in the news 25-27 February 2015

16:14:27 local time map of korea_n NORTH KOREA

20150226 * DPRK unilaterally decides to raise minimum wage for workers in Kaesong complex:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) notified South Korea of its unilateral decision to raise minimum wage for DPRK workers employed by South Korean companies at the joint factory park in the DPRK border city of Kaesong, Seoul’s unification ministry said Thursday.

Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol told reporters that the DPRK sent a notice in the afternoon to the Kaesong industrial complex management committee saying that it unilaterally decided to raise monthly minimum wage for workers from March 1.

Under the decision, the minimum wage would rise from 70.35 U.S. dollars per month to 74 dollars, representing a 5.18 percent increase.
read more. & to read.

15:14:27 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

20150225 * BoC destroys P50-M counterfeit shoes and slippers:

More than P50 million worth of counterfeit branded shoes, sandals and apparels were destroyed by the Bureau of Customs (BoC) in Vitas, Tondo, Manila yesterday.

Destroyed were fake brands, including Nike, Adidas, Converse, Sketchers, Northface, Leaveland, Merelle, Lacoste, Vans, Havaianas and Ipanema, according to Customs Commissioner John Sevilla.
The contraband were seized last month in a warehouse located inside Olivares Compound in Parañaque City.

“These counterfeit shoes and slippers were smuggled from China and were part of a big raid we had last year inside the Olivarez Compound in Parañaque City.
We seized the warehouse to check the legality of the importation of goods but the owner failed to produce proof of payment of duties and taxes from Customs, consequently, the warehouse was padlocked and sealed for BoC custody,” Sevilla said.
read more.

14:14:27 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

20150226 * Free trade agreements likely to challenge local companies competetiveness :

20150226 VNNews
Export opportunities to the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, ASEAN, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be boosted. The country’s key export products include garments and textiles, footwear and farm produce. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet

Its “golden population” phase and other specific advantages can help Viet Nam exploit well a slew of free trade agreements (FTAs), but there is zero room for complacency, experts and leading industrialists have warned.

They say that the agreements are a double-edged sword that will open the domestic market up to stiff competition local firms are ill-equipped to face.

The increased export opportunities also come with the challenge of meeting international standards, they add.

Viet Nam has inked FTAs, bilaterally and multilaterally, with many countries and blocs like the European Union and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. It is also a party to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that is being negotiated by 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
read more. & read more.
VNNews new VIETNAMplus

20150226 * European Parliament hears progress of EU-Vietnam FTA talks:

The European Parliament (EP) heard reports on the progress of negotiations on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) in Brussels on February 24 ahead of the final round of negotiations to take place in Vietnam in March 2015. 

Chief Negotiator of the EU Mauro Petriccione noted that as Vietnam is the first developing country to get involved in FTA negotiations with the EU, the EU has taken into consideration Vietnam’s development level and has showed certain flexibility in the negotiation process.

He outlined basic contents of the trade pact, including the union’s priorities to government purchase, State-run businesses, and market opening for goods, services and investment.
read more. & read more.
VOVonline VIETNAMplus

20150225 * Ministry of Labour sets goals for 2015:

Renovating vocational trainings, increasing labour productivity, and creating additional jobs for young workers are the 2015 goals of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency.

In 2014, the country generated jobs for around 1.6 million workers, a 3.6 percent increase from the previous year, including 1.5 million working domestically and 106,000 others sent abroad, Minister Chuyen said.
read more. & read more.
VIETNAMplus VNNews new

20150227 * Vietnam becomes largest Southeast Asian exporters to US on back of textiles:

Surpassing Malaysia and Thailand, Vietnam has become the largest exporter to the United States in the Southeast Asian region with a record trade surplus of almost US$25 billion (S$34 billion) in 2014.

According to the US Census Bureau data, trade between the two countries reached US$36.3 billion, of which, Vietnam exported US$30.6 billion worth of goods to the US while it imported goods worth only US$5.7 billion. In 2014, exports were up 24 per cent while imports increased 13.6 per cent compared with the previous year.

Garment and textile exports was the major contributor in the Vietnam climbing to the top with export valued at US$10 billion, accounting for one-third of the its total export value. Vietnam’s textile also raised its market share in the US to 9.26 per cent.
read more.

14:14:27 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

20150227 * Workers Clash as Talks Stall in Factory Dispute:

With negotiations between unions and managers at Phnom Penh’s Quantum Clothing factory stalled, thousands of striking workers Thursday clashed with other employees attempting to enter the plant.

About 3,000 workers at the British-owned factory in Pur Senchey district went on strike on February 19 to protest against a provision in the government’s January minimum wage increase that excludes workers already making more than $128 from receiving a guaranteed salary hike.

On Wednesday, workers filed a complaint with local police against their bosses, accusing them of attacking two employees during a protest outside the factory earlier in the day.

Touch Soeu, vice president of the Free Trade Union, said scuffles between protesting workers and strikebreakers broke out Thursday morning.
read more.

20150227 * Garment Workers Tell Their Own Stories in New Documentary:

Sorn Samnang, 26, has worked in the garment industry for nine years, shifting between five factories and barely making enough to survive.

The story of her life—and that of some 700,000 garment workers in the country—may be familiar to readers of newspaper and magazine articles on the industry. But now, she and her colleagues are also telling their own stories.

“Salary Hunger,” the English version of a 45-minute documentary co-produced by the Workers’ Information Center (WIC) and Canadian journalist Paula Stromberg, premieres this Friday at 7 p.m. at Atlanta’s Edge, a cultural center in Phnom Penh.

“It’s a collaboration with the garment workers, so that’s a bit different than rolling in with a film crew,” said Ms. Stromberg, an independent journalist who volunteered for the project.

Garment workers have been featured in news stories or documentaries but have little say over the final product, said Sok Thareth, assistant coordinator at WIC. “Rarely do the filmmakers show them the clip before making it public,” she said.
read more.

20150227 * Another Cambodian garment worker falls unconscious:

Another Cambodian garment worker falls unconscious from exhaustion at an
Armani supplier this morning.

Her employer recently doubled her sewing quota to 500 pairs of jeans per day. Sewing Armani jeans, she receives a minimum wage of $128/month, only
$8 above the poverty line.
A single pair of these jeans can go for more than $250 in the EU or the States.

20150226 * Lower Labor Costs Linked To Higher Risks:

Businesses with operations or supply chains in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Cambodia are benefiting from the world’s lowest labor costs, but their cost competitiveness could be offset by the risks associated with operating in or sourcing from these low-cost locations, a new study has warned.

Risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft identified the three Asian nations as among the five best countries in the world for cheap labor in its Labor Costs Index. The index measures a combination of wages, employment regulations, social security contributions and labor productivity to calculate the cost competitiveness of workforces in 172 countries.

“The cost of employing staff is a key consideration for companies when they consider where to invest,” said Charles van Caloen, a senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft. “Countries that have high labor costs relative to productivity levels risk deterring mobile international capital that can bring jobs and growth in its wake.”

Cambodia ranked 169th in the index, making it significantly more attractive for manufacturing investment than its more industrialized regional neighbors, China and Thailand, which ranked 64th and 93rd respectively.
read more. & read more.
KHMERTIMES maplecroft

20150227 * GMAC Challenges Union Leader to Prove Threats:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement Thursday calling for union leader Pav Sina to provide credible evidence to back up his claim that factory owners were conspiring to have him killed.

Mr. Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), on Monday filed complaints with the Interior Ministry, the U.N. and rights group Licadho alleging that an administrator at a Chinese-owned factory in Svay Rieng province—identified only as Mr. Lim—told three members of his union that several factory owners were pooling money to have him assassinated.

In an audio clip provided by Mr. Sina of a February 16th meeting, a man, who the union leader says is translating for Mr. Lim, says in Khmer: “There are some factories that have been raising money to hire people to kill the union leader.”
read more.

20150226 * Workers Strike, Accuse Factory Managers of Attack at Protest:

Workers striking at Phnom Penh’s Quantum Clothing factory have filed a complaint against their managers for allegedly attacking two workers during a protest Wednesday outside the factory, according to a union representative and police official.

About 3,000 workers went on strike Thursday in protest of a provision in the government’s January minimum wage increase that excludes workers who were already making more than $128 a month from getting a guaranteed raise.

Deputy Free Trade Union president Touch Soeu said that at about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday morning, as about 1,000 workers were demonstrating outside the factory on Veng Sreng Street, company officials attacked two protesters.
“Two women were grabbed by their hair and dragged into the factory, but one managed to escape, while the other was slapped in the face until she got bruises,” Ms. Soeu said, adding that the union immediately filed a complaint with Choam Chao commune police.
read more.

20150226 * Factory worker driver licence plan in works:

In an effort to combat the growing number of factory workers being hurt and killed during their commutes, the government is rolling out a plan to educate and license factory drivers, and producing videos teaching workers how to administer first aid should they find themselves in an accident.

In 2014, the government’s road safety working group – a joint effort between the ministries of Labour and Public Works and Transport – found that 50 per cent of truck drivers who ferry workers to and from work were unlicensed, said Preap Chanvibol, director of land transportation at the Transport Ministry.
read more.
PPP new

20150225 * 100 pass out at shoe factory:

More than 100 workers at a Kandal province footwear factory fainted on Monday, according to a report on the National Police website.

Those who fainted at Grand East Footwear International Corp in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district – which employs about 1,350 people – were sent to a district hospital and private clinics, according to police.
“They were immediately sent for treatment at the district and private hospitals,” the police report reads.
Police said that the incident at Grand East Footwear was caused by chemical fumes. However, a National Social Security Fund (NSSF) report says the faintings were the result of shock from seeing a co-worker keel over.
read more.
PPP new

20150223 * Cambodia: A Year after the Crackdown:

Episode #1 of Asian Labour Sessions hosted by Asia Monitor Resource Centre.
Why do garment workers in Cambodia suffer from Mass Fainting?
Watch the answers.
Athit Kong from CCAWDU
Vanthan, a garment worker from Cambodia
Sopheal, a garment worker from Cambodia
Fahmi Panimbang from Asia Monitor Resource Centre
see interview here.

* Cambodia: Amnesty International Report 2014/15:

Respect for the right to freedoms of expression, association and assembly deteriorated with a seven months’ ban on public gatherings.

The authorities used excessive force against peaceful protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries.
Human rights defenders and political activists faced threats, harassment, prosecution and sometimes violence.
Impunity for perpetrators of human rights abuses persisted, with no thorough, impartial and independent investigations into killings and beatings.

Two further convictions at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for crimes against humanity during the Khmer Rouge period resulted in life sentences; a second trial against the same defendants was ongoing.
Thousands of people affected by land grabbing by private companies for development and agro-industry faced forced eviction and loss of land, housing and livelihood.
read more.

20150224 * BetterFactories Media Updates 24 February 2015, Workers Collapse en Masse at Kandal Factory:

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-02-24 Workers Collapse en Masse at Kandal Factory

* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.

13:44:27 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

20150226 * MTUF advocates for stronger worker rights laws:

Myanmar Trade Unions Federation (MTUF) is vowing to push for laws to better protect worker rights in wake of demonstrations at  several factories this month.

Workers from Tai Yi shoe factory, E-Land Myanmar garment factory, Ford Glory garment factory and COSTEC garment factory located in Shwepyitha and Hlaingthaya industrial zones demonstrated for better wages, but on February 20 protest camps were demolished and some leaders were charged.

“Our federation is built by ourselves, so we are not able to support protest camps financially,” MTUF chairperson Aung Lin said Wednesday during a news conference at the organisation’s Yangon office.
read more.

20150226 * Protests highlight labour law shortcomings:

Labour groups have blamed weaknesses in the legal framework for an outbreak of protests at factories in Yangon that has resulted in confrontations between workers and police.

While most workers from five strike-hit factories in Yangon industrial zones have agreed to return to work, some remain on the picket lines.

Ko Aung Thu of Myanmar Trade Union Federation (MTUF) said the Settlement of Labour Dispute Law was unable to resolve the current problems.

“Laws that were enacted … cannot protect the workers. Not only are workers losing their rights but owners are also having problems too. These laws cannot solve [disputes] or protect both sides from losses,” he said.

On January 28, workers from the Red Stone, Costec, E Land Myanmar and Ford Glory garment factories and Tai Yi shoe factory – located in the Shwe Pyi Thar and Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zones – went on strike, issuing a range of demands to factory owners.

While these varied between the factories, all groups sought a K30,000-a-month pay increase.
read more.

20150225 * Rangoon Labor Strike Continues on Small Scale Amid Rising Tension:

All garment factories that have been at the center of a long-running strike have reopened, but about 100 laborers continued to protest on Wednesday to demand a pay rise, a labor activist said.

Labor union leaders called on factory owners, the government and laborers to come to the negotiating table to resolve the stand-off, which has become increasingly tense. The Labor Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday warning of legal actions against protestors, while several laborers were arrested in recent days.

Naing Lin Aung, coordinator for Myanmar Trade Unions Federation (MTUF) at Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone, said some 100 workers were continuing their protests on Wednesday, although their numbers had shrunk in recent days. “Among the protesting workers, some are still protesting, some have gone back to work, some have gone home, and some are somewhere else,” he said.
read more.

20150225 * It’s unfair! :

The three statements appeared regarding the protest of garment factory workers against the low salary in Shwepyitha Industrial Zone.

The statements were issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security and the Yangon Region government and Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association.

Yangon Region Government also issued a statement on February 17. On the same day, negotiations were made with the worker protesters. The agreement did not reach but a promise that the problem of the pay low would be settled within three days appeared.

But the government launched a crackdown on the worker protesters on February 20. The problem was not nearer to be solved. The sign of the crackdown on the remaining worker protesters has still been found.

The worker protests of today dated back the 1300 Revolution in 1938. The 1300 Revolution occurred due to the employers treated the workers as slaves.

The protest of the workers in Shwepyithar Industrial Zone aimed at the pay rise. The workers are treated unfairly in their salary. The salary amount of the workers is not much. The salary of the workers was below Ks 100,000 per month.
The workers demanded Ks 30,000 should be increased for a month.
read more.

20150225 * No end in sight over wage disputes:

The labour organizations have accused the authorities of using a heavy-handed approach to solve labour disputes in Shwepyithar and Hlaing Tharyar industrial zones over wage increases.

They demanded that the Yangon Region government and the Ministry of Labour should take responsibility over the crackdown.The authorities announced on February 17 that it will take action against both the owners and workers if they break the law.

“I think the crackdown on labour disputes is heavy-handed. The government should solve the problems with more peaceful means. Both sides need flexibilities,” said Aung Lin, chairman of Federation of Myanmar Labour Union.
read more.

20150225 * Garment workers call for more strikes if demands not met:

20150225 MIZZIMA
Workers shout slogans as they protest outside their factory after a clash with police at Shwepyithar Industrial zone in Yangon, Myanmar, February 20, 2015.
Myanmar police dismantled the protest sites and several people were injured during the clash between protesters and policemen.
Thousands of workers are demanding a raise in their basic salary at the industrial zone. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Myanmar garment workers demonstrating over pay and factory conditions threatened to continue strikes unless their demands are met and authorities release two of their representatives detained earlier this month, according to Radio Free Asia on February 24.

The promise to continue the nearly month-long strikes against Costec International, E-Land Myanmar and Ford Glory Garment in Yangon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone, came despite government warnings on Monday that “action” would be taken against protesters.

What action the government plans to take was not spelled out.
The companies are reportedly owned by Chinese and South Korean firms.
read more.

20150224 * Government responds to accusations of mishandling labour protests:

The Yangon Region government and Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security made announcements yesterday in response to criticism over their mishandling of workers’ protests in Yangon.

After the parliament and government failed to guarantee a minimum wage for manual labourers, the momentum of the protests increased.

At the beginning of February, protests by employees of the E-Land Myanmar garment factory, Ford Glory factory and COSTEC International factory in Shwe Pyi Thar industrial zone intensified, raising concerns among authorities about the possibility of a mass demonstration.
On February 20, police dispersed the protestors in what many described as people a crackdown. Several workers sustained injuries.

The statement released by the Yangon Region government said the labour affairs negotiation team for Yangon region met with owners of the factories and representatives of the workers in Shwe Pyi Thar and Hlaing Tharyar industrial zones.
The Yangon region government issued a notice on February 17 that the authorities would take action in accordance with existing laws against workers or factory owners who violated rules and regulations.
read more.

20150225 * Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia offer low labour costs: report:

20150225 MIZZIMA 2
Cambodian workers in a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 15, 2013. Photo: Mak Remissa/EPA

A new global ranking says businesses with supply chains and operations in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Cambodia are benefiting from the world’s lowest labour costs, reports Supply Management on February 24.

According to the business magazine, risk analytics company Verisk Maplecroft’s Labour Costs Index measures a combination of wages, employment regulations, social security contributions and labour productivity to enable companies to identify and compare the cost competitiveness of workforces in 172 countries.

Not surprisingly, Western Europe accounts for most of the 25 highest cost countries in the index, with France and Italy the most costly countries in which to hire staff.

Just because a country is cheap does not necessarily mean it is the best place to set up shop.

The ranking company warns that the cost competitiveness of markets where labour costs are the lowest could be offset by the risks of poor working conditions and high levels of child labour and trafficking, and that these countries are rated as “extreme risk”.
read more.

12:59:27 local time map of nepal NEPAL

20150225 * Good old jute industry fighting for survival:

Nepal’s jute industry which is concentrated in the Eastern Region is fighting for survival due to the government’s indifference to promote it.

Three decades ago, the country was a major jute exporter to Europe and the golden fibre was one of the major sources of foreign exchange.

Presently, the just industry has been dropped from the government’s priority list even though demand for more ecological packaging globally has strengthened its export potential.

According to Raj Kumar Golchha, the president of Jute Industry Association, Nepal presently imports 80 percent of its jute requirement from India and Bangladesh. In the previous fiscal year, Nepal imported jute worth Rs 2.30 billion. “After the government ended all kinds of subsidies to the sector, farmers lost interest in growing jute.”
read more.

13:14:27 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

20150225 * So much for worker safety:

Four day labourers being buried under a huge chunk of earth while they were lifting stones from the Bholaganj Stone Quarry in Sylhet Sunday night brings to the fore the general apathy of the state and society to worker safety.

When a group of labourers were lifting stones from the bottom of a deep hole at the quarry, as New Age reported on Tuesday, a huge chunk of sand slid down, burying four of the labourers.

As casualties in accidents at work place appear commonplace to authorities, they seem to forget suchtragic death after every incident.
The number of worker casualties in accidents in the construction sector recorded a sharp 178 per cent increase in the first six months of 2014 compared with the corresponding period the year before.
According the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation, 78 workers were killed and 53 injured in this sector in January–June 2014 while the number of the dead was 28 and injured 30 in the same period in 2013.

The findings also show that the second highest number of casualties took place in the apparel sector with 12 dying and 55 becoming injured. Overall, the major causes of the casualties were electrocution, factory fire, roof or wall collapse, fall from height and boiler explosion.
read more.

20150225 * USTR satisfied over progress of GSP action plan: Tofail:

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday told Parliament that United States Trade Representative (USTR) expressed satisfaction over the progress of the action plan in regaining the GSP facilities postponed by  the US government on June 27 2013.

“We have sent the latest progress report to US government.
They have expressed satisfaction after a scrutiny and requests the Bangladesh government to carry on with the effort”, he said while responding to a question of MA Hannan.
The day’s business began with Speaker Dr Shirin sharmin Chowdhury in the chair.
The minister said the government fulfilled most of the activities of the plan.
He further said despite postponement of GSP facilities’ Bangladesh continues to export goods to US market.
He however said Bangladesh used to export less than one per cent of total export under GSP facilities.
read more.

20150226 * Tk 1,600cr concession for RMG export orders:

The owners of country’s garment factories did not get respite despite allowing huge concessions though almost all requirements were complied.

The garments entrepreneurs allowed a huge concession of Tk 1,600-crore in January-February to obtain export orders.

One observation of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) revealed this gloomy picture.

According to BKMEA, presently the garment factory owners are facing many hurdles to get export orders. The entrepreneurs have to concede concessions at the rate of more than six percents. Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have already lost 40 percent orders of its scheduled expectations.
read more.

20150225 * Garment exporters hit by euro slide:

The steep fall of the euro along with political crisis at home has dealt a twofold setback to garment exporters, who are losing money both ways.

“It’s a double whammy for us,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

“On one hand, we are losing business for the ongoing political impasse inside the country and on the other hand, we are losing money due to currency devaluation in our main market.”
The eurozone is the largest export destination for Bangladesh, with 60 percent, or more than $14 billion, of garment items being shipped to the region every year.
read more.
daily star bd

20150227 * Jute millers want govt not to cut cash incentive:

Indian jute industry wants duty on imports from BD

Jute millers have recently urged the government not to cut cash incentive on export of jute products.

They also have demanded that the authority increase the cash incentive up to 20 per cent (for hessian, sack, CBC makers) and 10 per cent (for spinners) from existing 10 per cent and 7.50 per cent respectively.

In two letters sent to the ministry of jute and textiles on February 22 and 18, the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) and the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA) urged the government not to reduce the cash incentive on export of jute goods.
read more.
FE bd

20150225 * Jute millers seek help to recover unrest losses:

Jute millers have urged the government to take measures for non-classification of the sector’s fresh loans to help businesses recoup losses caused by political unrest.

In a letter to textile and jute secretary Monday, the Bangladesh Jute Mills Association also urged the government to halt deduction of existing tax at source for five years against export earnings and quarterly bank interests.

Another request the association made is to provide financial assistance from Export Development Fund for the environment- friendly jute sector.
read more.
FE bd

20150224 * Quarterly aggregate Report:

on remediation progress at RMG factories covered by the Accord

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is committed to transparency and public accountability.As part of this commitment, the Accord publishes Quarterly Aggregate
Reports, providing information on the progress of the implementation of remedial measures in the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) factories covered by the Accord.
As outlined in Article 19c of the Accord, the Accord Steering Committee will make publicly available and regularly update information on key aspects of the programme:
read more in pdf report.

* Chaumtoli Huq  about after Rana Plaza:

Chaumtoli Huq was interviewed by Huff Post Live as part of their World News Brief on documentary.

The power of the documentary is that it shows workers organizing to improve their…
hear, see more. (19.45m)
huffpost live

* Documentary on Bangladesh Workers Efforts to Organize & Build a Labor Movement:

Friends, Mohammad Romel and I NEED your SUPPORT. We are taking my research and putting it into a short documentary on the labor movement in the garment industry in Bangladesh.

The documentary will focus on educating workers on their trade union rights, and on how workers and allies abroad can show solidarity.

I am hoping this is a way I can give back to the movement. Such a project requires funds to pay the cost of a crew, filming, editing and subtitles, and so much more as you know.
read more. And Please Support!
LAW attheMARGINS gofundme


20150225 * Compensation for Rana Plaza collapse victims demanded:

Survivors and families of those who died in the Rana Plaza collapse formed a human chain beside the Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar yesterday to press home their long-time demands for compensation and punishment for those accused.

Speaking at the human chain formed under the banner “Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity”, Shirina Bala, who lost her daughter Khaleda Akter in the collapse, said almost two years have passed since the tragedy but she is yet to be compensated.

She said there are many families living inhuman lives as the disaster claimed the lives of their breadwinners.

Taslima Akter, coordinator of Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity, alleged the government and BGMEA are wasting time to bury the matter.
She urged the government to meet their demands as it would be problematic for the authorities if the workers take to the street.

Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, collapsed on April 24, 2013 killing 1,136 workers and injuring scores others.
to read.
daily star bd

12:44:27 local time map of india INDIA

20150227 * Trade union leaders held:

As many as 80 trade union leaders were taken into preventive custody when they tried to picket the revenue offices in the district, in response to a call given by seven central trade unions protesting ‘pro-corporate’ amendments to the Labour laws.

They raised slogans in support of their 11-point charter of demands, that included social security benefits for unorganised sector workers, withdrawal of foreign direct investment (FDI), minimum monthly wage of Rs. 15,000 and effective steps to curb price rise.
The trade union leaders were taken into custody by the police amid high drama. As many as 50 trade union members were held in Kandukur and 15 leaders in Ongole and Markapur each, police said.
to read.

20150227 * Trade unions protest against proposed labour reforms:

Workers belonging to various trade unions staged protest demonstrations in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts on Thursday as part of the nationwide agitation to highlight their charter of demands.

In Thanjavur, workers belonging to the Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre for Indian Trade Unions, and Labour Progressive Front staged a demonstration on the Abraham Pandither Road here protesting against the Centre’s alleged move to take away the “remaining rights” of the labour force in the garb of reforms, control the rising prices of essentials, prevent futures trading, and commodity gambling, stop direct foreign investment in the public sector, strengthen the public sector and generate jobs, ensure minimum wage of Rs. 15,000 a month for individuals working in any sector, grant pension of Rs. 3,000 a month for all those aged above 60, rescind new pension scheme, end contract worker agreements, and grant regular workers’ salary to even contract workers.
read more.

20150227 * Trade unions slam “anti-labour” policies of the Centre:

Members of trade unions, including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), INTUC, CITU, AIUTC, MMS, LPF and the AICCTU, staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate here on Thursday protesting the “anti-labour” policies of the Union government.

The labour policies of the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi were pro-corporate, they said.

Hundreds of leaders and cadres of 11 Central trade unions staged the protest to denounce the government’s policy of disinvestment of public sector undertakings and for increasing foreign direct investment in various sectors.
read more.

20150226 * Strike illegal, says Hidesign management:

The management of Hidesign has said that the strike by the employees of its leather factory at Odhiampet here is illegal when conciliatory proceedings were on at the Labour office.

The employees had not issued the mandatory 14 days strike notice to the company, said R. Sathiyanarayanan, Personnel and Liaisoning Manager of Hidesign.

He said that the management was ready for negotiations on wage increase, medical check up and productivity linked incentive.

However, the union leaders are not willing to participate in talks on productivity and any change in system of productivity to sustain in the competitive market.
read more.

20150227 * Textile Park at Banavasi ray of hope for weavers:

The place is considered apt for the concept of fibre to fabric by virtue of the area being a major cotton producing zone

The news of establishment of Textile Park at Banavasi, a picturesque location between Adoni and Yemmiganur in Kurnool district, cheered the local people.

The government issued an order earmarking 100 acres from the Banavasi Veterinary farm for the textile park.
Adoni and Yemmiganur towns have a long history of textile trade and manufacturing. The place is considered apt for the concept of fibre to fabric by virtue of the area being the major cotton producing zone, a major cotton trading market at Adoni and inhabitation by over 5,000 weaver families.

The 5,000-weaver families are without work since the closure of spinning mill at Yemmiganur and local handloom society.
The leading cause of crisis in handloom sector was failure of the stakeholders to change in tune with the changing circumstances.
Despite the two towns being the repository of a large pool of skilled weavers, the industry shifted elsewhere in the last three decades.
read more.

20150227 * New PSU will help textile industry:

Textile industry here welcomed the announcement in the Railway Budget that a Transport Logistics Corporation of India (TRANSLOC) would be created in the public sector to expand freight handling capacity, and provide end-to-end logistics solution.

“Formation of such a PSU to extend help from the point of sourcing of any material to the delivery point including the areas not transported by railway, and the plan to design wagons based on commodity are novel ideas that would prove to be highly beneficial for textile industry.
read more.

20150224 * Apparel industry underperforms GDP, growth slows in Dec quarter:

Poor performance by smaller players resulted in huge inventories, which was double than sales in many cases

The apparel industry has grown by five per cent in the quarter ended December 2014, said the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI).

It had launched an index to measure growth in the industry from various angles early last year.

Growth underperformed the country’s gross domestic production due to poor performance of smaller entities, as weak consumer sentiment resulted in huge inventories, double the sales in many cases, said CMAI.

However, “Players have realised the need to invest to grow their businesses, which also shows their confidence in the market. On the whole, 78 per cent of the brands surveyed said they increased their investments.
Part of these is also used to build inventories before the season to scale-up sales. Nearly 85 per cent of big brands and 67.5 per cent of small brands increased their investments by one to 20 per cent.”
read more.

20150224 * A slew of steps to boost jute sector:

Various steps have been taken, including allowing use of land of closed mills, create jobs and provide housing for jute mill workers

The Textiles Ministry today said it has taken various steps, including allowing use of land of closed mills for economic activities, to strengthen the jute sector, create jobs and provide housing for jute mill workers.

The decisions follow Textile Minister Santosh Gangwar’s meeting in Kolkata yesterday with stakeholders in the jute sector.

“It has been decided to utilise the unused assets, such as land, of the three closed mills of NJMC (National Jute Manufactures Corporation Ltd) for economic activities. The focus is to generate employment. “Activities such as apparel park or textile hub shall be considered.
read more. & read more.
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20150224 * Textiles Minister initiates steps to strengthen Jute sector:

Minister of State for Textiles (I/C), Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, has taken several steps to strengthen the jute sector. These steps are a result of the review meetings he held with various stakeholders of the jute sector, at Kolkata yesterday.

The key decisions:

1) Utilize unused assets of closed mills, to generate employment
read more.

12:44:27 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

20150225 * Future of Sri Lanka’s apparel exports to US: Losing to Vietnam or winning with innovation?:

In recent years, Sri Lanka has not been as serious and aggressive about forging trade agreements as many of its competitors.

As global agreements like the Doha Development Agenda have stalled, many countries have resorted to signing bilateral and regional free trade agreements to expand the market for their exports.

In this, the Trans-Pacific Partnership – commonly known as ‘TPP’ – stands out for its mega-regional nature.
The TPP is led by the USA and brings together 12 pacific-rim countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam) covering over 40 percent of global GDP.

Parties to the TPP stand to gain through greater duty-free access to the US market, while others who are not parties to it but still depend on the US – like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – stand to lose.
read more.

12:14:27 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

20150225 * Textiles ministry seeks funds in PSDP budget for 8 new projects:

Pakistan Ministry of Textiles is seeking funding for eight new projects in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) budget for the 2015-16.

Faisalabad Garment city is another project which would be discussed in CDWP, as it is a textile infrastructure project whereby state of the art infrastructure would be developed . The cost of the project is estimated to be Rs.598.500 million.

According to the documents the ministry claims that this project would help garments manufacturers in boosting value addition to textile related exports.

Faisalabad Garment City training City is another separate project and Rs 60 million has been sought to train textile workers.
Development of Garment city in Karachi has been divided into phases and for first phase Ministry of Textile has sought Rs 805.119 million.
This project is to develop state of the art infrastructure which would be leased out to the garments manufacturers to boost value addition of the textile sector.
read more.

20150224 * Pak-Turkey FTA to boost up textile exports:

Pak-Turkey Free Trade Agreement(FTA) likely to increase export of textiles, agro and dairy products, and livestock, said Federal Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan on Monday.

The Commerce Ministry would be conducting a pre-FTA study and hold extensive discussions with stakeholders to strike the best possible deal.
The Ministry of Commerce would be concluding all future trade agreements based upon market research and the lessons learnt from previous accords.
read more.


20150227 * New probe into Baldia factory fire begins:

A four-member team launched a new probe into the Baldia factory fire case on Thursday and decided to sit daily to examine the first investigation report of police that contained some 7,000 documents.

The investigation team headed by the additional inspector general of Sindh police, Khadim Hussain Bhatti, first called Sub-Inspector Jahanzaib, the investigation officer of the case, before wrapping up its brief introductory meeting.

Know more: Order to arrest IO of Baldia factory fire case

A brief statement released to media about the meeting said: “Former IO of the case Sub-Inspector Jahanzaib appeared before the committee and informed it of details of the case.
It was decided that the committee comprising Additional IG-Crime Branch Khadim Hussain Bhatti, DIG Mushtaq Mahar, Colonel Sajjad Bashir of Rangers and Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Altaf Hussain will meet daily to complete the re-investigation of the case as early as possible.”
read more.

20150227 * Baldia factory fire: New committee meets, testifies ex-IO:

The first meeting of newly formed probe committee on Baldia Town factory fire was held in the chair of Additional Inspector General Crime Branch Khadim Hussain here on Thursday.

The members of the team, Rangers Colonel Sajjad Bashir, FIA Additional Director Altaf Hussain and DIG Crime Branch Mushtaq Mahar participated in the meeting.
read more.


20150225 * Is Lesotho’s garment industry an ‘ethical alternative’:

20150225 EQUILTIMESLesotho’s 40,000 garment workers are mostly women. As a result, maternity leave is a major issue affecting workers.(World Bank Photo Collection/John Hogg)

With just over two million inhabitants, the southern African kingdom of Lesotho is one of the world’s smallest countries.

A low-income country that currently ranks 160 out of 187 on the UN’s Human Development Index, workers earn an average salary of US$570 per annum and some 42 per cent of its citizens are jobless.

However, over the last eight years, its textile and garments manufacturing industry has grown to become one of Africa’s biggest.
At its peak in 2008, Lesotho’s garment and textile exports totalled US$340 million.

Fifteen years later and Lesotho’s garment industry contributes 20 per cent to the country’s GDP.
In addition, 80 per cent of Lesotho’s garments are manufactured for US mega-brands such as Gap, Levi Strauss and Wal-Mart.

As a result, the growth of Lesotho’s textile industry has brought various benefits to workers on the factory floor.
Thirty-four-year-old Teboho Moeti is tasked with pressing steam irons over rows of casual denim shirts at Formosa Denim Mill in Maseru.

For Teboho, who comes from a small village 200 miles away, his job is ‘precious’.
“I didn’t go to school much but I earn US$420 every month ironing new shirts,” he tells Equal Times.
read more.


* Kanoria to start denim fabric production at its Ethiopia plant soon:

Kanoria African Textiles Plc, a subsidiary of India’s Kanoria Chemicals & Industries in preparation to start denim fabric manufacturing in May 2015 at its plant in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) in Oromia has began yarn production last week.

The company obtained on investment license two years ago and built its factory on a 155,000sqm plot in Bishoftu with installed capacity of 10 million metres of fabric per year.
The factory will employ 600 people,and produce both yarn and denim for textile and garment factories. It is the factory established with a capital of 35 million dollars, said Jay Soyanter, Marketing Vice President of the company.

There is a big potential for the investment of garment and the company want to meet the denim fabric demand of the country, which were mainly imported from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Sri Lanka, said Soyanter.

The factory will sell its products in Ethiopia as well as export to African, Asian and South American markets. Kanoria will use cotton procured from the local market and imported from Indian and Pakistan.
read more.


* Zimbabwe cotton output on the verge of collapse:

Zimbabwe cotton also known as the white gold had economically uplifted places such as the hot and semi-arid marginalized areas like Gokwe in the Midlands Province.

Besides bringing in the much needed foreign currency, the textile, oil-pressing and stock feed industries also benefitted from cotton production in Zimbabwe. But today, the nation cannot talk of a 2015 cotton crop because there is no cotton crop to talk about.

The 2015 cotton crop is too small that experts in the industry believe that it would be smaller than the 2012/2013 crop which was 145 000 tonnes. This is despite, the country having capacity to produce over 350 000 tonnes.
read more.


* Tajikistan focus to raise cotton yield as it reduces acreage:

Tajik cotton farmers focusing on increasing its cotton yields for which they are trying out more productive foreign seeds, even as it reduces the acreage devoted to the water-intensive crop.

In the interest of crop diversity and due to ecological concerns, the country’s farmers have reduced the farmland planted under cotton by more than 26,000ha to 177,624ha between 2011 and 2014.
Over the same period, nationwide cotton production dropped from 415,000 tonnes to 372,000 tonnes per year.
read more.

12:14:27 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* The stories of forced labour: Furkat, high school teacher:

20150224 UGF

In this first issue of “Stories of Forced Labour,” we present an interview with a high school teacher in Syrdarya region.

Cotton harvesting started this year on September 7th. In contrast to previous years, only 3rd-year high-school students were involved in cotton picking this autumn.
Even before this year’s cotton season, the college director told us that only 3rd-year students would be mobilized for harvesting. It was prohibited to sendpersons under age 18 to work in the fields.
Therefore, only 3rd-year students were sent to pick cotton during the first ten days of the harvest.

As you may know, Bayovut district is the largest contributor  to our region‘s cotton quota. In order not to lose time and to make sure that our national wealth is not wasted, the 1st- and 2nd-year students were also mobilized to help.
They were studying for several days at the beginning of the harvest,  but then they were sent to pick cotton. The study for 3rd-year students was ceased completely.

The lessons for the 1s t-and 2nd- year students were not cancelled completely; however, they were not conducted on the regular basis.
After the cotton harvesting finished on October 24, both students and teachers return to their regular schedule in the high school.

UGF: How many teachers from your high school were sent to pick cotton at any one time during the harvest?
read more.


* Right to strike upheld at ILO:

After months of pressure from trade unions, the right to strike has been recognized by the employers’ group at the International Labour Organization (ILO) following a crucial tripartite meeting in Geneva from 23 to 25 February. 

A joint statement from the employers’ and workers’ groups at the meeting affirms that the right to industrial action is recognized by the ILO.

The bilateral ceasefire promotes a package of proposals to end the deadlock that has led to an impasse at the ILO since 2012.

The proposals will now be put to the ILO’s governing body in March for approval.

Employers’ groups have been challenging the right to strike because it is not explicitly expressed in ILO Convention 87, even though for years it has been universally accepted by governments, workers and employers alike.

This has meant that cases of serious labour violations in many countries have been left unaddressed by the ILO as the employers’ group refused to budge on the issue.

The statement follows a global protest day in defence of the right to strike by union federations on 18 February, involving more than 100 actions in over 60 countries, and including IndustriALL Global Union affiliates. The protests were designed to put pressure on both governments and employers at the ILO.
read more.

our clothing kills

20150224 * Benetton to show true colors at Milan Fashion week :

Clean Clothes Campaign marks Milan Fashion Week, which opens today, with actions across Europe calling on Benetton to stop delaying payments to the Rana Plaza victims by immediately contributing at least $5 million into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund.

The actions will kick off today in Belgium where activists will participate in a die-in protest in front of the Benetton flag ship store in Brussels.
In Milan on February 28, activists will gather in Piazza Duomo. Activists from across Europe will continue to pressure the company through viral actions across social media.

Benetton has been the target of sustained campaigning since the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund was launched in early 2014.
At the end of last week Benetton finally announced that it was committing to paying into the Fund, but according to a short statement issued by the company on Friday it is delaying making a decision on an amount, instead contracting an ‘independent’ third party to advise on a sum which may not be announced until the anniversary.
read more.


map of Asia

For the latest news see tweets below
and @DressedStripped (on twitter).

There are updates under ‘special overviews’:

* Minimum Wage-LIVING WAGE- PART 8: 20150302-NOW

* The BALDIA (& Lahore) Fire September 2012 –PART 4 20150113- NOW


* DPRK unilaterally decides to raise minimum wage for workers in Kaesong complex

* BoC destroys P50-M counterfeit shoes and slippers

* Free trade agreements likely to challenge local companies competetiveness
* European Parliament hears progress of EU-Vietnam FTA talks
* Ministry of Labour sets goals for 2015
* Vietnam becomes largest Southeast Asian exporters to US on back of textiles

* Workers Clash as Talks Stall in Factory Dispute
* Garment Workers Tell Their Own Stories in New Documentary
* Another Cambodian garment worker falls unconscious
* Lower Labor Costs Linked To Higher Risks
* GMAC Challenges Union Leader to Prove Threats
* Workers Strike, Accuse Factory Managers of Attack at Protest
* Factory worker driver licence plan in works
* 100 pass out at shoe factory
* Cambodia: A Year after the Crackdown
* Cambodia: Amnesty International Report 2014/15
* BetterFactories Media Updates 24 February

* MTUF advocates for stronger worker rights laws
* Protests highlight labour law shortcomings
* Rangoon Labor Strike Continues on Small Scale Amid Rising Tension
* It’s unfair!
* No end in sight over wage disputes
* Garment workers call for more strikes if demands not met
* Government responds to accusations of mishandling labour protests
* Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia offer low labour costs: report

* Good old jute industry fighting for survival

* So much for worker safety
* USTR satisfied over progress of GSP action plan: Tofail
* Garment exporters hit by euro slide
* Jute millers want govt not to cut cash incentive
* Jute millers seek help to recover unrest losses
* Quarterly aggregate Report
* Chaumtoli Huq about after Rana Plaza
* Documentary on Bangladesh Workers Efforts to Organize & Build a Labor Movement
* Compensation for Rana Plaza collapse victims demanded

* Trade union leaders held
* Trade unions protest against proposed labour reforms
* Trade unions slam “anti-labour” policies of the Centre
* Strike illegal, says Hidesign management
* Textile Park at Banavasi ray of hope for weavers
* New PSU will help textile industry
* Apparel industry underperforms GDP, growth slows in Dec quarter
* A slew of steps to boost jute sector
* Textiles Minister initiates steps to strengthen Jute sector

* Future of Sri Lanka’s apparel exports to US: Losing to Vietnam or winning with innovation?

* Textiles ministry seeks funds in PSDP budget for 8 new projects
* Pak-Turkey FTA to boost up textile exports
* New probe into Baldia factory fire begins
* Baldia factory fire: New committee meets, testifies ex-IO

* Is Lesotho’s garment industry an ‘ethical alternative’

* Kanoria to start denim fabric production at its Ethiopia plant soon

* Zimbabwe cotton output on the verge of collapse

* Tajikistan focus to raise cotton yield as it reduces acreage

* The stories of forced labour: Furkat, high school teacher

* Right to strike upheld at ILO

Our clothing kills
* Benetton to show true colors at Milan Fashion week

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2