Our clothing kills
20150211 * Pressure increases on Benetton as nearly 1 million activists demand they immediately pay into Rana Plaza victims’ compensation fund:
To date 5,000 people – dependents of the deceased as well as injured workers – have received 40% of the total compensation payment due to them, according to the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, which is chaired by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
In the past year, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund set up by the ILO in January 2014 has received around US $21 million in donations from global brands, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s Fund, trade unions and civil society.
With $9 million more in donations still needed to fill the gap in the Fund, victims will be forced to continue to wait for full compensation. Campaigners are urging brands to pay now to ensure that the victims will receive their full compensation by the second anniversary of the disaster in just ten weeks’ time.
The compensation amounts are calculated in line with international standards.
After a meeting on 3 December 2014, the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee revised the Fund’s goal based on the claims received.
The amount currently remaining in the Fund is sufficient to pay an additional 30% of the award to each eligible beneficiary.
The Clean Clothes Campaign and the International Labor Rights Forum – joined by one million signers on the petition hosted by Avaaz – are urgently calling on Benetton to make a significant contribution to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.
Benetton is the only major international brand with confirmed links to Rana Plaza that has refused to contribute a single penny.
Campaigners urge Benetton to pay $5 million into the Fund – a proportional amount given the clear association between Benetton and one of the Rana Plaza factories and the huge profits made by the company.
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20150212 * Benetton faces renewed pressure over Rana Plaza victims’ fund:
Campaigners call on Italian fashion brand to contribute $5m to ILO-back fund as the second anniversary of Bangladeshi garment factory disaster nears
Benetton is facing renewed pressure to contribute to a compensation fund for victims of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in which more than 1,100 people died.
Almost 1 million people have signed a petition on Avaaz, the campaigning site, calling on the Italian fashion company to contribute $5m (£3.25m) into a fund backed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a UN agency.
Two months before the second anniversary of the collapse of the Bangladeshi factory complex, where clothes were being made for Benetton and a number of other brands including Britain’s Primark, the fund remains $9m short of the $30m required to fully compensate victims and their families.
“The current funding gap is achievable if all brands that produced clothing at Rana Plaza step up and take responsibility. Without a contribution from Benetton, families cannot rebuild their lives,” said Deborah Lucchetti from the Campagna Abiti Puliti, the Italian affiliate of the Clean Clothes Campaign that recently joined forces with Avaaz to ramp up pressure on Benetton.
23:17:30 local time CHINA
20150211 * Rising labour costs ‘dulling Guangzhou’s competitive edge’:
Rising costs at labour-intensive manufacturing factories in Guangdong are prompting companies from Hong Kong, Taiwan and abroad to relocate their operations to neighbouring nations, industry insiders say.
There’s a lack of official data to show how many have moved, and local authorities say the area still faces a labour shortage.
But Wu Jenn Chang, the chairman of the Taiwanese-invested Enterprises Association of Guangzhou, said at least 30 per cent of Taiwan-invested companies had left Guangdong and moved to neighbouring countries in the past couple of years. The trend was likely to accelerate in the next two years, he warned.
Figures released on Tuesday by the Federation of Hong Kong Industries showed about 32,000 Hong Kong manufacturers ran factories in Guangdong, employing about five million mainland workers.
That contrasts to 2002, when more than 63,000 Hong Kong manufacturers ran factories on the mainland, mostly in Guangdong, employing more than 11 million.
20150210 * China’s social security system:
The two-week strike by around 40,000 workers at the Yue Yuen shoe factory in Dongguan in April 2014 was a watershed moment in Chinese labour relations.
Not only was it the largest strike in recent history, it, crucially, highlighted the numerous problems endemic in China’s social security system.
The strike was triggered when workers discovered that the company had been underpaying social insurance contributions for years on end, leaving thousands of employees, who had spent much of their working lives at the company, with a much smaller pension than they were entitled to.
In some respects, the Yue Yuen workers were lucky to have any kind of pension: Despite government attempts to increase pension and other social insurance coverage, the majority of workers still lack an effective welfare safety net.
Official figures show that in 2013, only 242 million workers, less than one third of China’s total workforce of around 770 million, had a basic pension. See the graph.
20150212 * US files case against China over subsidies:
The US has lodged a new challenge against China’s export subsidies for sectors ranging from agriculture to textile, alleging the support was illegal in international trade law.
Filing the case at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, Mike Froman, the US trade representative, said in a statement that the policy appears to break the rules that China committed to uphold when it joined the WTO, claiming it hurts American workers, farmers and businesses.
The allegation accuses China of providing unlawful export subsidies to industries including textiles, apparel and footwear, advanced metals, specialty chemicals, medical products, hardware and building materials, and agriculture.
The US has requested formal talks at the WTO with China over the use of government-supported business clusters as its first step in bringing a case at the organization, reported Financial Times on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Commerce had not commented on the allegation as of Thursday morning.
20150212 * MOC denies U.S. allegation, says China abides by WTO rules:
China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday that its designated model zones for exporters meet WTO rules.
Responding to U.S. allegations that China unfairly subsidizes exports in “demonstration base”, the MOC said in a statement that the purpose of these model zones is to transform China’s foreign trade and promote its sound and stable development.
20150211 * Claims by foreign firms exaggerated: expert:
Survey shows companies perceived increased challenges in China
The claims by a US business lobby survey that foreign businesses are facing increased challenges in China are exaggerated, an expert said on Wednesday, pointing to considerable efforts that have been made in improving the country’s investment climate.
The challenges of doing business in the country have been exaggerated, Wang Jun, a senior economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), told the Global Times, commenting on the findings of an annual business climate survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, published on Wednesday.
A flurry of advances have been made since the new leadership came in, with a lot of administrative approval procedures having been removed serving as an impetus for foreign investment in the country, Wang said.
20150211 * US firms optimistic about China despite challenges: Survey:
A slowing economy combined with factors such as higher labor costs continue to stifle US enterprises operating in China, but optimism remains over the economic outlook and potential for a bilateral investment treaty.
According to a survey conducted by American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) China in partnership with Bain & Company, US company revenues continued to grow in 2014, but not at the breakneck pace of previous years.
More than 70 percent of respondents identified their organization as “profitable” or “very profitable.”
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20150213 * Manufacturing sector reaches critical juncture:
Closures, overseas investments illustrate plight facing local factories
Now is not a good time to be a Chinese factory owner. According to recent media reports, a growing number of local manufacturers are opening plants in the US as they seek to avoid the badge that comes with selling “Made in China” products.
Meanwhile, many other local factories are struggling with labor shortages, rising costs, overcapacity problems and thinning demand.
In response to such pressures, low-end manufacturers are increasingly investing in Southeast Asia, where production costs are more competitive.
Both of these trends signal the need for change in China’s manufacturing sector. Over recent decades, Chinese factories have become synonymous with low-quality, low-value-added products.
Local manufacturers need to shake off this image by moving up the production chain.
And with China’s GDP slowdown weighing on the country’s industrial sector, the need to advance is more pressing than ever.
According to reports, several of China’s largest and historically most successful manufacturing enterprises have not been immune to the challenges brought by changing times.
Silitech Technology Co, a major supplier for Nokia, has suspended production since November. At its peak, the Suzhou-based company had more than 10,000 employees, but has reportedly struggled since Nokia sold off its handset division to Microsoft last year.
In December, United Win Technology Co, also in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, announced its closure due to a financial crisis. It had previously been a major supplier for Apple Inc and had also cooperated with Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi. The company’s closure is said to have left more than 2,000 workers unemployed.
Similar shutdowns are also said to be plaguing many of China’s traditional manufacturing hubs – including Dongguan, Guangdong Province, and Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.
Of course, not all of the worries facing factory bosses are bad. Improvements in Chinese labor laws have made workers more willing to fight for better pay and conditions.
For instance, upwards of 2,000 workers at Yue Yuen, a shoe factory in Dongguan, reportedly protested recently in front of the company’s gate for greater social security benefits.
Yue Yuen is an assembler and producer for a host of big-name global brands, including Reebok, New Balance, Puma and Timberland.
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23:17:30 local time PHILIPPINES
20150210 * Maternity protection top issue for Philippine unions:
Advancing women workers’ right to maternal health care are one of the top priorities of IndustriALL’s Philippine affiliates. To achieve this goal, unions are working on the ratification of the ILO Maternity Protection Convention.
The Philippines lags behind other Asian countries in terms of providing maternity protection and benefits to women workers.
“More than 60 per cent of all pregnancies in the Philippines are classified as high risk and maternal mortality rate remains high at 162 deaths for every 100,000 live births”, IndustriALL Global Union project coordinator Ramon A Certeza said in a radio interview on 4 February, quoting relevant data from government statistics.
Speaking on behalf of the IndustriALL’s Philippine affiliates, Ramon explained how the issue of maternity protection has gained importance among the unions. The IndustriALL Philippine women’s committee has passed a resolution taking the issue as top priority issue and moved toward campaigning for the ratification of ILO 183.
On 8 March, International Women’s day, IndustriALL’s Philippine affiliates are launching a nationwide campaign to improve maternity protection with particular focus on the five core elements of the convention: maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, health protection at the workplace, employment protection and discrimination and breastfeeding arrangement.
22:17:30 local time VIET NAM
20150213 * Textile firms face high turnover:
Workers at Tien Tien Textile Joint Stock Company in southern Tien Giang Province. Many textile companies are having difficulty getting employees to return to work after the holiday.— VNA/VNS Photo Vu Sinh
Lunar New Year (Tet) celebrations may again prove disruptive to the textile industry as companies have previously found it difficult to get employees back to work after the holiday.
While having no problem securing contracts from customers, some companies couldn’t muster enough manpower to deliver.
Some had gone so far as to hold onto part of workers’ year bonus to force them to return. Textile industry unions have since put an end to the practice, however, saying that companies must pay workers full year bonus before Tet.
Tet season also brings with it a surge in demand for temporary workers to meet demanding end-of-year orders. The pay for such temporary jobs can be significantly higher, tempting quite a few workers to leave their regular jobs to make quick money.
After Tet is also a time when workers look for new beginnings and better jobs elsewhere. In recent years, competition amongst textile companies to attract and keep more of their labour force has increased.
Director General of the Viet Nam Textile Group, Le Tien Truong, said in 2015 the textile industry will require more than 3 million workers.
Without a sound strategy to maintain a low turn-over rate, Vietnamese textile companies will have a hard time finding enough labour to fulfill their contracts.
22:17:30 local time CAMBODIA
20150212 * Union registration debated:
In a wide-ranging annual report released yesterday, Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng deflected union complaints that the ministry had made it excessively difficult to register, noting that Cambodia has about 3,000 registered unions.
Union leaders and advocates continue to criticise the ministry, saying it has used criminal background checks to stymie registration efforts. But in the report, Sam Heng says the checks – which are carried out by the Ministry of Justice – are necessary to make sure that union leaders with criminal records don’t slide by.
“We have to require criminal record checks from the Ministry of Justice,” Sam Heng says in the report. “We are worried that a union leader who has active criminal cases in Phnom Penh Municipal Court will begin a union in the provinces.”
But the Ministry of Justice background checks only began to be enforced at the beginning of 2014, after the nationwide garment worker strike, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).
Criminal record checks are overly convoluted, requiring many steps and documents to complete, Thorn said yesterday.
“The criminal record [inspection] is very complicated for unions,” Thorn said. “Before, we never needed the criminal record inspection by the Ministry of Justice.”
Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center, took issue with the idea that because about 3,000 unions exist in Cambodia, union registration is easy.
Multiple unions have complained to the Solidarity Center in 2014 that the government seems to have been using requirements specifically to slow union registration, and continues to do so this year.
“For the first half of [last] year there was basically a freeze of registrations,” Welsh said. “It’s a really passive way to slow and freeze union registrations.”
20150212 * Labor Minister Says Unions Have No Reason to Complain:
Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Wednesday denied recent claims from a group of disgruntled unions that the government was making it nearly impossible to register branches at garment factories, and announced a new push to bring noncompliant factories in line with Cambodia’s labor laws.
Last month, a group of eight unions held a joint press conference to complain that the Labor Ministry rejected every single one of their applications to register branches inside of garment factories in 2014 and accused the government of blocking them at the behest of the employers.
The factories quickly rejected the accusation. And at the Labor Ministry’s annual conference on Wednesday, Mr. Sam Heng did the same.
“We have just collected the information, and we have not restricted it,” he said. “In this year , 200 [branches] were registered.”
The labor minister failed to say exactly which of the country’s many unions had their applications approved, however, and whether they included any of the eight that said their efforts were all blocked.
Those unions complained that part of the problem was an arbitrary new rule requiring prospective branch representatives to have clean criminal records. Mr. Sam Heng defended the rules and said the ministry would help the unions with the paperwork.
At the conference, the minister also announced that 50 garment factories had been given warnings for being in breach of various labor rules.
20150212 * Hun Sen to Garment Workers: Be My Valentine:
One year ago, Cambodia’s government faced a threatening political alliance: an energized opposition party working hand in hand with unions representing the nation’s key industrial base, the 600,000 garment workers.
Today, the government fight back strategy is clear.
In rapid succession, officials have announced electricity and water discounts for garment workers, rent controls for garments workers, and income tax exemptions for garment workers.
Road and license tests for drivers of all vehicles that transport garment workers.
“The government is doing this to console the garment workers,” said Ou Virak, a human rights activist who last month opened a new think tank here, Future Forum. “It is good that they [government] could respond to the protest and votes of the garment workers. The government is starting to pay more attention than before.”
Analysts say the 600,000 garment workers influence votes in the cities where they work and in the countryside, where their parents live.
Ath Thon, head of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said that now electricity fees and minimum wage issues have been resolved, his remaining concerns are about rents and food prices. He called on the government to control rents.
He said that last year’s protests would not have happened if garment workers had decent living conditions.
He asked: “When the government offers us the good resolutions, why do we need to strike?”
20150211 * Rent control plan afoot:
Labour leaders are optimistic about a bipartisan plan to introduce a new rent-control law aimed at protecting garment workers from the longstanding problem of housing price hikes.
The law will regulate rental prices, which have been undergoing drastic surges since the garment sector’s monthly minimum wage was raised to $128 in November, the prime minister told students at a graduation ceremony at the Royal University of Law and Economics yesterday.
The impending plan will also apply to impoverished students, he added, though little detail on carrying it out was provided, or on how price caps affecting hundreds of thousands of workers’ housing might impact the economy.
If the law comes to fruition, labour union officials said it will be a positive step on the government and opposition’s part to help garment workers reach a living wage.
“We’ve been raising this issue for the past 18 months . . . because when wages go up by $5 to $10, you will see rents around factories and other costs go up by around the same amount,” said Solidarity Center country director Dave Welsh. “So it’s absolutely crucial to attack pricing pressures to get them to a living wage – which is not the case right now.”
According to the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn, most workers are paying $20 to $50 for substandard rooms shared between three to five people, while those living in urban areas like Phnom Penh are sometimes forced to shell out up to $100 monthly.
Most homeowners have set annual rent increases, but Thorn added that it’s possible that some might have even imposed an additional rent hike this month, which is when garment workers start receiving paychecks with the new minimum wage that took effect in January.
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20150211-12 * Garment Export Growth Slows Markedly in 2014:
Cambodia’s garment exports rose some 4 percent year-on-year in 2014 to $5.75 billion, far less than the 20 percent jump in garment exports the previous year, but defying the most pessimistic predictions that exports might actually shrink.
The slowdown in one of the country’s main economic drivers may have a significant impact on overall growth. The industry employs some 600,000 workers, accounts for 80 percent of Cambodia’s total exports and contributes a third of gross domestic product.
The new figures, from the Commerce Ministry’s import-export inspection department, did not break down the exports by destination.
However, most of the garments Cambodia ships abroad are bound for the U.S. and Europe.
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20150210 * Garment Orders Slow on Strikes, Wage Hikes – GMAC:
Cambodia’s $5.5 billion garment industry saw a significant slowdown in 2014, as foreign brands weighed the costs of rising wages and a restive labor pool, the sector’s main industry body said.
“We don’t have the final figures for 2014 in yet, but from all available data we expect that last year’s garment sector growth is going to be flat,” said Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
The association, which represents all Cambodian export-oriented garment factories, reported that during the first 11 months of 2014 orders for apparel and footwear from Cambodian factories inched up just 1 percent – a striking contrast from the 20.5 percent average year-on-year growth of the previous five years.
The sluggish growth is largely the result of a decline in purchase orders from American buyers, Mr. Loo told Khmer Times. He said frequent strikes, wage hikes and negative world press have “contributed to making Cambodian factories less competitive.”
He warned that if wages continue to rise Cambodia could price itself out of the market.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), doubts that. He attributes the slump in garment orders to the uncertainty surrounding minimum wage talks early last year.
“Buyers did not want to place orders during the negotiation period because they were afraid unions would [reject the government’s [proposed] minimum wage,” he said. “They waited for Cambodia to set a new minimum wage before placing new orders.”
20150212 * BetterFactories Media Updates 12 February 2015, Garment export rate slowed to 4% in 2014:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-02-12 Labor Minister Says Unions Have No Reason to Complain
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-02-12 Union registration debated
2015-02-12 Garment export rate slowed to 4 pct in 2014
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150211 * BetterFactories Media Updates 10-11 February 2015, Garment Sector Raises Hit by Falling Overtime:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-02-10 Garment Sector Raises Hit by Falling Overtime
2015-02-11 Garment Export Growth Slows Markedly in 2014
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-02-10 Commute deadly: gov’t
2015-02-10 GMAC says orders are down due to wage hike
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150211 * BetterFactories Media Updates 04-06 February 2015, Workers Say Shuttered Factory Managers Took Them Hostage:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-02-04 Strike Leading Union Head Arrested in Phnom Penh
2015-02-06 Workers Say Shuttered Factory Managers Took Them Hostage
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-02-04 Fainting figures jump in 2014: government
2015-02-04 Union leader busted over bamboo
2015-02-05 GMAC tries to discredit union leader at court
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
23:17:30 local time INDONESIA
20150212 * Govt prepares incentive for labor-intensive industry:
The incentives may comprise fiscal incentives, such as exemption of import duties for raw materials, and non-fiscal incentives, according to Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Franky Sibarani.
“The most important point is that we’ve lost the momentum to boost exports and investment in the labor-intensive industry. The trend shows that in the past three years, the number of workers absorbed by the industry has declined,” Franky said Tuesday on the sidelines of an investment forum at his office.
Apart from providing the much-needed incentives, the government also wants to improve the labor climate and industrial relations by revising rules on fixed-term contracts and sub-contracts of seasonal output as well as assuring certainty in minimum wage arrangements, according to National Mid-Term Development Plan for 2015-2019.
The labor intensive industry is defined as that which employs at least 200 workers with labor costs making up at least 15 percent of total production costs. The industry comprises the manufacturers of food and beverages, tobacco, textiles and garments, leather and leather products, footwear, toys and furniture.
Main issues center on minimum regional wages, business licensing at the regional level, business energy and utility, logistics and supply of raw materials.
Indonesian Footwear Association (Aprisindo) chairman Eddy Widjanarko said at the forum that certainty in labor wage arrangements would allow footwear manufacturers to boost investment and exports significantly. Footwear exports reached US$4.5 billion last year and 68 firms poured investment into the sector.
“If the regional minimum wage problem can be resolved, I’m sure 200 new firms would inject investment. If a firm has 10,000 workers on average, the sector will take up 1 million workers,” said Eddy.
21:47:30 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150211 * Shwe Pyi Tha labour protest continues:
Manual workers from four garment factories in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial Zone have staged camp-in protests in front of their respective factories since the end of last year demanding negotiations with their employers over salary raises.
The employers have yet to respond. “Our camp has been here since January 28 with 600 out of a total total 900 workers. One camp was established in December last year and is still intact. We will continue holding the protest until we get our demands,” said Aye Sandar Win, a worker from Costes International Co Ltd.
Over 3,000 labours from Ford Glory Garment, Costes International Co Ltd, E Land Myanmar Garment and Red Stone Garment have staged a demonstration calling for a minimum wage increase, the formation of labour unions, an end to discrimination against workers and guarantees on labour rights.
“Director Win Shein came and spoke recently, but he couldn’t calm the situation,” Aye Sandar Win added.
A 3,000-strong procession marched around the industrial zone on Monday morning.
20150211 * Myanmar Workers Strike at 5 Garment Factories:
Workers from five garment factories went on strike on Monday in Myanmar’s Yangon region in a dispute over pay and working conditions.
According to Mizzima.com, about 2,000 employees from Costec International, E-Land Myanmar, Ford Glory Garment and Han Jen Textile and Garment factories marched along the streets of the Shwepyithar township demanding that salaries be adjusted to match rates in other ASEAN countries, a reasonable minimum wage and permission to form unions.
The strikes come in the wake of the Feb. 2 publication of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association’s (MGMA) first ever Code of Conduct for the country’s garment industry.
The code aims to establish responsible and ethical work practices, including compliance with national laws and regulations, labor rights, working conditions, and better wages and benefits.
20150210 * Labour protest calls for union, salary raises:
More than 3,000 manual labourers from five garment factories in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial Zone held a demonstration on Monday morning calling for the formation of a labour union and salary raises.
The procession marched around the five facilities – Ford Glory Garment, Han Jen Textile and Garment, Costes International Co Ltd, E Land Myanmar Garment and Red Stone Garment.
The protestors held placards that read ‘Salary is vital’ and ‘Foreign business owners must respect local laws.’ They called for labour rights and an end to discrimination against workers.
“We just asked for our rights. The demonstrators have long been sitting [protest] camps in front of the factories they work for. But we still see no sign of negotiation,” said an employee from Ford Glory Garment.
The protestors also expressed their will to organise a union to help resolve labour disputes.
20150210 * Yangon garment workers protest for better pay, conditions:
More than 2,000 workers from four garment factories in Shwepyithar Township in Yangon marched on the streets in their township to call for salary increases and better working conditions on February 9.
Activists supporting the welfare of the workers said they will intensify their sit-in protests if employers fail to agree to the demands of the workers.
Thu Zaw Kyi Win, a protest leader, said, “We are scheduled to stage this protest for only a day. We will discuss the issue with the director-general of the Labour Department tomorrow [February 10]. But if the Ministry of Labour is unable to facilitate our demands from our employers, we will intensify our protest.”
The 11-point demands by the workers include salaries to be adjusted on a par with rates in other ASEAN countries, a reasonable minimum wage, and to be allowed to form workers unions.
20150209 * Rangoon textile workers hit the streets:
Hundreds of workers marched the streets in Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone on Monday morning to demand better pay and working conditions.
The employees came from five garment factories: Ford Glory Garment, Costec International, E-land Myanmar Garment, Red Stone Garment and Han Jen Textile and Garment. The workers marched out of their factory compounds where they have been staging a sit-in since 28 January.
“We are marching around Shwepyithar and we plan to assemble in protest camps in front of the police station if we do not reach negotiations on our demands in one week,” said Thein Moe Lwin, a factory worker in the march.
The demands of the workers include a basic salary increase; permission to form labour unions and to set up a labour office in their workplace; days off on public holidays; paid medical leave; and the issuing of welfare cards for all workers.
21:17:30 local time BANGLADESH
20150212 * Bangladesh: union strength and brand pressure:
Being a union leader in Bangladesh is often challenging.
For representatives of IndustriALL affiliate BIGUF at the Global Garments factory in Dhaka, it has also meant persecution and for some even violent attacks.
The Azim Group is one of Bangladesh’s most important and influential employers. They have consistently refused to recognize trade unions at the Global Garments factory.
Union representatives at the factory are no strangers to harassment, false charges and even physical violence. A CCTV (close circuit TV) recording from November 2014 shows two separate instances where female union leaders were beaten up by thugs.
Police did nothing about the violent attacks. In an effort to put a stop to the harassment and anti-union behaviour, IndustriALL Global Union American affiliate Workers United took action and approached the US brands sourcing from the factory.
After discussions the brands held off placing new orders or resuming production until Azim recognized the union in the workplace.
In December, an agreement was reached where the trade union has the right to represent workers in the factory. It states that factory management and union officers are “working together with good faith and into a friendly environment”. A further agreement was reached at the beginning of this month.
Jeff Hermanson from Workers United says:
“This has been a long and complex struggle, and it is far from finished. By our collective action we have won a temporary truce and hopefully helped save the GGLWU and GTLWU from destruction.”
20150212 * European Action plan following the Bangladesh garment sector H&S Accord:
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire & Building Safety, signed after the Rana Plaza disaster that cost the lives of over 1,100 workers in the garment industry in April 2013, broke new ground with regard to Corporate Social Responsibility.
It is the very first time that trade unions and garment brands world-wide are jointly involved in the monitoring of a legally-binding instrument of this kind.
More than 40 trade union representatives from the European garment and retail companies that signed the Accord are gathered in Brussels today to discuss how they can provide concrete support and further protection for their colleagues in Bangladesh.
The Accord is the result of a global campaign led by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union which was signed on 15 May 2013. It has six key components:
- A 5-year legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to ensure a safe working environment in the Bangladeshi RMG industry
- An independent inspection programme supported by brands in which workers and trade unions are involved
- Public disclosure of all factories, inspection reports and corrective action plans (CAP)
- A commitment by signatory brands to ensure sufficient funds are available for remediation and to maintain sourcing relationships
- Democratically-elected health and safety committees in all factories to identify and act on health and safety risks
- Worker empowerment through an extensive training programme, a complaints mechanism and the right to refuse unsafe work.
20150211 * Female textile worker killed at Gazipur:
A female textile worker was killed by some miscreants at Nawjor area in Gazipur city on early Wednesday.
The victim was identified as Moni Rani Das,22, of Sitakunda in Manpura of Bhola.
Moni Rani was a worker JK Cotton Mills of Kodda in Gazipur.
Sub- inspector Nazmul Haque, of Bhogra police outpost said they recovered the body that was left abandoned roadside this morning and sent it to the Gazipur General Hospital morgue for autopsy.
Police also recovered a stick and the identity card of the victim beside her body, he said. A case was filled with Joydebpur police station in this connection.
Victim’s relative Murali Mohan Das, said Moni was divorced and had a two-year-old son, who lives with his grandmother in Bhola.
She had no enmity with anyone, he added.
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20150212 * PM for more dormitories for working women:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday laid emphasis on construction of more hostels for working women across the country, including the capital, to address their accommodation problem.
The Prime Minister said this in a meeting of the National Council for Women and Children Development (NCWCD) at her Tejgaon office.
PM’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhuri briefed reporters after the meeting.
20150212 * RMG losses stand at Tk22,000cr in blockade:
The apparel sector faces the order cancellations worth Tk10,000 crore
The country’s readymade garment sector has incurred a loss of Tk21,711 crore in the last 35 days due to cancellation of orders, extra-burden of air freights, delays in shipments, discounts and vandalism in the wake of the non-stop political unrest beginning from January 6.
Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) came up with the disclosure while explaining the impact of the ongoing political unrest over US$25bn RMG sector at a joint meeting held in the capital yesterday.
He was addressing an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) jointly organised by the BGMEA, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) to figure ways to tackle the current political situation, which took heavy toll on the country’s business.
According to the BGMEA estimate, the apparel sector faced the order cancellations worth Tk10,000 crore while it had to spend additional money of over Tk918 crore for air shipments.
20150212 * RMG export thru Ctg halves:
Cargo delivery down, containers pile up due to blockade
Garment exports through Chittagong seaport now hurtled down to half the volume in normal times, sources said. Continued transport blockade almost cut off the country’s commercial lifeline.
Industry-insiders said the booking of orders for apparels is not also coming as expected for the political instability.
They said the country’s manufacturing and export sector is paying a high price as the ongoing indefinite nationwide blockade, coupled with prolonged general strikes called by a section of political forces, entered its sixth week with no signs of a breakthrough in the political standoff.
20150212 * 28 RMG factories count Tk 2.4b loss in a month:
Blockade takes its toll on trade
With a prolonged countrywide transport blockade and frequent shutdowns continuing to take their toll, 28 of the garment factories have suffered a loss of Tk 2.4 billion in a month from January 06 to February 07, a study reveals.
The 28 factories lost orders worth Tk 1.2 billion, faced discount worth Tk 120 million, spent Tk 500 million for air shipment and delayed shipment worth Tk 400 million.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) conducted the study to assess the trade losses being incurred for the countrywide blockade from January 06 to February 07.
According to apex trade-body FBCCI, the apparel sector as a whole suffered a loss of Tk 270 billion in last 35 days.
On average, the sector was incurring loss to the tune of Tk 7.94 billion a day for political turmoil.
“The countrywide blockade is taking its toll on RMG sector as losses in the industry are rising continuously. In last 34 days, 28 garment factories submitted complaints to the trade body as these factories suffered loss of more than Tk 2.4 billion during the period,” Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of BGMEA, told the FE.
20150211-12 * Token hunger strike by textile, RMG sectors against turmoil Saturday:
Legal steps being mulled
Stakeholders of the country’s textile and garment sectors will observe a token hunger strike on Saturday (February 14) in front of the BGMEA headquarters in the city demanding an immediate end to the ongoing political stalemate.
Besides, a separate committee will be formed today (Thursday), comprising representatives from all the sectors, engaged in apparel business, to decide what to do against the backdrop of deepening political turmoil, which has been badly affecting the country’s trade and economic activities.
The decisions were taken at an emergency meeting of the three apparel and textile apex bodies and those of other backward linkage industries, held at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) headquarters with its president in the chair.
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20150211 * Garment owners to observe hunger strike against unrest on Feb 14:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will observe a day-long hunger strike on February 14 protesting the current political unrest.
It will urge government and opposition BNP to find a solution to the deadlock immediately, BGMEA vice president Reaz Bin Mahmood said told Dhaka Tribune. Besides, the BGMEA will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) tomorrow to finalise the details of the programme.
The EGM will set agenda for the next course of action.
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and other associations related to the sector will also attend the meeting.
20150211 * Garment exporters meet today as crisis deepens:
With the political crisis deepening, the apparel industry that accounts for 80 percent of the country’s total exports is going through a critical phase.
Losses are piling up every day due to a decline in orders from international retailers, order cancellation, soaring air freight charges, a production shortfall and higher transportation costs.
In the backdrop, the apparel exporters’ platform, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, called an extraordinary general meeting today to discuss a way out.
The apparel and textile sector leaders have already held rallies and submitted memoranda to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia demanding an end to the crisis.
“We are not worried about losses now, we are worried about the future of the entire garment industry,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam told The Daily Star by phone.
20150212 * IT integration into supply chain may boost garment production:
The garment industry employed more than 40,000 information technology professionals last year, its head said Wednesday.
Md Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the ready-made garment sector (RMG) has been introducing new software to ensure product quality.
“Our garment sector is becoming IT-dependent. It is turning toward IT moving away from the traditional process,” he told a seminar on the use of IT in the private sector in the city.
20150211 * Formulation of common standards in the offing:
The government will formulate a set of common standards to ensure occupational health and safety for all the industrial sectors of the country.
Besides, a plan of action will also be made to successfully implement the ‘National Occupational Health and Safety Policy, 2013’.
The decisions were taken on Tuesday at the first meeting of the restructured ‘National Industrial Health and Safety Council’ at the secretariat with State Minister for Labour Mujibul Hoque Chunnu in the chair.
The committee comprising representatives from workers, owners, government and experts has been directed to devise two separate work plans for the policy implementation strategy within three months and for the Council the deadline of which is yet to be fixed, he said.
Later, a set of common standards that would be applicable for both formal and informal sectors of the country would be framed mainly to ensure occupational and health safety, he explained.
If needed, the committee will exchange views with all the stakeholders including Accord and Alliance, two initiatives formed by Western apparel buyers, retailers and brands, Mr Chunnu added.
20150213 * Tofail: Not global competitors, political unrest major threat to local apparel industry:
Global competitors are not the threat for Bangladesh’s garment sector, but the country’s persistent political unrest appears as a real hurdle to having expected growth, said speakers at a seminar yesterday.
“India and Vietnam are not a challenge for Bangladesh. Violence, throwing petrol bombs in the name of politics is the hurdle,” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told the seminar held at the BGMEA office in Dhaka.
He said the government would try to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the countries like Malaysia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and some other Latin American countries not offering Bangladesh duty-free market access.
Tofail said Vietnam is politically stable country and has adequate lands for setting up industries, but Bangladesh lacks land and other utility services including power, gas and electricity.
“If India and Vietnam sign FTA with the EU countries, Bangladesh’s RMG will not face problem,” he said.
But Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute, thinks FTA is not necessary right now for Bangladesh and what is necessary is investment.
The seminar’s title was “Possible Implication of EU-India FTA and EU-Vietnam FTA on Bangladesh’s Exports,” jointly orgainsed by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI).
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20150213 * EU FTA with India, Vietnam not a threat to Bangladesh:
The proposed free trade agreement (FTA) of the European Union (EU) with India and Vietnam would not have any major impact on exports of locally- made products as Bangladesh’s product base is not similar to those of India and Vietnam, speakers at a seminar said Thursday.
They, however, stressed on removing internal barriers including scarcity of power, poor infrastructure and political instability and limited products and markets, poor productivity and workers’ skills.
The observations came at the seminar on ‘Possible Implication of EU-India and EU-Vietnam FTA on Bangladesh’s Exports’ jointly organised by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute at the BGMEA headquarters in the city.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam were present while BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam, among others, spoke there.
“There is no significant similarity between export structure of Bangladesh and India and also that of Vietnam. However, similarities are higher in four top export sectors namely knit, woven, home textiles and footwear,” Dr Mostafa Abid Khan, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the BFTI said while presenting his keynote paper.
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20:47:30 local time INDIA
20150213 * Garment factory staff go on the rampage in Gurgaon:
2 dozen vehicles damaged in a garment factory
At least two dozens vehicles were damaged and three two-wheelers were set on fire by angry factory workers of six garment manufacturing units in Udyog Vihar here on Thursday.
The workers went on the rampage following rumour about the death of a fellow worker who was allegedly beaten up by the company’s security guards earlier this week for reporting late to work.
According to the police, workers of Gaurav International and a sister-company Richa Global — both garment manufacturing units — got agitated after some workers broke the news about the death of Shammi Chand, a 32-year-old worker.
Shammi worked in the quality check department of the Richa Global and was not allowed to enter the company premises three days ago as he was late by a few minutes.
“The workers are made to work from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight. When Shammi got late by a few minutes earlier this week he was not allowed to enter the company.
He then got into an argument with the security guards who took him to a room and beat him up. He was then admitted to a hospital,” alleged Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra activist Shyambir.
20150213 * Workers riot at Udyog Vihar in Gurgaon, 100 injured:
The quiet boulevards of Udyog Vihar, the manufacturing hub in Gurgaon, resembled a war zone on Thursday as nearly 1,000 industrial workers went on a vandalism spree from factory to factory, damaging machinery, burning cars and bikes and smashing furniture.
The spark for the violence was a rumour that a fellow worker, who was allegedly thrashed by a manager and guards at a garments manufacturing unit for reporting late, had died.
The rampage, which continued for well over an hour, left nearly 100 people injured.
It took the cops nearly one hour to deploy enough personnel to contain the violence that started around 1.30pm, though valuable time was lost initially as the police were informed only around 2pm.
Even the fire brigade, which has a base in Udyog Vihar itself, arrived 50 minutes late, though Udyog Vihar has both police and fire stations.
20150213 * Garment units vandalized, vehicles set ablaze, after rumors of factory worker beaten to death:
More than a dozen garment manufacturing units were vandalized and over 100 cars were damaged after hundreds of factory workers in industrial belt of Udyog Vihar turned violent on Thursday afternoon.
The workers pelted stones at the management in which one of the executives was injured.
The violence was triggered after workers of Gaurav International and Richa Global — garment manufacturing companies — were fed with rumours of a fellow worker dying in a hospital after being beaten up by the company administration.
The worker was allegedly assaulted by the administration for reporting late to work on Tuesday and was admitted in a hospital.
The police later said the injured worker was alive.
Around 1:40pm on Thursday, as workers came out for lunch, a mob joined them and started vandalizing cars parked inside the factory building on plot no. 236 of Udyog Vihar phase 2.
Gradually workers from all 14 factories joined with sticks and stones, many of them without understanding the cause.
20150212 * Garment manufacturing units vandalised by workers in Gurgaon:
At least four garment manufacturing units were vandalized and over a dozen cars were damaged by the factory workers in Udyog vihar, who got irked following rumour about death of their fellow worker on Thurdsay afternoon.
Police have lodged a complaint against the workers for rioting and arson and investigating the matter.
According to report, Shammi, who worked as quality checking staff of Gaurav International, a garment manufacturing unit in Udyog Vihar Phase III, reported to work 10 minutes late.
The guard first stopped him and then slapped him for reporting late on duty which led to argument and the scene turned violent.
The guard then informed personnel manager of the unit, who along with four other guards came to spot and thrashed the worker due to which he collapsed.
A fellow worker informed that the shift starts around 1.30 pm but Shammi, who was ill, reported 10 minutes late due to which the guard got annoyed and slapped him. Later others joined the guard and they all beat him up badly”.
20150212 * Victims still to get relief:
Nearly two weeks after 10 workers died after the compound wall of an effluent treatment plant collapsed in Ranipet, the victims are yet to receive compensation.
The victims’ families were promised compensation packages separately by the respective State governments and the effluent treatment management.
But till date no money had been paid to the family of the lone victim from the State – Sampath, who was employed as a watchman at the site.
A fact-finding team led by the National Federation of Human Rights Orgainsations, which visited the site and Sampath’s family, found a large number of violations. President of the Federation A. Marx said the labourers were mostly migrant labourers who lived in a shed abutting the landfill.
The untreated effluents were let out in a liquid state into the landfill completely violating effluent treatment rules and the wall had collapsed under pressure, killing the workers.
20150210 * Ranipet firm officials remanded in judicial custody:
Four officials of the Ranipet SIDCO Finished Leather Effluent Treatment Company Limited (RSFLETCL), who were arrested on Saturday in connection with the death of 10 workers in a tannery in the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO), were on Sunday remanded in judicial custody till February 20 by Judicial Magistrate-3 Revathy, Vellore.
The officials are R. Amirthakatesan (73), Managing Director, V. Jayachandran (66), Technical Director and K. Subramanian (74), Finance Director of the firm.
Ten workers of R.K. Leather Company were drowned in the slurry that gushed out after a compound wall of a secure land fill (SLF) in the adjoining Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP), run by RSFLETCL (known as SIDCO Phase-1 CETP), collapsed in the early hours of January 31.
The investigating authority said the CETP was established in 1995 to store effluents from 88 tanneries in a safe manner, and for other processes such as colour and salt removal and filter processes.
Effluents were pumped into the CETP and processed in the Reverse Osmosis (RO) system.
20150211 * Textile policy expected to be announced soon:
The Union Government is expected to announce the textile policy soon as it is almost ready, according to a senior official in the Union Ministry of Textiles.
The Ministry was looking at balanced growth of different segments of the textile and clothing sector and if there were modifications that were needed in the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), the stakeholders should review the scheme and submit their suggestions. These could be taken up at the end of the XII Plan period, said Textile Commissioner Kiran Soni Gupta here on Monday.
At a meeting organised on the TUFS by the Southern India Mills’ Association, she said that those who had not received benefits under the scheme because of different reasons should revisit the case with their respective banks now.
20150212 * Ignorance about government schemes affecting knitwear trade:
Growth of Tirupur knitwear cluster was affected to a significant extent because of lack of concerted efforts in using many of the government schemes.
This was revealed in a study conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (Tirupur district council), and Srupuram Trust among others, with the help of Grant Thornton, the sixth largest consultancy/accounting network firm in world, to understand the strengths/weakness of the Tirupur cluster.
The report said that 15 government schemes formulated to trigger growth of industrial clusters like Tirupur were either not fully used, or used only once, which too not in the recent years.
20150211 * Panel set up for shifting of textile mills:
The state government has set up a six-member committee headed by additional chief secretary (textiles) Sunil Porwal to facilitate the shifting of the eight defunct mills of National Textile Corporation (NTC) and those that are in the process of being shut down.
“The BJP government is considering an increase in the capital subsidy being provided to those units, which are being set up in the cotton-growing areas of the state under the two-year old textile policy to give the industry a boost,” said a source.
NTC has bought 40 acres in Vidarbha where it plans to set up four mills in lieu of the four it is planning to shut down in Mumbai. Of the 25 mills it owns in Mumbai, eight have already been shut down.
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20150212 * Southern India spinning mills urge textile ministry to expedite bailout package:
The spinning mills of southern India is currently facing inevitable liquidity crunch caused by increasing yarn stock, poor offtake and long pending TUF subsidies.
Southern India Mills’ Association (Sima) chairman T Rajkumar in his interactive meeting with Union textile commissioner Kiran Soni Gupta on Monday, urged Gupta to expedite the bail-out package to save thousands of small and medium units from becoming non-performing assets.
A fund of R3,000 crore should be allotted in the forthcoming Budget to clear all the subsidies pending right from April 1, 2007 and protect over R65,000 crore of investments from becoming NPAs.
20150212 * Gujarat textile industry expect budget to bring relief from current crisis:
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who will present his first full year budget on February 28, seeking to put Asia’s third-largest economy on a path of 7-8 percent growth over the next two years, earlier this month Jaitley had said that the overall economic situation in the country is looking better and added that basic parameters of the Indian economy are moving in the right direction.
The Gujarat textile manufacturers are looking ahead to tax cuts in the Union Budget which will help the industry come out of its current crisis.
South Gujarat Textile Processors Association president Jitendra Vakharia said that industrialists of Surat are currently facing crisis due to the rise in prices of raw materials like yarn and colour chemicals.
A favourable budget will bring relief for one-and-a-half million people associated with the industry.
20150211 * Karnataka govt to offer incentives for industries ready to move out of Bengaluru:
K Ratnaprabha, additional chief secretary, government of Karnataka speaking at the road show for Technotex 2015, an annual conference on technical textiles organized by the ministry of textiles and FICCI, here on Tuesday, said that the government wants industries to move away from the congested Bengaluru region.
The government was ready to offer incentives to industries willing to move out of Bengaluru.
She also said that the Karnataka government has identified 1,000 acres land for the upcoming textile park at Yadgir in north Karnataka.
The construction of the textiles park, in the most backward region of the state, is likely to improve condition of cotton growers and weavers besides generating employment for a large number of people.
Besides this, the government is also planning to develop smaller textile parks at various places such as Vijayapura, Ballari and Chamarajanagar districts,
Ratnaprabha also added that the government intends to revise its Textile Policy and has sought views and comments from the stakeholders of textile industry.
Once they receive the comments from the industry, they will revise their textile policy to make it more industry-friendly and the best in the country.
The amendment will be carried out to suit the interests and needs of the textile industry.
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20150211 * Power loom upgradation scheme need to be expanded pan India:
According to a press release from The Regional Office of the Textile Commissioner, Kiran Soni Gupta, the In-Situ Upgradation Scheme for Plain Power Looms was launched in Somanur cluster and so far, 107 units (totally 800 power looms) had benefited and obtained Rs. 87.28 lakh subsidy under the scheme.
The units get Rs. 15,000 maximum subsidy to upgrade each power loom.
They have requested that the scheme should be expanded pan India and should be available to all power loom units, irrespective of the number of looms.
The In-Situ Upgradation Scheme for Plain Power Looms has been approved for Erode and Salem power loom clusters too, to enable weavers modernise the plain power looms.
The scheme helps even a small-scale weaver use technology and produce better products. It is now available for units that had maximum eight looms each and only in select power loom clusters.
It helps the weavers go in for other benefits available for power looms. For instance, there were 10 proposals from Coimbatore to set up yarn banks and two had been approved.
The weavers could be organized as a group and a company could be formed to make use of assistance available from the Small Industries’ Development Bank of India.
20150212 * Cotton farmers register better yield:
Timely onset of monsoon, disease-free season, and effective crop management have favoured cotton cultivation in the district this season as compared to last year when scanty rainfall posed a serious challenge to the cotton farmers.
Of the 14,000 hectares of rain-fed cotton area in the district, 13,000 hectares of crop is raised in Pullampadi and Manachanallur blocks as the black cotton soil in the block is highly suited for the crop.
Farmers of Kumulur, who were harvesting their fields on Thursday, said the crop was raised during the rain-fed season this year. Amudha, a woman farmer, said that she could harvest a higher yield this season as compared to last year.
“We incurred huge loss due to poor rain fall and sudden attack of diseases last year, however, this year, the disease attack was minimal,” she says.
Farmers had raised Bt Cotton variety in August last year which has duration of 150 to 160 days.
Official sources said that pre-monsoon sowing this season had paid dividends. Shortly after an initial spell of rain in August, most farmers had sown the seeds.
20:17:30 local time PAKISTAN
20150212 * Major issues remain unaddressed in new textile policy:
Following the announcement of new textile policy 2014-19, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association chairman S M Tanveer has demanded availability of electricity at 8 cents per unit for viability of textile industry in Pakistan.
Chairman APTMA was holding a press conference at the APTMA Punjab office.
He said affordability has become real issue today, as the Punjab-based textile industry, which is 70 per cent of the total in country, is operating at a cost differential of $1 billion compared with other provinces.
How can we compete with regional competitors when Punjab-based textile industry cannot compete with mills in other provinces, he posed a question.
S M Tanveer said how the industry can celebrate announcement of textile policy that speaks about uninterrupted energy supply but the irony of situation can be judged from the fact that the SNGPL suspended gas supply on the same day.
According to him, taking the textile exports to $26 billion in next five years would remain a dream in case the energy supply remained situation dismal, particularly in Punjab.
It would be a miracle to sustain the present level of $13 billion under the prevalent energy supply situation, he added.
20150211 * Pakistani textile products great potential in Europe:
The Ambassador of Pakistan to France Ghalib Iqbal has said that Pakistani textile products have great potential of finding more space in European markets.
He was talking to Michal Scherppe, the president of Taxworld Fair being held in Paris, said a message received here on Wednesday.
The ambassador visited Pakistani Pavilion and Pakistani entrepreneurs’ stalls.
He discussed with the exhibitors prospects of business development in France and assured them of continuation of full support and cooperation from the Mission.
20150211 * Compliance stressed: ‘Nation’s GSP Plus status can be revoked’:
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Secretary General IA Rahman warned on Tuesday that the Generalised System of Preference Plus (GSP Plus) status, granted to Pakistan in 2013, could be revoked if it failed to implement ratified United Nations conventions and recommendations of the European Union (EU).
He was speaking at a conference organised by the Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and the HRCP on the role of the civil society in GSP Plus compliance monitoring. Rahman said this was not without precedent as Sri Lanka had lost its GSP Plus status earlier for failure to comply with international commitments.
He cautioned Pakistan to be careful as it had already flouted one of the commitments by lifting a moratorium on execution of convicts on death row.
They also furthered the idea that they could potentially act as pressure groups and lobby the government, international bodies and businesses to promote human and labour rights in the nation.
20150211 * Textile policy gets mixed response:
Textile Policy 2014-19 drew mixed reaction from the textile industry, with the value-added sector believing it would help boost exports, and spinners bemoaning lack of incentives.
However, most of the industry leaders fear that the coming months could be more difficult for textile exports and the government should do something about it.
Pakistan Apparel Forum’s Chairman Muhammad Jawed Bilwani said the new five-year policy would go a long way in benefiting the entire textile sector and boosting exports of value-added garments and apparel.
Under the present economic circumstances no better policy could have been expected, he said, but stressed on implementing the policy in letter and spirit to get required targets.
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20150211 * Textile policy receives lukewarm response:
Textile industry stakeholders are not optimistic about the textile policy (2014-19) export target of $26 billion.
Talking to Business Recorder, the private sector stakeholders said the government has failed to ensure uninterrupted supply of utilities including power and gas under the new policy. The industry is currently operating at 60 percent capacity.
Stakeholders urged the authorities to review the policy and prioritise the export sector with respect to the provision of utilities as well as incorporating their (the industry’s) proposals to make them more competitive internationally.
They further emphasised the need to implement the policy in letter and spirit if the required targets are to be achieved including 100% increase in value addition from $1 billion per million bales to $2 billion per million bales over the next five years.
20150211 * FPCCI president for saving spinning industry:
President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Mian Adrees has said that textile industry is the most important manufacturing sector of Pakistan and has the longest production chain, with inherent potential for value-addition at each stage of processing, from cotton to ginning, spinning, fabric, processing, made-ups and garments.
He further said that textile products have maintained an average share of about 60 percent in national exports.
He further said that spinning is the first process in the chain that adds value to cotton by converting raw material (ginned cotton) into a finished product (cotton yarn). Spinning is the foundation process and all the subsequent value-additions, that is weaving, knitting, processing, garments and made-ups, depend upon the initial process of the spinning of yarn.
Therefore, any variation in quality of yarn spinning directly affects the entire value chain.
20150212 * Aptma warns of Punjab units closure:
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has warned of closing all its units in Punjab because of energy scarcity.
“Suspension of gas supply to textile industry in Punjab a day after announcement of Textile Policy 2015-19 has put a question mark on its credibility,” Aptma Chairman SM Tanveer said at a news conference here on Wednesday.
The policy promised regular supply of gas and power to the whole textile sector in Punjab.
“However, the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd has conveyed that there will be no gas for the industry for the next 30 days,” he said and added the Punjab-based textile industry operations were already facing difficulties due to short supply of electricity at high cost.
20150212 * Pakistan textile industry cannot celebrate announcement of textile policy with energy issue unaddressed:
With the new textile policy 2014-19 being announced, according to All Pakistan Textile Mills Association chairman S M Tanveer taking the textile exports to $26 billion in next five years would remain a dream in case the energy supply remained situation dismal, particularly in Punjab and hence the proposal to make availability of electricity at 8 cents per unit for feasibility of textile industry in Pakistan has been put forward.
Punjab-based textile industry are unable to compete with mills in other provinces, as the Punjab-based textile industry, which is 70 percent of the total in country, is operating at a cost differential of $1 billion compared with other provinces. Affordability has become a real issue today hence it will be difficult to compete with regional competitors.
It would be a miracle to sustain the present level of $13 billion under the prevalent energy supply situation.
20150212 * Viability of textile industry: APTMA chief demands 8 cents per unit power rate:
S M Tanveer Chairman of APTMA has demanded availability of electricity at 8 cents per unit for viability of textile industry in Pakistan.
He said ‘affordability’ has become the real issue today, as the Punjab-based textile industry, which is 70 percent of the total in country, is operating at a cost differential of $1 billion as compared with other provinces.
How can we compete with regional competitors when Punjab-based textile industry cannot compete with mills in other provinces, he asked. He was holding a press conference at the APTMA Punjab office. Chairman APTMA Punjab Seth Muhammad Akbar was also present on the occasion.
20150211 * Punjab’s textile industry: FPCCI for restoration of gas supply:
Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has demanded immediate restoration of gas supply to textile industry in order to save this precious foreign exchange earning sector from collapse.
Expressing resentment over gas suspension to textile industry in Punjab here on Tuesday, FPCCI Regional Chairman/Vice President Khawaja Zarar Kaleem termed it unilateral and arrogant.
He said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should intervene and restore gas supply to textile sector as this would lead to missing export orders, capital flight, labour lay-off, worsening of law and order and decline in government’s revenue.
Kaleem said that sudden cut in gas supply would push the textile industry to the wall that is already facing huge problems owing to high input cost and other issues.
20150211 * APTMA chief seeks immediate restoration of gas supply:
S M Tanveer Chairman APTMA said on Tuesday that the Punjab-based textile industry has once again been exposed to gas supply suspension for indefinite period by the SNGPL, which is deplorable.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had given special direction to divert 85MMCFD gas supply from Rouch Power Plant to Punjab-based textile industry for sixty days and for 8 hours on daily basis. But the SNGPL had failed to own the prime minister’s directive.
20150210 * SNGPL suspends gas supply to processing, dying mills:
The SNGPL has announced to suspend gas supply to textile processing and dying mills in Punjab.
All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA) Vice Chairman of Lahore/Gujranwala Region Khawaja Shahzad Nasir has condemned the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) for gas supply suspension in contravention of clear direction from Prime Minister for gas supply to textile industry including processing mills.
He said that gas supply suspension to dying and processing mills would have dire impact on industry’s productivity in case no gas was provided.
It would also disrupt supply chain to value added textile industry and render thousands of textile workers jobless.
20150212 * Cotton procurement: TCP to make online payment to ginners to ensure transparency:
In order to keep the cotton procurement process transparent, Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has deiced to make online payments to ginners.
Sources told Business Recorder on Wednesday that after a detailed scrutiny process TCP was going to start partial payments against the procured cotton from Thursday (today).
However, to avoid any irregularity during the procurement process, TCP has principally decided to release all payments directly into the ginners/ sellers’ accounts.
“As per tender term and conditions no payment will be paid through Demand Draft (DD) or Pay Order (PO) and all ginners/traders were required to provide their bank account numbers for payment against procured cotton,” a TCP official said.
TCP will transfer the amount directly into ginners’ account, provided at the time of billing, through online/Interbank Fund Transfer Facility (IBFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), he added.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150213 * Workers demand punishment to Balida factory culprits:
Bereaved families of Ali Enterprises fire victims have demanded not to play political blame game on the dead bodies of their loved ones, but give a severe punishment to the cruel culprits, irrespective of who they are.
Addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPB) here Thursday, leaders of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association along with some victims’ families said the Balida factory fire tragedy has once again captured the attention of whole country after filing of a probe report about the tragedy in Sindh High Court (SHC).
However, different political, religious and ethnic parties and outfits are busy in disgracing the blood of the martyrs to achieve their vested interests.
They said they want to present the point of view of the heirs and the real representatives of workers regarding this new development.
They said after 29 months of this tragedy a report has been filed in Sindh High Court (SHC) in which the identity of the involved culprits and their group is revealed.
However, on the basis of this report different political parties are busy in blaming one another, but no political party has taken solid steps for solving the problems of the bereaved families and deterring repetition of such incidents in Pakistani factories and industries.
This negative attitude of these political parties is also condemnable because during last two and half years they have not raised the voice inside or outside parliament for solving the problems of the affectees.
Today also they are doing nothing for the affectees but issuing fiery statements to settle score with their political rivals, which prove beyond doubt that all these
parties are anti-worker in their character.
They said the court would decide if the fire was accidental or arson, but our demand is to give severe punishment to the culprits and their patrons.
We also apprehend that making the JIT report a plea, the vested interests would try to save the real culprits including the factory owners, International Brands and Social auditing company of this sad incident and if so we would fully resist such a bid.
They said it is the basic question if the factory was burnt in accidental fire or arson, but it is also important to see if the factory had all precautionary arrangement to cope with such an incident and save the lives of its innocent workers.
So far all reports and facts show that this factory was not registered under the Factory Act, and thus was working illegally.
All its emergency exit gates were closed, and windows covered with heavy iron grills. Its passageways were closed with goods, which resulted in the martyrdom of 80% workers.
Therefore, the affectees and the labor movement think that those running this factory illegally were equally responsible for these deaths as they ignored the local and international health and safety laws and standards.
These culprits include the owners of the factory, international brands for which they worked, international company that gave them audit certificate and other institutions related to the labor affairs.
More than 90% of the factory workers were contract laborers, not registered with EOBI and other social security institutions.
They used to work 12 to 14 hours daily in this sweat shop under third party contact system “Thakedari”.
20150213 * Call to probe Baldia factory fire by judicial commission:
The families of the Baldia town factory victims have called for the constitution of a judicial commission to investigate 2012’s fire incident.
They called for severe punishment to the culprits and for the payment of compensation to the affected families.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, the leaders of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association along with some victims’ families, lamented that different parties and groups are “disgracing the blood of the martyrs for their vested interests”.
NTUF Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor, President Baldia Factory Fire Affectees Association Muhammad Jabbir, among others, addressed the press conference.
20150213 * Baldia factory fire: Victims’ families demand new judicial commission:
Families of the 259 people who died in the Baldia factory fire of 2012 have demanded that a new judicial commission be set up with sitting judges from the Supreme Court of Pakistan to probe the incident and submit a report within 90 days.
They also demanded that the report compiled by the Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi should be made public.
Upset over the blame game that started after a report of the joint investigation team was placed before the Sindh High Court, the families claimed that their loved ones’ deaths were being ‘politicised’.
“Thirty months later, these politicians do not talk about the affectees demands in the parliament,” said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general-secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan at a press conference with the victims’ families at Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
“Now, they want to be wellwishers. Their behaviour is condemnable.”
20150213 * Call to stop Baldia fire report from being used for political point-scoring:
The families of the Baldia factory fire victims might end up being victimised with their cases disposed of, as the recently released joint investigation team report is being used for political point-scoring rather than helping the cause of the victims, apprehended the National Trade Union of Federation on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, NTUF general secretary Nasir Mansoor said the Baldia factory fire death toll climbed to 260 after another woman wounded in the incident, Nadia, recently succumbed to her injuries.
“The revelations of the JIT have raised a lot of questions — about its authenticity and its sudden appearance in the national and local media — making it seem like a political ploy rather than helping the cause of the Baldia fire victims,” said Mr Mansoor.
He said that if undue importance was given to the JIT, which did not have teeth legally, it would help the owners, the social audit company, RINA, and the German retail company, KIK.
“It will be helpful to them as it will exonerate them criminal negligence which is a major cause of the incident. It will be declared an act of terrorism, and we all know how speedily the cases related to terrorism are solved,” he added.
20150213 * JIT report on Baldia factory fire: JI demands ban on MQM, case in military court:
One of the opposition parties in Punjab Assembly, Jamaat-e-Islami, has demanded the federal government open a case against the MQM in a military court and impose a ban on the Karachi-based party in light of the Baldia Town factory fire report of a joint investigation team.
The demand was put by the JIP’s only member in the House Dr Waseem Akhtar on a point of order at the beginning of the Thursday session held under the chair of Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani started one hour and 10 minutes late to its scheduled time at 10am.
Soon after the Talawat and Naat, Dr Waseem (who belongs to Bahawalpur district) stood on his bench and said on a point of order that his city Bahawalpur has received two deadbodies of labourers who were killed in Baldia Town Karachi fire incident in which about 279 people were burnt alive.
20150213 * Civil society for action on Baldia factory report:
Civil society organisations (CSOs) unanimously demanded on Thursday that the culprits of Baldia Town factory fire be brought to the court of law as soon as possible in order to build the confidence of millions of workers.
They also urged the Punjab government to implement labour laws to address labourers’ issues.
At a provincial dialogue titled “Labour issues, bonded labour and role of labour courts in justice provision” organised by the Citizen Commission for Human Development, they decided to constitute a forum consisting of government officials, CSOs and trade union representatives so as to influence the labour department to create workers’ friendly environment at workplaces.
“CSOs should also try to ensure passing on 100 per cent social security benefits to brick kiln workers,” Bonded Labour Liberation Front Secretary-General Syed Ghulam Fatima said on the occasion.
She also demanded that those involved in the Baldia Town tragedy be sent behind the bars.
Aima Mahmood, executive director of the Working Women Organisation, said there were still many issues regarding equal wages for women workers and that the labour department should ensure equality between men and women workers.
She also stressed the participants to launch a campaign to bring about a change in the attitude of employers towards married women, as many employers did not hire married women workers.
20150211 * There can be no apology on Baldia Town tragedy: Imran:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan gave his first response following Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s apology.
Attending the training session of the first female elite force in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the PTI chief said Altaf Hussain’s apology was a fine but there could be no apology on the Baldia Town factory fire tragedy.
Imran Khan said that immediate action should be taken over the JIT report of the factory fire which claimed the lives of over 250 people in Baldia Town. “
Our demand is that the federal and provincial governments act on the findings of the JIT report on an immediate basis.”
20150211 * KP minister wants Baldia fire case referred to military court:
Announcing to stage protest against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) today, Provincial Minister Ziaullah Afridi and Adviser to Chief Minister on Environment Ishtiaq Urmar on Tuesday asked the federal government to refer the Baldia Town arson case to a military court.
Speaking at a press conference here, Ziaullah Afridi and Ishtiaq Urmar said that the MQM was a terrorist organisation and killed innocent labourers for not paying ransom by the owner of the factory.
They said businessmen were shifting abroad due to lawlessness, target killing, kidnapping for ransom and hooliganism of the supporters of the MQM.
The KP government representatives said the party had taken the economic hub of the country and its residents hostage.
20150211 * Out for blood: Siraj demands punishment for Baldia fire culprits:
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Amir Sirajul Haq said the 21st Amendment would lose its impact if the federal government failed to punish the culprits held responsible by a joint investigation team (JIT) for Karachi’s Baldia factory fire.
The tragic fire in a garment factory of the port city killed over 250 people and left scores of others injured in 2012. Some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition and DNA tests had to be conducted to determine their identities. A number of them remain unidentified.
Talking to the media during Guest Hour at Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, the JI chief urged the government to withstand all pressure and not allow the report to go into ‘cold storage’.
He said the report would test the federal government’s ability to respond to such crucial findings, adding lack of action would render the 21st Constitutional Amendment ineffective.
20150211 * Baldia factory fire case: SHC wants JIT report placed before ‘competent forum’:
The Sindh High Court ruled on Tuesday that the veracity and relevance of a report prepared by a joint investigation team was to be determined by the competent forum before which it be placed, and told the trial court to decide the Baldia Town factory inferno case within a year.
While disposing of a miscellaneous application of the owners of the burnt factory seeking incorporation of the word “preferably” before the one-year time frame set by the SHC on Feb 6 for the trial court to decide the case, a division bench of the SHC headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar observed that its direction regarding expeditious disposal of the case would not take away the right of the applicants to fair trial.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research with some other non-governmental organisations had filed petitions for the replacement of the present investigating officer and conclusion of the trial in the factory fire case as early as possible.
On Feb 6, a JIT report was submitted to the SHC by an additional attorney general with a statement of the deputy assistant judge and advocate general of the Rangers, which revealed that an accused, Rizwan Qureshi, had disclosed that a deliberate arson attack was carried out by a faction of a political party on the factory over non-payment of protection money.
20150210 * Baldia factory fire: JIT report not entirely based on the case, says lawyer:
The Sindh High Court clarified on Tuesday that determining the accuracy and relevance of the joint investigation team’s report – which held the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) responsible for the Baldia factory fire of 2012 where 259 workers were burned to death – shall be determined by a competent forum.
This was observed by the division bench, headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, after the lawyer presenting the Pakistan institute of Labour Education and Research and Fisherfolk Forum Pakistan, Faisal Siddiqui sought a clarification regarding the relevance of the JIT report to the Baldia factory fire trial.
The JIT report presented on February 6, is not entirely based on the fire incident specifically – the suspect quoted in the report was arrested for possessing illegal arms. During interrogation, he disclosed that he had information about who had started the fire at Ali Enterprises and why.
As per Siddiqui’s request, the judges had previously issued notices to the heads of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to file their reports, if any, regarding the investigation into the factory fire.
20150210 * Baldia Town case must go to military courts: Khursheed:
Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Monday said there was no bigger case than the Baldia Town factory fire, which needed to be sent to the military court.
He advised the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to disown those criminals who were named in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in the Baldia Town factory incident as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had disowned the Al-Zulfiqar in the past.
20150210 * Egypt cotton cultivation to dwindle further with the end of subsidy to growers:
Egyptian cotton, the so-called “white gold” a byword for luxury that is prominent the world over and also the former core of Egypt’s economy and the source of many a trader’s fortune has been declining for years due to changing government policy, a shrinking domestic market and the vagaries of international cotton prices.
The Egyptian government has taken decision to end a subsidy to cotton growers introduced only last year.
The subsidy worth about $200 per feddan, an area slightly above an acre, and the government expect that its abolition will encourage farmers not to grow the crop unless they have a contract for it.
20150210 * Union busting attempt suspected at Lesotho Johnson Controls:
Lesotho Johnson Controls has unfairly dismissed 50 workers at the end of January 2015, all of whom are members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Union of Textile (Nutex), raising concerns that trade union rights as well as labour rights are being violated.
The unfair dismissals are on the grounds that the workers have failed to make the grade during their probation period.
Yet the law in Lesotho requires that a contract must be in place with the worker stipulating the probation period which may not exceed four months.
None of the dismissed workers had contracts with Johnson Controls and some had worked for the company for longer than four months.
The dismissals come after Nutex submitted demands to the company and expected to begin negotiation that would secure union recognition as well as wage increases and other benefits.
Machine operators at the company earn only about USD100 a month whilst quality control workers earn more than double this.
“Workers feel that they should not be such a huge gap between the two categories of workers”, says Solong Senohe, Nutex General Secretary. “Machine operators are earning less than even a subsistence wage in Lesotho and yet without them there is no product, they at least deserve a living wage.”
20150210 * Haiti: union and maquilas negotiate on pay:
Haiti’s Textile and Garment Workers Union (SOTA), which represents a number of workers in the Port-au-Prince garment assembly sector, has reached an agreement under which the owners of three factories are to honor the legal minimum wage of 300 gourdes (about $6.38) a day for piece workers in the industry.
The 300-gourde minimum went into effect in October 2012 but has generally been ignored by management.
According to a Jan. 6 SOTA press release and a Feb. 6 radio interview with Yannick Etienne of the labor organizing group Batay Ouvriye (BO, Workers’ Struggle), under the agreement workers who were receiving 225 gourdes a day now receive 300 gourdes and those who received 300 gourdes receive 375.
In addition, the three companies agreed to provide back pay to cover the difference between the old and the new wages for two months during which SOTA and the companies negotiated; this would come to about $4,255 collectively for the workers in one of the companies, Multiwear SA.
Although the agreement falls far short of the 500-gourde minimum garment workers had demonstrated for in December 2013, BO organizer Etienne considers management’s agreement to the raise and the principle of back pay a significant step forward.