Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 17th, 2012

Fashion Industry, clothing industry…Who is being sacrificed? Part 1.

I heard in a documentary that China was the main producer of cloth in the last two decades, and that it is being displaced gradually by Cambodia, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, and India where labor is becoming far cheaper, of about a single dollar per hour.

Anne Elizabeth Moore published an extensive report in Truthout on April 4 “The Fashion Industry’s Perfect Storm: Collapsing Workers and Hyperactive Buyers“.

I decided to split the article into four posts: Background of the mass fainting, Domino Effect (eye-witness accounts), causes, and culprit and resolution.

Background

“About a year ago, record numbers of garment laborers in factories across Cambodia were reported to be suddenly and mysteriously falling to the ground, unconscious. Hundreds at a time.

Workers at many scenes reported foul smells, difficulty breathing. Halting investigations took place at select plants by various parties involved: government officials; labor unions; human rights groups; business associations; monitoring organizations; and, weirdly, the international big-name brands that sell the clothes being made.

A consortium of factors was considered:

1. hypoglycemia (the direct result of workers not eating enough);

2. minor factory infractions that managers promised to address immediately;

3. common cold outbreak emanating from Canada;

4. overwork; mass hysteria; workers partying too hard over the weekend; and spiritual possession.

In the end, no single cause was named for the nationwide epidemic.  A 5$ “health bonus” for qualifying workers took care for not conducting a sweeping policy changes that would keep the incidents from continuing.

Sina Phin, a garment worker, right, ironing shirts at the New Island factory in outlying Phnom Penh, Cambodia in April 2005. (Photo: Michael Nagle / The New York Times)Sina Phin, a garment worker, right, ironing shirts at the New Island factory in outlying Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in April 2005. (Photo: Michael Nagle / The New York Times)

It seemed to be just more bad luck for Cambodia, a nation still coming to terms with five decades spent surviving a record tonnage of American bombs, the Khmer Rouge “sweeping and drastic revolution that wiped out over one million), a generation of civil war, a legacy of corruption and endemic poverty.

But bad luck doesn’t account for around 3,000 workers reportedly losing consciousness in 17 separate mass-fainting incidents at 12 of the country’s 300 registered garment factories.

The real bad luck for Cambodia – and ethical apparel consumers, particularly in the US, where 70 percent of the goods produced are sold – is that thousands of workers falling ill on the job isn’t enough to catch the fashion industry’s attention.

Life in the Cambodian garment factories is not what anyone would call easy, even under ideal conditions. The minimum wage was increased to $61 per month at the beginning of 2011, still significantly less than the $93 per month living wage.

Garment workers don’t just cover their own costs – about a fifth of the country’s 14 million people rely on their paychecks to support rice farms in the provinces. (That’s right, the developing country’s third-largest income generator, garment work, supports the country’s second,which is agriculture.)

Many workers labor seven days per week and take on as much overtime as possible, to earn enough to send $50 or $60 home every month. A tiny rental near the factories costs around $25 per month – you can get something bigger to split among more workers, although rents of less than $15 per month are rare – and utilities run between $5 and $10 per month.

Drinking and cooking water costs have to be covered, too. And transportation, if needed. Even with the wage increase, funds are tight.

Everyone skimps on health care, which under the Pol Pot regime (Khmer Rouge, Red), thirty-five years ago meant untrained cadre inventing balms and pills with accessible materials like leaves, mud and dung, since doctors were purged alongside intellectuals and previous government officials. The country is still rebuilding, and while health facilities are supposed to be provided in factories, they’re often insufficient.

Many skimp on food. It’s hard to eat in Cambodia for less than $1.25 per day. A 2009 Cambodian Institute of Development Study found that workers are often left with between $4 and $9 per month for meals. Workers who faint from hunger or the stifling heat on the factory floor, a very common occurrence,  may find themselves without a job when they awake.

Unions have a robust life and that would seem, from a distance, to help. There are 650 registered unions in Cambodia, operating in the 300 registered factories. But company yellow unions backed organizations, which push through management decisions, are as common as are competitive unions within one factory.

Occasionally, two different unions that are members of the same federation will operate competing branches. With an average of six unions per factory, there’s a lot of in-fighting and little in the way of actual organizing. On top of which, the all-male union leadership tends to act with little regard for female workforce concerns.

One shining example of union impotency was a series of strikes from September 13 through 16, 2010. Of the 300,000-strong workforce at the time, between one and two-thirds had walked off jobs to demand a raise to the minimum wage, then only $55 per month.

Management reaction was swift and strange: 26 labor leaders were “banned” from jobs. Not fired – that would violate laws protecting workers’ rights to organize – just not allowed to enter buildings where they worked.

Cohesive demands for more money splintered into protests against what amounted to illegally fired workers. These were met with more illegal firings, which led to more protests and increasing violence on all sides. The number of laborers effectively out of work over what was originally a demand for a wage increase quickly grew – some estimate into the thousands. Even after things calmed down in January 2011, some 300 illegally fired workers remained out of work at 20 factories around the country.

The back story to the mass fainting incidents is this: During the last months of 2010, up to two-thirds of the entire Cambodian garment industry had cohesively come together to make demands as a unified voice, in a democratic nation, with legal protection for workers’ rights to organize. Yet somehow, one organizer told me, “Nothing happened.” She looked crushed.

Again, why do you need a garden?

Virginia Woolf wrote that most women need a room of one’s own. Men want a shed of their own.

The need of women for a room is theoretical most of the time: They do feel guilty if they are not busy all the time. Women feel that they have to be doing the dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, washing walls, doing laundry, redesigning every corner, changing curtains, experimenting with new cuisine…

Men want a garden! Actually, what they have in mind is a shed of their own. The excellent excuse is to store hoes, wheelbarrows, gro-bags, repairing tools…Women agree gladly: They want all that stuff stached and hidden away, and the garden looking clean for visitors…

What is better than erecting a shed?

A large shed, the bigger the better, with a large window to scrutinize the vast horizon…

The man builds his shed, stack all the gardening rubbish in a “hidden corner” of the garden among the thorn and wild grass to discourage the wife from investigating…The maintenance tools are well-organized in the shed: This is the domain of the do-it-all repairman

The shed must accommodate a small refrigerator (you know what for), a kettle, a mini-bar, a chair, a desk, and also a long chair…

An early warning alarm system is a priority: anyone coming close to the shed, and the warning system will allow the necessary time to dump the daily newspaper, the beer cans, the buscuits…into the clean garbage can…No see, no worries…

The man strikes a deal with second-hand furniture stores. Not to buy anything, but to rent a few used furniture to give the illusion of refurbishing, painting, repolishing…and then returning them for a few more pieces…

Obviously, an internet connection is a must, and a software for card games, and poker hands are ideal pastime…

The middle age man cannot feel this inconceivable guilt for looking busy all the time: All he needs is to be left alone, surrounded by silence, quality time…

The woman is highly suspicious, but these “out of her skirt moments” suits her grandly.

Going fishing is a striking example of an “internal shed” where you think of nothing in particular for hours on.

People in urban setting, and crammed in small apartments, manage to create an “internal shed” for sanity reason, one way or another.

I do have a large garden, surrounding the house on all sides. In my long absence overseas, two sheds were built: to hosting all kinds of fowls, chicken, rabbits

At one time, I was left to handle over 100 hens because:

1. Mother likes “fresh eggs” that she has no idea what to do with all that production. Preparing cakes to distribute is exorbitantly expensive. I ended up touring the shops to barter eggs with produce.

2. My brother-in-law loves an “animated garden”, but goes hunting small birds in the morning, carrying this “bird recording” to lure birds closer to shooting them dead …

Luckily, chicken feed got too expensive for the return in egg, and the fowls would stop laying eggs for months. and they died on mass for one reason or another, blaming lynx, rats…

That was an excellent excuse to clear the shed and all that stinky matter…

The price was so cheap that, within a day, people flocked to buy chicken by the dozen. The clients turned out to be skilled catcher of chicken, to my chagrin. You may read detailed report on my “Diary” category.

In any case, mother persisted for half a dozen hens to sustain fresh eggs, and she re-purchased chicken at far higher prices, and she was supposed to take care of them.  The same dirty and fruitless task devolved to me, whether I liked it or not: Mother cannot physically enter the shed.

In any case, all the chores were relegated to me on the ground that “I am the able body around”: That’s what the extended family members want me to believe, and act upon…

I wish I had a clean shed, all for me, exclusively for me…

Why fowls have to rob me of my own right for a “shed of my own”?

Note: Part of the post was inspired from a chapter in “A shed of one’s own” by Marcus Berkmann

Minister of Detainees? Only in Apartheid Israel?

Last week, over 1,000 European citizens were denied access to Israel in order to participate in solidarity of Palestinian Prisoners Day on the ground that “free expression” does not apply supporting Palestinian cause for self-determination and human rights…

Tel Aviv airport was closed to all these European travellers who had purchased airplane tickets…Tel Aviv airport is the only point of entrance if you wish to visit the Palestinian occupied territories in the West Bank and Gaza

Over 1,500 Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and those held in Israeli prisons are waging a hunger strike: They want to draw attention to abusive nature of solitary confinement, the practice of ‘detention without charge,’ and renew calls for the release of all political prisoners.

thepalestineyoudontknow posted this April 15, 2012: “1600 Detainees To Declare Hunger-Strike on April 17″.

Four hunger striking Palestinian prisoners are now in hospital(x)

thepalestineyoudontknow:</p><br /><br />
<p>1600 Detainees To Declare Hunger-Strike on April 17<br /><br /><br />
1600 Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel, declared they will be starting an open-ended hunger strike on April 17th in protest to their illegal detention, and demanding basic rights.<br /><br /><br />
Palestinian Minister of Detainees in the West Bank, Issa Qaraqe’, stated that the situation of the detainees in Israeli prisons is very difficult, and dangerous, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations and attacks against them. Qaraqe’ added that the detainees are fighting a battle to defend their dignity and to improve their living conditions. He further called for massive solidarity campaigns, and called for declaring April 17, the Palestinian Prisoners Day, as a day for solidarity and massive nonviolent protests in all parts of the occupied territories. The Maan News Agency reported that a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Authority, headed by Yitzhak Gabai, visited a number of detention facilities, listened to the demands of the detainees, and “promised” respond to these demands this coming week. Some of the demands presented by the detainees are; 1. Ending Administrative Detention.2. Ending Solitary Confinement.3. Reinstating the right to education.4. Halting all invasions targeting detainees’ rooms and sections.5. Allowing family visitations, especially to detainees from the Gaza Strip. 6. Improving medical care to ailing detainees. 7. Halting the humiliation, and body-search of the families of the detainees.8. Allowing the entry of books and newspapers. 9. Halting all sorts of penalties against the detainees.Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are subject to harsh and illegal treatment that violates International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.The Palestinians started marking April 17 as the Palestinian Prisoners Day, on April 17, 1974, the day Israel released Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, in the first ever prisoner-swap deal.202 Palestinian detainees died after being kidnapped by the Israeli forces since 1967, following Israel’s occupation to the rest of Palestine (The West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights).Hundreds of detainees died after they were released suffering from serious illnesses and medical conditions resulting from extreme torture and abuse in Israeli prisons.70 detainees died in prison due to extreme torture, 74 were executed by the soldiers after being arrested, 51 died due to the lack of medical treatment, 7 detainees died due to excessive force by the soldiers, and after being shot while in prison, former political prisoner, head of the census department at the Ministry of Detainees, Abdul-Nasser Farawna reported.(x)<br /><br /><br />
Four hunger striking prisoners now in hospital(x)<br /><br /><br />

Palestinian detainees, routinely jailed without trial, particularly youth of under 16 of age, by Israel, declared they will be starting an open-ended hunger strike on April 17th in protest to their illegal detention, and demanding basic rights.

Issa Qaraqeh, Minister of Palestinians Detainees in the West Bank stated that the situation of the detainees in Israeli prisons is very difficult, and dangerous, especially amidst the ongoing Israeli violations and attacks against them.

Qaraqeh added that the detainees are fighting a battle to defend their dignity and to improve their living conditions. He called for massive solidarity campaigns, and called for declaring April 17, the Palestinian Prisoners Day, as a day for solidarity and massive nonviolent protests in all parts of the occupied territories.

The Maan News Agency reported that a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Authority, headed by Yitzhak Gabai, visited a number of detention facilities, listened to the demands of the detainees, and “promised” respond to these demands this coming week.

A few of the demands presented by the detainees are:

1. Ending Administrative Detention.
2. Ending Solitary Confinement.
3. Reinstating the right to education.
4. Halting all invasions targeting detainees’ rooms and sections.
5. Allowing family visitations, especially to detainees from the Gaza Strip.
6. Improving medical care to ailing detainees.
7. Halting the humiliation, and body-search of the families of the detainees.
8. Allowing the entry of books and newspapers.
9. Halting all sorts of penalties against the detainees.

Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons are subject to harsh and illegal treatment that violates International Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.

Note: The Palestinians started marking April 17 as the Palestinian Prisoners Day, on April 17, 1974, the day Israel released Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, in the first ever prisoner-swap deal.

202 Palestinian detainees died after being kidnapped by the Israeli forces since 1967, (following Israel’s occupation to the rest of Palestine of The West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights).

Hundreds of detainees died after they were released suffering from serious illnesses and medical conditions resulting from extreme torture and abuse in Israeli prisons.

70 detainees died in prison due to extreme torture.

74 were executed by the soldiers after being arrested.

51 died due to the lack of medical treatment.

7 detainees died due to excessive force by the soldiers.

Abdul-Nasser Farawna , head of the census department at the Ministry of Detainees, was a former political prisoner and was shot while in prison,


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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