the federal government has imposed 2 percent sales tax on supply of textile yarn useable as industrial inputs to registered or unregistered persons of the five sectors mentioned in condition of (1) of SRO 1125(1)/2011 dated 31-12-2011, whereas supplies to persons not belonging to the said five sectors shall be charged to the tax at the rate of 17 percent.
read more.

* ‘Rupee gains erode textile margins’:

The chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) said on Thursday that slowdown in the Chinese uptake of basic textile first put pressure on Pakistani industry while the rupee’s appreciation further eroded the industry’s margins.

Meanwhile, S M Tanveer told a press conference, with normal gas supplies in summer still not restoration, industry has is on the verge of collapse.
Tanveer said that the Indians, facing the same inability to export their basic textiles to China, have started dumping their yarn and fabric in Pakistan.
read more.

* Legislation for women workers demanded :

Favourable  legislation for women workers of Punjab is the need of the hour and Government of Punjab is more than willing to achieve desired results in this regard.

These views were expressed in a meeting on Thursday organised by HomeNet Pakistan with the Women Caucus Working Council comprising women parliamentarians in the Punjab Assembly, civil society organisations and representatives of trade unions.

Punjab Labour Policy provides space for women workers in formal sector and women workers in vulnerable informal sectors are also under active consideration, said Ume Laila Azhar, HomeNet Pakistan executive director. She said recognition of informal sector workers as a workforce was important as they were contributing significantly to economy and GDP of Pakistan.
Azhar said workers in the informal sector needed to be linked with economic development framework of the province and the government should set up mechanisms for research, data collection, timeline surveys and their own provincial census.
Various civil society and labour representatives called for policies which would provide social safety net to workers in the informal sector, a provision to register these workers especially women, ensures minimum wage rates, decent working conditions, and safeguards against sexual harassment.
read more.


* Garment Exports Rise but Haitian Workers Paid Starvation Wages:

Despite a 45 percent increase in apparel exports since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the women and men who sew T-shirts and jeans primarily destined for the U.S. market barely earn enough to pay for their lunch and transportation to work, a new Solidarity Center survey finds.

The average cost of living for an export apparel worker in Port-au-Prince is 26,150 Haitian gourdes (about $607) per month. Yet workers are paid only between 200 gourdes (about $4.64) and 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day (about $6.96). After insurance and social security deductions, most export apparel workers must spend more than half of their salaries on transportation to and from the factory and a modest lunch, leaving little to sustain a family or keep a roof over their heads.

“Workers interviewed in this study had to forgo basic necessities given the disparity between their earned wages and the cost of living,” according to the report. “When asked what they would purchase if they had sufficient income, workers responded with: more food to feed their families, land to build a home, (and) a car or moped to drive their children to school.”
read more.



map of Asia


The next bulletin will be published April 22, unless events ask for an extra publication.

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
* Bangladesh – the Labour Law 23 April 2013-now

* Thousands strike at Nike, Adidas, Reebok factory in Dongguan over invalid contracts
* Strike reveals loopholes, rising labor cost crunch
* Thousands of China workers on strike
* Workers Strike at Shoe Factory Over Benefits Dispute
* China shoe factory strike shows welfare Achilles’ heel

* Stay-at-home garment strike off to weak start
* Little Appetite for Garment Strike in Phnom Penh
* Cambodian Garment Workers commence strike for a Living Wage
* Trial of ‘the 23’ delayed from today to next week
* Brands ‘violating contract rights’

* Indonesian textile exports may touch $13.3bn in 2014

* Buyers cancel $110m RMG order
* Closed Garment Factories – Alliance to provide 50pc salary
* RMG sector seeks NBR tax benefit for compliance-related steps
* Apparel makers seek policy support to relocate plants
* Workers in Savar Strike For Wage
* Businessman abducted
* RMG workers demonstrate in N’ganj seeking Siddique’s rescue
* Intervention of PM sought for rescue of Siddique
* First image of microbus emerges
* Human chain demands Siddique’s immediate rescue- Expedite efforts for safe return
* PM’s intervention sought for Siddique’s rescue- 24-hr ultimatum by SC lawyers
* Siddique’s rescue: Police form 5-member body
* ‘Siddique abducted by my foes’
* Environment culprits linked?
* Abductors set Siddique free
* Abu Bakar on way to Narayanganj court
* What impedes the revival of GSP facility by USA?
* Initiatives taken to boost foreign investors’ confidence
* Govt releases Tk 6.48b cash incentive for exporters
* Workers-police clash injures 50
* Fashion buying habits changing
* Global Day of Action: PAY UP! Justice for Rana Plaza victims
* Rana Plaza Survivors Call on Brands to Pay Up
* Compensations continue to elude Rana Plaza victims
* $15m collected for fund
* Compensating Rana Plaza victims
* Properties of Rana confiscated

* Weavers now face yarn price hike
* Sircilla weavers hoping for better times
* Ministry of Textiles to formulate cotton security policy
* Cotton exports hit as China shifts policy
* CITU to protest

* Minister discusses plans with secy for South Asia Labour moot
* Punjab CM to be briefed on issues related to textile industry: minister
* APTMA laments energy situation again
* ST on supply of yarn: APTMA apprehensive about unnecessary notices by FBR
* ‘Rupee gains erode textile margins’
* Legislation for women workers demanded

* Garment Exports Rise but Haitian Workers Paid Starvation Wages

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

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