20:03:43 local time CHINA
20150407 * Strikes proliferate in China with awakening of working class:
Timid by nature, Shi Jieying took a risk last month and joined fellow workers in a strike at her handbag factory, one of a surging number of such labour protests across China.
Riot police flooded into factory compound, broke up the strike and hauled away dozens of workers. Terrified by violence, Shi was hospitalised with heart trouble, but with a feeble voice from her sickbed expressed a newfound boldness.
“We deserve fair compensation,” said Shi, 41, who makes $4,700 a year at Cuiheng Handbag Factory in Nanlang, in southern China. Only recently, she had learned she had the right to social security funding and a housing allowance — two of the issues at stake in the strike. “I didn’t think of it as protesting, just defending our rights,” she said.
read more. & read more.
21:03:43 local time NORTH KOREA
20150406-07 * S.Korean businessmen to visit Kaesong complex to discuss wage hike:
South Korean businessmen with factories in the Kaesong Industrial Complex will visit the inter- Korean factory park Tuesday to discuss the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s unilateral decision to hike wages for its workers there.
Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol told a press briefing Monday that a group of 13 South Korean businessmen, including Chung Ki-sup, chief of the council for South Korean firms operating factories in Kaesong, will travel to the zone Tuesday.
They will hold a meeting with other businessmen to discuss how to respond to the DPRK’s February notification of its decision to raise minimum wages for DPRK workers in Kaesong from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 dollars starting from March.
The new wage will be paid from April 10.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20:03:43 local time PHILIPPINES
* PEZA sells PH’s EU-GSP+ privilege to investors:
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is now trumpeting the country’s EU-GSP+ privilege as key attraction for foreign investors to locate in the country.
PEZA spokesperson Elmer San Pascual told reporters that the EU-GSP+ has now become an important point in all of the agency’s investment promotions efforts abroad.
“The EU-GSP+ privilege accorded to the Philippines is now included in all the sales pitches of Director General Lilia B. De Lima,” San Pascual said.
Under the EU-GSP+, over 6,000 Philippine made products are entitled to zero-duty when exported to the 27-EU countries.
PEZA locators, which have been focusing on the American and Asian markets for the longest time, will now have the competitive advantage to export to EU.
In addition, PEZA is also targeting companies in China that are exporting to EU. These companies are now relocating outside of China because of the increasing cost of doing business there.
But one of the criteria of staying in the GSP+ list is that the country must be below the category of low middle income as the EU provides that only developing countries or the low middle income are qualified for this privilege.
The World Bank categorizes the Philippines under a low income category or under $3,000 per capita.
19:03:43 local time VIET NAM
20150407 * Foreign investors scampering for a share in garment industry:
A series of foreign direct investment projects in the garment sector will be started in the central region of Vietnam over the next months.
Some of the more outstanding projects include the Delta Galil fiber-dyeing and garment plant, the Onewoo garment plant and the Tam Thang textile-garment and dyeing plant.
Delta Galil Industries Ltd, an Israel-based apparel manufacturer and distributor, is currently completing procedures to start construction of the Vietnam Delta Galil fiber-dyeing and garment plant in the second quarter.
In January, the Binh Dinh Provincial People’s Commiittee approved Delta Galil Industries Ltd to construct a plant on the total area of 18,000 square metres with the total investment capital of $13 million.
At present, the construction project has completed the site clearance and base design phases and is ready to move forward.
Upon starting operations, the plant’s annual revenue is expected to reach $11 million over the initial years.
Following further consolidation of operational, production and business activities and potential enlargement, this figure is expected to increase to US$30 million, the equivalent of rolling out 1.3 million products a year.
Being a leading global apparel manufacturer and distributor, Delta Galil Industries Ltd currently sells apparel products under famous brands including Wilson, Maidenform and Tommy Hilfiger.
It is also selling its products under high-grade fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Nike, Hugo Boss and Victoria’s Secret.
At the end of March a number of textile and garment projects have been granted investment certificates.
Two of these are the Korean-financed Onewoo garment project, boasting the chartered capital of $6 million, and the Tam Thang textile-garment and dyeing project worth $30 million invested by PanKo Tam Thang Company.
20150406 * New enterprise law to boost business climate:
The impact of Vietnam’s new enterprise and investment laws on the country’s business climate was the topic under discussion at a seminar in Hanoi on April 6 held by the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
The new legislation, which takes effect July 1, has been created by the government to protect consumers, the environment and the community, as well as to promote fair trading and competition, speakers at the seminar said.
20150406 * Vietnam Faces Pension System Crisis as It Tries to Calm Strikers:
Vietnam may be forced to water down a new law designed to shore up its pension system after tens of thousands of workers protested against the changes in a strike that lasted nearly a week.
Four factories employing more than 90,000, owned by Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Pou Chen Corporation, halted production last week as workers protested new pension rules that go into effect next year aimed at boosting the retirement program.
The new law prevents laborers from being eligible for lump-sum social insurance payments when they leave companies.
To bring back those on strike, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s government will propose amendments to the law to meet workers’ demands of payouts when they quit a job.
The factory protests underscore the hard choices Vietnam’s government must make to revamp its pension system.
The country’s social security fund is forecast to have deficits beginning in 2021 and risks being depleted by 2034 without reforms, according to the International Labour Organization.
“The challenge is the government cannot bear a sustainable pension system if there are no contributions,” Gyorgy Sziraczki, Vietnam director of the International Labour Organization, said by phone. “It’s a very, very hard dilemma.”
read more. & read more.
20150407 * Footwear sector support wears thin:
Taking initiative to develop their own material sources is still beyond most domestic footwear enterprises in HCM City.
Materials for leather and footwear products are mainly imported from mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea.
Although some footwear firms have started to produce their own materials in recent years, they are limited to outsoles, rings, buttons, buckles and boxes.
Important materials like leather and imitation leather are still imported due to limitations within the domestic leather sector, which cannot meet domestic demand or quality standards.
20150406 * Vietnam, Cambodia trade unions foster connections:
A delegation from the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) led by Vice President Nguyen Thi Thu Hong paid a working visit to Cambodia from March 30 to April 4 to seek strengthened partnership between the two trade unions.
During the visit, the delegation met with their counterparts from the National Union Alliance Chambers of Cambodia (NACC) and the Cambodian Council of National Union (CCNU).
Both sides briefed one another on their respective current political and socio-economic context, expressing delight at the outcomes of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in 2010 between the VGCL and the NACC as well as the sound relationship between trade unions of both countries in recent years.
19:03:43 local time CAMBODIA
20150406 * On Garment Exports, Gov’t Figures Vary Wildly:
Cambodia’s critical garment industry may be doing significantly better than Commerce Ministry figures suggest, judging by the Finance Ministry’s count, but just whose numbers to trust is up for debate.
In February, the Commerce Ministry’s import-export inspection general directorate said Cambodia’s garment exports for 2014 hit $5.75 billion, up 4 percent from 2013. Though the figures defied predictions by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) that exports would not grow at all, they did mark a major slowdown for the sector following a 20 percent jump in 2013.
The Finance Ministry, however, says the industry may be doing much better.
According to the ministry’s customs department, 2014 garment exports reached $6 billion, a 10.7 percent increase over the year before.
20:03:43 local time INDONESIA
19:03:43 local time THAILAND
20150405 * Workers demand B421 minimum wage:
Labour unions in Rangsit and nearby areas have decided to seek a minimum wage of 421 baht per day on National Labour Day, May 1, according to Matichon Online.
Samai Phuphaenna, chairman of a group of labour unions in Rangsit and nearby areas, was quoted as saying the resolution was made at a seminar of his group and the Textile Industry Federation.
The topic of the seminar concerned the daily wage and whether it was enough for the cost of living.
Academics and workers in various fields agreed that the current 300 baht per day minimum wage is not enough to cover living costs.
20150407 * Ministry gets tough on workplace safety:
The Labour Ministry says it is adopting stricter measures against employers who fail to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.
Peeraphat Pornsirilertkij, director-general of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, says the ministry was forced to act after recent inspections of factories found more than half did not meet regulations on workplace safety.
The minister has acted by introducing swift measures including warning employers, halting the use of dangerous machinery and filing legal action, Mr Peeraphat said yesterday .
Ministry officials have conducted regular inspections at more than 4,000 factories across the country and found that 64% of them did comply with occupational health and safety laws, he said.
Almost 60 factories are facing legal action for poor work safety practices and failing to improve working conditions despite being issued repeated warnings, Mr Peeraphat said.
20150407 * Garment firms cash in on trend for uniforms:
Although the garment industry is experiencing sluggish sales this year, the uniform business is booming with rising demand from many industries.
18:33:43 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150406 * Minimum wage debate still unresolved:
Two years after the government passed a law to set a minimum wage, it still has not come into existence.
The issue has been a source of tension particularly in the garment industry, with a number of strikes so far this year revolving around issues of wages and overtime. Yet experts say it has been a difficult process to put a minimum wage into place, with the topic more complex than it first appears.
“We raise all the issues, but the main challenge is the understanding of the definition of the minimum wage,” said minimum wage-fixing committee member Daw Khine Khine Nwe, also general secretary for the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).
The debate has reportedly hit a stumbling block as it approaches what the legislation will provide for, as measures beyond the minimum – such as paid wages that reflect worker productivity – get factored into arguments.
In March 2013, parliament replaced minimum wage laws from the late 1940s with one creating a committee to carry out research and then develop a minimum wage, according to previous analysis from Myanmar legal and tax advisory firm VDB Loi.
20150405 * Clothes makers demand pay rise:
About 700 workers demonstrated in the compound of Sumec Textile and Light Co Ltd’s factory in Yeni, Bago Region, demanding a minimum monthly wage of US$60.
They claimed they lost their rights when the factory was privatised and shifted from producing paper and household goods to clothing.
“The lowest salary is US$15 and the highest is US$35. The government promised an increase. Our salary was raised by only 20 US cents. We demonstrate because of this,” said worker Yin Swe.
They have 13 demands, including not enforcing overtime without the employee’s agreement, to get paid a day before the last day of the month if it falls on a holiday, to arrange a ferry if an eight-hour-overtime shift is completed, to cut the pay only for one day if someone is absent for a day, to increase the break time to 20 minutes, to double the overtime rate if it is an official holiday, to pay double on Sunday overtime and to give them the chance to leave for various reasons.
20150404 * EU Investment Deal Could Keep Garment Sector Wages Low:
London-based charity ActionAid has warned that a trade deal currently being negotiated by the Burmese government and the European Union could negatively impact female garment workers in the country.
The Bilateral Investment Treaty would set terms and conditions for foreign direct investment into Burma, and provide legal protection to European companies. Critics warn that such agreements can undermine the ability of governments to regulate business practices.
Talks on the deal were conducted in February and further negotiations are expected in May.
A post on Action Aid’s website compared the deal to the controversial Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TIPP, that would govern trade between the United States and European Union member states. The charity called for the Burmese government to ensure laws were in place to protect workers’ rights as investment from overseas ramps up.
“The government of Myanmar hasn’t had time to put the right laws and policies in place to make sure this investment benefits its own citizens,” said the post by Ruth Kelly, ActionAid’s program policy manager.
20150407 * Garment industry disputes mean fewer orders and worried factory owners:
Labour disputes in the garment industry, a main driver of Myanmar’s growing exports, have had a serious impact on orders from abroad and risk scaring away foreign investors, according to South Korean officials and sector representatives.
Disputes over workers’ demand for higher wages affected output at two South Korean factories and three Chinese-owned enterprises in Yangon earlier this year until a tough police crackdown in February got most workers back to the production lines.
Workers were demanding an extra 30,000 kyats (US$28) a month in wages.
“There is a really serious problem with orders,” said Chu Hyun-oh of Suitstar Garment company and representative of the South Korean manufacturers’ association. “The future of the garment business in Myanmar looks gloomy,” he told The Myanmar Times.
Myanmar representatives of the industry and union leaders had a much more upbeat perspective however, noting record exports last year. There is also the hope that orderly elections later this year could lead to an upsurge in orders from the US.
Mr Chu said that last year Myanmar had successfully attracted foreign investors who were lured by lower production costs compared with China.
But labour costs had risen by some 25 percent and could rise further on the back of wage increases recently granted by the government to civil servants.
He said foreign investors were urging the government to help resolve labour disputes by finalising an overdue law setting a minimum wage.
20150407 * Myanmar to expand textile, garment industry for bigger economic growth:
Myanmar is to expand its textile and garment industry under the country’s new national export strategy as a means to boost economic growth, with the sector’s export earning targeted at 2 billion U.S. dollars for the 2015-16 fiscal year, official media reported on Tuesday.
With foreign investment accounting for 90 percent, the sector created 100,000 job opportunities in 2014-15, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association.
The five-year national export strategy, which also covers six other sectors and is aimed at tackling trade deficit, focuses on rice, peas and pulses, fishery products, timber and forest products, rubber and tourism.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, the export income from the textile and garment sector made up 40 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earning around the year 1990.
18:03:43 local time BANGLADESH
20150404 * Wage Protest Continues at Home Stitch Designs Ltd.:
It has been 5 days since workers of Home Stitch Designs Limited are protesting against the management of their factory for not paying their rightful wages or overtime since the last two months.
The protest started on 31 March 2015 when workers started protesting against their factory owner infront of the BGMEA building, demanding a payment of their 2 month due wage with overtime.
In face of the protests, the BGMEA held a meeting with Home Stitch Design’s management and promised a resolution on 2 April 2015. However, as 2 April 2015 came forth, and with no resolution in sight, workers took to their factory and surrounded it.
They started a sit in protest with the factory Managing Director Mr. Aziz blocked inside his factory.
After such a long blockade (which continues into today, 5 April 2015), and strong protest from the 500 strong workers of the factory, the BGMEA along with the factory manager promised the workers their payments on 4 April 2015.
20150403 * Bangladesh Garment Workers Offer Steps to Boost Rights:
After workers form a union in Bangladesh’s garment sector, the government often refuses to register the new union for arbitrary or unfair reasons, said trade union leaders and workers Tuesday at a high-level forum organized by the Solidarity Center in Dhaka, the capital.
“If workers fulfill all the requirements of union registration, they should not have their unions rejected,” said Chandon Kumar De, acting general secretary of Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation (BIGUF).
Chandon was among six workers and union leaders testifying at the forum, which drew 60 participants, including representatives from non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, trade unions, and representatives of foreign governments.
Despite garment workers’ success in establishing unions in the past year, workers and union organizers have been harassed, threatened and some physically attacked when trying to exercise their rights to be paid what they are owed and to work in a safer workplace.
More than 80 factories have been closed or the unions dismantled in the past two years, and more thanl 100 unions that filed for registration have been rejected by the government.
Government rejections of unions that applied for registration increased from 19 percent in 2013 to 56 percent so far this year, according to data the Solidarity Center compiled.
20150407 * Preventing industrial pollution:
Industrialisation is associated with some consequential hazards. Safety at workplace and management of industrial effluents are among various hazards that are discussed off and on in Bangladesh.
The safety of the workplace has been one of the top agenda particularly after the Rana Plaza tragedy at Savar, Dhaka.
After the tragedy about 700 garment factories were identified as unsafe for work. The buyers are putting pressure to make them safe through renovation and relocation.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) later claimed that 80 per cent of those factories were made compliant.
Foreign buyers also visited many of these factories and expressed their satisfaction in some cases and dissatisfaction about other factories.
Whatever the situation actually is, Bangladesh has been exporting ready-made garments satisfactorily.
The recent political unrest in the country has, however, been affecting its shipment and order procurement.
The pollution generated by industrial units has raised big hue and cry both from the public and the industrialists.
20150405 * Govt plans 2.0% incentives for garment units outside EPZs:
Export Policy to be finalised soon
The government is likely to finalise the Export Policy 2015-18 with provision for 2.0 per cent special incentives for the readymade garment (RMG) factories against their exports to help them become compliant, a high official at the ministry of commerce said.
Only the garment factories, situated outside the export processing zones (EPZs), would enjoy the facility, according to the draft policy.
The trade official said the commerce ministry in a meeting with the stakeholders finalised the draft policy on Thursday and it is expected to be sent to the cabinet for approval soon.
The policy also targeted exports worth US$ 50 billion, capitalising on the markets of three Asian economic giants, the official said.
20150406 * Jute workers begin demo for dearness allowance:
Jute workers in Khulna and Jessore staged demonstrations yesterday to highlight their five-point demand, including a 20% dearness allowance, adequate allocation in the sector, and forming a wage commission board for state-owned factory workers like the pay commission.
Yesterday’s demonstrations were part of an 11-day programme announced in the wake of falling production and shrinking export.
Workers held rallies outside their respective factories at 10am and were addressed by labour leaders.
The slowdown in export has been caused by global recession as jute products began to heap up at nine state-owned jute mills in Khulna more than two years back.
Jute stocks began to dwindle in August and September last year but the recent spates of general strike and the indefinite blockade enforced since January 6 caused the problem to return.
20150405 * Low jute outturn a fallout of govt apathy:
It is upsetting that the acreage and output of jute in 2014 was the lowest in the past five years, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension.
As New Age reported on Friday, quoting the Bangladesh Jute Research Institute director general, low price driven by low demand on the international market dampened farmer interest in growing jute.
In 2014, jute output stood at 75.01 lakh bales against the government target of 80.14 lakh bales.
It should be mentioned that jute farming and output have steadily declined since 2011 when the output stood at 80.03 lakh bales.
However, it would not be possible to revive farmer interest in growing this cash crop unless its domestic consumption is increased and diversified by strict enforcement of the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010.
To explore new destinations for jute goods export, however, does not seem adequate.
While the exploration of new destinations is worth undertaking consequent on the shrinking of the foreign market for jute products, ensuring production, supply and the use of jute products on the local market should not be lost sight of to boost this sector.
20150407 * RMG makers misuse bonded warehouse facility:
Customs Bond Commissionerate (CBC) in Dhaka said two export-oriented apparel companies had evaded duty of around Tk12 crore misusing the duty-free bonded warehouse facility.
During spot inspections recently, officials found the KC Apparels Limited and M/S Knit Concern Limited, sister concerns of a same business group, storing much higher amounts of raw materials in the bonded warehouses than that registered.
The companies are fully export-oriented composite knit industry located at Godanail Road in Narayanganj. The raw materials were imported under the duty-free benefits by the export-oriented factories for the use in their manufacturing only. But they allegedly sell the extra raw materials to local market.
The bonded warehouse is place or area where dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty.
20150407 * Export growth brings sunshine:
Exports rose 7.43 percent year-on-year to $2.93 billion in March, a development which has brought a ray of sunshine amid the gloomy economic prospects.
The figure takes the total export earnings so far in fiscal 2014-15 to $23.24 billion, up 2.98 percent year-on-year, according to data from the central bank.
“Our exports could have grown more as we have a lot of work orders from international retailers. But the political unrest has been getting in our way,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Garment products account for more than 80 percent of the country’s total export basket.
The impact of the current stretch of political unrest would manifest in the export earnings three or four months later, as garment makers bagged fewer than normal orders from retailers between January and March.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150404 * Aminul murder trial in limbo, three years on:
The lone accused in the labour leader Aminul Islam murder case is still at large with the potters remaining unidentified, leaving the trial in limbo.
Aminul was abducted from Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka on April 4, 2012 and found dead on roadside in Ghatail of Tangail district the following day.
The post-mortem report said he was tortured to death.
A court in Tangail, which is holding the trial of the case, has not issued an order for further investigation in one year after the family and co-workers filed a petition expressing ‘no confidence’ in the charge sheet.
The court had set three dates for hearing – the last one for August 12, 2014, but issued no order for further investigation, said fellow workers and investigation officers.
The next hearing in the lengthy trial has been posted for October 8, 2015.
Three years have elapsed without proper investigation and no significant progress has been made in the trial of the murder case, the family and fellow workers have alleged.
The case was primarily investigated by the district detectives before being shifted to the Criminal Investigation Department.
After a long investigation, CID submitted charge sheet against the lone accused Mustafizur Rahman, an employee in the Savar EPZ, and the court accepted the charge sheet in January 2014.
Aminul’s family and co-workers rejected the charge sheet and filed a ‘no confidence’ petition with the Tangail judicial magistrate court in March that year seeking further investigation.
Asked about the trial process, a public prosecutor in Tangail, Alamgir Khan, told New Age, ‘It is not in my knowledge as I have been appointed as public prosecutor three months ago.’
The abduction and murder of the labour leader raised concern among rights campaigners both at home and abroad.
20150405 * Foreign labour unions write PM seeking justice for Aminul:
Nine international labour organisations, including the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), on Friday requested Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to have the murder of labour leader Aminul Islam reinvestigated.
Aminul was abducted in Savar on April 4, 2012 and found dead on the roadside in Ghatail, Tangail, the following day. The post-mortem report said he was tortured to death.
His family and co-workers arranged a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity yesterday where they alleged that Aminul’s true killers had not been identified.
In a written statement, Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation President Babul Akhter and Executive Director Kalpona Akhter, claimed that former officials of the NSI, one of the country’s main intelligence agencies, were responsible for the murder.
* 3 yrs since the murder & Aminul’s family still waits for justice. Time for an end to impunity!:
Do not let this heinous crime go unpunished.
What happened to Aminul could happen to me, they think.
And so, instead of exercising their rights under the law to unionize and negotiate with owners, they do nothing. Instead of telling inspectors about fatal building flaws or fire dangers, they stay silent.
When these channels of negotiation and reporting are closed to
This would be a government of which Aminul Islam could be proud.
20150406 * Govt, factory owners need to make good on promises:
In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse at Savar on April 24, 2013, which killed more than 1,100 people, mostly workers of the apparel factories located in the unauthorised multi-storey building, and many more injured, there were promises galore, especially from the government and apparel factory owners, of adequate compensation for the dead and effective rehabilitation for the wounded.
Most of those have, however, remained just that — promises.
The media, print and electronic, reported just the other day that the families of the dead and wounded workers have received less than half of the compensation package, as determined by a government-commissioned committee composed of, among others, experts and labour leaders.
Now, the ActionAid Bangladesh tells us that 55 per cent of the 1,414 survivors of the worst-ever collapse in the nation’s history that it surveyed have not yet been rehabilitated.
The study, the findings of which were made public Saturday, identified unavailability of suitable jobs and unwillingness of apparel factories to employ wounded workers lest they should fail to live up to their responsibilities.
Given that the dead and the wounded in the Rana Plaza collapse were poor and many of them were the sole bread earner of the family, these families must be going through an ordeal that few can even imagine.
The unresolved murder of Aminul Islam is a case in point.
According to a report published in New Age on Sunday, Aminul, a labour leader in the apparel sector, was abducted from Savar on April 4, 2012 and found dead on the roadside at Ghatail in Tangail the next day but, three years on, the government has not even properly investigated his murder, let alone bring the killers to justice.
It is important to recall that the government initially appeared reluctant to investigate the murder and eventually decided to do so amidst mounting pressure, national and international.
Subsequently, in January 2014, the Criminal Investigation Department of police submitted the charge sheet without identifying the genuine murderers, that too, after spending an inordinate amount of time in the name of investigation.
Aminul’s family, meanwhile, has had to live in hardship amidst threats from the alleged killers.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150406 * Build a better future for Rana Plaza survivors:
Improve co-ordination of rehabilitation efforts
Nearly two years on from the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed 1,135 workers and injured over 2,500, over half of the survivors are still unemployed.
While it is welcome to see government and stakeholder initiatives make bold moves to reform factory safety and take the RMG sector forward, we still need to focus on maxmising the help available for victims.
A new survey by ActionAid and the ILO reveals an upward trend of employment among survivors but notes that 55% are without work. While a considerable number are training to be self-employed, their collective efforts are still held back by disabilities and trauma suffered in the disaster.
The government must increase efforts to boost co-operation among stakeholders to further help the survivors. Brands are continuing to make voluntary contributions to their own funds to compensate survivors, and the Rana Donors Trust Fund, chaired by the International Labour Organisation, is still working to achieve its revised $30m target to deliver compensation for Rana Plaza victims in line with the ILO convention 121.
20150405 * Survey: Over half of Rana Plaza survivors still unemployed:
More than half the Rana Plaza factory collapse survivors still have no job even after two years into the country’s deadliest industrial accident which killed 1,135 workers and injured over 2,500.
Lack of availability of suitable jobs, the workers’ physical weakness, mental trauma after the horror and employers’ unwillingness to recruit have caused the surviving workers to stay without jobs, finds a study by ActionAid Bangladesh.
It said though an upward trend of employment was found, the preliminary findings of second year survey showed still 55% of the survivors were unemployed.
ActionAid disclosed the findings yesterday. The non-government organisation has been implementing a project titled “Socio-economic reintegration and rehabilitation for survivors with disabilities of Rana Plaza disaster” with support from International Labour Organization (ILO).
20150405 * Self-employed Rana Plaza survivors now face fund crunch:
The Rana Plaza survivors are now faced with fund crunch while running small business they initiated with their compensation.
A recent visit to some survivors’ residents at Savar revealed the fact.
The Dhaka Tribune found that some survivors turned out to be small entrepreneurs instead of going to join the RMG factory again following the traumatic event of Rana Plaza collapse.
Talking to several victims, it was revealed that the RMG workers started business with the fund they got from several sources, but now are facing fund shortage.
A total of 50 Rana Plaza survivors including 44 female and 6 male received training on small business and entrepreneurship development conducted by the ActionAid Bangladesh.
So far, 40 participants engaged themselves in self-employment, 30 of which received advanced skill training course on dress-making and tailoring, boutique, ti-die and screen-print.
“The dream of educating my daughter was shattered when Rana Plaza building collapsed, leaving me in dark about the future,” Kohinoor Begum, a survivor of Rana Plaza disaster, told the Dhaka Tribune.
20150404 * Rana Plaza collapse victims demand compensation:
Family members of those who died in the Rana Plaza collapse and the surviving victims at a human chain beside Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar yesterday reiterated their demand for compensation and declared April 24 a national mourning day for the RMG sector.
The human chain was formed under the banner of “Garments Workers Front-GWF”. The demonstrators also demanded punishment for those responsible for the collapse of the nine-storey building on April 24, 2013.
The tragedy left 1,136 people dead and hundreds injured.
20150403 * Garments Sramik Front demand April 24 as mourning day:
Garments Sramik Front, a garments worker’s organization, on Friday formed a human chain in Savar demanding to declare April 24 as garments workers mourn day across the nation.
They made their demands with red flag in their hands in front of the collpased Rana Plaza site in Savar, on the outskirts of the capital this morning.
The leaders of the organisation demanded proper compensation for all RMG workers of the Rana Plaza and ensure exemplary punishment to those responsible for the killings of workers.
17:33:43 local time INDIA
20150404 * 22 Child Labourers rescued in Hyderabad:
As many as 22 child labourers, most of them hailing from Gaya district of Bihar and pushed to work in hazardous industries here have been rescued, police said on Friday.
“22 children in the age group of 5-13 years, who were forced to work in leather and bangle units at Sultanshai area were rescued last night,” Deputy Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana said.
“Two persons who had employed them were taken into custody and efforts are on to nab the other accused who forced these minors into child labour,” the DCP said.
During preliminary inquiry it came to light that some of the persons hid these children all these days at different locations here fearing police raids, the DCP said.PTI
20150407 * Rs 2 to Rs 17: Rise in NREGS wages is no hike at all:
It is a wage hike that is no-hike at all.
Discharging its annual duty, the Centre has revised the wages under the job guarantee scheme that range from a minimum of Rs two to a maximum of Rs 17 for a day’s labour. In percentage terms, the hike ranges between 2%-10%.
Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh stand at the bottom of the ladder with the hike under MGNREGA being a meagre Rs 2, increased from Rs 157 in 2014 to Rs 159 in 2015. Election-bound Bihar and Jharkhand have been given a hike of Rs four, from Rs 158 to 162.
20150406 * Powerloom Workers Observe Fast; Call for Hartal Today:
Scores of powerloom workers observed day-long fast at Kumarapalayam on Sunday to press for a wage revision.
The workers are demanding 75 percent wage hike from April. They want a two-year agreement on this.
Meanwhile, labour unions have called for a hartal in Kumarapalayam on Monday in support of their demands.
“We have called a one-day hartal to bring the attention of powerloom owners to the workers demands,” said a senior trade union leader.
20150407 * Unions Up in Arms Against Plan to Lease Out AFT Mill:
The All Trade Unions Action Committee of Anglo French Textile mills has decided to organize agitations to protest the government’s proposal to lease out the mill to private industrialists.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the committee on Monday, AITUC leader V S Abishegam said the mill should not be handed over to private owners and urged the administration to re-open the mill as announced by Chief Minister N Rangasamy in Assembly recently.
He said the trade union will organise a road blockade on April 22 in front of the mill to press for their demands.
This will be preceded by street corner campaigns from April 8 to 21.
Further, the committee demanded that the government take immediate steps to get Rs 500 crores from the Centre to modernize the century-old mills as per the recommendations of the expert committee constituted by the then Lieutenant Governor (in charge) Chenna Reddy in December 1994.
20150407 * Reinstate dismissed workers: CITU:
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has demanded the reinstatement of 42 workers dismissed by a private granite company and reopening of the factory that was closed recently.
At a meeting presided by S.K. Thiyagarajan, State vice-president of CITU, here recently, CITU officials urged the district administration and the Department of Labour to immediately intervene in the issue and solve it. The workers were demanding minimum wages, legitimate benefits as well as the recognition of their union.
Also, they wanted authorities to intervene into the illegal closure of garment factories without proper notice that left more than 150 women workers jobless. Members decided to handover their demands to the District Collector and Deputy Commissioner of Labour on Tuesday.
20150406 * Central Trade Unions Plan Joint Action in Salem Labour Disputes:
At a joint meeting here on Saturday, central trade unions discussed ongoing industrial labour disputes in Salem and demanded enforcement of labour rights and labour welfare laws.
They have decided to act jointly in these cases.
On the dismissal of 42 workmen from Ashok Granites Limited, Salem, they said the workers had only demanded minimum wages and other legitimate benefits. But the management closed the factory illegally even as the Deputy Commissioner of Labour was conducting conciliation proceedings. It should be reopened and the dismissed workers reinstated, they said. The meeting also demanded recognition for their union (affiliated to CITU).
The unions said Labour Department authorities were insisting on arbitrary norms to recognise trade unions.
The recent practice of demanding certificates of the Village Administrative Officer and a consent letter from the company’s MD to register a trade union should be be scrapped.
The district administration and Labour Department should intervene in the illegal closure of garment factories without notice and leaving hundreds of women workers in the lurch.
They should also take action against managements denying even long-serving workers their rights and ESI, PF and other benefits.
20150407 * Textile mills look at measures to improve financial scenario:
Textile mill owners here are exploring ways to jointly ensure higher finance availability to the units, as some are at the verge of becoming Non-Performing Assets.
Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) organised a meeting here recently to discuss the current scenario of the textile sector, the remedial measures required and ways to overcome financial crisis.
Association chairman T. Rajkumar told The Hindu on Monday that the union budget and Foreign Trade Policy had not provided any support to the textile and clothing sector and disbursement of subsidy under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) was pending for many units.
20150405 * Spinning mill modernisation to be completed in May:
Gokula Indira says the quality of yarn had improved after the renovation
Work on the modernisation of the cooperative spinning mill at Durairasapuram near Aranthangi has been in full swing and will be completed by May-end, said S. Gokula Indira, Minister for Handlooms and Textiles.
The Minister, who inspected the mills being renovated in a phased manner, said the efficiency of the machinery and quality in yarn got enhanced following the modernisation which was taken up at an estimate of Rs. 30.41 crore.
20150405 * ‘Include readymade garments in interest subvention’:
Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA) has sought the inclusion of the readymade garment sector under the 3 per cent interest subvention scheme.
Hailing various proposals in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), TEA President A Sakthivel said the Budget allocation of Rs. 1,625 crore for interest subvention is a welcome move, but sectors which will benefit under the 3 per cent interest subvention scheme have not been specified appealing for inclusion of the readymade garment sector.
“This women-dominated sector uses 99 per cent domestic content while exporting garments and fulfils the Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative.
The sector should, therefore, be considered under the 3 per cent interest subvention scheme,” he said, stressing the importance of including the garment sector.
20150404 * Funds for development of power loom units:
Power loom units that want to expand their retail market, go in for branded fabric or have innovative production methods can now scale up their facilities and market with financial support from the Union Government.
The Government plans to contribute Rs. 24.5 crore for Tex-Fund Venture Capital Fund for power loom and allied products and services.
An official at the Regional Office of the Textile Commissioner here says that the Government will invest up to Rs. 3 crore or take up to 49 per cent stake in the unit so that the firm can become a private limited one and take up branding, retailing initiatives or innovative measures.
It will exit from the unit after five or seven years.
20150406 * Knitting unit owners to float SPV:
A group of knitting unit owners, who use imported machinery in Tirupur knitwear cluster, will be launching a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for product diversification from apparels to home textiles/value-added products and set up training and testing facilities through consortium approach.
“We are executing the project, the first of its kind in Tirupur cluster, with about 70 per cent of the initial capital drawn as grants-in-aid from different government sponsored schemes with an aim to produce requisite skilled workforce and also to ensure business expansion,” Narayasamy Vivekanandan, president of South India Imported Machine Knitters Association, told The Hindu.
20150406 * FTP continues to rile textile sector:
20150403 * Textile cos fume as no additional benefits in foreign trade policy:
The textile industry has said that the foreign trade policy (FTP) announced on Wednesday has ignored their demands. The industry has been demanding a slew of policy measures to achieve a level playing field in emerging markets.
“The new foreign trade policy has not provided any additional benefits to the textiles sector, though measures announced for improving ease of doing business and simplified procedures would be beneficial to the textile sector,” said Prem Malik, chairman, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI).
“While amalgamating focus schemes and the other chapter-3 schemes into MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme), cotton yarn has been completely ignored,” he said. “Chapter-3 benefits on cotton yarn had earlier been withdrawn when it was brought under restricted list,” he stated.
17:33:43 local time SRI LANKA
20150406 * Now, an app to track labour law violations:
Use of LISA by inspectors in Sri Lanka has cut down the paper work, says ILO
Factories using child labour beware, there is now an App that can be used by inspectors to click pictures of any violation of law on the premises, upload it and report it to the authorities concerned.
The App, called LISA, developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and US Department of Labour, is already being used by about 400 ILO-trained labour inspectors in neighbouring Sri Lanka.
According to an online ILO report, the use of the App in Sri Lanka since 2013 has proven that technology can play a big role in keeping tabs on labour law violations.
20150404 * Maharagama shoe factory gutted by fire:
A fire at a shoe factory at Rajamahavihara, Navinna, Maharagama last morning, completely gutted the factory’s manufacturing and machinery area.
The fire brigades of the Colombo, Kotte and Dehiwala Municipal Councils doused the fire after several hours.
There were no workers in the factory as it was a holiday. It is believed that the fire had erupted inside the factory between two buildings, during welding being carried out by workers of a construction company who were renovating the premises. Most of the roofs of the building that caught fire were galvanized or steel which collapsed after the fire. Stocks of rubber, finished products and machinery were among the ash.
20150404 * Fire destroys shoe factory:
‘Erosha Enterprises’ a shoe factory at Rajamahavihara in Navinna caught fire earlier today and was reported to us at 11.45 a.m., the Fire Department said.
The factory which manufactured boots for the army was closed at the time of the fire, which is believed to have been triggered during some repairs being carried out at the welding plant.
20150403 * Factory manufacturing shoes for tri-forces caught fire:
The owners of the shoe factory at Navinna, Maharagama which caught fire this morning said that they have not estimated the damage thus far.
A manager of the ill-fated factory, Senath Jayasuriya stated that two modern machines worth over Rs. 40 million have been destroyed in the fire.
The Fire Brigade deployed 7 fire trucks which belong to Kotte and Dehiwala Urban Councils and Colombo Municipal Council to douse the fire which erupted at 11.30 this morning.
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20150404 * Shoe factory gutted:
A shoe factory located at Vihara Mawatha in Nawinna, Maharagama was destroyed by a massive fire that swept through it on Friday.
20150404 * Wage talks likely to drag on:
Despite commencement of discussions on renewing the Collective Agreement (CA) between the three major plantation trade unions and the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), the signing of the agreement is likely to see a delay due to the temporary halt of talks, informed sources said.
The agreement which was previously signed in 2011 expired on March 31 this year.
Accordingly, unlike the previous occasion where the biennial collective agreement was sealed even before its expiration, the negotiations this time are likely to drag on due to the prevalent political situation as well as the crisis faced by the plantation industry.
A series of negotiations pertaining to the renewal of the agreement had commenced during the latter part of last month where employers and workers had placed their concerns and demands at the discussion table.
20150405 * ‘SL should tap export markets close-to-home’:
Sri Lanka should look at diversifying its export market from its Europe centric and North American trade habits and move towards exploring more lucrative regional export markets, a senior official said.
“That Europe centric approach is still there in Sri Lanka, simply because it is the number one market in Sri Lanka and still continues to be so, followed by north America but we have very good market opportunities in the region,” R.D.S Kumararatne, director general, Department of Commerce Sri Lanka said.
“India has 300 million people who are from the new upper income middle class and their consumption patterns have drastically changed and they are looking for new products,”
20150404 * Getting GSP+ back for what?:
The government has begun negotiations to get back the GSP+ trade concession offered by the EU. As of now, only four nations – Armenia, Cape Verde, Georgia, and Mongolia – have applied and obtained GSP+.
None of these are exporting nations in the proper sense of the term.
The question that the government should ask itself is why none of the exporting nations of Asia have thought fit to try and gain an advantage over their competitors by applying for GSP+.
In addition to the four countries mentioned above, there are six narcotic producing countries that have been given GSP+ as an incentive to get their people off the production of drugs. The countries falling into this category are – Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Pakistan and Peru.
The EU used to have a special GSP scheme for drug producing countries which gave them unconditional zero duty access to the European market.
20150406 * Hong Kong finds Sri Lanka apt destination for textile production:
Hong Kong firms are scouting the neighbourhood to shift their production lines. With the mainland encouraging wages to rise, Hong Kong companies with operations across the border are increasingly looking for new options.
Hongkong is thus eyeing pointers from early movers like Fountain Set. One of Sri Lanka’s largest knitted fabric manufacturers, Ocean Lanka which is a joint venture between Hong Kong-headquartered and listed Fountain Set and Sri Lankan apparel majors Brandix and Hirdaramani may be an apt find for their hunt.
The company, based in Biyagama Export Processing Zone, 20 km from Colombo, counts among its customers Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Marks & Spencer, Nike and Gap.
17:03:43 local time PAKISTAN
20150406 * Unforeseen incidents: Lahore roof collapse leaves 10 injured:
Around ten people sustained injuries on Friday when the roof of a two-story shop in Lahore caved in.
The shop, Rasheed Garments, was located in Anarkali area opposite to Al-Karim plaza, a building where a fire had killed around thirteen people in December last year.
After the incident, authorities started a rescue operation. The injured were later taken to Mayo Hospital, where they were reported to be in a stable condition.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, District Coordination Officer Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman said some labourers were working in the building and were demolishing it manually, when the incident took place.
“We will probe into the matter and punish whoever is found guilty,” he said, adding that the collapse was not triggered by recent showers.
20150405 * Barcode technology: Textile sector’s ignorance towards technology:
For a decade, Pakistani consumers have seen barcodes and scanners at cash counters of retail outlets. Known as point of sales (POS) systems, they are universal at large stores and even smaller outlets in upscale neighbourhoods.
Barcodes appear like a series of dark vertical lines with spaces. They’re pasted on the products or printed as a part of packaging.
The lines and spaces represent binary code, a language the computer can understand. In a POS, the scanner reads the code and the information is relayed to the computer, which automatically compiles details and removes the inventory from the data.
20150404 * Apparel sector: stakeholders plead for zero-rated status in FY16 budget:
All the four stakeholders of apparel textile sector have proposed to the government to give them zero-rated status in the upcoming budget 2015-16 to promote and bring good investment in the sector.
According to the budget proposals submitted to the Ministry of Textile Industry and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for the next financial year, the stakeholders pleaded that an amount of about Rs 100 billion has already been stuck with the government due to pending sales tax refunds, so the industry is facing financial crunch.
Earlier, the apparel sector was zero-rated, but later the government imposed a 2 percent sales tax.
20150405 * Punjab Industrial Expo 2015: Apparel park expected to attract $2b, says official:
The Punjab apparel park is expected to attract investments worth $2 billion, said Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) Chairman S M Tanveer.
The official was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Punjab Industrial Expo 2015 on Saturday.
“We are committed to strengthen the industrial roots of Punjab,” he said. “Apart from the Apparel Park in Sheikhupura, the PIEDMC is working on establishing three other industrial estates in Punjab, which will provide employment opportunities to thousands of people.
20150405 * Industry incurring $6b losses: APTMA chief:
The industry is incurring an annual loss of around $6 billion due to the presence of second-hand, smuggled textiles and clothing in the domestic market, said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman S M Tanveer.
He said export figures for the financial year 2013-14 reveal that the textile industry, while consuming 3 million tons of all kinds of fibres, produced textile goods predominantly meant for exports.
Out of this quantity, textile products worth 2.5 million tons of fibre were exported in one form or the other while half a million remaining textile fibre was consumed by the domestic market.
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20150403 * Govt urged to appoint textile minister:
Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman Muhammad Jawed Bilwani in a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday requested to appoint a minister for the textile sector, as the industry needed services of a full time minister.
The letter said that the post of federal minister for textile industry was lying vacant.
Pakistan Apparel Forum is a body of the value added textile export sector, and contributes $11.49 billion (45.36 percent of the nation’s total exports) to the national exchequer.
20150403 * Protection of home-based women workers demanded:
Speakers at a consultation here on Thursday urged the federal and provincial governments to provide protection to the women attached to the informal labour sector at workplace and said policies should be formulated at national and provincial level for home-based women workers.
‘The provincial consultation on taking forward policy recommendations for women workers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ was organised by the HomeNet Pakistan (HNP) under the USAID Gender Equity Programme (GEP).
Home-based workers attended the event in large numbers.
The speakers said it was the need of the hour to strictly implement labour laws both in public and private sectors and that there should be a standardised board at federal level for the effective implementation of equal wages.
They called upon the federal and provincial governments to enforce the Harassment at Workplace Act 2010 for the protection of home-based workers.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150406 * Baldia Town incident: Investigative team records employees’ statements:
Investigative team of the Baldia Town incident on Monday recorded the statements of the factory employees.
To understand the causes of the incient, the team arrived at the factory and inspected the entire place after recording employees’ statements, reported Dunya News.
The new investigative team has formally started investigating the Baldia Town incident. SSP East Pir Muhammad Shah, SP Site Sajid Sadozai and other officials of the security agencies visited Baldia Town. Heavy deployment of the police was observed on this occasion on Baldia Town factory.
According to the sources, statements of four of the gatekeepers have so far been recorded.
New investigative team had been set up after the report by the previous Joint Investigative Team (JIT) carrying suspect Rizwan Qureshi’s statements. Rizwan Qureshi had said that the Baldia Town factory did not catch fire as an accident but the extortion mafia had set it on fire.
20150404 * FIA arrests Baldia factory fire suspect at airport:
The Federal Investigation Agency arrested a Baldia Factory fire suspect at the Karachi airport on Friday.
Asim Qaimkhani, the FIA immigrations deputy director at the Jinnah Terminal, said when a passenger, Abdul Rehman, son of Abdul Sattar, who was intending to leave for Dubai via an Etihad Airways flight, reached the immigration counter, the staff stopped him suspecting that he was on the exit-control list.
20150403 * Alleged main accused in Baldia factory case arrested at Karachi airport:
Police have arrested the alleged main suspect in the Baldia factory fire case, Abdul Rehman alias Bhola on Friday, trying to flee to Dubai from Karachi airport.
Earlier today, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi sent another key suspect of the factory case, Shakeel alias Chhota, to jail on a 14-day remand.
Shakeel was presented in the ATC today, where a judge sent him to jail on a 14-day remand along with other suspects Hameed, Shehzad and Farooq.
Police say Shakeel was arrested on March 22 along with his alleged accomplices from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on charges of possessing illegal weapons.
20150403 * Baldia factory fire suspect sent to jail on 14-day remand:
An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Friday sent a key suspect of the Baldia factory fire case, Shakeel alias Chhota, to jail on a 14-day remand.
Shakeel was presented in the ATC today, where a judge sent him to jail on a 14-day remand along with other suspects Hameed, Shehzad and Farooq.
17:03:43 local time UZBEKISTAN
20150406 * Uzbekistan starts major textile complex construction:
LT Textile Cooperatief UA, a Dutch textile firm, has started the construction of a large textile complex spread over 30 hectares in Kashkadarya region of Uzbekistan, according to media reports.
The construction of the textile complex comes on the back of an investment agreement between the ministry of foreign economic relations, investments and trade of Uzbekistan and LT Textile Cooperatief signed last October.
The Dutch company will invest at least $55 million in the textile enterprise in 2015-2016 in accordance with this agreement, including $17 million of its own funds, $38 million from foreign banks.