10:55:16 local time CHINA
20140505 * Workers’ rights and the law:
Taiwanese owned Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings makes sports shoes for global brands like Nike and Adidas.
Its factory in Dongguan employs over 45,000 workers. For years Yuen Yue has failed to pay the workers their full pension and housing allowances. Now, after a strike at the Dongguan factory, the company agreed to pay the allowances due.
In the West the dominant image of China is of a paradise for investors seeking to ruthlessly exploit an endless supply of cheap and pliant labor.
In truth wages in China have risen dramatically for two decades and companies that mainly depend on cheap labor now look elsewhere. Indeed, many labor intensive factories have abandoned China altogether.
Companies like Nike and Adidas have exerted relentless downward pressure on the wages and conditions of their suppliers and a catalogue of extreme cases of labor abuse have been exposed over decades.
For example, in 2011, Taiwanese-operated Pou Chen, a major contractor to Nike, was exposed for exploiting child labour, verbally and physically beating their workers in Indonesia. A Nike investigation found that over 66 percent of producers for their Converse brand were in breach of their own regulations.
10:55:16 local time PHILIPPINES
20140502 * Our Labor Day demands: Junk EDCA! P125 Wage Hike Now!:
We mark this year’s Labor Day by protesting Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s recent approval of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and his more aggressive implementation of the Cheap Labor Policy.
He continues to show that the US government and big foreign and local capitalists are his true bosses, not the Filipino workers and people.
The disclosure of the EDCA’s content after it was signed by the US and the Philippines is igniting public anger at this agreement and Aquino. The EDCA is one-sided, violates the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and increases the burden borne by the Filipino workers and people.
09:55:16 local time VIET NAM
20140506 * $12b footwear export target doable:
Workers produce footwear for export at the Da Nang Huu Nghi Company. A report by the General Statistics Office says footwear exports have reached $2.9 billion in the first four months of the year, 22 per cent or $511.2 million higher than the same period last year. — VNA/VNS Photo Cong Dien
The footwear industry is strolling towards a US$12 billion export target for this year, thanks to encouraging export results in the first four months, industry insiders have said.
The General Statistics Office’s report revealed that footwear exports have fetched $2.9 billion during the reviewed period, 22 per cent or $511.2 million higher than last year’s corresponding period.
Industry insiders attributed the four-month significant growth to the EU’s generalised system of preferences, which gave developing countries unilateral tariff preferences for the 2014-16 period. The lower tariffs have facilitated Vietnamese footwear exports to the bloc, Viet Nam’s largest footwear importer.
20140506 * Taiwan Group To Invest US$150 Million Building Textile Mill In Vietnam’s Province:
A subsidiary company of the Taiwan-based Yunlon Group, Tai Yuen Co. Ltd, will invest in a project building a textile mill worth US$150 million (RM488.48 million) here, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
General Director of Tai Yuen, Chi Wei Kung, made the announcement at a working session with provincial leaders on Monday.
The project, covering around 24 hectare in Dong Van II Industrial Park, Duy Tien district, needs some 5,000 workers for its operation.
20140505 * Foreign firms invest heavily in VN, capitalise on economic opportunities:
Foreign companies are starting to pour money into Vietnam to take advantage of potential economic opportunities from future free trade agreements.
Vietnam is negotiating important FTAs, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Vietnam-EU FTA, the Vietnam-Korea FTA and the ASEAN+6. Once these agreements are signed, companies will have the chance to offer products and services to more consumers and businesses.
Among the many sectors, garments and textiles, food, livestock and energy have received the most attention.
According to Tran Quang Nghi, general director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, more than a dozen foreign companies from mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Austria and Taiwan are planning to build fabric and dye factories in the country.
Nghi said foreign businesses were seeking investment opportunities in the garment industry to stay ahead of the TPP, which once signed would mean local companies would enjoy tax-free exports to member countries.
China’s Texhong Textile Group is expanding its presence in Vietnam with a US$300-million fabric plant that will open in the northern province of Quang Ninh in May.
09:55:16 local time CAMBODIA
20140507 * ‘The 23’ put police on trial:
Each of the 23 defendants who testified yesterday on charges linked to the garment protests in early January denied involvement in the violent demonstrations, while many said police beat false statements out of them.
On the second full day of proceedings for the trial of nearly two dozen people, judges and attorneys in two Phnom Penh Municipal Court rooms completed questioning of all but three defendants. The cases are scheduled to continue at 8am on May 20.
“The 23”, as they’ve come to be known on social media and in public rallies in support of them, were all arrested in early January in a violent crackdown on garment protests that were sparked by the government announcing in late December a lower-than-desired rise in minimum wage to $95.
Ten of the defendants were arrested on January 2 outside the South Korean-owned Yakjin garment factory, when protesters blocked a national road. The next day, the rest of the group was swept up as part of a crackdown in which military police fired on an unruly demonstration outside Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing at least four people.
No one has been arrested or brought to court over the shootings.
After the crackdown, the majority of defendants spent nearly four months in jail before all had their first day in court on April 25, though much of it was procedural. Proceedings yesterday, however, involved far more testimony, most of which conflicted with official accounts.
“They arrested me while I was riding to Svay Rieng province to bring clothes to my wife, who just delivered our baby,” said Ros Sophoan, 25, a garment and construction worker arrested on January 3. “After arresting [and beating] me, police ordered me to run; police ran after me and beat me again, like an animal.”
20140507 * Garment Protest Trial Defendants Deny Charges:
A police barricade blocks protesters from reaching Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday during the hearings of 25 men arrested during a series of garment worker protests in November and January. (Siv Channa)
Defendants in a mass trial of 25 men and teenagers accused of joining a string of violent garment worker protests continued to profess their innocence during the second day of hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.
Twenty-three of the men were arrested in January during protests for higher garment factory wages that ended abruptly after military police shot into crowds of demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3, killing five people and injuring more than 40. The other two defendants were arrested during a clash between police and garment factory workers near Stung Meanchey bridge in November.
After months of delay, their trials started only late last month.
As their hearings resumed Tuesday morning, the 13 men arrested on January 3 along Veng Sreng Street in Pur Senchay district took turns giving the court much the same story of innocent bystanders erroneously arrested by police.
Defendant Chea Sarath said he was a moto-taxi driver who worked in the area and stopped to watch the commotion when he was attacked by police and arrested.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “I just stood by to watch the demonstration because I wanted to know what was happening. When the military police arrested me, they fought me like I was an animal.”
Ros Sophorn told the court he was driving by the demonstrations on his way to Svay Rieng province, where his wife was due to give birth to their baby in a matter of days, when he was arrested.
“I did not join the demonstration…but at the time the military police arrested me and accused me of joining,” he said. “I was not involved, so please help to find justice for me.”
20140507 * Union Says Three Workers Arrested Over Wing Star Protest:
At least three workers were arrested Tuesday morning outside the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kompong Speu province, where the Free Trade Union (FTU) has been leading a strike calling for benefits and back pay, according to police and a union representative.
An FTU representative said that police arrested three workers, while a local police official said that six workers were arrested.
“The provincial police have arrested six people for questioning. It is concerning the protest,” said Kim Sophannara, chief of police in Kong Pisei district, where the Wing Star factory is located.
“They were arrested for inciting a protest,” he added, declining to comment further.
Keo Pisey, Kompong Speu provincial police chief, declined to comment.
Bin Sreymom, the head of the FTU at Wing Star, said three workers had been taken away by police at about 6 a.m. and their whereabouts remained unknown to the union.
20140506 * Employees of Wing Star strike again:
Thousands of striking factory workers in Kampong Speu province blocked National Road 3 yesterday, an action they say is in response to managers not living up to their end of a deal struck in March.
Workers at the Wing Star Shoe factory – which employs about 7,000 people – walked off the job 11 days ago, asserting that their bosses broke an agreement that ended a previous strike in late March, employee Bin Srey Mom said.
“Workers blocked the road from 7am until 4pm,” Srey Mom said yesterday.
Management has yet to implement promises of 2,000 riel per day for meals, a $5 health bonus and other agreed-upon terms, she added.
But Mao Sisong, administrative manager at Wing Star, insisted that the factory had upheld its pledges to workers. An injunction filed by the factory states that employees must return to work tomorrow or be fired.
20140506 * Six unionists arrested for leading protests in Kampong Speu:
Six unionists from Khmer Workers Power Federation Union (KWPFU) and Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation (CLSUF) were arrested on Tuesday after they led workers from Wing Star Shue Co., Ltd to demand better working condition.
Prum Bunthoeun, vice president of KWPFU, and his colleagues Lor Sopheak, Sok Sohuot and Noeun Khom, and Chan Veasna, vice president of CLSUF, were sent to the provincial court for questioning on the same day.
Some 5,000 workers protested on Monday by blocking National Road number 3 in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisey district.
20140506 * Trial continues: Workers to gather at court house:
Observers expect the trial of 23 people arrested during early January strike demonstrations will not be completed today, due to the number of witnesses who may testify.
“I think the trial would take more than the time [available today],” Ham Samrith, senior lawyer for the Community Legal Education Center, said yesterday.
More than 80 witnesses could ultimately testify at Phnom Penh Municipal Court during the trial, which began on April 26, Samrith said. Defendants were arrested on January 2 and 3 in front of the Yakjin garment factory and on Veng Sreng Boulevard. Most on trial face sentences of to up to five years in prison.
20140506 * Protest Planned for 2nd Day Of Garment Protest Trials:
Some 500 supporters of union leader Vorn Pao and 24 others arrested during a string of garment worker protests since November will rally in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday on the second day of their trials, a union official said.
All 25 have been charged with causing or inciting violence or property damage during a trio of garment worker protests for higher wages in November and January.
They had their first, and so far only, hearing on April 25.
Sok Chhun Oeung, vice president of Mr. Pao’s Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, said supporters of the jailed protesters will turn out at today’s hearing despite a government ban on demonstrations. “We are not afraid of a crackdown by the government’s armed forces,” he said.
20140505 * Spotlight on Cambodian Government Brutality:
Two court cases may give victims of vicious crackdowns their day in court.
Two high profile court cases are poised to throw a spotlight on Cambodia’s hardline internal security apparatus.
The first is the trial of 23 activists caught up in protests that left five people dead amid a crackdown on striking garment workers. The second is litigation filed by senior opposition figure Mu Sochua against government officials over their continued use of force against protesters trying to occupy a downtown park.
In the foreground sits a man who has never shied from the court of public opinion or the battleground of striking workers and anti-government protesters. Sok Penhvuth, Deputy Governor of Daun Penh District in the heart of the capital, has overseen the deployment of his men, the beating of civilians, and a ruthless suppression of dissent.
20140506 * ”Free the 23” Trial – Day two:
Live Information Stream- Report ;
20140506 * Phnom Penh court under tight security during questioning 25 protesters:
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court heard Tuesday case of 25 people arrested at violent clashes on Veng Sreng Street, at Yakjin factory and in front of Stung Meanchey pagoda.
The security in front of the court was tightened as anti-riot police were seen deployed. Streets in front of and around the court were blocked with barricades.
Hundreds of protesters were gathering and shouting near the barricades to demand the release of the arrestees including Vorn Pov, President of the Independent and Democracy and Informal Economic Association.
20140506 * News Flash: Cambodian trial adjourned:
Disappointment and anger meets postponement of “
The trial of 23 Cambodians who were arrested during living wage strikes in Phnom Penh in January has been postponed for a second time.
The trial that was originally due to begin on April 25, resumed on May 6 only to be adjourned again. The trial is now scheduled to begin on May 20.
Clean Clothes Campaign is disappointed to learn of the second adjournment in the trial of the 23 who were arrested during demonstrations about a living wage in January this year.
21 of those who were arrested in the January violence continue to be held in the high security CC1 prison outside Phnom Penh having had earlier bail requests denied.
The trial which was due to begin on April 25 has already been postponed once and hopes were high that as the trial began today, May 6, it would give all those arrested the opportunity for justice.
However this postponement has been met with bitter disappointment by the men’s supporters, including human rights activists, monks and the men’s families.
20140506 * Trials of 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned again:
The trials of 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were detained during violent protests four months ago, were adjourned for the second time to May 20 after a 5-hour hearing Tuesday.
“The court adjourned the trials to May 20 because it needs more time to examine documents and evidence,” a defense lawyer, Sam Sokong, told reporters after the hearing. “The adjournment is good for both the court and the defendants — they will have enough time to find additional documents.”
The 23 detainees, who are charged with intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms Tuesday morning under tight security as dozens of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to call for the detainees ‘ release.
Government critic Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.
20140505 * Military might: Soldiers put end to Veng Sreng strike:
Soldiers used force on Friday to end a strike at a garment factory on Veng Sreng Boulevard, where demands included a lunch bonus of 2,000 riel and an end to forced overtime, workers and union officials said yesterday.
Cheng Sophavy, an officer at the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that about 100 employees at Pemir Garment agreed to return to work today after military personnel threatened them at the factory gates on Friday.
“Paramilitary forces from Brigade 70 on Friday came to disperse workers protesting in front of the factory,” Sophavy said. “They did not settle with workers; they deployed paramilitary forces instead. They do so to discourage us and force us back to work.”
Worker representative Chan Saban, 21, said: “We protested without any brute force, so using soldiers to crack down is not right.”
Neither the factory nor the military brigade could be reached for comment.
20140505 * Thousands of Cambodian garment workers end strike over bonus:
Thousands of Cambodian garment workers have gone back to work after striking to demand a $50 bonus in return for shunning walkouts in the kingdom’s lucrative but troubled garment sector, a union leader said Monday.
Some 20,000 workers at around 30 factories near the Vietnamese border went on strike a fortnight ago demanding the bonus after two factories rewarded employees for not participating in recent walkouts, which routinely cripple the industry.
“Most of the workers have resumed their work, and only those at three factories are still on strike on Monday,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, told AFP.
He said the factories did not agree to pay the $50 bonus, but reassured workers that they will “find a solution” to the dispute.
20140505 * Bavet Factories Reopen After Strike, But Pay Dispute Lingers:
In Svay Rieng province, employees at all but two of Bavet City’s 37 garment and footwear factories were back at work Saturday after a government-ordered shutdown last week, which was prompted by a growing strike over bonus pay.
The strike began at a few factories after the Khmer New Year holidays last month when workers learned that colleagues at another factory had recently been paid a one-time, $50 bonus for having honored an agreement to not strike during the previous few months.
The strike gradually grew and turned violent when workers started pelting some factories with rocks last Monday, at which point the government ordered all the factories in the city to shut down immediately.
Ou Sokhoeun, deputy director of the provincial labor department, said the shutdown lasted only for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, as Thursday was International Labor Day. He added that he met on Friday with representatives from the factories and the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which has heavy representation in Bavet City, to help them settle the dispute.
20140505 * Bavet strike ends at all but 2 factories:
Nearly all the factories in special economic zones (SEZs) across Svay Rieng’s Bavet town reopened over the weekend, ending a strike in which workers failed to coax employers into paying them a $50 bonus.
Pol Samphors, a garment worker at the Kingmaker factory in the Manhattan SEZ, said yesterday that management brought the more than 3,000 employees back into the fold by agreeing to pay half-day wages for shifts that went unfilled since April 21, the day they started striking.
“We did not get anything after protesting for more than a week,” she said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many other factories besides Kingmaker struck similar deals to pay employees half-day wages.
Thousands of workers commenced striking in mid-April, after Khmer New Year, when they learned that at least one factory had given workers a $50 bonus for not striking. The strikes quickly expanded, drawing workers from three SEZs in Bavet. One man was charged with property destruction.
20140503 * Twenty-One Men Detained After Strikes Seek Bail for Fifth Time:
Union activist Vorn Pao and 20 other workers and activists who have been jailed since the violent suppression of garment protests in early January had their request for bail heard for the fifth time on Friday, this time by the Supreme Court.
Mr. Pao, the president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is being tried alongside 22 others rounded up and beaten over a two-day period during garment strikes in January. Two of the men were bailed, and a trial against all 23, who are charged with violence and destroying public property, opened on April 25 and was adjourned until May 6.
None of the 21 detained men was present at yesterday’s hearing, during which Mr. Pao’s defense lawyer, Sam Sokong, called on Presiding Judge Khim Pon to bail the union leader, who underwent a kidney operation last year and is in need of medical assistance, because his health is said to have worsened after being beaten.
10:55:16 local time INDONESIA
20140502 * THE POLITICS OF MAY DAY, 2014:
Around 250,000 workers, members of various trade unions, mobilised in Jakarta for May Day, 2014.
From all accounts, the mobilisations were similar to those of 2012 and 2013. The demands carried on workers banners and posters were for rises in minimum wages and the banning of the widespread labor hire practices.
From the hundreds of photos on facebook, posted by workers from their Chinese made handphones, it appears that the mobilisations in Jakarta as well as other cities, were dynamic, colourful and had a strong activist atmosphere about them.
It is a sign that the trade union movement which has developed during the last 15 years remains strongly organised and that worker consciousness remains form on issues relating to immediate conditions.
20140502 * Apindo to propose new wage formula:
A business lobby group, the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), is considering proposing a new wage differentiation scheme based on the size and sector of businesses in its annual tripartite talks.
Apindo chairman Sofjan Wanandi said that it would be necessary to differentiate between small and medium enterprises and large firms, as well as labor-intensive and capital-intensive sectors, due to their different wage capacities.
That was partly attributed to the different ratios of labor wages in costs of production, he said.
“Currently, they should pay the same wage increase. Big firms can afford the rise in wages, but the small ones can’t,” he said during a discussion on labor on Wednesday.
09:25:16 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20140503 * Hong Kong Garment Makers Lured by Low Burma Wages:
Hong Kong clothing manufacturers will move their factory production to Burma because Burmese wages are only 20 percent of rates in China, an industry report said.
More than 10 Hong Kong-based firms are planning to relocate to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone because costs have become too high in China.
“Hong Kong clothing firms participating in the apparel park aim to benefit from the low cost of production in [Burma] as the cost of labor is only about 20 percent of the wages in China,” said the website fibre2fashion.
“Hong Kong entrepreneurs also expect to benefit from the duty-free access enjoyed by Myanmar while exporting to the [European Union].”
The Thilawa factories could be operational by the end of 2015 and employ up to 30,000 people, said the Associated Press.
Burma has “immense potential” to regain its former glory as a leading international garment producer and exporter, Business Monitor International (BMI) said in April.
But a revival will be from a low base, it said, because other countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia had attracted investment during Burma’s years of isolation. Burmese garment exports in 2012 were valued at US$909 million but that was only 1.5 percent of GDP, said BMI.
08:40:16 local time NEPAL
20140502 * Rallies demand min wage, social security:
The 125th International Labour Day, also known as ‘May Day’, was observed across the country on Thursday, organising various programmes. Stakeholders, including trade unions, organised rallies, interactions and mass meetings.
Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC), affiliated to the Nepali Congress, organised a rally from Tripureshwor to Bashantapur, where it turned into a mass gathering. Prime Minister Sushil Koirala also attended the mass meet.
The General Federations of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT), another major labour organisation affiliated to the CPN-UML, also organised a rally. GEFONT President Bishnu Rimal addressed the concluding event of the rally.
08:55:16 local time BANGLADESH
20140507 * Apparel workers at East West Industrial Park skip work:
Workers and employees of a apparel unit at East West Industrial Park continued their work abstention for the second consecutive day on Tuesday protesting alleged tortures and intimidation by the park union leaders.
More than 1,000 workers and employees of the factory also laid a siege to the Labour Welfare Centre in Tongi and held a rally in front of it around noon.
They submitted a memorandum to the assistant director of the centre, alleging that the general workers have been tortured and threatened by the leaders of six trade unions of the East West Industrial Park.
All the six labour unions were formed barely two months ago following the amendment to the labour law, the workers informed.
20140507 * Pubali Jute Mills workers block road for arrears:
Workers of Pubali Jute Mills Ltd in Ghorashal Industrial area in Polash Upazila blocked the Ghorashal- Danga road on Monday demanding payment of their arrears amounting Tk 8 crore.
About 1000 workers of the factory gathered near the main gate at about 9.00 am on Ghorashal-Danga road in Polash upazila suspending vehicular movement for about 4 hours. The workers organized a protest meeting on the road. The meeting was presided over by Pubali Jute Mills Workers Union (CBA) President Shohrab Hossain while secretary Nasir uddin, Hazrat Ali, Nurul Islam, Abdul Awal, Rafiqul Islam spoke.
CBA leaders claimed that the mill owners closed the Jute mills about six months ago on October 30 in 2013 and an agreement was signed between the CBA leaders and the mill authorities.
20140507 * Worker confidence a cause for RMG optimism:
The degree of confidence expressed bodes well for initiatives seeking to raise standards and improve productivity
An independent survey by Democracy International reports that 86% of garment factory workers are happy with their workplace safety and two thirds consider they have fair working hours.
This survey provides a rare in-depth picture of the perceptions of ordinary workers in this key industry.
Although the study notes a number of known problem areas, it also shows a lot of worker faith in the industry. Two-thirds of the 1,500 workers surveyed in Dhaka and Chittagong expressed satisfaction with recent wage increases.
Concerns expressed were deepest in relation to lack of affordable housing (48%), vacation leave (46%), and job insecurity and paid sick leave (both 37%).
Other problem areas, such as workplace harassment, lack of maternity leave, and low wages were reported by significant, but smaller proportions of workers.
About two-thirds supported the principle that labour unions may help improve wages and conditions. However, the vast majority, nearly nine in ten, were not themselves members of unions and expressed lack of confidence in the way existing unions are organised, with many saying they are unrepresentative and 92% saying they should not be affiliated to political parties.
20140507 * Separate body to oversee RMG factory inspection prog stressed:
Ensuring labour rights, workplace safety
Speakers at a discussion called for formation of a separate commission to oversee the factory inspection programmes for ensuring labour rights and workplace safety in the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector.
They also demanded of the foreign buyers to increase price of apparel items to help Bangladesh’s garment makers meet the safety related compliances and workers’ enhanced wages.
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Bangladesh (PSR,B) and Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) jointly organised the discussion on ‘Safe Workplace and Health Environment of RMG Workers’ at the National Press Club auditorium in the city on Tuesday.
Emphasising on formation of a separate commission, Bapa joint general secretary architect Iqbal Habib said it is needed to save the RMG sector from various local and international threats.
“If we have a separate commission to supervise the compliance issues in the RMG sector, help of Accord and Alliance would not be required,” he said.
20140507 * Practice of ‘undercutting’ saps RMG of bargaining power:
A section of apparel units, against the backdrop of a decline in work orders from the international buyers, are, allegedly, undercutting their rivals at home.
Industry insiders said the ‘unhealthy’ trend that has become strong lately has been causing substantial export revenue loss to the country. Moreover, it has strengthened the bargaining power of the international buyers, they added.
Many garment exporters undercut their competitors at home. This has been strengthening the position of the buyers, President of BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) Atiqul Islam told the FE.
He said a good number of exporters, including small and medium RMG factories, especially the new players, have been offering cutting and making (CM) charges at reduced rates than that offered by the mainstream market players.
“They are undercutting the rivals by about 10-15 per cent in recent times,” he added.
20140507 * GARMENT INDUSTRIAL PARK: Economists against govt guarantee for foreign loan:
The country’ leading economists have opposed a proposal of the apparel manufacturers seeking sovereign guarantee from the government against foreign loan for setting up a garment industrial park in Munshiganj.
It will be risky for the government to give sovereign guarantee for the private sector project as the government will be responsible for the repayment of the loan if the garment factory owners become defaulters, they said.
The government has recently allocated 530 acres of land at Bausia under Gazaria upazila in Munshiganj to set up the garment industrial zone, where as many as 577 factories can be accommodated.
The two China companies have shown their interest to finance for developing the industrial zone as the garment owners sought foreign loan.
According to garment sector leaders, Hong Kong KRD International Investment Group Limited in December last year agreed to give loan worth Tk 1,400 crore at low interest rate to the garment factory owners with a condition of sovereign guarantee.
Since then the garment factory owners have engaged in hectic lobby with the influential government officials to get the sovereign guarantee against the foreign loan.
20131208 * Mozena accompanying BD business team in Hong Kong:
US Ambassador in Bangladesh Dan W Mozena is accompanying a delegation of Bangladeshi businessmen in Hong Kong.
A Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) press release on Sunday said the delegation will stay in Hong Kong till December 11, aiming to link Bangladesh with US businesses in Hong Kong and encourage them to explore new business opportunities in Bangladesh.
20131209 * Investing in Bangladesh: Apparel and Beyond:
AmCham HK is delighted to host Ambassador Dan Mozena of US Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh who will be accompanied by a delegation of about 10 senior business leaders from Bangladesh.
The delegation mission is to continue strengthening the ties between AmCham HK members and other U.S. businesses present in Hong Kong through networking with top Bangladeshi executives.
RMG companies present in Hong Kong are already aware of Bangladesh, but new markets for U.S. products and services in fire and building safety equipment, heavy equipment, high tech equipment, and remittance-related financial services may be of interest. Ambassador’s speech would be about investing in Bangladesh beyond apparel, about the Indo-Pacific Corridor, and about how Bangladesh is uniquely placed to connect South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Ambassador Mozena will discuss more about the annual February Trade Show in Dhaka and extend invitations to AmCham HK members to attend.
20131210 * Trade team led by Mozena meets Hong Kong businessmen:
A business delegation led by US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena attended a luncheon meeting hosted by Bangladesh Consulate in Sheraton Hong Kong Hotels and Towers in Hong Kong on Monday.
Members of Bangladesh delegation and Bangladesh Consular, Member from AmCham in Hong Kong and Bangladeshi businessmen in Hong Kong were present at the meeting, according to a message received here on Tuesday.
Delegation members DCCI president M Sabur Khan, AmCham president Aftab Ul Islam, and former DCCI president Asif Ibrahim were, among others, present at the meeting.
20131218 * Bangladesh to build textile park to house garment units:
Readymade garment factories in Bangladesh that are non-compliant will be relocated in an industrial park.
The government has set up a company toward this end.
The aim is to make the country’s apparel industry compliant. Small and medium entrepreneurs will get priority in allotment of plots. The company will sign a memorandum of understanding with Hong Kong’s KRD International Investment Group for establishing the park.
The industrial park will be established on 532 acres of land, of which 30 per cent will be used for infrastructural development and the rest for factories. An apparel maker who exports products worth $1.2 million and above will have to pay 40 per cent of the total plot value as down payment. And an apparel maker who exports below $1.2 million dollars will have to pay 20 per cent of the price as down payment.
20131223 * Only Bangladeshis can resolve impasse: Mozena:
“…. Two weeks ago I led a delegation of Bangladeshi businessmen to Hong Kong to explore how to expand business relations between Hong Kong and the many American companies that are based in Hong Kong. “
20140507 * BB lifts curbs on foreign loans for EPZ enterprises:
Bangladesh Bank has lifted restrictions on industrial enterprises in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) to borrow loans from overseas.
The industrial units in the EPZs will have to submit loan applications through their authorised dealer banks to Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), which will send the proposals to BB for approval, the central bank said in a notice.
For non-EPZ enterprises, a separate scrutiny panel under the Board of Investment approves foreign loans.
But enterprises in EPZs that do not fall under BOI’s jurisdiction could not apply for external borrowing that costs less than local loans.
There are three types of enterprises in EPZs: fully foreign-owned, joint ventures and local companies. All companies will be able to borrow from external sources, according to the notice.
to read. & read more.
20140507 * Tofail asks consulates to bolster trade:
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday urged economic consulates, rendering services in Bangladesh missions abroad, for playing more responsible role in promoting country’s trade, business and investment.
Apart from the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences), the government has decided to go for signing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with some other countries, including the Latin American and South African countries, to widen the country’s export market, said the commerce minister.
In this case, Bangladeshi consulates in different counties have to take more initiative to help the government in exploring new markets through branding Bangladesh properly in their respective countries, he said.
20140506 * RMG factory workers at East West Industrial Park abstain from work:
General workers and employees of a RMG factory at East West Industrial Park here continued their work abstention for the second consecutive day on Monday protesting alleged tortures and intimidation by the park union leaders.
More than 1,000 workers and employees of the factory also laid a siege to the Labour Welfare Centre in Tongi and held a rally in front of it this noon.
They submitted a memorandum to the assistant director of the Centre, alleging that the general workers have been tortured and threatened by the leaders of six trade unions of the East West Industrial Park.
All the six labour unions were formed barely two months ago following the amendment to the labour law, the workers informed.
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20140506 * Garment workers stage demo for arrears in Savar:
The workers were trying to put a blockade on the road and were demanding their salaries
Workers of a ready-made garment factory staged a demonstration for non-payment of their wages, yesterday in Savar.
The protest took place at one of the factories of Prova Textile Apparels Ltd in the Ulail area of the Savar municipality, yesterday afternoon. The agitated workers were dispersed by the police with baton charges, when they tried to impose a blockade on the Dhaka-Aricha highway.
Workers and police sources said the factory authority has been making excuses and delaying the workers’ payment for the last two months. The workers started their demonstration on the factory premises yesterday at around 4:30pm in the afternoon when the authority failed to pay the wages as they had promised to do earlier.
20140506 * Survey: Most RMG workers happy with workplace safety :
Just two-thirds of the surveyed workers said joining labour unions might ensure regular and on-time wages
Contrary to common perception, a recent survey has found that a significant majority of garment factory workers are happy with their workplace safety, working hours and wage hikes.
According to the survey conducted by Democracy International (DI) and funded by USAID and UKAID, more than 80% of the respondents said the working conditions at their factories were safe. Over 60% said they had been receiving periodic pay raise and their working hours were fair.
The respondents expressed that meagre arrangements for vacation, casual, sick and maternity leaves; job insecurity and low wages were some of the major problems that they had been facing.
Although the government has recently claimed that the RMG workers now are far more unionised than ever before, the study has found that nearly 90% of the participant workers were not members of any labour body.
Just two-thirds of the surveyed workers said joining labour unions might ensure regular and on-time wages.
20140506 * BoI loses authority over textiles sector:
The textiles department of the ministry of Textiles and Jute will look into the regulatory matters of the sector from now on
The regulatory authority of the textiles sector has been taken off from Board of Investment (BoI) and placed with the Ministry of Textiles and Jute.
At a regular meeting yesterday, the cabinet made the decision, saying that the textiles department of the ministry will look into the regulatory matters of the sector from now on.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting.
20140506 * 7 units closed, production halted in 13:
Some seven garment factories were closed down permanently while production was suspended in 13 units, following the western retailers’ factory assessment programmes, sources said.
The shutdown and production suspension took place after the official review committee visited the units after having opinions of the Accord and the Alliance regarding their structural flaws, they added.
On the other hand, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) claimed that a total of nine factories were closed down permanently and production was suspended in 11 factories.
But the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) officials said production was suspended in 16 factories, while seven RMG units in two buildings might not reopen.
20140506 * 12,000 workers lose job:
7 RMG factories shut, production in 13 others suspended
At least 12,000 workers lost their jobs in last four months as seven garment factories were shut permanently and production at 13 other factories suspended on recommendations from foreign retailers who detected structural flaws in the factory buildings.
Since February teams sent by the retailers inspected about 600 factories and found structural flaws in 12 buildings housing over 30 factories.
The inspection teams were sent by Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a European retailers’
platform, and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, North American retailers platform.
The two retailers’ groups submitted their reports to the Review Panel, comprising representatives from the government, the Accord, Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA, recommending immediate suspension of production and closure of the factories housed in faulty buildings.
The experts of the review panel further assessed the buildings and closed two buildings in Chittagong housing seven garment factories having 3,000 workers.
A BGMEA source said none of the seven factories can resume production until they were shifted to safer buildings.
The review committee also partially closed two other factories housed in a shared building in the capital city.
Experts, however, hoped that the two factories in the capital would possibly be able to resume full production after the needed corrective work.
20140506 * Workers block road in Narsingdi:
Several hundred workers of Pubali Jute Mills in Ghorashal industrial area in Narsingdi blocked the Ghorashal-Danga road on Monday, demanding payment of their dues.
The workers organised a protest meeting on the road in front of the mill gate suspending traffic for about four hours.
The meeting was presided over by Pubali Jute Mills Workers Union president Shohrab Hossain while secretary Nasir uddin, Hazrat Ali, Nurul Islam, Abdul Awal, Rafiqul Islam spoke in the meeting.
CBA leaders claimed that the owners closed the jute mills on October 30, 2013 with an agreement to pay dues in 90 working days.
20140506 * Elimination of tariff on safety equipment:
The government has decided to eliminate duty on firefighting equipment. We are sure it will encourage the common people to keep the safety equipment in their homes so that they can use those in case of emergency.
We have a general tendency to show our apathy to safety rules. Safety equipment can be proved to be life saving during the time of danger. Bangladesh government wants to eliminate tariff on equipment necessary to improve safety standard of Ready Made Garments sector.
We need to create awareness among the common people about the necessity of safety and should remember that a moment of carelessness can create havoc on lives. Some tragic accidents in the RMG sector of Bangladesh have made the world consumers more conscious about the safety standard of the workers here.
20140505 * Accord to respond after consultation with lawyer:
Rob Wayss, executive director of Accord said the answer to the notice would be given after having detail consultations with an attorney
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh would consult with their lawyer before giving any response as they received the legal notice served by Softex Cotton Limited (Unit-2) challenging their instruction to shut down its factory.
“I’ve just received the notice this afternoon. I need to consult with a lawyer to understand,” Rob Wayss, executive director of Accord (Bangladesh Operation),” told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
He said the answer to the notice would be given after having detail consultations with an attorney.
Softex served a legal notice to Accord on Wednesday demanding compensation worth US$100 million against the damage the factory would have incurred since shutting down the factory on March 6.
20140505 * USTR to review BD progress in RMG labour issues in July:
The USTR is set to review the progresses made in labour issues by Bangladesh in its ready-made garment (RMG) sector in July next for reviving the generalised system of preferences (GSP), officials said.
The first-ever Bangladesh-USA meeting under the TICFA (Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement) concluded on April 28, 2014, in the capital that evaluated progresses towards implementation of the ‘action plan’ set by the United States to enable Bangladesh to get back the facility of GSP.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) outlined 16 conditions in the Bangladesh Action Plan, which comprises improvement in labour standards, improvement in fire safety, trade union activity in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and appointment of factory inspectors in order to get the GSP facility revived for the country.
read more. & read more.
20140505 * Textiles sector’s regulatory body changed:
The Department of Textiles will be the regulatory body from now on
The Department of Textiles will be the regulatory and responsible body for the textiles sector of the country from now on, what the cabinet has decided.
The cabinet meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, decided to relieve the Board of Investment from the duties of this sector.
The decision was made in line with a decision of the National Council of Industrial Development, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan briefed.
“The department of textiles will look out and regulate this sector from now on as the patron.”
20140505-06 * Jute and Textiles Ministry spends 73% ADP fund:
The Jute and Textiles Ministry has spent 73 per cent of the fund released for implementing 18 projects under the annual development programme (ADP) in the
first nine months of the current fiscal year 2013-14.
According to an official release, the ministry spent Taka 53.27 crore out of Taka 72.65 crore released till March this year under the ADP.
The information was revealed at a recent review meeting on the progress of implementation of the ADP projects.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20140505-06 * Tau to invest $200m in textile sector:
The venture named as Tau Bangladesh will buy minority ownership of the large textile companies in the country
Tau Investment Management, a New York-based growth-equity venture investment firm, has launched a venture worth $200m in Bangladesh.
The venture named as Tau Bangladesh will buy minority ownership of the large textile companies in the country.
A launching ceremony was organised at a hotel in the capital yesterday.
The fund to be injected is aimed at improving the value-chain of the companies through upgrading and de-risking supply chain.
Further, the venture intends to make the companies international standards in terms of being socially responsible and compliant.
“We are investing to help build few companies to become stronger strategic suppliers due to which incremental revenue are expected to be generated,” said Oliver Niedermaier, CEO of Tau Investment.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20140505 * Set up more health centres for workers: BILS:
Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, a leading workers rights advocacy group, yesterday called for setting up more health centres in industrial zones to attend to workers.
At present, there are 50 worker welfare centres across the country but most of them are under-staffed and the physical infrastructure wobbly, said Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmmed, assistant executive director of BILS.
“If we can modernise the existing welfare centres and ensure the presence of doctors and nurses and the availability of medicines, and set up more such centres in areas with many garment factories, we will be able to provide health care facilities to the workers.”
Ahmmed spoke at a seminar organised by BILS in association with the labour and employment ministry to mark May Day at National Press Club. The discussion particularly highlighted the group life insurance scheme the government recently launched for workers in the construction and automobile sectors.
Last year, the government initiated a five-year insurance scheme for workers in the construction and automobile sector to provide financial security to the injured labourers and families of the dead labourers in the event of an accident or death.
Monirul Islam Khan, professor of sociology at Dhaka University, who presented a paper, said steps have to be taken to popularise the insurance scheme among workers.
“The willingness of the owners will have to be ensured. Besides, instalment has to be affordable for the workers. If necessary, a government fund should be formed.”
20140505 * Tofail lashes out at US:
“The US has scrapped Bangladesh’s GSP facility for nothing and it was done solely for political reason. There is no other reason”
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday came down heavily on the US for not restoring GSP facility to Bangladesh.
“The US has scrapped Bangladesh’s GSP facility for nothing and it was done solely for political reason. There is no other reason,” the minister said while addressing a conference in the capital.
“GSP facility was given to Sub-Saharan countries in Africa but was suspended for Bangladesh. In fact, they are not giving us GSP, so forget it,” he said.
Bangladesh exports products worth $5.3 billion to the US but GSP covered only $30 million of that amount, Tofail said, adding that there was hue and cry over the issue in Bangladesh.
20140505 * Improving healthcare services in EPZs and SEZs:
With a population of 161 million people living in less than 150,000 sq. km. area, Bangladesh is the most densely-populated country in the world.
The population density here stands at 1,015 people/sq. km. With the current population growth rate of 1.6 per cent, Bangladesh will be home to 250 million people by 2050.
Alongside the growing population Bangladesh is experiencing a social and demographic transition with its industrialisation expanding and the income level rising. It is also exposed to globalisation.
Although 71 per cent of the people reside in rural areas, rapid urbanisation (at an estimated rate of 6.0 per cent) is causing a population growth of 2.5 per cent in urban areas, with Dhaka city alone accounting for 40 per cent of the urban population. These factors have contributed to a rising prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country.
20140504-05 * 87% RMG workers out of union: DI:
Most of the workers of readymade garment industry of the country are not members of any labour union, said a recent survey conducted by Democracy International (DI).
DI conducted this survey of RMG workers to have an in-depth understanding on labour issues, formation of labour union and activities, policy aspiration and political participation of garment workers in greater Dhaka and Chittagong.
Fieldwork of this survey was conducted within March 28 to April 6, 2014. Maximum Margin of Error (MoE) is+2.53% with a 95 percent confidence level of the study, says a press release.
The survey was conducted to help by informing to key stakeholders such as political parties, the Bangladeshi government, local and international labour organizations, the media, and NGOs.
The survey explores the issues surrounding RMG workers and captured their opinion and aspirations with the goal of assisting policymakers turn the results from the survey into tangible and responsive public policy.
Some key findings of the survey include that 87% RMG workers are not members of any labour union though 82% of respondents consider forming labor unions effective or very effective at solving workers’ problems.
read more. & read more.
20140504 * Shut-down RMG factories may take Softex course:
According to the labour laws, there is no provision of forming review panel to suggest closure of factories
The apparel factories so far faced shut down or production suspension for non-compliance have not decided yet whether they would take legal measures like Softex Cotton Limited (Unit-2) to get rid of such actions by Alliance or Accord, which are working for improving factory condition.
Softex served a legal notice to Accord on Wednesday demanding compensation worth US$100 million against the damage the factory would have incurred since shutting down the factory on March 6. The legal notice claimed the factory inspection has not been done through following due process.
Owners of many of the ill-fated factories were also considering whether they would follow Softex in their efforts for a remedy, suggested telephone conversations with the entrepreneurs yesterday.
Few of them are, however, thinking twice amid fears it might risk future orders. What prevents them from taking legal course against one shut-down unit is to save orders for other units supplying to the same buyers.
“We don’t want to take risk on other units to save one unit,” said an entrepreneur of a shut-down factory. He said the brands are the members of either Accord or Alliance and they would follow the orders of the two platforms.
20140504 * Six more RMG factories identified for shutdown:
The two foreign inspection agencies have prescribed closure of another six garment factories, to go with the 16 already shut down, for structural flaws.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a platform of 150 retailers mainly European, advised the closing of Sadaf Fashions, Daelim Textile, Angela Fashions and Ali Apparels.
The platform of 27 North American retailers, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, called for the shutdown of Jans Fabrics and Mam Garment.
Syed Ahmed, convener of the government-formed review panel, said the body would visit the factories this week for further inspection. If the panel deems the factories to be too unsafe, they would be shuttered.
Jans Fabrics has already shifted the workers to a nearby safe factory.
So far, 16 factories have been shut down and 11,500 workers were made redundant, said Ahmed, also the inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
But Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, disputed the figures, saying a total of 19 factories—12 in Dhaka and seven in Chittagong—were closed down due to structural flaws and nearly 18,000 workers lost their jobs.
Mesbah Rabin, managing director of Alliance, said the association paid compensation to the workers of the shuttered factories as per the rules of the agency.
20140504 * 3 RMG factories closed, this time at Alliance advice:
Authorities now have started suspending production at garment factories following recommendation of North American retailers’ inspection teams after they closed production at nine units at the suggestion of EU retailers’ assessment teams.
Production at three garment factories in the port city of Chittagong has recently been suspended as inspection teams of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a group of North American retailers and brands, found structural faults in the building where the units are housed.
The factories are RSI Garments, Kent Garments and Shaha Chand Garments. Of the three, only RSI Garments was on the Alliance’s list of the factories to be inspected, sources said.
Alliance’s inspection teams have so far found overloading and structural faults in four buildings which together house five factories.
20140504 * Authorities asleep at the wheel as many buildings ignore fire safety:
The officials also raised concern over the increase in unplanned factory buildings in the city
Although many high-rise commercial buildings have been occupied without fulfilling the fire safety standards, they are yet to be identified because 99% of the owners are least bothered about having occupancy certificates following the approval of the building plans, claimed fire service officials.
The officials also raised concern over the increase in unplanned factory buildings in the city and stressed the need for having firmer rules to regulate the fire safety measures of all kinds of buildings – residential, commercial and industrial – big or small.
Fire Service and Civil Defence Directorate’s instructor M Akram said only 1 in 100 owners of high-rise buildings cares about collecting the occupancy certificate, leaving the authorities in the absolute dark about their fire safety standards.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20140504 * Call to implement minimum RMG wage structure:
Trade union activists at a rally have stressed the need for implementing the minimum wage structure for readymade garment (RMG) workers and providing the Rana Plaza victim families with adequate compensation for their livelihood, reports BSS.
At the May Day rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club (JPC) recently, leaders of the Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress (BFTUC) put forward a set of recommendations for wellbeing of the working class in the country, said a press release.
20140504 * Tofail urges US to reduce duty on apparels :
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today urged the United States (US) to reduce duty on Bangladeshi apparels.
“At this moment we need duty cut to increase apparels export US market the commerce minister told a programme in the city.
20140504 * We dont need GSP, says Tofail:
An apparently angry commerce minister has said Bangladesh does not need preferential facility under GSP in the US market.
Tofail Ahmed said on Sunday there had been a lot of talks on the GSP but they produced no results. “We don’t want…I say we don’t want… too much talks about GSP…we don’t need GSP anymore,” he said, citing that Bangladesh used to get only $30 million GSP benefits before it was suspended in June last year.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the New York-based Tau Investment Management in Bangladesh, according to a news agency.
20140504 * Final decision on RMG park at Gajaria on May 7: Amu:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu today said final decision on the implementation of the readymade garments industry park at Gajaria in Munsiganj distirict would be taken on May 7.
“Land acquision for the modern RMG industrial park at Gajaria has been completed… final decision on the implementaion of the industrial park to be invested by the private investors of China will be taken from the meeting of the Prime Minister’s Office on May 7,” he added.
20140503 * ‘Real progress made after Rana Plaza disaster’:
‘We want to see continued growth, rather than boycott or abandonment’
British Minister of State in the Department for International Development Alan Duncan said on Wednesday that genuine progress had been made in the country’s readymade garment sector following the Rana Plaza collapse.
“We want to see continued growth, rather than boycott or abandonment, so that the sector continues to flourish as an important part of the economy, thus increasing the number of safer and better jobs for women in particular,” he said at a parliamentary debate on Rana Plaza at the UK House of Commons.
20140503 * 1 RMG worker dies after taking factory water:
to read. & read more. & read more.
20140502 * Fire at N’ganj textile factory:
A fire broke out in the Sohag Textile in Nabiganj of the district on Friday evening.
Fire Service control room sources said that four units of fire service brought the blaze under control after trying hard for half an hour.
Fire Control Room Operator Jiban Mia told banglanews, “We are yet to know the cause of the fire.”
to read. & to read.
20140502 * Bangladesh soon regains GSP facility to US market: Mosharraf:
Expressing the hope that Bangladesh will soon regain the GSP facility to US market, Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain today said the government is pledge-bound to protect the interests and rights of workers.
“The present Awami League government is worker-friendly and it has already taken a number of steps for their welfare . . . minimum wage of workers and their service age have already been increased,” he said while addressing a discussion meeting at Muslim Hall in Chittagong city.
* Accord Statement on Critical Findings Factory Inspections Which Lead to Suspension of Operations and Evacuation of Factory Buildings:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord) marks a binding commitment of 160 plus global brands and retailers and global and national RMG industry union federations to prevent avoidable tragedies such as the Rana Plaza building collapse and the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory fire from ever happening again in the Bangladesh RMG factories.
Factory inspections of Accord producing facilities designed to identify fire, electrical, and building structural safety risks are an integral component of the Accord requirements. As expected, Accord inspections are identifying safety risks in all three areas.
Many of the findings, such as reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans, can be easily corrected and do not involve significant costs. Other findings are a matter of cleaning up, organizing, and then being disciplined in maintenance practices.
These include properly connecting and sealing electrical wires and keeping wires and circuits free of dust and lint. Other findings and safety requirements involve more substantial costs.
For example: installing fire doors, automated smoke detectors and fire alarm systems, and establishing fire protected egress from factory buildings.
During the course of the first 250 factory inspections, Accord structural engineers have identified critical findings in 8 buildings.
The findings were of a structural nature and were severe which led to recommendations that the buildings be temporarily evacuated until such time that more in-depth tests could be conducted, substantial weight and load is removed from the building, and/or immediate strengthening measures are completed.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20140507 * Rana’s associate remanded in murder case:
A Dhaka court yesterday placed Abu Bakkar Siddique, a key associate of Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana, on a two-day remand in a murder case filed in connection with the collapse of the faulty building in Savar on April 24 last year.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Sheuly Akhter passed the order after the investigation officer of the case, CID’s Assistant Superintendent Bijoy Krishna Khar, produced the accused before the court and sought five-day remand. Police arrested the accused from Savar Bazar area on secret information on Monday.
In the remand prayer, the IO said Siddique had been present at the Rana Plaza and forced the garment workers to work. The murder case was filed on April 25 last year, a day after the building had collapsed, with the Savar police station. At least 1,136 people mostly female workers died and over 2,500 others injured in the incident.
20140506 * PM’s relief fund to merge with Rana Plaza package:
Rana Plaza victims will receive compensation from retailers minus the amount they got from the prime minister’s relief fund, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
For instance, as per ILO convention 121, a dead worker’s family was supposed to receive Tk 29 lakh as compensation. So, if they have already received Tk 10 lakh from the prime minister’s fund, they can expect to be given another Tk 19 lakh from the Rana Plaza Trust Fund.
“The victims thought they will receive money both from the prime minister’s fund and the Rana Plaza Trust fund, but that will not be the case. The two will supplement one another,” Shipar told The Daily Star.
A total of Tk 22.13 crore has been disbursed to the victims from the relief fund, according to data from the prime minister’s office.
So far, a total of $25 million has been collected in the ILO-managed trust fund against the required amount of $40 million to adequately compensate the Rana Plaza victims, according to Roy Ramesh Chandra, secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the local chapter of IndustriALL Global Union that initiated the trust fund.
“Retailers have started contributing to the fund, and we have started giving out compensation from it.”
08:25:16 local time INDIA
20140507 * Hi-tech apparel park in Mandya a distant dream:
The hi-tech apparel park continues to be a distant dream for the people in the district as the State government’s ambitious textile policy for 2013-18, released last year, has evoked poor response from entrepreneurs.
Even with the State government announcing tax exemptions and benefits such as 15-20 per cent capital subsidy, investors have not come forward to set up units in Mandya.
Admitting that the project had evoked poor response, Textile and Ports Minister Baburao Chinchansur said he would take “some measures” to attract investors.
Mr. Chinchansur, who was in the city on Tuesday, told The Hindu that the State government was ready to provide facilities to the industrialists if they were ready to invest in Mandya. “Entrepreneurs are not interested in setting up units here,” he said.
The textile policy aims to attract an investment of Rs. 10,000 crore and create employment opportunities for five lakh people during the period, he explained.
20140506 * Textile ministry strategises to boost export by 15-20% next plan period:
Plan panel in global exports of textiles report says India ranked third largest exporter trailing European Union and China
The textile ministry has made a comprehensive plan to increase export growth rate from present level of 6-10% to 15-20% in next five years, in the 12th plan period. Towards this Planning Commission has already allocated Rs 2,5931 crore to the ministry for overall schemes and the textile upgradation fund will continue.
The report of the Working Group constituted by the Planning Commission on boosting India’s manufacturing exports during 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), envisages India’s exports of Textiles and Clothing at USD 64.41 billion by the end of March, 2017.
As per the report, in the global exports of Textiles, India ranked as the third largest exporter, trailing European Union and China. In the global exports market of clothing, India ranked as the fifth largest exporter, trailing Bangladesh, Hong Kong, EU and China.
On the other hand, India accounts for 22% of the world’s installed capacity of spindles and is one of the largest exporters of yarn in international market. It has second highest spindleage in the world after China, highest loomage (including handlooms) in the world and contributes about 61% to the world loomage.
20140506 * ‘Follow fire safety rules or lose power, water supply’:
After two major fires in textile markets of the city in last 10 days, Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has finally woken up from its slumber to the need for stringent action against those flouting fire safety norms.
The SMC, which miserably failed in ensuring that rules are followed, is now mulling cutting off power and water connections of such violators.
In a meeting held at SMC main office on Monday with representatives of different textile markets, municipal commissioner Manoj Das said, “This can’t go on. We have asked all the office bearers of different textile markets to immediately comply with mandatory fire safety regulations. Those who don’t follow them will face severe action.”
20140506 * Chinese policy causes a 25% fall in India’s April cotton exports:
The Indian cotton yarn industry is in a spot. The recently announced Chinese cotton policy has made cotton yarn exports to the Dragon country unattractive thus denting Indian yarn exports by 25% in the month of April.
Though the demand of cotton yarn in domestic market is showing some recovery but the textile mills say that the robust growth is yet to be felt thus raising concern for the industry which has just come out from the financial hardship of 2009-10.
20140505 * Behind the showroom: the hidden reality of India’s garment workers:
said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.The report is based on an FIDH mission of observation featuring visits of garment factories and on-site hostels as well as interviews with local trade unions, NGOs and experts in the states of Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
India’s complex internal historical dynamics are mirrored in the garment industry, and can in part account for the persistence of human rights violations which characterise this sector.
Precarious working conditions, including overtime work, salaries below minimum wage, and disproportionate use of contract labour and apprenticeship are still commonplace in India’s garment factories.Adolescent girls continue to work under the Sumangali scheme, an employment pattern comprising elements of bonded labour. Garment workers are subject to disconcerting control and pressure, and according to local experts and NGOs, verbal and physical abuse of women workers are recurrent issues in factories and hostels.
Discrimination against women, migrant workers and workers from “lower castes” is deeply entrenched.
Government labour inspections are weak and inadequate, while there remain important legal and practical obstacles to the establishment of trade unions, virtually absent from the factory work floors.
20140505 * MP textile industry opposes hike in minimum wages of workers:
They say there has been a hike of 66-72% during 2008 and 2013 in minimum wages
As state government is looking to review minimum wages, textile industry in Madhya Pradesh has demanded to put stagnation on minimum wages.
“The textile industry is already under pressure due to rising prices of raw material, higher power tariff, slowdown in Europe and the United States which has adversely affected exports. If state government puts proposed higher rate of minimum wages it would further hit the industry,” S Pal, chairman of Madhya Pradesh Textile Mills Association said.
The Madhya Pradesh Textile Mills Association has said there was a hike of 66-72% during 2008 and 2013 in minimum wages.
20140505 * Textile traders to stop paying maintenance:
Following two major incidents of fire in textile markets, the textile traders affiliated with the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) have decided not to pay monthly maintenance to the developers and builders that are violating the safety norms and not complying with the law and bylaws of National Building Code (NCB).
The decision has come after the fire at Landmark commercial market at Puna-Kumbharia that killed two and injured 19, and the fire at Kohinoor market on Friday.
According to the traders, around 80 per cent of the textile markets in the city’s Ring Road, Salabatpura, Sahara Darwaja, Puna Kumbharia, etc., are still under the possession of the developers and builders.
The traders said the state government must also fix the responsibility of the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) as the traders are regularly paying property tax. Proper training of the security personnel at the textile markets and the staff members employed with the textile shops should be carried out for using the fire safety equipments like fire extinguisher during the time of emergency.
20140505 * India silk weavers hang on by thread, plead for rescue:
Its saris have been a byword for sartorial elegance for centuries and even the Buddha was laid to rest veiled in a brocade of silk hand-woven in India’s holiest city Varanasi, according to local legend.
But bosses and craftsmen say the Banarasi silk industry is hanging on by a thread and could be killed off within a generation by mass-produced garments and Chinese competition, unless India’s next government steps in.
“I’ve been doing this job for more than 40 years now and my fathers and forefathers were doing it for around 250 years before me,” said Sardar Hafizullah as he wove a green and gold sari on the ground floor of his home in Varanasi’s Old City.
“But it seems that it is a dying art. It’s only people like me keeping it alive,” added the 65-year-old.
One of the oldest living cities in the world, Varanasi (also known as Benares) draws millions of visitors each year, whether Hindus who have come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges or tourists watching the world float by from the ghats on the side of the river.
read more. & read more.
20140505 * Native textiles, western sensibilities:
As Fab India reaches out to younger clients with a western line, the fashion fraternity discusses the need to innovate and challenges to cope with
Handloom retail giant Fab India sprung a surprise recently when it announced the launch of a western line of garments, Fabels, in cotton and khadi, made possible with design intervention by French designer Alistair Blair, who has been associated with labels such as Dior and Valentino.
Eager to diversify from ethnic wear the brand is known for, Fab India hopes to reach out to younger clients who look at high-end labels for dresses, jackets, palazzos, shirts and skirts.
In its first phase, the label will be available in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai and eventually across the country. This maybe a significant step for a retail major in the handloom sector, but closer home, enterprising designers have been in the innovating mode for a while now.
20140505 * India’s leather exports to take a hiding:
The EU has exaggerated the health impact of a chromium compound used in tanning
The recent EU ban on imports of Indian Alphonso mangoes after pests were reportedly found in consignments has generated considerable concern. Now the EC has notified the WTO of its plan to introduce new restrictions on leather goods imported into the EU.
These new rules target hexavalent chromium, or Cr(6), in leather products and could take effect in early 2015.
This could seriously hit the global leather goods trade. Almost 60 per cent of India’s leather exports, worth $5 billion in 2012-13, go to the EU. India along with other affected exporting countries such as China, Vietnam and Turkey, needs to take proactive action to meet this threat.
Chromium tanning, used in 80 per cent of leather production globally, results in higher strength and resistance to temperature. The chemical used is chromium sulphate, which is trivalent chromium, and not harmful.
However, exposure to sunlight and air can oxidise the trivalent Chromium to Cr (6). In cars, for instance, the leather can be subject to high temperatures and sunlight in summer. Cr (6) can cause lung cancer if inhaled, especially by workers in chromium mining, electroplating, welding and tanneries.
08:25:16 local time SRI LANKA
20140505 * Sri Lanka’s textile & garment exports grow 6.6% in Feb’14:
07:55:16 local time PAKISTAN
20140507 * Textile industry: APTMA urges Prime Minister to ensure regular energy supply:
Senior Vice Chairman APTMA, Seth Muhammad Akbar has appealed the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to ensure regular energy supply to the textile industry immediately in order to avert situation fast leading to massive unemployment.
He said thousands of textile workers are being jobless and are unhappy with the situation. He said the textile mills are being forced to close down shifts with sudden increase in electricity load shedding from 8 by 10 hours. He was addressing a press conference at the APTMA Punjab office along with Group Leader APTMA, Gohar Ejaz and Chairman APTMA Punjab, S M Tanveer.
20140507 * Makers prefer to export basic textiles: experts:
The large-scale textile manufacturers miss out on opportunities to add value to their yarn and fabrics since it is easy to export basic textiles than do marketing after value-addition, experts said on Tuesday.
On the other hand, experts said the small and medium entrepreneurs put in efforts to find out the buyers in foreign countries and produce apparel according to their specifications.
The quota regime prevalent before 2005 facilitated such entrepreneurs, said Adil Butt, who transformed into a leading knitwear exporter from a small unit.
“It took me over 15 years to reach a stage where I could qualify as a medium-sized entrepreneur,” he added.
Still, Butt said the apparel exporters lack resources to scale up operation.
He said the large scale textile industries went on increasing their capacities as the more affluent countries opted out of low value-added textiles. And therefore, there are more than 3,000 apparel exporters in the country, while the yarn and fabric exporters are less than 500.
20140506 * APTMA chief seeks to exempt textile industry from loadshedding:
Central Vice Chairman APTMA Seth Mohammad Akbar has urged the Federal Minister for Water & Power Kh. Mohammad Asif to exempt the textile industry from electricity load shedding being confronted by 8-10 hours a day electricity load shedding at present.
Resultantly, he said, the textile mills owners have no option but to close down one shift per day leading to retrenchment of thousands of workers across the country.
He said the supply chain of value added textile industry has been badly affected due to partial closure of mills in the country.
Seth Akbar said there is an immediate need of correcting the imbalances in order to come out of the crisis like situation.
20140505 * Minimum wage legislation: A politician’s magic wand for vote bank? :
Amidst the clamour against shrinking paycheques and rising costs of living, one assumes yet another hike in the minimum wage is on the cards in the upcoming provincial budgets.
Minimum wages have seen consistent increases over the last many years. Rather than its economic impact, the customary increase in the minimum wage every year appears to have more to do with politicians’ tendency to outdo each other in making empty promises to the workers.
After the devolution of the subject of labour in 2010, each province now sets its own minimum wage for the unskilled labour. It is Rs10,000 a month in Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Rs9,000 a month in the case of Balochistan.
Although most nations around the world have instituted some kind of minimum wage, a large number of studies show such limits end up hurting the same unskilled workers in whose name populist politicians try to regulate the job market.
Instead of helping the poor, most conservative economists believe, minimum wage laws actually increase joblessness among unskilled people. The reason is simple: if you make it difficult for employers to hire unskilled people, they will simply hire fewer of them.
20140505 * Cotton yarn import: duty unlikely to benefit textile sector:
The government”s decision to impose a 5 percent customs duty on cotton yarn import is unlikely to benefit textile sector as importers have already purchased a huge quantity of cotton yarn from India.
Sources said that there was a gap of three weeks between the proposal submitted by the Ministry of Textile and approval by the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet, which has benefited the importers.
Ishan-ul-Haq of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association said that the summary was submitted to the ECC on March 27, 2014 for consideration and approval, as reported in the media. The ECC approved the summary on April 17, 2014 after a gap of three weeks, which benefited the importers immensely, Ishan added.
20140504 * Over 13 million bales reach ginning factories:
Over 13,391,694 cotton bales reached ginning factories of the country by May 1, which is 3.69 percent more than the same period last year.
According to a report of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) on Saturday, exporters had purchased 399,382 bales while the textile sector 12,584,496 bales.
20140504 * ‘Textile industry looks for alternate power generation sources’:
Textile industry has started looking for power generation through alternative sources and the APTMA leadership has engaged power sector experts for the purpose.
It may be noted that the Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi had advised the APTMA leadership to look into ways and means of generating electricity for industry needs in his latest meeting with textile millers a day before.
Earlier, the Chief Minister Punjab had also desired from the Punjab based textile industry to invest in coal-based power generation. The APTMA leadership is busy in spadework on the idea of investment in power generation.
However, many of the millers are not satisfied with government’s move, saying that it was responsibility of the government to supply energy for smooth operations. Already, they said, the industry had invested billions of rupees in the installation of Captive Power Plants to utilised gas as cheap energy source. However, the SNGPL denied uninterrupted gas supply to the CPPs after few years of heavy investment.
20140503 * Accident: Cloth factory in SITE catches fire:
A cloth factory in SITE, near Siemens Chowrangi, caught fire on Friday but the authorities have yet to determine what caused it.
Water shortage served as a big hurdle in extinguishing the fire despite the efforts of 14 fire trucks, which included one snorkel, two bowsers and one rescue vehicle. No casualties have been reported as yet.
A representative of SITE area’s fire station complained that the area has been facing water shortage for more than 10 years.
“We have repeatedly complained about this and written letters to the managing directors of the Karachi Water Sewerage Board and SITE Ltd but to no avail,” he said.
20140503 * Labour Day: ‘Raise minimum wage, enforce labour laws’:
Thousands of labourers and rights activists carried out various rallies across the city to mark the International Labour Day.
A rally organised by the working women helpline, Awami Workers’ Party, Ittehad Labour Union Carpet Industry Pakistan, Pakistan Bhatta Mazdoor Union, National Database Registration Authority Employees Union, TDCP workers and Muttaihda Labour Union marched from Lahore Press Club to Charing Cross.
They demanded the enforcement of labour laws. They also demanded that the minimum wage be raised to Rs25,000 per month, that social security cards be issued to all workers, and that rates set by the government for bricks kilns workers be enforced.
07:55:16 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton season 2014: Citizens again forced to weed the cotton fields:
On May 5 Angren’s makhallya committees received orders to start weeding the freshly planted cotton fields. Each makhallya has been assigned one hectare.
According to a source on one such committee, the orders came from the Tashkent province khokimiat.
The orders from the khokimiat state that each makhallya committee is responsible for one hectare of cotton plants and it is to send one employee for ten days to perform the job.
Chairs of the makhallya committees are now deliberating whom to send as obviously no one is thrilled to work for ten days in an open field under a blazing sun in exchange for a bowl of soup.
* Textile sector is one of the largest consumers of water:
The textile industry is one of the largest water consuming industries in the world and main producers of industrial waste water, according to industry representatives.
In an interview with Fibre2Fashion correspondent, Ilin Mathew, Mr. Olaf Rintsch, president of Textile Division at Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), said, “More than 20,000 litres of water is used to produce 1kg of cotton.”
Explaining further, Mr. Abhijit Ganguly, brand director of Grasim, says, “World-over, the textile industry and especially the wet processing industry is one of the largest consumer of water in manufacturing and hence one of the main producers of industrial wastewater.”
Talking about the textile industry in India, Mr. GS Krishnan, regional president of India at Novozymes South Asia Pvt. Ltd, says, “While the textile industry is one of the largest industries in India, it is also considered as one of the most polluting industries due to the extensive use of chemicals, energy and water.”
* Indian firm to set up $550mn spinning mill in Ethiopia:
* ‘African textile & fashion industry needs development’:
The textile and fashion industry of Africa has great potential and there needs to be a strategy to exploit this potential and develop the textile and fashion sector, in order to revive the African economy, said Niger fashion designer and stylist Alphadi during the recently held traditional cloth fair, ‘Loincloth Fest’ in the Togolese capital city of Lome.
Mr. Alphadi, also known as Sidhamed Seidnaly, was speaking during a roundtable business conference on ‘Development of the textile and fashion industry: Challenges and Prospects’, held during the Loincloth Fest, which was a part of the ‘Day of Textile’ festival organized by Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Togo (CCIT).
The Niger designer explained during the conference that it is necessary to build a whole development policy of textile sector and expand the fashion industry in the continent to boost pale African economy.