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US & Colombia Sign Free Trade Agreement
Page 1

Floreal 
Kniwear Cuts 800 Workers
Page 1

 27 Hurt in Factory Fire
Page 1

Burlington Coat's Fur Mistake
Page 1

History of Lingerie
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The American Red Cross

 December 15, 2006                                            Issue #183


10/24

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US & Colombia Sign    
Free-Trade Agreement 
The US has sealed a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia which aims to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.
Both countries have passed the agreement to their legislatures for approval after it was signed by deputy US Trade Representative John Veroneau and Colombian Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism Jorge Humberto Botero in Washington. 
The FTA promises to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to goods and services and expand trade between the two parties, said US Trade Representative Susan Schwab.
The agreement will offer new opportunities for US "businesses, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers," and provide Colombia with "permanent access to the US market, which will aid in sustaining real growth, creating more jobs and attracting new investment," said Veroneau.
The agreement has been endorsed by several US trade groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Association of Manufacturers and the National Council of Textile Organizations. 
The agreement will allow for duty- and quota-free access to both countries' textile markets, provided the products meet the agreement's rules of origin provisions. It will expand access for US providers to Colombia's services markets, such as in the financial sector. There will be greater protection in Colombia for intellectual property rights of US products and more protection for US patents and trademarks and more public access to Colombian government information about customs requirements.
In 2005, the US was Colombia's largest trading partner with two-way goods trade between the two countries amounting to US$14.3bn.


23/24  
Greenwood to Cut 160 
         Workers
Woven fabrics maker Greenwood plans to lay off 160 workers by February.
According to chief executive James Self, the layoffs will leave the company’s South Carolina plant with just 70 employees. 
115-year-old Greenwood shut two plants in 2001 and also eradicated 100 positions from the Matthews plant.
The company is family owned and makes fabrics for use in the apparel, home furnishings industrial and military markets. 



6/24   
  
Hanesbrands Cuts Supplier
           Contract
US intimate apparel maker Hanesbrands has axed a supplier contract in Bangladesh, blaming violations of working hours and pay conditions.
Officials from the company made two visits to the supplier, Harvest Rich Ltd, following accusations from by a human rights group that children as young as 11 were working long hours there.
Hanesbrands, said, however, that it found no indication of child labor on its five-day inspections. 
It also admitted that it had already decided it would stop buying underwear from the firm because it was switching to bigger suppliers.
But Harvest Rich was "deliberately keeping inaccurate records to conceal excessive working hours for employees, and delaying overtime payments to employees," according to a statement.



8/12 

Floreal Knitwear Cuts 800
         Workers
Mauritian manufacturer Floreal Knitwear has made 800 workers redundant and shuttered three production units.
Floreal is currently restructuring its operations, and took the decision because labor costs in Mauritius are higher than those in countries such as China and Bangladesh. 
"The latter are bringing strong pressure to bear on market prices and are making it difficult for the maintenance of production in a country like Mauritius, hence the reason why the greatest part of Floreal Knitwear`s production is located in its units in Madagascar," said sources. 



3/24                Photographed by J. Vrstal

    China Banned Residents 
From Wearing Counterfeit
          Items Abroad
The Chinese province of Jilin has banned its residents from wearing counterfeit clothes when they travel overseas to avoid being seen to flout intellectual property rights, according to local media. 
The north-eastern province’s government has also ordered citizens not to carry or send pirated goods to foreign countries. 
"Jilin government ... requests the carrying out of a strict crackdown and regulation of counterfeit goods and discs sent by post or carried overseas. Wearing counterfeit brands overseas is also not permitted," an official notice reportedly said. 
"Infringement of intellectual property rights in importing and exporting seriously damages the government's image."
Despite promises to tackle its booming trade in fake goods, pirated garments, CDs and other goods are still available widely on China's street markets.     

              
7/12
27 Hurt in Bangladesh
      Factory Fire
At least 27 garment workers were hurt as a result of a factory fire on Friday, December 5. 
The fire at the BHT plant in Naujore, Sadar Upazila, was caused by a short circuit, said sources.
The blaze also destroyed yarn and machinery. 


1/24
Protests at Concorde Plant
Workers from Saipan's largest garment production plant, Concorde
Garment Manufacturing Incorporated, have been protesting against plans to shut down the business. 
Many of the threatened workers traveled from China to take on their jobs. 
They have now ended a hunger strike in protest against the plans but some workers are still refusing to work until they get tax rebates owed to them plus reimbursement of recruiter fees.
Concorde said that it will shut down the plant in February, making it the twelfth Saipan factory to close since January, when quotas on textile shipments to the US ended.


11/24
Burlington Coat Advertised
      Real Fur As Fake

Burlington Coat Factory has admitted to selling a jacket trimmed with real fur which it had advertised as fake. 
The company claims it did not know the trim on the Baby Phat-branded jackets was made of real fur and has agreed to remove the garment from its stores.
It will also refund customers who bought the coat believing the fur was fake and has agreed to discuss its fur policy with The Humane Society of the US (HSUS). 
"We are pleased that Burlington Coat Factory is taking steps to remove its inaccurate advertisements," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS. 
"But HSUS is now asking Burlington to examine its entire policy of selling fur trim, given that fashionable and functional faux fur alternatives are readily available to the company. It's a matter of social responsibility and a concern for the welfare of animals."
The jackets contain internal labels stating that they are trimmed with raccoon and coyote fur from China. 
"Retailers often don't know what they are getting, and consumers often can't tell whether they are buying dog or raccoon, real or faux. Congress should pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act to ensure that all fur-trimmed garments are properly labeled and that consumers have the best product information available."
This is not the first occasion Burlington has been slammed for its use of fur. Back in 1998, it admitted to selling Chinese-produced parkas trimmed with dog fur which it claimed to have thought was coyote fur. 
Numerous retailers in the US and Europe have turned their backs on fur in the past few years. “Go to any high street and you won’t see fur on sale in the majority of shops,” Animal Aid campaigner Fiona Pereira said. 
But a handful of designers aside, fur has seen a large-scale resurgence on catwalks in recent seasons and has started spreading onto trims and into accessories.



 2/6
 
Laid Off Gina Form Bra Workers Receive Severance
Factory owner Clover Group has sealed a pay deal with workers at its closed Gina Form Bra Factory in Bangkok, Thailand. 
The workers, who made goods for companies including Limited Brands, had campaigned to keep the unionized factory open after learning Clover was planning to shut it down and shift production to China or Cambodia. 
Clover nevertheless shut the factory in October, but, after a long line of negotiations, has now agreed to pay all outstanding bonuses and legally required severance pay as well as about three-and-a-half months’ additional salary above the legal minimum severance pay for each worker. 
The total package was worth approximately $1.6M.
Though Clover Group always claimed to have offered and/or paid legally-mandated severance, the union insisted the company fulfill its outstanding contractual obligations, such as annual bonuses and seniority awards. 


 
                             
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