* Thinking Big: The Global Minimum Wage:
Let’s finally get globalization to work for people and begin – perhaps with anti-sweatshop campaigns – to organize for a global minimum wage.
After years of neglect, the minimum wage has suddenly become a major national issue. President Obama has proposed an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, fast food workers are agitating for $15, and candidates who back a higher wage floor, including an avowed socialist in Seattle, are winning local elections. In February, the retailer Gap Inc. announced that it was implementing a nationwide minimum wage for 65,000 of its own 90,000 employees (although only $9 an hour).
The minimum wage is an important issue in other countries as well, although we rarely hear about these cases.
● Thousands of Bangladeshi garment workers took to the streets last September, blocking roads and setting factories on fire as they demanded an increase of the monthly minimum wage to about $104.
● Haitian workers staged a two-day walkout from Port-au-Prince’s apparel plants in December, shutting down the country’s assembly sector as part of a continuing struggle for a minimum of $12 a day.
● Hundreds of thousands of apparel workers went on strike at the end of December in Cambodia around a call for a monthly minimum of $160. At least five people were shot dead on Jan. 3 when police attacked a massive workers’ protest; this was the first time Cambodian police had fired into a crowd since 1997.
A Use for the WTO?
For workers in Bangladesh, Haiti, and Cambodia there’s one hurdle that most of us don’t face here: if they win, they stand a good chance of losing their jobs.
The combination of neoliberal trade agreements and technical advances in transport and communications has made it easy for garment manufacturers and retailers to move production from one country to another.
“(L)arge multinational companies systematically search the globe for the most advantageous conditions for their production facilities,” British journalist and activist Tansy Hoskins wrote in The Business of Fashion in January.
“(I)f factors like rising wages or the expansion of unions threaten profits, companies can simply source their labor elsewhere.
For workers, this constant threat of replacement makes fighting for higher standards risky because if things do shift, companies just up and leave for other locations.”
For Hoskins, the author of the recently released Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, the solution is obvious: Remove the incentive to relocate to countries with lower wages. If the apparel industry can globalize production, the producers need to be able to globalize the minimum wage.
An Awareness-Raising Tool
In any case, a push for a global minimum would have important benefits long before the wage itself could become a reality.
“The campaign would be a powerful educational and awareness-raising tool,” according to Bjorn Skorpen Claeson, a former grassroots anti-sweatshop organizer from Maine who is now a senior policy analyst at the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), a DC-based nonprofit that has played a leading role in fighting sweatshop conditions.
“It would place workers from different parts of the world side by side,” he wrote when asked for his appraisal, “and help us make connections to each other and to institutions and decisions that impact all of our lives.”
23:18:58 local time CHINA
* = posted-updated bulletin 25 April
* Stitching small dreams in a big city:
Zhao came to Shenzhen 10 years ago, leaving her husband and their three-year-old daughter back in Hubei. Working on a 10-hour shift, she was busy stitching clothes the whole time we were talking.
Sometimes she would stop when talking about her little girl, look up, smile briefly for a moment, and again hunch back in front of her sewing machine and keep working.
Although she does not have health insurance, she makes 4,000 to 5,000 yuan per month. She prefers to work in manufacturing workshops like this one, where there’s no contract and she can come and go whenever she wants. Many migrant workers like her bounce between workshops to do different jobs, trying to make some extra money.
“I need to make money for my daughter who I really miss”, says Zhao. “I will go back to Hubei once she starts middle school and find something to do there.”
read & see more. (photo report).
* Most back to work after China shoe factory strike:
A nearly two-week strike at a huge shoe factory in southern China appears to have ended after the Taiwan-backed company agreed to meet some of the workers’ demands, including raising their living allowance and benefit payments.
More than 80 per cent of the employees at the Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan city have returned to work, the company’s chairman, Lu Chin-chu, said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late yesterday.
He added that the strike had caused losses of about US$27 million (RM88.2 million) and that Yue Yuen’s move to meet workers’ demands “may have a material adverse effect” on its financial performance.
Tens of thousands of employees at the factory owned by Yue Yuen, which calls itself the world’s largest branded footwear maker, had been on strike since April 14 in protest at unpaid social insurance payments.
* 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.”
read more. & to read.
* 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?”
23:18:58 local time PHILIPPINES
* Aquino worst recent president for minimum wage – KMU:
Less than a week before Labor Day, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Department of Labor and Employment’s main office in Intramuros, Manila this morning to condemn the government of Pres. Noynoy Aquino for attacking the minimum wage.
The workers claimed that Aquino has not only refused to implement a significant wage hike which workers have been calling for, but has attacked the minimum wage through the Two-Tiered Wage System (2TWS) and plans to give workers the “option” not to receive the minimum wage.
“As far as protecting and upholding the minimum wage is concerned, Aquino is the worst president in recent memory. Not only has he refused to implement a significant wage hike despite huge increases in the prices of basic goods and services, but has attacked the minimum wage and is scheming to further attack the latter,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
22:18:58 local time CAMBODIA
* Unions insist to celebrate Labor Day at Freedom Park:
Leaders of labor unions and associations insisted that they would celebrate the 128th International Labor Day at the Freedom Park on May 1, defying a ban by the Phnom Penh authority.
“Phnom Penh City Hall didn’t allow the labor unions and associations to celebrate the ceremony at the Freedom Park because it was waiting for approval from Ministry of Interior, but we would still celebrate it at the Freedom Park even though there is no permission,” Fa Sali, President of Coalition of National Union, told The Cambodia Herald on Saturday.
* Mass Trials of Garment Protesters Commence:
Vorn Pao, center, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, yells to journalists as he and other defendants are driven away from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday. He and 22 others were tried for their roles in garment strikes that turned violent in January. (Siv Channa)
Trials of 25 unionists, garment workers, and men arrested at protests began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday as crowds of supporters scuffled with police on the heavily barricaded road outside.
The hearings, which were carried out in three separate courtrooms, opened after a four-month wait behind bars for 21 of the men, who stand accused, along with two others previously bailed, of causing violence and damaging property during garment strikes in two factory districts on January 2 and 3. At least five people were shot dead and numerous injured by the authorities during those protests.
Two teenagers were also tried on charges of intentional violence for their roles in a November 12 clash near Stung Meanchey bridge between police and protesting SL Garment Factory workers, when the authorities also shot dead a bystander.
In Courtroom 1, 10 defendants rounded up and beaten outside the South Korean-owned Yakjin factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on January 2 had their case heard by Presiding Judge Keo Mony. Suspects were brought in in pairs and questioned one by one, with only four of the ten having a chance to address the court Friday.
Among the six who didn’t have the opportunity to answer questions was Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association union of tuk-tuk drivers and motodops, who has become a symbol of workers’ rights since his detention in the remote Correctional Center 3 prison in Kompong Cham province in January.
* Cambodia court opens massive trial of protesters amid heavy security:
Amid a heavy security presence that saw even witnesses being barred from entry, Phnom Penh Municipal Court today began proceedings against nearly two dozen people accused of property damage and intentional violence during January’s bloody protests.
The case against 23 unionists, workers, protesters and bystanders—including several high-profile activists—who were rounded up over the course of two days in early January has come under heavy criticism by rights groups who term the case political and the charges unfounded. The court also simultaneously tried two other individuals who were arrested during November clashes that saw the death of one bystander and at least seven injuries.
Garment worker protests calling for a higher minimum wage took a violent turn in early January when an elite army unit was sent to break up rallies outside the Yakjin factory on January 2. A day later, military police and protesters clashed on nearby Veng Sreng street, where officers opened fire—killing at least five and wounding scores.
The government has steadfastly maintained that such crackdowns were necessary to staunch violent uprisings and has deemed no officials guilty for the deaths. But the 10 arrested at Yakjin and 13 arrested the following day have been shown little leniency thus far.
Many were seriously wounded after being beaten by police and all were inexplicably remanded far from Phnom Penh to a notorious prison on the Vietnamese border. After the arrests, their whereabouts were hidden from lawyers and family members for nearly a week.
Spread out over three courtrooms, the sprawling case—the biggest human rights-related trial in modern Cambodian history—aimed to assess the guilt of 25 individuals arrested in three different incidents.
But in the courtrooms, it quickly became clear that the complexities of such a case would be overshadowed by suggestions of a pre-determined outcome.
* GMAC Boycotts Workshop on Minimum Wages:
A would-be tripartite workshop intended to improve the garment sector’s minimum wage setting process closed Friday, with the industry’s most influential player, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), boycotting the talks at Phnom Penh Hotel.
The two-day workshop would have been the first meeting between the strife-torn garment industry’s three factions—unions, employers and the government—since strikes in December and January ended in violence after the military police shot dead at least five protesters.
Unions and the Labor Ministry were heavily represented at the talks in Phnom Penh, but GMAC decided to stay away, contrary to government reports that one representative was present Thursday.
“I want to make it very clear that GMAC did not engage in these talks,” said Ken Loo, secretary-general of GMAC, which represents about 500 of the country’s exporting factories.
Mr. Loo said that he and other key GMAC personnel were out of town this week and that he did not want to send lower-ranking staff to a meeting that he claims had no clear agenda.
* Union Leader Appeals Court Orders Restricting His Activities:
Ath Thorn, the president of the country’s largest independent labor union, said Friday that he has appealed court orders restricting his unionizing activity and is seeking support from international labor organizations as he faces charges of incitement.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered Mr. Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, to pay a $25,000 bail in order to avoid pre-trial detention over charges that he incited violence during a September 20 protest at the SL Garment Factory in Phnom Penh.
On Tuesday, the court issued an injunction order telling Mr. Thorn to stay away from SL factory workers and refrain from joining pubic gatherings.
“We appealed to the Court of Appeal this past week, and we also sent a letter of complaint to international unions and governments for them to intervene,” said Mr. Thorn.
“We request to cancel the court’s decision because we did not commit the crime like the court charges.”
* Trumped-up charges and restrictions against Cambodian union leader must be dropped at once:
IndustriALL Global Union is calling on the Cambodian government to immediately drop trumped-up charges and end restrictions against Ath Thorn, President of IndustriALL affiliate C.CAWDU.
The garment union boss is facing criminal charges, filed by SL Garment Processing Ltd., for incitement to commit a felony. He has now been placed under a court order that prohibits him from meeting SL Garment workers and people in a public gathering that could “damage public order”.
The court is also demanding that Ath Thorn pay bail of US$ 25,000 by the beginning of May.
IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:
“Not only are the charges against Ath Thorn groundless, but the restrictions placed upon him are a blatant violation of his right to freedom of association, and the demand for bail unjust. We urge the Cambodian authorities to drop the charges and restrictions immediately.”
Ath Thorn, who is appealing the bail conditions, has been charged with inciting violence at a protest at the SL Garment factory in September last year, despite no evidence against him.
Moreover, in a settlement witnessed and signed by Sat Sakmut, Deputy Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in December 2013, C.CAWDU and SL Garment factory agreed that no further legal charges would be filed between either party.
Ath Thorn is one of the most influential non-government union leaders in the country and a prominent trade union campaigner for a raise in the minimum wage and the release of 21 prisoners detained since demonstrations in January.
IndustriALL has written to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, calling on his government to end all legal cases connected with the SL Garment conflict and expressing concern that the case against Ath Thorn may be aimed at frustrating the unions’ legitimate efforts to advocate for a higher minimum wage and for the release of the 21 prisoners.
* 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.
23:18:58 local time INDONESIA
* Unions prepare for May Day:
Less than a week before the first ever May Day holiday this year, the Confederation of Indonesia Labor Unions (KSPI) is preparing for a large demonstration.
“We workers are consolidating our May Day plan. One of our demands is to raise the 2015 minimum wage by 30 percent and revise the basic living costs to number 84,” KSPI president Said Iqbal said as quoted by tribunnews.com on Thursday evening.
The KSPI also demanded the removal of the outsourcing system and a pay rise for contract teachers’ salaries.
In his speech in a youth community hall in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, Iqbal also called on the government to protect domestic and migrant workers. He also asked that the government stop the common practice of companies withholding workers’ salaries.
21:48:58 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Burma on Course to Regain Top Garment Exporter Status, Says Study:
The economic re-opening of Burma is creating “immense potential” for the country’s return to its former glory as a leading global garment producer and exporter, a business study said.
Despite exports plummeting in the last 20 years due to isolation, renewed access to Western and Japanese markets should enable the industry to regain some of its former status, said the study by Business Monitor International (BMI).
“The US, EU, and Japan combined account for nearly 80 percent of the world’s garment demand. In light of [Burma’s] enormous wealth of human capital, with a population of approximately 53.3 million and a young median age of just 29, as well as its extremely low economic base, we believe that potential for growth is immense,” BMI said.
The revival will be from a low base, however. By 2010 the value of Burma’s garment exports had slumped to just one twentieth of Vietnam’s industry. Burmese exports began to recover in 2012 but with a value of US$909 million they represented only 1.5 percent of GDP, said BMI.
The biggest challenge facing the industry’s revival will be attracting sufficient foreign investment, it said.
21:18:58 local time BANGLADESH
* 17,500 RMG workers lose jobs following inspection:
BGMEA President apprehended that the number of jobless garment workers would reach 100,000 in next three months and 500,000 in next 5 months if the inspection continued
Some 17,500 workers became jobless following the closure of 16 garment factories in Dhaka after the inspection by Accord, an association of European garment buyers.
Disclosing the figure, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam yesterday apprehended that the number of jobless garment workers would reach 100,000 in next three months and 500,000 in next 5 months if the inspection continued.
He made the observation at a discussion on national budget at Dhaka Chamber Auditorium in the city, seeking special support from the government to protect the country’s leading foreign exchange-earning industry.
* 17,500 RMG workers lose jobs: BGMEA:
Some 17,500 workers became jobless following the closure of 16 garment factories in Dhaka city after the inspection by Accord, an association of European garment buyers, reports UNB.
Disclosing the figure, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam on Saturday apprehended that the number of jobless garment workers will reach 100,000 in next three months and 500,000 in next 5 months if the inspection continued.
He made the observation at a discussion on national budget at Dhaka Chamber Auditorium in the city seeking special support from the government to protect the country’s leading foreign exchange-earning industry.
Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) organised the seminar titled “Upcoming Budget: Promises and Challenges” with its president Sultan Mahmud Badal in the chair.
* Factory inspection policy:
Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions tragedies during the last one and a half years have brought a number of critical issues to spotlight.
But it remains to be seen whether these have stirred a wake-up call to address them in right earnest.
Strange it indeed sounds that a highly important matter such as factory inspection has never received the right attention.
Now that the tragic incidents of fire and building collapse have traumatised the entire nation, and stakeholders both within and without are upbeat about factory safety and worker’s welfare in the garment sector, it seems as though factories in bangladesh mean only garment factories.
The country has a diverse range of mills and factories scattered all over, and the government should have been prompted to put in place a thorough procedure for inspection and surveillance long before.
At last, the factory tragedies, attributable largely to lack of regulatory control and surveillance, have caused the government to formulate a factory inspection policy. Better late than never.
* The challenges RMG faces:
There is no denying that one year after Rana Plaza Tragedy, a wide gap still exists between the commitments made and the delivery of those promises.
Families of the injured and dead in the building collapse are leading a life of uncertainty as the government, garment factory owners and international brands have failed to honour their commitments.
Despite various initiatives taken up at national and international levels, the victims and their families are still in a vulnerable state.
With the passing of the first year, the need to fulfil those commitments has become urgent, according to a recent Centre for Development Studies (CPD) study.
The country needs to formulate a long-term strategy for the welfare of the victims, so that the injured and families of the dead do not feel that their sacrifices were worthless, the study said.
The Rana Plaza Trust Fund, an initiative of the government, buyers and industrial trade unions, has failed to collect the targeted funds.
Only a total of $15 million has been collected against a target of $40 million.
The British retail giant Primark has been the main contributor until to date, with a total contribution of $12 million.
In fact, both the government and Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers’ and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have failed to fulfil their commitments.
Side by side, work on safety condition and worker rights in the apparel sector is yet to make any visible. Almost all the initiatives that the government is implementing under the national tripartite plan of action have remained half done.
However, there was significant improvement in some areas but any such change to be visible would take time as a number of initiatives were still being implemented. Poor safety condition in apparel factories came to light at national and international levels after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building, which housed five clothing factories.
* Raising investment: the biggest challenge ahead:
Economists and businesses say at ERF discussion
Boosting economic growth and investments will be the biggest challenges for the government in the upcoming fiscal year, economists and businesses said yesterday.
Rebuilding the damaged image of the readymade garment sector that accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country’s total exports will be another tough task, they said.
They pointed out the issues at a discussion on “the upcoming budget: promises and challenges” organised by Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) at the office of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Bangladesh is going through a barren spell of investment,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue.
Trends show that both private and public investments will come down further this year, he said.
Private investment went down by one percentage point in fiscal 2012-13 compared to the previous year, he added.
Economic growth is projected to be the lowest in 10 years due to sluggish investment, he said, adding that the government has failed to carry on institutional reforms to boost investment and growth.
* Poison Food For Workers – A Typical Case:
Apart from the 200 victims of food poisoning recently in Karim Textiles, yet another such incident took place in Best Wool Sweaters Ltd at Gazipur on 23.04.2014.
There were at least 200 workers who were admitted to local clinics which complains ranging from vomiting, extreme stomach pain and illness after eating an evening snack served to them at around 8:30PM.
M***, a helper at this factory, says “the evening snack was served to workers so that they can continue working in night-shift even after they had been working for the entire day.
Food were bought and stored for them, and temperatures were souring above 40 degrees Celsius that day; the food also looked stale, but we were hungry and we needed energy to continue working in such heat inside our cramped factory floors.” M*** is one of the workers who ate the food while some refused to consume and remain hungry due to their doubts on the food being stale.
According to the workers, the food consisted of one egg, one banana, one loaf of bread, and one biscuit. When the workers fell ill, they were admitted to different hospitals and clinics. Dr KM Sharif, a doctor at the city’s Sharif Medical said some 120 workers took treatment at the hospital while others went to smaller clinics around the region.
While Best Wool Sweaters boast its buyers among top western brands such as Bestseller, C&A, H&M, Celio, ESPRIT , it also has been audited by the famed audit firm TUV Sud.
M*** also reports that the factory does not give maternity leaves to its workers, and neither do the workers get paid leaves or festival bonuses. For each day missed,
3 days are counted absent. The helper is given BDT 5300 and made to work will midnight, without any overtime at all.
* ‘West won’t buy blood stained clothes’:
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez has said western consumers will not buy clothes that are stained with the blood of Bangladeshi workers.
“The BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh must understand this simple message,” Menendez said in a statement ssued regarding the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh.
He also urged Bangladesh government and BGMEA to take immediate and concerted steps to end the suppression of fledgling trade unions by the garment workers.
“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. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* US senator for urgent steps to stop suppression of TUs:
A US senator on Friday called for immediate steps both from the government and the apparel makers of Bangladesh to stop suppression of fledgling trade unions (TUs).
“If the BGMEA and the government of Bangladesh do not take immediate and concerted 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,” senator Robert Menendez said in a statement on the occasion of anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.
He said both the Bangladesh government and the factory owners are still reluctant to ensure trade union rights of workers even after one year of deadly Rana Plaza collapse incident.
* Help keep ‘made in Bangladesh’ shining globally:
US Senator Robert Menendez has urged the government and BGMEA to take steps to end the suppression of fledgling unions of RMG workers to help keep ‘Made in Bangladesh’ brand shine globally.
“If the BGMEA and Bangladesh government do not take immediate and concerted 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 in a statement.
Menendez, also chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, issued the statement in the early hours yesterday regarding the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.
* Govt lacks political will to protect workers: US senator:
US senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, has said the Bangladesh government, while making progress in the registration of new unions, still lacks the ‘institutional capacity and political will’ to protect the workers.
‘This has had a chilling effect on labour organising in the country. Many workers now fear losing their jobs if they join a union and union organisers
rightly fear for their own safety,’ the senator said in a statement on Friday marking the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh.
Menendez said without the strong voice of an independent factory union, workers have no mechanism to ensure their own safety. They cannot make sure that managers don’t keep fire doors shut and stairwells clear, or that cracks in columns and walls are not simply painted over.
* US only advocates for improved labour conditions, not tariff concession: BD envoy:
While the US Congress consistently advocates for improved labour conditions in Bangladesh, it always shies away from offering any tariff concession to Bangladesh apparels, said Bangladesh envoy to Washington.
“There’s no doubt that it would have given much needed financial rooms for the industries to improve workers’ safety and rights in Bangladesh if the US congress could have offered duty-free access or alternative tariff concessions,” said Bangladesh Ambassador in Washington Akramul Qader.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Menendez no friend to RMG workers:
Threatening to put millions out of work is no solution
Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, has said the US would not buy clothes from Bangladesh as they were stained with the blood of Bangladeshi workers.
The senator went on to threaten that soon, the “made in Bangladesh” label may become “tarnished beyond repair” in the eyes of Western buyers.
While we agree that the BGMEA should do everything it can to improve labour and safety standards in the garment industry, we find the senator’s admonition to be hypocritical and counterproductive.
The US has been importing clothing from Bangladesh for quite some time, happily exploiting many of the realities of our business sector for its own gain. To now suddenly boycott Bangladeshi RMG products serves the interests of neither country.
The garment sector is a key economic driver of Bangladesh. Despite the imperfections of the industry, the sector employs millions of poor people and makes up a significant portion of our GDP. Foreign retailers have been all too happy to buy cheap clothing from Bangladesh while making steep profits in their own local markets.
* Record 146 trade unions formed in RMG sector in a year:
The country witnessed formation of a record 146 trade unions in the 20 billion-a-year Readymade Garment (RMG) industry last year, making a significant step in the much-talked about ‘compliance issue’, according to trade union activist and BGMEA.
“Bangladesh witnessed formation of a record 146 trade unions last year and more trade unions are to be formed in the coming days,” M Atiqul Islam, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told BSS today.
But US Senator Robert Menendez, in a statement on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, said the Bangladesh government and the BGMEA must take immediate steps to end the suppression of fledgling trade unions by readymade garment workers.
read more. & read more.
* BNP, foreigners conspiring against garment industry:
Publicity and Publication Affairs Secretary of the ruling Awami League (AL) Dr Hasan Mahmud Friday alleged that BNP and some foreigners had been hatching conspiracy against garment industry, reports BSS.
“Some of our foreign friends came up with many assurances for providing assistance to the victims of Rana Plaza building collapse but they didn’t fulfil even one of their commitments.
The government of Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina has been marching ahead facing many obstacles. The wheel of development of her government can’t be stopped,” he said.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* ‘GSP suspension jeopardise RMG workforce’:
Dhaka has expressed its displeasure over US government’s action of suspension of GSP benefits at a time when Bangladesh was recovering from the shocks of Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen factory fire.
“…but US government’s response of suspending GSP for Bangladesh has not helped to address the underlying issues beneath the deadly incidents, rather put the workforce into jeopardy,” said Bangladesh Ambassador Akramul Qader in Washington on Wednesday, according to a press release received here on Thursday.
At a discussion organised by Rumi Forum, a US-based think-tank, the Bangladesh envoy urged the international community including USA to continue to constructively engage with Bangladesh.
Apart from providing low cost fashions and apparel solutions to the US consumers, the ambassador said, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) had also been a source of huge revenue for the US government.
* Let US restore GSP for Bangladesh:
We agree with views of the Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the US that suspension of GSP by the US is not helping Bangladeshi workers in the readymade garments (RMG) sector.
The US should help us improve the existing working conditions in RMG sector which can play a vital role to banish poverty and illiteracy.
Bangladesh can easily supply apparels to the world at lower prices if we get support from global brands and retailers in making RMG factories compliant.
About four million people are directly involved in the RMG sector and most of them are women.
* GSP among other issues on agenda:
First TICFA meet tomorrow
Bangladesh is expected to raise issues including GSP (generalised system of preferences), relaxation of the rules of origin and trade and investment in the first TICFA (Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement) meeting to be held in the city tomorrow (Monday), officials said.
Senior Secretary of the ministry of commerce (MoC) Mahbub Ahmed will lead the Bangladesh side while Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for South Asia Michael J Delaney will represent the US side at the meeting.
The USTR team will meet today (Sunday) with the commerce minister to discuss labour issues in the ready made garment (RMG) sector and trade and investment between the two countries, an MoC official told the FE Saturday.
* Duty-free market access, GSP to dominate as first TICFA meet begins Monday:
The first meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA), which has already been effective since January this year, will begin in the capital on Monday.
“We’ve good preparations for the meeting.duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access and GSP will be the key agenda in the first TICFA meeting on Bangladesh side,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told BSS today (Saturday).
Mahbub described the two-day meeting as a high-level bilateral engagement between Dhaka and Washington and said it will help find ways for increasing trade and investment between the two countries.
The Commerce Secretary said a high-profile US private sector trade delegation is already in Dhaka to hold first meeting of the TICFA to discuss these issues.
* Bangladesh to demand GSP in Ticfa talks:
The first meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Bangladesh and the US is finally set to be held tomorrow in Dhaka, amid high hopes of getting trade benefits to the North American nation reinstated.
The meeting was originally scheduled for January, but the US kept deferring it.
“Our priority is to get our GSP status restored,” Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, who will lead Bangladesh in the dialogue, told The Daily Star.
* Govt website exposes ‘illegal’ RMG units:
Around 40 per cent of readymade garments (RMG) factories were found to be operating without the mandatory registration during a recent inspection by the government.
As many as 3,497 RMG units were inspected by the department of inspection for factories and establishments. The inspectors reported that most of the factory owners had not renewed their licenses, and they also did not have any membership with BGMEA or BKMEA.
The data was put up in the department’s new website, www.dife.gov.bd. State minister for labour and employment Mojibul Haque Chunnu had opened the website on March 30 to confirm with the condition of international buyers for getting the generalized system of preference (GSP).
The database of 3,497 RMG units was compiled following inspections by officials from the labour and employment ministry, department of inspection for factories and establishments, fire service and other stakeholders.
* Maiden Ticfa meeting here Monday:
The first-ever meeting under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (Ticfa) between Dhaka and Washington begins here on Monday, aiming to identify and address obstacles to further expanding bilateral trade and investment.
However, a series of meetings will be held on Sunday between the two sides before the key Ticfa meeting, said a senior official at the Commerce Ministry on Saturday.
The USA will have a large, high-level team, accompanied by a private sector delegation representing its many finest companies.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Two US retailers to boost oversight over suppliers:
Dollar Tree Inc and Dillard’s Inc have agreed to boost oversight to ensure worker safety at their suppliers’ factories, and as a result the overseer of New York state’s public pension fund said he has withdrawn shareholder proposals on the issue.
The agreements were announced on Thursday, one year after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, which made products for many retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
More than 1,100 workers died in the factory collapse.
New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees the $173 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, said that as a result of the agreements by Dollar Tree and Dillard’s, he has withdrawn shareholder proposals asking both retailers to strengthen oversight of suppliers.
* Dutch minister for joint efforts to raise fund for Rana Plaza victims:
The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh should work together to impress the international companies, including the European ones, to adequately contribute to the compensation fund for the Rana Plaza victims, said a Dutch minister on Friday.
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Lilianne Ploumen also appreciated Bangladesh for steps taken so far to improve the working conditions in the massive RMG sector.
* Uttara Jute Mills workers demonstrate:
Workers of Uttara Jute Mills in Rupganj upazila here staged demonstrations on Saturday to force the authorities to meet their three-point demand, including an end to oppression on workers.
Their other demands are removal of factory general manager RC Paul and reinstating union leader Zidul Hoque in his job.
The workers alleged that Paul harassed and cheated them over their salary and allowance.
They also said their leader Zidul Hoque was relieved from his job for protesting various irregularities by the factory authorities.
Later, they held a protest rally at the same place.
The workers, however, returned to work following assurances that their demands would be met.
* Use of toxic tannery wastes in poultry, fish feeds continues:
Dozens of unregistered factories at Hazaribagh in the city continue to produce fish and poultry feeds using toxic tannery wastes as the ingredients posing serious risks to human health, said several eyewitnesses as well as the livestock department officials.
Chemical experts and livestock physicians said that tannery wastes’ chromium and other heavy metals in broiler chicken, eggs and fish could cause serious diseases to human beings.
At least 119 unregistered feed mills at Hazaribagh use toxic tannery wastes as protein source for poultry and fish, a senior livestock official told New Age, preferring anonymity.
Manpower shortage makes it difficult to carry on coordinated drives by different ministries, he said.
According to livestock department, there are only 51 registered feed mills in Bangladesh and none of them is situated at Hazaribagh area.
Officials, however, said all the district and upazila livestock officials had been asked to prepare an updated list of the authorized feed mills soon.
A mobile court of Rapid Action Battalion seized 3,000 sacks of poultry feed made of toxic tanner wastes from Amir Poultry Feed at Hazaribagh and sealed its factory in March, said officials.
The practice of using tannery wastes in producing fish and poultry feeds began years back, said a Hazaribagh feed mill worker Arjo Miah.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* French retailer sued over Rana Plaza collapse:
The French retailer Auchan says it had never placed any orders at the Rana Plaza garments factory
A judicial complaint has been filed against French supermarket giant Auchan, in the first of such cases in Europe, in the wake of the deadly Rana Plaza collapse that took the lives of some 1,136 people.
Sherpa, a non profit organisation for the “victims of economic crimes,” Peuples Solidaires (People’s Solidarity), and the Ethique sur l’etiquette (Ethics on Labels) collective, have jointly filed the case, reported The Local.
The three lobby groups, in the complaint that filed with a public prosecutor in France, accused Auchun of misleading customers about working conditions overseas and claims that an investigation found labels from the chain’s “In Extenso” range in the rubble.
However, Auchan said it had never placed any orders at the Rana Plaza garments factory in Dhaka, which collapsed on April 24 last year after a catastrophic structural failure, leaving 1,136 people dead.
* Orthotics & Prosthetics School at CRP:
The first Orthotics & Prosthetics School in Bangladesh has been launched at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) on Thursday to teach Rana Plaza victims with permanent disabilities how to effectively use artificial limbs in day to day life.
German Development Cooperation together with the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) jointly launched the school marking the one year anniversary of the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse at the CRP premises in Savar.
Roswitha Amels, First Secretary from the German Embassy, inaugurated one floor of the Orthotics & Prosthetics School in CRP premises in Savar.
The training facility is jointly financed by CRP, the Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the German Development Cooperation.
Well-trained CRP professionals will help the victims of Rana Plaza with permanent disabilities who were equipped with artificial limbs to learn the use their new limbs in day to day life, said a press release from the German Embassy to Dhaka.
* Dutch minister for joint efforts to raise fund for Rana Plaza victims:
The European Union (EU) and Bangladesh should work together to impress the international companies, including the European ones, to adequately contribute to the compensation fund for the Rana Plaza victims, said a Dutch minister on Friday.
Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands Lilianne Ploumen also appreciated Bangladesh for steps taken so far to improve the working conditions in the massive RMG sector.
read more. & read more.
* RANA PLAZA DISASTER: Protestors ask Walmart for more aid for victims:
A year after Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring more than 2,000 in the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry, protesters gathered Thursday outside the Walmart Neighbourhood Market in Lakeview to demand the world’s largest retailer commit more money to helping the survivors and victims’ families, reports Chicago Tribune.
‘Walmart has only given $1 million to the Rana Plana Trust Fund,’ said Liana Foxvog, director of organising and communications for the International Labour Rights Forum, a non-profit advocacy group headquartered in Washington, DC.
‘That is an inexcusably low contribution, which amounts to less than $500 per affected family.’
A fund called the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, managed by the International Labour Organisation, a specialised agency of the United Nations, needs an estimated $40 million to cover the workers affected by the factory collapse. So far it has raised $16 million in voluntary donations.
* Rana Plaza disaster marked by Oxford Street demonstration:
Activists formed a human chain on London’s Oxford Street to mark the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh and expose the failure of major retail chains to compensate survivors and victims’ families, International Business Times reported.
Campaigners from Labour Behind the Label and War on Want, joined by trade union activists, gathered outside Gap’s flagship branch in Oxford Street to commemorate the 1,138 garment workers who died at a clothing factory building just outside Dhaka in Bangladesh exactly one year ago.
Activists were demanding that all brands buying from Rana Plaza pay into a fund set up by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO). The target is $40m but only $15m has been raised. A number of brands whose clothes were found in the rubble of the factory, including Benetton and Matalan, have not contributed to the fund.
Both companies said they preferred to support alternative assistance programmes for victims.
* Call for workers to stand united:
Politicians, academics and labour leaders at a solidarity rally in the capital on Friday said that workers must be united to realise their demands.
Labourers are the most deprived as they get the lowest wages, the participants in the rally at Shahbagh said.
Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati organised the rally commemorating the workers who died in the Rana Plaza collapse of April 2013.
Eleven hundred and thirty-five workers were killed and more than 2,000 were maimed or wounded in the collapse of the building that housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank.
Dhaka University professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said that workers were the most deprived as governments had always favoured the rich.
* Revisiting Rana Plaza disaster in celluloid:
Curtain fell yesterday on ‘Aftermath: Rana Plaza,’ a photography exhibition arranged to mark the first anniversary of the country’s deadliest garment factory accident in Savar.
The three-day exhibition, which opened at the TSC on Dhaka University campus on April 23, was an initiative of 60 photojournalists working with renowned national and international media outlets.
The journalists said they arranged the exhibition to raise awareness of such manmade disaster among general people, garment factory owners, owners of other factories, workers and the government.
They said through media they were urging the government to consider the idea of preparing a national archive of the photos or to place those in the national museum.
see more. (photo report).
* Rana Plaza: BGMEA to take liability of dead workers’ child:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will take responsibility of the children of the dead workers who died in Rana Plaza building collapse.
The apex apparel trade body will bear all expenses, including their education.
BGMEA President Atiqul Islam made the assertion while addressing the inaugural ceremony of Azizur Rahman Girls’ Home (Orphanage) at the National Press Club on Saturday.
Anjuman Mofidul Islam (AMI) set up the orphanage in Pathalia of Savar outskirts of the capital.
Dhaka constituency-19 lawmaker Dr M Enamur Rahman inaugurated the orphanage.|Atiqul said, “BGMEA is committed to take the liability of the children of the dead workers of Rana Plaza tragedy that is why I am announcing that as long as BGEA will exist, the responsibility of all the children is of the organization.”
* Improving working condition of RMG workers:
Despite passage of one year of the Rana Plaza tragedy, all the victims and their families are yet to be fully compensated.
Many of them have been leading miserable and uncertain lives which they don’t deserve. We have a bad tendency of forgetting a tragedy soon after it takes place. Then we catch up with other such incidents.
But Rana Plaza incident will never be forgotten as it is one of the worst industrial disasters of the world. All stakeholders of readymade garments (RMG) sector have already come forward. We only need to bring discipline and transparency in compensation distribution in a short time.
* Cop probe goes nowhere:
The Rana Plaza tragedy at Savar has yet to see justice for the death of at least 1,138 people, as police could not complete investigation into the collapse of the building even after one year.
Seven out of total 21 accused in three cases filed in connection with the disaster have already been out of prison after obtaining bail from the High Court.
Three other accused including Sohel Rana, owner of Rana Plaza, have also secured bail from the HC in two cases. However, they are still behind bars, as the Supreme Court has stayed the HC orders following opposition from the Office of the Attorney General.
Of the accused out on bail, Abdul Khalek, father of Sohel Rana, returned to Savar and has allegedly been lobbying for his son’s bail with influential quarters.
Police officials claimed they were taking time to complete the investigation so that it could be done smoothly and faultlessly.
The Savar police, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) and a victim’s family filed the cases following the country’s biggest industrial accident occurred on April 24 last year.
* Victims’ children see hope at Anjuman home:
Though nothing is worthy enough to make up for their loss, children of the Rana Plaza victims, who died or got severely injured in the tragedy, have found shelter and the promise of a better future at Anjuman Azizul Islam Balika Home.
The home for girls run by Anjuman Mofidul Islam, a reputed charitable, was opened in Pathalia of Savar outside the capital, following the April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy, which killed at least 1,135 and wounded over 2,400 garment workers.
“Initially, the land was intended for building an old home.
But when the Rana Plaza tragedy occurred we thought we needed to provide shelter to the victims’ children, who are our future,” said Azim Buksh, vice president of Anjuman, while addressing the inauguration ceremony of the home at Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
The tin-roof concrete building sprawling on of 16.5 decimals land donated by one AHM Azizul Islam started its journey on February 5 this year, initially with five orphans of Rana Plaza victims.
Later, with the assistance of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s (BGMEA), 10 more girls, arrived there.
* Many Rana Plaza victims not rehabilitated: Suranjit:
Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta on Saturday said many families of Rana Plaza victims had not been rehabilitated and given compensation even one year after the tragedy.
‘I think the money donated by the foreigners for the Rana Plaza victims have also not been equally distributed. The foreigners’ donation distribution process is also lengthy,’ he said.
Suranjit, addressing a discussion at Institution of Diploma Engineers, emphasised coordination between the government and the garment factory owners and said the families of Rana Plaza victims would have to be rehabilitated through strong coordination between the government and the garment factory owners.
He said the rights of trade union should be ensured in the garment sector to ensure the rights of its workers.
Bangabandhu Academy organised the discussion meeting addressed by its adviser Chittaranjan Das and independent lawmaker Haji Mohammad Selim.
20:48:58 local time INDIA
* Textile exports make a comeback in FY14:
Textiles were the only star turn in an otherwise humdrum Indian export performance in 2013-14.
Cotton fabric exports grew 19.90 per cent to $8.07 billion in the first 11 months of 2013-14, accelerating from 8.30 per cent growth in the same period of 2012-13. Cotton garment exports grew 8.14 per cent to $8.15 billion and synthetic fabrics and made-ups grew 12.95 per cent to $4.63 billion in the first 11 months of 2013-14 against contractions of 14.19 per cent and 12.47 per cent, respectively, in the comparable period of 2012-13.
* AEPC urges for industry friendly foreign trade policy:
We are working for it and the issues acting as hindrances to smooth trade had been taken up with the Government. Issues like All Industry Rates of Drawback, Interest subvention, procedural simplifications to cut the transaction cost and time, simplifications of labor laws, etc have been raised with the Government.”
* Finally, handloom village in Kannur to become a reality:
The handloom industry in Kannur has something to cheer for as the project to set up the handloom village in Azhikode is gathering momentum after the tourism department has given the nod to the project.
The project, aimed at giving the tourism in Malabar a boost, also intends to revive the handloom industry in the land of looms, according to the district tourism promotion council (DTPC) officials.
“Once the project is implemented it will have multifaceted benefits for the handloom industry here, which is passing through a phase of crisis,” said DTPC secretary Saji Varghese.
“The government order is expected in May after which the work will start.”
20:48:58 local time SRI LANKA
* A national minimum wage – is it desirable?:
The trade unions have recommended to the Presidential Commission on Wage Policy to establish a ‘national wage minimum’.
Presently we have national minimum wages fixed by different Wages Boards for particular sectors like industry or agriculture and for particular trades.
Such minimum wages are raised from time to time. In 2013 the minimum wage rate indices for such employees increased by an overall 3.7% according to the Central Bank Annual Report for 2013.
Additionally, there is also the informal sector where wages are determined in a free market environment where wages are adjusted according to changes in supply and demand forces operating in the particular labor market.
But as the Central Bank observes in its Report “the level of reservation wages in the economy also acts as a determining factor in this respect”.
So expect any general national minimum wage fixed by the authorities to affect the entire spectrum of wages in the economy, across all sectors and occupations except the informal sector where it may not be possible to enforce it.
But they are they not the persons who really need wage protection?
* Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters hail JAAF’s employee welfare program:
SME’s apparel sector arm has welcomed JAAF’s initiative to reward and recognise all apparel sector employees also including the non BOI factories scattered in all parts of the country as SMEs.
At a recent meeting of the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Chamber of Garment Exporters, the members hailed the project as a timely and fitting tribute to a community that has been rendering great service to the industry under trying circumstances. The SME in particular see this a sensible way of appreciating their service to the apparel sector as our resources are limited to meet their basic needs along with their wages.
Our factories are scattered mostly in the rural areas with very limited resources unlike the big operators. This sport of program gives us the much required encouragement and support and we accept this with our open arms, they said.
20:18:58 local time PAKISTAN
* Labour moot recognises common challenges:
The joint ministerial statement of SAARC leaders and the Punjab government was presented at the closing ceremony of South Asia Labour Conference (SALC) at a local hotel here on Saturday.
President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain was the chief guest on the occasion as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not attend the closing day’s events.
Joint Secretary of Federal Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sheikh Muhammed Asif presented the statement, which was prepared in a series of ministerial sessions over the course of two days on the sidelines of the conference.
The statement recognizes the common challenges facing the region and the shared history of South Asia.
It goes on to call for a common understanding between SAARC countries, increased labour productivity, provision of decent work in line with international labour standards, better working conditions, improved living standards of ordinary labourers, a regional strategy to expand labour laws coverage, institution of evidence-based platform for South Asian migrant labour, better work opportunities and awareness of migrant labour, improved occupational health and safety measures, elimination of exploitative labour practices in informal economy, a permanent South Asia Labour Forum, follow-up of SALC recommendations, and tripartite consultations at both national and regional level.
* Proposals presented on labour policy in region:
The second day of South Asia Labour Conference (SALC), held in a local hotel here on Friday, saw the seven working groups, consisting of SAARC delegates, trade union and civil society figures, present their recommendations on labour policy in the region.
After a busy morning of technical sessions, the working groups on harmonization of labour laws, working condition, productivity and competitiveness, labour market information for evidence-based policies and laws, labour migration, occupational safety and health, social protection, and protection of vulnerable workers presented their recommendations in the presence of SAARC officials, Labour and Human Resource Department, ILO and European Union.
Representing the working group on harmonization of labour laws, a Sri Lankan delegate said his group had suggested a thorough legal comparative analysis of labour legislation in select areas with focus on effective harmonization, best practices and implementation, bringing ratification level of ILO conventions at par with enforcement, simplification, consolidation and rationalization of labour laws, and harmonization of labour laws with international labour standards.
* Shahbaz says no prosperity without ‘including’ labour:
Pakistan will never prosper without adopting policies that include the country’s labourers among the beneficiaries of their efforts, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said at the inaugural session of the first South Asia Labour Conference on Thursday.
Representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the European Union, the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the LCCI, the federal government, donor organisations, and labour representatives are participating in the three-day conference.
Sharif said labourers, investors and the businessman were all wheels supporting the same vehicle and had to work together. It was painful, he said, to see that only investors and managers were sharing the profits earned. The prosperity had not trickled down to poor labourers.
* Textile exporters reap benefits of GSP Plus facility:
EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark said the GSP Plus facility for Pakistan was moving in the right direction in terms of textile industry exports. He has expressed the hope that other sectors will also benefit from the facility accordingly.
He was speaking to All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) members during his visit to APTMA Punjab on Thursday, where Acting Chairman Syed Ali Ahsan welcomed him. Group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz was also present on the occasion.
The EU Ambassador Wigemark said he was quite encouraged by the vigour shown by the APTMA members towards the GSP Plus opportunity, adding that an increase in value added exports within three months is impressive.
* Punjab textile mills: SNGPL increases supply to eight hours a day:
The SNGPL has increased gas supply to the Punjab-based textile industry to eight hours a day from six hours a day earlier. However, the frequency of gas supply would yet be restricted to twice a week.
The Punjab-based textile circles have though taken a sigh of relief but still they are operating under high uncertainty, having no idea as when the government would withdraw this increase in gas supply.
It may be noted that the textile industry leadership has been pursuing hard to the federal government for eradication of inter-province disparity on energy supplies. They said the Punjab-based textile mills are paying Rs 14.75 for each unit against around Rs 6 per unit in other provinces due to uninterrupted power supply. Accordingly, the Punjab-based textile mills are paying additional Rs 80 billion per annum on this count and yet competing internationally.
* Cotton yarn import: Duty removal benefits India, hurts domestic industry:
India has been a major beneficiary of duty-free import of cotton yarn by Pakistan for about four years, which has badly hit the domestic industry and agricultural sector of the country, even though Islamabad has not yet granted Delhi the most-favoured nation (MFN) status.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) exempted cotton yarn imports from 5% customs duty by issuing an SRO in 2010 on the recommendation of the Ministry of Textile Industry and after approval of the Cabinet Committee on Textile, chaired by then finance minister Shaukat Tarin.
* Five percent duty imposed on cotton yarn import:
The government has imposed five percent custom duty on the import of cotton yarn following a massive increase in the import of cotton from India during the current fiscal year.
Sources said the Economic Co-ordination Committee of the Cabinet was informed that cotton yarn import rose to 9.2 million bales during July-February 2013-14 compared to the same period of last fiscal year. The import of cotton increased to 20,097,295 kgs in the current fiscal year as compared to 10,120,808 kgs a year ago, reflecting an increase of 117 percent.
They added that a summary was moved by the textile industry to the ECC and SRO 15(1) 2010 was issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to exempt cotton yarn imports from custom duty of 5 percent, on the recommendation of the Ministry of Textile Industry, and approved by the Cabinet Committee on Textiles chaired by the then minister for finance Shaukat Tarin.
* Stock lying in ginneries: textile ministry asked to submit report on unsold cotton:
Federal government has asked the Ministry of Textile to submit the report of unsold stock of cotton lying in ginneries, its quality and market value and called the recommendations and proposals from the ministries of finance, textile industry and commerce for the disposal of this stuck-up stock.
The federal government has also called details from the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) regarding the cotton purchase policy and availability of budget for procurement of unsold stock.
Government headed by Nawaz Sharif has asked all the concerned departments to take measures for resolving the problems confronted by the ginners in the country. It may be recalled that Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has sent letters to the Prime Minister, Finance, Commerce, Textile ministers to apprise them of their grievances.
* Flash Mob Milano 24/04/2014- WHO MAKE YOUR CLOTHES: