There is an update: China 20150704-06
21:02:30 local time CHINA
20150706 * 14 dead in east China shoe factory collapse:
Fourteen people have been confirmed dead as bodies of the last two known buried under the debris of a collapsed shoe factory building in east China’s Zhejiang Province on Saturday were recovered, local government said Monday.
20150705 * 12 dead in east China shoe factory collapse:
Twelve people have been confirmed dead and two remained missing after a shoe factory collapsed in east China’s Zhejiang Province on Saturday, local government said.
“There was no premonition. I heard a ‘bang’ and saw the building collapse,” 42-year-old worker Yang Zhongkun told Xinhua.
Yang said right after the collapse, water poured down from a large fishing pool built on the roof of the building. Other workers said water leak had been reported before the collapse.
Local authorities dispatched 53 firefighting trucks, 302 rescuers and five sniffer dogs.
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20150705 * Death toll in east China factory collapse rises to 11:
Eleven people have been confirmed dead in a factory building collapse in east China’s Zhejiang Province as of Sunday afternoon, local government said.
Three others are missing. Another 33 were injured in the collapse, four of whom were seriously hurt.
According to the local police, 51 people were working in a shoe factory in Folong Village, Wenling City when the building collapsed at around 4 p.m. Saturday.
20150705 * Death toll in east China factory collapse rises to 9:
The death toll from a factory building collapse in east China’s Zhejiang Province has risen to nine, the local government said Sunday.
Fifty-one people were working in the shoemaking factory in Wenling City when the building collapsed at around 4 p.m. Saturday. Nine narrowly escaped.
Rescuers had pulled out 42 and sent them to hospital as of 1:30 a.m.
20150705 * 6 dead in east China factory collapse:
Six people died in hospital after being rescued from the rubble of a factory building that collapsed on Saturday afternoon in east China’s Zhejiang Province, local government said.
Fifty-one people were working in the factory building of a shoemaker in Wenling City when it collapsed at around 4 p.m. and 9 narrowly escaped. Rescuers saved 40 in the ruin and sent them to hospital.
20150704 * 14 remains trapped in east China factory collapse:
Rescuers search for trapped people at a collapsed factory building in Wenling, east China’s Zhejiang Province, July 4, 2015. The accident occured at about 4 p.m. Saturday. Thirty-seven people have been rescued and 14 others are still trapped. (Xinhua)
Fourteen people were still trapped in the rubble of a factory building that collapsed on Saturday afternoon in east China’s Zhejiang Province, rescuers said.
The rescuers said 51 people were working in the factory building in Wenling City when it collapsed at around 4 p.m.. They have pulled 37 out.
More than 10 people have been hospitalized after the shoemaking factory collapsed, a local hospital said.
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* Response from Artigas Workers to the statement of Lever Style Inc:
Artigas Workers’ Statement: in response to the Statement from Lever Style Inc., issued on 26 June 2015
We are workers from Artigas Company who continue to demand collective negotiation with the employer, in order to resolve the current labour disputes.
We are deeply dissatisfied with the statement issued by Lever Style Inc. on 26 June 2015 (hereafter: Lever Statement), as it distorted the reality and legal regulations. Thus, we issue this statement to clarify the following items:
1. On 2 June, the enterprise refused to receive our registered mail, containing an invitation to collective negotiation.
As a result, we posted the same invitation at the enterprise’s notice board, read it in front of the management and handed it to them directly.
However, the enterprise has refused to make any constructive response to this invitation.
2.Lever Statement falsely stated that its relocation had met “all local and national Government legal requirements”.
Yet, Article 4 of China’s Labour Contract Law, Article 28 of Regulations on the Promotion of Harmonious Employment Relationships in Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and other regulations have stated, the formulations, amendments and decisions made by employers which have a direct impact on employees’ immediate rights and interests, shall be presented to and discussed with the employee representative congress or all the employees, and the proposal and advice thereof shall be determined after consultation with the labor union or employee representative on the basis of equality and collective consultation should not be denied.
3. “To repay the missing pension premiums into the social security system, dating back to the commencement of their employment; to repay workers the overtimes wages which had been deducted since the commencement of their employment” were among the six demands in our invitation letter.
4. The Lever Statement claimed that “no workers were dismissed due to the relocation”. Yet on 8 June, Artigas Factory announced to dismiss Wu Weifa, a workers’ representative and denied her entry into the factory. (this news was released on 9 June, via the microblog of “Rights defending action of Artigas workers”)
5. Currently, there is neither strike, nor absenteeism in Artigas Factory. We continue to operate as the terms and conditions required in the previous labour relations.
* Call for action against the Artigas Clothing and Leatherware Factory’s violation of labour rights:
We, Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union, would like to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing strike at one of your company’s supplier, the Artigas Clothing and Leatherware Factory.
Meanwhile, we would like to call for your company, as a customer of Artigas, to urge Artigas to initiate negotiation with the workers immediately in order to resolve disputes such as compensation due to plant relocation, the alternation of employment relationship and other rights violating offenses.
Workers from Artigas went on strike twice since December 10th, 2014 to protest against years of social security contribution and housing fund in arrears.
We have learned that many workers from the factory are not covered by the mandatory social security scheme.
Meanwhile, as Artigas will merge with another subsidiary factory of Lever Garment, the above matters remain unresolved.
When Artigas workers learned of the plant relocation, they elected their representatives from various departments and issued an invitation to the management for negotiation as an attempt to settle severance compensation and other unresolved disputes.
However, the management refused to receive the negotiation offer and therefore, the workers launched a strike on June 8th.
As reports of the Artigas strike broke out in the local media, one of Artigas’ customer, UNIQLO, issued a statement and called for Artigas’ management to respect labour rights and urge them to negotiate with the workers.
However, such appeals fell on deaf ears as Artigas conspired with the local police to violently crackdown on the workers.
A fifty years old female worker was arrested and detained ever since.
20150630 * Wage growth for China’s lowest-paid workers continues to lag behind:
Wage growth for China’s lowest-paid workers continued to slow in the first half of this year with less than a third of the 32 regions with the authority to set their own minimum wage levels announcing an increase.
According to data collected by CLB from official media and government sources, as of 1 July, only ten provinces and municipalities had increased the minimum wage, the most significant region being Guangdong, where a 19 percent increase on average went into effect on 1 May.
However Guangdong’s increase came a full two years after its previous increase in 2013. Photo below shows a recruitment poster for a Guangzhou restaurant where cleaners can earn around 2,500 yuan per month.
20150630 * China Focus: Textile industry booms in Xinjiang:
More and more textile manufacturing companies are moving to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in the far west of China, as support for the industry in the region is stepped up.
A 110,000-spindle plant backed by investment of 350 million yuan (57 million U.S. dollars) kicked off construction in Hutubi County on Friday. It is the third plant Henan Xinye Textile Co. Ltd will have established in Xinjiang in the past 12 months. The three plants will employ 3,000 people in three to five years.
Understanding the potential for cotton production in Xinjiang and the vast market in central Asia, the company purchased a bankrupt textile company in Hububi County last January.
By the end of this year, the company, which is among China’s top 20 textile manufacturers, will have 550,000-spindle production capacity and an output value of 2 billion yuan in the region, said Luo Rongqing, deputy general manager of Xinjiang Yuhua Textile Technology Co. Ltd, the local joint venture.
21:02:30 local time PHILIPPINES
20150702 * Reg X workers get P12 wage hike:
The Regional Wage and Productivity Board of Region 10 has approved a P12 daily wage increase for all private sector minimum workers in the Northern Mindanao effective July 3, according to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
“This is the 18th wage increase in Region 10 since R.A. 6727, or The Wage Rationalization Act, became a law on 9 June 1989,” Baldoz said.
Board chairman Raymundo Agravante said the minimum wage in the region was raised to P318 for workers in the non-agriculture sector and to P306 for workers in the agricultural sector under Category I, which covers the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva, and Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.
20150701 * Labor nixes increase in SSS contribution rate:
Organized labor yesterday insisted the Social Security System (SSS) has no reason to increase the members’ monthly contribution, and urged the government not to grant the proposed pension hike.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said if SSS could provide a total of P10 million performance bonus to its officials, then it has sufficient funds to grant pension hike without increasing the monthly contributions.
Roger Soluta, KMU secretary general said SSS management reported an average income of P30 billion per year which was never transferred to the government as dividends.
In 2012, Soluta said, SSS handed out to its top officials a total of P10 million so-called “performance” bonus.
“With all these money, we just can’t accept the twisted logic the SSS is forcing on workers and retirees. The money is there for the pension hike. There is absolutely no reason why it can’t be given, and absolutely no reason to increase members’ monthly contributions,” Soluta said in a statement.
20150702 * Slipper factory workers to get P1.4 M more:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has ordered Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to pay its workers an additional P1.4 million in money claims.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the agency issued an order requiring the owners of the slipper factory to pay the kin of 57 workers a total amount of P1,440,641.
The amount represents underpayment of basic wages, premium pay on rest day, non-payment of cost-of-living-allowance, regular holiday pay, overtime pay, night shift differential pay, 13th month pay, unauthorized deduction of cash bond and non-payment of service incentive leave pay, Baldoz said.
Earlier, DOLE ordered Kentex’s subcontractor, CJC Manpower Services, to pay 99 workers of the slipper factory P8.3 million.
DOLE has given Kentex 10 days upon receipt of the order to settle the money claims.
20150702 * Kentex told to pay 57 workers’ claims:
The Department of Labor and Employment-National Capital Region has ordered Kentex Manufacturing Corporation to pay 57 workers an aggregate amount of P1.4 million in money claims even as the Social Security System settled funeral benefits to relatives of 67 workers-victims of the fire that razed the company last May 13.
DOLE said the financial award is included in the compliance order issued by DOLE-National Capital Region Director Alex Avila based on the general labor standards and occupational safety and health investigation at the company .
20150702 * DNA tests identify 73rd Kentex fire victim:
Police forensic experts identified yesterday the 73rd victim of the fire that razed the Kentex slipper factory in Valenzuela City last May.
Officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) crime laboratory identified the male victim through DNA analysis.
Senior Superintendent Emmanuel Aranas, deputy director of the PNP crime laboratory, said DNA tests were conducted on bone fragments recovered from the factory located in Barangay Ugong.
Aranas withheld the identity of the victim, saying they would coordinate first with the relatives.
20150701 * DOLE-NCR orders Kentex to pay 52 workers, five others P1.4 million:
The Metro Manila office of the Department of Labor and Employment on Friday ordered Kentex to pay 57 of its workers an aggregate amount of P1.4 million in money claims, it was learned Wednesday.
The amount is on top of the P8.3 million that DOLE-Central Luzon ordered the slippers factory owner’s subcontractor CJC Manpower Services to pay its 99 workers which Kentex itself may end up paying because CJC Manpower is not a DOLE-registered sub-contractor.
In a news release, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz made this announcement after DOLE-Metro Manila Director Alex V. Avila submitted to her a report that his office has issued a compliance order on general labor standards and occupational safety and health investigation at the company razed by fire on 13 May 2015.
20150701 * DOLE recommends filing of criminal charges vs. Kentex:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Kentex Manufacturing Corp., the owner of the gutted factory in Valenzuela City, which killed 73 people.
In a statement, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz disclosed she has already sent her recommendation to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which will consolidate all the charges to be filed by the government against the erring footwear company and its subcontractor, CJC Manpower Services.
“I have submitted a briefer on the violations of labor laws, detailing possible documentary evidence to support probable cause for the institution of criminal action against Kentex Manufacturing Corporation and CJC Manpower Services,” Baldoz said.
Based on its investigation, DOLE found Kentex and CJC liable for underpayment of minimum wage and large-scale illegal recruitment.
Both infractions are considered criminal acts since it violates provisions of the Labor Code.
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20150701 * SSS pays funeral benefits to Kentex fire victims:
The Social Security System (SSS) has paid funeral benefits to nearly all families that were affected by the fire that razed a factory in Valenzuela last month.
SSS said 67 of the 74 families of the victims received employees’ compensation (EC) funeral benefits. Nine families have also received Social Security (SS) funeral benefits.
EC funeral benefits granted to work-related deaths amount to P20,000.
Another P20,000 in SS burial benefits are currently being processed for the beneficiaries of the victims.
SSS said that to date, only seven EC funeral benefit claims are left for processing as some relatives of the deceased members still could not be found and others have yet to contact the government agency.
20:02:30 local time VIET NAM
20150703 * Foreign investors eye Vietnam’s textile industry ahead of free trade pact:
Vietnam’s textile industry has been seeing a strong flow of foreign investment over the first half of the year, a trend that many say is spurred by a trade treaty expected to be completed by this year-end.
News website Saigon Times Online reported on Wednesday that Taiwanese-owned Polytex Far Eastern Company has been granted a license to build a yarn factory in the southern province of Binh Duong, which neighbors Ho Chi Minh City.
It was the largest foreign project in the province in the first six month, with a cost estimate of US$274 million for the first stage, according to the website.
Between $700 million-1 billion was planned for the second stage, a representative of the investor was quoted as saying.
The company’s third textile project in Vietnam was meant to take advantage of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, which, when signed, will give Vietnamese products duty-free access to major markets, the representative said.
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20150702 * With TPA in Hand the US Seeks to Push Vietnam On Fabrics:
The United States Senate has recently passed a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that will greatly expand President Obama’s trade negotiating authority on trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPA, also referred to as “fast-track”, will allow the President to negotiate free trade agreements and then submit them to Congress with no amendments or filibusters allowed, with only an up or down vote on the entirety of the trade deal. It is hoped that this measure will speed up the progress of the TPP.
Despite this progress potential stumbling blocks remain, chief among these is the debate over rules of origin, particularly as relates to China. American trade negotiators are currently pushing Vietnam to drastically reduce its imports of textiles from China (which is not a part of the TPP). (See: Asean Rules of Origin Key To Boosting China – Vietnam Trade)
The TPP is a United States led trade agreement involving 12 countries, including Vietnam, and is currently under negotiation.
Upon completion the TPP trade area would comprise a region with US$28 trillion in economic output, making up around 39 per cent of the world’s total output.
If the TPP is successfully implemented tariffs will be removed on almost US$2 trillion in goods and services exchanged between the signatory countries.
Thus, Vietnam has much to gain from the implementation of the trade agreement, including drastically reduced tariffs in some of the world’s largest markets.
The rule is intended to ensure that the trade benefits of the TPP only apply to signatory countries rather than outside players such as China.
However, the rule also has significant effects on signatory countries, such as Vietnam.
However, critics have argued that US fabric exporters will struggle to produce enough fabric to meet the ever-expanding demands of Vietnam’s textile industry.
This would have the perverse effect of driving Vietnam back to China in order to acquire all the fabric that it needs, but at the same time, Vietnam would not be able to benefit from the lowered tariffs of the TPP because the China sourced fabric would not qualify.
Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of apparel and footwear to the United States; 2014 saw sales of US$13.1 billion.
However, the country’s local industry only produces enough fabric to cover a fifth of the amount needed.
As a result Vietnam imports about half of its fabric from China, worth around US$4.7 billion.
Vietnam is scrambling to quickly build up its local industry, but many believe that it will be at least five years before the country can become self-sufficient.
20150701 * US makes heavy investments in Vietnam; what will Vietnam do?:
It is clear that the US has been increasing its investments in Vietnam and that Vietnam needs to grab the great opportunities brought by the capital flow.
Dr Vu Chi Loc from the Hanoi Foreign Trade University noted that Vietnam’s deep integration into the global economy in recent years, plus the signing of a series of free trade agreements, makes Vietnam a fertile land for US investors to cultivate.
The US will not spend money just to do politics.
From the political view, this is the implementation of the US pivot to Asia policy. From the economic viewpoint, Vietnam, with its natural conditions and political certainties, deserves to be a destination for any investor.
Do Nhat Hoang, Director of the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA), noted that he can see a new investment wave from the US.
Dr. Tran Thanh Phuong from the Hanoi Foreign Trade University, noted that investors, including the US, have been heading for Asia, including Vietnam, for a long time.
Intel, when entering Vietnam years ago, stated that it did not aim to take full advantage of Vietnam’s cheap labor force, but wanted high-quality technical workers.
20150626 * What do Vietnamese think about the US and Obama’s Pacific trade pact?:
The Pew Research Center has released a new global survey of 40 countries, exploring how the world is seeing the US, in juxtaposition to China’s rising global image.
And it’s good news for America: its heyday is not over yet — at least in public minds.
The non-partisan think tank finds that ratings for the US remain mostly positive, with a global median of 69 percent having a favorable opinion of the country.
President Obama is still popular in most of the surveyed countries.
And while global publics are critical of its post-9/11 torture, the US military efforts against the Islamic State have enjoyed broad support.
It comes as no surprise that key allies of the US in Asia continue to see the country in a positive light.
But when Vietnam comes third in the region, only after the Philippines and South Korea, in terms of positive perceptions of the US, clearly something noteworthy is going on.
Vietnam was included in Pew’s survey for the first time in 2014, so it is too early to identify an emerging trend.
However, based on the figures available, America’s image has become more positive in Vietnam over the past year, with the favorability level rising from 76 percent to 78 percent.
A closer look at the demographics reveals that anti-American sentiments barely exist among young Vietnamese.
A strikingly high 88 percent of 18-29 year-olds see the US positively, compared to 64 percent of those above 50 years old — a generation gap that could probably be attributed to various factors including exposure to American culture and recollections of the war.
Tellingly, the survey has found that Vietnamese show very strong support for the American plan to pivot to Asia, regarding both of the economic and military fulcrums.
In fact, Vietnam is the strongest supporter of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a trade treaty among 12 nations that account for 40 percent of the global economy.
Just 2 percent of Vietnamese think that the controversial agreement, which Obama’s administration is likely to complete by year’s end, will be a bad thing for their country while 89 percent believe it will be good.
As for the defense pivot, only 13 percent of Vietnamese do not welcome increased US military resources in Asia, which is the owest disapproval rate in the region.
20150703 * Overworked workers get no family time:
A Jobstreet survey in Vietnam has found that 71% of workers do not have enough time for their family because of working overtime.
Around 80% work two to five hours after normal working hours to finish their jobs though only 43% are paid for it.
Only 4% of the 3,349 workers polled said they spend more than 10 hours a day with their family.
Most of those working overtime get less than VND1 million (US$46) a month, 32% get VND3-5 million (US$138-230), 8% get VND5-10 million (US$230-460), and 7%, more than VND10 million.
20150702 * Vietnam, Japan trade unions forge linkages:
Representatives of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) had talks with a delegation of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (JTUC) in Hanoi on July 1, affirming their determination to foster friendship and cooperation.
VGCL Vice Standing Chairman Tran Thanh Hai highlighted the sound development of bilateral relations which were set up not long ago, as illustrated by regular meetings and workshops on trade union activities, information exchanges, and mutual support at international forums.
The All Japan Seamen’s Union has coordinated with the VGCL to implement a project on improving Vietnamese sailors’ capacity since 1997, offering 34 training courses for thousands of targeted people.
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20:02:30 local time CAMBODIA
20150703 * Factory Agrees to Pay Wages to Former Workers:
A South Korean-owned garment factory bowed to union pressure Thursday and agreed to pay its former workers wages they are owed, following a meeting with the Ministry of Labor.
Hundreds of workers at the S.H. International garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district have been protesting since May 28, claiming that the factory’s South Korean manager had run away.
The workers have been demanding their May salaries and severance pay, and four of them were injured last month when a truck transporting sewing machines out of the factory plowed through their demonstration.
The factory says the manager did not go anywhere, and that the protesting workers are angry because their contracts were not renewed in late May.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday issued an injunction barring the factory from moving any more of its equipment pending resolution of the conflict. On Thursday, the factory, the workers’ union and Labor Ministry officials came together to negotiate a settlement.
“Both sides reached an agreement today because the factory agreed to pay the workers and the union agreed to stop protesting,” said Vong Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the ministry’s labor conflict department.
20150703 * Four factories see 118 faintings:
More than 100 workers across four garment factories in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Takeo provinces fainted yesterday.
National Social Security Fund (NSSF) officials said 45 workers at C N Prosperous Garment (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district fainted yesterday, after more than 90 workers there fainted on Tuesday.
But NSSF inspectors noted fans and proper ventilation at the factory, declaring it up to standard, NSSF spokesman Cheav Bunrith said yesterday.
“The [NSSF inspection] team promotes occupational safety, health care, sanitation, safety for workers,” he said.
At Vonammy (Cambodia) Garment Co in Takeo province, 29 people fainted yesterday, a day after 65 people fainted due to food poisoning, Bunrith said.
20150703 * Almost 100 More Factory Workers Faint:
Almost 350 workers have now fainted in garment factories across the country this week, with 95 workers collapsing in three different factories in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Takeo provinces Thursday, according to the Labor Ministry.
At about 7:30 a.m. in the CN Prosperous Garment factory in Phnom Penh, 52 workers collapsed, said Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the Labor Ministry’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF). On Monday, 95 workers fainted at the same factory.
“We are still figuring out the reasons, but like I told you before, there is nothing strange technically.
For a factory that has a fainting incident, this may last a number of days,” Mr. Bunrith said.
“It is due to personal problems of the workers themselves, who have weak health conditions.
We have found no problems with the chemical substances or the building environment,” he added.
At about 7:15 a.m. Thursday in the Vonammy garment factory in Takeo province, 29 workers fainted, according to a report from the NSSF, a day after 65 workers collapsed there after eating tainted shrimp paste during lunch.
20150702 * Garment workers faint after poisoning:
More than 60 garment workers fainted yesterday afternoon after a bout of food poisoning, police have said.
Chhom Troeun, deputy district police chief, said 64 Vonammy Garment factory workers in Takeo province’s Bati district had passed out after eating a batch of fermented shrimp known locally as pha’ak kampih.
“They were all female workers. They ate the pha’ak kampih and they got food poisoning and vomited,” he said.
Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the body that allocates workplace compensation, said he had counted only 61 people involved in the incident.
20150702 * Some 61 Cambodian garment workers fell ill after eating contaminated food:
Some 61 workers at Vonammy ( Cambodia) Garment factory in south Cambodia’s Takeo province got sick on Wednesday after they had eaten contaminated food sold outside the factory, a labor official said.
“Sixty-one workers felt headache, dizzy and got fainted after they ate contaminated salt-fermented small shrimps sold outside the factory during lunch time,” Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), said, adding that the workers had been admitted to hospitals soon after the incident and were recovering after medical treatment.
Garment and footwear industry, the kingdom’s largest foreign currency earner, comprises 1,087 factories with approximately 700, 000 workers, according to the labor ministry.
The sector exported products in equivalent to 6.2 billion U.S. dollars last year, accounted for 80.5 percent of the country’s total export.
A monthly minimum wage for the sector is 128 U.S. dollars.
20150701 * Fear, shock cited in mass faintings:
More than 80 people in two garment factories – one in Phnom Penh, the other in Kandal province – fainted on the job yesterday.
Forty-six people fainted at Quint Major Industrial Co Ltd, just one day after an incident on Monday that saw about 50 workers faint at the same factory, said Cheav Bunrith, a spokesman for the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
“At about 8:20am on Tuesday, 46 workers fainted because they still felt scared [from the previous day], and they are in poor health,” he said.
“We inspected the factory, and found that the workers did not faint because of chemicals or pesticides in the workplace.”
Thirty-six other workers fainted at C N Prosperous Garment (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday morning, Bunrith said.
20150701 * Mass fainting (82-184) occur at 2 garment factories in Cambodia:
Some 82 Cambodian garment workers at two different factories fainted on Tuesday morning, and a labor official cited poor health for the cause of their fainting.
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20150703 * High minimum wage hurts competitiveness:
I refer to the letter from Sam Rainsy, minority leader of the National Assembly published on June 29.
Excellency Sam Rainsy noted that “it would be only fair and socially responsible to recognise that,
in terms of living standard, Cambodian workers still have a long way to catch up with their
counterparts in many countries, especially Vietnam”.
This comment was made with reference to my statement in an earlier article that the current minimum
wage in the garment and footwear sector in Cambodia is already high and that demands for $177 per
month are unreasonable and will hurt the sector’s global competitiveness.
My comments referred to the economic realities of the wage demands, while his remarks focused on the
Ideally, we would like to pay our employees more and continue to receive orders from the buyers.
20150702 * Lawmaker says NGO law must pass now:
Despite government assurances that the controversial NGO draft law was still undergoing review, committees of the National Assembly said yesterday that the only revisions will be minor corrections to spelling and wording.
The decision was made in a meeting with the three commissions responsible for studying and reviewing the draft law.
“Overall, we decided to keep the meaning intact,” said Chheang Vun, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Commission.
“It is imperative that we pass it right now, so that it will guarantee social stability, [and] prevent foreign interference, which can sour the political environment,” he said.
20150702 * No need to rush LANGO through parliament:
The other day I had the honour of attending a meeting at the Ministry of Environment.
Representatives from NGOs, donors, lawyers and embassies discussed the timeline of a future Code on Environmental Protection.
The Minister himself chaired the meeting and delivered an opening speech.
He very frankly spoke about the poor situation of Cambodia’s environment, about a lack of knowledge and awareness, about corruption that leads to pollution, about negative effects of dams on the rural population and about the limitations of his own ministry.
But he has a clear vision about the promotion of renewable energies, about eco-friendly tourism, about the role that companies have to play with regard to environmental protection and about capacity building in his ministry.
He called on civil society organisations and donors to actively support the drafting of this new Law on Environmental Protection because it can only be developed by a joint effort of all stakeholders.
In the end, a clear timeline was agreed upon and the budget was critically examined and approved.
It was a very successful meeting – maybe one of the most fruitful meetings that I have attended for many months.
But during the entire meeting I wondered whether there will be any NGOs left that could cooperate with the ministry after the new Law on Associations and NGOs, LANGO, has come into effect.
LANGO will require political neutrality from all NGOs and associations.
* Cambodian Civil Society Intensifies Public Campaign Against Repressive Laws:
From June 28-30, various sectors of Cambodian civil society conducted a spirited 3-day campaign to protest against two draft laws, the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO) and the Trade Union Law (TUL).
On the third day, authorities used force to prevent hundreds of members of civil society from peacefully marching toward the National Assembly from four locations.
20150701 * NGO law in crosshairs:
Despite the deployment of law enforcement officials across the capital in a bid to halt the demonstration, activists yesterday marched as promised to the National Assembly to protest the looming adoption of highly controversial union and NGO laws.
Starting at about 8am, hundreds of land activists, environmentalists, monks, civil society members and ordinary citizens gathered at four starting points: the Niroth pagoda in Chbar Ampov commune, Wat Chak Angre Leu, the 7 January flyover and the French Embassy.
As participants began their march toward the National Assembly, banners and flags in hand, authorities armed with shields and batons quickly began to seize materials and block their paths, leading to verbal altercations and some pushing in the process, though no serious violence was recorded.
In demonstrators’ crosshairs were the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations, or LANGO, as well as a law governing the nation’s trade unions.
Both have been widely criticised for vague language many fear will give the government license to broadly inhibit their ability to operate.
Both could pass before the month ends.
20150701 * Police, Guards Block Marches Against NGO Law:
Protesters scuffle with government security guards during their attempt to march to the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to demonstrate against a proposed law that would regulate NGOs and associations. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Phnom Penh City Hall made good on its promise to stop a set of planned protest marches Tuesday against a draft law aiming to regulate the country’s NGOs, deploying hundreds of security guards and police around the capital to stop the demonstrators in their tracks.
Hundreds of NGO workers, unionists and activists were planning to converge on the National Assembly from four separate locations to ask lawmakers not to pass the law, despite a threat from the municipality to use “any means” to stop them.
20150630 * Protesters Defy City Hall, March Against NGO Law:
Over 400 protesters defied City Hall’s ban on a planned protest yesterday and gathered peacefully in front of the National Assembly to protest against the draft association and NGO law, which they say can be used to shut down organizations that criticize the government.
Protesters started to amass at the National Assembly around 11 am, after arriving from four separate starting places in the city.
The four groups separated into smaller groups when police attempted to block their marches through the city.
Security guards were also on hand to block them from approaching the Assembly building while its members were meeting.
At about 11 am, when the session was over, security forces withdrew the barricades and allowed the protesters to approach the building.
Freedom of Expression?
20150630 * EXCLUSIVE: Security Official Defends NGO Law:
In the noisy debate over the NGO law, the voices of Cambodia’s powerful security forces are rarely heard. They serve in silence.
But this week, Khmer Times was granted an exclusive interview with one man at the very top of Cambodia’s security pyramid. His views are radically opposed to views voiced by opposition politicians, by foreign diplomats, and by demonstrators.
But in this season of political backlash against the 2013-2014 protests, the views of the security community seem ascendant. In last February’s reshuffle of the ruling party’s Central Committee, the number of members with operational command over security forces was tripled, to 116.
Here is the view from the other side of the police baton.
“The 2013 election was a watershed moment in the need for the law on NGO/CSOs, as mountains of intelligence gathered revealed that some non-governmental and civil society organizations were pawns of hidden hands and would stop at nothing to bring about regime change,” he told this reporter, referring to some of Cambodia’s roughly 3,000 active NGOs.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 03 July 2015, Almost 100 More Factory Workers Faint:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-07-03 Almost 100 More Factory Workers Faint
2015-07-03 Factory Agrees to Pay Wages to Former Workers
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post :
2015-07-03 Four factories see 118 faintings
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here .
* BetterFactories Media Updates 01 July 2015, Fear, shock cited in mass faintings:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post :
2015-07-01-Fear, shock cited in mass faintings
* To read in the (Khmer) edition Kohsantepheap Daily:
2015-07-01-Approximately 60 workers fainted in two garment factories
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here .
* BetterFactories Media Updates 15-30 June 2015:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
* 2015-06-15 Government Announces Start of Garment Sector Wage Talks
* 2015-06-17 Child Garment Workers Not A Problem, Minister Says
* 2015-06-24 Trade Unions Agree on $177 Wage Demand
* 2015-06-26 Factory Truck Crashes Into Protesting Workers, Injuring Four
* 2015-06-26 Gov’t to Reinvestigate Union Leaders’ Slayings2015-06-30
* Factory Says Not Responsible For Protesting Workers’ Injuries
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post :
* 2015-06-16 Hundreds strike at K-Speu garment factory
* 2015-06-16 Kingdom ranked low in labour rights index
* 2015-06-16 Walmart’s black mark
* 2015-06-23 Unions agree to push $177 wage at meet
* 2015-06-24 More talk, fever strikes: study
* 2016-06-24 Strike at W&D ended
21:02:30 local time INDONESIA
20150701 * Why are Tens of Thousands of Workers Losing Jobs in Indonesia?:
Two weeks ago, Ipan Sopian, a metal parts assembly operator at a factory in greater Jakarta, was told by his employer that his services were no longer needed in the company. Ipan was distraught, but not entirely surprised.
“Demand has been low, so there have been fewer projects to work on. In fact for the last few months, I’ve just been sitting around at work doing nothing,” he told The Establishment Post.
Asked if he knew why demand has slumped, Ipan shrugged. He does not know and frankly could not care less. Having married his girlfriend barely a month ago, Ipan now has an also unemployed wife to support.
The only thing on his mind now is how to find a new job, and fast.
If recent reports on the country’s economy are to be believed, Ipan will probably find it difficult to find a job at this present time. According to these reports, Ipan is just one out of tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off since January after having lost their jobs in Indonesia.
The textile industry alone has reportedly laid off up to 30,000 workers so far this year, while footwear makers have cutback roughly 11,000 of its employees. Other industries like mining, oil and gas and automotive are also reportedly also seeing similar measures taken by companies over jobs in Indonesia.
Business owners are saying that the low demand has been caused by weakened purchasing power of the domestic market due to a notable economic slowdown.
The Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI), whose members include workers from almost every sector and industry, agree that the effect of the sluggish economy on businesses is not as bad as it has been made out to be. In fact KSPI chairman Iqbal Said denied reports linking the slow economy with the surge of mass lay-offs.
He said that, based on reports received by the union, the only changes workers are currently experiencing are slight adjustments to their working hours. Such measures have been taken by companies in order to cut their cost and production.
“For example those that normally work five days a week now only work three days a week.
There are also changes in work shifts, for instance those that usually have three shifts a day, become only two shifts a day. This has been true especially in the automotive industry,” Mr Iqbal told The Establishment Post.
As for the reported mass lay-offs, Mr Iqbal does not deny it, but says that it is something that happens every year in Indonesia ahead of Eid or Idul Fitri. (See: How much do workers get as a minimum wage in Asean? )
20150630 * C&A Foundation Publishes ‘Making Fashion a Force For Good: The Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Apparel Industry’:
Today C&A Foundation published its annual report, ‘Making Fashion a Force for Good’.
The report is aimed at spurring dialogue and action within the apparel industry. Through testimonials from industry experts, C&A Foundation highlights the challenges fashion is facing, and the opportunities the industry must seize to bring about change.
“Despite greater consumer awareness and powerful reasons to change, we still have not found an equitable, just and ecologically sustainable way to clothe the world,” said Leslie Johnston, Executive Director of C&A Foundation.
“Fashion can be a force for good, but all of us – retailers, brands, suppliers, NGOs, governments, farmers and consumers – must work together towards long-term solutions to reach the ultimate goal of a fair and sustainable industry.”
20:02:30 local time THAILAND
20150701 * Private sector poll finds opposition to hike in minimum wage next year:
The daily minimum wage of Bt300 should be maintained next year, while any future changes should be determined on a provincial basis, according to a significant body of opinion in the private sector.
A survey by the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand found that others also favoured that the determination of the minimum wage should be based on business categories and the standard of labour skills, as well as being in line with the market mechanism.
Moreover, the government should conduct a comprehensive study of the impacts of the current Bt300 wage on the economy and labour productivity, chamber vice chairman Bhumindr Harinsuit said yesterday.
The chamber offered these views based on its survey of 218 business operators nationwide from June 1 to 20, in which opinions were sought on the setting of the daily minimum wage for 2016.
The survey was jointly conducted with the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
20150630 * Ministry hints at wage hike, firms seek delay:
The Labour Ministry has sent a signal a minimum-wage increase is possible next year after receiving proposals from provincial wage committees.
“There’s no question 300 baht [a day] has become the minimum. But when to increase the wage, where it will apply and by how much will be later finalised by the central wage committee in August,” said Labour Ministry permanent secretary Nakorn Silpa-archa on Tuesday.
“From what we heard from operators, 90% of them said the rate should not be raised now,” he said.
“Everything will be clear in August. The new minimum rate need not take effect on Jan 1. In fact, if it’s raised, operators will be informed two months in advance.”
Meanwhile, labour groups insist the minimum wage be raised to 360 baht a day nationwide.
20150701 * US extends GSP for Thailand:
Preferences (GSP) for Thailand until the end of 2017, the Commerce Ministry revealed on Wednesday.
The reinstatement order happened on Monday. It is valid four years and five months. As the tariff privilege takes retroactive effect from its previous expiry in July 2013. The privilege will continue until Dec 31, 2017.
20150701 * Export group sees dark outlook:
The THAI National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) now believes that merchandise exports are heading for a contraction of at least 2 per cent this year and possibly even more, by up to 3.5 per cent, if existing and unpredictable detrimental factors begin to darken the already dire outlook.
The two industries contribute 15 per cent and 10 per cent of the Kingdom’s exports.
Also, the textile and machinery industries are in a downturn.
19:32:30 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150703 * Labour unions, employers to fight minimum wage proposal:
In a strictly temporary marriage of convenience, both labour and some employer representatives are criticising the government’s announcement last week that the minimum wage should be K3600 (about US$3.20) for an eight-hour day.
Labour says it is not enough. Management says it’s too much.
The Myanmar Trade Unions Federation (MTUF) has been compiling letters of complaint ever since the government’s June 29 announcement of the minimum wage, which was set following a two-day meeting in Yangon between stakeholders.
Two months of consultation over the figure will be held before the issue goes to parliament for a final decision.
“We will submit complaints from all over the country in time for the deadline,” said U Tun Wai, vice chair of the MTUF.
Labour sources said within three days of the announcement more than 200 complaints were collected from workers saying the daily minimum should be set at K4000.
“Even K4000 would not be enough,” said U Tun Wai, adding that the minimum should be based on civil-service pay rates.
20150703 * Garment factories vote against proposed minimum wage:
Myanmar garment factory owners on Thursday unanimously voted against a proposed minimum wage set at K3,600 for an eight-hour day, promising to send their objections to the National Minimum Wage Committee within two weeks.
The vote was done by more than 200 businessmen from 145 garment factories attending a meeting at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, at which they discussed the challenges they face in meeting the proposed minimum wage, which was announced by the government on 29 June.
There are about 300 garment factories in Myanmar.
Garment industry bosses had offered a wage of K2,500 during the 22-23 June negotiation between the employers and employees, but the two sides could not reach an agreement during the talks sponsored by the government.
The employers cannot agree to the proposed minimum wage because the garment cutting, measuring and packaging industry does not depend on working hours but rather on productivity, said Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe, secretary of the Myanmar Garment Manufactures Association.
20150702 * Myanmar unions win first minimum wage:
Three years after unions were made legal in Myanmar, their fight for a minimum wage delivered a victory on 29 June.
The country’s first-ever minimum wage of 3,600 kyatts per day is equal to US$3.2.
The union demand had been 4,000 kyatts per day, while employers lobbied for 2,500 kyatts. Government’s proposal of 3,600 has been accepted by the unions and will be signed into law following a two-month period for comments.
The figure is based on an eight-hour working day and has national coverage. While final clarification is needed on workers’ entitlement to paid leave, the new minimum wage is higher than the US$68 monthly wage of Bangladesh.
Employers are still lobbying for the right not to pay workers for Sundays.
The minimum wage will be applicable for workplaces with at least 15 employees. The union demand had been for the wage to apply to workplaces with 5 employees, and that demand will remain in the evaluation of the minimum wage after 12 months.
20150630 * 3,600 Kyat Daily Minimum Wage Proposed for All Sectors:
Burma’s National Minimum Wage Committee proposed on Monday that the country’s minimum wage be set at 3,600 kyats (US$3.24) for an eight-hour day.
Organizations and individuals will have a two-week window to submit feedback on the proposal before the wage can be enacted.
If approved, the proposed wage—which amounts to less that 50 cents per hour—will be applied across all sectors nationwide, with the exception of certain small and family businesses.
After the feedback window closes, state- and division-level wage committee members will review public input and submit it to the national committee within 30 days.
The national wage committee will then convene with government, industry and labor force stakeholders to reach a final decision within 60 days of Monday’s announcement.
Once the wage is approved by the committee and the Union government, the Minimum Wage Law, approved in early 2013, will immediately take effect.
The amount will be assessed and adjusted at least once within its first two years.
read more.& read more.
19:02:30 local time BANGLADESH
20150630 * 2 burned female RMG workers die at CMCH:
Two female garment workers, who sustained burn injuries in a fire that broke out at a house in the city’s EPZ area on June 25, have died at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), raising the death toll from the incident to three.
The deceased were identified as Kohinoor Akhter, 19, of Lama upazila in Bandarban, and Nargis Akhter, 20, of Chakaria upazila in Cox’s Bazar district.
Of them, Kohinoor who was undergoing treatment with 50 percent burn on her body, died at the plastic surgery unit of the CMCH on Monday night while Nargis with 30 percent burns died on Tuesday noon.
The fire incident occurred as the house inmates went to bed without switching off the gas stove at their kitchen on the night of June 25.
read more. & read more.
20150703 * Much-expected Labour Law rules yet to be formulated:
The government has yet again failed to formulate Labour Law rules which were supposed to be in place on June 30.
“We have sent the draft rules to the Law Ministry for vetting and after their clearance we will publish the gazette,” Labour Ministry Secretary Mikail Shipar told the Dhaka Tribune.
The Labour Ministry sent the draft rules to the Law Ministry on June 18 and it was expected that it would take at best one month to complete all the formalities, he said.
After the collapse of Rana Plaza, the government agreed to bring about major changes in the Labour Act 2006 and accordingly it was amended in 2013.
20150703 * Wages of RMG workers by July 10:
The state minister for labour and employment, M Mujibul Haque, on Thursday announced that the readymade garment factory owners will have to pay wages to the workers by July 10 and festival allowances by July 14 ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Following a meeting of the crisis management core committee, the junior minster said in a briefing at the Bangladesh Secretariat that the factory owners agreed to pay the wages and festival allowances to the workers by the stipulated time and the government will monitor strictly so that no untoward satiation takes place in the sector before the Eid festival.
Mujibul hoped that this year the wages and festival allowances will be cleared smoothly and the garment workers would celebrate Eid in a festive mood.
In the meeting, labour leaders demanded festival allowances by July 5 and wages by July 10 so that workers can go shopping timely for celebrating Eid.
read more. & read more.
20150702-03 * RMG owners asked to clear wages, bonus by July 14:
State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu today asked the garment makers to clear salaries and festival bonus of their workers by July 10 and 14 respectively so that they can celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr smoothly.
Chunnu came up with the instruction during a meeting of the crisis management committee for RMG sector held at the ministry office this afternoon.
“Wages of the RMG workers must be given by July 10 and their festival bonus by July 14 so that they can celebrate the Eid smoothly,” the minister said.
“We have taken the decision so that the RMG workers get their wages and festival bonus timely,” he added.
read more. & read more. & to read.& read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150701 * WAGE, FESTIVAL ALLOWANCE BEFORE EID: Industrial police identifies 300 ‘problematic’:
The industrial police have identified about 300 readymade garment factories across the country where wages and festival allowances, ahead of Eid-ul-fitr, might remain unsettled.
Ashulia, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chittagong zonal offices of the industrial police sent the list of factories to its headquarters, remarking that unrest may erupt in the factories as there were certain irregularities in the units over paying wages to the workers, sources said.
The industrial police has reportedly been monitoring more than 3,500 garment factories across the country and apprehended that labour unrest might erupt in 10 factories at Ashulia, 100 at Gazipur, 100 at Narayanganj and 50 at Chittagong.
Source said that industrial police identified another 50 non-RMG factories in Narayanganj and Chittagong where unrest may take place as owners are unwilling to pay dues and festival allowances to the workers.
‘We are monitoring all the factories across the country and already sent a preliminary report to the government so that no untoward incident takes place in the industrial belts ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr,’ Abdus Salam, deputy inspector general of the Industrial Police told New Age on Tuesday.
read more. & read more.
20150701 * Savar RMG workers protest ‘unpaid overtime’:
Several hundred RMG workers yesterday demonstrated at their factory in Dhaka Export Processing Zone in Savar of Dhaka protesting “unpaid overtime”.
At least five persons also sustained minor injuries in a clash between the workers of FCI Ltd and its management staff, DEPZ sources said.
The workers alleged that the authorities forced them to work for additional two-and-a-half hours with no payment, violating the factory rules. The plant was shut for the day by the authorities who could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.
20150703 * Jute mills workers to get DA with wage before Eid:
Workers of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporations would get dearness allowances and festive bonus with their regular wages before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The state minister for jute and textiles Mirza Azam declared it at a views exchange meeting with the leaders of Bangladesh Jute Mills Sramik League at the conference room of the ministry, an official handout said.
20150703 * Jute workers oppose govt’s privatisation drive:
Workers of state-owned Alim Jute Mills in Khulna put up barricades at different points on the Khulna-Jessore Highway yesterday protesting against the government’s plans to privatise the industry.
This road and railway barricade programme from 10am till 11pm was a part of their ongoing movement launched under banner of under the banner of Privatisation Resistance Committee.
The barricades on the highway disrupted transport services causing immense sufferings to people.
A meeting was also held in on the premises of the mill where workers’ leader Abdus Salam Jamaddar, Syful Islam Mintu, Sarder Abdul Hamid, Mujibur Rahman Makbul, Abbas Ali, Iqbal Hossain, Sheikh Zakaria, Anwar Hossain, Abed Ali , Redowan Hossain Bahar, Babul Reza, Akbar Ali, Hafez Abdus Salam
and Rafiqul Islam.
20150701 * Jute mills workers block highway in Khulna:
Around two thousand workers of state-owned Aleem Jute Mills put up barricades on Khulna-Jessore highway in Khulna about an hour starting from 10:00am on Tuesday as a part of their ongoing movement.
They put up barricades on the highway under the banner of ‘Privatisation Resistance Committee’.
Workers’ family members also joined the highway barricade programme.
Transports services from Khulna to other parts of the country was disrupted creating severe traffic jam.
Later, around 11:30am, a meeting was held with convener of the resistance committee Md Abdur Rashid in the chair, where speakers reiterated their determination to resist privatisation move by the government.
Md Abdur Rashid in the meeting said that workers would go for self immolation if the government did not accede to their demand.
20150703 * Apparel Factory Safety Plan: HC asks govt to report progress:
The High Court on Thursday directed the labour and employments ministry secretary to submit a report by August 6 on progress in putting in place fire safe and structural integrity measures at apparel factories in accordance with the National Tripartite Plan of Action.
A bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice AKM Zahirul Haque issued the directive after hearing a petition from rights groups—Ain O Salish Kendra and Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust.
The petition stated that the action plan was adopted by the government, the employees and workers at a tripartite meeting jointly organized by the labour ministry and the International Labour Organization.
It said that the action plan was adopted after hundreds of workers were killed in devastating factory fires at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012 and the Smart Export Garment in January 2013 and the Rana Plaza disaster in April 2013.
It said that the tripartite action plan required taking comprehensive actions to prevent further loss of life, limbs and property in factory fires and other accidents.
20150701 * 202 workers killed in workplace accidents in last 6 months:
At least 202 workers were killed in their workplaces in 147 separate accidents in the country during the last six months, according to a survey.
The survey carried out by a local NGO – Safety and Rights Society – says about 158 workers were killed in 129 workplace accidents during the same period in 2014.
The survey was conducted based on monitoring 26 daily newspapers (15 national and 11 regional newspapers) during January 1 and June 30 last, which did not include the deaths of workers outside workplaces or road accidents on the way to or return from workplaces.
The survey revealed that majority of the workers — 76 — was killed on construction sites while 61 in factories and 47 in service organisations like hotels, workshops, power supply organisations. Besides, five workers of agriculture and 13 of transport sector were killed during this period.
Similar to the previous years, the highest number of deaths involved electrocutions, with 49 deaths.
Fire killed 29 people where 23 people died after being crushed under falling machinery or heavy load or hard objects.
Executive Director of Safety and Rights Sekender Ali Mina said the actual number of the workplace deaths is almost certainly to be more than the numbers set out in the report as many workplace deaths are not reported in newspapers.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150702 * Analysis: Getting ready to become a middle-income country:
Becoming a lower middle income country is a certainly something to cheer about.
It makes us firmly believe that we will soon elevate to the status of middle income country.
It makes us feel good.
It gives us confidence.
And it makes others turn around and glance at us with respect.
We become a target for investment.
But it also cautions us about some pitfalls.
It also cautions us to know the challenges and prepare ourselves to brace the crosswinds.
It also alerts us about the so-called middle-income trap that may embrace a country when it elevates to middle income category.
As a middle income country gains in wages, as we have and will further in future, we face the challenge of remaining competitive with the cheap products of the low income countries.
We must not forget Bangladesh had once snatched the jobs of the countries like Korea, Thailand and Singapore when they geared up to the higher ground.
While we will face the possibility of not competing with low income countries, we will also not be able to compete with the high-tech products of developed countries.
So we have to consider up-scaling our productivity by infusing technology and training our workers.
Slow transformation of our agricultural workforce into industrial ones will lead to unemployment and low wage as has happened in countries like India and Thailand, leading to increase in poverty.
So we must focus on this job at hand before we soon reach the middle income category.
20150701 * Exporters lobby hails tax cuts:
Hailing the cut in source tax on all exports, Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) Tuesday said an equal rate for all will help them enhance their competency.
The finance minister in his budget speech on June 04 proposed 1.0 per cent tax at source on all exports, including ready-made garment, but it has now been reduced to 0.6 per cent.
The apparel exporters paid tax at source on their export proceeds at a rate of 0.3 per cent in the outgoing fiscal year (FY) 2014-15 while other export-oriented sectors at a rate of 0.60 per cent.
20150702 * Steps taken to expand Jamdani industry: Amu:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu on Wednesday said the government is working to expand Jamdani industry by providing them infrastructural support through setting up of a separate Jamdani industrial estate aiming to improve the artisans’ socio-economic condition.
He also said Jamdani is a continuation of the old heritage of Muslin that was famous worldwide as a heritage.
“Jamdani of Bangladesh has already been acknowledged as part of the world heritage…
The government is working relentlessly to develop the industry like Muslin industry,” said the minister.
20150701 * Case filed against BD, three buyers:
Compensation for Rana Plaza victims
A civil case was lodged in the United States of America (USA) against Bangladesh and three apparel buyers to get compensation for Rana Plaza victims and remedy for further incidents, officials said.
One Abdur Habibur Rahman filed the case with the district court in the District of Columbia, USA.
He filed the case in favour of Rana Plaza victims Sharifa Begum (deceased) and Mahamudul Hasan Hridoy (injured) on April 23 last.
The case was filed under “the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 20 U.S.C and 1332 (d) (2); and rule 23 of the Federal Rule of Civil procedure.”
Defendants of the case are: the government of Bangladesh, JesiPenny Corporation, Inc, the Children Place and Wal-Mart stores, Inc.
“Lack of basic standards for workplace healthy and safety (and failure of the Bangladesh government and western buyers and to audit and enforce the minimal standards that do exists), workers at garment factories in Bangladesh are subjected to a number of systematic human rights violations, including harassment and other abuse,” the plaintiff said.
20150701 * RANA PLAZA TRAGEDY : Govt asked to find out engineer who cautioned building could collapse:
The High Court on Tuesday repeated its previous directive to the government to find out engineer Fazlul Haq who had cautioned the owner a day ahead that Rana Plaza, which had developed cracks, could collapse any moment.
Only if Sohel Rana paid heed to the warning hundreds of apparel workers, mostly women, would not have to die in Rana Plaza collapse on the very next day, April 24, 2013, said the court.
A bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice AKM Zahirul Haque asked deputy attorney general Al-Amin Sarker, who appeared for the government, to search for Fazlul Haq at the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh which enrolls engineers wherever they were posted.
After initial silence, the deputy attorney general feebly said that there was no trace of the engineer.
The bench reiterated that it was keen to hear the account from Fazlul Haq, as media reported that he had sounded the warning during spot inspection of Rana Plaza after it had developed cracks.
The court said it would examine whether anyone of the respondents had neglected their duty and what action was taken against the duty dodgers.
The court asked the authorities to take punitive action against the duty dodgers if no action had been taken against them.
The court said it would also examine whether the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster had been duly paid their compensations.
18:32:30 local time INDIA
20150702 * Major fire in cotton godown at Sadasivpet:
A major fire broke out in a cotton godown at Sadashivpet of Medak District in the wee hours of Thursday.
The cause of the fire accident was not immediately known, though electric short-circuit is being suspected by the officials.
Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot to douse the fire.
There were no casualties but loss of property was considerable, according to preliminary estimate.
20150703 * New ESI guidelines: garment workers are the worst hit:
The ESI Corporation’s recent guidelines restricting free treatment to beneficiaries with pre-existing ailments in case of malignancy and chronic renal failure (before they obtained the ESI card) has hit hard on garment workers in the city.
Although doctors said the guidelines are aimed at preventing potential misuse of super-speciality treatment (SST), workers from the unorganised sector are upset that they would not be able to afford treatment in private hospitals for these ailments.
Members of the Garment Textile Workers’ Union (GATWU), who claimed that the workers are not aware of the new rules, said this was a big blow to the beneficiaries.
Although the new rule affects all workers, the city’s five lakh garment workers are the worst hit as most of them are women who would not have undergone any medical check-up before they joined work, said Raju B.C., GATWU joint secretary.
20150630 * Govt plans 8 apparel centres in North-East:
The Government plans to set up one modern apparel manufacturing centre in each of the eight north-eastern States – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
SK Panda, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, said the government would spend Rs. 20 crore in the apparel manufacturing centre which would come up on 1.50 acres and generate employment for about 9,600 people.
New textile policy
“The new textile policy outlaying long-term growth of the industry is almost ready and would be announced next month,” he added inaugurating the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India’s 61st National Garment Fair here.
In consultation with the textile ministry, the Association has decided to open one training centre in each of the eight north-eastern states.
The Textile Ministry plans to train 15 lakh people over next two years in apparel making.
Free trade pacts
Urging the government to expedite free trade agreement with the European Union, Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI and Chairman of International Apparel Federation, said the prospects for India in the international market have brightened with the rising labour cost and infrastructure issues in the competing countries such as China and Bangladesh.
20150701 * Two power loom units caught in raid:
Officials of the State Handlooms Enforcement Wing (Tirupur unit) caught two power looms on Tuesday for alleged production of handloom items notified by the Union Government as ‘reserved items’.
20150630 * Contract labour – a threat to Indian Society:
There were shocking revelations about the situation for the many temporary contract workers in the Indian State of Maharashtra at an IndustriALL Global Union workshop held in the city of Pune this month.
The 23 and 24 June meeting, held with support from Dutch trade union aid organization FNV Mondiaal, heard from 35 unionists affiliated to IndustriALL through Shramik Ekta Mahasangh (SEM).
The affiliates are battling to organize the temporary workers and the workshop looked at strategies to overcome the many obstacles they face.
Participants revealed that companies – both national and multinational – are hiring fewer permanent staff and using more non-union precarious workers.
There were stories galore of companies that dismiss permanent workers and rehire temporary workers for the same work, but for a fraction of the salary. Almost all permanent workers in the room had colleagues doing the same work for much less salary (earning up to an unbelievable 80 per cent less).
A living wage is a long distant dream for most of these contract workers, even though many of them work for years and years in the same job.
Either their short-term contracts are continuously renewed, or they are sent in through many different agencies to avoid legal pressures to make them permanent.
This situation can continue for up to 20 to 25 years in India – possibly even longer.
The effects on the precariously employed contract workers are disastrous.
Not only in regard to their employment conditions, but also for their place in Indian society.
Their low wages have a long range of consequences, of which not being able to get married is cited the most.
The first question a potential family-in-law asks is whether the worker has a permanent job. If not, there is no marriage.
20150630 * PM Modi hears industry woes; asks them to innovate, Make in India:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met business leaders to hear their grievances on issues ranging from high capital cost to ease of doing business to certainty on taxation matters, as he interacted for the first time with the Indian industry chambers since taking charge over a year ago.
Modi held separate meetings with the delegations of the two apex industry bodies — Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).
The industry leaders told prime minister about investment not picking up due to high cost of capital, poor credit growth and difficulties faced by small and medium enterprises in doing business, top Ficci sources said.
20150702 * Cotton yarn export records 13 months of fall, China resurrects:
Cotton yarn exports from India have been dwindling month after month, posting 13 months of fall in year on year comparison.
And this fall has been called upon by industry body the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council as “matter of deep concern”.
It has pointed that the withdrawal of Focus Market Scheme for Cotton yarns was also the cause of steep decline in exports to non-conventional markets like African countries like Peru, Morocco etc.
In May 2015, cotton yarn worth US$250 million (INR1,590 crore) was exported to 72 countries with volumes at 84 million kg.
|The average unit value realization was US$2.99 a kg, up US cents 5 from April but US cents 45 down from the same month a year ago.
While exports in US$ terms recorded the 13th consequent month of fall, shipment has been showing a positive year on year growth since February 2015.
Unit value realisation has also been rising since March consequentially, having added US cents 8 a kg from the low of US$2.91 a kg on an average in February 2015.
20150702 * Fabric manufacturers focus on value-added products:
With demand increasing for textile products in export markets such as the U.S., those who were so far manufacturing woven grey fabrics are now getting into value-added products.
The change in the strategy is attributed to the increase seen in the import of non-apparel, especially home textile products from India.
“Around 20 companies which till recently were supplying woven grey fabrics to north India-based companies for exports have now become producers of various end products,” says Prabhu Damodaran, secretary of Indian Texpreneurs Federation.
20150702 * Authorities to launch website to streamline CSR work soon:
In an attempt to effectively carry out the works being done through Corporate Social Responsibility, the district collector and Zilla Parishad CEO have designed a website-cum-portal to coordinate between different agencies and corporate houses.
The officials have published a list of works to be carried out on priority basis on the website that would be launched soon.
According to officials, earlier many corporate houses would vie for specific works and projects due to which many important tasks had no takers but through this website the administration will not only be able to take stock of the situation but also have a proper record of the exact amount spent by a given a corporate house in the CSR activities carried out by them.
Moreover, the authorities in an attempt to bypass the tendering process which are full of glitches having scope of misappropriation of funds received, have decided that no money would be taken from the corporate houses, NGOs and individuals who want to take up CSR activities, instead they would asked to do it in kind.
18:32:30 local time SRI LANKA
20150703 * Food poisoning hospitalises around 75:
Around 75 workers attached to two garment factories at Dematagoda and Maradana were hospitalised yesterday due to food poisoning.
They are warded at the Colombo National Hospital, hospital sources said. According to the sources, two of the victims are in the ICU receiving treatment. They had been provided food by the same supplier.
Meanwhile, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) had ordered all food outlets providing food to over 100 guests should store samples of their food and drinks in refrigerators to use during an emergency like food poisoning, CMC sources said.
18:02:30 local time PAKISTAN
20150701 * Financial motives: ‘End child labour, boost exports’:
Pakistan has ratified eight core conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), something that even China and India haven’t done.
Pakistan has even made provisions in its laws to implement the conventions.
“Yet there are several gaps that need to be filled if Pakistan hopes to retain its GSP Plus status and encourage export of its products,” Belinda Chanda, a representative of the ILO, said at a roundtable conference held on Tuesday.
Chanda’s presentation highlighted the demise of the football manufacturing industry in Sialkot due to child labour in its supply chain.
She said the United States had withdrawn the GSP Plus status it had accorded Pakistan in the ’90s because of the same problem.
She said prevalence of child labour had played a major role in the closure of SAGA Sports in 2006 and Disney’s withdrawal from the country in 2013.
Other members of the conference highlighted the issue of eliminating child labour from sectoral supply chains.
Employers Federation Pakistan president Khawaja Nauman stressed the need to eliminate child labour from various sectors in light of the GSP Plus given by the European Union.
He said the carpet industry and the soccer ball industry in Sialkot had showed successful interventions and the findings and methodology from their case studies should be implemented in other sectors as well.
He said eliminating child labour from export-oriented industries was even more important.
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20150703 * Workers flay govt, owners apathy:
The workers of brick kilns and power looms took out a protest rally against the apathy of the owners their workplaces and urged the district administration to protect their rights.
The rally started from Ayub Chowk.
After marching different roads, it reached in front of DCO office where hundred
workers of workers joined the rally. It was headed by district president of Labour Qaumi Movement Chaudhry Tanveer Ahmed.
They staged a sit-in in front of DCO office.
20150703 * PTEA asks govt to revive textile sector:
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) on Thursday urged the government to help restore competitiveness of the textile industry.
The association stressed the need for creating a friendlier environment as the country’s textile industry has lost its viability against regional competitors.
“The major factor behind the declining trend is the erosion of textile industry’s competitiveness, particularly against the huge incentives being provided by competing countries to their export sectors,” said PTEA chairman Sohail Pasha.
20150703 * Premier urged to take stock of situation: 30 percent voluntary closure of mills reported: APTMA chief:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman has claimed that his association has received the report of a 30-percent voluntary closure of textile mills across the country.
APTMA Chairman SM Tanveer, talking to a select group of journalists at the office of group leader Gohar Ejaz about early this week’s emergent meeting, where member mills had decided to halt them voluntarily, complained that the government had failed to bring the un-organised power looms and sizing sectors into the tax net and burdened the textile industry with a 0.6-percent tax on each
transaction plus a five-percent sales tax …
All these incidentals and punitive measures have hit the sustainability of the textile industry in Pakistan.”
20150703 * JICA to provide technical support to textile industry:
Ministry of Textile Industry and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) team on Thursday held a meeting to work out parameters for the project of “Skill Development and Market Diversification” (PSDMD) for garment industry.
The Jica delegation was led by Takafumi Ueda, Sr. Advisor JICA and Ministry of Textile Industry of Pakistan was led by Amir Marwat, Secretary, Ministry of Textile Industry.
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20150701 * Marketing, capacity-building of garment technology institutes: JICA to provide technical assistance to Textile Ministry:
Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) on Tuesday extended a helping hand to the ailing textile sector of Pakistan by showing willingness to provide technical assistance to the Ministry of Textile in marketing, products diversification and capacity building of garment technology institutes.
Japan is the third largest textile importer with $50 billion annual import bill; however Pakistan share is about 0.26 percent, a senior official of the Textile Ministry told Business Recorder.
Both sides would work on textile products diversification, especially those which has demand in Japan.
This will help improve supply chain and increase Pakistan’s textile exports to Japan, officials maintained.
20150703 * Power consumption: two textile units’ zero- rating facility withdrawn:
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has decided to charge sales tax on supply of electricity to two textile units by withdrawing sales tax zero-rating facility. In this regard, the FBR has issued two sales tax general orders here on Thursday.
According to the STGO 103 of 2015, the FBR has made amendment in STGO 07/2007 dated 13-09-2007- withdrawal facility of zero-rating on supply of electricity.
20150702 * Fine grade remains in focus at lint markets of Sindh, Punjab:
Lint trading in Sindh and Punjab stations remained range-bound while fine grades fetched better price with firm spot rate, traders at Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) said on Wednesday.
The paucity of better grades forced buyers to make deals on slightly higher prices that kept market price in comfort zone.
Most of the stakeholders remained busy in price war however buyers in immediate need made deals for all grades on cautious note, floor brokers said.
Grade issue and price-difference to grades put some brakes on brisk trading, said floor brokers.
The ginning units produced around 60 percent second grade stuff out of the total output of around 9,000 bales, said floor brokers.
However arrival of assorted grade cottonseed in some places in Punjab and Sindh stations put some positive impact on general prices.
20150702 * Staying mindful: Despite benefits, PBC warns against overreliance on GSP Plus:
The Pakistan Business Council (PBC) has urged the government to make industries aware about the opportunities under the European Union’s (EU) Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus scheme.
However, at the same time, in its latest report, it also cautioned the government and exporters that overreliance on the GSP Plus scheme will hurt Pakistan in the long haul because of the significant risks of making the country dependent on a scheme that the European Commission unilaterally controls.
“Pakistan needs to improve regional trade and tap the potential of emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America, which may not possess as many immediate gains as the GSP Plus scheme, but may be the only way to create stable economic growth,” the report stressed.
The study ‘Pakistan’s EU GSP plus status: first year performance and future potential’ is conducted by PBC, a business policy advocacy forum representing the country’s 47 largest enterprises including multinationals.
The report said that though Pakistan has availed the benefits of GSP Plus for over a year, its industry leaders are concerned about the textile sector’s dependency on the scheme and believe that withdrawal of preferential tariffs will significantly hurt the industry.
20150702 * Govt urged to support private sector in realising export potential:
ICCI president says exports can result into higher earnings by focusing on product and market diversification
The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to come forward and cooperate with private sector in product & market diversification and value addition of exportable products to realise the country’s actual export potential.
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muzzamil Hussain Sabri said that despite possessing great potential to promote exports, Pakistan has missed its export targets for the third consecutive year which should be a cause of concern for the policymakers.
He said government had projected an export target of $27 billion for 2014-15, but could achieve actual exports of $24.2 billion.
Similarly export target of $26.9 billion for 2013-14 was missed by over $1.8 billion while export target of 2012-13 was also missed by almost similar amount, he added.
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20150630 * Invisible workers:
While women’s general social status in Pakistan is clearly reflected in the country’s social indicators such as education, health and employment, it is the rural women who in particular perform poorly and lag far behind their urban counterparts.
The national female labour force participation rate in Pakistan indicates the country’s inadequate efforts to bring women into the economic mainstream — rural women not only experience discrimination but also suffer invisibility because their economic participation is greatly underestimated.
National statistics on women’s labour force participation reflect two important phenomena that further effect women’s participation and bar them from entering labour markets.
First, the stigma attached to their employment discourages women from working outside their homes, and, therefore, most tend not to go out for paid work.
This not only hampers women’s participation but also widens the large gap between men’s and women’s employment. Unfortunately, this situation further reinforces the perception that paid work is not appropriate for women.
Second, the women who enter the labour markets generally remain invisible because their work is not registered.
Due to their low level of literacy, rural women are unable to enter formal employment, and end up working as unpaid labourers or household workers where they are either paid in cash or kind.
In this context, women’s home-based work such as handicrafts, sewing, knitting etc plays a central role in their family’s welfare.
This work has a threefold purpose:
one, it is used as barter that rural women exchange for each other’s services;
two, it is utilised for the family’s savings because usually, rural women produce things of daily use so that family members do not need to buy them from the market;
three, this work is sold and the money earned from it is either used as surplus income or spent on the family’s needs.
* Employment in the Clothing, Textile & Leather sectors grows:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union is pleased to note that the latest STATS SA Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) shows that employment levels in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) sectors has increased.
It is an endorsement that government support for the industry, coupled with our union’s active campaign for jobs, continues to bear fruit.
After a period of stabilization following years of job losses, employment in our industry appears poised for growth.
The data is based on the latest Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) for the March 2015 quarter, which was published yesterday, 30 June 2015.
It shows that there has been a year to year increase of 1.5% in the number of employees across the CTFL industry from March 2014 to March 2015.
There has also been a 1.5% increase in the number of employees from December 2014 to March 2015 (quarter to quarter).
The exact number and percentage changes are summarized in the table below (source: latest QES):
Breakdown of the number of employees year to year and quarter to quarter
* SACTWU settles wage negotiations in Tanning sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2015 wage negotiations for the leather tanning sector. This is a two year agreement that has been reached with the South African Tanning Employers Organisation (SATEO).
Workers in this sector will receive a 7.5% wage increase this year and another 7.5% increase next year.
However if the April 2016 CPI exceeds 8%the Union may renegotiate the increase for 2016, and if it falls below 3%, the employer party may request to renegotiate the increase for 2016.
The new increases will come into effect on 1 July 2015 and 1 July 2016, respectively. In addition, workers in the non-auto tanning section will receive two extra days’ holiday pay.
This agreement was reached under the auspices of the national bargaining council for the leather sector.
Approximately 3100 workers employed in 32 tanning factories nationally will benefit from this wage improvement in conditions of employment.
* SACTWU settles wage negotiations in Carpet sector:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has settled its 2015 wage negotiations for the Carpets sector.
Workers will receive a is 6.25% wage increase this year and a further 0.75% wage increase, across the board, from 1 January 2016. Approximately 1000 workers from 4 factories, nationally, will benefit from this increase.
The settlement was reached under the auspices of the National Textile Bargaining Council.
Increase is effective from 1st July 2015.
* ILO is back to work:
After three years of employers blocking work on the application of ILO norms, this year’s International Labour Conference reaches a series of important conclusions on Mexico, Bangladesh, Swaziland and social protection.
In February 2015, after a global action day called by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and supported by IndustriALL Global Union and other global unions, the employers group at the International Labour Organization (ILO) finally agreed to recognize the right to strike.
A joint statement by the workers’ and employers’ group also ended a three-year blockage on addressing important cases of violations of workers’ rights.
* Textile and garment industry director needed at IndustriALL:
IndustriALL Global Union is looking for a Director to cover the textile, garment, shoe and leather industry.
The garment and textile industry is IndustriALL’s biggest sector, with 60 million workers in the world.
Very few of them are organized, and the industry has been characterized by low wages, long working hours and hazardous workplaces.
The Bangladesh Accord started a systemic change, and we are now focusing on organizing workers and securing bargaining structures with living wages. We need a director to lead our work in the sector.
The position is based in Geneva and involves frequent travel.