Bangladeshi slum kids work over 60 hours a week to make clothes — research

In thisDec. 22, 2012 file photo, a Bangladeshi child works at a clothes-dyeing factory in Narayanganj, outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. A new study by the London-based Overseas Development Institute found that thousands of Bangladeshi children who live in the capital's slums are working illegally for an average of 64 hours a week. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad, File)
Updated 07 December 2016
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Bangladeshi slum kids work over 60 hours a week to make clothes — research

NEW DELHI: One-third of children living in the slums of Bangladesh’s capital spend more than 60 hours a week making clothes for the garment sector, well beyond the legal working limit, a London-based thinktank said on Wednesday.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) said 32 percent of children aged between 10 and 14 living in Dhaka’s slum settlements were out of school and engaged in full-time work in clothing factories — according to a survey of 2,700 children.
“Our survey raises serious concerns over the issue of child labor in the supply of garments from factories in Bangladesh to consumers in Europe, the US and elsewhere,” ODI said.
” ... the sheer scale of child employment in the sector — and the links between small-scale factories and large-scale exporters — make it highly probable that children in Dhaka are involved in export production,” it said in a report.
More than five million children aged between 5 and 17 are engaged in some kind of employment in Bangladesh, according to the International Labour Organization.
Bangladeshi laws set a minimum working age of 14, however from the age of 12, children are permitted to carry out ‘light work’ for up to 42 hours a week, provided it does not interfere with their education.
But the United Nations estimates that more than 90 percent of child laborers work in the informal sector — including in small workshops, on the street and in home-based businesses — making labor laws virtually impossible to enforce.

Foreign brands involved?
The apparel industry has come under pressure to improve factory conditions and workers’ rights after the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh more than three years ago.
The disaster which killed 1,136 people prompted global brands and charities to launch initiatives to safeguard employees, from ensuring the safety of buildings to providing better pay and working hours.
ODI said almost 20 percent of the child garment workers were aged 12 or younger, while the rest were aged 13 or 14. Many were working longer than the legal limit of 42 hours a week.
Two thirds of them were girls, the study said.
Most children did not have formal contracts, were earning below the minimum monthly wage and reported health problems such as extreme fatigue, back pain and exposure to dust and fumes.
ODI urged clothing firms to require that direct suppliers provide more information on their sub-contractors.
“While ultimate responsibility for strengthening the regulatory regime rests with the Government of Bangladesh, brands could — and should — be creating incentives for firms to comply with child labor laws,” ODI said. (Reporting by Nita Bhalla)


British MPs vote for bigger role in Brexit process

Updated 4 min 7 sec ago
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British MPs vote for bigger role in Brexit process

  • Monday’s vote sets up a potentially crucial clash between government and parliament on the best way to end a bitter political crisis
  • But even if MPs decide a majority course of action, the government is not legally bound to follow their instructions
LONDON: British MPs have voted to play a bigger role in Brexit, giving themselves the power to express their preference for different options in an unprecedented move that the government called “dangerous.”
On Monday evening MPs won a vote that will allow them to seize control of parliamentary business on Wednesday by 329 to 302, with three junior ministers quitting after voting against the government.
British pro-Brexit tabloid The Sun said Tuesday that May had “lost control of the Brexit process to MPs in a humiliating defeat.”
The Times also said the prime minister had been “humiliated by Tory rebellion” as the cabinet “prepares for (a) snap election.”
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and health minister Steve Brine resigned, a government source said, while business minister Richard Harrington announced his decision to leave government on Twitter.
In his resignation letter, Harrington said the government’s approach was “playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country.”
But the Brexit ministry said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the vote, adding that it “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent.”
Three years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, Monday’s vote sets up a potentially crucial clash between government and parliament on the best way to end a bitter political crisis.
MPs will now have the chance to vote on various options, such as revoking Article 50 and canceling Brexit, holding another referendum, a deal including a customs union and single market membership or leaving the EU without a deal.
But even if MPs decide a majority course of action, the government is not legally bound to follow their instructions.
“The government will continue to call for realism — any options considered must be deliverable in negotiations with the EU,” the Brexit ministry said.
The prime minister said she was “skeptical” about the process and that similar efforts in the past “produced contradictory outcomes or no outcomes at all.”
May admitted Monday she had still not secured the votes needed to get her own, twice-rejected Brexit deal through parliament, raising again the prospect that Britain could crash out of the European Union in just over two weeks’ time.
Anxious at the deepening crisis in London, EU leaders last week agreed to postpone Brexit to avoid a potentially catastrophic “no deal” divorce on March 29, when 46 years of ties were formally scheduled to end.
But they warned that unless May can persuade MPs this week to support her withdrawal deal, Britain must come up with a new plan by April 12 — or leave its closest trading partner with no deal at all.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the government was a “national embarrassment,” adding: “We will still face the prospect of a disastrous no-deal Brexit.”
The EU had earlier ramped up the pressure by announcing its full readiness to deal with the “increasingly likely” event of a no-deal Brexit in three weeks’ time.
Parliament remains deeply divided over Brexit, reflecting the sharp divisions in the country.
MPs have already voted against a “no deal” Brexit but this remains the default legal position unless they agree an alternative.
May went over her own Brexit scenarios at an emergency cabinet meeting earlier Monday.
It followed a weekend of media reports that her own ministers were trying to oust her.
Most of the alleged plotters are Brexit backers who fear the terms of Britain’s departure will be watered down or even reversed.
“Theresa May is the chicken who bottled Brexit,” former foreign minister Boris Johnson wrote in The Telegraph.
“It is time for the PM to channel the spirit of Moses in Exodus, and say to Pharaoh in Brussels — LET MY PEOPLE GO,” he wrote, leaving some room however for possibly supporting her deal.
What happens to her premiership if parliament favors a more EU-friendly Brexit that contradicts her policies is unclear.
Parliament is thought most likely to rally around the idea of keeping Britain in a customs union with the EU or its single market.
Both of those policies contradict May’s position.
A customs union would keep Britain from striking its own trade agreements with non-EU countries.
A single market would require the government to go back on May’s promise to regain control of Britain’s borders and migration policy.