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$25M Fake Goods Seized
Page 1

Sri Lanka Increases Shipping Fees
Page 1

 Mothers Work Settles Lawsuit
Page 1

Self Cleaning Underwear
Page 1

Playboy Concept Boutique
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The American Red Cross

 January 15, 2007                                            Issue #185


12/24

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$25M Fake Goods Seized
Up to US$25m worth of fake clothes and shoes have been seized from a warehouse in California.
According to officials the haul included counterfeits of products by brands including Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, Rocawear and Enyce. 
The authorities are seeking out three people named on the warehouse lease, whom they believe owned the goods with an intent to distribute them in the US. 


1/24  
Sri Lanka Increases Shipping
              Fees
Sri Lanka's clothing exporters are protesting against the decision by shipping lines to increase fees for handling goods traveling out of the island by as much as 35%.
Starting January 1, the Terminal Handling Charge, or THC, for a 20ft container went up from US$115 to $155, while a 40ft container costs 32% more at $245.
"Time and again shippers have pointed out that this is a totally unconscionable and illegal charge and an anti-competitive practice resorted to by carriers to maintain their freight rates and avoid competition," JAAF, an apex body of the apparel industry, said.
More than 50% of the island's export earnings come from the $2.7bn garment industry, which has carved out a niche to turn out top quality apparel and exotic lingerie in quick time.
But faced with regional competition and out-priced by giants like China and India, Sri Lanka is under tremendous pressure to cut costs and is now falling behind in the global race, with exports to the US dropping 1% to $1.2bn.


8/24   
  
Mothers Work Settles Lawsuit
Citing the likelihood of lengthy and expensive litigation, Mothers Work, the Pennsylvania-based maternity apparel retailer, has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Miami office of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that alleged discrimination against its target market – pregnant women.
Mothers Work has instituted a “secret applicant” program through a third party to help it detect and end any discriminatory practices against pregnant women applying for positions in its stores.
The EEOC agreement required Mothers Work to institute a training program for its staff in Florida. The company said, however, that it would adopt the standards established by the agreement on a nationwide basis and disclose its practices to others in the retail industry. 
Both the “secret applicant” and training programs already are underway.
“I was shocked and upset at the allegations raised in this lawsuit and we vehemently deny the implication that as a company we have a policy to discriminate against pregnant women,” said Rebecca Matthias, who founded the company when she was pregnant and serves as its president. 
“Our business revolves around serving the apparel needs of pregnant women and we encourage having team members who are also pregnant and can provide first-hand product knowledge to our customers. 
“It is ridiculous to think we would try to discriminate against pregnant women. We have strict policies against any illegal employment practices and have a specific confidential hotline to report any potential issues related to discrimination. 
“Nonetheless,” she added, “I am horrified that certain individuals felt that someone who was employed by us discriminated against them. Therefore, we will further strengthen our training to keep any future discrimination from ever happening".
At the end of 2006, Mothers Work operated 1,594 retail locations, including 807 stores, under brands including Modern Maternity and A Pea in the Pod. It also offers the Oh Baby! By Motherhood collection at Kohl’s stores and on the Kohl’s web site through a licensing arrangement.



10/12 

Retailers Announce Workplace
         Standards
Retailers Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour and Metro say they have secured across-the-board workplace standards for employees, to tackle possible labor problems that could arise in global supply chains.
Led by CIES, an international association of food retailers and suppliers, the supermarket chains have been working with Swiss retailer Migros to develop a draft code of standards called the Global Social Compliance Program.
The code includes standards taken from existing codes of ethics. It also details plans to standardize differing monitoring initiatives in order to prevent 'audit fatigue'.
However, proposals have been met with a cautious response from some labor rights groups.
Labor Behind the Label spokesperson Martin Hearson said: "We think the program is not really necessary. All the work they are talking about in the fashion sector is already out there, through the ETI (Ethical Trading Initiative) and JO-IN (Joint Initiative on Corporate Accountability and Workers Rights).
"The corporate effort adds nothing to the process but takes away accountability from the retailers. It is a talking shop more than anything else, and deflects criticism from people like us."


5/24              Photographed by Scott Johnson
JA Apparel's Fast Fashion
             Center
Garment maker JA Apparel Group has bucked the industry-wide trend of US plant closures by opening a new distribution centre at its New Bedford, Massachusetts factory.
The center's proximity to the site’s production facility is aimed at providing a quick response to the requirements of retailers who place orders for its Joseph Abboud lifestyle brand.
Referring to the ‘fast fashion’ ethic that the plant abides to, president and CEO Marty Staff said: "Historically it can take as long as 12 weeks to make a fine tailored men's suit, particularly if labor is being done overseas. 
"But our workers are beginning to embrace our 'lean manufacturing' techniques and we continue to find ways to shorten the amount of time it takes to manufacture our suits and deliver them to retailers and customers."
Staff added: "The New Bedford facility helps ensure that we are responding rapidly to the needs of our customers, which gives us a unique competitive advantage. This factory is really the heart of our company."
'Lean Manufacturing' is a process that originates from Japanese firms such as Toyota Motor Corp. The goal of the process is to eliminate waste and promote efficiency by empowering workers to learn a variety of separate skills.
According to JA Apparel, the new distribution centre trims the time it takes to make and ship suits by seven days. 
Up to 1,200 suit jackets and 950 pairs of trousers are made daily at New Bedford factory.
The company says the plant also shows its commitment to its US workforce. 
And Bruce S Raynor, general president of union Unite Here, said the unionized workers at the plant are pleased to see their partnership with the firm is prospering.

              
9/12
 
Tirupur Ends Strike
More than 650 of Tirupur’s dyeing and bleaching units have ended a week-long strike against a pollution fine.
The units returned to work following Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s pledge to pursue the issue, a report said. 
The Madras High Court had previously announced a fine on pollution caused by the release of waste into the Noyyal river. 


3/24
Self-Cleaning Underwear 
Self-cleaning fabrics could revolutionize the sport apparel industry. The technology, created by scientists working for the U.S. Air Force, has already been used to create t-shirts and underwear that can be worn hygienically for weeks without washing. 
The new technology attaches nanoparticles to clothing fibers using microwaves. Then, chemicals that can repel water, oil and bacteria are directly bound to the nanoparticles. These two elements combine to create a protective coating on the fibers of the material. 
This coating both kills bacteria, and forces liquids to bead and run off. 
The U.S. military spent more than $20 million to develop the fabric, deriving from research originally intended to protect soldiers from biological weapons. 
Jeff Owens, one of the scientists who worked to develop the process, said, "During Desert Storm, most casualties were from bacterial infections—not accidents or friendly fire. We treated underwear for soldiers who tested them for several weeks and found they remained hygienic. They also helped clear up some skin complaints." 


13/24
Arab Women Asking for
Female Assistance in Shops
Arab women are upset with the presence of male salespersons in shops selling items like clothing and lingerie. 
The women say that they have asked concerned authorities to rectify the situation but to no avail. Just before Eid, the problem raised its head once again as women shoppers out to buy clothes for the festival, constantly came face-to-face with male salespersons. 
And once again, they are appealing to the authorities to ensure that female sales clerks are present at stores dealing exclusively in ladies' items. 
A certain section is particularly upset as in many cases, Arab men are behind the counters at these shops. 
One woman stated: "It is known that women like to shop a lot. But we are disturbed to see male shop assistants in women's stores. This is especially more embarrassing if the man happens to be an Arab." 
Another said she prefers to shop for clothes and intimate apparel at the malls and shopping complexes simply because female staff are on hand. "I find it easier to buy in these places instead of going to the traditional shops which depend on male sales clerks, whether Arab or Asian." 
They find it shocking that a man would be working in a store meant exclusively for women. "It is a nuisance and has prevented me from going shopping many times. Commercial complexes, too, should have a separate area for women's shops which only women should be allowed to enter." 
They say there is a need for a drive to have more female sales assistants. 
"There are some places which have both males and females. I feel there should be stores strictly for females with trained assistants running the show. Having males around can be especially embarrassing when buying undergarments." 
One Woman said she always ended up in a fight with her husband after visiting shops where male sales clerks are present. 
"Every year I fall into a problem with my husband. The latest fight was this Eid. I had gone to a shop to buy a sports outfit and when I entered the store, the sales clerk was an Arab male." 
She continued: "I took what I needed and when I asked the man for a discount as the price was very high, he started laughing and started whispering to me." 
She said her husband immediately brought her away from the shop. "I wonder why there are no female salespeople for stores that cater exclusively to women,' she said. 


 4/6
****  A friend is like a good bra. 
Hard to find. Supportive. Comfortable. Always lifts you up, never lets you down and never leaves you hanging. 
And is always close to your heart. ****


 
                             
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