14:27:33 local time PHILIPPINES
20150601 * Bayan Muna urges Congress to pass SSS pension hike before break:
Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares vowed last weekend that he would still push for an increase in the pension being provided by the Social Security System (SSS) even as House Bill 175, which he authored, had already passed the committee level.
The committee-approved bill would mandate a P2,000 ($45) hike in pension payments across-the-board.
“This means that those receiving the basic P1,200 ($27) pension per month would receive P3,200 ($72) if this version of the bill is finally enacted. All the succeeding pension brackets would also have an increase of P2,000 ($45),” said Senior Deputy Minority Leader Colmenares.
Colmenares thanked Rep. Jesus Sacdalan, chairperson of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, for facilitating the passage of the bill. With Sacdalan, the progressive solon expressed hope that they could jointly push for the speedy approval of HB 175 before the June 11 break.
20150602 * 23 factories near Kentex unsafe:
President Aquino on Monday directed the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to inspect more than 300,000 factories in Metro Manila, stressing the need to prevent a repeat of the fire that destroyed a rubber slipper factory and killed 72 workers in Valenzuela City on May 13.
The President issued a directive after learning that at least 23 other factories in Valenzuela City had not been following fire safety regulations.
Aquino gave BFP inspection teams two to three months to do their job, focusing on the factories’ strict adherence to fire safety regulations.
During a news conference in Malacañang, the President also directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to complete as soon as possible the investigation of the fire at Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela City and file criminal and administrative charges against all those liable for the blaze that cost the lives of 72 workers.
Kentex was one of 24 factories in Barrio Ugong, Valenzuela. The President said the BFP inspected the 23 other factories there and found them all to be violating fire safety regulations.
20150602 * Aquino orders investigation to prosecute Valenzuela officials involved in factory fire:
The government is determined to prosecute all those liable for the Kentex factory fire, including certain officials of the city government of Valenzuela, President Aquino announced on Monday.
The President said Valenzuela local government officials should have not issued permits allowing the operation of the the factory due to glaring violations not only of the country’s labor laws but also of fire safety standards.
“Since they started in 1996, they have not complied with the requirements of the Fire Code and this was a tragedy waiting to happen,” the President said in Filipino about the fire that razed down a footwear factory in Valenzuela City and left 72 persons dead.
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20150601 * Kentex workers: Where is justice?:
“How can we survive when we have nothing?”
“We seek for justice. We demand for financial support and most importantly for work to fulfill the needs of our family. What is the government’s plan for us? How can we survive when we have nothing?”
Catherine Rivera, one of the workers of Kentex, said in an interview while she and co-workers were filing labor cases against the company at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).
Rivera, 30, had worked for one year at Kentex. Two of her siblings died in the May 13 fire that gutted the factory. She said she received “insufficient financial support.”
Along with her co-workers, Rivera said they are still saddened and pained because of what happened to their family members. For them, she said, she and her co-workers wanted to get what is just.
“The government should be doing something for us. Actually, we should not be appealing to them because they are accountable. Some of our family members died, but we are still alive and they are acting like we had also died — we still have to provide for our families, but how can we achieve that without having a job?” she said in Filipino.
20150601 * PNoy: Kentex ‘sub-contractor’ a 19-year-old student:
Besides fire safety violations, the government is also looking at the labor offenses in the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. factory in Valenzuela City that burned down last month.
President Benigno Aquino III announced this on Monday in a press conference in Malacañang on the May 13 Kentex fire that killed 72 people.
Aquino said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has investigated the labor code violations of Kentex and its supposed sub-contractor.
20150601 * PNoy: Valenzuela execs to face raps over Kentex fire:
President Benigno Aquino bared on Monday that Valuenzuela City government officials will face charges over the deadly Kentex Manufacturing Corp. factory fire last month.
During a press briefing in Malacañang, Aquino said the Valenzuela City government should have not allowed the Kentex factory to operate since it lacked a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC).
Aquino said the Kentex factory was not issued an FSIC because it did not have the required automatic fire sprinkler system, fire detection and alarm system and protected fire exits.
“There were people in the Valenzuela City government who gave them a permit and the certificate of occupancy. That is an established fact,” Aquino said.
“There are people who died because of their lax enforcement of existing rules and they have to answer for that,” he also said.
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20150601 * Valenzuela mayor: Fire inspection not required for business permit:
The local government of Valenzuela City on Monday insisted that they had legal basis in allowing Kentex Manufacturing Corp. to operate despite its lack of a fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC).
During a press briefing aired on television, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian cited the joint circular of the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of Trade and Industry signed in 2010, which states that a FSIC is not required to obtain a business permit.
Gatchalian also cited a DILG memo, signed in 2011, which allows LGUs to issue a provisional business permit and then tasks the Bureau of Fire Protection to inspect establishments. The BFP is later on expected to report to the LGU if there is any negative finding.
20150601 * PNoy orders inspection of 300K NCR shops, hints at prosecution of Valenzuela execs over Kentex fire:
President Benigno Aquino III said Monday he had ordered relevant agencies to inspect 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region, as he dropped broad hints local officials in Valenzuela City – celebrated by the World Bank as a business-friendly city – could face criminal charges for the May 13 Kentex slippers factory fire that killed 72 people.
In a rare press conference seen as uncharacteristic for a President, Mr. Aquino went into the minutiae of an interagency fact-finding report on the cause of the fire and the huge casualty, including serious regulatory lapses that allowed the factory to keep operating despite violations of fire safety and occupational and labor standards.
He declined to name the officials who could be liable, but took pains to defend the record of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which he contrasted with City Hall’s act of issuing Kentex its annual permits despite the absence of a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate in 2014.
Aquino conceded, though, that certain BFP personnel were ordered to explain why an FSIC was issued Kentex in 2012 – when, the President said, it would have been unlikely for Kentex to already have fire sprinklers and proper exits and other safety features that were not found by the team that inspected it in 2014.
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20150529 * Labor group dares PNoy to certify bill criminalizing OSH violations:
The labor group Partido Manggagawa (PM) today challenged President Benigno Aquino III to certify as priority legislation of his administration the bill providing for criminalization of violation of occupational safety and health (OSH) standards.
“PNoy’s declaration that there needs to be an ‘integrated multi-disciplinary approach’ in response to the Kentex factory fire are highfalutin words good for bureaucrats but abstract to workers who want to see concrete action and political will from the government,” averred Rene Magtubo, PM national chair.
It was reported that last Wednesday that President Aquino met officials from the Labor Department and other agencies regarding the government’s response to the Kentex fire.
Even earlier Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz pushed for the enactment of pending bills that mandate stiffer fines and jail terms for employer breach of workplace safety standards.
“We welcome Secretary Baldoz’s support for bills criminalizing OSH violations but until her boss PNoy certifies as urgent such pending legislation, they remain so much noise signifying nothing,” Magtubo insisted.
PM had been vocal in calling not just for justice for workers killed and injured in the Kentex fire but for labor inspection and enforcement reforms.
As an immediate reform, Magtubo called for deputizing labor leaders as additional labor inspectors.
PM is also pushing for criminalization of OSH violations as a potent deterrent.
20150529 * Aquino told: Kentex not the first, promises not enough:
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno told Pres. Noynoy Aquino today that the fire which gutted the factory of Kentex Manufacturing, Inc. last May 13 is not the first factory fire under the chief executive’s watch and that general promises would not suffice to stop similar incidents from happening.
The labor group was reacting to Aquino’s statement last Thursday that what happened in Kentex, which resulted in the death of more than 72 workers, should not happen again and that his government is taking a so-called “integrated multidisciplinary approach” to the problems exposed by the factory fire.
KMU said Aquino has failed to change policies that resulted in the Kentex fire despite factory fires that occurred earlier: the May 2012 fire which killed 17 female workers in Novo Jeans and Shorts in Butuan City and the April 2014 fire which killed eight workers in Asia Micro Tech in Pasay City.
“By speaking as if Kentex is the first major factory fire under his term, Aquino is showing his insincerity with regard to upholding workers’ safety and rights. He refuses to acknowledge his government’s failure to review policies on this matter and he stops at making general promises,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
20150529 * Youth among the dead at Kentex:
For Suprimo Lugana, 19 years old, working at Kentex was just one among a series of non-permanent jobs he had had in his young life; little did he know that it would be his last.
“If only his bones got broken, it would have been alright with us,” said a woman who accompanied a teenaged wife of one of the victims at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) Tuesday, May 26.
They went to file labor cases against Kentex Manufacturing Corp. that day.
“Justice is what we’re after,” said Jennifer Novora, 36. She introduces herself as half-sister of one of the victims.
At her side was Rowena Hije, 16, wife of Kentex fire victim Suprimo Lugana, 19 years old. Hije and Lugana had been married for just a year and two months when he died.
Like other relatives of workers in Kentex, Hije and Novora had rushed to Kentex after they saw the thick smoke and heard the fire sirens and it did not seem to be dying out easily.
They live in a rented dormitory just near the factory.
Outside Kentex premises they waited and waited for the workers, most of whom never made it out alive.
Meanwhie, they said those who waited outside and the survivors who managed to scamper out before the chemicals exploded circled the compound feeling frustrated and helpless.
20150529 * No more repeat of Kentex tragedy, Noy vows:
Make sure that laws on fire safety are strictly enforced to prevent a repeat of the Kentex tragedy.
President Aquino issued this directive to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas during their meeting on Wednesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.
“The President wants an integrated multi-disciplinary approach to make more responsive our legal framework and make answerable all owners of establishments that hire workers,” Coloma told a press briefing.
He said there should be conscious efforts to ensure the safety as well as the health and well-being of employees of industrial firms.
20150530 * DOST opens textile facility:
In an effort to boost the use of locally produced fabrics, the Department of Science and Technology has opened a facility that aims to produce yarns made of the country’s indigenous materials.
The Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT), costing roughly P54 million opened on May 25 in Bicutan, Taguig.
Science Secretary Mario Montejo said facility is DOST’s flagship effort at reviving the Philippine textile industry, thus encouraging highly-creative and world-class Filipino fashion designers to use local fabrics and textiles as material for clothing products.
Local and tropical products include pia, banana and abaca which are well-known fabrics used in apparel used during special occasions.
13:27:33 local time VIET NAM
20150601 * ‘Korean firms exploit workers in Vietnam’:
Report shows labor law violations, human rights infrigement
Korean companies in Vietnam are accused of exploiting workers and imposing unbearable working hours at factories where local employees often experience physical and verbal abuse, according to a report.
The Korea Transnational Cooperation Watch (KTC Watch), a network of human rights NGOs based in Korea that monitors the nation’s multinational companies’ businesses, released the “2014 Field Investigation Report on Korean Multinational Corporations’ Human Rights Practice: Vietnam,” Monday.
The report was written in December with the help of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL).
The KTC did not disclose the names of the companies in question, saying that its members did not visit all the Korean companies in Vietnam and that it would be unfair to disclose names of only some of them.
About 3,000 Korean companies are operating in Vietnam.
* 2014 Vietnam Field Investigation Report on Korean Multinational Corporations’ Human Rights Practice:
The Korea Transnational Corporation Watch presents 2014 Field Investigation Report on Korean Multinational Corporations’ Human Rights Practice: Vietnam.
This report covers general legal framework relating to labor rights in Vietnam and findings from the field investigation conducted in December 2014.
The report concludes that while specific human rights violations by Korean corporations include those related to the environment and the three basic labor rights (right to unionization,collective bargaining, and collective action), most problems can be summarized as the firms’ failure to adhere to the labor law and the structural issue of weak three basic labor rights due to the lack of real representation of workers in trade union.
However, the report also concludes, since the labor law is generally employee-friendly and since the union density and the union membership rate in Vietnam are hight than any other country, if the trade union can transform into an organization that properly represent workers, and the labor rights practice of Korean firms can be closely monitored by the Vietnamese government or the civil society, we can anticipate much progress in the protection of the rights and interests of workers.
20150601 * Korean companies accused of exploiting workers in Vietnam:
More than a year ago, nearly a thousand workers from a South Korean-owned company in Vietnam walked out in protest against the company’s “irrational regulation” that bans them going to the toilet.
The employees at the handbag manufacturing company lamented that the company gave them a warning and slashed their wages when they went to the toilet “too often.” They were only allowed to use the restrooms from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and from 2-3 p.m., with only three keys to the toilet available per production line. Each line has about 100 workers.
It is only one of the human rights abuse cases that have been raised in Korean-owned companies across Vietnam, a recent report by Korean Trans National Corporation Watch, a network of human rights advocacy groups, revealed.
According to the 64-page report based on interviews with laborers, companies and civic organizations, local workers have suffered from unreasonably low pay, long working hours and constant insults from employers.
Last year, Korean companies paid Vietnamese workers $90 to $135 a month, but the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor views this as being far lower than the basic cost of living, considering the soaring inflation in the country.
Kim Jong-chul, a lawyer for Advocate for Public Interest Law, told the Korea Herald that the Vietnamese government shared responsibility for the situation, as it is accused of keeping the country’s minimum wage low to attract more foreign direct investment.
20150531 * Workers without contracts to get protection under new law:
National Assembly Deputy Bui Si Loi, Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Social Affairs, spoke with Vietnamplus about the draft law on Labour Safety and Hygiene.
What do you think of the draft law on Labour Safety and Hygiene, which chalks out policies for non-contract workers?
Occupational accidents have become complicated in recent years, 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.
Occupational accidents are an alarming issue. However, 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.
Non-contract workers are mostly poor and could hardly afford occupational accident insurance. What do you think?
Both National Assembly deputies and the public know that the feasibility of the new law is essential. Even for workers who have labour agreements, labour safety and hygiene has not been implemented well and occupational accidents are still happening.
20150602 * Garment, footwear exports surge high:
Garment and footwear exports obtained an impressive growth in the first five months of this year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s latest report.
- Vietnam Garment and Textile forum 2015: big opportunities
- Q1 textile, garment exports fail to meet high expectations
- Foreign investors scampering for a share in garment industry
In May, output of natural fabrics was estimated at 26.8 million sq.m, a year-on-year rise of 5.5% while that of synthetic fabrics dipped 4.9% to 66.3 million sq.m and casual clothing rose 9% to 262.3 million units.
The figures in five months are 118.2 million sq.m (up 2.3%), 287.1 million sq.m (up 1.8%) and 1,212.2 million units (up 2.3%), respectively.
20150530 * Aditya Birla Group mulls investment in Vietnam textile industry:
Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla is mulling over a plan to invest in Vietnam to tighten his grip in the textile industry.
A delegation of representatives from the Aditya Birla Group recently began a due diligence visit to Vietnam to evaluate specific investment opportunities in the weaving and dying segments of the industry.
Aditya Birla is the third largest multi-national group in India with nearly 50 subsidiaries operating in the fields of clothing and textiles, financial services, telecommunications in 40 nations around the globe.
20150530 * Reform, outdated EPZs advised:
Workers of Juky Viet Nam JSC process sewing machines in Tan Thuan Prorcessing Zone, HCM City. — VNA/VNSPhoto Thanh Vu
Between 60 and 70 per cent of equipment and technologies used at export processing and industrial zones is outdated, resulting in products with low added value, the HCM City People’s Committee has said.
The committee has asked the HCM City Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (HEPZA) to restructure business operations of industrial zones, most of which have been operating for about 20 years.
The city asked HEPZA to examine enterprises’ capital, technology, products, land-use efficiency, and employees’ professional skills.
The city said that Freetrend Company in Thu Duc District’s Linh Trung Processing Zone, for example, did not operate efficiently.
It has a 110,000 sq m plant and 21,000 workers to process footwear for many international brand names. Its turnover is VND1.4 trillion (US$67 million) a year but the company only contributes VND22 million ($1,000) in tax.
20150530 * Prospects for the Vietnam-EAEU free trade agreement:
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) in Kazakhstan that is expected to open up vast opportunities and challenges for the nation over the years to come.
- Russia ratifies EAEU-Vietnam draft free trade zone deal
- EAEU, Vietnam to sign free trade deal in May
In the run up to the signing ceremony, Dang Hoang Hai, head of the Vietnam Technical Negotiation Delegation in Astana, sat down with a Radio Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reporter to provide his thoughts on the important trade pact.
Following are key translated excerpts from the interview.
Reporter: The negotiation process and preparations for the signing of the FTA between Vietnam and the EAEU are nearly complete. What is your assessment of how the process has gone?
Mr Hai: The negotiation process has transpired rather quickly. Initially, Vietnam was negotiating with only Russia and then over the span of two years the other nations of the EAEU joined in.
20150530 * Vietnam, Eurasia Economic Union sign free trade agreement:
The free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) was signed in Burabai, Kazakhstan on May 29 after more than two years of negotiation, opening up a new chapter in the partnership between Vietnam and the union as well as each EAEU member in particular.
The deal was inked by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and leaders from EAEU members – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan – as well as the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasia Economic Commission.
Launched in Vietnam on March 28, 2013, the comprehensive and highly-committed agreement regulates issues related to goods trading, origin principle, trade remedies, investment, intellectual property, legality and institution, among others.
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20150530 * High optimism marks signing of Vietnam-EEU free trade deal:
Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) yesterday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that officials said would boost both individual and collective co-operation between the two sides.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Vietnam would do its utmost to boost relations between the union and Vietnam even as it continued negotiations for similar agreements with other partners.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the agreement, an important deal desired by both sides, would contribute greatly to the economic development of every country involved.
In May, 2014, in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, the Presidents of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan had signed an agreement to form the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which came into being on January 1, 2015.
The Vietnam-EEU FTA is expected to foster a stable and favorable legal framework for economic development of signatories.
20150529 * Vietnam-EU trade pact under scrutiny:
A workshop on evaluating the impacts of the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement took place in southern Dong Nai province on May 28.
The European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-MUTRAP) and the Dong Nai Department of Trade and Industry jointly organised the event.
Participating State officials, business associations and research institutes discussed the possible effects of the pact on local major export commodities, such as agricultural produce, footwear and leather, and woodwork products.
According to the Vietnam Association of Leather and Footwear, Vietnam is the second biggest footwear exporter to the EU, which annually consumes some 2.8 billion pairs.
The removal of tariffs once the pact comes into effect will provide a huge potential for Vietnam to enlarge its share in the market, which is expected to double by the time the agreement is signed.
20150601 * Private interest in State firms:
Several large private companies have bought stakes in equitised SOEs, including Vingroup and the Viet Nam Investment Development Group, which have become strategic shareholders in the Viet Nam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) after buying 10 per cent and 14 per cent stakes. — VNS Photo Danh Lam
After several years of sluggishness, the Government’s State-owned enterprises (SOEs) restructure programme regained speed early last year, with plans in place to complete equitisation of 432 SOEs in 2014 and 2015.
Last year saw 167 SOEs restructured, with 76 auctioning their shares on the stock market. Of the latter, 64 managed to raise a total of VND5.115 trillion (US$239 million), or 66 per cent of the planned amount.
The number of restructured SOEs was 1.65 times the 2013 number, and their sales fetched VND1.324 trillion (nearly $62 million) more than the government had hoped to get.
A striking factor this time was the strong participation of the private sector.
20150530 * Vietnam to ratify WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement:
Vietnam is on track to becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to ratify the landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In December 2013, WTO member countries unanimously endorsed the TFA at the conclusion of the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
To date, only four WTO members — Hong Kong (China), Singapore, the US and Mauritius — have secured domestic acceptance of the TFA.
The TFA does not become effective until two-thirds of WTO members have completed their domestic ratification process, an essential part of which is the formation of a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF).
The Vietnam government recently announced it has taken initial steps to forming the NCTF, which will comprise public and private sector stakeholders, to provide oversight in implementing the TFA.
20150528 * Vietnam lawmakers want Law on Demonstrations to be passed next year:
Many Vietnamese parliamentarians have requested that the Law on Demonstrations be approved next year as a useful legal instrument to contribute to ensuring social order and security.
They made the request at the Wednesday meeting of the ongoing ninth session of the 13th National Assembly (NA) that started in Hanoi on May 20.
20150530 * US firms want to invest more in Vietnam: Assistant Secretary of State:
American businesses want to increase their investment in Vietnam, a U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said Friday.
While Charles Rivkin could not be sure when the U.S would become Vietnam’s largest investor, he can really feel the excitement of the American firms that are doing business in the country, he told reporters in Ho Chi Minh City.
Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Rivkin was on his first-ever trip to Vietnam between May 26 and 30, and the southern Vietnamese megacity was his second stop after Hanoi.
U.S. firms have hugely invested in Vietnam and they wanted to do even more, Rivkin said, attributing the excitement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the young, robust workforce in Vietnam.
Vietnam, the U.S. and ten other countries are approaching closer to conclude negotiations on the TPP after five years of talks.
13:27:33 local time CAMBODIA
20150530 * Ministry Hits Back Over Union Law:
The Ministry of Labor issued a statement Friday claiming that the controversial draft Trade Union Law is aimed at protecting the rights of workers, after unions announced they would write to the ministry, the National Assembly and the European Union next week calling for the law be scrapped completely.
The Ministry of Labor’s statement claims that the draft law has been created in the interest of workers and aims to guarantee freedom of professional organizations.
“We have held seven workshops and all the ideas of stakeholders have been put into the context of the draft law, among [the discussions] were unions who are opposing this law,” the statement says.
“This law is intended to prevent some small people who have ill intentions to continue using workers…in Cambodia to serve the interests of themselves and their group without thinking about workers’ interest,” it says.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers who attended one of the ministry’s seven meetings to discuss the law, raised concerns about its implications.
“We gave some ideas and asked for some changes but we have not seen anything or received a response from the ministry and we heard there is very little change,” said Mr. Sina.
“We demand the government stop this law because it will put workers and our unions in danger because it restricts our freedom,” he added.
20150601 * Driver Charged With Injuring Truckload of Garment Workers:
The Kompong Speu Provincial Court on Sunday charged a 44-year-old man over injuries sustained by dozens of garment workers riding in the bed of a large truck he slammed into while driving drunk on Friday, police said.
20150530 * Garment Industry Under Scrutiny in New Film:
Cambodian garment workers travel to work in the back of a truck in a still image from “The True Cost.”
The grim realities of Cambodia’s garment industry are laid bare in a new documentary film that exposes the devastating impact cheap clothing is having on people and the environment.
The film, “The True Cost,” was shot over two years in countries including Cambodia, Bangladesh and Haiti, and traces fast fashion’s rise to the top of the global garment chain—and the lives of the 1 in 6 people on the planet who are part of it.
In Phnom Penh, viewers are shown scenes of the mass demonstrations in January 2014, when tens of thousands walked out of factories to call for a $160 minimum wage.
As the days wore on and there were increasing scuffles between police and protesters, a violent crackdown by security forces ensured. Gunfire rings out, then screaming. A bloodied man is shown being carried away by fellow protesters.
“[W]e just want a proper salary to make a decent living with dignity,” says one worker who is interviewed in the film.
“But the government doesn’t care about how poor we are or how much suffering we’ve faced. They don’t care about the workers at all.”
Andrew Morgan, the film’s director, said the film crew’s time in Phnom Penh proved to be “particularly moving.”
“What struck me the most was the spirit of the people. There is a great growing awareness of human rights among the workers that is leading them to stand up and fight back,” he said in an email.
More than one year on, garment workers are earning a minimum monthly wage of $128—an increase from the $80 base wage before the strikes began in December 2013.
However, higher wages have not led to better conditions across the garment sector. Just this month, 19 people were killed when a bus crashed into an overloaded van transporting garment workers to factories in Svay Rieng province.
“It is a heartbreaking and sobering reminder of what is at stake here,” Mr. Morgan said of the fatal crash. “Human life is perhaps the most precious thing there is and to see it carelessly taken away in the name of constant consumption is sickening,” he added.
14:27:33 local time MALAYSIA
20150601 * Wage index can’t take off over productivity dispute, say economists:
The dispute over worker productivity and minimum wages in Malaysia is an indication that Putrajaya’s new wage index, part of a strategy under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) to increase livelihoods, especially the bottom 40%, is unlikely to get off the ground, say economists and trade unions.
Unions quote one set of figures to show that productivity has gone up to support their argument that wages are low and should be increased.
On the other side is the employers’ federation, whose figures show that productivity levels do not warrant a wage hike.
Economists say that because Putrajaya cannot get these two groups to agree on which figures to use and how to even calculate minimum wage levels, it will not be able to implement a national wage metric.
Data and interpretation
The 11MP states that the National Wage Index (NWI) will be a guide and a benchmark for employers to set fair and transparent wage levels for workers according to their qualifications, skills and productivity.
The 11MP is Putrajaya’s blueprint to make Malaysia a high-income nation in five years.
The National Wage Index is crucial to raising income levels, particularly since the Najib administration wants to raise the livelihoods of the bottom 40% of Malaysians from RM2,500 to RM5,000 in five years.
The index will be developed by the Human Resource Ministry and other government agencies using data from various sources.
If the debate over Malaysia’s two-year-old minimum wage scheme is anything to go by, Putrajaya will find that it is almost impossible to get workers and bosses to agree on what data should be used to measure “qualifications, skills and productivity”.
12:57:33 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150531 * Minimum wage deadline approaches:
A forum of employers, employees, civil servants, scholars and politicians will take place in the third week of June to discuss the minimum wage rate, according to Myo Aung, the permanent secretary from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
“There have been a series of talks between employers and employees on fixing the minimum wage rate. I think it should come to a full-stop. We are under pressure regarding this matter.
It is likely to take place in the third week of June.
We assume that the facts submitted by the region and state minimum wage fixing committees, the average costs per person and the discussions between the deputy minister and employees are enough.
The national central committee is mainly responsible for the fixing of the minimum wage rate.
That committee will hold discussions. Then a forum, comprising of all concerned organisations, will take place shortly,” he added.
The national committee will fix suitable minimum wage rates based on suggestions from the forum.
Under the law, the rates will be publicised and submitted to the government and Parliament after 60 days of consultation.
20150601 * Red armbands for wage increases in Myanmar:
Using red armbands as a powerful symbol, workers in Myanmar have succeeded in achieving pay rises without stopping production.
IndustriALL affiliate Mine Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM) has achieved a pay rise for workers at the YangTSe, Paypauk AukShin, SinoHydro. Myanmar Wampao Copper Mines, located in Monywa, Sagaing region.
When the employer refused to negotiate salary increases in May, the workers took the decision to wear red armbands as a sign of protest. Two weeks later talks between the union and the employer started, but with no agreement reached the workers continued wearing the red armbands during their shifts.
Garment workers using red armbands
In May, workers at the Korean owned New Way Garment Factory in Hlaingthayar Industrial Zone, Yangon, resorted to red armbands and eventually achieved a wage increase.
More than 500 trade union members at New Way Garment Factory initiated the Workers’ Red Armband Campaign. Members of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) wore the red armbands for 17 days while working.
After the factory management approached union leaders, an agreement on a basic salary increase of US$0.35 per day was signed.
12:27:33 local time BANGLADESH
20150601 * 2 RMG units in high-rise bldgs asked to stop operation:
The government set review committee has asked the owners of two more garment factories to suspend production at their units due to safety concerns as inspection teams found structural faults in their factory buildings.
The factories are Lyric Apparels and Dwell Fashions located Malibagh and Mohakhali in the capital city.
Recently, the North American retailers’ inspection teams found structural risks in the 10-storey building which housed Lyric Apparels while the inspection team of International Labour Organisation found risk in a 12-storey building housing Dwell Fashions.
Both the teams submitted their findings to a review committee recommending immediate evacuation of the buildings.
The review committee comprised of representatives from the government, EU retailers’ group Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, Alliance for bangladesh worker safety, BUET, BGMEA and BKMEA on Thursday visited the buildings and asked the factory owners for evacuation.
20150530 * Making dream of $50b RMG export come true by 2021:
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has set the target of raising its apparel export earnings to US$ 50 billion by 2021.
It will be the year when the nation celebrates its 50 years of independence.
The rapidly growing garment exports have been pushing the country’s economy forward for long.
It now enjoys a major place among the economic indicators of the country like gross domestic product (GDP).
The RMG sector constituted only 32 per cent of our total exports in 1989, which has reached 80 per cent in 2014.
With a 15 per cent growth in the RMG sector, the Bangladesh economy has progressed impressively in the last few decades.
Moreover, backward and forward integration of RMG-related industries is also providing boost to the economy.
Despite many challenges including political turmoil in the country and legal bindings, the sector has been making its dominant presence felt in the country’s economy.
The number of apparel factories is also witnessing an increase, which is lowering unemployment.
A number of factors have lately emerged to hold prospects for the RMG sector to boost its output faster and take its earnings to US$ 50 billion by the year 2021. The Bangladesh government and the private sector are expected to put in their all-out efforts to this end.
Let us have a look at the factors that will be conducive to the RMG sector’s rapid growth.
Firstly, cost of production in China is rising due to higher labour cost and upward prices of raw materials, socio-economic and livelihood standard uplift and shift to high-tech industries.
Secondly, for achieving the dream goal for 2021, enhancing the market is fundamental.
Thirdly, only exploring markets will not be enough, as steady growth is required to achieve the dream within the shortest possible time. Manufacturing new apparel products is also a big factor. New products should be manufactured to attract more foreign buyers.
Another basic need for the apparel industry is sufficient power and energy.
The government should also ensure safety and compliance measures at the factories.
(note: nothing is said about workers, labour laws, living wage….)
20150531 * 13 firms picked to conduct DEA of apparel factories:
The government has recently selected 13 engineering firms to carry out a detailed engineering analysis (DEA) of ready-made garment factories, officials concerned said.
The selected engineering firms will conduct the DEA of the garment units which have already been assessed or to be assessed under the National Tripartite Plan of Action, they added.
Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) finalised a list of the engineering firms from a good number of applicants last week.
“The second meeting of the taskforce held Thursday last selected the 13 engineering firms after scrutiny,” Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of DIFE, told the FE.
read more. & read more.
20150601 * EPB automates GSP docs to fight forgery:
The Export Promotion Bureau Sunday introduced automated generalised system of preferences (GSP) certificates-part of its effort to stem forgery in getting the benefits while bringing transparency.
The automated GSP certificate issuance, which started as a pilot in October 2013 for apparel exports to the European Union, has substantially eliminated fraudulent submission and reduced paper record.
The GSP is a trade arrangement through which the EU provides preferential access in the form of reduced tariff to the 27-nation regional market. Around 176 developing countries including Bangladesh enjoy the benefit.
The GSP automation was funded by the EU and the government under Bangladesh Trade Policy Support Programme (BTPSP).
20150530 * Ctg worker dies in fire:
A female worker died from suffocation due to smoke from a fire in PHP Spinning Mills Ltd. in Baluchhara Notunpara area of the city yesterday.
The dead is Monwara Begum, 42. The fire originated around 12:30pm at a warehouse of the mill, said staff of the mill. The other workers managed to get out but Monwara could not due to the smoke, they said.
to read. & read more.
20150530 * Living dangerously is not a choice:
On the evening the Phoenix Garments factory building crashed at Dhaka’s Tejgaon (February 25, 2006), a television channel (I forget which) took me to the site of crumpled bricks and concrete elements to record live my reflection on the tragedy; 21 people had died that morning.
Let us not be too concerned about this five-storied building (Phoenix) that has collapsed.
The reasons could be any or all – perhaps unruly construction, bad workmanship, lack of supervision, poor building materials and/or under design, said I on camera. But, we should focus our attention on other buildings which might be in a likewise risky condition.
Let us inspect our buildings voluntarily, I appealed, and see if we can identify similar cowboy activities in other buildings that may endanger the workers, the management, and people not remotely concerned; some passers-by died in the Phoenix tragedy. I do not call them accidents because the entire incident need not have happened.
No one really bothered and Phoenix was let off as just another bird in the sky. There have been smaller incidents of building collapse, but the big one came on April24 , 2013 when Rana Plaza in Savar crumpled.
In perhaps the deadliest incidence of structural failure in recorded history, and the worst involving a garment factory, the official death toll was 1129 and the listed injured tallied to 2515; almost no one who was inside the building at the time was spared.
Unauthorised construction and rampant violation of code, yes, but have we tried to find other Rana Plazas in the country? I can assure you with authority that there are many more. Are those owners even concerned that hundreds if not thousands in their buildings may be in jeopardy? Deliberate homicide if you ask me.
Saraka Garments, Mirpur, Dhaka, 27 December 1990: 32 dead,
Sanghai Fashion and Tamanna Garments, Mirpur, Dhaka, 30 July 1997: 27 dead; Chowdhury Knitwear, Narsinghdi BSCIC, 25 November 2000: 54 dead;
Europa, Four Wings, Miko Garments, Mirpur, Dhaka, 8 August 2001: 26 dead; Shaan Knitting, Narayanganj, 6 January 2005: 23 dead;
Spectrum factory, Savar, Dhaka, 11 April 2005: 64 dead;
KTS Textile, Kalurghat BSCIC, Chittagong, 23 February 2006: 91 dead;
Garib & Garib factory, Gazipur, 26 February 2010: 21 dead;
Ha-Mim Group, Ashulia, Dhaka, 14 December 2010: 26 dead;
Tajreen Fashions, Ashulia, Dhaka, 24 November 2012: 124 dead
and several other incidents have taken away hundreds of lives; some of the victims barely 14.
For our flourishing garment industry, the envy of a competitive world, every occurrence has been a reminder that we need to learn more.
The lessons have been very hard and each death deeply painful, every injury a saga of untold misery.
20150602 * 19hrs blaze melts 7-storey Gazipur RMG factory:
Left, the seven-storey steel building of Dignity Textile Mills Ltd, a garment factory in Sreepur upazila of Gazipur, before a devastating fire which razed for about 19 hours until it was controlled at 9:00am yesterday, reduced the entire structure into a pile of iron scraps, right. Photo: Star
The 7-storey steel-framed building of Dignity Textiles Mills Ltd at Sreepur upazila in Gazipur totally collapsed yesterday due to the devastating fire that was brought under control after 19 hours.
A huge amount of thread, cotton, cloth and equipment along with the building built on about 33 decimals of land was totally damaged, Md Moniruzzaman, an engineer of Dignity Textiles, told The Daily Star.
He claimed that Tk 1.75 crore in cash, out of Tk 2 crore, which was being distributed among the workers as their monthly salary, was also bunt to ashes during the fire.
Sreepur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sadekur Rahman who is leading a 5-member probe body to investigate the fire incident, told The Daily Star that they could not estimate the loss caused by the blaze till filing of this report last night.
Meanwhile, the textile mills authorities yesterday declared the factory shut till June 7 and asked the workers to come to it on June 8 to know about the decision on its resumption.
20150602 * Gazipur RMG factory fire under control after 20 hours:
Excess heat collapses five floors
After a frantic efforts for about 20 hours at a stretch, the fire fighters have finally managed to extinguish the blaze that broke out in a seven-storey readymade garment factory in Sreepur upazila of the district on Sunday afternoon.
However, no casualty was reported from the gigantic fire incident which claimed by the unit authorities saying, its all workers were out on lunch at that time.
The factory authorities declared a seven-day holiday although it started giving wages to the workers from yesterday afternoon.
Besides, the local administration formed a five-member probe committee, headed by Shreepur UNO Sadekur Rahman, to investigate the incident.
When contacted, Deputy Director Akhtaruzzaman Liton went on: “There were all sophisticated equipment and necessary fire safely measures in the building. Unavailability of skilled manpower there to douse fire worsened the situation. I think electric short circuit caused the blaze.”
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.
read more. & read more.
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.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
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:
“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.
read & see more (video reports).
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.
read more. & read more.
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.
read more. & read more. & read more.
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.
to read. & read more. & to read. & read more. & to read. & to read. & to read.
& read more.
20150530 * BEZA seeks equal deal in export-import policies to attract EZ investors:
The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) has sought to put its name in the new import and export policies along with enough policy bounties to lure in investors from home and abroad.
Officials of the new body on economic sector plead for a square deal in this regard on a par with Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), especially for attracting foreign investors.
“We all are trying to make an industry-friendly environment for the proposed economic zones (EZs). We have applied to the government for including name of the BEZA in the two new upcoming policies,” said executive chairman of BEZA Paban Chowdhury.
* THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE:
20150602 * 41 face murder charge over Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh:
20150602 * Murder charges against 41:
Accused include Sohel Rana, govt officials, factory owners, elected reps, former Savar mayor, CID finally submits charge sheets
After a long delay due to bureaucratic knots, the Criminal Investigation Department on Monday submitted the charge sheet to the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhaka accusing 41 people, including government officials, elected representatives and Awami League leaders, of ‘killing’ an estimated 1,137 people in the Rana Plaza building collapse in Savar two years ago.
‘The accused had deliberately thrown the workers into the death trap…We have only indentified the perpetrators involved in the deadly building collapse in some way or other,’ the CID’s senior assistant superintendent Bijoy Krishna Kar, also the case investigator, told New Age.
The investigator, also sought warrants for the arrest of 21 accused, including Savar municipality chief executive officer Uttam Kumar Roy and other government officials, and a factory owner Jannatul Ferdous, while dropped eight people, including the lone foreign owner and managing director Mayor David Rico of Phantom TAC from the charge.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhaka will hear the charges on June 28 and will check whether further investigation is required before commencing the trial.
The CID also submitted another charge sheet under Building Construction Act 1952 accusing 18 people – 17 from among the 41 named in the murder case and one Mahbub Alam – for violating the construction rules that led to the collapse of the building.
20150601 * 42 charged over Rana Plaza collapse:
Criminal Investigation Department today pressed charges against 42 people including Rana Plaza owner Sohel Rana in two cases filed over the building collapse that killed 1,135 people on April 24, 2013.
Bijoy Krishna Kar, assistant superintendent of police of CID, submitted two separate charge-sheets before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhaka in the cases – one filed for killing the people while another for violating building code.
The ASP, also investigation officer of the cases, charged Rana and 40 others for killing and injuring 1,135 people while 18 were charged for building code violation. Of them, Names of 17 accused are common in both the cases.
A total of 594 people were shown prosecution witnesses in the case while 130 in the other case.
read more. & read more. & read more.& read more. & read more. & read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150531 * Rana, others’ charge-sheets Monday:
Police are all set to submit charge-sheets against 42 people including building owner Sohel Rana Monday morning two years after the Rana Plaza tragedy that claimed 1137 lives and injured scores.
The Criminal Investigation Department of police will submit charge-sheets in two separate cases to court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, bringing charge against some 42 people including Sohel Rana and his parents.
CID Senior Assistant Superintendent Bijoy Krishna Kar, investigation officer (IO) of the cases, told banglanews that they have successfully completed the investigation and is set to submit two charge-sheets to the court.
He also said “We have to revise some matters. So, we will submit the charge-sheets on Monday instead of Sunday.”
Charges will be brought against 41 people in a case filed under penal code. 18 people are likely to be charged in another case under the Bangladesh National Building Code.
20150531 * Owner of collapsed Bangladesh factory to face murder charges:
Bangladesh police said they will press murder charges on Sunday against the owner of a garment factory that collapsed and killed more than 1,100 people in 2013, the worst industrial disaster in the country’s history.
Sohel Rana, owner of the Rana Plaza factory complex on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, was among those who were expected to be formally charged over the disaster, lead investigator Bijoy Krishna Kar said.
“We are going to press murder charges against 41 people including the owners of the building, Sohel Rana and his parents, later today,” Kar told AFP, adding that if convicted all could be sentenced to death.
“It was a mass killing. All 41 of those charged have a collective responsibility for the tragedy,” he said.
Police announced last year they were set to charge Rana, who was arrested on the western border with India as he tried to flee the country days after the April 24, 2013 factory collapse.
read more. & to read.
20150531 * Rana Plaza Garment Workers’ Union gets new committee:
The Rana Plaza Garment Workers’ Union (RPGWU), a sister organisation of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, on Friday selected its new 15-member executive committee for next two years during its meeting in Savar, outside the capital.
Victim workers who survived the Rana Plaza collapse, which also killed over 1,100 people on April 24, 2013, and the families of the deceased workers formed the RPGWU on May 17, 2013, to press home their demands including compensation, and punishment for the accused.
Emdadul Islam once again was selected as the president while Nasir Uddin Sohan as the secretary.
11:57:33 local time INDIA
20150601 * Nine child labourers rescued from Punagam unit:
Five child labourers staged a dramatic escape from their sari folding unit in Punagam and helped police rescue their four other friends on Saturday.
Kapodra police station staff were surprised after five children approached them and begged to save their other friends.
They had escaped while going to toilet and straight reached Kapodra police station. The children told police that their friends were in a pitiable condition and requested cops to rescue and send them back to their homes in Rajasthan.
Police immediately rushed to Muktidham Society near Archana School in Punagam and found four other children in age group of 8 years to 12 years.
20150601 * Labour reform bills to face stiff resistance:
After the land bill, the Modi government may face stiff resistance from the Opposition and the trade unions on labour bills.
The government is likely to introduce at least two of the labour bills–-the Labour Code on Industrial Relations and Employees’ Provident Funds (Amendments) Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.
All central trade unions have joined hands to oppose the bills and decided to go on strike on September 2.
The Centre is trying to convince trade unions to withdraw the call.
20150531 * Centre curbing workers’ rights: CITU:
CITU protests against ‘anti-labour policies of the Centre and State’
State president of the CITU Anathalavattam Anandan has said that even the basic laws providing rights to the workers of the country were being erased by the Narendra Modi government.
He was addressing a dharna in front of the collectorate here on Saturday to protest against the ‘anti-labour policies of the Union and State governments.’
Both governments were engaged in amending laws to suit corporate houses.
At present more than 50 per cent of the workforce in the country is contract workers.
They earn only about one-fourth of that earned by the permanent workers doing the same job.
The Modi government was providing all facilities to even foreign corporate houses to loot the natural resources of the country, he alleged.
20150529 * Garment godown gutted in Karelibaug:
A fire broke out at the godown of a garment store in Karelibaug early on Thursday morning. Clothing garments of various brands were gutted at Ruchi Lifestyle Private Limited.
City fire brigade rushed to the spot to douse the fire. After over three hours the fire was brought under control. Nearly six vehicles of the fire department were put into service.
Although the exact cause of the fire was unknown, fire officials suspect that short-circuit could have triggered the fire. According to the staff, the retail store’s godown located at Karelibaug industrial estate had stacked jeans and other garments.
No casualty was reported from the site.
20150601 * City Powerlooms In Jeopardy:
Weavers in Bengaluru are considering moving to other states as many looms have been ordered to shut down | Pushkar V
Thousands of powerlooms in Bengaluru are on the verge of shutting down following complaints from neighbours that they are too noisy.
People who have built houses next to old buildings housing looms have been registering complaints of sound pollution against them.
When the weavers started business, they were on the city’s outskirts, but those areas gradually became part of Bengaluru.
In many places, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has ordered looms to shut down.
“We don’t know where to go and what to do,” said C Banashankara, President of the Mysore Power Loom Silk Manufacturers’ Co-operative Society.
20150601 * Textile parks likely to bring in Rs. 37,000-cr investment:
The West Bengal government has made an ambitious plan to attract around Rs. 37,000 crore in the State through 10 textiles clusters or parks.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said these proposed projects were planned to fetch a total estimated investment of more than Rs. 37,000 crore, which includes setting up of parks. These will provide employment to 6 lakh people.
According to estimates, the development expenditure of these projects will be about Rs. 9,159 crore and investment in more than 40 units could be Rs. 26,100 crore.
The State will provide land for five units — one in Bankura, two in Kolkata, one in South 24 Parganas and one in Howrah district.
20150531 * Spinning Mill to Help Weavers:
The government has decided to take up development programmes providing equal priority to agriculture and industrial sector in the state, said Labour and Employment minister K Atchennaidu.
In order to help handloom weavers in the district, the government has decided to set up a spinning mill near Narasannapeta, the minister added.
At a press conference here Saturday, Atchennaidu said that the district administration had acquired 27 acres of land in which work-cum-houses would be built for 500 weavers and in the rest of the land the spinning mill would be established.
The government had directed all the government agencies to buy handloom cloth for all uniforms.
20150529 * Poojapura jail all set to enter textile industry with shirts:
After its chapatis created a wave in the food industry, the prisons department is now eyeing to establish itself in ready-made textile market with cotton shirts.
The ready-made cotton shirts sewn by prisoners are all set to compete with leading brands in the market, under the brand name ‘Samrakshana’.
The venture began on Thursday when state police chief designate and current prisons DGP T P Senkumar switched on the cutting machine.
He also bought two cotton shirts, one pista green and one off-white, shirts from the collection that was ready.
According to jail superintendent Sam Thankayyan, it would take at least one more month before the unit start working to its maximum potential so that the products could reach the market.
Until then, the unit will continue to cater to the officials and inmates of the prison. Besides casual shirts, the tailors among the convicts will also be stitching the uniforms for the officials of the prison department.
201505230 * Rs 27,000 cr lying unclaimed in EPF: Labour Minister:
Bandaru Dattatreya says money will be used for workers’ welfare; ministry is mulling schemes for its utilisation
An amount of Rs 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed in the Employees Provident Fund, Union minister of state for Labour, Bandaru Dattatreya said here today.
“A sum of RS 27,000 crore is lying as unclaimed amount in the EPF, which will be utilised for the welfare of workers. My ministry is contemplating schemes (for its utilisation),” Dattatreya said at a function here.
He said the total deposit in EPF at present stands at Rs 8.62 lakh crore.
read more. & read more.
20150601 * India’s textiles exports up 5% in 2014-15:
Textiles and clothing exports were recorded at $41 bn as against $39.31 billion in FY14
Textile and clothing export from India rose a marginal 5.4 per cent in 2014-15, despite unfavourable government policies, complain companies in the sector.
According to The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil), textile and clothing export was $41.4 bn in 2014-15 as against $39.3 bn in 2013-14. “We require a level playing field in terms of interest rates, timely release of incentives and policy support as our competitors enjoy.
Through basic manufacturing, we are very much competitive. But, because of these other issues, we become uncompetitive,” said R K Dalmia, chairman, Texprocil.
20150601 * ‘Inspection at Tirupur CEPT on NGT directive’:
As directed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a three-member monitoring team inspected a Common Effluent Treatment Plant at Murugampalayam in Tirupur knitwear cluster to ascertain whether the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) norms were followed during the dyeing effluent treatment process.
The report on the inspection of the CETP held on Saturday and Sunday would be submitted to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board head office soon.
Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board sources told The Hindu that the NGT direction to inspect the facility came while disposing of a petition filed by one of the member units of Murugampalayam CETP itself which alleged that zero liquid discharge norms as stipulated by the Madras High Court in the effluent treatment, was not strictly followed at the CETP.
20150531 * Knitwear exporters seek signing of FTA, CEPA with EU:
Knitwear exporters in Tirupur cluster have made an appeal to expedite the signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and also the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with European Union (EU).
The call was made ahead of the Union Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman’s scheduled meeting with the EU Trade Commissioner Anna Cecilia Malmstrom to take stock of the proposed FTA and other issues.
A. Sakthivel, the president of Tirupur Exporter Association, said the country had exported $7.23 billion worth of ready-made garments out of the total $16.82 billion ready-made garments exported from the country during 2014-15, to the EU countries.
20150531 * Textile industry against hank yarn obligation:
Seeks govt cooperation, intervention to reignite investment climate
Textile industry sources aver that “little bit of hand-holding and interventions on the part of the government could reignite the investment sentiments and propel growth momentum to a different level.”
Listing the essential interventions, the Secretary of Texpreneurs Forum D Prabhu stressed the need for rationalising the MMF (man made fibre) duty structure, total dispensation of hank yarn obligation rule, relaxation in Cabotage law, encouraging spinning mills to tap the solar opportunity and increasing TUF (Technology Upgradation Fund) allocation among others.
He pointed out that the Central excise and customs duty structure of the polyester and viscose fibre were counterproductive as Indian manufacturers are non-competitive in the rapidly growing MMF textile market.
There is, therefore, a need to rationalise the duty structure of polyester and viscose fibre to enable the domestic industry access such fibres at international prices.
20150601 * Texprocil concerned over dipping cotton textile exports:
The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) has voiced concern over the steep decline in cotton textile exports.
Statistics show exports (including raw cotton) dipping to $11,353.15 in 2014-15 compared to $13,306 in 2013-14.
Exports of cotton textiles (excluding raw cotton) registered a negative growth in 2014-15, slipping to $9,452.96 against $9,669.05 achieved during the earlier fiscal.
“Lack of adequate focus and proper planning towards boosting exports has resulted in such a situation, that too in a sector that has recognised the “Make in India” concept and boosted job creation,” Texprocil Chairman RK Dalmia said.
20150531 * Ryots stick to cotton cultivation:
Cotton being a commercial crop, it can be cultivated even under low rainfall conditions. Farmers in the district continue to grow it despite problems such as labour, low remuneration and growing input costs.
They cultivate cotton in an extent of six lakh acres annually but due to unfavourable conditions, it was grown only in five lakh acres last season.
However, agricultural scientists believe that next season it will be cultivated in six lakh acres or more as there is forecast of low rainfall.
“Many opted for maize last season but again, farmers will opt for cotton in view of the deficient rainfall this time,” said District Agriculture Technology & Transfer (DATT) centre director R. Uma Reddy.
20150601 * It should be ‘Make in rural India’:
Fusing local skills with entrepreneurial and marketing inputs can open up a world of opportunities for the rural poor
The call for ‘Make in India’ is timely and has been well received.
There are plans to strengthen the manufacturing and services sector through various strategies.
The issue is how can these strategies be tailored to further reduce rural poverty, estimated at four times the number of urban poor?
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the manufacturing and services sectors, barring handicrafts and handlooms, are concentrated in 1,250-odd industrial and services clusters situated mostly in the metropolises and relatively well-off rural India.
Hence, there is limited scope to touch that part of rural India where poverty is extreme. Among the poor, the most disadvantaged sections include those belonging to the SC and ST communities, minorities and women.
Add to this the fact that the share of women in the labour force has fallen sharply in recent years.
The challenge, therefore, is threefold: how to (a) create more industrial opportunities in sections of rural India untouched by ‘industrial India’, by (b) involving the poorest, and among them the most disadvantaged, and (c) upscale it in a sustainable manner.
Realms of possibility
In a recent experiment done by the Foundation for MSME Clusters with the support of an ACC Limited supported CSR project in Lakheri, a small township in Bundi district of Rajasthan, these issues were addressed.
An assessment study suggested that basic stitching skills were prevalent among most of the women in Lakheri. Sewing machines were available in one in every 10 households.
11:57:33 local time SRI LANKA
* Protecting Women The Greatest Contributor To Our Economy:
Women are among the highest contributors to our economy.
To the Sri Lankan economy, women contribute US$ 6 billion worth of foreign remittance.
A large proportion of female domestic workers based out of the country work tirelessly to earn a living and provide education and support to their households back at home.
Women’s contribution to the domestic textile industry which largely contributes to export earnings is an aspect Sri Lanka can boast of. Further, in a traditional aspect of Sri Lankan economy, women’s contribution to the Ceylon Tea industry is remarkable.
Despite three decades of civil war that produced 40,000 war widows, these women bolster on as the breadwinners of all these families in Sri Lanka.
11:27:33 local time PAKISTAN
20150530 * No injuries: Fire at dye factory in New Karachi causes significant damage:
A fire broke out at a dye factory located in the Gabol Town area of New Karachi at noon, destroying millions of rupees worth of goods but no loss of life was reported.
The factory administration immediately informed the fire department, who reached the factory but by that time the blaze had already engulfed the entire factory and barrels of chemicals had exploded.
According to fire department’s spokesperson, six fire trucks and a water bowser were dispatched to the site.
Most of the employees working in the factory managed to escape the building when the fire broke out.
The firefighters, with the help of volunteers from different welfare organisations and law enforcers, broke the windows and walls of the building in order to evacuate the remaining labourers inside the factory.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150531 * Textile mills reject Rs2 electricity surcharge:
Textile mills on Friday rejected the additional surcharge of over Rs2/unit in the electricity tariff as it will overburden the industry.
Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), in a statement, said National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (NEPRA) decision of over Rs2/unit surcharge in a recent public hearing was made after the Lahore High Court declared earlier change in surcharges illegal.
“Such surcharges are irrelevant to the purchase and sales of electricity and therefore they could not be levied on the already burdened textile industry,” Tanveer said.
The surcharge led the industry to believe that some elements do not want the industry to compete with the regional industries.
20150531 * Dastgir supports zero-rating facility for textile exporters:
Federal Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan has assured textile exporters of full support in restoring the zero-rating sales tax regime and expeditious clearance of refund claims in order to give a boost to exports.
“The textile sector is the bread winner for the country and the government is trying its best to facilitate it,” said the minister.
He made the remarks during a meeting with Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Sohail Pasha and a delegation of leading textile exporters, who met him to highlight the hurdles in the way of exports.
They briefed the minister about the precarious position of Punjab’s textile units, saying the value-added textile industry was in a grip of severe crisis since more than a quarter of the total production capacity could not be utilised on account of energy crisis, lack of funds and high production cost.
20150531 * Textile sector to be facilitated in budget: Dar:
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar here on Saturday said that government wanted to strengthen the role of textile sector as the leading foreign exchange earner for the country for which joint efforts by the government and the industry itself were required.
He made these remarks during an interactive session with representatives of the textile industry, considering their proposals for the budget 2015-16. Chairman FBR, Tariq Bajwa and Advisor Finance Division, Rana Assad Amin were also present.
The minister was apprised about the issues and difficulties faced by the textile industry of which energy, the senior reps observed, was the major problem.
They opined that the textile sector faced stiff competition and challenges from textile industries of other countries in the region which affected textile exports from Pakistan.
If only, they could be sure of regular supply of gas which was an economical source of energy for the textile sector, they would be in a position to streamline production process and try to match the quality products from other countries.
The minister agreed that energy problem was affecting the whole economy including the textile sector but serious efforts were being made to resolve the issue.
read more. & read more.
20150531 * Restoration of zero rating ST regime: Dastgir assures textile exporters of full support:
Federal Minister for Commerce Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan has assured full support to textile exporters for restoration of zero rating sales tax regime and expeditious payment of stuck up liquidity in refund regime to boost exports and generate precious forex for the country.
Talking to newsmen here on Saturday, Sohail Pasha Chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association said that a delegation of leading textile exporters under his leadership called on Commerce Minister Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan to apprise him about the hurdles in export growth.
20150530 * Nawaz says Pakistan an investor-friendly country:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Pakistan was an investor-friendly country providing excellent environment to the foreign investors.
Addressing a joint stake out along with the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko at the conclusion of delegation level talks and inking of 15 agreements, he said there was wide scope to enhance cooperation between Pakistan and Belarus.
He said the signing of many important Agreements and MoUs would provide a structured framework for future collaboration and added he looked forward to several joint ventures in various areas.
20150531 * Sindh industrialists demand reduction in GIDC:
As the government presses hard its proposal to levy 5% sales tax on the textile sector to raise an additional Rs40 billion, industrialists, particularly Sindh-based owners of processing units, have in return demanded reduction in the gas infrastructure development cess (GIDC).
The Sindh-based industrialists sought reduction in GIDC rates to remain competitive over Punjab industries, indicating clear divisions within the powerful textile lobby.
20150530 * Withholding of fuel adjustments: Textile industry facing huge liquidity crunch: Aptma chief:
Chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) S M Tanveer has warned that the textile industry is facing a huge liquidity crunch following withholding of fuel prices adjustments worth Rs 40 billion by the Central Power Purchase Agency for April and May this year.
He has blamed the government for failing to notify the latest industrial tariff determined by NEPRA for 2014-15 so far, causing concerns amongst industrialists at large.
He said the most recent NEPRA public hearing for the slapping of over Rs 2 per unit of various surcharges on the electricity tariff on the request of the government has also panicked the industry.
That, this was being done after a Lahore High Court decision to hold the earlier changing of surcharges illegal led the industry to believe that some elements do not want the Pakistani industry to compete with the region and others.
read more. & read more.
20150531 * Surge in generator imports gives reality check to govt claims:
The government’s claim of record improvement in power generation and zero load-shedding in industrial sectors got a reality check on Saturday as data showed import bill of power generating machines went through the roof in April.
Anticipating further load-shedding in the coming months, traders and industrialists imported generators worth $162 million in April 2015 alone, a sharp rise compared to $86m in March 2015 and $77.7m in April 2014.
20150531 * Textile industry Loadshedding exemption may be withdrawn:
The announcement that there will be no power-cuts during Ramazan may lead to withdrawal of exemption to the textile industry from power cuts, power-sector experts claim.
The government has announced continuous power supply to domestic consumers during the prayer timings and that this decision could deprive the industry from power supply for at least four hours during the both timings.
20150531 * Textile exports increases 2.94% in April:
The textile exports from the country increased by 2.94 per cent in April against the exports of same month of last year.
The exports of textile group in April were recorded at $1.081 billion against the exports of $1.05 billion in April 2014, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
Similarly, on month-on-month basis the textile group exports in April also increased by 4.6 per cent from $1.033 billion in March 2015 to $1.081 billion in April.
The exports of textile group during first 10 months of the year 2014-15, however, decreased by 1.21 per cent as compared to the exports of same period of last year.
The overall textile group exports during the period under review were recorded at $11.281 billion as compared to the exports of $11.42 billion in July-April (2014-15).
read more. & read more.
20150602 * Punjab carpet industry ’employment of 500,000 more workers top priority’:
Punjab Minister for Excise and Taxation Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman has said that employment to 500,000 additional workers in the Punjab carpet industry is on top priority of the Punjab government.
While talking to various delegations of the cottage industry and investors of carpet sectors, he said, “Pakistan produces many varieties of carpet using different kinds: wool, using different dyeing, weaving and finishing techniques which are quite unique in the world.
The skill of carpet weaving is alive from generation to generation by the skilful artisans of the country and the Punjab government is providing all out corporation to enhance the skill of the labourers and provides funds for the non-formal education of the labourers in this field.
20150531 * China welcomes consensus on economic corridor:
China has welcomed the consensus reached at an all-parties conference convened at the Prime Minister’s House to address any reservations of the provinces on the route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The conference, chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, agreed on priority development of the western part of the corridor, which would be built from Hassan Abdal to Gwadar, passing through Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan and Zhob. “Construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is part of an overall cooperation framework set up by China and Pakistan with a focus on the long-term development of bilateral cooperation in various fields,” Spokesperson of Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing in Beijing.
20150530 * Political progress: Consensus on economic corridor is a milestone, says CM:
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Friday the political consensus on the route of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor would yield great results.
“The national leadership has once again shown political wisdom.
The project will prove a milestone in strengthening the national economy,” the chief minister said in a statement.
He said the corridor projected the nation’s will. “It will create thousands of jobs.”
Relief for people
Sharif said the government had provided relief to citizens by reducing electricity tariff and petrol prices.
* SACTWU has called for a substantial increase in the monthly wages of clothing retail sector workers:
The COSATU-affiliated Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has called for a substantial increase in the monthly wages of clothing retail sector workers.
SACTWU submitted its proposals to the Employment Conditions Commission on Friday.
This follows a government gazette notice recently published by the Minister of Labour, notifying the industry that the Sectoral Determination governing conditions of employment in the Wholesale & Retail Sector is being reviewed.
The closure date for submissions was on Saturday.
In its detailed written submission, SACTWU proposes that the legislated minimum wage for shop assistants be increased by almost 40%, from the current R3 250 per month.
We noted that this falls far below the average monthly minimum wage of R4 165 for a labourer in the manufacturing sector.
This is despite the clothing retail sector being generally more profitable.
We are also appalled by the extremely large wage gap between retail workers and their CEO’s.
For example, the CEO of Shoprite earned a salary package of R49.9m in 2014. This is absurd!
In its submission, SACTWU further calls for the introduction of a compulsory retirement fund for clothing retail workers.
In addition, our union has made proposals for improvements in hours of work, overtime payments, night work payments, annual leave provisions, sick leave entitlements, family responsibility leave, meal and rest intervals.
The next public hearing by the Employment Conditions Commission will be on 5 May 2015 in Durban, where SACTWU intends to verbally motivate its proposals.
A copy of the SACTWU submission is attached pdf:
20150531 SACTWU Submission 2015 final
* USAID to play key role in strengthening work-based training:
Businesses in the Lower Mekong say post-secondary schools are not adequately preparing graduates for the local job market, according to a new survey conducted by a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-supported project.
The study analysed hiring trends in science, technology, engineering, maths, accounting and tourism as gleaned from survey responses from some of the largest industries in the region.
* Fashion’s True Cost is at workers’ expense:
The latest exposé of the global fashion industry ‘The True Cost’, released on 29 May, once again shines the spotlight on the appalling conditions faced by the workers that produce our clothes.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina said ‘This is an important film that shows that fast fashion comes at a high cost.
“The appalling treatment of garment workers in global supply chains must be changed. The massive profits made by garment brands need to be translated into higher wages that workers can live on.”
As the film points out, nothing less than systemic change is needed.
The garment brands have created an unsustainable sourcing model that enables them to maximize their profits at the expense of workers.
They created it and they have the power to change it.
IndustriALL Global Union is going beyond describing the dramatic imbalance between garment workers’ wages and the profits high street brands are making.
It is taking concrete action with garment brands to drive a fundamental change to the way that clothing is traded, to make sure that workers receive their share of the profits in the form of living wages.