Update Gazipur RMG factory-mill fire:
10:31:03 local time BANGLADESH
20150601 * Fire melts Sreepur RMG mill:
The ‘Dignity Textile Mill Limited’ in Masterbari area under Sreepur Upazila collapsed when fire that broke out at the building Sunday noon put itself out melting its steel-made floors.
The fire was doused after 21-hours of frantic efforts, fire fighters however, claimed.
On information, some 18 units of fire fighting team of Dhaka, Joydebpur, Sreepur, Tongi and Bhaluka rushed to the spot and carried out overnight struggle to douse the flame.
Around 10:30am Monday, Gazipur Fire Service deputy assistant director Aktaruzzaman Liton told banglanews that the high-rise factory, made of steel, collapsed due to heat caused by the fire.
The people were evacuated from the area at midnight fearing of building collapse. Some people sustained minor injuries but none was reportedly killed in the fire incident, he added.
20150601 * Gazipur factory fire under control after top three floors collapse:
The fire petered off after the collapse of the three top floors, fire fighters said.
“But smoke was still billowing out from different parts of the factory until Monday morning. Fire-fighters are working to control the devastating fire completely,” said Gazipur Fire Service Deputy Director Akataruzzaman Liton.
The fire, which broke out on Sunday afternoon and raged on for almost 14 hours, seemed to peter out after the top three floors of the factory building collapsed around 4am on Monday, Liton said.
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20150601 * Gazipur factory fire doused after 19 hrs:
The fire at Dignity Textile Mill in Gazipur was finally doused on Monday morning after more than 19 hours.
The fire broke out on the second floor of the seven-storey factory in Batjuri area of Sreepur upazila around 1:45pm on Sunday and it soon spread to nearby places, said factory manager (admin) Nazmunnahar.
A total of 14 fire fighting units from Gazipur, Kaliakoir, Tongi, Mawna and Bhaluka doused the fire.
Gazipur fire service deputy director Akhtaruzzaman Liton said the heat of the steel structure of the building made their job difficult.
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20150601 * Factory Fire in Gazipur – Casualties Uncertain:
Fire rages on as Dignity Textile Mills Limited remains engulfed in flames since yesterday, melting its steel frame, and heating up to such an extent that fire fighters are finding it hard to extinguish this mess.
As per the National database of garment factories in Bangladesh, Dignity Textile Mills Limited had been inspected by the Bangladesh Accord near the end of 2013, and it is also listed in the Accord’s factory list for inspection.
The only difference is that the national database shows 835 workers has been employed in this factory, whereas according to the Accord database only 666 workers had been working here.
Now, it might be time to settle this number so that it reflects what is true and in favor of workers who risk to loose the most out of this fire.
According to the fire fighters, lack of enough water supply into the structure due to lack of windows or doors is helping to heat up the building which is already made up of a steel structure. Firefighters and onlookers are now actually waiting for the building to collapse.
Although the cause of the blaze is still uncertain, the locals of the area, other workers, onlookers and even media reporters claim that the factory had 3000 workers working when the fire had spread.
Although, most of the workers are expected to have been out eating lunch during this time.
It is a difficult task to look out of the tragedy here, but if we take a moment to reflect, we will find that not only the factory owners have been ignorant here, but there are a lot more that safety advocates can look into for future catastrophes:
1. The European Accord mentioned in its report some short, medium and long term suggestions to renovate and repair some areas. These included separating the store-rooms of the factory from the main area with fire resistant gates, and taking care of the wiring, as well as keeping the generator room safe.
2. The Accord in its report does not mention about lack of enough doors or windows, while this is the chief complain of fire fighters now as they remain perplexed and helpless due to lack of avenues from which they can supply water to cool this inferno down.
It is now raising questions among even the common bystander in Gazipur as to how such an expert group of highly paid Westerners who are here to ensure worker interests in safety miss such an obvious thing.
3. The European Accord says that its 666 workers who were working in that factory, the National Database says its 835, the onlookers, families and reporters say its 3000 workers. Who should people believe?
It is very important, because if there are less workers than the owners need to pay less for compensation (i.e. if they choose to pay anything at all), and if there are more, then they pay more.
20150601 * Gazipur textile mill fire under control:
The fire that broke out in a seven-storey textile mill at Batjuri in Sreepur upazila on Sunday afternoon was finally brought under control after twenty hours of frantic efforts on Monday morning.
The fire fighting units brought the fire under control around 9:30am, according to officials.
Originating at the second floor of the steel building, the fire has led to the collapse of all the floors above the ground floor while the blaze still alive in the debris.
20150601 * Firemen give up fight to tame Gazipur clothing factory blaze:
Fire fighters have apparently given up on taming the blaze that has sweeping a clothing factory at Gazipur for nearly 12 hours.
“This is our first experience of fighting fire in a fully metal-built establishment this high,” Deputy Assistant Director of Gazipur fire services, Akhteruzzaman Liton, told bdnews24.com around 1:30am on Monday.
“A number of steel sheets of the outer walls have fallen off and we are now working from a safe distance,” he said.
“The fire is still raging. It is gutting clothing and other materials,” the factory’s manager, Nazmunnahar Kemu, said on Sunday night.
“We can see smoke coming out of the second, third and fourth floors of the seven-storey building but we cannot get up there,” Liton earlier said, explaining what was happening with their efforts.
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20150601 * Fire blazes at Gazipur RMG factory for more than seven hours:
Smoke rises from a garment factory, Dignity Apparels, in Sreepur upazila of Gazipur after a fire erupted around 2:15pm yesterday. No casualty was reported. Photo: Star
12 fire fighting units try to douse flame; no casualty
A devastating fire broke out in a ready-made garment factory, Dignity Apparels, at Sreepur upazila in Gazipur yesterday. No causality was reported.
Twelve fire fighting units were working to douse the fire till filing of this report at 9:30pm. The units were facing difficulties to extinguish the blaze as they could not near the steel-made building due to excessive heat and also for the building boundary which is too strong to be bulldozed, said fire officials.
After 7:30pm, the fire, which originated at the warehouse on the second floor, spread up to the fifth floor, damaging a huge amount of thread, cotton, cloth and equipment, said Akteruzzaman Liton, deputy assistant director of Gazipur fire service.
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20150531 * Gazipur clothing factory fire is still burning:
“The fire is still blazing. The fire is gutting clothing and various materials,” the factory’s manager, Nazmunnahar Kemu told bdnews24.com on Sunday night.
“We can see smoke coming out of second, third and fourth floor of the seven storey building but cannot get up there,” Deputy Assistant Director of Gazipur fire services, Akhteruzzaman Liton, told bdnews24.com around 8:30pm.
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20150531 * Fire at Sreepur Textile mill:
:The mill authorities claimed that no one was injured as around 3000 workers of the factory were out on lunch at that time.
A fire broke out in ‘Dignity Textile Mill Limited’ in Masterbari area under Sreepur upazila on Sunday noon.
Officer-in-charge (OC) of Sreepur Thana Zahidul Islam confirmed the matter to banglanews.
Being informed, few fire fighting units of Gazipur Fire Service started for the accident spot.
Sources said the fire broke out around 2:00pm. However, the origination of the fire could not be known immediately.
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12:31:03 local time CHINA
20150529 * Chinese employees witness average salary increase of 9%:
An report released by National Bureau of Statistics finds that Chinese employees witness average salary increase of over 9% in the year of 2014, with salary in private sectors increasing faster than non-private sectors.
According to the National Average Salary in 2014 released by the BNS, the average salary of employees surveyed was 49,969 yuan.
The annual average salary of urban non-private units was 56,339 yuan, attaining year-on-year growth of 9.4 percent and growth of 7.1 percent in real terms.
The annual average salary of private units was 36,390 yuan, attaining year-on-year growth of 11.3 percent and growth of 9 percent in real terms.
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20150528-29 * China to achieve minimum wage growth target:
China is expected to achieve its average annual minimum wage growth target of 13 percent for the five-year period ending in 2015, experts said on Thursday.
Nineteen regions in China increased minimum wage at an average rate of 14.1 percent in 2014, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Thursday.
The growth pace is faster than the planned annual average growth rate, but slower than the previous three years, said the ministry in a statement posted on its official website.
In China, where city and provincial governments set minimum wage standards, 27 regions raised the minimum wage by an average rate of 17 percent in 2013, while minimum wage hikes in 25 regions surpassed 20 percent on average in 2011 and 2012.
Last year, Shanghai registered both the highest statutory minimum monthly wage of 1,820 yuan (about 297 U.S. dollars) and the highest minimum hourly rate of 17 yuan, the statement said.
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20150527 * Rising worker activism in ‘world’s workshop’ challenges China:
As workers gathered around a table in a cheap restaurant to discuss strike action against their shoe factory bosses, Chinese police barged in and dragged away their leaders.
More than 2,000 employees at the plant — which counts foreign brands including Coach among its customers, according to workers — had downed tools, camping out on brightly coloured mats to demand unpaid benefits.
“They burst through the door and told us not to move,” a female worker told AFP. Several said police had beaten them, and one woman wore a large bandage covering injuries on her back.
The organisers were held for less than a day, but the walkout by the whole staff last month paralysed production — and weeks later the workers claimed victory.
Once renowned for their cheap wages and docility, the protest at the Taiwanese-owned plant is an example of how employees in the workshop of the world are increasingly standing up for greater benefits.
“Ten years ago we didn’t have any conception of the law or defending our rights,” said a male worker, who like others asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.
Low-cost labour has been key to China’s decades-long economic boom, and the newfound activism has authorities worried.
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12:31:03 local time PHILIPPINES
20150528 * Kentex survivors, families demand justice, assistance:
Some survivors said there were victims who were so incinerated they just became part of the “debris” that were cleaned out and disposed of in sacks by a crew of “rescue” workers from the city government and firefighters.
We could not just let what happened pass,’” said Kenny Guerrero, 28, a delivery crew of Kentex’s Havana rubber slippers products.
Almost two weeks since the Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela that officially killed at least 72 workers, the surviving workers now without jobs and the family of those who died are still grappling with the implication of a preventable tragedy.
They trooped to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on Tuesday, May 26, in one of their efforts to seek justice for what happened.
Guerrero, one of the 22 workers who came to file a case against the Kentex owners and the agency who employed them as longtime contractuals, has worked in Kentex for years. “I’ve had friends there and a brother-in-law who died in the fire,” he said.
He remembers them vividly every night, he said, and he has trouble going to sleep. He especially took pity on their children.
Whenever he sees the bereaved families, he notes how they still appear to be dazed and shocked.
He went to the office of the NLRC wearing a black T-shirt on which was written their call in white: “#Justice for Kentex workers,” on top of an illustration of a pair of slippers.
20150528 * After Valenzuela fire, PNoy orders review of PHL’s workers’ safety standards:
Following the Valenzuela factory fire earlier this month that killed 72 people, President Benigno Aquino III has directed government agencies to conduct a “comprehensive” review of occupational safety standards in the country.
During a meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday afternoon, Aquino ordered labor, local government and health officials to propose how to give teeth to the country’s laws on occupational and fire safety.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters on Thursday that Aquino is open to amending occupational safety laws to make them more responsive to workers’ needs.
“Ang nais ng Pangulo ay iyong integrated multidisciplinary approach para mas maging mahigpit o responsive yung ating legal framework at mapanagot natin lahat ng mga may-ari ng mga establisyimento na nag-eempleyo ng mga manggagawa,” Coloma said at a press briefing.
The Palace official said Aquino emphasized during the hearing that a deadly fire in a commercial establishment should never happen again.
20150528 * DOLE told: Justice for Kentex workers goes beyond compensation:
Responding to the Labor Department’s order to Kentex Manufacturing, Inc. and CJC Manpower Services to pay P7.8 million in underpaid wages to 99 workers, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that justice for those who died and survived in the factory fire goes beyond the issue of compensation.
The labor group also said that the Department of Labor and Employment should not confine itself with Kentex and CJC and should go after all capitalists, especially the big ones, and manpower agencies that engage in labor-only contracting and in contractualization in general.
“This amount, even by the Labor Department’s admission, is not enough as compensation.
At the same time, justice for Kentex workers goes beyond compensation.
Those who are responsible for the death of many workers should be held accountable and jailed,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
20150528 * Kentex factory fire shows contractualization should be banned completely:
The law states that “labor-only contracting” is illegal but “job contracting” is legal. The factory fire in Kentex shows that “labor-only contracting” can be undertaken by capitalists under the guise of “job contracting” and the DOLE would only find out when it’s too late and many workers have already died.
For us workers, what this means is that contractualization should be banned completely, whether in the guise of “job contracting”or in the blatant form of “labor-only contracting.”
It would be of no use to workers, and it would even be used against us, if attempts are made to retain contractualization in the guise of making it look like “pro-worker.”
20150528 * Noy tackles fire safety issues with BFP, gov’t execs:
Following the tragic Valenzuela fire that left 72 workers dead, President Aquino met yesterday with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and other concerned government agencies to come up with policies that could provide more stringent fire safety measures.
The meeting, which was attended by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II – the BFP being under the DILG’s supervision – was specifically called by Aquino, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
“The President wants to be apprised (of the facts and developments of the case). While some people may view it as a local incident, to us, it’s not because it goes into safety measures that should be enforced in industrial spaces,” Valte said.
Malacañang also expressed support to proposals that would criminalize violations of fire and building codes as well as health safety standards.
20150527 * DOLE hastens release of SSS benefits of Kentex fire victims:
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) have ordered the immediate release of the benefits due the victims of the tragic fire that gutted the sandal factory owned by Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City last May 13.
ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said they have issued Board Resolution No. 15-05-21 mandating the immediate granting of the Employees’ Compensation (EC) benefits to the workers.
“The ECC, through the said board resolution, directed the Social Security System (SSS) to immediately process and release the corresponding EC benefits to the workers, who survived the tragedy, and/or to the families of workers, who died in the fire,” said Banawis.
Under the resolution, the ECC said the SSS has agreed to do away with the submission of several documentary requirements in the processing of EC benefits.
The resolution said the submission of the list of casualties issued by the City Government of Valenzuela will be enough.
20150526 * Why the Philippines’ Deadly Factory Fire Will Not Be the Last:
The deaths of 72 workers at a sandals factory in the Philippines earlier this month is sadly not shocking news; risk of mass death is practically considered a regular cost of doing business in the regional factories.
But the blaze coincides with two grim anniversaries for Global South labor: the death of more than 1,100 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, and the subsequent launch of a landmark safety program for Bangladesh factories.
Today, it all adds up to a tragically uneven record of reform in Asia’s low-wage, high fashion manufacturing system.
Conditions at the Kentex Manufacturing facility in Valenzuela, which produced shoes for the domestic market, were painfully familiar, according to auditors and news reports: workers were reportedly paid well below minimum wage, worked half-day shifts, and braved toxic fumes without proper protective gear inside poorly ventilated, often sweltering factories.
Research on the disaster by a coalition of NGOs, including the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development and the trade union Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) found that the factory compound was effectively a death trap, lacking basic fire alarms and fire exits, with “only two gates, one… for people and the other… for delivery trucks.
The factory windows are covered with steel grills and chicken wire which could not easily be destroyed even during emergencies.”
Many struggled to escape by breaking the windows (sealed, the company’s lawyer later explained, to prevent “stealing”), a few jumped from the second floor and some had to scale the walls since the trucks were blocking their path.
KMU tells The Nation via e-mail that corporate impunity is abetted by “free trade” across the region:
Multinational manufacturers and foreign investors play a huge role as to why violations of workers’ health and safety in the workplace are violated…. The Philippine government courts their approval for its major economic and employment policies, making it appear that the country is dependent on them for employment and overall economic activity.
The liberalization of trade under the dominance of the US has had the effect of worsening the race to the bottom of underdeveloped countries when it comes to workers’ wages, job security and trade-union rights. We have every reason to believe that this is the direction of the US’ new free trade agreement with various Pacific Rim countries.
According to the labor rights group Workers Assistance Center (WAC), improving factory conditions must involve not only tightening internal regulations—the deeply understaffed labor department runs primarily on “voluntary” compliance by factories—but also seeking international accountability:
11:31:03 local time VIET NAM
20150526 * Vietnam gets tough on sex harassment at work with first-ever conduct code:
Winking, touching, or commenting on a co-worker’s clothes can be all considered sexual harassment, according to Vietnam’s first-ever code of conduct on the issue announced Monday.
The code aims to help workers in the country recognize sexual harassment and protect themselves, the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs said. According Deputy Minister Pham Minh Huan, the 2012 Labor Code stipulates that sexual harassment at work is strictly banned.
“However, relevant regulations are too general without pointing out what specific acts can be considered sexual harassment.
This has led to difficulties in the prevention and handling of violations.”
“We encourage companies to incorporate the code into their internal regulations.
It would create a healthy and safe working environment and thus bring higher productivity,” he said.
20150528 * 52 garment workers hospitalized again, one day after toxic gas leak in Vietnam:
Doctors in the southern province of Dong Nai said that 52 of the 95 garment workers treated on Monday for exposure to a gas leak were rushed back to hospital again on Tuesday, with the same symptoms.
That prompted local officials to order the company Asia Garment in the Amata Industrial Zone to suspend work at its factory and evacuate more than 800 people later on Tuesday.
The hospitalized workers reportedly fainted around 6 p.m. on Tuesday with gas poisoning symptoms.
Most of them had breathing difficulties and vomited.
Two most severe cases required special treatment, doctors said. “This is the first time gas poisoning patients are re-hospitalized after discharged,” doctor Pham Long Thang of Dong Nai General Hospital told VnExpress.
20150526 * Factory workers discharged from hospital after gas leak at industrial park:
Around 100 female workers at a garment factory who fainted on Monday because of an ammonia leak from another plant in an industrial park in the southern province of Dong Nai were released from the hospital yesterday morning (May 26) in good condition.
Most of the workers had been taken to Dong Nai General Hospital, according to Dr Phan Huy Anh Vu, director of the hospital.
Nguyen Van Nhan, environmental director of the Amata Industrial Park, said the incident occurred when Amanda Co., a frozen-food processing company, was installing a new ammonia condensing system at its factory.
20150526 * 50-60 Workers faint after ammonia gas leak:
Asia Garment at the Amata Industrial Zone in Bien Hoa city confirmed today that more than 50 of their workers fainted following an ammonia gas leak at another company on Monday.
According to reports, on Monday afternoon, a fault in the cooling system of Amanda Vietnam, located next to the garment factory, led to a gas leak.
By 3.30pm, a strong wind blew the gas to the factory.
Although workers in the factory ran out of the complex, most of them fainted even before reaching the gate.
Many experienced breathing difficulties and vomited.
According to the director of Dong Nai General Hospital, Dr. Phan Huy Anh Vu, the hospital mobilised more than 100 staff to treat the workers as ammonia gas poisoning can cause serious respiratory problems and also affect the nervous system.
The conditions of most workers have been reported to be stable.
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20150528 * Law makers discuss social insurance law:
Some deputies suggest that workers have the right to choose which form of social insurance payment meets their needs. (Photo: VNA)
Lawmakers had different views on Article 60 involving insurance payment of the 2014 Social Insurance Law at their working session on May 27, as part of the ongoing ninth session of the 13th National Assembly.
According to Article 60, workers are not allowed to receive a lump-sum social insurance allowance when they quit their jobs as stated under the 2006 Social Insurance Law.
Instead, they have to wait until their retirement age, 60 for men and 55 for women, to receive their insurance payments in the form of a monthly pension, and during their unemployment period, they are to be provided with unemployment benefits and job counseling.
Deputies agreeing with the content of the law argue that it helps ensure the long-term beneficiary rights of workers who are participating in social insurance, while better supporting their lives as they get older.
20150527 * Workers without contracts to get protection under new law:
National Assembly Deputy Bui Si Loi, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Social Affairs, has spoken with Vietnamplus about the draft law on Labour Safety and Hygiene.
Loi said occupational accidents have become complicated in recent years and are an alarming issue, shown by the more than 600 deaths annually, ranking second behind fatalities caused by traffic accidents.
However, reports from the health sector said that deaths from work accidents were three times higher than that – about 1,700 deaths annually.
However, he said, the current Labour Code covers just 17 million workers out of the 54 million.
The remaining 37 million workers have no labour contracts, including 24 million living in rural and agricultural areas.
This means they are not protected by the law.
“The new law will give us a chance to provide a safe working environment for all workers. This also fits the spirit of the 2013 Constitution’s Article 35,’ he affirmed.
20150526 * NA members debate labour safety, hygiene:
Lawmakers believed that a law on labour safety and hygiene should be approved soon to create a legal foundation to tackle violations relating to labour safety and hygiene across the country.
At yesterday’s meeting of the 9th session of the 13th National Assembly, deputies agreed that the law should target benefit labourers, including those who had no labour agreements such as farmers and self-employed workers.
Bui Sy Loi from Thanh Hoa Province said that more workplace accidents were occurring, especially in the rural, agricultural and farming sectors.
Work place accidents are second only to traffic accidents in Viet Nam in terms of fatalities, with around 600 people killed each year.
The current Labour Code covers just 17 million workers out of the 54 million in the country.
20150527 * Ministry wants wages, bonuses at State-controlled firms tightened:
The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs is gathering comments on a draft decree on enhancing management of employees, wages and bonuses at joint stock companies with majority State ownership.
The ministry said some State-controlled enterprises offer managers wages and bonuses not corresponding to their business results and much higher than those of staff at the same firms and wholly-owned enterprises.
Data of the ministry showed monthly salaries of employees at 345 joint stock companies with majority State ownership in 2013, mainly medium and small firms, were VND10-11 million but the wages of managers were 2.3-2.5 times higher, VND25-26 million per month.
At major and profitable companies, the monthly wages of managers ranged from VND70 million to VND90 million and probably up to VND155 million for certain positions. These are many times higher than the average levels of employees and managers at 100% State-owned enterprises as pays at these enterprises are capped at VND40-45 million per month.
20150527 * Industrial zones lack kindergartens:
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a plan to speed up the construction of kindergartens in industrial zones.
Demand is rising for kindergartens in industrial zones, but neither public nor private schools have been able to meet their needs.
As a result, parents have opted for small, private kindergartens that may not meet necessary safety and health requirements.
Dung on Friday ordered local authorities to include kindergartens when designing future industrial zones as part of worker accommodation areas.
The plan also called for mechanisms to encourage the private sector to invest in building kindergartens in areas where public ones weren’t feasible.
20150529 * Transparency begets success: experts:
Transparency is an important element in improving the productivity of a business and gaining the trust and loyalty of stakeholders, a forum heard in HCM City yesterday.
Transparency referred to carrying out activities in an open manner and without secretiveness so that people could trust that they are fair and honest, said Pham Anh Duong, business integrity manager at Towards Transparency, a global civil society organisation working to stop corruption, said.
A recent study by the Government Inspectorate and the World Bank had found that transparent companies developed faster and more sustainably than non-transparent ones, he said.
“Another survey done by our organisation found that 60 per cent of people are willing to pay higher prices to buy products from transparent companies.”
With deeper international integration, besides complying with Vietnamese legal regulations, local companies must also prove that they had a strong transparent system and integrity to take part in the supply chain of multinational companies, he said.
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20150529 * Expert proposes new approach to woo foreign investors:
Economic expert Pham Chi Lan has called on authorities to focus on developing supporting industries and improving skills of workers as a new approach to entice foreign investors rather than resorting to land and tax incentives.
The new approach should be adopted by both central and local authorities, Lan told a roundtable organized by the Business Studies and Assistance Center (BSA) in HCMC last Tuesday.
Land and tax incentives for foreign investors are no longer a magic wand as this will give rise to discrimination against local businesses.
Lan calculated it takes two years on average for foreign direct investment (FDI) projects to complete procedures and come into operation.
This is long enough for localities to develop human resources to meet recruitment criteria of employers.
Regarding investments in supporting industries, Lan said the Ministry of Industry and Trade has tried to look for investors but the result is far below expectations as investors are not sure whether FDI enterprises will buy their products or not.
Lan suggested authorities pay more attention to young entrepreneurs who have a desire for renovation by providing them with financial support policies.
11:31:03 local time CAMBODIA
20150529 * Union law ‘excludes voice of workers’:
More than 20 labour groups said yesterday that they are sending a petition to the government regarding changes to the contentious trade union law currently being drafted by the Ministry of Labour.
The petition will also be sent to foreign embassies and other international institutions asking them to intervene and cease the creation of the law, which some union leaders say violates international labour conventions and freedoms of workers.
The government previously held consultations regarding the draft, but according to Cambodia Tourism and Service Workers Federation president Morm Rithy, the Labour Ministry failed to incorporate suggestions that were raised.
20150529 * More Protesting Workers Ordered to Return to Factory by Court:
The Takeo provincial court issued an injunction Wednesday ordering workers from the Taiwanese-owned I-Cheng factory to return to work today after thousands went on strike following the sacking of five union organizers earlier this month.
The decision comes a day after the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered some 2,000 striking workers at the M&V International Manufacturing factory to return to work pending a decision on the dispute.
Nearly 2,000 workers from I-Cheng went on strike May 20 when the footwear factory in Bati district fired five representatives of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU).
On Wednesday, the provincial court ordered workers toreturn to their jobs within 48 hours.
“If the workers and employees do not return to work within this timeframe and do not have proper reason, they will be considered as committing a serious mistake” said the injunction, signed by provincial court deputy prosecutor Chey Rithy.
20150528 * Striking Garment Workers Ordered Back to Work:
A garment worker holds up a sign at a protest outside the M&V International Manufacturing factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Wednesday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Thousands of garment workers who have been on strike for more than a week calling for more pay and better working conditions have been ordered back to work by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, according to court documents.
The workers walked off the job at the M&V International Manufacturing factory, which supplies global fashion retailer H&M, on May 19 to demand the management address 17 points, including an increase in their monthly transport allowance from $10 to $15 and a $1 daily lunch allowance.
The case went before the Arbitration Council earlier this month, with the arbiters ordering the striking workers—who number about 2,000 out of 3,000 employees, according to workers and unionists—back to work on May 23.
The workers ignored the non-binding ruling and the case went before the municipal court. In a court document issued Tuesday and obtained Wednesday, Judge Heng Kesarou ordered them to “return to their workplace and duties within 48 hours after receiving this information” and until the court makes a ruling on the case.
“Workers who do not return to work within the timeline of 48 hours and do not have proper reason [for doing so] will be considered as committing a serious mistake,” Judge Kesarou said.
Eight unions, including the Cambodian Labor Union Federation, were also warned to “stop all activists that incite the workers.”
20150528 * Sacked staff seeks factory asset sell-of:
Former employees of a printing company whose owners skipped town without paying owed salaries yesterday marched to Phnom Penh Municipal Court bearing banners in a demonstration demanding that the court expedite the process of selling off the firm’s property.
The representatives of people who worked for Chang Tong Printing until it suddenly closed after Khmer New Year, citing bankruptcy, say quick action in selling the company’s assets is necessary to compensate the approximately 100 workers awaiting money.
Rim Bora, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union at the factory, yesterday said they had asked the court to sell Chang Tong’s building as well as the property inside, but judge Mong Mony Sophea only allowed the property sale.
20150529 * Factory manager tried for 3 attempted rapes:
The former manager of a Phnom Penh garment factory was tried in absentia at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly attempting to rape three women who worked there.
The current whereabouts of Bangladesh national Faruk Amed, 41, who worked as the deputy director and general manager at Ocean Garment factory in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, are unknown to Cambodian authorities. The alleged attempted rapes at the factory occurred in 2011.
Phnom Penh municipal deputy prosecutor Kham Sophary said in court yesterday that on separate occasions, Amed cornered his three victims – aged 21, 24 and 27 – in an upstairs room at the factory and tried to force himself on them.
“He called the victims to come upstairs in the factory to check the quality of the clothing they produced,” Sophary said. “But when the victims entered the room, he locked the door, pushed them onto a pile of clothes, and attempted to rape them.”
Each of the victims shouted for help, compelling Amed to let them go free, he said.
The then 27-year-old victim yesterday said Amed often inappropriately touched female employees, and paid some for sex. He offered her money for sex in the past, but she repeatedly refused, she said.
20150526 * Action Needed To End Deadly Commute:
Garments workers ride in the back of truck on their return home from a factory in Chak Angre Krom, Phnom Penh. KT Photo: Fabien mouret
One of Cambodia’s most prominent garment worker unions is urging factories and trade unions to work together to reduce the number of garment workers killed and injured during their daily commute.
Some 73 garment workers were killed and 789 injured in road accidents on the way to and from work last year, according to the National Social Security Fund. On May 19, a tour bus slammed into a van transporting garment workers in Svay Rieng province, killing the van’s driver and 19 passengers, and injuring nearly two dozen others.
The tragedy has pushed garment worker safety back into the spotlight, and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C-CAWDU) is demanding that more be done to protect garment workers during their daily commute.
C-CAWDU president Ath Thorn said factories and trade unions should work hand-in-hand to resolve traffic issues by creating bus services for their employees. Buses would be safer to operate than the crammed vans and open-air vehicles currently used to transport the majority of the nation’s 600,000 garment workers.
“I had a successful bus transportation project for garment workers over the past year, where most of them in the Yong Wa factory took the bus to work at an affordable cost,” Mr. Thorn said. “The factory’s employer rented a bus for its workers, but later abandoned it even though the workers had become accustomed to going to work by bus.”
20150527 * Police have different answers on Chantha:
Police officials in Svay Rieng province are offering widely varying stories as to the legal status of Bavet town deputy police chief Sar Chantha, with one yesterday confirming his arrest and ongoing detention in connection with a 2012 shooting and another claiming ignorance of even a warrant for that arrest.
The warrant in question was filed by Svay Rieng provincial prosecutor Hing Bunchea earlier this month, following Chantha’s December conviction for illegal weapons possession.
The conviction was in connection with a February 2012 incident in which Bavet’s then-governor Chhouk Bandith fired live rounds into a crowd of protesters at the Kaoway Sports factory, injuring three women. Bandith remains at large.
Svay Rieng deputy police chief Khiev Sokhorm yesterday confirmed that Chantha had been detained for some time.
“[Chantha] is being questioned at the provincial police department, where he has been for the past three days,” Sokhorm said, before declining to comment further.
20150528 * Japanese Investors Wary of Rising Labor Costs:
Rising labor costs and Japan’s weakened yen currency have prompted Japanese manufacturers to reconsider their investments in Cambodia, and some are pulling out in search of lower-cost Asian markets, an investment expert warned.
Hiroshi Uematsu, CEO of Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ) – a private industrial park with 77 tenants, of which more than half are Japanese – said the zone’s investors have expressed concern over rising labor costs.
He said Japanese manufacturers are squeezed by the yen’s depreciation and economic conditions at home, and are re-evaluating the bottom line of their overseas investments.
Mr. Uematsu said Cambodia’s top drawcards for Japanese companies are its cheap labor and 100-percent foreign ownership laws.
The first wave of Japanese manufacturers arrived in Cambodia in 2011 to establish factories for their labor-intensive production lines.
Four years on, rising wages have pushed up operating costs by 50 percent, dampening investor interest.
“The minimum wage was $61 a month when the manufacturers set up their factories, but now it is $128,” he explained.
“Even in China, this wage increase didn’t happen overnight. But here, in a short time, the wage doubled, and now [labor unions] are demanding $160.”
20150527 * Taiwan wants to open trade office:
Garment workers clean and fold items of clothing at a Taiwanese garment factory last year in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Photo by Vireak Mai.
A Taiwanese trade representative has reiterated the need to set up a trade office in Cambodia, but the government said yesterday that its stance on the one-China policy remains intact and a Taiwanese-representative office is not allowed in the Kingdom.
John Tang, director of the Taiwan Trade Center in Vietnam, said a trade office would increase investor confidence in Taiwan, thereby encouraging them to invest in Cambodia, which is not related to the Taiwanese government’s ongoing dispute with China.
“But this is a terrible misunderstanding between the Cambodian government and us,” said Tang. “Our mission is to increase trade between Cambodia and Taiwan. Nothing to do with politics.”
Tang was speaking on the sidelines of a trade delegation meeting from Taiwan, comprising 60 businesses and jointly hosted by the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, which is looking to expand business interests in the Kingdom beyond the $750 million trade achieved with Taiwan last year.
20150529 * BetterFactories Media Updates 29 May 2015, More Protesting Workers Ordered to Return to Factory by Court:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-05-29 More Protesting Workers Ordered to Return to Factory by Court
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-05-29 Union law ‘excludes voice of workers’
* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily:
2015-05-29 Spokeman: bad union can lost benefits if union law is approved
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150526 * BetterFactories Media Updates 26 May 2015, Deadly bus crash’s survivors share grief, uncertain futures:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-05-26 Wanted for arrest, Bavet City Penal Police Chief Still on the Job
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-05-26 Deadly bus crash’s survivors share grief, uncertain futures
2015-05-26 sees surge in strikes
BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
12:31:03 local time INDONESIA
20150527 * Nearly 50,000 factory workers lose their jobs:
Nearly 50,000 factory workers have been dismissed in recent weeks as the country’s economic slowdown has begun to pinch the country’s labor intensive industries.
Around 200 footwear manufacturers in Tangerang, Bandung and Surabaya have laid off about 40,000 workers so far, according to the Indonesian Footwear Association (Aprisindo).
In addition, 120 textile producers in Bandung regency, West Java, took similar measures, firing at least 6,300 workers, according to the Indonesian Textile Association (API).
The business groups said Tuesday that the firms, mostly small and medium enterprises, had been hurt by domestic sales plunging significantly as people’s purchasing power weakened on the back of an economic slowdown.
20150527 * Indonesia to Help Textile and Footwear Industries by Providing Incentives:
A worker drying the textile that is used for Batik raw material in Solo, Central Java, Tuesday (22/10). Entering rainy season the making process of Batik taking more times as they still drying the textiles depended to the sun shine. (JG Photo/Ali Lutfi)
The Ministry of Industry is helping the textile and footwear industries to export more of their products by providing export incentives and import facilities for input materials.
“The ministry will stimulate the labor-intensive industries to export more into foreign markets. We hope this strategy will help the two stagnating industries,” Harjanto, director general of chemical, textile and various industries at the Ministry of Industry, said on Tuesday.
In addition, the government will ramp up trade promotion efforts in the domestic market and set up free-trade agreements (FTAs) with the prime export markets of Indonesia’s footwear and garment industries. The Indonesian Textile Association (API) has repeatedly urged the government to start FTA negotiations with the European Union to make prices of Indonesian products more competitive in Europe.
In recent months, the textile and footwear industries have laid off tens of thousands of workers as manufacturers cope with rising production costs, higher wages and declining domestic sales, according to API.
20150526 * Indonesia’s Textile Industry Lays Off Thousands of Workers:
Indonesia’s textile and textile product industry has laid off at least 6,000 of its 1.5 million workers so far this year as manufacturers cope with rising production costs and declining domestic sales.
Indonesia Textile Association (API) chairman Ade Sudrajat said on Monday that producers’ inventories were piling up in storage, forcing them to reduce production and lay off some of their workers.
“Such a number [6,000] only comes from several [textile] companies in Bandung [West Java]. If [textile companies in] Central Java and East Java are to be included, the number of workers fired could reach in the tens of thousands,” Ade said.
Ade added that textile companies have been laying off workers since 2014 due to higher production costs following electricity and gas tariff increases and the rise in workers’ health insurance premium tariff, which must be paid by the companies.
Those factors drive businessmen to be traders of Chinese import products, which are cheaper and more profitable, Ade said.
11:31:03 local time THAILAND
20150529 * MPI drops 5.3% in Songkran month of April:
The MANUFACTURING Production Index in April plunged 5.3 per cent from March as some manufacturers took more days off for the long Songkran festival than last year.
Garment and textile output is projected to grow by 6.2 per cent year on year because of the strengthening of domestic demand and purchase orders from Asean nations.However, cloth output dropped by 12.2 per cent as manufacturers maintained high inventories and some consumers opted to import their clothes after domestic ones did not meet their requirements.
11:01:03 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150529 * Big Western brands sew way forward:
Only a thimble-full of American fashion brands now import from Myanmar, though they were once the largest players in the domestic garments business.
More than 50 percent of Myanmar’s garment exports were shipped to the United States before the introduction of sanctions in 2003 put a stop to the US trade. The effect of the sanctions was crippling – nearly overnight, garment factories were forced to close, or look to other markets, with buyers from countries like Japan and Korea picking up some of the slack.
Now, in Yangon’s Thingangyun township, more than 1000 people – women, mostly – are leaning over their sewing machines, working for a South Korean-owned factory to produce clothing for a giant American retailer once more.
While the garment industry is returning to health, there is much more to be done to entice more Western – particularly American – brands to return.
European companies like Adidas and H&M are making larger and larger local orders, and in the case of H&M, are now working with 14 local factories, while their American counterparts stay smaller.
Over the past year, American retailer Gap has tripled the quantity of clothing it is ordering from its two Myanmar factories.
However, it has no immediate plans to add more factories, according to Debbie Mesloh, senior director of government and public affairs with Gap.
20150528 * Govt Claims Jump in Foreign Investment:
Workers tailor and arrange clothing at a garment factory in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone. (Photo: Reuters)
Government figures show an astounding US$2.2 billion worth of foreign direct investment for April, the first month of the 2015-16 financial year, but officials have remained tight-lipped over how much of the money has made its way into Burma.
The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) said that $2 billion was allocated to the oil and gas industry, while $116 million went to manufacturing and a further $50 million was allocated for the hotel and tourism sector.
Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and DICA director-general, told The Irrawaddy last week that foreign direct investment appeared set to exceed government projections once again, after $8 billion was pledged during the 2014-15 financial year.
“I expected only $6 billion for 2015-16, but last year’s record spend was also over expectations,” he said.
20150528 * A solution to setting minimum wage:
Setting a minimum wage has been under discussion for some time in Myanmar without success, as representatives for employers and employees have been unable to reach an agreement.
Some employers say they cannot afford the wage level employees have demanded, while employees say the minimum wage they have sought is just enough for their basic needs.
As a result, negotiations for the minimum wage have been delayed again and again for some time.
10:16:03 local time NEPAL
* Labour costs soar as demand grows for their skills:
Capital after most of the menial labourers left the Valley in the wake of the April 25 earthquake and aftershocks.
The dearth of labour, coupled with unwillingness of many to work in buildings rendered unsafe by the quakes, has shot up the wage, according to the Federation of Contractor’s Association of Nepal (FCAN).
Labourers working in piecemeal basis are now charging Rs 700-1,000 for an eight-hour day. Many house owners in urgent need of home repairs are also paying an additional sum in commission to agents.
10:31:03 local time BANGLADESH
20150527-28 * Deal signed with ILO to enhance occupational safety:
The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday signed an agreement with Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF), aiming to enhance occupational safety and health (OSH) in the country’s readymade garment industry.
ILO Bangladesh Country Director Srinivas Reddy and BEF President Tapan Chowdhury signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides at Square Centre in city’s Mohakhali, ILO Senior Communications Officer Steve Needham told UNB.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150527 * EU for implementing labour rules soon:
European Union ambassador and head of delegation Pierre Mayaudon on Wednesday called for implementing amended labour in Bangladesh immediately to ensure welfare and secure confidence of international trade partners.
Insisting on implementation of rules by next June, he added, workers at the export processing zones should also be benefitted from the revised Bangladesh Labour Law rules.
“They will apply to all sectors of the industry,” ambassador Mayaudon said during a ‘talk on EU-Bangladesh trade ties’ at the National Press Club. Economic Reporters’ Forum organised the discussion, which was moderated by its president Sultan Mahmud.
The diplomat came up with the suggestion in view of necessity of changes after the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy and a possible paradigm shift from garment-dominated business relation to a more balanced, diversified economic relation between the EU and Bangladesh.
The government has already finalised amended version of the labour law rules keeping provision for workers’ welfare fund.
The rules are now awaiting enactment.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150527 * Move to adopt safety action plan for RMG:
The government has decided to adopt an action plan for ensuring health and occupational safety in five industrial sectors including readymade garments (RMG) and leather, sources said.
The decision was taken Tuesday at the first meeting of a committee that was formed by ‘National Industrial Health and Safety Council’ in March.
“Initially, we have prioritised five sectors garment and textiles, leather, shrimp, ship building and breaking and chemical considering the size of sectors,” Syed Ahmed, head of the committee and also Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), told the FE after the meeting.
20150526 * Accord Announces First Factories to Complete Safety Remediation 23 May 2015:
On 20 May 2015, Accord engineers verified the successful completion of all remediation requirements stemming from the Accord initial inspections at two Accord listed factories in Bangladesh.
The first 2 factories to achieve this milestone are: Concord Fashion Export Ltd. and Jeacon
Both of these factories are located in the same building at South Shalna, Joydebpur, Gazipur, Dhaka
The Accord applauds the efforts of the factory owners and managers, the relevant Accord company and union signatories, the workers in these factories, and the Accord engineering and case handler staff who contributed to the completion of this work.
As we recognize these achievements and prepare to verify additional factories which have reported all remediation items completed, the Accord remains vigilant in accelerating the pace and level of remediation at the large number of Accord inspected factories where execution of the remediation is inadequate or too far behind schedule.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150527 * Business leaders seek uniform source tax on export sectors:
Strongly opposing the government’s move to raise source tax on readymade garment (RMG) export proceeds, leaders of the country’s leading trade bodies Tuesday demanded imposition of a uniform source tax for all export sectors.
The businesses at the business advisory council meeting also suggested that the government should ensure smooth supply of natural gas and power and facilitate other infrastructure support for helping enhance competitiveness of local industries in the global market.
20150527 * Denim exporters shine:
Turkish, Chinese counterparts lose out
Exports of denim items to the European Union (EU) posted double-digit growth last year, enabling the country to elbow out Turkey and China in the regional market, industry insiders said.
Bangladesh shipped denim products, especially trousers worth euro 932.86 million, to the EU in 2014 marking a 15.53 per cent growth compared to that of 2013, the BGMEA data based on Eurostat showed.
In 2009, the country fetched only euro 376.08 million by exporting denim products to the EU.
Turkey – the largest denim exporter to the 27-nation market in 2013 – earned euro 871.08 million in 2014 registering a 7.73 per cent growth while China’s export to the market dropped by 7.40 per cent to euro 657.65 million last year, according to the association data.
However, Bangladesh sustained the third position in the US market in the last couple of years and exported denim products worth $ 418.42 million in 2014 while Mexico earned $ 1.02 billion and China $ 970.12 million during the same period.
20150529 * Jute workers oppose govt’s privatisation drive:
Around 2,000 workers of state owned Alim Jute Mills in Khulna staged protests yesterday against the government’s plans to privatise the industry.
Sources said under the banner of Privatisation Resistance Committee, the workers staged demonstration in front of the mill in the morning.
They also brought out a protest procession and held rally.
Later, they blocked the Khulna-Jessore Highway causing serous sufferings to the commuters.
During the blockade programme several processions were seen on the highway.
A meeting was also held in on the premises of the mill where workers’ leader Abdus Salam Jamaddar, Syful Islam Mintu, Sarder Abdul Hamid, Mujibur Rahman Makbul, Abbas Ali, Iqbal Hossain, Sheikh Zakaria, Anwar Hossain, Abed Ali , Redowan Hossain Bahar, Babul Reza, Akbar Ali, Hafez Abdus Salam and Rafiqul Islam.
The committee convener Md Abdur Rashid presided over the function.
20150529 * Alim Jute Mills workers barricade Khulna-Jessore highway:
Workers of state owned Alim Jute Mills Limited on Thursday barricaded the Khulna-Jessore highway in front of the mill gate at Atra industrial area in Khulna for an hour from 10:00am protesting the government move to privatise the mill, a workplace of around 2000 workers.
As a result, a huge number of vehicles had to remain stranded at both the ends of the barricade.
The workers barricaded the highway under the banner of Alim Jute Mills Privatisation Resistance Committee as a part of their nine-day long agitation demanding immediate cancellation of the moves to privatise the mill.
When the barricade was on and the workers had been chanting slogans to press home their demand, police at around 10:30am made an attempt to foil the barricade charging batons against the protesters, witnesses said.
20150528 * AJM workers threaten to paralyse Khulna:
Workers of state-owned Alim Jute Mills threatened the government that they would paralyse Khulna city if the authorities concerned did not cancel their decision about privatising the mill immediately.
The threat came from a protest rally held in front of the mill gate in the city’s industrial area on Wednesday.
Around 2,000 workers, under banner of Privatisation Resistance Committee, brought out a protest procession and held the rally.
The committee convener Md Abdur Rashid said their nine-day protest programmes would end on Thursday through holding a hunger strike programme.
Jatiya Sramik Federation central president Hafizur Rahman Bhuiyan, in his speech, urged the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation authorities to arrange adequate allocation of fund to run the mill.
20150527 * Jute mills workers threaten road-rly blockade:
Workers of state-owned jute mills on Tuesday threatened to call countrywide road-railway blockade for June 14 if their demands were not met before the day.
At a human chain in front of National Press Club, they also called for work abstention from June 8 to June 9 and hunger strike for June 10 at all the 26 state-owned jute mills.
The jute mills workers under the banner of ‘Bangladesh State-owned Jute Mills CBA, Non-CBA Oikya Parishad’ organised the protest programme.
Their demands include fund allocation for buying raw jute for the mills, setting up separate wage commission for jute mill workers before implementing new pay scale for government employee, ensuring promised 20 per cent dearness allowance for workers and implementing Mandatory Packaging Act and ban
20150526 * Jute mill workers threaten to block road, railway:
They are pressing for release of jute procurement funds, formation of a wage commission, and payment of dues of workers sacked on July 1, 2009.
A joint body of public and private jute mill workers on Tuesday demanded an to attempts to handover state-owned mills to private owners.
Mohammad Sohrab Hossain, convenor of the joint body, said “The mills have almost shut down as jute had not been purchased in the ‘fabric season’.
“Thousands of workers are facing risk of losing their jobs.”
20150528 * We regret:
We wrote, on May 12, an editorial, Doubly denied, on a woman worker giving birth to a child inside the Apex Factory at Gazipur, based on a news item published in a Bangla newspaper, and subsequent court proceedings.
The Bangla newspaper story eventually turned out to be misleading. We believe that we should have waited till the completion of court proceedings and we regret our haste.
20150527 * HC asks Prothom Alo to pay Tk 1 lakh to her:
FALSE REPORT ON WORKER GIVING BIRTH IN FACTORY
The High Court on Tuesday directed the Prothom-Alo authorities to pay within one month Tk one lakh to Hamida Akhter, a worker of Apex Footwear, for defaming her ‘personal and social image’ by publishing a ‘false report’ that she had given birth to a baby in company’s factory toilet after she was denied maternity leave.
A bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman also said that the Apex Footwear authorities were at liberty to take legal action against Prothom Alo for the damage its report had caused to the company’s reputation.
The court issued the directives while disposing of a suo moto rule it had issued on May 10 asking Apex managing director Syed Nasim Manzur, its manager (admin) Kazi Md Abdul Aziz and assistant supervisor Ratan Chandra Rabi Das to explain the incident of Hamida giving birth to her baby in a toilet of Apex factory after she was denied maternity leave.
The suo moto rule was prompted by Prothom Alo’s report published on May 9 about the Apex worker giving birth in the factory toilet.
In separate affidavits submitted to the court on Sunday, the Apex officials described the Prothom Alo report as ‘misleading, motivated and false’ and said it was published with the ‘ulterior motive’ to serve the interests of vested quarters.
read more. & read more.
20150527 * Compensate Gazipur worker with Tk 1 lakh:
The High Court yesterday directed Prothom Alo to give Tk 1 lakh as compensation to a female worker of Apex Footwear Limited in Gazipur within a month for damaging her dignity by misreporting of information about her abortion.
The court observed that the newspaper authorities have to give the money to Hamida Akter as compensation as her dignity was damaged due to the report published on May 10, Deputy Attorney General Tapas Kumar Biswas told The Daily Star.
An HC bench of Justice Qazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Md Saifur Rahman passed the order with disposing of a suomoto rule issued by it on May 10 following the report.
The Prothom Alo report said Hamida who was pregnant suddenly became sick at the factory on May 9 and sought leave from her supervisor but he did not grant it. The report also said when her condition deteriorated, she went to a toilet and became senseless and “gave birth to a child there”.
She “along with the baby” was taken to Safipur Modern Hospital and “the baby was declared dead,” said the report.
On May 11 the daily published another report along with a rejoinder from the company and a correction saying that some information of the May 10 report was not correct.
The report also said statements about birth of the baby in the toilet and disapproval of the leave were not found true.
20150526 * Prothom Alo fined TK1 lakh for misreporting:
The High Court has directed Bangla Daily Prothom Alo to give Tk1 lakh to a female worker of Apex Footwear Limited as compensation for publishing a wrong report on her abortion.
An HC bench comprising of Justice Qazi Reza-Ul-Hoque and Justice Abu Taher Mohammad Saifur Rahman passed the order on Tuesday afternoon after Kaliakoir upazila UNO submitted a probe report before it.
The probe report read Hamida had an abortion accidentally as she took medicine of her own.
In its order, the HC observed that the newspaper authorities will have to give the compensation money to Hamida Akter from its social responsibility for tarnishing her image by publishing wrong report on her abortion.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150527 * In Shame:
I was originally planning to write on our Finance Minister’s comments on the readymade garments industry being strong enough to return favours to the government.
I am certain that he sees no dearth of growth in the sector and senses that all ready-made garment factories are making tons of money, evading taxes and siphoning money overseas.
What he said does not surprise me, as that must be his perception. What worries me is the possible impact of his “perception” that may impact the budget and in the process hurt the industry, which has four million workers, out of which three million are women.
Looping women into any argument is easy and serves the purpose.
That is why in most cases reference to women support and expedite any cause. Your columnist seeks your pardon in doing the same.
But then again, most of us hold erroneous perceptions, give the same references, and practice the same evil.
The most recent example of evil is of the gang rape that happened in the microbus.
That is when I changed this week’s topic from being one about the RMG sector to telling her story.
When I saw her, tragedy was already twenty-four hours old. She had a tiny frame; possibly did not weigh more than 40 kilograms and had a smile.
Your columnist had difficulty spotting her as she came in with another woman, slightly bigger than her, looked shaken up and did not smile.
Surprisingly the one with the smile was the one who was raped in a moving microbus for one and a half hours by five men.
In no time, I was relearning the language of courage from her. Commonly referred to as Garo, this tiny girl in front of me would perhaps rather have been referred to as chick mandi (hill tribe) or achie (mountaineer).
For someone who has to interact with the mainstream of the society on a regular basis, for reasons of earning her livelihood, she lives in Dhaka, removed from her original setup of being part of a matriarchal society where she is taught to take her mother’s surname and value her mother’s descent.
20150522 * Garment worker, labour activist Nazma Akhter speaks on development justice at ESCAP:
Statement by Nazma Akter, Awaj Foundation
On behalf of the Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (RCEM)
For the UN ESCAP Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2015
Distinguished delegates, UN agencies, my civil society friends, thank you for giving me this opportunity to address you in this important meeting.
I feel privileged to represent civil society from across the region who, through the Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism, represent more than 350 organisations and diverse movements across the region.
This is my first time speaking at such an important meeting. When I was young I couldn’t imagine attending a meeting like this.
In fact I didn’t know about the UN because I had very little chance to study.
I started work as a garment worker in Bangladesh at 11 years old.
The right to sustainable development means little to an 11 year old garment worker.
When the money you earn is not enough to eat well; when you work 12-14 hour days; when sexual harassment is normal; when women lose their jobs when they are pregnant; when joining a trade union becomes life threatening; when fumes make it dangerous to breathe and you are locked in – it’s difficult to recognise the promises governments made to deliver human rights.
Through my work I started to realise that the only way to develop, to achieve fairness for the least powerful is to act collectively.
I became a trade union leader and began to demand better wages, conditions and safety for women like me.
And you are all gathered here today for what should be a similar belief: that governments working collectively can deliver fairness.
But fairness is very very far away. Injustice is everywhere I look. Inequality is so high that next year 1% of the world’s population will own more than 99%.
The owners of Walmart, one of the retailers who have their clothes made in Bangladesh, make more in every single second, than a garment worker like me makes in an entire year.
These inequalities are not natural.
They are not inevitable.
They are created because the very few with wealth and power make the rules so that economies favour their interests –and their interests are defended through the use of violence and war against those who advance a more just system.
20150529 * Mongla EZ to be readied in 3 years:
The Mongla economic zone (EZ) will be readied for investors within next three years with necessary infrastructure and utility services.
To expedite the process, the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) accorded pre-qualification licence Thursday to the local company Power Pac to develop infrastructure of the Mongla Economic Zone.
The authority handed over the licence to the company for the zone having 205 acre area at a ceremony held Thursday at a city hotel.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150527 * No more apathy towards Rana Plaza victims:
It is unfortunate that workers who survived the Rana Plaza collapse and families of the workers who died in disaster 25 months ago have had to go on demonstrations demanding compensation.
They held protests teamed up as Bangladesh Garment Workers’ Solidarity, as New Age reported on Monday, at the accident site near the Savar bus stand on the outskirts of the capital on Sunday.
They also demanded punishment of the people responsible for the worst-ever building collapse in the nation’s history which left at least 1,136 people, mostly workers, dead and many more permanently handicapped.
Soon after the disaster on April 24, 2013, various quarters at home and abroad, especially the government and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association, made literally innumerable promises involving compensation, justice and rehabilitation of survivors.
Regrettably, however, once the public outrage and the shock that the disaster triggered died down, most of the promises proved long on rhetoric, as they did on many previous occasions.
It is pertinent to recall here that the High Court has had to come forward in the formation of a committee for the enlistment of people eligible for compensation and the setting of compensation amount.
Yet, there are still many who lost members of their families in the collapse and have to go door-to-door either for compensation or even for enlistment as successors to the deceased.
There are hardly any people who received full compensation package till date mainly because of the lack of adequate fund.
* With the latest donations just in, $2.4 million still needed for Rana Plaza victims’ compensation fund:
Donors who have publicly declared their donation to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund
10:01:03 local time INDIA
20150528 * Child labourers rescued from jewellery shops in Indore:
A team of Women and Child development (WCD), along with Childline and Labour Department, rescued 14 child labourers on Wednesday from jewellery showrooms situated in Sarafa market.
District Child Protection Officer Bhagwandas Sahu said, “WCD received the information on Tuesday about children being used as labourers in jewellery shop and planned to rescue them on Wednesday”. He said out of 14 children, 12 are from West Bengal while two are from Rajasthan.
“We have asked the owner of jewellery shops to submit documents pertaining to these children. Owners had also been booked under labour department for further investigation,” said Sahu. He said Child Welfare Committee (CWC) would keep the children till the final decision is made.
20150527 * Changes in child labour law acceptable if children work with parents: Kailash Satyarthi:
As activists plan nationwide rallies next month against the proposed changes to the child labour law, Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi says he’s not opposed to the contentious amendment, which allows kids under the age of 14 to work in family-run enterprises, as long as the government restricts the definition of ‘family’ to parents or legal guardians and the work does not affect the child’s health, education and leisure time.
The Union Cabinet cleared the amendment to the draft law on May 13 evoking strong protests from civil society.
Although the proposed legislation is more stringent than the current child labour law, activists want a blanket ban on child labour till the age of 14.
20150527 * Mill owner booked for death of worker:
The District Rural Police have registered a case against a mill owner with causing death by negligence following the death of a worker. According to the police, Parveenthar Singh (19) of Uttar Pradesh, was working in a cotton mill at P.N. Palayam for the past two months.
The mill operated equipment with gog wheels, about four feet high which operated with chains.
However, neither the gog wheels nor the chains had protective covering. Parveenthar Singh’s shirt got stuck in the equipment on Sunday and he was dragged into wheels.
He suffered severe injuries in the stomach and died on the way to the hospital.
The P.N. Palayam Police have registered a case and invoked Section 304 (A) (Causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code against T. Soundarajan (55), owner of the mill, and M. Gopalakrishnan, the manager.
20150528 * Govt to ease employee-employer dispute resolution mechanism:
The government has proposed steps for quick redressal of industrial disputes arising out of retrenchment or any other conflict between employees and employers.
The move comes as trade unions have adopted a tough stance to a slew of proposed labour law reforms. All the 11 central trade unions have decided on a one-day nationwide strike on September 2 to protest the government’s proposed changed to the industrial relations Bill.
The labour ministry would soon propose a tri-partite board with adjudication powers, to help workers raise grievance in case of industrial disputes with employers and if the conciliation process fails.
Adjudication is a legal way to expedite the delivery of resolutions or punishments to conflicting parties.
“Some respected representative of the employer and the trade unions, along with a government official, might be a part of this board,” said a senior labour ministry official.
20150527 * Trade unions officially declare national strike to protest labour reforms:
Slams the NDA govt on its one year anniversary for its “anti-worker” policies
On the first anniversary of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, 11 central trade unions declared a nationwide strike on September 2 to oppose various “retrograde” labour law reforms initiated by the ruling coalition.
The decision was taken at the national convention of workers, held opposite the office of the labour ministry. on Tuesday.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), otherwise supportive of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will also participate in the strike.
The trade unions collectively slammed the government for its “sweeping changes” to the labour laws, opening up various sectors for foreign investments and non-fulfilment of other demands.
“The government’s aim in aggressively pushing through sweeping changes in labour laws is nothing but to push out overwhelming majority of workers out of the coverage of all labour laws and to drastically curb the trade union rights,” said the declaration signed by all the central trade union leaders.
20150527 * Trade unions call for nationwide strike on Sept. 2:
A convention of 11 Central Trade Unions (CTUs) has declared a nationwide strike on September 2 that will cover public and private sectors including banking and railways.
The strike call is against the labour policy of the Union Government. It will also press a charter of demands that predates the Modi government.
“The government is aggressively bringing sweeping changes to push the overwhelming majority of workers out of the coverage of all labour laws and to drastically curb trade union rights,” a statement issued by representatives of the CTUs, said on Tuesday.
The convention that coincided with the first anniversary of the Modi government said in the past year labour laws were being amended to empower the employers with unfettered rights to “hire and fire.” “Also, through changes in the existing land acquisition Act, farmers’ right to land and agriculture workers’ right to livelihood are being sought to be drastically curbed and curtailed,” the statement said.
20150526 * Trade unions call for general strike on Sept 2 against ‘unilateral’ labour law changes:
Reject inter-Ministerial committee set up by Centre for ‘threadbare” discussions
Rejecting the NDA government’s bid to “dangle the carrot” of another committee to look into their demands, a joint platform of about a dozen trade unions, including federations of defence, railways, banks and insurance employees, on Wednesday called for a country-wide general strike on September 2.
“Committees will not feed out stomachs,” said Pawan Kumar, Zonal Secretary of RSS-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, on the sidelines of a national convention here. He was reacting to the Labour Ministry’s decision late Tuesday to constitute an inter-Ministerial committee to hold “threadbare” discussions with trade union representatives on their 10-point charter of demands and other issues, such as labour law amendments.
The committee comprises Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, and MoS in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh.
“Why are they (Government) reacting after one year,” asked Kumar, adding that discussions had been held for a total of eight hours in two earlier meetings by “so-called” committees.
“They said they will send a report to the Prime Minister. So, what is the guarantee that this committee will not go the same way,” he added.
Accusing the Centre of ushering in labour reforms through the “backdoor to empower the employers”, a joint statement issued by trade unions said these will “push out an overwhelming majority of workers out of coverage of all labour laws.’
20150526 * 11 central trade unions to go on nationwide strike on Sept. 2:
The 11 central trade unions will go on a nationwide strike on September 2 against the anti-worker policies of the government, defying the attempt of the government to address the issues of trade unions through an inter-ministerial committee comprising of the five key ministers of the Narendra Modi government.
This is a big blow to the series of labour reforms of the BJP-led NDA government as the trade unions have agreed upon more such frequent strikes unless the government reverses it’s decision on the recent labour law amendments, opening up of FDI in key sectors, etc
This declaration from trade unions, representing 47 crore of the country’s workforce, comes on the first anniversary of the government which claims to be working on the towards welfare of the workers.
The decision to this effect was taken at a national convention of workers on Tuesday that saw participation of 11 central trade unions including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Indian National Trade Union Congress, All India Trade Union Congress, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, All India United Trade Union Centre, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Trade Union Coordination Committee, United Trade Union Congress, Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and Labour Progressive Federation.
Besides, there are representatives from key sectors like banking, insurance, defence, railways and others.
Trade unions have been resisting several changes made to the existing labour laws besides attempts to introduce new laws, saying that the government is rushing through bills such as the Industrial Relations Code, Small Factories and Employees’ Provident Fund in the name of ease of doing business and boosting ‘Make in India’ programme.
The crucial 10-point agenda of the trade unions includes demands such as government steps to deal with issues like price rise, unemployment, universal social security cover for workers and disinvestment of public sector undertakings.
20150528 * Textile players eye investment in Vietnam:
Textile players, including denim makers, are eyeing investment opportunities in Vietnam. Several companies have been enthused by the proposed textile park in that country. Recently, a 13-member delegation comprising the representatives from Denim Manufacturers Association (DMA) and Northern India Textile Mills Association (NITMA) had visited Vietnam.
During his own visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered $300 million line of credit to Vietnam to buy materials and textile machinery.
India is currently looking at the possibility of setting up a textile park in Vietnam, a move that is likely to boost trade and investment in man-made fibres and fabrics between the two countries.
“There are opportunities in spinning and fibre segment,” said Siddhartha Rajagopal, executive director, the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council. “Several companies are studying the potential of setting up units in Vietnam.
The only issue is that the Vietnam government wants that yarn should be made there itself.”
20150528 * Gujjar agitation keeps textile traders on tenterhooks:
The Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan has kept the textile traders on tenterhooks with the transporters unwilling to ply on the Agra-Rajasthan route fearing tension.
Sources said that around 50 trucks loaded with textile fabrics including dress material and saris bound to Ajmer and Jaipur had to return back from Agra after the Gujjars blocked the national highway as part of their ongoing agitation.
Everyday around 150 trucks leave from the city for Jaipur and other districts in Rajasthan with goods estimated at Rs 15 crore.
Following the Gujjar agitation, the transporters have been accepting the consignment deliveries only up to Delhi and Agra, avoiding to enter the Rajasthan border due to the agitation.
Yuvraj Deshle, president, Surat Textile Goods Transporters’ Association (STGTA) said, “We can’t risk our lives and drive into Rajasthan with truck loads of costly fabrics that are not even insured by the traders. If something happens then we are held responsible. Thus, we have stopped accepting the consignments to Rajasthan.”
20150527 * Textile, apparel export growth flat at $41.4 billion in FY15:
Govt to unveil national textile policy soon
India’s textile and apparel exports are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9 per cent, from around $40 billion in 2013, to $95 billion in 2023.
Analytic and research firm Technopak said in a report that the Indian textile and apparel market was estimated at Rs. 3,20,000 crore in 2013, and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9 per cent to Rs. 7,57,000 crore by 2023.
While menswear contributes 42 per cent to the Indian apparel market, womenswear contributes to 38 per cent, kidswear 20 per cent. Data also suggest that the Rs. 21,160-crore domestic home textiles market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8 per cent to reach Rs. 43,970 crore by 2023.
Though garment and textile exports from India have fallen short of the $45-billion target set by the Textiles Ministry, the government has set 14-per cent higher export target at $47.5 billion for the current fiscal.
20150529 * Workers protest sale of jute mill land:
Scores of workers on Thursday staged a sit-in opposing the management decision to sell away the age-old Shri Bhajrang Jute Mill on the Pattabhipuram Main Road to a real estate firm. Leaders of various parties, including the YSRC, Congress, CPI and the CPI (M) and other trade unions lent support to the protest.
But, the management insists that mounting production costs, labour shortage and piling of dues has forced the closure of the mill.
“We also have outstanding dues running into crores as we have been running the mill on loans secured from other States. We also have a reasonable package to workers in terms of gratuity and bonus for the last six months,” says Chairman Davu Gopal Lunani.
Trade union leader Lella Appireddy said the arbitrary manner in which the management sold away the land and was forcing the closure, could throw out 3,000 workers out of their jobs.
The management of Shri Bhajrang Jute Mill insists that mounting production costs, shortage of labour and piling of outstanding dues has forced the closure of the mill
20150528 * NGT decision on Kanpur tanneries hailed:
Tannery associations and owners have hailed National Green Tribunal (NGT) decision to allow closed tanneries, situated on the banks of the Ganga here, to operate on a trial basis for 19 days in June.
During this period their effluent levels will be checked by a team of experts.
The tribunal, while passing an order on a bunch of petitions on Tuesday, asked all industrial units to provide details of steps taken to curb pollution level to the joint inspection team, comprising experts from Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and IIT-Kanpur by June 6.
“We welcome the step taken by NGT, which has granted permission to all the 98 units to carry out operations, as a trial run from June 7 to June 25.
During this period, the joint inspection team will visit and collect samples of effluents discharged from these units,” informed Hafizur Rehman, president of Small Tannners Association.
20150527 * National Consultation To End All Forms of Forced Labour in the Garment Sector:
A Joint Initiative of READ: Rights Education and Development, Tamil Nadu India
& the Dalit Solidarity Network UK
Supported by: All India Dalit Women’s Movement (AIDMAM), New Delhi India
It is often stated that women stepping out of the home to work is empowering but the reality of textile production in Tamil Nadu is very different.
Forced labour schemes are abundant and what it means is that instead of the decent wages, comfortable accommodation and payment of a lump sum amount promised at the end of a 3 year contract, the worker is actually made to toil a for pittance and their labour rights are violated in indecent working and living conditions.
Between 80 and 90% of the workers in factories and mills are women.
Most are from rural and tribal regions. 60-70% of the work force are Dalit women and girls.
Wages are below a subsistence level in contravention of the Minimum Wages Act.
Working conditions can be brutal, with workers working 16 hours a day 7 days a week.
Increasingly, sexual exploitation and harassment is widespread.
The consultation will share the current status and issues in a systematic fashion. There will be presentations by experts, real life experiences by victims, legal issues and remedies with a focus on women and discrimination.
By the end of the day we will have an action plan to carry forward the
The consultation is expected to address some of the following:
* Implementation of Minimum Wages Act in all workplaces irrespective of nature of work
* The period of apprenticeship to be limited to six months applicable to all industries
* Abolition of all Camp labour/bonded labour/forced labour schemes
* The right to Freedom of Association is a right for all workers
* Migrant women labourers will be ensured a safe and decent working environment
* Ensure all the mandatory social security measures are available and paid
read more in pdf: 20150527 Invitation to National Consultation on Forced Labour Schemes in the Garment Industry
20150527 * A Birds eye view of the National Consultation:
The seven decades of independent has not acheieved the desired
results. Especially in th context of labour and development.
The issue of minimum or fair wages,the social security measures,safe working environment and the air special provisions for the women workers and so on.
To take in to account the textile and garment sector has a long way to go and that the issues associated with it are mounting especially in the context of adolescent girls and young women working in these industries under various names and schemes.
On normal course the issue was termed and attached with Tamil Nadu alone but over the years it has been expereinced that there is a large scale migration of young girls and young women from the central.
East coast and North Eastern parts of India.
The Words that added the Value (Opening Remarks):
The focus was on the Sumangali Scheme which is termed to be totalay against the rights of the labour and has a series of serious issues that has been affecting thousands of girls over the years in various forms.
Now that the situatuon has to reached to the level where the Sumangali Scheme cannot be seen as an issue associated with Tamil Nadu alone and since we have workers form various parts of India, thus a national India,
issue, In additon this has to be seen as a structural iussue with dimensions of caste class and gender.
The scheme focus more on the dalts and triblas which is a concern of higer orfer to get addressed in a more strategic way.
The role of various stakeholdre is equally important to address the issue.
It may be local but Long years of struggle (The Local Context):
It is almost of two decades of painful experiences that the scheme has created scar.
The issue is seen on a larger front beyond a social issue in the present context of changing laws, ploices, procedures and schemes and so on.
It is invevitable that there should be invevitable zero compromise in putting into practices the various provisions in the context of protectinon workers especailly women both in the working, exclusion of the dalits women in the context of the recruitment for work especially in the context of textile or garment sector.
Moving Up in the ladder (The National Context)
Caste has become the brutal manifestation in th modern times especially in making profit out of the labour in the context of modern slavery in the name of Sumangali Scheme.
The changing political landscape has to be taken in to account in terms of corporates large industrialists and the NRIs who have been in th forefront in influencing the policies and programs which is affecting the marginalised in a more crucial manner.
The governments at the national level are trying to put down the voices that has been raised to protect the rights of the women and children from the discriminated caste.
It is also borught to the floor that it is not the garment sector it is the majority of
the non formal sector workers who are not getting the minimum wages and the task infront of the floor is huge.
read more in pdf: 20150528 READ National Consultation – A birds Eye View
09:31:03 local time PAKISTAN
20150528 * Loopholes: Women protection bill needs major changes, says activists:
The draft Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Bill has many shortcomings, rights activists said at a discussion on Wednesday.
The event was organised by Shirkat Gah, the Women’s Resource Centre.
The speakers expressed reservations over the bill, recently tabled in the Punjab Assembly, it has been referred to a standing committee.
Lawyer Hina Jilani said that it was not a bill addressing the issue of domestic violence.
“It is just a procedural document, listing protective services for women affected by violence. It does not even provide them a way to seek justice. The bill does not even define domestic violence,” she said.
20150528 * PHC dismisses petition against women’s ‘disenfranchisement’:
Dealing a blow to the campaign of civil society organisations for the women’s right to vote, the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition against the alleged disenfranchisement of women in the recent PK-95 Lower Dir by-election over the absence of tangible evidence of ‘ban’ on women voters.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Mohammad Daud Khan pronounced the petition dismissal order after hearing preliminary arguments of the petitioners’ lawyer, Shahab Khan Khattak.
The petition was filed by Shabnam, Shamim Sultan and many other women voters, who requested the court to declare the PK-95 by-election on May 7 null and void and order fresh election there insisting not a single woman was allowed to cast vote.
20150529 * Outlines of a framework for industrial relations:
Ever since the promulgation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, under which the subject of labour and industrial relations has been devolved to and brought under the purview of the provincial governments, a debate has been going on about the need to evolve a viable mechanism to ensure that labour policies framed by the latter comply with the relevant constitutional provisions on labour rights and industrial relations on the one hand and on the other, these should strictly adhere to the various international treaties, covenants and conventions, of which the state of Pakistan, through its federal government, is a signatory.
The powers ceded by the federation to the provinces need to be exercised with maximum caution.
Provincialising the labour laws should not mean that the provinces are free to abridge the rights guaranteed in the constitution of Pakistan or violate the country’s international obligations.
The province can enhance but not curtail these rights.
To quote a bad example, the Industrial Relations Act promulgated by the Government of Punjab deprived the majority of workers of the Right of Association and are thus violative of the constitutional provisions as well as Pakistan’s international commitments in this regard.
20150528 * Budget 2015-16: Govt proposes higher capital gains tax on traded securities:
In a bid to increase the revenues of the national kitty, the government has proposed to increase the rate of capital gains tax (CGT) rate on the trade of securities that are sold within two years.
Additionally, it was proposed, that gains from the sale of shares after two years should also be taxed by imposing 7.5% CGT.
In budget 2015-16, which will be unveiled on June 5, CGT rates may be increased by up to one-fourth of their current level, said sources in Ministry of Finance and Revenue.
According to the proposal that the government may submit to the Parliament as part of next year’s budget, the tax rate on shares sold within a year may be increased from 12.5% to 15% – reflecting an increase of 20%.
20150528 * Rs180bn tax exemptions to be withdrawn next year:
A high-powered committee has decided to withdraw tax exemptions worth Rs180 billion, or 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), to bring down the budget deficit in 2015-16.
The committee, however, will submit a final report on the second phase of tax exemptions withdrawal on Thursday (today).
The meeting of the committee was presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to give final touches to the budget proposals.
20150528 * LCCI, EXIM join hands to facilitate mutual trade:
The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) will work together to ensure an integrated approach to facilitate the importers and exporters in Pakistan.
This was agreed in a meeting between the USA EXIM Bank Global Business Development Vice-President Raymond J Ellis and LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.
20150528 * Value-added textiles: Apparel forum wants zero-rated status back:
The government should look into reasons behind the decline in exports of the value-added textile sector despite duty-free access granted under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus, said Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman M Javed Bilwani.
He reiterated the demand of reviving the zero rate status that is “No Payment No Refund Regime” for the five export-oriented sectors by restoring SRO 1125(I)/2011 to its original status.
Bilwani said that the government must release all pending sales tax refunds and custom rebates as huge amounts of the exporter’s liquidity is held up, which is resulting in liquidity shortages and cash flow problems.
He said that the value-added export sector, which is the backbone of the economy with great potential for earning foreign exchange, constitutes 54% of nation’s exports and generating 42% urban employment, is heading for imminent disaster.
20150527 * Textile industry: government urged to create new job opportunities by spurring growth:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman SM Tanveer has urged the government to use the growth potential of the textile industry for employment creation and not for revenue generation.
“It should avoid burdening the textile industry with further taxation to achieve this target,” he stressed.
He has put forward budget proposals, saying that the foremost is to operationalise the closed capacity by providing guaranteed uninterrupted energy supply to the export oriented Textile Industry at competitive rates.
“Fiscal incentives including zero rating tax holiday, interest support for new investments in all textile sectors should be ensured without excluding the spinning sector, which has lagged behind competitors due to the present inefficient technology,” he added.
20150527 * Zero-rating status for key exportables proposed:
The commerce ministry has proposed zero-rating for major exportable products in the next budget.
The major exportable items are textile and clothing, sports, surgical, leather goods and carpets.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said that his ministry was taking up the issue of pending refunds with the relevant stakeholders. The proposal of zero-rating would mean no tax, no refund.
Asked about the decline in exports, the minister blamed energy crisis, terrorism and global factors for the downward slide in export proceeds.
read more. & read more.
20150527 * PTEA calls for zero-rating of textile exports:
Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) has called for zero-rating sales tax facility on export oriented textile chain, as huge amounts stuck up in refund regime has squeezed the financial streams and are breading the cash flow jerks for textile exports.
Talking to newsmen, Chairman PTEA Sohail Pasha termed liquidity crunch as a stumbling block in export promotion. Textile industry is facing unprecedented crisis since many years and consequently, sizeable textile capacity had been severely impaired.
Textile exports in quantity and value terms could not get the momentum and remained below the targets.
Although GSP Plus window has increased the flow of orders to textile sector but lack of necessary funds and energy shortage has adversely hit the outcomes of this duty waiver relief, they argued.
20150527 * Business community hails cut in policy rate to 7%:
Business Community leaders have appreciated the government, specially the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for reducing interest rate to 7 percent and said it would help boost economic activities, encourage investors for setting up new industries, besides reducing the cost of doing business across the country.
“This step of the government is very encouraging and we appreciate it”, Executive Committee of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Group Leader, Abdul Rauf Alam, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Muhammad Muzammil Sabri, and President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce, Syed Asad Mushadi told APP here today.
Abdul Rauf Alam said that this was a welcome step, which would create a positive impact on overall economic activity and industry of the country and benefit the people across the country.
President RCCI Muhammad Muzammil Sabri, said that decision would encourage new big investors to take loans for setting up big industries and would generate economic activities and employment opportunities for the people in the country.
20150527 * Textile industry dubs gas cess anti-business:
Textile industry on Tuesday dubbed the gas cess anti-business as it will lead to massive closure of export-oriented units, unemployment and deteriorating law and order situation.
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Sindh-Balochistan region Tariq Saud said the gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC) Act, 2015 passed by the lower and upper houses will not only raise the cost of doing business and overburden the taxpayers, but may also become a cause for the complete shutdown of the export-oriented textile industries.
“Instead of taking such punitive steps, the government should focus on facilitating the business community that will automatically generate more tax revenue, create jobs and enhance exports,” Saud said in a statement.
20150529 * APTMA chief apprehends severe implications of GIDC:
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), S M Tanveer has apprehended severe implications of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) on the textile industry.
He was chairing an emergent meeting called to discuss the dire impact of GIDC on the textile industry. Those who attended the meeting included Amanullah Kassim, Tariq Saud, Yasin Siddk, Nadeem Maqbool, Asif Inam, Imran Maqbool, Jamil Qasim, Saleem Shakoor etc.
He said the textile industry is already limping in the region due to lopsided factors. “The textile exports have declined by 16 percent in March 2015 month-on-month basis,” he added.
Also, he said, the textile industry in Pakistan is paying the highest energy tariff in the region.
20150528 * APTMA terms GIDC Act 2015 anti-business initiative:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has termed Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Act 2015 an anti-business initiative, saying that the imposition of GIDC will lead to closure of export-oriented textile industry, which may result in law & order situation in the country.
APTMA Sindh-Balochistan Region Chairman Tariq Saud said on Tuesday that such harsh steps would raise the cost of doing business and overburden the taxpayers besides becoming the cause for complete shutdown of the export-oriented textile industries.
“Instead of taking such punitive steps, the government should focus on facilitating the business and industrial community that will automatically generate more tax revenue, create jobs and enhance exports,” he added.
The APTMA Chairman said that the textile industry was already facing crisis because of high cost of doing business and liquidity constraints.
20150527 * Conflicts: APTMA irked again, this time by GIDC:
Taking a jab at the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) Bill passed by parliament, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) said it will have a negative impact on businesses while leading to more unemployment in the country.
Aptma Sindh-Balochistan Region Chairman Tariq Saud said that the bill will increase the cost of doing business and overburden taxpayers.
Saud added that the textile industry is already facing a crisis because of the high cost of doing business and liquidity constraints. “Re-introduction of GIDC and its implications would be detrimental to the industry,” said Saud.
20150529 * Shahbaz seeks German investment in energy sector:
A representative delegation of the German parliament called on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday.
The delegation was headed by Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development Dagmar G. Wohrl. German Ambassador Cyrill Nunn was also present.
Matters of mutual interest, strengthening of bilateral relations and promotion of cooperation between the two countries in various sectors were discussed in the meeting.
20150529 * Corps commander seeks ideas from traders to revive economy:
In a meeting aimed at an ‘exchange of thoughts’, a delegation of traders and industrialists on Thursday put before Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar their concern over and suggestions related to the city’s dilapidated infrastructure, poor utility services and issues related to law and order as well as the ‘inability of police’ to deal with them.
Apart from expressing his resolve to fix law and order, the corps commander sought their suggestions to revive the economy, the traders said.
The traders and industrialists’ delegation, originally representing the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) were led by Businessmen Group chairman Siraj Kassam Teli, who said such meetings between the two sides were expected to be held in future as well to understand each other’s points of view.
20150529 * Parties give go-ahead to China-Pak corridor:
Doubts expressed by the political leadership over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were partially addressed by the government on Thursday and an all-party conference held at the prime minister’s office gave a go-ahead to the project.
The remaining concerns will be addressed by a bipartisan/bicameral parliamentary committee which the government agreed to constitute for a regular oversight of the project.
The government also agreed to set up joint working groups having representation of all provinces to give their views and suggestions on economic and industrial hubs to be built along the corridor.
20150528 * Original CPEC route not yet shared with political parties:
The official map of three alignments of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is lying with the ministry of planning and development but it is yet to be shared with the political parties that have expressed reservations over alleged change in route of this multi-billion mega project, reliable sources told The News here on Monday.
“The official map of CPEC was supposed to be shared with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before the first All Parties Conference on the project on May 13. But later it was decided to make it public at some later stage to show that no change has been made in the route of CPEC,” the sources said.
read more. & read more.
20150527 * Back to the people: Changes in trade route would weaken federation: Imran:
Reiterating his stance on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan said changes in the route would weaken the federation as less developed regions of the country would be left behind.
“Changes in the corridor are likely to stoke hatred of Punjab in other provinces,” said the party chief while addressing journalists at the inauguration ceremony of a girls school in Douranpur area of the city on Tuesday.
He added the opportunity of the corridor should be used to bring all federating units of the country together instead of shoving them aside like the Sharif brothers have done by considering Punjab the entirety of Pakistan.
20150527 * Cops accused of beating labourers, taking bribe:
Four cops of Mozang operations police allegedly arrested five labourers, manhandled them and took Rs 9,500 bribe from them in a raid on May 21.
The police registered FIR-348/15 against the labourers for gambling when they failed to give more bribe to the cops.
The accused included Jamshed Siddique, Jabbar and Labha. Jamshed Siddique is a tailor, Jabbar works in a shoe factory and Labha is a rickshaw driver.
They claimed they were playing cards and had nothing to do with gambling.
Jamshed told The News that he was sitting with his friends at the rooftop of a shoe factory in Old Mazang Adda at around 1am when four cops including SI Waris, Head Constable Liaqat and Constable Sohail Khan all in civvies led by an unidentified man appeared there and asked him and his friends to surrender and hand over all the belongings to them.
|We handed over Rs 4,500 in cash and three cellphones to the policemen, he said and alleged that the cops slapped and thrashed them with kicks and punches.
* Ethiopian govt focus on improving its textile sector:
The Ethiopian government to improve its textile sector and boost exports is planning to make investment to the tune of US$1bn in industrial parks over the next decade.
This will help enhance the country’s overall position as a major manufacturer.
Arkebe Equbai, special advisor to the Ethiopian Prime Minister said that in terms of industrial development and manufacturing development, they want to make Ethiopia number one in Africa.
The East African nation has targeted a 15-fold increase in textile and leather exports to US$1.5bn, as part of the current growth and transformation plan that ends in July, said a government official.
Ethiopia aims to capitalize on manufacturing, expand the sector by 25 per cent every year and create employment for 200,000 nationals annually.
Industrial zones in Dire Dawa and Adama will be set up this month.
* The FWF Country Study Tunisia is online:
It provides a clear picture of labour laws and labour conditions
The country study Tunisia has been published. The document provides a picture of labour laws and labour conditions, as well as industrial relations within Tunisia’s garment industry.
Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has witnessed profound changes in its politics. One of the main fields of change is an increase of diverse NGOs. FWF has been investigating major areas of non-compliance in Tunisian textile/garment companies.
Low union participation
Tunisia is among the world’s leading suppliers of clothing.
The industry mainly supplies trousers, jeans, work- and swimwear and T-shirts. Employing more than 250,000 individuals, the textile/garment industry is key to economic growth.
13 FWF member companies source from 50 different Tunisian factories.
The government works to uphold a high standard through labour laws, collective bargaining agreements, and by ratifying the main ILO conventions.
In practice however, some labour standards are more of an issue in Tunisia than in other countries, like low union participation, low wages in comparison to increasing costs of living and unannounced overtime.
* Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Explained:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the biggest trade deal you’ve probably never heard of. So what is it and why does this trade agreement matter?
see 1.16m video.
* Julian Assange on the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secretive Deal Isn’t About Trade, But Corporate Control:
As negotiations continue, WikiLeaks has published leaked chapters of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership — a global trade deal between the United States and 11 other countries.
The TPP would cover 40 percent of the global economy, but details have been concealed from the public.
A recently disclosed “Investment Chapter” highlights the intent of U.S.-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company’s claimed future profits.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warns the plan could chill the adoption of health and environmental regulations.
* ILRF Comments: Protecting Human Rights through Government Procurement:
No other consumer in the world has greater influence on human rights worldwide than the US Government.
Yet, federal procurement policy is like a human rights sieve with gaping holes. It still allows US government agencies and entities to purchase goods made in deathtrap factories in Bangladesh or in other factories that do not comply with internationally-recognized human rights without investigating risk to workers or seeking remedy for workers who have been harmed.
ILRF proposes five steps the US Government should take to exercise its duty to protect workers’ human rights through procurement.
more in pdf:
* Picture a world without decent work: A graphic story:
Those in forced labour are intimidated and forced to work long hours without breaks, are denied a voice and basic rights at work.
© Criado David, Spain, “Isn’t work”
Hundreds of amateur artists around the world responded to a call to create images with the theme “Work right!” for a poster competition in which the International Labour Organization participated on the judging panel.
The competition, run by the non-governmental organization, poster for tomorrow, elicited many powerful and shocking representations of a world without fundamental rights at work – including child labour, forced labour and inequality. An exhibition of some of the winning posters is being held at the ILO headquarters in Geneva until 19th of June.