23:21:27 local time CHINA
* China activist missing after trying to help striking workers:
A prominent Chinese labor activist has been missing for more than 24 hours and his wife suspects he was detained by state security agents after trying to help workers involved in China’s biggest strike in years organize their case.
Zhang Zhiru was last heard from when he spoke to his wife, Xiao Hongxia, by telephone at around noon on Tuesday. He told her he had been summoned to a meeting with state security agents from the industrial southern city of Dongguan.
Workers at a Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd shoe factory complex with about 40,000 employees have been on strike since April 14 over social insurance payments.
Labor activists say the strike, in the Dongguan town of Gaobu, is one of China’s biggest since market reforms started in the late 1970s.
“When he went out in the morning he said he was meeting Dongguan state security,” Xiao said by telephone from Shenzhen, where Zhang lives.
“Yesterday afternoon, and at night when it was very late and he had not come home, a lot of us tried to call him, but couldn’t get through.”
Zhang had been closely following the Yue Yuen strike and was working with other activists and lawyers to try to help the workers organize to press their demands.
Lin Dong, a colleague of Zhang’s at the Shenzhen Chunfeng Labour Dispute Service Center, may also have been detained, Xiao said. Calls to the center went unanswered.
Early last week, Zhang tried to travel to Gaobu to meet workers but was detained by police briefly and sent back to Shenzhen, he told Reuters on Friday.
On Monday, however, Zhang and a lawyer involved in labor issues went to Gaobu and met several workers to discuss their options, said Wang Jiangsong, a Beijing-based labor researcher.
* Workers continue strike over unpaid welfare benefits:
Workers gather on Tuesday at the gate of Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings in Dongguan, Guangdong province. A strike began a week ago after the company missed a deadline to address workers’ concerns. [Photo by Zou Zhongpin / China Daily]
The protest sends out a warning to companies that rely on low wages and minimum welfare for workers amid an upgrading of the Chinese economy, analysts said.
The strike started on April 14 when workers learned that Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings had for years underpaid into their social security accounts – government-mandated insurance for health, retirement and unemployment.
Public information on the website of Pou Chen Group, the parent company of Yue Yuen in Taiwan, shows that the group produces more than 300 million pairs of shoes a year, accounting for 20 percent of the global market of sports and casual-wear shoes.
On Tuesday, factory worker Peng Xiaohui, 24, joined his colleagues on strike. He has been working for six years for Yue Yuen, which owns several factories in Dongguan making footwear for brands including Nike and Adidas.
Peng, who earns 3,500 yuan ($565) a month, recently found out that the company allegedly understated his salary and paid less than required into his pension account. That means Peng will receive less money from the social insurance program after he retires.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Shoe factory strike continues, spreads:
One of China’s biggest strikes in years stretched into a second week yesterday, and spread from a huge shoe production complex in the southern province of Guangdong to a facility owned by the same company in the eastern Jiangxi Province.
Workers at the multi-factory Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd complex in Guangdong’s Dongguan City, that makes shoes for adidas and Nike, clocked in yesterday morning — but not for work.
Instead, they continued a stoppage over what they say is years of inadequate social insurance and housing fund contributions by the company.
In Jiangxi, 2,000 workers from a Yue Yuen factory that mainly produces shoes for adidas went on strike on Friday and kept up their action yesterday.
“We’re continuing the strike,” said a worker in Dongguan, surnamed Zhou.
* No solution in sight for China shoe factory strike:
With terms far apart, no solution in sight for China’s shoe factory strike in its 2nd week
Workers on strike at a Chinese factory owned by the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes have rejected management’s latest offer in an ongoing labor dispute that is crimping production for brands such as Nike and Adidas.
The on-off work stoppage at Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Ltd.’s massive factory complex in southern China, which employs more than 40,000 workers, has stretched into the second week as both sides have failed to reach an agreement.
The dispute erupted over underpayments for social security and housing fund payments required by Chinese law. It has become one of the largest strikes in China’s private sector, where low-cost manufacturers are facing increasing labor activism amid a shortage of migrant workers that is pushing up labor costs.
Tens of thousands of workers remained off the job Tuesday, according to workers and labor groups, after they rejected the company’s latest offer, which included making up back payments for social security and housing, full contributions for those benefits starting May 1 and a $37 monthly cost of living allowance.
* Open letter to brands sourcing to Yue Yuen Dongguan China:
Subject: Adidas, Nike, Timberland, you created this problem, now fix it! Pay workers social insurance now!
Since 5 April 2014, workers from Yue Yuen Dongguan factory have gone on strike. Striker size flew up from 1,000 to 50,000 in only few days. Almost all factory workers have joined the strike.
This shows the anger of workers towards government and the company has reached the limit.
The dispute was triggered by the conspiracybetween the Yue Yuen factory and the local government– The factory did not fully pay social insurance for the workers and the local government officials did not observe this unlawful practice.
Workers also discovered the work contracts they are holding are not legally valid. They request the factory to pay back pension and housing provident fundarrear payment, re-sign valid work contract and raise the wage.
Until today, there are almost 50,000 workers, including frontline workers and various ranking management staff, joining the strike. On 17 April, Mr. Liu, the director of Yue Yuen told us the total workforce in Yue Yuen Dongguan is 48,000. It means that the whole factory has gone on strike. On 18 April, there were reports about the strike expansion to Yue Yuen Jiangxi factory.
We agree with the worker’s decision to blame Yue Yuen and government for the problem. It is because Yue Yuen has cheated on their social insurance payment to lower their production cost, and exploit their wages and benefit; the local officials failed to observe the company’s illegal act and even assisted the company to exploit workers, in return to protect their tax income and corruption chances.
However, workers have ignored the role of international buyers in this dispute. Those buyers are much stronger and powerful. Yue Yuen supplies product for international big brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Asics, New Balance, Puma, Converse, Salomon and Timberland.
The workers have been producing shoes for these gigantic buyers and enterprises.
They gain the biggest part of this huge profit and regard all workers in the supply chain as slaves!
Therefore, we demand the international buyers of Yue Yuen should bear their corporate social responsibility.
They should not just confirm their suppliers in China to obey the local laws and regulations, paying workers social insurance; moreover, they should bear the responsibility with Yue Yuen to pay back all workers’ pensions and housing provident fund in arrears, to protect the rights that workers deserve.
22:21:27 local time CAMBODIA
* Accused 21 brought to capital:
A group of 21 detainees who have been held at Kampong Cham’s remote CC3 prison since they were arrested during garment worker protests in early January were transported to the capital yesterday morning ahead of their hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, dampening fears they would not be able to attend their own trials.
Kea Sovanna, director of the CC3 prison, said he had received an order from the director of the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior to bring all the detainees to Phnom Penh yesterday, where they would be held at Prey Sar prison.
“I do not know if they will be sent back [to CC3],” he said, adding it would depend on the court’s decision.
Twenty-three people in total were arrested on January 2 and 3 as workers calling for a higher minimum wage clashed with authorities outside the Yakjin garment factory and the Canadia Industrial Park. All of the detainees have been charged with aggravated intentional violence and aggravated intentional property destruction.
* 21 Strike Detainees Transferred to Prey Sar Prison Ahead of Trial:
Twenty-one labor activists and garment workers were on Wednesday transferred from Kompong Cham province’s Correctional Center 3 to Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh as the municipal court prepares to try them over their role in garment strikes three months ago.
CC3 director Kea Sovanna said the 21 were removed from the remote prison—in which the detainees have been held without bail since January 2 and 3—early Wednesday and transported to Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 1.
“We have transported 21 detainees through vehicles from the general department of prisons at 6 a.m. to Phnom Penh so they could attend a hearing,” he said.
The transfer came a day after the head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia expressed concern that the detainees may not be taken to their trials.
* 23 arrested during violent clashes to appear at court this week:
Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear separate cases of 23 detained protesters on April 25.
The 23, were arrested during violent crackdown by government forces on Veng Sreng Stree and at a Korean-owned Yakjin factory on outskirt of capital on January 2-3.
Currently two of the 23 detainees have been released on bail.
The 21 detainees including prominent human rights defender Vorn Pov, President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association were already transferred from Tropang Thlong prison in Kampong Cham province to Prey Sar prison on April 23, awaiting the hearings, according to lawyer of the detainees.
* Union leaders in court over ‘detainment’ of factory boss:
Two union leaders were summonsed and questioned by a municipal court prosecutor yesterday over allegations they illegally detained the boss of a packaging factory in Por Sen Chey district’s Choam Chao commune during a strike.
According to Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor Ek Chheng Huoth, Sorn Bora, the chief of the production department at Harta Packaging Industry and president of the Cambodian Friends Union, and Phann Moeung, deputy president of the same union, illegally detained Siva Kuwah, a Chinese national, on February 11.
Chheng Huoth said yesterday that he had yet to decide whether they would be charged and that he wished to question them further.
* Workers Protest Over Reps Summoned to Court:
About 50 fired factory workers protested in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal court Wednesday after two of the factory’s five union representatives were summoned for questioning following strikes in February.
Sor Bora, one of the representatives at Harta Packaging Industrial (Cambodia) Ltd., said he was summoned to court following a complaint by the company that he incited workers to lock the factory gates and burn tires during the strikes over unpaid wages.
More than 280 workers were on strike for four days at the factory in Choam Chao commune’s Pur Senchey district when the factory changed from a Malaysian to Japanese owner.
23:21:27 local time INDONESIA
* 356 sacked Adidas workers call for support after two-year fight:
July is a big month for World Cup partner Adidas – and for 356 Indonesian workers abandoned by the sportswear giant two years ago.
The company’s carefully protected brand will be challenged by a global labour campaign to win justice for the mainly young female employees sacked in 2012.
Adidas hopes to see its share price leap on the back of the World Cup, which will showcase a hi-tech ball and team uniforms crafted by the German firm.
But Kokom Komalawati and her colleagues are determined to hold the company responsible for the mass sacking of 1,300 workers who took strike action for a minimum wage and other rights.
Ms Komalawati is a local leader of the Shoe, Garment & Textile Workers Union, an affiliate of Indonesia’s GSBI labour federation.
She is also one of the workers unfairly sacked by the PT Panarub Dwikarya company, a subsidiary of manufacturer PT Panarub Industry.
The parent company is a major global supplier to both Adidas and Japanese sportswear brand Mizuno.
PT Panarub Dwikarya dismissed its workforce after a week-long dispute over the company’s failure to pay a six-month old minimum wage increase.
Financial hardship and management intimidation forced many of the sacked workers to renounce their union membership – but 356 fight on with fortnightly protests outside the company compound 40 kilometres west of Jakarta.
With July marking the second anniversary of the dispute, the union campaign is building global pressure on Adidas and Mizuno to insist the Panarub companies settle the claims of sacked workers.
Unions want the 356 workers reinstated with backpay and all rights restored.
* Workers to take to street on May Day in Indonesia to demand higher pay:
Tens of thousands of workers will stage May Day rallies in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta on May 1 to demand a pay hike, chief of the worker’s union said here on Tuesday.
The workers would march at the downtown and express their demand outside the State Palace and the parliament building, Chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions Said Iqbal said.
“About 120,000 labors plan to take to the street to voice their demands,” he said at Mega Hotel here.
Past experience indicates the real number of protesters is always below the plan.
“The priority of our struggle is to express demand for a 30% pay hike,” said Iqbal.
21:21:27 local time BANGLADESH
* Fire breaks out at spinning mills in Gazipur:
A fire broke out at a spinning mill of Jamuna Group at Shafipur in Kaliakoir upazila on Wednesday night.
The fire originated at Shameem Spinning Mills Ltd around 8:15pm, said fire service sources.
On information, three fire-fighting units from Kaliakoir, Gazipur sadar and Savar EPZ rushed in and they were working to douse the flame till filing of this report at 9:50pm.
It was suspected that the fire originated from an electrical short circuit.
There was no report of any casualty.
to read. & to read. & read more.
* Invest in new EPZs to secure RMG jobs:
Support new EPZs so that factories which are closed by inspectors can relocate to safer buildings
It is vital to build a better future for the country’s RMG workers.
With thousands facing layoffs following ongoing factory safety inspections, the government has a duty to facilitate new, compliant buildings to which workers can move.
Reports suggest that in total, 50,000 out of the RMG industry’s 4 million workers have lost their jobs due to cancelled orders in the last year. Their number will be added to by workers whose factories are closed following government safety inspections and those conducted by the two brand-led stakeholder safety initiatives, the Accord and Alliance.
These inspections are absolutely vital to prevent future disasters. Their multi-stakeholder scope can help build the confidence and support which is necessary to secure long–term investment in the RMG industry in Bangladesh.
* Negative campaign against BD RMG sector to invite stern actions: PMO:
The Prime Minister Office (PMO) on Wednesday issued a warning that if anyone is found guilty of spreading negative propaganda against the country’s garment sector will face stern actions as per the existing law of the land.
“As per the current law, the government will take stern actions against those to be found guilty (of spreading negative propaganda),” PM’s special assistant Mahbubul Hoque Shakil said as he came up with the government warning at a press conference at the PMO briefing room.
The press conference was organised to inform all about the steps taken by the government and other agencies after the Rana Plaza tragedy that took place on April 24 last year.
The issue of negative propaganda came in the limelight when BGMEA president Atiqul Islam, who was present at the press conference, said some local NGOs and labour organisations will organise demonstrations in different parts of the developed countries where the foreign people will wear Bangladeshi shirts with their inside out, and shout slogans to boycott Bangladeshi RMG products.
* Bangladesh to lunch counter campaign on RMG:
Bangladesh is going for counter campaign against the move of a section of NGOs and labour organizations against the readymade garments (RMG) to pursue the western buyers to refrain from buying garments from Bangladesh.
The campaign \”No east, no west, Bangladesh is the best in garments\’ will highlight the actions taken for improving the working conditions in the Bangladeshi garment industries and remove misconception on the state of labour compliance in Bangladesh.
It was told at a press conference at Prime Minister Office (PMO) here today marking the anniversary of the country\’s worst RMG accident. Around 1135 people, mostly RMG workers were killed and scores injured when a ten-storied building Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013.
Addressing the press conference, Prime Minister\’s Special Assistant Mahabubul Hoque Shakil said, the negative campaign against Bangladesh garments would not bring any benefit for RMG workers, rather take a toll on Bangladesh\’s economy closing many factories.
Terming the Rana Plaza collapse as a strategy for Bangladesh\’s garments, he said, the incident would remain as a worst one in garment\’s history of Bangladesh. Side by side, people of Bangladesh have set an unique example of unity to over the crisis after the collapse, he said.
Listing the steps taken by the government to begin the rescue operation as quick as possible and Prime Minister\’s personal initiative in this regard, Shakil said, the Prime Minister has engaged all state machinery and manpower in the rescue operation and monitored the operation conducted for 21 days until its completion.
read more. & read more.
* Government, BGMEA: Vested interests trying to destroy country’s RMG sector:
If anyone was found guilty of spreading propagandas against the country’s garment sector, they would be brought to book
The government and the BGMEA alleged that a group of conspirators were trying to destroy the country’s garment industry capitalising on the Rana Plaza collapse.
“Those who are carrying out such conspiracy againstthe export-oriented industry are doing it only for their personal interests. Do they think who will lose from this? A lot of garment industries will be closed and millions of workers will lose their jobs,” prime minister’s Special Assistant for media Mahbubul Haque Shakil said at a briefing yesterday.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam alleged that some NGOs and labour bodies planned to demonstrate today in different parts of the world, especially in developed countries, to discourage foreigners from using Bangladeshi apparels.
“Some national and international NGOs and labour organisations are propagating to destroy our garment industry,” the leader of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said.
* Transparency highest- Says PMO on relief, welfare fund:
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday denied The Daily Star reporter access to a press conference held at the PMO without explaining any reason.
The Daily Star, however, carries the report based on information obtained from secondary sources.
The Relief and Welfare Fund of the prime minister operates with the highest transparency and accountability, said Mahbubul Hoque Shakil, the prime minister’s special assistant yesterday.
Addressing a press conference at the PMO, he said negative campaign against Bangladesh’s garment industry would not bring any benefit to the workers, rather it would take a toll on Bangladesh’s economy with the closure of many factories. Its workers would become the worst victims, he said.
He also warned that anyone found guilty of spreading negative propaganda against the country’s garment sector would face stern actions as per the laws of the land.
The press conference was arranged to mark the first anniversary of the country’s worst industrial accident. At least 1,135 people, mostly RMG workers, were killed and scores more were injured when the 10-storied Rana Plaza building collapsed on April 24, 2013.
* US wants BD to do more for workers protection:
Acknowledging Bangladesh’s progress in some important areas, the United States on Wednesday said the government of Bangladesh must do more to ensure protection when workers face intimidation and reprisals for trying to organise.
It said all stakeholders in Bangladesh, including the government, employers, and buyers of Bangladeshi products, bear a responsibility for ensuring safe working conditions and those workers have a voice to protect their interests.
“To that end, we’re working with all stakeholders to implement the Action Plan we laid out after President Obama suspended Bangladesh’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences program last June,” said joint statement received here from the US Department of State on Wednesday night.
The US Department of State, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labor issued the joint statement on the anniversary of Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.
read more. & read more.
* GSP action plan: US working with stakeholders:
The United States is also closely coordinating with the European Union and the International Labour Organization
Washington feels the government, employers, buyers of Bangladeshi products and all other stakeholders have to bear a responsibility for ensuring safe working conditions and that workers have a voice to protect their interests.
“To that end, we are working with all stakeholders to implement the Action Plan we laid out after President Obama suspended Bangladesh’s benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences program last June,” said a joint statement issued by the Department of State, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labour.
* Can Ticfa deliver favourably for Bangladesh? :
The first meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Bangladesh and the United States is scheduled to be held in Dhaka on April 28.
This will take place against the backdrop of the long-drawn controversies prior to the signing of the agreement and the developments that took place during the last one and a half years including the suspension of preferential trade benefits enjoyed by Bangladesh under the US GSP (generalised system of preferences) in June 2013. As such, this meeting is being viewed by concerned quarters as not just a routine affair but one that is critically linked to the future of bilateral trade relations between Dhaka and Washington.
The reality that the meeting will signify, if not determine, how things would look like in the days ahead must not be ruled out. Supporters of Ticfa, before it got inked in November 2013 despite protests at home, were keen to see it as a forum that would provide Bangladesh with a structured platform for discussing trade, investment and related areas of cooperation with the US.
And now ahead of the maiden meeting, they look to it a bit more precisely in that it is expected that it would help address some of the burning issues such as restoration of GSP and facilitation of market access. It is here that the stake weighs heavy for Bangladesh.
* Govt considering introduction of mandatory insurance for RMG workers:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said that the government is actively considering introduction of mandatory insurance system for garment workers.
She said this when the deputy director general for field operations and partnerships of the International Labor Organisation (ILO), Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, raised the issue during a call on with the Prime Minister at her official residence Ganobhaban here this evening.
PM’s special assistant Mahbubul Hoque Shakil briefed reporters after the meeting.
He said that the Prime Minister also sought cooperation of the ILO and other development partners to create a skilled workforce in the country.
Listing various steps of her government to ensure welfare of the garment workers, the Prime Minister said that her government has increased the minimum wages of the garment workers from Tk 1600 to Tk 5300 in the last five years.
Regarding the Rana Plaza building collapse, Sheikh Hasina mentioned that her government had conducted rescue operation for long 21 days after the tragic incident which was unprecedented.
“As the head of the government, I performed my duty during the Rana Plaza accident from the place of responsibility,” she said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Tofail urges RMG buyers to raise prices for workers’ benefit:
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed urged the Bangladesh garment buyers Wednesday to increase their prices for the betterment of the workers and owners.
The minister made the appeal while a Canadian business delegation wanted to know whether Bangladesh has anything to say to its garments buyers.
The commerce minister disclosed this to newsmen emerging from a meeting with the Canadian business delegation at his office.
“We have increased salaries of RMG workers by 227 per cent during the last five years. But the buyers did not increase the prices of our products,” the minister told the delegation.
Mr Tofail Ahmed also requested the buyers to increase prices of RMG products and continue the support being provided by them to the manufactures to strengthen good relation between the factory owners and the workers.
” We have decided to form the Alternative Dispute Resolution Council to solve the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector’s problems which is now at the final stage. The Council will be formed within next two weeks. The stakeholders will be included in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Council,” the minister added.
* Buyers urged to up RMG prices:
Bangladesh requested international brands and buyers to increase the rate of readymade garment (RMG) items, with a view to helping the local apparel manufacturers to upgrade their units as per with international standard.
“The buyers didn’t increase prices of RMG items, although the RMG factory owners raised the salaries of garment workers by 227 per cent,” said Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed while talking to the press after a meeting with a Canadian delegation at his secretariat office on Tuesday.
“It is essential to increase the prices of RMG items to facilitate the garment worker’s rights as well as improvement of the workplace environment,” said Tofail.
The minister hoped that a committee on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) comprising the garment owners, workers and government representative will be formed soon to resolve problems between workers and the garment owners.
* Tofail seeks envoys’ support for Rana Plaza compensation:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has sought support of foreign envoys to realise compensation from major global retailers for to the victims of Rana Plaza collapse.
“After the tragic incident, many retailers committed to provide assistance to the victims and the distressed families. But none, except three or four, fulfilled their commitment,” he said.
So the envoys, especially those from North America and Europe, should come forward to help these people, the minister said.
He spoke at a photo exhibition at the residence of Canadian High Commissioner Heather Cruden in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The Canadian high commission arranged the exhibition on the life and struggle of garment workers in Bangladesh on the eve of the first anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse, in association with the British high commission and the Netherlands embassy in Dhaka.
* Canada, UK, Netherlands reaffirm support in improving BD RMG working condition:
High Commissioners of Canada and the United Kingdom and Ambassador of the Netherlands have reaffirmed to continue support of their respective countries in the improvement of working condition of the readymade garment (RMG) units in Bangladesh for contribution to poverty reduction and employment creation for women.
They said this Tuesday on the eve of a photo exhibition on ‘Life and struggle of garment workers in Bangladesh’ organised by the high commissions of Canada and the UK and embassy of the Netherlands on the occasion of one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse.
* Garment hub at Gazaria:
A garment hub will be set up on more than 500 acres of land at Gazaria upazila of Munshiganj district.
A committee headed-by a director-general of Prime Minister’s Office has already started working to implement the plan.
Prime Minister’s Special Assistant (media) Mahbubul Alam Shakil in a press conference disclosed the matter at Gonobhaban in city on Wednesday noon.
* RMG export tax cut to 0.30%:
The National Board of Revenue on Wednesday lowered tax at source on export of all items for the next 14 months.
The revenue board issued a statutory regulatory order reducing the tax at source on export of readymade garment items to 0.30 per cent from 0.80 per cent and that on export of non-apparel items to 0.60 per cent from 0.80 per cent.
The waiver will remain effective up to June, 2015, the SRO signed by NBR member Syed Aminul Karim said.
According to the SRO, exporters of knitwear and woven garments, terry towel, carton and accessories of garments under the article 53BB of the Income Tax Ordinance-1984 will pay 0.30 per cent tax on export value of products while other exporters under 53BBBB will pay 0.60 per cent tax for the period.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Division among EU, US retailers detracts garment unit safety drive:
After the Spectrum sweater factory collapsed in 2005, killing 64 workers, hardly anything changed to improve factory safety in Bangladesh.
Then the Rana Plaza factory near Dhaka collapsed on April 24 last year, killing more than 1,100 people, mostly garment 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 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.
* Towards a safer garment industry in Bangladesh:
On 24 April 2013, the garment factory building “Rana Plaza” collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring 2,500.
One year after the global garment industry’s worst-ever industrial accident, the ILO together with the government of Bangladesh, employers, trade unions and the international community are working together to make sure it never happens again.
Rana Plaza: Never again
It was a wake up call heard around the world, and significant steps are being taken to address the root causes of the Rana Plaza disaster to ensure Bangladesh’s garment industry can provide jobs in a safe working environment for its employees.
read & see more.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Report against Sohel Rana soon:
The Anti-Corruption Commission and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will submit a joint report soon on the crimes and corruption of Sohel Rana, owner of collapsed Rana Plaza.
ACC secretary M Foyjur Rahman Chowdhury made the remark in a press briefing at ACC in the capital.
Foyjur Rahman said, “The investigations of ACC and CID are at the final stage and it will be submitted jointly to avoid repetition of any crimes and corruption.”
Besides, the government has already confiscated all immovable assets of Sohel Rana as per a High Court directive.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more.
* 1st anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy tomorrow (=today):
Tomorrow (April 24) is the first anniversary of the catastrophic Rana Plaza building collapse, the worst ever tragedy in the 34- year history of the country’s multi-billion dollar Readymade Garment (RMG) industry.
On that day in 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-storey commercial building with several garment factories in it, collapsed, killing 1,135 people and maiming numerous others, mostly garment workers.
After the incident, stakeholders, the government, buyers and other stakeholders came forward with necessary all out supports in aid of the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.
Garment makers were in intense pressure from the European and American buyers while the US suspended the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits for Bangladesh citing violation of workers rights.
A number of trade union organizations including Industrial Bangladesh Council (IBC) and Sammilito Garment Sramik Federation played active role in realizing compensation from the responsible garment makers for the family members of the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.
Likewise, global trade union bodies such as IndustriALL, a global union federation, UNI, a global trade union and Clean Clothes Campaign, a leading rights network for the garment sector, gave ultimatum to 29 brands which sourced from factories housed at Rana Plaza, asking to pay for the trust fund before April 24, 2014.
* One year on, brands still failing Rana Plaza survivors and victims’ families: UK activists join a global day of action for justice:
24 April, 2014: Labour rights campaigners will be marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster with a memorial action to demand justice for Bangladeshi garment workers affected by the collapse of the eight story building, which killed over 1138 workers.
Activists from Labour Behind the Label, War on Want, the TUC and Made in Europe are planning to form a human chain along Oxford Street to remember those killed while making clothes for the UK high street.
They will be joined by Amin Haque, the general secretary of the National Garment Workers Federation, one of the Bangladesh unions leading the call for compensation.
The groups are demanding that all those brands buying from Rana Plaza immediately pay into a Fund set up by the ILO to provide compensation to those injured in the collapse and the families of those killed.
They are also demanding that all brands, including GAP and Asda, sign up to the Bangladesh Accord, an agreement launched last May which aims to prevent future tragedies.
* One year on. The story of April 24th 2013:
One year on from the Rana Plaza factory disaster, UNI Global Union’s Ben Vanpeperstraete, speaks about the Bangladesh Accord and the challenges ahead.
* Q&A with Jyrki Raina on the Rana Plaza Anniversary:
Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, has this message on the anniversary of the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building complex in Bangladesh.
The industrial homicide on 24 April 2013 took the lives of at least 1,138 people and injured 2000 more.
* Art exhibition on Rana Plaza tragedy in city:
A photo and art exhibition will be held in the city on Thursday marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza Tragedy and creating public awareness about urban disasters.
The photo and art exhibition on Rana Plaza and Urban Disaster will be inaugurated at 4.30 pm at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, followed by a video show titled, ‘Rana Plaza Tragedy: Are we ready to face the next big calamity’.
Oxfam, a world-wide development agency, will arrange various programmes, including the exhibition, on this occasion.
An open-for-all theatre, ‘Swapnapothik’, featuring Rana Plaza will also be staged by Aranyak, the leading theatre group in Bangladesh, which will be preceded by a Candlelight Vigil at the same venue in remembrance of the victims.
* Rana Plaza – one year on:
April 24th 2013 saw the collapse of Rana Plaza, a badly made and overcrowded building near Dhaka that housed five garment factories.
The catastrophe killed 1,135 workers and injured more than 2,500. One year after the deadliest disaster of its kind, we visit some of the victims and their families.
see photo report.
* 3,000 victim families of Rana Plaza tragedy to get ILO assistance:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has started distributing financial assistance to the families of the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse.
“With two persons yesterday, the ILO started distribution of money…a total of 3,000 family members of the victims of Rana Plaza tragedy will get the financial support,” M Atiqul Islam, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told BSS today.
* A year of Rana Plaza tragedy wide gap persists between commitments and delivery: CPD:
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think-tank has urged the authorities to fulfill their commitments to help the victims of Rana Plaza tragedy and their families.
The call came at a keynote paper presented at a seminar to mark the first anniversary of the worst industrial disaster of the modern world that killed 1,134 garment workers and left many injured and jobless.
Based on a study the paper was presented by CPD additional research director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem.
It said both the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have fallen behind in meeting their pledges.
It said the government should fulfill its pledges regarding financial support, treatment facilities and legal measures, while the BGMEA should provide salaries and dues of missing workers, compensation for the victims and their families, reemployment of the survivors.
A long-term programme focusing on sustainable livelihood needs to be formulated for the victims and their families and thereby undertake appropriate support measures, the CPD study suggested.
read more. & read more.
* Affected workers light candles at Rana Plaza site:
Affected workers and their family members observed the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy by lighting candles in front of the site of building collapse here this evening.
A number of non-government organizations organized the programme at 7:01 pm along with one thousand members of the affected families.
Local MP Dr. Enamur Rahman, JSD leader Shirin Aktar and leaders of other organizations started the programme by lighting candles.
Foreign nationals also lighted candles along with affected workers and members of their families, who broke into tears during the programme.
* In Memoriam:
One year on, the most important abiding truth that remains about the Rana Plaza disaster is that 1,136 workers lost their lives.
The issues of accountability and compensation and whether the tragedy could provide a watershed moment for the industry cannot and should not obscure the simple human fact that Rana Plaza took 1,136 lives from us: sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives.
Whatever happens in the future, these men and women — many of them no more than boys or girls – are gone forever and nothing can bring them back to their families.
Let us never forget the human element that lies at the heart of this tragedy, and it is to this end that the Dhaka Tribune has chosen to commemorate the dead by taking a full page to print their names to give our readers some sense of the scale and enormity of this catastrophe.
Note: The list presented here contains 1,019 names out of the number of 1,136 dead provided by the DC office.
The discrepancy arises due to the fact that not all bodies were able to be definitively identified, and this is the fullest list of names that we could compile from the information provided by the DC office and the National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory.
We mean no disrespect to those whose names may have been left off the list and do not mean to diminish the loss suffered by their families. We honour the memory of all of the Rana Plaza dead and mourn their loss.
* A year of Rana Plaza disaster today:
The nation today observes a year of the Rana Plaza disaster in which the building housing five clothing factories collapsed on April 24, 2013, leaving at least 1,135 dead and about 2,000 wounded amid a call for the government to declare the day as ‘labour safety day.’
Political and labour rights groups also are demanding that the government should declare April 24 a holiday to commemorate the workers who died in the Rana Plaza collapse.
Various social-cultural groups and trade unions have planned daylong programme to mark the occasion while many local and international rights groups expressed their concern as survivors were still suffering because of injuries and were going without income.
All apparel factories will hoist black flags marking the day, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association said.
The Dhaka district administration and agencies concerned will place wreaths at the collapse site about 9:00am. Labour organisations will place wreaths at the monument erected in front of the collapse site.
The Savar upazila administration also planned a special prayer session at upazila jame masjid after the zuhr prayers while the BGMEA will hold a prayer session at its building at Karwan Bazar in the capital. The exporters’ association will also hold a discussion.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, a global federation of labour unions, will begin programmes at 10:30am as part of its month-long observance.
* Rana Plaza tragedy, a year on:
The collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar on April 24, 2013, which left more than 1,100 people dead and over 2,000 injured, is the worst man-made disaster that Bangladesh has seen thus far.
The tragedy took place exactly five months after a devastating fire at Tazreen Fashions Limited at Ashulia on November 24, 2012, in which more than 110 people were killed and many more injured.
Little wonder then that it sent huge shock waves across not only the country but also the world. Moreover, extensive international media coverage in particular of the disaster, promises to help, financially and otherwise, poured in from various quarters in the country and elsewhere in the world, especially the United States and the European Union — the two major destinations of Bangladesh’s apparel export.
Subsequently, under pressure from the US and the EU in particular, with the former suspending facilities under its generalised system of preferences for some Bangladeshi non-apparel products soon after the Rana Plaza collapse and the latter’s threat to follow suit unless there is a significant development in terms of workplace safety soon, a number of taskforces, formed involving national and international experts to, among others, identify the risky ones, became active without much delay.
As such, it was expected that while, unlike the previous occasions, at least the survivors and the relatives of the victims of the Rana Plaza would not be alone in their existential struggle, the sector would undergo a significant change regarding safety and protection of workers’ rights recognised by the International Labour Organisation.
Regrettably, however, the reality on the ground has thus belied such expectations.
First of all, many of the workers, who went missing after the disaster, are yet to be identified even though their relatives had reportedly given samples for DNA tests to this end on repeated occasions.
According to a study conducted by the non-government organisation ActionAid, over 2,222 men affected, including 1,436 survivors, by the collapse, 67.7 per cent have to struggle to make their ends meet, while near 74 per cent still look for jobs. Moreover, almost 24 per cent of them are yet to recover from trauma.
As for the promised compensation for the victims, many families still have to remain satisfied with the paltry amount given by the government for meeting immediate funeral expenses.
Many retailers like the US-based Wal-Mart still continue to drag their feet over disbursement of the promised amount to the proposed $40 million international fund for the victims casting uncertainty over the fund to take effect to the letter and in spirit.
* Light gone out of his life suddenly:
On the morning of April 24 last year, his father bought him some snacks and his mother gave him some money to buy his tiffin, before they said goodbye and went to work.
As fate would have it, it would be their final goodbye, but he did not know it then. Shuvo Islam Bijoy, seven, went to school a happy boy, hoping his parents would not be late to come home like they often were.
But they did not come home at all — both of them died in the Rana Plaza collapse that fateful day.
His parents, both workers at a garment factory in the building, are among the 1,135 people killed in the tragedy.
Co-workers brought the body of his mother, Selina Akter, two days later but the body of his father, Shahadat Hossain Selim, was never found.
Ironically, Bijoy had requested his mother not to go to work that day, as he had heard from his parents the previous evening that cracks had developed in the building.
“I asked her not to go, but she did not listen. She left for the factory after sending me to school,” said Bijoy.
Since the disaster, the boy has been living with his grandmother, Razia Begum. Bijoy and his grandmother, a widow, have to depend on one of Bijoy’s aunts.
Bijoy’s parents have never dreamt of the future he is entering into.
But he is just one of the 837 children whose future has become uncertain following the deadliest industrial disaster in the country last year.
* Understanding the pain of the victims:
With a death toll of 1,135 and more than 2,500 left injured, the Rana Plaza collapse is the worst industrial accident in the world’s history.
In the wake of the tragedy, the bereaved families and survivors, some of them disabled permanently, face destitution and further anguish over fears of a future in poverty. One year after the collapse, how are some of the most affected doing?
During the months of March and April 2014, a multidisciplinary research team from Brac conducted a study to find out the present conditions of the survivors who received rehabilitation assistance from Brac.
With 26 survivors taking part, the study shed light on their arduous recovery process and the tragedy’s continuing impact even after one year.
For the study, data was collected on the socioeconomic status of the survivors, their physical and mental condition, demographic information, assistance received from other sources, the treatments they sought in the last one year and their future goals and aspirations.
The survivors faced continued vulnerabilities in their lives in spite of the assistance due to poverty, disempowerment, trauma and disability.
They perceive themselves as burdens to their families and society.
During the interviews, some of the survivors spoke in similar tones of distress: “What will I do with this life now? It would have been better if I just died that day”.
Hundreds more received psychosocial counselling and medical check-ups. Already 350 survivors and relatives of the victims have been identified for seed capital and are going through skills development training and apprenticeships.
This is so they can look towards a future of self-dependency and it is the organisation’s intention to extend this support to more.
* One year of Rana Plaza tragedy:
After Savar, the ability to manage a post-disaster situation has raised serious concerns
On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-storied commercial building, collapsed in Savar.
On May 13, after 21 days of the incident, the search for the dead ended with the death toll of 1,136.
Approximately 2,515 injured people were rescued from the building alive.
It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.
According to BGMEA source, at the time of the collapse, five garment factories were in operation in the Rana Plaza building, total 2,760 workers were deployed in five factories of the building while the numbers are 3,900 as per reports by other sources.
The newspaper report said warnings to avoid using the building after cracks appeared the day before had been ignored. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
Why the building collapsed?
According to an assessment report of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC, 2013), the column sizes of Rana Plaza were comparatively small, compared to a standard 8-9 storied industrial building, which might have facilitated the sudden collapse. Storage of heavy equipment in the upper floors, poor workmanship and use of low-strength materials all contributed to the collapse.
Search and rescue operations, vulnerability of Dhaka and our capacity
Rana Plaza collapse foretastes the preparedness of government and other relevant service providing agencies including factory owners for a tremor. A single building collapse killed 1,136 people and wounded more than 2,000 workers while government’s “all out action” took around 21 days for completing the search and rescue operation.
* The day back with haunting memories:
The tragic Rana Plaza day is back today with some core issues relating to the payment of rightful and long-term compensation to families of the victims of the worst industrial disaster in ready-made garment (RMG) sector still unresolved.
Over 100 of the victims, who died under the Rana Plaza rubble could not yet be identified to the concerns and frustration of their family members and relatives.
According to study reports and labour rights groups, families of most of survivors and their families have been facing untold sufferings due to non-payment of their rightful compensation.
A recent study of the ActionAid Bangladesh revealed that majority of the Rana Plaza survivors had been facing immense financial hardship as 73.7% of them were yet to rejoin work due to physical ailment and psychological trauma.
* Survivors struggle a year after factory collapse:
A year ago, Akhter Lucky, 25, was a Bangladeshi stay-at-home mother while her husband, Ashraful Islam, 30, earned about $58 a month as a line manager in a garment factory.
That ended on April 24, when Rana Plaza — the multi-storey building housing Islam’s factory — collapsed, with about 3,600 garment workers making clothes for western brands inside.
Today, Lucky herself goes out to work, earning $77 a month making clothes for brands like Gap, Zara and Tommy Hilfiger, while neighbours care for her four-year-old son. Islam — who was dragged from the Rana Plaza wreckage, but has no memory of the disaster or days that followed — stays at home, wrestling with migraines and nausea.
“It’s difficult to support us all as I also have to cook and look after my son,” Lucky says. Conditions at her new workplace owned by the Standard Group, one of Bangladesh’s largest manufacturers — whose buyers support new western initiatives to improve factory safety, are better than at Rana Plaza, but, she says: “I am constantly afraid.”
* A time to heal:
We must all ensure that those who lost so much have the support to continue with their lives
A year ago today, we, along with millions of others, watched with horror the scenes of devastation from Savar, as the Rana Plaza building collapsed trapping and killing thousands of garment workers.
The distressing images of so many young women and men who lost their lives or were trapped in the building have stayed with us all, and today we will continue to remember all those who lost their lives, a loved one, or have been left with life-changing injuries.
The collapse of Rana Plaza placed the garment industry, which provides work and support for so many in Bangladesh, in the spotlight like never before. For the manufacturers, international brands, trade unions, NGOs, and the government of Bangladesh, it was not an option to stand by and do nothing.
For the 1,138 families who lost loved ones and the more than 2,000 workers who suffered injuries, it was clear that support would be needed to ensure they did not have to endure ill-health and financial hardship in addition to the trauma of the terrible events of April 24, 2013.
In the last year, we have all worked together to develop a groundbreaking approach to address the needs of all survivors and the families of the victims – the Rana Plaza Arrangement.
The Arrangement is of major significance as it is the only coordinated and systematic approach to ensure all the victims, their families, and dependents will receive entitlements to cover their losses. For the first time, such a process brings together all the key parties involved in a Coordination Committee that governs the Arrangement.
This is the first time a mechanism to deal with financial support of victims of such a tragedy has been drawn up that the whole industry can support.
The Coordination Committee is comprised of: The government – the Ministry of Labour and Employment; the employers – the BGMEA, and the Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF); global and local trade unions – IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), National Coordination Committee for Workers’ Education (NCCWE), and IndustriALL Global Union; non-governmental organisations –BILS and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC); and the global brands that source from Bangladesh, represented by El Corte Ingles, Loblaw, and Primark.
The Coordination Committee, with the UN agency, the ILO, acting as a neutral chair, has developed a comprehensive and independent process that will deliver support to the victims, their families, and dependants in a predictable manner consistent with international labour standards.
* Much left to do:
The majority of the victims have not received much compensation, and are suffering
Twenty-fourth April, 2013 was perhaps the saddest day in the history of modern Bangladesh.
On that fateful day, people in Bangladesh woke up to hear that in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, a building which housed five readymade garment factories, had caved in, with thousands of people, mostly workers, stuck inside.
The next few days saw complete mayhem, with corpses being found from under the rubble, injured people being rescued, and it seemed the country was not well equipped for such massive rescue operation. Soon the authorities took over rescue operations. In the end, the official death toll was 1,134, with 2,515 injured being rescued alive. Many were not found at all.
The incident shook not only Bangladesh, but the whole world, given the fact that the RMG factories in Bangladesh supplied clothes to many of the world’s top brands based in North America, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
The million dollar question was: Who was to blame for the ill fate of the poor workers? Was it the corrupt government officials, the inspectors who allowed such a building, with violations of almost all building codes, to exist?
Many organisations in Bangladesh, both in large and small scales, are working towards rehabilitation of the victims – some providing medicare, some providing jobs, and some providing entrepreneurship opportunities.
But so far, the effort has been anything but sufficient.
Much more needs to be done, since the majority of the victims have not received much compensation, and are suffering.
We, as Bangladeshis have a part to play in helping the people who play a major role in our foreign currency earnings.
For those of us who can, we should come forward to help them in any way that we can.
* Wounds of Rana Plaza collapse fester on:
The collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 people and injured more than 2,000, mostly workers of five apparel factories housed in the eight-storey building, constructed with substandard materials and in deviation from the approved design, is likely to forever remain a symbol of murderous human greed.
The reported insistence on the resumption of production and pressure on the workers to report for work, by the owners of Rana Plaza and the apparel factories therein on the false assurance that it was safe to go in and work, a day after cracks had developed in some pillars of the building prompting the local administration to advise its temporary closure and the branch of a private bank and some shops to relocate, essentially made it a mass murder, and not just an industrial disaster.
Yet, one year on, little progress has been made to have the owner of Rana Plaza and owners of the five apparel factories probed, prosecuted and punished on the charge of culpable homicide.
Regrettably still, the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse, many of them disabled for life, and relatives of those killed in the disaster, have not been comprehensively compensated as yet.
What’s worse, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, an umbrella organisation for owners of apparel factories, pretends to have met its end of the bargain by contributing Tk 2 crore to the prime minister’s relief and welfare fund.
The Prime Minister’s Office has distributed some Tk 22 crore in what the rights groups rightly say emergency relief, the families of the deceased and injured workers do not know even if and when they will get long-term compensation.
Also typically, the international buyers of Bangladeshi apparel products have talked tall but delivered little in terms of funding for compensation and rehabilitation of the victims and their dependents.
* Rana Plaza survivors still getting free treatment from CRP:
The Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) has been providing treatment to the critically injured survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse.
“We have so far received some 502 seriously injured victims, and around 50 per cent of them are still getting our services, especially physiotherapy from our centre” said an official at the CRP centre.
The CRP has been supporting the injured victims since the accident providing them costly medical treatments, mostly funded by local and international donors worth almost Tk 32.5 million.
Many victims getting treatment at CRP have lost their limbs.
read more. & see video interview.
* Can we evolve? :
The most encouraging outcome of this tragedy has been the national outpouring of support
A year on since the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history, the deadliest garments accident in history, and the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern times; the only questions that really need asking are, what have we learnt, and what are we doing about it?
The hyperbolic, and patently exaggerated fears of imminent ruin by garment-owners, their threats about the collapse of the national economy, and their insistence that they are “commercially important people” and therefore above reproach have been heard.
The violent demonstrations for better wages and conditions by workers and their support networks, the allegation of sabotage, and the police action against them have been seen.
The Sohel Ranas and the Murad Jungs, the government’s impotence against them and its inability to reel in unethical operators in the industry as well as their own ranks have been exposed. After it’s all been taken into account we are left with a few simple yet inevitable conclusions.
Our economy is in desperate need of diversification. It can no longer be reliant on a competitive advantage that is based on a race to the bottom for cheaper labour.
|This has proven to put lives at risk, and will be untenable in the future as the cost of living drives up wages.
It is not only unethical, but makes bad business sense and will leave Bangladesh hostage to an exploitative economic order that belongs in the Middle Ages. We need industries that produce goods that are higher up the value chain and workers that have the skills to produce them.
The government must be able to regulate the sector, and all sectors much better. While small government may be better for business, no government is surely catastrophic.
Not enforcing building codes, safety standards, and fairness for workers will eventually lead to a “disabled” environment that will drive away investors.
This is a concrete social obligation that is non-negotiable.
The industry must weed out rogue traders and insist on better standards from their members. Compliant factories and businessmen should no longer have to bear the brunt for the negligence of their non-compliant co-industrialists.
There must be measures within the industry and in the BGMEA to make sure they are not all painted with the same brush. This is their own responsibility and it will not do to cry foul when they are lumped together, unless they do anything to stand apart themselves.
* Tragedy, forever:
It will remain with us for ages to come and fester like some mysterious disease to remind us of our shameful lust, greed, nonchalance and brutality with which we treated our key export earners.
Those of us who covered the tragedy of Rana Plaza a year ago will never forget the screams of the workers stuck inside that hunk of a collapsed building.
The images are so raw and vivid — the concrete slabs impaling the heart of the nation; the crumpled bodies hanging high on the ground and being ignored by the helpless rescuers who cannot reach there; the corpses piling on the ground — one particular corpse looking grotesquely bloated because it has simply been squashed into a two-feet chunk of meat; the helplessness of the fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers all running towards the collapsed building with pictures of their loved ones in hand; the long nights filled with terrible cries for help coming from the bottom of a hell. It was a terrible syncopation of death and disaster.
But Rana Plaza will remain with us for many other reasons too. It will remind us of how a nation came together at a crucial time to help humanity.
There are snapshots that will keep on making us proud – the hospitals, Enam Hospital in particular, and the doctors scrambling to save every broken soul carted in, the thousands of volunteers – simple students, workers, rickshawpullers — who actually defied death to reach every nook and corner of the concrete jungle even before the trained rescuers could go in and drag out the trapped ones; the pharmaceutical companies rushing medicines to the hospitals free of cost; the big infrastructure companies mobilizing their cranes and equipment which otherwise were not available with the fire department to pull apart the slabs; the army officers and jawans working night and day with their equipment.
The scenes are so many and one cannot chart them all in a single write-up.
* SKOP wants punishment for Rana Plaza owner:
Leaders of Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a combine of 13 labour rights bodies, on Wednesday at a rally in the capital demanded exemplary punishment for the owner of Rana Plaza and owners of the garment factories housed in the building.
SKOP organised the protests in front of the National Press Club, to commemorate the deaths of more than 1,100 workers killed in Rana Plaza collapse at Savar Bus on April 24, 2013.
Labour leader Delwar Hossain in the programme demanded increased compensation for the affected workers and called on the government to ensure safety of workers at workplaces.
SKOP called on the government to take steps to implement trade unionism in the garment and other factories.
* Rana Plaza, One Year on: Brands still Failing Survivors & Victim’s Families:
As events take place around the world to remember those who died and were injured, campaigners demand brands PAY UP
A year to the day after the collapse of Rana Plaza brands who were sourcing from factories in the building have failed to provide the adequate funding to ensure all the survivors and the families of the 1,138 who were killed are able to receive payments to cover loss of income and medical expenses.
Despite a groundbreaking agreement between brands, the government of Bangladesh, employers, international and national unions and NGOs to develop an inclusive, transparent and ILO-recognised compensation programme for Rana Plaza victims, known as the_ Arrangement, the voluntary Donor Trust Fund set up to take the donations remains woefully underfunded.
A year after the collapse brands and retailers have contributed or committed just US$ 15 million to the Trust Fund, just one third of the US$40million needed.
“Brands are failing workers a second time,” says Ineke Zeldenrust from Clean Clothes Campaign, “first they failed to ensure the factories they bought from were safe, and now they are failing the survivors and the families of those who lost loved ones, by not contributing significantly to the Donor Trust Fund.
Agreement on the total amount needed to provide compensation according to ILO standards was reached between all the parties involved in the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, including the brands. But now, failing to adequately contribute, brands are making the workers suffer again.”
Marking the first anniversary of the collapse, organisations including the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, International Labor Rights Forum, Maquila Solidarity Network, and UNI Global Union will be holding vigils, rallies and events in over 20 cities worldwide; including demonstrations in front of stores in Toronto, New York, Antwerp and Istanbul, debates on the impact of the disaster on the fashion industry in Melbourne and The Hague; and in Bangladesh workers and union members will be holding memorial events and protests including a human chain at the site of the collapsed building in
“In order to ensure the full US$40 million is reached, we also call upon the Bangladesh government and employers to increase their donations, and the European and US governments and the EU to take immediate measures to ensure brands from their countries pay what is necessary into the fund.”
says Ms. Zeldenrust.
The Donor Trust Fund is open for voluntary donations, and is being overseen by the International Labour Organisation as an independent chair.
|The claims process began in Bangladesh on March 24th, and work is ongoing to
ensure all those who lost a loved one or were themselves trapped in the collapsed building receive adequate compensation.
However as Dr. Mojtaba Kazazi, the Executive Commissioner of the Arrangement explains “If funds [are] not available then…we haven’t made a service to these people … it will not be a good situation.”
Clean Clothes Campaign and our partners call on all those involved in the garment industry in Bangladesh to pay up and show, on the first year anniversary of the worst industrial disaster to hit the garment industry, that they will not let the survivors and victims families suffer further.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Factory owners urged to compensate victims:
Several hundred people including victim families, injured workers of Rana Plaza collapse remembered their dear ones by lighting candle at Savar Rana Plaza site yesterday evening. Labour rights organisations arranged the programme. A year ago on April, 24 over 1,136 people died in the incident of Rana Plaza collapse. Photo: Star
Garment factory owners and their associations were urged to come forward to compensate the victims of Rana Plaza collapse at a human chain yesterday.
IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), the local chapter of the IndustriALL Global Union that represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, organised the programme at the site of the collapse in Savar on the outskirts of the capital.
The organisation’s Secretary General Roy Ramesh Chandra said the victims and their families were yet to get any compensation though one year had been elapsed.
He said the families had been undergoing a tough time since the collapse.
The garment factories housed at Rana Plaza used to prepare clothes for more than 29 brands, but only 15 buyers have agreed to compensate, he said.
Several hundred victims and their relatives took part in the programme.
Labour leaders Abu Taher, Nurunnahar, Nurul Islam, among others, spoke.
Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013, leaving more than 1,100 dead and many hundreds with devastating injuries.
* Retailers shy away from compensation:
All but one of the 29 international retailers that sourced from factories housed at Rana Plaza are yet to donate any money to the trust fund for victims of the building collapse.
So far, only $15 million has been collected in the trust fund managed by the International Labour Organisation against the required amount of $40 million. Of the 29 retailers, only British retailer Primark has put in $10 million.
Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of the local arm of IndustriALL, a global union federation, which initiated the trust fund to compensate the victims according to ILO Convention 121, said another 14 retailers have agreed to contribute to the trust fund but have not yet.
As per ILO Convention 121, a dead worker’s family is due to receive nearly Tk 29 lakh and each of the permanently disabled and injured workers Tk 42 lakh and Tk 14 lakh respectively.
He said the ILO started giving out compensations from the trust fund yesterday; Tk 50,000 for each of the victims was dispatched in the first phase.
In addition to the 29 retailers, IndustriALL also wrote to the 150 signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh for their benevolent contribution to the fund.
“We will continue our campaign on both the domestic and international front until all retailers contribute to the fund.”
*The aftermath of disaster:
Some constructive steps were taken in the last one year, but compensation still remains elusive
No event in recent memory has drawn so much attention to Bangladesh from all corners of the world as did the collapse of the Rana Plaza building — the worst disaster in the garment industry history — on this day last year.
The haunting images of the despondent rubble of the unauthorised eight-storey building brought out a public outrage against the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label, not seen before in the Western world.
The indignation though switched the government, garment factory owners and international retailers in to a pause for thought.
Now, everyone is convinced that business cannot go on as before and the poor workers cannot continue to jeopardise their lives and wellbeing any longer — for the sake of lining the pockets of factory owners and retailers.
Indeed, they have taken some constructive steps, all with the eye to ensuring that another catastrophic collapse or fire never takes place again.
First off was the inspection drive undertaken by the government and Western retailers to check the plants for structural and fire safety.
The exercise started in November last year, and so far 900 factories have been examined.
ONE YEAR AFTER RANA PLAZA TRAGEDY: Wide gap between commitments and delivery persists: CPD:
Centre for Policy Dialogue, a civil society think-tank has urged the authorities to fulfil their commitments to help the victims of Rana Plaza tragedy and their families.
The call came at a keynote paper presented at a seminar to mark the first anniversary of the worst industrial disaster of the modern world that killed 1,134 garment workers and left many injured and jobless.
Based on a study the paper was presented by CPD additional research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem.
It said both the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association have fallen behind in meeting their pledges.
It said the government should fulfil its pledges regarding financial support, treatment facilities and legal measures, while the BGMEA should provide salaries and dues of missing workers, compensation for the victims and their families, reemployment of the survivors.
* Promises not kept, mostly:
States third monitoring report of CPD; tragedy-struck families live on in uncertainty
Families of the injured and dead in the Rana Plaza building collapse are leading a life of uncertainty as the government, garment factory owners and international brands have failed to honour their commitments.
A wide gap exists between the commitments made when the building caved in Savar and the delivery of those promises even today, when the country and many international organisations observe the tragedy’s first anniversary.
“Despite various initiatives at national and international levels, the victims and their families are still in a vulnerable state,” said the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in its third monitoring report since the disaster took.
“With passing of the first year, the need to fulfil those commitments has become urgent,” said KG Moazzem, additional research director of CPD.
The disclosures came at a dialogue, ‘One Year after the Rana Plaza Tragedy: Where Do We Stand? the Victims, the Sector and the Value Chain’, at Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka yesterday.
CPD, in association with 14 civil society think-tanks, rights groups and newspapers, has been tracking progress on various initiatives related to the collapse of Rana Plaza that housed five garment factories.
* Over Tk 23cr spent so far- Donation Tk 127cr:
The government has so far spent Tk 23.55 crore for the victims of Rana Plaza collapse from the prime minister’s relief fund since the worst-ever industrial tragedy of the country occurred exactly a year ago.
Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar revealed this at an event in the capital yesterday, adding that each of the families of 962 workers, who died in the tragedy, received financial assistance ranging between Tk 1 lakh and Tk 5 lakh from the fund.
“We admit that this compensation is far less than they require,” he said while speaking at the event organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) to publish a report titled “One Year after the Rana Plaza Tragedy: Where Do We Stand? the Victims, the Sector and the Value Chain” at Brac Centre Inn.
In the programme, Shipar raised the death toll from the tragedy to 1,135 as a skull had recently been found at the collapse site.
Different organisations and companies from home and abroad have donated Tk 127 crore to the fund for the restitution of the victims.
Shipar said 36 critically injured workers have been given Tk 10 lakh to Tk 15 lakh each from the fund.
However, the figure does not match with that provided by the CPD study.
* CPD recommends commission for Rana Plaza victims:
The Centre for Policy Dialogue yesterday suggested the government establish a national commission with strong executive authority to solve the problems affecting the Rana Plaza victims and the garment sector as a whole.
Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the local think-tank, said the commission would be headed by a high-powered person with other responsible people from within and outside the government, particularly from the civil society.
“The commission will have full executive authority and not just oversight responsibility. It will discharge duties on a full-time basis,” he said during a dialogue on the Rana Plaza tragedy, at the Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka.
Sobhan said the victims would be able to contact the commission to inform about their problems. “The commission will immediately act to solve the problem.”
The noted economist also said the commission would take steps for the better of the entire garment industry.
Sobhan also said there should be full transparency and accountability about the funds being mobilised in the name of Rana Plaza victims from both domestic and international sources.
He urged the civil society to ensure that the voices of workers are heard if the government fails to deliver on its responsibilities.
* BB working to create jobs for Rana Plaza volunteers:
The central bank has taken an initiative to provide Rana Plaza volunteers with jobs at various banks and financial institutions.
A database of the volunteers along with their curriculum vitae is being prepared and will be shared with different banks and financial institutions, Bangladesh Bank said in a statement yesterday.
The BB will then take measures to provide jobs to the volunteers, it said.
The central bank has already provided honourary certificates and cash Tk 5,000 to each of the 135 volunteers selected from a list prepared by the armed forces, it said.
* Rana Plaza collapse survivors at risk of destitution: HRW:
Non-payment of compensation by brands
Survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse are at serious risk of destitution after one year of the tragedy mainly due to non-payment of the compensation by the brands, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday.
“One year after Rana Plaza collapse, far too many victims and their families are at serious risk of destitution,” the HRW said in a statement, quoting its deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.
International garment brands should be helping the injured and the dependents of dead workers who manufactured their clothes,” he added.
Taking this into consideration, the HRW also called upon the international garment brands to speed up their support to make these victims’ fund work to help thousands of people affected by this disaster.
“Companies should recognise this fund is the most appropriate mechanism for ensuring that the right help goes to the right people, since it has been set up by all the relevant stakeholders: the Bangladesh government, industry bodies, the ILO, trade unions, NGOs and some of the brands themselves,” Robertson was quoted as saying.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* The Sad First Anniversary of Rana Plaza:
Exactly one year ago, we received a call from one of our friends in Savar that a building is collapsing with a very loud noise. We were surprised, “what building is it?” we asked, and she replied “its some Rana Plaza, and it had several garment factories in it, I think there will be casualties.”
We rushed to the site, and hours later we found ourselves digging into the rubble with unknown faces from nearby crowed to other garment workers.
We could hear screams coming from within the rubble, and screams coming from the crowed.
All we could see was stares of overwhelming shock, despair in the faces of the family members of the victims trapped inside who had been rushing in to the spot, law enforcers and army personnel filling the place and pushing everyone away.
That day was a catastrophe, and it is now behind us. We pray and hope that such a terrorizing experience never occurs again in any country of the world.
The stench of rotting human corpses linger on to this place just like the haunting memories which doesn’t seem to heal.
Thousands died and Thousands wounded – Rana Plaza was truly the biggest industrial disaster in modern history.
Today, when these victims need the brands to be beside them, the brands have done too little and they are too late.
A year is a long time for a poor life clinging on to hope after rising through something like Rana Plaza; the hope centered around compassion from those who has never been directly held responsible for their actions abroad by their governments.
In unison with millions of garment workers, and with the victims themselves, we echo the demand of a proper compensation for Rana Plaza Victims by the brands who have not yet accumulated a small amount from their immense profits for these workers. We respect Primark for its leadership in creating a good example, however we are yet to see others following that lead.
* 1st anniversary of Rana Plaza Tragedy:
323 families yet to receive remains of dead, ‘missing’ workers
One year has elapsed since the tragedy befell them, but at least 323 families are still in the dark whether they will get any remain of the unidentified and ‘missing’ bodies of their relatives.
And who cares for those who were severely injured in the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013.
They see dark all around as they are facing multifarious burdens of loss of income and lack of means for the treatment.
Today (Thursday) is the first anniversary of the worst-ever tragedy in the country’s multi-billion dollar ready-made garment (RMG) industry.
* When all hell broke loose:
The collapse that claimed more than 1,100 lives, is easily the deadliest ever industrial disaster in the history of human civilisation
Exactly a year ago on April 24, residents of Savar, a crowded industrial suburb 20km away from Dhaka, began their usual working day in the morning.
It was a little different from any other summer morning because of several thousand anxious readymade garment workers. That morning, they were hesitant about beginning their day’s work in the apparel factories housed in the Rana Plaza.
In just a year, tens of millions of people around the world got familiar with the name Rana Plaza because of its horrific collapse on April 24, 2013.
The collapse that claimed more than 1,100 lives, is easily the deadliest ever industrial disaster in the history of human civilisation. It pushed the 1911 New York factory fire that killed 146 workers, to the second place.
The day of the catastrophic collapse of Rana Plaza that housed five garment factories who made clothes for European and American consumers, thousands of workers were unwilling to get into the factory because they knew that a crack had developed in the building on the previous day.
The anxiety remained unnoticed by not only the thousands of other residents in the area, but also was completely ignored by the authorities of the building and the factories.
* Rana Plaza tragedy: Sad saga of maimed and missing:
One year has elapsed since the tragedy befell on them, but at least 323 families are still in the dark whether they will get any remain of the unidentified and ‘missing’ bodies of their relatives. And who cares of those severely injured in the Rana Plaza collapse!
They see dark all around as they are facing multifarious burdens of loss of income and lack of means for the treatment, let alone the standard compensation and rehabilitation.
Of the bodies recovered during the rescue operation at Rana Plaza, 105 still remained unidentified, but the number of families claiming the bodies by submitting DNA samples is almost three-time higher, according to the National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
The laboratory’s National Technical Advisor, Sharif Akhteruzzaman, on April 17 told UNB, that 540 families had submitted DNA samples against the 322 bodies which could not be identified during the rescue operation.
So far, the laboratory has been able to identify 206 bodies by cross-checking the DNA profiles of the bodies and the claimant families, he said, adding that there were 11 ‘duplicate matches’ of the DNA profiles of the claimant families.
The number of unidentified bodies now stands at 105 and the number of families still claiming the remains of their dear ones is 323.
* ‘Ideal procedure was not maintained in identifying Rana Plaza victims’:
More than 100 victims remain unidentified after a year
Faced with an industrial disaster of an unprecedented scale, it was not possible to follow the ideal procedure of using DNA tests to identify the Rana Plaza victims, the chief of the national DNA lab has told the Dhaka Tribune.
Although more than 100 victims remain unidentified after a year, the identifications could still be made if the government took initiative to collect DNA samples from relatives of all the victims, he added.
Professor Dr Sharif Akteruzzaman, head of the National DNA Profiling Laboratory at the Dhaka Medical College (DMC), said they had received 322 DNA samples from unidentified bodies as well as collecting 556 samples from families of the victims. So far, 206 of the bodies have been identified in three phases, he added.
* ‘Authorities responsible for Rana Plaza disaster’:
Authorities of Bangladesh are primarily responsible for the death of over a thousand workers in the Rana Plaza collapse, a federation of human rights organisations has said.
“The Bangladesh authorities failed in their obligation to protect workers,” International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH, said in its report marking the Rana Plaza disaster on Thursday.
The report slammed Rajdhani Unnayan Kotripokkho (Rajuk) for allowing the Rana Plaza structure “that defied safety codes and built and expanded without a permit.”
“But no action was taken by the Rajuk in this regard,” the report said.
* Life has not been the same for all:
Media spotlight helped Reshma to lead a comfortable life while many others who were traumatised by the deadly collapse, fully ignored and had to choose prostitution for a living
For Reshma, who survived a 17-day nightmare under the rubbles of Rana Plaza, media spotlight has fetched a comfortable life.
But badly ignored Sultana and Shanenur, who were equally traumatised by the deadly collapse, had to choose prostitution for a living.
The miracle girl’s near-impossible story of survival has put her under media spotlight and landed her quite a comfortable job at a five-star hotel in the capital.
But her fellow survivors came back to a different reality. They have not ended up quite as fortunate. Their agonies and stories still remain unheard.
The survivors did not get much financial help – from the government and other organisations. Yet, they cannot afford to be without work for long.
* Dead mates have not left miracle girl Reshma :
Reshma could not keep contact with her fellow unfortunate workers and their families who lost their near and dear ones due to her busy schedule in the new job in Dhaka
Reshma Aktar, the miracle girl, rescued from under the debris 17 days after the Rana Plaza collapse would not like to relive those terrible memories as it sends a chill of fear down her spine.
“Sometimes my dead colleagues walk down my memory lane. I have recurring nightmare of those days I spent in the pitch dark of the mangled and twisted wreckage of the caved-in building. Still I cannot switch off lights in my room at night.”
Reshma suddenly switched her focus to her new life, dreams and expectations over phone.
She urged the government to stand by the side of those ill-fated people and she herself wantsto do something for them but she does not know how to do that.
* No comprehensive list of Rana Plaza victims yet:
Still there is an utter confusion over the total number of missing workers
Even though one year has already elapsed, there is no fully comprehensive list of the Rana Plaza victims while many of them are awaiting compensation.
Still there is an utter confusion over the total number of missing workers, buried after identification, rescued and injured workers because of lack of a complete report by the government.
According to the Labour Ministry, 180 people were still unaccounted for. But the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) report said it was 88 while Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS) put the figure at 379 and Rana Plaza Coordination Cell at 146.
* Rana Plaza victims are still waiting for compensation:
Pakhi Begum, who worked as a sewing operator at Ether Tex, had lost her two legs in the worst factory disaster on April 24 last year
The family members of Rana Plaza victims especially those who lost their lives in the building collapse are still fighting for compensation from the government as well as the authorities concerned.
“It is better to die. How I can maintain my family with a scanty amount of money I have received from the government and buyers as compensation for the death of my only son,” said Md Akmal Gazi, father of Rabiul Islam who was killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse last year.
“Since my son had obtained bachelor’s degree, I hoped that he would take the helm of my family. Even though he did it, the building collapse had shattered my dream,” Akmal said in an emotion-choked voice.
20:51:27 local time INDIA
* Fresh debt recast may deprive textile units of benefits under upgradation scheme:
The Government’s textile debt recast plan continues to remain grounded, with many textile mills, garment and processing units fearing that their bank loans could turn into non- performing assets (NPAs).
A second restructuring, as has been envisaged, would only deprive the textile sector of the benefits under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme and increase their borrowing costs, according to analysts.
In a bid to address the slowdown in the textiles sector, the Government had proposed a debt restructuring package for the textiles industry in end 2012, amounting to ₹35,000 crore.
“The Plan allocation for the Ministry of Textiles under the Technology Upgradation Funds Scheme (TUFS) was revised from ₹8,000 crore to ₹15,404 crore in the 11th Five-Year Plan. The Government also enhanced the 11th Plan allocation of the Ministry from ₹14,000 crore to ₹19,000 crore to provide benefits to the textiles sector,” said an official from the Ministry.
* Monsanto focusing on cheaper technologies in India:
India, which now contributes barely 2% of Monsanto‘s global revenues of $14-15 billion, is being considered an important market.by the company.
The US-based seed agrinomics major, which had faced a storm over its genetically modified crops, like Bt cotton and Bt brinjal, is now focussing on non-controversial technologies like hybridisation in developing vegetables that have better productivity and shelf life.
But, the company is focussed on bringing in technologies that are cheaper to develop so that it can recover the cost of development as India remains a low volume and low cost market. Hence, the company sees if its worth it to bring in a certain technology. The cost of developing a new technology could range from $175 million to $250 million, the company said.
* Textile Association of India celebrates 75th anniversary:
It is established before 75 years on 09th April, 1939 and as on today the Association has more than 23000 strong memberships with 26 affiliated Chapters, spread throughout the length and breadth of the country.
20:21:27 local time PAKISTAN
* Move to drop five percent duty exemption on import of cotton yarn: Bilwani apprehends huge fall in value-added textile exports to EU:
Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) has warned the government of Economic Co-ordination Committee’s (ECC) move to drop five percent duty exemption on import of cotton yarn will cause a huge fall in value-added textile export under the GSP plus facility.
“The recent decision of the Cabinet’s ECC to withdraw 5 percent duty exemption on import of cotton yarn has sounded alarm bells,” opined the Forum’s Chairman Muhammad Jawed Bilwani.
He said the value-added textile sector continued to suffer huge financial losses since the rupee began appreciating against the dollar.
“Now it is strongly felt that the withdrawal of 5 percent duty exemption on import of cotton yarn will push the entire sector to undergo acute cotton yarn shortage,” he added.
He feared the shortage of cotton yarn is likely to spur its prices upward on the local market that will, ultimately, leave the entire value-added textile sector uncompetitive against international competitors.
“Several adverse factors like rising business cost, energy shortage, poor infrastructure, deteriorating law and order situation will have a negative impact on textile export to the EU under GSP Plus regime,” Bilwani said.
* Five days a week gas supply can save textile industry: APTMA:
A spokesman for APTMA has said that five days a week supply to the Punjab-based textile industry can save the mills from a disastrous situation ahead. According to him, the Punjab-based textile mills possess the capacity of generating 1200MW through Captive Power Plants to mitigate inter-provincial disparity on energy supplies.
He said the Punjab-based textile industry is consuming 84 percent electricity on the Pepco network at the rate of Rs 14.75 per unit as against other provinces where gas based power generation by captive power plants has halved the cost. This inter-provincial disparity worth Rs 80 billion per annum to the Punjab-based textile industry has caused irreparable loss since September 2013 when electricity tariff was increased.
* PTEA demands zero rating for whole textile chain:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) demands of the government to bail out textile industry and exports from current crisis by removing hurdles and provision of necessary incentives to expand economy create new jobs and generate forex for the country.
After presenting proposals to Federal Minister for Textile Industry, Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, Chairman briefed the newsmen that most ticklish issue is high cost of doing business as prices of raw materials and inputs have sky rocketed making our products uncompetitive in international market.
20:21:27 local time UZBEKISTAN
* U.S. Should Urge Uzbekistan to End Forced Labor:
Global coalition calls on the U.S. government to maintain Uzbekistan in Tier 3 in the 2014 Global Trafficking in Persons Report
The U.S. Department of State should maintain Uzbekistan in Tier 3 in the 2014 Global Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), said 25 investors, human rights NGOs, trade unions and businesses in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
The coalition is united as the Cotton Campaign to end forced labor of children and adults in the cotton sector in Uzbekistan.
Tier 3 in the Trafficking in Persons Report indicates that a government is not making significant efforts to combat human trafficking and opens up the possibility of sanctions. Uzbekistan does not meet the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, nor is the Uzbek government yet taking real steps to meet those standards.
In 2013, the Uzbek government once again forced farmers to produce state-imposed, annual quotas of cotton and operated an established infrastructure to coercively mobilize more than one million children and adults to pick cotton and prepare the cotton fields.
Authorities forced children, mostly aged 16 to 17 years but some as young as 10 years old, to work in the cotton fields under threat of punishment, including expulsion from school, verbal abuse and physical abuse.
Adults, including teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servant and private sector employees, were forced to pick cotton under threat of dismissal from work, or the loss of salary, pension and welfare benefits.
Authorities harassed, intimidated and detained Uzbek human rights defenders who attempted to monitor the harvest. Public officials also demanded and accepted payments in return for exemptions from forced labor, fostering corruption throughout the country.
* Light industry of Uzbekistan’s output hits 2.74 trln. soums in 1Q:
Enterprises of light industry of Uzbekistan produced goods for 2.739 trillion soums in January-March 2014, which rose by 11.8% year-on-year, the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan said.
The share of light industry in total production volume of Uzbekistan made up 16.8% in the reporting period, which rose by 0.1 percentage point (16.7%).
Enterprises of the textile industry of Uzbekistan produced goods to 2,143 trillion soums (+12.1%), the garment industry – 342.2 billion soums (+9.8%), leather and footwear – 95.6 billion soums (17%).