in the news 21-24 April 2015

15:50:48 local time map of korea_n NORTH KOREA

20150422 * DPRK allows delayed wage payment from S. Korea in economic zone:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has allowed South Korean companies running factories in the inter-Korean factory park to delay their hiked wage payment until Friday.

The DPRK’s General Bureau for Guidance to Central Special Economic Zone Development in charge of managing the Kaesong industrial complex verbally notified its South Korean counterpart of the delay at 11:30 a.m. local time, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Wednesday.

The original deadline was April 20 for the March wages for DPRK employees working for South Korean companies at the joint factory park in the DPRK’s border town of Kaesong.

South Korea’s management committee for the industrial zone formally asked Tuesday for the delay in payment of the wages unilaterally increased by the DPRK.
Under the revision, the minimum wage for DPRK workers in Kaesong will be raised from 70.35 U.S. dollars to 74 dollars starting from March. The March wage should be paid by April 20.
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13:50:48 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

20150423 * Vietnam to bolster ailing pension system after worker strike:

Workers of Pou Yuen Vietnam gather at their factory on the fifth day of a strike in Vietnam’s southern Ho Chi Minh City March 31, 2015.

Thousands of workers at the major factory in southern Vietnam went on strike for the fifth day on Tuesday in protest over social insurance cover, in rare show of labour unrest in a country positioning itself as a future Asian manufacturing powerhouse.

Vietnam is considering ways to shore up its pension system, a senior lawmaker said, after tens of thousands of workers protested new rules on benefit withdrawals.

Vietnam will ease rules, expand eligibility criteria and match worker contributions to overhaul its voluntary pension fund and encourage more employees to join so as to reduce the burden on the system, said Bui Sy Loi, vice chairman of the social affairs committee at the National Assembly. Workers also make payments to a mandatory fund.
read more.

20150420 * Vietnam, EU work to strengthen workers’ rights:

20150422 NHANDAN

The Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) and the European Union (EU) held a workshop on April 20 to discuss policies aimed at strengthening workers’ rights and the role of trade unions.

VASS Vice President Nguyen Quang Thuan said the EU-funded project “Strengthening Workers’ Rights and Representation” has been implemented with the coordination of the University of Naples “L’Orientale” (UNO) from October 2012 to April 2015.

The project aims to enhance the capacity of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour to supervise and understand workers’ situations, as well as the ability to support workers with legal consultation and awareness of their rights.
read more.

20150423 * Vietnam labor scored only 4 out of 10 points: WB survey:

The quality of human resources of Vietnam ranked 11th among 12 countries in the World Bank’s survey.

In a speech at the Spring Economic Forum 2015, Dr. Bui Sy Loi, Vice Chair of the Committee on Social Affairs of the National Assembly said that the quality of labor is a big challenge for Vietnam.

According to the World Bank, the quality of human resources of Vietnam reached 3.79 points (out of 10), ranking 11th out of 12 countries surveyed in Asia. At the same time, South Korea scored 6.91 points; India 5.76 points; and Malaysia 5.59 points. Vietnam’s human resources are weak at quality, lack of dynamism and creativity, and industrial working style.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Lan Huong from the Institute of Labor and Social Affairs said that Vietnam lacks of skilled workers and high-level technical workers. Of the total 53.4 million people aged 15 and older, only about 49% were trained, of them those with vocational training for 3 months upward account for only about 19%.
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20150422 * Vinatex builds VND150 billion garment plant in Bac Lieu:

The Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) on April 22 commenced construction of a garment plant at Tra Kha Industrial Zone in Bac Lieu.

The plant has an investment of VND150 billion (US$6.9 million), covering an area of over 4 hectares.

The plant will have an annual production of more than 5 million garment products and earn an estimated US$20-30 million in export revenue per year.
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20150424 * Survey shows support for Vietnam joining TPP:

A recent survey from the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) found that 66% of domestic enterprises have expressed support for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to go forward.

However for transnational enterprises operating in Vietnam the survey found much less support and that only 30% of them were in favour of the 12 member Pacific Rim trade pact.

“There is still a surprising group of small and medium sized businesses that are not well informed about Vietnam’s negotiations to join theTPP,” said Professor Edmund Malesky from Duke University.
read more.

20150423 * Vietnam hopes for early conclusion of TPP talk with US:

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung expressed hope for early conclusion of negotiations with the US on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal while meeting US Trade Representative Michael Froman in Hanoi on April 22.

Though difficulties remain ahead, especially in contents regarding market, services and investment, government procurement, intellectual property, State-owned enterprises and labour, the PM noted that the two sides have made long steps forward in the spirit of straightforwardness, sincerity, constructiveness, good will and cooperation.
read more.

20150424 * Bac Ninh lacks worker housing:

More than 50 per cent of workers in the northern province of Bac Ninh aren’t from Bac Ninh; they migrated from other places to fill the labour demand, said a provincial labour report.

Statistics from the Trade Union of the Bac Ninh Province Industrial Zone show that there are 144,700 workers in the province’s nine industrial zones and an estimated 72,370 of them need accommodation.

The province’s ongoing development of a large work force has a yearly target of attracting an additional 20,000-30,000 workers from outside. It is expected that every year 10,000-15,000 more people will be on the search for accommodation.

Le Thi Hoa, 29, from the northern province of Nam Dinh, has worked at the Foster Company in Tu Son District for four years. At present, she lives with her family in a boarding house in the district’s Phu Chan Commune.

Hoa said that, together, her and her husband’s income is VND8 million (US$380) a month. Every month they manage to save VND3 million ($140), but it is still too difficult to buy a house.
read more.

13:50:48 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

20150424 * Union asks Japanese to examine ‘assaults’:

A Cambodian labour union this week sent a letter to the Japanese Embassy, asking for help dealing with reported violence against workers at a Japanese-owned garment factory in Kampong Speu province.

Chea Mony, president of Free Trade Union, yesterday sent a letter to the embassy, asking their officials to handle complaints of assaults against FTU workers at Hirota Garment Co.

“We would like the ambassador to please intervene with the employer at the Hirota factory to stop the use of violence against the leaders of Free Trade Union,” Mony’s letter reads.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

20150422 * City Hall considering May Day rally:

Phnom Penh City Hall expressed uncertainty yesterday as to whether it would be able to allow a planned 3,000-person labour union rally on May 1, in observation of International Labour Day.

Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina yesterday said the thousands-strong demonstration will meet in the capital’s Freedom Park, before delivering petitions to the United States and European Union embassies. Petitions will ask for better monitoring of labour violations such as the excessive use of short-term contracts.

“We will give speeches related to workers’ concerns and the challenges of labour rights, as well as union freedoms,” Sina said yesterday. “Even if we are not allowed to, we still will; we do it every year, and it is our right to [demonstrate].”
read more.
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14:50:48 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* New Loom Design A Boon For Pua Kumbu Weavers:

Merai Anak Kaya had long been accustomed to the nagging pain in her shoulders and lower back.

Sitting in an uncomfortable position for some 11 hours, weaving the “pua kumbu” will do that to you.

The 56-year-old Iban woman has tried all sorts of remedy to soothe away the pain, but it returns the moment she sits in front of the loom and resumes her routine as a weaver.

Sometimes she wonders why she subjects herself to such pain, but soldiers on when reminded of her love for the art and heritage of her ancestors.

The traditional patterned multicoloured ceremonial cloth is considered a sacred object in the Iban community, used during special rituals and celebrations.

“I leave the loom only to eat or answer the call of nature. If I permit myself many breaks, it would take much longer to complete it. But if I keep at it, I am usually able to produce over a feet of cloth a day (about 0.3m).

“However, the limited amount of movement has definitely contributed to a lot of back pain. I have to sit up straight during weaving because it would affect the weave if I don’t. This is why my body aches so much,” she lamented.
read more.

13:20:48 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

20150421 * Myanmar: union helps solve strike in garment factory:

Striking garment workers in Myanmar have agreed to go back to work after IndustriALL affiliate IWFM helped mediate a solution which resulted in a nearly 30 per cent pay increase.

At the beginning of April, 590 out of the almost 700 workers at a garment factory in the town of Yayni, Myanmar, went on strike.
Demanding a pay raise, workers also claimed to have lost several of their rights when the factory was privatized and production changed from paper and household goods to clothing.

Organizers from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) assisted the striking workers.
They were told of conditions in the factory, with one toilet for 690 workers, how they lack access to pure drinking water, and that workers do not enjoy benefits that they are entitled to by law.

The striking workers made a number of demands including no to forced overtime, double overtime rate on Sundays and national holidays, increased break time to 20 minutes, as well as a salary increase from 30000 Kyats (US$30) per month to 60000 Kyats (US$60).

After negotiations all demands apart from the pay raise were met. After first only agreeing to an increase of a few dollars, the employer and the workers settled on a new monthly salary of 41,000 Kyats (US$41).
read more.

12:50:48 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLADESH

20150424 * RMG: Amazing things happening in Bangladesh:

20150424 UNB

Local and international partners at a discussion here has recognised the ‘amazing progress’ made towards creating a safer ready-made garment (RMG) sector and stressed maintaining the ‘momentum’ for further improvement in working conditions and worker rights in the industry.

Addressing a commemoration event organised marking the second Rana Plaza anniversary, identified the remaining tasks as ‘opportunities’ not challenges and reaffirmed their commitment so that RMG workers enjoy the rights and safety that they deserve on Thursday.

State Minister for Labour and Employment M Mujibul Haque, International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Tomoko Nishimoto, Commerce Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon, British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson, Canadian High Commissioner Benoît-Pierre Laramée, Chargé d’Affaires of Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Martine van Hoogstraten and BGMEA President M Atiqul Islam, among others, spoke on the occasion.

A one-minute silence was observed at the event in remembrance of the 1,136 who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza collapse on 24 April 2013. Most victims were from RMG factories housed in the building.
read more.

20150424 * Unrest grips Khulna jute mills:

State-owned and private jute mills in Khulna have been hit hard by unrest as workers continue to protest to realise their several points demands.

Six private mills owe nearly Tk300 crore in unpaid wages and bank loans while another two suspended production due to a lack of working capital.

Ajax Jute Mill was shut a year ago but is yet to pay overdue wages amounting to Tk55 crore. The authorities are expected to hold a meeting this month to sell the mill.

Managing Director of the mill, Kawsar Zaman Babla, said the factory is unable to take out bank loans as it already has an unpaid loan of Tk70 crore.

“This is why we are unable to resume production.”
read more.

20150424 * Workers lay siege to spinning mills in Khulna:

Nearly 3,000 workers, both permanent and casual, laid siege to the laid-off Shagar Jute Spinning Mills at Senhati under Digholia in Khulna on Thursday morning, demanding withdrawal of lay-off.

The mill was laid off by the management on ground of financial crisis without giving any prior information and consultation with CBA leaders, rendering 300 permanent and 2,700 casual workers jobless.

A notice asking workers not to join works, however, was found hanging in front of the main gate of the mill on early morning of April 13.
Workers demanded withdrawal of the layoff notice terming it illegal and illogical and reopening of the mill by April 25, otherwise they would launch a tough movement.
General secretary of Shagar Jute Spinning Mills Workers’ Union Sheikh Babar Ali said families of the jobless workers were passing their days in hardship.
read more.

20150423 * Nazma Akter share why we need to build regional and global labor solidarity:

Nazma Akter,  President of Sommolito Garments Sramik Federation.

Discusses the increase in unionization after Rana Plaza, but questions whether it can be effective given that companies often move orders or factories in retaliation for unionization.

She concludes that without regional or global labor solidarity it will be difficult for unions to become strong in Bangladesh, and encourages all workers from both production countries and in the U.S. and Europe to be unified.
This interview is part of Sramik Awaaz: Workers Voices, a documentary on the labor movement in the garment industry in Bangladesh.
listen interview.

20150424 * ‘Non-implementation of labour law remains a challenge’:

Implementation of labour law and elimination of unfair labour practices are needed for ensuring improved working condition and worker rights in the readymade garment sector, speakers said at a commemoration event to mark the second anniversary of Rana Plaza tragedy Thursday.

They said that following the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 24, 2013 Bangladesh has made significant progresses in some areas but more needs to be done to achieve success in many areas.

The event, ‘Rana Plaza Two Years On: Towards a Safer RMG Sector for Bangladesh’ was jointly organised by the Government of Bangladesh and ILO at Hotel Sonargaon in the city.

Proper investigation and prosecution in the violence on trade union activists are important to ensure workers rights, as well as to protect the freedom of association, said Pierre Mayaudon head of delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh.

He said that formulation of implementation rules of labour act is a key requirement to setting up of occupational health and safety committees but following two years of the amendment of labour law, rules are yet to be finalised.
read more.

20150424 * Fair progress after tragedy:

Bangladesh has made significant progress in workplace safety since the Rana Plaza building collapse two years ago, as a result of broader reforms undertaken by the government and international communities, analysts and industry insiders said.

“The country needs a continuation of the momentum in improvements so that no more tragedy like the Rana Plaza incident takes place,” said Srinivas B Reddy, country director of International Labour Organisation.

The Accord, a platform of 190 retailers — mainly European, and Alliance, another platform of 26 North American retailers and brands, have already completed preliminary inspections of 2,087 factories in September last year and found more than 98 percent of the factories safe.
“Inspecting garment factories and undertaking necessary modifications under the private initiatives of Accord, Alliance and NTPA (National Tripartite Plan of Action) with the support of the ILO is a unique method even in the context of the global apparel value chain,” Khandker Golam Moazzem, additional director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said in his latest research paper.
He, however, said delayed cabinet approval to the rules of the amended labour law and harassment of trade union leaders are some areas where the government should focus on.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150424 * EU suggests short, medium-term plan of actions:

Two years of Rana Plaza disaster

The European Union (EU) has suggested a set of short and medium-termed plan of actions, including framing regulations for the 2013 labour law reforms and ensuring workers’ rights to exercise trade union in apparel industry of Bangladesh.

It also called for necessary measures for protecting workers’ rights in the export processing zones (EPZs).

The suggestions were made by the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström in an event on April 22 at the European Parliament to mark the two year anniversary of the Rana Plaza clothing factory disaster.

“I would like to highlight three priority actions for the short term and several others priorities for the medium term. The most urgent action needed is for the government to pass the implementing regulations for the 2013 labour law reform,” Ms Malmström told the Brussels Conference.
read more.
FE bd

20150424 * USA ready to work with Bangladesh in garment sector: Bernicat:

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, said yesterday that the USA is ready to work as a partner with the government, workers, and employers to show the world that Bangladesh can set new standards for workers’ rights, that no worker need to fear retaliation for speaking out about a cracked wall.

“If we can achieve this dialogue by having empowered workers as well as employers, the readymade garment sector will more easily and quickly reach USD 50 billion and beyond,” she said while speaking at a commemoration event to mark the second Rana Plaza anniversary and recognised the progress made towards creating a safer readymade garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh.
read more.

20150422 * Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories:

Just before 9 a.m. on April 24, 2013, the eight-story Rana Plaza came crashing down.

The building, in the Savar area outside Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, contained five garment factories on its upper floors.

These supplied clothes to well-known fashion brands around the world.
A government inspector had ordered the Rana Plaza’s evacuation the previous day after large cracks had appeared in the walls.
But on the morning of the collapse, factory managers persuaded and cajoled workers to return, telling them it was safe.

In some cases managers threatened them with dismissal if they did not comply. Shortly afterwards, Savar was affected by a power cut.
Once the Rana Plaza’s electrical generators were switched on, the building started to shake and then collapsed. More than 1,100 people were killed and over 2000 were grievously injured.

Improved workplace conditions and respect for workers’ rights, including their right to form trade unions, are essential both in their own right and because such reforms can help prevent disasters such as those that befell workers at the Rana Plaza factories and Tazreen Fashions.

If workers at Rana Plaza had more of a voice, it is entirely possible that the circumstances that led to the thousands of deaths and injuries could have been prevented.
None of the five factories operating in Rana Plaza had a trade union, and so workers were powerless to resist their managers who ordered, threatened, and cajoled them to enter the doomed building a day after large cracks had appeared in it.

Similarly, workers at the Tazreen Fashions factory were prevented from leaving their workstations by managers, even after the ground floor of the building caught fire and alarms went off.
If the workers at Tazreen had been members of an effective union it is much more likely that staff would have had fire safety training and could have pointed out safety violations like blocked stairwells, lack of fire escapes, and barred windows, all of which contributed to worker deaths.
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20150421 * Harassment, Anti-Union Tactics in Bangladesh Garment Factories:

Garment workers in Bangladesh face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers including assaults on union organizers.

In the two years since more than 1,100 workers died in the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory on April 24, 2013, efforts are underway to make Bangladesh factories safer, but the government and Western retailers can and should do more to enforce international labor standards to protect workers’ rights, including their right to form unions and advocate for better conditions.
see video.

20150422 * 2 years after Rana Plaza, workers denied rights: HRW:

Garment workers in Bangladesh face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers including assaults on union organizers, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Wednesday.
The rights body said efforts are underway to make Bangladesh factories safer, but the government and Western retailers can and should do more to enforce international labor standards to protect workers’ rights, including their right to form unions and advocate for better conditions.

The HRW observation came on the second anniversary since more than 1,100 workers died in the catastrophic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory on April 24, 2013.
‘If Bangladesh wants to avoid another Rana Plaza disaster, it needs to effectively enforce its labor law and ensure that garment workers enjoy the right to voice their concerns about safety and working conditions without fear of retaliation or dismissal,’ said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director at Human Rights Watch.
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20150423 * Apparel working conditions still poor: HRW:

Garment workers in Bangladesh still face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers, including assaults on union organisers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released in Dhaka yesterday.

In the two years since more than 1,100 workers died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory building on April 24, 2013, efforts are underway to make Bangladeshi factories safer.

But the government and Western retailers can and should do more to enforce international labour standards to protect workers’ rights, including their right to form unions and advocate for better conditions.

“If Bangladesh wants to avoid another Rana Plaza disaster, it needs to effectively enforce its labour law and ensure that garment workers enjoy the right to voice their concerns about safety and working conditions without fear of retaliation or dismissal,” said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director of HRW.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150423 * Workers rights still a far cry: HRW:

New York based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday heavily criticised Bangladesh government and employers of factories over poor workers rights situation and said ‘lawlessness’ has continued in the apparel sector.

The international rights organisation also criticised the delay in investigation into the cases filed following the country’s worst factory disaster in the Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, 2013.

‘…the delay is unacceptable. These should be priority cases of the government….the criminal investigation should be thorough and impartial.
The trial should certainly follow international standards,’ Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director at Human Rights Watch, told the media in the capital Dhaka during the launching of a report on two years of Rana Plaza.

The 78-page report, ‘Whoever Raises Their Head, Suffers the Most: Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories,’ is based on interviews with more than 160 workers from 44 factories, most of them making clothes for retail companies in North America, Europe, and Australia.
read more.

20150423 * RMG workers still denied rights:

The file photo shows apparel industry workers demonstrating before the BGMEA building in Dhaka against denial of their rights.   Photo- DHAKA TRIBUNE

Garment workers in Bangladesh work in poor conditions and face anti-union tactical tussle with the employers including assault on union organisers, Human Rights Watch in its report said yesterday. 

The HRW called on Bangladesh government, factory owners and western retailers to ensure respect for workers’ rights and end unlawful target of labour leaders by factory owners and supervisors.

The report said efforts are underway to make Bangladesh factories safer, but the government and western retailers should do more to enforce international labour standard to protect workers’ rights, including the one to form unions, and advocate for better working condition.
read more.

20150421 * Rana Plaza 2 Years Later: Garment Workers under Siege:

In the initial months after the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24, 2013, a preventable catastrophe that killed more than 1,130 Bangladesh garment workers and injured thousands more, global outrage spurred much-needed changes.

Dozens of garment factories were closed for safety violations through the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord process, a legally binding agreement in which nearly 200 corporate clothing brands pay for garment factory inspections.
read more.

20150421 * BGMEA boss airs concern over trade unions’ ‘external’ influence:

The head of garment lobbyists Tuesday voiced concern over ‘abuse’ of power by trade union leaders, saying cultural lag makes them vulnerable to malpractice.  

Md Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, also expressed his fear about the ‘external influence’ and political motives of bargain agents.

“Our concern is that there is a lack of education, awareness on the principles of trade union, and motivation among our workers,” he said.

“Their age and cultural backwardness make trade unions vulnerable to abuse the power of union,” he added.

His concerns came at a social dialogue, held at a city hotel, which was jointly organised by International Labour Organization and governments of Denmark and Norway.
“There is always a fear of external influence and politicisation of the trade unions that can only lead to disruption,” he said.
read more.
FE bd

20150421 * ILO calls for greater social dialogue in BD RMG sector:

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for a greater social dialogue among representatives of the government, employers and workers within the Bangladesh readymade garment sector, highlighting the gains this would bring.

Tomoko Nishimoto, Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific of the International Labour Organization, said there are considerable benefits to be gained by both businesses and workers from enhanced social dialogue and the better industrial relations this leads to.

“For employers, an engaged workforce is more likely to be a productive and profitable workforce; a workforce which helps drive growth and attracts investment,” she said.

For the workforce meanwhile, social dialogue can deliver enhanced wages and better working conditions by helping workers realise their fundamental rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining.”
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20150422 * Centre launched to boost skills of garment workers:

The Centre of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industries (CEBAI) was launched Tuesday with an aim to develop skills of garment workers while raising value addition to the industry.  

The Bangladesh government, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Swedish government, leading Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M), and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organised the launching programme at a city hotel.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed was present as the chief guest with BGMEA president Atiqul Islam in the chair.

Earlier on December 07 last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the CEBAI during a ceremony held at the Dhaka Apparel Summit at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.

The ILO will implement the CEBAI project in partnership with the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), the National Skills Development Council (NSDC) secretariat, the Department of Technical Education (DTE), the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) and ministries of employment, labour, and expatriate welfare and overseas employment, employers and workers’ organisations and donors.
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20150422 * Mixed results from Rana Plaza steps: TIB:

Only 12 out of the 80 ongoing initiatives to improve governance in the garment sector were completed in fiscal 2014-15, according to Transparency International Bangladesh.

The country office of the global civil society movement against corruption said the implementation of 48 initiatives identified to fix the problems in the garment sector is underway, but 12 of them are moving slowly. Another 20 projects have remained stagnant.

TIB said there has been progress in case of capacity building of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence and the decentralisation of Rajuk and the DIFE in the last one year. Steps were also taken to ensure factory safety.

But labour rights and the security during the job period have been evaded, it said in a report yesterday.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150422 * More than 150,000 RMG workers lose jobs in Rana Plaza fallout: TIB:

Transparency International, Bangladesh on Thursday disclosed this finding emerging from a study on the RMG sector.

Eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed several garment factories, collapsed on Apr 24, 2013, leaving at least 1,129 people, mostly garment workers, dead and over 2,500 injured.
read more.

20150423 * Achieving $50b RMG export by 2021 crucial: US envoy:

US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat has said the garment sector’s plan to grow to $50 billion by 2021 is crucial to the nation’s development goals, given the enormous contribution the RMG sector makes to Bangladesh’s economy and women’s empowerment, reports UNB.

“The United States is partnering with the government, the workers, and the employers to show the world that Bangladesh is working toward new standards for workers’ rights and safety, ensuring that no worker need fear such a tragedy again,” she said.

The US diplomat said this in her recent Op-Ed titled ‘Rana Plaza Two-Year Anniversary’ mentioning that tragedies can and should lead to transformation. Bernicat said workers, including thousands of young women employed for the first time, must be afforded the right to raise their concerns, be respected and work in safe conditions.
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20150421 * ACCORD factory inspections: Bulk of problems unaddressed:

ACCORD, a buyers’ group which is conducting inspections at listed RMG factories, has identified 52,605 kinds of problems in these factories, said a report of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think-tank.

More than 1250 RMG factories out of their list of 1400 have now been inspected by ACCORD.
The report reveals most of the RMG factories fall short in terms of common safety measures, lacking fire doors in stairwells, inadequate automatic fire alarm systems, inadequate fire separations and protected exits and lack of lateral stability in structure.

It says out of the 52,605 different kinds of problems, only 782 have so far been corrected, another 10,248 have been pending for verification and the remaining 80 percent problems still persist.

The fourth monitoring report, ‘Moving beyond the Shadow of the Rana Plaza Tragedy: In Search of the Closure and Restructuring Strategy’ was presented by CPD additional research director Khondaker G Moazzem at a dialogue on Monday.
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20150421 * How are Canadian companies addressing safety risks in Bangladesh apparel factories?:

Two years have passed since the worst industrial disaster in the global apparel industry took the lives of more than 1,100 workers and injured thousands more.

When the Rana Plaza building collapsed on April 24, 2013, crushing the workers trapped inside, the world became acutely aware of the widespread lack of fire and building safety measures in a country which had become a major sourcing hub for global apparel companies – including well-known Canadian retailers and brands. This investor brief looks at publicly-traded apparel companies in Canada to determine what those companies have reported publicly about their post-Rana Plaza efforts.
read more.

20150423 * A paradigm shift in RMG industry:

Success stories are always full of sweet and sour events, happy  and sad memories since achievements do not come on a silver platter.

What could be a better example of this fact other than our ready-made garment (RMG) industry?

The RMG industry, which emerged as a small non-traditional sector of export in late 70s, has now become crucial to our economy as the main source of export earning and employment generation.
The industry that started its journey with only 130 workers and export earnings of $12,000 is now a $25-billion sector which has created employment for around 4.4 million people.
Of them 80 per cent are women.
Now Bangladesh is the second largest apparel-exporting country in the world.
For the last 35 years, the sector has been contributing to the economy with export earnings, employment generation, women empowerment and poverty alleviation.

Was the journey of the RMG industry rosy and cosy?
The answer is a simple ‘no’.
The sector has faced a number of challenges, including child labour issue, MFA quota phase-out and global economic recession, in its way to success.
However, the country has dealt with these challenges and been able to sustain the growth of the industry.
read more.
FE bd

20150424 * A dismal record:

Insurance in RMG

Of the 1,134 workers that died in the Rana Plaza collapse two years ago, the families of only 100 of them got the group insurance benefit worth Tk 1 lakh each.

The beneficiaries of those workers were certainly the lucky ones, as the remaining 1,034 victims did not get a single penny from the insurer, thanks to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s policy.

Group insurance is an insurance scheme that covers a group of people, usually employees of a common employer, members of societies or professionals in a common group.

The scheme helps reduce the problem of adverse selection, as it gives blanket coverage to those in the group, regardless of their risk factor.

At the time of the fatal event, a maximum 20 workers from each factory were entitled to come under the group insurance coverage — and their names were chosen at random.

Accordingly, families of 100 workers of the five factories housed in the ill-fated building got the insurance money.

Similarly, beneficiaries of only 20 workers killed in the 2012 Tazreen Fashions fire got the insurance benefits, although a total of 112 workers died.
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the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150421 * HC summons industries secy for failing to relocate Hazaribagh tanneries:

The High Court on Tuesday asked the industries ministry secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan to appear before the court on May 19 to explain the ministry’s failure to implement the verdict for relocation of the tanneries from the capital’s Hazaribagh to Savar in 14 years.

The bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Kashefa Hussain passed the order after hearing a petition filed by Human Rights and peace for Bangladesh.
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ez grijs

20150421 * Bangladesh stresses on free-trade agreements:

The foreign ministry has been working with other ministries aiming to ink free-trade agreements with one or more countries by 2015.

State minister of Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam disclosed the matter in an exclusive interview with Banglanews.

He said that Bangladesh has fixed the target of foreign trade to the tune of 50 billion dollars in 2021. To achieve the target the ministry has been working with a new vigor.

About one and half months back, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid her visit to the foreign ministry and gave her consent to all the proposals the ministry presented.
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20150421 * Bangladesh to set up SEZ for Chinese investors:

Bangladesh commerce minister Tofail Ahmed has said the government would set up a special economic zone for Chinese investors to invest more in Bangladesh.

He said an industrial park with 250 readymade garment (RMG) factories would also be established, the Bangladesh media has reported.

Ahmed was talking to reporters after a meeting with Chinese ambassador in Dhaka Ma Mingqiang. The minister said no specific area has been selected for the special economic zone but a suitable place would be chosen soon.
There are currently 17 economic zones in Bangladesh and the SEZ for China will be chosen from those, he said.
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20150424 * Rana Plaza survivors need long-term treatment:

Most Rana Plaza survivors, who sustained severe injuries and became traumatised, need continued financial support for long-term treatment to bring them back to normal life.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, several workers described their nightmare that they have been going through since the world’s deadliest building collapse on April 24, 2013.

“I want to walk and to come back to normal life as I was before the Rana Plaza tragedy,” Shahjahan Selim, a survivor of the factory disaster, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Selim sustained several fractures in his legs and became traumatised from that horror incident. Selim worked on the fifth floor of the building.

While narrating the ordeal he faced, Selim said: “I came out of the debris of collapsed building without any injuries, but later entered the building to rescue my fellow colleagues and pulled out around 20 of them.”

“Then started an agonising chapter of my life when the roof bar collapsed on me, breaking my legs and injuring other parts of my body.”

Selim said: “I have still been trying to overcome shock since that horrific incident during the rescue operation, but to no avail.”
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20150424 * No end to their plight:

Survivors of the Rana Plaza building collapse are still struggling to recover from trauma and many of them are yet to be rehabilitated two years after the country’s worst industrial disaster in Savar in April 2013.

Plight of the survivors in the collapse and the families of the deceased or missing workers have worsened while the maimed ones stare blankly at an uncertain future, the families said.

A 14-year-old victim, Anna Khatun, who lost her right hand after being trapped under the rubble, was still undergoing treatment at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital in the capital.
She along with her mother spent most of the time in Dhaka in last two years for her treatment as travel from her home town Jamalpur to the capital twice a month was difficult.

BRAC Limb and Brace Centre fitted her with a prosthetic hand in November 2013 but it developed cancer which spread to other parts of her body leading to the amputation of her right leg on February 15 this year.
‘I have to assist her in every work she has to do,’ Anna’s mother Hajiran Begum told New Age at her bedside in the Cancer Hospital.
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20150424 * Rana Plaza rescue workers left uncared for:

The commoners who sprang into action to rescue readymade garment workers after the 2013 deadly collapse of Rana Plaza in Savar have unfortunately faced sheer negligence.

Without any formal training in how to carry out rescue operations in the wake of such a massive industrial disaster, these people risked their own lives and went under the rubble to save as many lives as they could, but none from the state administration has cared to even enquire after these intrepid individuals in the last two years.

Rafiq Mia, a mason by profession, used to pull a rickshaw to earn money on days he was unable to find work. On April 24, 2013, he was working in a building in Savar’s Chapain when Rana Plaza collapsed.

The 35-year-old could not concentrate on work after hearing the news and rushed to the scene at noon. Without thinking twice, the rather skinny man joined the rescue operation.
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20150424 * Bureaucratic tangles delay Rana Plaza cases:

Two years have passed since the collapse of Rana Plaza at Savar that killed over 1,135 people, mostly female garment workers, but charge sheets in the three criminal cases are yet to be pressed.

The process has apparently been stuck since September last year as the government is yet to approve the inclusion of 20 public servants in the cases.

Officials of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which has been given time on several occasions to submit the charge sheets, now say they hope to press the charges by May 21.

On April 15 this year, the Dhaka’s Judicial Magistrate Court fixed May 21 for submission of the probe reports.

Over 2,500 people were also injured in the deadliest building collapse in the country’s history on April 24, 2013. Two cases were
filed over the incident – one under criminal code while the other under building construction act.

CID Senior Assistant Superintendent Bijoy Krishna Kar, also investigation officer of the cases, yesterday said: “We hope to submit the charge sheets before the court on the next date.”
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20150424 * Remains not examined as many still missing:

Two years into the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar, the government is yet to prepare a complete list of the dead or those who have remained unaccounted for while several dozen human remains found on the site later remained unexamined.

Locals and urchins collected over two hundred pieces of bones and handed those over to the police for sending the remains to the authorities concerned for examination.

But police sent some 50 pieces of bone to the laboratory for examination, the officials said. ‘We have received some 50 pieces of bone collected from the collapse site and its surroundings…
It could not be determined whether those were human remains or bones of animals,’ said Sharif Akhtaruzzaman, chief of the National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory at Dhaka Medical College.

‘Had the remains been examined, it might have been possible to identify them [after DNA tests]……
The remains found should be examined immediately,’ said Reshmi Akhter, the sister of missing 20-year-old Phantom Apparel worker Shayla Akhter.
She told New Age that they had lost their dear one but wanted to see her grave.
Some of the unclaimed bodies were buried after those started decomposing.
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20150424 * Rana Plaza probe makes no progress:

Govt is yet to give permission for suing its six officials

The trials and investigation of a dozen cases filed after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar in April 2013 have not moved an inch in last one year leaving the survivors and families of the dead disappointed.

Expressing their disappointment over the delay, the survivors, families of the deceased and labour rights activists blamed the government for buying time in the name of investigation.

‘We have seen nothing [relating to the cases] moving in last two years.
But, trials must be completed to set examples for other factory owners otherwise such tragedies will strike again and the factory owners will go unpunished, ’ said 20-year-old Rehana Khatun, a sewing operator of New Wave Styles factory the collapsed Rana Plaza had housed.

As 11 cases remain pending for trial with the labour court in Dhaka and two others under investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department, two year after the tragedy, the affected workers and labour rights activists questioned whether the government was sincere about ensuring justice.
‘The delay in the investigation seems deliberate as it is evident who are responsible for the tragedy …,’ Garment Workers Unity Forum president Mushrefa Mishu told New Age.
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20150424 * CRP gives hope to Rana Plaza survivors:

With the collapse of the factories they toiled for and resultant life-threatening injuries, they had thought that their lives had come to an end or at least they would be left to die a painful death as they could not afford treatment.

But two years after of the deadly Rana Plaza disaster, the survivors who took treatment at the Centre for the Rehabilitation for the Paralysed (CRP) have started dreaming a new life again thanks to the services provided by the centre.

“I was feeling helpless after losing my left leg in the tragedy,” said Rehana Akter, one of the survivors.

“But after coming to the CRP and getting artificial leg attached to my left leg, I am now hopeful that I will be able to build my life again,” she said.

The 24-year-old former garment worker was speaking at a programme organised to commemorate the victims of the building collapse at the CRP’s Mirpur campus in the capital yesterday.
read more.
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20150423 * Reliving the Rana Plaza factory collapse: a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 22:

Two years ago this overcrowded, poorly built complex became a symbol of global inequality when 1,134 people died to feed the world’s appetite for cheap clothing

The small concrete room at the end of the narrow walkway behind the Ansar Ali supermarket is in darkness thanks to another power cut.

Faded trade union posters line the walls of this, the Bangladesh National Garment Workers Federation’s (NGWF) office.
Sat on a plastic chair in the middle of the room, light filtering in through the open door, Shahorbanu relives the story of losing a son to the Rana Plaza.

Siddique was a 24-year-old garment worker, a tall man affectionate with his mother and his little son, Parvez.
When, on 24 April 2013, the eight-storey factory complex collapsed, Siddique became trapped under thousands of tonnes of rubble.
He managed to take his mobile phone out of his pocket and call his mother. Shahorbanu describes his terrified voice pleading: “Ma, please save me. Somehow, just please save me.”

As Shahorbanu tells her story, Rafiqul Islam, vice-president of the federation for the Greater Dhaka city suburb of Savar, walks through the door.
Tall with curly black hair, the sight of him brings Shahorbanu to tears.
“My son was just like him. I miss when he would come back home and call me Ma – ‘Umma’.
It is a great suffering to bury the body of a son.”
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20150423 * ‘Rana Plaza victims unlikely to get justice’:

Ruling Awami League lawmaker Ishrafil Alam on Wednesday expressed doubt over getting justice in the tragic Rana Plaza incident and said the people who are responsible for the building collapse and death of thousands of people were very powerful.

‘I am worried about the judicial process and I think Rana Plaza victims will not get justice,’ he said at a multilogue on ‘Post Rana Plaza: Where We Stand’ organised by ActionAid Bangladesh at BRAC Centre in the city.

Industrial accidents can take place in the country, but it needs to be addressed that victims are getting justice, Ishrafil, also the member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Labor and Employment, said.
‘I think the voice of justice will shed tears in silence regarding the Rana Plaza collapse, as the culprits are very powerful,’ he said.
‘We want industrialisation, but not at the cost of workers’ life,’ he added.
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20150423 * Physical, mental conditions of one-fourth Rana Plaza survivors worsen:

The physical and mental conditions of 22.6% survivors of Rana Plaza disaster have rather worsened in the past two years, a study finds.

More than 70% respondents surveyed by ActionAid Bangladesh have said they recovered from the trauma of the deadliest industrial disaster.

The study on the present condition of the Rana Plaza survivors revealed yesterday also shows that more than 61% of the survivors have to see doctors or go to hospitals for diagnoses, check-up and physiotherapy while depression and trauma still torment 59%.

Apart from the physical and psychological conditions, the study assesses the livelihood status of the survivors and the status of compensation and identifies the loopholes in extending necessary services to the survivors.

“The workers could not go back to work as they are traumatised with anxiety and the situation has worsened to a level that they have to take consultancy by professional psychologists,” said Kamal Ahmed, who teaches clinical psychology at Dhaka University.
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20150423 * Government has no clear data on Rana Plaza victims:

Government does not have clear data about the Rana Plaza victims even in two years since the accident, said speakers at a roundtable yesterday. 

“It was government’s responsibility to prepare statistics over the victims that how many workers were injured, how many were dead and how many remained unidentified,” said Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed, labour adviser of Bangladesh Employers Federation.

He blamed the government for “chaos over compensation issue” that there were confusions that who have been compensated and who have not been.

The roundtable discussion on “Present Situation of Rana Plaza Victims, Compensation and Rehabilitation” was organised by Bagladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) in the capital.
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20150423 * Survivors left in the lurch:

A lot has changed for the better since the Rana Plaza building collapse, but those who survived it continue to pass their days in trauma and hardship amid uncertainty over rebuilding their lives as they have yet to receive the financial support they were promised.

After the disaster on the morning of April 24, 2013 that killed more than 1,135 people and injured more than 2,500, mostly garment workers, financial support poured in from members of the public, the government, the private sector and the international communities, which helped them to receive treatment and overcome the immediate shock.

With lives ruined and dreams shattered, many are still struggling to come to terms with the harsh reality that they have lost the ability to function as normal human beings.

Many have lost their limbs.  The cruel turn of events has turned them from breadwinners to people dependent on others.

Rehana Akter, 20, is one such survivor. But when both of her legs had to be amputated after the disaster, she frequently wished she had not remained alive.
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20150423 * Rana Plaza survivors left in the lurch:

ActionAid survey paints gloomy picture

Some 55 percent of the Rana Plaza survivors are still unemployed, two years after the nation’s worst industrial disaster, due to physical inability, trauma or lack of suitable jobs, a recent survey by ActionAid Bangladesh found.

On the flipside, about 44 percent of the survivors managed to get gainfully employed in various sectors, according to the survey, which was unveiled yesterday at a programme organised at the capital’s Brac Centre Inn.

ActionAid, an international non-governmental organisation, had the biggest sample size among all the surveys conducted on the disaster that claimed 1,135 lives and injured 2,500.
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20150423 * Half of Rana survivors jobless: Survey:

Letters of promise pour in, not money

More than half of the survivors of Rana Plaza building collapse are still unemployed while pledges of contribution from parties involved remain unfulfilled, says a new survey.

The survey, conducted by international charity ActionAid, shows that 55 per cent survivors have remained jobless, even nearly two years since the deadly industrial disaster happened, killing more than 1,100 people while injuring 2,515 others.

Although 44 per cent survivors got engaged in various types of jobs, 54.4 per cent respondents are still out of work, who face difficulties in meeting their daily needs, says the survey report released Wednesday in the city.

Even 2.0 per cent cannot meet their daily needs at all, the report added.
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20150422 * Rana Plaza survivors still facing tough times:

A new study revealed that most of the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse are still suffering from depression and trauma even after two years as they are facing physical, mental and economic difficulties, reports UNB.

The study showed that that 61.2 percent of the survivors still need to visit doctors, clinic or NGO run facilities on regular basis while 59.1 percent of them are suffering from depression and trauma.

The study report, based on a survey by ActionAid, Bangladesh on 1414 of the survivors, Bangladesh was launched on Wednesday at BRAC Cnetre in the city s Mohakhali area, just two days ahead of the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy.

Of the 1414 survivors, 70.6 percent responded that they are somewhat healed while 22.6 percent reported that their condition is getting worse.
The survey report shows that 55 percent survivors are still unemployed while 44 percent survivors got engaged in various types of jobs.
Besides, most of the survivors claimed that they did not get proper compensation.
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20150422 * Rana Plaza Survivors: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied:

Rabbi Sheikh, 10, began crying when talking about his mother, Shirina Akhter. “I always think about my mother,” he said.

Two years ago, Shirina was among more than 1,130 garment workers killed when the multistory Rana Plaza building pancaked. Her husband, Latif Sheikh, heard the building collapse as he sold fruit by the roadside. It took him 17 days to find Shirina’s body.

“My son always cries, remembering his mother,” Latif says. “He is not able to lead a normal life like the others at his age.”

As the global community commemorates the April 24 Rana Plaza tragedy, thousands of garment workers who survived the disaster, mostly young women, remain too injured or ill to work, and the families of those killed struggle emotionally and financially to piece together the lives shattered that day.
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20150422 * Financial supports remain elusive to Rana Plaza victims:

Rana Plaza victims and their family members are still suffering from various kinds of physical and mental problems despite several initiatives taken to improve their living conditions over the last two years, say findings of a leading local think tank yesterday.

Besides, the amount of financial support received by the victims and their families so far is insufficient to meet their needs, although they were promised complete financial support to cover their monthly expenses as well as medical expenses for their treatment.

The findings were disclosed at a dialogue on “Rana Plaza Tragedy: Two Years After” arranged by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at the city’s BRAC Centre Inn to mark the second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building that housed garment factories in which more than 1,100 people died.
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20150422 * Many Rana Plaza victims worse-off than before: CPD:

The think-tank finds substantive progress in garment sector in many areas

The living condition of the families of many deceased and injured workers of Rana Plaza is worse than it was prior to the fateful event two years ago, the Centre for Policy Dialogue said yesterday.

The private think-tank, however, said there has been progress in various areas, including disbursement of financial support to the families of deceased and surviving workers, re-employment of workers and medical care.

Positive reinforcements also came by in case of workplace safety and labour rights, the CPD said in the fourth edition of its monitoring report on the initiatives taken by the government, owners and other stakeholders in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse.
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20150422 * Debate still on about number of victims:

Even two years after the Rana Plaza collapse, the debate over the total number of unidentified victims is not over yet.

Of the dead whose identity was initially unknown, 206 have been identified so far through DNA tests, the Centre for Policy Dialogue said in a report yesterday.

The government couldn’t collect any information about 85 victims. As their identity couldn’t be known, their family members didn’t qualify for any financial support, said the think tank.

Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, however, put the number of unidentified victims at 62.

Identity of 166 workers remained unknown till March. Of them, 104 have been identified so far, he said.
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20150421 * Rana Plaza is still our shame:

The RMG sector has long proved itself to be a boon for Bangladesh. It is the mainstay of its economy, facilitating its sustained 6%-plus GDP growth over the years.

Despite the epic growth of our RMG industry and its bright prospects, challenges are still there.
One of the biggest challenges currently faced by our RMG industry is to ensure workplace safety and better working conditions for the millions of garment workers. While we were embarking on a fashionable dream to export $50bn by 2021, the industry was shaken by the Rana Plaza disaster.
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RanaPlaza compensation

20150424 * No compensation given yet to 13 missing Rana Plaza workers:

Even after two years of the deadliest factory collapse at Rana Plaza, family members of at least 13 missing workers are yet to get any compensation either from the government or from the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund.

However, the family members of 15 missing victims received below Tk1 lakh as compensation while the rest families got up to Tk30 lakh, beginning from Tk2 lakh.

Dhaka Tribune has discovered the figures after talking to the family members of 148 missing workers in Rana Plaza collapse, which claimed more than 1,135 lives.

“We did not get any single penny as compensation neither from the government nor from the trust fund against my missing daughter,” said tearful Saleha Begum, mother of Sabina Khatun, who went missing since Rana Plaza disaster.

Expressing her anger over the stakeholders, she also said: “I don’t want the money, rather I prefer to get the body of my missing daughter.”

On the contrary, Marium, a sister of missing Lina Akter, claimed that her family had received only Tk95, 000 as compensation.

While talking to the Dhaka Tribune, she, however, questioned: “How can the authority compensate a family of a missing worker only with Tk95,000 while the families of the injured received over Tk15 lakh.’’
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20150424 * Victims yet to be paid full compensation:

Even in two years since the Rana Plaza collapse full compensation has not been paid to the familiesof the dead and the injured.

Collapse of Rana Plaza, housing several apparel factories, on April 24, 2013, killed over 1,100 people, mostly female apparel workers and left several hundred others maimed and missing.

The incident is known as the world’s worst factory building disaster. Some of the survivors, who received negligible sums of money as compensation from the Donor Trust Fund, raised questions about the assessment methods followed.

They said that they were finding the government as well as the clothing factory owners and the buyers equally insensitive to the pains and hardship they are going through since Rana Plaza, housing several apparel factories, collapsed in April 2013.
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20150424 * Complete compensation without delay:

A European diplomat yesterday called for completion of compensation disbursement to Rana Plaza victims without further delays.

“First and foremost, we need to close the chapter on the compensation for the Rana Plaza victims with great urgency and transparency,” said Martine van Hoogstraten, charge d’affaires of the Netherlands Embassy in Dhaka.

While close to 3,500 Rana Plaza victims and their dependants have received at least 70 percent of the compensation through the trust fund, much work is still needed before there can be full closure, she said.

Furthermore, more than 80 missing victims still need to be identified, efforts need to be coordinated to ensure that the discrepancies in the awards are minimised, long-term health care for the injured needs to be resolved, and, an overall compensation framework needs to be institutionalised.
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20150424 * Full payment demanded as Trust Fund falls short:

Speakers at a programme Thursday reiterated the call for full payment of compensation money to the Rana Plaza victims and ensuring workers’ rights in the apparel sector.

Recognising the progress made so far in the RMG sector, they also called for investigating anti-union activities, completing the remaining factory assessment under National Plan of Action, and continuation of the improvement work including corrective steps.

The observations came at a commemoration event ‘Rana Plaza Two Years On: Towards a Safer RMG Sector for Bangladesh,’ organised jointly by the government and the ILO to mark the second Rana Plaza anniversary held in a city hotel where State Minister for Labour Mujibul Haque Chunnu was present as chief guest.

A minute’s silence was observed at the event in remembrance of the 1,136 people who lost their lives in the Rana Plaza collapse on 24 April 2013.
An amount of $6 million is still needed to make the full payments, she said stressing the need for identification of missing victims, coordinated efforts to minimise the discrepancies in the overall compensation framework.

“An urgent priority is to finalise the rules of the amended labour law, these are essential to guide the establishment of the occupational health and safety committee in factories,” said Canadian High Commissioner Pierre Benoit Laramee.
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20150423 * Victims families yet to be compensated:

The second anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh, in which at least 1134 people were killed, is to be marked by demonstrations organised by survivors and trade union groups.

Rallies and tributes will take place on Friday 24 April, at the site where the clothing factory – which supplied garments to western retailers including Primark, Benetton and Matalan – once stood, as well as in the centre of Dhaka.

“We will organise a human chain in front of the national press club, then we will place flowers at the Rana Plaza site and at the graveyard,” said Kamrul Anam of the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council.
“Two years have gone and the victims and their families have not got their compensation, so they are anxious the brands and buyers pay their contribution. That’s why all the union groups are seriously annoyed,” said Anam.
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20150423 * No bank account after Rana Plaza in PMO:

The Prime Minister Office (PMO) has denied existence of bank account in the name of Rana Plaza at the office.

“There is no bank account in the name of Rana Plaza at the PMO,” Director General (DG) of the PMO Kabir Bin Anwar asserted at a press briefing held at the PMO Thursday morning.

He said the Prime Minister provided money to victims and their family members from her Relief and Welfare Fund, adding, “No cheque in the name of Rana Plaza came and released.”

The DG urged all to use correct information for the sake of greater interest as the government enacted the Right to Information Act.

Taking floor, Labour and Employment Secretary Mikail Shipar said the Rana Plaza victims and their family members received Tk 184 crore from the PMO, ILO and Primark funds till this month.

He said a Global Trust Fund was established under the neutral chair of International Labour Organization (ILO) to provide compensation to the Rana Plaza victims and the fund reached at US$19 million, adding “Under the fund, 3,000 victims and their family members received Tk 75.89 crore (US$ 9.84 million) till April 8, 2015.”
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20150423 * Apathy to Rana Plaza victims continues:

It is very unfortunate that victims of the April 24, 2013 Rana Plaza collapse are yet to get full compensation.

As New Age reported on Wednesday, based on the fourth monitoring report of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a national think-tank, which was prepared by interviewing a selected number of victims and their family members over telephone and made public on Tuesday at a programme in the capital Dhaka, survivors of the collapse are still suffering from various physical and mental problems.

Besides, a few of the injured workers were employed locally in off-farm jobs mostly at wages below what they used to earn previously.
Overall, the living standard of the families of the dead and the injured in the worst-ever building collapse has gone down in the past two years.
read more.

20150423 * Why only Tk 19 crore disbursed for Rana Plaza victims?:

According to the anti-graft watchdog, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Tk 108 crore of the Tk 127 crore deposited into the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund following the Rana Plaza building collapse is yet to be disbursed two years after the world’s worst workplace disaster.

This fund came from local sources, mainly commercial banks, in light of the disaster specifically for the victims and their families. That Tk. 127 crore had been donated to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund was disclosed in parliament on July 13, 2013.

However, over the last two years, the government only allocated Tk. 19 crore to the victims and their families, giving rise to questions about when the remaining money would be disbursed among the affected.
It is unfortunate and unacceptable that compensation remains elusive to many victims of Rana Plaza who are still living in utter privation, with no succor coming to them from the government.
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20150422 * Victims face $6mn compensation shortfall:

Victims of Rana Plaza collapse are suffering a $6 million shortfall in a compensation fund two years after the tragedy that claimed more than 1,100 lives, fund organisers said.

Organisers of the trust fund estimated that $30 million in compensation was needed after the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex, where workers stitched clothes for Western retailers for poor pay.

On the eve of the second anniversary of the disaster this Friday, organisers of the trust set up by the retailers and labour groups said $24 million had been paid or pledged to families of those killed.

“Still we’ve a shortfall of around $6 million,” Mojtaba Kazazi, executive director of the trust’s claims administration, told on Monday.

Sultan Uddin Ahmed, a member of a committee that runs the trust fund, criticised retailers for not doing enough for dependants along with 1,500 workers who suffered horrific injuries in the disaster.

“It is unfortunate, we could not clear all the dues in two years. Some of the world’s top retailers were making apparel at the factories. Yet the trust fund is still short of $6 million,” Ahmed said.

“Bangladeshi factory owners are also to blame. They did not pay anything to the fund,” he said.
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20150422 * No major progress in compensation:

Says CPD study on Rana Plaza tragedy

No significant progress has yet been made in identifying missing workers, paying compensation and improving the socioeconomic conditions of the victims and their families even two years after the tragic Rana Plaza incident, a study report revealed Tuesday.

The fourth monitoring report prepared by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) also sought serious attention from the government, apparel manufacturers, retailers and other stakeholders to ensure smooth delivery of follow-up treatment to the victims and legal issues for the sake of justice in the country’s worst-ever industrial disaster that killed 1,138 people and injured hundred others.

It also suggested further attention to the activities under EU Sustainability Compact, Accord, Alliance, National Tripartite Plan of Actions to speed up restructuring and reforms of the garment sector which plays a key role in the country’s economic growth.

The report titled “Moving Beyond the Shadow of the Rana Plaza Tragedy: In Search of a Closure and Restructuring Strategy” was released at a CPD dialogue on Rana Plaza Tragedy: Two Years After at BRAC Centre Inn in the capital in the afternoon.
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20150421 * ‘No fund for Rana Plaza victims in PM Office’:

The Prime Minister’s press wing has contradicted report of Transparency International Bangladesh regarding a fund at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for the victims of Rana Plaza collapse, saying that there is no separate fund in the name of Rana Plaza in the PMO.

The TIB made the comments at a press conference on Tuesday.

In a clarification, the PM’s press wing said the information the TIB has provided through the press conference that Tk 127 crore has been collected in the name of the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for Rana Plaza victims and of the amount, Tk 105 crore remains unutilised is not true.
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20150421 * Rana Plaza: Tk 108cr PMO fund unused, says TIB:

Transparency International Bangladesh today pointed out lack of transparency and dillydallies in the disbursement of the fund for victims of the Rana Plaza collapse, the world’s largest workplace disaster.

Two years into the incident, about Tk 108 crore out of Tk 127 crore that was deposited to the prime minister’s fund in aid for the victims is yet to be disbursed, according to the TIB.

The international corruption watchdog’s local chapter came up with the finding while presenting a report at its Dhanmondi office today in “Steps taken to implement good governance in readymade garment sector: Progress in last one year”.

The report said around 19 million US dollars has been deposited to the Rana Palza Donors’ Trust Fund while around 2.48 million US dollars was also added to this from the prime minister’s fund to help the Rana Plaza victims.

The list of people who have been compensated for the Rana Plaza tragedy and the amount of the compensation are yet to be made public, the report said.
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20150421 * Calls for pay-up by Rana Plaza anniversary:

The UK-based Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Tuesday called for all clothing companies that source from Bangladesh to make an adequate contribution to the Rana Plaza fund.

“Full compensation for the victims should be raised by the second anniversary of the factory collapse which is this Friday (24 April),” TUC said in a statement.

According to RT news, roughly 12 clothing firms linked to Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed two years ago killing over 1,100 people, are “yet to offer a single penny into a fund for the families of victims who lost their lives in the disaster”.

In a story headlined “Human cost of cheap clothes: Retail giants fail to pay Rana Plaza victims compensation”, RT wrote that as the second anniversary of the tragedy draws ever closer, pressure is mounting on the predominantly European and American firms to pay their dues.
read more.

20150421 * Why producing a report doesn’t make Benetton’s contribution any more credible:

Sam Maher of the CCC, responds to Benetton’s announcement and the PwC report

Nearly two months since Benetton announced they were going to pay into the Rana Plaza scheme the Financial Times reported on April 16 that the company finally announced their long awaited figure – $1.1million, just a fifth of what Benetton had been asked to contribute by campaigners.

The approach Benetton has taken, to delay for weeks and pay PricewaterhouseCoopers a significant amount of money to write a largely meaningless report, is a cynical attempt to pretend that their donation is based on some kind of technical criteria and thereby credible.
read more.

20150421 * Worker Rights Consortium provides analysis of PwC Report addressing Benetton’s Rana Plaza disaster compensation:

Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium provides an in depth analysis of the PwC Report addressing Benetton’s obligation to compensate the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster.

Having reviewed PricewaterhouseCooper’s (PwC) 60-page analysis, and the related statement from the corporate-funded group WRAP, it is clear that the primary purpose of this elaborate exercise was to confer moral legitimacy on Benetton’s otherwise disreputable decision to save itself several million dollars, while leaving the families of those killed in the Rana Plaza collapse still without adequate compensation.

The PwC analysis is based on a deeply flawed premise, ignores key issues that argue for Benetton to accept a greater share of responsibility for compensating the Rana Plaza victims, and includes a great deal of content that has no plausible purpose other than public relations.

WRAP’s statement endorsing Benetton’s decision is downright unseemly in its fawning praise of the retailer and is entirely lacking in substantive content, demonstrating that WRAP failed to play the oversight role claimed by Benetton, which, given WRAP’s track record, is unsurprising.

The fundamental problems with the PwC report are as follows:
read more.
labour behind the label

20150421 * Justice for Rana Plaza workers:

Rana Plaza was a large eight-story building in Savar, Bangladesh, that housed five garment factories, employing approximately 5,400 people and producing apparel for several well-known brands including The Children’s Place, Benetton, Walmart, and others.

When workers reported to work on the morning of April 24, 2013, they were afraid to go inside because of the large visible cracks that had appeared in the building’s walls.
But managers ultimately forced them in, threatening to dock their wages for the month if they did not meet shipment deadlines imposed by the brands. As a result, more than 3,000 workers were inside the building when it collapsed less than an hour later.
read more.

comments punt

20150424 * Two years of denial and betrayal:

The families of Rana Plaza victims have passed two years crying for their dear and near ones, suffering in their daily lives and waiting for due compensation and jobs.

In spite of tall promises, the government and the parties responsible for the disaster and corporate homicide have done little to heal the collective wound. There is no visible end to the uncertainty and suffering of thousands of families.

If we pinpoint the responsible parties for the death traps in garment factories of Bangladesh in general and Rana Plaza in particular we find at least three groups from home and abroad.
They include: (1) owners of factories, buildings and the BGMEA, (2) international buyers and brand retailers, and (3) the government and its relevant agencies.

Despite cracks in the complex, the five garment factories situated in Rana Plaza, owned by Sohel Rana who was associated with the ruling party, were kept open to fill overdue orders from international buyers.
Factory authorities forced workers either to come to work or face punishment. When generators were restarted after a power blackout, the building collapsed immediately with nearly five thousand workers working in the factories.
Therefore the owners of the factories and the building bear the prime responsibility of the mass killing.

Secondly, as an umbrella organisation of garment owners, BGMEA has the responsibility of monitoring compliance and advocating for high industrial standards.
They have a lengthy failure record in this regard; even the scale of the Rana Plaza disaster could not change their attitude.
On the contrary, this organisation appears as the collective muscle of the owners to protect them from the law.
That has always encouraged owners to ignore safety rules.

Thirdly, things on the ground are not supposed to be unknown to the international buyers and retailers.
Factories often accept abnormally low prices in an effort to attract buyers and grab orders.
In turn, and in order to maintain a profit rate, low cost suppliers often ignore safety measures and reduce workers real wage.
Such cost cutting measures make the workers more vulnerable.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150424 * Rana Plaza disaster, two years on:

Poor show in compensation and rehabilitation

With a mixed bag of feelings we note that though the garment industry has managed to rise above the Rana Plaza shock over the course of two years since the collapse the victims are still reeling in despair for want of adequate financial support and rehabilitation.  

The tragic incident took a toll of more than 1100 lives and left many injured, amputated and missing.
Unfortunately, there is still debate over the number of missing workers. According to government sources, the number of unidentified victims is 62 while CPD puts it at 85. Obviously, the families of unidentified victims are out of count.

Initially, there were various initiatives to support the victims and their families which have gradually lost momentum due to lack of coordination and guaranteed provision for compensation.
Though the victims were promised sufficient financial support to cover their monthly expenditure as well as medical expenses the amount received by them falls short of requirement and varies from person to person.
The government is yet to include uniform provisions for compensation under the labour law.
On the back of inadequate financial support, lack of comprehensive rehabilitation scheme has left the victims and their families in perpetual hardship.
Only some victims are employed locally but they get below what they used to earn from regular work.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150424 * Let there be light:

At the beginning of the industrial revolution, a farmer was also able to make shoes, and the women spent their days making handmade pottery and spinning yarn or cloth.

In a way industry developed from small farming families which eventually turned into big companies and introduced the use of machinery for production.
The primary motive of an early capitalist was to have more goods produced at a lower cost.
Five hundred years have passed, in third world countries like Bangladesh many companies still want to thrive on over-exploitation of cheap labour and low production cost.

Three major industrial disasters between 2005 and 2013 claimed nearly 2000 lives and yet it failed to wake us up.
The garment owners still retain the mindset of those farmers who feared that crops might fail and so they needed to maintain low production costs.
This archaic attitude has resulted in consecutive industrial disasters in the last ten years.
We need to change this attitude since the small-scale apparel business has turned into an industry.
read more.
the DAILYSTAR new 2015

20150424 * Rana Plaza collapse: Two years on:

Two years ago, on April 24, 2013, an eight-storied building named Rana Plaza  collapsed in Savar. After 21 days of the collapse when the search operation was declared closed, the death toll rose to 1,131.

Approximately 2,515 injured people were rescued from the debris of the building alive.
It is considered to be the deadliest garment factory accident in history. According to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), at the time of the collapse, five garment factories with total 2,760 workers were in operation in the Rana Plaza building while other sources put the figure at 3,900.

Although two years have passed since this man-made disaster, many victims are yet to receive the promised compensation from the government and the Western retailers.
Many sources report, around half of the workers received Tk 1- 5 lakh each from the prime Minister’s fund; however, the compensation was very insignificant for the injured workers.
Two years into the incident, about Tk 1,080 million out of Tk 1,270 million that was deposited to the prime minister’s fund in aid for the victims is yet to be disbursed (TIB).
The government pledged long-term support of Tk 1.0-1.5 million for the seriously injured, but only a few of them received the payment so far.

The Rana Plaza collapse is the worst garment factory disaster ever, but there have been many other similar tragedies.
Fire in Tazreen Fashions in January 2013 is one of them where 112 people were killed. Just two months prior to the disaster at Tazreen, fires at two factories in Pakistan killed more than 260 people.
read more.
FE bd

20150423 * Rana Plaza: Two years after the tragedy, why has so little changed?:

Conditions in Bangladesh’s factories have barely improved, with profits high and a workforce who must put up with their lot or starve

The scale of the disaster at the Rana Plaza garment factory two years ago in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka created an expectation that there would be industry-wide change, but this has not materialised.

In reality, little has changed since the tragedy occurred in April 2013. Brands and factory owners are making huge profits, the Bangladesh government is ensuring employment, albeit of poor quality, is provided to its most marginalised people, and consumers can buy extremely cheap clothes.

It also means that in Europe the brands can keep prices low at a time of wage deflation and austerity.

The only group that suffers is the workforce, made up largely of young women whose voices are barely heard.
They are patronised and stereotyped as hapless and weak, and are expected to be thankful for work that is characterised by some NGOs as empowering, rather than exploitative.

So the real question is, why do so many expect change? Why are we asked to emphasise “the good” when “the bad” is the overwhelming experience of the workers we meet?

There is an unquestioned belief in Europe that the process of industrialisation is inherently good and that, over time, change will happen organically.
This is based on a false reading of history that excludes the context in which change really took place in the industrialised west.

Industrialised societies didn’t simply evolve into social democracies where citizens had the right to expect things from their government and their employers.
Safe working conditions, the elimination of child labour, the five-day week, the provision of education, healthcare and social security did not simply evolve as a result of industrialisation.
They were fought for bravely over generations by workers.

The assumptions underlying the belief that Bangladesh is just at an earlier stage of development (leaving aside the strongly colonial and racist undertones of the suggestion that Bangladesh is not as civilised as Europe) are wrong.
Bangladesh is not a reminder of our past but a vision of our future.

When our governments promote neoliberal, free market capitalism as the only game in town, they are aiming for a reorganisation of society exactly like that being delivered in Bangladesh.
read more.

20150423 * Rana Plaza two years on: progress but no hiding from massive task ahead:

On 24 April it will be two years since the Rana Plaza collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers and injuring thousands more.

The labour movement and its NGO partners are calling on the garment industry to show that it has the leadership to staying the course and changing the global supply chain permanently.

The compensation fund is still missing US$6 million out of the targeted US$30 million needed to compensate the victims and it is an unacceptable reality that not a single factory can yet be called 100 per cent safe.

Global union leaders are calling on the industry to show that it has courage and leadership to turn this page and move on.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina says:
“Two years after this industrial homicide, the victims of Rana Plaza are still waiting for full compensation. This is a collective responsibility, but we specifically call upon brands like Benetton, Mango, Walmart and Carrefour to contribute more.

The global garment industry needs to show to its consumers that it has learned its lesson and is able to move on to addressing another burning question, the poverty wages paid to workers.

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings says:
“It’s outrageous that families who lost their mothers and breadwinners have still not been fully compensated because a group of multinationals cannot find it in their hearts or deep pockets to pay the US$6 million missing from the compensation fund. All brands need to join forces to end the funding crisis by closing the funding gap and stepping up the remedial work on factories.”
read more. & read more.
INDUSRIall BangkokPostNEW

20150422 * What Bangladeshi Garment Workers Need From the West:

Despite corporate and government efforts to improve the safety of Bangladesh’s garment factories since the collapse of a building killed more than 1,100 workers two years ago, there is still a lot of work to be done.

A new report from Human Rights Watch describes how factory owners in Bangladesh have used violence and intimidation to prevent workers from forming labor unions, which could negotiate wages and working conditions on their behalf. While some unions have been set up in the last two years, less than 10 percent of all garment factories in the country have unions, the report says.

Bangladesh’s factories employ about 4 million people and make clothes for many of the world’s biggest retailers and clothing brands like Wal-Mart, the Gap and H&M.
The factories account for most of the country’s exports and are owned by a powerful group of industrialists who wield enormous political clout in the country. So it’s not surprising that the government often ignores labor abuses in the garment industry.
read more.

12:20:48 local time map of india INDIA

20150423 * Agra shoe factory gutted in fire:

A major fire broke-out in a shoe factory in Sikandra locality on Wednesday morning. Raw material worth several lakhs was gutted in the fire. Two firemen and three factory workers were badly burnt in the accident and were admitted to a private hospital in the city.

According to the police, 25 small containers of a chemical used in shoe-manufacturing were kept in the godown of Expo International, while there were five big containers with more than 25 liters the inflammable chemical.

The inflammable chemical in one of the containers reportedly caught fire due to a shot circuit. The fire soon caused two big containers of the liquid to blast and thereafter spread inside the factory.

The workers rushed outside to save themselves while it took two fire-brigade vans three hours to control the fire. Stunned locals and passers-by jammed the Sikandra highway for hours to watch the burning godown.
read more.

20150423 * Cabinet approves ILO protocol to deal with forced labour:

The government today approved an International Labour Organisation (ILO) protocol to make a national policy for remedial measures to deal with the issue of forced labour in the country.

The Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 prescribes that each member shall take effective measures to prevent and eliminate use of forced labour to provide protection to victims and access to appropriate and effective remedies such as compensation, and to sanction perpetrators of forced or compulsory labour.

“The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for placing the new Instrument adopted by the ILO-Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention …. supported by Forced Labour Recommendation, 2013 … before Parliament,” an official release said.
read more. & read more.
et XINHUAnet

20150422 * Govt. criticised for attempts to weaken labour laws:

The Trade Union Centre of India, a conglomeration of various labour unions, criticised the Union government for attempting “to dilute and weaken” labour laws for creating “an investment friendly atmosphere” in the country.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, R. Manasaiah, State president of the centre, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was more concerned about big industrialists and corporate friends than about vast labouring masses of the country.
“The existing set of labour laws in the country is a result of the prolonged and persistent struggles by workers.
The Modi-led Union government is now projecting the hard-earned labour laws as a predicament to industrial growth.
|In the name of creating investment-friendly atmosphere and attract huge foreign investments to the country, it is attempting to either scrap or amend labour laws so as to unjustifiably favour corporate class and allow them to over-exploit workers for more profits,” he said.
read more.

20150422 * AITUC cadre stage protest:

Members of All India Trade Union Congress staged a demonstration here on Tuesday evening accusing the officials of Labour department and Inspectorate of factories of lethargic attitude when it comes to ensuring labour and other industrial laws were followed in textile units.

N. Sekar, district president of AITUC, said only around half of the total workforce in units in Tirupur knitwear cluster were covered under the ESI and provident fund schemes. Similarly, many workers were employed on contract system in the units but the rules pertaining to registration of such workers were not followed by the employers, he added.

“These things are happening only because of irregular and insincere inspections by officials,” Mr. Sekar said.
to read.

20150422 * AITUC demands revision of minimum wages:

All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has demanded an immediate revision of the minimum wages of the working classes in Goa

The union has demanded that the minimum wages for the unskilled category be revised to Rs 600 per day, semiskilled category to Rs 650 per day, skilled Rs 700 and highly skilled Rs 750 per day.
AITUC said they have sent a memorandum to the state government, secretary labour and commissioner of labour on Tuesday demanding revision of minimum wages within one month.
AITUC said that the Goa government should immediately write to the Union Labour ministry to notify the State of Goa in ‘B’ category instead of ‘C’ category for implementation of minimum wages for all schedules of employment which fall within the central government’s jurisdiction.
read more.

20150422 * Labour law, again:

Why has the Centre held up Madhya Pradesh’s reforms?

It has often been claimed, whether as explanation or justification, that the reason the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre has chosen to ignore important factor market reforms, such as to labour laws, is because of a strong belief in federalism.

Competitive and co-operative federalism, goes this argument, is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s preferred approach, and as such his government will leave it up to the state governments to take the lead on this issue.
In fact, this argument did not exactly originate from the Centre but was a readily available explanation for New Delhi’s unwillingness to reform major central labour laws – but its apparent willingness to sign on to Rajasthan’s reforms of those laws.
read more.

20150420 * Working People’s Charter comments on Draft Labour Code on Wages:

Modi govt proposes dangerous Labour Draft Code..makes it easier for employers to violate labour laws.

To Mr. S.K. Tripathi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment
Sub: Comments/Suggestions on Draft Labour Code on Wages

Dear Mr. Tripathi,

The Ministry of Labour and Employment in a notification dated 21st March 2015, reference no.No. Z-13025/ 6 /2015-LR Cell announced a call for comments/suggestions on a Draft Labour Code on Wages.

The notification stated that the Labour Code on Wages was drafted with intent of amalgamating four laws pertaining wages:

(i). The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
(ii).The Payment of Wages Act, 1936
(iii). The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
(iv). The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
While we agree that the harmonization and rationalization of different labour laws is required, the manner in which the proposed Code has been drafted leaves us
wondering whether the intent was merely harmonization or a move to renege on fundamental rights and entitlements secured through the four principal acts.

Please find appended a detailed commentary on the Draft Labour Code on Wages, including comparisons with the four principal acts mentioned. Based
on the appended document, listed below are some of the key roll – backs and ambiguities present in the draft code:
1) Role of Central Government and State Government
* Under Section 6 of the draft code, the complete onus of fixing minimum wages has been placed on the State Government.
This has implications for a National Floor Level Minimum Wage, which has been an Endeavour of the Govt.
* The underlying competitive federalism inherent in this shift of responsibility
severely dilutesthe concurrent nature of ‘labour’ as outlined in Article 246, Schedule 7 of the Constitution.
This will also lead to competition between states to lower wage standards and lead to a raceto the bottom, which negatively impacts growth owing to reduced effective demand.
* States are responsible for fixing and implementing minimum wages, but
only Central Govt. has been given power to remove difficulties with the code under section 40 of the
read more.

20150423 * Indian unions decide on collective organizing:

IndustriALL affiliates in the textile and garment sector in India has agreed to jointly organize workers. The agreement was made at the recently concluded Project Advisory Committee Meeting in Kolkata.

At a Project Advisory Committee Meeting held in Kolkata, on 21-22 March, IndustriALL Indian affiliates in the textile and garment industry for the first time agreed to jointly organize workers.

Participants at the meeting discussed the possibilities of collective organising, based on the strength of each affiliate. Structures were created to ensure the four rules are implemented at the enterprise and local level, by pooling the resources and strengths collectively through regular interaction and build solidarity. Affiliates agreed for numerical targets and results, which are achievable and measurable.

A national work plan was drawn up and affiliates agreed to work within the policy framework of four principles: unity and non-competition; cooperation and coordination; building structures for democratic functioning and union dues collection; sustainability.

The ready-made garment industry in India is spread across the country, concentrated in four geographical clusters; Chennai, Tirupur, Coimbatore and Bangalore in the South; Kolkata and Suburbs in the East; National Capital Region (NCR) and Ludhiana in the North; Mumbai and Ahmadabad in the West. Migrants make up the majority of the work force.
read more.

20150422 * Powerloom workers return to work after a month:

Powerloom workers resumed work on Tuesday after they were on an indefinite strike for a month demanding a raise in wages.

There are more than 30,000 powerlooms in Pallipalayam and Komarapalayam in which over 52,000 workers are employed.
Wages are fixed every two years.
The wages were not revised in 2014.

The workers wanted a 75 per cent increase in wages.
As textile manufacturers refused to raise the charges, powerloom owners too refuse to pay more.

Workers in Komarapalayam were on indefinite strike from April 8.

Additional wage
He asked the manufacturers to provide an additional wage of 20 per cent, which the powerloom owners should provide to the workers.

He said that the new wage pact would be effective from April 1 for two years. Textile manufactures and powerloom owners signed the pact but some of the trade union members refused to do so.
read more.

20150423 * Textiles sector, think marketing:

In the textile industry, how must financial support from the government be utilised?

Rohit, financial support from the government should be for two clear purposes in your industry. The first is to upgrade the manufacturing process, which is funded forever.

The second is for marketing and branding. The industry of textile and yarn is an export revenue earner. Building an India brand in this space is a possibility.

I support an “India-made” branding plan for the Indian textile product at large.
One can seek funds from the India Brand Fund and one can indeed target for funds from the Ministry of Textiles.
I do believe what is needed is a plan. The right ideas will get the right funding from the government. I think there is no shortage of money with the government for such programmes.
There is instead a shortage of good ideas that seek funding.

Let’s remember. Government money and funding must never be seen as money that is given to the industry to buy fish. Instead, this money is meant to be seen as money that is doled out to help you learn the skill, the art, the science and philosophy of fishing.
read more.

20150423 * Plea to bring textile sector under interest subvention scheme:

Members of the Texpreneurs Forum on Wednesday met Union Ministers, and officials seeking extension of the interest subvention scheme to entire textile sector.

The Union Government had stated that the eligible sectors for the scheme would be announced shortly.

“We have briefed the Ministers and officials about the need to give the coverage of the scheme to spinning mills sector too,” said Prabhu Damodaran, secretary of the Forum, who led the delegation.

Mr. Prabhu Damodaran said that the spinning sector was going through a tough period with the Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) coming down, and a majority of mills were registering huge losses.
read more.

20150421 * Indo-Canadian MoUs to help skilling in apparel sector:

India and Canada have signed two different memorandum of understanding (MoUs) for skill development in the apparel sector, the apex apparel exporters body, Apparel Export Promotion Council, (AEPC) said in a statement today.

The agreements were signed during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Canada.
read more.

20150421 * Now, garments from recycled pet bottles:

Vision Textiles has come up with a technology for making fabrics from recycled pet bottles.

The company, founded in 1998 by Monique Maissan in China, has in the last 3 – 4 years not only managed to make fabrics from recycled pet bottles, but has since expanded its presence into India as well.

The company’s garments under the Waste2Wear brand has started to create waves in this part of the country.

“The initial reaction for products made from recycled pet bottles has been good in India, especially in the making of children’s school uniforms,” Maissan said, responding to an email.

Conceding that the reaction to making garments from recycled plastics has been different in different geographies, Maissan said “in China, the Government started to promote green, albeit recently, so when the word “recycled” is used, there is some hesitation as the large mass associate it with “not being clean” or “low in quality”.
But in Malaysia, the response for our products has been phenomenal; looks like it is going to emerge as one of our most successful markets.
read more.

20150423 * Betting on U.S.:


Rejig in strategy in the wake of Eurozone crisis. Euro depreciation against U.S. dollar and sanctions also add to woes.

Hit by economic crisis in the European Union, leather manufacturers and exporters are now planning to tap the U.S. market.

During 2014-15, the Indian leather sector exported materials worth $6.58 billion, up from $5.91 billion last year, representing a growth of 10.4 per cent.
This is short of the $7 billion target set by the leather industry.

Having missed the target due to crisis in the EU, leather exporters are now betting on the U.S. market for survival and turnaround.
Last year, India exported about 56 per cent of materials such as leather garments, finished leather, saddler and harness and other items to European market.
The U.S. market accounted for 12.5 per cent in 2014-15.
read more.

20150423 * In Gujarat, groundnut set to gain ground from cotton:

Growers see better prospects in guarseed, pulsesthis year

As the kharif sowing season nears, groundnut is set to eat into cotton area in Gujarat. According to farmers, area under cotton is likely to fall significantly in the main growing regions of Saurashtra and Kutch.

The drop in cotton area is mainly attributed to growers continuing to lose from the crop over the last two years due to lower realisation.

Cotton prices are currently hovering in the range of Rs. 790-910 for a maund of 20 kg in Saurashtra. During 2013, prices had ruled over Rs. 1,000.

“Till today farmers have not been able to get remunerative price for their crop. From the sense we get from farmers in this region, there will be a drop to the tune of 30-35 per cent in cotton area. And about half of that will be replaced by groundnut and rest by guarseed or other crops,” said Dinesh Tilva, an agriculture expert from Saurashtra.
read more.

20150423 * Make in India: Central Statistical Office to release data with exporters’ details for the first time:

In June this year, India’s statistical office will release new data that will identify for the first time where India’s exporters are located and what they are selling.

Officials believe this could help the government make more informed manufacturing and trade policy decisions in the context of its Make In India programme and the stiff $900-billion exports target set for 2020.

With exports of over $300 billion in 2014-15 and an economy that has been open to global trade for well over two decades, it may come as a surprise that the government of India has little idea where its export output is produced.
read more.

20150422 * Plea against diluting Handloom Act:

Kirron Kher, BJP MP from Chandigarh, today made an impassioned plea to the Centre against any move to repeal the Handloom Reservation Act.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Kher said handloom is the ‘soul of India’, giving livelihoods to millions of weavers, majority of them women. The Act, if scrapped or diluted, will affect millions of lives, she said.
Kher drew the government’s attention to reports of “powerful” lobbies pushing for repeal of the Act.
to read.

* Save Handlooms – Don’t Repeal the Handloom Reservation Act!:

Handlooms are India’s unique heritage and the livelihood of lakhs of skilled handloom weavers.

A move is on to repeal The Handloom Reservation Act, which since 1985 has been protecting traditional Handloom weaves, especially saris, from being copied by their machine-made and powerloom competitors.

It was a small but important protection for Handloom weavers, who otherwise struggle to survive.
Their yarn, their designs and their markets are under attack.

Now the influential powerloom lobby has agitated successfully that this Act be withdrawn.
To say that because we have powerlooms, we don’t need handlooms does not make sense.

The handloom can create thousands of distinctive regional weaves and designs that no powerloom can replicate, and a tactile wonderful drape that is also irreplaceable by mechanised means.
Globally too, more and more ecologically sensitive international buyers look to India as a source for the hand made.
read more & please sign.

11:50:48 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

20150424 * Powerloom sector suffers due to outages:

Abdul Hameed was lying on a makeshift bed placed among powerlooms at Piranwala Chowk, Qadirabad, and waiting for the restoration of power supply suspended about six hours ago.

The powerloom sector is facing eight to nine hours of unscheduled power outages daily, creating a plethora of problems for both workers and factory owners. Owners have to bear financial losses owing to less production and labourers lose a chunk of their wages for working less than their routine.

Talking to Dawn, Hameed, a powerloom operator, says he is unable to run the machines smoothly for the last four to five days in his 12-hour shift.

He says the Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) has started more than eight hours of unscheduled power outages landing labourers in a precarious situation.

“Two-hour power suspension means a labourer will lose Rs120 to Rs130. One can calculate the total loss, as thousands of workers are attached with the sector in Faisalabad,” he adds.
read more.

20150424 * APTMA chief seeks special relief package for textile industry:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) S. M. Tanveer has said that Pakistan Textile industry is on the verge of collapse and needs a special relief package from the government on urgent basis to secure billions of dollars investment and create millions of jobs for people.

Talking to newsmen here on Thursday Tanveer called for setting up a government-industry joint task force to restore industry viability and devise growth path. On the occasion former chairman APTMA Gohar Ejaz, Fawad Anwar of Al-Karam Textile Mills and others were also present.
read more.

20150422-23 * APTMA Chairman concerned over free fall of exports:

All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association Chairman SM Tanveer has aired concerns over the free fall of textile exports in quantity and value terms during the March 2015 against March 2014.

The overall textile and garments exports are declined by 16.23% in March 2015 caring with the previous year, he added.

He said the exports of cotton yarn has declined 29.36% in value and 12.99% in quantity terms, followed by cotton cloth 14.45% in value and 37.57% in quantity terms, bed wear 16.94% in value and 15.15% in quantity terms, towel 19.03% in value and 23.51% in quantity terms, garments 5.20 in value and 12.57% in quantity terms, synthetic 24.87% and 32.99% in quantity terms and made-ups h 13.62% in value terms.
Knitwear is the only product having registered 28.53% growth in quantity terms but it has also decline by 7.41 in value terms.
read more. & read more. & read more.


20150422 * Five MQM men get life term for attacking police van:

Five Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists were handed down life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court on Tuesday after the prosecution provided sufficient evidence to prove that they had attacked a police van in 2013.

Separately, another anti-terrorism court remanded three MQM activists, Majid Baig, Abdullah and Muhammad Mansoor, in Rangers custody for 90 days so that they could be interrogated in the case of the 2012 Baldia factory fire in which at least 258 people were killed.

The Baldia factory fire case had taken a drastic turn when Rangers submitted before the high court that a joint investigation team report revealed the MQM’s involvement in the blaze.

A detained suspect, Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, had claimed that MQM activists were involved in setting the factory on fire.
He revealed that a “well-known party high official” had demanded Rs200 million through his front-man from Ali Enterprises, the owners of the ill-fated factory, in Aug 2012.
read more.

map of asia ASIA

* Why East Asia needs its trade unions:

The global environment has been significantly changed by the process of rampant globalization and rapid technological innovations.

We are now living in an era of job insecurity and a terrible imbalance in economic development, with one-fifth of the global population living in absolute poverty.

The UNDP 2013 Report showed that “the unfettered market economy has made the poor poorer and the rich richer”.
Free trade and free capital without international and national regulation are unstable and unsustainable.
They have not improved living standards but have instead increased inequalities between people, within and between countries.

A race to the bottom
In the last three decades or so, labour rights have been eroded in the battle of industries to secure niches in the global market.
Businesses and employers claim that the issue is survival.
That’s how they justify denying trade union rights to workers, hampering collective bargaining and cutting labour cost, resulting in a race to the bottom.
That race punishes everyone, is at the root of the global financial crisis, and causes growing inequality everywhere.
read more.

* An Agenda for Social ASEAN is a Necessary Perquisite for the Success for ASEAN Economic Community:

It’s the time of the year again when ASEAN heads of states will rub shoulders, indulge in polite small talk so as to not to offend each other, do lots of handshakes and wrap up the meeting not having ironed out thorny issues.

But next week’s ASEAN summit, hosted by Malaysia, may be a bit different and significant because the regional group will try to hammer out the ASEAN Economic Community’s all four pillars of integration to avoid further delay.

The ASEAN Economic Community, which aims to create a single market and production base, is scheduled to be rolled out at the end of 2015.

While member countries will become more closely linked in terms of economy, political security and socio-cultural pillars, the ASEAN Economic Community will benefit and promote the interests of multinational corporations, big businesses and regional elite.

Put differently, the ASEAN Community promotes Business ASEAN.
This integration strategy neglects the interests of the majority of ASEAN’s citizens including workers, farmers, small business and fishermen.

At present, citizens of ASEAN are confronted with loss of livelihood, loss in labor protection, low wages and escalating food prices.
In addition, ASEAN member nations are facing widening income and wealth inequality.
read more.


* IndustriALL empowers women workers in Kenya:

On 24 and 25 March a special training for 25 women from IndustriALL affiliates in Nairobi was organized.

The women got an understanding of their role in the family and society and learned about women’s leadership.
They are leaders who just need the opportunity to take off.

When discussing women’s role in trade unions, participants identified a number of problems women are facing in Kenya; companies lay women off when they fall pregnant; casual workers sign a contract only for three months and maternity rights are not even an issue; women’s health needs more attention as women do not eat properly in an attempt to save money.
Participants agreed that unions need to fight for maternity rights.

At the workshop women did a practical task of their workplace mapping, which revealed the job segregation at work.
For example only men do ironing, and women cannot work in the boiler areas. However, due to the unions the situation at the workplace is changing, for example workers do not have to stay extra hours at their job until they met their target.
read more & see video.


* Fashion Revolution Day Special! :

In the Behind The Thread radio-podcast:

Interview with Vidiya Khan
In this Fashion Revolution Day special, we speak to Vidiya Khan, daughter of the founder of Bangladesh’s first garment factory, about how far the industry has come in her lifetime, her reaction to Rana Plaza, and how the country can succeed in the future.

Episode 33: Fashion Revolution Day Special!
Rana Plaza Survivors; where are they now?
Is the ‘Race to the Bottom’ inevitable?
Happy Fashion Revolution Day!

In this episode of Behind The Thread, we speak with Farah Kabir with ActionAid in Bangladesh to get an update on how the survivors of the Rana Plaza collapse are fairing 2 years after the disaster.
Plus, Rizwanul Islam of the ILO looks at whether or not we can change course on the ‘Race to the Bottom’
listen the radio-podcast.




map of Asia

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

There are updates under ‘special overviews’:

* 24 April 2013 THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE Part 6 20150324- now

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

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


* DPRK allows delayed wage payment from S. Korea in economic zone:

* Vietnam to bolster ailing pension system after worker strike
* Vietnam, EU work to strengthen workers’ rights
* Vietnam labor scored only 4 out of 10 points: WB survey
* Vinatex builds VND150 billion garment plant in Bac Lieu
* Survey shows support for Vietnam joining TPP
* Vietnam hopes for early conclusion of TPP talk with US
* Bac Ninh lacks worker housing

* Union asks Japanese to examine ‘assaults’
* City Hall considering May Day rally

* New Loom Design A Boon For Pua Kumbu Weavers

* Myanmar: union helps solve strike in garment factory

* RMG: Amazing things happening in Bangladesh
* Unrest grips Khulna jute mills
* Workers lay siege to spinning mills in Khulna
* Nazma Akter share why we need to build regional and global labor solidarity
* ‘Non-implementation of labour law remains a challenge’
* Fair progress after tragedy
* EU suggests short, medium-term plan of actions
* USA ready to work with Bangladesh in garment sector: Bernicat
* Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories
* Harassment, Anti-Union Tactics in Bangladesh Garment Factories:
* 2 years after Rana Plaza, workers denied rights: HRW
* Apparel working conditions still poor: HRW
* Workers rights still a far cry: HRW
* RMG workers still denied rights
* Rana Plaza 2 Years Later: Garment Workers under Siege
* BGMEA boss airs concern over trade unions’ ‘external’ influence
* ILO calls for greater social dialogue in BD RMG sector
* Centre launched to boost skills of garment workers
* Mixed results from Rana Plaza steps: TIB
* More than 150,000 RMG workers lose jobs in Rana Plaza fallout: TIB
* Achieving $50b RMG export by 2021 crucial: US envoy
* ACCORD factory inspections: Bulk of problems unaddressed
* How are Canadian companies addressing safety risks in Bangladesh apparel factories?
* A paradigm shift in RMG industry
* A dismal record
* HC summons industries secy for failing to relocate Hazaribagh tanneries
EZ (economic zones):
* Bangladesh stresses on free-trade agreements
* Bangladesh to set up SEZ for Chinese investors
* Rana Plaza survivors need long-term treatment
* No end to their plight
* Rana Plaza rescue workers left uncared for
* Bureaucratic tangles delay Rana Plaza cases
* Remains not examined as many still missing
* Rana Plaza probe makes no progress
* CRP gives hope to Rana Plaza survivors
* Reliving the Rana Plaza factory collapse: a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 22
* ‘Rana Plaza victims unlikely to get justice’
* Physical, mental conditions of one-fourth Rana Plaza survivors worsen
* Government has no clear data on Rana Plaza victims
* Survivors left in the lurch
* Rana Plaza survivors left in the lurch
* Half of Rana survivors jobless: Survey
* Rana Plaza survivors still facing tough times
* Rana Plaza Survivors: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied
* Financial supports remain elusive to Rana Plaza victims
* Many Rana Plaza victims worse-off than before: CPD
* Debate still on about number of victims
* Rana Plaza is still our shame
Rana Plaza compensation:
* No compensation given yet to 13 missing Rana Plaza workers
* Victims yet to be paid full compensation
* Complete compensation without delay
* Full payment demanded as Trust Fund falls short
* Victims families yet to be compensated
* No bank account after Rana Plaza in PMO
* Apathy to Rana Plaza victims continues
* Why only Tk 19 crore disbursed for Rana Plaza victims?
* Victims face $6mn compensation shortfall
* No major progress in compensation
* ‘No fund for Rana Plaza victims in PM Office’
* Rana Plaza: Tk 108cr PMO fund unused, says TIB
* Calls for pay-up by Rana Plaza anniversary
* Why producing a report doesn’t make Benetton’s contribution any more credible
* Worker Rights Consortium provides analysis of PwC Report addressing Benetton’s Rana Plaza disaster
* Justice for Rana Plaza workers
Rana Plaza comments:
* Two years of denial and betrayal
* Rana Plaza disaster, two years on
* Let there be light
* Rana Plaza collapse: Two years on
* Rana Plaza: Two years after the tragedy, why has so little changed?
* Rana Plaza two years on: progress but no hiding from massive task ahead
* What Bangladeshi Garment Workers Need From the West

* Agra shoe factory gutted in fire
* Cabinet approves ILO protocol to deal with forced labour
* Govt. criticised for attempts to weaken labour laws
* AITUC cadre stage protest
* AITUC demands revision of minimum wages
* Labour law, again
* Working People’s Charter comments on Draft Labour Code on Wages
* Indian unions decide on collective organizing
* Powerloom workers return to work after a month
* Textiles sector, think marketing
* Plea to bring textile sector under interest subvention scheme
* Indo-Canadian MoUs to help skilling in apparel sector
* Now, garments from recycled pet bottles
* Betting on U.S
* In Gujarat, groundnut set to gain ground from cotton
* Make in India: Central Statistical Office to release data with exporters’ details for the first time
* Plea against diluting Handloom Act
* Save Handlooms – Don’t Repeal the Handloom Reservation Act!

* Powerloom sector suffers due to outages
* APTMA chief seeks special relief package for textile industry
* APTMA Chairman concerned over free fall of exports
* Five MQM men get life term for attacking police van

* Why East Asia needs its trade unions
* An Agenda for Social ASEAN is a Necessary Perquisite for the Success for ASEAN Economic Community

* IndustriALL empowers women workers in Kenya

* Fashion Revolution Day Special!

latest tweets (& news)

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

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

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

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

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