20:21:13 local time PHILIPPINES
* Aquino draws brickbats over pre-Labor Day dialogue:
One day before Labor Day, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned Pres. Noynoy Aquino over his Tuesday dialogue with labor groups, saying the chief executive has conducted such dialogues with workers’ groups since 2011 but has refused to meet workers’ demands.
In the said dialogue, Aquino either rejected outright or merely promised to study workers’ demands for tax breaks for minimum wage earners, lower power rates, the elimination of per-project basis job orders, security of tenure, and salary hike for government employees.
“We condemn Aquino for engaging in this yearly ritual of pretending to be listening to workers’ demands while at the same time spitting on our faces by rejecting our demands. Puro papogi at paasa itong si Noynoy, pahirap naman sa manggagawa,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
The labor leader said the truth is that Aquino is behind policies that lower the value of wages, promote contractual employment, increase workers’ tax burden, and hike rates for power and other social services.
19:21:13 local time THAILAND
* Ministry to consider workers’ Labour Day demands:
The Labour Ministry has set up a committee to consider 12 demands made by workers on May 1, Labour Day.
Labour Day activities organised by the National Congress of Private Industrial of Employees were held at Sanam Luang and the Royal Plaza, the ministry’s permanent secretary Jeerasak Sukonthachart Jeerasak told a press conference yesterday.
The workers’ 12-point demands mostly covered calls for law amendments. Among the demands was that Thailand ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Nos 87 (on freedom of association and protection of the right to organise conventions) and 98 (the right to organise and collective bargaining convention), said Jeerasak. Amendments to two laws required for the ratification of the ILO Convention were being considered by Parliament at the time of its dissolution, he said.
19:21:13 local time CAMBODIA
* Arrest as Bavet strike goes on:
Police on Tuesday made their first arrest over a mass garment strike that has temporarily shut down entire special economic zones (SEZs) in Svay Rieng province.
A day after an allegedly violent demonstration at the Manhattan SEZ, Chan Sarin, a 21-year-old employee at the economic zone’s Best Way factory, was arrested on property destruction charges, provincial police said.
“He destroyed the car of a Chinese man intentionally, and was charged with destroying property,” said To Sithorn, Chantrea district’s police chief.
Sarin’s arrest comes amid a mass strike in Bavet town that began after factories reopened after the Khmer New Year break. Striking workers demand a one-time $50 bonus.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) – which represents many employees striking in Bavet – estimated some 30,000 workers are striking.
All factories in the Manhattan SEZ and Shandong Sunshell SEZ have been closed since Tuesday, and the vast majority of factories at Tai Seng SEZ are also closed.
* Police Make Arrest, File Complaints in Bavet Strike:
Police in Svay Rieng province on Tuesday arrested a garment worker for allegedly breaking a car window during a strike that turned violent in Bavet City the day before, and have filed complaints to the provincial court against two union representatives accused of defamation.
The arrest and legal action come amid a government-ordered shutdown of all Bavet City factories—scheduled to end today—meant to quell the strike and prevent it from spreading across the country.
Workers began the strike at a few factories after the Khmer New Year holidays earlier this month when they heard that another factory had recently given their employees a one-time $50 bonus for not striking in prior months and decided to demand the same deal. The strike gradually spread to most of the city’s 30-plus factories and peaked on Monday—the day before the government-ordered shutdown—with some workers throwing rocks at factory buildings and breaking several windows.
* Violence as demonstration ban defied:
May Day demonstrators march south along Sothearos Boulevard this morning in Chamkarmon district after they were stopped from demonstrating in front of Phnom Penh’s National Assembly by police. Photo by Scott Howes.
A peaceful rally near a heavily barricaded Freedom Park this morning was attacked by security forces wielding sticks and electric batons as protesters gathered to mark International Labour Day.
At least one bystander was badly beaten and several others received minor injuries as security forces, seemingly at random, picked out people on the street.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at Freedom Park in the early morning and were joined by a group of about 200 workers who had been moved on from outside the National Assembly by security forces and police.
Yorm Sothea, a worker protesting at Naga Bridge near Freedom Park, said she had taken to the streets to call on the government to lift the ban on gatherings and to improve the lot of workers.
“We want the government to answer about the security presence and to raise our wages. Right now, the current situation is a violation of our rights, because we are forced to do other jobs to support our families,” she said.
* On Labor Day, Peaceful Protests Met With Violence:
A peaceful Labor Day demonstration of workers calling for better living conditions and independent courts was violently dispersed Thursday morning by district security guards, municipal police and men in plain clothes, who beat protesters, journalists and bystanders with batons, wooden sticks and crude metal poles.
Shortly after 9 a.m., opposition leaders Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha and Mu Sochua addressed about 700 workers and opposition supporters who had gathered near the Naga Bridge on Norodom Boulevard. After speaking for about 20 minutes, the CNRP group departed down Russian Boulevard.
As the crowd thinned out between the bridge and nearby Wat Phnom, truncheon-wielding security guards set upon the crowd, indiscriminately beating protesters, passersby on motorbikes and journalists filming the violence. The remaining crowd fled to surrounding gardens.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said that more than 100 Daun Penh district security guards were ordered to attack the protesters.
“I saw with my own eyes five people get beat up and injured,” he said. “But I think that many more people got injured than this number, because they were beating people in different places and at least 100 security guards were involved.”
* International Workers’ Day 2014:
Today’s planned union gatherings in Phnom Penh to mark International Workers’ Day look set to face severe restrictions by authorities
a Live Stream Report.
* Unions Plan to Defy Protest Ban, Hold Rally:
Labor union officials on Wednesday forged ahead with plans to rally for International Workers’ Day today, but said they would not be gathering at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park after authorities on Wednesday set up razor wire around the protest square.
Alternate plans to gather in front of the National Assembly have been made and workers are still expected to converge on the capital from the provinces despite the ban, said Ek Sokpheakdey, secretary-general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.
The workers will call for an increase in the minimum wage and the release of garment workers and activists detained in January strikes.
“The workers will be there at 8:30 a.m.,” Mr. Sokpheakdey said.
“We will march to the CPP and CNRP offices to hand in our petition to demand that the government release the 21 people and drop all charges against 23 people and to re-discuss a minimum wage of $160.”
* Capital bans marches for Labour Day and beyond:
The stage is set for a potentially violent confrontation today as opposition leaders and union representatives are vowing to carry out planned marches, while government officials and authorities loyal to the ruling party are making it very clear they intend to use force if necessary to contain the groups.
A ban on assembly has been in place at Freedom Park since December. Authorities yesterday, however, upped the ante, blocking all entrances to the park with razor-wire fences and barricades and reinstituting a citywide ban on assembly that authorities say will take effect today, on International Labour Day, and last the entirety of the council election campaign period, which begins on Friday.
read & see more.
* Freedom Park Locked Down Ahead of Labor Day:
With mass demonstrations by the opposition CNRP planned for the next two weeks, and a labor day protest by unions set for Thursday, the government showed off the strength of its security forces Wednesday.
All roads leading to Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park were barricaded by police, and the eastern and western ends of the square were sealed off with razor-wire to prevent a small contingent of opposition supporters, led by lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua, from entering the park.
* Cambodia bans trade unions from marking May Day at capital’s Freedom Park:
Cambodian authorities on Wednesday refused permission for the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations to celebrate an International Labor Day event on May 1 at the capital’s Freedom Park.
“The Phnom Penh Municipality does not allow the trade unions and associations to organize this event at Freedom Park (the capital’s designated protest space) or other public places because the Freedom Park is still under the court’s investigation process over violent cases in January,” said a letter signed by Phnom Penh Vice-Governor Khuong Sreng and sent to those trade unions and associations.
* Nobody home at Bandith’s:
In his Bavet town home, Chhouk Bandith lived in style.
Before the former governor of the town shot three women at a garment protest in 2012, before he was convicted for the act and before he went on the lam to avoid prison, he resided in a sprawling two-storey house off of National Road 1 in Svay Rieng province, closed off from small shops and businesses by a metal gate. Not anymore.
On a visit this week to the neighbourhood, Post reporters spoke with neighbours who said that while they had noticed some activity at the house, one of Cambodia’s most famous fugitives had not shown his face for years.
A neighbour who declined to give his name said he believed he had seen Bandith’s nephew going in and coming out of the house, but not the former governor himself.
Since the ruling and the 18-month prison sentence was handed down, Bandith has not been arrested. Critics say authorities have made no serious efforts to find him. Multiple police officials in Svay Rieng did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Cambodian Center for Human Rights chairman Ou Virak said yesterday that considering the lack of urgency on the part of law enforcement to apprehend the former governor, he would not be surprised if Bandith had entered and left the house.
“They haven’t made a real effort to arrest this guy, so who’s going to hunt him down if not the government?”
20:21:13 local time MALAYSIA
* Standardise minimum wage, says MTUC Sarawak:
The Malaysian Trade Union (MTUC) Sarawak has called for minimum wages in Sarawak and Sabah to be standardised with West Malaysia.
The union said the current wage disparity did not augur well for the country in its drive to become a high income nation.
“Despite Sarawak’s higher cost of living, the minimum wage here is only RM800 compared to RM900 in (the) Peninsular.
“This disparity must be removed at the next minimum wage review session,” said MTUC Sarawak secretary Andrew Lo.
He said businesses in Sarawak have flourished at the expense of consumers.
“Price increases are exorbitant. House ownership is now out of reach for most people.
“In Sarawak, the cost of living is 15% to 25% higher than in West Malaysia.
While government employees have a regional allowance, private sector employees do not,” Lo said.
Citing examples he said the New Straits Times newspaper is sold at RM1.60 in Sarawak as opposed to RM1.20 in West Malaysia.
* Government Committed To Modernise Malaysian Labour Laws – Najib:
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government was committed to modernising Malaysian labour laws, in line with the needs of a high-income economy.
In his Labour Day message posted on his Facebook page, Najib said the government was currently reviewing the Industrial Relations Act 1967 in an effort to allow more efficient resolutions for unfair dismissals and trade disputes.
It was also to ensure effective enforcement of Industrial Court awards; and balance business needs and employees’ rights through conciliation.
“The Employment Act 1955 is also under review to ensure the law is in line with emerging needs of local and foreign employers, as well as with the needs of an industrialising nation’s workforce.
“Any amendment to the law is aimed at spurring productivity and efficiency, increasing income levels and protecting employees to support local, regional and global competitiveness,” said Najib.
20:21:13 local time INDONESIA
* Ex-adidas workers march in first May Day:
Indonesia will have a Labour Day holiday for the first time, and among the workers marching are women who earned less than $1 an hour making shoes.
Among the workers readying to march for Indonesia’s first Labour Day national holiday are women who used to earn less than $1 an hour making adidas shoes, until they were sacked.
In 2012, about 1300 workers from the Panarub Dwikarya factory spoke up about their working conditions.
Campaigners claimed they were working 65-hour weeks for as little as 5000 rupiah ($A0.46) an hour.
In response, the factory offered “voluntary resignation” with severance pay of 1.6 million rupiah.
But the workers’ union says those who refused the offer still lost their jobs and received no severance pay.
The affected staff, all women, still protest weekly outside the factory at Tangerang, west of Jakarta, for their promised entitlements.
Union representative Kokom says Labour Day also takes on significance for the workers who remain at Panarub.
“In January, there were 79 workers here, but since February, it became 68 people with the same target, which is 180 shoes per hour,” she told AAP.
18:21:13 local time BANGLADESH
* RMG Workers block Dhaka-M’singh highway:
* No trade unions in 97% of factories:
Workers of 97% of factories, almost all in the private and the non-formal sector, have no trade union rights, labour directorate officials, trade unionists and rights activists said.
Legal barrier to informal sector workers, wholesale privatisation, strong opposition of owners, opportunism, undue political interference, lack of unity among workers and ideological divide among leaders have stalled the trade union movement in Bangladesh for decades, which allowed worker rights to be trampled, activists said.
The absence of constructive unionism has put workers both in the formal and the informal sector in jeopardy, leaving them with no means to fight for their rights to a national minimum wage, appropriate work environment, safety condition and healthcare facilities, they added.
Labour directorate officials said that there were 7,297 basic unions with a total membership of 2.3 million workers.
Mashiur Rahman, additional inspector general at the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment, said that a report of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 2001 had estimated the number of manufacturing units in Bangladesh that time at 2,42,818. On this count, 97 per cent of the factories do not have trade unions.
The number of factories have increased since then, he said.
* No nat’l minimum wage in place for half a century:
The elaborate observance of May Day, or International Workers’ Day, by successive governments has only academic significance as workers, who have been fighting for the national minimum wage for about half a century, still lack a wage that they should receive from employers regardless of the sectors they work in.
The national minimum was was last declared based on the report of the Noor Khan commission in 1969 and it was implemented that year.
No governments have since then tried to revise the national minimum wage although the cost of living has increased significantly over the years and this has been the main issue of all labour movements that have taken place in the country, labour leaders said.
The election manifesto of the ruling Awami League for the latest national elections held on January 5, 2014 said that the minimum wage would continue in keeping with the cost of living and inflation, with making any direct commitment.
The party’s manifesto for the 2008 elections, however, said, ‘The national minimum wage will be revised.’
Labour and employment ministry officials, however, said that they had not seen any policy-making initiative about revising the national minimum wage in four to five years.
Governments since 1984 have signed at least six agreements with Sramik-Karmachari Oikya Parishad, the coalition of labour organisations.
But major features of all the agreements, including the national minimum wage, have remained unimplemented, prompting the coalition to rally repeatedly.
SKOP leaders now demand that the national minimum wage should be Tk 8,000.
Syed Sultan Ahmed, assistant executive director at Bangladesh Institute of Labours Studies, said that the national minimum wage was yet to be declared although it was badly needed for workers for a decent living.
* Historic May Day Thursday:
The historic May Day, commemorating the first triumph of the world’s working class in their epical struggles, will be observed on Thursday in the country as elsewhere across world with a pledge to establish the rights of the workers.
The May Day, also known as International Workers’ Solidarity Day, commemorates the historic uprising of working people in Chicago, USA, at the height of a prolonged fight for an eight-hour workday.
The day is a public holiday. The theme of the day is “Safe working-environment, Bangladesh to Advance.”
Tens of thousands of working people of the country along with rest of the world will join street rallies and other activities to raise their voices
Savar tragedy will surely add fresh vigor to worker’s voice in this year’s May Day while every faction of the society marked this manmade tragic incident as a wake up bell for ensuring workers’ safety.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Nation celebrates May Day:
Tens of thousands of working people of the country along with rest of the world will join street rallies and other activities to raise their voices for ensuring their rights and working safety along with upholding spirit of the May Day today, BSS reported.
The last year’s Savar catastrophe will surely add fresh vigour to worker’s voice in this year’s May Day while every faction of the society marked this manmade tragic incident as a wake up bell for ensuring workers’ safety.
Workers groups and trade unions, political parties, different government and socio-cultural-professional organisations chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day under the theme ‘Safe working-environment, Bangladesh to Advance’.
read more. & read more.
* May Day 2014 and Bangladesh:
Today is May Day 2014. This year, the May Day has an added significance for Bangladesh. In the aftermath of Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions tragedies, Global attention has been focused on the issues of labour rights, workplace safety and better minimum wages in Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) industry.
These issues are being sought to be addressed in a more coordinated manner than before. All the stakeholders are now engaged in creating better working conditions for the workers in the US$20 billion dollar RMG industry of the country.
The need for allowing formation of trade unions in Bangladesh’s RMG factories was not felt strongly before.
The foreign end-users of the country’s apparels as well as trade union bodies and other rights groups abroad have lately been quite pro-active on this issue.
As a sequel to this, the process of trade union formation in the apparel factories has just begun. But then, a recent study by a workers’ rights group, Solidarity Centre, gives a grim picture.
The study titled Organising Trade Unions in the RMG Sector 2010-14 says only seven out of a total of 126 registered trade unions (TUs) in the RMG industry, are actively working to promote the rights of workers.
Two trade unions received registration in 2011 and 2012; while the number increased to 81 last year, it has come down to 43 this year.
Alonzo Glenn Suson, executive director of the Solidarity Centre, said around 20 per cent of the workers engaged with TU activities, has found it difficult to operate due to alleged torture and intimidation by some sections of factory officials.
* Time to rediscover the spirit of May Day:
BANGLADESH today observes May Day, officially known as International Workers Day, which commemorates the apparel workers in Chicago, United States who embraced martyrdom at the Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886, demanding eight-hour workdays, with the wound of the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013 still festering in the nation’s psyche.
The worst-ever industrial disaster in the country, if not the world, left more than 1,100 people killed and over 2,000 others wounded, many of them disabled for life; most of the victims were workers of the five apparel factories housed in the illegal eight-storey structure.
Moreover, many people still remain unaccounted for since the disaster, with their relatives looking for definitive answers. Besides, the survivors and the relatives of the dead stare at an uncertain future, with the government, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, and the international buyers of Bangladesh’s apparel products yet to deliver on their promise for adequate compensation.
The less said about initiatives to rehabilitate the wounded workers, the better. Meanwhile, doubts and suspicion linger on in the mind of the affected people in particular, and society in general, if people responsible for the disaster, e.g. the owners of Rana Plaza and the five apparel factories, will ever be brought to justice.
* May Day’s pledges:
This year’s May Day is once again going to be observed under the lengthening grim shadow of the Rana Plaza tragedy, no matter if it is one year on since the one of the worst industrial catastrophes in past two centuries or more.
Reactions to the news that the parties have failed to live up to their commitment to contribute to a fund to be pooled either for rehabilitation of the victims and for improvement of safety standard and overall factory conditions have been sharp and bitter.
That a few internationally reputed retailers have tried to back out is most depressing. Yet not everything is lost.
Some of the foreign buyers have stuck to their guns and are determined to help garments factories in Bangladesh to push through the intended reforms.
Some discernible progress has already been made and more will hopefully follow in the days ahead.
* May Day today:
International Workers’ Day, widely known as May Day, will be observed in Bangladesh as elsewhere around the world today commemorating the uprising of the working class people who fought for their rights.
All industries and factories would will closed and red flags will be hoisted in trade union offices.
Different organisations have planned programmes i9ncluding red-flag processions, discussions, cultural events and plays to mark the occasion.
May Day will be celebrated in Bangladesh today with heavy hearts against the backdrop at least 1,135 workers being killed in the
collapse of Rana Plaza that housed five clothing factories, a shopping mall and a bank Many organisations raised their voice for proper compensation to families of he victims and improvement in safety condition for workers.
* Labour’s ‘rarest’ hour in Bangladesh:
A ‘RAREST’ hour ‘glorified’ Bangladesh labour.
One can also define the development as world labour’s ‘rarest’ hour as labour around the world carries the same shackle that capital craftily constructs to enslave and rob labour.
The ‘rarest’ hour was mothered by the now world-‘renowned’ Rana Plaza massacre on an April day in 2013: an ‘amazing’ multi-storied building housing garments factories made a ‘cagey’ cave in and ‘produced’ the death of more than 1,100 workers and many missing during production, and many maimed, crippled, orphaned and widowed. A ‘great’ act of murder at mass scale!
They joined more than 100 workers gutted in November 2012 in another garments factory named Tazreen something.
There are other cases of workers, hundreds in number, burned or crushed to death, killed, murdered during production and/or on way to workplace or to home. These were in and around Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city and in other cities. These ‘piteous’ buckos, obviously ‘insignificant’ existences in an island of indulgence, are all fallen friends, and ‘tolerably unimportant’. They were permanently ‘alienated’ over the Bangladesh labour-years.
At those moments of permanent ‘alienation’, a few related to labour raised the issues although these ‘essential functions’ of related capital were ignored with a serious silence. The voices of concern and protest were brushed out as the capital involved is much more powerful; it owns many hands, one can say tentacles, touching, controlling and manipulating every element required to brush out the questions.
But the Rana Plaza massacre (RPM), not revolution per minute (rpm), touched emotions of many powerful personalities. The unfortunate labour in Bangladesh found a great many sympathetic hearts. It’s difficult to find so many great personalities standing, raising voices, penning down for the ‘inauspicious’ labour.
The fact is: all ‘great’ hearts, which all the time stay on far, far high spheres connected to capital, came down to the bunch of fellas fallen down to dust and dirt. Isn’t it a show of ‘kind-heartedness’? How many times in how many countries have so many good and great souls ‘spontaneously’ stood by the labour? Isn’t it historic?
And, isn’t it rarest?
But capital is really difficult. A bit ‘childish’ also. It does not ‘understand’ special moments.
So in some other lands, not that far away from Bangladesh, capital behaved in a bit ‘childish’ way. Almost over the same time it played with fire and accidents.
Cambodia and Pakistan experienced the mishaps.
In Karachi and Lahore, two cities in Pakistan, the 10th largest country in terms of available human workforce, almost 300 persons including many children turned dead in two factory-blazes on September 11, 2012.
The Karachi workers, as The Dawn reported, earned $52-$104 a month (September 12, 2012, ‘Karachi factory fire highlights risks for workers’). Isn’t it a ‘lot’ to make a life ‘flourishing’?
A high working pressure and overtime with unpaid additional work, according to the Pakistan Textile Workers’ Union, were frequent at the Karachi factory.
Isn’t it an old story of high ‘productivity’ and intensive exploitation?
* Govt plans to construct 10 dormitoriesin EPZ areas for female RMG workers:
The government has planned to construct ten dormitories in the country’s export processing zone (EPZ) areas in a bid to solve the long-standing housing problems of female RMG workers.
“The authorities concerned are going to build the dormitories for the female garment workers in different areas of the country aiming to lessen their housing crisis,” an official in the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) close to the initiative told the FE.
The construction work on the proposed dormitories will start within a short span of time that may be early in the upcoming fiscal year (FY), he said.
* Compliance not possible without factory relocation: Business leaders:
Stating that ensuring the compliance is not possible without the relocation of poorly-equipped factories, business leaders at a meeting here on Wednesday suggested the government set up an industrial zone with all utility services either near Chittagong or Dhaka for shifting the RMG factories.
“Many of our garment factories are now facing difficulties in ensuring compliance.
It’s not possible to ensure that in all factories with the existing infrastructures.
The government can set up an industrial zone either near Chittagong or Dhaka where there are gas, power and other facilities to relocate the factories so that they can ensure the compliance,” said former FBCCI president Anisul Haq.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* A better solution:
The RMG industry needs substantial long-term investment to build more modern factories
Last year alone, over $828m in tariffs was paid to the US on goods, primarily RMG products, exported there from Bangladesh.
Bangladesh pays the second-highest rate of tariff duty (15.6%) for exports to the US market. This is almost twice the rate of other developing countries such as Vietnam and roughly five times the rate of China and India.
The Ticfa talks this week suggest there is no sign of this discriminatory rate changing soon. As RMG exports do not come under the suspended bilateral GSP arrangement, even restoration of GSP will not make a difference.
* Owner of a closed factory sends legal notices to inspection agencies:
The management of Softex Cotton Ltd, a garment maker that had to close its plant in the face of recent inspections, yesterday sent legal notices to factory inspection agencies seeking damages worth $100 million, its lawyer said.
“We sent the legal notices to Accord, Alliance, the labour department of the government, the inspection team of Buet, and BGMEA, as they are responsible for the closure of the factory,” said Mohammed Asaduzzaman, an advocate of Syed Ishtiaq Ahmed & Associates.
“In the labour law, there is no provision of a review panel to suggest closure of factories,” Asaduzzaman told The Daily Star by phone.
The Softex factory in Mirpur was closed at the suggestion of the review panel when engineers of Accord on March 7 found the building was unsafe. Around 3,500 workers were employed in the factory.
“I went for the legal procedure as the way the Accord started inspections is not acceptable. The Accord people are not even following their own rules,” said Rezwan Selim, managing director of Softex Cotton.
According to Accord articles, lead buyers of a factory will have to be present during inspection and would contribute to payments of workers if the factory remains closed for renovation purposes.
“I think the Accord did not even inform the lead buyers of the inspection. The buyers are not paying workers of my factory,” Selim said.
* Benetton Failing on Worker Safety in Bangladesh:
Benetton has been caught again. Investigative journalists have found out that Benetton has failed to fully disclose to the Bangladesh Safety Accord which factories are producing for them – a requirement for every brand signed up to the legally-binding Accord.
This means that Benetton may be using factories that are not being properly checked and the company is hiding that fact from the public.
By failing to disclose their suppliers Benetton not only violates this legally binding agreement but continues to put those workers at risk of yet another factory disaster.
This is not the first time Benetton has failed to fulfil its obligations or public commitments in relation to this disaster.
Benetton initially denied they were sourcing from one of the Rana Plaza factories last April, but were forced to acknowledge their connection after photos of their products among the rubble were published worldwide.
In September 2013 Benetton joined the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee which was set up to establish a process, now known as the Arrangement, to deliver payments to those injured and the families of those killed at Rana Plaza.
Despite being part of the Committee that drafting the agreement, Benetton refused to sign the Arrangement, withdrew from the Committee and to date have refused to contribute a penny to the Fund.
17:51:13 local time INDIA
* Highest one-time hike in minimum wages:
Garment workers have something to cheer about this May Day
Garment workers numbering over four lakh in the State have something to cheer about this May Day.
The revision of minimum wages notified recently has provided for an increase in their daily wage by an average of Rs. 60 a day, inclusive of the Dearness Allowance applicable since April.
This is the highest one-time increase in minimum wages since 1979, when “tailoring industry” was brought under the ambit of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
The fixing of minimum wages for different categories of garment workers was based on the recommendations of the tripartite sub-committee of workers, managements and government representatives, set up following a direction of the High Court of Karnataka.
Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU) had approached the High Court in 2010 challenging an earlier notification and seeking revision of wages.
17:21:13 local time PAKISTAN
Participants in a procession, organised by the Adara Samaji Behbood, Pakistan Interfaith Peace Council and Human Rights, on the eve of the Labour Day on Wednesday urged the government to award wages to workers considering the real living expenditures.
Protesters rejected government’s announcement of awarding a Rs1,000 annual increment for workers on the International Labour Day.
They also enchanted slogans against low wages, skyrocketing inflation and loadshedding.
PMLN MPA Dr Najma Afzal, Arif Ayaz and Irshad Parkash spoke.
They said living wage was a minimum income necessary for a worker to afford the basic needs of a family for a safe, decent standard of living.
The government should ratify ILO conventions protecting the rights of home-based and domestic workers.
Speakers said home-based workers needed security for employment, income and social security simultaneously because they did not have social and legal protection despite their major contribution to the economy.
They said living wage differed from minimum wage set by the government as minimum wage had failed to meet the requirements of a worker. The poverty and low pay were closely associated with social disadvantages, including poor health, substandard housing and personal debt.
They urged the government to implement labour laws, including elimination of bonded labour and child labour strictly.
* Govt urged to safeguard rights of working class:
As the International Labour Day is being observed today (Thursday), President of the National Labour Federation (NLF) Shamsur Rehman Swati has called upon the government to take practical steps to safeguard rights of the working class.
Addressing a press conference in connection with the International Labour Day, the NLF president asked the government to announce a practicable labour policy and initiate legislation in order to improve working conditions for the labour class particularly those working in the private industry.
He also termed minimum wage of Rs10,000 per month for a worker as fixed by government as insufficient to meet expenditures of a poor family. “Most of the industrial units and other organisations have not been implementing government directives regarding minimum wages,” he said.
* Labour in Pakistan underpaid: PTI:
PTI Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry Wednesday said the labour in Pakistan is one of the most underpaid in the world.
Speaking to the party labour wing, the PTI Punjab president said the government had promised to raise the minimum monthly wage of the labor to Rs 18,000 but it had backed out of its promises and was barely raising their pays by 10 per cent, terming the same very unfair.
Due to negligence of this area, there was a high level of unemployment and exploitation of labor, he said. Quoting brick making industry as an example, he added, the working conditions in the industry were terrible and the labor was treated like bonded labor where they were not paid for many months and were left to survive on their own. He demanded the government announce their labor policies.
PTI Punjab general secretary Dr. Yasmin Rashid said female labor was the most neglected and exploited where women were subjected to domestic violence. She said females were being exploited and they faced harassment and gang rapes at their workplace, with very few laws in place to protect them.
* Sindh forms team to ensure implementation of factory safety standards:
The Sindh government has formed an effective inspection team to check compliance of safety and health standards by the factory owners in order to secure a hazard-free environment in factories, Sindh Labour Secretary Noor Muhammad Leghari said on Tuesday.
Addressing the ninth Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) seminar Leghari said the inspectors will also identify the weaknesses observed during inspections.
He highlighted the importance of workplace safety for the workers, and business sustainability, at a local hotel.
“A joint action plan has prepared by the ILO (International Labour Organisation) after the tripartite consultation to improve safety and health conditions at the enterprises level throughout the Sindh.
The joint action plan is being implemented by the government of Sindh and the most important issue at present is the development of OSH Policy,” Leghari said.
The fire incident of Baldia Town Garment Factory was also revisited in a highly effective presentation by Director Wajahat Ullah Khan of Fire Protection Association of Pakistan on the occasion.
Recalling the incident which occurred on September 11, 2012, the presenter identified the causes of the fire and steps to avoid such incidents.
* Labour Day rallies:
Trade unions and labour organisations will hold rallies in the city to mark the International Labour Day today with fervor and a firm commitment to the rights of labourers.
Employees of government offices and private businesses will be given a day-off as a token of appreciation for the services rendered.
The day is observed to commemorate the achievements of workers and milestones they obtained in all the corners of the world.
Next few months could prove crucial for the survival of Punjab’s textile industry as it tries to cope with growing cost of production because of gas shortages, high electricity prices and stuck-up sales tax refunds.
“You’ll see a significant decline in textile exports (from Punjab) between May and September,” Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, chairman of the Faisalabad-based Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), said on Wednesday.
He said the government should raise gas supply to the factories to help exporters cut their energy costs, release billions of rupees stuck in sales tax refunds and give one-time compensatory rebate to make up for the losses suffered by the industry on account of exchange rate appreciation.
Machinery worth billions of rupees is rusting in sick units in the textile hub of the country.
Suhail Bin Rashid, President of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Dawn that over 50 units including 10 mega ones need Rs24 billion collectively for revival.
He said such units were not demanding write-offs but some breathing space through rescheduling of loans besides some arrangement of working capital to revive them.
“Banks are ready to extend helping hand to owners of these sick units, but the State Bank’s Prudential Regulations, which require banks to show old loans as losses to grant fresh ones, have become a stumbling block. The banks are not ready to help at the cost of their reputation,” he said.
Chenab Textile Chairman Mian Mohammad Latif said: “Billions of rupees invested can go waste owing to the ill-conceived policies of the government. The energy crisis and high mark-up rates have also been creating many problems. We have been seeking government help for revival.”
* Textile industry: MoC proposes concessionary rate of refinance: Dastgir:
The Ministry of Commerce has proposed export refinance scheme at concessionary rates for textile industry aimed at compensating the losses against dollar depreciation, said Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, Federal Minister for Commerce.
Speaking at a meeting with the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association on Wednesday at APTMA House Karachi, the minister said the government is well aware of the problems being faced by the industry, particularly textile sector and government is taking all necessary steps to remove the hurdles in the economic growth.
* Minister to visit APTMA Punjab:
Federal Minister for Textile Industry, Abbas Khan Afridi will visit APTMA Punjab on Friday (tomorrow).
This visit of Federal Minister for Textile Industry is being considered very crucial, as the APTMA is sending SOSs to the federal government for early resolution of energy-relating issues of the industry.
The federal Textile ministry has also put forward summary to the Cabinet for resolution of industry issues on priority. Therefore, the Minister is likely to make some important announcement during his visit to APTMA.
* ‘GSP Plus a proof of EU confidence’:
Pakistan has made a lot of progress and is now coming out from difficulties gradually, Germany Consul General Dr Tilo Klinner said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The GSP Plus status is a proof of confidence shown by the European countries on Pakistan, because of which huge foreign investments are coming here in different sectors.
* Kenya mulls largest textile city to meet growing demand in Africa:
Kenya plans to build a textile city to meet the manufacturing investment needs for a number of global garment marketing firms, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed told a delegation of 40 international garment manufacturing firms that plans for the establishment of a Textile City, the first in Sub-Sahara Africa are now at an advanced stage.
“By hosting such important potential investors in the global textile industry, we are effectively confirming a national commitment to facilitate industrial growth through priority sectors as outlined in the National Industrialization Roadmap,” Mohamed said.
The CS was during a visit to Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) Complex in Athi River, about 40 km east of Nairobi. Mohamed said the Textile City will help meet investor demands for low cost dedicated manufacturing and export zones.
The Textile City model besides foreign investments attraction will be one of the key pillars earmarked as the national job creation platforms.
The delegation is led by high ranking executives from PVH and VF Corporation, who are some of the world’s largest apparel manufacturing companies which own and market iconic brands worldwide.
By establishing a Textile City, for onward leasing to potential investors, Mohamed assured will be seeking to address existing industrialization bottlenecks at the Athi River EPZA zone as well as other locations.
The ministry, he said, targets to attract at least 100 textile investment firms at the Textile City and create more than 200,000 sustainable textile jobs by December 2016. Such firms will be expected to take up investment opportunities relating to cotton ginning and yarn spinning, manufacture of textile fabrics and home fabrics, manufacture of apparel and manufacture of garment accessories, and labels among other ventures.