20150327 * Increase factory transparency- HRW urges German clothing brands:
German apparel and footwear brands should promote workers’ rights in their global operations by publicly disclosing the factories producing their products, Human Rights Watch said on Friday.
Supply chain transparency through public disclosure would demonstrate a brand’s commitment to ensuring good working conditions for workers throughout their operations including in Bangladesh, said the US rights body.
‘German clothing brands should promote respect for worker rights and safety by making their global supply chains transparent,’ said Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch.
For the report, Human Rights Watch examined labour practices in factories producing products for Adidas, Armani, Gap, H&M, Joe Fresh, and Marks and Spencer, among others.
Many factories in Cambodia repeatedly issued short-term contracts beyond the two-year limit to avoid paying workers maternity and other benefits, and to intimidate and control them, it said
‘Such transparency also allows brings to light the factories are authorised — and not authorised — to produce clothes for a particular brand.
Brands’ suppliers sometimes subcontract their work to other factories that subject workers to dangerous or abusive conditions without authorisation and without the brands’ knowledge.
Supply chain transparency helps monitoring groups alert brands to these situations so they can be addressed,’ it said.
The lack of transparency was evident following the collapse of Rana Plaza complex in Dhaka on April 24, 2013 that housed a number of garment factories, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring thousands more, it mentioned.
Unions and labour rights groups gathered brand labels of the clothes produced in the destroyed factories from the rubble, and demanded that those brands contribute to the compensation fund for the victims and support broader reform measures, the rights body said.
Workers have also alleged that KiK had production in the Tazreen, a Bangladesh factory that caught fire in November 2012, killing 117 workers,’ said the Human Rights Watch.
According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, in December 2012 KiK acknowledged having produced garments in Tazreen, and on April 2013, KiK joined with a number of other brands in pledging to pay funds into a compensation fund for victims of the Tazreen fire, it mentioned.
The families of victims of a factory fire that killed 262 persons at the Ali Enterprises factory (*) in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 2012 have brought a lawsuit against KiK in German courts alleging that the company’s garments were being produced in the factory at the time, and seeking compensation, it said.
read more. & read more.& read more.& read more. & read more.
( (*) Ali Enterprises factory = Baldia factory.)
11:36:15 local time BANGLADESH
20150327-28 * Brands’ lack of transparency kept BD RMG problems unaddressed: HRW:
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has observed that the lack of supply chain transparency by the brands was a key reason for not addressing the problems at Rana Plaza before the catastrophe happened.
“Brands’ lack of supply chain transparency was a key reason why the problems at Rana Plaza were not addressed before the point of catastrophe,” said the New York-based rights watchdog in an article published in its website on Friday.
The HRW also noted that unions and labour rights groups gathered brand labels of the clothes produced in the destroyed factories from the rubble, and demanded that those brands contribute to the compensation fund for the victims and support broader reform measures.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
13:36:15 local time CHINA
20150326 * CLB launches new map to monitor work-related accidents and deaths in China:
Nearly 100 serious work-related accidents and more than 200 work-related deaths have been reported in the domestic media since China’s newly revised and strengthened Work Safety Law (安全生产法) went into effect on 1 December 2014.
These incidents have now been entered on China Labour Bulletin’s new Work Accident Map which, like CLB’s Strike Map, will be regularly updated and the data used to analyse trends over time, different industries and in different regions of China.
One of the most serious incidents in the four months since the law went into effect was an explosion at a factory in Foshan at the end of December, which killed 18 and injured 32 workers. Authorities reportedly apprehended several mangers and officials, although there have been no reports of further action thus far.
20150324 * China Headlines: Multinational companies upbeat about Chinese market:
Senior multinational executives have shown confidence in the investment climate in China amid concerns that the business environment is deteriorating.
During the two-day China Development Forum 2015 in Beijing, which concluded Monday, business leaders said the “new normal” may bring difficulties, but China’s transition drive and reform efforts could create new opportunities.
COMING OR LEAVING?
Following Microsoft announcing that it would shut its China mobile phone production lines, the question of whether China was losing its glamour to foreign investors became a hotly discussed issue again, after Japanese watch maker Citizen suddenly closed its Guangzhou branch in February.
Earlier reports also showed that foreign-funded garment and shoe factories in southern coastal provinces were leaving China.
13:36:15 local time PHILIPPINES
20150324 * Philippines murder highlights the threat facing trade unionists:
Filipino workers and trade unionists are still in shock following the murder of labour leader Florencio “Bong” Romano on 8 March.
The 63-year-old was an organiser for the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights, an affiliate of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1st Movement, or KMU) trade union at the food manufacturing firm RFM in Laguna, south of capital Manila.
Romano was found dead in Batangas City, also south of Manila, with a single bullet wound to the chest. According to police reports, he also had bruises all over his body.
While the motive for his murder is still unclear, his death highlights the dire situation facing the Filipino workers.
KMU chairman Elmer Labog told Equal Times that trade unionists who try to challenge union busting, job losses or the rampant casualisation of work contracts face various forms of abuse – from intimidation, harassment and kidnapping to murder.
He believes that the killing of Romano suggests the “work of a pro [professional]” and is indicative of the danger facing workers that decide to form or join trade unions.
One of the worst places for workers
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) ranks the Philippines as one of the world’s worst violators of workers’ rights.
But the Philippines’ labour secretary Rosalinda Baldoz denied claims that there had been a spate of harassment and violence against labour leaders, and said that the government was urgently working to address any violations of rights with the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.
“It was the [current] administration that was recognised by the ILO and the US government for having achieved significant progress in addressing labour rights violations cases filed under the past administration,” Baldoz told Equal Times.
Some 3,600 workers with Carina Apparel Inc, a garment manufacture for international brands such as Marks & Spencer, Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret, were retrenched in February 2014 following a sudden and “total” closure.
Senior management blamed a high level of absenteeism and an “unwillingness to embrace greater flexibility in the workplace,” but commentators noted that the workers at Carina Apparel were one of the few unionised workforces in the garment sector.
Labog told Equal Times that manufacturing workers are at great risk of dismissal and harassment when they participate in union activities, and despite a 2011 Department of Labor and Employment order to prevent the casualisation of work, the majority of workers in the Philippines are on fixed-term contracts.
12:36:15 local time VIET NAM
20150326 * Thailand, Vietnam look for garment co-operation:
The garment and textile industries in Thailand and Vietnam should strengthen co-operation to improve competitiveness and exploit the ASEAN market, delegates said at a meeting held in HCM City on March 25.
- Vietnam, Thailand eye US$15 billion in trade by 2020
- LG Electronics to shift TV production in Thailand to Vietnam
- Thailand, Vietnam to boost rubber cooperation
Nguyen Van Tuan, deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, said in recent years that Vietnam had emerged as a production hub for garment and textile products.
However, the industry has had to import up to 85% of materials needed for production.
He said cooperation with Thailand was necessary as it has advantages in textiles, design and administration.
Phasiree Orawattanasrikul, vice chairwoman of Thai Garment Manufacturers Association’s (TGMA) Trade and Investment Promotion sub-committee, said Thailand’s textile and garment industry had an entire supply chain cycle from upstream to downstream, from yarn manufacturing to apparel manufacturing. It also includes fashion design.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has the skills and ability to become an apparel production hub for international buyers, but it lacks upstream and midstream channels, she said.
“Therefore, establishing fully vertical integrated-supply chain between Thailand and Vietnam is one of the big steps toward granting and sustaining our competitiveness,” she said.
read more. & read more.
20150326 * Construction begins on fibre and garment complex in Quang Nam:
The Vietnam Textile Group (Vinatex) broke ground on a fibre-weaving-dyeing and garment complex in Que Son district in the central province of Quang Nam on March 25.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked Vinatex to coordinate with the locality to tackle compensation and site clearance and ensure environmental hygiene.
The 10-hectare complex will cost over 1.2 trillion VND (55.8 million USD) and consist of a fibre plant with an annual capacity of 6,500 tonnes, a 6,000-tonne dyeing plant, a garment plant and waste water treatment facilities with a designed capacity of 5,000 cubic metres per day.
12:36:15 local time CAMBODIA
20150325 * M&S hits out at HRW report:
UK-based clothing brand Marks & Spencer, which was named in a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report this month detailing misconduct in Cambodia’s garment industry, has claimed to have not received any evidence of malpractice in supplier factories.
The 140-page report released by HRW on March 12 details labour violations in Cambodia’s garment factories, including union busting, firing of pregnant workers and a variety of other misconducts.
M&S, which was named in the report as one of the brands that source from these factories, told UK-based trade publication Just-Style that HRW never provided specific data, a statement they reiterated in an email to the Post yesterday.
“We have not been presented with any evidence to support these claims,” an M&S spokesperson said via email. “If Human Rights Watch comes to us with any evidence we will, of course, investigate.”
The report’s lead researcher, Aruna Kashyap, replied in an email yesterday that HRW had provided M&S with “concrete examples” of retaliation against workers and that the retail giant had failed to answer specific emailed queries on several major issues involving factories from which they source while the report was being put together.
20150325 * Workers Submit Petition to Gov’t Over Labor Law, Severance Pay:
About 40 workers from Phnom Penh’s Meroson garment factory delivered a petition signed by 700 of their colleagues to a representative of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday, calling on the premier to intervene in their dispute over what they say is the factory’s failure to pay proper severance upon firing them.
The workers has been protesting on and off at the factory since they were fired on March 11, and the union leading them rejected the results of talks mediated by the government last week.
Un Dara, president of the Conscious Labor Independence Federation, said some of the 45 workers were sacked while working without a contract, and thus initially denied severance pay despite having worked at the factory for up to two years.
“They are asking for severance payments, compensation for being fired without notice, their last month’s pay and an annual bonus,” Mr. Dara said.
20150325 * Petition passed on: Workers seek firing, rehirings:
About 40 representatives of some 700 strikers from a Phnom Penh garment factory that allegedly fired scores of workers two weeks ago delivered a petition to staff at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet yesterday, demanding their reinstatement.
Protesters from Meroson (Cambodia) Co Ltd in the capital’s Prek Pnov district demonstrated near the premier’s house yesterday before delivering their petition to his Cabinet. The action came after talks between worker representatives and management – which were mediated by the Ministry of Labour – resulted in no conciliation, said Phay Ra, 36, a worker representative involved in talks.
“Forty workers have been dismissed already, and [Meroson] plans to fire hundreds more,” Ra said yesterday. “Workers who have been dismissed since 2011 have not received proper pensions or compensation.”
20150324 * Beneath Today’s Labor Peace, Tensions Remain:
The strikes have dwindled and the street protests have disappeared. But an invisible test of wills is being fought over Cambodia’s crucial garment industry.
Prime Minister Hun Sen hopes that today’s season of labor peace will translate into renewed foreign investment.
On the political front, he is courting garment workers with a pay increase, a rent freeze, discounts on electricity and water, and safer commutes.
On the investor side, factory owners strive to minimize costs and maximize production in order to compete with Cambodia’s neighbors.
On the labor side, union leaders want workers to receive better pay and better working conditions.
They want American and European clothing buyers to demand a better deal for Cambodian workers.
As Cambodia seeks to climb the development ladder, the stakes could not higher.
Garments account for the nation’s largest export, rivaled only by foreign tourism. If each of Cambodia’s 750,000 garment workers supports one other person, the industry supports 10 percent of Cambodia’s 15 million people.
Though ILO visits are unannounced, factory owners can delay inspectors from entering a factory by up to 30 minutes. GMAC said it is not possible to do significant cleanup in such a short time.
Ath Thorn, president of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said most abuses happen in the 400 subcontracting factories, which the ILO does not inspect.
In top tier factories, he estimates that compliance with labor laws is over 70 percent. But it can be as low as 10 percent among small subcontractors.
20150321 * What is Causing Cambodian Garment Workers to Faint En Masse?:
Hundreds of women who produce the clothing worn by fashion consumers in the West collapse in droves each year in Cambodia.
Theories about what is behind these faintings range from malnutrition to “mass hysteria,” and in many cases, workers themselves point the finger at angry spirits that need to be placated, but experts and labor advocates remain divided.
In a garment factory in provincial Cambodia last month, 100 women who spend their days cutting and stitching underwear to be exported overseas dropped to the ground in two waves of mass faintings.
Mok Chea, a 26-year-old mother of two, is among those who collapsed. She only began working at You Li International factory, in the town of Bavet near the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, in January of this year.
“When I was sewing at my chair I felt very hot. I didn’t know what was happening; I got a headache and began to feel like I might vomit,” she says. “I was getting weaker and weaker and I could not do anything else. I saw other workers around me starting to faint too.”
20150325 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 25 March 2015, M&S hits out at HRW report:
* To read in the printed edition of The Phnom Penh Post:
2015-03-25 M&S hits out at HRW report
2015-03-25 Workers seeking firing, rehirings
* To read in the printed edition of The Cambodia Daily:
2015-03-25 Workers Submit Petition to Gov’t Over Labor Law, Severance Pay
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
13:36:15 local time MALAYSIA
20150325 * HR Ministry Awaits Cabinet’s Approval On New Minimum Wage Rate:
The Human Resources Ministry is still awaiting the cabinet’s approval to determine the new minimum wage rate, said its minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem.
He said a review was conducted through the National Wage Consultative Council (NWCC) by holding discussions with employers and workers besides taking into account the rising cost of living faced by the people at present.
“In accordance with the Minimum Wage Order 2012, a study or review has to be conducted twice a year. The review is now ready and is waiting for the cabinet’s approval.
“The cabinet paper has been prepared, I don’t want to mention (the new minimum wage rate) here (Dewan Rakyat),” he said when winding up the debate on his ministry on the motion of thanks on the Royal Address by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the Dewan Rakyat here today.
20150326 * TPPA makes Malaysia liable for foreign firms’ losses, new leak show:
A new leak of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’s (TPPA) investment chapter confirms fears that the trade deal will make signatory nations including Malaysia vulnerable to legal action by companies from partner countries.
In the latest release by whistle-blower organisation WikiLeaks, the TPPA would infuse private corporations of partner countries with special rights and standing to sue other governments for unlimited damages if laws detrimental to their profits are passed.
12:06:15 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150325 * Garment code to boost buyers’ confidence:
Garment industry manufacturers met with European Union company representatives on March 24 to talk over enacting an apparel industry Code of Conduct, a social compliance step that could placate international buyers.
The roundtable discussion came as part of a weeklong study mission by an EU trade delegation of 16 brands, a press release said. Members of the ministries of commerce and labour also attended the talks.
A statement based on the discussion from the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) – the group behind the industry Code of Conduct – called for the Myanmar government to conceive and carry out “a consistent policy framework on labour-related laws”, and said the MGMA would concentrate on improving systems instead of “just issues”.
MGMA’s activities and the Code of Conduct’s continuing implementation process come as the garment industry gathers speed in Myanmar.
Once severely diminished by sanctions, the sector has moved toward social compliance and measures that can increase foreign buyers’ comfort in sourcing from the country.
20150324 * Thilawa factories to create 5,000 jobs:
Six factories now under construction in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will create as many as 5,000 jobs, according to Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited (MTSH).
The factories are expected to be completed within six months, with some operational by the end of this year, MTSH says. All the factories are to be operational within 18 months.
“The six factories will create four or five thousand jobs,” MTSH managing director Thein Han said.”If the factories export 75 per cent of their production, it will be a free zone. If they distribute 50 per cent of their products to the local market, it will be a promotion zone.”
Also, 28 domestic and foreign companies have already signed agreements to invest in the phase, which will see new factories producing steel and aluminum products, construction material, electrical appliances and garments.
20150324 * Government changes plan on IDs for migrant workers in Thailand:
Migrant workers in Thailand have been given an unexpected grace period, the deputy labour minister announced yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference, U Htin Aung said the estimated 645,000 Myanmar workers in Thailand would be able to retain the so-called pink card that entitles them to work for an extra year.
The pink cards issued by the Thai government to Myanmar migrant workers were due to expire next week under an agreement by which the Myanmar government would issue its nationals in the kingdom certificates of identity.
read more. & read more.
20150325 * Myanmar set for 8.3% growth spurt: ADB:
Garment workers at a clothing factory in Pathein, Ayeyarwaddy, Myanmar. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima
The Asian Development Bank predicted economic growth in Myanmar will surge by over eight percent for the next two years as it urged the nation to press on with reforms before landmark elections, in a press release on March 24.
Myanmar, which has implemented broad economic and political changes since a half-century of military rule ended in 2011, is expected to see output grow from 7.7 percent in the 12 months to March to 8.3 percent in the 2015 fiscal year, the ADB said.
20150324 * First national export strategy coming this week:
After years of planning, the Myanmar government will unveil the country’s first national export strategy on March 25 in Nay Pyi Taw.
The five-year plan comes primarily from the Ministry of Commerce – which aims to equalise Myanmar’s imports and exports, as the former currently outweigh the latter – with help from the World Trade Organisation and UN joint agency International Trade Centre and both private and public sector players.
The blueprint seeks to boost yield and value-addition in beans, pulses and oilseeds, fisheries, forestry products, textiles and garments, rice, rubber, and tourism, and also to introduce order around exports where it is lacking.
11:21:15 local time NEPAL
20150325 * 45 children rescued from carpet factories‚ three operators held:
A joint team of Kathmandu District Administration Office, District Women and Children Office, Central Child Welfare Board and Metropolitan Police Circle, Boudha, has rescued 45 children from carpet factories in Jorpati where they were forced to work as child labour.
Three persons have also been arrested for forcing children to work in their factories.
The detainees are Darke Sherpa of Sindhupalchowk, owner of Pemasal Carpet Factory, Suresh Yonjan of Sarlahi, owner of Machho Rolpa Carpet Factory and Suru Rai of Ramechhap of Urgen Carpet Factory.
The children aged between 12 and 16 were employed as child labourers in the factories and are now in the custody of the CCWB for verification of their guardians. The factory owners have been handed over to Labour Office in Teku.
20150325 * Lack of provision on strikes waries industrialists:
Proposed special economic zone act
Labour problem is one of the impediments blocking investment
A bill on much-awaited Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act lacks clear-cut provisions on avoiding protest and strike in the industries established within the zone.
The clause 43 of the bill, which was endorsed by the Cabinet a few days ago, has merely stated that the workers and employees at industries in SEZ are refrained from holding activities that would make an adverse impact on the production, leaving room for diverse interpretations.
SEZ is a dedicated space for industrial promotion where industrial operations remain smooth and its trade laws differ from laws for industries located outside the zone.
The SEZ bill states that there has been tendency of strikes, but has not talked about banning protests and strikes as expected by the industrialists.
The Industrial Enterprise Bill is more specific on strike than the SEZ Bill. The Article 47 (7) of proposed Industrial Enterprises Act has clearly mentioned that the workers and employees at an industry cannot hold activities like strike and protest that can affect the factory’s output.
The industrialists have long been pointing out labour-related problems as one of key impediments blocking investment in the manufacturing sector.
11:36:15 local time BANGLADESH
20150323 * Fire at N’ganj Knitting Factory:
A fire broke out at a Knitting & Dyeing factory in Boropa area of Rupganj Upazila of the district on Monday.
Witnesses said the fire originated from a machine of Antim Knitting and Dyeing Factory in the area around 11:45am.
The fire soon engulfed other machineries and clothes of the factory and created huge panic among the workers, the sources added.
Being informed, five fire fighting units from Demra and Kanchon fire services rushed to the spot and doused the fire after 45 minutes of frantic efforts.
Confirming the matter, Demra Fire Service Station Officer Shimul Mohammad said no injury was reported in the fire as the workers came out from the factory immediately.
However, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Lokman Hossain and managing director of the factory Ali Akbar visited the spot.
20150327 * Support sustainability for RMG growth:
Encourage entrepreneurs to adopt low-cost cleaner production practices and cut their energy and water consumption rates
We welcome the support shown by RMG industry leaders and the government for work on making the textile industry more competitive by improving its environmental sustainability.
Experience shows reducing negative environmental impacts can go hand in hand with improving efficiency and reducing costs to improve competitiveness.
A seminar by the IFC and PRI heard how adopting environment-friendly technology had helped one factory cut its use of water for cleaning by more than two thirds down from 180litres to 50litres of water per kilogram fabric.
Similar benefits for the environment can be seen in factories which have enhanced their energy management systems and improved efficiency to both cut their long-term energy costs and carbon-dioxide emissions.
20150326 * Initiate DEA within 7 days or face action:
DIFE warns 14 apparel makers
About 14 garment factories are set to face legal action like permanent closure upon their failure to initiate the required detailed engineering analysis (DEA) within the next seven working days, officials said.
The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) has already issued letters to the managements of the apparel factories to this effect, they added.
“If they fail to initiate the DEA as per the recommendations of a panel, we will have no other option but to take legal action against them,” DIFE Inspector General Syed Ahmed told the FE.
The DIFE gave reminders to the 14 manufacturing units that were yet to take any move towards conducting DEA, but got no results, he added.
Earlier in November last year, the DIFE had sought necessary directives from the labour ministry in this regard after finding that those units, having structural flaws, missed the deadline for starting their required DEA.
20150327 * Narsingdi weavers have no dream to weave:
High prices of materials, lack of capital force them to leave ancestral profession
Weavers in Narsingdi are facing hurdles to maintain their families and the handloom industries are on the verge of closure due to high prices of raw materials including yarn, dyes and chemicals.
The gradual decreases of demands of their products and lack of running capital have threatened the profession and livelihood of the people depended on the industry.
Many weavers are going through hardships to maintain their families and trying to leave their ancestral profession because of low income.
20150325 * Fashion lovers drive leggings export sales:
Fashion lovers’ preference for leggings has opened up new opportunity for local exporters, with orders booming for close-fitting knit pants in the last two years, industry insiders said.
They said local knit makers are looking to expand capacity to cope with the increasing demand of leggings.
More than 600 factories running around the capital Dhaka and the port city Chittagong are making this product, equally popular among males and females.
“We are now the second largest exporter of leggings in the global market after China due to quality product and competitive price” AKM Salim Osman, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) told the FE.
20150325 * Jute mill workers’ progs to realise 5-point demand:
Workers of state-owned jute mills on Tuesday announced a series of programmes to realise their five-point demand, including clearing back pays and announcing 20 percent dearness allowance.
State-owned Jute Mills CBA-non-CBA Oikya Parishad announced the programmes at a press conference held at the Crime Reporters’ Association of Bangladesh office in the capital.
The other demands include allocating necessary fund for the jute sector, implementing the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act and forming a pay commission for the jute workers.
As part of the programmes, the jute mill workers will stage demonstrations, hold rallies and human chain processions and submit memorandum to the deputy commissioner from April 5 to April 24.
20150325 * Workers’ rights through a gender lens:
Since Rana Plaza, there has been a laudable focus on workplace safety in Bangladesh.
There are two international safety agreements that are leading efforts to inspect the electrical, fire, and structural safety of buildings; however, these efforts are limited in addressing key issues impacting the workplace safety of women workers and their overall rights.
In the summer of 2013, I interviewed survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy and learned that pelvis fractures, injuries to reproductive organs and urinary tracts were common due to the building collapsing on their bodies.
Media and advocates focused on limbs lost and campaigns to get prosthetics, but there was no mention of the impact on women’s reproductive health or inability to maintain marital relations.
Women confided to me that they feared their husbands would abandon them; neither can they work nor can they bear any children.
The majority of the women working in the industry are at the peak of childbearing age, between their teens and thirties, and so, this fear is a real concern.
* Tears in the Fabric:
Documentary ‘Tears In The Fabric’.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150324 * Rana Plaza: Countdown to second anniversary begins with compensation fund still $9 million short:
IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign have launched a countdown to the second anniversary of Rana Plaza, calling on brands to fill the gap in compensation for victims before 24 April 2015.
With one month to go before the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, the three organizations negotiating compensation for its victims, are today jointly launching a countdown campaign to remind consumers, governments and the brands that almost two years on from the garment industry’s deadliest disaster, justice has still not been done for the thousands of workers killed and injured.
IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign are ramping up demands on global brands linked to the disaster to fill an US$8.5million gap in the funding needed to deliver full and fair compensation to each of the over 5,000 individuals with eligible claims.
So far US$21.5 million has been paid into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund through contributions from buyers, the Bangladesh Prime Ministers Fund and other private donors.
All contributions are used exclusively to make payments to Rana Plaza victims and their families.
It is calculated that at least US$30 million is needed to cover compensation claims.
To date claimants have only received a maximum of 70 per cent of what they are owed, with further payments delayed as a result of the failure of brands to pay the US$8.5million needed to complete the scheme.
IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina said, “For an industry that is all about image, the garment brands are taking shockingly long to do the right thing and close one of the most shameful chapters in the history book of the global clothing industry.”
“It has been almost two years since this industrial homicide; the victims and their families are owed compensation and the possibility to build a new future.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “The clock is ticking and we expect to see nothing less than full and generous contributions by April 24th from every brand still to pay.
“Garment industry brands pride themselves on being trend setters and responding to the fast-changing fashion world. In this case the brakes have been firmly slammed on.”
“Every cent of this money will go directly to families who have lost loved ones or to victims no longer able to work. It is the right thing to do.”
Ineke Zeldenrust of the Clean Clothes Campaign said: “The victims of Rana Plaza have had enough of the broken promises and false sympathy of the brands. They want this to be settled now so they can move on with their lives.”
Brands still expected to pay into the fund include:
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150325 * Police stop Garments Sramik Front march:
The police on Tuesday stopped the march of Garments Sramik Front towards the labour ministry as it started from in front of the National Press Club.
The apparel worker organisation organised the march to mark the 23 months of the Rana Plaza collapse, which took place on April 24, in 2013 at Savar killing at least 1,136 people, mostly apparel workers.
The organisation organised the march demanding proper compensations for the families of the killed, injured and affected workers.
The organisation held a rally in front of the Press Club as the police stopped the march creating barricade on the road to the secretariat.
Chaired by organisation leader Khalequzzaman Lipon, the rally was addressed, among others, by Socialist Party of Bangladesh central leaders Bazlur Rashid Firoz, Razequzzaman Ratan, general secretary of the organisation Selim Mahmud and Jahangir Alam.
The memorandum put forward seven-point demands including declaring April 24 as mourning day, giving proper compensations for the Rana Plaza victims and ensuring trade union rights for the apparel workers.
National Garment Workers Federation formed a human chain in front of the Press Club demanding more compensation for the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.
20150324 * NGWF form human chain marking 23 month of Rana Plaza & 28 month of Tazreen tragedies:
IndustriALL affiliate NGWF form human chain marking 23 month of Rana Plaza & 28 month of Tazreen tragedies.
20150325 * 3 global orgs urge brands to pay remaining $8.5m by Apr 24:
RANA PLAZA COMPENSATION
One month before of the second anniversary of tragic Rana Plaza collapse, three global organisations on Tuesday launched a campaign calling upon brands to pay remaining $8.5 million to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund by April 24 for ensuring full compensation of the victims.
IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the Clean Clothes Campaign launched the countdown campaign to remind consumers, governments and the brands that ‘almost two years on from the deadliest disaster, justice has still not been done for the thousands of workers killed and injured.’
The three organisations in a news release said the Fund had estimated that at least $30 million was needed to cover compensation claims of the over 5,000 individuals and so far $21.5 million had been paid into it through contributions from buyers, the Prime Minister’s Fund of Bangladesh and other private donors.
Till date claimants have only received a maximum of 70 per cent of what they are owed, with further payments delayed as a result of the failure of brands to pay the $8.5million needed to complete the scheme, the release said.
According to the release, a number of globally recognised brands, those were linked to the Rana Plaza factories, have refused to provide adequate payments into the Fund.
The organisations also called upon the brands and retailers even who were not linked to the Rana Plaza factories to contribute to the Fund.
11:06:15 local time INDIA
20150326 * The stain on your t-shirt:
Multinationals can’t turn a blind eye to supply chain mishaps
Global supply chain standards are industry’s dirtiest secret, as several tragedies in the past made us learn the hard way.
Next month will mark the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka which killed 1,134 workers and injured more than 2,000, forcing many companies and governments to revisit supply chain standards.
There have been similar tragedies in Cambodia and Pakistan. Still, millions of workers continue to work in unimaginably precarious conditions, mostly in the Third World.
In this context, a trade union input, prepared in association with the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD countries moots certain strongly-worded suggestions that can help tackle these abusive practices.
The most important suggestion is to put an end to informal work and forced labour. Most GSCs get away with human rights violations and paltry pay.
This can be checked only by ensuring a minimum living wage in each nation, the note suggests.
20150326 * Textile units welcome budget proposals:
Textile and clothing sector in the region have welcomed the announcements in the State budget on Wednesday, especially removal of VAT for yarn processed in sizing mills, reduction of VAT on LED lamps and strengthening of power transmission lines.
T. Rajkumar, chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association, said that strengthening of transmission lines will improve evacuation of wind power. Reduction of VAT on LED lamps will benefit the mills as they get 60 per cent saving in power consumption.
The cost LED lamps will come down. The Government should expedite all the power projects.
Yarn from a textile mill goes to the sizing unit before being woven into fabric. There is no VAT levy on fabric.
20150326 * Indian govt to release strategy paper on textile exports:
20150325 * Training for electricians, fitters in textile sector:
The training programme for fitters and electricians at the Textiles Technical Training Institute, established by the Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) jointly with PSG Institutions at Nilambur, commenced on Wednesday.
According to SIMA Chairman T Rajkumar, the four-day programme would cover all the machines, accessories and equipments. Candidates enrolled are the first batch to undergo such a training.
20150325 * Research centre at fashion technology hanging fire for 5 years:
Announced five years ago, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Kangra is still waiting for its Center for Applied Textile Research. Despite huge investment, it is unclear whether the centre would come up or not.
NIFT was established in Kangra in 2009 and the UPA government had earmarked a budget of Rs 15 crore for the research centre, which was announced by then Union minister for textiles Dayanidhi Maran.
However, there has been no progress in the matter. So far, about Rs 5 crore have been invested in construction of the building and work is still going on, said sources.
20150324 * Garment dealer held for cheating infrastructure firm of Rs 4 crore:
The economic offences wing has arrested a garment dealer in a cheating case where cheques of an infrastructure firm were discounted and the money siphoned off.
EOW officals have found that 43 cheques totalling to over Rs 4 crore were discounted illegally. The police are interrogating the accused, Ketan Bhanushali (38), who lives in Ghatkopar.
20150325 * Swedish retailers in partnership with Indian textile to go for cleaner production:
Swedish retail brands Indiska, KappAhl and Lindex in partnership with more than 40 Indian textile and garment suppliers have decided to reduce the environmental impact and improved capacity of supply chains through a unique project for cleaner production.
The new project has saved 284 million litres of water and 402 tonnes of chemicals annually and is now being scaled up to include several Indian states and four other countries in the world. It involves more than 120 suppliers globally.
read more. & read more.
20150325 * Spinning mills worried as cotton prices rise:
With cotton prices starting to pick up, spinning mills are averse to buying this year. On Tuesday, the price of J 34 cotton rose Rs 1,200-1,400 a candy (356 kg) to Rs 33,830 a candy.
J 34 is a variety of cotton grown in northern India with a strength of 4.5 micronaire (a measurement of the thickness of the cell walls of a cotton fibre) and length of 29 mm.
These prices are still lower than last year’s price of Rs 44,000 a candy.
However, millers are worried a price revision in cotton now will disturb the price parity between yarn and cotton.
The low demand for cotton yarn in international markets is already keeping the capacity utilisation low at 80 per cent.
20150325 * Cheaper Indian cotton garners overseas orders:
Neighbouring nations, Indonesia, Vietnam and Turkey hunt for produce here
Cotton exports have begun to pick up as the Indian natural fibre has become the cheapest in the global market from February-end.
“We are at least 5 cents a pound cheaper than US cotton and 2-3 cents than African cotton. Lower shipping charges to nearby destinations give us an added advantage,” said Anand Poppat, Chairman and Managing Director of Jalaram Cotton and Proteins Limited in Gujarat.
Currently, the Shankar-6 variety, in demand for exports, is quoted at 66-68 cents a pound f.o.b ( Rs. 32,300-33,500 for a candy of 356 kg). In the domestic market, the average price is quoted at Rs. 32,000.
Chinese appetite fades
“Demand from China is almost nil but we are getting enquiries from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia and Vietnam,” said Poppat, also an official of the Saurashtra Ginners Association.
20150325 * Textile mills in T.N. start transporting cotton by ship:
Textile mills in the State have started to use the shipping route, instead of road, to transport cotton from Gujarat.
As against 1,200 containers of cotton transported by sea last year from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu, the volume this year increased to 2,600 containers till January.
It is expected to touch about 4,400 containers by the end of this month.
201503246 * Stitching up new lives:
The attachment of women to the sewing machine is understandable. It gives them the confidence to rebuild and take control of their lives
Palaniammal is a HIV positive widow with two teenaged daughters. When she lost her husband to HIV infection nine years ago, her family disowned her and fear gripped her.
She wanted to send her daughters to school but there was no hope or help around.
Then something magical happened three winters ago. A small silai (sewing) centre entered her village Sithayankottai in Dindigul district and an acquaintance prodded her into attending the week’s residential training programme conducted by Usha International through a partner NGO, Native Medicare Charitable Trust.
Given her failing health, an initially reluctant Palaniammal realised the skill could be a powerful tool in earning livelihood.
“I forced myself to the centre,” she says, “and found it a safe space with a very positive atmosphere.”
“It was fun learning so many aspects about cuts and stitches, embroidery and designs,” she adds.
Today, a sewing machine constantly whirrs to life at her home as she herself runs the Usha Silai School to train learners and also undertakes tailoring works.
Her average monthly income of Rs.3,500 is enough to look after her health and her children’s education, she says.
20150324 * Women empowerment in India:
On 25 and 26 February 2015, some 25 women leaders from IndustriALL Global Union Indian affiliates met in Kolkata, India for training in leadership and methodology.
After introductions the women used body mapping to identify where they experience pains both from working and looking after families.
Among other things women suffer from migraines, headaches due to stress and head loads, shoulder pains from working long hours, elbow pains from cooking and sweeping, pains in the wrists, fingers and joints, knees, ankles and back. Women have poor digestion due to irregular eating and missing meals and urinary infections due to unhygienic toilets.
Most women are anaemic because they do not have a proper diet.
The spine has to carry heavy loads and bear the burden of housework.
Most pains are physical as well as mental stress and strain.
When the women analyzed their workplaces, they realized that many of them do not have suitable toilet facilities.
In public companies, for example the steel industry, the toilets were suitable and ventilation and lighting were adequate.
On the other hand the other factories did not have toilets for women, the women had to sit on the floor, and workers had to eat their lunch at their places.
In the steel industry only men are managers.
Permanent workers get a bonus, whereas precarious workers do not even receive 500 rupees.
The labour inspectors are bribed to keep them from visiting the factories.
One woman from the textile mill explained that the dust is heavy in the weaving operation.
Women have no personal protective equipment and no gloves.
The toilet is outside.
They have no suitable rest area.
Their food gets spoiled.
The vending area near the factory is unhygienic.
The union is fighting for contract workers’ minimum wages. All women are on contract.
Cotton and ginning is seasonal work. That is why it is tough to unionize the cotton and ginning workers.
11:06:15 local time SRI LANKA
20150325-26 * Sri Lankan government commences formal process to regain EU’s GSP Plus facility:
The government of Sri Lanka has commenced the formal process to regain the EU’s GSP Plus trade facility under the Union’s new GSP regulation.
A high level trade delegation of European Union arrived in Sri Lanka Monday (23) to commence discussions on regaining the EU’s GSP Plus trade concession.
A joint statement by Sri Lanka and the EU said the EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation met in Colombo yesterday (24).
The meeting, held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere, was co-chaired by R.D.S. Kumararatne, Director General of Commerce, for Sri Lanka and Marc Vanheukelen, Director, European Commission Directorate General for Trade, for the EU.
read more. & read more.
10:36:15 local time PAKISTAN
20150327 * Workers want safety and health laws implemented:
The working class has urged the provincial and federal governments to ensure implementation of safety and health laws in all industrial and commercial establishments through revival of the independent labour inspection machinery.
Provision of other rights of workers in the light of ILO Convention No 81, ratified by the Pakistan government, should also be ensured, said a resolution unanimously adopted by office-bearers of the All Pakistan Workers Confederation from all over the country at a national convention at Labour Hall here on Thursday.
20150326 * More than 50 female factory workers injured:
More than fifty female factory workers sustained injuries after their speedy bus overturned here on Wednesday.
The accident took place near Kot Naka area where a factory bus, carrying female laborers, overturned, leaving more than fifty workers injured.
The injured workers were shifted to hospital for immediate treatment while some of the workers, who were in a critical condition, were shifted to Faisalabad hospital.
to read. & read more.
20150327 * Vocational skills: Textile ministry to provide training:
Ministry of Textile Industry is providing training to 400 persons, especially women in the stitching sector this year while another 200 will be trained further under a programme launched in collaboration with International Labor Organisation(ILO).
In addition, under the Stitching Machine Operators Training (SMOT) Scheme, 8,500 trainees – majority of whom were women – were trained in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi to help improve their skills.
Official sources said the Ministry of Textile Industry was establishing its first ginning training institute and recently earmarked an area to initiate its construction.
The sources said that till date, 60 short trainings and seminars have been conducted on various cotton related topics such as standardisation and farm management.
Giving further details, the sources said there are seven Export Development Fund (EDF) training institutes under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textile Industry.
20150326 * Union threatens protest movement against anti-workers privatisation:
Veteran trade union leader and one of the founder leaders of the Trade Union Movement of Sub-Continent Indo-Pak, Late Bashir Ahmed Bakhtiar spent his whole life for defending and promoting the fundamental rights of the workers.
That was reason that he was given Punjab Provincial Assembly Seat reserved for Labour in Pre-Independence days by the Father of the Nation.
20150326 * Shrinking demand: Industry seeks corrective steps as textile exports drop:
With a drop in exports last month, textile exporters are demanding that the government take immediate corrective measures to stop the slide in shipments.
A representative of textile exporters, Sohail Pasha, said a 2.91% decline was recorded in February 2015 over the same month of previous fiscal year and a 9.96% drop was registered over the previous month.
Giving details, he said the country exported textile goods worth $1.087 billion in February against exports of $1.119 billion in the same month of previous year and $1.207 billion in January 2015.
20150326 * PTEA irked as Feb saw 12.9pc cut in exports:
The Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has expressed grave concern over 12.9 percent drop in exports in last month and demanded of the government to take immediate remedial measure in this regard.
Talking to newsmen here on Wednesday, PTEA Chairman Sohail Pasha and Vice Chairman Rizwan Riaz Saigal said that textile exports also witnessed 2.91 percent decline in February 2015 over the same month of the previous fiscal year and 9.96 percent drop over previous month.
read more. & read more.
20150325 * Cloth out, clothes in: Textile exports up by 0.47%:
Country’s textile exports increased by 0.47 per cent during the first eight months of current fiscal year against the exports of same period of last year.
The overall textile exports during July-February (2014-15) were recorded at $ 9.179 billion against the exports of $ 9.136 billion during July-February (2013-14), according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
The textile products that witnessed increase in trade included yarn other than cotton yarn export of which increased by 14.42 percent, by going up from $ 25.854 million last year to $ 29.581 million this year.
Exports of knitwear also increased by 9.48 percent from $ 1.482 billion last year to $ 1.622 billion this year while the exports of towels increased by 3.22 percent from $ 494.32 million to $ 510.229 million.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150325 * China bank assures billion dollars investment in energy, textile sectors:
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has assured investment in energy, infrastructure and textile sectors besides construction of a big industrial city in Punjab.
This assurance was given to the Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif by Chairman of the bank Jiang Jianqing during a high-level meeting in Beijing.
The Chief Minister and the Chairman of Bank participated in the meeting along with their delegations while Chairman Planning & Development and senior officers were also present on the occasion.
As a result of this decision, foreign investment of billions of dollars will be made in Punjab during the next few years.
The Chinese officials said that their bank besides providing capital for development projects in Punjab will also help the provincial government in acquiring investment from other international sources and private companies.
20150327 * APTMA terms refund on account of FAC ‘insufficient’:
Rejecting the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (Nepra) decision of refunding a meager amount of Re 0.81, per unit, to the consumers of K-Electric on account of fuel price adjustment charges for January, 2015, Chairman of All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Sindh-Balochistan Zone, Tariq Saud has urged the government to consider consumers of K-Electric at par with consumers of other power utilities of the country.
“It is surprising to note that consumers of rest of the country have been given a relief of Rs3.2426, per unit, as against the K-Electric consumers for whom it has been reduced by only Re 0.81, per unit, under the same head,” he added.
read more. & read more.
20150325 * Textile industry: Pepco disrupts power supply temporarily:
Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) has introduced temporary power cut of four hours to the textile industry, assuring the resumption of uninterrupted supply after two days.
The Pepco sources said reduction in water release from Tarbela due to negligible demand from Sindh and shutting down of Lalpir and Pak Gen, two independent power producers, has burdened the transmission system with short supply. Therefore, power supply to the textile industry has been reduced by four hours on March 24 and 25.
20150325 * Corrupt practices: NAB to file cases against bigwigs:
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday decided to file three references against bigwigs, including Usman Ghani, the owner of M/S Usman Textile Mill, for allegedly being involved in corruption of millions of rupees.
The decision was taken at the Executive Board Meeting (EBM) of NAB held under the chairmanship of Qamar Zaman Chaudhry at NAB Headquarters. The references would be filed in the respective Accountability Courts.
In the first case, the accused Usman Ghani in connivance with the officials of Sales Tax Collectorate obtained illegal and fraudulent sales tax refund amounting to Rs48.321 million.
20150326 * BASF presents integrated solutions for leather industry:
BASF presented a broad-range of innovative solutions for leather processing and footwear customers at the recent Pakistan Mega Leather Show held in March 2015 at Lahore.
The solutions were focused on better protection of the environment, efficient use of resources and improved consumer protection.
20150326 * Stamping protest: Police puts 100 farmers behind bars for ‘obstructing traffic’:
Police manhandled and picked up as many as 100 members of the Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) who were protesting in front of the Press Club on Wednesday. They were later released on the chief minister’s instructions.
PKI president Khalid Khokar said PKI members from several southern districts of the province had arrived in Lahore to register their protest against the government. The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in the Constitution, he said.
Allah Ditta, a farmer from Chichawatni, said they had held a peaceful demonstration at 10am in front of the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday.
“Today we gathered at the Press Club but the police manhandled and hit us with batons…they literally threw us into police vehicles,” he said.
Khokar said they had been protesting against the price of cotton that the government had announced earlier. “It is so low that we cannot purchase wheat seeds…
The cost of cultivation has gone up while our profit margins are no more,” he bemoaned.
20150324 * Govt urged to recognise home-based workers:
Speakers at a seminar on Monday urged the government to approve a policy on home-based workers so that they were recognised under the law and got legal protection for their rights and benefits.
Over 10 million people worked from their homes but they were not recognised under the law with the result they remained unable to get facilities available to workers under the law, the speakers explained.
The seminar was organised by the Homenet Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) in Lyari.
The speakers also urged home-based workers to organize themselves and get registered with unions to secure their rights. They highlighted the need to create awareness among the home-based workers regarding their rights as they could demand their rights only when they knew what their rights were.
She said that if the workers were members of the unions they could share information and also could collectively demand their wages.
Citing an example of low wages, a home-based worker from Korangi, , Zarina, said she had been preparing “biddis” for the past 10 years and received only Rs10 for 1,000 biddis.
Ameeran Begum, who has been working from her Baldia residence, said she had been sewing towels for the past 15 years and hardly earned Rs50 to Rs60 a day.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150326 * Baldia factory fire suspect held:
The Preedy police on Wednesday night arrested three suspects including Shakeel alias Chota who was allegedly involved in torching of a garments factory in Baldia Town which claimed at least 250 lives in 2012.
The Preedy police said they had received information about the presence of criminals near Empress market and had subsequently raided the designated location behind Rainbow Centre two days ago.
They said when the police party had reached the hideout of criminals, who were said to be affiliated with a political party, the accused opened fire.
A shootout between the two parties had ensued, following which the police had arrested three suspects, including Shakeel alias Chota, who were brought to the police stations and handed over to for interrogation.
20150326 * Political worker confesses setting Baldia factory on fire:
A suspect arrested from Karachi’s Saddar Town confessed setting a garment factory on fire in Baldia Town back in 2012, ARY News reported on Wednesday.
The criminal named Shakeel arrested with four of his accomplices from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on Sunday revealed before the investigators that he and his aides set fire to the garment factory.
The fire in Baldia Town’s garment factory killed more than 250 labourers.
Shakeel said that he and his accomplices went with some combustible chemical drum to the factory and some of his accomplices went inside to start the fire after overcoming the guards.
All of them escaped the place once the task was accomplished.
20150326 * Karachi: Arrested suspect admits setting Baldia Town factory on fire:
Suspected arrested for alleged involvement in Baldia Town factory incident on Wednesday admitted to the crime of setting the factory on fire.
According to the police, suspect named Shakeel alias Chota admitted that he set fire to the factory with the help of 6 accomplices. The police stated that the suspect revealed his involvement in the crime during interrogation.
The suspect was arrested from Preedi area of Karachi.
Preedi police had arrested the suspect on 22nd March in relation to the factory fire.
to read. & read more.
20150325 * Shakeel alias Chhota set fire to Baldia factory: police:
Police said on Wednesday that Shakeel alias Chhota in his confession admitted that he along with other accomplices set fire to Baldia factory in which more than 250 workers were burnt alive.
According to police, Shakeel was apprehended from the precincts of Preedy Police Station on March 22.
The accused said he along with his accomplices loaded a chemical container onto a vehicle and carried it to Baldia town to set the target on fire. He said that they first tied the factory’s security guard and then ignited fire near its power generator.
Police says six men were involved in executing the Baldia factory arson.
10:36:15 local time UZBEKISTAN
20150326 * Uzbekistan Expels International Labor Rights Consultant:
Uzbekistan has reportedly arrested and deported an international labor rights expert who was looking into labor practices in the Central Asian country.
A release from the Cotton Campaign advocacy group said a consultant for the firm Just Solutions Network Ltd., Andre Mrost, was investigating use of child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton harvesting.
His presence in Uzbekistan was one of the conditions the World Bank insisted upon in order to free up loans for Uzbekistan’s agricultural sector, it said.
20150324 * Uzbek government arrests and deports international labor rights consultant:
Action calls into question Tashkent’s commitment to international labor rights
The arrest and expulsion from Uzbekistan of an international labor rights expert raises serious concerns about the government of Uzbekistan’s commitment to international human rights conventions and the feasibility of the World Bank’s agricultural programs in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan operates what is perhaps the world’s largest state-organized system of forced labor, forcibly mobilizing more than a million of the country’s citizens to pick cotton each fall.
When the World Bank initiated new loans to Uzbekistan’s agriculture sector last year, the Bank conditioned the loans on the Uzbek government following through on promises not to use forced labor in the areas where the Bank-funded projects will operate.
On March 19, the Uzbek government arrested, detained, deported and banned from the country Dr. Andre Mrost, an international labor rights consultant, whose firm, Just Solutions Network, Ltd., has bid on a contract to implement a feedback mechanism also called for under the terms of the World Bank loans.
* Honduran garment workers under attack:
IndustriALL Global Union is supporting unionists from its affiliate, the independent federation of Honduran workers (FITH), to tackle a garment export company with a long and brutal history of union-busting.
The Petralex garment factory, located in the Buffalo Free Trade Zone on the outskirts of the industrial city of San Pedro Sula, has been an anti-union battleground for the past eight years.
The latest conflict started on 2 March, when the company began targeting newly elected union officers, offering them up to nearly three times their legal severance pay if they resigned voluntarily – not necessarily an easy decision for workers who earn only a third of what they need to survive.
Five leaders from local union Sitrapetralex, which forms part of FITH, refused to accept and were summarily dismissed.
One accepted only after his sister was threatened with the sack.
At a meeting called by the labour authorities on 24 March, Sitrapetralex and Petralex failed to reach agreement.
This is unsurprising given that the only company representation was a newly appointed lawyer who denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the dismissals were the result of restructuring.
20150323 * Salvadoran Maquila Plants Use Gang Members to Break Unions:
Factory workers make sportswear for a U.S. brand at a maquila plant in the San Bartolo free trade zone in the city of Ilopango in eastern El Salvador.
The factory employs 350 workers on each eight-hour shift, 80 percent of them women, who earn minimum wage. Credit: Edgar Romero/IPS
Textile companies that make clothing for transnational brands in El Salvador are accused of forging alliances with gang members to make death threats against workers and break up their unions, according to employees who talked to IPS and to international organisations.
Workers at maquila or maquiladora plants – which import materials and equipment duty-free for assembly or manufacturing for re-export – speaking on condition of anonymity said that since 2012 the threats have escalated, as part of the generalised climate of violence in this Central American country.
“They would call me on the phone and tell me to quit the union, to stop being a trouble-maker,” one worker at the LD El Salvador company in the San Marcos free trade zone, a complex of factories to the south of the Salvadoran capital, told IPS.
She has worked as a sewing machine operator since 2004 and belongs to the Sindicato de la Industria Textil Salvadoreña (SITS) textile industry union. Some 780 people work for LD El Salvador, a Korean company that produces garments for the firms Náutica and Walmart.
* Exploitation or emancipation? Women workers in the garment industry:
The garment industry is, and has historically been, one of the most female-dominated industries in the world.
Today, more than 70% of garment workers in China are women, in Bangladesh the share is 85%, and in Cambodia as high as 90%.
For these women, development is closely linked to their conditions at work.
It’s about gaining a decent pay, working under dignified conditions and having basic work security.
It’s about moving out of poverty, being able to provide children with education, and to become more independent and grow as an individual.
The reality for most garment workers in the Global South is far from here. Although producing for some of the most profitable companies in the world, they are working for poverty wages, under dreadful conditions, and they have to undertake an excessive amount of overtime.
In Bangladesh (the world’s second largest exporter of clothe) the minimum wage for garment workers is 5,300 taka (£45/€62) per month which is far from the 8,900 taka (£75/€104) that are needed to cover a worker’s basic needs, and even further away from a living wage.
Many garment workers are working between 60 and 140 hours of overtime per week and it is common to be cheated of the overtime pay.
Health and safety are often neglected, workers are denied breaks, and abuses are common – to mention a few of the problems in the industry.
Yet, there are some who argue that this exploitation is the road to female empowerment.