21:35:20 local time CHINA
* Adidas to move some output from strike-hit China factory:
Adidas AG is moving some production away from Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd’s shoe factory in Dongguan, China, where a strike over benefits and pay disrupted output for a ninth day.
“In order to minimise the impact on our operations, we are currently reallocating some of the future orders originally allocated to Yue Yuen Dongguan to other suppliers,” Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber said yesterday by e-mail. The Herzogenaurach, Germany-based sportswear maker “has a highly flexible supply chain in place,” she said.
Sports and casual shoe brands including Nike Inc, Asics Corp, New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc, Puma SE and Timberland Co are made by Yue Yuen, the world’s biggest branded footwear maker and operator of the 1.4 million-square-meter (15 million square-foot) Dongguan complex in southern China. Employees at the complex, where more than 40,000 people work, are striking in a dispute over compensation since April 14.
Yue Yuen is “still committed” to maintaining production in Dongguan and declined to comment “about any particular customer,” George Liu, spokesman for the Hong Kong-listed manufacturer, said yesterday by e-mail. The company had 423,000 employees as of 2012 and factories in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, according to its website.
Yue Yuen rose 0.6 per cent to HK$24.55 (RM10.35) as of 1.25pm in Hong Kong, after dropping for two consecutive days. Pou Chen Corp, a Taiwan-listed shoe and materials company, fell 3.7 per cent to close at NT$39.50 (RM4.27) in Taiwan trading.
Zhang Zhiru, manager at the Shenzhen Chunfeng Labor Dispute Service Center, spoke by phone today to his wife Xiao Hongxia, after a report by China Labor Watch yesterday that he had been detained by authorities.
Zhang called and said he would return in a few days, Xiao said today in an interview. He then hung up without saying where he was or whether he was being held by police, she said.
* SACTWU salutes brave Chinese footware workers:
The SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) salutes the brave 40 000 Chinese footwear workers who have been on strike since 14 April 2014.
These workers are employees at footwear factories in the Chinese city of Dongguan. These factories belong to Hong Kong-based Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings, and workers there make shoes for premier international brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Converse, Timberland, and Asics.
The workers’ main concern is that while the company is required by law to contribute every month to a social insurance account for workers, workers have discovered that their company has either under-contributed to their accounts, or not contributed at all.
For instance, it seems the company has robbed workers of much of their benefit payments by calculating the payments on the basis of workers’ base wages instead of their actual wages.
Yet actual wages are routinely double the base wage due to extensive overtime. This means social benefit payments are severely undervalued. In addition, it appears the company has paid only about 1 000 workers (out of 45 000 workers) their statutory housing payments.
According to reports, this trickery has been going on for at least 10 years.
* 48,000 Chinese Strikers Say, Adidas, Nike, Timberland: You Fix It! :
The strike at the Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan, China, keeps growing. Now 48,000 workers have joined, and local groups are calling for international solidarity.
Labor activists at the site, in touch directly with the workers, are asking supporters to target Adidas and Nike and demand they negotiate directly with the workers.
Yue Yuen, owned by Pou Chen Group, is the largest athletic shoe manufacturer in the world.
Workers began striking April 5 after finding out that the work contracts they had been signing with the company were fake, and that the company had been significantly underpaying their social insurance for nearly 20 years.
Some workers are preparing to retire and have been robbed of the social insurance funds they are legally entitled to. The total amount workers are owed in back pay from the underpayment has not been calculated—but at the very least it is in the millions.
— *= Update 22.30 loc.time—:
* China labor activist freed, says will still help strikers:
A Chinese labor activist has been freed after being detained for more than two days by security agents who he says tried to convince him not to make contact with workers involved in China’s biggest strike in years.
Zhang Zhiru’s brief detention underscores nervousness among officials about the strike, which began on April 14 at a Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd shoe manufacturing complex that employs some 40,000 workers in the southern industrial city of Dongguan.
A colleague of Zhang’s at the Shenzhen Chunfeng Labour Dispute Service Center, which he runs, was detained separately on Tuesday and has not been released, Zhang told Reuters by telephone on Friday.
* Chinese activist goes missing after helping to organise shoe factory strike:
Zhang Zhiru thought to have been detained by security services over role in Yue Yuen walkout, China’s biggest in years
A prominent Chinese labour activist has been missing for more than 24 hours and his wife suspects he was detained by state security agents after trying to help organise workers involved in China’s biggest strike in years.
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 have been on strike since April 14 over social insurance payments at a Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings shoe factory complex with about 40,000 employees.
* Workers continue strike over unpaid welfare benefits:
It also promised to make up for the unpaid social insurance benefits by the end of next year.
But on Tuesday afternoon, China Daily reporters saw workers still on strike.
The manufacturer has more than 100,000 employees on the Chinese mainland. Most of the workers in Guangdong, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces are on strike, a worker said.
But a Yue Yuen security worker said production remains interrupted.
Most workers that China Daily interviewed near the factory gate in Dongguan said they were not impressed by the remedies offered by Yue Yuen.
“I don’t buy it,” said Peng.
“The lease of the factory will end in May 2015. What if the company’s owner chooses to close the factory and leave?”
Huang Zuowen, who has worked for Yue Yuen for 18 years, said he wants the company to be more transparent in its decision-making process.
An executive from a large footwear company in Dongguan who would not be named, said the strike at Yue Yuen shocked many local manufacturers.
He admitted that many labor-intensive companies fail to pay worker’s social security in full, partly due to the huge operational pressure from rising labor costs and thin profits.
* Many return to work after Yue Yuen offer in China strike:
Many of the thousands of shoe factory workers who have staged one of China’s biggest strikes over the past two weeks have returned to work after the company agreed to meet some of their core demands, workers and a company official said on Friday.
Three workers at the vast Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd complex in the southern city of Dongguan estimated that more than half, maybe as many as 70 percent, of the 40,000-strong workforce had gone back to work by Friday.
“Most are back at work now,” worker Ren Zongjie told Reuters by telephone. Another worker put the number at closer to 20 percent.
Labor activists say the strike has been one of China’s biggest since market reforms started in the late 1970s, prompting German sportswear firm Adidas AG to shift some orders to suppliers elsewhere in China. A spokesman for rival Nike Inc, which also sources footwear from the facility, said the company was watching the situation closely.
* Cross-border Action: Labor groups from different regions show solidarity to strikers of Yue Yuen Dongguan – 24 April 2014:
Labor groups from different regions show solidarity to strikers of Yue Yuen Dongguan and demand Yue Yuen’s buyers to share responsibility
More than a dozenlabor organizations and unions, including: Globalization Monitor (GM), Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), Worker Empowerment (WE)andHong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), etc. staged an action at brands’ Hong Kong office and shops this morning.
The Yue Yuen Dongguanworkers strikestill continues until today and the social security payment in arrears is not resolved, around 30 protestors protested at Adidas AP office and the tworepresentatives of adidas only received the open letter and did not respond our demands. The groups then went to the stores of adidas, Nike, Timberlandat the City Plazato continue the demonstration.
The groups demand Yue Yuen’s international buyers such as Nike, adidas, Timberland should bear their corporate social responsibility.
The key demands are as follow:
- Yue Yuen should pay social insurance immediately for workers according to the actual wages they earn.
- Yue Yuen should also pay back the pensions in arrears over the years. All international buyers that buy orders from Yue Yuen should share the worker social insurance payment together with Yue Yuen.
- Brands and Yue Yuen are responsible to help on the negotiation to release detained workers and ensure all detained workers will be released immediately and would not be charged.
* Pressure from the local authorities forces many Yue Yuen strikers back to work:
Many strikers at the Yue Yuen shoe factory complex in Dongguan to have returned to work after the company made several concessions and the local authorities increased pressure on the workers to accept the deal on the table.
However, several thousand workers are continuing with the strike, the largest in China in recent years, over social insurance payments, which began on 14 April 2014.
Riot police, auxiliary police and militia have been bussed into the Dongguan township of Gaobu where the factories are located. Some are scattered around the factories as scouts but most are stationed at every factory entrance in order to prevent workers from gathering and protesting.
A mid-level manager named Xue said police officers were also stationed inside the factories and were arresting those who dared to continue with the strike. “We have no choice but to go back to work,” said Xue. “What can you do if a man with shield, baton and helmet is standing next to you?”
— *= Update 20140426 15.45 loc.time—:
* Yue Yuen counts cost of China shoe strike, says most workers returned:
Most of the thousands of shoe factory workers who staged one of China’s biggest strikes over the past two weeks have returned to work after the company agreed to some of their core demands.
Hong-Kong-listed Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd (0551.HK) – a $5.6 billion manufacturer of footwear for Nike Inc (NKE.N), Adidas (ADSGn.DE) and other international leisure brands – said that more than 80 percent of the workers at its Dongguan factory returned to work. Three workers at the vast complex in southern China had on Friday estimated that more than half, maybe as many as 70 percent, of the 40,000-strong workforce had gone back to work.
Labor activists say the strike has been one of China’s biggest since market reforms started in the late 1970s, prompting German sportswear firm Adidas to shift some orders to suppliers elsewhere in China. A spokesman for rival Nike said the company was watching the situation closely.
In its statement late on Friday, Yue Yuen estimated the direct cost of the strike at around $27 million.
Workers went on strike on April 14 to protest against what they said were chronically low company contributions to state-mandated social insurance and housing provident fund accounts.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security told reporters in Beijing that Yue Yuen had underpaid its social welfare contributions. “The related department has already ordered the factory to rectify the wrongdoings before April 25,” Li Zhong said. “Our ministry will continue to keep a close watch on the progress of the issue.”
20:35:20 local time VIET NAM
* Foreign-invested garment firms show ambitious growth:
Scores of foreign invested enterprises in the textile and garment sector are looking to expand their presence in Vietnam.
In late April or early May, Venture International JSC from the Netherlands plans to start construction on a new factory in the central province of Nghe An.
The $10 million factory has a designed production capacity of 150,000-210,000 jackets and two million shirts a year and would provide jobs to about 1,000 workers.
Venture dropped anchor in Vietnam back in 2007 with a garment factory in Hai Duong province that similarly employed around 1,000.
The plant’s production line (protective clothing, fire-proof coats and specialised uniforms) are exported to Europe and generate tens of millions of dollars a year.
The company’s director John Somers attributed rising customer demands to Venture’s planned factory in Nghe An.
Venture is not the only company with big expansion plans. In Dong Nam Industrial Park in Ho Chi Minh City, two FDI projects with a combined investment of nearly $200 million are in the works.
The first project is from Worldon Vietnam Limited and is a $140 million garment plant with a planned output of 80 million items a year.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/4 (8th item).
* Investments in weaving and dyeing facilities still meager:
Investments in weaving and dyeing facilities in Vietnam have remained trivial though many new projects have been licensed and a slew of foreign investors have come to explore business opportunities in the industry over the past two years.
Speaking to the Daily on the sidelines of a conference on French weaving technology in HCMC last week, Nguyen Van Tuan, vice chairman of the Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association (VCOSA), said many investors entered in the local market last year but they were mostly involved in spinning and sewing activities.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/4 (11th item).
* Garment sector eyes localisation of inputs:
The domestic garment and textile industry aims to reach a localisation rate of 60 per cent by 2015 to increase profits and competitiveness, and reduce the need for the imports of raw materials, according to the vice president of the Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex).
Le Trung Hai, who spoke with the media during the recent Saigon Tex exhibition for international garment and textile manufacturers and accessories makers, said the localisation figure would increase to 70 per cent after 2015.
Hai said this effort was being made to increase the export value of the industry, which depends heavily on imported raw materials and outsourcing for its major foreign clients.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/4 (16th item).
20:35:20 local time CAMBODIA
* Factories Mostly Skip Minimum Wage Meeting:
Government officials and union representatives met behind closed doors Thursday to start hashing out a better way to set the minimum wage for the country’s all-important but troubled garment sector at a workshop brokered by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
But what was supposed to be a start of frank, three-party discussions between the government, unions and factory owners was more of a bilateral affair with scant participation from manufacturers.
Amid the many government officials and union members in the room was only one representative from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents the bulk of the 500-plus exporting garment factories in the country. An advisor to the Ministry of Labor said their light presence threatened to scupper the reform efforts.
* Union leader rejects ruling:
The president of Cambodia’s largest worker union is appealing conditions of his bail, which comes with a $25,000 bond and forbids him from holding public gatherings.
Attorneys for Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Thorn said.
“We plan to complain against the judge and also the prosecutor, because . . . we are not related with this [complaint], and also they are charging too much money.”
The complaint that led to the bail and the restrictions was filed against Thorn in Phnom Penh Municipal Court by Sath Sophai, a security guard at the SL Garment factory who alleges Thorn and co-defen- dant Pav Phanna incited several violent incidents during a C.CAWDU-led strike between August and December.
* Labor unions, associations not allowed to celebrate Labor Day at Freedom Park:
Phnom Penh City Hall has refused labor unions and associations to celebrate 128th International Labor Day (May 1) at Freedom Park.
The decision was made during a meeting on Thursday between representatives of labor unions, association and Phnom Penh City Hall officials.
The City Hall said that it didn’t allow rallies at the Freedom Park because police are currently investigating violent clashes on Veng Sreng Street and at Yakjin factory.
The labor unions planned to gather some 5,000 people to mark the International Labor Day on May 1, but the City Hall said that it would send request to Ministry of Interior as it could allow only about 200 people to hold rally
* Trial for 23 finally under way:
The long-awaited trial of the 23 men arrested during strike demonstrations in early January began this morning at 8 am at Phnom Penh Municipal Court and is proceeding into the afternoon.
Before the trial began, police had already blocked off the street in front of the court on Monireth Boulevard across from Olympic Stadium.
As the detainees sat in holding rooms before the trial started, rights workers, observers and others negotiated with police outside the court for tickets allowing them into one of three courtrooms where the trials are being held.
Naly Pilorge, the head of rights group Licadho, which is providing legal representation to some of the accused, said lawyers have registered 52 witnesses that could speak in defence of those on trial, who were all arrested on January 2 and January 3 in Phnom Penh during a nationwide garment strike that ultimately led to the shooting deaths of at least four garment workers.
Charges in the cases include aggravated intentional violence and aggravated intentional property destruction.
* Concerns ahead of trial for 23:
One the eve of the trial of 23 people arrested during a garment strike in January, their supporters yesterday expressed concern that politics, rather than the facts, may determine the verdict.
Nearly four months after their arrests at protests on January 2 and 3 – the day that authorities killed at least four people when they fired automatic rifles into crowds on Veng Sreng Boulevard – all 23 will stand trial today.
“The [largest] concern for us is that the ruling party will keep them as political hostages,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), which is providing legal representation for some defendants. “If the court really depends . . . on the law, the charges against the 23 should be dropped.”
Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged a large majority of detainees with intentional violence and damage, crimes that carry a maximum of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines. The court later reduced charges against three suspects – including Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president Vorn Pov – to charges carrying a maximum of two years.
* Cambodian court starts trials of 21 labor activists arrested in January clashes:
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday began trials of 21 labor activists and garment workers, who were detained following violent protests three months ago.
The detainees, who are accused of intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms under tight security as dozens of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to demand the detainees’ release.
Government critic Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.
The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were apprehended: two in the Canadia Industrial Park, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Jing garment factory.
Twenty-three people were arrested during the clashes between police and protesters on Jan. 2 and 3 on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh when they staged violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 US dollars for the garment sector, but two of them were later freed on bail.
— *= Update 21.30 loc.time—:
* Trial begins in Phnom Penh for Cambodian workers seeking better wages:
Trial has begun in Cambodia for 23 people charged with violence and property damage during a January protest by garment workers in which police shot at least four dead. Rights groups have criticized the prosecutions.
Twenty-three Cambodian activists and workers arrested during a deadly crackdown on a garment industry strike in January went on trial Friday despite international appeals for their release. During the protests in January (pictured), police opened fire on textile workers calling for a monthly minimum wage of $160 (115 euros), killing at least four civilians.
“The Cambodian government must drop all charges on the 23 garment workers and human rights defenders arrested during the 2-3 January brutal suppression of demonstrators in Phnom Penh,” the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights wrote in a statement this week.
According to rights groups, the 23 defendants – most detained for months now without bail – could face up to five years’ imprisonment on charges including committing intentional violence. On Friday, Kong Athit, of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, denounced what he described as “politically-motivated charges” against the defendants.
* Trials for 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned to May 6:
The trials of the 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were arrested during January violent protests, were adjourned to May 6 after a five-hour hearing on Friday.
“The court decides to adjourn the trials to May 6 in order to give more time to the defendants to recall the activities they had committed during those clashes,” Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Judge Suos Sam Ath said. “The adjournment is also to give more time to the court to further look into the case.”
The 23 detainees, who are accused of intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms under tight security on Friday morning as hundreds of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to demand the detainees’ release.
Government critic Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.
The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were apprehended: two in the Canadia Industrial Park, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Jing garment factory.
* As Protesters Prepare for Court, No Justice for Dead:
SAMBO MEAS VILLAGE, Kompong Speu province – As military police with AK-47s descended on protesting garment workers during their nationwide strike on January 3, Sam Ravy, a manager at one of the many factories along Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, was on the phone with his mother-in-law.
Sam Ravy, who spoke Chinese and English as well as Khmer, earned double the $160 basic monthly salary being demanded by the strikers, but he attended the protest in Pur Senchey district to show solidarity with his workers.
“He had called and said ‘Hello mother, is my wife on the way to Phnom Penh with our child?’ I heard the sound of shooting, and I asked him where he was,” his mother-in-law, Long Saran, recalled Wednesday. She said Sam Ravy had dismissed her concerns in their morning phone call.
“He told me he was with the other protesters. Then his phone went quiet…. At 2 p.m. someone called us and told us to pick up the body,” she said.
Sam Ravy, 25, was one of at least five protesters killed by the military police’s AK-47 fire during the successful effort to put down the nationwide strike, which had dovetailed with mass protests by the political opposition.
On Friday, 13 of the strikers who were beaten and arrested during the protest on Veng Sreng will appear alongside 12 others before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of intentional destruction of property under aggravating circumstances.
Their property damage trial, which comes after almost four months of secretive incarceration in a notorious high-security prison on the Vietnamese border in Kompong Cham province, will be the government’s first substantial effort to take action over January 3.
* Cambodia: End the prosecution of 23 workers and human rights defenders:
The Cambodian government must drop all charges on the 23 garment workers and human rights defenders arrested during the 2-3 January brutal suppression of demonstrators in Phnom Penh which resulted in at least four people killed and dozens injured, FIDH and its member organizations Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) said today.
The trial of the 23 is set to begin at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 25 April.
* Cambodia has 960 garment, footwear factories: labor minister:
Garment and footwear industry, Cambodia’s largest foreign exchange earner, currently consists of 960 factories, employing some 620,000 workers, labor minister Ith Samheng said Thursday.
The sector made a revenue of 5.5 billion US dollars last year, accounting for around 80 percent of the country’s total exports, he told a workshop on strengthening the process of minimum wage setting.
Main buyers are from the United States and European countries.
“The factories spend more than 1 billion US dollars a year for workers’ wages,” he said, adding that about 2 million Cambodian people indirectly benefit from the industry.
The minister said since 2000, minimum wages for garment and footwear workers have been raised nine times from 40 dollars a month to the current 100 dollars.
“The government and the manufacturers group will continue to raise salaries for workers based on the factors of economic growth and competition with manufacturers in other countries so as to ensure the sustainability of factories and employment,” he said.
Dispute over minimum wages for garment workers remain hot in this Southeast Asian nation since eight pro-opposition trade unions, which represent more than 100,000 workers, are still jointly demanding that the government and the garment manufacturers association increase the minimum wages to 160 dollars a month, but the government said the wage hike is too high to afford.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has said recently that the current wages for Cambodian garment workers are higher than those of Laos, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar.
19:35:20 local time BANGLADESH
* No trade unions in 95% of apparel factories:
Workers of 5,124 out of the total 5,400 apparel factories, which accounts for 95 per cent of the total, have no trade union rights, labour directorate officials said.
Labour leaders said that legal barriers, owner’s opposition, lack of unity among workers and other issues had held back trade unions being formed in the apparel sector, which employs 40 lakh, mostly women.
The absence of labour unions has left workers with no means to fight for minimum wages, appropriate workplace environment, safety, health facilities and leave, they said.
Labour directorate officials said that there were 276 trade unions in the sector but more than a half of them were registered in the past one year.
One hundred and forty trade unions in the sector have been registered since 2013, the director of the Directorate of Labour, SM Ashrafuzzaman, said.
An official said that more than 125 out of 136 unions registered before 2013 have either ceased to exist or become inactive.
A Transparency International, Bangladesh study, Readymade Garments Sector: Problems of Good Governance and Way Forward, made public in October 2013 said that only 3.75 per cent of the workers employed in the sector were unionised.
‘Owners do not consider trade unions to be beneficial for production; they rather think them as a threat,’ the study said.
The Labour Act 2006 provides for the registration of trade unions for collective bargaining. The labour directorate registers such unions.
The Garment Workers’ Unity Forum president, Mushrefa Mishu, said that apparel workers were denied trade union rights. ‘When owners get to know that trade unions are formed, they terminate the job of workers,’ she alleged.
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre general secretary, Kazi Ruhul Amin, said that trade union was a tool to ensure worker rights but owners showed ‘a strongly negative attitude’ to such unions.
* Menendez calls for allowing trade unions:
US Senator Robert Menendez has urged Bangladesh government and BGMEA to take immediate and concerted steps to end the suppression of fledgling trade unions by the garment workers.
Menendez, also chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the call in a statement issued regarding the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh.
“If the BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh do not take immediate steps to end the suppression of fledgling unions, it is only a matter of time before another large-scale tragedy hits Bangladesh’s garment industry and the ‘made in Bangladesh’ brand is tarnished beyond repair,” he said.
read more. & read more.
* RMG workers stage protest at Badda:
The demonstration demanded the closure of Tuba Fashion as well as the closure of all garments factories buildings where cracks had been witnesses
An RMG Workers’ Union leader stands on a barricade and addresses a rally near National Eidgah yesterday, demanding compensation for the victims, full trade union facilities and implementation of the increased wages. The rally was marching towards the BGMEA building when it was intercepted by the police
Hundreds of readymade garment workers yesterday held a demonstration at capital’s Badda demanding toughest punishment to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana and ensuring compensation for all affected families of the catastrophic disaster.
The demonstration, which was called to observe the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy, also demanded the closure of the area’s Tuba Fashion which was housed in a building that recently developed cracks and higher salaries.
Not only Tuba Fashion, they also demanded the closure of all garments factories buildings where cracks had been witnesses.
Garments Workers’ Union President Alia Akhtar told the Dhaka Tribune: “We urge the government to award the toughest punishment to Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana. If he (Sohel) is not punished accordingly, then the country’s garment sector will turn to ashtray.”
Over the last one year, cracks had been found in many RMG factory building, including Frame Sweater and SS Sweater Factory in Gazipur.
Just after the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 last year, crack was reportedly found at Tuba Fashion Limited, which is housed at a 12 stories commercial building named Hossain Market at the capital’s North Badda. Tuba Fashion is part of a group that owned Tazreen Fashion, where a blaze killed around 117 workers on November 24, 2012.
“Actually, a pillar of the building had developed a minor crack a year ago. It had been repaired. A group of engineers had visited the building some 15 days ago,” said the building’s Shop Owners’ Association President Yusuf Khan. He, however, mentioned that he was yet to get the report from the engineering team.
* Feeling the pinch:
Sameul Islam, an assistant manager of a garments factory, lives with his family at Badda of the city. He has to compromise comfortable living, as he shares a flat with another family to save some money.
‘I have a little child and in order to take care of her, I have to save some money,’ he says.
He divulges, ‘At times I need to take loans from different sources and to repay the money I have to work outside of my regular job.’
Fazle Rabbi, another private service holder shares his plight with Xtra. ‘In the recent months, my wife and I have been eating less to ensure enough food for our one-year-old baby,’ he says. He admits that it is very tough to manage child care with his limited earning.
* RMG and improving our international image:
Such projects can not only deliver safer conditions but boost productivity, thereby helping to secure future growth
We welcome remarks by foreign envoys at the opening of a photo exhibition on the lives of garment workers at the Drik gallery this week, on the need to build a new image of the country internationally.
The High Commissioners of Canada and the UK and the Netherlands’ Ambassador called on stakeholders to work together to improve the country’s image through improved conditions for factory workers.
* Owner-buyer distance increases:
Many of Rana Plaza victims and their families are still waiting to meet the compensation. As a result the foreign buyers are being averse to the factory owners in this issue.
Earlier on 24 April in 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-storey commercial building, housed five garment factories, other shops and a bank, collapsed in Savar.
The search for the dead ended on 13 May with the death toll of 1,136. Approximately 2,438 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered as the deadliest garment-factory accident in history.
The five garment factories are Ether Tex Ltd, New Wave Bottoms Ltd, New Wave Style Ltd, Phantom Apparels Ltd and Phantom Tac Ltd.
Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA) sources said that some 29 international buyers were involved in those five garments. But the matter of sorrow is that only one buyer came forward to help the Rana Plaza victims and rest of others even withdrew their orders.
The President of BGMEA M Atikul Islam said that the foreign buyers cancelled their purchase order of 110-million US dollars from several garment factories. This created a threat to the industry as well as the RMG workers. But still the hope is alive as the buyers have promised to continue the further orders.
* Bangladesh’s ‘messy’ RMG sector tidies up:
After Rana Plaza collapse, Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) industry faced unprecedented pressure from buyers abroad to improve working conditions in factories.
Following the disaster Western buyers faced flak back home for sourcing their products from ‘unsafe working environments’. Buyers from European Union (EU) formed the group Accord and those from North America formed Alliance to look into compliance issues in Bangladesh’s RMG units.
What impact the Rana Plaza collapse has had on Bangladesh’s RMG industry?
Hafiz Ahmed Mazumder, one of the industry’s early entrepreneurs, says the RMG industry was initially in a messy condition, but the new generation entrepreneurs are now paying a lot of attention to compliance issues.
Mazumder says some are trying to come up with ‘international standard factories.’ At least 90% of factories are now located in good and safe buildings, he said. Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) researcher Zaid Bakht, however, said the fears of losing business did not happen. “We have achieved a 13% growth in RMG even after Rana Plaza.”
* There’s still much work to be done in RMG sector: USA:
Admitting that the government of Bangladesh has made progress in some important respects in apparel sector, the USA observes that ‘there is much more work still to be done.’
There are concerns about basic worker rights protections under both Bangladesh’s labor law and its special Export Processing Zone law, a joint statement said on April 23.
The text of the following statement was released by the US Department of State, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Agency for International Development, and the Department of Labor on the anniversary of Rana Plaza Building collapse in Bangladesh.
* More remains to be done about workplace safety, labour rights: EU:
A spokesperson for EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht on Thursday said the Rana Plaza tragedy had revealed serious shortcomings in the occupational safety and labour rights of Bangladeshi workers in the export-oriented garment sector.
‘It should be a turning point for safety and labour issues in Bangladesh,’ spokesperson John Clancy said in a statement in Brussels marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse.
The EU, the International Labour Organisation and the authorities of Bangladesh responded to the tragedy by launching an initiative known as the Sustainability Compact, later joined by the US.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* US unhappy over progress in GSP action plan:
Two congressmen write to Hasina
Two US congressmen have written a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressing dissatisfaction over Bangladesh’s progress in a US-prescribed action plan for regaining GSP in the American market.
In the letter sent on Wednesday, on the eve of the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, they called for improving working conditions in factories.
The congressmen are Sander M Levin, ranking member of committee on ways and means, and George Miller, a senior democrat member of committee on education and the workforce.
“We believe it is critical for the government of Bangladesh to take stronger steps to fully implement the action plan that was issued as a roadmap for reinstating trade benefits, which were suspended in June 2013 under the Generalised System of Preferences programme,” the letter said.
The government has taken some steps but there has been insufficient progress in many areas, especially with regard to freedom of association, according to the letter. On registration of trade unions, they said registration of 141 trade unions over the last one year is a good job, but the US is “deeply concerned” about reports of harassment, mass firings, threats, and violence that the new union members have faced.
* US sees important progress in garment sector:
The US government has acknowledged the significant progress that has been achieved through coordinated efforts by the government to protect worker rights and ensure workplace safety and standards since the Rana Plaza tragic accident a year ago, reports BSS.
“In the last year, the government of Bangladesh has made progress in some important respects,” a joint statement, issued late Wednesday (Bangladesh time) by the Department of State, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Agency for International Development and the Department of Labor, said.
* Factory closure not good practice: Muhith:
Finance minister AMA Muhith on Thursday said closing down the factories on ground of safety issues is not a good practice.
‘Some alternative must be sought,’ he said as he was speaking at the annual general meeting of the International Business Forum, Bangladesh, at a city hotel.
He, however, did not explain the alternative measures.
Muhith’s comment came on the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse that left 1,135 workers killed.
International orgaisnations, rights groups and foreign buyers have been asking the government to improve the working environment and safety of the apparel factories since the collapse of multi-storied Rana plaza that had housed five RMG factories.
On April 7, a review committee on factory safety asked ‘All Weather Fashion’ and ‘Crystal Apparels’ to suspend production after finding that the condition of the building was critical to sustain the loads.
The committee had earlier closed down five other factories.
read more. & read more.
* RMG stakeholders, govt vows to see no tragedy like Rana Plaza in future:
Readymade Garment (RMG)stakeholders and the government today vowed not to see any catastrophe like the Rana Plaza collapse as the country observed the first anniversary of the worst-ever tragedy amid various programmes.
On this day in 2013, some 1,135 people, mostly garment workers, lost their lives and numerous maimed when a nine-story commercial factory building collapsed.
Discussions, mourning processions, offering monajat and doa mahfil seeking eternal peace of the departed souls, free medical camp and blood donation programme and street dramas marked the day.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the main stakeholder of the garment industry, different trade union and rights organizations organized the programmes.
The BGMEA arranged a memorial meeting at its Bhaban here where Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed spoke as the chief guest. BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam, BKMEA president Salim Oslam,former president of FBCCI AK Azad, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Labour Secretary Michael Shiper were also present.
* Rana Plaza episode: let’s not repeat it:
Ministers, business leaders, labour rights activists make a vow
The state minister for foreign affairs, on the occasion of the anniversary of Rana Plaza collapse, yesterday urged the garment sector stakeholders not to do business in a way that it endangers people’s lives.
“Today we should commit that we will not do business which kills people. Personally, I made a commitment today that I will not do such a business which will kill people,” Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs, said.
His comments came at an event organised by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at its headquarters to commemorate the first anniversary of the industrial accident, the worst in the garment industry.
The programme was attended by the dead workers’ children and survivors, trade union leaders, ministers and garment owners.
* Int’l community wants BD RMG sector to be global model:
The International community on Thursday reiterated its commitment to remain engaged with Bangladesh to help make its RMG sector’s transformation a success and turn it into a global model.
They also expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far and sought ‘sustained actions’ from all the stakeholders in Bangladesh, including the government, to ensure safety and rights of workers in the country’s RMG (readymade garment) sector keeping up the momentum.
* ILO DDG for tripartite talks to avoid disputes:
Deputy Director General of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo stressed Wednesday continuation of tripartite dialogue to avoid industrial disputes and make the stakeholders understand the importance of unionism.
On the other hand, apparel makers expressed the view that they are not against allowing trade union in garment units but favoured constructive trade union with training to properly know about their rights and responsibility.
“We should not shy away of difficult issues. We need to continue dialogue to find out solution,” Mr Houngbo said while addressing the employers’ seminar on “Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining”, organized by the BGMEA at its headquarters in the city.
* Make progress on labour issue for continued preferential access: EU:
The European Union (EU) has laid emphasis on making substantial progress on labour issues to ensure the continuation of preferential treatment for Bangladeshi products in the EU market comprising 28 countries.
Although significant progress has been made on the labour issues in last one year, Bangladesh must do more to address the problems faced by workers, said the powerful bloc.
“On this day, one year ago, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh took a heavy toll of more than 1100 lives. The tragedy revealed serious shortcomings in the occupational safety and labour rights of Bangladeshi workers in the export-oriented ready-made garment industry,” John Clancy, spokesperson of EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, said in a statement on Thursday the first anniversary of the tragedy.
* GSP issue to be included in TICFA agenda:
US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena on Thursday said restoration of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) will be included in the agenda of discussion in the upcoming meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) next week.
Addressing the annual general meeting of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) at Sonargaon Hotel in the city, he said TICFA will include in a discussion of efforts underway in Bangladesh to bring about restoration of Bangladesh’s GSP trade privileges in the United States.
* Uzbekistan to give incentives to B’deshi cotton importers:
The Uzbekistan government will offer special incentives to Bangladeshi cotton importers from their country, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said on Thursday.
He said Tashkent assured of considering a proposal of Dhaka that sought duty-free market access for Bangladeshi readymade garment in their market.
The minister was talking to reporters after a meeting with visiting Uzbek economic, trade and investment affairs minister Elyor Majidovich Ganiev at his secretariat office.
‘We will continue our efforts to get duty-free market access for our RMG products in the Uzbekistan markets as the visiting Uzbek minister has assured of considering the trade privilege to be offered to Bangladeshi export-oriented clothing sector,’ Tofail told reporters.
* Sewing machines distributed in Shariatpur:
A total of 25 sewing machines were distributed free of cost among 25 fisherman families of Naria upazila in the district on Wednesday.
Naria upazila fisheries department distributed the sewing Machines with a view to helping them to augment their income.
A simple function was arranged on the occasion on the upazila Shaheed Minar premises. Col (Ret) Sawkat Ali, MP, distributed the sewing machines as the chief guest.
Upazila fisheries officer M Abdus Samad presided over the function while additional deputy commissioner M Asib Ahshan, district fisheries officer Dayal Chandra Roy and UNO Jahirul Islam were present as the special guests.
* Uncertainty looms over jute production target:
Although it is mid-Baishakh, farmers are forced to cultivate a large area of land through irrigation
A prolonged drought in Kurigram is taking a heavy toll on farmers as they are unable to cultivate jute along with other crops. This is not only raising jute cultivation cost for farmers but has also put production target at risk.
Although the period of sowing jute seeds is almost over, a vast amount of land is still left uncultivated. It is two weeks into Baishakh but rainfall is still awaited. Soil in the lands has dried up and has turned into dust because of the sizzling heat wave.
Farmers have sown jute seeds but those are not sprouting despite irrigation. Besides, seeds that are sprouting are dying fast because of lack of water in the soil. Many farmers have sown seeds multiple times in the same field but to no avail. Meanwhile, Boro, corn and vegetables fields are required to be irrigated every day.
* Is the factory collapsea turning point?:
As the world commemorates the one-year anniversary of the deadly Rana Plaza factory building collapse in Bangladesh, an overriding question remains: What can be done to prevent such industrial accidents in the future, especially in emerging economies and business sectors like Bangladesh’s garment industry?
Many European and North American retailers, who depend on the Bangladeshi textile industry for their apparel, have responded to the factory collapse with their own worker safety initiatives. There have also been calls for consumers to consider the human cost behind that bargain-priced clothing we all demand.
At the same time, the media has picked up on the parallels between Rana Plaza and a similar disaster, a century earlier in New York City, when 146 people, mostly young immigrant women, were burned to death or forced to jump to their deaths after a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. That 1911 tragedy gave new momentum to the US labour movement; it also introduced regulations and reforms for workplace conditions and safety.
But will Rana Plaza serve as a turning point for garment industry workers or another missed opportunity? “I think that this disaster was big enough proportions that it caught the attention of the world in the way that perhaps some of the smaller incidents of the past have not,” said Douglas Allen, director of the international MBA programme at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. “I know that it’s come up in conversations I’ve had with some of my MBA students in China as well.”
* Crisis seen as opportunity:
Stakeholders count on positive reforms
The word crisis when written in Chinese is composed of two characters — one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
The narrative of the country’s garment sector following the Rana Plaza collapse last year could best be summed up by it.
The catastrophe, which claimed at least 1,135 lives and injured about 2,500, drew scorn from around the world, and the sector seemed to be on the brink of a pitfall.
But, remarkably, the harrowing debris of the eight-storey building went on to spark some constructive changes, which, if seen through, will secure a shining future for the sector.
“Rana Plaza was a wake-up call for all of us,” said Kutubuddin Ahmed, chairman of Envoy Group, a leading garment group, while welcoming the reforms that have been ushered in.
“We needed to bring those reforms a lot earlier for good business in future. But, we never gave priority to the workers’ welfare and safety. We always remained busy for expansion of our business,” he added.
Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said the reforms would create a positive branding for Bangladesh’s garment sector. “A new window of opportunity will be opened and we must exploit them.”
First amongst the reforms was the amendment of the labour law in July – within three months of the tragic event. The highlight of the amendment is the provision that grants garment workers the full freedom of association, in a bid to give them a louder voice to reject unsafe working conditions.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Hundreds gather at Rana Plaza tragedy site:
Hundreds of people have thronged at the site of Rana Plaza tragedy in Savar, to pay respect to the victims of the biggest tragedy of the country, marking the first anniversary of the incident.
People from all walks of life, including family members of the victims, have gathered at the spot with eyes full of tears demanding punishment to the culprits and hoping such incident would never take place again.
The family members of many missing victims were also seen there, holding the pictures of the victims whose bodies have not been found yet and have not got their dues due to not having legal proof that they worked in the building.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Doa Mahfl held for Rana Plaza victims :
A Doa Mahfil (special prayers) was held at BGMEA Bhaban in the city on Thursday seeking eternal peace for those who died in the multi-storey ‘Rana Plaza’ collapse at Savar one year ago.
Munajat was also offered to Almighty Allah for early recovery and rehabilitation of the injured and welfare of the victims’ families. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the programmes at its headquarters at BGMEA Bhaban in Karwan Bazar in the morning.
Mawlana Md. Salahuddin, Imam of the Baitul Mokarram National Mosque, led the special prayers which started around 11:30am.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and some government officials and business leaders joined the programme.
Officials and employees of BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMEA were also present. More than 1100 garment workers were killed and around 2000 injured with many missing when the nine-storey building collapsed at Savar town on April 24, 2013, according to a news agency.
to read. & read more. & read more.
* Huge crowd on highway in Savar:
One year has passed since the Rana Plaza, the eight-storey building, collapsed where some 1136 workers died and 2,438 injured people were rescued.
Thousands of mournful people gathered in front of that cursed Rana Plaza on Thursday, remembering the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, the painful battle.
Different Socio-cultural organizations along with political figures, service holders, students and the families of the victims gathered there. The highway next to Rana Plaza was blocked for the crowd.
They thronged there with many demands for the victims and their families and showed their painful admiration to the strong hands of the nation.
Garment Workers Unity Forum staged a demonstration to meet their 9-point demand. Moreover, they formed a human chain on a demand of adequate compensation for the worst sufferers of Rana Plaza.
The President of the organization Nazma Akter said that one year has passed the deadliest accident happened and the workers have not got enough compensation yet. “The government should take proper initiatives in this issue otherwise we will stage further protest,” she added.
* Victims’ relatives block highway for 4hrs- RMG workers’ bid to lay siege to BGMEA Bhaban foiled:
Rana Plaza victims blocked the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar for four hours
today demanding capital punishment to the building owner, Sohel Rana.
Meanwhile, workers of different garments and members of various workers’ organisations have thronged Rana Plaza site since 5:00am and placed wreaths at the monument ‘Protibade Protirodhe’ marking the first anniversary of the disaster, reports our Savar correspondent.
The monument was built after the deadliest collapse of Rana Plaza on April 24 that left 1,135 workers dead and thousands injured to honour the victims.
Rana, who is now behind the bar, is blamed for forcing the workers to enter the factories on that day though big cracks appeared in the building.
Around 40,000 members of at least 20 pro-workers organisations and victims’ relatives staged a sit-in in front of Rana Plaza site around 8:00am demanding death sentence to Rana and seeking financial assistance from the government.
read more. & read more.
* One year of Rana Plaza tragedy today:
The nation mourns Thursday the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy that left 1,133 garment workers dead and more than 2,500 injured while at least 800 children orphaned.
More than 140 bodies still remain to be identified one year after the tragedy.
Even a year after the Rana Plaza devastation, government authorities, factory owners and labour organisations have failed to arrive at a consensus over the actual number of those missing in the building collapse in Savar. “According to the statistics compiled by various labour unions, around 120 workers still remain untraced,” Sirajul Islam Rony, president of Bangladesh National Garment Workers Employees League, told The Independent.
However, leaders of BGMEA, an association of factory owners, claimed that only 40 to 50 workers remained missing.
* The Rana Plaza claims process explained:
Dr. Kazazi is the Chief Commissioner of the Rana Plaza Arrangement, with a team of Commissioners he is overseeing the claims process in Bangladesh.
Dr. Mojtaba Kazazi has a long history of working on compensation for victims of terrible disasters. He has brought his many years of experience to the Rana Plaza Arrangement process and is now working in Dhaka, along with a team of claims commissioners to oversee the administration of the claims process and ensure that every family of the dead and every survivor receives the financial support they need.
* Statement on the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse:
Remember the victims of Rana Plaza.
April 24th 2014 will mark the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse. Our hearts go out to all the people in Bangladesh for the loss, suffering, and grief this tragedy has brought to the families of the victims, the injured, and the nation as a whole.
We remember the 1.134 people who have lost their lives, the more than 2.000 people injured, and the family members that have to cope with reminders of their loss and feel the impact of this terrible tragedy every day.
Since the launch of the Bangladesh Accord on the 15th of May 2013, international brands, trade unions and labour organisations, in close cooperation with the local constituents, have embarked on a journey towards a safe Bangladeshi Garment industry. Our common purpose is to enable a working environment in which no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses, or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures. Together with all relevant stakeholders, we know we can – and must – change the system forever.
The Accord is moving ahead energetically, with a program of unprecedented scale, independence, rigor and transparency. More than 250 factories have been inspected for fire, electrical and structural safety, and remediation measures are being taken. In eight factories, Accord inspections led the authorities to temporarily evacuate buildings until adequate structural safety could be assured and the lives of workers are no longer endangered.
* Rana Plaza A look into garment sector one year after the worst workplace tragedy:
Rana Plaza will remind us how a nation united at a crucial time to help humanity.
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 have 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 squeezed to a two-feet meat chunk; 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 cry for help coming from the bottom of a hell.
But Rana Plaza will remain with us for many other reasons too. It will remind us how a nation united 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 and dragged out the trapped ones; the pharmaceutical companies rushing medicines to the hospital free of cost; the big infrastructure companies mobilising 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 one writing.
read & see more.
* Bangladesh marks factory collapse anniversary:
The disaster has led to more safety inspections and the closure of some factories.
The families of those who died in Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident have been holding a rally on the eve of the disaster’s first anniversary.
More than 1,000 people, mostly garment workers, were killed when the eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed last year.
see more. (video report).
* A year on from Rana Plaza, families still await millions in compensation:
Nazma’s husband was one of 1334 people who died when the Rana Plaza building collapsed a year ago.
When ITV News last spoke to her in October she was pregnant, she has since given birth to Jewel, who she named after her husband.
Financial support has started to come through but it’s from a confusing array of sources and has not been enough for the two of them to live on.
“So much help is coming from so many places…but I will not work in the garments industry anymore.”
Nazma has received money from Primark (even though she didn’t make its clothes), from ActionAid, from a local school, from government and from the “official” Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund.
read & see more.(several video reports.)
* ILO to organise discussion in Geneva for Rana Plaza victims:
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Bureau for Workers’ Activities will organise a panel discussion on 28 April, to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed 1138 workers and injured over 2000 others a year ago.
The penal discussions will be held at the ILO headquarters in Geneva on the day, which has been established by the International Labour Movement as “Workers’ Memorial Day”. The ILO has supported the move, and in 2003 declared it the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
By organising an event on this day, ILO wants to pay tribute to the memory of the Rana Plaza victims and to reflect on the roots and aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, according to a statement of the global worker rights watchdog.
* ‘Charge sheets of two Rana Plaza cases soon’:
Charge sheets of the rest two cases had already been filed
The charge sheets of the two cases out of four over Rana Plaza collapse incident will be filed very soon, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan has said.
He has made the statement in a press briefing on the occasion of Rana Plaza anniversary at the secretariat on Thursday afternoon.
The minister said: “The charge sheets of the cases over Rana Plaza will be filed soon and the accused will be brought to justice.”
“A total of four cases had been filed over Rana Plaza incident. Of them, charge sheets of two cases had already been filed.”
* Police buy time for an accurate Rana Plaza charge sheet: Asaduzzaman Khan:
State minister for home Asaduzzaman Khan on Thursday said police was buying time to prepare an ‘accurate’ charge sheet on the collapse of the Rana Plaza that killed 1,135 apparel workers a year ago.
‘Police is delaying so that they can prepare an accurate charge sheet,’ he said while highlighting the activities of the home ministry on the devastating building collapse.
The home ministry arranged the press conference at the secretariat marking one year anniversary of the worst-ever industrial disaster in Bangladesh.
Asaduzzaman said police arrested 27 persons in connection with the building collapse.
read more. & read more.
* Slow progress in compensating Rana Plaza victims annoys ILO:
A top official of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Thursday expressed displeasure over the slow progress in compensating the Rana Plaza victims saying it will be a ‘shame’ for all the stakeholders.
“It’s very hard…very difficult to speak here today and say that the victims still can’t be compensated adequately,” said visiting ILO Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo.
He was speaking at a function, titled ‘One Year after Rana Plaza: Progress and the way Forward’, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city.
* Rana Plaza: A look back, and forward:
On the Anniversary of the Rana Plaza Tragedy… It Did Not Have to Be Like This
It took the U.S. and European garment industry just 25 years of relentless outsourcing in search of the lowest wage and least regulation to arrive at the deadliest disaster in its history, when the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, killing 1,137 people, with some 200 to 300 still missing and over 1,000 seriously injured.
It was not always like this. In fact, for some 50 years —— from 1938 to 1988 —— there were no sweatshops in the United States, because workers had legal rights and strong unions.
* ‘We must never forget Rana Plaza victims’:
One year ago this day (April 24, 2013), the factory collapse in Rana Plaza cost over 1,100 people their lives. This needless tragedy must never be forgotten.
British lawmaker Rushanara Ali came up with the assertion, in a press release, on the 1st anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse which claimed the lives of 1100 people and injured thousands.
The release also said: “Workers in the Bangladesh garments industry, and worldwide, deserve the right to safety at work, as well as better conditions and pay. However, one year on, there is still so much that needs to be done. In particular, much more needs to be done for the families of those who died as well as the survivors.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Rana Plaza Tragedy fails to draw USA attention:
Last year’s Rana Plaza disaster is the second deadliest incident in South Asia after Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in India`s Bhopal industrial accident, which killed nearly 2000.
The Rana Plaza disaster killed 1,136 and 2,438 workers had been rescued alive.
In order to assist the readymade garment (RMG) factories to recoup the loss owing to Rana Plaza accident, the Bangladesh government paid nearly 280 million taka to the victims and their surviving families while individuals and foundations paid nearly 15 million taka.
In addition, government reduced export tariff on RMG exports to 0.5% only.
Many EU countries under International Labour Organization (ILO) agreed to provide $24.5 million to the victims and also for improvement of safety and security of garment workplaces.
Bangladesh government also reduced import tariff on fire extinguishers and other equipments to help improve safety and security of factories.
The Garments Manufacturers and Owners Association (BGMEA) raised the minimum wages of garment workers by over 80% in one year.
Since 2009, garment workers’ wages increased by almost 300% in Bangladesh from $23 to $68 now.
In New York, the Optimist, a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) organization collected sponsors to help educate sons and daughters of Rana Plaza victims.
Among many others, from school children to government agencies came forward to help Bangladesh Rana Plaza victims.
While talking to banglanews24.com, Dr. Abdul Momen, ambassador and permanent representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations said it was expected that USA would also rise to occasion and would grant `tariff-free access of Bangladesh garments to USA` to help the 4 million poor women and girl workers in Bangladesh garments sector.
Unfortunately, they did not rise to the occasion to help humanity, the distressed and the vulnerable as well, Dr Momen regrets.
* Rana Plaza survivors leading miserable life: BNP:
Claiming that most of the workers who survived the Rana Plaza disaster are leading a jobless miserable life, BNP on Thursday demanded their immediate employment.
“Over 70 per cent of the workers, who were injured and crippled or survived the Rana Plaza incident, are leading a jobless-life. We urge the government and BGMEA to generate employment for them,” said BNP standing committee member Rafiqul Islam Miah.
* Govt misusing fund raised for Rana Plaza victims: BNP:
Noting that Rana Plaza incident is tantamount to a massacre, BNP on Thursday accused the government of misusing the huge fund raised for helping the victims’ family members.
“We know Rana Plaza owner is an Awami League leader. We also know the workers had forcefully been taken into the building to join works despite repeated warnings as it developed cracks. So, it’s tantamount to deliberate annihilation,” said BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
He further said, “The huge amount of money raised for helping the family members of those killed and ensuring better treatment of those injured is being misused.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
* A saga of heartrending stories :
Yesterday was different from just any other day at the Rana Plaza collapse site not because people came to pay visits as relatives of dead victims rummaging through the rubbles is a pretty much normal scene.
What made yesterday unique was the number of people that gathered at the site in Savar – some 20km off Dhaka. Hundreds of people gathered on the first anniversary of the deadly collapse that ranks top among the deadliest of industrial disasters in human history.
Among those hundreds were those who lost their dear ones in the ruins; there were others who once worked with those who were killed in the collapse; and there were those who were lucky to survive the tragedy that claimed a staggering 1,136 lives.
Some injured victims came on wheelchairs; some with crutches. Some relatives, who still have not traced their loved ones, came with the lost ones’ photographs, roaming around and asking people about their whereabouts.
Many people, both from the locality and outside, who volunteered and risked their own lives to rescue the trapped ones, could not keep away either; just like the way they could not hold themselves back when the disaster actually took place exactly a year ago.
* Fateful April 24:
The catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza on April 24 a year back took lives of 1,136. Over 2,000 were injured – of them some have been rehabilitated in one way or another, and yet some are left with no choice but to suffer what fate brought to them.
In the last two days, the air at the site became heavy with wails of the relatives of the victims, their demands for justice and compensation. Commemorative programmes took place throughout the capital, especially at the Rana Plaza site and Jurain graveyard.
read & see more (photo report).
* Survivors’ trauma largely unaddressed:
Things get particularly difficult for people belonging to low income groups
Skin deep wounds are easy to heal – a simple amputation can ensure survival. But remedying invisible injuries that are rooted deep inside the psyche of human beings, especially those who have witnessed terrible disasters, are never so simple.
Things get particularly difficult for people belonging to low income groups such as the readymade garment workers, who used to make apparels for the factories housed by the fateful Rana Plaza. The fact that there is very little awareness and few treatment facilities in Bangladesh for mental disorders make things even more difficult.
The results are even more disastrous for these people, who struggle relentlessly to get rid of the poverty jinx. The government’s indifference towards such predicaments often results in triggering suicidal tendencies, leaving entire families in rags and many of them losing their livelihoods altogether.
Razibul Rahman Kari, 20, was a sewing machine operator in one of the factories inside the Rana Plaza. He was pinned by a heavy slab after the building came down.
A volunteer might have pulled him from under the rubble, but in his mind, he has never quite been out.
After he went home, he tried to break one of the walls in his room. When his mother would ask him to eat food, he would say he could not because he was trying to break the wall to rescue himself.
The young man also tried to kill himself twice.
* Fashion Revolution Day: A year after Rana Plaza:
‘Tears in the Fabric,’ ‘Meet the Makers,’ ‘Labour behind the Label,’ ‘The Human Cost the Cloths you Wear on,” are the few headlines of many events, programmes or articles that have been observed or published throughout the world including Bangladesh.
These mark the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse near Dhaka that claimed over 1,100 lives and injured thousands more.
This is the worst industrial disaster in the history of the garment industry. Calling April 24 as ‘Fashion Revolution Day,’ organised by www.fashionrevolution.org, consumers in different parts of the world including New York and London were requested to wear their clothes that display slogan: ‘Who made your clothes?’
On April 24 2013, Rana Plaza, an eight-storey commercial building, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district in the greater Dhaka area.
The search for the dead ended on May 13 with the death toll of 1,129. Approximately 2,515 injured people were rescued alive from the debris of the building.
Several other major garment factory accidents occurred in Bangladesh before or after the Rana Plaza tragedy.
The collapse of the Spectrum sweater factory in 2005 killed 64 workers or the Tazreen Fashions fire, which killed 112 workers.
But the Savar tragedy has triggered widespread discussions about safety, security and the living standard of the workers, their wages, the responsibilities of the Bangladesh government to its main earning source, corporate social responsibility of the global supply chains and so on.
We mourned tragic deaths of the victims and observed April 24, now the symbol of significant and unnecessary risks that many garment workers in Bangladesh are forced to undertake in order to earn a living and support their families.
The question now is to be raised as to what actions or attempts we have collectively taken so far so that tragedies like Rana Plaza and Tazreen never happen again.
Or what have we done for the survivors and the families of those who died in those accidents?
According to research by the advocacy group International Labour Rights Forum, at least 1,800 garment workers were killed in factory fires and building collapses in Bangladesh since 2005.
* Rana Plaza tragedy victims remembered:
People in their thousands thronged the Rana Plaza collapse site on Thursday remembering the victims through holding various programmes as the tragedy marked the first anniversary.
On this day in 2013, the worst-ever tragedy took place in the history of the country’s multi-billion dollar readymade garment sector when the multi-storey Rana Plaza came down crashing, killing 1,135 people, according to the latest official estimate.
Relatives of the victims, various organisations of garment workers as well as cross-section of people placed wreaths at the temporary altar built in front of the collapsed Rana Plaza.
Besides, rallies, human chains, discussions and processions were staged in the capital and on its outskirts Savar. Munajats were also offered seeking salvation of the deceased and wellbeing of the injured victims.
All the garment units at Savar and Ashulia remained closed on Thursday in memory of the building collapse victims.
* Retailers ‘failing victims’ a year after Rana Plaza disaster:
A woman holds a placard showing her relative named Farzana, who was working in a garment factory at Rana Plaza during its collapse one year ago at Savar, still remains missing.
The photo was snapped on Thursday in front of a monument built at the site of the collapse in remembrance of the industrial disaster.
Thursday was the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse that left more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, dead and scores injured. A good number of people have been claiming that their relatives working in factories inside the Rana Plaza are still missing. — Sony Ramany
Western fashion brands faced pressure Thursday to honour promises to care for Bangladesh’s victims of the world’s worst garment factory accident, ahead of protests on the one-year anniversary of the disaster that cost 1,138 lives.
Workers are set to stage demonstrations in front of the site of the now infamous nine-storey Rana Plaza complex in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, which collapsed last April after a catastrophic structural failure.
‘Brands are failing workers a second time,’ Ineke Zeldenrust from the Amsterdam-based Clean Clothes Campaign pressure group said in a statement on Thursday.
‘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.’
As well as the dead, more than 2,000 were injured in an avoidable tragedy that focused attention on the lax safety standards and often abusive working conditions in the world’s second-biggest clothing producer.
The sector’s most deadly disaster ever shamed Western brands into launching new safety inspections and pushed Bangladesh’s government to increase wages and ensure the better enforcement of regulations.
But trade union group IndustriALL slammed retailers this week for making ‘woefully inadequate’ contributions to a proposed $40-million fund set up to compensate the families of the dead and the injured.
* BGMEA vows to compensate victims:
The three leading associations of the RMG sector – BGMEA, BKMEA and the BTMA – brought out a joint procession in the city yesterday, followed by prayers and a memorial service to observe the first anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy.
They vowed not to see any catastrophe like the Rana Plaza collapse. Addressing the commemorating programme, BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam said that his association would take responsibility of the families of Rana Plaza victims once the identity of victims was ascertained.
“The souls of Rana Plaza victims will rest in peace if we can ensure decent and safe workplace environment for their successors,” he said.
He urged everyone to find out and bring the orphans and helpless children of Rana Plaza victims to the BGMEA. “We have already taken the responsibility for the education of around 300 children and are ready to take more responsibility for the remaining ones,” he said.
The BGMEA is still working wholeheartedly to help the victim’s families. A ‘Special Cell for Rana Plaza’ at the BGMEA has been opened and it will remain open until every victim gets due compensation, he added.
* Cops foil workers’ march to BGMEA:
Police yesterday foiled garments workers’ attempt to besiege the BGMEA headquarters in the capital’s Karwan Bazar, demanding death penalty for Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana and adequate compensations for the families of the deceased and injured workers.
Meanwhile, different garment workers and social organisations held demonstrations demanding exemplary punishment of the responsible persons, including Sohel, for the Rana Plaza tragedy last year that killed at least 1,135 workers and injured hundreds.
Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra held a rally in front of the capital’s Jatiya Press Club. Later, they marched towards the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building to encircle it.
But law enforcers cordoned off them on the road, halting vehicular movement for about 40 minutes before the marchers left the place.
“We prevented them suspecting that they might create chaos on the road,” said Ramna zone petrol inspector Shahidul Islam.
Addressing the rally in front of the Press Club, Manjurul Ahsan Khan, adviser of the Union, said the government was trying to protect the interests of the owners, not the workers.
“We demand publications of the list of donations to the prime minister’s fund that the government received to assist the Rana Plaza victims so far,” he said. “We want transparency and accountability of the fund to ensure adequate compensation for the victims.”
* Govt misusing Rana Plaza fund: BNP:
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday accused Sheikh Hasina’s government of misusing huge sums of fund raised to rehabilitate the Rana Plaza victims.
He, however, did not say how the fund was misused.
Speaking at a doa mahfil for the victims at party central office in the capital, Fakhrul also said the government used the Rana Plaza incident to stop BNP-led alliance’s movement against it at that time.
At least 1,135 people, mostly RMG workers, were killed and scores more were injured when the mine-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar collapsed on April 24, 2013.
PM’s Special Assistant Mahbubul Hoque Shakil on Wednesday said the Relief and Welfare Fund of the prime minister for the victims was operated with the “highest transparency and accountability.” He said already Tk 22.13 crore was distributed among injured workers and families of the deceased.
Without giving any detail, Fakhrul also accused the government of destabilising the country’s garments industry at present.
* The unforgotten pics:
Death is more often than not a staple requirement to qualify something as tragedy. But when the death toll passes well over the figure of a thousand, that too, not in a war, the word ‘catastrophic’ is perhaps a more apt choice.
The collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight-storey building housing a number of apparel factories, on April 24, 2013, is nothing short of a catastrophe.
Though ours is a nation of forgetters, the specter of that catastrophe did not disappear from collective memory, so powerful was its aftermath.
This is testified in the ongoing three-day photography exhibition at TSC Bot Tala in front of Suhrawardy Udyan where 60 photographers from different media, who photographed the catastrophe, have showcased around 80 stills of death and disaster, hope and despondency, love and loss.
* Bleeding, still:
Families of Rana Plaza victims find nothing to console their tormented souls
Salma Begum fumbled in the piles of the debris-strewn disaster site in Savar. A piece of torn cloth, a rubber slipper nearby, she looked out.
Was it her son’s shirt or sandal?
Only tears rolled down.
“Where’ve you gone my heart, my bazan (son)?…. I’ll take you home,” howled Salma, kneeling down on the jumbled concrete debris of Rana Plaza.
None and nothing could stop her mourning. Only a sense of nothingness prevailed.
Like Salma, family members and relatives of Rana Plaza victims were given a chance to see the disaster site yesterday on the first anniversary of country’s deadliest industrial disaster that claimed 1,135 lives and left more than 2,000 others injured. More than 100 remain still missing.
Torn cloths, papers, yarns, tags, two photos of a girl, probably a garment worker, are among the debris still scattered across the site. Some human bones were also seen strewn in the concrete rubbles yesterday.
Even a year after the collapse, stench of bodies still hangs over the site encircled by barbed wires and corrugated iron sheets at the rear.
* Nightmares haunt them:
It has been a year since Rana Plaza collapsed but nightmares still haunt the survivors.
Sajal Das survived the collapse with severe injuries.
The 26-year-old tried hard to rebuild his life in the apparel sector but the life-changing injuries and the psychological trauma he had sustained got in the way.
“After the collapse, I made three attempts to work in a garment factory, but could not continue. Neither my health, nor my mental condition would let me work for hours. Whenever I hear a noise, I get startled,” said a sighing Sajal.
“Now I have lost interest in the garment factory,” he said.
He moved to Dhaka from Sylhet five years ago with the hope of earning a decent living and had joined New Wave Style Ltd, which was on the sixth floor of Rana Plaza, in 2010. His wife Jhuma Das worked in the same factory and she too was injured.
Sajal was injured in his waist while his wife suffered injuries to the head and waist.
“I did not resume work because it is too difficult,” Jhuma said.
* She knows where her daughter lies:
Safura Begum, with her son standing close, touched the dirt in the Jurain graveyard. ‘I can feel my child, resting here,’ was what she said.
‘I remember meeting h er last in the past year. I cannot still believe that I will no longer seer her,’ said Safura, holding up a photograph of her daughter, Rashida Khatun, in her twenties, wearing a red and violet sari and a red bindi, who worked in one of the five clothing factories housed in Rana Plaza when the building collapsed on April 24, 2013.
Safura, who remembered, with tearful eyes, her last meeting with her daughter at Pahela Baishakh of 1420 in her village home in Meherpur when Rashida, the only bread-earner of the family, gave her mother Tk 3,000, said that she had reached Savar after the building had collapsed.
‘My daughter left me to join work. Ten days after, I heard that the building that housed the factory she worked in had collapsed. I also heard that several hundred people had died,’ she said standing in the graveyard in the morning on Thursday, exactly a year after the building collapse.
* They still search for the missing:
Dozens of people whose near and dear ones went missing after the Rana Plaza building collapse last year were still searching for the remains of their family members.
One year after the country’s worst factory disaster, family members of the missing workers were still seen wailing outside the pile of debris fenced with iron sheet at the Rana Plaza site at Savar in Dhaka.
They said the government agencies had collected their DNA samples but failed to identify their relatives who are believed to have been killed in the building collapse.
Most of the mourners are not sure if they would ever come to know what happened to their dear ones with the government yet to respond to their pleas.
‘I neither found the body nor any compensation…Where I should I go now?’ said elderly Chhatu Khatun holding a placard with details of her 16-yer-old son Azam Khan.
With her three-year-old grandchild Rubina Akhter on her lap, Rokeya
Akhter was holding a placard with the photograph of her missing daughter Lucky Akhter Sonia, a worker at the New Wave Style factory which Rana Plaza had housed.
* BGMEA chief: Families of missing workers will get help:
The worst industrial accident killed 1,135 workers and injured over 2,500 on April 24, last year
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Atiqul Islam said the body will rehabilitate and compensate families of missing workers of Rana Plaza factories.
He said BGMEA has not closed its doors for Rana Plaza workers and would continue supporting them in future.
“If any affected family comes to us, we will take the responsibility of them,” announced Atiqul Islam while addressing a rally organised remembering Rana Plaza victims yesterday
* DNA tests create scope for closure:
Safura Khatun, mother of Rashida Khatun, a seamstress who was killed in the Rana Plaza tragedy last year, finally touched the grave of her beloved daughter yesterday after a whole one year.
She found the news of her child’s grave in the capital’s Jurain graveyard in February but could not come from her village home in Meherpur due to financial problems.
“After a long time, I am feeling the touch of my daughter again,” Safura said, breaking into sobs at Jurain graveyard where 291 victims were buried unidentified initially.
Through DNA tests later, authorities identified 206 of them, while 85 still remain unidentified.
“Though we were informed about the DNA results six months back, we only received the relevant paper in February,” said Mohammad Abu Bakar, brother of Rashida.
* April 24 as nat’l secured workplace day demanded:
Garment workers and leaders in Chittagong yesterday demanded that the government declare April 24 as the national secured workplace day and compensate Rana Plaza victims as early as possible.
The demands came from a human chain organised by Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation before Chittagong Press Club in the port city. Their demands include punishment for culprits responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse incident and also compensation for victims of other industrial accidents.
* Global rally for victims of industrial tragedy:
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world yesterday mourned the garment workers who died in the Rana Plaza disaster one year ago.
They also called upon retailers to be more transparent about their supply chains and compensate the victims and their families.
In Paris, people wore funeral shrouds and held placards reading the names, age and profession of the victims as they took part in a protest marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, reported AFP.
In London, activists protested outside Gap’s flagship High Street branch in Kensington over its refusal to join companies that have signed a legally binding Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety, following the disaster which killed 1,135, mostly garment workers.
The protesters included comedian and writer Mark Thomas, representatives from the charity War on Want, and Tansy E Hoskins, the journalist who has written the new book Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion.
Nadia Idle, a campaigner of London-based rights organisation War on Want, demonstrated outside Gap’s store in Kensington with a placard that says “Warning: Lethal Working Conditions.
* Eleven Labour Court cases stuck in tangles:
The Labour Ministry lodged the cases against its owner Sohel Rana, his father Abdul Khaleque, and the owners and top officials of the five garment factories housed in the building
The trials in 11 cases filed with the Labour Court following the Rana Plaza collapse have yet to begin even though one year has passed since the deadly incident took place.
The Labour Ministry lodged the cases against its owner Sohel Rana, his father Abdul Khaleque, and the owners and top officials of the five garment factories housed in the building.
The eight-storeyed building situated beside the Savar-Dhaka highway collapsed on the morning of April 24, last year, leaving at least 1,135 people, mostly workers of the five garment factories housed in that faulty building, dead and over 2,500 injured.
* ONE YEAR OF RANA PLAZA DISASTER: Protests demand justice, damages, rehabilitation:
Several thousand survivors, relatives of the workers who died or went missing in the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar, rights campaigners observed the first anniversary of the disaster that left 1,135 people, mostly apparel workers, dead and rallied for justice, damages and rehabilitation.
Labour rights groups called on the government to declare April 24 a national holiday and observe it as ‘mourning and labour safety day’ in memory of people who died as Rana Plaza, which housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank, collapsed in 2013. More than 2,000 workers were maimed or wounded.
Protesters also urged the government, owners and foreign clothing brands to improve safety condition so that such incidents do not take place again.
Relatives of the workers who went missing wailed as workers who survived with injuries and their relatives demanded due compensation in keeping with International Labour Organisation standards.
* SHAME! :
Sums up top ILO official over failure of stakeholders in compensating families of Rana Plaza victims, survivors
Even a year after the Rana Plaza disaster, the families of dead workers and survivors are yet to get adequate compensation, with a top ILO official terming the delay a shame for all stakeholders.
“It is very hard, very difficult to speak here today and say that the victims still cannot be adequately compensated. That will be a shame for all of us,” said Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, ILO’s deputy director general for field operations and partnerships, yesterday.
He also said a lot has been done but more remains to be done to ensure better working conditions in the RMG sector.
The ILO official’s comments came at a discussion on progress in ensuring factory and workplace safety since the deadly Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 last year left at least 1,135 workers dead and over 2,400 injured.
The labour and employment ministry and International Labour Organisation (ILO) jointly arranged the programme, attended by diplomats from Europe and America, labour leaders and rights campaigners, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.
“We call for rapid and full compensation to the victims under coordinated approach,” said William Hanna, ambassador and head of delegation of European Union to Bangladesh.
* US brands ‘fail to act’ on Bangladesh tragedy:
A year after factory collapse in Savar which killed more than a thousand workers, activists say little has changed.
In Bangladesh, its the first anniversary of the factory collapse in Savar, a sub-district of Dhaka, which killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
In the wake of the disaster, major retailers pledged to force safety improvements, but activists say many US-based brands have changed little.
see more. (videoreport).
18:35:20 local time PAKISTAN
* Govt urged to dispel misperception regarding work conditions :
Experts urged on Thursday the government and textile entrepreneurs to act immediately to dispel the baseless impression being created among members of European parliament about the working conditions, particularly of women, in Pakistan’s textile mills.
They blamed India and Turkey for triggering such propaganda among the members of EU parliament (MEP) in the wake of GSP (generalised system of preferences) status granted to Pakistan.
An MEP from Italy Barbara Matera wrote an article in EU parliament magazine on April 16, 2014, expressing apprehensions about the safety and working conditions of hundreds of thousands of women, men and children in the textile sector of Pakistan. It was based on false facts, alleged the experts.
Particularly, she expressed worry about harassment of women in textile industry. Matera, in fact, warned that if not checked the situation could lead to a tragedy similar to the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh on 24 April, 2013.
* Cost of living: Minimum wage inadequate to meet basic needs, says SC:
The Supreme Court has observed that the fundamental rights to life as given in Article 9 and a life of dignity as envisioned under Article 14 of the Constitution are not available to a substantial number of citizens throughout the country.
At the last hearing, the court had constituted four committees, comprising the federal and provincial governments’ law officers, to check the price and availability of wheat flour on-spot throughout the country.
“The committees have made visits to various sites. From their reports, it does appear that the fundamental rights to life as given in Article 9 and a life of dignity as envisioned under Article 14 of the Constitution may not be available presently to a substantial number of citizens,” a two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, observed on Tuesday.
* Workers hold ‘parallel’ labour conference at Shimla Hill roundabout:
Different labour and civil society organisations under the banner of Labour Action Committee (LAC) on Wednesday started a three-day protest demonstration and a parallel labour conference on the road to oppose the Punjab government’s South Asia Labour Conference that is opening at a luxury hotel today (Thursday).
Labour organisations participating in the road conference are of the view that some handpicked non-government organisations (NGOs) and some pocket union leaders were participating in the regional conference against the real demands of the labour class and also to ‘silence opposition to the government conference’.
Under the umbrella of LAC, Awami Workers Party (AWP), Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM), Textile Power Loom Garment Workers Union Punjab, Labour Education Foundation (LEF), Pattan Development Organisation, Pakistan Institute of Education and Research (PIER), HomeNet Pakistan and other labour organisations, NGOs, and civil society organisations are participating in the road conference.
Over 500 political activists and labourers from across the province are participating in the demonstration in front of the Lahore Press Club.
They blocked the Shimla Hill roundabout by fixing tents and announced that they would continue their protest demonstration for the next three days, parallel to the government’s conference.
Later, they held a sit-in and started their road conference in which different political, trade union, and civil society leaders took turns to speak to the gathering.
They said that despite repeated appeals, the Punjab government showed no interest in implementing labour laws, including minimum wages in the province, which forced them to hold a parallel conference.
* Labour leaders flay govt for ‘ignoring realities’:
Labour leaders and labourers from across the province have raised their voice against the Punjab government and organisers of the South Asia Labour Conference (SALC) for ignoring the ground realities and inviting only politically mild trade unions and labour organisations to the conference, on the first day of SALC here on Thursday.
A rally organised by Awami Workers Party, Labour Action Committee, Bhatta Mazdoor Tehreek here at Shimla Pahari on Thursday attracted hundreds of labourers, including a significant number of brick-kiln workers. They claimed that the PML-N government was promoting itself vis-à-vis SALC by showcasing its so-called achievements in front of SAARC countries and heads of international organisations.
* ‘Pakistan committed to ILO conventions’ :
The opening day of South Asia Labour Conference (SALC) started with speeches by key political figures, international labour experts and discussions between SAARC states, Punjab Government, labour leaders and academics on the seven thematic areas of labour interest.
Addressing a gathering of an estimated 300 participants here at a local hotel Thursday, Provincial Minister for Labour and Human Resource Raja Ashfaq Sarwar highlighted the major achievements of the PML-N government in labour policy and schemes.
“It is my pleasure to express my deepest gratitude to the dynamic, vibrant, and visionary leadership of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who has taken various revolutionary initiatives like good governance, schools for underprivileged sections of society, solution of energy crises, combating dengue outbreak in 2011 with the help of Sri Lankan government, metro bus service in Lahore and in twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” said Sarwar in his speech at SALC.
* CM links Pakistan’s progress to labour empowerment:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said Pakistan can never achieve progress and prosperity without empowering labourers.
He said time had come to take effective measures for the welfare of labourers as it would help in development of trade, agriculture and industrial sectors. He said Pakistan could achieve its rightful place in the comity of nations through honesty and hard work.
He expressed these views while addressing the inaugural ceremony of first South Asia Labour Conference 2014 at a local hotel, here Thursday.
* Minister sees breakthrough in labour policies:
Provincial Minister for Labor and Human Resource Raja Ashfaq Sarwar has predicted a breakthrough in labor policies and discourse at this week’s South Asia Labor Conference to be held on April 24-26, with 300 delegates expected to participate in various technical sessions and roundtable meetings.
In an interview with The News here at his office on Wednesday, Labour Minister Sarwar said an approximate number of 81 foreign delegates from the International Labor Organization, the European Union, Afghanistan, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Turkey and China have arrived to attend the Labor Conference. He said the EU has volunteered to pay for their accommodation during the three-day conference.
Three-day tripartite South Asia Labour Conference is opening here on Thursday (today) to discuss the issues facing the labourers across the region.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will be the chief guest at the inaugural session as labour ministers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives and high-level delegations from India, Nepal and Bhutan will be in attendance.
Seven working groups will be formed for the moot to cover aspects like harmonising labour laws, working conditions, productivity and competitiveness, labour market information for evidence-based policies & laws, labour migration, occupational health & safety, social protection and protection of vulnerable groups (children, women).
These groups will submit their recommendations for forming a joint strategy on all the issues to be announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the concluding session of the conference on Saturday.
Punjab government is likely to announce its labour policy on the occasion.
The working class is expecting that the issues confronting region’s labourers will at least be highlighted through the moot as some workers’ representatives have decided to welcome the delegates while some others have announced holding a parallel conference and staging sit-in in Lahore and elsewhere in the province.
The protesting bodies include the Labour Action Committee, Labour Qaumi Movement, Awami Workers Party, Labour Education Foundation, Pattan Development Organisation, Pakistan Institute of Education and Research, HomeNet Pakistan and Textile Power-Loom Garment Workers Union, Punjab.
read more. & read more. & read more.
The first-ever South Asia Labour Conference kicked off here on Thursday as delegates from eight countries of the region would put their heads together to identify the challenges in their respective labour markets and find out solutions while sharing each other’s experiences.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif formally opened the three-day tripartite moot being organised by the provincial government in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
High-level representatives of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, European Union, ILO, trade and labour unions of Pakistan, chambers of commerce including ministers and heads of different organisations were in attendance.
Shahbaz said: “The empowerment of youth, promotion of economic and commercial activities, progress of women and protection of rights of the people is essential and these are the common problems of all South Asian countries.”
* PSDF awards contracts for vocational training:
The Punjab Skills Development Fund awarded contracts worth Rs344 million to vocational training service providers on Thursday, according to a press release from the PSDF.
The providers are from the public and private sectors and the garments industry, under the PSDF’s new scheme “Skills for Garments.”
This is a continuation of the provincial government’s efforts to improve income-generation opportunities for residents of target districts, the press release quoted PSDF CEO Ali Sarfraz as saying at the singing ceremony for the contracts.
The garments industry in Punjab has taken the initiative of being the training service provider itself and some industry-owned training service providers have been selected to impart training under the scheme.
* Pakistan focuses on textile industry:
The country’s new trade status with the EU will add more jobs to Pakistan.
The textile sector is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, making up more than 50% of the country’s total overseas shipments,” Textile and Industry Ministry Secretary Rukhsana Shah said.
The industry is the single largest determinant of economic growth in the country, she said.
Revisions in the government’s 2014-2015 textile policy will focus on investments in infrastructure, training and research to enhance product development centres in the country, she said.
“The government is determined to facilitate the textile industry to enhance trade volume for economic stability and growth,” Shah said. “Regional trade will be the focus that will help to enlarge the [garment-producing] capacity of Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.”
A key economic component
“Textiles accounts for about 8.5% of GDP and employ 38% of the total manufacturing labour force,” Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Yasin Siddique said.
Duty-free exports to EU countries
Pakistan’s textiles have helped the country boost economic ties with the EU.
The EU relieved Pakistan of tariffs on exports to its member nations under a Generalised System of Preference status (GSP Plus) awarded in December. That designation started in January.
The EU in December signed a law granting Pakistan a Generalised System of Preference status (GSP Plus). Doing so means that Pakistan won’t have to pay tariffs on exports to EU countries. The deal started in January and will run through 2017.
* Textile industry exports: GSP plus status showing positive results: EU envoy:
EU Ambassador Lars Gunnar Wigemark said the GSP Plus facility to Pakistan showing positive results to increase textile industry exports.
He has expressed the hope that other sectors of Pakistan economy will also be benefited from the GSP Plus status accordingly. He said this while speaking to APTMA members during his visit to APTMA Punjab on Thursday.
Acting Chairman, APTMA Punjab, Syed Ali Ahsan welcomed him. Group Leader APTMA, Gohar Ejaz was also present on the occasion. The EU Ambassador said an increase in the value added exports within three months of the GSP Plus facility is very impressive and he looks forward to further increase. Certainly, it will create new jobs, which is one of the major reasons behind the GSP Plus status from the EU, he added.
* Contracts worth Rs 344 million awarded: PSDF launches ‘Skills for Garments’ scheme:
Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) on Thursday awarded contracts worth Rs 344 million to various vocational training service providers from public, private sector and garments industry under its new scheme “Skills for Garments.”
It is expected that Skills for Garments scheme will provide ancillary support for provision of required manpower to garments sector.
Contracts were inked at a signing ceremony where PSDF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ali Sarfraz and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ali Akbar Bosan signed the documents on behalf of PSDF with representatives from the 14 training organisations.
* APTMA urges government to provide uninterrupted energy supply:
Muhammad Yasin Siddik, Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has urged the government to provide uninterrupted energy supply to the textile industry specially to those mills located in the Punjab to avoid large scale closure of the export oriented textile mills earning about 55 percent of foreign exchange through exports.
In a statement issued to the press, M Yasin Siddik said that due to massive electricity load shedding of 8 hours daily and supply of gas for only six hours on daily basis to the Punjab based textile industry is causing unbearable losses, especially at a time when the textile mills have huge stocks of raw materials which today seems expensive due to the devaluation of the dollar.