In the news 29-30 May 2014

23:48:48 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* ITUC correct, PH one of the worst countries for workers – KMU:

National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said today that the International Trade Union Confederation’s report is correct in saying that the Philippines is one of the worst countries in the world for workers, claiming Filipino workers’ rights to form unions, collectively bargain, and hold strikes have been severely attacked.

The labor group said ITUC’s Global Rights Index — which covers the period from April 2013 to March 2014, ranks countries from 1 (best) to 5 (worst), and gave the Philippines a grade of five, touches base with the reality experienced by workers more than the statements made by the Aquino government and big capitalists.

“The attacks made by the government, especially that of Aquino’s, on workers’ rights to form unions, collectively bargain and hold strikes have made the Philippines one of the worst countries for workers. Without these rights, workers are practically at the mercy of capitalists,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.

The labor leader said that many workers who try to form unions are simply dismissed from work, that capitalists work to undermine the few collective bargaining negotiations that exist, and that the government attacks workers’ strikes.
read more.
KILUSANG MAYO UNO

* DOLE bucks ITUC findings on worker rights:

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz took exception to the findings of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) that the Philippines is one of the worse countries to work in.

Baldoz said in an interview that she does not agree with the ITUC report, titled “2014 Global Rights Index” that stated there is “no guarantee of rights” for workers in the Philippines.

“Very good naman ang industry advocacy for workers dito … in terms of quality of work dito, ok naman (Industry advocacy for workers is very good in our country. Quality of work is also OK),” Secretary Baldoz said.

She, however, acknowledged that, as noted in the ITUC report, there are still issues when it comes to extra-judicial killing of workers.

“But this has been the subject of a dialogue with President Aquino. There is a commitment by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to fast-track investigations on that,” he said.

To speed up hearings of cases already filed in court, Baldoz said that Secretary De Lima has commmited to form special teams to prosecute.

The ITUC reports rate countries on a scale of 1 (best) to 5 (worst), depending on their compliance with collective labor rights. It takes 97 indicators into consideration, such worker’s rights to collective bargaining, to establish or join unions and to strike.
read more.
interaksyon

22:48:48 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* 60,000 workers lose jobs after anti-China riots in Vietnam:

Vietnam’s labor market was severely affected by its recent anti-China riots, which left 60,000 local workers jobless as many foreign-invested factories were forced to shut down for an indefinite date, local media reported Tuesday.

Vietnam’s manufacturing hub, Binh Duong province, was among the worst-hit areas since the riots broke out earlier this month. More than 100 factories, most of whom belong to Chinese investors, were damaged to some extent.

Worse still, 12 factories were completely burnt down and 10 others partly destroyed, the online newspaper VNExpress reported on Tuesday, citing Bui Huu Phong, director of the provincial department of the Social Insurance Agency.

About 40,000 unemployed workers would get subsidies, while 20,000 others would receive a one-off compensation payment, Phong said.
(..)
Like Wen, who owns the Yong Hao Shoe Company in Vietnam’s southern Binh Duong province, many Chinese investors were severely affected by the riot.
read more. & read more.
GLOBALTIMES VNNet

* Poor labor productivity a drain on the economy:

20140528 VNNet

A cheap labor force is no longer a great advantage for Vietnam in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), while a low labor productivity rate is not helping matters, either.

The latest report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO) showed that the Vietnamese labor productivity rate in 2013 was among the lowest in Asia Pacific. It was 15 times lower than Singapore’s, 11 times lower than Japan and 10 times lower than South Korea.

Vietnamese labor productivity was also lower than ASEAN neighboring countries, just equal to one-fifth of Malaysia and two-fifths of Thailand.

Even though cheap labour costs still draw investors, productivity remains important.

A director of a wooden furniture manufacturing company said he had been able to sign more export contracts because foreign importers were looking for cheaper markets as China’s labour costs had risen.

However, the cheap labor force in Vietnam will no longer be the advantage in international trade and will not ensure sustainable development for Vietnamese businesses.

He said the average salary for Vietnamese workers had been increasing rapidly, while labor productivity growth had slowed down, which makes Vietnamese products less competitive.
read more.
VNNet

* Industrial zone workers air their complaints to officials :

Ha Noi would improve the investment environment for business and living conditions for workers in industrial and processing zones, said vice-chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, yesterday.

At a meeting with nearly 100 workers and trade union officers from eight industrial and processing zones, Tuan listened to the problems businesses and workers were facing.

Most of the difficulties related to a shortage of infrastructure, including housing, schools, hospitals and entertainment areas.

Tran Van Loi, a worker at Ha Noi Asti Electronics Ltd Company in Quang Minh Industrial Zone, said that last year his company arranged accommodation for hundreds of workers at housing blocks in Kim Chung Commune, Dong Anh District.

However, half of them vacated the apartments because they were not up to standard. They said water leaked into the buildings when it rained. On the other hand, there was often a shortage of water, even for toilets.
read more.
VNNews new

* Export processing zones oppose decree on branch locations:

Export processing zones (EPZs) in Ho Chi Minh City oppose a new decree that requires companies to locate branches outside the zones, saying it is unnecessary and inconvenient.

Under the newly released Decree 164 by the city’s People’s Committee, the companies in EPZs must set up branches outside the zones if they want to conduct trade within Vietnam.

While Decree 164 continues to allow enterprises to sell their liquidated assets to the domestic market, they can do so only if they set up a branch outside the zone.

Nguyen Ngoc Duong, business director of Japanese-invested Fuji Impulse Vietnam in the Linh Trung EPZ, said the company sells its molds, used to make machinery, to the domestic market.

“You’ll not only have to show a lot of documents and bills, but also set up a committee to be in charge of assets liquidation,” he explained.

Nguyen Tan Phuoc, deputy head of the HCM City Management Board of Industrial Zones and EPZs (Hepza), said most EPZ enterprises had voiced the same complaints, saying that it would be costly for them to set up new branches, employ more workers, and lease more offices and storehouses to keep goods.

Phuoc said that EPZ enterprises were only selling “byproducts” to local individuals or companies, and the revenue generated from such sales was not enough to cover the expense to set up and maintain branches.

No perfect solution
Initially, EPZ enterprises were defined as companies that make products for export only.
read more.
VNNet

* Vietnam’s labour productivity lowest in Asia Pacific:

The most recent statistics on labour productivity in Vietnam has placed the country at the bottom of countries in the Asian Pacific region, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

According to the report, 20% of Vietnamese workers do not have a labour contract, the average reaching 45% for workers under the age of 25. Those working in insecure employment situations and low-income earners make up 63% of the workforce.

The report also concluded that the productivity of the average Vietnamese worker is about 15 times less than that of an average Singaporean worker. Compared to Japanese workers, Vietnamese are ten times less productive.

In the period between 2002 and 2007 Vietnam experienced an increase in productivity of around 5% per year, which has now fallen to 3.3%.
read more.
DTI

* Capital flow continues to pour into textile industry:

Despite several major new projects, the attractiveness of the textile industry seems to have remained unchanged as it continues to lure huge amount of capital from both domestic and foreign investors, the Vietnam Economic News reported on May 28.

According to Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association, in mid June 2014, Jiangyin Zhenxin Wool Spinning Co., Ltd. (China) will coordinate with the Vietnam Cotton and Spinning Association to hold meetings with Vietnamese businesses to find partners regarding their wool production projects.

The project plans to invest in a production line with a capacity of 5,000 – 20,000 spindles and an estimated production capacity of 800-2,000 tonnes of fiber a year. Basically, Jiangyin Zhenxin Wool Spinning will support machinery and production technologies and provide a source of capital worth more than 5 million USD.
read more.
VIETNAMplus

22:48:48 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* FreeThe23 and Steung Meanchey-two verdict: all convicted with sentences suspended:

This morning, the 25 arrested on January 2 and 3, and November 12, were convicted of a variety of charges with sentences of differing lengths but all sentences were suspended.

Vorn Pao (President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association) was sentenced to 4.5 years, Theng Savoeun (Coordinator of Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community) 4 years, Chan Puthisak (community leader from Boeung Kak Lake) 4.5 years, and Sokun Sambath Piseth (staff member at Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia) 4.5 years.

Lawyers are currently working to secure their release as soon as possible.

The trials at Phnom Penh Municipal Court started on April 25 and took place over five non-consecutive days with the case of the 10 men arrested at the Yak Jin factory finally coming to an end just after 8pm on May 22. On all the trial days supporters of the 25 were prevented from gathering in front of the court by roadblocks and a heavy police presence.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodian court gives suspended jail sentences to all 23 labor activists:

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday convicted 23 labor activists and workers of causing intentional violence and destroying property and sentenced them to between six months and four-and-a-half years in prison, but all jail terms were suspended, according to a verdict.

Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the convicts. He was given a suspended four-and-a-half years jail sentence and fined 2,000 US dollars.

The others received suspended jail terms between 6 months and four years, according to the verdict.

“They are found guilty of causing intentional violence and destroying property during clashes between police and protesters,” the verdict said.

Heavy security forces had been deployed around the court on Friday as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the court to hear the verdict.
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

* Freedom for activists and workers:

20140530 CLEC
Mr. Vorn Pao and Teang Savouen are on a car come from Prey Sar prison.
Photo by CLEC
.

Today the ‘FreeThe23’ and ‘Stung Meanchey-two’ are finally free men.

The 22 who had remained in prison were released just after 11am today and marched back to Phnom Penh together with around 500 of their supporters. They will now be reunited with their families.

Those who had not been released on bail spent more than 140 days in detention in CC3 and CC1 prisons. Their highly contested trials took place at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over five non-consecutive days in April and May.
to read.
licadho

* 25 Found Guilty for Roles in Garment Protests; Sentences Suspended:

Twenty-five unionists, garment workers and bystanders were found guilty by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday for their involvement in three separate garment protest-related cases, but were handed down suspended sentences.

The 22 men who had not been bailed ahead of trial were ordered released from prison.

The first case related to a protest on November 12, 2013, when two teenagers were arrested after lingering near the fringes of an SL Garment Factory protest in Stung Meanchey. In early January, 23 unionists and garment workers participating in garment strikes were also arrested and summarily jailed.

The trials of those arrested in January were split in two: 10 people rounded up outside the South Korean-owned Yakjin factory were tried together, while 13 men were tried after being arrested on Veng Sreng Street on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Presiding Judge Keo Mony acquitted six of the 10 arrested at Yakjin of the charges of aggravated property destruction, but upheld the charge of causing violence for all the men. He meted out sentences ranging from between two-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in jail. Four of the men were handed fines of 8 million riel each.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* ‘The 23’ found guilty, released:

20140530 PPP
Human rights activists drag effigies representing the judge and prosecutor in homemade coffins through the streets surrounding Phnom Penh Municipal Court this morning ahead of the verdicts. Photo by Scott Howes.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court erupted in cheers this morning as judges announced the release of jailed unionist Vorn Pov and 22 others arrested during unruly garment wage protests in January of this year.

The release, as has become increasingly typical in such cases, was not without caveats.

All 23 were found guilty and given sentences ranging from one to four-and-a-half years, before those sentences were suspended.

The verdicts brought to an end a months-long drama that has loomed over the garment industry, and particularly over recent meetings between major brands and the manufacturers that supply them.

Presiding judge Keo Mony said yesterday that four of Pov’s cohorts were also slapped with fines of 8 million riel (about $2,000), but those were suspended as well.

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge has decided to release the workers, including Vorn Pov,” Mony said yesterday. “Vorn Pov’s suspended sentence is four years and six months, and a fine of 8 million riel. The court will allow them to file an appeal within one month if they do not favour the court’s decision.”
read more.
PPP new

* Phnom Penh court frees 25 protesters:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday announced verdicts for 25 protesters arrested in violent clashes at Stung Meanchey, SL and Yakjin factories, and on Veng Sreng Street.  

All of them were freed by the Phnom Penh court. Their supporters and civil society welcome the court decision.

Judge Keo Mony sentenced the 25 protests from between six months to four years and six months in prison, but suspend their sentence, releasing them from imprisonment.

The court handed down four years and six month suspended sentence to unionists Vorn Pov, Theng Savoeun, Chan Puthisak and Sokun Sambathpiseth, but fined them US$2,000 each.

Monks, protesters as well as their supporters who were gathering outside the court welcome the court decision.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* CCHR welcomes the release of 25 protesters but strongly condemns their convictions:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights(“CCHR”) welcomes today’s decision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court of First Instance to suspend the sentences of the 25 human rights defenders, activists and protestors arrested during demonstrations
in November 2013 and early January 2014 in the Kingdom of Cambodia. 

However, CCHR strongly condemns the decision of the judges to convict them despite a complete lack of evidence, and serious violations of their right to a fair trial, as detailed by CCHR ahead of the verdict.
read more.
CCHR

* Cambodian court convicts then frees more than 20:

20140530 UCAnews
Protesters gather around a pair of effigies meant to represent the judges and prosecutors involved in the case. (photo by Abby Seiff)

Nearly five months after their violent arrest and secretive imprisonment, more than 20 unionists, garment workers and bystanders walked free on Friday from Phnom Penh Municipal Court. All members of the group were found guilty but given suspended sentences which qualified them for immediate release.

The case involved 23 people arrested on two separate days during a January crackdown on garment strikes which saw at least five protesters killed and scores injured, as well as two teenagers – one just 14 – who were arrested during a November clash in which a bystander was killed.

All stood accused of a range of charges related to inciting or committing violence during the clashes, but all have maintained their innocence throughout a trial that spanned a month. Rights groups have called the charges politically motivated.

As the case dragged on, proceedings ranged from the farcical to the tragic. Prosecutors submitted video footage from previous, unrelated protests as evidence in their favor, while judges relied on photographs that captured nothing more than a crowd. At one point Vorn Pov – the most prominent of the group and head of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association – collapsed on the stand due to health problems worsened by months of detention.
read more.
ucanews

* Phnom Penh Court orders Conviction with Suspended Sentences for 25 Workers and Activists:

We the undersigned civil society groups welcome the decision this morning of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to suspend the sentences of the 23 men and two minors arrested on November 12 2013 and January 2 and 3 2014, thereby releasing the remaining 22 detainees.

However, we express our extreme disappointment at the convictions of all 25 and the heavy fines imposed on some of them, following what was to all independent observers a deeply flawed trial process.

Two of the 25 were arrested during violent clashes between security forces, workers and members of the public which put an end to a march by SL garment factory workers in November last year. The remaining 23 were arrested in early January during a lethal clampdown by mixed security forces to bring to an end a period of mass protest by garment workers and pro-opposition party supporters.

“While we welcome the court’s decision to release the 22, we have not seen justice here today,” said Heng Samorn, General Secretary of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA).
“They were all still convicted following trials which in fact confirmed the near total lack of evidence against them.
The circumstances of the arrests and the fact that the trials were all held at the same time indicate that these cases were wholly political in nature. The aim was not to seek justice but rather to try and bring an end to popular protest and make people afraid to take to the streets to claim their rights.”

The events surrounding the arrests of the 25 involved the use of wholly disproportionate force by state authorities against civilians which resulted in at least five deaths and numerous injuries.
Almost all attempts by the defendants’ lawyers to introduce evidence of this violence during the trials were quickly suppressed by the judges and prosecutors. To date, no action has been taken to punish those responsible for the violence, a fact that was noted by Moeun Tola, Head of the Labor Program at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC):

“We are extremely happy that these men, who have become a symbol of the struggle of Cambodian workers to receive a minimum wage of $160, will be able to return to their families. However, it remains deeply disappointing that there has still been no justice for the dead and injured of 12 November and January 2 and 3 and that no attempts have been made to find or bring charges against those responsible.”
read more.
licadho

* Cambodian court frees 25 charged with garment strike offences:

A Cambodian court found 25 people guilty on Friday of acts of violence during strikes by garment workers but all were given suspended sentences and freed, a ruling likely to be welcomed by global manufacturers operating in the country.

The deadly crackdown on the strikes and working conditions in the garment sector have attracted international criticism.

Representatives of global brands including Hennes & Mauritz AB, Gap Inc, Puma SE and Levi Strauss & Co [LEVST.UL] visited Cambodia this week to tell the government their buying would depend on stability, transparency and the rule of law, according to IndustriALL Global Union, a labor group based in Switzerland that attended the talks.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court judges convicted the workers, trade unionists and protesters of intentional violence including damage to public property during strikes in November last year and January 2014.
They were given suspended jail terms of between one and 4-1/2 years.
(…)

Levi’s has cut its sourcing from Cambodia in the past year due to concerns about political instability and human rights violations in the country, the group said in an email to Reuters.

“We reduced our sourcing in Cambodia to reduce supply chain risk and ensure delivery. We hope to see swift progress on the outstanding labor and human rights concerns so our sourcing can return to previous levels,” Levi’s said.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said in a statement after the talks with the government: “For the first time global brands have acknowledged that they are prepared to cost in the price of higher salaries in Cambodia.” Ahead of the verdicts, Raina had said the companies and unions were concerned about the fate of those appearing in court and that Cambodia “was at risk of losing its status as a strategic sourcing market, with an impact on future investment and growth”.
read more.
reuters

* U.N., labor agency welcome release of Cambodian labor activists:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) on Friday welcomed the release of the 25 labor activists and garment workers, but voiced concerns over the convictions of them.

“We welcome the release today of the 25 men and boys who had been arrested and tried following the workers’ (violent) protests in November and January,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

A Cambodian court on Friday morning convicted the 25 persons of causing intentional violence and destroying property and sentenced them to prison terms between six months and four-and-a-half years, but all jail terms were suspended, according to a verdict.

All 25 are currently at liberty, with the 22 who had been held in pre-trial detention promptly freed on Friday afternoon.

“OHCHR and ILO are concerned about the criminal conviction of all 25 individuals, in view of the apparent procedural shortcomings in all trials and the lack of evidence establishing direct responsibility of the individuals for the actions of which they were nevertheless found guilty,” the statement said.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Cambodian court gives suspended jail sentences to all 23 labor activists:

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday convicted 23 labor activists and workers of causing intentional violence and destroying property and sentenced them to between six months and four-and-a-half years in prison, but all jail terms were suspended, according to a verdict.

Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the convicts. He was given a suspended four-and-a-half years jail sentence and fined 2,000 US dollars.
The others received suspended jail terms between 6 months and four years, according to the verdict.

“They are found guilty of causing intentional violence and destroying property during clashes between police and protesters,” the verdict said.

Heavy security forces had been deployed around the court on Friday as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the court to hear the verdict.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, which provided legal aid to some of the defendants, welcomed the court’s decision.
“We are pleased with the verdict that gave suspended jail sentences to all defendants,” he told reporters, adding that all the defendants would be released soon after the verdict.
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

* Brands’ eyes on verdicts of 23:

20140530 PPP court-caseA prison truck arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week with people who were detained during violent strikes in January on the capital’s Veng Sreng Boulevard. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

As 23 men accused of violent crimes stemming from demonstrations earlier this year brace for a verdict against them today, civil society groups are alleging that no credible evidence was presented by the prosecution during the entire trial.

Nearly five months after soldiers arrested 10 men at a protest in front of Yakjin garment factory on January 2, and 13 others on Veng Sreng Boulevard a day later, the 23, as they’ve come to be known, face sentencing on crimes ranging from incitement to intentional violence. At least four workers were shot dead by state security forces during the deadly garment strikes.

“The consensus among civil society is there’s not one shred of evidence that can be used to convict any of the 23 of the crimes they’re accused of,” said Joel Preston, a consultant from the Community Legal Education Center, which is providing legal representation for some defendants.
read more.
PPP new

* As Verdicts Loom in 25 Protest Related Cases, Acquittals Sought:

Verdicts will be handed down Friday in two garment protest-related cases that rights groups say were built on a weak body of evidence.

The two cases occurred months apart but followed a similar narrative: Garment workers fed up with their calls for a higher monthly minimum wage took to the streets. Rocks were then thrown in violent clashes with armed police, who ended up shooting bystanders or the protesting workers dead.

One of the clashes took place in Stung Meanchey on November 12, where police shot dead seller Eng Sokhom during a protest by SL Garment workers and arrested Men Sok Sambath, then 14, and Vanny Vanan, 17.

Then on January 2 and 3, the military police shot dead at least five protesters during garment strikes while 23 unionists, workers and bystanders were arrested and accused of violence and property damage.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* ILO attacks trade union law:

An International Labour Organization official yesterday called the draft of a Ministry of Labour trade union law “a step backwards” during the opening of a two-day workshop meant to hear concerns of both labour unions and employers.

In a speech to worker representatives, members of the garment industry and the government, ILO industrial relations expert James Ritchotte expressed misgivings at the Labour Ministry’s failure to address many issues that ILO staff – who acted as technical advisers in drafting the proposed legislation – pointed out as problematic.

“What is especially troubling is that the ILO has repeatedly pointed to these and other gaps to the Ministry of Labour task force responsible for developing the legislation,” Ritchotte said to about 60 participants at the InterContinental Hotel yesterday morning. “It appears to ignore requests from ILO’s committee of experts on the application of conventions and recommendations.”

Broad and vague language, especially in the penalties section, opens the door for authorities to abuse the law, Ritchotte said. For example, he pointed out that one article imposes a 6 million riel fine ($1,500) for “not ensuring employment security and national development”.
read more.
PPP new

* ILO Says Gov’t Moving Backward With Draft Union Law:

The U.N.’s International Labor Organization (ILO) said Wednesday that the latest draft of a controversial Trade Union Law was worse than earlier versions, ignored the ILO’s recommendations, and still posed major risks to labor rights in the country.

John Ritchotte, a regional labor relations specialist for the ILO, issued the harsh critique at the start of a two-day workshop on the draft between the government, employers and trade unions.

Independent unions, which already complain of heavy-handed union busting, mostly by factory management, say the law would only make life harder for them and create legal mechanisms to suppress union activity. Employers, mostly in the country’s $5 billion garment export industry, say those unions are out of control and need to be reined in before strikes completely undermine investor confidence.

This week’s workshop in Phnom Penh and the latest draft of the union law come soon after nationwide garment worker strikes briefly turned violent, and after a wave of arrests, beatings and fatal shootings of garment workers and unionists at the hands of soldiers and military police.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Ritchotte said many of the victims were carrying out “legitimate” union activity.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* One Factory Strike Ends, Another Continues:

Management at the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh, which has temporarily suspended operations due to a lack of orders, said they are awaiting a Ministry of Labor decision on how much they need to pay workers as about 1,000 employees continued to protest outside the Pur Senchey factory Thursday, demanding at least 50% of their monthly pay.

Currently, the factory is offering just $15 per month until production resumes.

“We had to suspend [production] from May 26 to June 26 since there were no orders from buyers, including Gap,” Chin Sophat, an administrator from the factory said Thursdy, adding that he didn’t know why the orders had diminished.

“The issue is being discussed…and we are waiting for the Ministry of Labor to decide how much to pay them during the suspension,” he said.

Huon Vanna, a representative from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said talks will also be held among the workers to decide what action to take if their demands are not met.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CCHR calls for the acquittal of “ the 23”and their immediate release:

Ahead of the verdict for the “23,” which will be delivered on 30 May 2014,
the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) calls for their acquittal and their immediate release.

CCHR’s monitoring of their hearings revealed a complete lack of any incriminatory evidence, serious concerns relating to the independence of the court, repeated violations of the defendants’ fair trial rights and the immediate need for medical care for some of the detainees.
read more.
CCHR

* Ocean Garment Workers On Strike After Factory Halts Operations:

About 1,000 workers protested outside Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Wednesday to demand compensation for being out of work while the factory suspends its operations for a month due to flagging demand from buyers, a union leader said.

Workers have been protesting since Saturday after the factory announced it would suspend production from Monday until June 26.

Huon Vanna, 32, a factory representative for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers who has worked at Ocean for 13 years, said employees rejected Ocean’s offer to pay them $15 per month while the factory is closed, and are demanding 50 percent of their regular salaries.

“The factory agreed to pay us only $15 per month during the suspension, but we demand the factory to pay us 50 percent of our salary since we cannot use this amount to pay for our living,” he said.

Mr. Vanna said that fewer orders from big brands such as Gap had forced the factory to suspend production.

“The factory said that they did not have orders from certain buyers such as…Gap since February. Therefore they decided to suspend [operations] for one month.”

“If a factory shuts down, they have to pay compensation to us in compliance with the Labor Law before they close down their factory,” Mr. Vanna added.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian government under pressure over garment sector:

This week, representatives from some of the world’s largest clothing brands have been meeting with the Cambodian government and local manufacturers in a bid to improve the lot of workers in the country’s most important industry.

Speakers: Jyrki Raina, general secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union; Dave Welsh, country representative of the Solidarity Center.

CARMICHAEL: This week’s meetings were the second between government officials and some of the world’s leading brands since at least four garment workers were shot dead in January by the authorities during violent protests. The workers were seeking a rise in the monthly minimum wage from 100 dollars to 160 dollars.

Since January, dozens of people have been arrested and charged with criminal offences such as incitement and damage to property. In the largest such case, the trial of 23 workers and unionists wrapped up last week in Phnom Penh. A verdict in their case will be handed down on Friday.

Rights groups and some unions complain that the authorities are using the country’s pliant courts to crack down on industrial action within the 5.5-billion-dollar a year garment sector, a vital pillar of the economy that accounts for 80 percent of foreign exchange earnings.

The unremitting flow of bad news is why representatives from brands such as H&M, Puma and Inditex met on Monday with government officials. On Tuesday, they met with GMAC, the association that represents the hundreds of factories to which they subcontract their production, most of which is exported to the U.S. and the European Union.
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RADIOAUSTRALIE

* Does the De-Facto Government Think It Can Afford to Lose Cambodia’s Largest Buyers?:

This week high level discussions took place between representatives of the de-facto government and major international brands sourcing Cambodian garments.

As the trial of the 23 approaches, the message communicated was clear: “due to [the] reaction of consumers and the disruption to production and shipping caused by continued unrest, Cambodia [is] at risk of losing its status as a strategic sourcing market, with an impact on future investment and growth.” (Brand and union statement issued May 27, 2014)

Brands expressed their immediate concern that “the outcome of the judicial process for the detainees must be based on evidence and stands up to international scrutiny to build trust and confidence.” (As above)

Cambodian civil society, including the United Nations, is unanimous in its assessment that there is no evidence to support the charges against the 23.

The brands present at this week’s meeting were a delegation of the 30 signatories to letters delivered earlier this year. Based on consignee data, conservative estimates would place the purchasing power of these signatory brands at least 60% of the garment industry. This equates to approximately US$3.3 billion dollars annually, equal to almost one quarter of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
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CLEC

* Cambodian Garment Workers Face Violence in the Struggle for aBetter Wage:

20140529 CLEC

After violent crackdowns on a garment workers’ strike on January 2-3, 2014, major brands are feeling the pressure from consumers to hold Cambodia accountable for the treatment of its workers.

We encourage international consumers to continue to react and to let the brands know that they will no longer stand for the injustice endured by Cambodian garment workers.
see video.
CLEC

* Brands warn problems could see them quit Cambodia:

Garment manufacturing is Cambodia’s most important sector, earning $5.5 billion in foreign exchange last year and employing 600,000 people. But recent failings have proved a PR disaster for global brands.

That is why representatives from 30 brands, including H&M, Puma, Gap Inc, Inditex and Levi-Strauss, sat down with senior government officials on Monday, their second such meeting this year. Also present at the closed-door meeting was the IndustriALL Global Union, an affiliation of more than 50 million workers in over 140 countries.

In a joint statement released late Tuesday, the brands and IndustriALL said they had told the government that consumer pressure in their home markets against serious rights abuses in Cambodia, as well as the sector’s ongoing instability, meant Cambodia was “at risk of losing its status as a strategic sourcing market, with an impact on future investment and growth.”

They also told officials that troops who opened fire on workers during violent protests in January, killing at least four, “should be brought to justice,” and warned they would not tolerate the authorities using violence to shutter peaceful strikes and demonstrations by workers.

In addition, they told the government that the current trials of workers and unionists “must be based on evidence and stand up to international scrutiny to build trust and confidence,” and called on the authorities to drop a swathe of lawsuits filed against unions and union leaders.

‘Not a living wage’
The demands represent a pivotal moment in Cambodia’s relations with international brands, which on Tuesday also met with representatives from the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC), the grouping of 400-plus factories to which the brands subcontract production.

Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL’s general secretary, told DW the central reason behind Cambodia’s worsening industrial relations was the low minimum wage of 100 USD a month.

“It’s not a living wage. And that is why people work 10-14 hours a day,” said Raina, who took part in the two days of meetings. “It’s very important to find a path now towards a living wage that covers the basic needs and makes it possible for people to have a life.”
read more.
DW

* Levi Strauss Slashes Orders From Cambodian Factories:

Labor Unrest Could Potentially Affect Supply Chain, Deliveries

Levi Strauss & Co. has slashed orders from Cambodian factories amid the political unrest in the country, after a nationwide strike by garment workers to demand higher wages was quelled with a violent crackdown.

The denim maker, along with a handful of U.S. and European brands including Gap Inc. and Hennes & Mauritz AB, attended a meeting with government officials on Monday to discuss a new wage-setting mechanism.
read more.
WSJ

* Nearly 100 Workers Collapse in Mass Garment Factory Fainting:

Approximately 100 garment workers fainted in a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district Thursday after one worker became short of breath and fell to the floor, according to a factory official.

The mass fainting started at about 2:30 p.m. at the Woorie Garment factory, when one worker—who is believed to have been suffering from tetanus—fainted, according to Van Long, a staff supervisor at the factory. About eight additional workers around her then began to swoon, he added.

“After the coworkers saw her passing out, they started to freak out and faint—some shouted and passed out,” he said. “The shouting and yelling made other workers surrounding her panic.”

The factory manager then asked staff to get out of the building for fresh air, Mr. Long said. As workers were standing outside the building, those who had fainted were carried to three waiting ambulances with sirens blaring—a scene that caused another 100 workers to faint, he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Giving up hope:

As released, one family still wishes for answers and justice for their missing son Khim Saphath.
See Video report.
PPP new

* Boy Caught Up in Protests Faces 11 Years in Jail:

As several hundred garment workers from the SL Garment factory pelted police with rocks during a protest near the Stung Meanchey pagoda in November, Men Sok Sambath, a 14-year-old scrap collector, decided to join the crowd.

“I saw other people throwing rocks at the [police] truck, so I threw three rocks and then walked away back into the pagoda,” Sambath said of the incident Wednesday, sitting in front of his mother’s one-story shack in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey commune.

The clashes between the protesters and police—who were blocking the workers from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence—left one woman dead from police gunfire, at least nine injured and 39 people arrested.

But only two of those detained were ultimately charged, including Sambath, who is facing 11 years in prison if he is found guilty of aggravated intentional violence, damage to public property and insulting civil servants for his alleged role in the clashes. Phnom Penh Municipal Court is set to hand down its decision on Friday.

During the trial, the only evidence against Sambath, a slight boy with learning disabilities and epilepsy, was a video of the teenager salvaging scrap metal from a smoldering motorbike.

“I did not burn the motorbike, but just went to grab the leftovers,” said Sambath, now 15, who has been collecting scraps and trash to sell since he was five.

Sambath then walked away from the scene before returning to Stung Meanchey pagoda later in the day, where he says he was beaten by police and hauled away.

“They used electric batons to hit me, although they did not electrocute me, just hit me,” he said. “They also kicked me many times when they arrested me. I was very afraid and surprised when they arrested me. They hit me at the district station as well, punched and slapped me four or five times in the face.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* BetterFactories Media updates 27-30 May 2014, ILO says gov’t moving backward with draft union law:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-05-27 Brands back wage bump unionist
2014-05-27 Mysterious bones stoke conspiracy
2014-05-28 New law will stifle us unions
2014-05-29 Grand Twins confirms listing next month as CSX papers delayed
2014-05-29 ILO attacks trade union law
2014-05-30 Underwriter resets date for Grand Twins public listing

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-05-27 Brands, unions say gov’t moving slowly on wage talks
2014-05-28 Global brands say unrest putting garment sector at risk
2014-05-28 Talks to begin over controversial trade law
2014-05-29 Boy caught up in protests faces 11 years in jail
2014-05-29 Grand twins again delays bourse listing
2014-05-29 ILO says gov’t moving backward with draft union law
2014-05-29 Nike and Adidas get personal in battle over football world cup
2014-05-29 Ocean Garment workers on strike after factory halts operations
2014-05-30 Nearly 100 workers collapse in mass garment factory fainting
2014-05-30 One factory strike ends, another continues

BetterFactories Media updates overview here.
BF NEW

22:18:48 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Burma Factories Warn of Rise in Strikes Fueled by Activists:

20140529 IRRAWADDY
Workers from the Myue & Soe Garment factory stand during a protest for a salary increase in front of the Mayangone Township labor office in Rangoon on Sept. 7, 2012. (Photo: Reuters / Soe Zeya Tun)

Representatives of Burma’s garment-makers say that prominent former political prisoners are getting involved in labor disputes, and warn that more strikes are likely in the run up to national elections slated for late 2015.

Kazuto Yamazaki, Deputy Managing Director of Famoso Clothing Co., Ltd, a garment factory located in northern Rangoon and employing 1,200 workers, said that many of the city’s strikes “are initiated by political groups.”

Yamazaki said that members of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society, a prominent group of former student dissidents and political prisoners, participated in an arbitration meeting chaired by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, after workers at Famoso went on strike last year in pursuit of a wage increase.

A representative of the management committee of Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone, who spoke on condition his name not be disclosed, said that political and activist groups were getting increasingly involved in industrial action.

“At first the strikes were about wages, but then later we see the outside groups get involved,” the representative said, declining to cite particular parties or groups.
read more.
IRRAWADDY

* Chinese textile & apparel delegation visits Myanmar:

A delegation of the Chinese textile and garment businesses visited Myanmar earlier this month to study and research the transfer of China’s industrial transfer to Myanmar.
The 30-member Chinese delegation comprised both entrepreneurs and senior executives from large and medium textile and garment enterprises, including companies engaged in men’s formal wear, womenswear, knitwear, and textile and knitting machinery.
During the visit, the Chinese team met Myint Soe and Kyaw Win, president and secretary general, respectively, and other members of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers’ Association (MGMA).
read more.
Fibre2fashion

21:48:48 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

* Attacks on Union Leaders Escalate at Industrial Park:

More than a dozen garment factory union leaders in Gazipur, Bangladesh, have been physically attacked or threatened with violence and even death in the past two weeks, according to the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF). 

The attacks are centered on garment workers seeking to form unions at factories owned by East West Industrial Park, which operates 11 factories in a large manufacturing complex outside Dhaka, the capital. More than 15 garment union leaders, fearing for their safety, have left their homes and cannot return to work.

BIGUF leaders say they have met with East West managers, who indicated they would provide for a police presence outside the factory gates where many of the attacks have occurred, but so far, have not.

Garment workers at East West factories began forming unions in March, and by April, workers at 10 factories were seeking to register their unions with the government.

The government has rejected five applications, based on flimsy reasons such as the absence of a workers’ mother’s name, BIGUF leaders say. Last year, following the April 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza, which killed more than 1,110 garment workers, the Bangladesh government began registering new unions, with more than 130 gaining legal recognition in the last year.
But union leaders fear the recent rejections signal a change in course.
read more.
SOLIDARITYCENTER

* Workers’ demo at Ashuila for due wage:

Several hundreds workers of two clothing factories staged demonstration and work abstention in Unique area of Ashulia, on the outskirt of capital Dhaka, Thursday.

Workers of Mouyri Knitwear Limited and Bangla-Japan Limited left the work in the morning and began demonstrating in the area demanding payment of their due wages.

Workers at Mouyri Knitwear told their wages remained unpaid for last three months; Thursday was the day to pay the wages.
On arrival at workplace, the workers found the factory’s main entrance locked and began demonstration.
Workers at Bangla-Japan told they went on work abstention since morning demanding payment of their due wages of last two months.
read more.
banglanews24NEW

* Garment workers demand arrears be paid in Gazipur:

The workers said that the authority had promised them to pay the arrear yesterday had not keep their word

 

Hundreds of readymade garment workers from two factories in Gazipur refrained from work and staged demonstration demanding arrears be paid. 

Police said workers of Moyuri Wear Ltd and Bangla Japan had begun their demonstrations in the morning to bring attention to various demands including payment of arrears, an increase in attendance bonus and overtime payments.

Workers of Moyuri Wear Ltd said the factory authority had been making excuses and delaying in payment for the last three months.

They also said they were paid less than the salary paid to other garment factory workers. The workers started their demonstration on the factory premises yesterday around 9am after seeing main gate of the garment factory closed.

The workers said that the authority had promised them to pay the arrear yesterday had not keep their word.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

* RMG worker’s suicide sparks clash:

At least five people have sustained injuries as RMG workers clashed with the police in the district’s Bhaluka upazila following the suicide of a pregnant worker.

Witnesses said the agitated workers of Experience Apparel took to the street in the afternoon, vandalised the factory and blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway.

Later, police charged the workes with batons and fired several rounds of rubber bullets in order to disperse the agitated workers, leaving at least five people injured.

Confirming the matter, Bhaluka police said RMG worker Rina Akhter, 30, was allegedly assaulted by the factory authority on Thursday morning when she demanded her due salary.

Later,the pregnant worker committed suicide in the afternoon.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

* ITUC ranks BD among worst countries for workers’ rights:

Bangladesh along with 23 other countries has been placed in the worst category in the world for workers to work, where workers’ rights are not guaranteed, according to a recent survey by The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The report ranks Bangladesh in the fifth category, a sign of “no guarantee of rights”.

There are other 23 countries including China, India, Belarus, Cambodia and Qatar ranked in the same category of worst countries for workers in the world.

“While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have collectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices,” the report reads about the countries that ranked at 5.

The ITUC’s Global Rights Index, which ranked 139 countries in 1-5 categories against 97 internationally-recognised indicators on how well they were protecting employment rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining and the rights to strike, was published for the first time last week.
read more.
FE bd

* RMG sector: Getting paid as you perform:

The ready-made garment (RMG) sector that began its journey in the 1980s has emerged the biggest part of our manufacturing industry.

Now, it employs more than 4.5 million workers, mainly women from low income families.
But the main problem that still remains unresolved to a large extent is the wage structure for workers, who are mainly labourers doing blue-collar jobs.

We experienced unrest, vandalism and strike in this sector over the workers’ minimum wage demand.
But is the minimum wage the best solution? If we visit economic theories, we see a rational individual acts in the best interest of his or her own. Adam Smith chose to call it ‘self-love’. This passion of a man drives him to gather wealth for ensuring a comfortable today and a better future.

The owners of the garments factories and the workers are no exception. However, the self-interest is not a bad thing until it affects others’ legitimate rights.
So an owner’s inclination for making more profit by reducing the expenses is as simple as it is.
On the contrary, the workers want better wages to meet their basic needs. Hence, to solve the conflict of interest and the wage problem, we need to address the problem from both the owners’ and workers’ perspectives.
read more.
FE bd

* Make factory inspection reports public:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday (wednesday) called upon the Bangladesh government to make public the findings of its safety inspections at garment factories.

“Reports should be published in Bangla as well as English so that they are accessible to workers,” the New York-based rights organisation said in a report.
“Efforts to make the Bangladesh garment industry safer and protect the rights of workers will not succeed unless details of all factory inspections are made public,” said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of the HRW.

“Workers need this information so they can make informed decisions about whether it is safe to enter their factories,” he said.
The report said the government and retailers have largely failed to make public the findings of the inspections ordered after the Rana Plaza catastrophe last year.
“More than 1,100 workers died after they were persuaded, and in some cases forced, by their employers to return to Rana Plaza a day after they evacuated because large cracks appeared in the building’s walls,” the report said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
daily star bd NEWAGEnew  INDEPENDENT FE bd

* Alliance survey finds 99pc of RMG units structurally sound:

Some factories identified as overloaded

Majority of the Alliance-surveyed apparel factories have been found to be structurally sound, although there are instances where the buildings are identified as overloaded, its assessment reports revealed.

The overloaded factory owners have been urged to take immediate action to reduce the load and reinforce the buildings’ columns.

“Less than one per cent of the garment units surveyed are found to be unsafe in terms of structural integrity,” M Rabin, Alliance Managing Director (MD) told the FE Thursday.

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has surveyed 508 ready-made garment (RMG) units, out of its listed 630 factories, which have undergone thorough fire, electrical and structural assessments. The survey result shows that 99 per cent of the factories are structurally sound, he added.

Alliance engineers have assessed 508 RMG factories until to date. In five cases, they have recommended the review committee to take necessary steps for the units’ immediate closure, the Alliance MD explained.

Out of the five, three factories have been closed, he added.
read more. & read more.
FE bd NEWAGEnew

* BD to get back GSP whenever US Senate revives the facility, hopes Tofail:

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today expressed the hope that Bangladesh will win back the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) from the US whenever the US Congress revived this opportunity for many countries.

Bangladesh has fulfilled all 16 conditions imposed by the US Administration to get back the GSP facility, he said and added that right at this moment there is no scope for Bangladesh to get the GSP.

He was unveiling the cover of a book on ‘GSP: Economy or Politics’ at the Shawkat Osman Auditorium of the Public Library here. Oitijjo published the book.
read more.
BSS

* Beef up ties with US to get back GSP: analysts:

The government should strengthen political and diplomatic relationships with the US to revive the country’s GSP status in the American market, analysts said yesterday.

Sometimes the US considers economic decisions on the basis of political relationships in global trade and commerce, said AB Mirza Azizul Islam, a former adviser to the caretaker government.
“Mine workers in China are frequently becoming the victims of accidents. But still, the US is not imposing any harsh trade actions on China for a good political relation,” Islam said.
Another reason why the US does not take any strict action against China is that there are a lot of Chinese investments in the US stock markets and other government sectors, he said.
read more.
daily star bd

* B’desh should put in more diplomatic efforts to revive GSP in US market:

Economists and a former diplomat on Thursday said that Bangladesh should continue its diplomatic effort to revive generalised system of preferences in the US market as the facility was crucial more for the country’s image than for the economic benefit.

If the government took proper steps in time the country would not have faced the suspension of GSP facility in the US market, they said while speaking at a programme at Shawkat Osman Memorial Auditorium of the Central Public Library in the city.
Former caretaker government adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam said, ‘In some cases political considerations influence economy and in some other cases economic decisions influence politics.’
‘Many say that the GSP facility in the US market is not necessary for Bangladesh. But they are not right. The economic value of GSP facility in the US is minimal for Bangladesh but it has a significant signalling value,’ he said.
The suspension of the GSP in the US market is a bad signal and if Bangladesh can revive the facility it will give a positive signal to the other countries across the world, Azizul said.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

* Garment exports to Canada surge 67% in five years:

Garment exports to Canada surged 67 percent in five years, thanks to price competitiveness of Bangladeshi products and duty-benefit in the North American country.

Such exports were worth $587 million in fiscal 2008-09, which rose to $980 million in 2012-13, according to Export Promotion Bureau.
Bangladesh exported garment items worth around $740 million during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, up from around $727 million in the same period in the previous year.
Ninety-five percent of goods exported to Canada from Bangladesh are apparel items. Total exports reached $1.09 billion in fiscal 2012-13 against $993 million in the previous year.
read more.
daily star bd

* RMG industry brought under textiles ministry:

The government has brought Readymade Garment (RMG) industry under the Ministry of Textiles and Jute for smooth management and effective coordination, reported BSS.

“The decision to this effect was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting on May 5,” the official told BSS.
At present, garments makers approach ministry of commerce and sometimes ministries of industries and labour when they run into problem as they don’t know which particular ministry is responsible for looking after the sector’s issues.

The garment industry accounts for over 80% of country’s export earnings and a major contributor to country’s $115 billion GDP.
read more. & read more.  & read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE BSS INDEPENDENT

* More tax benefits for CSR:

The government is mulling over increasing tax incentives to encourage companies to spend more for social welfare as part of their corporate social responsibility in the upcoming budget.

Under the scheme, the government may hike tax rebate benefit for CSR spending from the existing 10 percent to 20 percent in fiscal 2014-15, finance ministry officials said.
The expenditure ceiling for CSR will also be raised to Tk 12 crore from the existing Tk 8 crore a year, the officials added.
The move comes in the face of demands from different quarters including businessmen to increase incentives to inspire firms to spend for social causes as part of their corporate responsibility.
The government first extended tax benefits to companies for CSR activities in 2008.
Currently, companies which pay taxes between 27.5 percent and 45 percent on their annual incomes get tax discount for their CSR activities in over 20 categories.
read more.
daily star bd

* Tax rebate likely for factory relocation from Dhaka:

The government plans to offer a tax rebate of nearly 20 percent for relocation of industrial units out of Dhaka and major cities to economically-lagging regions, in the next fiscal year.

The move aims to reduce congestion in Dhaka in the face of growing migration of people from rural areas and towns to find income opportunities in the capital and its surroundings.
The increased migration though brought about a massive rise in population and affected the city’s livability. Dhaka has become the second least livable city in the world, according to the Global Liveability Survey of the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2013.

“We may provide tax breaks to encourage factory relocation from Dhaka. We may consider giving more benefits to entrepreneurs who will set up plants outside Dhaka,” Md Ghulam Hussain, chairman of the National Board of Revenue, said earlier at a pre-budget meeting.
But finance ministry officials indicated that the facility would be extended to industries that do not enjoy tax holiday benefits.
Currently, the government provides tax holiday facilities to 17 industrial sectors to establish plants outside of Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong districts.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd NEWAGEnew

* RMG workers’ dorms at EPZs by next month:

The Northern Areas Reduction-of-Poverty Initiative (NARI) project, supported by the World Bank, aims to economically empower poor and vulnerable women from the northwestern region by facilitating their access to jobs in the ready- made garment sector.

Under the project, the construction of dormitories and training centres in three designated sites in Dhaka, Karnaphuli, and Ishwardi Export Processing Zones (EPZ) has almost been completed, said a World Bank press release on Wednesday.
The construction work is expected to be completed by June 2014 at all the sites. Civil works are progressing well and the quality of construction is being diligently maintained.
The World Bank (WB) has approved concessional IDA financing of US$29.29 million for this project.
The project closing date has been extended to October 31, 2017.
The NARI project will offer training, transitional housing, counseling and facilitate formal employment in garment factories for around 11,000 women from five northern districts, namely Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, and Rangpur.
read more. & read more.
INDEPENDENT  FE bd

21:18:48 local time map of india INDIA

* Major fire at textile unit in Surat:

20140529 THE HINDU surat

A major fire broke out today in a commercial multi-storey building housing a market of sarees on Puna Kumbharia road here and 80 fire tenders have been rushed to the spot.

“The fire erupted at Orchit tower in Vipul House, a market of sarees, located in front of Sardar market in Puna Kumbhania area of the city,” a fire brigade official said.

The number of people trapped inside the premises was yet to be ascertained, officials said, adding that no injuries or casualties have been reported so far.
The fire brigade has declared a ‘brigade call’ and deployed 170 fire fighters and almost 80 fire vehicles were on the spot, they said.

When more than 16 fire engines are called on a spot, a brigade call is declared.
The fire broke out at around 10 am on the fourth floor of the building, soon after the complex opened for the day’s work, an official said.

“There are 12 floors in the building which mostly have cloth material establishments,” the official said.
The cause of the blaze was yet to be ascertained, he said>
read more. & read more. & read more.
TOInew  THEHINDU THEHINDUBUSINESS

* Fire at 17-Storey Textile Godown in Surat, No Casualties Reported:

A fire broke out in a 17-storey building in Surat this morning. The building, Orchid Complex, is used as a godown by textile traders.

No casualties have been reported so far.
“The fire erupted at Orchid tower in Vipul House, a market of sarees, located in front of Sardar market in Puna Kumbhania area of the city,” a fire brigade official told PTI.

The fire brigade has also declared a ‘brigade call’ and deployed 170 fire fighters, and almost 80 fire vehicles were on the spot, the fire official said.

When more than 16 fire engines are called on a spot, a Brigade Call is declared.
“There are 12 floors in the building which mostly have cloth material establishments,” the official said. The cause of the blaze is yet to be ascertained, he said.
to read. & read more. & read-see more.(video report) & read more.
ndtv zeenews ibn hindustan

* Massive fire at Surat textile market, Rs 100 crore loss estimated:

In a massive fire outbreak at a 17 storeyed building in Surat that acts as a textile market, good worth anywhere between Rs 90 crore and Rs 120 crore are estimated to be damaged.

The fire, believed to be caused by short circuit, broke out at 9 am on Thursday at ‘Orchid’ textile market on the Parbat Patiya Road of Surat.

A relatively new building, the ‘Orchid’ houses around 300 textile traders and manufacturers’ offices, prominent of which was Vipul Fashions that manufactures and trades sarees and dress materials.

According to Manoj Kumar Das, municipal commissioner of Surat, while no injuries or casualties were reported, 90 per cent of the fire had been brought under control by 1 pm.  Around 30 fire and emergency services personnel along with 35 vehicles and 3 hydraulic fire extinguishers were in action.  Sources said that fire fighting equipment from nearby industrial establishments such as Essar’s Hazira plant had also been sought for by fire and emergency services officials.

“The building mostly acts as a godown for textile traders. Each of the unit could be storing textile goods worth Rs 30-40 lakh. There are around such 300 units in that building. Hence, the damage is estimated to be anywhere between Rs 90 crore and Rs 120 crore,” said a textile trader member of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders’ Association (FOSTTA).

The fire outbreak at Orchid building occurred exactly a day after a meeting held by FOSTTA along with Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) wherein the building was given a 15 days period to install fire and safety measures.  The meeting was held with a view to decide future course of action for imparting fire and emergency services training to security personnel at all the textile markets in Surat.
read more.
BUSINESSSTANDARD 2

20140529 INDIAexpress fire31
The fire brigade has declared a ‘brigade call’ and deployed 170 fire fighters and almost 80 fire vehicles were at the spot. (Source: PTI)
to see here. & read-see more. (video report).
INDIANEXPRESS  ANI

* Surat building fire: Building being cooled:

Nearly seven hours after a major fire broke out in an eight-storey commercial building in Surat on Thursday morning, the authorities have brought the fire under control.

“There are small flames to be extinguished, but the fire has almost been doused and the building is being cooled,” M.K. Das, Surat’s Municipal Commissioner, told The Hindu.

The fire started in the godown of Orchid Tower, a textile complex in Surat. Although the cause is still under investigation, a short circuit seems to have led to the massive conflagration. “Although the godwon had offices, they stored stocks of synthetic sarees, which rapidly caught fire.
As per initial reports, the structure of the building is intact and is not likely to collapse. However, we are not giving a safety certificate to the building. We would conduct out inquiry on Friday,” Mr. Das said.

No casualty or injury was reported in the fire, which started around 10 a.m. The 20 people present in he building at the time were safely evacuated, Mr. Das said. Nearly 10,000 litres of water was used in dousing the raging flames.
Fire engines of the National Thermal Power Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. were also pressed into service, in addition to those of the municipal body.
to read.
THEHINDU

* Fire at commercial building in Surat brought under control:

A major fire which broke out in a multi-storeyed commercial building here today was brought under control after a 12-hour long operation by fire brigade teams, fire department officials said.

“The fire is under control and we are making sure that it does not start once again. The process of cooling is on,” a fire brigade officer said.
Fire broke out on the fourth floor of Orchid Towers in Vipul House, a saree market located in front of Sardar market in the Puna-Kumbhania area at around 10 am.

The officer said that no casualities or injuries were reported and losses incurred due to the fire is also not known.
“Apart from deploying 12 Surat fire brigade teams with their equipment, we also took help from fire brigade teams from Vapi, Navsari, Bardoli, Ankleswar, Vyara and Valsad,” the officer said.

More than 500 firefighters were deployed at the spot with five water vouchers, five hydraulic tankers, ten water tankers, two heavy water tankers, three ambulances and three other vehicles for rescue operations.
read more.
zeenews

* Fire in Surat textile market, loss pegged at Rs 400 cr:

20140530 BUSINESSSTANDARD
A major fire broke out in a multi-storey building housing a textile market on Puna Kumbharia road in Surat around 9 am on Thursday. Goods of Rs 300-400 crore are estimated to have been damaged in the fire at the 17-storey Orchid building, which houses 300 offices of textile traders and makers.

Anil Agarwal, founder and managing director, Vipul Fashions, which makes and trades in sarees and dress material, said, “Our offices were on the first floor and there was not much damage as the fire spread mostly on the top floors. About Rs 300-400 crore of goods are estimated to have been damaged.”

Surat Municipal Commissioner Manoj Kumar Das said no casualty had been reported and 90 per cent of the fire was under control by 1 pm. Around 30 fire and emergency services personnel, with 35 vehicles and three hydraulic fire extinguishers, were pressed into service.
read more.
BUSINESSSTANDARD 2

* Another fire in India’s textile nucleus:

India’s textile hub woke up to yet another inferno on Thursday as major fire raged through a multi-storeyed textile market on Parvat Patiya road.

There was no loss of life but a huge stock of synthetic saris and grey material worth crores was gutted in the blaze that broke out on the fifth floor of the eight-storey building Orchid Tower. The fire then spread up to eight floor. Fire officials safely brought out 10 people trapped on fifth and sixth floors.

This is the third major fire in a textile market in just one month. The exact reason for the fire was not known immediately but foul play is not being ruled out.

This doesn’t look like an accidental fire. It seems that someone had chosen the time for the outbreak of the fire, may be to ensure that there were no casualties but it caused maximum damage,” a senior officer of Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) said.
“The fire spread very quickly unlike when caused by a short circuit. Some mischievous elements may have ignited the fire to cause maximum damage without any loss of life. Another reason for suspicion is frequent incidents of fires in the textile markets at regular intervals,” said Pankaj Patel, chief fire officer, SMC.
read more.
TOInew

* Power loom industry upbeat as power cuts go:

20140529 theHINDU
Better days ahead:A power loom unit being operated with diesel engine at Veerappanchathiram in Erode district on Wednesday. With power restrictions lifted, units will no longer need generators.- PHOTO: M.GOVARTHAN

Owners hope for revival of productivity and savings on use of generators to augment supply

The power loom industry in the State that has suffered production losses due to power cuts has cause for relief over the State Government’s announcement that the 20 per cent cut in supply to high-tension industrial units and commercial establishments will be lifted.

The power cuts had hit hard the productivity of the power looms.

Power loom owners are happy about the withdrawal of load shedding not only due to the scope for revival of the original productivity, but also because they would save on the substantial expenditure incurred towards sustaining the operation for the durations of power cuts with diesel generators and engines.

Last year, the power cut was a major reason for closure of over 50 per cent of power loom units in Erode region.

Erode, Namakkal, Salem and Tirupur districts have more than three lakh units producing fabric that is supplied to units manufacturing apparel. The industries suffered severely due to the power cuts.
read more.
THEHINDU

* Thread processors plan to go on strike from June 3:

Labourers employed in thread processing (warping and sizing of thread required by the power looms) have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from June 3, if owners of the units refuse to increase their wages by 50% from their current wages.

District president of the Communist Party of India (CPI), S. Manivel, told The Hindu on Tuesday that the labourers are employed in these units in five categories.

“The daily wage is as low as Rs. 140 for the lowest category of labourers, while the highest pay is Rs. 188,” he said. He said that they had earlier demanded a 100% wage hike but brought it down to 50%.

District president of the Namakkal District Warping and Sizing Workers Association K.P. Ramalingam said that the wage was fixed for the thousands of labourers employed in the 84 warping and sizing units in Tiruchengode area every three years.

“Last time, the wage was fixed in March 2010 after we went on an indefinite strike,” he said.

“Time has crossed for fixing the new wages. So far, owners of the units and representatives of the labourers have conducted four rounds of talks, but we have not arrived at a solution. This is because the owners are ready to increase our salary by a mere 25%,” he added.
read more.
THEHINDU

* Rise in demand boosts textile firms’ margins:

The availability of raw material at reasonable costs, coupled with a rise in demand, has led to a rise in the margins of textile firms for the quarter ended March.

Major textile companies such as Arvind Ltd, Vardhman Textiles, Welspun India and Gokaldas Exports have either seen an increase in net profit for the March quarter (10-80 per cent), or a drop in net loss, compared to the corresponding period last year. These companies attribute this to growth in exports, as well as a rise in domestic demand.

While Vardhman Textiles’ March-quarter net profit rose 33.9 per cent, those of Welspun India and Arvind rose 83 per cent and 11.49 per cent, respectively.

“There has been a spurt in the margins compared to the corresponding period last year, essentially due to favourable conditions, both in terms of availability of raw material at reasonable costs and the demand for textile products, owing to the huge rise in exports to China,” Vardhman Textiles said in a statement.
For Vardhman Textiles, the net profit for the quarter ended March stood at Rs 154.32 crore, compared with Rs 115.25 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.
read more.
BUSINESSSTANDARD 2

* Indian textiles sector has huge job potential – Minister:

Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar assumed charge as Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Textiles.Talking to media after taking charge, Shri Gangwar said that the textiles sector has a huge potential of providing large number of jobs to the vulnerable section of the society.
Specifically speaking on the issues plaguing the sector in Uttar Pradesh, he said that local artisans need push that will unlock the strengths of the region. “Zari Zardozi, carpet and many other local crafts have huge export potential and if proper attention is paid this can be a strong source of improvement of economy and employment.”
read more.
Fibre2fashion

20:48:48 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* APTMA welcomes foreign investment in textile sector:

Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has welcomed foreign investment in the textile industry, saying it will boost confidence of the entrepreneurs at large.

He was talking to a select group of media persons after attending inaugural ceremony of Ruyi Group China on Wednesday.

He appreciated efforts of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in pursuing the Chinese investors to invest in textile industry of Pakistan. “It is a welcome step and all credit goes to the untiring efforts of the Chief Minister Punjab,” he added. According to him, this huge investment in the textile sector will change the industrial scene of Pakistan.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* APTMA demands immediate relief from energy crisis:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has demanded immediate energy relief and terming energy-relating projects under the vision of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif as highly appreciable but majority of them were long-term solutions.

APTMA Punjab Chairman SM Tanveer has said the strong fundamentals of textile industry needed a stimulus plan for revival in order to ensure employment, export and investment in the country.
He said the Punjab-based textile industry was becoming unviable to compete domestically as well as internationally due to the absence of level playing field.
The inter-province disparity is energy supply has already resulted into partial as well as complete closure of about 100 textile mills in Punjab, he added.

Since the energy dependent spinning, weaving and organised processing industries are short of energy supplies therefore whole of the textile industry supply chain is in disarray, impacting negatively on growth of value-added sector, he added.
Tanveer said the sustainability issue has halted the growth of Punjab-based textile industry altogether.
read more.
daily times PK

* Industrial development: CM lays foundation stone of Ruyi Masood Textile Park:

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday said setting up a textile park with an investment of Rs200 billion in M-III Industrial Estate with the collaboration of Chinese industrialists was the first step in the journey towards progress and prosperity.

The chief minister was addressing the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Ruyi Masood Textile Park as the chief guest.
He said the project would promote the textile sector and strengthen the national economy.
He said the project would allow an influx of modern technology and technical skills to Pakistan.
He said the government wanted to eliminate the energy crisis. He said ending the power crisis would result in trade and industrial activities in the country.
read more. & read more.
tribune Fibre2fashion

* Textile City seeks 10-year tax holiday:

Pakistan Textile City Limited has applied for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status to secure 10-year tax holiday for foreign and local investors.

Sources told Business Recorder on Thursday that several local and foreign investors are interested in setting up industries in the dedicated Textile City. Some Chinese investors are already negotiating for investment in the said project, they added.

However, Chinese and other foreign investors have linked investment in the Textile City with SEZ status, under which local and foreign investors can get an income tax exemption for 10 years, besides duty-free import of machinery.
Pakistan Textile City Ltd (Textile City) was incorporated on May 18, 2004, under section 32 of the Companies Ordinance 1984 as a public unlisted company to implement and manage an exclusive production area at Port Qasim that specialises in the large-scale production of value added textile products.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* PCGA seeks ban on import of cotton, yarn from India:

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has demanded of the government to impose complete ban on the import of cotton lint and yarn from India through Wahga border.

The CEC’s meeting was chaired by Mukhtar Ahmed Khan Baloch. The Chairman has constituted an international liaison committee to develop interaction with international associations and to annex the membership of International Cotton Association (ICA).

The CEC urged upon the Commerce Minister to ensure the payment of outstanding amount from textile sector immediately which were withheld by the textile millers.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* Leather exports up, but future dicey:

According to Pakistan Tanneries Association, leather industry is the second biggest dollar earning sector after textiles in Pakistan.

Well, we don’t know what kind of data are they watching, but according to latest trade numbers released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, leather has the third biggest share (4.5 percent) in the country’s total exports, after textile (54%) and rice (9%)-–a position that it shares with the chemical industry.

During 10M FY14, leather products worth $957.5 million were exported compared to exports of $853.3 million in the same period of last year-–led by 12 percent growth each in tanned leather and manufactured leather products.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

* Scope for improvement in Pakistani textile chain: Ploumen:

There is room for improvement in the Pakistani textile chain, the visiting Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen has said.
On her visit to Pakistan this week, Ms. Ploumen visited a textile factory where products are made for companies like the Dutch firm Hema. She also met Pakistan’s Commerce Minister and the Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, and participated in a round table discussion with the Minister for the Textile Industry organised by the International Labour Organization (ILO), according to a Government of Netherlands’ official press release.
Calling for better working conditions in the textile chain in Pakistan, the Minister said, “The spotlight is on Bangladesh, but reports from Pakistan suggest major irregularities in the textile industry. Safety and working conditions are well regulated in many factories, but there are many others which are unsafe and where workers are paid less than the minimum wage. So there is room for improvement in Pakistan, too.”
read more.
Fibre2fashion

20:48:48 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Silk slavery in Uzbekistan second after cotton:

Cultivating silkworms for silk production is the second largest agricultural industry controlled by the government after cotton and requires an equal amount of hard work and is as poorly paid.

May is the time when silkworm cocoons are ready for processing. In Uzbekistan silkworms are cultivated according to ancient traditions at home. The entire family participates in feeding the continuously growing caterpillars.

Uzbekistan has been criticized by international organizations for exploiting its people in the manual production of cotton. Silk production is not too far behind in terms exploitation. Cultivating silk cocoons has been practiced in Uzbekistan for centuries with the methods of production today resembling those used in the Middle Ages.

Silkworm cocoons are a family business

Everybody is awake and already working by 4 am in this rural family. Silkworms are “renting” four rooms in their house. The cultivation process lasts from the end of April until end of May.

During this time the entire six-person family works around the clock. The matriarch of the family, Muharram, sleeps only three hours a day throughout this time and the first thing she does when she wakes up is check on the silkworms.

Caring for them can only be performed by hand and can only be managed if the entire family is involved.

The caretakers need to maintain a constant temperature and supply the silkworms with fresh mulberry leaves. Muharram has 50 years of experience.

“One month of work takes up a yearly amount of energy. The temperature has to be 27-28 degrees. And we need to give them leaves 3-4 times a day,” says Muharram. “If the silkworms end up eating more, than we have to add food at 2 or 3 am.”
read more.
UZnews

 

map of Asia

INFO:

The next bulletin will be published 2 June.

(And these pages will be updated as articles are found):

There are updates now under ‘special overviews’:

* Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307-now
* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 5: 20140307- NOW
* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 4 20140314- NOW

PHILIPPINES
* ITUC correct, PH one of the worst countries for workers – KMU
* DOLE bucks ITUC findings on worker rights

VIET NAM
* 60,000 workers lose jobs after anti-China riots in Vietnam
* Poor labor productivity a drain on the economy
* Industrial zone workers air their complaints to officials
* Export processing zones oppose decree on branch locations
* Vietnam’s labour productivity lowest in Asia Pacific
* Capital flow continues to pour into textile industry

CAMBODIA
* FreeThe23 and Steung Meanchey-two verdict: all convicted with sentences suspended
* Cambodian court gives suspended jail sentences to all 23 labor activists
* Freedom for activists and workers
* 25 Found Guilty for Roles in Garment Protests; Sentences Suspended
* ‘The 23’ found guilty, released
* Phnom Penh court frees 25 protesters
* CCHR welcomes the release of 25 protesters but strongly condemns their convictions
* Cambodian court convicts then frees more than 20
* Phnom Penh Court orders Conviction with Suspended Sentences for 25 Workers and Activists
* Cambodian court frees 25 charged with garment strike offences
* U.N., labor agency welcome release of Cambodian labor activists
* Cambodian court gives suspended jail sentences to all 23 labor activists
* Brands’ eyes on verdicts of 23
* As Verdicts Loom in 25 Protest Related Cases, Acquittals Sought
* ILO attacks trade union law
* ILO Says Gov’t Moving Backward With Draft Union Law
* One Factory Strike Ends, Another Continues
* CCHR calls for the acquittal of “ the 23”and their immediate release
* Ocean Garment Workers On Strike After Factory Halts Operations
* Cambodian government under pressure over garment sector
* Does the De-Facto Government Think It Can Afford to Lose Cambodia’s Largest Buyers?
* Cambodian Garment Workers Face Violence in the Struggle for aBetter Wage
* Brands warn problems could see them quit Cambodia
* Levi Strauss Slashes Orders From Cambodian Factories
* Nearly 100 Workers Collapse in Mass Garment Factory Fainting
* Giving up hope
* Boy Caught Up in Protests Faces 11 Years in Jail
* BetterFactories Media updates 27-30 May

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Burma Factories Warn of Rise in Strikes Fueled by Activists
* Chinese textile & apparel delegation visits Myanmar

BANGLADESH
* Attacks on Union Leaders Escalate at Industrial Park
* Workers’ demo at Ashuila for due wage
* Garment workers demand arrears be paid in Gazipur
* RMG worker’s suicide sparks clash
* ITUC ranks BD among worst countries for workers’ rights
* RMG sector: Getting paid as you perform
* Make factory inspection reports public
* Alliance survey finds 99pc of RMG units structurally sound
* BD to get back GSP whenever US Senate revives the facility, hopes Tofail
* Beef up ties with US to get back GSP: analysts
* B’desh should put in more diplomatic efforts to revive GSP in US market
* Garment exports to Canada surge 67% in five years
* RMG industry brought under textiles ministry
* More tax benefits for CSR
* Tax rebate likely for factory relocation from Dhaka
* RMG workers’ dorms at EPZs by next month

INDIA
* Major fire at textile unit in Surat
* Fire at 17-Storey Textile Godown in Surat, No Casualties Reported
* Massive fire at Surat textile market, Rs 100 crore loss estimated
* Surat building fire: Building being cooled
* Fire at commercial building in Surat brought under control
* Fire in Surat textile market, loss pegged at Rs 400 cr
* Another fire in India’s textile nucleus
* Power loom industry upbeat as power cuts go
* Thread processors plan to go on strike from June 3
* Rise in demand boosts textile firms’ margins
* Indian textiles sector has huge job potential – Minister

PAKISTAN
* APTMA welcomes foreign investment in textile sector
* APTMA demands immediate relief from energy crisis
* Industrial development: CM lays foundation stone of Ruyi Masood Textile Park
* Textile City seeks 10-year tax holiday
* PCGA seeks ban on import of cotton, yarn from India
* Leather exports up, but future dicey
* Scope for improvement in Pakistani textile chain: Ploumen

UZBEKISTAN
* Silk slavery in Uzbekistan second after cotton

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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