EXTRA edition 8 – 12 September 2014

(Please see editor’s note at the bottom of this bulletin.)

New: 

*  Cambodian Garment Workers: Provide Basic Wage $177 20140909-now

&

TUBA Garment Workers Strike & Tazreen bail Part 2 20140815-now

TUBA Garment Workers Strike & Tazreen bail Part 1 20140724-20140815

 

New updates 20140912

map of asia ASIA

20140912 * Solidarity rally demands compensation for victims’ families:

A solidarity rally of apparel workers’ leaders in the city on Thursday demanded compensation for the families affected in factory disasters in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Textile Garments Workers Federation and South Asian Garments Workers Alliance jointly organized the solidarity rally in front of National Press Club.

The apparel labour leaders demanded compensation for the families of the dead and injured workers of Ali Enterprise in Pakistan, Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh.

Similar solidarity rallies were also held in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, said organisers.

Textile Garments Workers Federation president Abul Hossain told the rally that in Pakistan more than 250 workers were killed in a fire in Ali Enterprise in Karachi on September 11, in 2012.

But the family members of the workers who lost their lives were given no compensation in last two years, said Abul Hossain said.

He also demanded payment of due compensations to the affected family members of the workers who lost their lives were injured in Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashion disasters.

Labur expert Sultan Uddin Khan demanded compensation from the foreign buyers who bought apparels from the affected factories.

Apparel labour leaders demanded trade union rights in garment factories, stopping workers’ repressions.
They also demanded implementation of ILO Conventions 87 that stipulates freedom of association and protection of the right to organize.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

20:59:03 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

20140909 * Trade Unions in Transition: Changing Industrial Relations in Vietnam:

Introduction
Trade unions in Vietnam are closely tied to the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and have yet to find their role as autonomous representatives of the interests of workers.

However, the ever growing influence of foreign investors and the increase in wild cat strikes put pressure on the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), the only legally registered trade union in Vietnam.
This pressure has an impact on both the ideological self-perception of the VGCL, as well as its organisational behaviour.
It then faces a difficult political dilemma: if the situation remains unchanged and the VGCL does not deal with the challenges of changing labour relations, workers will nevertheless fight for better working conditions and render the official trade unions obsolete.
Should the VGCL start to perform its role of a genuine representative of the interests of workers in Vietnam, it must do so independently of the party and state in Vietnam.

Trade Unions in Transition – from harmony to conflict
Under the political conditions of a Leninist one-party state, the trade unions are a “mass organisation” under the leadership of the CPV.
According to Article 10 of the Constitution of Vietnam, the VGCL is the only trade union organisation in Vietnam and represents the whole working class in Vietnam, not limited to its members.

According to figures provided by the VGCL in 2013, the total membership was 7.9 Million; in about 113.000 “grassroot” trade unions, the larger majority of which are in government institutions and state-owned enterprises.
Since the Vietnamese government is gradually “equitising” state-owned enterprises, there is growing pressure on the VGCL to learn how to organise in non-state enterprises.

Industrial relations in Vietnam are undergoing substantial changes as a consequence of the Đổi mới economic opening process and the concomitant restructuring of the Vietnamese economy towards a global market economy “of socialist orientation”. These relations were relatively harmonious up until the year 2004, but since 2005 a dramatic increase in the number of strikes has been observed.
read more.
GlobalLabourColumn

20:59:03 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

20140911 * Support Cambodian Garment Workers in their Fight for Fair Wages! $177 NOW!:

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Cambodian garment workers and unions in their demand for an immediate increase to their minimum wage to $177(USD) a month.

We demand that companies such as H&M, The Gap, Adidas, Walmart, Puma, Levi’s, C&A, and Zara pressure their factory suppliers in Cambodia to respect workers’ rights and make immediate meaningful improvements to working conditions.

Cambodian garment workers are forced to work for poverty-level wages while the companies they manufacture for make billions of dollars in profits. Four major brands, H&M, GAP, Walmart, and Adidas, for example, had combined revenues of roughly $608 billion in 2012, an amount almost 43 times Cambodia’s entire GDP.

The legal minimum wage for garment workers is a miserable $100 per month. Thousands of workers have fainted at their sewing machines due to malnutrition, overwork, heat, poor ventilation, and fumes from chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

Earlier this year, when over 200,000 Cambodian workers stood up to demand a fairer wage, authorities shot four workers dead in the streets and threw 23 union activists in jail. Consumers don’t want clothes tainted with exploitation and repression!

We therefore support Cambodian union calls for the following:
read more & please sign.
workersunitecanada

20140912 * Union Leader to Appear in Court Over Demonstrations:

The first of six prominent union heads facing charges that include causing intentional violence and damage said he will appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for questioning related to his alleged role in garment sector wage protests in December and January.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he would follow a summons to appear at the court to be questioned by Judge Chea Sokheng. He added that the timing of the court summonses, in the midst of negotiations over a new minimum wage, was evidence that the court was being used to intimidate the union leaders.

“The court just wants to threaten and prevent us from the $177 campaign” for a raise to the current $100 minimum wage, he said. “They will put me under the court’s supervision.”

Mr. Sina said Morn Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, is also summoned to appear this afternoon. He predicted that they would be prevented from taking part in campaigns for a higher floor wage in the coming weeks.

Free Trade Union leader Chea Mony on Thursday received his summons to appear at the court on September 15 over the same charges.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140911 * Scenes from a kangaroo court:

Before the government launches fresh investigations into the actions of garment factory union leaders, it must address the shortcomings I observed in the last round of trials.

The clear violations of a right to a fair trial that took place during those proceedings left me troubled about the treatment of the accused and the state of the rule of law in Cambodia – a feeling that has since been aggravated by the recent passage of three “judicial reform laws” that infringe on the independence of the judiciary, in contravention of international standards and Cambodia’s constitution.

At first glance, Phnom Penh Municipal Court looked like a regular courthouse: A judge sat elevated on a wooden bench.
The lawyers wore the appropriate robes and everyone was required to stand when the judge entered the room.
By the end of the day, though, it was clear that the process was a pretense and that the accuseds’ convictions were a foregone conclusion.

I was in Cambodia in May on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists to observe a day of the trials – which I had already been following – of 24 men and one boy arrested between November 2013 and January 2014 in connection with labour strikes and garment worker protests in Phnom Penh, seeking a higher minimum wage.

The government’s response was uncompromising. Gendarmes used ammunition and tear gas against the protesters, killing four and injuring nearly 40 more.
The four men who were killed were all factory workers aged between 24 and 26.
Three of them were married with young families.
read more.
PPP new

20140912 * Ex-Officials Tell of Free Trade Union’s Demise:

Chea Mony shuffled papers on his desk and joked about the headshot of Bun Rany hanging alone on the wall of his office at the Free Trade Union headquarters in Phnom Penh. The prime minister’s wife is the most powerful person in the country, he said.

“I put this photo of Bun Rany here because she is the person that should be respected and has a lot of power,” he said. “If she wants to fight, then she can fight.”

But when the humor subsided, it became apparent that the leader of what was once the country’s biggest union was remarkably well prepared for the accusations about to be leveled against him.

In interviews over the past two months, people on the front line of the fight for workers’ rights described how the union created by slain activist Chea Vichea, Mr. Mony’s brother, has devolved from a disciplined organization leading the country’s labor movement into a corrupt network of factory owners filling the pockets of Mr. Mony and his associates.

Yaing Sophorn, Pav Sina and Far Saly cut their teeth as unionists under Chea Vichea in the late 1990s, rising from factory staff to become senior FTU officials before breaking rank mostly young women, who toil in the country’s garment factories.

Starting the Movement
In 1998, as the garment industry was becoming the nation’s No. 1 employer, Chea Vichea detached from Sam Rainsy’s Khmer Nation Party to run the Free Trade Union (FTU) independently. The pair launched the union together in 1996.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140911 * Global call to back $177 local wage:

A group of international unions is organising a Global Day of Action later this month to show support for Cambodian garment workers’ demands for a $177 monthly minimum wage.

IndustriALL Global Union, the ITUC and UNI Global Union are backing a national campaign, organised by Cambodian unions, by calling for affiliates to gather outside Cambodian embassies on September 17 and present a letter to the ambassador, or to send it directly to the government, demanding the wage hike.

The “major objective is to ensure living wages for all workers in the global garment industry”, said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. Cambodia’s image has been “tarnished by poverty wages, long working hours … and deadly violence. A number of brands have reduced their orders … because of the instability caused by the lack of a functioning bargaining system.

“We talk about win-win solutions, because living wages will increase purchasing power, economic growth and help create new jobs,” he added.
to read.
PPP new

20140909 * Urgent call to action for Cambodian garment workers! :

20140909 I-ALL cambodia_action_day_17_september

IndustriALL Global Union, the ITUC and UNI Global Union are asking affiliates to join Cambodian unions in a Global Day of Action on 17 September to demand a living wage for garment workers.

In early October, the Labour Advisory Committee in Cambodia is to announce a new minimum wage for workers in the garment, textile and footwear industry, which generates US$5 billion in revenue for the country.

At this critical juncture, a coalition of Cambodian garment unions has called for international solidarity to support their demands for a raise in the minimum wage from US$100 to US$177 a month.

IndustriALL, the ITUC and UNI are asking affiliates to take part in the global day of action by organizing mobilizations outside Cambodian embassies and presenting a letter to the ambassador. As there are only a few Cambodian embassies around the world, affiliates can also send a letter directly to the Cambodian government.

Garment workers in Cambodia deserve to live in dignity and receive a fair wage. Poverty wages mean that many workers are undernourished and compelled to work exhausting overtime hours to survive.
read more. & read more.
INDUSRIall ITUC CSI IGB

20140909 * Seven Unions Plan Campaign for $177 Wage as Revision Looms:

With the government set to decide on a new minimum wage next month, a group of seven unions say they are set to launch a campaign to rally support around their demand for a $77 increase to the current floor wage of $100.

Beginning on September 17, the unions will distribute T-shirts and stickers bearing “$177,” hold speeches and discussions during lunch breaks and petition global brands for support, union leaders said.

More than 100,000 leaflets will be disseminated to workers at up to 300 factories while about 2,000 “$177” T-shirts will be donned by union activists, who will also spend part of their lunch break holding banners, said Ken Chheng Leng, acting president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia.

Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said the unions would petition brands including Adidas, Gap and Puma, who source from Cambodia’s factories.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140826 CLEC

20140910 * Unions threaten mass demo:

20140910 PPP
 A man beats a drum as garment workers hold placards and chant at a protest at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh earlier this month. Photo by Pha Lina.

The garment industry will devolve into chaos if any of the six labour union presidents summonsed to court for questioning are taken into custody, independent union leaders said.

Several of the six major union leaders called to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning for alleged crimes connected to violent protests in early January said yesterday they will call for members to hold massive demonstrations across the Kingdom if the cases move forward.

“We will encourage the workers to push, and support us if we are arrested because we are always protecting them,” said Yang Sophorn, president of Cambodian Alliance Trade Union.

Phnom Penh Municipal investigative judge Chea Sokheang last week told the Post that he sent summonses for the leaders of six independent labour unions who encouraged a 10-day nationwide strike in the garment sector after the Ministry of Labour set the industry’s minimum wage at $100, rather than the $160 unions pushed.

Sophorn, Chea Mony, Ath Thorn, Rong Chhun, Pav Sina and Morm Nhim will be called for questioning on charges of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances. If convicted, each could face up to five years in prison.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina, who is scheduled for questioning on Friday, said his arrest would disrupt a large number of factories.
read more.
PPP new

20140910 * After Mass Firing, Union Considers New Protests:

More than 100 workers who were fired by a Taiwanese-owned garment factory this week for striking over demands for further benefits will meet with union leaders “as soon as possible” to discuss potentially launching protests, a union representative said Tuesday.

The workers were fired by the Xin Fang factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district after restarting protests Monday over 19 demands, including a lunch allowance and $15 monthly housing stipend.

A court injunction delivered to the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) last Tuesday ordered the 400 laborers to return to their workstations by Thursday.
While 300 of the workers went back to their jobs on September 3, the remaining 100 held out until Friday. But the 100 restarted the protests on Monday, as their demands still had not been met.

“We will discuss protesting the company’s decision [to fire the workers] with union officials,” said Ney Bunthoeun, a CCAWDU representative at the factory, adding that the talks would take place “as soon as possible.”

“The injunction of the court just ordered workers to return to work, but did not ban the workers from resuming the strike,” he said.

In a separate case, thousands of striking workers from the Taiwanese-owned Juhui Footwear factory in Kompong Cham province are set to return to work today, after the provincial court issued an injunction demanding they end their protest, according to union leaders and factory officials.

The workers, who first began protesting on September 1 to demand overtime payment and other benefits, briefly returned to the factory on Thursday before restarting their demonstration because, they claim, factory managers said they had to align themselves with either management or their union—not both.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140909 * Mass firing at Xin Fang factory:

In a mass firing the scale of which has not been seen since January, Phnom Penh’s Xin Fang garment factory yesterday terminated 106 employees for protesting in front of the factory.

Management at the Por Sen Chey district factory on Thursday already sacked nearly 30 striking workers who ignored a court injunction for them to return to work, said Vong Thavin, Xin Fang’s administrative manager.

“We do not want to fire them, but they are obstinate, so we have to implement our factory’s rules,” Thavin said.

About 400 Xin Fang strikers marched from the factory to the Ministry of Labour to demand government intervention. Protesters, represented by the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), walked out August 18, appealing for the reinstatement of three fired workers as one of their 20 demands.
read more.
PPP new

20140912 * BetterFactories Media Updates 11-12 September 2014, Ex-Officials Tell of Free Trade Union’s Demise:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

2014-09-11 Scenes from a kangaroo court

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:

2014-09-12 Ex-Officials Tell of Free Trade Union’s Demise
2014-09-12 Union Leader to Appear in Court Over Demonstrations

* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

21:59:03 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

20140910 * Indonesian labor demand 30-40% hike in minimum wage:

Indonesian Labor Union Confederation (Konfederasi Serikat Pekerja Indonesia or KSPI) demand a 30% increase in minimum wage for Jakarta from IDR2.4mn (USD200) to IDR3.2mn (USD270) per month and 40% increase for others area in 2015F.

The union target to level the minimum wage to Thailand.
Currently, Indonesian minimum wage is still relatively lower than other South East Asia regions such as Thailand, which has lowest wage rate of around IDR2.9mn (USD240).
It plans a nationwide 10-30K labor strike on Oct-Nov14 if their demands are ignored by the government.
read more.
SahamWS

20140910 * New mechanism to set minimum wage in 2015:

New mechanism to set minimum wage in 2015. The Man Power Ministry is formulating a new system which will provide guidance for minim wage in 2015.

Under the new system, the government will link the salary hike to the firms’ revenues which will fluctuate based on their performances.
For managerial level employees, all of them receive the same monthly salary but their final take-home pay will be different based on the duration of their services and performances.
The government expects this scheme will reduce the frequencies of conflicts between employees and employers.
read more.
SahamWS

20140906 * Disabled residents hope to enter workforce with  increased skills:

Life may have been tough so far for Munfaida and her husband Riyadi, two polio survivors living in Semarang, Central Java. However, they are optimistic about their future. The couple currently takes part in a training program in the city to improve their sewing skills.

“I have been working for the Ida Modiste garment shop in Semarang. I heard this training offers an intensive course, so I decided to join it,” she said recently.

Fellow participant Sidiq, who was born in Jakarta, shared the same enthusiasm.
“I must study hard. That is the key to success,” said Sidiq, who does not have a right arm.

Munfaida, Riyadi and Sidiq are among 23 people with disabilities from across the country who joined a two-month training program held by Better Work Indonesia (BWI), a labor program under the auspices of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The program, which kicked off on September 1, is being held at the Griya Apac training center belonging to PT Apac Inti Corpora in Semarang.
BWI senior enterprise advisor Mohamad Anis Agung said the program was focused on improving participants’ skills in the garment industry.

“We initiated the pilot project to help the disabled community in seeking jobs in the garment sector,” Anis said, adding that the pilot project is funded by the Australian government, through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
read more.
jakartapost

* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates:

1. Decent Living Needs 2015 for Sukabumi proposed to be raised to Rp. 2.218.920. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
2. BPJS Employment partners with District Attorney to socialise Government Regulation. Read the full article here (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
3. Disabled residents hope to enter workforce with increased skills.
Read the full article here .
4. Female workers lack access to jobs, paid lower. Read the full article here .
5. Government Optimist that Pension Social Security Fund Regulation will be Ready by Next Month. Read the full article here  (Article is in Bahasa Indonesia)
See the Google Translate English Version here.
6. Industrial Zones Firms Get Extra Protection. Read the full article here.
7. Chamber of Commerce: Production Cost is increasing, Inflation rising higher.Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa)
See the Google Translate English Version here

BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates Overview here.
BW indonesia

19:59:03 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

20140911 * 1900 workers locked out at Designer Jeans in Bangladesh:

Management refuses to acknowledge workers’ right to organize at the Designer Jeans factory in Bangladesh. Please support the workers and the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity with a letter.

Over 1,200 workers at the Designer Jeans factory have signed union cards. Management has locked out all of the factory’s 1,900 workers.

In March, again in May and a third time in August, 2014, the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) submitted license applications to form a legal trade union at Designer Jeans. Apparently the government intervened each time with the Ministry of Labor’s Joint Director of Labor to block issuance of the license, effectively blocking the formation of a legal union at Designer Jeans and opening the way for the company to fire all the union leaders in late August and September.

Two union leaders are imprisoned, and management has brought spurious charges against 260 workers. According to BCWS director Kalpona Akter, “The false case has been filed in order to harass the workers.”

This cannot stand! Bangladeshi garment workers have the legal right to freedom of association, to form a union and to bargain collectively free of reprisals. The imprisoned unionists must be released immediately. The management of Designer Jeans must withdraw the contrived legal charges, meant to intimidate their workers; and both management and the government must respect the workers right to form a legal union.
read more.
global labour & human rights

20140911 * Labour leaders demand immediate payment of Tuba workers’ dues:

20140911 NEWAGE
Sammilita Garments Sramik Federation forms a human chain in front of National Press Club on Wednesday, demanding payment of all dues of the workers of Tuba Group. — New Age photo

Leaders of Sammilita Garment Sramik Federation on Wednesday at a protest rally in the capital called on the Tuba Group owners to pay the dues of the workers immediately.

The federation organised the rally in front of the National Press Club, where its president Nazma Akter said the Tuba owners should follow the labour law in closing its garment factories.
The owners must pay all the dues of the 1,600 workers as early as possible, Nazma said.
She also called on the government to take steps to compel the Tuba owners to pay the dues of the workers.
Otherwise, the federation would announce tougher movement to compel the owners to pay the dues of the workers, Nazma warned.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

20140910 * Clear Tuba workers’ back pay: SGSF:

20140910 UNB
Garment workers on Wednesday demanded that the back pay and allowances of the workers of five Tuba Group factories be paid before Eid-ul-Azha and the RMG units be reopened.

The demands were made from a rally held under the banner of Sammilita Garments Sramik Federation (SGSF) in front of the Jatiya Press Club.

Speaking on the occasion, federation president Nazma Akhter urged the government and BGMEA to take immediate steps to clear the dues and allowances of the Tuba garment factories, threatening to launch a movement.

The federation leaders also demanded cancellation of bail granted to Tuba Group owner Delwar Hossain and his capital punishment.
After the rally, the garment workers brought out a procession.
to read.
UNBnew

20140910 * Tireless labor yet to win some basic rights. Tazreen Fashion and Tuba Group Injustice Continues:

Since November 2012, different Bangladeshi news dailies, activists, academics, trade unions as well as the international media have been rallying in support of the rights of Tazreen Fashion victims and their families for their compensation and for the punishment of their criminally negligent boss Mr. Delwar Hossain – who as a matter of fact also happens to be the owner of the closed factories of Tuba Group.

Mr. Delwar, claiming himself to be the victim of those who “conspire” to support and defend human and worker rights for the underprivileged or rather oppressed working hands that build Bangladesh, have recently closed down 4 of his factories where workers demanded their unpaid wages and some festival bonuses.

According to Mr. Delwar and the powerful elites of BGMEA’s interpretation of Bangladesh Labor Law 2006 (amended 2013), the workers have staged an illegal protest demanding their unpaid monthly wages and overtime payment for which they worked day and night to earn their factory millions of dollars.

Such a sin of workers, backed by their expectation of a festival bonus, could not be accepted by Mr. Delwar and his BGMEA friends.
Thus, ultimately, Mr. Delwar closed down his factories without a flinch!
The continued hue and cry by activists, academic, Tuba Group workers and the general public keeps falling into deaf ears as the leaders of the BGMEA and Delwar Hossain with support of the government rally together in support of one another.

After repeated denial of involvement in Delwar’s release by the BGMEA, new evidences have surfaced from a leading news daily regarding BGMEA’s pressure on the government for the release of Delwar Hossain, where the BGMEA sent a letter to the Employment Ministry (received by the Ministry on 30 June 2014) listing the reasons for which the government should become active and work for the release
of Tuba Group and Tazreen Fashion’s infamous owner.
(….)
Alone, abandoned and cursed with names such as “illegal” “conspirator” and “nuisances” by the elite and powerful of their own land, Tuba Group workers claimed back their jobs and unpaid salaries for August and September this year.
The workers demand the right to self dignity, the right to see punishment reaching their murderous boss.
read more.
RISE

20140910 * Ashulia RMG unit suspends 46 workers for ‘creating unrest’:

The authorities of Hollywood Garment at Zamgora in Ashulia outside the capital yesterday suspended 46 of its workers without any notice and the workers staged a demonstration outside their workplace protesting the move.

The decision came as they were involved in beating up several management staff in the factory during a demonstration demanding salaries in the factory before Eid-ul-Fitr, Shahid Ullah, senior assistant director of Ashulia Industrial Police quoted the management as saying.

Following the incidents, the factory authorities sued 61 workers. Since then, the workers have been demanding that the authorities withdraw the case filed with Ashulia Police Station.
read more.
daily star bd

20140909 * Workers demand reappointment of sacked colleagues:

Over a hundred workers of a garment factory in Beron of Ashulia formed a human chain at Zamgora of Ashulia demanding reappointment of terminated workers, withdrawal of a case filed by the factory management against the workers, and permission to form a labour union.

The workers of Designer Jeans Ltd under the banner of “Designer Jeans Workers’ Union” formed a human chain beside the Dhaka-Tangail highway.

The demonstrators claimed that last week they had demonstrated demanding formation of a labour union in the factory.

However, as the authorities did not allow them to form a union, they observed work abstention.
read more.
daily star bd

20140909 * Jamgora RMG workers demand withdrawal of false case:

The RMG workers formed a human chain in front of Fantasy Kingdom theme park in the area around 11:30am to voice their demand

More than a hundred workers of ready-made garment (RMG) factory Designer Jeans Ltd in the capital’s Ashulia area staged a demonstration in Jamgora yesterday, demanding the withdrawal of a case against the factory’s 260 workers.

The RMG workers formed a human chain in front of Fantasy Kingdom theme park in the area around 11:30am to voice their demand.

They claimed the factory authorities filed a false case against their co-workers on charges of vandalism to prevent them from protesting in the recent sacking of workers in the factory.

The factory’s Administrative Officer Sharif Hossain filed the case with Ashulia police station against the workers, including 110 named individuals, accusing them of vandalising and looting the factory.
read more.
DHAKATRIBUNE

20140912 * 200 garment plants shut since Rana Plaza disaster: BGMEA:

More than 200 garment factories have shut down in Bangladesh since the country’s worst industrial disaster prompted a massive clean-up of the world’s second-largest textile sector, an industry group said Thursday.

The closures have cost tens of thousands of jobs and led to a fall in exports, raising worries about the $24.5 billion industry — the key economic mainstay for the impoverished nation of 155 million people.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), which represents 4,500 factories and compiled the figures, said the industry was going through a painful transition since the Rana Plaza collapsed in April 2013, killing 1,138 people.

“According to our tally, 218 garment factories have been closed since the Rana Plaza tragedy,” BGMEA vice president Shahidullah Azim told AFP.

“Most of these plants are small and medium-sized, employing between 300 and 800 workers. Twenty-one of them were closed at the recommendations of two groups of Western retailers. Others were shut down on their own,” he added.

Divided into two groups called the Accord and the Alliance, nearly 200 European and American brands such as Walmart and H&M have launched massive clean-ups of their Bangladeshi supplier factories after they came under heavy flak from Western consumers.

The Accord has already inspected nearly 1,100 factories and the Alliance another 600. On their orders, hundreds of factories were forced to undergo safety upgrades including retrofitting structures and replacing shoddy electric wiring.
(…)
Political instability stemming from a disputed general election in January, a 76 percent wage hike late last year and structural concerns over many factory buildings also prompted some manufacturers to draw shutters on their plants.
(…)
However, Khandaker Moazzem Hossain of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a local think tank, cast doubt on the BGMEA’s factory closure figures, saying many of those listed were actually shut before the Rana Plaza disaster.
read more. & read more.
daily star bd FE bd

20140912 * BD makes significant progress in workplace safety standards:

Bangladesh has made significant progress in different safety issues especially workplace safety standards and labour rights, but it has to do more for addressing the building safety issue in the apparel sector, officials said.

The comments came at the meeting of the “Three plus Five’ that was held at the ministry of commerce (MoC) in the city Thursday.

The ‘Three plus Five’ comprising Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Senior secretary, the MoC, foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque, a joint secretary of the ministry of labour and employment, and five ambassadors from the US, Canada, the European Union (EU), the Netherlands and Spain.

Earliar, the EU had given some conditions under the sustainability compact. The conditions are workplace safety, labour trade union and other related issues. “We have nicely discussed the issues in the meeting. They are very satisfied about our continuous improvement, Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Senior Secretary to the MoC, told the Financial Express after the scheduled meeting.

But in the meeting, five ambassadors expressed the view that Bangladesh will have to do more to address the safety issues in garment sector, he mentioned.

Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Accord and Alliance have been working on the building safety issue in country’s garment sector. Besides, the government is sincerely working on the labour trade union issue, the Senior Secretary said. For this, Labour Act has already been amended in parliament for proper implementation of the issue, he added.
read more.
FE bd

20140911 * 45 flaws in every factory: Alliance:

Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety disclosed that some 45 flaws were found in every readymade garments factory among the 587 factories of Bangladesh they inspected in the last one year.

Mesbah Robin, Managing Director of the Alliance’s Dhaka office, made the disclosure in a press conference in city on Wednesday afternoon.
The Alliance also emphasized on renovating 14 factories as they identified those as vulnerable.
Among the factories, five have already been closed and nine others were partly closed.
to read.
banglanews24NEW

20140911 * RMG factories need $150m to mend safety flaws:

Factories making apparels for the signatory brands, buyers and retailers banded under Alliance will require some $150 million to repair the safety-related flaws identified by the North American initiative-appointed engineers.

“Alliance assessment, on average, has identified 45 kinds of faults in each garment factory, especially fire and electrical ones, and each unit needs $250,000 to carry out the remedial work,” M Rabin, managing director of the Alliance, said Wednesday at a press conference held in the city.

The conference was organised to share the details about its achievements in the areas of wage distribution, worker empowerment and the financing of factory repairs.

Against the backdrop of past tragedies in a few garment factories, the North American initiative completed primary inspection of its 600 member-factories in July.
read more.
FE bd

20140911 * 50% of Alliance-listed units finish remediation:

Alliance, a platform of North American brands and buyers, on Wednesday said that remediation work at 50% of garment factories it inspected had been completed at an average cost of Tk 2 crore aunit.

The authorities of the garment factories conducted the remediation works at their factories following plans given by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
‘Alliance has recently approved a fund of $20 million to support the owners of the factories it inspected in renovating their units through low-cost financing,’ Alliance managing director Mesbah Rabin said at a press conference at his office at Gulshan in the city.
He said, ‘After completing the primary safety assessment in all 587 factories, completion of remediation efforts in the factories has become the main challenge for us as the process is highly expensive.’
read more. & read more.
NEWAGEnew DHAKATRIBUNE

20140910 * Alliance finds remediation of non-compliant factories main challenge:

Alliance, the platform of North American brands and buyers, on Wednesday said that remediation efforts of non-compliant Bangladeshi readymade garment factories were the main challenge and about Tk 2 crore was needed as average cost of remediation per factory.

After completing the primary safety assessment in all 587 apparel factories, remediation process has began at the alliance listed factories and already 50 per cent of remediation work has been done, said alliance managing director Mesbah Rabin at a news conference in Dhaka.
The alliance found on an average 45 types of problems including electrical, fire and structural faults had found in the factories during the inspection.
The platform also approved a new fund of $20 million to support factory repair works through low-cost financing.
to read.
NEWAGEnew

20140912 * RMG and manpower export: Risk of depending on two markets:

Without any doubt, the two major forces that are driving the economy of Bangladesh forward for the last couple of decades are export earnings and inward flow of remittance.

However, remittance inflow has not shown much promising sign for the near future as during the last fiscal year, it recorded a negative growth (-1.6 per cent) for the first time since fiscal year 2001-02. In addition, according to the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) data, in 2013 only 4,09,253 persons were employed overseas which is almost 33 per cent lower than the number of 2012.

This sharp decrease in overseas employment is supposed to be reflected in the remittance earning in upcoming years.
Even the overseas employment during the first seven months of 2014 does not make us optimistic about the situation as only 2,39,808 workers migrated during this period.
At this rate, total number of migrants might be slightly above 4,00,000 at the end of 2014. So it is safe to infer that wage earners’ remittance is not going to increase sharply in coming days.
read more.
FE bd

20140910 * Toxic Tanneries Yet to Shift From Hazaribagh –
The wait contineous:

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu warned tannery owners of cancelling their plots unless they relocate their factories from Hazaribagh in Dhaka to the Leather Industrial Park at Savar by March 2015.

The minister expressed concerns of Bangladesh losing on its leather and footwear market share globally if the tannery owners fail to produce goods by meeting the compliance criterion of the retailers.

Pollution created by tanneries are widespread. From the local residential neighborhood of Hazaribagh (located at the heart of Dhaka city), to the workers, and then spilling on to the most important rivers of the country, no place have been spared by its toxic nature.
read more.
RISE

20140910 * Tannery owners advised to relocate by March:

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday threatened to cancel the plots of tannery owners unless they relocate hazardous factories from Hazaribagh in Dhaka to Savar by March next year.

“The government will cancel the plots at Savar Leather Industrial Park and reallocate them to new entrepreneurs, unless tannery owners complete the relocation by the deadline.”
Many local and foreign companies have expressed interest in setting up factories at the leather estate in Savar, he said. “We would rather consider those proposals.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
daily star bd NEWAGEnew FE bd

20140909 * Gas to be diverted to RMG units from power plants:

The power and energy ministry on Monday decided to divert 58 million cubic feet of natural gas a day from three power stations to the RMG factories in Gazipur.

The decision came from a meeting with state minister for power and energy Nasrul Hamid in chair after the owners of readymade garment factories on Sunday threatened that they would shut down 245 factories in Gazipur if the authorities concerned fail to ensure adequate gas supply.
Energy division secretary Md Eunusur Rahman, power division secretary Monwar Islam and other power and energy sector officials attended the meeting.
read more.
NEWAGEnew

20140911 * Shifting consumers’ taste helps rev up T-shirt shipment:

Bangladesh second only to China in knit item export

T-shirt now leads the overall export of readymade garments following a phenomenal change of consumer taste for this wear across the globe, making Bangladesh second to only China in this trade.  

Industry-insiders informed The Financial Express about what is being reckoned as a silent revolution in the apparel sector and said orders for T-shirt are heading for Bangladesh bypassing key competitors like China and India.

The T-shirt makers fetched 24.5 per cent of the overall incomes from garment exports and accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the knitwear shipments.

Bangladesh has become world’s second-largest T-shirt exporter after China as she shipped this kind of clothing worth around $6.00 billion around the world in the last financial year (FY’14).
read more.
FE bd

          THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE

20140909 * 332 victims compensated:

20140909 DAILYSTAR rana-plaza-conpensation

The ILO-managed Rana Plaza Trust Fund awarded Tk 10.79 crore last month to the first batch of 332 victims of the building collapse, said Srinivasa Reddy, country director of the International Labour Organisation in Bangladesh.

The fund will soon be transferred to the victims’ fixed deposit accounts with Dutch Bangla Bank, he said.

“The fund was supposed to be transferred a lot earlier, but it was delayed due to conversion of their savings accounts into fixed deposit ones,” Reddy told The Daily Star by phone.

The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, formed to complete the compensation process, decided to pay through fixed deposit accounts as such accounts will yield better returns for the victims, he said.

“We will pay another 800 victims by the 20th of this month,” Reddy said.

The coordination committee has so far identified more than 3,600 victims, including workers, their relatives and dependants.

The committee will wait for a few more days to finalise the list of the victims so that nobody is deprived of compensation, Reddy said. The ILO will also publish advertisements in newspapers to look for any missing victim, he said.
read more.
daily star bd

FACEBOOKPAYUPLOGO

18:59:03 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

20140912 * Govt exhorted to ensure workplace safety:

On the second anniversary of the September 11, 2012 factory fire in which massive explosions occurred at a garment factory in Baldia Town Karachi and a shoemaking factory in Lahore that left over 257 people dead and 600 seriously injured, the trade union leaders and labourers have urged the Punjab government to ensure occupational health and safety.

The two incidents of the factory fires are regarded as the deadliest industrial factory accidents in the history of Pakistan and attracted a huge amount of condemnation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
A garment factory in Baldia Town, known for exporting goods to the European Union countries and hiring more than 1200 workers, had been reported by Pakistan Textile Workers Union to lack the fire protection measures at its Karachi plant in 2007. According to the factory workers, the owner had repeatedly prevented labour inspections.

It is also pertinent to note that none of the workers were registered with social security or the Employee’s Old Age Benefits Institute (EOBI) and the Workers Welfare Board Public Fund.

On September 11, 2012, the factory witnessed a huge fire explosion when a faulty boiler exploded and the flames set the chemicals on fire on the factory premises.
At the time of the explosion, it is reported that more than 300 workers were trapped in the factory as all exit doors were locked and almost all the persons present there died due to suffocation.

Meanwhile, a few hours earlier on the same day, a shoemaking factory here in Gulshan-i-Ravi caught fire due to a faulty electricity generator and killed at least 25 workers.

While in the aftermath of the two incidents, political leaders from the provincial and federal governments announced aid for the affected workers and families amounting to 500,000 rupees, the owners of the factory in Karachi were eventually bailed by the Sindh High Court.

Talking to The News on the second anniversary of the incidents, activists from All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Pakistan Workers Federation, National Students Federation, and Awami Workers Party said the incidents had left an indelible scar on Pakistan and the loss of life could have been avoided by ensuring workplace safety.
read more.
thenewspk

20140912 * Two years on, families of victims yet to get justice and compensation:

The sacrifices of 259 workers of Ali Enterprises would not be allowed to go in vain. They would be the reason for the emergence of a new labour movement, said speakers while talking to a large number of workers at the site of Baldia factory which was gutted in fire two years ago.

At a rally organised by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) and the association the heirs of the Baldia tragedy victims, speakers said they would not allow to turn factories and industries into death traps for their workers.

They lamented that workplaces today were not different from Ali Enterprises in terms of health and safety measures for their workers.
They said labourers cannot afford to bear another similar tragedy and industrialists had to take the lead in implementing proper occupational laws pertaining to workers’ safety.

Speakers said even after two years since the incident heirs of victims were running from pillar to post to seek justice while the promises made to them were still to be fulfilled.

“The Baldia factory fire was the biggest industrial accident in the history of Pakistan but the government and other stakeholders haven’t learnt a lesson from it,” he said. “Factories and industries still lack proper health and safety measures as their profit-hungry owners keep playing with the lives of their innocent workers.
They have virtually deprived them of their basic right to live.”

According to them, even the promises made by Prime Minister Mohammed Nawaz Sharif about providing monetary assistance to families were yet to be fulfilled.
read more.
thenewspk

20140912 * ‘Effective unionisation essential for workers’ rights’:

Unity in workers, their organised representation and the presence of a local government system are essential for obtaining rights at the workplace.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan most of the workers were deprived off their rights due to the criminal neglect of federal and provincial governments and the situation was compounded further by the absence of a functional local government system in the country. The entire focus of the parliamentarians is to take control of all the government funds.

This was expressed by a former judge of the Sindh High Court, Justice (retd) Rasheed A Razvi, while speaking at a seminar organised in connection with the second anniversary of the Baldia factory incident by the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.

More than 250 workers of Ali Enterprises, a garment factory, lost their lives in 2012 while dozens of others had been injured in the worst-ever industrial fire of the country.

The Sindh minister for industries, Rauf Siddiqui, appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to fulfil his commitment of providing Rs30,000 to each of the bereaved families.

According to him, his department had provided aid to all workers. “The owners were powerful people and I resigned in protest when they were released on bail,” he claimed. He said all affected families would be facilitated and due rights would be provided to them.
read more.
thenewspk

20140911 * Baldia factory fire: Two years on, victims’ families struggle to come to terms with their loss:

Sixty-four-year-old Muhammad Jameel Faridi, a resident of Surjani Town, has no one to share the grief of his only son’s tragic death. His wife, Nishat Fatima, the only person close to him, refuses to believe their son is gone forever.

The couple will be observing the second death anniversary of their son, Mohammad Danish Jameel Faridi, who was 34 at the time of his death, on the 11th of this month. Their plight is similar to the families of the 259 young boys and girls who were killed in the inferno at Ali Enterprises in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.

“We have not talked about the tragic incident since that day,” says Faridi. “She doesn’t want to talk about it because she thinks he is alive and will come back home someday.”

Fatima refuses to believe her son is gone because they did not see his body. Their son was one of the 17 indiscernible bodies who were buried unidentified, even after the DNA verification tests.

“I lost everything that day,” he says. “Now I want to save other youngsters from meeting the same fate.” For now, Faridi has rented a portion of the house he had bought with the compensation he received for his son’s death. The rent and his son’s monthly pension of Rs4,200 now supports the old couple.

What Faridi wants is for all factories to adopt international standards of fire safety. He, along with the other victims’ families, believe that the Germany-based textile company, KIK, the main buyer of Ali Enterprises, and the Italian certification company, RINA, which had issued the SA8000 certificate to the garment factory, should also be held responsible for the tragedy.

Two Germany-based non-governmental organisations, Medico International (MI) and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), are helping the affected families file a case against the KIK in German courts.
Some of the victims’ families recently met representatives of the two organisations at the Mehran Hotel in Karachi to discuss the case and their role in the proceedings.

Three members from the affected families are filing a suit against the KIK, while the MI and ECCHR have arranged a lawyer for the case in Germany. The National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan (NTUFP) is looking after the case requirements in Pakistan.

“We are working for justice and for the protection of human rights,” said Dr Thomas Seibert, the South Asia projects coordinator for MI.

Seibert, who is a political activist working for the protection of human rights, claims to have witnessed the suffering of the garment factories workers.
He feels that German companies who buy products from these factories should be held accountable for the workers’ suffering.

“Germans wear clothes that have been manufactured in Pakistan and Bangladesh but the clothes are impregnated with the blood of these workers,” he said, explaining the reason behind their visit and interest in the case.
read more.
tribune

20140911 * 11 September 2014: Second anniversary of Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy:

Two years ago on September 11, 2012 third degree fire was broke out in Ali Enterprises, garment factory in industrial area Karachi, perished 259 workers alive.

It was one of the most devastating fire tragedies of know industrial history.
The tragedy sparked a debate but on very small scale in society on one of the most neglected but important issues; work place safety and working conditions of labor class.

But as usual soon after the tragic inferno the issue of workers was dumped under other thorny issues confronting our country.

The second anniversary of “Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy” is a right time to revisit the conditions and situations under which 60 million labor force of Pakistan compel to work.

It’s no more secret now that Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries on global spectrum in connection labor and human rights violations.
The long history of military dictatorships, state sponsored growing phenomenon of religious extremism, ethnic sectarian rifts and separatist movements and very fragile democracy are the hallmarks of Pakistan society.
These deep rooted factors hardly force anybody to see seriously into the depressing affair of workers in factories, work places and farm lands.
The issue of workers condition was no more on the priority of any governments whether elected one or the military rulers since long.

A country of more than 200 million people having huge work-force without having any benefit of basic labor right envisage in local labor laws and also in International Labor Organization (ILO) core conventions rectified by Pakistan.
The situation in all industrial sectors producing merchandise for local and international markets showed worst scenario of low wages, long working hours, no social protections nets, lack of occupational health and safety at work place and denying of right to form union and bargain collectively.

The most horrible conditions prevailed in textile, garment and apparel sectors which account for 65% of whole economy where 60% of the total workforce engaged into different stages right from cotton fields to value added goods.

The exportable textiles items from raw cotton to high quality apparels earn much needed foreign exchange of around 10 billion USD yearly, 60% of total export earnings.

The wages in textile sectors are very low as compare to other sectors so easily open to women workers as cheap and voiceless labour.
One estimate revealed that nearly 2.5 million women engaged in the garment sector alone other than millions (no data available) engaged in cotton fields and other textile related activities all over Pakistan.
read more.
pakistannewsreleases

20140911 * Baldia factory fire: amid investigation charge-sheet delays:

Marking its second anniversary, the trial of the Baldia factory inferno has yet to kick-start after the lapse of two years – a negation of the national judicial policy, which was meant for the swift dispensation of justice to the masses, lawyers say.

20140911 TRIBUNE 1

The factory owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila with his two sons – Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila – general manager Mansoor and some gatekeepers were booked in the case. Later, on the directives of a magistrate, the then managing director of SITE Abdul Rasheed Solangi, the labour department director Zahid Gulzar Shaikh, the additional controller of civil defence Ghulam Akbar and the chief inspector (electrical) Amjad Ali were also named in the case for their alleged negligence.

All of them later obtained bail from the courts. But, the fate of the case still remains undecided.

The case has reached the stage of indictment of the suspects, but the copies of evidence have not been supplied to them as required under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), said Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, a lawyer pursuing the case on behalf of the workers welfare organisation.

“Unless the copies are supplied the trial cannot be initiated, but the investigation is deliberately not completing this process which is why the trial has yet to formally start,” he said.
20140911 TRIBUNE 2
read more.
tribune

20140911 * Authorities still clueless about identity of 17 bodies:

Muhammad Jameel’s visits to the graveyard comprise 17 stops. His younger brother, who died in the Baldia factory inferno, is one of the 17 victims whose indiscernible bodies were buried unidentified.

Two years on, the 17 bodies remain buried at the KMC graveyard in Baldia, as the families remain clueless about which of them is their loved one.  “I don’t know which one is my brother so I stop at each of the graves to pray,” says Jameel, whose 20-year-old brother, Mohammad Waseem, died in the fire.

Waseem had been working at the marking department at the factory for four years. On the ill-fated day, he was stuck at the top floor of the factory where most of the people died.

For the identification of his body, the family was approached thrice for DNA testing. “We gave samples thrice but there were no results and even today, we don’t know which body is my brother’s,” he says.
read more.
tribune

* Two years on, Baldia factory owners yet to face justice:

Two years after 259 workers lost their lives in the Baldia factory fire, the case filed against its owners has made no progress.

These views were expressed by representatives of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), Urban Resource Centre, Now Communities and heirs of the factory workers at the Karachi Press Club.

They were speaking in connection with the second anniversary of the tragic fire which erupted in Ali Enterprises on September 11, 2012.

Lamenting the attitude of the government in taking to task those responsible for the tragic incident, labour organisations called for registering all undocumented factories and workshops.
Otherwise, they said, similar tragedies would continue to occur.
read more.
thenewspk

20140911 * Two years after:

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor” — Voltaire

It has been two years since Pakistan’s worst industrial disaster took place in a garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi on Sept 9, 2012.

A fire in the factory that day led to the loss of 259 precious lives and injuries to 55 workers who got trapped in the building because three out of four doors were locked from the outside.

Locking the workers inside the premises is not uncommon in garment factories exporting to international buyers. An inquiry report released by the FIA as well as the case proceedings revealed violations of labour laws, safety laws and building by-laws by the factory owners and a number of state institutions.

Know more: Two years after factory fire tragedy, trial yet to start

Two notable aspects of the follow-up to this disaster are the nature of the criminal proceedings in the Sindh High Court (SHC) and the compensation to the bereaved families. Developments in both took place due to the pressure built by civil society organisations.

The scale of the tragedy compelled the Station House Officer concerned to register an FIR against the factory owners and relevant state bodies.
The trial got impetus from two constitutional petitions filed collectively by labour and human rights groups.
The first requested the SHC to determine the causes of the disaster, prosecute the accused individuals and state bodies for negligence and ensure compensation to the affected families.

The second, filed by the same civil society groups, successfully halted the interference of the then prime minister in the criminal prosecution.
This was one of the rare instances where the factory owners spent three and a half months behind bars for criminal negligence.
Released on bail, they are not acquitted of the charges.
The next hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

Safety and health at workplaces remain unaddressed.
The labour organisation, PILER, in concert with a European labour pressure group, the Clean Clothes Campaign, pressurised German retail company KIK Textilion — the main importer of the Baldia factory’s products — to accept its share of responsibility.
The company paid $1 million to the affected families and promised to negotiate long-term compensation.
The high court constituted a commission to disburse the joint fund, contributed to by KIK Textilion, the factory owners and local philanthropists, to the affected families. The commission completed its task on Aug 28, 2014.

The third, and critical, aspect of the disaster relates to the existing safety conditions and labour law violations in thousands of big and small industrial units in the country. Sadly, when you review the post-disaster period, there is nothing much to write home about.

Soon after the tragedy, there was a great public outcry. Different stakeholders — labour, corporate sector and the state — all shaken, held meetings, organised seminars, and spoke of the need to ensure labour compliance. Then the din died down.
read more.
DAWNnew

20140911 * Painting a dismal picture of the working conditions in factories, trade unions demand change:

20140911 TRIBUNE 3
Mansoor added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised Rs300,000 compensation for the workers on behalf of the Punjab government after the incident, but it was yet to be paid. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Two years after the tragic fire at a garment factory in Baldia, factories have yet to learn their lesson, remarked trade unionists and labourers on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference organised by the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUFP) at the Karachi Press Club, they painted a dismal picture of the conditions of factories and workplaces.

“Factories can no longer allow themselves to be death-traps,” said trade unionist and NTUFP deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor, presenting the demands of the labourers. “The government must ratify the International Labour Organisation’s conventions on workplace safety and occupational hazards and implement them.”

Commenting on the state of factories in Pakistan, he said that 90 per cent of them had not been registered under the Factories Act of 1934 – just like Ali Enterprises, which had been operating for 11 years before the fire. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of the factory workers had no appointment letters.
“No one works for a mere eight hours in these factories,” said Mansoor. “They work for 12 to 14 hours, and even then are not paid the minimum wage.”

Factory Affectees Association organiser Mohammad Jabbir declared that factories which did not provide safety to their workers should be sealed.
“In Ali Enterprises, there was only one point for entry and exit,” he recalled. Labour leader Usman Baloch agreed with him, adding that factory workers were kept like prisoners, in rooms with no doors, no windows and no ventilation.
read more.
tribune

20140910 * No improvement: Speakers decry lack of progress in workplace safety:

Two years after a fire in a garments factory in Baldia town claimed 259 lives, the situation in hundreds of factories across Sindh has still not improved.

Thousands remain vulnerable to incidents such as the one that took place on September 11, 2012 at Ali Enterprises and the government fails to ensure workplace safety as labour laws are not implemented.

Civil society and trade union representatives expressed concern over the situation of factory workers at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday. Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), All Pakistan Trade Union Organisation, Urban Resource Centre, Muttahida Labour Federation, Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum, and Hosieries, Garments and Textile Workers General Union representatives participated in a joint press conference in which the speakers highlighted the conditions that the workers are subjected to.

Piler executive director Karamat Ali discussed the judicial commission inquiry report of the Ali Enterprises fire that claimed 259 lives and injured 55 others, and talked about Piler’s legal struggle as they attempt to get justice for the victims’ families.

He claimed that Piler would be holding different programmes along with other organisations on the second anniversary of the incident to show solidarity with the victims and their families.
A candle light vigil will be held to remember the victims at the Arts Council and a round table conference regarding health and safety issues will take place at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.
read more.
tribune

20140910 * Still waiting:

VICTIMS OF WORKPLACE TRAGEDIES INCLUDING ALI ENTERPRISES FIRE AND THE COLLAPSED RANA PLAZA STILL WAITING FOR COMPENSATION.

September 11 2014, marks the second anniversary of the fatal fire at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, which killed at least 254 garment workers and injured 55.  

Two years on, the victims families and the survivors are still waiting for the compensation they are entitled to.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.

In December 2012 KIK, the only known buyer at Ali Enterprises factory, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) committing an initial US$1 million for immediate relief and agreeing to negotiations surrounding the amount required to pay compensation. However the negotiation is being delayed by KiK, who most recently pulled out at the last minute of planned negotiations in July and compensation remains unpaid.

KIK has committed US$1 million to the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund, just a fifth of what Clean Clothes Campaign estimates they owe, based on their annual turnover. And for the victims of Tazreen Fashions they have failed to contribute a cent.

“Compensation is a right. It is a disgrace that so many workers and their families are still waiting for payments, which whilst they will never replace a loved one, or take away the horrors, can and should go some way to helping people rebuild their shattered lives.” says Ms. Ineke Zeldenrust, of Clean Clothes Campaign.
“KIK’s refusal to accept their responsibility for payments just prolong the suffering of the very people their profits are built on.”

The tragedies in the garment industry over the last two years have highlighted the urgent need for a more long term and sustainable compensation system for workplace accidents as per ILO standards and in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights right to remedy framework.
The framework makes clear that “when … there is a failure to protect and respect human rights in the workplace then governments and companies must ensure effective remedies, including adequate compensatory payments.”

“It is not charity that the survivors want, it is their right to full and fair compensation,” says Mr. Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER.

As workers and campaigners around the world hold candlelight vigils and actions to commemorate those who died in the fire, Clean Clothes Campaign renews it’s call to KiK to resume negotiations based on the legally binding agreement with PILER, and pay up, ensuring all the victims families and survivors receive the compensation they are owed before another year passes.
to read.
CCC

20140911 * Two years after fatal fire – KIK still has to pay up:

20140911 CCC kik

September 11th marks two years since the fatal fire that killed 254 garment workers at a factory in Karachi, Pakistan.

German retailer KIK were the only confirmed buyer from the factory, and yet today the victims families are still waiting for the retailer to pay full and fair compensation.

Just weeks before the fire, the factory was audited on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA for SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification – and passed – even though it had no emergency exits, barred windows, was not registered and had an entire illegal mezzanine floor built on.

The survivors and victims families fate is shared with the families of more than 1,300 garment workers who have been killed in unsafe workplaces in Asia since the Ali Enterprises fire, and the thousands more who survived fires and building collapses but whose lives have been changed forever.

German retailer KiK had clothes produced in each of the three factories to witness the greatest loss of life – Ali Enterprises, Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza – and yet to date has failed to provide full and fair compensation for all the victims.
read more.
CCC

20140911 * Families of Baldia fire victims to sue German firm:

As the Baldia factory fire tragedy is being commemorated on its anniversary, preparations are under way to file a lawsuit against the German firm, KIK, which was the main buyer of garments manufactured in the factory.

This was stated by deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan Nasir Mansoor while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday.

He said: “Through the cases which will be filed by the families of the victims in court, we want to ensure that factories are not used to violate a worker’s rights.”

Speaking about the families and the cases for which they were being helped by lawyers, general secretary of the Home Based Women Workers Federation Zahra Khan said that five German lawyers came to Karachi on Aug 27 to investigate the case and help the families file cases in a German court against the firm, KIK, which got 95 per cent of its garments from the Ali Enterprises.

“Eleven people have submitted their documents, and out of them four will be the first ones to file a case in the coming days. We’ll see how their cases proceed and from there onwards we’ll bring in more people, who have been waiting for long term compensations. Some will also appear as witnesses.” she added.
read more.
DAWNnew

20140911 * Baldia Town factory fire victims still without compensation:

Despite repeated appeals by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), families and garment workers affected by the fire, and trade unions, the government, judicial commission and concerned authorities are still not paying attention to the demands of the victims’ families.

During a blaze at Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi, on September 11, 2012, 259 workers were burned to death.  The affected families are still waiting for compensation.

During a press conference at Karachi Press Club held by National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and the families of the workers, Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF, called the Baldia Town fire incident one of the worst in the history of Pakistan.

Despite several requests, the government and other institutions have failed to improve working conditions in factories and mills. A large number of workers in different sectors are compelled to work in hazardous environments where they risk their lives.

Following the ill advancement in the cases and hue and cry of the victims’ families, a delegate of ILO visited them to register four cases against the German buyer of Ali Enterprises and the licensing companies.
read more. & read more.
ILRFnew daily times PK

* Workers of the World Unite:

Pakistani singer Jawad Ahmed with a powerful song dedicated to the victims of factory fires in Asia.

Don’t You Ever Forget It…

My Tears, my Screams
My Burning, my Crying
My Shouting with Pain…
My Helpless Dying…
Don’t You Ever Forget It…

Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….

Despotic is the rule, unjust is the law…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

The Hell that you are so afraid of…
I have already gone through its experience…
Look how my dreams burnt in the flames…
And my Body smouldered and melted…

After this catastrophe, you are still quiet…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….

My meal was simple food…
My clothes were inexpensive…
I used to do hard labour…
Through which I earned my family’s living…

My death was an accident…
Just because I am a poor Worker...
Remember that I Am also Human….
My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…

Listen everyone, we are the Workers…
This whole world is because of us…
You must know now, we are the workers…

Remember that I Am also Human….
Whatever you have, to eat, to wear, to use, to live in…
We, the Workers, have made it all….
We have made this world run….
Industry, agriculture, progress, riches, are all because of us….
We run the factories and the institutions…
We will never let this happen again….
Now we will never ever burn and die like this…

My Body feels pain the same way as does yours…
We will never ever Burn and Die like This….
Don’t You Ever Forget It…

see video.
riseforpakistan

20140910 * Demand to improve health, safety conditions for workers:

Despite sacrifice of 259 workers in the tragedy of Baldia factory fire, the industries and factories of Pakistan still are virtual killing fields for workers and to change this sad situation the working class of Pakistan has to become unite and struggle for their due rights, compelling the government, industrialists and international brands to stop the mass murder of workers in lust of their profit-greed, said speakers of a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) here Wednesday.
The press conference was arranged by National Trade Union Federation Pakistan (NTUF) on the second anniversary of the Baldia factory fire tragedy in which 259 workers were burnt alive.
Nasir Mansoor, Deputy General Secretary of NTUF said the factory fire of Ali Enterprises, Baldia Karachi was the worst industrial incident in the history of Pakistan in which 259 labors were perished alive two years ago on September 11.

The sad accident is a living example of the worst working conditions in Pakistani factories and sheer lack of safety measures.
Despite this shameful incident of Ali Enterprises fire the government and other stakeholders have failed to make improvement in working conditions of Pakistani factories and mills and a large number of labors working in different sectors particularly textiles, garments and sports goods are compelled to work in very dangerous environment, risking their lives.

Mohammad Jabbir, Organizer of Factory effectees Association said that Almost 95percent workers in Pakistan are not registered with social security and pension institutions and they do not even posses their appointment letters.

In 90percent factories of Pakistan labors work for 10 to 12 hours a day and they do not get the minimum wages.
Despite the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the contract system of labor recruitment is in vogue in industrial, financial and trade sectors of the country. These are the basic root cause of tragedies like Balida Fire.

Veteran Labour Leader Usman Baloch said Pakistan after getting the GSP+ status is bound to safeguard the basic rights of labors, but practically in many sectors workers cannot form their trade unions, while the industrialists are free to form their forums and association to ensure getting their vested interest.
From the labor force of 60million, hardly 2.8percent labors are linked to trade unions.
read more.
onepakistan-news

20140910 * ‘Baldia tragedy fails to wake up govt to dangers workers face’:

The Baldia Factory fire tragedy, which could have been a catalyst for bringing in more focused policies for workers’ rights by the provincial government, has remained unable to produce any lasting effect.

This was stated by executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) Karamat Ali while addressing a press conference on Tuesday at the Karachi Press Club held in connection with the anniversary of the incident that occurred on Sept 11, 2012.

Accompanied by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan representatives and activists from various trade and labour unions, Mr Ali said most families of the Baldia factory fire tragedy were compensated, “but the compensation is not the only solution to deal with such an incident. An overhaul of factories in and around Karachi needs to be carried out”.

Speaking about the commemoration plans being prepared by Piler for the upcoming anniversary, Mr Ali said that there would be a programme at the Arts Council.
read more.
DAWNnew

20140912 * Rains and floods: cotton prices enter bullish corridor:

Since the past several days, rains and floods of high magnitude have poured and splashed over northern and central Pakistan.

In Sindh, rains continued for four or five days earlier on the cotton belt, and more recently the rains fell over sizeable swathes in the cotton belt.
Till now the recent rains may not effect the quantity of the new cotton crop (August 2014/July 2015), but quality may suffer to a certain extent.
Now the rains have receded but weather may again get wet as the monsoon season is not yet over.

However, if water remains stagnant and rains recur in the cotton belt, the current cotton crop may suffer quantity damage and moist fields may also give rise to pest problems later on.
Therefore, though no significant damage to the cotton crop is being reported till now, any continuation of wet weather may damage the crop.
However, ferocious floods may pose a problem to the cotton later on.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

20140912 * Punjab-based textile industry: loadshedding returns to 8 hours a day:

Power load shedding for the Punjab-based textile industry returned to eight hours a day from earlier 10 hours a day, said sources.

According to the well placed sources, the NTDC returned to original plan after holding 10 hours a day electricity load shedding during last three consecutive days.

It may be noted that the Punjab-based textile industry was highly disturbed over the increase in electricity load shedding, triggering the mismatch between the electricity and gas supply to keep their operations intact.
The PEPCO officials have withdrawn electricity for another two hours on account of drop in quota of supplies from the NTDC.
Accordingly, they had conveyed to the industry for upward revival of load shedding to 10 hours from earlier eight hours a day.
to read.
BUSINESSRECORDER

20140910 * Looking to stitch the sector’s growth:

Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar has said that the government would extend its full support and assistance to the textile sector, leaving no stone unturned to put it back on track.

Addressing members of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), he said that the GSP Plus status, which the country acquired at the start of the year, would create at least 1 million jobs, boosting the country’s economy and improving the quality of workers’ life.

“The industrial sector is facing multiple problems as a result of which productivity is decreasing day by day,” said Sarwar.
“We are not only working diligently to bridge the gap between demand and supply but have chalked out  a comprehensive strategy to overcome energy challenges.
With the support of the masses, we will overcome every obstacle faced by the industry,” he said, adding that the government is committed to serving the masses.
read more. & read more.
tribune  BUSINESSRECORDER

20140910 * Lesco failed to reduce additional hours’ loadshedding: Punjab textile industry suffers from power supply shortage:

Punjab based textile industry remained short of electricity supply for second consecutive day, as the Lesco failed to reduce loadshedding for additional two hours from September 8.

According to the sources, the Lesco authorities had assured of resuming withdrawn electricity supply from September 9 onwards but it failed. The Lesco sources told Business Recorder that quota of electricity supply for Lesco has been reduced by the NTDC, resulting into a drop in supplies to the industry.

It may be noted that the Lesco was observing eight hours a day electricity load shedding for Punjab based textile industry, which has been increased to 10 hours a day with the start of this week.
Initially, it was presumed that the Lesco has made this arrangement for a single day. However, disruption for second consecutive day has raised alarm bells and frequent queries have started from the industry regarding the status of electricity supply ahead.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

20140909 * Textile industry: APTMA chief demands uninterrupted power supply:

Chairman APTMA Punjab S M Tanveer has expressed concerns over the ongoing 10 hours electricity loadshedding for the Punjab-based textile industry on independent feeders, despite substantial reduction in demand for electricity and simultaneous increase in hydel generation in the country.

Explaining the matter, he said that the electricity demand in the Punjab has reduced by 40 percent because of rains and appreciable drop in the ambient, while the dams are full.

Because of continuous loadshedding, he said, the Punjab-based textile industry has been forced to curtail production, lay off workers and incur losses on commitments with foreign buyers due to non-availability of energy, ie electricity and gas in the province.
read more.
BUSINESSRECORDER

18:59:03 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

20140910 * Uzbek students mobilized for cotton work:

The Uzbek government is mobilizing university students, as well as third-year students from junior colleges, for cotton work starting on September 10.

Uzbekistan has 58 universities, 1,396 junior colleges, and 141 lyceums.
All educational institutions in Uzbekistan have received a “cotton mobilization” directive from the government.

As a rule students in Tashkent – with the exception of students from the State University for Agriculture and Institute for Irrigation and Soil Reclamation – are usually excused cotton picking.
read more.
UZnews

20140908 *  Statement from the Cotton Campaign on the Start of the Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan:

Today the Government of Uzbekistan declared the start of the annual cotton harvest. To meet the government’s national quota officials are again this year forcing farmers to fulfill state-established production quotas and forcing children and adults to pick cotton under threat of punishment.

Income from Uzbek cotton sales will again disappear into the extra-budgetary Agriculture Fund, to which not even the Uzbek parliament has access.
This is modern-day slavery that only the Uzbek government can end by finding the political will to do so.

Last year, the Uzbek Government demonstrated that it does respond to international pressure by accepting International Labour Organization (ILO) monitoring of the 2013 harvest and reducing the number of children under age 16 forced to pick cotton.

The Government’s demonstrated ability to change practices unilaterally reminds us that forced and child labor are state policy, not the result of poverty or other forms of exploitation.
So far this year, the Uzbek government’s decisions are not encouraging.

Officials again imposed production quotas on farmers, forced citizens to weed and prepare the cotton fields, ordered teachers to sign up to work the harvest or resign, and required parents to sign statements that their children would pick cotton or be expelled from high school.

Uzbek officials havetold foreign counterparts that this year the government has decreed that no children under age 18 will be mobilized to pick cotton.
Yet the government, which completely controls all public media, has failed to inform the population or local officials.
read more.
ILRFnew

=========================

* Note from the editor:

Due to various maintenance work there will be no regularly (almost) daily bulletin published, for a period, a while.

Unless there is breaking news, or a special event,
announced via twitter: @DressedStripped and the newsletter
(for those who are subscribed).

Sincere apologies, hope to see you back soon,
j.
DUCS-twitter

 

 

map of Asia

INFO:

There are updates under “special overviews”:

* The BALDIA (& Lahore) Fire September 2012 –PART 3 20121120- NOW

* TUBA Garment Workers Strike & Tazreen bail Part 2 20140815-now

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 6: 20140607 – NOW

* Cambodian Garment Workers: Provide Basic Wage $177 20140909-now

* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 5 20140502- now

HEADLINES:

ASIA
* Solidarity rally demands compensation for victims’ families

VIET NAM
20140909 * Trade Unions in Transition: Changing Industrial Relations in Vietnam

CAMBODIA
* Support Cambodian Garment Workers in their Fight for Fair Wages! $177 NOW!
* Union Leader to Appear in Court Over Demonstrations
* Scenes from a kangaroo court
* Ex-Officials Tell of Free Trade Union’s Demise
* Global call to back $177 local wage
* Urgent call to action for Cambodian garment workers!
* Seven Unions Plan Campaign for $177 Wage as Revision Looms
* Unions threaten mass demo
* After Mass Firing, Union Considers New Protests
* Mass firing at Xin Fang factory
* BetterFactories Media Updates 11-12 September

INDONESIA
* Indonesian labor demand 30-40% hike in minimum wage
* New mechanism to set minimum wage in 2015
* Disabled residents hope to enter workforce with increased skills
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Updates

BANGLADESH
* 1900 workers locked out at Designer Jeans in Bangladesh
* Labour leaders demand immediate payment of Tuba workers’ dues
* Clear Tuba workers’ back pay: SGSF
* Tireless labor yet to win some basic rights. Tazreen Fashion and Tuba Group Injustice Continues
* Ashulia RMG unit suspends 46 workers for ‘creating unrest’
* Workers demand reappointment of sacked colleagues
* Jamgora RMG workers demand withdrawal of false case
* 200 garment plants shut since Rana Plaza disaster: BGMEA
* BD makes significant progress in workplace safety standards
* 45 flaws in every factory: Alliance
* RMG factories need $150m to mend safety flaws
* 50% of Alliance-listed units finish remediation
* Alliance finds remediation of non-compliant factories main challenge
* RMG and manpower export: Risk of depending on two markets
* Toxic Tanneries Yet to Shift From Hazaribagh
* Tannery owners advised to relocate by March
* Gas to be diverted to RMG units from power plants
* Shifting consumers’ taste helps rev up T-shirt shipment
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
* 332 victims compensated

PAKISTAN
* Govt exhorted to ensure workplace safety
* Two years on, families of victims yet to get justice and compensation:
* ‘Effective unionisation essential for workers’ rights’
* Baldia factory fire: Two years on, victims’ families struggle to come to terms with their loss
* 11 September 2014: Second anniversary of Baldia Factory Fire Tragedy
* Baldia factory fire: amid investigation charge-sheet delays
* Authorities still clueless about identity of 17 bodies
* Two years on, Baldia factory owners yet to face justice
* Two years after
* Painting a dismal picture of the working conditions in factories, trade unions demand change
* No improvement: Speakers decry lack of progress in workplace safety
* Still waiting
* Two years after fatal fire – KIK still has to pay up
* Families of Baldia fire victims to sue German firm
* Baldia Town factory fire victims still without compensation
* Workers of the World Unite
* Demand to improve health, safety conditions for workers
* ‘Baldia tragedy fails to wake up govt to dangers workers face’
* Rains and floods: cotton prices enter bullish corridor
* Punjab-based textile industry: loadshedding returns to 8 hours a day
* Looking to stitch the sector’s growth
* Lesco failed to reduce additional hours’ loadshedding: Punjab textile industry suffers from power supply shortage
* Textile industry: APTMA chief demands uninterrupted power supply

UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek students mobilized for cotton work
* Statement from the Cotton Campaign on the Start of the Cotton Harvest in Uzbekistan

===================
* Note from the editor

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

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2

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