By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Swedish fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) said it was collaborating with trade unions, government as well as the U.N. to improve workers' conditions after a study found violations in supplying garment factories in India and Cambodia. The study by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) found workers stitching clothes for H&M in factories in Delhi and Phnom Penh faced problems such as low wages, fixed-term contracts, forced overtime and loss of job if pregnant. The AFWA, a coalition of trade unions and labour rights groups, accused the Western high street retailer of failing on its commitments to clean up its supply chain. An official from H&M told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Saturday that the fashion firm has been working actively to improve the lives of textile workers for many years. "The report raises important issues and we are dedicated to contribute to positive long-term development for the people working in the textile industry in our sourcing markets," said Thérèse Sundberg from H&M's press and communications department. "The issues addressed in the report are industry wide problems. They are often difficult to address as an individual company and we firmly believe that collaboration is key." H&M has partnered with the International Labour Organization, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency as well as global and local trade unions to seek out solutions, she added in an emailed statement. The fashion industry has come under increasing pressure to improve factory conditions and workers' rights, particularly after the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh three years ago, when 1,136 garment workers were killed. FORCED OVERTIME, SACKED FOR PREGNANCY The study, which surveyed 50 Indian workers from five factories and 201 Cambodians workers from 12 factories from August to October 2015. It found that overtime in all the factories was expected by employers. Cambodian workers reported they had to do two hours of overtime daily, while Indian workers reported working at least 9 hours to 17 hours a day. "Workers are routinely required to work until 2 a.m. in order to meet production targets — and then to report to work at 9 a.m.," it said, referring to workers in Indian factories. "The financial imperative of working overtime due to the persistence of minimum wage standards below living wage standards can be viewed as a form of economic coercion that leads to involuntary or forced overtime," it added. The study also found that fixed-term contracts were being used in 9 of the 12 Cambodian and all Indian factories surveyed. These contracts facilitate arbitrary termination and deprive workers of job security, pension, healthcare, seniority benefits and gratuity, say activists. Workers also reported discrimination in maternity benefits in both the Indian and Cambodian factories, said the study. Cambodian workers from 11 of the 12 factories reported either witnessing or experiencing termination of employment during pregnancy, while Indians from all five factories said women were fired during their pregnancies, said the study. "Permanent workers report being forced to take leave without pay for the period of their pregnancy," it said. "Contract, piece rate and casual workers reported that although most of the time they are reinstated in their jobs after pregnancy, they receive completely new contracts that cause them to lose seniority." H&M's Sundberg said solving all these issues was a long-term process which continues "step-by-step" and that the Swedish retailer was committed to improving labour rights in its supplying factories. "The continued presence of long-term, responsible buyers is vital to the future development of countries such as Cambodia and India, and we want to continue to contribute to increased improvements in these markets," said Sundberg. (Reporting by Nita Bhalla; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)
- Business Insider
Trump says he is 'beyond seriously' considering 2024 presidential run, but can't discuss it for legal reasons
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- The Independent
Police has claimed that more than one weapon was used at the birthday party in which nine sustained gunshot wounds
A 47-year-old American golfer has been on a blistering tear since convincing his son to be his caddie
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Sony admits it made the 'wrong decision' and will now keep storefronts open for classic PlayStation games after fans complained
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he was prepared to send his military ships in the South China Sea to "stake a claim" over oil and mineral resources in the disputed part of the strategic waterway. With some critics complaining Duterte had gone soft by refusing to push Beijing to comply with an arbitration ruling, he said the public can be assured he would assert the country's claims to resources like oil and minerals in the South China Sea. Duterte has sought to build an alliance with China and has been reluctant to confront its leadership, having been promised billions of dollars of loans and investments, much of which have yet to materialise, frustrating nationalists.
- The Telegraph
The Duke of Sussex will return to California without having a private meeting with his father, The Telegraph understands. Many family members had hoped the pair would take the opportunity to spend some time together alone, to air their differences face to face. But despite a 10,000-mile round trip, the Duke was either unable, or unwilling, to pin down the Prince of Wales, who is still coming to terms with the death of his father. While the Duke’s travel plans have not been disclosed, he is thought likely to return home to his pregnant wife, the Duchess of Sussex, 39, and their son Archie, who turns two next month, within the next day or two. The lack of any time spent with his father suggests that feelings over his Oprah Winfrey interview are still running high and the fallout remains raw.
The Ingenuity drone completes the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another world.
- USA TODAY
"I am looking at it very seriously, beyond seriously," former President Donald Trump told Sean Hannity about running for president in 2024.
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Just moments after the jury had exited the courtroom on Monday to begin deliberations in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the defense attorney pushed for a mistrial over its coverage.
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Bernie Sanders says Putin is murdering Navalny 'in front of the world' for exposing the Russian president's 'vast corruption'
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- The Independent
Asian American CNN producer zip-tied by Minnesota police and asked if she can speak English, lawyer says
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- Business Insider
"Losing this many intelligence officers will reduce the amount of activity and capabilities of the Russians," said the central European official.
European soccer's governing body UEFA led a backlash against plans for a breakaway Super League on Monday, saying associated players and clubs could be banned from its competitions - including three of this season's Champions League semi-finalists. Addressing an emergency meeting the day after 12 of Europe's top clubs announced the new league, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin described the Super League plan as a "spit in the face" of all football lovers. Three of the 12 clubs in the new league - Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea - could be withdrawn from this season's Champions League semi-finals, UEFA executive committee member Jesper Moller told Danish broadcaster DR.
- The Telegraph
Sir Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and Chris Martin have joined forces with 150 other major artists to demand the Prime Minister reform the law on royalties paid from music streaming. The musicians have written to Boris Johnson calling for regulations that protect performer and songwriter revenues when their music is played on the radio to be extended to streaming platforms. They point out that “songwriters earn 50 per cent of radio revenues, but only 15 per cent in streaming”, while session musicians receive nothing at all from streams. Artists can receive as little as £0.002 per stream, which means they could receive just £2,000 for a million streams. Copyright legislation, which came into force almost two decades before the birth of streaming platform Spotify, has failed to keep pace with technological advances and listening habits, the musicians argue. They note that streaming has soared by 22 per cent during the pandemic and that streaming giants have seen revenues rise. The industry brings in revenue of £1billion a year in the UK. In their letter, they suggest that only two words – "otherwise than" – need to be removed from a section in the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, "so that today’s performers receive a share of revenues, just like they enjoy in radio”. The 153 signatories, including Paloma Faith, Noel Gallagher, Bob Geldof and Kate Bush, state: “There is evidence of multinational corporations wielding extraordinary power and songwriters struggling as a result.” A new regulator should be created “to ensure the lawful and fair treatment of music makers” and the industry should be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority, they say. The letter is backed by the Musicians’ Union and the Ivors Academy, collectively representing tens of thousands of UK performers, composers and songwriters. Their intervention comes amid an inquiry by MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee into the economics of music streaming, which is set to report within weeks. The Commons committee, which has taken evidence from acts including music giant Nile Rodgers and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, has heard how successful pop artists have struggled to afford their rent and have driven Ubers to stay afloat. The UK heads of a series of record labels, including Warner Music and Sony Music, defended the streaming industry in evidence to the MPs, but admitted that some artists have been left behind. Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said: “By tightening up the law so that streaming pays like radio, we will put streaming income back where it belongs – in the hands of artists. It’s their music so the income generated from it should go into their hands.” Tom Gray of the band Gomez, who last year founded the #BrokenRecord campaign that calls for structural reform of the music industry, said: “Billions go to a few foreign corporations while, commonly, musicians and songwriters are experiencing financial difficulty. This letter is fundamentally about preserving a professional class of music-maker into the future.” 'This small change would mean so much to so many' By Ed Barker In 1917, US Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “if music did not pay, it would be given up.” This is exactly what we are risking with today’s music streaming market. Today we all listen less and less to radio, and we stream more and more music. And the pace of this change has quickened during lockdown, with streaming soaring by 22 per cent as the whole world moved online during the pandemic. One reason I’m both a professional musician and a Conservative is my strong philosophical commitment to property rights, understanding how they can foster enterprise, creativity and growth. Streaming has created huge opportunities for musicians and is replacing radio as the main form of communication, but because the law has not kept up with technology, musicians aren’t receiving the income from it. The Copyright Act was passed in 1988, 18 years before Spotify was born and when streaming was a thing of the future. Whilst it protects musicians when their work is played on radio, it doesn’t do the same for streaming, meaning that musicians only get a tiny fraction of the royalties – around a tenth of a US cent per stream on Spotify, for example. Streaming needs to be classified so that it pays like radio too. The listener has exactly the same experience whether the music arrives via the airwaves or optic cables, yet this difference means that artists receive much less for their output. This, of course, matters to musicians – it’s their livelihoods. But it should matter to listeners too. If we allow this market failure to continue, musicians won’t invest their time, talent and energy into creating music any more. The vast bulk of the money generated by music streaming ends up in the pockets of record labels, streaming platforms and digital giants – huge multinational corporations – rather than in the hands of the artists. And these multinational giants have done very well out of the pandemic. YouTube’s yearly revenue went up in 2020 by £2.8billion by around a fifth, Spotify’s gross revenue went up by around 15 per cent, and Sony and Universal’s recorded music streaming revenues went up by around a fifth.
- Miami Herald
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Israel has registered eight cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India and believes that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is at least partially effective against it, an Israeli health official said on Tuesday. An initial seven cases of the Indian variant were detected in Israel last week among people arriving from abroad and who have since undergone preliminary testing, the Health Ministry said. "The impression is that the Pfizer vaccine has efficacy against it, albeit a reduced efficacy," the ministry's director-general, Hezi Levy, told Kan public radio, saying the number of cases of the variant in Israel now stood at eight.
- Associated Press
To the prosecution, the witnesses who watched George Floyd ’s body go still were regular people — a firefighter, a mixed martial arts fighter, a high school student and her 9-year-old cousin in a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Love” — going about their daily lives when they happened upon the ghastly scene of an officer kneeling on a man’s neck. “Normal folks, the bystanders,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell called them in his opening statement. “You’re going to see these bystanders, a veritable bouquet of humanity.”
Damian Lewis wrote a tribute to his late wife, Helen McCrory, for The Sunday Times. The "Peaky Blinders" and "Harry Potter" actress died of cancer.