UPDATED 24/25 January 2015:
10:36:21 local time BANGLADESH
20150125 * Fire burns down garment factory, hits residential building too:
At least four people were injured while dousing the fire
A devastating fire broke out at Kader Synthetic and Compact Spinning Mill at Konabari BSCIC industrial area in Gazipur city damaging its machineries, threads and clothes yesterday morning.
Firemen could not say how the fire had started.
They however assumed that it might have originated from an electric short circuit inside the AC panel room on the ground floor around 7:30am and then it engulfed the entire building.
Twelve firefighting units from Gazipur, Kaliakoir,Dhaka EPZ of Savar and Tongi rushed there and were able to douse the fire in six hours of frantic efforts.
The fire also spread to a nearby four-storey residential building, which workers and locals were able to control before it went out of control.
At least four people were injured while dousing the fire.
20150125 * Apparel factory catches fire in Gazipur:
At least two workers were injured while trying to douse fire at apparel factory Kader Synthetic and Compact Spinning Mill at Konabari BISIC industrial area in Gazipur city on Saturday.
Sixteen units of fire service doused the fire that started at about 7:15am after about six hours at about 2:00pm.
Two committees were formed by Gazipur district administration and fire service to investigate the fire incident.
Fire service sources said that the fire originated at the ground floor of the two-storied building and at once spread to the whole area including the first floor.
Sixteen units of fire service from Savar EPZ, Kaliakair, Joydevpur, Tongi , Mirzapur and Dhaka headquarters rushed the spot to douse the fire.
The fire fighting activity was hampered due to shortage of water, fire service officials said.
The flame spread to an adjacent four storied residential building used by the officials of the factory. Two of the workers injured while they tried to control the fire.
read more. & read more.
20150124 * Fire at Gazipur textile mill:
A fire broke out at a textile mill at Konabari in Gazipur city this morning.
None was hurt in the fire that broke out at the two-storey building of Kader Synthetic Factory at 8:05am and soon spread to an adjacent residential building, said sources at Fire Service and Civil Defence.
All the residents of the four-storey building have been evacuated, our Gazipur correspondent reports quoting Akhtaruzzaman Liton, deputy assistant director of Gazipur fire station.
On information, 10 firefighting units rushed to the spot and are trying to put out the flame till 12:30pm when the report was filed.
Reason behind the fire and extent of the damage could not be known immediately.
read & see more. (video report).
20150124 * Gazipur fire controlled after 7 hours:
Fire Service personnel brought it under control around 1:45pm on Saturday, Gazipur Fire Service Assistant Deputy Director Md Akhteruzzaman said.
No casualties were reported but the Kader Synthetic and Compact Spinning Mill management anticipated huge losses.
Swapan Biswas, security supervisor of the mill, said the devastating fire originated from the air conditioner switch control room in the morning.
People rushed out of the factory as soon as the ground floor was seen on fire, he said.
read & see more.
20150124 * Fire guts a factory in Gazipur:
A fire broke out at a synthetic factory of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) industrial area at Konabari on Saturday morning.
According to fire service officials, the fire originated at Kader Synthetic Fibers Limited around 7:00pm and soon engulfed the entire factory.
Till filing this report at 13:24, the fire was burning. A total of 12 units of Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) are trying to douse the blaze.
FDCS director (operation and maintenance) Major Shakil Newaj Khan has arrived in the spot to lead the operation.
Shakil told the journalists on the spot that 12 units were working to bring the fire under control and four more units will also be added.
20150124 * Garment factory catches fire in Gazipur:
The fire might have originated from an electric short circuit inside the AC panel room, says factory security supervisor
A fire has broken out at a garment factory in Konabari area of Gazipur Industrial belt on Saturday morning.
Factory Security Supervisor Swapan Bishwas said the fire broke out on the ground floor of Kader Synthetic and Compact Spinning Mill around 7:15am and soon engulfed the entire building.
He said: “The fire might have originated from an electric short circuit inside the AC panel room.”
Akhtaruzzaman Liton, deputy assistant director of Gazipur Fire Service, said “On information, 17 firefighting units from Tongi, Kaliakoir, Joydebpur went to the spot and trying to douse the blaze.
The extent of damage caused by the fire could not be estimated immediately. No report of casualty has been filed till writing the report at 12 noon.
to read. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150124 * Workers to get injury insurance:
Bangladesh’s workforce and industry would benefit from the establishment of an employment injury insurance (EII) scheme according to specialists of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Speaking at a Stakeholders Workshop on Employment Injury Insurance Programmes today, Anne Drouin, chief of the ILO Social Protection Department of Geneva, said, “An employment injury system for the RMG sector is the most cost effective and socially responsible way to enhance Bangladesh’s reputation and competitive advantage in the RMG sector while allowing workers to be free of worry should they face an accident at work.”
She said, “An employment injury insurance scheme would spread the risks arising from accidents across all RMG enterprises. Everyone could be protected for less than 3 BDT (0.04 USD) per work-day per worker at the minimum wage. This is a sound investment for the RMG sector that will help attract further buyers.”
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150124 * No tannery at Hazaribagh after March: Amu:
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu today said the government would not allow any tannery industry at Hazaribagh after March.
“The government would shutdown all establishments at Hazaribagh if tannery industries are not shifted at Savar within the stipulated period,” he said while speaking as the chief guest at a seminar in the city.
Board of Investment (BoI) organsied the day-long seminar on “Leather and Leather Products: Prospective Industries after Readymade Garment” with its executive chairman Dr SA Samad in the chair.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150125 * Labour leaders call for adequate compensation:
Garment labour leaders on Saturday at a human chain demanded adequate compensation for the Rana Plaza victims and punishment of the owners of the building on charge of killings the workers.
More than 1,300 people, most of whom were garment workers, were killed in the building collapse at Savar Bus Stand in Savar. Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati formed a one hour human chain in front of the collapsed building at Savar Bus Stand at 11:00am to press home their demands.
Family members of the affected workers also attended. Taslima Akhter, the coordinator of the organisation, alleged that family members of the affected workers did not get adequate compensation so far.
She called on the owners of factories, the government and buyers to come forward and provide adequate compensation to family members of the affected workers.
12:36:21 local time CHINA
20150122 * Migrant workers struggling to be paid:
Chinese Labor authorities have launched an overhaul of annual wage payments to ensure the millions of migrant workers in this country are properly paid before they return home for Chinese New Year’s.
“Right now we can only afford our meals, and there are no more wages.”
“We are from Guizhou, and all our family members are waiting here. Right now, there is no electricity or water. Every night, our kids are crying and screaming until midnight.”
These are migrant workers from different construction teams in an abandoned construction site in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
A year ago, the project they were working on to build a vocational school was abruptly suspended, leaving them unpaid.
This is just one of many construction sites across China where migrant workers are still waiting to be paid-in-full before the Spring Festival, which this year falls on February 19th.
20150121 * Employers plan to raise salaries:
Around 20 percent of employers in China plan to offer their employees’ a salary increase of more than 10 percent in 2015, Hays, a global recruitment services provider, said in a report on Wednesday.
The report said that 50 percent of the surveyed employers in China have increased employee salaries by 6-10 percent in 2014.
Also, 36 percent of the surveyed management positions in China are taken by women, higher than Asian average of 29 percent, said the report.
11:36:21 local time VIET NAM
20150123 * Foreign textile firms reel out new investments in anticipation of TPP:
Foreign enterprises are ramping up their investments in Vietnam’s textile and garment sector in preparation of the potential Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Two foreign-invested firms would add nearly $180 million in the total investment capital to their projects in Ho Chi Minh City.
Director of Worldon Vietnam Ma Jianrong said that his company would expand its production capacity with an increase of $160 million in the investment capital. In 2014, the company was granted an investment certificate to make high-class products for well-known brands like Uniqlo, Nike, Adidas and Puma.
The company developed a garment facility covering 45 hectares in the second city’s Cu Chi Southeast Industrial Park, including a centre for fashion design and garment manufacturing.
“In light of a favourable investment environment and positive forecasts for production, the company decided to raise its investment capital from $140 million to $300 million,” said Jianrong.
Meanwhile, the Korean-based Nobland announced that it would invest an additional $18 million in its factory in the city’s Tan Thoi Hiep Industrial Zone, an increase of $61 million in the company’s current investment capital.
Nobland first entered Vietnam in 2002 with a $3-million garment plant equipped with 15 production lines. After 12 years, the company’s investment in the country has reached $43 million and they currently run three factories, with the annual total output of 74 million products.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 23/1. (13th item).
20150122 * Garment sector targets $3b S Korea exports:
Vietnamese garment and textile companies are targeting total export turnover of an estimated US$3 billion to South Korea this year, Viet Nam Investment Review reported yesterday.
Total export turnover of Viet Nam’s textile and garment sector to Korea reached US$2.4 billion last year, an increase of 27 per cent compared to 2013.
The highest growth was seen in jackets, overcoats, suits and male and female trousers.
South Korea is Viet Nam’s fourth-largest textile and garment export market.
read more. & read more.
20150121 * Vinatex to make more materials in bid to reduce use of imports:
The Viet Nam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) will invest most of its capital in material production projects in a move to reduce dependence on imports.
Vinatex General Director Le Tien Truong said yesterday that Vinatex is investing in 51 projects, 29 of which are of yarn and knitting production.
This year, Vinatex is set to produce more than 100 million metres of clothing, which is expected to increase to 300 million metres in 2016, when a number of new yarn and knitting production projects will become operational.
Earlier, Vinatex had to import roughly 37 per cent of its materials required for production.
Truong said after equitisation, Vinatex will operate as a joint-stock company from February 1, and the firm will offer shares in 2017.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 21/1. (5th item). & read more.
20150118 * Vietnam urged to carefully consider new foreign textile/garment projects:
Vietnam in recent years has become an ideal destination for foreign textile & garment investors, especially the Chinese.
Of the four Chinese-invested textile & garment projects which have been licensed recently, two were in textile and dyeing. They were registered as Thien Nam Sunrise and Yulun Vietnam, with the latter receiving an investment certificate in March 2014.
In addition, the Rang Dong Industrial Zone (IZ) in Nghia Hung district of Nam Dinh province has been added to the national IZ development program. The IZ was developed by two Chinese companies Luenthai and Sanshui Jialida, and Vietnamese Vinatex Investment JSC.
Pham Chi Lan, a renowned economist, said she had heard from the Binh Duong provincial authorities during a recent working visit there that they had received over 200 applications for developing textile & garment projects in the province.
This prompted local authorities to build an industrial zone reserved specifically for textile & garment projects.
Lan warned that local authorities should think of restricting the number of textile and garment projects.
If there are too many projects in the field and the investors do not fulfill the commitments on environmental protection, a heavy burden will be put on local authorities’ and local residents’ shoulders.
20150118 * Interest on overdue wages an untested measure:
A new decree requiring the payment of interest on overdue salaries has been issued by the Government, but neither employers nor employees are sure how effective it will be.
The decree, which guides implementation of several Labor Code articles, says employers who have delayed paying salaries by 15 days or more will have to pay interest on the overdue salary at the rate fixed by the State Bank of Viet Nam for one-month deposits.
If the central bank does not stipulate such a rate, the interest on deposits paid by the commercial bank at which the employer has an account will apply.
No interest has to be paid on overdue salaries if the payment is less than 15 days late.
20150119 * Can Tho expects $118m from garment exports :
The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho has set to earn US$118 million from selling garments abroad in 2015, up 2.7 per cent over last year, thus bringing total exports of the city for the whole year to over $1.45 billion.
As part of efforts to fulfil the goal, the city would raise the rate of domestic materials in garment products to 55 per cent, while investing more in modernising garment production to increase quality of products, said Duong Nghia Hiep, Vice Director of the municipal Department of Industry and Trade.
At the same time, Can Tho would continue speeding up trade promotion activities to strengthen its trademark in both domestic and foreign markets, thus maintaining traditional markets and expanding to new ones, he said.
read more. & read more.
20150119 * Experts forecast garment, textile export target accessible this year:
Negotiations of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other free trade agreements (FTA) have been done and they are going to be signed this year, which experts say are an opportunity for the garment and textile industry to maintain its export growth momentum last year and obtain a turnover target of US$28-28.5 billion this year.
Last year the garment and textile export turnover reached nearly US$24.5 billion, an increase of 16 percent over 2013. Garment items brought US$21 billion up 17 percent while fibre products yielded US$3 billion.
The export turnover grew 12.5 percent to U.S. market, 17 percent to the EU and remained unchanged at 9 percent to Japan.
Vietnam has been the second largest exporter of garment and textile products to the U.S. for the last several years. The annual export turnover from Vietnam to U.S. market has grown 12-13 percent in recent years while the North American nation’s import value has grown only 3 percent.
These achievements were partly due to influences from free trade agreements.
Experts believed that these agreements will make the garment and textile industry’s export target accessible this year because they are directly related to the main export markets of Vietnam, for instance TPP with the U.S. and Japan and FTAs with the EU, South Korea, and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 19/1 (3th item).
20150117 * Ho Chi Minh City Targets US$700 Mln In Investment In IZs:
Ho Chi Minh City is targeting to lure US$700 million of investment into its industrial zones and export processing zones in 2015, said the management board of the city’s Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (Hepza).
According to the Head of Hepza Investment Management Office Tran Viet Ha, the zones attracted a total of US$752 million of investment in 2014, up 23 per cent compared to 2013, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
Vietnam will see a new investment wave in the time ahead, he predicted, citing forecast that the global garment and textile market will expand by 3.5 per cent this year and the expected conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TTP).
20150117 * Foreign firms expand their production line in Vietnam to gain benefits of TPP trade pact:
Foreign firm have started expanding their production line or starting production in Vietnam investing billions of U.S. dollars in anticipation of business opportunities the Trans-Pacific Partnership will bring which is due for completion in the near future.
Nobland Vietnam Co. Ltd., an apparel company based in Ho Chi Minh City plan to increase its investment to $61 million from $43 million, intending not only to receive more orders, but to grab the chance when Vietnam joins the TPP.
Under the plan, 24 new production lines are being installed, which will help increase the company’s capacity to 72 million of products a year from the current 64.2 million. Nobland Vietnam will also recruit 2,000 new employees to expand its workforce to 10,000, according to the general director.
Meanwhile, in the southern province of Binh Duong, Nam Phuong Textile Co. Ltd., a joint venture between Hong Kong’s Haputex Development Limited and Vietnamese Viet Huong JSC, is building a new plant to embrace the TPP.
The company began construction on the $120 million fabric making facility only 20 days after receiving an investment license in November 2014.
Nam Phuong Textile is expected to export 90 percent of its products to the U.S., and the remainder to Japan during its first phase of operation, which will begin late this year.
11:36:21 local time LAOS
20150120 * New minimum wage of $110 may take effect in Laos next month:
The promised increase of the national minimum wage, designed mainly to draw workers back from Thailand, may be officially introduced next month, according to Vientiane Times.
The daily quoted an anonymous official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as saying that the ministry is waiting for the official documents from the Government’s Office.
20150119 * Low wage earners awaiting pay rise in Laos:
Laos’lowest-paid workers will have to wait until next month at least for a planned pay rise of 43.7 percent, state-run media Vientiane Times reported Monday.
The minimum wage is set to rise to 900,000 kip (110.64 U.S. dollars) from 626,000 Lao kip (77 U.S. dollars) at present.
The increase is awaiting official assent and was likely be officially announced in February, an official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare was reported as saying.
11:36:21 local time CAMBODIA
20150122 * Garment Workers No Longer Pay Income Tax on Base Salary:
The Ministry of Economy and Finance has granted a series of tax exemptions to garment workers.
Workers are now excluded from income tax obligations to help them cover costs of commuting, lodging and meals.
The move, announced Tuesday, is part of a wider effort by the government to improve life for the nation’s 600,000 garment workers after a series of mass protest last year.
Union activists say the moves will contribute little to the poor living conditions of garment workers. There minimum monthly wage was increased Jan 1. by 28 percent, to $128.
“Benefits to garment workers are too small because the coverage of benefits is on travel and meals,” said Ath Thorn, director of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Worker of Democratic Union (CCAWDU). “Yet garment workers have not gotten a social security fund, costs for health insurance covered, infant support, and payment for the end of an employment contract.”
Mr. Thorn said that the tax exemptions apply to the minimum wage, but do not apply to money earned through overtime work. This means that a large portion of garment workers will have to pay income tax.
“If the reduction of taxation is made to cover overtime and the minimum wage, I think it is right thing that can help garment workers a lot,” he said.
Income tax has been levied from garment worker salaries since 2010.
20150123 * Justice still sought for Vichea:
On the 11th anniversary of labour leader Chea Vichea’s assassination yesterday, about 200 people attended a memorial service as many continued to call on authorities to find and arrest those responsible for Vichea’s 2004 murder.
Opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, along with the likes of Beehive Radio host Mam Sonando and Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, demanded that the government and police prioritise the investigation.
“Some [ministry] leaders are ageing, nearing the age of death,” said Chea Mony, Vichea’s brother who replaced him as president of the Free Trade Union (FTU). “But before they die, I ask them to find the murderers.”
read more. & read more.
20150122 * Unionists, opposition officials mark death of Chea Vichea:
Hundreds of trade unionists, workers and opposition officials on Thursday commemorated the 11th anniversary of the death of prominent labor leader.
Chea Vichea, leader of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia, was shot dead on January 22, 2004 by two gunmen while he was reading a newspaper at a newsstand near Wat Langka pagoda in Daun Penh district.
20150120 * CNRP to Screen Banned Film on Slain Union Leader Chea Vichea:
The opposition CNRP plans to screen the banned documentary film “Who Killed Chea Vichea?” this week to mark the 11th anniversary of the Free Trade Union (FTU) leader’s assassination in front of a newspaper stall in Phnom Penh on January 22, 2004.
CNRP public affairs director Mu Sochua announced on her Facebook page Tuesday that the film—which strongly suggests that the government was complicit in the unionist’s murder—would be screened at the opposition’s Phnom Penh headquarters at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
20150120 * Workers March for Reinstatement of Leaders:
Some 200 garment workers on Monday marched 7 km from their Kompong Cham province factory to the provincial labor department to deliver a petition demanding the reinstatement of three fired union representatives.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), led the striking workers from the Manhattan Textile and Garment Corp. factory in Kompong Siem district to the labor department, where officials refused to accept a petition, before moving on to the headquarters of the provincial government, where an official did receive the document.
The workers have been on strike since December 22 because the factory defied an Arbitration Council ruling ordering managers to allow three leaders of the Cambodia Alliance Trade Union, which is a member of the CCU, to return to work.
20150120 * CCU lends protesters to Manhattan factory strike:
Inserting himself into a strike at a garment factory in Kampong Cham province, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun led about 200 demonstrators to protest in front of the provincial labour department.
Thousands purportedly protested in front of the Manhattan garment factory last week, demanding the factory in the province’s Kampong Siem district reinstate three Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) representatives fired last year.
The Arbitration Council last year ruled the factory must rehire the CATU officials, but Manhattan ignored the decision. “The labour department officials did not come out of their office to meet with us,” Chhun said yesterday.
Neither Kampong Cham provincial labour department director Cheng Heang nor Manhattan factory officials could be reached for comment yesterday.
20150120 * FTU vows boycott of Arbitration CouncilFTU vows boycott of Arbitration Council:
One of Cambodia’s largest labour unions yesterday announced a boycott of the Arbitration Council, complaining that the labour disputes body disproportionately favours factories over unions and employees.
A letter to Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng dated yesterday and signed by Free Trade Union president Chea Mony says that because of perceived bias against workers, the FTU will no longer go through the arbitration process.
The union will instead take matters straight to court.
“We decided to boycott, to not use the Arbitration Council … until we see this Arbitration Council become independent and change their attitude,” Mony said yesterday.
20150121 * Edited quotes muddled our message:
I refer to the article in The Phnom Penh Post of January 20, “FTU vows boycott of Arbitration Council”, which we feel seriously misrepresents GMAC’s position on the Arbitration Council.
By publishing a heavily edited version of our response to your questions on the FTU boycott of the Arbitration Council, you have taken an editorial position which we believe is incompatible with your role as a respected newspaper presenting the news in a fair and balanced fashion.
In our response to your questions, we clearly explained that many of the cases forwarded to the Arbitration Council were mainly disputes on benefits neither stipulated in the law nor in collective agreements.
Such cases do not fit within the council’s mandate to rule. So for anybody to cry foul when the council declines to consider those points is disingenuous and shows a lack of understanding of the role mandated for the council.
Benefit disputes, such as demands for higher wages, more bonuses, etc, shall be resolved between management and workers at individual factories, because the council doesn’t own the money. The council does have the full mandate to rule regarding disputes about rights.
20150119 * Faintings up: Union report:
About 1,800 people fainted at work in 2014, roughly 1,000 more than the previous year, according to Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) statistics surveying multiple industries in the Kingdom.
Work-related deaths fell from about 96 in 2013 to 73 in 2014, while issues such as arrests and firings of workers rose, says a Thursday statement signed by Ath Thorn, president of the approximately 90,000-member confederation.
Data came from a mixture of reports from CLC members and official statistics from the National Police Department, National Social Security Fund and other government bodies, Thorn said yesterday.
“[There were] high number increases, especially the number of arrested,” Thorn said. “This year  people were arrested; I’m not including the people arrested in the Veng Sreng protest.”
Without including the 23 people arrested January 2 and 3 of 2014, when police and military authorities shot dead at least five people, the 32 cited in the statement were mostly arrested for participating in protests. Charges included incitement and violence, Thorn said.
20150117 * 73 workers dead in last year labor accidents:
73 factory workers died, and 4,737 others were injured in 800 cases of labor accidents in 2014, Cambodian Labor Confederation said in a statement.
Besides dead and injuries, some 1,800 workers fainted during their works because of bad environment in the factories, including smell of chemical, and overwork, said the statement issued Thursday.
6,715 had been ousted from their works last year, but 4,266 workers had been allowed to go back to work, the statement said.
23 workers had been imprisoned because being sued by their employers and government.
The Cambodian Labor Confederation requested government, National Assembly and other relation institutions to continue their attention on and help solve the problems for workers.
20150121 * TY Fashion to become third firm on bourse:
Taiwanese-owned garment manufacturer TY Fashion (Cambodia) Plc is targeting a midyear listing on the bourse following approval on Friday from the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), according to a press release from its underwriter, Phnom Penh Securities (PPS).
TY Fashion would be the third company and the second Taiwanese-owned garment firm to join the Kingdom’s fledgling bourse after Grand Twins International listed in June of 2013.
20150120 * BetterFactories Media Updates 20 January 2015, Workers March for Reinstatement for Leaders:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-01-20 Workers March for Reinstatement for Leaders
2015-01-20 Gov’t Meets With Landlords to Discuss New Electricity Scheme
* To read in the printed edition Raksmei Kampuchea (Khmer):
2015-01-20 Unions ready to work cooperatively with experts for an installment of new electricity scheme
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150119 * BetterFactories Media Updates 19 January 2015, Faintings up: Union report
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-01-19 Faintings-up: Union-report
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
12:36:21 local time INDONESIA
20150117 * Adidas apparel factory closes:
Garment factory PT Yee Woo, operating in the Tunas Industrial Zone in Batam, Riau Islands province, has reportedly discontinued operations and abandoned 305 of its employees.
Workers were shocked to find that the factory, which mostly produced Adidas-brand apparel, had been left behind by its management.
PT Yee Woo working unit coordinator from the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Unions (FSPMI), Heriyanto, told The Jakarta Post on Friday that the company, which had operated since 2005, was abandoned by its management without prior notice.
The workers, who have been waiting for salaries from Jan. 7, were stunned and could not believe the incident.
“We came to work on Monday and were shocked to find the condition of the factory, which was like just it had been robbed. Most of the production equipment, including laptop computers in the management office, was missing. We inspected the mess where seven of the expatriates were staying, but they were gone as well,” said Heriyanto.
11:06:21 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150119 * Myanmar conducts survey on minimum wage:
Myanmar is conducting survey on setting official minimum wage level for workers, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security said Monday.
In cooperation with the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar, the survey to collect information on daily expense of families, sizes of families, regional prize indices for basic commodities and income and the occupation of individual able-bodied family members is being carried out in 108 townships and is expected to complete by the end of February.
20150118 * Min wage not govt responsibility, says minister:
Fixing the minimum wage rates this year relies on an agreement between employers and employees, announced Aye Myint, union minister for labour, employment and social security.
The further points were to be discussed based on a survey of living costs, he added.
The minister said: “The government has to intervene in this matter. Up to now, no agreement has been reached. The gap between people’s living costs and their income is wide. It would remain unbalanced if one rate were fixed. Now we are conducting a nationwide survey on living costs.”
No consensus has been reached although the ministry has held about 30 meetings on fixing the minimum wages since 2013.
10:36:21 local time BANGLADESH
20150123 * Labour unrest closes Savar RMG factory:
The authorities of Birds Garments Ltd, a garment factory in Buribazar of Ashulia, yesterday shut down the factory for an indefinite period amid demonstration by workers demanding, among others, an increase in salary.
The workers tried to demonstrate in front of the factory after seeing the closure notice but were barred by police.
Talking to The Daily Star, Md Nizam, general manager (operation) of the factory, said they were forced to close the factory by the workers’ continuous demonstration.
20150123 * Govt to introduce labour insurance for workers:
State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu said on Thursday the government had taken initiatives to introduce labour insurance and build hospitals for welfare of the workers, reports BSS.
“We have taken steps to introduce group insurance for workers and their family members. I am hopeful to launce the insurance programme in full phase by 2016,” he said while speaking at a seminar on labour rights at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
The state minister said the government had taken initiatives to build a 20-storied hospital beside the main street in Tejgaon for workers and another hospital in Cashara in Narayanganj targeting the garments workers.
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20150121 * Garment owners urged not to terminate workers:
State Minister for Labour Mujibul Hoque Chunnu Tuesday called upon all concerned to remain alert against any possible untoward incidents in the country’s garment sector amid political turmoil.
He suggested the factory owners refrain from taking any sort of decisions including termination of workers which might fuel fresh labour unrest in the sector.
“Now the country is passing through a critical period. So, you should refrain from taking any unpleasant decisions so that the vested group can’t capitalize on it,” the minister said.
20150121 * Accord to inspect 200 more garment factories:
80,000 safety hazards detected
The Accord will inspect 200 more garment factories that were added to its list after completion of its initial assessment in September last, sources said.
On December 17 last, the Accord sought a proposal from the interested firms for carrying out fire, electrical and structural integrity assessment of 100 to 200 garment factories, they added.
Accord, the European Union-based group with over 190 members including H&M and Inditex, rolled out its initial safety inspection in February 2014 and completed assessment of some 1,103 factories in September last, they said.
Factories that were added by signatory companies to the Accord’s factory list after August 15 last year remained outside initial inspection purview.
The platform was formed to ensure workplace safety in the country’s apparel industry for a period of five years following the Tazreen and the Rana Plaza tragedies that killed more than 1,200 workers.
“We will hire engineering firms to inspect the additional newly-listed factories. The selection process is near completion and these inspections will commence within the next couple of weeks,” Rob Wayss, executive director of the Accord told the FE.
read more. & read more.
20150121 * ILO lauds RMG’s contribution to Bangladesh economy:
The readymade garment (RMG) sector of the country has been praised for its contribution towards the country’s recent robust economic growth.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a report made the appreciation, reports BSS.
The RMG, which suffered a big jolt from a building collapse in 2013, already made significant headway with support from the ILO and other development organisations and global retailers.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150116 * Fire in Ashulia apparel warehouse doused:
A fire which broke out at an apparel godown (warehouse) in Ashulia under Savar Upazila has been doused on Friday morning.
No casualty was reported.
The fire originated from an electric short circuit in the morning. Soon the fire engulfed a heap of jhut (scrap of fabrics) at the garment factory godown in the outskirts of Dhaka city.
The flame gutted the entire godown before two firefighting units rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after one-hour’s of hectic efforts with the help of local people. Locals said the fire originated at the warehouse around 8:00am and spread soon. Owner of the godown, Md Abdul Malek claimed that the extent of loss caused by the fire will be around Tk 1 million, according to a news agency.
20150117 * Fire Doors And Sprinklers Debut At Garment Factories In Bangladesh:
In April 2013, the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,100 workers employed in the garment factories in the building.
Now there’s an effort to make sure all garment factories are safe.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
On a spring morning almost two years ago, the Rana Plaza clothing factory collapsed in Bangladesh. One thousand, one hundred and ten people were killed. It was the deadliest garment factory disaster ever, and it revealed the dire working conditions of people who labor to provide cheap clothing for the rest of the world, including for us. Ever since, Bangladesh’s garment industry has been trying to improve its safety standards. Amy Yee reports from Dhaka.
AMY YEE, BYLINE:
Dozens of sewing machines buzz inside a shop floor of this garment factory near Dhaka. A young woman guides blue pajama pants under a whirring needle then carefully checks the length of the drawstring. This is Optimum Fashion Wear, a factory with about 400 workers that makes clothes for companies such as Store Twenty One in the U.K. and VF Corp, owner of brands such as Wrangler and Lee. Mohammed Ridoy, a bright-eyed 22-year-old, has worked here for three years. He is from a village about six hours from Dhaka and is one of the factory’s best workers.
MOHAMMED RIDOY: (Foreign language spoken).
YEE: He says, “After Rana Plaza collapsed,” he felt, “so afraid.”
20150118 * The Crucial Right To Justice – Bangladeshi Garment Workers:
The Bangladeshi Garment Industry has shown remarkable resilience over the years with strong growth in times of global financial hard times.
Some of the industry’s success is credited to its focus on low end garment whose demand remains strong in most economic conditions as it is cheap.
However, for Bangladesh to overcome China and beat competition from emerging South East Asian economies, it must aim for the high end clothing market with greater worker efficiency, better technology, and sustainable practices of our garment factories with increasing flexibility towards worker organization and empowerment.
With over 5% share of the Global Market for Garment Products, second only to China’s about 31% share of the same, Bangladesh is trying hard to take as much of the market as possible from China’s decreasing share.
Regardless of the growth and increased productivity, the standard of life and its security has not improved at equal rate for the garment workers, resulting in numerous death and injuries caused in factories all across the country.
20150119 * BB to refinance RMG factories in green scheme:
Currently, a total of 47 products in nine sectors are under the refinancing scheme benefit
Bangladesh Bank has incorporated garment factories into its green banking refinance scheme to reform, restructure and replace fire equipment in all garment factories for ensuring a good working environment and safety of workers.
The member organisations of Bangladesh Garment Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) and Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BTTLMEA) will be entitled to the scheme.
Bangladesh Bank issued a circular yesterday in this regard that will take immediate effect.
Currently, a total of 47 products in nine sectors are under the refinancing scheme benefit, said the circular.
read more. & read more.
20150123 * Exports to Canada drop:
The country’s exports to Canada dropped by 15.40 per cent during the first half of current fiscal year following some industrial accidents, coupled with devaluation of Canadian currency against US dollar.
The country fetched $471.26 million from Canada during the July-December period of fiscal year 2014-15, compared to $543.86 million in the same period of FY 2013-14, according to official data.
Apparel products are the main items being exported to the Canadian market. Shipment of garment items was valued at $425.88 million, marking a 14.60 per cent negative growth in the same period.
20150121 * BGMEA chief gets calls from worried buyers:
BGMEA president told the buyers that they are trying to keep supply normal taking special arrangements
Leading international buyers of garment products have phoned the BGMEA chief to learn about the current political situation so they can place work orders.
“This morning (Tuesday) I got phone calls from as many as 11 top global RMG retailers. They wanted to know what was going on in Bangladesh and how long it would continue,” BGMEA President Atiqul Islam told a seminar in the city yesterday.
They were concerned about the situation and wanted to know when the crisis would end so they could plan their business here and make decision on placing orders, he said.
But the president of garment owners and exporters association could not give any proper reply as he was also uncertain about the future course of political crisis in Bangladesh.
20150120 * Four garment makers hit by $5.72m losses:
Four garment factories have suffered losses worth $5.72 million (Tk 45 crore) between January 14 and January 18 due to the ongoing countrywide blockade, the garment makers’ platform said.
The disclosure comes as the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association has started assessing the damage caused to the sector by the political turbulence. It has asked its members to quote the amount of losses they incurred since the blockade began on January 6.
The loss amount has been calculated on the basis of order cancellations, air shipment fares and discounts to retailers for delayed shipment.
20150118 * RMG exporters hit hard as shipment halves:
The number of covered vans carrying readymade garment products to the Chittagong port for shipment halved in the last 13 days due to a countrywide nonstop blockade being enforced by the BNP-led alliance.
A survey conducted by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association showed that 3,480 covered vans transported RMG products to the Chittagong port for shipment under police protection in January 5-17, while 2,810 covered vans carried goods for the apparel sector from the port to Dhaka.
The trade body claimed that the transports carrying RMG goods to and from the Chittagong port almost halved in the period as about 600 covered vans to the Chittagong port and about 500 covered vans from the port transport RMG goods every day in normal situation.
20150122 * American retailers appeal to Obama to renew GSP:
American clothing retailers on Tuesday requested US President Barack Obama to immediately renew expired or expiring trade programmes such as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to safeguard jobs in the US.
The development comes after the American Apparel and Footwear Association’s requests to the US Senate and other powerful state organisations fell to deaf ears.
A swift renewal of expired or expiring trade provisions, such as the GSP and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, will create shared economic partnerships between workers in the US and the developing world, AAFA said in the letter to Obama ahead of his State of the Union speech.
American companies have been losing $2 million a day since the suspension of the GSP scheme in July 2013, according to AAFA.
Bangladesh, however, had its GSP benefits suspended a month earlier than the rest for serious shortcomings in workplace safety and labour rights, brought to the fore by the Tazreen fire and Rana Plaza collapse.
20150118 * GSP stays elusive:
The restoration of the suspended duty- free advantage of Bangladeshi export items to the US market will remain elusive as the United States Trade Representative yet again on Friday concluded that Dhaka needed more action in the area of workers’ right to get back the privilege.
The US suspended the generalised system of preference in June 201 3 following the fire incident at Tazreen Fashions where 112 workers were burnt alive in November 2012, and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building where at least 1,130 workers died and many more were injured.
At least two previous reviews by the same US organisation in the last one and half years went against the country’s plea for restoring the facility.
The US embassy in Dhaka forwarded to the foreign ministry the latest recommendations by the USTR in a ‘note verbale’ on Friday.
The USTR noted that more things remained to be done to address several key
elements for GSP restoration, including workers’ rights.
‘The US president should not reinstate Bangladesh GSP benefit this time,’ added the USTR.
20150118 * GSP fate hangs in the balance :
US says further progress is needed
Uncertainty has arisen centring the reinstatement of a trade privilege in the US market, as the Obama administration has once again asked Bangladesh to improve workplace safety and ensure workers’ rights at factories.
After an interagency review, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), America’s chief trade negotiator, yesterday said Bangladesh has made progress over the last one year to address fire and building safety issues in the garment sector.
But, further progress is needed to get back the generalised system of preferences, the USTR said.
After two industrial disasters — Tazreen Fashions fire and Rana Plaza building collapse, the US suspended GSP for Bangladesh in June 2013, citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and workplace safety.
20150119 * Bangladesh Fails To Regain GSP – Improvements Not Enough:
On Friday 16 January 2015, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) declared that although they acknowledge Bangladesh’s efforts towards improvement in fire and building safety, much is yet to be done with regards to worker safety, freedom of association, safety of labor right activists and other points which are included in the 16 conditions (listed below) which the USTR demanded to be fulfilled by the Bangladesh Government in order to restore the General System of Preference (GSP).
The inspections carried out by the Accord and Alliance were mainly responsible for the the closure of at least 28 factories, the partial closure of 17 factories, and the identification of needed remedial measures in many more.
Apart from the nearly 1700 factories inspected by the Accord and the Alliance, 380 factories have been inspected by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) as a part of the Government commitment to inspect the remaining factories outside the list of the Accord and the Alliance.
20150118 * BD needs to do more: USTR:
Restoration of GSP
The United States has ruled out the possibility of reinstatement of Bangladesh’s trade benefit under its generalised system of preferences (GSP) unless further progress is attained in certain areas, including labour rights and factory inspection.
Furthermore, the US government’s trade wing wants effective collaboration among the government, private-sector stakeholders and the ILO (International Labour Organisation).
It is needed to cope with factory-safety issues in Bangladesh’s apparel industry, the USTR (United States Trade Representative) office said after an interagency review of the ground situation and Dhaka’s strong plea for restoring the trade facility in the US market-the single-largest destination for Bangladesh’s main exportable, readymade garments.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150117 * Bangladesh needs more labour rights to regain trade benefits: US:
Bangladesh must do more to support workers’ rights and fight unfair labour practices before officials consider restoring US trade benefits, the US Trade Representative’s office said on Friday.
The United States revoked trade benefits for Bangladesh in mid-2013 after a garment factory collapse and a factory fire killed more than 1,200 people.
An administration review found that, although more than 2,000 safety reviews of factories had been carried out in the last year, several hundred more still had to be done.
“We also urge the government to accelerate its efforts to ensure workers’ rights and to take measures to address continuing reports of harassment of and violence against labour activists who are attempting to exercise their rights,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150117 * Procrastination in making RMG workers’ database:
The country’s garment factory owners are making delay in submitting detailed information about their pool of workers to help prepare a complete database of workers at the BGMEA.
More than one and a half years after the initiative was taken, the number of factories that provided the workers’ information for the database is 301, out 4,222 factories registered with the apex trade body of the apparel sector, according to the latest data.
Sirajul Islam, a labour leader, told Prothom Alo that the factory owners were deliberately making delay in presenting information for the planned BGMEA database.
He pointed out that if workers’ records are available in the database, the owners might not be able to exploit the workers. “The BGMEA’s organisational weakness is also responsible for the delay in implementing the database.”
On 14 May 2013, following a series of incidents at garment factories, the Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) asked every factory to present by June 15 detailed lists of workers for their documentation in its central biometrics database.
Days later, factory officers at garment hub of Ashulia were given training in this regard. There, BGMEA president Atiqul Islam announced a three-month deadline for completing the task.
20150122 * RMG: Learning from the Chinese example:
The 2014 Dhaka Apparel Summit (December 07-08) marks a watershed in setting ambitions for the future of Bangladesh’s textile and garment industry.
Our research indicates an annual efficiency savings opportunity in Bangladesh worth over one billion dollar that, if seized, could give the industry a powerful modernisation impulse.
The world’s #2 sourcing hotspot after China, Bangladesh’s USD 22 billion textile and garment industry is the country’s main export engine, and already makes an important contribution to national development.
To fully contribute to Bangladesh’s goal of becoming a middle income country by 2021 and reach USD 50 billion in exports by then, the industry now needs to both build on its existing comparative advantages as well as keep innovating to resolve its longstanding challenges in terms of sustainable development.
STRONG MOMENTUM HAS KEPT BUILDING IN THE AFTERMATH OF RANA PLAZA: After the collapse of the eight-story Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, an impressive group of players has come together to take action to address the industry’s deep safety problems. Ranging from international fashion brands and domestic producers to international organisations, government, and NGOs, all are motivated to make sure that such an accident does not happen again.
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire, Electrical Safety and Physical Integrity in the RMG sector of Bangladesh (NAP) have inspected several thousand factories since. They have done a remarkable job in showing what needs to be fixed at the factory level.
RECONCILING GREATER COMPETITIVENESS WITH SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCE IS CRUCIAL: Fire and building safety are just a few of the many and disparate social, environmental and economic issues that need addressing. Given the industry’s growth ambitions and its infrastructure deficits, we will all need to be very strategic and engineer a systemic solution.
THE SOLUTION REQUIREMENTS HAVE BECOME CLEAR: At Impact Economy, we were delighted to see that the IFC, the ILO, the Global Green Growth Forum and many others have enthusiastically incorporated these key recommendations of the report into their own strategic thinking and initiatives.
Now is the time to drive real progress by designing solutions and implementation platforms that are able to achieve this triple win of greater productivity, a better environmental footprint, and higher social performance not just at the level of demonstration projects, but across the board. Such solutions need to:
20150118 * China losing ground in RMG: Opportunity for Bangladesh:
Bangladesh is today considered a power house in the apparel sector. The overall performance of apparel exports in the last year compared to the previous years has not been that different.
The growth rate has been around 9.0 per cent over the previous year, which is slightly lower than the past five years’ average of around 12 per cent.
This drop can be attributed to several factors, including for Rana Plaza tragedy, political instability, energy crisis and discriminatory treatment by some major global buyers.
In April 2012, the world’s leading strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Co released a study titled Bangladesh’s Ready Made Garments Landscape: The Challenge of Growth. McKinsey forecast that the Bangladesh apparel sector could reach $30 billion by 2015 and $50 billion by 2021.
It noted: “While China is starting to lose its attractiveness in this realm, the sourcing caravan is moving on to the next hotspot.”
In the latest report of Apparel CPO Survey 2013, McKinsey repeated that in the aftermath of Rana Plaza, the RMG sector still held a competitive position.
Thus, the reports suggest that Bangladesh is likely to be the best destination that has the ability to grab the lion share of the global RMG market presently held by China.
20150120 * Bonded warehouse: a cotton solution:
As the growth in the garment sector continues, the demand for yarn in both quality and quantity has increased as well.
But the local spinning sector is lagging and cotton procurement is a big area of concern.
Because of the long shipment time from origins such as Africa, North America, most local spinners are forced to stick to Indian and Pakistani cotton. However, such cotton lacks quality, contains high moisture and is often contaminated.
The cotton shippers in India and Pakistan only export residual substandard cotton as the top crop is always picked and consumed by their respective local spinners.
These local spinners have the means to only procure cotton, which is subject to 100 inspections—payment upon physical inspection—and not on a description.
This year even though West African cotton offers a far better price and quality than Indian cotton, very few mills are able to capitalise on it. A long shipment time—6 to 10 weeks on average—requires a bloated and difficult working capital.
20150122 * Toxic Tanneries Poisoning Workers in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh’s leather industry is worth a billion dollars a year, but that value comes at a significant human cost to the many workers employed in the country’s leather tanneries.
The process of tanning leather hides is highly toxic. Workers face appalling conditions and are exposed to dangerous chemicals that also pollute surrounding waterways.
VICE News correspondent Tania Rashid traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, and visited the tannery district in the city’s Hazaribagh neighborhood — ranked by international research organizations as one of the most polluted places on Earth — to investigate the conditions in which workers produce leather that is exported and sold all over the world.
read & see more. (video report).
20150118 * Slow progress in tannery relocation:
Work on relocation of tanneries in city’s Hazaribagh area is progressing at a snail’s pace. The latest deadline set for relocating those expired last month.
Official sources say that all the tanneries will not be shifted at a time.
This will be done in phases.
But as per a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed earlier between the government and the Bangladesh Tanners Association and the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association, a total of 155 tanneries were due to be shifted to Savar Tannery Estate by December last year.
The progress of relocation is very slow.
Until now relocation of some 20 tanneries has begun. In fact, the tanneries in Hazaribagh could not be shifted to Savar for more than a decade though the ministry of industries undertook a project in this regard in 2003.
The project at Savar on an area of about 2000 acres of land is being implemented by the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation at a cost of Taka 10.79 billion.
20150123 * $21.5m leather plant at Mongla EPZ:
A new export-oriented leather company, Rich Time Enterprise, is gearing to start operations in March to grab a share of the fast expanding global leather and footwear market.
Bangladesh is a promising place for the leather industry thanks to its abundance of raw materials and cheap labour, said Md Suzan, managing director of Rich Time Enterprise.
The company, a China-Bangladesh joint venture, is currently importing machineries for its 20,000 square feet-plant at Mongla Export Processing Zone.
The plant will cost $21.5 million (Tk 167 crore), which is the biggest investment proposal in the EPZ, and will have an annual production capacity of five million square feet of finished leather, two lakh pieces of bags and one lakh pairs of shoes.
It will create jobs for 3,162 Bangladeshi nationals, said Suzan, who also has a telecom trading business of his own.
While full-fledged operations will start in a year, the company aims to start production of crushed leather in two months, Suzan said, adding that the products will be exported to the US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and some European countries.
20150118 * 45,000 women become self-reliant thru embroidery, mini garments:
About 45,000 rural women have achieved self-reliance in the northern districts through mini garments, embroidering, spangling saree and ornamental stitching on female clothes in recent years.
The prospective ventures have been expanding fast attracting more unemployed, poor and distressed rural women in earning through working at home or smaller enterprises locally to attain self-reliance for better life.
As a result of growing success, the mini garments, embroidery and needlework have been getting a shape of growing cottage industry attracting local entrepreneurs to change the rural macro-economy in the northern districts.
Many of the rural women, who initiated the venture few years back, have launched smaller enterprises now after getting necessary training and assistance from different government and non-government organisations (NGOs) and local traders.
According to the sources in different NGOs, 45,000 unemployed rural housewives, divorcees, young girls, adolescents, students and widows of some 10,000 households are now engaged in the profession to achieve self-reliance.
20150113 * Bangladesh can pioneer a workers’ rights model:
By Chaumtoli Huq
IN 1950, when UN General Assembly proclaimed December 10 as Human Rights Day, to bring attention to the principles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it contemplated that the rights will be provided by Members States, and did not apply to corporate actors.
The affirmation of human rights by states was critical, as many states were emerging nation-states.
The failure to include corporate actors in the human rights mandate was not because globalisation or the global labor supply chain is a recent feature in our global economies.
Colonialism and the global slave trade was the most the exploitative, and pernicious form of global trade with East India Company being one corporate actor in South Asia. Given the focus on new nation-states, there was less focus on corporate actors.
Since then, we have seen the rise of the transnational corporations and businesses and witnessed human rights violations by corporate actors, such as Union Carbide in Bhopal in 1984, and Shell in Nigeria.
In Bangladesh, the Tazreen Fire and Rana Plaza building collapse revealed the failure of multinational brands to ensure workplace rights leading to the tragic loss of workers’ lives.
Since then, many businesses have responded to these high profile tragedies with various forms of corporate social responsibility programs (CSR).
CSR programs have varied from company to company; from public relations efforts to more engaged efforts at ensuring businesses comply with human rights norms through Codes of Conduct and other compliance mechanisms.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have created guidelines for multinational enterprises advising them to adopt and abide by human rights laws, to ensure that they mitigate adverse human rights impacts linked to their business, even if they do not contribute to those impacts.
After Rana Plaza, the conversation around the role of multinational enterprises in ensuring human rights was re-energised with two distinct solutions to ensure workplace safety in the global supply chain: Accord and Alliance.
While both programs seek to conduct rigorous inspections of factories, they do differ in a critical aspect related to business and human rights.
Namely, they differ in whether human rights compliance by businesses is best achieved voluntarily or through a legally binding instrument that provides for a remedies provision in the case of disputes.
10:06:21 local time INDIA
20150123 * Centre working on labour law changes:
Working on clubbing all the 44 labour laws into five segments
The Centre might take up changes to the Industrial Disputes Act on the lines of what the Rajasthan government recently did, sources said.
The Union ministry has started work on clubbing all the 44 labour laws into five segments — industrial relations, wages, social security, working conditions and welfare cess.
Sources told Business Standard the views of stakeholders had been taken and changes would be done once these are discussed. The Centre had formed an inter-ministerial group headed by the additional secretary of the labour ministry to review and discusss the rationalisation of the labour laws.
20150123 * Textile ministry proposes incubation centre at NIFT:
This will be the first incubation centre attached to a NIFT campus anywhere in the country
The Union Ministry of Textiles plans to set up an incubation centre at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Bhubaneswar for promoting entrepreneurship in the apparel and garment sector.
“The Union ministry has sanctioned Rs 12 crore for setting the incubation centre in Odisha where three units can operate simultaneously.
The entrepreneurs will be provided plug and play facilities,” Sanjay Kumar Panda, secretary, Union ministry of textiles told media persons on sidelines of inaugural ceremony of ‘Design Sutra – National Workshop on Promotion of Handloom & Fashion’ organised by NIFT, Bhubaneswar.
20150123 * ‘Release Rs. 200 crore pending payment of duty drawback on exports’:
Knitwear exporters from Tirupur cluster are unhappy over the huge delay in getting the duty drawback payment for the last two months.
“Around Rs. 200 crore of duty drawback are pending to the exporters from the cluster for the cotton-made apparels exported,” pointed out Raja M. Shanmugam, chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (Tirupur district council).
The duty drawback was given for the cotton-made apparels at the rate of 7.5 per cent of the Free On Board value of the garments exported.
20150123 * Power loom units call off fast:
Job working power loom weavers in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts will decide on Friday the future course of action depending on their meeting with the Minister for Local Administration S.P. Velumani.
P. Kumaraswamy, secretary of Coimbatore District Job working Power loom Owners’ Association, said the unit owners started observing fast on Thursday at Somanur. T
hey had planned a five day fast from Thursday as part of their protests against the recent hike in power tariff.
However, since the Governor was visiting Somanur on Thursday, they had to call off the protest.
Meeting with Minister
Meanwhile, they were called for a meeting with the Minister.
20150122 * Demonstration by powerloom workers:
The members of the CITU Powerloom Workers Union staged a demonstration in front of the Samiampalayam panchayat office near here on Monday urging the government to withdraw the recent steep power tariff hike.
The demonstration was also in support of the powerloom units which are on strike for the above demand.
More than 25,000 workers are employed in the powerloom units Namakkal, Salem and Komarapalayam.
The steep hike in the power tariff had badly hit the powerloom units, and in turn the livelihood of the hundreds of workers employed in them.
The powerloom unit owners are on indefinite strike demanding the withdrawal of the hike.
The Katheri branch of the CITU Powerloom Workers Union staged the demonstration in support of the powerloom unit owners strike. M. Marimuthu, secretary of the union, led the agitation, when K. C. Gopi, Salem district president of the union and others spoke highlighting the demand.
20150122 * Vasan sees crisis brewing in powerloom industry:
Criticises State government for its inaction on strike
The inaction of the State government to the woes of powerloom owners and workers had badly hit the textile industry in the State, said G.K. Vasan, president of Tamil Maanila Congress.
He told presspersons here on Wednesday that more than two weeks had passed since the powerloom operators had begun their indefinite closure of their units, demanding rollback of power tariff increase.
Production has been badly affected as most of the operators had shut their units.
It had a cascading effect on the textile industry.
Several hundreds of workers had become jobless because of the strike.
However, the State government, which was supposed to respond to the strike call immediately, had failed to find a solution to the issue.
If this situation continued in the sector, it would have considerable impact on the livelihood of workers and stability of textile units in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Karur, Erode and other districts.
Hence, the government should intervene in the matter immediately.
20150121 * Power loom workers intensify stir:
As the third round of talks on wage revision failed, power loom workers in Jakkampatti and Subbulapuram in Andipatti block intensified their 20-day-old agitation on Tuesday.
Around 1,000 workers took out a protest march to the Sub-Collector’s Office in Andipatti from Murugan theatre, pressing for their nine-point charter of demands which included wage revision and basic facilities and amenities at work places.
They handed over a petition to officials in the taluk office. The officials assured them that they would convene a peace talk with power loom owners in the presence of the Sub-Collector on Wednesday.
Already, the Joint Commissioner of Labour in Dindigul had agreed to convene the fourth round of talks on Thursday.
The workers demanded 50 per cent hike in wage, 20 per cent bonus, ESI coverage and toilet facilities for men and women workers at work places.
Powerloom weavers in Jakkampatti and Subbulapuram have been manufacturing saris and dhotis on a large scale.
More than 2,000 workers have been engaging in textile production in Andipatti block.
20150119 * Workers to hold relay fast:
Twelve days after the powerloom cluster in Somanur came to grinding halt with the declaration of an indefinite strike to protest against the power tariff hike, owners and workers of the units have decided to launch a relay fast from January 22 to 26 demanding withdrawal of the hike.
The loom owners say the tariff hike would cripple the powerloom industry in Coimbatore.
“The state government increased the tariff by 70% for the powerloom industry in 2012, and now it has raised it 15%. We cannot pay these rates and survive,” said E Boopathi, treasurer, Coimbatore and Tirupur Districts Job Works Powerloom Owners’ Association.
He said the association started its strike on January 7 and members have not paid the revised rates so Tangedco cut power to their units. “As many as 1.15 lakh powerloom units from Somanur and 25,000 from Kannampalayam participated in the indefinite strike. Around 2 lakh people are affected directly and indirectly every day by the strike. If the strike continues for a week, other industries, including dyeing, will be crippled,” said Boopathi.
20150121 * Knitwear units in a fix on stoppage of duty drawback:
Knitwear exporting units in Tirupur are in a tight spot. While there is no dearth in the flow of orders, the stoppage of duty drawback rates since the beginning of December, they fear, would derail their production plans.
Tirupur Exporters’ Association President A Sakthivel says that the blow to this knitwear export cluster alone would be around Rs. 210 crore. “Our monthly exports arearound Rs. 3,000 crore. The duty drawback rate is seven per cent of this turnover,” he explained.
Based on complaints received from its members, TEA has taken up the issue with the Revenue Secretary in the Fiinance Ministry seeking immediate intervention and quick resolve.
20150120 * Lack of facilities at garment factory irks KSCW chief:
Manjula Manasa, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW), made a surprise visit to a garment factory at Gejjalagere, near Maddur, in Mandya district on Monday and expressed unhappiness over the lack of facilities for the employees.
Following several complaints of lack of basic facilities, Ms. Manasa visited Sai Garments and held interactive sessions with employees.
“I have found irregularities in providing basic facilities to the employees at the unit,” Ms. Manasa told The Hindu.
The factory management had failed to provide basic facilities like proper transportation to its 4,400 women-workers, she said.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the irregularities at the unit, Ms. Manasa said that the unit had no rest-rooms for women.
20150120 * Kanpur’s 700 tanneries major source of pollution in Ganga: NGT:
The National Green Tribunal Tuesday warned of complete closure of 700 tanneries located on the banks of river Ganga at Kanpur, terming them as one of the “highest sources of pollution”.
The tribunal also observed that if effective steps to curb the pollution level was not taken then the tanneries would be closed as “life of millions cannot be put at stake.”
A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, directed inspection of the entire tannery industrial cluster by a team comprising representatives of Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) and National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
Directing the team to collect and analyse effluents being discharged into the river, the bench said the team should submit a report on next date of hearing on January 29 on the most effective way to prevent and control pollution in the river from these industrial clusters.
“The life of millions cannot be put at stake for carrying out a commercial activity for a group of individuals. Balance has to be struck and we would not hesitate in striking off that balance between development and environment,” it said.
20150120 * Pay wage arrears: mill workers:
Workers of a private mill (*) in Periyanaickenpalayam, and their family members on Monday petitioned the district administration to get wage arrears.
The Tamilaga Panjalai Thozhilalar Sangam said that for the 80-odd workers, the mill management had not paid the wages for April, May, and June 2014. When they failed to get a favourable response from the management, they approached the Deputy Commissioner, and Department of Factories with a complaint, the petition said.
The officials visited had instructed the management to settle the pending wages within 15 days.
After the management refused to do so, the workers raised a dispute under the Payment of Wages Act.
Representatives of the management did not turn up at the hearings.
A month back, the officials passed an order instructing the mill management to pay twice the pending wages to each of the workers who had raised the dispute. The workers were yet to be paid, the petition said.
(*) = cotton spinning mill
20150120 * Mill workers demand festival advance:
They abstained from work for second day
Workers of the Government owned Swadeshi and Bharathi mills on Monday abstained from work and continued with their strike for the second day in succession demanding the government to immediately disburse festival advance and revoke the suspension of five workers of the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU).
V. Kamalakannan, secretary of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) said that the government would generally issue festival advance to permanent and casual workers in the Swadeshi Bharathi mills for Pongal.
While festival advance ranging from Rs.5,000 to Rs.10,000 was provided in other textile mills in the Union Territory this year the payment was not provided to workers in the Swadeshi and Bharathi mills. The workers resorted to a sit-in protest on January 14 in support of their demands.
20150120 * Maharashtra to announce a new textile policy with focus on developing Vidarbha:
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to ease regulatory procedures for business announced that the number of approvals needed from the state will be reduced to 25 from the 76 at present. This comes in the backdrop of Fadnavis’ visit to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet.
State industry minister Subhash Desai speaking at the valedictory function of a two-day seminar organized by the Textile Association India (TAI) said that the government to simplify regulatory procedures for business.
In next two days the state government will be coming out with a list of permits or no-objection-certificates that will no longer be required for starting a business. It will issue a list of 25 permits required to start an industry, and the 52 that have been done away with.
With a major focus on developing the sector in Vidarbha Desai said that Maharashtra state will also announce a new textile policy.
The main objective of the policy is to lay special emphasis on raising processing units at various levels from cotton to manufacturing textiles for the assured long term development on priority basis in the cotton producing sectors, expansion of the textile industry and growth of employment in the State.
20150118 * Women Garment Workers Organize Against Inhumane Conditions in India:
Rajasthan, northwestern India’s largest state, is popular for its palaces, desert and folk arts, but notorious for child marriages and the poor social status of women. In June 2014, its government amended several laws – including the Factories Act of 1948, Contract Labor Act of 1970 and Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 – to restrict worker unionization, while relaxing employer obligations after they lay workers off.
The Indian government might also modify these laws, as the political party governing Rajasthan and India prefers deregulating companies and favoring employers and industrial growth over human rights.
These modified laws adversely impact garment workers, most of whom work in inhumane conditions.
“Married at 15 and a mother a year later, I have toiled in exploitative garment factories for two decades, as I need money but lack skills,” said a 38-year old woman from Ramanagaram district, near Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, a state in southwestern India.
She is among Bangalore’s 400,000 garment workers, who manufacture many domestic and international brands that are sold locally and exported. Women comprise over 80 percent of Indian apparel workers concentrated in Bangalore, Tirupur in southern India, and Gurgaon in northern India.
Garment workers sew nearly 150 pieces an hour, and make up for any shortfall in daily targets without overtime pay, even if pregnant or unwell. If they don’t meet their quotas, they face deductions from their wages and, sometimes, lose their jobs. Wages are currently around 252 rupees, or $4.00 per a day.
A few employers do not make their mandatory payments to the provident fund, or social security, for their employees, which amounts to 12 percent of their monthly salaries. Furthermore, male supervisors abuse women workers, verbally, sexually and physically.
Women with the Bangalore-based Garment Labor Union (GLU)
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20150119 * BMS seeks stoppage of contract labour system:
“Contract labour system should be abolished in jobs that are of ‘perennial in nature’ (non-seasonal employment) and the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act should be compulsorily implemented in its letter and spirit after making certain amendments suiting the current scenario, in all industrial clusters”.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh national secretary S. Durairaj told this to The Hindu while explaining the stance of his Union on the labour reforms and other related issues, on the sidelines of the meeting of the State office-bearers of the BMS held here on Sunday.
Calling upon the Union and the State governments to ensure strict implementation of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, Mr. Durairaj pointed out that social security of majority of the workers in industrial clusters like Tirupur, which earn many thousands of crores in foreign exchange, were found to be a matter of concern.
“It has been noticed that major chunk of workers in Tirupur knitwear cluster are employed in units without even extension of contract, leave alone being employed on permanent payroll,” he said.
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20150118 * Loan seekers not enthused by RBI move to reduce short-term bank rates:
Retail loan seekers and capital intensive apparel production industry who have been looking for a much reduced Equated Monthly Instalments for quite a long time, by and large did not sound much enthusiastic over the surprise ‘Pongal gift’ given by the Reserve Bank of India.
The RBI, on Thursday, announced the reduction of the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 25 basis points from 8 per cent to 7.75 per cent much ahead of the economic policy review.
“It is good that the short-term bank rates have finally been reduced at least by the lowest of the possible margins after the RBI opting hawkish stance for the past six months.
“But the rationale for the rate cut attributing the same to the reduction in inflation is confusing/astounding us. If that is the case, the RBI should have reduced the rates much earlier instead of allowing the industrial growth to dip.
Even when wholesale price index-based inflation touched zero in November, the rates were not cut with apex bank citing inflation levels as an excuse,” G. R. Senthivel, an apparel exporter and secretary of Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association, pointed out.
20150119 * Local weaver makes Sircilla proud:
Gone are the days when Sircilla textile town had attained the dubious distinction of a high incidence of suicides by powerloom weavers.
Now, this upland textile town, having the highest number of powerlooms in Telangana, is making headlines as a silk saree and silk shawl woven by a local weaver, which can fit into a matchbox, will be presented to US President Barrack Obama and his wife Michelle during their visit to the country during the Republic Day celebrations.
Local weaver Nalla Vijay, who learnt the art of weaving silk sarees which can fit in a matchbox from his father Nalla Parandhamulu, spent 15 days weaving the special silk saree and silk shawl.
Talking to The Hindu on Sunday, Mr. Vijay said that he had woven the special silk saree on normal handloom only and spent 2 kg of silk yarn to produce a saree weighing 60 grams at a cost of Rs. 10,000. He also wove a silk shawl measuring 2 metres weighing 30 grams, which also fits in a small-size matchbox.
20150119 * Job-working power loom unit owners to stage protest:
Job-working power loom unit owners in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts will stage a protest at Somanur on January 21 (Wednesday) and observe fast from Thursday to Monday (January 22 to 26), demanding withdrawal of the recent power tariff hike.
P. Kumaraswamy, secretary of Coimbatore District Job working Power loom Owners’ Association, said this was decided at a meeting at Somanur on Sunday.
About 1.5 lakh job working power looms in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts were on strike since January 7 and had also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister. However, since there was no announcement from the Government they have decided to intensify the protests. The production loss because of the strike is estimated to be Rs. 30 crore a day.
“This is to draw the attention of the Chief Minister,” he said. The master weavers will not increase the wages paid to the job-working units immediately. Hence, the units will have to bear the additional power cost.
20150117 * Now, powerloom owners go on strike:
Within days of powerloom weavers calling off their strike in Sircilla following an assurance by the owners to increase their wages, the Textile Park Development Committee, which represents the powerloom owners, launched an indefinite strike on Friday.
Their demands are 50 per cent power subsidy, waiver of power dues, 20 per cent investment subsidy, creation of adequate infrastructure and others.
Minister for Panchayat Raj and IT K. Taraka Rama Rao had promised to solve all their problems.
The Textile Park Development Committee members, Analdas Anil, A. Srihari, T. Raju, G. Sudarshan and others, said they were forced to go on strike as the government failed to provide any power subsidy to the Textile Park in spite of several representations. They staged a dharna and submitted a memorandum to Sircilla RDO Bikshu Naik demanding that the government solve their problems immediately. They said entrepreneurs were unable to repay bank loans due to high production cost.
In the meantime, powerloom weavers’ trade unions have also decided to chalk out their future course of action in view of the strike by owners.
20150120 * Textile demand to pick up soon:
Export demand for cotton and cotton yarn is expected to revive soon and the Chinese policy on import of cotton and cotton yarn will be clear in a month, say industry sources here.
With a drop in Chinese demand for cotton and cotton yarn during this financial year, stocks available in the domestic market have increased.
Though the domestic demand continues to be good for yarn and export to other countries is on, there is a fall in prices because of the increase in stock availability.
However, this trend too depends on the variety of cotton yarn, say the sources.
20150123 * Cotton sector in crisis on high surplus of 16.6 million bales:
Cotton Association seeks govt support, as sector is facing a huge glut due to reduced imports from China
The Cotton Association of India has estimated total cotton supply, including carry forward stock for the current cotton year, to be 47.2 million bales.
The cotton body said today that crop for the year is estimated at 40 million bales and considering domestic consumption, which is estimated to be at 30.6 million bales, there would be a surplus of 16.6 million bales.
CAI has asked the government to support the cotton chain which is facing a crisis due to the huge glut and sharply falling export demand, after China reduced import of the material
20150118 * China import curbs to hit cotton growers:
Cotton growers in Vidarbha may have to face another year of recession as China, the major consumer of Indian cotton, plans to keep imports of the commodity under control, said trade representatives from this country attending the Textile Association-India (TAI) conference in the city.
Chinese demand is an important factor for determining market prices of raw cotton and lint. Due to a fall in Chinese demand, cotton prices have touched the minimum support price of Rs4050 a quintal in India, bringing tough times for Vidarbha farmers.
Representatives of Hurai Information, a textile consultancy firm from Hangzhou in China, told TOI that their government is not keen to release cotton import quotas beyond 89,4000 metric tons committed under WTO agreement. This will keep the imports from India down.
“The Chinese government wants to promote the domestic cotton. Moreover, the focus is on chemical textile industry rather than cotton. As a result, cotton textile business has seen a slump in China too,” said a representative from Hurai.
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20150117 * The 12th international textile conference begins today in Nagpur:
The 12th international textile conference organized by Textile Association of India (TAI) kicked off today in Nagpur.
The event will be held for two days, January 17 and 18. The meeting will have 50 speakers, including delegates from Bangladesh and China. Representatives of almost 200 companies in this sector will take part in the event, said a TAI official.
The meet will be inaugurated by union minister of transport and shipping Nitin Gadkari with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as the keynote speaker on the opening day. The state minister for industries Subhash Desai and minister for power Chandrashekhhar Bawankule will speak during the valedictory function.
The focus of the textile conference will be on cotton, textile and apparel. Ideas on bringing cotton farming in line with the trends in end-use industry will be discussed during the conference.
20150116 * Trade unions announce countrywide ’satyagraha’ on Feb 26:
Emboldened by the recent two-day strike by coal workers, central trade unions of all political hues have decided to launch a country-wide ‘satyagraha’ (civil disobedience) on February 26, ahead of the Union Budget presentation.
At a meeting held here last week, trade unions, including the BJP-backed Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the Congress-backed INTUC and those backed by the Left parties, said they will intensify their protest against the recent amendments to labour laws which have ”a pro-corporate tilt”.
In a joint statement issued here on Friday, the 10 key trade unions said the coal strike early this month had “boosted the morale of workers in general”, which is why they had decided to carry their “unity to the sectoral level.”
Flaying the government for promulgating ordinances on coal, land acquisition and higher foreign direct investment in insurance, the unions said, “the government has made its intention clear to bring FDI into Railways and Defence and other strategic sectors.”
“Sectoral struggles in coal, banks, insurance state transport, electricity are being launched….The recent decision by Central government employees, including Railways and Defence, to stage a march to Parliament in April from thereon to declare strike actions is a positive development,” they said.
10:06:21 local time SRI LANKA
20150118 * Apparel Sector Welcomes Bathiudeen’s Return:
Rishad Bathiudeen MP has been reappointed as the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka – and the country’s private sector promptly hailed his return on January 12.
Minister Bathiudeen was sworn in before President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat, Colombo yesterday on the occasion of swearing in of the new Cabinet of Ministers.
09:36:21 local time PAKISTAN
20150122 * Textile exports dip 6.38% in Dec:
Exports of textile and clothing witnessed a negative growth of 6.38 per cent in Dec 2014 to $1.175 billion from $1.255bn in the same month of previous year.
The export proceeds reversed in the month of December, after witnessing a positive growth of over 7pc in November from a year ago, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed on Wednesday.
The reason for decline, forwarded by the private sector, was the failure of the Punjab government to provide uninterrupted power and gas supply to the textile mills.
In the first 11 months (Jan-Nov) of 2014, the export of value-added and non-value added textile products to the European Union (EU) witnessed a growth under the GSP+ scheme. But this increase is not reflected in the overall exports from this sector.
20150122 * APTMA chairman condemns charging of 5.5 percent WHT:
Chairman APTMA S M Tanveer has condemned the charging of 5.5 percent withholding tax on import of cotton instead of one percent to manufactures under Section 148 of the Income Tax Ordinance.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had clarified vide order No C No 1(7)WHT/2006 dated 1.1.2015 that for the beneficiaries of SRO1125(I)2011 dated 31.12.2011 tax deduction under Section 148 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 will be one percent of the import value.
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20150121 * Energy crisis cuts textile sector output:
The energy crisis has once again hit textile industry, not only bringing down the performance of largest manufacturing industry of the country but also reducing cotton prices to historical lows.
The blackout duration has exceeded more than eight hours, likewise gas supply has also been reduced, said Mian Aftab Ahmed, former president Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association.
He said that after mid-December to first week of January electricity supply to the mills was uninterrupted but later 2-3 hours load shedding was started and now its duration has been increased to more than eight hours.
He said that the second largest employment generating sector of the country was facing severe problems due to the massive outages.
The overall performance of the sector has been reduced between 30-40 percent, that means we would not be able to process local and international orders on time, he said.
20150120 * Textile companies: Falling euro, slowdown in EU economy to affect earnings:
Earnings of leading listed textile companies may decline 10-15% in coming months because of the falling euro against the dollar and the Pakistani rupee, according to Sherman Securities.
The calculations, made in the brokerage house’s report, are based on a sample of the top nine listed textile-exporting companies (composite mills).
“Our understanding suggests that if the euro dollar parity remains the same, earnings of the sample companies would decline by 10-15%,” the report said.
20150121 * Textile sector: Minister highlights draft policy:
Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi has said that the textile policy 2014-2019 envisaged Pakistan as a leading value-added textile exporting country.
He stated this while chairing a consultative meeting with stakeholders and sought their input on the draft of the policy.
The proposals from the planning commission were discussed and incorporated.
The minister directed to forward the amended draft to the Planning Commission and expressed his desire to see the policy addressed in the next Economic Coordination Committee meeting.
Textile industry, he said, was the most important manufacturing sector of Pakistan and has the longest production chain with inherent potential for value addition at all stages of processing.
20150120 * Delay in textile policy 2014-19: stakeholders express reservations:
Textile industry stakeholders expressed serious reservations over the inordinate delay in announcement of Textile Policy 2014-19.
The industry is operating without any policy for about last seven months, depriving the industrial units of due benefits, it is learnt.
Official sources told Business Recorder that a consultative meeting was held with Federal Minister for Textile Industry, Abbas Khan Afridi in the chair to have inputs of textile stakeholders on draft textile policy.
The minister directed the authorities concerned to forward the amended draft to the Planning Commission and urged placing it before the next ECC meeting.
The proposals from the Planning Commission were discussed and incorporated in the textile policy.
20150119 * Pakistan making efforts to increase production of sustainable cotton:
Pakistan, the fifth largest global cotton grower and third largest exporter of raw cotton, is among the major growers of cotton in the world.
Today, Pakistan is one of the largest exporters of cotton yarn and fourth largest consumer of cotton, which makes cotton crop significant for Pakistan’s economy.
As environmental experts regard high carbon footprint of cotton a significant threat to the environment, as it’s a water intensive crop.
Measures are being introduced to reduce high carbon footprint of cotton.
Efforts are being made to find solutions. In order to deal with such impacts, Sustainable Agriculture Programme of WWF-Pakistan, for instance, is working to help farmers produce cotton in a sustainable way through projects, including Sustainable Cotton Production in Pakistan’s Cotton Ginning Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Pakistan Sustainable Cotton Initiative (PSCI) and Better Cotton Fast Track Fund (BCFTF). These are to be implemented in nine regions across Pakistan from Sukkur to Jhang, with more than 80,000 cotton farmers engaged.
The “better cotton” produce is unique as it has lower environmental and socio-economic impacts than regular cotton. It saves 37.5 percent irrigated water and 40 percent chemical fertilizer in better management practices, thus benefitting farmers.
20150120 * Proposals incorporated in draft textile policy:
A high-level meeting approved the draft textile policy on Monday and hoped it would be tabled for discussion in the upcoming meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).
The meeting, between Federal Minister for Textile Abbas Khan Afridi and textile stakeholders, discussed proposals forwarded by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and incorporated them in the draft policy.
On Oct 30, the ECC discussed the draft textile policy in detail and sought improvements in various proposals given in the draft.
A source privy to the Monday’s meeting told Dawn that the representative from the planning ministry presented mainly three nominal changes in the policy — skill development in two phases; cash finance scheme announced in the budget to be removed from the policy; and sector specific recommendations.
20150117 * Textile woes: Ministry appeases industry over policy:
As a response to increasing concerns raised by industrialists over the textile policy issue, Ministry of Textile Industry Secretary Amir M Khan Marwat said that all stakeholders would be consulted.
Addressing members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), Marwat acknowledged the importance of the
textile sector, adding that the ministry was making efforts to facilitate the industry.
He said the draft of the new policy has been completed and a meeting would be called for its finalisation, which would feature all stakeholders.
“This should also make the policy more effective, realistic and result-oriented in order to fulfill the collective demands and re-fix priorities in addition to achieving futuristic targets,” he said.
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20150118 * Sales Tax Refund Claims: textile sector facing huge financial crisis: PAF chief:
Exporters of an apparel textile sector are facing huge financial crisis as tax office has backlogged Rs 50 billion under sales tax refund claims, customs rebate and other such claims that caused them big investment problems to run their units to continue production, Chairman Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF) , Muhammad Javed Bilwani said on Saturday.
“Huge amount of exporters’ liquidity of almost 50 billion rupees has been stuck up in the Government of Sales Tax Refund Claims; Customs Rebate Claims and DLTL Claims causing great sufferings to the already harassed and burdened exporters,” he said. He said the exporters were at a loss from non-refund of their amount and widely failed to make both ends meet under the worsening situation as fears grow the financial crunch may ruin their export businesses.
“It has been the practice of the FBR to put 25 percent amount of Sales Tax Refund Claims of the exporters are deferred by the FBR and they are so used to such wrong practice that even the amount of Sales Tax paid on utility bills are being deferred which is not at all understood and really surprising because the utility companies are not unknown nor unverifiable,” he said.
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20150118 * APTMA flays SNGPL for gas suspension to Punjab-based textile mills:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) condemned the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) for gas supply suspension from Saturday in contravention of clear direction from Prime Minister for gas supply to Punjab-based textile industry.
Chairman APTMA S M Tanveer said gas supply suspension to Punjab-based textile mills would have dire impact of $52 million on industry’s productivity in case no gas was provided with for two consecutive days.
It would also disrupt supply chain to value added textile industry and render thousands of textile workers jobless. Neither benefit of Generalised System of Preferences plus facility from European Union nor booking of orders from Heimtextile exhibition were possible due to adverse situation, he added.
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20150117 * Pakistan textile ministry to consult with stakeholders on the textile policy soon:
The Textile Ministry of Pakistan has called stakeholder for another meeting on Monday in order to have consultation with them on the textile policy.
Ministry would be presenting the main points of their drafted policy to the members and members would have a chance to present their point of view on any given matter.
According to APTMA officials, the stakeholders are expected to discuss various issues relating to energy, product diversification, encouraging investment, trainings and improved factory floor management.
The day to day problems faced by the industry, would be also presented with a request to address them in the policy, said sources. Matters related to continuous power supply to the industry throughout the country would also be discussed.
20150117 * Garments training institute to be set up:
Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) Punjab Chairperson Irfan Qaiser Sheikh Friday said the TEVTA will establish a model training institute for garments sector at Lahore with the technical assistance of Turkish Cooperation & Coordination Agency (TiKA), Turkey.
Irfan said the garment institute would offer courses specializing in garments manufacturing under guidance of Turkish experts to produce skilled workforce for this industry. He said a Turkish delegation recently visited Technical Education & Vocational Training Authority to discuss the scope of technical assistance in the proposed Garments Training Center at Lahore.
“Turkish support in setting up of this institute, provision of machinery and equipment and training of Pakistani trainers are some of the key areas of cooperation”, Irfan said.
20140119 * Embedded crisis in textile industry:
A man sits inside a closed power loom unit. Aptma chairman S.M. Tanveer says “We can revive our closed capacity of $3-4bn, attract investment of over $5bn in capacity expansion and value-addition, and double our textile and clothing exports to $26bn in five years if the government ensures uninterrupted electricity supply to factories in Punjab at regionally affordable prices”. —Reuters/File
Severe energy shortages and high cost of doing business, which have stalled fresh investment in manufacturing for some years, have now brought the country’s textile industry, particularly in Punjab, to a point where large-scale bankruptcies cannot be ruled out.
While the growing energy shortage has led to the closure of almost one-third of the country’s textile and clothing (T&C) manufacturing capacity and adversely affected its reputation as a credible supply source, its exports are becoming dearer than those from its regional rivals —China, Bangladesh and India — owing to rising energy, credit and labour costs.
The cut in output has also added to the cost of doing business. Although the recent decline in global oil prices has helped bring down domestic transportation prices, its impact on the industry’s overall cost of sales is minimal, claim exporters.
Excluding Pakistan, electricity prices in the region range between Rs7.3 and Rs9.2 a unit; interest rates are between 5pc and 8pc, and wages between $68 and $98 per month (except in China, where labour costs have gone up to $300).
The lack of fresh investment in new technology and capacity expansion since 2006-07 is fast eating into the country’s share in the global T&C trade. The World Trade Organisation’s regional T&C trade growth numbers for 2006-13 show that Pakistan may already have missed the opportunity offered to major textile producing nations from the elimination of the quota system.
20140119 * US ‘help’ aggravates cotton crop disease:
Pakistani agricultural institutions and scientists received $5.5 million from the US in 2011 to combat Cotton Leaf Virus but are yet to show any progress.
Dawn has learnt that the money came under the Pak-US Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme (PUCPEP) for the local agriculture scientists to research and introduce new cotton seed varieties that fight off the infamous Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) and increase production.
Every year, the virus destroys cotton produce equivalent to more than two million bales of cotton. It devastated Pakistan’s cotton industry in early 1990s when the crop yield was reduced by 35 percent.
In the wake of the disaster, thousands of varieties of cotton seed were imported from the US under the three-year cotton productivity enhancement programme, started in 2011, to conduct trials to fight the cotton virus. But much of the funds and efforts went into material acquisitions and foreign trips rather than into actual research, according to people close to the project.
A senior agricultural expert at the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) claimed that some American experts had declared the project ‘doomed to fail’ even before it was launched.
Their pessimism was based on the lack of resources, acumen and facilities that agricultural research organisations in Pakistan lacked for the kind of long-time research required to control the virus. US funds came under the Kerry-Luger Act as a goodwill gesture.
“However, the help also brought American cotton seed to Pakistan unlawfully,” said the PARC expert.
20140119 * Mahalla textile workers waiting after gov’t promise to pay late bonuses:
The government promised Monday to pay Mahalla textile workers their delayed salaries by Thursday, Jan. 22, Youm7 reported.
Gehad Taman, a local employee, told The Cairo Post Monday they are all waiting for promise to be delivered or they will “escalate the situation once again.”
The head of the Spinning and Weaving Holding Ahmed Mustafa announced Monday, the final installment of the workers dues would be disbursed Thursday, as soon as it is officially signed by the board of directors, Youm7 added.
He said that the bonus would be calculated as an average of two months to each worker according to his original salary, explaining that all of the 60,000 workers would be taking their fourth and final installment.
Taman added that in the worst case, if the government did not pay out, “none of the workers will stay silent this time.” He noted that they heard the company is filing a complaint against 13 workers, referring them to investigation over allegedly arranging a strike, however “until now no one has called for this,” he said.
Workers in Mahalla started a strike Jan. 14 demanding the payout of delayed annual bonuses. They announced its dispersal Jan. 17 after 4 days, explaining in statement released by Abdel Al-Fattah Ibrahim, the head of the General Syndicate of Textile Workers, they would resume work to ”uphold the interest of the nation.”
* Can you earn a living wage in fashion in Italy?:
ITALIAN FACTORY CONDITIONS DETERIORATE AFTER INFLUENCE OF SWEATSHOPS
New research by Campagna Abiti Puliti shows decline towards illegal work,
low pay levels, and overtime characterises Italian garment industry.
New research into Italian shoe and garment factories released today shows that competition with Eastern Europe and Asia is driving down wages and working conditions in Italy.
The survey conducted by Campagna Abiti Puliti, the Italian section of the Clean Clothes Campaign, has found that big brands including Louis Vuitton, Armani, Prada and Dior are buying back old factories that had been forced to close due to competition with cheaper production hubs in post-socialist countries and Turkey, only now the expectation is these factories compete on low wages and poor conditions as well.
“The Chinese produce with final prices that local entrepreneurs could not even quote to cover their costs. Many small owners have closed down their workshops,” said one worker.
One auditor who visited a subcontracted Chinese factory described the conditions: “They might have a fire extinguisher, but it is empty.
Fifteen people are expected to sleep in a room as big as this one, there is space
for the kitchen and there is a gas canister. Windowless places, and the stairs taking you down to the production zone are probably packed with cardboard boxes filled with fabrics.”
The research, based on workers interviews conducted across Italy in 2013, reveals that factory workers’ wages at entry level in the legal industry do not exceed 1200 euro net per month. In the Veneto region, apprentices were shown to take home 730 euros a month, and home-based workers only 850 euros – far below the amount needed to survive with dignity.
A family would need at least 1600 euros to afford a decent standard of living, according to calculations made for Northern Italy by Istat, the Italian national
The illegal industry was also found to be growing in the sector in response to price competition. Researchers found subcontracting firms hiring workers at cut down prices on contracts where they were expected to work excessivehours to stay in employment, or workers on day rates which severely undercut a living wage.
“In response to the global race to the bottom, Italy is moving towards an increasingly insecure and flexible labour market which reduces social protection and leaves workers increasingly alone and exposed to the effects of the crisis,” said Francesco Gesualdi the report’s author.
“Big brands moving back to Italy is certainly good news for employment opportunities, but it is catastrophic if the same poverty wages, lack of trade unions, fear over job security and poor factory safety typical in Bangladeshi or Moldovan factories, comes too.”
The report recommends the adoption of living wage legislation within Europe using as an example benchmark levels calculated by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance for Asian countries and those calculated by the Clean Clothes Campaign for post-socialist countries and Turkey.
The report further highlights the crucial need for European institutions to alter their intervention strategies on the issues of wages in line with provisions in the Treaty of Lisbon and the Guiding Principles of the United Nations for Business and Human Rights and further freeze negotiations regarding the TTIP Agreement, which would have further negative effects on workers’ rights.
A meeting is taking place within the EU today to consult on a proposed EU Flagship Initiative on the garment industry. The Clean Clothes Campaign will attend and strongly advocate for serious legal provision to regulate the industry outside and within Europe.