(Please see editor’s note at the bottom of this bulletin.)
09:31:12 local time CAMBODIA
20140920 * Global Brands Pledge to Pay More for Garments:
Global fashion brands have waded into the fray over setting a new minimum wage for Cambodia’s 600,000 garment workers, committing for the first time to pay higher prices for stock so workers can receive “a fair living wage.”
Eight major firms—including Swedish powerhouse H&M, Inditex, the owner of Spanish chain Zara, and British high street retailers Primark, Next and New Look—wrote to the government and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) this week outlining their position on the ongoing wage negotiations.
A raise to the existing minimum monthly wage of $100 is expected to be decided on next month and will take effect in January. Unions are demanding a $177 floor wage while factories are pushing for $110.
In a letter dated Thursday and addressed to Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo, the brands acknowledge that they will have to shell out more for Cambodian-made garments if workers are to be paid more than the current minimum wage of $100 a month.
“As responsible Business’ [sic] our purchasing practices will enable the payment of a fair living wage and increased wages will be reflected in our FOB prices,” reads the letter, which is also signed by representatives from Dutch fashion house C&A, British retailer N Brown Group and German chain Tchibo.
FOB refers to “free on board,” or the cost of the products when they are transferred from the factories to the brands.
The letter comes after eight Cambodian unions, backed by activists and labor unions around the world, began a campaign this Wednesday to pressure major buyers to back a new minimum wage of $177.
Dave Welsh, country director for the Solidarity Center, a U.S.-based labor rights group, called the intervention from buyers a “promising” step forward in the wage negotiations.
“It’s crucial,” he said of the brand’s engagement. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time brands have gone on the record to say they will adjust the cost of the supply chain to make sure there are no excuses on the ground in Cambodia, on the factories’ or on the government side, to absorb to increases in the minimum wage.”
However, Mr. Welsh pointed out that several major players were missing from the list, with not a single U.S. brand signed on to the letter.
The letter does not specify how much more the brands are willing to pay for Cambodian-made garments and says that workers will also be expected to improve their skills in return.
read more. & read more.
20140918 * A brand new strategy:
Metres away from where military authorities fatally fired automatic weapons at demonstrators on Veng Sreng Boulevard during a nationwide strike in January, some 500 garment workers gathered at Canadia Industrial Park yesterday, calling out the clothing brands that unions say must ensure workers a living wage.
“Zara starves Cambodian workers,” read one banner held by the group of mostly young women in the one-hour mini-march on industrial park grounds. “C&A starves Cambodian workers,” read another.
Most marching behind the banners wore T-shirts or stickers reading “THE BUYER MUST PROVIDE BASIC WAGE $177” below logos of brands including H&M, Adidas and Gap.
Global labour demonstration
In the aftermath of the Ministry of Labour’s decision in December to raise the minimum monthly wage to $100 – $60 less than what unions wanted – workers railed against the government and factories. But this time around, the campaign has shifted to a decidedly different target: the brands.
“[International brands] cannot keep saying they are not involved in wage setting … they are the ones with the profit,” Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said after the lunchtime Canadia gathering. “They have to make sure there is some money out of the profit to guarantee workers get at least $177; the profit is out of their pocket, [so] who is responsible?”
Events organised by garment unions at about 300 factories yesterday kicked off an industry-wide campaign for a minimum monthly wage of $177 next year – though some union leaders have said they would accept as little as $150.
The $177 figure comes from a Labour Ministry study that found garment workers spend an average of $155 to $177.50 per month. While unions and advocates say this constitutes a living wage, Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents factories, said it only reflects how much workers in the study sample earned. The study shows the amount spent on personal necessities to be about $95, Loo said.
With the final decision by the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) on 2015’s minimum wage in Cambodia’s garment sector little more than a month away, C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said that unions will focus more on petitions and calls for negotiation than public demonstrations.
read more & see video report.
20140918 * Unions Stage Lunchtime Campaign for $177 Wage:
20140918 * Police Release Unionists After Workers Surround District Office:
Two union representatives were arrested and detained for several hours in Prey Veng province Wednesday as a nearly weeklong strike for better working conditions and bonuses continued at the Chinese-owned Komchay Mear Trading factory, police and unionists said.
Sok Siem and Khhun Sokhom, both representatives of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), were arrested at 6:40 a.m. as they led a protest in front of the factory, which managers said produces garments for the U.S. clothing giant Gap.
After the unionists were taken to the Komchay Mear district office for questioning, about 3,000 striking workers blocked National Road 1 and surrounded the building, demanding the pair’s release.
“They arrested us and took us for questioning at the district office for leading the strikes, but we were released in the afternoon after thousands of workers surrounded the district office,” Mr. Siem said.
“The authorities arrested us without a warrant,” he added. “We believe that this is a threat against the union so that we will not strike against the factory.”
District police chief Siev Sokhom confirmed the arrests.
Since a nationwide strike for higher wages briefly crippled the garment industry in late December and early January, police have ramped up efforts to suppress protests in the sector by arresting, questioning and releasing the unionists organizing them.
20140918 * Legal Analysis of Cambodia’s Draft Law on Unions of Enterprises:
September 18, 2014 – Today, CLEC and LICADHO release a legal analysis of the latest draft of the Law on Unions of Enterprises (Trade Union Law) obtained at the end of May, this year.
As unions yesterday began a nationwide campaign for a $177 per month minimum wage, the draft Trade Union Law underlines the government’s intent to interfere with and infringe upon union formation and activities.
Read the full briefing paper & Read the full statement.
to read here.
20140919 * Court Places More Restrictions on Union Leader:
Ath Thorn, the head of the country’s largest independent union, was placed yesterday under judicial supervision by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court a day after he joined demonstrations calling for a $177 monthly minimum wage for garment workers.
Mr. Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), yesterday became the third un ion leader to be subjected to a court order prohibiting participation in public gatherings until their trial—over charges of causing intentional violence, making threats, destroying property and obstructing traffic—concludes.
No date has been set for the trial.
Mr. Thorn, who is currently embroiled in three separate court cases, was already under orders not to join gatherings or meet with union members, which he seemingly breached by taking part in pro tests at Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park on Wednesday calling for a $77 increase in the minimum monthly wage of $100.
20140918 * Fired Factory Workers Refuse Severance, Vow More Protests:
More than 5,000 employees of the Juhui Footwear Factory in Kompong Cham province who were fired on Tuesday after joining strikes to demand bonus pay and better benefits Wednesday rejected their severance packages and vowed to continue protesting.
“We reject the full severance pay because we have not given up our jobs. We will protest in front of the factory again as soon as possible,” said Sam Thoeun, an employee of the Taiwanese-owned factory in Choeung Prey district.
The workers have been on strike since September 1 and were informed that they had been fired when the factory posted the names of the 5,000-plus sacked employees in front of the factory Tuesday, Mr. Thoeun said.
“The factory put a list of workers’ names who were fired in front of the factory. They fired us after we went on strike and joined the protests in front of the factory,” he said.
That has left only the few hundred employees who did not join the strikes to carry on the factory’s work.
Het Hun, an official for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which represents the workers, said protests outside the factory would be suspended until after the Pchum Ben holiday, which ends on Wednesday.
20140917 * While the Fashion World Swoons Over This Season’s Styles, the Workers Making Them Are Fainting on the Job:
While the fashion world swoons at models displaying this season’s couture on the runway, factory girls in Phnom Penh are trying not to faint at their sewing machines. On Wednesday, these two worlds—the fast fashion of Fifth Avenue storefronts and the churning sweatshops of Southeast Asia—are colliding with an international day of solidarity with Cambodian workers.
A coalition of human rights and labor groups has planned direct actions in at least fifteen cities across the United States and Europe. Targeting the outlets of multinational fashion brands like H&M, Adidas and Zara, protesters demand justice for Cambodian garment workers. These efforts follow a string of labor uprisings across Asia, fueled by a string of industrial disasters as well as government crackdowns on protests and strikes.
At a forum in Manhattan last week sponsored by the International Labor Rights Forum and other activist organizations, Jeff Hermanson, director of Global Strategies for the SEIU’s Workers United campaign, described the protests in the US as following the lead of the factory workers and grassroots campaigners overseas: “They’re not just victims,” he said. “They are a potential power, they are a real power.… And I hope that we here in America are part of this movement.”
Their chief demand is a pay raise, to the princely sum of $177 per month. That would add pennies to the price of a T-shirt—a rounding error for a $5 billion-a-year export industry. Nonetheless, it would mark a step toward the living-wage benchmark of more than double that amount—a figure activists calculated based on the cost of living for a family of four on a standard 48-hour workweek, backed by collective bargaining and union rights.
The “living” part is literal: hunger is an acute concern for the mostly female workforce; chronic malnourishment has reportedly factored into mass fainting spells at factories affecting hundreds of workers in recent years.
20140917 * Workers Kickstart $177 Minimum Wage Campaign Under Watchful Gaze of Military:
At approximately 11am, labour unions in and around Phnom Penh launched the $177 minimum wage campaign in front of garment factories as workers were going on their lunch break.
In the Canadia Industrial Park alone, over a thousand workers gathered next to factories to demand a humane minimum wage. Military soldiers were stationed along Veng Sreng road and inside Canadia Industrial Park to intimidate workers.
read & see more. (Photo report)
20140917 * Cambodia: Thousands of garment workers take action:
Global unions joined thousands of garment workers in Cambodia today in an international day of action to demand an increase in the minimum wage from US$100 to US$177 per month.
Huge crowds of Cambodian garment workers wearing distinctive orange t-shirts braved intimidation from military personnel to protest during their lunch hour outside around 90 factories.
In Switzerland, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union made a solidarity protest at the Cambodian embassy in Geneva where Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary and UNI’s Alke Boessiger, presented a letter addressed to the Cambodian Prime Minister.
The joint letter from global unions IndustriALL, UNI and the ITUC, which together represent millions of workers around the world, urges the Cambodian government to:
“enact an immediate and substantial rise to the minimum wage so that garment workers, whose labour supports a US$5 billion industry, can finally live with dignity. We fully support garment workers and their trade unions in their 17 September call on the government to deliver on a living wage.
Further actions have also been held today in Korea by IndustriALL affiliate KMWU, who got round demonstration restrictions by making one-person pickets outside several big name fashion stores in Seoul’s most popular shopping spots.
KMWU also joined other Korean unionists in posting selfies on social media holding banners supporting the Cambodian workers.
In Australia, leaders and members from IndustriALL affiliates the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) demonstrated outside H&M in Melbourne. Both unions were also represented by Unions ACT, which hand-delivered a letter to the Cambodian embassy in Canberra.
Social media participation has also been considerable with support from many unions, NGOs and consumers on Facebook and under the hashtag #WeNeed177 on twitter.
IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina said:
“We will not stop our support for Cambodian garment workers until they earn a decent living wage, as is the right of any human being. The government must listen to its citizens – garment workers – whose hard work contributes US$5 billion to the Cambodian economy.
Letters have also been sent by many IndustriALL affiliates around the world including unions from Japan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Sweden.
20140917 * UNI and IndustriALL demand end to poverty wages in Cambodia:
UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union have delivered a message to the Cambodia Mission in Geneva demanding an end to poverty wages in the Asian country’s garment industry.
Representatives from the two unions presented a letter to the Cambodian Prime Minister urging him to enact an immediate and substantial rise to the minimum wage so that garment workers can live with dignity.
09:01:12 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20140917 * Dismissed Rangoon Workers Allege Police Beating:
Laid off workers of the South Korean Master Sports footwear factory allege that they were beaten by police and that 20 workers were injured when they went to the closed down factory on Tuesday to pick up their unpaid salaries and severance pay.
The factory closed abruptly in late June and workers were dismissed without receiving their salaries for that month. About 700 workers marched to protest in front of the South Korean Embassy on July 17 to demand the payments.
In August, the Rangoon Division Labor Tribunal decided that the factory should provide a severance pay of several months and salary for June to the workers by Tuesday, Sept. 16.
Phyu Phyu Soe, a leader of the workers, said some 200 former employees went to the factory in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone on Tuesday afternoon to meet Win Shein, director-general of the Factories and General Labor Laws Inspection Department of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, adding that many had hoped to receive their payments.
“The director-general told us to enter into the factory compound to talk as we asked him to give us a specific date for the compensated payment,” she said, adding that Win Shein then told workers they would have to wait until November to receive their pay, a demand that caused anger among the workers.
“After we were inside, the gate is closed and he started calling the police,” Phyu Phyu Soe said, alleging that “hundreds of policemen” arrived at about 10 pm to bring Win Shein to safety and beat the laborers.
“Many of us are women workers and they beat us mostly to our heads and arms,” she said, adding that four people sustained severe head injuries while another 16 received minor injuries.
20140917 * Strike for 50 cents at factory exporting footwear to Europe, Canada and US:
Workers at Yimei shoe factory continued their strike outside the factory in Hlaingthaya industrial zone for an eighth day on September 17, after the Chinese-owned firm refused to give in to their request for a Ks 500 (about 50 US cents) rise in their daily wage, striking workers said.
They said that the company – which exports children’s footwear to Canada, the United States and the European Union – offered them a maximum Ks 100 raise.
Yimei employee Thet Paing said workers could not accept the US 10 cent raise because it was not enough.
Factory manager Thin Thin Mar, however, said their demand for an extra 50 US cents a day was unreasonable and that if the company agreed it salaries would rise above those offered by other factories.
Besides asking for a raise of about 50 US cents a day, workers are also striking for a cost of living allowance of Ks 30,000 a month as well as higher overtime pay.
The company offered a cost of living allowance of Ks 3,000 a month, workers said.
“We tried negotiations but they offered too little,” Thet Paing said.
20140915 * Garment industry hopes for ordering rush from the West:
The garment industry is looking to Western orders to help it diversify, as exports look set for a record year, according to the president of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association U Myint Soe.
When the industry was battered during a decade of sanctions in the 2000s imposed by Western countries, it relied largely on orders coming from Japan and South Korea, he said.
“During the period of sanctions, the market in the West was destroyed and exporters had to survive with markets in Eastern countries,” he said.
However, eased sanctions and improved access to the United States and European Union markets is reinvigorating the garment industry to a level not seen in 10 years, he said at the association’s second annual meeting, held at UMFCCI on September 7.
A US trade embargo imposed in 2003 closed the door to the largest buyer of made-in-Myanmar garments, and Japan soon emerged as the largest export market. Shipments also continued to some European countries, though were denied the preferential market access enjoyed by other least developed countries such as Cambodia.
“After earning more than US$800 million in 2001, the garment sector was in crisis due to sanctions,” said U Aung Win, vice president of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association.
08:31:12 local time BANGLADESH
20140918 * Towel factory catches fire at CEPZ:
Goods worth several lakhs of taka were gutted in a devastating fire at a towel factory in Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) in the port city early Thursday.
The fire originated from an electric short circuit around 3:30am and later two fire fighting units of EPZ fire station brought the flame under control after an hour frantic efforts.
In the meantime, goods worth several lakhs of taka were gutted by the fire at Siraj Towel Factory said fire service officers.
Fire Service and Civil Defence Chittagong Division office deputy director Jasim Uddin confirmed the matter to banglanews.
20140918 * More than 40 -50 workers of Gazipur factory fall sick:
More than 40 workers of a sock manufacturing factory fell sick for reason not know yet in Rajendrapur Sign Board area in Gazipur on Wednesday.
The workers of Glove & Gloves Manufacturing Bangladesh Limited suffered from suffocation and convulsion and, to avoid any untoward situation, the authorities announced holiday for the day.
The workers said after lunch they started their duty at 2:00pm and a female worker fell sick soon after coming out from toilet.
She suffered from suffocation and convulsion and seeing this other workers also fell sick showing the same symptoms.
At least 41 workers fell sick while about 600 worker work in the factory.
read more. & read more.& read more.
20140917 * #Labor Dispatches: Trade Unions Benefit All in the Garment Industry in Bangladesh:
At the recent, Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) annual convention, the theme reverberating among the speakers and among the worker audience was the importance of unionization.
One worker-organizer remarked: “There are three things we must do: educate, organize and demonstrate.” However, what was equally clear from their speeches was that unionizing workers in Bangladesh is not an easy task. Almost every trade union organizer that I interviewed had their own story of being harassed, beaten by police or factory hooligans frightening them or the workers they were organizing from forming unions, including the story of Hasina Akter. The high profile murder of labor organizer Aminul Islam in 2012 allegedly by the National Security Intelligence (NSI) of Bangladesh reveals the severe constraints under which organizers seek to improve workplace conditions.
Labor leader Nazma Akter, founder of Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation, in an earlier interview spoke to me about sexual harassment from owners, or their managers, and sadly, at times from fellow male organizers. Since much of organizing work requires meeting with workers after work, or in the streets in front of their factory, owners try to disparage the reputation of female organizers by calling them “bad women” or “prostitutes.”
The challenges to unionization explain the paltry number of unions in an industry that boasts 4 million workers and over 3500 operative factories. In just last two years alone, 200 unions registered. But, in contrast, only 2 unions were registered in 2011 and 2012. They formed in part due to changes in labor law, international community’s focus on Rana Plaza, and the suspension of trade benefits by the United States. While BGMEA industry representatives told me that garment owners are not opposed to unions, however, this fails to explain their strong opposition when workers do attempt to organize. This opposition was recently shown in the unionization efforts by workers in Designer Jeans.
In 2010, the current government created a separate Industrial police in most police precincts to regulate, squash unions, and to prevent union leaders from organizing. The collusion of the police, state with industry interests to prevent unionization makes these organizing efforts a monumental task, and therefore any bit of success a huge achievement. Recent examples of Tuba Group workers being attacked by police with tear gas and rubber bullets reveals the role that police and the state play in preventing unionization, and the violent manner in which labor demands are responded to. Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, reminded workers at the convention that they are fighting two powers: government and owner, so workers need to organize harder.
20140918 * Rejuvenating RMG sector:
The Bangladesh ready-made garments (RMG) sector is slowly losing its grip on the world apparel markets including the United States, and it is not good news for the country.
We have many nagging problems like shortages of power, gas and proper infrastructure. If we do not resolve these issues, we may find ourselves in a sticky situation which no one expects.
We should not think that foreign buyers will take the trouble to realise our problem. Moreover, the still-uncertain political atmosphere and the prevailing not-so-impressive human rights situation are adding to our woes.
We must bring a drastic change to our present scenario.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20140918 * Canadian activists urge their govt to support Rana Plaza victims:
More than 50 Canadian organisations yesterday requested their government to put pressure on Canadian retailers, who buy garments from Bangladesh, to donate to the Rana Plaza trust fund soon.
In an open letter, the organisations also called upon the Canadian government to match all corporate and other contributions to the trust fund, and encourage the Bangladesh government and industry associations to increase their contributions.
More than 16 months into the Rana Plaza building collapse, the trust fund has received less than half of the $40 million needed.
“Canada must step forward, starting with a call from the federal government to Canadian retailers sourcing from Bangladesh, to contribute generously to the trust fund,” said Hassan Yussuff, president of Canadian Labour Congress, in a statement.
Lynda Yanz, executive director of Maquila Solidarity Network, said: “If we fail to fill this funding gap today, many of the survivors that can no longer work and families of those killed at Rana Plaza could face a future of abject poverty, and the surviving children could be denied an education and forced to work under hazardous conditions.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
08:01:12 local time INDIA
* Labour reforms for textile sector proposed:
Official sources said there is a already a review of the labour lows in India to cater to the obligations of International labour Organisation
A slew of measures have been recommended for reforms in labour laws particularly for textile sector pending lengthy legislative amendments of labour laws.
Such changes will not require legislative amendments but are imminent to cater to the urgency of the textile sector, said official sources
Some of the measures include removing the restriction on women from working in night shifts, albeit with satisfactory safety and security arrangements, fixed term employment for engagement of workforce in fixed term employment and removal of cap on overtime etc.
Official sources said there is a already a review of the labour lows in India to cater to the obligations of International labour Organisation (ILO). But some changes especially for the textile sector is needed at the earliest as much of its export competitiveness has been modest due to the restrictions of the labour laws.
* The biggest problem with labour laws:
Our existing trade union law is outdated. The absence of norms for fixing the representative union scares investors
Industry has been clamouring for core labour law reforms.
The demand is for flexibility in terms of freedom to hire contract labour, the freedom to retrench workers and close down undertakings without prior government endorsement, and the freedom to introduce technological changes that involve loss of employment.
Further, they want a liberal labour inspection system and a rational and modern system of records compliance.
The employers may have a case, at least with some of the demands.
But there are other compelling issues which hurt industrial relations governance at the plant level, the resolution of which would also enhance the competitiveness of the firms.
The employers seem to have forgotten this in their quest for labour flexibility.
One core issue is the absence of a central law providing for a mechanism to determine the collective bargaining agent.
If there are multiple trade unions fighting for their respective rights it could lead to the worsening of industrial relations governance, even if the employer enjoys labour flexibility.
This has been demonstrated by recent industrial conflicts.
It is well known that trade unions, under certain conditions, could in fact contribute to the enhancement of productive efficiency and reduce transaction and monitoring costs.
The World Bank has endorsed this recently.
To the ILO, trade unions are fundamental to a decent and just workplace.
To be sure, there are “union bads” as there are “inefficient and fraudulent firms”.
20140915 * Garment industry needs huge scale to compete globally – Lalbhai:
The Indian textile and apparel industry is at a crossroads. With a long history and an established presence globally, Indian players have the chance to cash in on emerging opportunities.
Arvind is a recognized brand with a history stretching over eight decades. In a chat with The Hindu , Arvind’s Chairman and Managing Director, Sanjay Lalbhai spoke about the industry, its prospects, and plans for his company going forward. Edited excerpts:
What has been the impact of the slowdown, and what are the opportunities for the Indian textile and apparel industry given the signs of revival in the economy?
The export of Indian textiles as a value chain is doing very well. This is because China is becoming more expensive. Of the global textile trade of around $800 billion, China accounts for 35 per cent at around $270 billion.
Their business is growing at 10-15 per cent but at three times India wages and costs.
As they continue to be expensive, their government too is not so supportive any more. India has a $ 40billion industry and will benefit from this.
I believe we should grow at 15 per cent per annum.
But the domestic market has not been at its best as the economy was going through a tough phase but the down-cycle impact was less severe as China’s share was coming here.
Barring denims, the industry players have not done very well. What are issues confronting the industry and is it ripe for consolidation?
In the past, overleveraging and trying to grow too fast without having the relevant consumer base has led to problems. I think the industry has created the highest non-performing assets (NPAs) for banks. A huge amount of assets were created without the proper management back-up.
These were created due to subvention on TUFs and benefits. State government and the Centre gave funds at nominal rates.
But this is a tough business, and growing fast without systems, processes and consumer base in place because of easy money has been one of the major negatives.
Regarding consolidation, once you have created assets indiscriminately, who will buy them? To restructure is both difficult and unwieldy. Bankers are happy to sell us some of the distressed businesses at very lucrative terms but we are not willing to manage that as it is not a viable option. Finally what will happen is difficult to say.
Is further government intervention and help desirable to aid the industry? From an industry perspective, what could the players do to move up to the next level?
* Textile Ministry chalks out plan to improve cotton export potential:
Govt employing measures to improve productivity and quality of all cash crops with high potential for revenue generation
The ministry of textiles in coordination with department of agriculture has started a review of the crop related and other ancillary measures to improve the crop yield.
According to official sources, since cotton as a crop and cotton yarn has great export potential, special impetus has to be put. In fact the government is employing several measures to improve both productivity and quality of all cash crops with high potential for revenue generation like jute, rubber etc.
It is proposed to put a restriction on cotton seed varieties for homogenizing the fibre quality and containing the cost of the farmers.
* Two farmers commit suicide:
Two cotton farmers in Adilabad district committed suicide on Monday owing to failure of crop.
Both had run into debts which were rendered unpayable due to adverse crop conditions.
According to police, Tungala Sravan, 25, from Sonala village in Boath mandal, committed suicide by consuming pesticide following failure of crop this season. Similarly, Karkuri Rajesh, 28, also consumed pesticide as his cotton crop failed.
07:31:12 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Retirees pick cotton in Tashkent province:
Retirees are toiling in the cotton fields of Tashkent province and their daily quota is 70 kg, reports the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (PAU).
Activists from the the PAU have conducted an independent inspection of the cotton fields in Tashkent province and saw both sick retirees and people likely to be less than 18 years old picking cotton.
The PAU activists witnessed retirees working in the fields on the way from Tashkent to Yangibazar, an urban center of the Tashkent province’s Verhnechirchiksky district, a mere 35 kilometers from the country’s capital.
One elderly woman told the activists that she has a heart condition but her makhallya is forcing her to pick cotton and fulfill the daily quota of 70 kg. Another woman complained that she was coerced to pick cotton by her son’s school in Yangibazar. She was told she needed to work in the harvest “so that her son could learn properly”.
The observers also saw teenagers working the fields. They looked to be around fourteen or fifteen years old, but it was impossible to be certain of this as most of them refused to talk to the activists or to be photographed.
The PAU activists also report that there have been some changes in cotton production since last year. Many fields along the roads have been planted with corn, potatoes, and fruit trees instead of cotton.
* Note from the editor:
Due to various maintenance work there will be no regularly (almost) daily bulletin published, for a period, a while.