19:22:51 local time CHINA
* Lingwu builds ‘World Cashmere Capital’:
The Ningxia Ecological Textile Park accelerated its construction in Lingwu City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on May 15.
Over 80 percent of infrastructure construction has been completed and the main workshops have been built across the park. A cashmere yarn series project with an annual output of 5 million sweaters is expected to go into operation by the end of this year.
18:22:51 local time VIET NAM
* Unrest in Vietnam shatters investor confidence:
Fatal riots in Vietnam have eroded the interest of some Chinese companies in investing in the country, according to a garment industry official.
Some textile companies in Foshan of South China’s Guangdong province suspended trips to Vietnam that had been planned to assess the investment environment, said Wu Haoliang, secretary-general of Foshan Textile and Garment Industry Association on Tuesday.
A Foshan-invested textile plant in Ho Chi Minh City was slightly damaged, although no one was injured, he said.
The plant remains in operation, but some local workers stayed home, he said, adding that the impact of the riots on Foshan-invested companies in Vietnam is still under assessment.
* Vietnam PM orders compensation for foreign firms after riots:
As for companies which still haven’t resumed operations and are unable to pay salaries to their workers between April and June, the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs and social insurance agencies have been tasked with working with local governments to cover those wages.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Binh Duong to give workers $35 million in aid after riots:
Workers in Binh Duong have returned to work.
The Social Insurance Bureau of Binh Duong Province plans to spend VND700 billion (nearly $35 million) to support the tens of thousands of workers affected in the recent disturbances at its industrial zones.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Le Thanh Cung, the Binh Duong Chair, met with Korean Consul General Oh Jae Hack in Ho Chi Minh City, along with over 30 Korean businesses.
The two sides discussed support for affected firms, including Korean enterprises, to help them quickly recover their business and production. Measures to ensure security and order, and protection of foreign companies, were also on the table.
“The Government of Vietnam and Binh Duong Province will offer the optimal plans to assist damaged businesses and properly implement assistance policies for employees in the affected firms,” Cung said.
Major General Vo Thanh Duc, director of Binh Duong’s Provincial Police Agency, apologized to Korean businesses on behalf of the province’s public safety agencies, especially the firms affected in the recent incidents. “Binh Duong Provincial Police Agency will continue to coordinate with the Ministry of Public Security to ensure security and order, and to protect the health and property of businesses,” Duc said.
18:22:51 local time CAMBODIA
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day five:
The trial of 23 workers and human rights activists continues today at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its fifth day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.
Live Information Stream HERE.
In court room 2, defence lawyers are continuing their concluding remarks.
They have argued that the prosecution has not provided enough evidence to prove the defendants committed any of the crimes with which they are charged.
Furthermore none of the civil parties or prosecution witnesses identified any of the defendants instead referring only to a group of anarchists.
The defence lawyers have also argued that the defendants are victims themselves as they were beaten and injured during their arrest.
Court room 2 – trial ended
In court room 2, the hearing has just ended.
The verdict will be announced on May 30.
An Overview of The “Free the 23” Trial from Day 1 – now HERE.
The 21 defendants who have not been granted bail arrived at court shortly after 6 o’clock this morning. They came by truck from Phnom Penh’s CC1 prison where they have been detained since April 24, the day before the trial began.
Photo by LICADHO
* Union Leader Rejects Video, Photo Evidence:
The union leader is one of 23 men on trial for their roles in a pair of protests for higher garment sector wages in early January that turned violent. The protests came to a bloody end on January 3 after military police shot dead at least five garment workers.
Mr. Pao, who along with nine others was beaten by soldiers before his arrest outside the Yakjin factory on January 2, told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday that he went to the protest only to implore both the soldiers and workers to refrain from violence.
As his questioning resumed, the prosecution presented photos of Mr. Pao’s tuk-tuk at the protest: one of the vehicle festooned with megaphones and Buddhist flags, and another of it filled with rocks. Mr. Pao said it was his tuk-tuk in each photo, but denied that he had at any point packed it with rocks.
“I don’t know who put the rocks in the tuk-tuk; I think the soldiers put them there, not me,” he said.
Judge Keo Mony quickly rebuked him for making accusations.
“You must not accuse the security forces, and you must make that claim in another case,” he said.
During the hearing, the prosecution also presented a video clip and several photos of Mr. Pao at a tense but peaceful garment worker rally in front of the Council of Ministers on December 30.
In the clip, Mr. Pao could be seen and heard advising any police ordered by their superiors to point their guns at garment workers to point the weapons at their superiors instead. But Mr. Pao refused to confirm that the audio in the clip was accurate and challenged the court’s use of a video from December 30, when he was on trial for a protest on January 2.
“I don’t know why the judge takes another case and links it with Yakjin. What is the real intention of this hearing?” he said. “I will respond to what happened at Yakjin, no other case.”
* Judge brings own evidence:
A judge in one of the trials of 23 men arrested during January garment strikes that turned deadly went on the offensive yesterday, independently bringing forth evidence against union leader Vorn Pov.
During Pov’s questioning in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, judge Keo Mony played a video of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president making a speech at a protest in front of the Council of Ministers on December 30, three days before the clash at the Yakjin garment factory, where he and nine others were arrested.
“I want to confirm that Vorn Pov always takes up the dharma for nonviolence, and want to ask him if he always [holds to nonviolence],” Mony said.
The judge’s actions drew criticism later, but he insisted he was acting within Article 325 of the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure.
The clause allows judges to ask defendants questions, which made introducing the video legitimate, he said.
“In a hearing, we can ask any questions related to finding the truth.”
The video Mony played features Pov standing in a tuk-tuk parked in the middle of a crowd of thousands on Russian Boulevard behind razor wire that authorities set up to block a minimum-wage march to the Council of Ministers.
Hanging out of the tuk-tuk with loudspeakers affixed to the roof, Pov addresses the crowd, urging armed military police to side with protesters rather than their superior officers. “I am Cambodian; I dislike violence,” Pov says. “[But] if your commander orders you to shoot people, you can turn your guns on your commander, because someone who orders that is not a Cambodian.”
Despite objections from defence attorney Sam Sokong, Mony maintained that he was acting accordingly in playing the video for the courtroom.
“Do you accept this video?” Mony asked, to which Pov said he did not.
He wasn’t the only one.
According to legal expert Sok Sam Oeun, Article 325, titled Interrogation of Accused, only states that trial judges may ask defendants questions during examination. While an investigating judge may seek out evidence, a trial judge may only consider evidence submitted, he said.
“If [Mony] is the one who found the evidence himself and not by another party, he cannot sit as trial judge . . . so in this case, he can be dropped as trial judge,” Sam Oeun said, adding that he “cannot tolerate” such actions from a judge.
Justice Upsite Down: Human Rights defenders in prison and on Trial.
And those who injured, killed people walk free.
* BetterFactories Media Updates 10-22 May 2014, Union leader rejects video, photo evidence:
* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-05-12 ‘Gangsters’ target rights worker
2014-05-12 Rights group slams SL case
2014-05-13 Caltex staff walk off the job
2014-05-13 Labour leaders decry bail payment and nine arrests
2014-05-14 Workers to S Arabia
2014-05-15 Nearly 850 protests this year police
2014-05-15 Want strike with that
2014-05-16 Wing Star victim’s kin not paid out
2014-05-16 Workers fired after strike
2014-05-19 Protester injured at rally dies
2014-05-19 Victim’s kin ‘no right to cash’
2014-05-21 Worker rights ‘stack up poorly’
2014-05-22 Chevron offer ends Caltex station strike
2014-05-22 Defendants cut off as 23′s trail goes on
2014-05-22 Judge brings own evidence
* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-05-10-11 Fifth bail request denied for Vorn Pao, 20 other detained men
2014-05-12 Another three textile union reps arrested
2014-05-13 Caltex workers launch strike in Phnom Penh
2014-05-14 Caltex strikes continue as negotiations flounder
2014-05-14 Rights worker threatened by Khun Sear Guards
2014-05-15 Vietnam mobs torch factories in Anti-China riot
2014-05-17-18 Factory riot may burn Vietnam’s economic ties
2014-05-17-18 Gas company employee strikes suspended for wage study
2014-05-19 The rising union leader behind the Caltex station closures
2014-05-19 Worker beaten on Veng Sreng in January dies of head injuries
2014-05-21 Caltex strike to continue after negotiations fail
2014-05-21 Cambodian among world’s worst place to work
2014-05-21 Union leader details beating by soldiers
2014-05-22 Caltex workers end strike after agreeing to $20 pay increase
2014-05-22 Union leader rejects video, photo evidence
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
19:22:51 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum Wage Order: Ministry Continues To Monitor Employers:
The Ministry of Human Resources will continue to monitor employers who fail to comply with the Minimum Wage Order 2012 since the enforcement of the policy early this year.
Its Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib said that currently they were taking a compromised approach, which included looking at the problems faced by employers in implementing the policy.
“The ministry is conducting inspections from time to time at each departmental level …many (companies) have put it into effect and we are still giving companies the opportunity to restructure their operations to conform with the policy,” he told reporters after officiating at the Workshop on ‘Study On Implementing Productivity-Linked Wage System’ (PLWS) organised by the Department of Industrial Relations here Wednesday.
17:22:51 local time BANGLADESH
* No consensus on factory inspection yet:
300 factories fall under purview of both Accord and Alliance
The two foreign inspection agencies — Accord and Alliance — have failed to reach a consensus on avoiding repetition in the inspection of 300 common garment factories, although they had agreed earlier.
“The Accord did not sign any agreement to say that it will not inspect the factories inspected by the Alliance. We are sticking to our plan to inspect all the 1,600 garment factories that we have listed,” said Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector of the Accord.
“All these factories need remediation. All the factories have problems more or less,” said Loewen on the sidelines of a meeting of three government secretaries and envoys of European countries and the US at the commerce ministry in Dhaka.
The Accord engineers have already completed inspecting 600 factories by May 10, and 1,000 more factories would be inspected by the end of September this year, Loewen said.
According to the plan, Alliance, a US-based platform of 26 retailers and brands, will inspect nearly 700 factories. But there are 300 factories in common that supply garment products to both Accord and Alliance.
* No consensus yet to avert RMG factory inspection twice:
The factories have been identified for inspection as the global brands source apparel items from the units
The Accord and the Alliance have not yet come to a consensus on factory inspection to decide whether both the platforms of the global retailers would inspect the same factories.
“We stick to our plan to inspect all the 1,600 factories,” said Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector of Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The factories have been identified for inspection as the global brands source apparel items from the units.
“As there is no agreement between the Accord and Alliance, duplication in inspection can take place,” Brad said, after a meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat in Dhaka yesterday.
Officials of the ministries of commerce, labour and employment and foreign affairs, and ambassadors of Canada, US and Netherlands, and representatives of European Union were present.
* The Bangladesh Accord- new UniGlobalUnion Bangladesh homepage:
* Govt may allow legalising money in productive sectors:
The upcoming budget is likely to offer facility for legalising undisclosed money through investing in productive sectors to boost private sector investment.
The latest stance of the government, though contrary to the statement made by finance minister AMA Muhith last week against legalising tainted money in the formal economy, came during a high level meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and top revenue board officials.
* Leather sector holds immense potential:
The leather sector in Bangladesh has the potential to raise its earnings of exports of both finished leather and leather goods to US$16 billion from the present level of $1.0 billion.
This is not an impossible task to accomplish, provided the country does adopt short, medium- and long-term plans of action to grab a significant share of global market. This is what the relevant the experts say.
In this connection, it is to be noted that a roadmap was presented at a day-long national seminar on ‘Environmentally-friendly Leather Industries in Bangladesh: A Roadmap to Competitiveness and Sustainability’ in the city last week.
It outlined short-, medium- and long-term plans of action for the sustainable development of the leather industry.
Short-term plans, as the participants in the seminar highlighted, should include quick implementation of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Savar Tannery Estate to expedite the shifting of Hazaribagh tanneries, abolition of 4.0 per cent tax that is collected by banks from leather that is processed in the local tanneries that are otherwise exportable ones, and is supplied to the local shoe factories and other leather goods’ factories, having the capacity to export.
Yet it is disturbing to note that Bangladesh lacks environment-friendly tanneries to process leather.
This poses to be the main bottleneck to increasing its exports. As such, the task is most urgent for relocating hazardous tanneries from Hazaribagh to Savar.
Everybody knows what has happened to the country’s readymade garments (RMG) industry after deadly Rana Plaza incident.
Overseas apparel buyers are now too fussy about the Bangladesh’s garment sector and are not playing a fair game here.
Many work orders have by this time been cancelled.
The leather industry can also become a ‘target’ of some extraneous circles.
Hence, it should proceed in such a way that no foul game could be played by them.
Now all are eyeing on quick implementation of the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) at Savar in order to help combat the problem of pollution in the leather sector.
* Factory construction starts in Savar industrial park:
Some 15 tannery owners have already started construction of their factories in Savar Leather Industrial Park in a bid to expedite the relocation of hazardous factories from Hazaribagh in Dhaka.
The companies, which include Ruma Leather Industries, Bengal Leather Complex, Kohinoor Tanneries, Pragati Leather Complex, have begun preliminary works such as piling, construction of labour sheds and soil tests, said M Abu Taher, chairman of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters’ Association.
Taher’s company Ruma Leather Industries was the first to begin sand piling, with full-fledged work set to begin next month.
The move comes as the yearend deadline set by the European Union for relocation draws near. Bangladesh faces an export ban on leather or leather goods to European countries if the deadline is not met.
Many companies are interested to set up the factories in the leather estate as the construction of a central effluent treatment plant, a key component of the project, has resumed, said Shaheen Ahmed, chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association.
Tanners have decided to relocate the factories to Savar, taking the environmental issues into account and hoping to boost exports, said Ahmed, also the chairman of Kohinoor Tanneries.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Charge-sheet after all accused held:
The submission of charge-sheet in two much-talked-about cases on Rana Plaza building collapse would not be possible till all accused of the case are taken to custody, said the official concerned.
“The investigation is at last phase, some 22 accused in the cease have been arrested and efforts are on to nab the other accused,” said Criminal Investigation Department (CID) assistant commissioner Krisna Kar, also the investigation officer (IO) of the cases.
Krisna said, “Drives are being carried out time to time, but submission of charge-sheets is being delayed as all accused have not been arrested yet.”
Wednesday was the day to submit the charge-sheets in the cases.
When asked on the charge sheet may be submitted showing the accused fugitive, the CID officer said, “It can be done, but there is no alternative except arresting the accused for immediate disposal of the cases.”
“More time requires for a case disposal if charge-sheet is submitted showing the accused fugitive,” added Krisna.
16:52:51 local time INDIA
* Small-scale dyeing units go on indefinite strike:
The small-scale dyeing units in Komarapalayam started an indefinite strike, on Wednesday, condemning Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) warning and drive against their units.
G.K. Prabakaran, president, Komarapalayam Small Dyeing Units Welfare Association said that all the units will not function until the State and Union Governments worked out a permanent solution for the long pending issue of textile dyeing and pollution.
As many as 137 unauthorised dyeing units in this locality were sealed by the TNPCB in November 2013.
“Some units were not sealed by the TNPCB during that drivehave now come forward to take part in the strike because demolition is not the solution for the issue”, he told The Hindu .
According to him, these units supply coloured thread to about 20,000 power-looms in the locality.
“Our strike will badly affect the livelihood of the 50,000 people employed in these looms . The looms will operate for a day or two till the existing stock (thread) lasts”, he added.
* Trade union seeks reopening of Aska spinning mill:
It also demands proper safety measures for workers
The Trade Union Congress of India (TUCI) activists held demonstration in front of the office of the labour department in Berhampur on Wednesday demanding reopening of spinning mill at Aska and proper safety measures for workers at the Aska Cooperative Sugar Industry Limited (ACSIL).
They handed over a memorandum at the labour office listing their demands. Leader of TUCI, Sibaram, said it was an irony that while migration of labourers from Ganjam district to textile industries in Gujarat was a big issue during elections, an existing spinning mill in the district had been closed down. He criticised the State government for its ‘callousness’ towards promotion of textile industry in Ganjam district which had sizeable number of skilled labourers of this sector.
The Balaji Spinning Mill had been proposed in 1983 at Aska to provide employment and promote cotton cultivation in the area. This spinning mill started functioning from 1987 but it continued to incur losses. In 2006, the State government handed it over to a private company.
The TUCI activists alleged that the private company stopped production adding to the woes of the labourers.
* Handloom weavers highlight demands:
Handloom weavers, belonging to the CITU-affiliated Tirupur District Handloom Weavers Association, submitted a memorandum to Collector G. Govindaraj seeking the assistance of the district administration to solve their grievances.
V. Shanmugam, secretary of the Weavers’ Association, said the distribution of weavers’ credit card under the government-sponsored scheme had been going slow in the district. “About 500 applications are yet to be processed,” he added.
Similarly, the association called upon the administration to take steps to enhance the wages and dearness allowance of the weavers employed in private units to the scales on a par with that drawn by weavers attached to various cooperative societies.
A few other demands pertaining to social security requirements, too, were highlighted in the requisition.
* Workers call off strike:
House-based workers to get 21% wage hike
The 73-day-long strike by powerloom workers of Sankarankovil came to an end on Wednesday.
The powerloom workers of Sankarankovil were on strike since March 10 seeking
75% increase in wages in addition to festival and national holiday wages at the rate of Rs. 300 a day for those working in powerlooms under operation in the houses.
But the Master Weavers’ Association members said that they could give 23% increase in wages only for those working in the factory-based powerlooms and not for those working in the house-based powerlooms.
An agreement on giving 23% hike in wages for factory-based powerloom workers was signed between the parties concerned.
After repeated rounds of talks, mediated by the Department of Labour between the workers’ unions and the Master Weavers’ Association on increasing wages for powerloom workers under operation in houses failed, the affected workers recently submitted petition during the weekly grievance day meeting at the Collectorate seeking early implementation of the wage agreement arrived earlier.
Against this backdrop, talks held between the Master Weavers’ Association and the workers in the presence of Kannan, Chairman of Sankarankovil Municipality, led to an agreement to the effect that workers of powerlooms under operation in houses would be given 21 per cent hike in wages.
Following this development, the 73-day-long strike by the powerloom workers has come to an end.
* 2 electrocuted in powerloom:
A 38-year old man and his relative, a 45-year-old woman, were electrocuted in Thevattipatti here on Wednesday.
When Kadar Basha of Kotaimedu was trying to switch on the powerloom at around 4 a.m., he came in contact with an electric wire and was electrocuted. Thareem Begaum who tried to save him, was also electrocuted.
Both of them died on the spot. Their bodies were taken to Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College for conducting autopsy. The police said that Kadar Basha runs the small unit at his home. Thevattipatti police have registered a case.
* Tirupur exporters to explore market for ‘Eco Label’ tagged apparels:
With demand for ‘Eco Label’ tagged apparel products rising among consumers in Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland), the Tirupur apparel exporters are gearing up to explore the said niche market thanks to the support of Danish Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (DFSME).
Under the facilitation of the DFSME, a Tirupur delegation would be shortly meeting the buyers from Nordic countries at Copenhagen to obtain orders.
“Future is for apparels made in ‘green production environment’, which means garments should be manufactured in factories that adhere to production norms such as non-usage of carcinogenic chemicals, fabrics confined to colour fastness/shrinkage norms, and adherence to working hours scheduled for company employees”, Claus Aabling, project manager of DFSME said.
According to him, there has been over 100 per cent increase in the usage of garments manufactured under green production norms in Nordic countries in the last seven years.
* Does over-capacity trouble Indian denim sector?:
16:22:51 local time PAKISTAN
* Fire damages textile mill:
A fire broke out at a textile mill in FB Industrial Area police precincts on Wednesday and caused a loss of millions of rupees.
According to the Central Fire Station, the fire broke out at around 12:30pm at the Afroze Textile Mill situated on Rashid Minhas Road.
Within minutes the fire spread to other parts of the mill and reduced goods worth millions of rupees to ashes.
The mill was open since the fire had erupted in the afternoon. Up to 10 fire engines of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation arrived on the scene to douse the blaze.
The cause of the fire was attributed to a short circuit. Technicians of the electricity and gas companies disconnected the power and gas connections.
The firefighters were able to bring the situation under control in four hours.