* Protesting Adidas in Hong Kong, 20 June 2014:
* Adidas and other brands should pay back part of Yue Yuen workers’ social insurance in arrears!:
[Open letter to Adidas – From HK groups]
Subject: Adidas and other brands should pay back part of Yue Yuen workers’ social insurance in arrears!
Between 5 April and 28 April 2014, workers from Yue Yuen Dongguan factory have gone on strike. Striker size flew up from 1,000 to 50,000 in only few days. Almost all factory workers have joined the strike, including frontline production workers and various ranking management staff. This shows the anger of workers towards government and the company has reached the limit. Reports say the strike expansion to Yue Yuen’s Jiangxi factory too. Until intervention of massive police force which forced the strikers to go back to work at the end of the month, the strike was forced to come to an end.
The dispute was triggered by the conspiracy between the Yue Yuen factory and the local government – The factory did not fully pay social insurance for the workers and the local government officials did not observe this unlawful practice. Workers also discovered the work contracts they are holding are not legally valid. They request the factory to pay back pension and housing provident fund arrear payment, re-sign valid work contract and raise the wage.
It is correct that the workers blame Yue Yuen and the local government for the problem because Yue Yuen has cheated on their social insurance payment to lower their production cost, and exploit their wages and benefit; the local officials failed to observe the company’s illegal act and even assisted the company to exploit workers, in return to protect their tax income and corruption chances.
08:10:19 local time VIET NAM
* Textile and garment sector aims to reduce China reliance:
The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) just sent a dispatch to businesses in the sector requiring them to supply data on their textile and garment materials and accessories, fibres, yarns, fabrics and dyes imported from China during 2013-2014.
“Based on the figures provided by firms, Vitas will have up-to-date figures on the types of materials and accessories imported from China, and will from there devise plans for investment and development of supply sources from the domestic market as well as sourcing output market distribution,” said Vitas deputy chairwoman Dang Phuong Dung.
Priority substitute markets for Vietnamese textile and garment firms to source materials are Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia and India, Dung added.
In the Ministry of Trade’s most recent periodical meeting reviewing the situation in May and the first five months, regarding measures to reduce imports from China, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said investing in domestic material production would be most sustainable for sectoral development.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 23/6 (13th item).
08:10:19 local time CAMBODIA
* With wages lower than China’s, Cambodia sees hope for more garment exports to Washington:
Wages in Cambodia are about one-third the level of those paid in China. And that’s part of why Cambodian Minister of Commerce Chanthol Sun hopes to win more connections between his country’s economy and that of Washington state.
“We’re hoping by furthering the ties and relationships, we can build on those relationships and have further commerce between the state of Washington, and Cambodia,” he said during a visit to Seattle this week.
Garment imports could be one potential area of growth. Washington is home to a number of large garment importers, including Union Bay, Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN), Tommy Bahama and REI. Cambodia already employs 600,000 people in its garment industry, and exports $5 billion in garments every year.
* Arbitration’s cost and value:
The Arbitration Council Foundation, credited with helping resolve about 1,700 industrial disputes, has reached verbal agreement with a Swedish aid agency to receive funding until the end of 2016, a spokesman said yesterday.
But members of the labour-dispute resolution body desire a more permanent solution that will enable it to keep providing arbitration across a number of industries, including the garment sector.
Earlier this month, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) agreed to provide the council with $1.2 million from this October until December 2016. The funds will begin filling Arbitration Council coffers just after major contributions from the World Bank – a key donor since 2009 – end in September.
09:10:19 local time INDONESIA
* Permanent People’s Tribunalon Living wages:
Giving workers a voice
As part of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance Worker Tribunals have been taking place across the region given workers an opportunity to share their expereinces and speak with government and brand represenatives around the issues they face due to poverty pay in the garment sector.
Tribunals have taken place in Sri Lanka, India and Cambodia,
and between June 21- 24 2014 the next tribunal will take place in Indonesia.
You can find an over view here & here.
Tuesday 24th June the jury will come with the verdict.
* Better Work Indonesia – Media Updates :
1.Government continues to discuss the Government Regulation Draft (RPP) on Wages. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia).
2. What Do Factory Workers in Asia Want? Read the full article here.
3. Indonesian garment industry receives human rights trial. Read the full article here .
4. Six types of industries to play key role in future. Read the full article here.
5. Indonesia calls for ILO countries to stop forced labor. Read the full article here .
6. Japanese investor expects more conducive investment after presidential election. Read the full article here.
7. Indonesian Clothing Firms Cash In on Football Mania.Read the full article here .
Better Work Indonesia Media Updates overview here.
09:10:19 local time MALAYSIA
* Minimum Salary Scheme Review To Be Finalised In August:
The revision of the minimum salary scheme will be finalised in August, said Human Resource Deputy Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Mutalib.
He said the scheme review process was now in the final stage and the announcement of the results would be made by Human Resource Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem.
“The government provided opportunities and adequate time for employers and employees to give their views until May and the results of the review will be announced by the Minister of Human Resources,” he told reporters after the presentation of spectacles to 53 senior citizens at Dewan DUN Lui in Maran, Friday.
According to Ismail the minimum wage revision was made every two years by the National Wages Consultative Council coordinating discussions involving employers, workers, the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation.
07:10:19 local time BANGLADESH
* Workers demand democratic labour law:
Leaders of garment workers here on Sunday demanded that a democratic labour law be enacted ensuring their rights as the latest amendment to the existing law has failed to ensure that.
They came up with the demand at a views-exchanged meeting in the city on the poor lifestyle of garment workers and the role of trade unions.
Bangladesh Sangjukta Garments Sramik Federation organised the meeting.
Federation general secretary Moinuddin Mondal said the government has amended the labour law 2006 in 2013 as it had some “controversial provisions”.
“Though we had put forward a number of recommendations seeking the removal of undemocratic provisions from the labour law, no recommendation was accommodated in the amended law. Instead, labour rights have been curbed with the amendment,“ he alleged.
About the security of garment factories, Moinuddin said the government has failed to ensure safety in garment factories despite the recurrence of many disasters due to the weakness in the administration and the negligence of factory owners.
UPDATED 21 June: With: in the bulletin In the news 19-20 June 2014.
A fire broke out at a readymade garment factory in Kuturia area of the upazila, outskirt of the capital, on Friday evening.
Sources said fire originated at the ground floor of ZA Apparels around 6:00pm.
On information, five units of EPZ Fire Services and Dhamrai Fire Services rushed to the spot and trying to bring the blaze under control.
Meanwhile, at least 30 people were reported to suffer injury while trying to get out of the building.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
A fire broke out in a sweater factory at Ashulia on the outskirt in the capital yesterday, gutting a large amount of clothes ready for shipment.
The fire started around 6:45pm on the ground floor of ZA Sweaters Ltd and engulfed the upstairs.
Seven fire fighting units from nearby five fire stations took the blaze under control around 8:00pm, said Rafiqul Islam, assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, Dhaka.
The official suspected that the fire originated from a boiler explosion. The factory used the ground floor as store room.
All of around 200 workers working during the incident safely got down from the factory. But, four people including a production manager Bakul were injured while they were dousing the blaze, said Assistant Superintendent Rasel Sheikh of Savar Circle Police.
Store In-charge Nuruzzaman claimed that the fire damaged goods was worth around Tk 20 crore.
The Fire Service and Civil Defence formed a committee to find out the actual reason behind the fire and to assess the losses.
to read. & read more.
At least 50 workers of a garment factory at Ashulia were injured in a stampede while scrambling for exit in fear of fire at the building.
Workers of the garment factory Medlar Apparel in the area desperately tried to come out of the factory after seeing black smoke on the ground floor when fire originated from a short circuit at noon, police and locals sources said.
The garment authorities had brought the fire under control before fire-fighting units reached the spot, the sources added.
The injured were sent to different hospitals of the area.
* How are women workers in RMG sector? :
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector plays an important role in boosting the country’s economy. This sector accounts for 78% of the country’s export receipts and contributes 17% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
More than 4.0 million people are working in the RMG sector, 80 per cent of whom are women. Women workers provide their labour in an exploitative environment such as fire risk, sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse. Their salary and other facilities are low.
Gender composition has changed dramatically in the garment sector. Women and girls are employed in the woven sector while men toil in the knitwear sector. It is stereotypically assumed that women workers are less capable than male workers. As a result, the highest positions such as managers, supervisers and technicians are held by men while the lowest positions such as operators and helpers are held by women.
Moreover, women also work in a more risky environment doing ironing, folding, cleaning and packing. This type of physical work is riskier for women as they suffer from eye and head pains, respiratory and gastric problems and urine infection. Although they are suffering from various health problems, they receive poor treatment facilities from the factory owners.
The status of the women workers is very low in terms of income, job security, accommodation, education, recreation, savings and bank accounts, and cultural and social aspects.
Most of them live in unwholesome rented slums grappling with the shortages of pure drinking water, gas, electricity. These problems impact on women’s health mostly.
* IndustriALL behind RMG strife: Tofail:
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed Sunday alleged that IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, the local chapter of the IndustriALL Global Union was responsible for instilling unrest in the country’s apparel industry, UNB reported.
‘Council president Nazrul Islam Khan, who is a BNP leader, and other union leaders like Kalpana Akhter and Babul Akhter are responsible for creating unrest in the RMG sector,’ he said.
The commerce minister made the allegation while briefing reporters at the secretariat on his recent US visit.
Tofail Ahmed alleged that various non-worker labour leaders of the country are spreading misinformation about the RMG sector in the US.
The USTR officials referred to a letter sent by IndustriAll Bangladesh that mentioned about labour exploitation in the country, the minister said adding he (Tofail) had been able to remove the misunderstanding on the labour conditions caused by that letter.
Tofail Ahmed claimed that officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) expressed their satisfaction over the progress report on Bangladesh’s action plan on the apparel industry.
* IndustriAll hatching conspiracy against RMG industry: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today claimed that an organization namely ‘IndustriALL’ has been hatching conspiracy against Bangladesh’s Readymade Garment Industry (RMG) industry.
“IndustriAll sent letters against Bangladesh’s garment industry to the US,” he told journalists at his secretariat office here.
Tofail hinted that two influential labour leaders of Bangladesh have a link to the conspiracy against the garment industry.
The press briefing was arranged to inform journalists about the outcome of his recent visit to the USA.
When asked what actions would be taken against the two labour leaders, the minister said, “I just came home. We’ll have to think what kinds of steps should be taken against them who work against the country’s interest.”
* IndustriALL draws ire from Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday accused IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of acting against the country’s interests by secretly writing to the US that garment workers are being harassed here.
Without naming the organisation, Ahmed said: “This organisation has written that garment workers are harassed and repressed in Bangladesh.”
The minister, however, said Nazrul Islam Khan, a senior leader of BNP, and Roy Ramesh Chandra, a former senior leader of Sramik League, are respectively the chairman and secretary general of the organisation.
“They sent the letter to the US secretly. I would not have known about the harassment of garment workers had I not travelled to Washington,” Ahmed said at a media briefing at his secretariat office on his visit to the US capital on June 10-14.
During the visit, Ahmed met senior officials of the Obama administration, including those from the United States Trade Representative (USTR).
* TUs blamed for anti-RMG propaganda abroad:
He raised the allegation at a press briefing at his secretariat office in the capital yesterday
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed has brought an allegation that various non-worker labour leaders of the country are spreading misinformation in the USA about the apparel industry of Bangladesh.
He raised the allegation at a press briefing at his secretariat office in the capital yesterday, following his visit to the USA from June 11 to 14.
He, however, noted that the USTR will very soon place a bill at the US Congress for restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which was suspended following the Tazreen Fashion fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
The minister said the officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) expressed their satisfaction over the progress of the Action Plan the USA imposed on Bangladesh to improve the labour standards and factory conditions.
But, he failed to produce any specific statement from the congressmen and the officials of the USTR, whom he met during his visit, although the minister claimed that a congressman had termed the progress on the conditions to regain GSP facilities as miraculous.
The Commerce Minister further said IndustryAll Council President Nazrul Islam Khan is a BNP leader, and mentioned that other union leaders like Kalpana Akhter and Babul Akhter are responsible for creating unrest in the RMG sector.
Regarding the pressure to form a trade union in each factory by United States, Tofail said only 7% of private sector factories have trade unions while 35% of government sector factories have trade unions even in the United States.
Labour leaders claim they’re innocent
Labour leader Roy Ramesh, who is the secretary of IndustriAll Bangladesh Council, told Dhaka Tribune that the IndustriAll is one of the biggest labour organisations in world. IndustriAll Bangladesh Council did not send any letter to the USTR.
“I am strongly saying the commerce minister was not even near the truth,” he said, in a sharp reaction. “If he has any document regarding IndustriAll letter, please disclose in front of the nation. Otherwise, the minister should withdraw his statement.”
He further said IndustriAll will hold a press conference within a day or two unless the statement is withdrawn.
Nazrul Islam Khan, chairman of IndustriAll and member of BNP standing committee, said they have not sent any latter to USTR regarding canceling of GSP facilities.
* Tofail alleges IndustriALL acting against RMG industry:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday alleged that IndustriALL Bangladesh was acting against the interest of apparel industry of the country by spreading false accusation of labour abuse and denial of workers’ rights to international stake holders.
‘They (IndustriALL Bangladesh Council) are conspiring against our readymade garment industry as they wrote a letter to the US administration depicting labour persecution in our apparel industry,’ Tofail told reporters at a formal briefing at his secretariat office.
‘The officials of the US Trade Representative office showed me a letter, signed by IndustriALL president Nazrul Islam Khan and its general secretary Ray Romesh Chandra that contained false picture of labour persecution in the country’s RMG sector.’
Tofail, describing his mental state after seeing the letter, said that he told the USTR officials he would not have known about the poor state of workers rights and labour abuse in Bangladesh had he not arrived at the USTR office.
Blaming the duo, the commerce minister said Nazrul is a central BNP leader, while Ramesh is a former Awami League leader.
Furthermore, the minister coming down hard alleged that labour leaders like Kalpana Akter and Babul Akter have long been labour leaders without being workers of any factories.
* AL,BNP leaders working against RMG sector:Tofail:
Two leaders of ruling Awami League and opposition BNP are running a smear campaign against Bangladesh’s export-oriented readymade garments (RMG) sector, the commerce minister has alleged.
Briefing reporters on Sunday on his recent US visit, Tofail Ahmed said some people had become labour leaders without ever going to a factory.
“Conspiracies are afoot to damage the RMG industry,” he said. “Several of our labour leaders have secretly written to them (the US).”
Ahmed said if he had not gone to the US, he would never have learnt that ‘IndustriAll’ chief BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan and Awami League’s Roy Ramesh Chandra lodged complaints with the US.
“We should contemplate steps against them (the complainants),” he said.
* GSP restoration only after US passes law:
Tofail hints at politics playing a part
The government now pins hopes on enactment of a new US law for restoration of the suspended GSP facility for preferential trade on the American market as a delegation led by Commerce Minister Toail Ahmed got such an assurance during a just-concluded Washington tour.
Mr Tofail told Saturday reporters that the law in the making would pave the way for renewal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme and Bangladesh would get back the facility thereafter.
The minister, however, indicated that politics played a trick behind the embargo put on the GSP and that political string also is attached to revival of the cut-duty trade facility.
“The US authorities concerned (USTR and US Congressmen) have assured us that Bangladesh has the possibility to get back the GSP facility after the renewal of the scheme as remarkable developments have been made in its garment sector,” he said at a press briefing after his US visit.
* USTR happy over RMG sector action plan report: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday said officials of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) expressed their satisfaction over the progress report on Bangladesh’s action plan on the RMG sector.
Briefing reporters at the Secretariat about his visit to the US from Jun 11-14, he also noted that the USTR will very soon place a bill at the US Congress for the restoration of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in their market for all the countries.
It is not only Bangladesh which has been facing the cancellation of the GSP facility in the US market, the facility has also been suspended for all the countries, he added.
During his meeting with USTR officials, Tofail said, they do not have the information that Bangladesh allows trade unions.
He also alleged that various non-worker labour leaders of the country are spreading misinformation about the RMG sector in the US.
The USTR officials referred to a letter sent by IndustryAll, Bangladesh that mentioned about labour exploitation in the country, he said adding that he had been able to remove the misunderstanding of the officials about the labour condition created by that letter.
read more. & to read. & read more.
* US retailers look to ramp up garment sourcing:
Companies not deserting Bangladesh: USFI
The US-based fashion companies are expected to bump up their sourcing from Bangladesh in the next two years, despite a string of tragic incidents in the garment industry, a study reveals.
They regard Bangladesh as a popular sourcing destination with growth potential.
“About 60 per cent of the surveyed respondents say they expect to somewhat increase sourcing from Bangladesh in the next two years and five per cent expect to strongly increase sourcing,” said the study jointly conducted by the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) and the University of Rhode Island (URI).
Another 15 per cent expect no change in their current scale of sourcing in Bangladesh. Currently, 76.9 per cent of respondents source from Bangladesh.
* American Apparel finds CEO misused funds:
An internal investigation at American Apparel Inc has found that its CEO Dov Charney violated company policies, ranging from misusing company funds to failing to stop the discrediting of at least one former employee who had accused him of sexual harassment, a person close to the matter said.
The company’s board ousted the 45-year-old Charney as chairman on Wednesday, citing unspecified allegations of misconduct. It suspended him as president and chief executive officer, and plans to fire him for cause, following a 30-day period stipulated in his contract.
The company’s independent directors hired law firm Jones Day in mid-March to lead the investigation, said the person and a separate source familiar with the matter. It is unclear what events prompted the board to initiate the investigation, which is ongoing.
RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
* Rana to be named in case: ACC:
Sohel Rana, son of Rana Plaza owners, will be included in the charge sheet as one of the main accused in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission, for his alleged involvement in tampering with the construction of the collapsed building.
The commission investigation found two witnesses who confirmed that Rana actually controlled the construction of the building while his parents were nominal owners of the building, an ACC director told New Age on Sunday.
He said the commission also asked the investigator to submit the charge sheet to the commission, within this week, after including Rana’s name.
The ACC on June 15 filed a case against 17 people in total, including Rana Plaza owners Abdul Khalek and Morjina Begum, parents of Sohel Rana, and Savar municipality mayor Refayet Ullah, with Savar model police station.
At the time, the ACC said it would include Rana’s name in the charge sheet if witnesses confirmed his involvement with the construction.
06:40:19 local time INDIA
* Trade unions observe fast in support of textile workers:
Members of various trade unions such as AITUC, CITU, MLF, LPF and INTUC came together on Friday to observe fast for the causes of textile workers in Tirupur knitwear cluster.
The main demands included creation of housing facilities for the predominant migrant labourers in the cluster, speedy completion of the ESI multi-speciality hospital project and strict implementation of labour laws in the textile units.
K. Subramanian, president of CITU-affiliated Baniyan General Workers Union and also the CPI-M district secretary, pointed out that the rising house rentals in Tirupur cluster had become the main deterrent for the skilled workers coming from other districts to opt for the cluster as their employment destination.
“With the wages for workers raised only marginally in the last one decade, good chunk of the migrant labourers are finding it difficult to pay high levels of house rents,” he said.
* China cutting yarn imports will hit Indian spinning mills:
China may cut down on cotton yarn purchases this fiscal, slowing the good run that Indian spinning mills had last year.
Recovering from a rough patch in the previous few years, spinning mills across the country wove healthier balance sheets last fiscal with a surge in demand in the Chinese market.
Idle mills sprang to life across the southern States, boosted by healthy cotton production and the government’s decision to make yarn export eligible for benefits under the Incremental Export Incentivisation Scheme for 2013-14.
In Gujarat, 80 new spinning mills with a capacity of two million spindles are coming up, especially boosted by the interest subvention announced by the State Government to boost industrial growth.
06:10:19 local time PAKISTAN
* Minimum wage increased to Rs12,000:
Sindh has increased the minimum wage for labourers from Rs11,000 to Rs12,000 for the fiscal year 2014-15, it has been learnt on Friday.
In his budgetary speech before the Sindh Assembly on June 13, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had announced Rs11,000 as the minimum monthly wage, in line with the figure set in the preceding federal budget.
However, the provincial finance department has issued an amendment notification to increase the figure by Rs1,000, citing the government’s commitment to the welfare of the working class and the increase in salaries of government employees as the main reasons.
* Textile mills can save 250MW by implementing energy system:
The rising energy prices, increased production costs, lowered productivity and consumer demands for environmentally friendly textile products are some of the challenges forcing textile industry to follow best practices.
Around 43 textile mills in Punjab have been saving more than 11MW by implementing sustainable Energy Management System while an additional 250 MW can be saved if all textile mills implement this energy efficiency system.
The APTMA in cooperation with GIZ designed and launched sustainable Energy Management System (EnMS) project for promoting sustainable energy efficiency in textile mills.
According to Acting Chairman APTMA Punjab Syed Ali Ahsan, the APTMA has set up Sustainable Production Centre (SPC) with the help of GIZ To provide technical and management services on sustainable production related aspects including policy issues, technical & technological solutions for continuous improvement in APTMA member mills.
* APTMA seeks withdrawal of GIDC hike to save industry:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) urged the government to withdraw increase in Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) to avoid a total disaster of textile industry, especially Punjab-based textile units.
APTMA senior vice Chairman Seth Muhammad Akber addressing a press conference on Friday said increase in GIDC to Rs 150 would ruin the textile industry in Punjab, which was already facing unprecedented gas and electricity load shedding. He said an increase in the GIDC was also a negation of what the government had offered in budget to boost business activity.
Seth Akber lamented the government has brought GDIC to zero level for the cement industry which was producing cement for local consumption and exports consignments worth $400 million only.
The textile industry exports on the other hand are $13 billion, which has been burdened by the government with increase in the GIDC, he added.
read more. & read more.
06:10:19 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan: US Decision Aids Forced Labor Victims:
Uzbekistan: US Decision Aids Forced Labor Victims
“Tier 3” Status in Trafficking Report Could Bring Sanctions
The United States government’s decision to place Uzbekistan in the lowest category of its annual human trafficking report sends a message of solidarity to the well over a million Uzbeks forced to pick the country’s cotton crop, the Cotton Campaign said today.
The ranking is based on Uzbekistan’s massive use of forced labor of children and adults to pick the country’s annual cotton crop. The Cotton Campaign is a coalition of human rights, labor, investor and business organizations, including human rights groups from Uzbekistan.
“This decision is an important step toward holding Tashkent accountable for the abysmal reality in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Over a million Uzbek adults and children are forced to harvest cotton for weeks on end every autumn in abusive conditions on threat of punishment.”