19:09:00 local time CHINA
* Vietnam feels sorry over Chinese workers’ casualties in mid-May riots: spokesperson:
Vietnam expressed regret at the riots that caused damage to foreign invested companies in mid-May and felt sorry for the deaths and injuries of some Chinese workers during the incidents, said a spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.
“Vietnam regrets for incidents happening to foreign invested companies in mid-May, including Chinese investors and workers as well as feels sorry for the fact that some Chinese workers were dead and injured during these incidents,” said Le Hai Binh, the spokesperson.
Binh made the statement in response to reporter’s question over the handling of the incidents which caused disorder in several localities in mid-May, according to an announcement posted on the ministry’s website on Monday.
“Vietnamese side will offer kind of humanitarian assistance to Chinese victims. A delegation by Vietnam-China Friendship Association will tour China to send regards to some families of the victims,” said Binh.
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18:09:00 local time VIET NAM
* Industrial zone workers in need of more housing:
Figures from the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed there were 14 industrial zones in the provinces with nearly 43,000 workers, of whom more than 26,000 were migrants and needed accommodation.— Photo hanoimoi
Workers at economic and industrial zones in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau are facing a serious housing shortage because enterprises do not want to invest in accommodation for them.
Figures from the provincial Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs showed there were 14 industrial zones in the provinces with nearly 43,000 workers, of whom more than 26,000 were migrants and needed accommodation.
However, only about 20 per cent had stable housing, and the rest had to lease houses in nearby residential areas with low-quality living environments and security.
Mai Van Loc, a worker at the My Xuan Industrial Zone in Tan Thanh District, said he and his family rented a 12-square-metre room near his workplace for VND500,000 ($23.5) per month.
He said the room was always humid and stuffy, but he had no choice because his salary of VND4 million ($188) was his family’s only source of income.
Hoang Thi Hoa, a worker at the Dong Xuyen Industrial Zone in Vung Tau City, said she was worried because her landlord could increase the rent at any time.
* Vietnam, EU hail progress on free trade agreement:
Vietnam’s prime minister on Monday (Aug 25) hailed progress in free trade talks with the European Union, saying a deal could be concluded as early as October.
Vietnam’s prime minister on Monday (Aug 25) hailed progress in free trade talks with the European Union, saying a deal could be concluded as early as October. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung was speaking after meeting European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso, who is in Hanoi to discuss issues including trade and security.
Dung told reporters the pair had held “open, candid talks” and called for a deepening of economic ties between Vietnam and the EU, including achieving “the goal of concluding FTA (Free Trade Agreement) negotiations by October 2014.” Discussions were launched in 2012.
In 2013, EU-Vietnam trade was worth around €27.6 billion (S$46 billion). The EU is already Vietnam’s largest export market and second largest trading partner after China. Vietnam exports mobile phones and other electronics, footware and textiles, and agricultural products including coffee, rice and seafood to the EU.
The EU is also one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam.
* Trade surplus hits $1.7b as exports see growth:
The United States was the country’s largest export market in the first eight months, accounting for $18.5 billion in exports, or 22.5 per cent more than that of the same period last year.— VNA/VNS Photo Trong Dat
Viet Nam has gained a trade surplus of US$1.7 billion for the first eight months of 2014, figures from the General Statistics Office (GSO) show.
The figures also showed that the nation incurred a trade deficit, worth $100 million, only in January, and began earning a surplus in February, at $244 million.
The United States was the country’s largest export market in the first eight months, accounting for $18.5 billion in exports, or 22.5 per cent more than that of the same period last year.
Other significant export markets include the European Union with $17.9 billion in exports, or a 13.3 per cent rise from that of last year; ASEAN with $12.4 billion, or a 0.5 per cent rise; Japan with $9.9 billion, or a 12.7 per cent rise; and China with $9.8 billion, or a 15.2 per cent rise.
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18:09:00 local time CAMBODIA
* Striking workers face dismissal from factory:
Workers at a Kampong Chhnang garment factory who remain on strike today will be fired, management said yesterday, as strikers delivered a petition to the Labour Ministry.
The roughly 100 employees of Jiun Ye Garment factory who made the trip to Phnom Penh arrived on trucks and tuk-tuks. The action came in spite of a court order on Wednesday that workers, who have been on strike for about three weeks, return within 48 hours.
“We cannot wait for our employer to negotiate with us anymore,” said Yin Chinreoun, a representative of the workers, who are seeking several concessions including a $15-per-month attendance bonus.
* Workers Take Pay Dispute to Ministry of Labor:
Hundreds of garment workers traveled from a Kompong Chhnang factory to Phnom Penh on Monday to petition the Ministry of Labor to intervene in their dispute with factory management.
About 3,000 workers from the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory have been striking since August 18, accusing management of deliberately withholding their monthly bonuses from their last paychecks.
The factory says underpayment is the result of a technical error and has promised to include the missing funds in the workers’ salaries next month.
Over the weekend, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) released a statement condemning the industrial action and calling on authorities to “punish the perpetrators.”
About 500 striking workers traveled from their factory in Samakki Meanchey district along National Road 5—which they have blocked on several occasions as part of their protests—to the Ministry of Labor’s headquarters in Tuol Kok.
They met up with representatives from the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit after leaving Kompong Chhnang to avoid provincial police, who union leaders feared would arrest them.
* BetterFactories Media Updates 25 – 26 August 2014:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
17:09:00 local time BANGLADESH
* Govt set to ask Tuba to show cause on closure:
Owner seeks fresh loan to reopen factories
The government is set to serve a show-cause notice asking the Tuba Group management to explain why it will not be declared that the five factories of the Group were closed illegally.
The decision on issuance of the show cause notice came at a meeting of the labour ministry at the Secretariat Sunday amid the Tuba Group owner’s appeal for support from financial institutions to reopen the closed units.
“I can reopen the units if I get a loan at least to the tune of Tk 250 to 300 million at a low interest rate from any financial institution or bank,” Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain said at a press conference on the day.
However, the government found that closure of the five units under an article of the labour law that the Tuba Group authorities followed in doing so was ‘not proper’, meeting sources said.
So, the government was going to issue the show-cause notice. The move came just a week after the Tuba Group units had been declared shut under the article 13 (1) of the existing labour law, the sources said.
Labour leaders and workers of the closed factories and the owner are now locked in a row over payment of lawful compensation following the closure.
“We’ll send a show cause notice to the Tuba Group authority Monday,” a top government official said.
20140824 * Tuba workers pay dearly for their strike:
Letters to the editor
The owner of Tuba group has closed down five of his factories on the plea that the workers observed an ”illegal” strike.
This means the 1500 workers of those factories have become jobless overnight. They have already suffered a lot because of the owner’s delay in paying three months’ outstanding salaries plus Eid bonus.
They have been living miserable lives not for their own faults. Now they are thrown out of jobs. Where will the workers go now?
We demand justice for the workers.
* Labour law rendered useless for want of rules:
How universally accepted positive developments are stymied in this country is best explained by the inexplicable delay in formulating rules necessary for implementation of an amended labour law.
A year has passed since the latest amendment to the Bangladesh Labour Act had been brought in July 2013 but still the task could not be accomplished. It gives the impression that rules for implementations are harder to formulate than to amend the law.
Though it is accepted that there are several stake-holders, but that should not be an excuse for drafting the rules in the first place and sending it for their opinions.
It would be pertinent to ask if this has been done as yet.
Mere bureaucratic lethargy alone is not to blame; there seems to be a deliberate attempt to stall the process. Involved in the process here is no less an issue than restoring the country’s image as a labour-friendly one both at home and abroad. Even the economic interests involved are highly significant.
Considered from the viewpoint that the fate of revival and retention of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the United States and the European Union (EU) respectively depends largely on it, its significance can be fully realised.
That is for sure that playing the proverbial ostrich will not do.
If the garments industry in this country has to survive, let alone flourish, it will have to swallow the ‘bitter pill’ in the form of a labour law providing workers’ safety and welfare.
The Labour Act Bill 2013 has recognised only the minimum for fulfilment of the conditions set by international buyers for continuing business as usual.
Now that it has become an Act, it is only incumbent on all the parties involved to implement it in letter and spirit.
Dilly-dallying will serve no one’s purpose in the ultimate analysis. Workers’ wages and benefits have been increased, although those are still lower, in nominal terms, than their counterparts in the neighbouring countries.
How far such wages and benefits are linked to productivity, viewed from regional perspectives, is a different issue here.
* Ensuring fair trade in RMG sector:
On Eid day, as most Bangladeshis were enjoying joyful moments with their friends and families, some 1,600 workers of Tuba Garments factory were on a hunger strike in the capital demanding their arrear wages and festival bonus.
While the news was covered by the major media outlets there was no action from the owners or the umbrella organisation BGMEA or the government.
Ironically, the owner of the factory also owns Tazreen Fashions, in which a fire accident in late 2012 took 117 lives.
Accidents at Tazreen Fashions in December 2012 and collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013 brought the issue of unsafe working conditions in the readymade garments factories to the forefront of an international debate.
Can’t the garment factories be made safer for the workers?
The entrepreneurs often argue that if they comply with the code of conduct, it may be difficult to offer a low price for their products and the orders will be shifted elsewhere. So it is important that the buyers show their willingness to pay for the safety standards.
After the Rana Plaza tragedy, retailers importing garments from Bangladesh came under pressure from activists and unions all over the world to sign the ‘Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.’
At the same time, it is equally important to ensure fair trade in this sector.
The garment industry works through a complex supply chain in the global market. Garment manufacturers operate this sector under intense pressure from different interested groups in the global market.
These groups include retailers, subcontractors, buying houses, unions, global monitoring bodies, donor agencies and global trade bodies.
The garment manufacturers have generally been facing two types of pressures from these groups: the need to provide low-priced but quality products, and ethical work practices.
The buyers mainly pressurise the manufacturers to offer low prices as well as to supply the finished products on time under any circumstances.
There has also been the pressure from buyers to maintain compliance with a code of conduct, but this is not as effective as the other pressure.
Rather, the unions and other global monitoring bodies such as ILO, human rights organisations and NGOs are active in putting pressure on the garment manufacturers to maintain ethical work practices.
These groups only focus on ethical work practices in the factory, but are not aware of the need for a fair price.
* 50 non-compliant RMG units being relocated for safety:
Land scarcity, lack of adequate gas, power hit shifting
Owners of some non-compliant readymade garment (RMG) factories have started relocating their units to new places.
Many of them are considering such an option for their survival in the face of ongoing work-place safety issues, industry insiders said.
But, non-availability of suitable lands, gas and electricity, and unwillingness of the factory workers to be shifted have emerged as major impediments to the initiatives of such factory owners, they mentioned.
Some of the owners, especially whose factories are located at shared or rented buildings, are being forced to shift them to other areas against the backdrop of the ongoing factory inspections on workplace safety by the western retailers and government.
Despite having such hurdles, some factory owners have already started shifted their machinery to new locations, the insiders said.
They are worried over the availability of utility services especially gas and electricity, they added.
On the other hand, labour leaders alleged that workers are losing their jobs and are deprived of their lawful rights of compensation and other service benefits following such relocation move.
Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also confirmed that more or less 50 factories have already been shifted or are in the process to relocate mainly on safety and compliance grounds.
“But land scarcity is the main hurdle for relocation,” he said adding many of the manufacturers want to relocate but fail due to land scarcity while some have expanded the existing capacity and a few are setting up their factories on their own lands.
Infrastructure, especially gas and electricity, is another problems faced by the manufacturers who are shifting, he said seeking uninterrupted supply of these two vital utilities for the sake of the industry.
“No workers would lose their job as I have assured them that they would work in a better and compliant place,” he said. The authority has also agreed to provide transportation for the workers as they are skilled ones for three months so that they could find accommodation there.
“But despite this, the workers are not willing to shift. If any worker is reluctant to join duty at the new place, it is his or her responsibility,” he said adding there are no dues or arrears.
But on August 24, workers of the Doreen Fashion located at Shewrapara gathered in front of the BGMEA and requested the apparel apex body to resolve the service benefit issues as most of them are not willing to move from the present place.
Bilkis, a worker who is working at the unit for more than 10 years, demanded her service benefits saying it is not possible for her to leave her present dwelling place, especially because of schooling of her kids and her husband’s workplace.
* Income tax calculation tightened for RMG exporters:
A file photo shows employees working in a garment factory in Dhaka. The National Board of Revenue has not extended the reduced income tax rate facility for the readymade garment exporting industry in a bid to check tax evasion through shifting profit from other industries to export earnings. — New Age photo
The National Board of Revenue has not extended the reduced income tax rate facility for the readymade garment exporting industry in a bid to check tax evasion through shifting profit from other industries to export earnings, officials concerned said.
Taking the advantage of reduced tax rate, the RMG exporters used to show their income from other businesses as income of export earnings to evade taxes as income from other businesses are supposed to tax at regular rate which is now 35 per cent, they said.
There was a scope of showing much profit from export earnings because of annual income calculation system for RMG exporters by the taxmen, the officials said. They could also legalise their untaxed money in the process, they said.
* NBR withdraws spl tax rate for RMG exporters:
The tax authority has withdrawn the special tax rate for apparel exporters in a bid to prevent transfer of profit from other businesses to export-oriented industries.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has not given extension of the tax calculation procedures from the current fiscal year.
The tenure for the special tax rate for readymade garment and knitwear exporters expired on June 30, 2014.
From 2005 to June 30, 2014, taxmen calculated tax at an estimated rate of 10 per cent at the time of annual tax assessment, officials said.
The NBR did not extend the facility in the budget for fiscal year (FY) 2014-15.
The NBR made the issue clear in a recent circular.
* Handloom industry in dire straits:
Dearth of running capital, high price of raw materials like yarn, dyes, and chemicals
More than 2000 handloom factories have become inoperative in Brahmanbaria district leading to unemployment of thousands of weavers.
Dearth of running capital, high price of raw materials like yarn, dyes, and chemicals, extortion and a lack of incentives to the handloom workers have contributed to the situation.
Imperiled, the weavers of Bancharampur upazila of the district are opting for other jobs leaving their age-old profession.
Once there were 3,162 handlooms in 32 villages under Bancharampur upazila. Huge consignments of handloom made lungis and towels used to be transported to Baburhat in Narsingdi.
At present, only around a thousand handloom factories are in function in the upazila with no modern facilities.
If the price of yarn is not controlled the small industry might collapse, said a number of weavers.
A weaver of Rupsadi village Ohiduzzaman said: “Because of the rise in the price of yarn, the weaving cost of four pieces of lungis has risen by Tk60 but the selling price is still the same.
A weaver weaves four lungis each day and earns Tk100. With this little money he cannot maintain a family.”
Salimabad Union Primary Weaver’s Samity Chairman Sanaullah Sunny said: “The weavers start their businesses by taking loans.
Whatever profit they make goes to the money lenders.”
* 16 banks ink deal to join Tk 200cr refinance scheme for jute sector:
Sixteen scheduled banks on Monday signed participant agreement with Bangladesh Bank to join the refinancing scheme of the central bank worth Tk 200 crore to inject necessary credit into the jute sector.
Jute sector entrepreneurs will be able to receive loans from the refinance fund at the interest rate of 9 per cent.
The banks made the deal at the central bank headquarters in the capital where BB deputy governor SK Sur Chowdhury and managing directors of the 16 banks attended.
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16:39:00 local time INDIA
* Garment factory becomes death trap for 3:
A garment factory became a death trap for three workers, who died in a fire that broke out in the unit in New Ganesh Puri on Monday morning. Importantly, workers were trapped inside the factory as its owner had locked the unit from outside and had gone home.
And once the flames engulfed the unit, there was no place for them to escape.
The police official said that Surinder told them that he had left for home after three workers entered the unit at around 7 am on Monday and locked the main gate fearing they might sell the raw material illegally. He added that as of now there is no estimate of the monetary loss suffered by the unit owner but it must be in lakhs.
1. At around 7 am, three embroidery artists enter the factory following which the owner leaves from the unit locking the main door to go to his home
2. Fire erupts in the unit at around 7.20 am
3. At around 7.30 am, neighbours see the smoke coming out of unit and inform fire department at around 7.45 am
4. At around 8.20 am, fire tenders reach the spot and douse flames
5. Owner reaches the spot after getting information about the fire at around 8.30 am
6. Police take bodies to civil hospital
* Three workers die in fire in garment manufacturing unit in Ludhiana:
Close on the heels of a major fire in Connaught Place of Delhi, three garment unit workers, died in a fire in New Ganesh Puri here on Monday morning.
The owner of the garment unit had locked the unit from outside after the workers started working inside the unit before flames engulfed the unit leaving no place for them to escape.
The deceased was identified as 40-year-old Sunder Lal, 30-year-old Raju of Shivpuri, originally from Uttar Pradesh and 35-year-old Suraj of Ghumar Mandi, all of whom worked as embroidery artists at Kiratveer outfits owned by Surinder Singh of Civil Lines.
Eyewitness told The Times of India that at 7.30am on Monday they spotted smoke coming out of the unit after which they called the fire department.
“Fire started at the unit at around 7.30am, and when I went there I saw that main door was locked from outside.
After that we called the fire department and by 8.20am the fire tenders reached the
spot. Police also arrived at the spot”, said Monu Kumar, an eyewitness who lives next door.
* Fire at industrial unit in residential area claims 3:
An early morning fire at Teerath Wear Knitfab, a hosiery and garment manufacturing unit running illegally in residential area of Shivpuri, claimed three lives of embroidery workers on Monday.
The fire broke out due to a short circuit.
Not only the building housed an illegal commercial venture, but the owner also failed to procure a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the fire department.
The three victims — identified as Sunder Lal, 40; Raju, 30; and Suraj, 35 — worked as embroidery workers at the factory and got stuck in the building as the owner, Surinder Singh, a resident of Civil Lines, locked gates which restricted their movement as the fire broke out.Lal was from Uttar Pradesh while Raju and Suraj were from Shivpuri and Ghumar Mandi respectively.
* 8 children rescued from leather factory in Mumbai:
The Agripada police on Saturday rescued eight minors from a leather factory in Madanpura in Byculla and arrested the three owners of the factory.
The Agripada police recently received tip off that a leather goods manufacturing factory in Rangwala compound in near Byculla were employing minor children in their factory.
Police team led by A Lalbaig and his staff raided Rahmani compound in Byculla and rescued eight children.
“Most of them rescued were of age ranging from 13 to 16.
We have booked three owners of the factory under the Child labour Act and accused have been remanded.” Said an officer of Agripada.
While the rescued childrens have been send to rehabilitation home, police have arrested three factory owners Mohammed Irshad (19), Mohammed Shaikh (34) and Mohammed Churiyar (32).
During investigations it transpired that the accused were not only engaged minors in their leather factory but were also under paid.
* Powerloom weavers wage battle against crisis, appeal to Collector:
Powerloom weavers in parts of Vellore are a worried lot. Already hard-pressed to make ends meet, the weavers are facing a crisis as their wages have been dwindling in the last three years.
As a sign of protest, the weavers in Ponnai, Rendadi and Kodaikal are on an indefinite strike from August 22.
On Monday, they submitted a petition to the Collector during the public grievance redressal day meeting seeking intervention for better wages.
There are close to 1,500 powerloom owners and more than 4,000 labourers in the three areas. They weave and supply lungis for private brands through the weaving cloth agencies. They were involved in weaving for nearly 25 years.
“In 2013, we were paid Rs. 9,200 for 600 metres of material. The agencies then reduced the wage by Rs. 500. In January 2014, the wage was again reduced by Rs. 700. Now, they are planning to cut down again by Rs. 600,” said R. Mani, a weaver from Ponnai.
The weavers said their wages have been dwindling and now stood at Rs. 7,400.
* Textiles Min, Flipkart join hands for weaver platform:
Ministry aims to eliminate middlemen and assist the master weaver
Textiles Ministry today inked a pact with homegrown e-retailing major Flipkart to provide an online marketing platform to handloom weavers across the country, an initiative to boost the handloom sector, empower the weavers and uplift manufacturing in the country.
Responding to queries raised on choosing a particular company for the agreement, Textiles Secretary S K Panda said: “What we are starting now is only on a pilot basis, nobody is compelled to sell only to a particular agency. Our aim is to eliminate middlemen, assist the master weaver… After a period of 3 to 6 months we will go for bidding”.
Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar, who was present on the occasion, emphasised that the focus of this association should be to help weavers and weaver entrepreneurs to produce products in tune with the buyer requirements and grow them significantly so that they may become manufacturers not only at a local but also at a national level.
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* Factories Act amendment anti-labour, says NTUI:
Union plans national struggle against NDA government’s labour law reforms
The notion that the proposed amendment to the 66-year-old Factories Act by the Union government will bring in more flexibility to the labour market and attract more investment is ridiculous, according to Gautam Mody, general secretary, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI).
“In a country where 93 per cent of labour force is employed in the informal sectors and 70 per cent of industrial workers are employed on a contract basis, what more flexibility can these laws bring in? This is a race to the bottom, aimed at taking away the few labour rights remaining in the country,” Mr. Mody said, during an interaction with The Hindu here on Monday.
16:09:00 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile Policy (2014-19): APTMA suggests overall revision of ST regime:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has proposed overall revision of sales tax regime under new Textile Policy (2014-19), including zero percent sales tax on all items mentioned in SRO.1125(I)/2011, ‘no sales tax-no refund regime’, extension of zero-rating facility on diesel/other fuels for export-oriented units, audit selection only through computer balloting and prior approval of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) before initiating proceedings against active textile units.
Sources told Business Recorder on Monday that APTMA has communicated suggestions to the Ministry of Textile under five-year plan for the new Textile Policy (2014-19). APTMA has given input on the said policy suggesting total revamping of the sales tax regime and key amendments in various provisions of the Sales Tax Act, 1990.
16:09:00 local time UZBEKISTAN
* The use of forced labor to harvest cotton starts September 5:
Most public employees in rural areas in Uzbekistan are getting ready for forced labor in the cotton harvest – in the meantime school teachers and doctors are inspecting the barracks where these laborers will spend their next three months while picking cotton.
Jizzakh province public sector employees – teachers, doctors, theater actors, and other professionals from the public sector – have been dispatched to rural areas to prepare barracks for the soon to arrive cotton workers.
They spent their days mending holes in roofs, covering windows with plastic to shield rooms from the wind, and mending and cleaning the floors of the workers’ huts.
Three months of forced cotton works
A Jizzakh teacher told Uznews.net that she has been informed that cotton work will start on September 5 and that she should be prepared to live alongside the fields for the next three months.
However, many workers have already been working in the fields in 45 degree heat since the middle of July, where they have been trimming plants to stimulate cotton flower growth. In September those workers will simply switch jobs.
Those who are currently preparing the living quarters for the forced workers say that the barracks are in poor condition.
* Misr-Iran Textile Workers Go On Strike:
Around 2,000 workers of the Misr-Iran textiles company went on strike on Thursday, halting production at the company’s six plants.
“Workers were supposed to receive profits and delayed raises in June, but it was postponed by the manager who promised payment in September,” a labour leader told Aswat Masriya.
The leader, who requested anonymity, said that although the company has experienced soaring profits due to its high exports, it is indebted to banks and insurance companies.
“The academic year is about to commence, and we were relying on our delayed payments to cover our children’s school expenses,” one of the striking workers said.
The administration of the company has also refrained from transporting labourers to the plants, according to the workers.
* Violet Seboni Memorial Lecture by Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Economic Development:
The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU), one of the COSATU-affiliates, today held a Memorial Lecture in honour of our late Deputy President and COSATU Deputy President, Violet Seboni.
The Memorial Lecture was delivered by Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. The event was attended by over 400 trade unionists, members of the Seboni family, members of Violet Seboni’s church, COSATU National Office Bearers, and national leadership of SACTWU.
The occasion was also used to announce a new SACTWU initiated fund in honour of Violet Seboni – the Violet Seboni Development Fund. According to SACTWU General Secretary Andre Kriel, “this R1m strong Fund will finance local projects in education and training, in empowerment of women, and in economic development, over the next five years”.
The money was raised by SACTWU, Zenzeleni Clothing, the TCIA Clothing Group, the Bargaining Council for the Clothing Industry, the Independent Media Group, HCI and the SETA for our sector.
Violet Seboni passed away tragically in a car accident near Ventersdorp on Friday 3 April 2009. She was on her way to deliver a general elections message at an ANC Women’s League event.
She was born on 18 September 1965.
Violet never knew her parents, was raised by her grandmother and later by her grandmother’s friend.
After high school she went to look for work in the clothing industry.
Violet was a single mother and a garment worker who raised her two daughters, Lesego and Lesedi, on the modest wages that millions of women across the world earn.
These women work long hours to sew our clothes, make the caps we wear, the bed linen we sleep on, the towels we dry ourselves with, only to earn very little wages to feed and support their families.
In 1999 Violet was elected as the first female Chairperson of SACTWU’s East Rand branch. In 2001 she was elected as Treasurer of SACTWU’s Gauteng region and then as a SACTWU Deputy President.
In 2003 she was elected as COSATU Deputy President.
She held these two latter positions until her death, and as her daughter, Lesego has said, ‘she died with her boots on’.
Violet died during the 2009 general election campaign, whilst travelling to an election meeting of the ANC Women’s League in the North West Province.
It is therefore appropriate that we celebrate her life during Women’s Month.