CHINA – CAMBODIA
20150313 * From Dongguan to Phnom Penh, its déjà vu all over again:
The supervisor on the floor is a relative of the boss and he doesn’t understand a damned thing.
He’s simply not up to the job of being a manager: he only knows how to scold people.
He knows that in one hour you can only manage to do 15 pieces, but he sets the quota at 50. If you can’t meet the quota, then you have to put in extra hours.
But there’s no overtime pay for that.
They say “other people can meet the quota, so why can’t you?” In fact, no one can ever fill the quota in time.
Interviewee in Dongguan factory 2004
“You woman – you must learn to use that machine faster.
Otherwise you can leave the factory. Do you understand?”
And he would throw the materials we were supposed to stitch on the machine or on us, and bang the desk and come close to our face and scream.
He is very harsh.
Interviewee in Cambodian factory 2014
In 2004, China Labour Bulletin investigated the pay and working conditions of migrant women workers in Dongguan, China’s “factory to the world.”
In 2014, Human Rights Watch investigated the pay and working conditions of the predominately women workers in Cambodia’s garment industry: The results were predictably similar.
Most of Cambodia’s garment factories are owned by Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and South Korean companies, and many of them set up shop in the suburbs of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh when production costs in Dongguan got too high.
They produce goods for the same international brands that bought from Dongguan in the 1990s and 2000s, and operate basically the same low cost, low margin, labour intensive business model.
The minimum wage in Dongguan in 2004 was just 450 yuan a month (US$54 at 2004 exchange rates).
A combination of labour shortages and increased labour activism pushed wages higher and as of 1 May this year, the minimum wage in Dongguan will be about four times higher, standing at 1,510 yuan per month or US$241 at today’s exchange rate.
In 2004, the minimum wage for Cambodian garment workers was US$50 per month, about the same as in Dongguan.
However, wages increased much more slowly in Cambodia and it was not until the upsurge in worker and trade union activism in 2013 that the minimum wage reached US$100 per month on 1 February 2014.
Protests over low pay continued last year and the minimum wage was raised again in January this year to US$128 per month.
21:03:11 local time NORTH KOREA
20150313 * Two Koreas trade barbs over industrial park wage row:
North and South Korea dug in their heels Friday in an escalating row over wages at their Kaesong joint industrial zone.
Pyongyang last month announced it would raise the basic salary of some 54,000 North Korean workers employed across 125 South Korean firms in the complex.
But the South rejected the idea, citing an existing agreement that any wage rise had to be agreed by a joint committee overseeing the management of the park, which lies just over the border in North Korea.
“The government can never accept any unilateral system change,” South Korean Unification Ministry Spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol told reporters Friday.
Voicing “regret” at Pyongyang’s refusal to engage with Seoul’s offer of a dialogue on the issue, Lim said the ministry would work closely with company managers in Kaesong to resolve the dispute.
The North’s proposal would increase the average monthly sum the South pays for each worker — including allowances, welfare and overtime — from $155 to $164.
On Thursday, North Korea said it had no need to consult with the South over the wage hike, saying it had a “legitimate and normal” right to amend working conditions in Kaesong.
20:03:11 local time PHILIPPINES
20150313 * Philippine textile industry on the rise with the help of PTRI new technology:
Philippine textile industry at its peak had huge, fully integrated textile mills that did everything –spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing. It produced and exported garments under a system that used quotas.
But problems came into the textile industry with the advent of cheap textile imports, the abuse of the quota system (entities with no mills had quotas allowing them to bring in raw materials, real mills had none) and with low prices combined with high wages, there was a general shutdown.
But Philippine textile industry slowly come back to life using a different business plant.
Some of the textile mills re-invented themselves and with the help of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) new technology enhance the textiles towards a higher quality that makes for niche markets.
Now there is a healthy export of undergarments, sportswear, socks, basically niche markets.
20150315 * PH-EFTA to start FTA talks next week:
The Philippines and the 4-member EFTA (European Free Trade Association) states will hold its first round of formal trade negotiations this month in Manila to ensure both parties can forge a free trade agreement as scheduled, that is before President Aquino’s term ends in 2016.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. told reporters covering a luncheon meeting for “Industry Champions” that the first round of talks is set on the 24-27 this month.
“We will discuss the parameters, the organization, the process and timetable. Basically, it is organizational matters,” Cristobal said.
19:03:11 local time VIET NAM
20150316 * Workplace accidents on the radar:
The Work Safety Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) has just released the latest figures dealing with work safety across the country.
The data shows a rise in the number of workplace accidents in 2014 compared to the previous year with more cases resulting in death.
Accordingly, there were a total of 6,709 workplace accidents last year, resulting in 630 deaths and 1,544 serious injuries, 14 accident cases more than in 2013 with three more deaths.
According to Ha Tat Thang, head of the Work Safety Department, 72 per cent of fatal workplace accidents were due to employers’ negligence in failing to exercise due care to take measures to ensure labour safety for their employees.
Furthermore, there is a distressing tendency of employers failing to train employees in labour safety, equipping them with adequate personal protective equipment and providing a safe working environment, Thang noted.
20150314-16 * Workshop seeks to address gender pay gap in workplace:
A workshop on workplace gender discrimination was held in Vung Tau city, southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, on March 14 with the aim to provide an insight into global standards on wage and income to promote gender equality and sustainable employment.
The function brought together representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), its southern provincial bodies, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), experts and businesses.
read more. & read more.
20150314 * Millions of retirees at risk of getting no pension:
Viet Nam would struggle to pay millions of its retirees pensions soon in the future as only about 20 per cent of the workforce are currently contributing to the social insurance fund.
Speaking at a conference on Thursday to discuss the implementation of the amended Law on Social Insurance, which was approved recently by the National Assembly, Head of the NA Committee on Social Affairs Truong Thi Mai said the key to solving the problem was to encourage more people in the informal economy to participate in social insurance.
The law will become effective on January 1 next year.
According to Mai, as of December 31, 2014, more than 11.6 million workers are covered by social insurance.
Among them, only about 196,000 people are under the voluntary social insurance scheme.
20150317 * Garment exports surge by 18%:
Garment exports in January and February posted an 18 per cent year-on-year increase to US$3.4 billion, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) said.
The surge has made the achievement of this year’s export target of $28 to 28.4 billion a strong possibility.
The United States remained the largest export market for the Vietnamese garments and textiles industry, accounting for 8.4 per cent of the country’s market share. It was followed by Japan and South Korea.
This year’s exports to the US market are forecast to reach $11 billion, representing a 13 per cent jump from the previous year.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) continued to be a key market for Vietnamese garments and textiles, considering that the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) would come into effect in the future.
20150316 * Garment exports hit US$3.4 bln in Jan-Feb:
Garment exports in the January-February period surged 18% to US$3.4 billion on-year, signalling a good sign for this year’s export target of US$28-28.4 billion, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
- Local authorities say no to more garment projects
- Garment sector seeks material suppliers from India
- Garment industry faces shortage in skilled workers
The US remained the largest export market for Vietnamese garment and textiles, accounting for 8.4% of the country’s market share.
This year’s exports to the highly lucrative market is forecast to explode 13% to US$11 billion over a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the EU continues to be a key market for Vietnamese garment and textiles in the time ahead after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect.
Accordingly, a tax cut of 12 to zero % on Vietnamese garment products will help Vietnamese firms sharpen their competitiveness.
20150316 * Vietnam, Hong Kong garment companies ink cooperation contract:
The Duc Giang Corporation (Dugarco), one of Vietnam’s leading garment enterprises, has signed a cooperation contract with Hong Kong (China)’s largest listed garment firm, Luen Thai Holdings.
This move is part of efforts the corporation is making to integrate more deeply into the world garment market, especially with a raft of advantageous free trade agreements anticipated to be ratified soon.
read more. & to read. & read more.
20150317 * Official discusses TPP challenges for Vietnam:
The Vietnam News Agency has talked with Luong Hoang Thai, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, on some of the challenges facing Vietnam during the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations (TPP).
The official said all involved countries so far have progressed to the final phase of the negotiation process, and they are making efforts to technically conclude the negotiations in the first quarter or early in the second quarter this year in order to submit it to the leaders for approval.
He noted that the TPP is a treaty of a very high standard, perhaps even an unprecedented standard, and this causes difficulties for most of the countries involved, especially in some key fields such as protecting intellectual property rights or opening up the goods market.
According to Thai, Vietnam’s biggest difficulty is how to get other countries to open their market to Vietnamese goods and services at a degree at which Vietnamese enterprises can exploit in the future, especially for main export commodities like garments and textiles, footwear, agro-products and seafood.
He continued to say that another big challenge is that Vietnam has to adjust laws to suit international standards, especially in intellectual property protection and customs management. Vietnam also has to amend laws on labour to conform to the criteria of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), he added.
20150316 * Vietnam beckons Thai FDI:
Ranked 10th on the list of countries investing in Vietnam, Thailand is being wooed to cash in on the large population base and future growth underpinned by the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and trade pacts.
Foreign businesses will also benefit from a large pool of skilled labour, while the minimum wage remains relatively low, though it will soon be adjusted to $147 per month.
19:03:11 local time CAMBODIA
20150317 * 200 strike over unionist’s dismissal:
More than 200 striking workers demonstrated in front of Siko Phnom Penh Garment Factory in the capital’s Dangkor district yesterday after management fired an employee who founded a new labour union there, according to a union representative.
Siko warehouse chief Leng Chandara was fired yesterday after management realised he had founded a branch of National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC) in the factory, said Fa Saly, NTUC’s president.
“This is discrimination,” Saly said. “The factory does not want to have two or three unions.”
According to demonstrator Nov Thida, the only approved union operating at the factory does nothing to help workers with problems, unlike Chandara.
20150315 * Union Leaders Back Report on Garment Worker Abuse:
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Federation Union, agrees with the findings of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that shed light on rampant rights abuses that factory workers, mainly female, face on a daily basis.
“Companies are violating the rights of workers by forcing overtime, withholding pay, keeping unsafe environments, firing workers without reason, and banning unionists. These companies absolutely abuse Cambodian workers,” Mr. Chhun told Khmer Times.
Mr. Chhun said the report by HRW accurately reflects the situation of garment workers. “It is true, what they said happens to Cambodian workers nowadays,” he said.
He also slammed the Ministry of Labor for denying the facts presented in the report, saying responses like these are bad for the institution as a whole.
“The government of Cambodia should deeply consider all of the facts before denying anything,” he said.
Chea Mony, director of the Free Trade Union of Workers, also categorically rejected the Ministry of Labor’s response to the abuses listed in the report. “It is true what’s in the Human Right Watch report,” he said. “It is good that they released it and I strongly support it.”
20150316 * Ministry refutes HRW report:
Calling a recently released report by Human Rights Watch about systematic Labour Law violations and corruption in Cambodia’s garment sector “groundless”, the Ministry of Labour said in a statement that its monitoring of the industry is transparent and competent.
The ministry’s statement calls into question HRW’s professionalism, and says the ministry’s work with the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) proves its sincerity in holding factories accountable.
“What is mentioned in the report of the [HRW] is unacceptable because it violates the ministry’s professionalism,” the statement reads.
“The ILO factory programs are excellent in Cambodia, and have been administered professionally and effectively.”
After reading the government’s reaction to the report, Aruna Kashyap, HRW’s senior researcher for the organisation’s Women’s Rights Division, said the government seems disingenuous in its commitment to ethical practices in the garment sector.
20150316 * Government Rejects Report Alleging Abuse of Workers:
The Labor Ministry has rejected a scathing new report from U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) listing a litany of labor abuses by the country’s garment factories, insisting that government inspectors keep a close watch over employers.
On Thursday, HRW released the results of its interviews with hundreds of garment workers over the past year, as well as with government and factory officials. In a 140-page report, it says that forced overtime, child labor, union busting and the abuse of short-term contracts and shadowy subcontractors remained rife.
The report also called the government’s oversight of the $5.75-billion sector—by far the country’s largest export industry, and one of its most prolific job creators—“dismal.”
Citing figures provided by the Labor Ministry, the HRW report says the government fined only 10 of the country’s 500-plus exporting garment factories in the five years from 2009 through 2013, and only 25 more in the first 11 months of 2014. HRW described the figures as “abysmally low when compared to the number of factories overall and the persistent patterns of labor rights violations.”
In a statement released Friday, the Labor Ministry says it has worked with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and its Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program to improve labor conditions, and calls HRW’s report “unacceptable.”
20150314 * Cambodia rebukes “labor abuse” report:
Cambodia has rejected a U.S.- based Human Rights Watch’s “labor abuse” report, saying the report is groundless, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Labor late on Friday.
“Currently, Cambodia has been closely cooperating with the International Labor Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia to inspect and assess labor conditions in addition to the ministry’s existing inspection mechanism on labor conditions, safety and hygiene,” said the statement.
“The international community, buyers, and International Labor Organization have supported and recognized that labor conditions in Cambodia have improved in line with international standards,” it said.
read more. & read more. & to read. & to read.
20150312 * “Work Faster or Get Out”:
Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry
Workers in Cambodia’s garment factories—frequently producing name-brand clothing sold mainly in the United States, the European Union, and Canada—often experience discriminatory and exploitative labor conditions.
The combination of short-term contracts that make it easier to fire and control workers, poor government labor inspection and enforcement, and aggressive tactics against independent unions make it difficult for workers, the vast majority of whom are young women, to assert their rights.
read & see more (video).
20150312 * Garment Workers Fired in Cambodia for Being Pregnant:
The Cambodian government is failing to protect garment workers who are producing for international apparel brands from serious labor rights abuse.
The predominantly women workers often experience forced overtime, pregnancy-based discrimination, and anti-union practices that neither the government nor major brands have adequately addressed.
The new 140-page report “Work Faster or Get Out: Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry” documents lax government enforcement of labor laws and brand actions that hinder monitoring and compliance.
In recent years, wage protests, instances of garment workers fainting, and burdensome union registration procedures have spotlighted the plight of workers in Cambodia’s garment factories.
read & see more (video).
20150312 * Cambodia’s garment workers facing new problems as wages rise:
Forced overtime, discrimination and anti-union practices – a new report accuses Cambodia of failing to protect workers in the garment industry, and calls on apparel brands to disclose suppliers.
DW examines the issue.
“The quota for us [sewing division] was 80 per hour. But when the minimum wage was increased, they increased our quota to 90. We have to do overtime work. We cannot say no. We are like slaves – not workers.
Even if we go to the toilet, they whistle for us to come back. We can’t even go to the toilet.” These are the words of N.V., a factory worker in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, speaking to Human Rights Watch (HRW) in April 2014.
N.V. is one of the more than 340 people, including workers, union leaders, labor rights advocates, and representatives of both the government and the apparel industry, interviewed by the human rights group for its report “‘Work Faster or Get Out’: Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry.”
Released on Thursday, March 12, the 140-page document examines what HRW describes as a “lax” enforcement of labor laws in the country’s important clothing industry and actions by global apparent brands that “hinder monitoring and compliance.”
A key industry
Cambodia’s garment industry is by far the country’s biggest export earner, with shipments amounting to more than $5 billion in a country where the GDP is $16 billion.
Dominated by foreign investments from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea, the sector is critical not only to the national economy, but also to the livelihoods of the women who make up 90 percent of the more than 700,000 garment workers in 1,200 garment businesses in the country, according to the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft.
Higher wages, new problems
Gregory Poling, Southeast Asia expert at the US-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), points out that while the unions in the Southeast Asian nation have primarily been interested in the wage issue in recent years, factories now require greater scrutiny, especially amid reports that worsening working conditions might actually be resulting from the raise in the minimum wage as factories look for other ways to cut costs.
In its report, HRW quotes several workers as saying that factory managers pressured them to meet production targets in ways that undermined their ability to take rest breaks, use the washroom, drink water, or eat lunch.
There were also incidents of forced overtime. “In some cases, the pressure increased after minimum wages increased in 2013 and 2014,” said the authors.
‘A ruthless industry’
In the meantime, analysts warn that in nations like Cambodia and Bangladesh, we are witnessing a perfect storm of conditions that lead to worker exploitation, much as was the case in Vietnam before its manufacturing began to move up the value chain.
“Wages are remarkably low and garment manufacturers have every incentive to cut costs to the bone in order to compete globally. Add to this weak government oversight, and disinterest among leaders to strengthen it, and you have an environment rife for exploitation,” underlined Poling.
20150313 * Cambodian garment workers exposed to gross violations, says NGO report:
A damning report into Cambodian factories supplying brands such as Marks and Spencer, Gap, Adidas and H&M, has revealed alleged cases of child labour, forced overtime and aggressive anti-union discrimination.
The investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) into labour conditions in 73 factories for the report ‘Work Faster or Get Out’, interviewed 270 workers as well as a number of IndustriALL Global Union’s eight garment affiliates in Cambodia, government officials, labour rights activists, and the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC).
The report accuses brands of failing to protect and promote workers’ rights at both direct and indirect suppliers in their supply chains. It also criticizes brands for a lack of whistleblower protection and pulling the plug on factories where there were problems rather than correcting them, putting workers jobs at jeopardy and making it less likely for labour violations to be reported.
Human Rights Watch also found wide scale abuse of short-term contracts, which are unlawfully used by employers to make it easier to fire and control workers, avoid paying maternity or other benefits, and discourage union participation or formation.
“The report is further evidence that so-called corporate social responsibility practices, which only serve to polish brands’ reputations, are failing to prevent abuse of workers,” says Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL.
20150313 * Cambodia garment workers face routine rights abuse, report says:
20150314 * Clothes retailers accused of labour abuses in Cambodia:
Several High Street and high-end fashion brands have been implicated in a report on labour abuses in Cambodia.
Human Rights Watch says it has uncovered alleged abuses at Cambodian garment factories that supply Marks & Spencer, Gap, H&M, Adidas and Armani.
The pressure group found evidence of discrimination and anti-union practices, it says.
It believes that short-term contracts can prevent workers from asserting their rights.
HRW says it also found evidence of people being forced to work overtime and discrimination against pregnant women.
The study found that factories supplying major retailers often sub-contract work to smaller factories, which are more likely to hire staff on a casual basis.
20150316 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 16 March 2015, Ministry refutes HRW report:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-03-16 Gov’t Rejects Report Alleging Abuse of Workers
* To read in the printed edition of the The Phnom Penh Post:
2015-03-16 Ministry refutes HRW report
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
19:03:11 local time THAILAND
20150313 * Thailand textile & clothing exports earn $7.459bn in 2014:
20:03:11 local time INDONESIA
20150312 * Indonesia to Factor Productivity Into New System for Wage Rate Hikes:
Indonesia plans to factor in productivity into a new rule to set annual minimum wage gains, in an effort to lift the skills of workers and avoid labor disputes.
The new system is still being discussed with unions and the main employers’ association, Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri said in Jakarta on Thursday, declining to give a time frame for implementation.
Minimum wages are usually set in November, with thousands of workers protesting last year in a nationwide strike for higher pay because of inflation.
“Certainly we need a system that means labor costs are predictable and also a formula that will be fair for labor,” Dhakiri said at a business forum.
“The formula is still secret. But essentially there are proposals to use productivity, that’s the main and important point.”
Indonesia’s labor productivity per worker is five times lower than neighbor Malaysia, and on average is also lower than in Thailand, the Philippines and China, the World Bank said in a report last year.
The government is seeking to lift productivity through competency-based training, Dhakiri said.
18:33:11 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150316 * Detained labour activists threaten hunger strike:
Two labour union leaders and two activists under arrest for demonstrating for higher wages have threatened to go on hunger strike in Yangon’s Insein prison if their case is moved to another court.
Ko Nay Lin Aung, lawyer for the four unionists, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the two union leaders, Ko Naing Htay Lwin and Ko Myo Min Min, and the two activists, Ko Thu Zaw Kyi Win and Ko Naing Zaw Kyi Win, had told him of their decision on March 12.
The legal officer of Shwe Pyi Thar Township Court requested on March 9 that the case be shifted to Yankin or South Okkalapa township courts for security reasons. Both courts are about 90 minutes’ drive from Shwe Pyi Thar.
The next hearing is due to be held on March 18.
“If the court is changed, then their families will face difficulty meeting them.
They and their lawyers will be too exhausted because of the distance.
So they told me they did not agree” with the request to change court, the lawyer said.
Ma Ni Lar, wife of Ko Thu Zaw Kyi Win, said that her husband suffered from liver disease and she was worried about how a hunger strike would affect his health.
She said prison authorities had not given the family permission to send medicines to him and that he rejected medical treatment from the prison hospital.
Ma Thandar Aye, wife of Ko Myo Min Min, labour union chair of South Korean-owned garment factory E-Land Myanmar, said she could not afford the costs of travelling to a distant court to see her husband. Since his arrest she has been the family’s sole breadwinner and cannot afford to take time off work, she said.
Ma Thandar Aye works in the same garment factory, earning about K100,000 (US$95) a month to support their two young children.
20150317 * Garment workers deserve support too:
Amid all the furore and outrage over the excessive force used by police against student protesters this month, another violent clampdown has dropped from public attention.
On March 4 – one day before civilian thugs were employed to violently quash student activists gathered at City Hall – a similar scene took place at Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone.
The protesters in that incident were striking garment-factory workers. As would be repeated at the student protest the following day, hired civilian men, decked in red armbands bearing the word “duty”, broke up the protest, apparently at the instigation of the authorities.
According to a spokesperson for the garment workers, those who were arrested were “violently beaten” in the process. Those beaten and arrested at Shwe Pyi Thar were calling for a minimum working wage of K60,000 a month (US$60).
Those arrested remain in detention more than a week later – along with three activists arrested during an earlier wage protest.
20150317 * Time for government to step up on labour disputes:
A demonstation by workers was timed to coincide with student protests against the National Education Law recently.
Several strikes broke out simultaneously at factories in the Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone. Some resolved their disputes through compromise and negotiation, while some workers faced a violent crackdown by the authorities.
This is a good time to ask why labour disputes are difficult to reconcile in Myanmar, and how they could be dealt with better.
More than 5500 workers from Costec, Ford Glory, E-Land Myanmar and Red Stone garment factories and Tai Yi shoe factory in Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone protested simultaneously.
According to a government statement, workers from four of the factories reached a compromise with employers and most have now returned to work. However, hundreds have also lost their jobs.
This includes more than 600 workers from E-Land Myanmar who still have not reached an agreement with their employer. Some of these were brutally attacked by plain-clothed thugs, and 14 leaders were arrested.
According to the latest figures, nearly 20 workers were arrested for their role in the protests.
On March 8, leaders of the Shwe Pyi Thar demonstration held a press conference at Mahabandoola Park in downtown Yangon, at which they called on the authorities to release the arrested workers, reveal who used the vigilantes to suppress the demonstrations and resolve the workers’ demand for a wage increase.
Poor workplace conditions and low wages were behind the decision to strike, but in particular the latter.
The government’s mediation team helped bring workers and employers together to discuss a wage increase, but some couldn’t reach agreement.
Workers complained that their minimum wage could hardly cover their living costs, while employers said that if they agreed to the demands they would lose money.
The workers’ demands are simple.
They said their monthly income ranges from just K80,000 to K130,000 a month, and this is not enough to cope with rising living costs. Workers from E-Land Myanmar demanded a K1000-a-day pay increase.
It is obvious there will never be a resolution if just workers and employers are negotiating.
The daily wage of a Myanmar worker – the equivalent of US$2.50-3 – is about the same as that earned by workers in Cambodia. But Myanmar has a higher cost of living than Cambodia.
Myanmar migrant workers (pink-card holders) in Thailand’s Tak province are reportedly facing difficulty because the Thai government wants them to make documentations for their children.
“The Thai government purposely announced that Myanmar migrant workers (pink card holders) must make documentations for their children.
They are trying to get more money from Myanmar migrants in different ways,” complained Soe Naing, an employee from a garment factory near Mae Sot.
Most of the migrants say it will be impossible to make documentations for their children.
There are more than 4 million Myanmar migrants working in Thailand, according to Thai officials.
20150314 * Myanmar fails transition test with brutal crackdown:
The return of sponsored thugs was a shock, but the govt can still pass the challenges of democratisation
Students marching in a largely peaceful nationwide demonstration found their route to Yangon blocked by 3,000 police and barbed-wire barricades last week.
The ensuing stand-off in central Myanmar’s Letpadan ended on Tuesday, when a column of baton-wielding riot police launched an attack, injuring dozens and arresting more than 100 students and monks.
“We didn’t break the law but we were peacefully protesting for academic policy change,” Yee Mon, a Yangon university student among 12 arrested then released on Thursday, told the AP. Many of his fellows remain in jail.
Education is not the only area where citizens are demanding more say in Myanmar’s future.
On March 4, female garment-factory workers marched in Yangon to demand better pay.
They too were attacked by government-hired thugs before being arrested by the police.
Many of the workers were badly beaten.
They currently earn less than 40,000 kyats (Bt1,270/US$40) per month.
The delay in setting a minimum wage comes amid government concern that higher labour costs might scare foreign investors away.
18:03:11 local time BANGLADESH
20150316 * Helpline launched to receive complaints from garment workers:
A helpline has been introduced on a pilot basis to record garment workers’ complaints about their workplace safety, security and rights so steps can be taken to resolve them.
The government launched the pilot project yesterday for six months in Ashulia, and if it is successful, such helplines will be set up across the country.
The workers can drop complaints simply making a call from their mobile phone handsets.
“This is to take effective steps to address the workers’ concerns about safety, security and rights,” said Labour and Employment Minister Mujibul Haque at the launching ceremony at his office.
He hoped it would be helpful for the workers regarding the prevailing problems in the country’s largest industrial sector.
“It (the project) can also reduce the worker-owner dispute to zero level and help increase productivity in the factories,” the minister added.
The Help Line – 0800 44 55 000 – will be run by the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE).
It will be set up with the support from the International Labour Organization and Royal Norwegian Government.
A trained supervisor and four other agents will be available to receive calls and provide services through the helpline.
20150315 * Workers Rights in Bangladesh Through A Gender Lens:
International Women’s Day also once known as International Working Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to think about workers’ rights in the garment industry from the perspective of the majority female workforce and the female migrant workers who work abroad as domestic workers.
Since Rana Plaza, there has been a laudable focus on workplace safety.
There are two international safety agreements that are leading efforts to inspect the electrical, fire, and structural safety of buildings; however, these efforts are limited in addressing key issues impacting the workplace safety of women workers and their overall rights.
In the summer of 2013, I interviewed survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy and learned that pelvis fractures, injuries to reproductive organs and urinary tracts were common due to the building collapsing on their bodies.
Media and advocates focused on limbs lost and campaigns to get prosthetics, but there was no mention of the impact on women’s reproductive health or inability to maintain marital relations.
Women confided to me that they feared their husbands would abandon them: neither can they work nor can they bear any children.
The majority of the women working in the industry are at the peak of childbearing age, between their teens and thirties, and so, this fear is a real concern.
The focus solely on workers’ rights, and not the specific way in which women workers are impacted has resulted in the failure of providing reproductive and also mental health services for women.
Still, we have not researched the ways in which women are coping in their families, and how their social status has diminished due to their injuries.
Working in the garment industry gave women a certain level of economic freedom because they were able to contribute income to the joint households.
To resume to a dependent status on their family members surely will cause emotional and psychological distress.
20150316 * Accord Disclosure on Refusal to Temporarily Evacuate Factory:
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is conducting independent, engineering inspections for fire, electrical, and building structural safety at all factories in Bangladesh producing for Accord signatory brands and retailers.
At a recent inspection of M/S Mega Chois Knitwear Ltd. (118 Baipail, Mosjid Bus Stand, Ashulia, Dhaka), Accord engineers identified extremely serious fire safety concerns.
The safety concerns were of such an extent that the building was determined unsafe for production and occupancy until such time that urgent remedial measures were completed.
The fire safety issues include:
- the factory has only one exit location for over 600 employees which creates an extremely unsafe situation;
- there is a daycare and dining area on the 6th floor of the building;
- the one exit stair is not fire separated from the rest of the building.
On 17 February 2015, the Accord Chief Safety Inspector (CSI) determined that the building needed to be immediately evacuated and not re-occupied until such time as proper exiting is established.
The Accord CSI then informed the factory owner, relevant Accord brands, IndustriAll RMG federations, and the Ministry of Labour Inspector General (IG).
20150316 * No more delay in ensuring effective factory inspection:
The apparent unwillingness of owners of about a half the 42,792 factories to get the legally binding registration from the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments is indeed unfortunate.
What is more unfortunate is that, according to the DIFE inspector general aa quoted in a New Age report on Sunday, even a DIFE campaign in October 2014 about the issue received a poor response from factory owners.
The errant factories, as pointed out in the report, are mostly in about 50 industrial sectors such as jute, pharmaceuticals, ship breaking and building, chemicals and plastic manufacturing, which involve thousands of workers.
Factories registered with the DIFE are believed to have, among others, adequate safety and hygiene for workers.
DIFE inspectors are also supposed to regularly visit the factories.
Overall, workers of the errant factories are vulnerable to whims of the owners when it comes to ensuring their hygiene and safety.
In an apparent effort to deny the responsibility to conduct a serious drive to bring errant factories under their jurisdiction at least soon after the above-mentioned campaign, the DIFE inspector general sought to blame the lack of necessary manpower in the department for the problem.
But the reality appears to say something more of the reasons behind it.
20150314 * RMG factory shut down partially:
The government-set review committee on Thursday closed partially a garment factory due to the weakness of columns of the factory building and asked another one for load management.
A review committee member said recently the International Labour Organisation-appointed inspection teams found structural faults in three garment factories — Fashion Export International in Chittagong, Eraf Composite at Fatullah and Mujib Fashion at Siddhirganj in Narayanganj — and recommended the committee for next course of action.
The committee on Thursday visited Eraf Composite and Mujib Fashion and asked the authorities to shut a portion of a six-storey building where Eraf Composite and three other factories are housed.
According to the review committee source, during the inspection they found structural fault like weakness of columns in one portion of the building and asked to shut down the segment.
The factory authorities have also been asked to conduct detailed engineering assessment of the building within the next six weeks.
20150315 * Half of factories have no safety clearance:
One in two factories in the country does not have a safety clearance from the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments.
DIFE statistics show that only 23,589 manufacturing units have taken safety clearance.
There are 42,792 factories in the country, according to BBS in 2012, which employ more than 50 lakh workers, revealed BBS’s 2013 economic census.
Factory owners and inspectors said that many manufacturing units were not even aware of the legally- binding requirement to get licence from DIFE.
‘We launched a campaign in October last year to encourage factory owners to register with us but got a very poor response,’ said Inspector General of the DIFE Syed Ahmed, adding, ‘Most of the factory management have no idea about DIFE.’
He said, ‘Due to lack of manpower and jurisdiction, the DIFE failed to exercise its authority’. He hoped to launch a massive campaign from June.
According to DIFE, at least 3,743 readymade garment factories are now under regular supervision of their inspectors.
However, around 50 industrial sectors in the country, including jute, pharmaceuticals, ship-breaking and ship-building, chemicals and plastic manufacturers, mostly ignored registering with DIFE.
20150313 * Business as Usual as Garment Brands Stall Progress:
International and European trade union bodies are calling on the European Union to bolster action on workers’ rights and safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
The Bangladesh government has failed to implement vital labour law reforms, and a compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza disaster still remains US$ 9 million short of the target.
The ITUC and ETUC, along with Global Union Federations UNI and IndustriALL and their European regional bodies, have jointly written to the European Commission calling on it to step up action as anti-union repression in Bangladesh increases and multinational companies in the garment sector hold off from contributing to the fund, leaving families of victims destitute.
20150316 * Global demand drives home textile investment:
Entrepreneurs defy Pakistan worry, political crisis
A growing global demand for local home textile products lures entrepreneurs into making more investments in the sector despite challenges like European Union’s GSP facility to Pakistan and current political turmoil, industry insiders said.
A good number of home textile manufacturers such as Unilliance Textile, Mom Tex, Fariha Group, Pakiza Group and Sad Musa have already invested millions of taka in new factories and expansion of their existing capacity, they added.
Even though local manufacturers are hopeful of facing the challenge of Pakistan’s duty-free facility in the EU market, some of them have termed the country’s ongoing political stalemate an impediment to the sector’s growth.
China, India, Pakistan and Turkey which are traditional producers of home textiles have earned reputation for their product ranges.
But Bangladesh’s home textile industry is also growing fast, making it a promising contender among these competing countries.
Newer opportunities are emerging ahead as buyers from China are shifting to Bangladesh.
Good quality, commitments, low production cost, cheaper wages, duty-free access to some developed countries are the factors that weigh in favour of Bangladesh for the retailers to source from here.
20150313 * July-Jan export earnings from US dip by 2.85%:
The export earnings from the US, the largest export destination for Bangladesh goods, maintained its negative growth during the first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal (2014-15) with a 2.85 percent fall, mostly due to the poor performance of the RMG sector.
Bangladesh exports to the US totalled $3,204.67 million in the first seven months (July-January) of fiscal 2014-15 compared to $3,298.71 million of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal (2013-14).
The amount accounts for 18 percent of the country’s total export earnings during the period.
According to the statistics compiled recently by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the major exports to the US market during the seven-month period were woven garment ($2,210.66 mn), knitwear ($724.97 mn), frozen shrimp ($23.17 mn), home textiles ($73.51 mn) and cap ($26.49 mn).
During the period, around 30.42 percent of the country’s total woven garment exports entered the US market followed by knitwear with 10.10 percent.
20150317 * Garment industry faces ordeal:
High time to roll back likely order drought
The ongoing blockade and shutdowns are crippling the economy, with the garment sector seemingly set to receive the hardest blow.
According to a recent survey by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the garment sector is counting a loss of Tk. 842.5 crore a day due to countrywide blockade or shutdown.
Now garment makers are dreading a sharp decline in work orders from June as retailers are refusing to travel to Bangladesh amid arson attacks and other acts of mindless violence.
Some retailers who were supposed to travel to Bangladesh to place their June orders did not show up in January-February.
And those who did placed only 50-60 percent of their regular orders, according to a senior official of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exports Association (BGMEA).
20150317 * Yarn price falls on sluggish demand amid unrest:
In the face of sluggish export orders of knit products the price of local yarn fell by 15 per cent over the last two months as international buyers are not feeling comfortable to visit Bangladesh due to political instability, industry people said.
Slow demand due to political turmoil and fall of cotton price on the international market are the two prime reasons for the price fall of yarn, said its manufacturers.
According to the spinners, the price of yarn decreased to $2.80 a kg from $3.25 a kg over the last two months.
Knitwear makers, who are the main users of yarn, however, said that they were not getting any advantage of the decreased yarn price as the export orders declined by 20-25 per cent during the period due to the political turmoil.
20150316 * Handloom weavers struggling to survive:
The handloom industry, which is a major source of earning for many rural people, is passing through hard times.
Low wage coupled with lack of capital from the government, the handloom weavers are today struggling for survival. They are now forced to shift to other professions, insiders said.
They said weavers are withdrawing from traditional handlooms due to a lack of necessary capital. The picture of the handloom industry is the same in every part of the country.
About 0.129 million handlooms were closed down (made inactive) over the last three decades due to fund crisis, throwing over 0.10 million weavers out of employment, according to the BHB (Bangladesh Handloom Board) data.
Over 11 million people are employed in the handloom industry, which meets nearly 50 per cent of the country’s fabric requirement, the data said.
Value addition by the handloom sector stands at Tk 10 billion. It meets over 40 per cent of domestic textile requirement, accounting for 63 per cent of textile production. The handloom industry meets the common people’s requirements for saris, lungis, bed sheets and the like, they said.
20150313 * Garment makers dreading order drought from June:
Garment makers are dreading a significant drop in work orders from June as retailers refuse to travel to Bangladesh for the political turmoil since January 6.
The retailers or their representatives were due in January and February to have a look at the factories and put in work orders for the summer but they did not come, said Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Although the internal situation like transportation of goods from factories to Chittagong port and from the port to the factories has improved, the retailers are still shying away from the country.
Rather, they are calling the garment makers to a third country like Thailand, Hong Kong or India to hold meetings, he said.
20150316 * Specialised textile mill owners demand interest waiver:
The owners of specialised textile mills and power looms on Sunday demanded interest waiver of bank loans during the period of political turmoil citing that business of the sector almost halved due to nonstop blockade and frequent hartals enforced by the BNP-led alliance since January 5.
NONSTOP BLOCKADE, HARTALS
In a token hunger strike programme organised by the Bangladesh Specialised Textile Mills and Powerloom Industries Association at the National Press Club in the city business leaders said the ongoing blockade and hartals were anti-state and against the people.
‘The BNP-led 20-party alliance leader Khaleda Zia is chalking out illogical political programmes and at the same time demanding a logical solution,’ said Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, who was also present at the programme.
20150316 * Mysterious fire burn Rana Plaza victim run factory:
A mysterious fire burnt down a bag factory run by Rana Plaza victims at Anandapur in Savar on Sunday night.
According to the officials of the factory, at least 15,000 pieces of jute made hand bags prepared for shipment to Switzerland burnt down in the fire that broke out around 9:30pm along with some raw materials and machineries.
Terming the shipment as the largest International shipment that worth total of USD 18,000, one of the entrepreneur of the factory Kazi Munir Hossain told New Age that if they failed to ship the product on due time they might have close the factory that houses 17 workers among them 16 were Rana Plaza victims.
20150315 * Oporajeo jute bag factory caught fire:
Fire gutted jute bag manufacturing factory Oporajeo, which was founded in 2013 in Savar with the injured workers of Rana Plaza.
The fire broke out around 9:45pm, Chief Executive Worker of the unique-styled factory Kazi Monir Hossain said. He, however, could not confirm immediately how the fire had originated.
There were no worker inside the factory, located on the ground floor of a building in Thana Bus Stand area, at the time of fire, he added.
Fire fighters brought the blaze under control around 10:45pm.
The factory having 50 workers used to manufacture different jute bags for local and international clients with 48 different types of machines.
Of the workers, 40 are the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse.
20150314 * Govt move to privatise jute mill protested in Khulna:
Employees and workers of several state-owned jute mills formed a human chain on Khulna-Jessore highway in Fultala upazila on Saturday, protesting the government’s announcement to privatise Alim Jute Mills.
CBAs and non-CBAs of the jute mills organised the hour-long human chain programme that stretched from Eastern Jute Mills to Afil Jute Mills.
The jute mill employees demanded that the government scrapped the move to hand over the Alim Jute Mills to the private sector.
The government announced to privatise the Alim Jute Mills about three months back.
to read. & read more.
20150317 * KEPZ office remains closed as protesters block entry points:
The office of Korean Export Processing Zone remained closed yesterday after local protesters backed by influential quarters besieged all key entry points to the zone.
At a rally on Sunday, the demonstrators, comprising earlier suspended workers and some incumbent workers of the country’s lone private economic zone, aided by outsiders, declared that they would prevent any KEPZ official from entering the office yesterday.
“We could not enter our office as they besieged all the entry points. So the authorities had to declare the office closed for the day,” said Muktadir Islam, security manager of the zone.
Saiful Islam, media officer of KEPZ, said: “We had tried several times in the morning to enter the office but failed.”
However, factories inside KEPZ were operating normally, sources said.
The agitated people under the banner of Anwara-Karnaphuli Janasartho Sangrakkhan Sangram Parishad, a platform to safeguard the interests of the people of the area, organised the rally at Gate No. 1 of the KEPZ.
read more. & read more.
20150316 * Promises for private EPZ unfulfilled:
Life has never been easy for the sponsor-the Seoul-based Youngone Corporation- of the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), since the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 1995 to establish the first private EPZ in Bangladesh.
The government allotted land and promised all the facilities and incentives to the EPZ, now situated on the bank of the river Karaphuli in Anwara of Chittagong. Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister of the then Awami League government in 1999 attended the ground-breaking inauguration of the KPEZ and pledged all support for the private EPZ.
But the government agencies concerned did the opposite later. The company, allegedly, faced hurdles at every step, from getting the clearance from the department of environment (DoE) to power and water supply.
It may sound bizarre that the KPEZ authorities got operational licence during the rule of the military-backed caretaker government – eight years after that inaugural function.
The DoE in March 2012 had cancelled environmental clearance alleging that the KEPZ was cutting the hills and causing damage to environment.
However, the clearance was restored later when the allegation was found to be false.
20150316 * Chinese co to invest $ 8.7m in Ctg EPZ:
A Chinese company, Sunshine Accessories Manufacturing BD Ltd, will set up a textile and interlining industry in the Chittagong Export Processing Zone by investing 8.7 million US dollar.
An agreement to this effect was signed on Monday between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and the Sunshine Accessories Manufacturing BD Ltd in Dhaka, a BEPZA press release said, according to a news agency.
20150313 * Work on Bangladesh garment industrial park to start this summer:
Work on garment industrial park will start this summer on a new 492 acre which will provide a home for 300 factories and generate around US $3 billion annually in export revenues, said the Bangladesh garment manufacturers and export association.
The BGMEA claims the park will place an emphasis on sustainability, including connecting factories located at the park with a modern Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) for the disposal of industrial liquid and sewerage water.
Significantly, priority relocation to the park will be offered to owners of factories which are found to be non-compliant with assessments which have been carried out by the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
20150315 * Shoemakers on the verge:
Shoemakers of Kishoreganj are in despair.
They might have to shut down the factories due to rising losses and debts said the shoe factory owners at a programme protesting the continuous blockade and general strikes.
They said the footwear industry in Kishoreganj — boasting 7,000 factories — was on the verge of collapse leaving the livelihoods of about 200,000 people involved in the business in jeopardy.
The owners said shoes were piling up as they could not be shipped out owing to the violent anti-government campaign, which falls on its 69th day today, calling for the ruling Awami League to step down and announce new elections.
The labourers are going through severe financial hardship while the factory owners are overburdened with debts from NGOs and banks, they said at a human chain held recently.
20150315 * RMG-worker commits suicide in city:
A readymade garment worker Sujon (16) reportedly committed suicide in city’s Dakshin Khan area.
The victim was a son of Sohrab Ali, hailed from Dampara village of Madhupur in Tangail.
However, police recovered the body from their rented house at 4:00am in Prem Bagan in the area.
Dakshin Khan Thana Sub-Inspector (SI) Hedayet Hossain Molla told banglanews that Sujon was the only earning member in the family as his parents are old.
The causes of his suicide could not be known immediately, the SI added.
The body has sent to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital morgue for autopsy.
20150316 * Labour leader returns after arrest in US:
Bangladeshi labour leader Kalpona Akter, who was arrested in the US for two hours on Thursday, returned to Dhaka yesterday after she was released on bail from an American court.
Akter, along with 26 American union leaders, made their way in to the headquarters of The Children’s Place, a major customer of a factory housed at Rana Plaza, to present a letter demanding just contribution to the trust fund for the victims.
The American retailer was supposed to put in $8 million to the $40 million-trust fund but has so far managed only $450,000. “The police told us to leave the building. We were heading to the elevator to leave when someone from The Children’s Place told the police that they wanted to press charges, and then we were arrested,” she told British newspaper Guardian.
Subsequently, the New Jersey police charged Akter and her fellow demonstrators for trespassing, she told The Daily Star upon her return from the US. They were released after two hours upon presenting a bail from the court.
The next court hearing in this connection is on March 24. She is yet to decide whether she will physically appear in court, as she has already authorised her lawyers to act on her behalf.
Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity, was in the US to drum up support in college campuses to get two major retailers — The Children’s Place and Benetton — to stump in fair contributions to the Rana Plaza trust fund.
She was joined by Mahinur Begum, an 18-year-old survivor of the industrial disaster on April 24, 2013 that claimed more than 1,100 lives and injured thousands.
The trip was sponsored and organised by the International Labour Rights Forum, a not-for-profit advocacy group, and United Students Against Sweatshops, which has chapters on more than 150 college campuses.
Customs documents show that The Children’s Place received shipments of more than 120,000 pounds from the New Wave factory inside Rana Plaza in the eight months to the building’s collapse, with a large shipment arriving in Georgia 19 days prior to the fateful event, according to Guardian.
20150315 * Kalpona Akter, 26 others arrested in USA:
15 March 2015 22:40:00 PM Sunday (local time).
Controversial labor leader of Bangladesh Kalpona Akter and 26 of her associates were held in New Jersy while carrying out ‘Rana Plaza campaign’ in New Jersey.
On Thursday, the 27 people– including the Rana Plaza survivor and Kalpona Akter and Mahinur Begum, an 18-year-old survivor of the factory disaster – were arrested at the headquarters of The Children’s Place in Secaucus, New Jersey, as they sought to drop off a letter to the company’s chief executive. The police charged them with trespassing, said an international news organisation.
Kalpona Akter was however released on Thursday after being held for two hours.
They have visited 16 American college campuses over the past three weeks, urging students to press two major retailers – The Children’s Place and Benetton – to contribute millions of dollars to help the families of those who died in the Rana Plaza factory building collapse.
Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, faced several surprising setbacks during her trip.
According to leaders and owners of Bangladesh readymade garments Industry, Kalpona Akter is destroying the industry and is receiving money from foreigners and using it against the industry.
Kalpona Akter’s trip to the US was sponsored and organized by the International Labor Rights Forum, a not-for-profit advocacy group, and United Students Against Sweatshops, which has chapters on more than 150 college campuses.
Noting that The Children’s Place had been a major customer of one of the factories in the Rana Plaza building before it collapsed, Akter and the two groups called on the company to contribute $8m to the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund.
Thus far, The Children’s Place has contributed $450,000.
Customs documents show that The Children’s Place received shipments of more than 120,000lbs of clothes from the New Wave factory inside Rana Plaza in the eight months before the building collapsed, with a large shipment arriving in Georgia 19 days before the collapse.
The Children’s Place said it was no longer having any garments produced in the building at the time of the collapse.
On Saturday, The Children’s Place did not respond to requests for comment.
20150315 * Bangladesh labor leader arrested during Rana Plaza protest in New Jersey:
Sunday 15 March 2015 11.00 GMT
Kalpona Akter, a well-known activist, traveled the US to fight for garment industry safety and raise funds for families in factory disaster
Kalpona Akter, one of the best-known labor leaders in Bangladesh, has visited 16 American college campuses over the past three weeks, urging students to press two major retailers – The Children’s Place and Benetton – to contribute millions of dollars to help the families of those who died in the Rana Plaza factory building collapse.
Akter, joined by Mahinur Begum, an 18-year-old survivor of the factory disaster, was visiting the US to pressure companies to do more to improve apparel industry safety in Bangladesh and to contribute to a fund for victims of the Rana Plaza collapse, in which more than 1,100 workers died in April 2013.
But Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, faced several surprising setbacks during her trip.
On Thursday, 27 protesters – including the Rana Plaza survivor and Akter – were arrested at the headquarters of The Children’s Place in Secaucus, New Jersey, as they sought to drop off a letter to the company’s chief executive.
The police charged them with trespassing.
In an interview on Friday in New York City, Akter – who was released on Thursday after being held for two hours – was upset about the arrest, but far more worried about reports in the Bangladeshi media that she was urging Americans to boycott garments made in Bangladesh.
She voiced concern that those reports made her sound like a traitor to the industry and to her cause: helping Bangladeshi workers.
An article in Bangla News 24, which describes itself as the nation’s No 1 “online news portal”, quoted a leading garment industry executive saying that Akter was “destroying the industry” and “was receiving money from foreigners and using it against the industry”.
Akter said the allegations were flatly wrong. “These jobs are important,” she said. “My very clear message: ‘We want these jobs, but we want these jobs with dignity.’ There is no point asking for a boycott.”
20150313 * 27, including three Bangladeshis, detained during Rana Plaza demo in US:
They were demanding compensation it had promised for those harmed in Rana Plaza collapse in Savar.
Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity’s Executive Director Kalpona Akter said she and the others were detained from in front of The Children’s Place on Thursday morning (local time).
Police released them on bail after two hours, she said.
They were sued on charges of defiant trespassing, Akter added.
The two other Bangladeshis sued are Mahinur Rahman, a garment factory worker who survived the Rana Plaza collapse, and another worker ‘Tousif’.
read more. (*2) & read more.
(*2) Correction by Labor Rights Forum
@ILRF : on facts in this article: Group tried to leave when police asked, only to be arrested by @childrensplace.
20150309 * ITUC, etuc ces, IndustriALL_GU, uniglobalunion call on the EU to act on workers’ rights and safety in Bangladesh:
As the headlines recede, some foreign governments have lost focus and some international garment brands are resisting making the necessary reforms to their business model.
At the same time, the government of Bangladesh is failing to fulfil its many promises and garment manufacturers continue with business as usual– which is to say violating workers’ rights with impunity.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150315 * Govt yet to make full list of Rana Plaza casualties, missing people:
The government could not yet prepare the full list of those who lost lives or have remained unaccounted for since the Rana Plaza collapse took place two years ago.
The authorities even could not complete the verification of the primary list.
Until now, the authorities confirmed that 100 people were missing since the factory building collapses while the claims relating to 66 other missing persons were still under verification.
A labour ministry official said that ‘the primary list of 166 missing workers’ was sent to 48 deputy commissioners for cross checking in their districts.
Until now, he said, the ministry received verification reports from 34 districts.
He said that a labour ministry report sent to the prime minister’s office last month confirmed that 92 workers from 29 districts were missing.
The status of five workers could not be ascertained, he said.
20150315 * 98 of 166 missing workers in Rana Plaza disaster identified:
The government has identified 98 missing ready-made garments workers who worked for five apparel factories housed at Rana Plaza which collapsed in April 2013, killing over 1,135 people.
However, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) hadearlier prepared a list, which claimed that 166 RMG workers were missing in the devastating building collapse.
Against the missing claim by BGMEA, the government has so far identified 98 RMG workers, who are still missing, through field-level verification involving the Deputy Commissioners of the 34 districts.
“The ministry has so far received identification of 98 missing workers from 34 districts while the rest of the districtsare yet to send us their verification reports,” Faizur Rahman, joint secretary of Labour and Employment Ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He also said: “We’ve already sent a list of 92 identified missing workers to the Prime Minster’s office (PMO), which will take necessary steps to compensate families of the ill-fated workers.”
17:33:11 local time INDIA
20150316 * 57 rescued children sent back home:
Fifty seven child labourers from West Bengal, who were rescued from different workshops in old city, were sent back to their native place on Sunday.
Of the 57 children, 30 were rescued from a bag making unit at Nawab Sahab Kunta in Falaknuma, while the remaining were rescued from goldsmith workshops in Gulzar Houz and Charminar.
They were kept at the Government Observation Home for the last two months. “We contacted the West Bengal government and after completing necessary formalities, we are handing over the children to them,” District Child Protection Officer, Md Imtiyaz Raheem said, adding that the West Bengal government will look into the rehabilitation aspect of the children.
20150316 * Protest against anti-labour policies:
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions will stage a dharna and a demonstration outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office in all districts soon to protest against the “onslaught on the working class by the Union and State governments”.
S. Prasanna Kumar, national secretary, CITU, alleged on Friday that the governments were amending labour laws to curtail the rights of the working class.
He criticised Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for not implementing his promise of abolishing the contract system of labour.
20150314 * CITU organises rally against anti-workers policies of Centre:
The Tripura unit of the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) today organised a ‘Satyagraha rally’ here to protest anti-workers policies adopted by the NDA government at the Centre.
Hundreds of protesters, majority of them women, took to the streets demanding repealing of the anti-workers laws including allowance of 49 percent FDI in the insurance sector.
“NDA government’s economic policy has no difference with the former UPA government led by the Congress.
This NDA government is destroying all democratic and federal parliamentary practices and has adopted anti-labour laws, without consultation with the trade unions and state governments.
Even many BJP ruled states have lodged complaints against such practices,” National Secretary of CITU Swadesh Dev Roye said.
20150315 * Textile industry seeks lower duties, more funds for growth:
Representatives from South Indian Mills Association met Textile Minister Santosh Gangwar and sought reduction in excise and import duties while pitching for higher fund allocation.
“It is essential to reduce the central excise duty on man-made fibre from 12 per cent to 6 per cent on par with cotton and also remove the 5 per cent import duty and 4 per cent special additional duty.
This is to enable Indian textile industry to achieve a substantial growth rate in the markets of man-made textile products as this segment has not achieved any growth rate over a period,” SIMA Chairman T Rajkumar said.
“The industry had demanded for an allocation of Rs 3,500 crore for the ongoing Technology Upgradation Funds scheme (TUFS) to meet the liabilities of the last three quarters of 2014-15 and also for the entire period of 2015-16.
But the Union Budget has allocated only Rs 1,520 crore which may not meet the fund requirement for even 2014-15,” Rajkumar said.
20150313 * 25 lakh labourers wait revision of minimum wage:
A trade union organization CITU has alleged that minimum wage for about 25 lakh laboures in Haryana has not been revised for the past eight years maintaining that as per law its revision is mandatory after every five years.
A delegation of the CITU led by its state general secretary Satbir Singh on Friday met Haryana finance minister Captain Abhimanyu to demand fixation of Rs 15,000 as minimum wage for the labourers.
According to Singh, currently monthly minimum wage of labourers in Haryana is about Rs 5,600 monthly.
20150316 * Co-optex weavers to go organic:
It will be a huge step for them as they would have to give up elaborate designs
The interaction with weaver artisans from other States has had an impact on Tamil Nadu weavers. Some of them attached to the Tamil Nadu Weavers Cooperative Society have decided to create a few designs using organic cotton and natural dyes.
It will be a huge step for them as they would have to give up elaborate designs and instead settle for simple, plain prints on the saris they weave.
For the officials, it has been a tough task to change the mindset of the weavers. “They went for elaborate designs as it meant more number of days of work and in turn more income.
A sari with elaborate motifs would require more man hours than one with simple designs but the latter is a big revenue earner,” says T.N. Venkatesh, managing director, Co-optex.
20150315 * How Maharashtra’s beef ban will hit leather products hub Kolhapur:
The roof tiles have holes, the walls are covered with dirt and moss and used clothes are hung from a battered clothesline in front.
In one corner of what appears to be an abandoned bungalow taken over by squatters, a new DTH dish antenna stands out amidst all the debris.
Unless you’re told by people living in the neighbourhood, a stranger wouldn’t realise that these (and the remains of apparatus used to dry animal hides) are remnants of long-abandoned tanneries in Kolhapur.
If these tanneries were driven first from the centre of the town to the periphery to a low-income borough called Jawahar Nagar, the next step — resulting from a crackdown on polluting effluents — saw most of them driven out of business entirely.
With a wider ban on the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks in Maharashtra in place, the makers of leather footwear called Kolhapuris, made not just in Kolhapur, but in adjoining hamlets, could be facing a similar fate.
For the past decade, activists, educational institutes, politicians and administrators have been all trying to resuscitate this struggling sector, which has strived to grow out of its cottage industry roots.
20150311 * Beef ban in Maharashtra to hit leather industry in Tamil Nadu:
Amid raw material shortage, leather products’ output set to decline
The Maharashtra government’s decision to ban beef is set to affect the leather sector in Tamil Nadu, which sources 40 per cent of bull hides produced in Maharashtra.
According to experts, the ban will increase the price of leather products and bring down production, as the domestic market won’t be able to meet the demand and importing won’t be viable.
M Rafeeque Ahmed, president, All India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association, said Maharashtra used to supply nearly two million leather sheets a year at an all-India level.
“Not only has the cost of sourcing gone up nearly five per cent, if Maharastra is not going to supply, our production will also come down,” said Ahmeed, adding that companies in Tamil Nadu were currently paying around Rs 800 per hide.
17:33:11 local time SRI LANKA
20150315 * Sri Lanka apparel exports at hair’s breadth of US$5B:
Apparels, Sri Lanka’s topmost merchandize export earner, had arrived very close to the US$5 billion mark in 2014, and Lanka’s prospects on the crucial European GSP Plus facility ‘looks brighter’, as revealed on 12 March in Colombo.
“We are now almost ready to achieve the US$ 5 billion export milestone in our apparels. Our apparel exports in 2014 totalled US$4.9 billion.
Apparels, Sri Lanka’s topmost merchandize export earner, had arrived very close to the US$5 billion mark in 2014, and Lanka’s prospects on the crucial European GSP Plus facility ‘looks brighter’, as revealed on 12 March in Colombo. “We are now almost ready to achieve the US$ 5 billion export milestone in our apparels. Our apparel exports in 2014 totalled US$4.9 billion.
I commend our committed apparel sector for this achievement. And our GSP Plus recovery prospects are brighter” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen addressing the inauguration event of the sixth TEXTECH series of exhibitions in Colombo on 12 March.
20150315 * Textech expo, a boost for apparel sector:
The Textech International Expo, which was held for the sixth consecutive year in Sri Lanka will boost the apparel sector.
“The challenging international market place needs the comparative advantage of strong brand identity to win buyers globally.
As the loss of GSP Plus from the European Union has greatly affected our apparel sector, vigorous effots are being made to recover this facility, he said.
The country is supported by the EU Committee on International Trade to regain the facility and the GSP Plus recovery prospects are bright, he said.
20150313 * Lanka to gain GSP Plus:
The prospects of Lanka gaining back the EU’s GSP plus preferential trade concessions are brighter,Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen said.
The Minister made this remark addressing the inaugural ceremony of sixth TEXTECH Sri Lanka 2015 International Expo’ – An International Exhibition on Textile Apparel Technology and Machinery for Sri Lanka at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC) in Colombo.
The loss of the GSP plus concession from the European Union greatly affected the Sri Lankan apparel sector; realizing this, the present government under the 100 – day program has promised to negotiate this facility again.
The Minister noted that the various EU committees have already assured their support to help regain the GSP plus facility.
20150313 * Bright prospects for Sri Lanka to recover EU GSP+ facility:
Sri Lanka has bright prospects of recovering the European Union’s GSP Plus trade concessions that were withdrawn in 2010, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony of sixth TEXTECH Sri Lanka 2015 International Expo – an international exhibition on Textile Apparel Technology and Machinery for Sri Lanka at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre (SLECC) in Colombo Thursday, Minister Bathiudeen said realizing that the loss of the GSP plus concession greatly affected the Sri Lankan apparel sector, the present government under the 100 – day program has promised to negotiate this facility again.
The Minister said various EU committees have already assured their support to help regain the GSP plus facility and a visiting member of European Parliament has assured to help Sri Lanka regain the tariff concession.
20150312 * Prospect of Sri Lanka regaining GSP Plus bright:
Apparel exports near $5bn mark
Apparels, Sri Lanka’s topmost merchandise export earner, had got close to USD 5 bn mark in 2014 and the country getting crucial European GSP Plus facility were bright Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said yesterday.
“We are now almost ready to achieve the USD 5 billion export milestone with our apparels with exports in 2014 having totalled USD 4.9 billion. I commend our committed apparel sector for this achievement! ”
17:03:11 local time PAKISTAN
20150314 * Fire destroys two warehouses:
Two fires that caused losses estimated to be in millions broke out in different warehouses situated in Liaquatabad and New Karachi industrial area in the wee hours of Thursday night.
A warehouse, used to store electronic items, and five adjacent shops situated in Firdous Market, Liaquatabad No 6 caught fire and valuable goods worth millions of rupees were reduced to ashes.
In the other incident, a blaze erupted at the warehouse of a local garment factory situated in Godhra Camp, New Karachi Industrial Area.
The cause was ascertained to be a short circuit and, after continuous efforts of two hours, five fire engines of the KMC successfully managed to extinguish the fire.
20150314 * PCETA chief optimistic about talks over FTA with Turkey:
Ali Ashraf Khan, Chairman PCETA has pinned high hopes in Pakistani negotiating team over Free Trade Agreement with Turkey to convince Turkish authorities about the negative effects of high tariff on import of textile made-up from Pakistan.
Three years ago Turkey has imposed 42.2 percent Safeguard Measures Duty (SMD) on 130 Pakistani products including apparel, home textile goods and other products. After the announcement of the new duty, buyers of Pakistani products have slashed order by half in some areas.
read more. & read more.
20150315 * APTPMA chief slams proposed increase in gas tariff:
Expressing great concern over the prospect of proposed enhancement of Sui-gas prices, Central Chairman All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, (“APTPMA”), Anees Ahmed Motiwala, said that this action would cast devastating repercussions on textile industry, and would give a serious setback to value-added and export-oriented textile industry.
Elaborating, APTPMA Chief said that the sector which would be hardest hit by the unjust enhancement, is the Textile processing Sector which is, by far, the most value-added and export-oriented Sector of textile industry in Pakistan.
read more. & to read.
20150314 * APTMA rejects proposed 30 percent increase in gas tariff:
Tariq Saud, Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Sindh Balochistan Region, has said that Pakistan textile products would become uncompetitive in the international market, if the government implemented the new gas tariff.
Speaking at a press conference at the APTMA office in Karachi on Friday, he said that the entire textile sector has strongly rejected the proposed increase in gas tariff by 64 percent from 1st April, 2015, as this exorbitant increase in gas tariff would cripple the entire textile value chain, which is using gas for power generation and processing.
read more. & read more.
20150316 * Govt all set to restart cotton hedging to eliminate market uncertainty:
According to the sources, the work on hedge market restoration was started after its approval in the new textile policy 2014-19.
The new hedging would be established under Security Exchange Commission
of Pakistan and in order to take all stakeholders on board, Ministry of Textile would soon call a meeting, in which representatives of Karachi Cotton Association (KCA), ginners association and growers would be taken into confidence and their proposals or objections would be noted.
20150315 * Myth vs reality: Pakistani entities not migrating to Bangladesh:
Whenever my casual acquaintances learn about my business engagements and frequent travels to Bangladesh, they quickly make an astonishing statement, “All our garment factories have migrated to Bangladesh because there is no electricity or gas here”.
It’s not phrased as a question requiring my confirmation. It doesn’t sound as a matter of fact either.
No one quotes authentic data recorded by The Economist or The Financial Times in their claims support; or give actual numbers of factories that have migrated. Invariably, these declarations are delivered as grim announcements coming out of a grim economic outlook, with little to cheer.
It is true that our garment export trade has actually shrunk in the last 15 years to $3 billion while Bangladesh’s stands at $27 billion.
It is also true is that we have missed the $25-billion share from the gravy train of the apparel global trade.
The claims reinforce the perceptions of our broken down economy.
20150315 * The perfect shot: Soomro captures the lives of Karachi’s labourers:
A picture is said to be worth a thousand words.
For award-winning photographer Arif Soomro, however, a portrait is worth a life.
Capturing the lives of Karachi’s labourers, Soomro’s first solo show, ‘Lost in Labour’, opened at the Alliance Francaise on Saturday.
The exhibition, which was inaugurated by French consul-general Francois Dall’Orso, will continue till March 21.
“Each image exhibited here tells a story about the various experiences of labourers in different parts of the city,” Soomro told The Express Tribune.
“Every portrait has a tale of its own.
The photographer’s role is to make that story visible and to ensure that the subject’s personality speaks for itself.”
Soomro, an Express Tribune staffer who won an award from the International Labour Organisation for his photography, felt a deep bond with his subjects. “I have experienced how a labourer’s family lives,” he explained.
“It took 15 years of dedication and hard work to be able to collect what I felt as a child in the 50 pieces on display here.”
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150317 * New joint investigation team formed to probe Baldia factory fire:
Seven-member team led by DIG RRF Aftab Ahmed Pathan will submit its findings within 30 days
The Sindh home department on Monday constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the Baldia fire tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 267 persons on September 11, 2011.
The new seven-member JIT has been ordered by the home department to submit its findings within the next 30 days.
The investigation team will be headed by DIG Sindh Rapid Response Force (RRF) Dr Aftab Ahmed Pathan.
Its members will include senior officials of the police, Rangers, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Earlier this year, the Baldia factory carnage came into the limelight once again when Sindh Rangers presented the JIT report of a criminal Rizwan Qureshi before the Sindh High Court.
20150317 * New Baldia factory fire probe team takes spy agencies on board:
The Sindh government on Monday reconstituted a committee for the reinvestigation of the 2012 Baldia factory fire case by appointing a new head and including representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau in it, officials said.
The officials said that the home department notified the reconstituted body that replaced additional IG Sindh police Khadim Hussain Bhatti with DIG Rapid Response Force Dr Aftab Pathan.
One of the members of the previously-notified body DIG crime branch Mushtaq Mahar had also been replaced with DIG-East Munir Sheikh, they added.
20150317 * Factory Fire: Baldia JIT chief replaced:
Crime Branch AIG Khadim Hussain Bhatti, appointed to head the new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Baldia factory fire tragedy, has been replaced by Rapid Response Force chief DIG Dr Aftab Pathan.
The Sindh home department has reconstituted the JIT on the recommendation of Sindh IG Ghulam Hyder Jamali, department special secretary Nawaz Shaikh confirmed to The Express Tribune.
District East police chief DIG Munir Shaikh has further been added to the JIT, while the intelligence agencies have been asked to nominate their representatives. Sources informed The Express Tribune that the decision to replace Bhatti was taken after it came to Jamali’s notice that he was facing some cases by the Federal Investigation Agency.
20150314 * Baldia factory fire victims move court against German brand:
A case has been filed in a German court for the payment of compensation to the families of the Baldia factory fire victims, while a similar case will be filed in an Italian court against the firm that had issued a social audit certificate to the factory.
Four heirs of the victims filed the case against the German brand, KIK, in the Regional Court of Dortmund, seeking compensation of 30,000 Euros for each of the bereaved families.
The development was shared with the media by representatives of Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association and labour leaders at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation said that the case was filed as the German brand, KIK, whose products were produced at the Ali Enterprise, had refused to pay some remaining amount of the compensation.
He said that 15 heirs of the victims would also sue the Italian company, RINA, which had issued the social audit certificate to Ali Enterprises, in a court in Milan, Italy within the next few days.
20150314 * Baldia factory fire: Retailer comes under fierce criticism:
Last week, a few residents of Berlin, Germany, barged into an outlet of KiK – the German retailer that sourced products from the ill-fated Baldia factory – and damaged their store, saying that their clothes were being made with the blood of Pakistanis.
This incident was shared by the deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Nasir Mansoor, while speaking at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
According to Mansoor, the German company was supposed to compensate the families of the victims, but they paid only Rs1 million as initial amount and then backed out. “That’s why we have now filed the case of pain and suffering against the German brand, KiK, in the High Court of Dortmund, Germany, demanding a compensation of 30,000 Euros for each family.”
He further told the press that German lawyer Dr Remo Klinger will represent them in the German court, while different labour organisations, namely European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Medico International, have also been assisting them.
Italian company Registro Italiano Navale (RINA) that had issued the social audit certificate to the Ali Enterprise has also been sued by 15 heirs of the Baldia factory fire victims and NTUF in a court of Milan, Italy.
20150315 * Heirs of four victims move German court:
Four heirs of the victims of Baldia factory fire tragedy have lodged a case for pain and suffering in the High Court of Dortmund, Germany, against company KIK — for which the Ali Enterprises manufactured garments — to demand payment of livelihood damages worth 30,000 Euros to each plaintiff family.
In a press conference held simultaneously in Karachi and Berlin, the representatives of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association said that German clothing brand KIK had refused to continue talks for final payment of compensation to heirs.
This, they said, was tantamount of backing out of its promise to pay the remaining amount in terms of livelihood damages.
The heirs who have lodged the case in German court, Saeeda Khatoon, Mohammad Jabir, Abdul Aziz Khan and Mohammad Hanif, will be represented by Dr Remo Klinner.
Moreover, they revealed, 15 more heirs were planning to sue Italian audit firm RINA in a court in Milan. In this regard, the required documents will be deposited to the Italian embassy next week.
Besides, a case for acquisition of gratuities has also been filed with the compensation commissioner in Sindh and is being managed by Rathi Advocate and demanded that it be decided as soon as possible.
The representatives, including NTUF’s deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor and the four plaintiffs were of the view that the demands of heirs were being pushed into the background by the government and the stakeholders concerned.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150315 * Deadly factory fire: Activist says MQM men ignited Baldia blaze: Rangers:
One of the suspects detained during the March 11 raid on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s headquarters has confessed that a 2012 deadly inferno at a garment factory in Karachi was ignited by one of the party’s sector in-charges, the Rangers said on Saturday.
More than 250 workers were burnt alive in the blaze at the Ali Enterprises factory in Baldia Town of Karachi on September 11, 2012. MQM activist Umair Siddiqui admitted during interrogation that his party’s sector in-charge for Baldia Town, Rehman alias Bhola, and his aides were behind the deadly conflagration, the paramilitary force said in an official statement.
20150315 * Detainee reveals MQM sector in-charge burnt Baldia factory:
Umair Siddiqui admits to killing 120 MQM opponents on orders of Hammad Siddique *Weapons for MQM’s armed wing were purchased from a dealer in Quetta and shifted to Nine Zero in ambulances *250-300 target killers reside in Nine Zero neighborhood
Detained Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Umair Siddiqui has confessed that MQM sector in-charge Rehman Bhola was the man behind the deadly 2012 Baldia Town fire that killed at least 258 factory workers, according to a statement issued by the Rangers on Saturday.
“Umair Siddiqui admitted MQM sector in-charge set Baldia factory on fire,” the Rangers spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that Siddiqui, who was presented in an anti-terrorism court on Saturday, confessed to having been given the task of killing the MQM opponents, and that he has been involved in 120 target killings.
read more. & read more.
20150314 * Arrested suspect offers to become approver:
A hardened criminal arrested by the Rangers during a raid at the MQM headquarters — Nine Zero — has offered the law-enforcement agencies to become an approver in Baldia Town factor fire case, sources told The News on Friday.
Abdur Rehman alias Bhola was key accused in the Baldia Town factory fire which killed more than 250 people.
According to the report compiled by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Bhola along with his unknown accomplices threw a chemical on the walls and gates that ignited a huge blaze at the factory.
20150314 * MQM party worker admits sector incharge started Baldia factory fire:
Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Umair Siddiqui has admitted that a party sector incharge set the Baldia factory ablaze in 2012, Express News reported.
“Umair Siddiqui admitted MQM sector incharge Abdur Rahman set Baldia factory on fire,” a Rangers spokesperson said on Saturday.
20150314 * MQM worker says Sector In-charge set Baldia Factory on fire:
Detained Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Umair Siddiqui has been involved in 120 target killings, Rangers asserted on Saturday.
Siddiqui allegedly also confessed that MQM Sector In-charge Rehman Bhola was the man behind the deadly 2012 Baldia Town fire that consumed at least 258 factory workers.
Rangers personnel had presented a report to the Sindh High Court in February this year which revealed that the MQM had set the factory ablaze.
The information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.
read more. & read more.