13:43:26 local time CHINA
20150413 * Strikes proliferate in China as working class awakens:
Timid by nature, Shi Jieying took a risk last month and joined fellow workers in a strike at her handbag factory, one of a surging number of such labor protests across China.
Riot police flooded into the factory compound, broke up the strike and hauled away dozens of workers. Terrified by the violence, Shi was hospitalized with heart trouble, but with a feeble voice from her sickbed expressed a newfound boldness.
“We deserve fair compensation,” said Shi, 41, who makes $4,700 a year at Cuiheng Handbag Factory in Nanlang, in southern China. Only recently, she had learned she had the right to social security funding and a housing allowance — two of the issues at stake in the strike.
“I didn’t think of it as protesting, just defending our rights,” she said.
20150412 * UNIQLO, Japanese Fast Fashion Label, Accused of Labor Violations:
Chinese factories in Dongguan and Guangzhou that supply UNIQLO – a “fast fashion” label owned by Fast Retailing Co. from Japan – have been accused of endangering their workers’ lives, according to a new report from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong-Kong based labor rights group.
SACOM worked with Labor Action China (LAC) and Human Rights Now (HRN), a Japanese non-profit, to conduct research on two UNIQLO suppliers in 2014 – the Luen Thai factory in Dongguan and Pacific Textiles factory in Guangzhou.
The report revealed that excessive working hours, low basic wages, unsafe working environments and harsh punishments for workers were rampant in both factories.
The activists say that Fast Retailing needs to do a better job of supervising working conditions in their factories.
“UNIQLO is an international brand, not just a Japanese brand. I don’t think UNIQLO can tolerate defects in its clothing,” Alexandra Chan Hiu-ching, project officer for SACOM, told the Associated Press.
Excessive Working Hours and Low Basic Wages
Pacific Textiles supplies textiles to garment factories while Luen Thai makes clothes for global apparel and accessory companies.
Both are headquartered in Hong Kong. The first company offers its workers a basic monthly pay of RMB 1550 ($246) while the second offers RMB 1310 ($208) which are the minimum wage levels for the cities they work in.
In addition, workers are paid bonuses by the piece, so most put in as many hours as they can in order to earn as much as possible, even though they are not forced to.
“I work from early morning till 10 pm, sometimes till 11pm. I get RMB 0.29 ($0.046) for each UNIQLO shirt,” a Luen Thai worker told SACOM. “I need to iron about 600 to 700 shirts every day. During peak time, I have to iron 900 shirts a day.”
14:43:26 local time NORTH KOREA
20150413 * Seoul hints at drawn-out row over Gaeseong wage problem:
South Korea said Monday it will not be restrained by a timetable in resolving an ongoing row over wage hikes for North Korean workers at a joint industrial park in the North.
The two Koreas have been in dispute since the North unilaterally decided in February to raise the wage level by 5.18 percent to $74 per month starting in March for about 53,000 North Korean workers hired by South Korean companies at the GaeseongIndustrial Complex in the North’s border city of the same name.
Seoul is seeking to hold talks with the North over the issue through a quasi-governmental committee as the payday for the March wages, which began Friday, will last for 10 days. None of the 124 South Korean firms have paid March wages to North Korean workers.
Seoul’s unification ministry said that it will do its best to resolve the wage dispute, adding that the row may be prolonged if it passes the deadline.
“As we cannot exclude the possibility that the wage dispute cannot be settled until April 20…the Seoul government will continue to make efforts to resolve the issue,” Lim Byeong-cheol, spokesman at the unification ministry, said at a press briefing.
13:43:26 local time PHILIPPINES
20150413 * Violations of workers’ rights to unionize, strike hit:
Less than a month before Labor Day, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Labor Department this morning to condemn the Aquino government’s violations of workers’ rights to form unions and hold strikes.
The labor group called Pres. Noynoy Aquino the “No. 1 violator of workers’ rights,” claiming the chief executive has presided over massive layoffs of workers who are trying to form unions and over government inaction on workers’ strikes.
“Almost five years of Aquino’s presidency show that workers are not his bosses. Workers’ attempts to form unions have been met with massive layoffs while workers’ strikes have been met with inaction, if not outright repression,” said Doods Gerodias, KMU deputy secretary-general.
The labor leader said Aquino has failed to comply with conventions of the International Labor Organization guaranteeing workers’ rights to form unions and hold strikes – the latter being an essential part of workers’ right to collectively bargain.
20150411 * ‘Union is workers’ potent weapon vs attacks on wages’ — KMU:
Philippines belong to a union.
And of these few unionists, even fewer, only 12 percent, have collective bargaining agreements, which give them slightly better wages and work condition than those prescribed by law.
Five years into his six-year term, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino earned the title of “No. 1 violator of workers’ rights,” the unionists from Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said in their picket in front of the Department of Labor and Employment this Friday.
The labor group said Aquino has presided over massive layoffs of workers trying to form unions and responded to workers’ strikes with either inaction or repression.
Doods Gerodias, KMU deputy secretary-general, cited cases and figures showing Aquino’s anti-labor and anti-union acts.
He said the Philippine government under Aquino has failed to comply with the conventions of the International Labor Organization guaranteeing workers’ rights to form unions and hold strikes – the latter being an essential part of workers’ right to collectively bargain.
The Philippines is a signatory to both ILO Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, approved in 1948, and ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collectively Bargain, approved in 1949.
20150413 * Workers decry April power rate hike:
Workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno and broad campaign network All Workers’ Unity picketed the Meralco central branch along Espana Boulevard in Manila this morning to condemn the power rate hike for the month of April.
The groups claimed that power rate hikes, such as the 27-centavo per kilowatt-hour hike which will be implemented this April and another projected hike in May, are additional burdens to workers suffering from meager wages.
KMU and All Workers’ Unity also said big capitalists in the power industry increased power rates in order to take advantage of the summer season, when Filipinos consume more electricity, to increase their profits.
“Workers are still angry over the meager P15.00 wage hike in Metro Manila and now we have to contend with another power rate hike. Corporate greed and government collusion with big capitalists continue to inflict suffering on workers,” said Rea Alegre, All Workers’ Unity spokesperson.
12:43:26 local time VIET NAM
20150412 * Tougher competition for apparel sector ahead:
Experts have called on apparel enterprises to improve product quality and prepare to face tougher competition in the next five years.
Speaking at the Vietnam Saigon Fabric & Garment Industry Expo (Saigon Tex) 2015 in HCMC on April 9, Hoang Ve Dung, deputy general director of Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said Vietnam will sign more bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, thus offering multiple opportunities but at the same time exposing them to more challenges.
In fact, apparel enterprises have seen competition intensifying in recent times. Some producers performed well in 2014 but have failed to win contracts this year while their employees have left for bigger firms.
“Despite preparations since 2013, we’ve faced cutthroat competition since last year,” Dung said.
Around 30,000 textile and garment companies have generated jobs for a large number of local laborers and contributed around 15% of the nation’s total export revenue. Vietnam is among the top five apparel exporting countries by volume.
20150410 * Vietnam strikes out at labour disputes:
In January 2015, the Vietnamese government issued a decree on the implementation guidelines of the Vietnamese Labour Code.
One of the sections of the decree deals with the resolution of workers’ strikes, which happen mostly in foreign enterprises.
Though the numbers of strikes nationwide has declined, labour relations reform is still a government concern.
The new decree stipulates a long bureaucratic process for strike settlement.
This decree specifies how to resolve strikes that do not follow the procedures set out in the Labour Code.
The procedures ensue when a collective dispute at a company is unaddressed. The dispute must relate to ‘interests’ — that is, benefits that are beyond the labour contracts or are not legally binding on the employers.
Under the Labour Code, the procedure starts with the collection of workers’ opinions, either by the company unions or workers’ representatives.
Then a ballot is conducted, and if more than 50 per cent of workers agree to go on strike, they may legally proceed with their collective action.
12:43:26 local time CAMBODIA
20150414 * World Bank Says Growth to Slow in Coming Years:
Falling rice production and rising labor costs will continue to drag down the pace of economic growth in Cambodia over the next three years, the World Bank said Monday—a relatively gloomy counterpoint to the coming rebound the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted only last month.
In its East Asia and Pacific Economic Update released Monday, the World Bank said the growth rate of Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) will drop from 7 percent in 2014 to 6.9 percent in 2015 and 2016, and to 6.8 percent the year after that. According to the Bank, the country’s economy has been slowing since 2013.
Garment exports, which account for roughly a third of the country’s GDP, are also slowing. According to the report, they grew at only 9.2 percent in 2014, roughly half the pace of the year before.
A spate of garment worker strikes and protests over wages early last year saw some international brands cut back on orders.
A 28-percent hike to the sector’s minimum wage in January has helped to quell the unrest, but it also makes it harder for Cambodia to compete with other low-wage countries like Vietnam, Burma and Bangladesh.
20150413 * World Bank forecasts slower growth for Cambodia in 2015:
The World Bank said Monday that Cambodia’s economic growth is projected to slightly moderate to 6.9 percent this year, 0.1 percentage point lower than that of last year.
The country’s economic growth depends on traditional sectors such as garments, tourism, construction and agriculture.
“Reduced competitiveness due to increased costs, dollar appreciation, and new competitors will continue to affect garment export growth while the return to a double-digit tourist arrival growth rate is yet uncertain,” the lender said in its Cambodia Economic Update.
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13:43:26 local time INDONESIA
20150410 * Modesto teen aims to shine light on Indonesian factory workers’ lives:
Modesto resident Zachary Senn, a junior at Thomas Edison State College, traveled to Indonesia in late November.
He spent three weeks in Jakarta to document the lives of shoe factory workers in the industrial satellite cities outside the nation’s capital.
The factories that employ the workers he interviewed produce goods for Nike, Converse, Puma and Adidas brands.
This is the first in a series of three stories; the others will publish the next two Sundays.
The word “jihad,” translated literally, means “struggle.”
My first morning in Jakarta, the call to prayer awoke me at 4.
Every day, five times a day, the call resonates simultaneously from the minarets of the city’s 1,000 mosques.
The sound is loud and deep.
It sweeps mournfully and slowly across the city.
With it, thousands of the city’s faithful bow to the west, toward Mecca.
It’s a beautiful sound. It fills the hot, heavy, humid air with something great – hope.
12:43:26 local time THAILAND
20150411 * Wage debate ignores obscene incomes:
Why executives’ pay is never an issue is a mystery
The minimum wage – the lowest payment allowed under the law to unskilled labour – is always linked with how good the economy will be doing and how “attractive” a country is to foreign investors.
Whenever workers want more, there’s an outcry.
When the Yingluck administration sought to fulfil its election campaign pledge of a Bt300 daily minimum wage, critics rounded on it. Now, it’s the interim Prayut government’s turn to face the often-explosive issue.
Nobody cares how much corporate executives are paid.
This is despite the fact that even a fraction of their earnings could significantly boost the income of those at the lowest end of the economy.
Executives’ salaries are not legally capped, and figures are often glorified and not cringed at.
When the labour movement wants Bt20 more per day for the unskilled workers, it often sends economists scrambling to point out how ominous the |figure is.
The battle will be over something higher than Bt20 this time.
A labour advocacy group has called for a minimum wage of Bt360 per day, a Bt60 rise.
It has been a tradition for the labour movement to drive a tough bargain at the beginning, so it’s safe to say that the final contentious amount should be around Bt30-Bt40.
Even that would make entrepreneurs squirm.
The Federation of Thai Industries has come out to baulk at the Bt60 figure, citing weak demand in domestic and international markets.
The minimum wage, therefore, is deeply linked not only to how much workers want but also with the attitude of those at the top of the economic pyramid.
It’s too bad that the latter have rarely been taken into the equation.
The minimum wage is often about “competitiveness” or “political games” played by labour groups whereas the bottom-line should have been the sharing of good times and bad times between workers and their employers.
11:43:26 local time BANGLADESH
20150411 * Ensuring occupational health and safety in workplaces:
A company usually makes profits.
However, profit cannot be gained at the expense of safety and health at the workplace.
Work-related accidents lead to losses in both human and financial terms. All companies must comply at least with occupational safety and health laws of their country developing internal systems, arrangements and guidelines.
In the specific ready-made garment (RMG) sector, the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility in the US market has been suspended over factory safety issue.
Buyers from across the world are pressing for ensuring workplace safety following the Tazreen Fashions fire and the Rana Plaza collapse.
An ‘accident at work’ is a unwanted and sudden event resulting in deaths or physical injuries. Sometimes such an accident causes neither injury nor damage. This is called a ‘near miss’.
According to studies, 80 per cent of the accidents happen due to risky jobs and only 20 per cent occur because of unsafe environment.
Around one in 30 hazardous working situations or risky jobs leads to a minor injury with no time off work.
Around one in 300 cases leads to an injury with time off work.
One in 3,000 hazardous actions or situations leads to a serious injury with time off work and around one in 30,000 leads to a very serious injury or even an injury that may prove fatal.
20150413 * USTR satisfies for BD’s measures after Rana Plaza collapse: Tofail:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed today said the United States Trade Reprehensive (USTR) expressed its satisfaction over the measures taken by the government after the Rana Plaza tragedy.
Besides, the United States and its buyers are also satisfied as Bangladesh made significant progress in fulfilling their 16-point conditions, he told the reporters after a meeting with US Ambassador Marcia S Bernicat at his secretariat office.
Export of Bangladeshi products is being increased cumulatively, the minister said, adding “no factory is shut down during the political unrest in the last three months”.
Referring to the survey of Democracy International funded by US Aid and UK Aid on the environment and labour rights in Bangladeshi RMG factories, Tofial said it found that “labourers of RMG factories are now satisfied over the working environment and wages. Moreover they are interested to elect their representatives from their factories.”
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20150414 * USTR to recommend restoration of GSP, hopes Bernicat:
US Ambassador in Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat expressed her hope Monday that the USTR (United States Trade Representative) would recommend restoration of Bangladesh’s GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) facility as sufficient progress is made in implementation of the action plan tagged by the US administration.
The US envoy has expressed ‘satisfaction’ over Bangladesh’s progress in implementation of the action plan the US has tagged as a condition for restoring the GSP facility for its exports to the US market.
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20150413 * Bangladesh blockade hits garment industry:
Blockade that are part of opposition’s bid to force early elections leads to cancelled orders in vital sector.
Bangladesh’s booming garment industry has been left reeling by transport blockades called for by the opposition.
The blockades, which are part of a bid to force early elections, has led to violence, killing more than 100 people this year. Due to delays, overseas buyers have also cancelled thousands of orders.
read & see more. (video report.)
20150413 * Jute mill workers demonstrate in Khulna, Jessore:
State-owned jute mill workers on Sunday brought out processions pressing for 5-point demands including allocation of adequate budgets in jute sector, payment of due wages and 20 per cent dearness allowance for them.
The processions were brought out at the state owned jute mills in Khulna and Jessore regions.
The programmes were being observed by the jute mill workers as a part of the 11-day programmes, called by the state-owned jute mills Oikya parishad leaders.
20150412 * China: next big garment export destination:
China, the largest apparel exporter worldwide, is becoming a major destination for Bangladeshi garment items due to duty benefits offered by the Asian economic giant and a rising middle-class there.
Garment exports to China, the second largest Asian apparel market for Bangladesh after Japan, accelerated 73.48 percent year-on-year to $241.37 million in fiscal 2013-14, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.
The earnings were $136.5 million in July-December this fiscal year, with 24 percent growth year-on-year.
After garments, Bangladesh’s jute and jute goods and leather and leather products are also becoming popular in China, fetching $100 million and $60 million, respectively, in fiscal 2013-14.
“Our garment exports to China will cross $1 billion in three to four years,” said Syed Sadek Ahmed, managing director to Space Sweater.
Due to rising production cost, Chinese businesses are moving away from producing low-end garments, which has created an opportunity for Bangladesh, he said.
20150413 * Apparel sector fears large drop in winter orders:
Country’s apparel-sector operators have become jittery fearing substantial drop in winter orders from key export destinations.
The pared-down production activity during three months of political turbulence has already taken a toll on them.
Industry-insiders foresee an oncoming crunch as manufacturers are being compelled to cut jobs and run wheels of production much below their capacity.
Top ready-made garment (RMG) executives say they see not so sunny picture of the trade in the next peak season as the buyers are not placing expected orders even for the fall, let alone the winter.
They feel the global business partners are losing their confidence in the Bangladesh RMG sector. And this unmerited credibility gap is taking a toll by way of negative impacts on the key export industry.
20150413 * RMG exporters rue ‘extra pressure’ from buyers:
Exporters of readymade garments (RMG) in Bangladesh have come under extra pressure, with buyers’ compliance requirements increasing by the day.
A 2013 accord on safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, founded by a group of apparel companies and retailers, have been, in particular, responsible for such a situation.
Besides, production cost has also increased because expenditure on fire-safety, electrical and structural items have become extremely high owing to additional value-added tax (VAT).
If the buyers’ demands continue to grow, RMG traders would not be able to meet the export target of $50 billion by 2021.
20150412 * Denim industry gets new economic dimension:
Bangladesh Denim Expo is set to be held on May 11-12 in Dhaka
Bangladesh denim producers are gradually turning into design innovators, bringing a new dimension to the denim industry to attract global buyers.
The once buyer-driven denim industry now witnesses the manufacturers’ innovations and new designs of denim, paving the way for a careful choice by the retailers.
“About 90% denim work in Bangladesh was driven by the global buyers, who made designs through research and development, but the recent trend has changed. The manufacturers now offer their designs to the buyers,” AKM Aminul Islam, managing director of Mahmud Denim, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Innovation from producers’ end helps global buyers reduce cost as the latter need not invest in research and development, Aminul said, adding that the new concept in business helps them attract buyers through presenting new products.
20150413 * Economic cost of recent political troubles $2.2b:
WB lowers GDP growth projection further
Bangladesh’s economy suffered a loss of US$2.2 billion (nearly Tk.18000 crore) due to the very recent political troubles, according to World Bank estimate.
“We have mainly taken into consideration the losses the various sectors of the economy suffered during a period of 60 days since January 6 this year, said Dr. Zahid Hussain, the lead economist of the WB, while presenting the Bank’s latest Bangladesh Development Update in Dhaka Sunday.
The WB also projected a far deeper cut in Bangladesh’s economic growth in the current fiscal, to 5.6 per cent from 6.2 per cent forecast six months before, due mainly to political damper.
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20150413 * Turmoil hits jute spinners hard:
BJSA seeks bank interest waiver
Jute spinners have sought bank interest waiver from the government for two quarters to June of the current calendar year as they have sustained losses as a result of the political turmoil.
The Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association said political turmoil has hit export trade and income of the country’s 96 private jute spinners.
Overall export earnings and activities of the factories have been hampered because of blockade coupled with hartals enforced by BNP-led 20-party alliance, an association official said.
20150412 * BGMEA urges political parties refrain from destructive prog:
Business leaders in Dhaka on Sunday urged political parties to refrain from enforcing destructive political programmes which will ruin the garment industry’s potential.
They came up with the call from a views-exchange meeting jointly organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
Observing that many factories have turned ‘sick’ and the readymade garment (RMG) and textiles manufacturers of the country are facing losses due to recent hartals and blockades, BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam said, “We beg to our political parties not to engage in such political programmes which create more new sick industries every year.
20150413 * ‘Promising future’ for leather products, footwear exports:
The country’s exports of leather products and footwear have been increasing year by year, and the sector could become the second largest foreign currency earner—after readymade garments (RMG)—if Bangladesh is able to attract investors by providing them land and capital at affordable rates.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), in the first nine months of the current financial year 2014–15, the country posted a 23.40 per cent growth in footwear exports, compared to the same period a year ago.
Bangladesh earned USD 354.22 million from exports of leather footwear in the July–March period in the fiscal year.
20150411 * Tannery relocation in jeopardy:
It is indeed an irony in Bangladesh that nothing happens as per decision unless compelled to do it.
Whatever reforms one sees today taking place in the field of readymade garment (RMG) industries with regard to compliance issues could have been taken decades ago had our entrepreneurs been a little mindful about it. Warnings were oft-repeated with none to heed to those.
And when foreign buyers of apparels started looking to other outlets in foreign countries due to stiff consumer resistance, only then did our RMG entrepreneurs start reforming their industries and adopting related practices with support from retailers, the ILO and other agencies.
The suspension of the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) by the United States also hastened the pace of reforms.
The same is the case with the leather industry.
A separate industrial estate was established at Savar for relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh but most of the tanners have seemingly turned a deaf ear to the government as well as the environmentalists and other stakeholders.
20150413 * Accord and Alliance conditions affecting RMG sector, say businessmen:
They made the statement at a views-exchange meeting on the garment industry held in Dhaka on Sunday.
Bangladesh Readymade Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam said: “The Accord and Alliance are big challenges for (Bangladesh’s) apparel industry.”
“We’re facing the challenges enduring huge sufferings. Even the buyers can now see what the situation of country’s 2,100 garment factories is. It’s a matter of pride,” he said.
Islam said Bangladeshi apparels lost their competitiveness in trying to fulfil ‘different conditions’ of the Accord and Alliance. “Additional bank rates have created more problems.”
20150413 * Garment makers berate western retailers for ‘harsh’ conditions:
Accord, Alliance urged to form similar bodies elsewhere
Apparel producers came down heavily on Accord and Alliance for imposing what they called ‘increasing’ and ‘harsh’ conditions in the name of workplace safety in factories.
Terming their demands ‘illogical’, they said factory owners are finding it difficult to meet their ever-increasing demands for work place safety and security.
Accord and Alliance are two platforms by buyers from the European Union (EU) and North American countries working in Bangladesh to establish labour rights and promote work place safety in the ready-made garment sector.
“Conditions of safety by Accord and Alliance continue to grow, throwing us into a difficult situation,” president of Exporter Association of Bangladesh (EAB) Abdus Salam Murshedy said while speaking at an exchange of meeting in the city held Sunday.
20150412 * Complete govt-ILO factory inspections unlikely by Apr 30:
The government-led and the International Labour Organisation-sponsored readymade garment factory inspection programme is unlikely to be completed by April 30 deadline due to non-cooperation of some factory owners and inconsistency in information including factory locations and contact numbers.
As per the announcement of the ILO, the inspection of the readymade garment factories under National Tripartite Plan of Action was supposed to end by April 30.
According to officials concerned, the ILO has so far inspected 850 garment factories with 500 units still remaining as inspection teams failed to reach the units due to incorrect contact details.
ILO officials on Wednesday held a meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and sought intervention from the trade body so that factory owners give schedule forinspections.
In the meeting the ILO officials said that it would not be possible to complete the
inspections within April 30 as their inspection teams failed to reach more than five hundred factories due to incorrect information and unwillingness of factory owners.
20150412 * H&M inspects more textile suppliers in quest for improved conditions:
World no.2 fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz said half its clothes will by year-end be made of fabric from mills which it has inspected, marking progress in a programme to improve working conditions in plants typically in India and Bangladesh.
Poor working conditions in the textile industry were thrust into the limelight by the collapse in 2013 of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in which more than 1,100 workers were killed.
H&M, which ranks second globally by sales to Spain’s Inditex , has extended its inspections from factories making its clothes to those supplying fabric and yarn.
20150413 * Safety is a game-changer:
The transformation that our apparel industry has undergone in the areas of workplace safety and workers’ welfare will play a crucial role in changing the future course of the industry
The rise of the RMG industry in Bangladesh and its ultimately becoming the
second largest ready-made garment exporter in the world within just three decades, is just short of a
However, was there any magic wand through which this miracle was performed? The answer is a simple no.
Our achievements did not come on a silver platter, the relentless efforts of both entrepreneurs and workers have led our RMG industry to where it is today.
In its journey of three decades, the industry has faced umpteen challenges in the way of securing a strong foothold in the global apparel market. It is our unbeatable adaptability that has helped us conquer these hurdles.
Child labour elimination in 1994, the continuity of export growth after the MFA Quota phase-out, and the global recession are a testimony of our ability to become successful in any situation.
After the building collapse in 2013 that gave our RMG industry a big jolt, we have transformed the industry, turned around, and have again proved our resilience to any odds.
The twin tragic incidents were the most unfortunate happenings in the history of our industry.
Yet, these two incidents were significant wakeup calls for us, a call for a turn-around and for rebuilding the industry, a call for ensuring the safety of our workers and ourselves.
There has been a paradigm shift in the mindset of entrepreneurs — tremendous progress has been achieved in safety inspection, awareness, and other occupational safety and health issues.
Our industry is undergoing transformation in a way that can be iconic for any other textile and apparel industry in the world.
After the tragic building collapse in 2013, it was thought that most of the Bangladeshi garment factories were vulnerable.
But after inspection by local and foreign engineers under the initiatives of Accord, Alliance, and National Action Plan (NAP), it was found that less than 1.5% of the factories were in imminent danger, and those facilities were immediately shut down — 32 out of 2,325 inspected factories.
Both Accord and Alliance completed inspection at all of their listed factories.
20150413 * RMG bosses seek vote for their fellow:
Notable RMG sector entrepreneurs and other businesspeople yesterday urged Dhaka to vote their family member Annisul Haq for the mayor of Dhaka North City corporation.
FBCCI Prsident Kazi Akram Uddin and BGMEA President Atiqul Islam led the call for votes speaking at “Current situation of RMG Sector and the way forward” – a meeting to exchange views organised be the BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA.
“Annisul Huq is a family member of the clothing industry, we must stand by him and extend our hands of cooperation,” said BGMEA president Atiqul Islam.
FBCCI President Akram remarked that Annisul’s victory would mean victory for the business community as a whole, and said: “The government has met the demands of the business community; we will peruse the government to realise the businesspeople’s demands in the upcoming budget as well.”
“Annisul Huq has led the $30bn RMG industry to where it is now, and if we elect him as mayor, he will lead Dhaka and make it the most liveable city,” said BKMEA acting president Aslam Sunny.
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EZ (economic zones)
20150412 * Incentive package for private EZs:
The government has, reportedly, decided to go aggressive in wooing the private entrepreneurs to invest in the economic zones (EZs) of the country. Of the 17 EZs approved, three will be developed as private economic zones and one each exclusively for Chinese and Japanese investors in the first phase.
The government has planned to set up some 100 EZs on 30,000 hectares of land over the next 15 years.
A full-range incentive package is on the cards for developers of private EZs. According to reports, these include tax holiday facility for 10 years, tax exemption from dividend income, and income tax waiver on service charges.
The incentive package was approved at the latest board meeting of Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA). Under the tax incentive package, both EZ developers and investors will reportedly get tax relief.
Value Added Tax (VAT) on their electricity generation and procurement of equipments will be exempted for 10 years. Purchase of products from local market will be VAT-free for the investors for setting up EZs. There will be no customs duty on import of equipments, not available in the country, for developing EZs.
On the other hand, foreign investors in EZs will be allowed to bring 5.0 per cent of a factory’s workforce from their own countries.
Foreign workers having technical expertise in respective fields would be allowed to enjoy 50 per cent income tax exemption for five years.
The negative side of the issue is that none of the proposed EZs has infrastructure like roads, power and gas which are needed for their smooth operation.
There is also an issue of protecting the investment made in the zones after their arrival here.
Nobody should be under any illusion that because of the incentives package, private and overseas investors will automatically rush in huge number.
In fact, the main aim of the EZ policy was to help materialise the Vision-2021 of the long term perspective plan and sixth five-year plan, expedite growth through industrialisation and alleviate poverty and balanced development of the country. All these are yet to be materialised and remain ‘dream’ as yet.
Countries like Vietnam, Myanmar and China have already gone for setting up special economic zones (SEZs) replete with physical infrastructure including power, road and rail links to woo foreign investment.
Vietnam has already established 400 SEZs.
Recently, Myanmar is making fast progress, to catch the waves of global investors. Bangladesh is lagging far behind in this race.
20150412 * CCCI for rehabilitating sick industrial units:
Views exchanged on new policy
Chittagong chamber chief Mahbubul Alam said on Saturday the sick industries should be identified and rehabilitated and the work on under-construction industries be quickened.
The president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) also suggested same and equal facilities including tax holiday to both local and foreign industries and one-stop services for the entrepreneurs.
He was speaking at a view exchange meeting held with industrialists and businessmen in Chittagong. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Industries in cooperation with the CCCI at the chamber office as part of the process of drafting a new industrial policy.
A useful and coordinated industrial policy alone could ensure economic growth with maximum contribution to the industrial sector besides lessening import dependence and reducing poverty, he observed.
Under the scheme the backward areas would be given due importance for establishing labour-intensive industries and handicrafts, cottage, small and medium enterprises would be given incentives like financial support from the government, he added.
In the manufacturing sector, the industries having replacement cost of Tk 300 million without land and factory building cost or industries having more than 250 workers other than the garment industries would be treated as large industries. Any RMG factory having a workforce of more than 1,000 would also be called large industries, he said.
20150411 * Pvt EZ developers offered incentives:
The government has decided to offer a full-range incentive package for developers of private economic zones (EZs), including tax holiday facility for 10 years, tax exemption from dividend income, and income tax waiver on service charges.
The incentive package has been approved at the latest board meeting of Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA), chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The package also includes tax-benefit on payment of Value Added Tax (VAT), customs duty and income tax.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has recently asked the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to take necessary steps, so that BEZA can offer the facilities to the developers and investors.
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THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150412 * ACC files cases against Rana’s parents:
Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on Sunday filed two cases against the collapsed Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana’s parents Abdul Khaleque and Marjina Begum over illegal properties.
In the case statement, the duo are accused for attaining illegal assets worth of Tk 17-crore.
ACC deputy-director Mahbubul Alam filed the cases with Shahbagh Thana.
ACC deputy-director (public relations) Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya confirmed the matter to banglanews.
Earlier on April 9, ACC gave the approval of the case in a regular meeting held in Segun Bagicha.
On April 5, two separate reports were placed in the ACC.
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11:13:26 local time INDIA
20150414 * Handloom workers stay despite low wages, poor patronage:
Poor wages and fall in patronage do not deter them from sticking their profession they had inherited from their forefathers, despite the fact that a good number of looms had been idling.
Scores of handloom workers at the foot of Tirueengoimalai on the Tiruchi-Thottiyam highway have been toiling hard preparing the yarn or handloom cloth to be supplied to Athur.
M. Selvi, manager of Sri Maragatheswari Handloom Weavers’ Association, said the handloom industry was in doldrums because of serious fall in wages.
Left with no option, the labourers were still adhering to the trade as they were not familiar with any other skill for taking up alternative livelihood.
A. Saravanamuthu, a labourer, says handloom cloth involved a series of intricate and conventional methods – right from preparing the yarn up to spraying of rice gruel for ensuring its quality.
20150412 * Govt mulling enhancing health cover for unorganised labourers:
insurance cover under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna will also be expanded to include tertiary care
The Centre is mulling increasing health insurance coverage for unorganised sector labourers from the existing Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 and a proposal in this regard will be placed before the Union Cabinet soon.
The insurance cover under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) will also be expanded to include tertiary care as well, according to a proposal aimed at restructuring the scheme.
A senior Health Ministry official said, at present the scheme covers secondary care and hospitalisation expenses up to Rs 30,000.
20150412 * Textile Minister promises early end to TUFS imbroglio:
TUFS is an interest subsidy scheme for upgradation of technology as part of measures to boost textile and jute sectors.
The Centre, on Saturday, assured the textile industry that it would soon resolve the issue of pending claims under its technology upgradation scheme.
The Textile Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) is an interest subsidy scheme for upgradation of technology as part of measures to boost textile and jute sectors.
“The textile industry has been facing issues such as non-allocation of around Rs.3,000 crore to meet pending cases under TUFS, which include committed liability, left out cases and blackout period.
20150413 * Minister urges textiles sector to become world leader:
Union textiles minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar has said that Scheme for Integrated Textile Park (SITP) aims to provide infrastructure support which is critical for making textile manufacturing industry globally competitive.
20150412 * Garments grow again:
Rest of industrial output index suggests modest recovery
A couple of years ago, when industrial production was showing some signs of revival, one commodity seemed to be taking the entire burden of acceleration.
This happened to be the garments sector, which showed close to three-digit growth for several months.
This performance was completely at odds with the growth registered by the textiles sector, which, logic would suggest, should grow at comparable rates.
The reason that this backdrop may be important is that the February numbers for the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), which were published on Friday, provided a significant positive surprise.
20150414 * SIMA seeks facilities at Mangalore Port:
Textile mills and cotton traders here have appealed to the Mangalore Port Trust officials to extend customs-free bonded warehouse facility for cotton without attracting any tax or levies as in Malaysian port.
Chairman of Southern India Mills’ Association chairman T. Rajkumar has said in a press release that members of the association, South India Spinners’ Association, traders and liners had a discussion here with P.C. Parida, chairman of Mangalore Port Trust, recently.
The port handles coffee, cashew, coal, timber and oil and the port authorities have evinced interest in stocking imported cotton in its warehouses. Textile mills in the State import substantial quantity of cotton from west African countries and with congestion in the ports they use now, the association is looking at tapping the facilities at Mangalore port.
Customs-free bonded warehouse will enable the traders to return the unsold cotton to the original destination without any additional cost, he said.
20150412 * Manipur woos investors for upcoming textile park:
Manipur is wooing investors for its upcoming textile park in the suburbs of state capital Imphal, highlighting its strategic location advantage as a gateway to South East Asia.
Although the state has faced law and order issues, the Manipur government is assuring investors safety and security as it tries to create much-needed jobs for the unemployed.
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20150412 * ‘Set up textile mills in Vidarbha’:
Union minister for transport Nitin Gadkari exhorted industrialists to come forward to set up textile mills in cotton-rich Vidarbha to help government arrest farmers’ suicides and create employment for the unemployed.
Presiding over a meeting to review the steps required to be taken to activate setting up of textile mills in the region, Gadkari discussed the issue with industrialists across the state at divisional commissioner’s office late Friday night.
Gadkari asked the industrialists to send a proposal to the Centre through the state government regarding the concessions and facilities they expected from the government for setting up textile mills in the region.
20150410 * Textile parks will attract Rs 30,000 crore investment in India:
Textile Minister Santosh Gangwar says the parks will generate employment for 1.1 million people
Textile parks set up under the Scheme for Integrate Textile Park (SITP) will attract investment of Rs 30,000 crore and will generate employment for nearly 1.1 million people in India, said Santosh Gangwar, Union minister of state for textile, at a national workshop for textiles in Surat on Friday.
A two-day workshop was organised by ministry of textile in Surat to showcase the textile parks development.
SITP aims to provide infrastructure support, which is critical for making textile manufacturing industry globally competitive.
Gangwar said, “Once the park is operational, it is expected to attract investment of Rs 30,000 crore and generate employment for 1.1 million people.
20150410 * Surat is a role model in the development of textile parks:
Surat’s textile entrepreneurs are weaving a success story with the setting up of integrated textile parks and achieving the production value of over Rs 2,500 crore in the last few years.
At the first ever National workshop on Scheme for Integrated Textile Park (SITP) organised by the Ministry of Textiles in the city on Friday, the Minister of State for Textile, Santosh Kumar Gangwar exhorted the textile entrepreneurs in other states to following the rich experience of the entrepreneurs in Surat and strive to replicate their success stories.
Gangwar said, “Surat is the hub for MMF fabrics and now it has become the hub for the textile parks as well. We have brought the representative from different states to witness the progress made by the Surti entrepreneurs in the textile park development”.
20150413 * Tirupur knitwear exports cross Rs. 20,000 crore:
Knitwear exports from Tirupur cluster have registered a growth 15.5 per cent in terms of rupee and 15.9 per cent in terms of foreign currencies during the just ended 2014-15 financial, according to a press statement issued by Tirupur Exporters Association.
The Association had stated that the export statistics were arrived at after consolidating the data obtained from 38 banks in Tirupur and nearby areas.
According to the data brought out by the TEA, knitwear products worth Rs. 20,730 crore were exported from Tirupur cluster during 2014-15 fiscal when compared to Rs. 18,000 crore worth of exports registered in the previous fiscal.
Banking sources said that the banks at micro level usually could provide only the data of overall items exported though over 90 per cent of the exports from Tirupur region were ready made garments.
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20150412 * Govt bats for handloom weavers:
The state government has strongly opposed the production of traditional weaves in power looms in a bid to protect traditional handloom and silk products and those who earn their livelihood from them.
The power loom associations have demanded exempting sarees from the Handloom (Reservation of Articles for Production) Act, 1985.
Handloom saree is among the 11 textile items of fabrics reserved for exclusive production by handlooms and production of the same by power looms would attract penalty including imprisonment under Section 10 of the Act.
20150410 * As darkness looms, weavers spin success story:
At Vishwanath Kenchi’s handloom unit at Gajendragad in Gadag district, the steady clacks of the looms belie all expectations.
At a time when the handloom sector appears to be losing the fight to power looms, the 43-year-old has taken 75 weavers under his wing to ensure that their livelihood isn’t affected by the winds of change.
Kenchi’s organization – Adishakti Kaimagga Nekarara Sahakari Sangh Niyamita – which boasts of a flat structure, has been receiving a steady stream of orders since its inception as a self-help group in 2007.
In the cooperative society’s success story lies a potential model for the handloom sector’s revival.
20150414 * Jute imports up by 24%, exports dip by 22% in April-Jan FY15:
IJMA sources have attributed higher imports to lack of monitoring and check in end-use of jute product
The country’s jute sector continues to face double whammy as imports of finished goods have jumped by 24%, while exports have declined by 22% in the April to January period of financial year 2014-15.
“According to National Jute Board estimates, jute exports for the period April-January of FY15 have declined sharply to Rs 1,115 crore, down 22% in rupee terms and 20% in dollar terms as compared to corresponding period of FY14,” said a senior official of Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA).
20150413 * IIT-Roorkee catalyst to curb Kanpur tannery wastes:
With over 700 tanneries facing an uncertain future for spewing pollutants into the river Ganga at Kanpur, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee has come up with a solution to curb their toxic wastes.
Under a pilot project, IIT-Roorkee has developed a catalyst which can be used in the redesigned chambers to bring down the level of TDS (dissolved solids) from 18,000-25,000 parts per million (PPM) to 1,000-1,500 PPM, which is well under the permissible limit.
The pilot project has been given to IIT-Roorkee by a consortium of five top tanneries of Kanpur, which includes Mirza International, Asia’s biggest tannery, says Prof Shishir Sinha of the department of chemical engineering at IIT-Roorkee. Super House, Model Exim, Kingston and Allen Cooper are the other four tanneries in the consortium.
20150411 * Tanneries directed against polluting Ganges during Kumbh Mela:
The directive is aimed to provide pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela a clean and unpolluted river when they take a holy dip in its waters, an official said.
“Starting today till February 13 and then from February 22 till the 24th of that month and again between March 6 and 9, tanneries in the city are under orders not to use water in the production process.
“Seven teams have also been created to daily monitor work at these tanneries during the duration of the Kumbh Mela with each set to have an officer of the rank of magistrate,” he said.
11:13:26 local time SRI LANKA
20150413 * Fire at Katunayake Economic Zone:
A fire broke out in a garment factory this morning at the Katunayaka investment zone.
According to our correspondent the fire brigade in the investment zone was called to douse the fire.
It is also reported that the factory is destroyed to a great extent.
The cause of the fire is not yet determined.
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20150413 * Fire damages Sri Lanka’s Brandix apparel factory:
An early morning fire has broken out in Sri Lanka’s Brandix apparel factory located in the Board of Investment’s export processing zone in Katunayake near the international airport.
Police said the fire was reported around 7:30 this morning and it was doused with the assistance of the Katunayake Police and the fire brigade units of the Board of Investment and Aviation Services Department.
The fire brigades have put out the fire immediately preventing the fire to spread to neighboring factories.The cause of the fire or the extent of damages has not been ascertained yet.
The factory was closed today for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays.
According to Lanka Business Online, the Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion, Kabir Hashim, has been in touch with the owners of the Brandix factory.
20150412 * ‘Lanka should exploit niche markets’:
Sri Lanka’s exporters eagerly await the regaining of GSP+ to boost volumes and revenue, capitalising on available opportunities.
“What we need today is not only GSP plus, but other trade concessions from USA, Japan and other countries as well,” Chairman, Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association, Anil Wettewa told the annual general meeting of the Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association in Colombo recently.
“Sri Lanka is in the forefront of quality lingerie manufacturing.
This is only one of the several niche markets that we can exploit.
“We should take this further. With the apparel sourcing sector working closely with the garment industry, the US $ 6 billion target could be achieved sooner than we think,” he said.
The apparel sourcing sector of the garment industry has brought in new technology and skills to the stakeholders.
At the beginning all accessories had to be imported. However, today the industry is supported by able organisations that turn out a large percentage of the needs, he said.
20150412 * Commitment to conventions, a key factor- Experts:
GSP Plus reinstatement
Sri Lanka will regain access to the European Union (EU) markets with zero duty concession under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus trade scheme according to trade sector experts who expressed positive sentiments last week at a trade discussion on the reinstatement of the benefit to Sri Lanka by the EU.
However, a major hurdle is the compliance with the United Nations conventions which binds beneficiary States to adhere strictly to 27 conventions to be eligibile.
The GSP Plus concessions granted to Sri Lanka was withdrawn in 2010 following its failure to implement the conventions.
The former government refused to comply with the EU conditions following an investigation on the implementation of the regulations.
Trade experts said that the country lost trade worth around US$ 500 million, with the EU, due to the withdrawal of the zero duty concessions.
Exports to the EU dropped from around US$ 5.5 billion in 2011 to around US$ 5.1 billion last year according to data.
10:43:26 local time PAKISTAN
20150411 * Fire destroys cotton factory:
A major fire broke out in a cotton factory in New Karachi Industrial Area early on Friday morning, destroying the building and causing losses of millions of rupees.
The blaze, which started at 4:06am due to a short circuit, soon engulfed most parts of the factory. Thick black smoke could be seen from miles.
The intensity of the flames caused the factory’s rooftop and its boundary wall on two sides to collapse.
After four hours of constant battle with flames, firefighter put out the blaze. Eight fire engines were involved in the operation.
Police have started preliminary investigations and recorded the statement of the watchman of the factory.
20150414 * Attention needed: Textile minister’s appointment urged:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has rejected the idea of merging textile and the commerce ministries, also stressing the need to appoint a textile minister on an urgent basis.
Senator Abbas Khan Afridi left as textile minister last month on the completion of his tenure as senator and an appointment is yet to be made.
The association said the appointment should be immediate as major decisions regarding policy implementation, the Export Development Fund and budget preparation for 2015-16 are being delayed.
20150414 * Minister’s absence affects textile policy implementation:
The value-added textile industry, rejecting the move of merging Textile Division into the Commerce Division, has demanded the government to appoint textile minister immediately, as major decisions regarding textile policy implementation, Export Development Fund and budget preparation exercise for 2015-16 are being delayed as the tenure of Abbas Afridi as textile minister has expired and thus the post is vacant.
Uncertainty is negatively affecting the whole textile sector which contributes more than 54% share in total exports of the country.
The industry representatives said that textile has become the most important sector especially after grant of the GSP Plus status by the EU countries, as 80% items, having free market access, relate to this sector and it needs an extraordinary focus.
20150412 * Pakistan fails to improve textile’s growth on GSP Plus:
Pakistan has failed to improve growth rate of textile sector under the European Union’s GSP Plus status because of lack of planning, a garments business leader said.
Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Ijaz Khokhar told The News that no proper marketing plan was prepared to get the benefit of generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) plus.
“We failed to make any plan at the early stage,” Khokhar said, adding that they have received benefit of around $300 million in apparel sector.
“It was not a remarkable achievement. We already record two to four percent growth every year without GSP Plus,” he said.
Chairman PRGMEA said textile policy was announced with a delay of around seven months. It was due in July last year but arrived this year. Besides, there was a rift between commerce and textile ministries. “They (government) do not want to promote textile any further,” he said.
20150414 * PRGMEA rejects merger of textile division:
Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has rejected the merger of Textile Division into the Commerce Division and demanded of immediate appointment of a new textile minister.
PRGMEA Central Chairman, Ijaz Khokhar, has said major decisions regarding textile policy implementation, Export Development Fund and budget preparation exercise for 2015-16 are pending in the absence of a textile minister. He said the prevalent uncertainty is impacting negatively to the textile industry.
He said the textile industry has become important after the GSP plus status by the EU, as 80 percent items with free market access under the scheme are from this sector. All the regional competitors have separate ministries of textile, he added.
20150412 * Textile industry: Committee backs seed cotton procurement:
A meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile Industry recommended that the seed cotton (phutti) may be procured by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) instead of lint cotton to secure growers’ interests.
The meeting was held at the Parliament House under the chairmanship of MNA Khawaja Ghulam Rasool Koreja, for detailed discussion on fixation of cotton price, considering the cost of production.
Moreover, it was also suggested that the grade wise/quality wise cotton availability mechanism may be adopted for better and efficient marketing purpose.
20150414 * Leather sector: only 50 percent units filing income tax returns: FBR:
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has observed that the leather sector is one of the leading foreign exchange earners, but its income tax contribution is too low ie only 50 percent of registered units are filing income tax returns.
According to the Industry Profile-Leather Industry in Pakistan issued by the FBR here on Monday, the provisional data of income tax filers shows that the compliance level is just 50%. In the year 2013-14, 49% of the total registrants were the filers as compared to 58% filers in the year 2012-13.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150412 * Rizwan Qureshi trial: No judge, no suspect and the case lingers on:
The case against the alleged target killer, Rizwan Qureshi, who had made stark revelations about the Baldia factory fire incident, may linger on as the court trying him has gone vacant.
Qureshi, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker according to court documents, was arrested in June 2013 for possessing an illegal weapon. He was later implicated in five other cases of murder, based on his confessions during interrogation.
The suspect was granted bail in all the cases against him and was appearing before the court regularly for the hearings until a joint investigation team’s (JIT) report was made public.
The JIT, in subject, quoted Qureshi as saying that there were MQM workers behind the Baldia factory inferno.
The report also quoted him as saying that the blaze in which at least 250 people were burnt to death was allegedly perpetrated over refusal to pay a hefty amount in extortion.
Over his repeated absence, a District South court at the judicial complex inside the Karachi Central Jail had issued non-bailable warrants for him during the two previous hearings.
His guarantors were also issued notices. But they failed to inform the court about his whereabouts.
10:43:26 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek Government Forces Labor & Extorts Funds From Citizens and Corporations:
New report highlights how the cotton harvest fosters modern day slavery and extortion
In 2014, the government of Uzbekistan forced more than a million of its own citizens to pick cotton, and officials extorted individuals and businesses, including multinational companies, at a larger scale as part of the annual Uzbek cotton harvest, according to a new report released by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF).
Although the government did not systematically mobilize children throughout the country to pick cotton, as it had in previous years, this did not decrease the massive scale of forced labor, as the government instead coerced more adults to pick cotton in their place.
The study of the 2014 cotton harvest also found an unprecedented degree of extortion of individuals and businesses that fueled the forced labor system, including keeping people in fields even though there is no more cotton to pick so people are still forced to pay fees for food and board, etc., and setting unattainable quotas so people had to pay to make up deficits.
“The scope of the bribery is simply astounding,” said Umida Niyazova, UGF director. “At all levels of government, officials take their cut, and Uzbek citizens, particularly public sector workers are forced to pay or pick cotton through intimidation and fear.”
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* Feminism May Be In Fashion, But The Women Making The Clothes We Wear ‘Live In Poverty’:
With plus-size models becoming the norm and Karl Lagerfeld using feminist placards in Chanel’s 2015 Spring show, on the surface, it seems the fashion industry is finally embracing feminism.
But are the women making the clothes we wear feeling the benefit?
According to campaign group Labour Behind The Label, there are approximately 24 million garment workers worldwide. Around 80% of those are women.
“Conditions for the women making our clothes are harsh,” Ilana Winterstein, a director at Labour Behind The Label tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.
“Many face working excessive hours – often 14-16 hours per day – with forced overtime and no job security, for poverty wages and without trade union rights recognised.
“They suffer poor health, are victims of sexual and physical abuse and cannot afford to send their children to school.”
* Clothing labels expose the danger of cheap fashion:
Unless you’re looking at a size or washing instructions, you’re usually not examining the tag on your clothing. But a new advertising campaign is trying to change that.
The powerful campaign, produced by Toronto-based creative agency Rethink and the Canadian Fair Trade Network, is trying to highlight what goes into producing the $5 T-shirt you just picked up on sale.
“The Label Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story” is a series of three print ads that illuminate the danger of sweatshops and the poor working conditions that workers endure.
* Rana Plaza: are fashion brands responsible for those they don’t directly employ?:
Anger has been directed at factory owners after the Rana Plaza collapse, but it’s also been directed against the brands whose clothes were made there
Mamata Khatun worked as a garment quality checker at New Wave Style, a factory on the sixth floor of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.
She worked from 8am until 10pm or even midnight and reports never having had more than two days’ holiday per month. For Eid, Khatun would receive seven days of holiday, but in the preceding weeks the factory would often run all night.
She remembers seeing foreigners visit the factory and being coached about what to say if they were spoken to, which they never were: “A buyer is coming so be alert and be good. If they talk to you just answer like this – you joined at age 18, you get a lunch-break, all is good, all is fine.”
The collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013 killed 1,138 people. It left Khatun disabled with serious injuries to her arms and feet.
She went from being the family breadwinner to being dependent on the tiny wage of her husband who works as a vegetable seller.
Two years on, there are 5,000 people like Khatun eligible for compensation for Rana Plaza – but who should pay? In Dhaka, there is anger against factory owners like Bazlus Samad Adnan, who owned New Wave Style, and Sohel Rana who owned Rana Plaza, but there is also anger directed against brands.
New Wave Style produced clothes for dozens of European fashion companies, one of which was Benetton, which recently agreed to pay into a compensation fund after one million people signed a petition calling on it to pay up.
Benetton has promised to confirm the amount it would pay before the 24 April anniversary, but why is it expected that an Italian company would pay compensation to workers in Bangladesh that it never directly employed?