Category Archives: Statement

Workers of Arnott’s Indonesia demand their job back; opposes union-busting scheme and retrenchment

FPBI organized protest against forced retrenchment in front of Arnott’s Factory, June 1st. Photo: FPBI

Arnott’s Indonesia workers’ testimony clearly states that the company does not have any commitment whatsoever to the just and equal treatment. Plant-level union chairperson, Muhardi, gave an example of this attitude when he explained how Arnott’s Indonesia handed employment termination letter to a pregnant worker after she refused to sign voluntary resignation handed by the management.[1]

On June 18, 2018, Arnott’s Indonesia released a statement as a response to FPBI’s statement on the company’s forced to resign to its 320 workers.[2] However, it is unfortunate that this response was not addressed directly either to Asia Transnational Corporation (ATNC) Monitoring Network or to FPBI.[3] Furthermore, this response is only the company’s defence which is in contrary with workers’ testimony.

The company is failed in responding reinstatement demand of the workers who had been forced to resign. The statement that the company is having a decrease in production volume and market share cannot be proven. Muhardi explains that the company’s production is normal. FPBI national leader Rizky, in a meeting added, “The company refused to disclose its financial report so that together with the union, despite the company’s statement that it has been losing for the last four years.”

Arnott’s response bears a lie. The company said that it had a discussion and negotiation with the workers before the management forced the workers to resign. Whereas, based on workers’ testimony there was only a socialization about management’s plan to workers. There was not any space for dialogue in a socialization, which was done first on May 4, 2018. “When we received the invitation letter, there “subject” on the letter was empty,” said Muhardi when he was asked about the socialization.

Arnott’s seems trying to create a good image by stating that the company offered “a generous compensation package which is more favourable than the statutory”. Arnott’s is using the Idul Fitri[4] moment to offer the compensation to workers who had been forced to resign. With Iedul Fitri just around the corner, workers have more pressure to accept the compensation offered to pay their cost to have a family visit to their home province (in Indonesia, known as mudik)

For nine workers who are still struggling to demand of reinstatement, the problem is not just related to the amount of rightful compensation offered. They try to fight back the company’s despotic act. “We want to show that the company cannot just throw away its workers just like that. Therefore, we will keep on fighting and stand with the demand of reinstatement,” said one of Arnott’s workers.

According to Abu Mufakhir, ATNC representative, the case of mass layoffs usually followed by the worsening of the working condition. “After lay off, usually the company would recruit new workers with the employment status of non-regular or contract to replace the permanent workers. The worsening of working condition for example in the form of overtime wage reduction.”

This exactly what happened in Arnott’s Indonesia today. In its response, Arnott’s denied the fact that the company would recruit new workers in the near future. On May 9, 2018, the company released an announcement contained a list of 140 workers who would start working in three shifts on August 1, 2018. Majority of workers listed in the announcement are contract workers who are only hired during peak season.

“There will be open recruitment on August which means the production is normal even toward the high season,” Rizky added.

Company’s announcement contains list of workers who will start working on August 1, 2018. Source: FPBI

Company’s announcement contains list of workers who will start working on August 1, 2018. Source: FPBI

Upon realizing the worsening of the working condition, nine Arnott’s workers who are still struggling will take litigation as well as a non-litigation process for their demand of reinstatement. “We are not fighting for ourselves, but also for our comrades who are still working inside the factory so they will not have to suffer poor working condition. This is our way of fighting against despotism and tyranny,” added Muhardi.

 

Download the ATNC’s request letter to Campbell: Letter to Campbells Soup on Arnotss case

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[1] Complete story could be found in http://majalahsedane.org/siapa-bilang-tidak-bisa-phk-orang-hamil-kita-main-cantik-kok/

[2] https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/indonesia-arnotts-a-subsidiary-of-campbell-soup-company-faces-allegations-of-forcibly-dismissing-workers-company-responds

[3] ATNC has sent a request letter officially to Campbell in May 31th, 2018. The letter was endorsed by 41 organizations in support of the workers’ demand to be reemployed.

[4] Iedul Fitri is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). In Indonesia, working-class celebrate Idul Fitri by visiting family in the home province.

Stop Deadly Working Hours in Asia

Long working hours impact to our health.

Long working hours impact to our health.

In modern society, work has no meaning for the working class. Our daily routine is monotonous, dull and demeaning. We do our work not to develop our potential, but to enrich our employer. Most of our precious time is spent generating profits for the capitalists. Being working class means being forced to dedicate our time and even our lives to the capitalists.

In Asia, workers’ lives are literally bound to the capitalists. Workers spend around 8-14 hours a day, or 45-70 hours/ week, on average at the workplace for very low wages. Workers in Hong Kong, for example, are reported to work an average of 50.1 hours a week, while only recently in South Korea it was announced that the average working hours would be reduced to 52 hours/ week from 68 hours previously.

In other parts of Asia, workers are ordered to work longer. Garment workers in Bangladesh are forced to work up to 14-16 hours a day for a six day a week. In some cases, the exhaustive working conditions are made worse by long overtime work. Workers in Japan log at least 80 hours of overtime a month, but this can amount to as much as 159 hours, equal to 6 hours of overtime each day.

Although in some countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines the maximum working hours should not be more than 8 hours under the countries’ labor laws, if travel time is included this can still mean a 12-13 hour day due to bad traffic and the long-distance commute to major cities such as Jakarta and Manila Workers can spend 5 hours just to commute tens of kilometers between their workplace and their home.

Stress and fatigue caused by exhausting working conditions do not come without more severe health risks. In China, where average working hours exceed 60 hours per week, official figures reported that in 2014 1,600 workers died every day from working too hard. Meanwhile, a woman worker in Japan last year reportedly died from heart failure after logging 159 hours of overtime.

Deadly working hours exist elsewhere in Asia. In Hong Kong, 19 passengers were killed when a bus driver who was exhausted due to long driving hours (12-14 hours) crashed. Similarly, in Indonesia, tank truck drivers employed by Pertamina Inc (an Indonesian state-owned oil company) face death risks by driving petrol tanks for more than 12 hours a day.

Death by overwork or ‘work to death’ is so prevalent that there is even a term to define it: Karoshi (過労死) in Japan, Gwarosa (과로사/過勞死) in South Korea and Guolaosi (过劳死) in China.  Even though there are no particular terms, Cambodia’s garment workers are also literally working themselves to death. Mass fainting in the factory is reported in many countries, such as Cambodia and Indonesia, while in China we have already heard the sad story of Foxconn workers becoming suicidal due to harsh working conditions.

Long working hours brings no benefit at all to society. Lack of rest due to overwork can lead to the accumulation of stress and fatigue, which is one of the main sources of many health risks. Increasing stress hormones may cause heart failure or strokes, while the decreased metabolic ability due to lack of rest may cause diabetes. Overwork will not make workers become more productive but their cognitive level will decrease as the result of exhaustion.

Sleep deprivation may affect mental health and workers may become emotionally aggressive. Workers may frequently fight with his/her spouse due to accumulated stress. It is also common that stress may turn into depression or anxiety. This is reflected in the high suicide rate in South Korea where 40 people commit suicide every day on average.

Intensification of competition under free market capitalism has only adversely impacted on the working class. The ‘Race to the Bottom’ has created even more harsh conditions at the workplace. Workers are forced to work harder and harder to earn nothing but death itself. By extending working hours, the capitalists are not only robbing the fruits of our labor, but our dignity and even our lives.

Working in excess of the limits of our physical and mental capacity has already proven harmful to our lives. ATNC Monitoring Network demands our governments strictly limit working hours to 6 hours per day without reducing workers’ wages. In order to maintain both our physical and mental health, we should have time to rest for at least 8 hours per day. Working hours should also take into account commuting time from home to the workplace and back. We will not have enough time to rest if we spend too much time commuting.

ATNC Monitoring Network also demands decent wages, not only to sustain our basic needs but also to develop our potential as human beings. If we earn decent wages we will not need to work longer to increase our income to meet basic needs and we will not need to work deadly working hours anymore.

We had a victory in limiting working hours as a result of constant class struggle since the “Eight Hour Movement” on May 1st, 1886. However, our victory has now been taken away from us as the number of working hours is almost exactly the same as before the Eight Hours Movement. We should not remain silent any longer as our quality of life has been degraded to the point of death. We should reclaim our victory.

 

April 24th, 2018

Asia Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network

 

Endorsers:

  • Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong
  • Globalization Monitor, Hong Kong
  • Committee for Asian Women, Malaysia
  • Centre for Workers Education, India
  • Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan
  • Ecumenical Institute for Labour Education and Research, Philippines
  • Textile and Garment Worker Federation, Bangladesh
  • Korean House for International Solidarity, Korea
  • Yokohama Action Research, Japan
  • Patchane Kumnak, Good Electronics Thailand
  • Thailand Confederation of Trade Union, Thailand
  • National Free Trade Union, Sri Lanka
  • Confederation of National Trade Union, Indonesia
  • The Indonesian Confederation of United Workers, Indonesia
  • Sedane Labour Resource Centre, Indonesia
  • Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association, Myanmar
  • Cambodia Food and Services Worker Federation, Cambodia

Call to Samsung: Relaunch the dialogue with SHARPS!

A solidarity statement by the Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network

The Asian Transnational Corporations (ATNC) Monitoring Network, a network composed of labour organisations from 12 Asian countries, is one with SHARPS in demanding Samsung to reinitiate its dialogue with SHARPS.

In October 2015, Samsung unilaterally stopped its negotiations with SHARPS on the issue of compensation to the victims of occupational diseases in Samsung factories. Today, 7th of October 2016, marks the one-year anniversary of the 24/7 sit-in protest of SHARPS at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in South Seoul. In the past year, SHARPS has been relentless in its call for the relaunch of the dialogue with Samsung so that it can collectively bargain for its demands. In particular, SHARPS demands that Samsung (1) make a full and sincere apology for the occupational disease cluster that has harmed the workers and (2) transparently and sufficiently compensate former workers who contracted a variety of diseases while working at Samsung’s LCD and chip labs.

Despite the difficulties faced by SHARPS and its supporters during the year-long sit-in protest, they remain unyielding in their struggle in the name of the 223 workers of Samsung Electronics who were afflicted with a variety of occupational diseases, including leukemia, brain tumour, and multiple sclerosis (of whom, 76 have died).

Globally, Samsung has a reputation of being a heartless employer and union buster that has no regard for the rights and welfare of its workers. It is not only the workers of Samsung in South Korea that suffer from occupational diseases or from Samsung’s utter disrespect for labour rights and standards. With its wide-ranging supply chain in the world, especially in Asian countries, more than 1,500,000 workers are seriously affected by Samsung’s anti-labour policies.

Now that Jae-yong Lee, the heir apparent of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., is about to be part of the company’s board of directors, it is high time for Samsung to again face SHARPS at the bargaining table and start the negotiations anew. We demand Mr. Lee to reinitiate the dialogue with SHARPS and to make a public pledge, accompanied with genuine accountability, to respect workers’ and human rights. For a global corporate giant, these demands should not be difficult to fulfil.

The ATNC Monitoring Network supports SHARPS in its struggle to attain justice for the victims of occupational diseases in Samsung factories. Moreover, we will continue to be vigilant of the abuses of workers in Samsung, not only in South Korea but also in its supply chain across Asia.

7 October 2016
Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network

Endorsed by:
Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong
Center for Trade Union and Human Rights, Philippines
Centre for Workers Education, India
Committee for Asian Women, Malaysia
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research, Philippines
Globalisation Monitor, Hong Kong
Indonesian Federation SERBUK of Karawang, Indonesia
Korean House for International Solidarity, Korea
Labour Action China, Hong Kong
Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan
National Free Trade Union, Sri Lanka
Sedane Labour Resource Centre, Indonesia
Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association, Myanmar
Yokohama Action Research, Japan

Unite and fight against the neoliberal attacks on labour!

 

A solidarity statement by
the Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network

on the International Labour Day Celebrations
May 1, 2016

 

Under the globally pervasive neoliberal economic development regime, the Asian economies have become completely integrated and subsumed into global capitalism. Big Asian and global transnational corporations (TNCs) have built economic power by consolidating their regional and global production networks. On the other hand, developing countries in Asia opened up their economies to become eager hosts of TNC-driven and export-oriented industrial factories and corporate agricultural plantations. The governments of developing Asian states believe that economic growth can spring from foreign direct investment-friendly economic policies, which are often anti-people policies. ‘Let us wait for the growth to trickle down,’ they would say.

Hence, on the grounds of the “economically surging Asia” are the precarious workers who are assiduously toiling, suffering, and are being sacrificed upon the altar of neoliberalism. We observed that most Asian governments have been adopting labour law and economic reforms that not only bolster the neoliberal agenda but also curtail the rights of the workers and restrict the democratic space for workers’ organising and collective bargaining.

Asia’s race-to-the-bottom wages

In order to attract foreign investments, Asian governments are competing against each other in a race to the bottom in terms of labour standards. They implemented policies that directly cut wages, removed regulations on wage settings, and introduced flexible wage schemes. In the Philippines, a two-tiered wage system was advanced by the government in one region – the first tier is the floor wage based on the poverty threshold (USD 1/day) and the second tier is based on productivity. It resulted in reduced wages as the floor wage was 25 percent lower than the minimum wage while the payment of the productivity-based wage is not mandatory.

On the other hand, the Indonesian government issued a new wage regulation in October 2015 that changed the minimum wage-fixing mechanism. In the past, the minimum wage was set through a process of bargaining between the employers’ group and trade union, somehow taking into account the cost of living. In the new wage regulation, the minimum wage will be unilaterally determined by the government based on a formula that considers the inflation and the GDP growth. Worse, the adjustments will be made only every five years.

Legitimising the attacks on the right to organise

Asian governments also use the laws to suppress trade union activities. In Cambodia, for instance, the National Assembly passed the Trade Union Law on 4 April 2016, restricting the workers’ rights to freedom of association, collective bargaining, and strike. Championed by the industrial capitalists, the enactment of the new law is defended by the Ministry of Labour, declaring that it will aid in attracting more investments. In China, the Foreign NGO Activities Law was already submitted to the National People’s Congress for enactment. It limits the activities of foreign NGOs in China, including those that support the building of an independent labour movement at the grassroots level.

It is relevant to note, however, that even before these laws are passed, the space for independent labour movements’ activities have been restricted. We have witnessed the violent crackdowns of strikes in Cambodia in the past years and the arrests of numerous labour activists in China in December of last year, two of whom are still in detention. Needless to say, the recent laws are being pushed to legitimise harassment, violent actions, and criminalisation of labour activists.

Violent crackdowns on the working poor’s protests

Even in countries where the policies are supposed to protect working people’s rights, the reality shows a precarious face. In Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, landless farmers protesting for land rights on 29 March 2016 faced violent repression. Sixty-four protesters were arrested while 14 were injured after being shot by the police. Two days later, on 1 April 2016, hungry farmers in Kidapawan, Philippines suffered the same but more brutal fate. Demanding for rice, the protesting farmers got bullets instead. Three died while 76 were arrested, including elderly and pregnant women. While the marginalised people face injustices and harassment, agricultural TNCs in these two countries are enjoying not only incentives for investments but also protection from the military.

Reversing the gains from past struggles

Moreover, the victories from the struggles of labour and other social movements have been reversed. In South Asia, particularly, labour law reforms are going backwards. In the past year, the reforms that are being proposed in India aim to flexibilise labour arrangements by making hiring and firing easier and by excluding the majority of the workers from the purview of the law. Sri Lanka, which has one of the best severance benefits, is considering reducing the benefits at the request of the employers. Meanwhile, in response to the increasing number of trade unions registered since the Rana Plaza tragedy, the Bangladesh government issued new Labour Rules in September 2015 to regulate union registration more strictly.

We, at the ATNC Monitoring Network, are alarmed at these trends and developments in Asia that are obviously aimed at further reinforcing the neoliberal agenda, eroding the workers’ rights, and dismantling the labour movement. We believe that genuine economic development should prioritise the interest and welfare of the poor and the marginalised and not of the global TNCs and wealthy elites. Thus, we strongly condemn the naked and violent attacks on labour activists and innocent working people who demand for a life of dignity.

Today, on International Labour Day, we register the following calls:

  • Stop the neoliberal attacks on labour!
  • Respect the workers’ rights to organise, bargain collectively, and strike!
  • Eliminate flexible labour arrangements that make workers more vulnerable!
  • Fight for living wage for Asian workers!
  • Justice for victims of harassment, criminalisation, and human rights violations!
  • Uphold the working people’s dignity!

We stand in solidarity with the working people of Asia who persistently fight for their rights and tirelessly build an independent and democratic labour movement in the region.

An Open Letter to the Korean President-Elect Park Geun-hye (re Respect Workers Rights in Korea)

 

22 February 2013
The Honourable Park Geun-hye
President-Elect of the Republic of Korea
Cheong Wa Dae
1 Cheongwadae-ro
Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-820
Republic of Korea

 

Respect Workers Rights in Korea

 

Dear Madam President-Elect:

Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network (ATNC) would like to bring to your attention a number of serious labour issues, which we urge your government to act upon once you assume the office of the presidency on 25 February 2013.

First, a lack of fundamental labour rights in the public sector is leading to serious political and social problems.

The Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) is still not being recognised as a legal trade union organisation. The government has indeed refused to register the union three times. Since its founding, 137 union members are dismissed for their trade union activity. In January 2013, KGEU president Kim Jung-nam conducted a 16 days’ hunger strike before being hospitalised. The KGEU is now continuing sit-it strike in front of the National Assembly. The KGEU president and secretary-general were recently dismissed on the ground that they are leaders of an illegal organisation. In 2012, the ILO has called on the government to recognise the KGEU and allow it to carry out trade union activity. In its most recent report, the ILO Committee of Experts stated, “the Committee expressed deep regret at the gravity of the allegations involving serious acts of extensive interference in the activities of the KGEU and requested the Government to immediately cease all acts of interference.” The ILO urged the government “to take all possible measures with a view to achieving conciliation between the Government and the KGEU so that the latter may continue to exist and ultimately to register within the framework of the legislation which should be in line with freedom of association principles.”

Further, 165 public enterprise workers who are members of the Korean Federation of Public Sector and Transportation Workers’ Unions (KPTU) have been dismissed from their jobs in retaliation for legitimate union activities. Many of these workers, including 96 members of the KPTU-affiliated Korean Railway Workers’ Union, faced reprisal due to their opposition to public sector privatisation and other actions taken to defend quality public services. Others were fired in an effort to prevent legitimate efforts to improve the poor working conditions faced by irregular public enterprise workers. Dismissed public sector workers, many of whom who have been out of jobs for several years or more, suffer from economic, social and psychological hardship. Their reinstatement is essential to the normalisation of public sector labour relations and the protection of the Korean people’s right to quality public services.

Second, there have been several recent industrial disputes provoked by the growing use of precarious forms of employment despite recent court rulings against the practice, mass layoffs and the promotion of employer dominated unions. Indeed, the situation has become so bad that five union leaders and activists have taken their lives in response to the repression of their trade union activities.

At Hanjin, workers struck to protest precarious employment and the layoff of over 400 workers. At the end of strike, and an 11 month crane sit-in of Kim Jinsook, the company agreed on the reinstatement of dismissed workers and to compensation. Each side agreed to drop lawsuits against each other. However, Hanjin continued to sue the chairperson of the KMWU and the KCTU leaders for damages related to the strike in the amount of US$15.8 million and US$100,000 respectively. Even worse, the company established a management dominated “yellow” union and sought to lure the members of the KMWU. This situation drove Choe Kang-seo, the deputy organising director of KMWU Busan Regional Branch Hanjin Local, to take his life. His coffin is still lying on the cold street and his family members are urgently request for the company to have a talk with the union. However, the company has been rejecting any talk with the family members and the union so far.

At Ssangyong, 3 union leaders are sitting in on top of a high electronic pylon. The company decided in 2009 to file for bankruptcy and proposed a reorganisation plan, which was approved the following month. On April 8, 2009, the company announced its plan to dismiss 2,646 workers. In May, workers went on strike to encourage negotiations over alternative, cost-cutting measures short of mass dismissals. On June 2, the company notified 1,056 workers of their dismissal effective from 8 June. On 26 and 27 June, riot police entered the factory and secured the main building following intense fighting that resulted in several injuries and arrests. On 1 July, water was cut off and on 16 July all food was blocked from entering the plant. From 20 to 27 July, thousands of riot police and hired thugs again attempted to take the factory. This time, the police moved in with water cannons and dropped concentrated tear gas and chemicals onto the strikers from helicopters, which caused in some cases severe chemical burns. Several other workers sustained serious injuries at the hands of the police. In the end, the company brought lawsuits against individuals and union officers for obstruction of business, as well as a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the parent union – the Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) and the confederation, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. It now appears that the dismissals were completely illegal, based on false claims about the company’s economic situation. During the presidential election campaign, you made a commitment to a parliamentary investigation with regard to the Ssangyong case, but there has been no action until now.

At Hyundai Motor, a “dispatched” worker won court decisions in January 2011 and February 2012, holding that he was an “illegally dispatched labour” and not “subcontracted labour”. The courts recognised the worker as a full-time employee directly employed by Hyundai after he worked for more than two consecutive years at the plant. However, management of Hyundai refused to implement the ruling, which it announced on August 2012. Following the company’s denial, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) initiated an industrial action for the regularisation of all subcontracted workers who work for more than two years. The company responded with lawsuits requesting damages of 16.2 billion won for strikes and sit-ins at the Ulsan, Asan, and Jeonju plants. The ILO examined this case and requested that the government develop, in consultation with the social partners, appropriate mechanisms aimed at strengthening the protection of subcontracted/agency workers’ rights, “so as to prevent any abuse of subcontracting as a way to evade in practice the exercise by these workers of their trade union rights”.

At Yooseong Piston Ring (YPR), a major supplier of piston rings for Hyundai Motor as well as to four other major auto assemblers in Korea, had signed an agreement with the Korean Metal Workers’ Union locals at the YPR Asan and Yeong-dong plant to implement a 2 day-shift system with a monthly wage and no night work beginning January 2011. The agreement was meant to respond to sleep disorders and other health issues related to night work. However, in 2011 the 2 day-shift system was not implemented in YPR and the company refused to bargain in good faith to find solutions to implement the 2 day-shift system. On 18 May, the union locals held a 2 hours’ trade union education for the day shift union members. Hours later, the company undertook an illegal lockout. Later on, during a parliamentary audit, it was revealed that this all was intentionally conducted according to the company’s long-term strategy to bust the union. Indeed, YSR had hired the Changjo Consultant, a professional union busting company. The union filed 23 complaints regarding the company’s unfair labour practise to the Ministry of Employment and Labour. The Ministry sent the case to the public prosecutors with the opinion that the CEO of the company should be investigated under detention. However, no action has been taken, leading the union leader to conduct an aerial protest on the guardrail of a bridge.

In many industrial disputes, companies have used a much criticised “obstruction of business” law to seek arrests and devastating fines for engaging in strikes. The ILO has repeatedly criticised the government’s use of this law, urging the government “to consider all possible measures, in consultation with the social partners concerned, so as to revert to a general practice of investigation without detention of workers and of refraining from making arrests, even in the case of an illegal strike, if the latter does not entail any violence.”

ATNC calls upon your government to: 1) recognise the KGEU and to reinstate the 137 KGEU members and 165 KPTU members fired for their union activities; 2) seek the amendment of the “obstruction of business” law so that union leaders or members are no longer subject to arrest or to enormous fines for activity related to industrial disputes; 3) urge Hanjin Heavy Industry to withdraw their lawsuit against the union’s leader and reinstate the dismissed workers; 4) work with Parliament to launch an investigation into the Ssangyong mass layoffs as promised and to ensure the reinstatement of dismissed workers; 5) urge Hyundai, and indeed the manufacturing industry, to respect the Supreme Court’s decision with regard to the use of in-house dispatch work; and 6) take enforcement actions against anti-union retaliation by employers and the establishment of company unions, especially in YPR.

We thank you for your urgent attention to these matters.

Yours sincerely
Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network

Endorsed and co-signed by
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), Republic of Korea
Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Hong Kong
Labour Action China (LAC), Hong Kong
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), Philippines
Thai Labour Campaign (TLC), Thailand
National Free Trade Union (NFTU), Sri Lanka
Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), Cambodia
Globalization Monitor (GM), Hong Kong
Centre for Workers Education (CWE), India
Sedane Labor Resource Center (LIPS), Indonesia
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
Serve the People Association (SPA), Taiwan
Youth Labor Union 95
Endorsed and co-signed by
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), Republic of Korea
Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Hong Kong
Labour Action China (LAC), Hong Kong
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), Philippines
Thai Labour Campaign (TLC), Thailand
National Free Trade Union (NFTU), Sri Lanka
Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), Cambodia
Globalization Monitor (GM), Hong Kong
Centre for Workers Education (CWE), India
Sedane Labor Resource Center (LIPS), Indonesia
Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Cambodia
Serve the People Association (SPA), Taiwan
Youth Labor Union 95
Labour Education and Service Network (LESN), Hong Kong
National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), Bangladesh

cc:
Ministry of Employment and Labour
Ministry of Public Administration and Security
KCTU
KMWU
KGEU
KPTU

Statement to the Fire at the Factory of Tazreen Fashions Killing over Hundreds in Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

 

28 November 2012

For Immediate Release

 

Statement to the Fire at the Factory of Tazreen Fashions Killing over Hundreds in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Besides conveying our deepest condolence and concerns to all victims, Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network (ATNC) is calling for an immediate action from the Bangladeshi government and international clothing brands following the deadly fire at the factory of Tazreen Fashions on late Saturday, 24 November 2012.

At least 112 deaths are confirmed and hundreds of workers injured when they jumped from high windows in order to escape the smoke and flames. These killed and injured workers made clothes for Hong Kong-based Li & Fung on behalf of various international brands, such as C & A, Carrefour, KIK and Walmart.

Li & Fung is one of the largest apparel sourcing companies in the world.  Regrettably, this multinational enterprise has a poor track record of not respecting labour rights for many years.  Despite the company’s vow to comply with their codes of conducts and corporate social responsibility throughout the production and sourcing process, injustices and deadly accidents continue to happen.  Before this deadly factory fire inBangladesh, a Turkish garment factory called Hey Tekstil which produced for Li & Fung was also found of having an outbreak of workers’ protest this year.  Hundreds of workers, who are owed more than 4.7 million euro, protested at Li & Fung office inIstanbulto demand for compensation.  However, the compensation is yet undone.  Adding more wounds to workers, theBangladeshfire once again revealed the negligence and irresponsibility of Li & Fung in upholding labour rights.

Li & Fung and the international buyers such as Walmart and C & A have an undeniable responsibility in compensating the workers.  Let us be clear.  Playing a blame game with other parts of the supply chain is in violation of the UN Business and Human Rights guidelines.  All the companies concerned should uphold their due diligence and their obligation to mediate.

ATNC demands:-

1.    Li & Fung and other international buyers of Tazreen Factory should pay full and fair compensation to the victims and their families.

2.    Li & Fung and other international brand companies should be obliged to comply with national and international health and safety measures, whichever is a higher standard, in a serious manner through their annual audit on the health and safety standards.

3.    The manufacturers as well as the international brand companies should ensure all the supply-chain factories are manufacturing under the satisfactory working conditions where both national and international health and safety standards are strictly not violated. Any improvements should be carried out.

4.    The Bangladeshi Government to set up an independent and transparent body to investigate the causes of this fire and to examine whether there is any ongoing negligence in failing to comply with both national and international health and safety standards to garment factories. The Government should take appropriate legal action to prosecute when necessary. Also, this body should look into the redress for all victims.

Should there be any enquiries, please contact the spokesperson of ATNC, Mr. Jason Chan on +852 2815-9003 or email at coordinator@atnc.asia.

 

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