00:09:54 local time BANGLADESH
20150311 * 32 jhut godowns gutted in Savar:
A fire burnt down 32 godowns of jhut (garment rags) at Jamgara beside GSM Apparels in Ashulia here early Wednesday.
Fire service sources said the fire originated from a jhut godown belonging to one Kanchan at about 4:30 am and soon spread to adjoining other godowns.
Being informed, 10 fire-fighting units from DEPZ, Tongi, Dhamrai and Savar fire stations rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after three hours of frantic efforts.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be known immediately.
Officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station Dipok Kumar Saha confirmed the incident.
to read. & to read. & read more. & read more.
20150311 * Garment factory catches fire in city:
A fire broke out in a readymade garment factory at Shyamoli in the capital on Tuesday night.
Sources at fire service control room said the fire erupted in the factory beside Shyamoli Cinema Hall around 11:40pm.
On information, 14 fire-fighting units rushed in and were working to douse the blaze.
It is not still clear what caused the fire.
to read. & read more. & read more.
03:09:54 local time NORTH KOREA
20150309 * S. Korea blasts North over wage row in joint industrial zone:
South Korea on Monday vented its frustration with North Korea’s refusal to engage in dialogue over the salaries of workers in their Kaesong joint industrial complex, and questioned Pyongyang’s commitment to developing the zone.
Seoul has been seeking talks for several weeks since Pyongyang announced it planned to unilaterally raise the basic salary of the 53,000 North Korean workers employed across more than 100 South Korean firms operating in Kaesong.
20150309 * S. Korea regrets DPRK’s lukewarm response to dialogue offer on Kaesong complex:
South Korea’s Unification Ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs expressed regrets on Monday over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) silence toward Seoul’s dialogue offer on the Kaesong industrial complex.
“We express strong regrets over North Korea’s (DPRK) no response to our government’s proposal. It is doubtful whether (the DPRK) has a willingness to advance the Kaesong industrial complex as agreed between the two Koreas,” Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-cheol said.
The DPRK’s unilateral decision to alter rules on workers in Kaesong violated an inter-Korean agreement, under which the two Koreas agreed to jointly manage the factory park in the DPRK’s border city of Kaesong, he said.
The minimum wage will grow from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 U.S. dollars. Monthly wage for DPRK workers in Kaesong is expected to average 164.1 U.S. dollars, up 5.53 percent from 155.5 U.S. dollars.
02:09:54 local time CHINA
20150310 * China’s “factory girls” have grown up—and are going on strike:
Yang Liyan, a 30-year-old migrant worker, says she has cried twice in the past year. Once was when she was having her first meal in jail, and again after she was released and talking to her co-workers about her ordeal over dinner.
Yang was waiting for a scheduled meeting with the management of the Xinsheng Shoe Factory in the industrial metropolis of Guangzhou on Nov. 3, 2014, when she was thrown into the back of a police van.
A total of 14 workers, including Yang and several other women, had gathered on behalf of 114 co-workers to fight for the severance pay they said they were owed after a three-month strike.
They were arrested for “sabotaging production and business operations” (破坏生产经营), and in Yang’s case, jailed for 25 days.
When the police asked her to sign her name on paperwork calling her a suspect, Yang said she refused: “I’m not a criminal’, I told them.”
Female factory workers have often been seen in China as a group who are docile, vulnerable and easy to manage. They still make on average about 75% (pdf, link in Chinese) of what their male counterparts earn.
20150309 * Denim Blues:
The Chinese city of Xintang, known as the world’s jeans capital, is home to an industry tainted by labour rights abuses.
What does it take to produce a pair of jeans?
101 East travels to the Chinese city of Xintang, known as the jeans capital of the world, and exposes a dirty, dangerous industry.
We find workers risking their health while sandblasting jeans, a controversial process that makes denim look fashionably worn but which causes irreversible damage to workers’ lungs.
We witness the devastating destruction the denim industry is wreaking on the environment.
Several big-name brands, including Levi Strauss, have pledged to end sandblasting, but this undercover investigation reveals that the harmful practice continues in China, putting workers’ lives at risk.
20150309 * Housing fund reform angers workers in China’s factory to the world:
The municipal government in Dongguan, China’s “factory to the world,” is making it more difficult for workers, already squeezed by the economic slowdown, to get their hands on their housing fund contributions.
The city’s new Housing Fund Withdrawal Regulations, issued last month, was supposed to reflect the central government’s policy of loosening restrictions on the use of housing funds but critics claim it does precisely the opposite.
The housing fund is a kind of secondary pension that enables employees to pay for and maintain their own home. Contributors to the housing fund can apply for preferential rate mortgages, cover housing repair and maintenance costs and get rent subsidies. If unused, the fund can be redeemed upon retirement.
20150308 * China aims for boosted exports, rules-setting sway:
A female Chinese worker sews clothes at a garment factory in Lianyungang city, central China’s Jiangsu province, March 1, 2015. [Photo/IC]
Chinese leaders and economists have said China must up its game to boost export growth against the backdrop of an anemic global economic recovery.
Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said on Saturday that China is confident of meeting its new lowered annual target of increasing foreign trade by around 6 percent.
Even with the target lowered, however, the toughness of this task is illustrated by the fact that China’s imports and exports denominated in yuan rose by a mere 2.3 percent in 2014, falling short of the target of around 7.5 percent.
It was the third consecutive year that China has failed to deliver its foreign trade growth target.
“The domestic and foreign trade environments this year have not improved markedly. To fulfill the foreign trade growth target, efforts should be made to implement existing policies,” Gao said at a press conference on the sidelines of the ongoing annual parliamentary session.
20150309 * It’s time for Chinese apparel brands:
First lady’s choice of outfits propels Guangzhou company to instant fame
At a time when Chinese sportswear and casual attire makers were busy clearing their inventories due to a less clear-cut brand orientation, China’s domestic high-end designer brands seem to be enjoying better fortunes.
Chinese high-end women’s apparel designer brand Koradior is one of the best performers in the market. Taking up 1 percent of the Chinese high-end women’s apparel market, it was rated as the sixth-most popular Chinese women’s apparel brand by global market consultancy Frost & Sullivan in 2013.
read more. & to read.
01:09:54 local time VIET NAM
20150307 * Large blaze rages at South-Korean shoe maker in Ho Chi Minh City:
A violent fire occurred at Samho Vietnam Co., Ltd., a fully South Korean-owned sport shoe maker in Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi District, on Friday evening and lasted for over seven hours before it was extinguished early this morning.
The violent fire broke out at 8:30 pm at the company, located in the district’s Trung An Commune, creating a tall smoke column and many loud explosions, initial sources said.
The blaze reportedly began in a two-floor factory and rapidly spread to other facilities nearby thanks to inflammable materials there.
Hundreds of workers who were in the factory and other nearby facilities were evacuated.
More than 100 firefighters and dozens of fire engines were deployed to the scene from Cu Chi and other nearby districts, and also from Ho Chi Minh City’s neighboring Binh Duong Province.
20150308 * Big year likely for Vietnam’s textile, garment exports:
Textile and garment exports are set for a boom this year, according to the Vietnam Industrial and Trade Information Centre (VITIC), a Ministry of Industry and Trade agency.
In January exports were worth over 1.9 billion USD, marginally up from last year, but many companies in the textile and garment industry have received orders to be executed in the first and second quarters.
The US topped the list of importers, buying textiles and apparel worth nearly 926.7 million USD, or nearly half of Vietnam’s total exports. Japan and the Republic of Korea also bought more than 100 million USD worth of products.
01:09:54 local time CAMBODIA
20150310 * DF Fashion staff to get back pay:
More than 400 former employees of the abandoned DF Fashion Apparel (Cambodia) in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district will each receive between $500 and $600 in back pay owed to them today.
The owner of the building that rented to DF Fashion agreed to sell items in the factory, and use that money to pay workers, who suddenly found themselves jobless and without back pay, Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, said yesterday.
“More than $80,000 will be paid to 450 workers tomorrow, after the owner of DF Fashion Apparel factory fled late last month, without informing the workers or paying them,” Saly said yesterday.
Last month, the Israeli national who owns DF Fashion – known to employees only as “Mr Mer” – deserted the garment factory without paying his staff. If the company owner returns to Cambodia, the building’s owner will calculate how much he owes in rent and money paid to his employees, Saly said.
20150310 * Environment officials to monitor conditions:
The Ministry of Environment is set to join the Ministry of Labour in the monitoring of garment factory workplaces, after creating a working group that will probe the environmental safety of all plants in Cambodia.
At a press conference at the ministry yesterday, Minister of Environment Say Samal told reporters that the newly formed group will soon begin auditing factories in Phnom Penh and Kandal province, and then move on to other provinces.
“We are already preparing to begin the campaign to clean garment factories by creating a working group, which will be joined by all local authorities with relevant skills,” Samal said.
The group will survey how chemicals and fumes in factories impact the health of workers and surrounding ecosystems.
Although garment factory workplaces are already monitored by the Labour Ministry and institutions like the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are few penalties for factories that do not meet appropriate standards, and thus, little motivation for improving conditions, Welsh said.
“Violations uncovered by the ILO or the government rarely result in any kind of punishment or rectification,” Welsh said. “There’s very little incentive to be compliant.”
The new inspections are, in theory, a good way to make sure factories are complying with government standards for environmental friendliness and workplace health, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.
But Thorn said he remained sceptical that they would actually push factory owners to upgrade conditions.
20150309 * Former Garment Workers Hold Protest Outside of Union Office:
About 25 former employees of the Chang Sheng Garment factory in Phnom Penh—which was destroyed in a fire last year—protested Sunday outside the offices of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), which they accuse of withholding severance packages owed to some 180 workers.
Since a massive fire tore through the Chinese-owned factory in July, killing a Chinese manager, former workers have staged a series of protests demanding their severance pay.
Sorn Prak, secretary-general of the Workers Union Federation, who led Sunday’s protest, said the last such demonstration was held outside the Pur Senchey district factory in October, when those present thumbprinted an agreement brokered by CCAWDU.
CCAWDU president Ath Thorn said Sunday that the 180 workers who did not receive the $150 settlement are not entitled to the money because they did not thumbprint the agreement in October.
“We are only able to pay $20 for the rest of the workers and they can come anytime to get the money within three years,” Mr. Thorn said, declining to explain why he had not made further efforts to fully remunerate the remaining workers.
20150309 * Unionist accused of withholding payments:
Former employees of a Phnom Penh factory that burned down in July held a small protest outside the office of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), demanding payment they say they are owed.
About 40 people yesterday morning vowed to gather in front of the union’s office each Sunday until they receive payments of $50 for each year they worked at Chan San factory, plus a $100 bonus.
According to Son Prak, secretary general of the Worker Union Federation, the factory gave the money owed to Cambodian Labour Confederation, which is run by Ath Thorn – also president of C.CAWDU – to distribute to all workers, but this has not yet happened.
“After the fire, [the Ministry of Labour] required the company to pay workers,” Prak said. “The factory gave it to CLC.”
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached yesterday.
Thorn yesterday said that he was only given money to distribute to members of his union, which he already did.
“We collect [money] only for our members,” Thorn said yesterday. “Other people with pro-government unions try to attack us, [but] we are not their representative.”
20150309 * BetterFactories Media Updates 09 February 2015, Former Garment Workers Hold Protest Outside of Union Office:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-03-09 Former Garment Workers Hold Protest Outside of Union Office
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
02:09:54 local time INDONESIA
20150308 * On Women’s Day, Workers Demand Longer Maternity Leave:
As they celebrated International Women’s Day, Indonesian female laborers on Sunday demanded longer maternity leave and better access to menstrual leave.
The women staged a rally in the center of Jakarta — quiet on its weekly car-free morning — urging the government to immediately ratify the International Labor Organization’s convention on maternity protection, under which female workers are entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave instead of 12 weeks as currently applied in Indonesia.
“A three-month maternity leave is not enough for female laborers to take care of their newborns because babies need to be breastfed exclusively [for a longer period],” Indah Saptorini, the project coordinator of the All Global Union movement for women, said during the rally on Sunday.
20150308-09 * ‘Sexist’ label: apparel brand apologises:
An Indonesian sports apparel company apologised on Sunday after being widely pilloried for a jersey label deemed sexist for calling washing a woman’s job, but the damage control exercise also backfired.
“Give this jersey to your woman. IT’S HER JOB,” Salvo Sports printed on a label inside shirts designed for a local football club.
The “offensive” washing instruction provoked a torrent of criticism on social media, with many lambasting Salvo before the company was forced to issue an unreserved apology.
The company also took to Twitter to apologise on Sunday, saying it only wanted to convey that women are better than men at the task of washing. “The message is simply ‘rather than fussing and washing wrongly, it is better to let the women do it as they understand the problem better’,” it posted.
But that line of reasoning was not well received either.
to read. & read more. & read more.
01:09:54 local time THAILAND
20150309 * Garment exporters expect sales to contract this year:
Garment exporters are now resigned to a contraction of 4 per cent this year, instead of zero or about 2 per cent expansion, due to foreign-exchange losses amid the slow global economy.
The US will have free trade with Vietnam under the Trans Pacific Partnership, so some importers have turned to doing business with Vietnam instead of Thailand.
00:39:54 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150309 * Workers issue threat to government over arrests:
Factory workers on strike for a wage increase yesterday threatened to unite with other protest movements in Yangon if the government does not explain why plainclothes “thugs” attacked the mostly female picketers last week.
The workers have warned that unless the government explains its role in breaking up the demonstrations and releases arrested workers and activists, they will join forces with student protesters, land grab demonstrators and monks.
On March 4, vigilantes decked in red armbands emblazoned with the word “duty” helped riot police break up a labour protest in Yangon’s Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone.
They had planned to march on downtown Yangon but instead 14 workers and an activist were arrested in the crackdown, workers said at a press conference yesterday evening at Mahabandoola Park.
“Most of us are women, so we might be arrested easily, but the government made the arrests violently, beating us. It shows the aggressive desire of the government,” the workers said in a statement read out at yesterday’s conference.
20150309 * Myanmar kicks off investment law modernisation:
Until March 26, the Myanmar government will welcome civil society consultations on a new investment law, which will combine the Myanmar Citizens Investment Law and the Foreign Investment Law.
Instead of the state being the primary actor, the most urgent business is the provision of a level playing field and of fair, transparent oversight for all. Completing this change is neither easy nor quick.”
read more. & read more.
20150307 * UN Handbook Calls for Reforms to Improve Business Environment:
A new United Nations policy handbook says impediments to doing business in Burma are holding back growth in the private sector and must be eased if the country is to develop.
The publication, titled “Business and development in Myanmar: a policy handbook for private sector development”, was released by the United Nations Secretariat of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific last month.
It aims to identify challenges to conducting business in Burma, and offer ideason how the government can improve the environment for commerce.
“This handbook reveals that the current institutional and regulatory environment in Myanmar continues to limit the potential of the country’s private sector,” it says.
00:09:54 local time BANGLADESH
20150310 * Workers hold demo for wages:
Workers of Chunji Knit Limited besiege Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association building in Dhaka on Monday, demanding payment of their dues. — New Age photo
Several hundred workers of a garment factory, Chunji Knit Ltd, on Monday staged demonstration in front Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association office in the capital, demanding four months’ dues and other benefits.
They alleged that the authorities shut down the factory without any notice on November 30 without paying wages for four months.
The workers besieged the buildings till night.
Ruhul Amin, general secretary of Bangladesh Garment Worker Trade Union Centre, told New Age that they refused the proposals of factory owners as the wages were lawful rights of the workers.
‘Owners will have to pay the workers accordingly, otherwise agitation programme will be continued,’ he said.
20150309 * 77% Wage Increase Fallacy:
It is two years since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh left more than 1200 workers dead, at least 150 missing and thousands physically and mentally scarred.
On 24 November it was two years since the Tazreen factory caught fire, killing around 130 workers who could not escape because exit doors were locked.
In the wake of Rana Plaza, Bangladeshi garment workers took to the streets in mass protests, not only about the appalling lack of concern for building safety displayed by the factory owners, their foreign buyers and the Bangladeshi government, but also to protest about their general wages and conditions.
In order to head off the building of a seriously threatening mass movement, the government announced that the minimum wage would be increased by 77 per cent to US$68.
This should have represented real improvement in the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers. Unfortunately it is far from the case. I have just returned from a delegation to Bangladesh, where I met many unionists and garment workers and again visited Rana Plaza and Tazreen.
International revulsion at the horror of Rana Plaza led to the creation of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a tripartite effort to improve factory safety involving inspection and remediation of about 1500 (out of 5000) factories. One hundred and seventy-nine apparel brands have so far signed the Accord, including a number of Australian companies.
As part of their Accord commitments Kmart and Target published the names of their supplier factories in Bangladesh and have lengthy ethical sourcing policies. We thought it important to test the claims in these documents.
20150308 * Govt yet to make rules to implement labour law:
The government has still not formulated rules for implementing the amended labour law, which is one of the key requirements for regaining Bangladesh’s GSP in the US.
This is despite the parliament’s adoption of the amended law more than one and a half years ago.
“We were supposed to formulate the rules a lot earlier. But, we are still discussing stakeholders’ opinions, to incorporate those into the rules,” said Mikail Shipar, labour and employment secretary.
“Considering opinions from the many sectors that are under the purview of the labour law has delayed the formulation of the rules, even though the draft of the rules has already been written,” Shipar said.
After the twin industrial disasters — Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse — the government amended the labour law allowing fullGovt yet to make rules to implement labour law freedom of association by workers at the factory level.
Under the amended labour law, the government has also allowed formulation of more than 236 trade unions in garment factories over the last one and a half years.
201503101 * One-fifth RMG units still outside assessment plan:
Safety issues at non-member plants ignored
One-fifth of the country’s garment factories still remain outside the ongoing assessment programme, launched by Accord, Alliance and NTPA, putting overall safety compliance at stake, industry insiders said.
They claim that apparel-sector apex bodies were putting the blame on the government while the latter is dillydallying to bring these units under a regulation even nearly two years after the collapse of Rana Plaza.
According to Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), at least 800 out of 3,743 garment factories are neither members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) nor Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
Accord and Alliance have already assessed some 1,700 units while the rest of the factories ranging from 1,500 to 2,000 which remain outside the purview of Accord and Alliance inspection programmes are supposed to be assessed by a joint initiative of the government and International Labour Organisation (ILO) under National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTPA).
But only BGMEA and BKMEA member factories are being assessed by the government-ILO joint project, overlooking the safety issues in the non-member units, insiders said.
20150309 * Structural faults found in 3 more RMG factories:
The government-set review committee has started its review on three more garment factories where the International Labour Organisation-appointed inspection teams found structural faults and recommended the committee for next course of action immediately.
The review committee comprised of representatives from the government, Accord, Alliance, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA on Friday reviewed a factory located in Chittagong and asked the factory authorities for load management immediately.
At the same time the review panel asked the factory owner to conduct Detailed Engineering Assessment within the next six weeks.
The inspection teams have sent their critical findings on the three garment factories — Fashion Export International in Chittagong, Eraf Composite at Fatullah and Mujib Fashion at Siddhirganj in Narayanganj — to the review committee.
Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments, told New Age on Sunday that the review committee had asked the Fashion Export International owner to remove unauthorised structure from the factory rooftop.
20150309 * New Accord guidance on RMG remediation finance:
The apparel buyers’ platform Accord has developed a new remediation financing guidance for its signatory members and the local manufacturers outlining key steps for both sides to make sure remediation is financially feasible.
“In order to induce Tier 1 and Tier 2 factories to comply with upgrade and remediation requirements, brands and retailers will negotiate commercial terms with their suppliers which will make sure it is financially feasible for the factories to maintain safe workplaces and comply with upgrade and remediation requirements instituted by the Safety Inspectors,” the Accord said in its monthly update published on Friday.
According to the guidance, the signatory Accord members will finance in three ways: 1. improving cash flow by reducing payment terms and prepay orders,
2. increasing revenue by guaranteeing orders for longer period and/or in higher volume and increasing price per unit, and
3. injecting capital through joint investment, providing loan, guaranteeing loan, accessing donor or government support or pay for renovation directly.
Similarly, factory owners will have to estimate costs of corrective action plan (CAP) by identifying materials for all CAP items, obtaining written quotations from service providers with comparative quotations, if possible, and evaluate financial capacity.
20150310 * Industrial waste, dyeing chemical slowly killing Shitalakhya:
The Shitalakhya River, also known as Lakhya Nodi, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, flowing through the district has nearly become dead due to industrial waste and chemical.
Sources at Deputy Commissioner’s Office said hundreds of factories situated near the river are dumping garment factory waste, dyeing chemicals, polythene, printing, fertilisers, cement factory waste violating industrial and environmental laws.
Thousands of farmers in Sadar, Polash upazila and Shibpur upazilas are affected as a large numbers of industries are continuously spewing toxic industrial wastes into agriculture lands violating rules.
They said that the toxic water that goes down the drains from those factories finally end up in the river. The toxic wastes include chemical dyeing, detergents, ammonia, lime, sulphate, sulhuric acid, soda, bleaching powder and many other harmful materials.
20150310 * Small garment makers stand to benefit:
The government has decided to issue certificates to small garment makers, allowing them to export to south Asian countries at lower duty, a senior official said.
According to the existing export policy, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) under the ministry of commerce issues SAFTA certificates only to the member factories of BGMEA and BKMEA. SAFTA certificates allow exporters to get duty benefits while shipping products in eight south Asian countries.
The EPB, at a recent meeting, has decided to issue such certificates in favour of smaller apparel makers, helping them to foray into the neighbouring countries, where demand of low-cost Bangladeshi garment items is growing.
20150308 * EU retailers to raise prices, orders for RMG factories’ remediation:
The European retailers will place orders for longer period in higher volume and increase price per unit of products to help their supplier factories in Bangladesh where remediation works are needed to maintain workplace safety, said their platform, The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The Accord in a monthly update report on Friday said it had developed a Financing Remediation Guidance for brands (retailers) and factories outlining suggested steps for both parties to ensure remediation that is financially feasible.
The guidance said the brands and retailers would ensure finance to the supplier companies and factories for remediation through improving cash inflow, increasing revenue and injecting capital.
The brands and retailers will improve cash inflow through reducing payment terms and prepaying
orders, ensure increased revenue through guarantee orders for longer period in higher volume and will inject capital through joint investment, providing loan and paying for renovations directly, it said.
The platform said, ‘Accord holds Corrective Action Plan finalisation and remediation meetings with factories and signatory companies to ensure both parties understand the remediation requirements, including the requirement to confirm that a remediation finance plan is agreed’.
20150308 * Safety net benefits often elude the needy: study:
The benefits of social safety net programmes often do not reach the right people as the schemes are beset by leakages, mistargeting and a lack of coordination, a new study found.
More than 64 percent respondents from Vulnerable Group Development (VGD), a safety net scheme, said the beneficiaries were selected following due process, but the rest were not picked in a proper way.
About 88 percent under Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) programme said they were happy with the selection process, while 10.38 percent were discontent.
About 58 percent beneficiaries under the Employment Generation Programme for the Poorest (EGPP) said due procedures were followed, while 32.05 percent said they were not happy with the selection process.
The findings were shared at a meeting on the present condition of the social safety net projects at The Daily Star Centre in the capital. Governance Coalition and Oxfam organised the meeting.
read more. & read more.
20150309 * Exporters fear growth may fall for unrest:
Despite political and factory safety challenges at home and an image crisis abroad, apparel exports maintained positive growth during the first eight months of the current fiscal year.
However, garment exporters fear the prospects may not remain the same in the coming months.
“The growth might not last, and the impacts of the ongoing political unrest on garment exports will be evident soon,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
20150309 * Cotton council formation faces opposition:
Garment makers and textiles producers are locked in a row over the formation of a panel intended to regulate local cotton yarn prices, officials said.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association handed a proposal to the ministry of commerce (MoC) to constitute the Cotton Security Council, which is supposed to control prices of domestic cotton yarn.
20150307 * Fall in cotton prices hits terry towel makers hard:
Drop in cotton prices across the globe has come as a serious blow to terry towel industry in Bangladesh as they are gradually losing international competition, sector insiders say.
More than 16 big terry towel factories of the country have been closed in recent times while export earnings declined sharply in last five years as Pakistan and India are getting major orders from foreign buyers.
According to a report run by the Financial Times (FT), cotton prices hit a 6-year low to $ 0.60 per pound in December 2014 due to China’s more restrictive import policy in 2014-15.
“The main cause of low cotton prices is the fallout from China’s support programme for its growers,” the report said.
20150309 * KEPZ: Foreign investment hampered by land grabbing:
An aerial view of factories at the Korean Export Processing Zone in Chittagong
Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) authorities alleged that some local influential people had grabbed 11 acres of its land, hindering foreign investment and employment generation in the zone.
Police and district administrations were not doing enough to recapture the lands from the grabbers, officials told a press conference yesterday.
“The land-grabbers are eating into our lands, which prevents development works and foreign investment in the KEPZ. But we are getting no sufficient help from police and district administrations,” KEPZ managing director Brigadier General (Retd) Hasan Nasir said.
20150309 * KEPZ tense as outsiders grab land:
A tense situation has gripped Korean EPZ in Anwara of the district as outsiders, assisted by a group of sacked workers of the Karnaphuli Shoe Industry (KSI), illegally grabbed its land in the name of a Madrasa and graveyard (Kabarsthan).
They also threatened its managing director and other senior officials of dire consequences, sources said.
The local administration, some local businessmen and public representatives have apparently launched a campaign against the Korean EPZ to create grounds for taking its land.
They allege that the KEPZ officials did not allow the villagers to bury the dead people in the graveyard inside the area, use its walkways and the authority has failed to develop the land as expected.
20150309 * Shining future for Bangladesh leather sector as China shifts focus:
Bangladeshi manufacturers are seeing bright prospects for the leather sector after the readymade garment industry because of a policy change in China, the world’s largest economy.
They expect Bangladesh to be an attractive destination for leather sector entrepreneurs as China, the world’s largest footwear manufacturer, is shifting focus away from this sector.
The manufacturers believe Bangladesh’s annual $550-million footwear industry may grow to a $15-billion sector within a few years, if the opportunity is seized.
Leather sector businessmen say foreign entrepreneurs are interested in Bangladesh’s footwear, thanks to the availability of raw hide, processing infrastructure, low labour cost, and a slew of government incentives including duty-free machinery imports.
20150307 * Relocation of tannery units:
The deadline for relocation of tanneries to Savar is just over three months away.
But most of the factory owners appear to have taken no serious preparations to do so.
In spite of the government’s repeated appeals, promises to offer infrastructural benefits and incentives, they remain nonchalant. It seems the tanners are waiting for another extension of the deadline.
The authorities concerned have set up the new tannery enclosure in far-away Savar to save the residents of Hazaribagh from various kinds of pollution.
This environmental pollution has for long been caused by solid wastes and toxic effluents coming from raw-hide processing phases.
The tannery owners dump or release the pollutants into the nearby water bodies and marshes.
At places, the effluents seep into the ground water layers.
20150302 * Fault Lines: Made in Bangladesh – Full Episode:
Fault Lines traces Bangladesh’s garment supply chain and asks if U.S. retailers know where their clothes are being made.
In November 2012, a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed at least 112 people. Walmart’s Faded Glory brand shorts were among the clothing found in the charred remains.
Walmart blamed its supplier, saying the order had been subcontracted to Tazreen without its authorization.
Using internal documents, Fault Lines investigates whether Walmart has lost control of its supply chain in Bangladesh and uncovers what some call an “open secret”—that corporations deliberately turn a blind eye to the practice of subcontracting, with damaging results.
read-see more. (video report).
20150309 * Bangladeshi unions protest for maternity leave equality on International Womens’ Day:
Bangladeshi garment workers’ unions used International Women’s day to campaign for the right to six months of maternity leave for all women working in the private sector.
Whilst government workers are already entitled to six months paid maternity leave by Bangladeshi law, private sector workers, including millions of female garment workers, are only given four months. The National Garment Workers Federation formed a human chain of female workers in front of the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka to protest against the discrimination.
The rally was addressed by, amongst others, Federation General Secretary Ms Safia Parvin as well as central leaders Ms Nurun Nahar and Ms Arifa Akter. NGWF President Amirul Haque Amin chaired the protest.
The speakers’ message was loud and clear: “Women are considered second class citizens in Bangladesh and working conditions for female workers are amongst the worst.”
20150309 * Int’l Women’s Day observed:
International Women’s Day was observed in the country on Sunday with a call for empowerment of women for securing development of the whole society.
Various government and non-government institutions and organisations observed the day through various programmes including procession, rally and discussion.
Narigrantha Prabartana, Tabinaj and Naya Krishi Andolan jointly formed a human chain at Rabindra Sarabar.
Campaign for Good Governance formed a human chain in front of National Press Club while the activists urged the government to ensure women’s political empowerment.
Leaders of National Garment Workers’ Federation formed a human chain in front of the club, demanded six months’ maternity leave for garment workers.
20150308 * Equality still elusive for women:
Equality for women in all aspects of life including politics, administration, home and workplace, pay and perks, is elusive, as they are still behind in economic and political participation and opportunities, 44 years after independence of the country.
The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees equal rights for both men and women in all spheres of state and public life.
‘Women are not safe in any place, not even at home,’ said Ayesha.
About 87 per cent husbands abuse their wives in Bangladesh, according to a nationwide survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics released in December 2013. It also said that 29 per cent women complain of sexual harassment at workplace, 43 per cent while travelling, nine per cent at markets.
Salma and Farida said sexual harassment at workplace still continues unabated although there is provision of setting up complaint centres at all workplaces and educational institutes to curb such incidents. ‘Almost all complain centres are ineffective,’ said Salma.
Farida said that female workers in the formal and informal sector do not get equal pay like their male counterparts.
‘Women, particularly those in non government agencies and garments, do not even get maternity leave,’ she said.
Women rights activists said the male-dominated political parties were not interested to pave the way for engaging more women in policymaking positions.
‘Money and muscle employed by political keep women away from politics, although they have interest in joining politics,’ Ayesha said.
20150308 * Hard work to success:
Young entrepreneur leads revival of country’s oldest garment factory
When she told her family that she would lead the effort to revive their family’s moribund garment business six years ago, they immediately opposed as Vidiya Amrit Khan was just 28.
But after a lot of hard work Vidiya, now 34, has not only turned Desh Garments around but also emerged as an experienced business person.
Established in December 1977 at Kalurghat in Chittagong, Desh was the first export-oriented readymade garment factory in Bangladesh. It was also the single largest and most modern garment-manufacturing unit in the sub-continent.
Bangladesh’s first batch of exports was produced at Desh factory set up by the industry’s pioneer Noorul Quader, father of Vidiya.
In 1991, a cyclone hit the factory and disrupted its production. It also received a serious blow when Quader died in 1998.
20150308 * What is women’s day? asks Aklima:
With two kettles settled on the stove, Aklima, 25, dished out small packets of biscuits and cakes.
Running a roadside tea stall in the capital’s Hatirjheel area, with little investment and education, was not easy at the beginning, said Aklima, whose husband abandoned her six years back.
‘Discrimination between the girl and boy child starts from the family and generates all other violence in society,’ said Aklima on the eve of International Women Day celebrated each year on March 8.
With a blank look on her face, she asked what women day was. ‘Women are born to be tortured and dominated, each and everywhere.’
Ranu, 25, a domestic help working in the capital’s Mirpur area said ‘until or unless men change their domineering attitude, independence of women will be impossible’.
She said ‘me and my husband earn the same, but there is no accountability of his expenditure, which I have to provide’.
Showing a scar mark on her forehead, Ranu said ‘If I could read more and refuse to marry at the age of 15, I think I would be financially solvent now’.
Mita Akhter, 19, works at a readymade garment factory in the capital’s Jurain area. ‘Women are deprived at home, at work place and in society,’ she observed.
She said ‘I have never heard of women day but heard about women’s rights on television. These are valueless words to people like us’.
Women want respect and support from family, from their better half and from in-laws, to be able to express their potential, said Mita.
She said there were twelve men and women in the sewing section, but for payment of overtime work, women get less than men for equal amount of work and hours.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150310 * Primark may pay rest of Tk 30cr to Rana Plaza victims this month:
British retailer Primark is likely to disburse over Tk 30 crore to the Rana Plaza victims by this month to complete disbursement of Tk 113 crore in compensation it committed.
The company earlier disbursed around Tk 83 crore to the victims of the deadliest factory disaster in the country.
Primark through its liaison office in Dhaka, ABE Investments Plc, on Sunday filed an application to the labour ministry seeking approval for the receipt and disbursement of its pledged fund amounting to Tk 113.43 crore.
Labour secretary Mikail Shipar told New Age that the British company had sought approval for disbursement of Tk 113.43 crore with a retrospective effect for approval of Tk 83 crore it disbursed earlier.
‘Before disbursement of rest of the amount of around Tk 30 crore Primark sought government approval of its total promised amount according to the law,’ he said.
read more. & read more.
23:39:54 local time INDIA
20150306 * 39 children rescued from leather tanning units in south Mumbai area:
Thirty-nine children in the age group between ten and fifteen who were forced to work in leather tanning units in Agripada and Dongri in South Mumbai were rescued in two separate raids by the police on Thursday.
Acting on the specific tip off, the Agripada police on late Thursday night raided a leather tanning unit at Agripada and arrested Vijay Prasad, the manager of the leather tanning unit at Barucha road and rescued 34 children.
These children were made to cut leather, sew and punch leather jackets, purse, waist belts etc. In another raid the Dongri police rescued 5 children working in tin pressing unit at Dongri. Police have arrested Hussain Surti under the laws of child labour act.
20150310 * Workers have lucky escape in textile unit fire:
Some workers of a textile factory at Sherpur Khurd had a lucky escape when short circuit led to a massive fire in the unit. The fire was first reported at around 3.30 am on Sunday.
Residents from nearby buildings reportedly saved the workers, at least 10 of them according to sources, who were trapped inside after the fire broke out.
However, factory owner Vinay Jain denied that there was any worker inside the factory.
It took almost 17 hours for the fire department to douse the flames.
20150310 * ‘Implement all labour welfare laws’:
The INTUC urged the Government to implement all the labour welfare laws in letter and spirit in the interest of the entire working class.
A resolution to this effect was adopted at the eighth Salem district conference of the union held on Sunday.
The other resolutions adopted at the conference pleaded for fixation of Rs. 15,000 a month as the minimum wages for all types of workers and hiking the pension taking into consideration the ever increasing price of essential commodities.
The Government should come forward to provide bonus to the BSNL staff pending for the last eight years and remove the anomaly in the pay structure of BSNL employees.
Reopening of mills
The conference also demanded steps for the reopening of all the cooperative spinning mills and private spinning mills that remain closed in the State rendering a large number of people unemployed.
20150309 * Subsidy extension neeeded for powerloom quality:
Textiles ministry has suggested extension of subsidy scheme for upgradation of powerlooms in the country to improve quality of powerloom products, a top official said on Monday.
Moreover, the ministry has also sought the removal of restrictions on the number of units eligible for receiving these benefits, Kiran Soni Gupta, Textile Commissioner said.
“We want to give the benefit across the board to improve the quality of the product and also to remove restrictions,” Gupta said at a programme organised to distribute subsidy under the in situ upgradation of plain powerlooms here.
At present only a maximum of eight powerlooms can receive a subsidy of Rs. 15,000 each under the scheme, which is also available only in select weaving clusters, like Erode and Salem, she said.
Stating that the idea was to help poor weavers, Gupta said Indian textile industry can make a difference on the global stage only if weaving was able to contribute significantly to its growth.
20150308 * H1N1 scare: Textile buyers keep away:
Textile traders are worried as buyers from across the country have begun to skip their visit to the textile city following the outbreak of swine flu here.
Textile traders said trading of fabrics, including saris and dress materials, has been affected since the last fortnight after the outbreak of swine flu.
Traders from Delhi, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have stopped visiting the markets for bulk purchases.
This has led to almost 50% decrease in trading activities in the last fortnight.
read more. & read more.
20150308 * Court rejects Binny Mills’ plea:
The Madras High Court has declined to direct the authorities to permit Binny Limited, declared as a sick unit, to re-export some textile machinery which has been lying in the warehouse here for 15 years.
Justice S.Vaidyanathan said he was of the view that the company had no intention to clear the goods, but has been attempting to stall the disposal of the un-cleared time-expired goods.
The court passed the order on a petition by the company for quashing the proceedings of the Superintendent of Customs of January 2012 and to direct the agency to grant permission to re-export the machinery.
20150309 * There’s too much cotton around:
Excess supply and a drop in Chinese demand keepprices down
Since August last year, domestic cotton prices have headed south, mirroring the trend in global markets.
The Cotlook A index for cotton prices is down 26 per cent over the past year.
The thorn in the commodity’s side was China, the world’s largest consumer, whose cotton policies have global consequences.
Last year, China changed farmer support policies, began restricting cheaper imports through its import quota system, and then started selling from the reserve stocks it holds.
The resultant drop in Chinese demand impacted global prices and prospects for India, for which China is the largest export market.
According to USDA reports, Chinese imports have shrunk about 70 per cent in the past three years. This apart, the alternative to cotton — synthetics — has also turned cheaper on falling crude oil prices.
Supply in excess
On the domestic front, cotton prices lost 28 per cent over the past year. A sharp decline began in August, when the crop’s marketing season kicks off.
Cotton production was already up 9 per cent in the 2013-14 season to 39.8 million bales, according to Cotton Corporation of India.
Now, production estimates for the 2014-15 season, at 40 million bales, are not much higher than the year before due to lower yields.
20150309 * Jobs for women: Why India does worse than Somalia:
Falling rate of women in the workforce include dropping out of education, raising children and family pressure
As Women’s Day rolls in and various debates around the Indian woman unfold–such as her role, education, freedom, responsibilities and job prospects–one thing is clear: the percentage of women in India’s workforce is declining.
Women’s workforce participation in India is the lowest among the BRICS nations. A range of countries, such as Bahrain, Malaysia and even Somalia (37%) do much better.
The total workforce participation rate (WPR) for women in 2011 was 25.5%, with the WPR for women in rural India at 30% and women in urban India at 15.4%. In contrast, WPR for men in rural and urban areas were 53% and 53.8% respectively.
Economists and sociologists cite many reasons for the low and – as we shall see – falling rate of women in the workforce including: dropping out for further education, raising children and family pressure.
“Those who do enter and remain in the labour market are women from the most vulnerable households, as marginalised informal paid labour, thus feminising the most precarious forms of labour in the country,” writes Abraham in Economic and Political Weekly.Most of those who remain, have no choice, as economist Vinoj Abraham has concluded in two studies.
20150308 * India’s invisible workers:
Textile mills largely rely on women labourers.
South Indian textile mills employ young girls under Sumangali scheme where a part of their salary is withheld and paid as lumpsum at the time of marriage.
read & see more.
23:39:54 local time SRI LANKA
20150308 * Private sector workers remind PM of promised salary hike:
Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU) has written to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on March 6 calling for a wage hike of Rs. 2,500 a month.
Joint Secretary of the FTZ&GSEU, Anton Marcus has said the union perturbed and disappointed in the way the government has addressed the issue of wage increase for the private sector workers.
“We have previously made it clear that it is the private sector labour which makes tremendous contributions to our national economy by way of increased earnings on foreign trade.
We, therefore requested your government to make the wage increase mandatory through a Bill passed in Parliament as was the case in Oct. 2005, when a Rs. 1,000 budgetary relief allowance was made.
20150308 * Experts wary of giving fresh GSP+ hopes:
While the Government has pledged to reclaim the GSP+ facility for the benefit of the country’s apparel industry, independent analysts opine that Sri Lanka did not need such a facility at the current juncture as the sector had managed to grow over the past five years despite the removal of the facility.
Professor, Department of Economics, University of Colombo, Dr. Ranjith Bandara speaking to The Nation Gain stated that while the facility proved beneficial to local exporters, the reasons also included several aspects which were political.
Dr. Bandara alleged that the EU could have continued with the facility, if the intention was to assist Sri Lanka. “The reason for pulling out GSP+ was that Sri Lanka did not listen to them,” he said.
“However, if they do give us, we would benefit. But Sri Lanka should not depend on such facilities, as it has already survived in the global market without it,” he added.
However, apparel exporters have warned that Sri Lanka would lose out on a competitive edge over other countries in the region if the GSP+ facility is not reclaimed.
In addition, the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which looks to include India and Bangladesh would also prove to be a challenge for Sri Lanka’s survival in the global market. The TPP agreement already includes 14 countries throughout the Asia Pacific region.
23:09:54 local time PAKISTAN
20150309 * Opportunities for growth:
With the Chinese opting out of basic textiles and Pakistan likely to receive GSP plus status in 2014, industry experts talk about the numerous growth opportunites present in this sector
The textile sector is buoyant and rightly so as entrepreneurs see numerous opportunities for growth with the Chinese opting out of basic textiles and Pakistan likely to receive GSP plus status in 2014.
Their main worry is losing these opportunities if investment in the sector dries up.
Industry experts point out that the opportunities that are available even now are beyond the existing capacity of the industry.
Spinners are unable to meet the demands of Chinese importers due to capacity constraints.
“Whatever we produce is consumed immediately, either in the local or foreign markets,” said a spinner.
He said the Chinese are the main buyers of yarn from Pakistan.
“They are now looking towards India for yarn but the type of coarse yarn produced by Pakistan is available in limited quantity in India, most of which is consumed by its domestic industry.”
20150309 * GSP Plus monitoring system sought:
Speakers at a gathering have urged the government to set up a GSP Plus monitoring system at all levels and allocate five per cent income earned from the facility for women specific projects.
The gathering was organised by Women Concerns Network (WCN), Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) and Pattan Development Organisation on Sunday in connection with International Women’s Day under the theme of “Working Women – GSP Plus and International Conventions.”
The European Union had awarded GSP Plus status to Pakistan last year allowing it to exports products to 27 member countries without any duties.
20150309 * Pakistan trade profile in the first year of GSP Plus in EU show improvement but not significant enough:
Pakistan has shown improvement in its trade profile in the first year of the GSP Plus in the European Union. But definitely not significant enough both in terms of diversification of markets and commodities, considering the potential the facility offers. Exports to the EU are still concentrated in a few markets and restricted to a few commodities.
About 60pc of the merchandise went to just five nations, with seven items contributing almost 75pc of the total exports. However, a positive development is that value-added goods saw a noticeable and a sizable increase in exports to less developed member-states.
There is no identifiable marker to measure the progress or lack thereof of the preferential trade package. The common yardstick to measure success is merely the overall increase in volume of export proceeds, or changes in the share of different products in the overall exports. However, a few markers can be used to assess Pakistan’s performance.
Pakistan’s traditional sectors, mainly textile and leather, benefited from the facility. The major beneficiary was the textile garments segment, which went up by over 28pc, followed by a 29pc increase in home textiles.
20150308 * Removal of Turkish levy on garments sought:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) asked the government to convince the Turkish authorities to waive off 42.2 per cent Safeguard Measures Duty (SMD) placed on Pakistan’s apparel imports.
The move has resulted in decline of Pakistan’s textile export to Turkey, which have dropped by almost 50pc to around $500 million from $1 billion, the association said at a meeting with textile ministry officials on Saturday.
“The Pakistan government raised the issue at the highest level with the Turkish officials but there has been no development,” the meeting was informed.
20150308 * Imposition of safeguard duties: textile exports to Turkey drop by 50 percent:
The country’s textile exports to Turkey have dropped by almost 50 percent to around $500 million from $1 billion after the latter imposed safeguard duties to protect its domestic industry.
The Government of Pakistan, sources said, had raised that issue at the highest level with the Turkish officials, but there had been no developments.
This was discussed in the meeting of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association with the officials of the Textile Ministry held at PRGMEA House here on Saturday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150310 * Pakistan important cotton market for ICA: APTMA:
Pakistan is very important market for International Cotton Association (ICA), said Jordan Lee President of Association at All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab chapter.
Chairman APMTA S M Tanveer along with Sheikh Muhammad Akbar Chairman of Punjab chapter of Association besides group leader APTMA Gohar Ejaz discussed with Lee issues relating to cotton trading under ICA rules.
Lee said he has visited APTMA to discuss issues including specific ones, faced by APTMA members in cotton trade. Pakistan is an important country in terms of cotton trade in future and it is therefore imperative to discuss and resolve pertaining issues.
20150308 * Call to safeguard rights of home-based workers:
Speakers at a seminar held on Friday at the Karachi University (KU) demanded that the government recognise home-based workers, make laws immediately to safeguard their rights and ensure they receive fair wages for their hard work.
The event was organised by the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Studies in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission and the Department of Social Work, KU, the provincial women development department and the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Niswan to mark the upcoming International Women’s Day.
“I am shocked to know from a home-based worker invited here that she earns only Rs15 for sewing a pair of jeans that is priced quite high in the market.
One could not imagine the level of exploitation these home-based workers are exposed to,” said KU vice chancellor Prof Mohammad Qaiser during his speech.
20150308 * Roundtable urges labour rights for home-based workers:
* Speaker says wages for home-based workers should be fixed under the minimum wages laws
Speakers at a seminar here on Saturday asked the provincial governments to remove all the bottlenecks in the labour and social security laws to ensure provision of all labour rights and social protection to all the home-based workers.
They were speaking at a Roundtable on “Social Protection mechanism for Home-based Workers” jointly organised by HomeNet Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).
Umm-e-Laila Azhar of HomeNet Pakistan recommended that home-based workers should be provided market access so that they can sell their products easily and earn honourable livelihood for living decent lives.
She said the data about home-based workers is not included in the Labour Force Survey of Pakistan, which should be included for effective policy planning and implementation.
The wages for the home-based workers should be fixed under the “minimum wages laws”, she suggested.
Speaking on the occasion, PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali pointed out that in many countries the governments have levied one percent tax on all the bank transactions and that amount is used for provision of social security facilities to the workers.
It is a right of all the citizens to receive social protection and the government must ensure provision of this right, he said.
read more. & read more.
20150308 * Women workers stage rally to mark International Women’s Day:
Women workers held a big rally on the occasion of International Women’s Day here and demanded of the Sindh government to announce the home-based workers’ policy immediately.
They said despite long struggle spanning over one decade, millions of home-based workers in Sindh are deprived of their due rights and they are yet to be accepted as ‘workers’ under the labour laws.
According to details, a large number of women workers from the platform of Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) staged a big rally from the Arts Council of Pakistan here to celebrate the international women’s day.
The rally led by the general secretary of HBWWF Zehra Khan was attended by a large number of home-based women workers, labours of different industries and sectors and also the affectees of Balida Factory fire tragedy.
They were displaying banners and placards inscribed with their demands including immediate announcement of home-based policy, giving the status of worker as per the local laws to the workers of informal sector, especially the women home-based workers.
20150307 * Home-based policy still distant dream for millions of workers in Pakistan:
By Zehra Khan, General Secretary of Home Based Women Workers Federation and Research and Education Secretary in National Trade Union Federation
Women workers held a big rally in Karachi on the occasion of International Women’s Day and demanded the Sindh government to announce the home-based workers’ policy immediately which would give home based workers of the informal sector the status of worker as per the local laws.
Despite a long struggle spanning over one decade, millions of home-based workers in Sindh are deprived of their due rights and they are yet to be accepted as ‘workers’ under the labor laws.
A large number of women workers from the platform of Home-based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) staged a big rally from the Arts Council of Pakistan here to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
The women participants of the rally demanded the following:
– To announce the home-based workers’ policy immediately.
– Government should ratify ILO convention C177 and include it in the policy, besides ensuring its implementation.
– Home-based workers should be registered and their contactors should be included in the ambit of registration.
– Social protection of workers should be ensured including the facilities of healthcare, education, jobs and pension.
– All home-based workers should be accepted as workers under the labor laws and given all facilities as per law.
– Inequality in wages on gender discrimination basis should be stopped.
– Industry-wise data of the home-based workers should be gathered.
– The issues of home-based workers should be included in the agenda of labor movement.
– The rights of workers under the ILO conventions and GSP Plus should be respected and implemented.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150308 * Baldia factory fire owners, other suspects to be indicted on 21st:
A sessions court on Saturday fixed March 21 for the indictment of suspects on different charges in the Baldia garment factory fire case.
Owner of the industrial unit Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, factory general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers were booked in the 2012 fire incident that left 258 workers dead.
During the previous hearing, the court had issued a warrant for the arrest of police investigating officer Jahanzeb over his absence.
When the case came up for hearing before additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi on Saturday, a senior police officer produced the IO in court. The IO through a written apology stated that he could not attend the previous hearing due to his poor health and also submitted a report on the statements of the prosecution witnesses recorded under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code.
20150308 * Baldia fire investigations: Two officers say their inclusion in new JIT ‘not sound’:
Two officers who were nominated for the new joint investigation team (JIT) formed to reinvestigate the Baldia factory fire believe their inclusion was ‘technically not sound’.
SSP Farooq Awan, who heads the Special Investigation Unit of the Criminal Investigation Agency, and its DIG Sultan Khwaja, were part of the original inquiry committee and feel confident about their earlier investigations into the fire that killed over 259 workers on September 11, 2012.
Commenting on media reports that he had ‘refused’ to join the new investigation team, SSP Awan told The Express Tribune that certain television channels had blown up the issue to cast doubts on the new investigation team.
“The new JIT, headed by AIG Khadim Hussain Bhatti of the police’s crime branch, had proposed the inclusion of the CIA among its cadre,” said SSP Awan. Yet the proposal could not materialise because it was technically not correct, he added.
20150307 * Baldia factory case: IO apologises for absence from previous hearings:
Investigation Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb for the Baldia factory fire case submitted a written apology at a session court on Saturday for not being present at previous hearings on the matter.
Once again, factory owners were not present for the hearing and the court directed authorities to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant against them if they fail to appear for the next hearing scheduled for March 21.
The industrial unit’s owner, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers were booked in connection with the tragic incident in which over 250 workers were burnt alive.
read more. & read more. & read more.
03:09:54 local time SOUTH KOREA
* South Korea’s textile and clothing imports touched $14.66 bn mark an:
South Korea’s textile and clothing imports touch $14.66 billion mark, an increase by 8.4 percent in 2014 of which 45 percent of these imports (valued at $6.59 billion) came from China, according to figures released Tuesday by the Korean International Trade Association.
The country could soon post a trade deficit in an industry that used to be a major growth driver for its economy.
The country’s textile and clothing exports decreased last year by 0.1 percent to $15.94 billion, narrowing the industry’s surplus by $1.28 billion, about 50 percent less than the surplus amount in 2013.
20150305 * American Apparel Workers Organize to Protest Factory Conditions:
With the support of Hermandad Mexicana, an immigrant’s rights advocacy non-profit, factory workers of American Apparel have united to establish a coalition of workers of the iconic company to advocate for their rights before the new corporate management.
The new corporate management is controlled by New York based financial hedge fund STANDARD GENERAL, which ome claim to have usurped control from ousted founder Dov Charney.
Hundreds of workers met on Feb. 28, 2015, to organize themselves into a new coalition of united factory workers to save American Apparel as their newly adopted name reflects, “Coalition of American Apparel Factory Workers United to Save American Apparel.”
Among the demands raised by the coalition are – stop using “Sweatshop Free” in company advertising; stop the blind reduction of production hours and the furloughing of workers; and stop the incessant intimidation of workers by security guards and supervisors merely for seeking to meet and organize themselves to address workplace issues.
* Women & the Garment Industry in 2015:
Women make up the vast majority of the world’s garment workers.
These jobs are an important source of income for young women with low education levels in developing countries, yet the industry is also challenged by many issues related to working conditions, some of which impact adversely upon women.
Better Work’s research finds that creating better conditions for women can bring business benefits including greater resilience, profitability and better recruitment and retention.
This data represents the latest findings from Better Work factories across Cambodia, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Vietnam, Lesotho, Haiti and Jordan.
20150309 * Understanding women’s labour:
A chief takeaway from the book is an understanding of how supply of labour is determined by economic processes
This book is an analysis of the dialectic of women’s labour and the processes of capital accumulation in Asian economies — an analysis that blends empirical research with theoretical reflections.
Indeed, one of the book’s stated aims is to examine the relationship between Marxist political and economic theories with feminism, and the author offers theoretical corrections — based on empirical data — to Marx’s and Proudhon’s theories on women’s labour and on women’s roles in society.
In this enterprise the author enlists the help of feminist theoreticians of women’s labour, especially those belonging to the so-called ‘German Feminist School’, although he is, at places, critical of them as well.
The volume participates, therefore, in the discourse around feminist (re-)interpretations of classical Marxism and is pertinent to scholarship on both theoretical disciplines.
In the garment industry
Part 2 presents descriptive and analytical studies of ‘the industrial work of women in India and Bangladesh’, focusing on women labourers in the garment industries in West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh.
While women workers in Bangladesh partake of ‘wage slavery’ in factories, their counterparts in Bengal work out of home. And this provides the context for another discussion of the ‘Thesis of Housewifization’ advanced by the German Feminist School at the end of the section.
Part 3 analyses ‘women’s role as agricultural producers’. The first chapter is typical of the way the book blends theory with field research and case studies: it looks at the actual conditions of peasant women’s labour in Bangladesh in the light of ‘developmental feminism’.
The second and third chapters, however, are wholly theoretical, considering as they do first the ‘ecofeminist debate in India’, especially Vandana Shiva’s contribution to this discourse, and then, the German Feminist School’s thesis of ‘subsistence labour’.
Part 4 is given over to ‘Japanization and women’s labour’. The first chapter compares the Japanese style of management of labour with Fordism; however, the highlight of the section is the second chapter on Japanese women as a ‘vast reserve army of labour’—a chapter that discourses on the concept of surplus reserve labour under capitalism.
The third chapter is a ‘Conclusion’ to the whole book and summarises Custers’ understanding of capital accumulation in contemporary Asia.