Possible Port Strike in US The body representing US retailers and importers has warned of "devastating implications" for the retail
industry if the breakdown in contract talks earlier in December, leads to a coast-wide port shutdown.
Contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen's Association and the United States
Maritime Alliance broke down on December 18, leading to fears of widespread work stoppages at 15 container
ports along the East and Gulf coasts from December 30.
"It is imperative that both sides verbally announce their intentions to return to the negotiations," said
Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation (NRF).
"A coast-wide port shutdown would have a significant impact across all businesses and industries that rely
on the ports, particularly retail.
"The last thing the economy needs right now is another strike, which would impact all international trade and
commerce at the nation's East and Gulf Coast container ports. This is truly a 'container cliff' in the
The group is again calling on President Obama to get involved in the negotiations to eliminate the threat of
a strike or lockout.
The NRF warns that a port strike or lockout "would impact every importer and exporter who relies these
ports to move their commerce."
For retailers, this means shipments of spring and summer merchandise, such as shoes and swimwear could be
Russia Trade Bill Approved The US Senate has approved legislation granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia and
Moldova, lifting a long-standing restriction on trade.
The move will allow US companies to benefit from Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization
(WTO) in August - providing them with greater access to new Russian customers and stronger protection to address
trade disputes under the rules-based global trading system.
"The United States strongly supported Russia's accession to the WTO, because it is in the interest of
our exporters and the Americans they employ to bring Russia more fully into the global trading system," said
US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
"With the signing of this legislation, American businesses and workers are closer to enjoying the full
economic benefits of Russia's WTO commitments."
Fashion Photo Brandy is wearing
Oh la la Cheri Photo by Jerome Hamilton of Studio Time Photography
If you would like more information about Fashion Photo or would like to be included in the McPete Sez Fashion Photo contact Jerome Hamilton at
Studio Time Photography firstname.lastname@example.org
17/24 Esty Lingerie Launches Black Magic
Esty Lingerie has launched its fourth collection, Black Magic, which is a luxurious blend of satins and laces in a classic black and gold colour combination. Article Continued on page
ILRF Accuses Retailers of Hiding Problems
In the wake of recent factory fires in Bangladesh and Pakistan that have killed hundreds of workers, a US-based
labor rights group has accused apparel buyers of hiding problems identified in audits.
The claims from the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) also suggest major US apparel companies ignore
best fire safety practices.
In a 60-page report titled 'Deadly Secrets', ILRF says that since 1990 over 1000 workers have died in
preventable factory fires and other unsafe workplace incidents in Bangladesh alone.
Over 700 of those deaths have occurred since 2005, it says, adding that 60% of Bangladesh's garment factories
lack adequate fire-fighting tools and many factories do not have emergency exits.
"The report calls for a new openness in the garment industry, where companies share what they know about
dangerous workplaces and workers can speak up and organize to protect themselves," says its author Bjorn
"When workers report their safety concerns to management and visiting auditors, all too often they go
unheard," adds Judy Gearhart, executive director of the ILRF.
"Worker safety is a two-part problem: half building infrastructure and half whether or not workers' voices
are heard when they see safety risks or imminent danger. The programs of companies like Gap, JCPenney
and Walmart ignore the key element of worker participation that is essential to saving lives."
Although Bangladeshi law and codes of conduct of global brands and retailers guarantee workers' right to
organize and bargain collectively for better conditions, workers and worker advocates who demand
their rights often become targets of repression, the report notes.
They may face arbitrary detentions, arrests and criminal proceedings on the basis of spurious charges,
and they sometimes endure beatings or threats to their physical safety. In April,
labor organizer Aminul Islam was tortured and assassinated.
ILRF is calling on apparel companies to help put a stop to garment factory fires in South Asia by sharing their
knowledge about workplace hazards openly, paying sufficient prices to factories for necessary building
repairs, and respecting the voices of workers.
Last month, 112 workers died in a garment factory fire in Bangladesh and two months prior 262 workers died in
a garment factory fire in Pakistan. Both factories produced clothes for major western retailers. Click here to view a copy of the 'Deadly Secrets'
H&M Accused of Using
Fashion retailer H&M Hennes and Mauritz has come under pressure to break ties with clothing suppliers that buy
cotton from Uzbekistan, where large quantities of the fiber are produced using forced and child
Anti-Slavery International said that despite pledging not to source Uzbek cotton, H&M is refusing to take
steps to guarantee no companies in its supply chain "profit from slavery in Uzbekistan".
According to the human rights group, around 90% of Uzbek cotton is harvested by hand, with half of all
cotton picked by state-sponsored forced labor and children as young as nine forced to work for up to
three months a year to fill the shortfall in voluntary adult labor.
The country is the sixth largest producer of cotton in the world, and the third largest exporter, earning over
US$1bn through the export of around 850,000 tons of cotton each year.
According to the charity, Korean conglomerate Daewoo International runs three large cotton processing
facilities in Uzbekistan. Daewoo processes cotton from all over the world, and sells cotton yarn and clothing
to apparel companies, which means it is difficult to know which products come from Uzbekistan.
While H&M has pledged not to buy cotton from Uzbekistan, and denies that it buys clothes from Daewoo
International, the cotton processing company has told the South Korean press that it does sell to the Swedish
apparel giant, Anti-Slavery International said.
Responding to the claims, a spokesperson from H&M said that it has worked actively for "many years" to
eliminate Uzbek cotton from its supply chain.
"Our company policy prohibits the use of Uzbek cotton in our products which is also communicated to all our
suppliers. In order to support a more sustainable cotton industry we joined Better Cotton Initiative and
Textile Exchange in 2004.
"We are working continuously to improve traceability of the cotton used for our products and we aim for all
cotton to come from more sustainable, fully traceable sources by 2020 at the latest.
"For the last two years in a row we have been the biggest buyer of organic cotton according to Textile
Exchange," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson emphasized that the retailer signed a pledge facilitated by the Responsible Sourcing Network
to not knowingly use Uzbek cotton. It plans to strengthen this commitment in the near future, calling
on its suppliers to sign similar pledges.
"The suppliers that don't sign the commitment will not be allowed to work with H&M," the spokesperson added.
EU Pushes to Lift Trade Barriers with Burma
The trade group representing the foreign trade interests of European retailers, importers and brand
companies is urging the European Parliament to open European markets to Burmese products "without delay".
The call comes after the European Commission in September took a step towards reinstating trade
preferences for Burma/Myanmar, in a move that would give products such as clothing duty- and quota-free
access to the European market for the first time since 1997.
The plan is to bring the country back under the so-called 'Everything But Arms' trade regime, which is
part of the EU's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). It applies to Burma because it is classified as
a Least Developed Country (LDC) by the United Nations.
However, the decision to grant GSP to Myanmar is still pending approval by the European Parliament.
"Trade is crucial to open the country to the world and ensure the efforts made towards an improved political
and labor environment will have long lasting effects," said FTA director general Jan
Football Wedding Two guys are talking about their boss's upcoming wedding. One says, "It's ridiculous, he's rich, but he's 93 years old, and she's just 26! What kind of a wedding is that?"
The other says, "Well, we have a name for it in my family."
"What do you call it?"
"We call it a football wedding."
The first asks, "What's a football wedding?"
The other says, "She's waiting for him to kick off!"