23:22:50 local time CHINA
* China shoe strike spreads, enters second week:
One of China’s biggest strikes in years stretched into a second week on Monday, and spread from a huge shoe production complex in southern Guangdong province to a facility owned by the same company in neighboring Jiangxi province.
Workers at the multi-factory Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd complex in the Guangdong city of Dongguan clocked in on Monday morning, but not for work, continuing a stoppage over what they say have been years of inadequate social insurance and housing provident fund contributions by the company.
In Jiangxi, more than 2,000 workers from a Yue Yuen factory that mainly produces shoes for Adidas AG went on strike on Friday and planned to continue on Monday, the U.S.-based group China Labour Watch said.
“We’re continuing the strike,” said one worker in Dongguan, surnamed Zhou, contacted by telephone. “We swiped our cards and then went back (home). The other production lines in the same network are striking, too.”
22:22:50 local time VIET NAM
* Foreign-invested garment firms target ambitious growth:
Scores of foreign invested enterprises in the textile and garment sector are looking to expand their presence in Vietnam, the Vietnam Investment Review said.
In late April or early May, Venture International JSC from the Netherlands plans to start construction on a new factory in the central province of Nghe An.
The 10 million USD factory has a designed capacity of 150,000-210,000 jackets and 2 million shirts a year, and would provide jobs to about 1,000 workers.
Venture dropped anchor in Vietnam back in 2007 with a garment factory in northern Hai Duong province that similarly employed around 1,000.
* Vietnam remains Spain’s second largest footwear exporter:
Vietnam earned EUR268.5 million from shipping 27.7 million pairs of shoes to Spain last year, ranking it second among footwear suppliers to this South European nation.
Spanish Footwear Producers Federation (FICE) statistics show Vietnamese footwear exports to Spain increased 11% in volume, but decreased 1.1% in value compared to 2012’s figures.
Over the years, Vietnam has been one of Spain’s leading footwear exporters, second only to China, except for 2011.
Last year, Spain imported 329 million pair of shoes worth EUR2.07 billion, or a year-on-year rise of 3.7% in volume and 0.9% in turnover. It exported 134.8 million pairs, reaping EUR2.26 billion, up 1.9% in volume and 10.3% in value.
Spain’s key footwear importers included France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, the UK, the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Japan.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 22/4.
22:22:50 local time LAOS
* Labour demand for SEZs will double in Laos:
The demand for labour in special and specific economic zones (SEZs) in Laos will double by 2020 due to the inflow of businesses to the country, according to experts in the field.
More than 100 companies have invested in the existing 10 special and specific economic zones (SEZs), at a cost amounting to over US$1 billion, creating around 8,000 jobs in Laos.
The business sector has expressed concern on how to supply labour to meet the needs of industrial growth in the SEZs, particularly Lao labourers.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and other relevant government sectors as well as representatives from the 10 SEZs met in Vientiane recently to discuss their labour concerns and how to deal with the issues.
One of the electronic equipment factories and one of the garment factories in the park, which between them need around 1,600 workers to keep production running optimally, have just over 600 Lao and 14 foreign labourers working there.
22:22:50 local time THAILAND
* Fashion exports still selling:
Exports of fashion goods are expected to meet their target of 5% growth from 586 billion baht last year despite the slumping economy and daily minimum wage hike prompting some manufacturers to relocate to neighbouring countries.
Atchaka Sibunruang, director-general of the Industrial Promotion Department, said fashion exports should achieve the department’s goal, as the baht is weaker this year, driving shipments.
In 2013, fashion goods export revenue grossed 586 billion baht, with gem and jewellery products accounting for 306 billion, followed by 227 billion for textiles and garments and 53 billion for leather and footwear.
Yet prolonged political instability has caused many foreign business partners to cancel trips to Thailand.
“Investors are concerned about the political conflict,” said Ms Atchaka.
The hike in the daily minimum wage also encouraged foreign businesses to move their production to China, India, Cambodia or Vietnam, where labour costs are lower.
“This has tremendously affected the fashion industry, particularly the textile and garment, leather and footwear sectors, even gem and jewellery,” she said.
22:22:50 local time CAMBODIA
20140422 * UN Concerned About Detainees’ Presence at Trials:
The U.N.’s human rights office in Cambodia expressed concern Monday that 22 detained protesters may not be allowed to attend their trials on Friday, while the government insisted that the prisoners will be transported to the court.
Two minors were arrested for intentional violence for their role in a November 12 clash near Stung Meanchey bridge between police and protesting SL Garment Factory workers. One has been released on bail. Another 21 detainees rounded up and imprisoned on charges of intentional violence and destruction of property during garment strikes on January 2 and 3 are also set to be tried.
Vanny Vanan, 17, who was arrested in the Stung Meanchey bridge clash, is being held at Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 1. The others are being held in Kompong Cham province’s high-security Correctional Center 3 (CC3).
Wan-Hea Lee, representative of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, said that fair trial rights will only be fully met if the accused persons are present at the hearing.
“Paperwork, broken vehicles or a lack of petrol money do not absolve the authorities from this responsibility. Failure to ensure the presence of these men at the hearings would undermine the integrity of the proceedings against them and enable the defendants to challenge the validity of the judgments.”
20140422 * Thousands continue their strike:
Nearly 4,000 workers in Svay Rieng province continued protesting yesterday amid a separate stay-at-home strike.
Workers from three factories in the country’s southeast corner held public protests outside their factories in the province’s Tai Seng Special Economic Zone beginning Saturday, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).
The striking workers are demanding $50 – the amount of the no-strike bonus all three factories agreed to pay but have withheld in the wake of a nationwide strike that ended in early January, CUMW officer Sok Na said yesterday. They are also calling on factories to rehire 43 workers they say have been fired since the strike earlier this year.
“The factories broke their promise, which caused the workers to get angry and protest,” Na said, adding that workers would continue demonstrating tomorrow.
Employees taking part in the action, which is not related to the stay-at-home strike, represent workers from the Best Way, Smart Tech and You Li factories, Na said.
20140422 * Stay-at-Home Strike a Bust as Workers Return to Factories:
The vast majority of the country’s 600,000-strong garment factory workforce appeared to be back on the job Monday despite a call from unions to continue a stay-at-home strike until Tuesday.
Eight unions had spent weeks urging workers to stay home after the Khmer New Year from April 17 to 22 in hopes of pressuring the government and factories to raise the sector’s monthly minimum wage from $100 to $160. They also want the courts to release 21 unionists and workers arrested during the last round of wage strikes that ended in January.
By Monday morning, however, all factories were back up and running and most of their workers were back at their stations.
Outside her factory on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, Khorn Ya said about 80 percent of her 500 or so coworkers were back Monday, not wanting to miss out on a day’s pay.
“If the workers don’t go back to work, we will have our salaries cut, so we have to go to work,” she said.
Chhum Vet, who works at another garment factory along Veng Sreng, said between 80 percent and 90 percent of her coworkers were back Monday.
20140422 * Strike falls flat as factories fill:
What was supposed to be a widespread garment protest fell flat yesterday, as most workers returned to their posts, days ahead of the end of a planned weeklong stay-at-home strike.
A program officer at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) said no workers took part in the strike, while C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said employees at “more than 10” factories were on strike yesterday, but admitted that the majority of workers had returned to work.
“More [employees] went to work, but some did not,” said Thorn, who earlier yesterday claimed that up to 90 per cent of the garment sector did not work on April 17, the strike’s first day.
Most of Cambodia’s factories remained closed after Khmer New Year until Monday, making yesterday the litmus test for workers’ support of the strike, several industry observers said last week.
20140421 * 2,500 Workers in Bavet SEZ Go on Strike:
More than 2,000 workers at three factories in Svay Rieng’s Bavet City went on strike Saturday, claiming their bosses owed them money.
About 500 workers at the You Li factory, which makes baby clothes, went on strike Saturday because management refused to pay them for Thursday after the workers decided to take the day off without permission, said Heng Davy, one of the strikers.
“We asked them to let us go back to work on April 18 after the Khmer New Year, but they denied our request…and they demanded that we come back to work on April 17,” she said. “We will continue to strike until they do not cut our salary.”
20140419 * Nationwide Garment Factory Strike Sputters Into Second Day:
A few garment factories resumed operations in Phnom Penh on Friday, albeit at reduced capacity, as thousands of workers returned to the city after Khmer New Year celebrations in the provinces.
While the majority of factories in Meanchey and Pur Senchey districts stayed closed, it remained unclear if that was a result of a successful labor strike, as unions have argued, or an extended new year holiday, as factory owners claim.
Eight labor unions called for a weeklong stay-at-home strike in the garment industry, beginning Thursday, to demand a $160 minimum wage and the release of 21 activists and garment workers jailed during the last round of protests in January.
However, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) says that factories have agreed to extend the holiday vacation until next week, in what unions claim is an attempt to undermine their strike.
The majority of workers spoken to Friday said that their factories announced a compulsory extended holiday before Khmer New Year, a move that Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said is meant to prevent the perception of a major industrial dispute in the embattled industry.
“I can’t believe that the factories and GMAC gave the workers more holidays as a gesture,” Ms. Sophorn said. “The factories are working for the buyers and the buyers are waiting for their goods. This extended holiday is just an excuse. Any worker that isn’t at work [Friday] is on strike.”
20140418 * Factories to remain closed until April 21: GMAC:
Garment and footwear factories will still remain closed until April 21 after Khmer New Year holidays, according to Ken Loo, Secretary General of Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
Ken Loo’s comments came after union leader announced that some 80 percent of workers didn’t go to work on April 17 as part of a week campaign to boycott work after Khmer New Year.
A coalition of 18 labor unions and association has announced its week-long campaign to urge workers not to go to work from 17-22 April to demand release of detained 21 protesters and wage re-negotiation of US$160 per month for worker.
“About 80 percent of workers didn’t go to work to follow the announcement by labor unions,” Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia, told reporters on Thursday.
He added that workers would continue their days off until April in order to demand the release of 21 protesters, and wage be raised to US$160 per month.
However, Ken Loo said the same day that the workers didn’t go to work because most of factories haven’t yet opened for operation.
“Workers didn’t boycott their work as claimed by labor union leaders,” Loo added.
* Iffy factory supplying LA’s finest:
A Phnom Penh-based factory supplying uniforms for police officers and firefighters in the US city of Los Angeles continues to break Cambodian labour laws, a report to be publicly released today says.
Kin Tai Garment factory, a supplier to 5.11 Tactical – which sells the uniforms to the Los Angeles municipality – has made little to no effort to address myriad violations the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) brought to the attention of the factory during an eight-month inquiry, the report says.
The report from the inquiry, which ended in November, singled out three main areas of noncompliance: labour contracts, benefits and health and safety issues.
“Regrettably, aside from ending its practice of illegally denying maternity leave benefits to female workers and reducing the number of workers that the factory employs unlawfully under casual labor arrangements, Kin Tai’s management has not followed any of [our] recommendations.”
City officials commissioned the WRC audit of the Taiwanese-owned Meanchey district factory in keeping with LA’s “Sweat-Free Procurement Ordinance”, the report says.
20140422 * Hundreds Rally to Support Union Leader:
About 300 workers protested Monday in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in support of union leader Ath Thorn as a rival, but much smaller, group of workers from the same union rallied against their embattled president.
The court was scheduled to question Mr. Thorn over accusations that he and two other leaders of the Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) embezzled $92,929 from union members, but delayed the meeting after Mr. Thorn promised to call more than 1,000 workers to demonstrate outside the court.
“The court invited us [for questioning] but we were informed that it is delayed without any reason being provided and with no date specified for next time,” said Mr. Thorn.
Mr. Thorn, along with his deputy president Kong Athit and secretary-general Ek Pheakdey, have denied the allegation that they embezzled money from workers after reaching a settlement with E Garment Factory in 2008.
* Clock ticks on C.CAWDU bail bid:
Embattled union leader Ath Thorn yesterday said that he had begun a fundraising effort, trying to come up with $25,000 in bail money by the end of the week.
Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said union members would begin distributing flyers communicating his monetary need.
“If we don’t have enough maybe they will do something bad to us,” said Thorn, who was charged with incitement in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on April 8 following a complaint from a security guard who works at SL Garment factory, the venue of a C.CAWDU-led strike last year.
20140422 * Unrest Among Disabled Security Guards at SL Garment Factory:
A team of disabled security guards hired to protect the embattled SL Garment Factory in Phnom Penh is seeking the formalization of their employment and an end to what they claim is the factory’s exploitation of their impairments.
In November—at the height of an occasionally violent, months-long strike by SL staff—the company stopped using a security firm owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister and installed a team of 130 mostly disabled guards hired personally by factory shareholder Meas Sotha.
After replacing a factory manager in June, Mr. Sotha became a focal point of the SL protests.
Along with demands for higher wages and a lunch stipend, factory workers campaigned to have Mr. Sotha removed, saying that his emergence at the factory coincided with an increased security presence and a diminished tolerance for union activity.
Now, with no job contract and a wage of $100 a month, the disabled security guards that Mr. Sotha hired to protect the factory are turning against the unpopular shareholder.
* The benefits of free food for workers:
Aimed at factories in Cambodia, this short film outlines how free food programmes are good for workers and for business.
* BetterFactories Media Updates 16-18 April 2014, Union leader appeals for worker bail donations to avoid jail:
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-04-16 H&M sees risk in rising Bangladeshi wages
2014-04-16 Rising wages squeeze Bangladesh garment makers
2014-04-16 Union leader appeals for worker bail donations to avoid jail
2014-04-17 Massive China shoe factory strike rolls on as offer falls flat
2014-04-17 Predictions mixed for post-new year garment strike
2014-04-18 Grand Twins delays stock exchange listing
2014-04-18 Little appetite for garment strike in Phnom Penh
* to read in the printed edition Rasmei Kampuchea Daily:
2014-04-18 Unions claims workers do not go to work but factory managers insist that factories are closed
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates 19-22 April 2014, UN concerned about detainees’ presence at trials:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-04-21 Iffy factory supplying LA’s finest
2014-04-21 Judiciary laws ready
2014-04-22 Clock ticks on C.CAWDU bail bid
2014-04-22 Failing to sew up support
2014-04-22 Strike falls flat as factories fill
2014-04-22 Thousands continue their strike
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-04-19-20 Nationwide garment factory strike sputters into second day
2014-04-21 2500 workers in Bavet SEZ go on strike
2014-04-21 What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse
2014-04-22 Hundreds rally to support union leader
2014-04-22 Stay-at-home strike a bust as workers
2014-04-22 UN concerned about detainees’ presence at trials
2014-04-22 Unrest among disabled security guards at SL Garment Factory
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
23:22:50 local time INDONESIA
* One Million Labors to Hold Protest on May Day:
The President of Indonesian Labor Confederation (KSPI), Said Iqbal, said that as many as one million labors from throughout Indonesia are going to hold demonstration on May Day, which is May 1, by marching from Hotel Indonesia Roundabout to the National Palace in Jakarta.
“In the afternoon, there will be May Day Fiesta at Bung Karno Stadium, Senayan, where 120,000 labors of Jabodetabek (Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi) will take part,” Said explained through a written statement on Saturday, April 2014.
According to Said, the May Day celebration will also be held simultaneously in 20 provinces in Indonesia. Among the simultaneous demonstrations are going to be held at the Governor offices in Bandung for West Java, Semarang for Central Java, Surabaya for East Java, Medan for North Sumatra, and Makassar for South Sulawesi.
During the demonstrations, labors are said to demand the following:
1. Raise the minimum wage for 2015 by 30 percent and revise the criteria of descent living (KHL) to 84 items.
2. Reject the suspension of minimum wage establishment.
3. Commence the compulsory pension assurance for all labors in July 2015.
4. Commence the health assurance for all people by revoking the Health Minister Decree no. 69/2013 regarding the fee, replace the INA CBG with Fee For Service, and run audit on the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) for Health and BPJS for Manpower.
5. Ban outsourcing, especially in the state-owned enterprises.
6. Approve the Draft of Domestic Workers Law and Revise the Indonesian Manpower Protection Law.
7. Revoke the Law of Mass Organization and replace it with the Draft of Organization Law.
8. Change the status of non-permanent teachers to permanent teachers and give Rp1 million subsidies to the non-permanent teachers per month, per person.
9. Provide affordable transportation means and housing for labors.
10. Reinforce the 12-year compulsory education and scholarships to the children of labors up to the university level.
* Indonesian Labor Union wants wage rise by 30% in 2015:
The Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI) demanded a wage rise by 30 percent in the year 2015, the organizations president Said Iqbal said here on Sunday.
“We will bring this agenda in our rally next May 1, coinciding with International Workers Day,” Said said.
According to him, a wage rise in Indonesia is necessary as the country will soon join ASEAN Single Market in 2015. Said argued the minimum wage standard in Indonesia is far behind other ASEAN countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia while the productivity in Indonesia is as good as other ASEAN countries.
“Minimum wage in Jakarta is Rp2.4 million (US$210), in Thailand its US$280, and the Philippines US$315 whilst the average cost of living in those countries is the same,” Said added.
* Islands in focus: Fire damages textile warehouse in Kendal:
PT Asia Pacific Fibers’ textile warehouse in Nolokerto village, Kaliwungu district, Kendal regency, Central Java, was destroyed by a fire on Sunday. No fatalities were reported.
The blaze, which occurred at about 6 a.m., destroyed all the material and machinery stored in the warehouse, amounting to billions of rupiah in losses.
Firefighters had to knock down walls in their efforts to extinguish the fire.
Five fire trucks were deployed to extinguish the fire, which was allegedly caused by an electricity short circuit. It took them two hours to control the fire.
Kaliwungu Police chief Adj. Comr. Andhika Pratama said the police were still investigating the cause of the fire.
“We are still collecting evidence from the scene,”Andhika said.
21:22:50 local time BANGLADESH
20140421 * Fire at N’ganj garment factory- 3 workers receive burn injuries :
A fire broke out at a garment factory in Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) area under Fatulla thana of the city on Monday morning.
The fire originated at the Fakir Apparels around 10:15pm and engulfed the factory quickly.
The reason behind the fire could not be known immediately.
However, on information, four fire fighting units rushed to the place and the fire fighters are trying to douse the fire.
to read. & read more.
20140421 * RMG workers block city road demanding dues:
Workers of a readymade garments (RMG) factory demonstrated at Tejgaon area demanding their due wages on Monday, disrupting traffic movement on Mohakhali-Tejgaon road for an hour.
Md Salahuddin, officer in-charge of Tejgaon Industrial area Police Station said the workers of All Weather Garments factory took to the street demanding their outstanding wages at around 90:30am.
They blocked the busy road halting traffic movement.
On information, police rushed in and fire teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the RMG workers.
to read. & read more. & read more.
20140421 * Over 250 RMG workers fall sick in Gazipur:
Around 250 workers have fallen sick after having tiffin served at Best Wool Apparels in Konabari Zorun area in the Gazipur city till 10pm on Monday.
Sub Inspector Rabiul Islam of Konabari police out post under Jaydevpur police station said the food was served at around 7:30pm.
Within one hour after consuming the food, some of the workers felt stomach ache and started vomiting.
At first, eight workers were taken to nearby clinic in Konabari.
Till 10pm about 250 students were taken to different clinics and pharmacy.
Later the garment announced to keep the factory closed for the night.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* 25 houses of RMG workers gutted in Ashulia:
Separate fire incidents took place in Dhaka and Chittagong yesterday, gutting valuables and houses.
Our Savar correspondent reports, a fire in Chitroshail of Ashulia, on the outskirts of the capital, gutted at least 25 houses of readymade garment workers yesterday.
DEPZ Fire Service Station Officer Sabbir Ahmed said the fire might have originated from an electric short circuit.
* More Firings at Factory Where Workers Seek a Union :
Garment workers continue to be fired and harassed at the Taratex BD Ltd. factory in Gazipur, Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF).
More than 100 workers have been fired since they filed for union registration at the factory on February 4.
On Sunday, BIGUF says factory managers detained the new union president and general secretary and pressured them to immediately resign from their positions in the factory by signing previously prepared documents. They signed the documents after they were reportedly threatened, and were then removed from the factory.
The two leaders were elected after the factory terminated the union’s 12 executive committee members in the lead up to the union being registered on April 4. Six union members told BIGUF they have been forced to leave their homes for fear of their personal safety.
* Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund:
Bangladeshi union organizer Hasina Akter was talking with garment workers in Dhaka when a group of at least 20 people accosted her and the three other union organizers and a worker leader with her.
She and her companions were threatened and beaten, one into unconsciousness. Two organizers had to be hospitalized following the assault, and the factory worker went into hiding.
The February attack was not an isolated incident. Union organizers in Bangladesh are in constant peril, and these brave women and men need your help.
* Fresh law empowering EPZ authorities drafted:
The government has drafted a fresh law for the country’s export processing zones (EPZs) in accordance with the US Action Plan, delegating some power to the authorities of the special industrial zones, officials close to the process say.
The proposed law titled ‘Bangladesh EPZ Labour Act 2014′ is to replace the existing law – EPZ Workers’ Welfare Association (WWA) and Industrial Relation Act 2010 in conformity with Bangladesh Labour Act.
Following the US Action Plan, a committee headed by a Senior Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office was formed in September 2013 to draft a new time-befitting law for the EPZs.
“The draft on the proposed law has already been prepared and sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for next course of action,” General Manager (Public Relations) of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) Nazma Binte Alamgir told the FE Friday.
The draft law has been finalised after consultation with major stakeholders including EPZ investors and leaders of WWAs, ministries and agencies concerned, she mentioned.
“Among other things, the draft law has incorporated a provision for delegating some of the responsibilities to the head of each EPZ to reduce the authority of the BEPZA Executive Chairman,” said an official.
* 50,000 RMG workers jobless as 50 factories closed down:
31% safety steps executed: TIB study
Some 50,000 readymade garment (RMG) workers lost their jobs over the last one year as nearly 50 apparel units were shut down because of work order cancellation by the international buyers on ground of compliance deficiency, a study said.
Revealing the follow-up study, the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said on Monday there is an allegation that many buyers posted their audit reports with false information on internet without informing apparel owners and coordination authority, leading to the work order cancellation.
“And the cancellation causes suspension of production. We’ve information that some 20 to 50 apparel factories having some 50,000 workers have been suspended since the Rana Plaza tragedy,” TIB Deputy Programme Manager (Research and Policy) Dr. Sharif Ahmed Chowdhury said while presenting the report.
The TIB launched the follow-up report titled ‘Governance Challenges in the Ready-made Garments Sector: Pledges and Progress’ in a city hotel on the day.
The study on the existing challenges in the industry said the buyers’ forum formed to implement compliance recommended shutting down of 13 factories with 11,500 workers, housed at shared buildings and scrapping work orders worth US$110 million with 57 factories.
read more. & read more.
* Factories shut on inspectors’ ‘whims’:
Accord team allegedly forces government committee to shut down RMG units; workers unpaid though there is fund
At least 10 readymade garment factories have been recently shut down in the country amid allegations that nothing much was wrong with some of these factories in terms of fire and structural compliance.
The owners of some of these factories have blamed Accord – a team of inspectors sponsored by European buyers – for “forcing” a government-formed review committee to shut those factories down on the basis of their “verbal” reports.
According to Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), the Accord has produced only 10 complete inspection reports, although it has visited around 80 factories in the last six months and recommended halting production of at least 10.
Sources said the Accord team did not have either the expertise or the equipment to properly inspect a factory. There are allegations that the recommendations were mostly based on the inspectors’ whims.
Among many other allegations against Accord, one is that it has so far not paid a penny as compensation to the workers of the closed factories, although it was handed over a fund by the European buyers for this purpose.
* TIB for setting up of RMG Governance Authority:
31% initiatives undertaken following the Rana Plaza disaster has been implemented over last one year while another 60 percent have some level of progress, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said today. STAR file photo.
The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has recommended setting up a ‘Garment Sector Governance Authority’ to coordinate governance initiatives of multiplicity of actors and to ensure transparency and accountability in the garment sector.
The recommendation came from a TIB study report which was released at a press conference at a city hotel on Monday.
TIB chairperson Sultana Kamal, TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzman, deputy executive director Dr Sumaiya Khair and director (research and policy) Mohammad Rafiqul Hassan spoke at the press conference.
TIB deputy programme manger (research and policy) Dr Sharif Ahmad Chowdhury and assistant programme manager Nazmul Huda Nina presented the findings of the follow-up report, ‘Governance Challenges in the Ready-made Garments Sector: Pledges and Progress’.
The report says that the key stakeholders, including the government, various government agencies, BGMEA, factory owners and buyers, have made a significant progress to cope with the multidimensional challenges of governance and corruption in the country’s garments sector that were responsible for exposing the sector to unprecedented vulnerabilities in the wake of the Rana Plaza tragedy, according to UNB.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* RMG SECTOR GOVERNANCE: Owners’ growing political clout a major obstacle: TIB:
Factory owners’ growing political influence on the government has been obstructing good governance in the ready made garment industry, the Transparency International Bangladesh said Monday.
In its follow-up report on ‘Governance Challenges in the Readymade Garments Sector: Pledges and Progress,’ TIB said that the factory owners were using their clout to extract tax cuts and increased cash incentives.
In the follow up report released at a news conference, TIB said the stake holders took little or no interest in addressing the problems of inadequate compensations to factory mishap victims, lack of workers’ data base and absence of welfare fund.
It said that the violation of building code in apparel factory construction remained unaddressed and no initiative has been taken to prevent industrial police siding with factory owners in lieu of smoney.
TIB trustee board chairperson Sultana Kamal expressed concern over the delays in payment of compensations to the Rana Plaza victims.
She called it unfortunate that there was no coordination between the government, the factory owners and the buyers in ensuring workers’ fundamental rights.
* Good job done:
TIB finds 31pc pledges implemented, 60pc in progress, says Bangladesh proves it can tackle disasters like Rana Plaza
In the year after the Rana Plaza disaster, 31 percent of the stakeholders’ initiatives to upgrade labour and safety standards in the garment industry were implemented while 60 percent saw some level of progress, Transparency International Bangladesh said yesterday.
But there has been no improvement in the remaining 9 percent of the initiatives that involve major areas such as the creation of a separate ministry for the sector and a central worker database, raising the amount of compensations, and stopping random sacking of workers.
“We are pleasantly surprised to see how Bangladesh, despite all challenges, made positive strides in improving working conditions and protecting workers rights,” TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman told reporters in the capital.
“We are proud to say that Bangladesh has proved it can tackle disasters even of the scale of Rana Plaza. This is the message we want to give to the international community.”
“But we don’t see much-needed progress in areas that can ultimately give the garment workers long-term security and ensure their due rights. If we can’t do it, the industry will remain as a sector of exploitation,” he said.
* BD to place report next week at EC meet:
Bangladesh will highlight the outcome of Compact initiatives to improve working conditions at its ready-made garment (RMG) factories at a meeting next week in Brussels, sources said.
Bangladesh ambassador in Belgium Ismat Jahan will place a report at the meeting organised by the directorate general for employment of EC in Brussels.
The envoy is scheduled to speak on the topic “The sustainability compact improving labour rights and factory safety in Bangladesh”, in which she will portray the improvements made so far in the said area at Bangladesh factories.
Last July, the government of Bangladesh signed an agreement titled ‘Compact’ with the European Commission (EC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) aiming at improvement in labour, health and safety conditions for workers, as well as encouraging responsible behaviour by businesses in the RMG industry.
* Minimum Wages Implementation – Workers’ leaders have no data:
The workers’ leaders have no information regarding the non-implementation of the garment workers’ minimum wages.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu on Saturday came up with the observation on Saturday.
He addressing at a workshop titled “Bangladesh Labour Law-2006 and Industrial Relationship” as the chief guest at BGMEA building in the city’s Tejgaon area.
Mujibul Haque Chunnu said, “The leaders say minimum wage is not being implemented, I asked them to come up with the names of the factories, where minimum wages are not being followed; but I haven’t get their responses even one and half a month has been passed.”
“There remains a gap between the factory owners and the workers; if a good relation is built up between them, many problems will be resolved,” he added.
Some 140 trade unions have been registered this year, the minster informed the participants.
Speaking at the function, Labour Ministry Secretary Michael Shipper said, “Situation at the garment industry goes volatile due to unskilled mid level management at different times.”
“If the management becomes skilled, the gap between owners and workers will be lessened and the chaos will be reduced too,” he added.
* RMG exporters slam retailers for not hiking prices:
The country’s apparel sector leaders on Saturday criticised the global retailers for not increasing prices of the products to help the manufacturers improve workplace safety after the Rana Plaza tragedy.
‘Relocation and remediation are the two main challenges for the manufacturers to make the RMG industry safer and we need support from the government and retailers to do this,’ Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Atiqul Islam said at a news conference at the BGMEA headquarters in the city.
* Global buyers not raising prices despite compliance: BGMEA:
150 trade unions formed so far
Leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Saturday alleged that global buyers and brands are not raising products’ prices in line with wage hike and other initiatives taken to improve workplace safety and other compliance issues.
“It is unfortunate that though we have taken different initiatives to improve workplace safety and labour standards, buyers are not offering increased prices of apparel products,” Md Atiqul Islam, president of the BGMEA said at a press conference held at the association’s headquarters in the city.
The BGMEA president said global buyers put pressure to increase wages but now they don’t increase prices of the products. Rather they are canceling orders from the factories located at shared or rented buildings.
Citing the ILO $40 million trust fund for compensation of the Rana Plaza victims and their families, he called for speedy disbursement of the fund among them.
Terming the buyers’ pulling out of orders from the shared buildings as ‘inhuman’, he said about 40 per cent factories are located at shared or rented buildings employing about 1.5 million workers.
“I request the buyers to consider the issue and not to withdraw orders from those factories,” he said. The apparel makers also don’t want any recurrence of Rana Plaza tragedy and so they are working to improve the situation, he pointed out.
The three initiatives-the Accord, the Alliance and the government and ILO-led factory assessment-so far inspected 700 factories while only 13 located in four buildings suspended production due to structural faults, he said.
“It shows that all the shared buildings are not unsafe.”
read more. & read more.
* Foreign buyers pulling out from shared building factories:
BGMEA president urges them to contribute to Rana Plaza Donors’ Fund
The foreign buyers, who are outsourcing apparels from Bangladesh, are pulling out their orders from the shared building RMG factories (many factories in a house), said BGMEA president Atiqul Islam on saturday.
“Although we are working to ensure building, fire and workers safety in the RMG sector, the foreign buyers are still refraining themselves from making any orders in the shared building RMG factories,” said Atiqul terming it inhuman, illogical. The president of Bangladesh Garment Manu-facturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) came up with the observation at a press conference on “Remembering Rana Plaza Tragedy” at BGMEA conference room in the city yesterday. Atiqul also called upon the foreign buyers to come forward for donating in the Rana Plaza Donors’ Fund to help compensate the Rana Plaza victims.
The press conference was jointly arranged by BGMEA, Bangladesh Knitwear Manu-facturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
The press conference was attended, among others, by BKMEA first vice president Md Hatem, secretary of Ministry of Labour Mikail Shiper, former BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, BGMEA’s first vice president Siddiqur Rahman and BGMEA vice presidents SM Mannan Kochi, Riaz-bin-Mahmood and Shahidullah Azim.
Addressing the foreign buyers, Atiqul said, “If you worked with a RMG factory for the last 20 years, you should not pull out orders from the factory because of running operation in a shared building.” The action will push the livelihood of around 15 lakh workers into uncertainties, he added.
* BGMEA starts training factory managers:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association yesterday began its first-ever training for mid-level managers, often to take the blame for labour unrest and industrial disasters.
About 100 factory managers comprising officials from compliance, human resources and administration departments took part in the daylong training programme at the BGMEA headquarters in Karwan Bazar.
Ministers, bureaucrats and business leaders welcomed the move, saying the initiative would help narrow the gap between workers and factories, increase productivity and cut down the frequency of unrest in the sector.
“Owners do not always stay at the factories. As a result, the mid-level managers run the factory. So, they should know about the labour laws and the rights of workers properly,” said Mujibul Haque Chunnu, state minister for labour and employment.
He urged the factory owners to directly engage with workers to know about their concerns and demands. “This will deepen trust and help cut unrest further.”
Chunnu said factory owners are afraid of trade unions as they believe the leaders of the unions would jeopardise the smooth flow of production.
* ILO: Complete RMG factories inspection soon:
Bangladesh should inspect all of its garment factories as soon as possible, says International Labor Organisation (ILO).
The United Nation’s agency who oversees labour issues worldwide made the suggestion a week before the anniversary of Rana Plaza disaster.
Noting that there are a lot of things to be done in Bangladesh, ILO Deputy Director-General Gilbert Houngbo said, adding it should start with factory inspection.
He said: “Inspection of the 3,500 factories must be done as soon as possible.
While talking on workers right and job security the ILO deputy director-general said: “We need to make sure that the fundamental rights for workers are met, at the same token, making sure that this vital sector for the economy which has generated 4-million job, is still an important dimension for growth.
* Non-compliant factories can’t do business with exporters:
Govt drafts policy for RMG sub-contracting
The government has drafted a new policy to bar non-compliant sub-contracting readymade garment (RMG) factories from doing business with exporters, official sources said.
The government, after consulting local and international stakeholders, is framing the new ‘sub-contracting policy 2013′ with a view to ensuring a positive working environment in the sub-contracting business.
The policy will make it mandatory for the garment factories to implement compliance issues in their factories and to obtain membership certificates either from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) or the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) to be eligible for doing sub-contracting business.
The policy also will compel the factories to ensure decent working conditions according to a check-list, approved by the government.
However, though industry leaders and workers’ association leaders have hailed the move, sub-contracting factory owners have expressed their concern over the future of their factories after finalisation of the policy.
Sub-contractors said upgrading everything will not be possible for most of the sub-contracting factories as the firms are being operated in rented and unhygienic houses.
“If the government, labour leaders, big players and their overseas buyers remain strict on compliance issues toward sub-contracting firms, hundreds of such firms would face closure and thousands of their workers would lose jobs,” Imrul Kabir, managing partner of the Pinky Fashion said.
“It is not possible for us to maintain one hundred per cent compliance in our factories. But we are trying to ensure all possible facilities like group insurance, fire safety and emergency exit in my factory,” Ahmed Ali, managing director of a BGMEA member factory told the FE.
* Remediation for non-compliant RMG factories hits snags:
Remediation for non-compliant garment factories has hit snags as operators of such units are not the owners of such factory buildings, sources involved in the process said.
Due to such ownership problems, issues relating to responsibilities of carrying out the proposed remediation and bearing its costs remain unsettled, they mentioned, adding most of such factories are located at shared buildings.
The situation, according to them, has also created panic and uncertainty among the other factory owners especially those who share single buildings with other factories or other establishments.
Western retailers and the local apparel makers are in dispute over resumption of production in such factories that were suspended after finding structural flaws there.
The factory owners whose units are in rented or shared buildings are seriously concerned as to whether they have to face sudden suspension or not. Nobody knows who will take the responsibility of repairing the faulty buildings and make the payment for it, they added.
* Improve standards in apparel factories:
Chief of Trade Union Confederation warns Bangladesh of losing European buyers
Bangladesh is well known for producing low-priced apparel items across the world. But just being price competitive is not enough to win the hearts of the European consumers, especially after the fire at Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza building collapse that took the lives of at least 1,247 workers and injured more than 2,000.
The local clothing sector requires continual improvements to ensure workplace safety and better living conditions to avert the risks of losing customers in Europe.
Michael Sommer, president of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and chairman of German Confederation of Trade Unions, shared
his views with The Daily Star on a recent visit to Dhaka.
ITUC is a platform of autonomous and democratic trade unions, representing 168 million workers in 155 countries.
Sommer came two weeks ahead of the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Savar.
He met survivors of the two deadly accidents, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, labour rights activists and visited garment factories.
He said there has been visible progress in security and social standards in the sector, which was necessary after the tragedies.
Sommer praised the government’s initiative to establish an industrial park in bids to ensure the establishment of garment units in a planned manner, ensure safety, and encourage relocation of the clothing factories from the capital.
However, lots still need to be done in order to improve workers’ safety and their social standards, he added.
* Prospects and challenges of garment industry:
The readymade garment sector in Bangladesh is a multi-billion-dollar manufacturing and export industry.
With about 4.4 million workers employed in the sector, about 80 percent of whom are women, the growth of the garment industry has far-flung implications for the economy.
The RMG sector alone does export worth $21.5 billion a year, which is 79 percent of the total export earnings of our country.
Given the dominance of the sector in the overall economy, any sort of vulnerability and threat to this sector should be a matter of concern.
So rather than basking in glory we should concentrate on retaining sustainable growth and competitive edge.
Over the last three decades, our apparel industry has achieved a phenomenal growth due to policy support from the government, dynamism of the private sector entrepreneurs and extremely hardworking workers.
Now the number of RMG units is more than 5,000 and export earnings have reached $22 billion with more than one hundred countries using ‘made in Bangladesh’ knit garments and woven products.
A McKinsey survey also tells us that the potential for the garment industry is promising. McKinsey forecasted export-value growth of 7-9 percent annually within the next ten years, so the market will be double by 2015 and nearly triple by 2020.
There are several external factors that have been playing an important role in facilitating the growth of the sector.
One of these crucial factors is gradual reduction in China’s bulk production due to labour shortages and higher wages, which also contribute to a decline in its appeal in the apparel realm.
Moreover, China is now interested in manufacturing products that require greater skills, better technology and more investment in advanced equipment.
* Apparel makers for duty-free import of safety equipment:
Apparel makers have demanded duty-free import of safety equipment required for making their factories safe and environment-friendly ones.
The demand was made at a press conference held at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Saturday.
“The import of sprinkler, fire door and other safety and environment-friendly equipment should be made duty-free ones. We’re requesting the government to take steps to that end,” BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam said.
read more. & read more.
* Mid-level management blamed for garment accidents:
Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar Saturday said unskilled, mid-level officers are responsible for the accidents in garment factories.
“The accidents can be prevented through training, which will also increase productivity,” he said, while speaking at a training workshop on “Bangladesh Labour Law 2006 and Industrial Relation”.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the training programme at its headquarters aiming to train about 14,000 mid-level staffers of 3,200 garment factories.
State minister for labour and employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu was present at chief guest while BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam with its other office bearers, were also present during the event.
Earlier the state minister inaugurated the BGMEA cell on trade union to improve the relations between owners and workers.
* US satisfies over govt initiatives for RMG:
US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia Atul Keshap on Sunday said the US administration is satisfied over the initiatives taken by the government in improving the country’s garment sector.
Keshab made the observation when he met State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam at his office in the city.
The US’ satisfaction came following the government moves for appointing inspector at factory, changing working hours, ensuring worker’s security, improving factor environment and providing worker’s compensation, Keshab informed.
He also called upon the government to face the challenges those still exist in the sectors saying, “Export in the garment sector will exceed the trillion dollars in next ten years, if the existing growth continues, meeting sources said.
* Jute ministry to propose hike in export subsidy on yarn:
Export subsidy on jute yarn is likely to be increased in the upcoming fiscal year to help boost exports to the international market, an official said.
Currently, exporters of jute yarn are getting 7.50 per cent cash subsidy and the Ministry of Textiles & Jute is expected to be propose the finance ministry to increase it to 10 per cent.
“We will request through a letter to the finance ministry for increasing cash subsidy on jute yarn to 10 per cent from 7.5 per cent,” an official said.
* Battling for a safer Bangladesh:
After the Spectrum sweater factory collapsed in 2005, killing 64 workers, hardly anything changed to improve factory safety in Bangladesh, according to a report by The New York Times.
Then the Rana Plaza factory near Dhaka collapsed on April 24 last year, killing 1,131 workers in what was the worst disaster in garment industry history. And that happened just a few months after the Tazreen Fashions fire, which killed 112 Bangladeshi workers.
Reacting to public outrage, Western retailers and apparel brands began a major push to improve safety at the Bangladeshi factories they do business with. It involves a sprint to inspect hundreds of plants each month and a commitment to help correct any safety problems found — all with an eye to preventing another catastrophic collapse or fire.
But instead of joining forces, the western brands have divided into two sometimes feuding camps — a result, some say, that detracts from the overall effort, which has otherwise won praise.
One group — the Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety — has more than 150 members, including many European brands like H&M, Carrefour and Mango, as well as 14 American companies. The other group — the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety — includes 26 companies, all of them American or Canadian, among them Walmart, Gap, Target and Kohl’s.
Some members of the American-dominated alliance say that their side has performed more inspections than the European-dominated accord, while some accord members assert that the alliance’s inspections are less rigorous.
Accord members say they work closely with labour unions and have extensive input from workers, while the alliance’s members assert that the accord has not provided wages to workers who were laid off when their factory was temporarily closed after inspectors found serious problems.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana Plaza One Year Later: Living in Constant Pain:
When the multistory Rana Plaza building collapsed on April 24, 2014, in Bangladesh, Moriom Begum was trapped for two days in the room where she worked as a sewing operator.
Hunched in the dark, unable to move beneath a sewing stool and suffering from serious injuries, Moriom was surrounded by the lifeless bodies of her co-workers. As the long hours dragged by, Moriom thought, “I will never see the world again.”
Moriom, who had worked for more than three years at New Wave Style, one of five factories in the building, lost her right hand in the disaster and suffers from continuous pain in her wrist. She recently was fitted with an artificial hand, but she says “the hand is very heavy. “This hand seems like an extra burden for me.”
Like many of the garment workers in Rana Plaza the day of the collapse, Moriom and her colleagues didn’t want to enter into the factory. The day before, engineers had identified cracks so serious they said the building should be closed immediately. But many factory managers threatened workers, saying they would be fired if they did not show up for work the next day.
* Proper compensation for Rana Plaza victims demanded:
Labour rights body Industrial Bangladesh Council on Friday demanded proper compensations for the workers affected in Rana Plaza collapse.
The organisation made the demand at a human chain formed in front of the National Press Club.
Addressing the human chain, its president Nazrul Islam Khan also demanded exemplary punishment for the owners of Rana Plaza and apparel factories housed in the multi-storey building at Savar that collapsed on April 24, 2013 leaving more than 1,100 apparel workers killed and scores injured.
* A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse:
Jason Motlagh is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. Reporting for this essay and for “The Ghosts of Rana Plaza,” featured in the spring issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
When I met Rajina Aktar in February of last year, her eyes were still red and her memory still fuzzy from the toxic smoke that had knocked her unconscious three weeks earlier.
The 15-year-old had been sewing pockets onto winter jackets when a fire broke out at Smart Export Garments, an illegal factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Walking through the ruins, I saw what appeared to be handprints and scratch marks on the walls of the stairwell where eight workers were crushed to death as 350 people tried to push through a single locked exit.
Someone had managed to carry Aktar to safety. In the dank basement room where she lived, she told me that with four relatives to support and no education, she expected to return to the assembly line as soon as she recovered. “There is nothing else,” she said.
* No transparency in PM’s relief fund for Rana Plaza victims:
The government has failed to show transparency in collecting and distributing money for the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse, a BNP leader said yesterday.
“There was no transparency and accountability in dealing with the Prime Minister’s relief fund. It is still unclear who received how much money from the relief fund and who contributed to the fund,” said Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury who is also an adviser to the BNP chairperson.
Chowdhury’s comment came at a dialogue –BBC Bangladesh Sanglap — to mark the first anniversary of the building collapse.
Prime Minster’s Adviser HT Imam, however, said the relief fund is handled with “full transparency”. “I will give details of the fund if anybody wants.”
The government has so far distributed Tk 22.53 crore to the victims from the relief fund, he said at the dialogue at Biam auditorium in the capital.
Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation, a platform of apparel workers, urged the government to provide compensation to the victims as soon as possible. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has provided money to the victims as donation from her fund. It is not compensation,” she said.
* Compensate Rana Plaza victims before Apr 24: Workers:
Readymade garment (RMG) workers here on Sunday demanded that the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse and their families be compensated by April 24 next, the first anniversary of the tragedy.
They came up with the demand at a human chain programme organised by Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF) in front of the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
SGSF president Nazma Akhter said many workers fall victims to different accidents in RMG factories each year due to negligence of the government and factory owners to ensure their safety.
* 74% Rana Plaza tragedy victims can’t join works:
A total of 73.7 percent workers injured in the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse could not be able to return to the workplace even after a year passed since the tragedy occurred, says a study.
ActionAid conducted the study, which was revealed at a programme at BRAC Center Inn in Mohakhali area of the city on Sunday morning.
The study says some 1,436 workers could not manage to return to their jobs. Of them, 63.74 percent workers suffer physical illness, 23.76 percent suffers bone marrow related problems and 7.54 percent workers are not getting jobs due to the factory owners’ unwillingness.
Getting no compensations, many injured workers are not getting the proper treatment and their families are likely to sit on the street losing everything, the study warned.
Workers’ leader lawmaker Shirin Akter said, “We should have taken lessons from the Spectrum collapse, if we did so, we would not face the big tragedy like Rana Plaza collapse.”
She added: “We have to help the victims those are alive or the families of those lost lives in the tragedy; government, owners’ association and the buyers will have to move forward so that they (victims) do not feel helpless.”
read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza tragedy survivors face financial hardship :
The majority of Rana Plaza tragedy survivors have been facing immense financial hardship, as over 73 per cent of them are yet to get back work even nearly a year after the industrial accident, according to a survey report.
ActionAid Bangladesh conducted the survey covering 1,436 survivors and 786 family members of the deceased workers ahead of completion of one year of the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar on April 24 last year.
The report, which has been shared at a dialogue with stakeholders Sunday, has strived to ascertain the socio-economic conditions of the survivors and family members of the deceased workers and also look into their current needs along with analysing the support they have received so far.
ILO-Bangladesh Country Office Director Baki Srinivasa Reddy was present as chief guest at the dialogue on Remembering the Toiling Workers of Rana Plaza at theBRAC Center Inn at Mohakhali in the city.
The survey found that even after a year of Rana Plaza tragedy, still 73.7 per cent (1058 persons) of the 1,436 respondents had not yet returned to work due to physical ailment and psychological trauma.
* ILO deputy director general due today:
Deputy-Director General (Field Operations and Partnerships) of International Labour Organization (ILO) Gilbert Houngbo will arrive in Dhaka on Monday (today) marking the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy on April 24, 2013, reports BSS.
“Houngbo did a lot of work in Dhaka after the tragedy last year. The first anniversary of the Rana Plaza victims marked his visit,” Md Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told the news agency.
read more. & read more.
* Tk 38cr distributed among families of Rana Plaza victims:
Around Tk 38 crore has so far been distributed as compensation among the family members of the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse since the tragedy occurred on April 24, 2013, reports BSS.
Of the amount, Tk 23 crore was disbursed as financial assistance under the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund while the rest Tk 14.50 crore was spent from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). “We’ve given Tk 14.50 crore as compensation to 3,195 persons of the Rana Plaza victims. ILO is looking into the entire rehabilitation for them,” Md Shahidulliah Azim, Vice-President of BGMEA, told the news agency yesterday.
Azim, who was entrusted with the responsibility to look into the smooth disbursement of the $40m ILO fund from the association part, said the ILO has been actively engaged in the fund mobilization considering their irreparable loss of future earnings.
He said living family members of the Rana Plaza victims and injured garment workers will get Tk 50,000 each under the ILO fund.
read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza survivors left in desperate straits:
Most of the survivors, around 66 percent, of the Rana Plaza tragedy are leading an inhuman life in the face of difficulties to meet their daily needs, according to a survey.
A total of 2,222 victims were surveyed, including 1,436 survivors and 786 family members, by ActionAid Bang-ladesh. Of them, 2.4 percent cannot make ends meet at all, the survey found.
The objective of the survey was to portray the current socio-economic and physical vulnerability of the workers along with vulnerability of family members of the deceased, said Aamanur Rahman, deputy director of ActionAid Bangladesh, a nongovernmental organisation.
The survey also highlighted the dire need for compensation. Rahman shared the findings of the survey at a dialogue organised by ActionAid at Brac Centre Inn in the capital.
The top three priorities of the survivors are food and their outstanding house rents and loans, he said.
Although almost one year has passed since the building collapse, 73.7 percent of the survivors are yet to return to work, mainly due to physical ailment (63.74 percent), trauma (23.76 percent) and employers’ unwillingness (7.54 percent).
The majority of the respondents have individual and family incomes between Tk 5,000 and Tk 10,000 a month.
“We have found that 55 families have failed to manage a consistent source of income in the past 12 months,” said Rahman, also a team leader for conducting the survey. The much-expected compensation from 28 retailers is still an unresolved issue, he added.
No lesson was learnt from the industrial accidents in the past, said Shirin Akhter, a member of the parliamentary standing committee on the labour and employment ministry.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* ONE YEAR AFTER RANA PLAZA TRAGEDY : Survivors stare blankly at future:
Plights of the survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse and the families of the deceased or missing workers continues one year after the tragedy with many survivors still recovering from trauma, many yet to be rehabilitated while the maimed ones staring blankly at an uncertain future.
Families of the missing workers also have passed one year waiting for news of their near and dear ones since the tragedy struck on April 24, 2013 while families of the deceased, particularly their orphans, are still crying for justice, compensation, better livelihood, education and other basic needs.
A large number of survivors left Savar for their villages and left their jobs switching over to other trades for a livelihood while many others were taking treatment or attending motivational programmes to get rid of the trauma or pain.
On the morning of April 24, 2013, the eight-storey Rana Plaza, which had housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, came crashing down, leaving at least 1,135 people dead and about 2,000 injured.
Rehana Khatun, a 20-year-old seamstress, was still undergoing treatment at Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed in Savar.
Rehana, a swing operator of New Wave Style, one of the factories that Rana Plaza had housed, was rescued 20 hours after the building collapse and had her legs amputated up to knee.
She, however, alleged that she had lost her legs due to delay in treatment.
‘My dream has been shattered,’ yelled a wheelchair-bound Rehana at Savar.
‘What can I do now without my legs…No one will offer me a job. No one will marry me even. My dream of having a small and happy family, for what I came to Dhaka from Pabna, has been shattered,’ Rehana told New Age.
* BGMEA forms body to scrutinise Rana Plaza victims:
BGMEA Vice President SM Mannan Kochi has been made the convener of the committee
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has formed a committee to bring all the Rana Plaza victims under a same umbrella to compensate them following proper scrutiny.
BGMEA Vice President SM Mannan Kochi has been made the convener of the committee, which is comprised of the representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, Labor and Employment Ministry and two other board members of the BGMEA.
The decision to forma such a committee was made at a BGMEA board meeting held on April 13 at its Karwan Bazaar office.
The main task of the committee is to bring all the victims under a common umbrella to compensate through reviewing their claims as a worker of those factories housed in Rana Plaza that collapsed, killing 1,135 workers and injured over 2,500 on April 24, last year.
“The committee with the help of the local administration will scan the workers portfolios to make sure whether they were the workers of the Rana Plaza factories or not,” SM Mannan Kochi, convener of the committee, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He also said: We have made the decision to bring all the victims under a common platform as they are now scattered and wandering for help and the committee will scrutinise the claims of the victims with the help of the local administration.
* Government may ask for fresh DNA samples:
Government is mulling a comprehensive DNA profile database for readymade garment workers
Following suggestions from the DNA profiling authority, the government is planning to circulate public notice seeking fresh DNA samples for the 115 unidentified victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.
It is also mulling a comprehensive DNA profile database for readymade garment workers, although the tasked is deemed to be a steep on.
The National DNA Profiling Authorityrecently submitted five recommendations to the Labour Ministry detailing various short- and long-term preparations for tackling such disasters.
“All the suggestions are acceptable, but will be tough for the government to implement at present. We are examining some of the suggestions that can be implemented shortly. One of them is for the unidentified victims [of Rana Plaza collapse],”Faizur Rahman, joint secretaryof the Labour Ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
The labour ministry identified 207 out of the 322 victims, who had to be buried without knowing who they were, by examining DNA samples provided by the relatives at the DNA profiling laboratory at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
* Bangladesh factory survivors turn to theatre:
Survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse last year say theatre is helping them to deal with the trauma.
Survivors of the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh are turning to theatre to deal with the trauma of the tragedy.
More than 1100 people died when then Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed outside the country’s capital Dhaka.
Many survivors say that they are scarred by the memories of what happened and suffer nightmares, as they try to live with the memory of what happened. They say theatre has helped them think positively.
see more (video report).
* Most Bangladesh factory survivors still too sick to work: survey:
Most survivors of the Bangladesh factory collapse that killed 1,138 garment workers are still too traumatised or injured to work 12 months after the tragedy, a survey released Monday said.
Other survivors, who are able to work, have been refused jobs in garment factories because owners fear they would now be too slow or could be involved in some kind of labour activism, the survey said.
British charity Action Aid said 74 percent of the 1,436 survivors they questioned are not working a year after being pulled alive from the rubble of the Rana Plaza garment factory complex.
The survey’s findings come as Bangladesh prepares to mark one year since the country’s worst industrial disaster on April 24, when the nine-storey building collapsed on the outskirts of Dhaka.
‘Of those who do not have jobs, some 64 percent said they were suffering from ailments including amputations, severe chest, head, limb injuries or have their spines broken,’ survey head Amanur Rahman told AFP.
* 1,058 Rana Plaza survivors out of work:
‘Everyone is talking about financial support for Rana Plaza victims, but many are living with trauma’
Sajal Das, a survivor of last year’s Rana Plaza collapse, has been jobless for the last one month and all his savings have exhausted. He was forced to quit three jobs in the last six months for what the employers claimed was his failure to perform properly. More humiliating, he was not given the wage for the month when he quit the last job.
The 26-year-old still feels the pain of being physically challenged by the injuries he received in the disaster on April 24 last year. Now he cannot work for two hours at a stretch.
Two months back Sajal took a job at a factory belonging to Al-Muslim Group but he was able to deliver only 50% of the expected work. “The factory officials were not happy with my output. I had no option but to quit the job,” he said, adding that he had joined the work before being fully cured.
A worker at the New Wave Style on the sixth floor of the Rana Plaza building, Sajal was rescued from the debris five hours after the collapse. He was injured in the back and waist, and carried the trauma of the experience with him, always.
The doctors asked him to take enough rest and continue treatment. But he was forced to take a job as he could not afford the cost of medicines. Even the money he had got as assistance was almost spent.
* Consumers demand more accountability:
It took the worst garment factory accident in modern history to teach consumers the real price of an $8 T-shirt.
A year after 1,134 people were killed and even more injured in the Rana Plaza collapse, mindsets are changing one stitch at a time—from consumers demanding more at the till to greater accountability by clothing brands to the workers themselves.
When the eight-storey building collapsed last April 24, images were beamed across the world of lifeless and limbless workers being pulled from rubble strewn with brightly coloured pieces of clothing made for labels such as Joe Fresh, Mango, Benetton and The Children’s Place.
For a moment, it seemed the world took notice after decades of accepting Bangladesh as fast fashion’s dirty little secret. The garment business is a $22-billion-a-year industry for the South Asian country. Before Rana Plaza, a blind eye was turned to the appalling working conditions that garment workers, mostly women but also children, endured daily. Most worked for long hours, no overtime pay and in unsafe buildings for less than $1 a day.
Since then, there has been a concentrated push for change by consumers demanding more accountability and by many clothing brands.
* ILO standard compensations demanded:
Labour leaders, academics and journalist leaders on Monday demanded ILO standard compensations for the families of Rana Plaza victims and the injured workers.
Speaking at a roundtable they called for paying the compensations before April 24, the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed over 1,100, workers and left may more severely injured and crippled.
Industri All Bangladesh Council, organized the discussion at National Press Club.
The council’s coordinator ZM Quamrul Anam in his keynote paper demanded compensations commensurate to International Labour Organisation standrads.
He demanded ensuring safety of the workers in the factories.
Labour leader Nazrul Islam Khan, the president of the council, called on the government, the garment factory owners and the buyers to come forward to provide more compensations for the Rana Plaza victims.
He demanded the compensations commensurate to ILO standards set out in its convention no-121, calculating the workers’ losses according to what they could earn had they lived and their pains and sufferings.
* The Ghosts of Rana Plaza:
In Bangladesh, one year after the worst accident in the history of the garment industry, recovery remains a fragile process, justice seems elusive, and reform has a long way to go.
Four Days in April
On the morning of Thursday, April 24, 2013, traffic on the Dhaka–Aricha Highway was lighter than usual.
On most days, the industrial artery that connects the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka to suburbs in the northwest is choked with Suzuki hatchbacks, scooters, and banged-up buses that honk and belch incessantly as they carry commuters to construction sites and factories in towns like Dhamrai, Gakulnagor, and Savar, a subdistrict of the capital dominated by garment makers.
But on that morning, they were in the third day of another nationwide hartal, or strike, called by opponents of the ruling Awami League party, the latest in a never-ending cycle of political brinkmanship that had paralyzed the country on and off for years. Like power outages and flash floods, strikes are a fact of life in Bangladesh. In Savar and other manufacturing hubs, the protocol among working-class people generally is to heed them or be prepared for trouble.
Rana Plaza, a hulking commercial complex that fronts the highway, was an exception that day.
The building’s owner, Sohel Rana, insisted that employees report for work as usual, in defiance of the opposition, with plans to mobilize them for a possible street protest. This was not an empty gesture:
On any given day, the plaza’s eight stories held as many as five thousand people, most of whom were employed by garment-making companies linked to well-known Western brands.
At his pastry shop across the street from the plaza, Saiful Islam was reading about the strike in the morning paper when he heard a shriek of breaking glass cut the air. He looked up to see shards of blue glass from the building that adjoined the plaza raining onto the far sidewalk, cutting several people waiting at the bus stand below. For a moment Islam assumed it was sabotage, a brick through a window, until the ground started to quake. Rana Plaza seemed to be imploding.
As the quake intensified, more panels blasted out onto the street, and several workers jumped to their deaths. Then the upper floors fell in quick succession, one after another, causing the bottom half of the building to pancake under their weight. In a matter of seconds, the eight-story building was reduced to a heap of slabs and iron.
As the cloud of concrete dust began to settle on the rubble, Islam and others bolted across the street to look for survivors. Police and the fire brigade were called to the scene, but word of the collapse spread even faster through nearby bastis— dense neighborhoods of concrete and tin barracks where poor garment-making families live. By the time fire-brigade officers showed up ten minutes later, an agitated crowd of hundreds had already gathered and was quickly swelling into a crowd of thousands, hindering authorities’ ability to access the site. “It was a human sea,” says Islam.
Lutfer Rahman, whose wife, Rina, worked at Rana Plaza, was sipping tea in their damp one-room home when a neighbor yelled through his doorway: The plaza was gone. Lutfer and Rina had married in their hard-bitten farming village and, like legions of people, moved to Dhaka for better prospects.
They soon had two daughters, Arifa and Latifa, and Lutfer had supported the family by pulling a rickshaw until asthma forced him to quit. So Rina had become the breadwinner, a factory helper passing materials to sewing operators for 5,000 taka ($62) a month.
Now, for the first time since he’d given up his rickshaw, Lutfer ran: about half a mile through the winding labyrinth of dirt lanes and workshops, past blacksmiths and brick kilns, trailed by his daughters. They reached the site just as two bodies were pulled from the wreckage, neither of them Rina’s. Lutfer, overwhelmed by the rising din of sirens and shouting, bent over to catch his breath.
The previous afternoon, when she and hundreds of fellow workers returned to Rana Plaza from their lunch break, they were prevented from entering the building. Cracks two inches deep had formed in the walls spanning several floors, prompting the bosses of the five garment factories housed inside to send employees home for the day.
The break was sudden and welcome. Since starting work at Ether Tex Ltd. eight months before, Paki had been pulling twelve- to fourteen-hour shifts six days a week at her sewing machine for 8,500 taka ($110) a month, with the rare day off.
After she and other workers were sent home that day, a local engineer was called in to inspect the cracks and had declared the building “vulnerable,” recommending that it be sealed off and examined by experts from Bangladesh’s leading technical university.
Word of the cracked columns reached a local TV station, which sent a crew to the site. A cameraman slipped inside and filmed for just a few minutes before being driven off by Rana’s men. A story about the cracks was broadcast later that evening.
* ACC to estimate Rana Plaza construction cost:
The Anti-Corruption Commission has sought assistance from an expert group of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology to estimate the construction cost of the collapsed Rana Plaza building in order to calculate the total wealth of its owner Sohel Rana.
The commission has already taken the wealth statements from Sohel Rana’s father Abdul Khaleque and mother Morzia Begum to find out the total illegal wealth of Sohel Rana, an ACC official told New Age.
He said that an ACC team had already visited the Rana Plaza site and talked with contractors who built the eight-storey commercial building which collapsed in Savar on April 24, 2013 killing 1,138 people, most of them female garment workers.
ACC director Tawhidul Islam said that its team working to determine Sohel Rana’s total illegal wealth had taken statements from his father and mother as there was no scope to send notice to the Rana Plaza owner who was in jail.
* Safety lacking after Bangladesh factory disaster: US:
A year after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building left more than 1,100 dead, Washington says it remains concerned about worker safety and rights in Bangladesh.
In a briefing for journalists, a group of senior US officials said progress had been made getting the government in Dhaka to crack down on dangerous practices and give millions of workers in the country more power to protect themselves.
But the country still has a ways to go, they said, after the deadliest textile factory disaster in history left 1,135 dead on April 24 last year.
The poorly built nine-story Rana Plaza outside Dhaka was a warren of shops producing garments for export, including for major international brands like Italy’s Benetton, Britain’s Primark and Spain’s Mango.
Its collapse came six months after a fire at the Tazreen garment factory killed 111, further highlighting the deep safety issues in the country’s $20 billion clothing industry.
‘We have seen progress in many areas, to include increased registration of unions, harmonized fire and structural safety standards, (and) an increased hiring of inspectors’ whose reports are publicly accessible, said one US official speaking on the basis of anonymity.
‘We still have concerns however about labor rights and workplace safety in Bangladesh and there’s still a lot of work to be done, particularly on the legal side of things.’
read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza Collapse: ILO to mark 1-yr commemoration:
Gilbert Houngbou, ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, arrived here on Tuesday, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, said an official.
Hougbou is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ministers, employers’ and workers’ organizations, ambassadors of different countries stationed in Dhaka, and representatives of initiatives involved in improving working conditions in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector.
read more. & read more.
* Victims doubt if justice would be done:
The survivors and families of the deceased in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar have expressed deep frustration that over a dozen of cases filed after the factory disaster in April 2013 are still pending with court or under investigation.
As 11 cases remained pending for trial with the labour court in Dhaka and two others under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department a year after the tragedy, the affected workers and labour rights activists raised question about the government’s sincerity about ensuring justice to the victims.
They also expressed doubt whether justice would be done in due time as many other cases, including the cases of Spectrum Sweater factory collapse near Savar on April 12, 2005, that left 64 people dead and the Tazreen Fashions fire that killed 112 in November 2012, were still pending with separate courts in Dhaka.
‘If we are denied justice, such disasters will repeat,’ said 20-year-old Rehana Khatun, a sewing operator of New Wave Style factory the collapsed Rana Plaza had housed.
‘If the investigation needs so much time even after everything is clear to all, we are not sure how many years it will take to complete the trial,’ said Saydia Gulrukh, a member of Activist Anthropologists, a platform working for labour rights.
On the morning of April 24, 2013, the eight-storey Rana Plaza, which had housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, came crashing down, leaving at least 1,135 people dead and about 2,000 injured.
After the disaster, the police filed a case against the building owner, Sohel Rana, and the owners of the five clothing factories housed in the building under Section 337, 338, 427, 304 (b) and 34 of Penal Code.
* Compensation before Apr 24 demanded:
Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation (BLF) demanded Monday payment of compensation for the Rana Plaza victims and their families before the first anniversary of the tragic industrial incident (April 24), taking their loss of future earnings and sufferings into account.
The labour organisation also expressed deep resentment over non-payment of the workers’ rightful compensation even almost a year after the world’s worst industrial tragedy that took 1,135 lives.
BLF formally placed the demand at a press conference at National Press Club. Among others, BLF chairman Abdus Salam Khan and secretary general Z M Kamrul Anam, and labour leader Hedayatul Islam were present on the occasion.
The BLF chairman said the ill-fated survivors, mostly female apparel workers, are still deprived of necessary medical treatments and promised rehabilitation facilities.
* GTF compensation fund for Rana Plaza victims to be disbursed from today:
The fund authority will begin the disbursement at the conference room of the labour and employment ministry
The compensation for the victims of Rana Plaza and their family members from the Global Trust Fund (GTF) will be disbursed today, on the eve of the first anniversary of the catastrophic disaster.
The fund authority will begin the disbursement at the conference room of the labour and employment ministry by handing over compensations to only two persons as a token distribution. Rest of the victims will receive their due compensation through their mobile accounts, Labour Ministry Joint Secretary Khandoker Mostan Hossain confirmed the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
He further added that the authority had already completed all arrangements for opening mobile accounts for all victims and their families.
“A programme will be arranged at 3pm on Tuesday [today] at the ministry to distribute the compensation. The state minister will hand over the money from the global trust fund to two of the victims,” he added.
* Traumatised, left mostly uncared for:
At nightfall, Zulekha Begum goes to bed but quite often she does not get a full night’s sleep.
The traumatic scenes that unfolded before her eyes a year ago still haunt her, ghost-like.
The 30-year-old survivor of Rana Plaza collapse says the most frightening part of her dreams is when her dead colleagues come to her and blame her for not giving them water at the time of their death.
Zulekha, however, is not alone in her affliction. Some 24 percent of over 2,400 survivors and rescue workers are in the same boat as her, according to a study by ActionAid Bangladesh.
They either have difficulty sleeping or get uncontrollable fits, and not least, their phobia of multi-storey buildings, getting under concrete roofs and darkness. Several of them are hounded by the pong of dead bodies, while some randomly start to behave abnormally.
The condition has been barring them from leading normal lives and getting re-employed a year after the tragic event, the deadliest industrial accident in the nation’s history. And, in the odd chance that they find work, they have to quit before long: the haunted memories severely encumber their performance.
Unfortunately, the issue, which, psychiatrists say, can rouse suicidal tendencies, never got any attention from the government. While some international donors and nongovernmental organisations came forward to provide psychological support, the operations petered out after some time.
20:52:50 local time INDIA
* Godown gutted:
A fire in the Tiruchengode Cooperative Marketing Committee godown at Mallasamudram destroyed 1,083 cotton bales worth Rs. 18,56,790, on Sunday night.
The police said that farmers stocked the unsold cotton bales in the committee building. The cotton was auctioned when the price was good. On Sunday, people of the locality saw some thick smoke coming out of the building and were shocked to see the building on fire. They informed the Fire and Rescue Services personnel, who rushed to the spot with three fire tenders. But, the fire could be put off only after four hours.
* Yarn exporters redrawing plans as China demand hit:
Cotton yarn spinning mills are mulling a response to the fall in Chinese export demand.
A serious matter, since mills had significantly raised their capacities in the past three years in response to rising demand from that country, for both cotton and yarn.
Mills added a combined 500,000 spindles in the past five years, anticipating a consistently high demand from China. There certainly was a big jump in 2013 over 2012, from 77 million kg of yarn export to 1,107 mn kg.
* Textile exports hit by delay in release of duty drawback:
20:22:50 local time PAKISTAN
* Women in the workforce:
We live in a societal setup that is highly stratified according to caste, class, and cultural and regional variations, all of which have implications on the opportunities provided to women.
Thus researchers have suggested that policymakers should take into account women’s experiences of gender systems across the country. In Pakistan, human development indicators for women are weak and experts search for solutions both in terms of the religious-cultural framework and the lack of political will to modify systems.
Participation of women in the labour market is increasing over time in developing economies. This increased participation is mainly due to push as well as pull factors. The push of growing urbanisation, larger demand for consumer goods and low wages has forced a greater number of women to participate in the labour force. Similarly, rising literacy rate and growing educational attainment and the desire for economic sovereignty among women has produced the necessary pull towards remunerated work.
Industrial sectors namely garments, pharmaceuticals, plastic and food are based on relatively high levels of women’s employment and are likely to be the important centre for women’s employment in future.
One would expect that incomes by working in the registered large scale manufacturing industry would be higher than in the informal sector (both small manufacturing units and home based work).
The wage rates in the informal sector are one-fourth less than the wage rates prevailing in the formal sector. However the disparity in the capital-labour ratio and in labour productivity between the two sectors is much higher than the likely wage differentials.
Further, in small-scale enterprises, 61 percent of women earn below the minimum wage compared to more than three-fourths of home-based workers.
The fabric industry of Pakistan contributes 54 percent to the total export earnings of the country. The fabric and clothing industry accounts for 46 percent of total manufacturing and provides job opportunities to 38 percent of the manufacturing labour force. It provides entry level employment for women with limited income opportunities.
The textile industry of Pakistan has prospects for expansion in labour productivity, research and development, manufactured goods diversification and branding.
In 2006, the United Nations Development Programmme in alliance with the private sector of Pakistan launched its direct initiative Gender Promotion in Garment Sector through Skills Development with an aim to widen a cadre of skilled women to increase productivity and job creation for semi urban and urban women.
* Rupee revaluation: APTMA demands 10 percent compensatory support like India:
APTMA leadership has demanded equal treatment in line with India on rupee revaluation to ensure growth and sustainability under the present regime.
Addressing a press conference, APTMA has demanded 10 percent compensatory support as India did in 2007 by announcing support twice when Indian rupee had appreciated by 9.7 percent against dollar.
APTMA Group Leader Gohar Ejaz and Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer told a select group of journalists that a 10-member delegation was also set to call on Federal Minister for Textile Industry and Federal Minister for Petroleum & Natural Resources. Gohar said Pakistan textile industry had been lagged behind regional competitors due to short of investment since 2006, as it has been confronted with multiple issues. Only in the sector of power looms, he said,
* Yarn duty exemption withdrawal criticised:
The value-added textile sector on Friday criticised the government decision to withdraw five per cent duty exemption on import of cotton yarn and feared that it may push yarn prices higher in the local market.
Leaders of different representative bodies of textile ancillary sectors urged the government to review the decision because it will adversely affect exports by the value-added textile sector which contributes up to 80 per cent to total textile exports.
* U-turn: PM constitutes committee to resolve industry issues:
In order to avoid unrest in Punjab during the peak summer season, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted a cabinet panel to resolve issues faced by the industries after the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) took a U-turn on its reconciliatory policy.
The premier took the decision after the Aptma –body working to safeguard the interests of textile millers – launched a media campaign against the government’s policies, particularly on exchange rate. The fresh campaign was in contrast to an earlier advertisement that got published in mid-March, in which Aptma, while surprising many, appreciated the strengthening of the Pakistani rupee.
The central point of the latest media campaign is the veiled threat of shutting down industries in Punjab – the basin of the ruling party, according to analysts.