12:40:45 local time CHINA
20150227 * Guangdong finally announces plans to increase minimum wage by 19%:
After two years without any adjustment, the minimum wage in the industrial powerhouse of Guangdong will increase by an average of 19 percent on 1 May 2015, the provincial department of human resources and social security announced on 26 February.
The city of Shenzhen had earlier announced that its minimum wage would increase on 1 March to 2,030 yuan per month, the first local minimum wage in China to break the 2,000 yuan per month barrier. The hourly rate for temporary workers in Shenzhen will increase to 18.5 yuan.
In Guangdong’s provincial capital, Guangzhou, the minimum wage will increase on 1 May to 1,895 yuan per month and 18.3 yuan per hour. In second tier cities including the manufacturing centre of Dongguan, the monthly minimum wage will go up by 200 yuan from 1,310 yuan to 1,510 yuan per month.
20150226 * Guangdong to raise minimum wage by 19%:
South China’s Guangdong Province is to raise the minimum wage by an average 19 percent from May to combat a labor shortage and rising living costs.
The pay raises will go into effect in all parts of Guangdong except Shenzhen on May 1, the provincial department of human resources and social security said in a press release on Thursday. Guangdong last raised the minimum salary in May 2013.
The minimum monthly pay for full-time workers in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, will be raised by 22.2 percent to 1,895 yuan (300 U.S. dollars), the highest of four levels in the province.
12:40:45 local time PHILIPPINES
20150301 * Exporters group thumbs down wage hike plea:
Exporters are opposing calls to implement wage hikes, arguing such would hinder job creation and economic growth.
The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport), citing the letter of its president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. to Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board chairman Alex Avila, said that another round of wage increase would undermine the viability particularly of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Ortiz-Luis said SMEs play a vital role in job generation and livelihood opportunities.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines has sought a P136 increase in the daily minimum wage of workers in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the P734 minimum wage hike proposed by the Association of Minimum Wage Earners and Advocates to be implemented in equal tranches of P146.80 over a period of five years.
The wage hike petitions were filed citing inflationary factors, the recent increases in the fares of the Metro Rail Transit and Light Rail Transit, and impending water and electricity rate increases.
20150227 * Contractualization is illegal:
Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) representatives have on file House Bill No. 4396, titled “An Act Prohibiting Labor-only Contracting and Regulating Job Contracting and Sub-contracting.”
For a quarter of a century now, the real value of workers’ wages has decreased, contractualization is more rampant, and strikes cause threat of repression. Contractualization constitutes a comprehensive attack on workers’ rights.
This Gabriela bill is to put a stop to the pernicious practice of labor contractualization that has been keeping wages low and denying workplace benefits from long-suffering workers.
The bill seeks to stop contractual employment by rendering the contractor a redundant agent. Banning Contractualization will dignify rank’n’file labor while strengthening the relationship between the principal employer and employee.
11:40:45 local time VIET NAM
20150302 * Big year likely for VN textile, garment exports:
Textile and garment exports are set for a boom this year, according to the Viet Nam Industrial and Trade Information Centre (VITIC), a Ministry of Industry and Trade agency.
In January exports were worth over US$1.9 billion, marginally up from last year, but many companies in the textile and garment industry have received orders to be executed in the first and second quarters.
The US topped the list of importers, buying textiles and apparel worth nearly $926.7 million, or nearly half of Viet Nam’s total exports. Japan and South Korea also bought more than $100 million worth of products.
20150302 * Vietnamese firms sill in difficult period, but improving: data:
Employees are seen working at a footwear manufacturing plant in Ho Chi Minh City in this file photo Tuoi Tre
The Vietnamese business community is still in a difficult period given the latest data on the number of local firms dissolving or having their operations suspended in the first two months of this year, according to the Department of Business Registration Management under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
About 16,000 Vietnamese enterprises were dissolved or suspended from January to February, the ministry said, citing statistics from its department.
In that fashion 240 firms entered that same sticky situation on average every day during the period, according to the ministry.
In February alone, over 5,400 local businesses completed dissolution procedures or terminated their operations.
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20150228 * Garment, textile exports grow 1.2 percent in Jan:
Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association yesterday said that January garment and textile export turnover grew 1.2 percent over the same month last year to reach US$1.9 billion.
Many businesses have got orders to produce until the end of the first quarter this year and even the second quarter to some, it said. The production output of garment and textile products such as fabric and clothes have been on the rise compared to the same period last year.
However, 60 percent of the export turnover has been undertaken by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) companies, Vietnamese firms have occupied only 40 percent.
Mr. Le Quang Hung, chairman of Saigon Garment Manufacturing Trading Joint Stock Company, said that FDI companies held US$14 billion of the US$21 billion export turnover in 2014.
Only US$6 billion went to Vietnamese firms. Of these 80 percent came from processed goods, 20 percent was fully made by local companies and exported under FOB (Free on Board) term, meaning Vietnam just earned only US$1.2 billion.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/2. (4th item). & read more.
20150228 * Workers return to industrial zones in Binh Duong:
Workers put final touches to footwear for export at the Dong Hung Industrial JSC in the Tan Hiep A Industrial Park, Di An district, Binh Duong (Photo: VNA)
The majority of labourers have returned to work at industrial zones in the southern province of Binh Duong after the Tet holiday, according to Le Nho Luong, Chairman of the province’s Union of Workers at Industrial Zones.
He continued to say that as of February 27, over 90 percent of the workforce has returned to industrial zones in the province and over 94 percent of enterprises have resumed production.
Specifically, more than 95 percent of labourers at the Song Than 2 industrial zone have returned to work, as have 90 percent at the Song Than 1 industrial zone.
The Dong An industrial zone has 80 percent of its force, while Viet Huong has 85 percent. The remaining industrial zones in Ben Cat, Tan Uyen and other districts have between 80 percent and 90 percent.
20150228 * Footwear export to the US soars:
Viet Nam became the second largest footwear exporter to the US market last year after China, accounting for 13.8 per cent of the US market share.
The figure was released by the US Customs recently, according to the Viet Nam Leather and Footwear Association (Lefaso).
Viet Nam exported $3.55 billion worth of footwear last year, up 22.4 per cent from 2013 and 119 per cent from 2010.
The export value of Vietnamese footwear sent to the United States registered an average growth rate of 30 per cent for the 2010 to 2014 period.
The total footwear import value for the United States touched US$25.74 billion last year, up 4.5 per cent year-on-year.
20150227 * Workers cash in over Tet holiday:
Workers at about a dozen companies in the southern province of Binh Duong did not get a holiday break for Tet.
Tran Van Nam, chairman of the Binh Duong People’s Committee, said that the workers were paid up to four times their normal wages to fill urgent orders for Europe.
The companies involved also gave their workers higher bonuses, so everyone was happy, he said.
Most workers in industrial zones in southern Viet Nam are already back at work after the Lunar New Year, but things are slower in central and northern areas.
About 95 per cent of workers in industrial zones in the southern province of Dong Nai are back at work, said the provincial labour federation.
At the Phong Thai Group, which produces sports shoes for export, 23,000 out of 26,000 workers have returned.
20150227 * Trans-Pacific trade deal close to sign-off:
When the leaders of 12 nations involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional trade talks met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing late last year they released a statement saying the conclusion of the negotiations is near.
- Vietnam awaits Trans-Pacific Partnership signing
- Trans-Pacific strategic economic partnership meets in US
- Vietnam to join Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations
“With the end coming into focus, we have instructed our ministers and negotiators to make concluding this agreement a top priority.”
The Trans-Pacific Partnership will create one market of more than 792 million people. The countries involved are the United States, Vietnam, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru, Singapore.
In order to best position themselves for the revolutionary changes that the TPP will bring to Vietnam, local businesses should be proactive and lay out a dynamic business strategy for penetrating foreign markets, said Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, deputy director of Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM).
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11:40:45 local time CAMBODIA
20150303 * Police Look for Man Suspected of Murdering Garment Worker:
Police are seeking to arrest a man suspected of robbing, raping and murdering a 22-year-old garment worker found dead on the side of National Road 61 in Kandal province on Saturday, police said Monday.
Sam Ol Mony, 30, is suspected of murdering Sann Asros, 22, an employee at Tak Sun Enterprise in Phnom Penh, whose body was found 3 meters from National Road 61 in Ponhea Leu district’s Koh Chin commune on Saturday, said Chao Vuthy, deputy chief of the provincial serious crimes police bureau.
20150301 * Factory Workers Get Overtime Limit:
Cambodia’s Labor Ministry has ordered garment and footwear factories to limit overtime for employees to only two hours per day in order to help improve workers’ health, according to a directive out on Sunday.
“Working overtime is allowed only two hours per day and the working duration should not exceed 10 hours per day,” said the directive signed by Labor Minister Ith Samheng, adding that factories should ask for permission from the ministry before allowing their employees to work overtime.
“Working overtime should be made on a voluntary basis,” it said.
“The Labor Ministry will take strict measures in accordance with the Labor Law and other effective regulations against any factory owners who violate this directive.”
20150228 * 200 Workers Protest After Factory Blocks Return:
About 200 garment workers protested outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday after 20 colleagues were turned away when trying to enter the Smart Shirts factory earlier the same morning, union leaders said.
On February 3, about 700 workers from the Stung Meanchey district factory went on strike calling for management to give about 300 senior employees a $28 raise, after the government’s decision to increase the monthly minimum wage to $128 in January excluded workers already making above the floor wage.
Smart Shirts filed a request to the municipal court on February 23 to issue an injunction against workers to enforce a decision made by the Arbitration Council on February 6 ordering them to return to work.
At the court Friday, union leaders were given a copy of the injunction, signed by Judge Mong Monysorphea on Tuesday, which orders employees to return to their jobs but rejects the company’s request to ban some workers from entering the factory.
Khin Namhor, deputy head of Cambodian Federation Workers Union, said the company also filed a complaint at the municipal court against his union’s leadership and four workers.
20150228 * Wage increases ‘will not put off Japanese firms’:
Sharp rises in labour costs this year are doing little to deter Japanese companies looking to do business in the Kingdom, with experts predicting the flow of investment from Japan to remain steady.
A 28 per cent increase in the garment sector minimum wage, from $100 to $128, has set a benchmark for many industries in Cambodia and sparked fears of a decline in foreign direct investment.
But while Japanese businesses need to factor a rising wage bill into their future planning, analysts say there are other factors in the global economy still in the Kingdom’s favour.
Hiroshi Suzuki, chief economist for Business Research Institute for Cambodia , said that Japanese companies such as Panasonic, Daikin and Sharp had been relocating some of their production back to Japan because of increasing business costs in China and Thailand and the depreciation of the yen. But Cambodia has been an exception.
“Even after the increase of the minimum wage, the difference between the cost in Japan and Cambodia is still large,” Suzuki said. “I suppose that investments [from Japan] using the international supply chain in the Mekong region would continue even under these conditions.”
12:40:45 local time INDONESIA
20150302 * Making Batik More Accessible:
A small-scale business in the batik fashion scene has high hopes of making it big
The rolls of textiles dazzled in their sheer variety and colors. In one roll, the natural yet vivid low-key hues of batik tulis from Pekalongan, Central Java, engaged its viewers.
Their graceful lines made more of an impression tailored into blouses, dresses and other garments.
In another, rolls of ikat fabric from Bali captured the eye with strikingly sharp lines. Known as the rangrang pattern, the cloth made more of a deeper impression made into skirts or collars for blazers.
The array of textiles are part of Rumah Soga, a small-scale business selling tailor-made batik and ikat garments. Founded by housewife Afin Purnomo, the very name of the business hints at batik and other traditional cloths of Indonesia.
11:10:45 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150303 * Worker defy govt pleas, threats to end protest:
Up to 1200 striking workers from factories in Yangon are refusing to reel in the picket lines and return to work, according to a government official.
The remaining strikers rejected a proposed modest increase to daily wages, U Htin Aung, the deputy minister of labour, employment and social welfare, said in a speech yesterday.
Most of the initial strikers have already returned to their factories after accepting a K300-a-day (30 US cents) bump in pay that will bring their daily earnings up to K700 (70 US cents).
Just over 2887 workers of the original 3803 have accepted the compromise, according to U Htin Aung.
On January 28, thousands of workers from Red Stone, Costec, E Land Myanmar and Ford Glory garment factories, as well as from Tai Yi shoe factory, began picketing.
20150302 * Both employers and employees need to abide by laws and rules:
Employers and employees need to cooperate in boosting production and worksite tranquility, Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security U Aye Myint told employer and employees at Dong Long garment factory in Pathein Industrial Zone on 27 February.
He urged both sides to abide by prescribed labour laws and rules, adding that employers should provide necessary assistance for the workers.
The union minister fulfilled the requirements of employees’ organizations.
At the office of Ayeyawady Region Social Security Board, the union minister met staff and urged them to carry out their tasks under the rules and regulations for serving the interests of the State.
20150228 * Garment Producers Ask Burma’s Government to Intervene in Strikes:
Striking garment factory workers in Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone encamp outside their place of employment. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)
Japanese and South Korean owners of garment factories affected by strikes in northern Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone have asked the Burmese government to use the law to protect their businesses, according to state-run media.
Sit-in strikes involving hundreds of workers continued this week, with laborers demanding that their wages be raised to the equivalent of about US$80 per month.
Burma’s government passed a Minimum Wage Law in 2013, but the details of a basic salary for workers are still being worked out.
On Monday, the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security issued a statement saying it was overseeing negotiations to end the strike, the Global New Light of Myanmar reported.
The ministry’s statement also warned that any workers who block factories and prevent them from operating would face legal action.
“The statement released by the ministry Monday also mentioned that employers have demanded the government to provide protection of law to their factories so that they can continue to run their businesses at peace as blocking businessmen, staff and sales agents in the factories and blocking the entrance of the factories by striking workers reached above the existing law,” the newspaper reported.
20150228 * Protest without imprisonment:
“What is happening in Burma is a constitutional crisis,” says Bo Gyi, co-founder of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), on the subject of the right to protest.
“We can see some changes in the country, but not a transitional change,” Bo Gyi told DVB, speaking at his office in Mae Sot, just a stone’s throw from the Thai-Burmese border, where he has lived in exile since fleeing Burma after seven years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of Burma’s Military Intelligence for his democratic activism.
After the establishment of AAPP in 2000, Bo Gyi and his colleagues have campaigned tirelessly for the release and rehabilitation of prisoners of conscience, drawing international attention to the issue.
Last week, fourteen people were imprisoned for six months for their activism against a 1990s land grab in Michaungkan, a suburb in eastern Rangoon. Protests on the issues have included a seven-month-long occupation of Maha Bandula Park in the city centre of Rangoon, during which a 71-year-old woman died from the ill effects of such a prolonged open-air demonstration.
This month, protests by workers in Rangoon’s industrial zones have been gaining traction as they call for better pay and working conditions.
Local government responded with threats of legal action, and police have been forced to deny that they instigated violence on 20 February, in which several protestors from a garment factory in Shwepyithar were injured.
Two alleged leaders of the strike, Naing Htay Lwin and Myo Min Min, were arrested and detained in Insein Prison, charged under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code.
10:40:45 local time BANGLADESH
20150301 * Fire at Ashulia factory, 30 injured in stampede:
“Sparkle of fire created due to an electric short circuit but the factory authorities controlled it immediately”
Thirty people have been injured in a stampede when the garment workers were stepping down from the factory following fire panic.
The incident took place at Next Collection in Narshinghapur area of Ashulia around 11am on Sunday.
Ashulia Industrial Police Director Mostafizur Rahman said: “Some 25-30 workers were stampeded while they were gettiing out from the factory after being paniced by fire news.”
“Of the injured, four workers are in critical condition,” he said.
20150301 * Duty-free building materials fail to woo RMG makers:
Despite zero import duty, the country’s RMG manufacturers are unwilling to import prefabricated building materials for relocating factories and make them compliant as entrepreneurs think the structure still remains expensive.
In the current budget, the government on certain condition allowed the export-oriented RMG sector to import duty-free raw materials needed for the manufacture of the required prefabricated buildings.
This duty-free import was aimed to help create favorable and safer production environment in line with international standards.
The duty-free import of the materials was expected to help encourage the RMG factories housed in shared buildings and want to be relocated for making them compliant.
The safety issues came under spotlight following the collapse of Rana Plaza. Relocation of factories outside Dhaka had emerged amid pressure from the global buyers.
20150301 * Garment trade body demand payment of all dues of Chunji Knit workers:
Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre on Saturday announced to lay siege to the BGMEA Bhaban on Monday if the dues of the workers of Chunji Knit Limited are not paid by the owners by that time.
The Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre announced the siege at a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club, organised by the workers of Chunji Knit Limited, a factory located at Tongi in the district, demanding the payment of their dues.
Addressing the human chain, Chunji worker Ali Hossain said several thousand workers are passing their days in great misery as they have not received their wages since November last.
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20150301 * Over 100 RMG workers fall sick in Gazipur:
Authorities of ‘Mouchak Knitwear’ announced the factory closed as more than 100 workers fell sick drinking water from factory’s supply line on Sunday.
Mouchak Police Outpost in-charge Sub-Inspector (SI) Saiful Islam confirmed the matter to banglanews.
Police said the workers started becoming sick from 8:30am after drinking supply water from the factory.
The authorities sent the ailing workers to the several clinics in Mouchak and Konabari areas and declared the factory closed at 11:00am.
20150302 * Alliance for Bangladesh names new CSO:
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety Monday announced the appointment of fire safety expert Mark Chubb to serve as Chief Safety Officer (CSO).
In this role, he will oversee fire safety operations and training in Bangladesh and guide remediation efforts in all factories from which Alliance Members source.
“Mark will ensure that the Alliance continues to bring world-class expertise to factory remediation and fire safety programs for Bangladesh garment workers,” said Alliance Independent Chair Ellen Tauscher. “His role as an advisor will be critical to factories from which the Alliance sources, as they ensure compliance with our strict standards.”
Mark Chubb is a certified chief fire officer and fire service health and safety officer with more than 30 years of experience in fire safety and emergency management.
A seasoned expert in emergency response, crisis management and the implementation of fire safety training and emergency management programs, he has held leadership roles in public safety, firefighting and emergency management across the United States and in New Zealand.
20150303 * Making of a denim hub:
Keraniganj’s transformation has not been spectacular like areas such as Gulshan, Banani and Uttara for understandable reasons.
Located not far from the capital’s heart, its greatest disadvantage is its separation from the city by the river Buriganga.
Although the area may not acquire the posh characteristics of a diplomatic enclave or living quarters of the rich and elite of society, Keraniganj has been undergoing quiet changes to earn an enviable epithet of economic miracle.
Already nicknamed Bangladesh’s Shaoxing, the Chinese city famous for producing denim wears, Keraniganj’s rise to fame however owes to a modest beginning when a few enterprising persons opted for producing jeans instead of modifying used clothes.
A report carried in this newspaper quotes a few such pioneering men who have expanded their business from a small beginning.
There has indeed been a revolution in jeans manufacturing in Keraniganj but not many are aware of this because of the hub’s location on the other side of the Buriganga.
20150301-02 * Denim makers altering Keraniganj landscape:
A worker carrying denim bottoms to the factory from the nearby washing plant in Keraniganj.— FE Photo
Thousands of denim products manufacturers across the Buriganga river have made their mark and are now exploring export potentials after meeting a major portion of domestic demand, owners said.
The jeans product producers have created jobs for more than 0.3 million people and are capable of supplying over 70 per cent of the country’s total demand for denim wears.
Albeit informally, the manufacturers have also forayed into the export markets by exporting small volume of the products to countries such as India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar in recent years.
Considering the growing number of factories and sound production atmosphere, insiders liken it to China’s Shaoxing city.
Located on the bank of the Buriganga, Keraniganj is home to an estimated 5,500 small and medium-sized factories, mostly denim making units that make various types of clothing for local customers.
Wholesalers and retailers from all over the country come to purchase the good quality products from a cluster of 200 markets in the textile hub.
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20150303 * RMG – the opposites of market fall and rise:
Two distinctly opposing reports have done the rounds recently in the newspapers.
One, a substantial increase in export of garments to new and non-traditional markets in the past months; and the other, a marked fall of export to the traditional markets.
Of the two, the former seems to have received more focus, as an admirable feat in diversifying export markets.
The recent surge in export to new markets is believed to be the result of some incentives that the government announced for the garment exporters by way of cash benefit, coupled with the drive of the exporters to penetrate those markets in a big way.
Relaxation of rules of origin (RoO) in some of these markets may have also contributed to the growth.
According to Export Promotion Bureau sources, export of garments to new destinations rose 15.47 per cent to $1.87 billion, on year-on-year basis, in the first six months (July-December) of the current fiscal.
These markets include Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. Markets that witnessed the highest growth are China (24 per cent), Australia (13.5 per cent), Korea (12.75 per cent) and India (10.14 per cent).
No matter whether the export orders were procured in the last half of the current fiscal year or shipped out during the same period, the fact that export to these markets has picked up substantially feels refreshing.
20150303 * Muhith assures businesses of looking into demands:
Recouping losses due to political turmoil
Finance Minister AMA Muhith assured the businesses on Monday of looking into their demands, including relaxation of loan repayment provision, to help them recoup the losses caused the ongoing political stalemate.
“The prevailing political impasse is a serious impediment (to the country’s overall trade and economy). And I understand you (businessmen) are suffering because of it. We have to think what can be done for you,” Mr Muhith said.
“We will discuss internally to decide what to do,” he said while talking to a group of businesspeople, led by BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, at his secretariat office in the city.
20150302 * RMG makers to meet with Muhith today for placing demands:
The county’s apparel makers will meet Finance Minister AMA Muhith at his secretariat office today to place a series of demands for recovering the losses they have so far incurred in the wake of the ongoing countrywide political violence.
The demands include deferred payment of loans, rescheduling of terms loans and other incentives.
“We will meet the Finance Minister today to appraise him about the current situation in the RMG sector and to place a set of demands to cope up with the losses incurred due to political unrest since January 5,” Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Md Atiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
20150301 * Apparel leaders pressing govt to meet demands:
Associations of the country’s apparel sector are pressing the government to address around two and a half dozen issues which they say have been hampering their business, officials said.
They have been pursuing the issues with the ministry of commerce to convince the finance ministry to meet the demands since most of those are linked with the policy decisions of the revenue board and the central bank.
The demands, including extending the bonded warehouse facility to six months from the existing three months and waiver of advance tax on imported raw materials, have been raised amid the nationwide transport blockade and intermittent hartals.
The associations as also sought waiver of value added tax on gas, electricity and water, special fund for establishment and renovation of factories and two per cent additional cash incentive for compliance and easy loan for effluent treatment plants.
20150301-02 * Businesses to go to court today over losses for unrest:
The beleaguered business community is set to go to court today to seek a solution to the ongoing political violence that has been causing them damages to the tunes of hundreds of crores of taka.
The lawyers will submit a writ petition to the High Court seeking a legal framework through which the businesses can seek compensation for the financial losses suffered as a result of the political parties’ demonstration programmes.
“We are not going to court to stop political parties from calling blockades and strikes. We are going to court to stop violence and arson attacks on the goods-laden vehicles,” said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, a former president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
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20150301 * Tangail handloom business in deep trouble:
The handloom business in Tangail, the most prominent base of the traditional craft in the country, is facing a loss of around Tk50 crore because of the current political state.
Sales have dropped alarmingly since the BNP-led 20-party alliance enforced hartal and blockade, which had directly affected the production of handloom saris, claimed many loom owners as well as weavers.
There are around 60,000 handlooms in Tangail handloom locality, according to a 2013 census. Sources said around 325,000 people – weavers and businessmen – are dependent on the handloom industry here for their
Under normal circumstances, business is good all year round with a boost in sales during major festivals such as Eid and puja. “We usually sell around 1,000 pieces of sari per week,” said Raghunath Bashak, proprietor of handloom shop Jaggeshwar and Co and convener of Tangail Handloom Sari Traders’ Association.
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20150301 * Int’l HSE training now in B’desh:
The globally reputed health and safety training SAMTRAC international is now available in Bangladesh.
The training stipulates occupational health, safety and environment management through a state-of-the-art e-learning platform.
Announcing the introduction of the training in the capital Saturday BizCare, a local consultancy firm, said it can help contribute to the improvement of health and safety conditions in all organizations particularly the readymade garments and other industries.
It said, SAMTRAC is a unique training course in HSE, which has become fast popular in several countries across the world both in the developed and the developing ones.
20150228 * 29-point suggestions to boost export-oriented textile sector:
A government core group has placed 29-point recommendations aiming to support export-oriented textile sector by making existing rules pragmatic and providing attractive incentives, officials said.
The body, comprising public officials and stakeholders, submitted the report recently to the ministry of commerce (MoC). The ministry will convene an inter-ministerial meeting on March 8 to decide on implementation of the recommendations, they added.
Director General of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Mafruha Sultana led the 12-member core group.
20150302 * Licence for jute trading to be made mandatory:
The government will incorporate some new provisions into the proposed Jute Act, 2015 that include taking mandatory licence for jute trade and allowing government to supervise the sector, an official said.
The Ministry of Textiles and Jute (MoTJ) has already prepared the draft Jute Act, 2015. However, the proposed draft law will allow the farmers to sell their raw jute without taking licence.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150303 * Rana Plaza victims get garments tools:
A total of 26 Rana Plaza victims here got garments devices from a local non-governmental organization on Sunday for creating their working opportunity.
Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK) distributed the equipment to the victims with the financial support of German Cooperation. Deputy Commissioner M Ehsan-e-Elahi formally handed over the devices to the victims at a function held on the office premises of Nashratpur area of Sadar upazila as the chief guest.
He thanked the GUK for helping the victims with garments tools. Chief executive of GUK Abdus Salam, director Anzum Nahid Chowdhury and journalists were present on the occasion.
to read in News in Brief. & to read.
10:10:45 local time INDIA
20150301 * Revise minimum powerloom wages every 5 years : HC to Maha govt:
Bombay High Court has said the Maharashtra government is bound by statutory provisions to undertake a review of minimum wages payable to workers in the powerloom sector at least once in five years.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice B P Colabawalla on February 2 heard a public interest litigation filed by Anna Patil highlighting the inaction on the part of the State government in not revising the rate of minimum wages applicable to labourers in the powerloom sector.
His advocate Akshay Patil argued that since 1986 the minimum wages payable to workers were as low as Rs 300/- per month in municipal corporation areas and in its periphery and upto Rs 250/- in municipal council areas and others.
20150301 * 4 months on, no progress on green belt project:
Four months have passed since the National Textile Corporation Limited proposed to offer 25 acres of vacant land for the corporation’s green belt project.
Though a green city committee was formed for this purpose and machinery was also bought, no step has been taken to implement any of these proposed plans.
While officials cite absence of senior officials and transfer of S Ganesh, former corporation commissioner, as reasons for the delay, sources said the project has been put in the backburner due to the current political scenario in the state.
“With officials busy with several other celebrations and elections, it is very difficult for us to implement any new scheme or project,” said one official.
20150301 * Hike in service tax will make industry uncompetitive: AEPC:
The garment exporters body requested the Finance Minister to re-consider their suggestions such as giving 3% interest subsidy for the sector
Unhappy with certain Budget proposals, Garment exporters body AEPC today said increase in service tax would make the industry uncompetitive in the global market.
Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Virender Uppal requested Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to re-consider their suggestions such as giving 3% interest subsidy for the sector.
Read our full coverage on Union Budget
“Full taxes are not refunded by the government for exports as such further increases in excise duty to 12.5% and service tax to 14% would make the industry further uncompetitive,” Uppal said in a statement.
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20150301 * Textile industry disappointed:
The textile industry has expressed disappointment over the budget announcements as the major demands have not been met.
Confederation of Indian Textile Industry Chairman Prem Malik said the allocation for the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme had been reduced to Rs.1,520 crore for 2015-16 from Rs.1,864 crore allocated for 2014-15.
Payments under the scheme were pending for the last three quarters and the provision had to be doubled to disburse the pending amount.
Reduction in allocation for the scheme would not encourage investment in the sector. The hike in service tax would have an adverse impact on the textile industry, he said.
Southern India Mills’ Association Chairman T. Rajkumar said in a press release that while the government had extended the optional Cenvat route for cotton textiles this year too, it had not considered some of the major demands of the textiles and clothing sector.
20150301 * No textile hub for Punjab: Millers, farmers upset:
Hopes of Punjab cotton ginners, traders and farmers of getting big-ticket investment and technology upgradation for textiles in Malwa region were dashed with the NDA government not fulfilling its promise of ‘5Fs’ as assured by Narendra Modi last year in the run-up to the general elections.
During the interim Budgetpresented by Arun Jaitley on July 10, 2014, he left out Punjab while announcing eight textiles mega clusters at Varanasi, Bareilly, Lucknow, Surat, Kutch, Bhagalpur, Mysore and Tamil Nadu with an investment of Rs 200 crore. Malwa region’s cotton farmers and traders were hopeful that the Centre would fulfill its promise in the current Budget.
2015028 * No sops for textiles but likely to benefit indirectly:
Though the textile industry is one of the major contributors to India’s export basket, the Budget did not have much for the industry in specific, industry players said.
The industry expected measures to further encourage exports including a 7-8 per cent cap on interest rates for textile exporters, reduction of the interest burden and more investments.
The industry also expected some announcement with regards to continuation of the interest subvention scheme, which was discontinued in 2014.
2015028 * Knitwear sector’s demand for lower interest on credit justified:
The Economic Survey 2014-15, tabled in Parliament by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday has vindicated the demand of the knitwear industry for availability of credit at lower interests for ensuring growth through expansion of production capabilities.
The Survey report has indicated that the growth of credit flow to manufacturing sector, in which textiles is a major segment, was 13.3 per cent in 2014-15 when compared to the growth of 25.4 per cent registered in 2013-14.
“Tepid growth can be reversed only if the interest rates are brought down on the loans extended by banks, which has been one of the long pending demands of the textile sector.
20150301 * Duty cut to heal Kanpur leather industry:
There is an air of excitement in Kanpur, the largest producer of leather and leather goods in the world, following the FM’s decision to slash the excise duty on footwear with leather uppers worth Rs 1000 and more from 12% to 6%.
It was a long-pending demand from the Kanpur leather industry to push the sluggish sales.
Kanpur leather and tannery industry brings foreign exchange worth Rs 6,000 crore to the country and gives direct livelihood to more than one lakh people.
The city accounts for 40% of leather exports and had upstaged Chennai to take the number one position for exporting leather a few years ago.
With an annual turnover is Rs 500-600 crore, there are nearly 600 big and small players manufacturing footwear for domestic as well foreign market.
2015028 * NGT team inspects Jajmau tanneries:
Ateam of National Green Tribunal on Friday inspected tanneries and secondary treatment plant at Wajidpur.
The team also collected water samples from factories and hand-pumps installed in nearby localities of Jajmau and Sikhpur village and interacted with locals.
The team was accompanied by representatives of UP Pollution Control Board (UPCB) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) and National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
20150302 * Fire mishap at Aarvee Denims’ Ahmedabad unit:
Aarvee Denims & Exports has informed the exchanges that at the company’s Vijay Farm unit in Narol, Ahmedabad, fire broke out on Monday, damaging fabric inspection and packing, garment washing, printing and laser departments.
Due to the fire mishap, finished and stock in process of fabric stocks, plant & machineries, building, ceiling, electrical cables, wires, electronic components and others were damaged.
The company is in the process of estimating the loss and investigating the cause of the fire. It has lodged an insurance claim. Shares of Aarvee Denims edged down 1.1 per cent at ₹46.45 on the NSE.
20150301 * Cotton destroyed in fire:
Cotton worth over Rs. 25 lakh was lost in a fire which engulfed a private cotton mill on the outskirts of Shahapur town in Yadgir district on Saturday.
Fire and Emergency Services personnel, who rushed to the spot immediately, put it out after a long struggle.
A case has been registered in Shahapur Police Station.
2015028 * Farmers hope for focus on irrigation, cotton:
There is a feeling of being let down among farmers. They feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has till date done nothing to fulfill his election promises and on top of it his government is now bringing a land acquisition law that would deny farmers their basic rights.
If the Union budget on Saturday fails to provide much needed relief, Modi government is sure to incur farmers’ wrath.
“Modi was catapulted to power by people last year. In his election speeches, he said he understood problems of Vidarbha’s suicide-prone farmers and would address their issues on priority,” said Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti.
“At a ‘Chaii pe charcha’ interaction with cotton growers at Dabhadi village of Arni taluka in Yavatmal, he specifically promised better remunerative prices for cotton,” said Tiwari.
2015028 * Tailored for semi-urban workers:
All in a day’s work Garment workers buy veggies outside their factory, on the outskirts of Tiptur, Karnataka, as they wait for transport back home
Urban land and labour costs are pushing garment units in South India to small towns
Around 5.30pm every day, a shandy-type marketplace props up in front of a garment manufacturing unit on the outskirts of Tiptur, about 122km from Bengaluru.
Hundreds of the factory’s women workers halt at these makeshift stalls to buy vegetables, eatables and other knick-knacks before heading home.
The year-old factory belonging to Wearwel, a Gokaldas Exports company, is located at the industrial estate at Bandihalli Gate on National Highway 206. Yet another factory, belonging to Page Industries Ltd, which manufactures Jockey innerwear, is coming up on the other side of the highway.
For the women in the villages around Tiptur, the coconut heartland of Karnataka, the arrival of these factories is proving to be a major boon, opening up hundreds of job opportunities.
Bhagya, a housewife-turned-garment worker and mother of two in Tiptur, suddenly finds handy the tailoring skills she had picked up as a young girl.
“I earn a little over Rs. 6,000 a month and this additional income is helping my family,” she says.
Her only worry is that she has to spend the entire day at the factory and is unable to give sufficient attention to her children, aged 12 and 14.
Her husband works as a clerk for a local trader.
Annapurna from nearby Hindiskere village is similarly able to supplement her family’s income.
Some of the women workers belong to agriculturist families and travel 30-50 km to work every day.
Additionally, the garment units are creating allied jobs in transport and other sectors.
To cut costs, a growing number of garment makers are shifting their manufacturing operations from Bengaluru to Tier II and Tier III cities and towns in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
10:10:45 local time SRI LANKA
20150301 * Private sector wants legislation on Rs.2500 wage hike:
Trade unions, representing nearly eight million private sector and informal sector workers, are launching an SMS campaign from March 5 until a scheduled rally – possibly accompanied by a token strike – on March 12 demanding the government pay workers the Rs.2500 increase through legislative means.
On Thursday, the involved trade unions (TUs) agreed to submit another letter to the minister requesting a postponement of the Wages Board meeting scheduled from February 29- March 3, Free Trade Zone and General Services employees Union, Joint Secretary, Anton Marcus told the Business Times on Friday.
The TUs have cited the fact that this meeting would be held despite opposition from TUs as well as against the decision reached at the last National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) meeting.
Mr. Marcus said that during the NLAC meeting with Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne and the Employers Federation Director General Ravi Peiris, the TUs had insisted on the minister to bring in legislation to provide the Rs.2500 as budgetary relief allowance.
20150301 * Reclaiming GSP+ is under 100-day program – Rishad:
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen last week said that reapplying for EU GSP+, regaining the market access for fish and fisheries products to EU, exploring market access through existing and new FTAs would be important tasks undertaken by his Ministry in the Government’s 100-days program.
Addressing an official seminar on “Trade Policy and Export Development and Promotion – 100 Days and Beyond” at EDB Minister Bathiudeen also noted that at present, export sector of Sri Lanka makes up not around 15% but around 20.1% of Sri Lanka’s GDP.
“We have set an ambitious target of $20 billion export revenue by 2020, giving sustainable support to doubling of our per capita income.
This is an achievable target and for this, we need to develop new products, identify new markets and new buyers.
09:40:45 local time PAKISTAN
20150301 * Minimum wages:
In the 2014-15 budget, the federal and provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa raised the minimum wage from Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 a month for unskilled workers.
Sindh has also raised its minimum wage from Rs10,000 to Rs11,000 a month. But Balochistan has decided to retain its earlier minimum wage of Rs9,000 a month which was set in 2012.
In Pakistan, however, minimum wages are determined by Minimum Wage Boards constituted under Ordinance, 1961, which applies to all industrial establishments’ employees whether skilled, unskilled or apprentices and even domestic workers but the ordinance has been dishonoured by most of the industries.
Private and semi-government educational institutions such as public schools, especially in rural areas, exploit their employees by denying commensurate compensation to them.
20150303 * Labour leaders reject privatisation plan of government:
* The PILER executive director says privatisation has caused heavy losses to the national exchequer
Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee, a representative body of trade unions and labour support organisations of the province, has rejected the privatisation plan of the government and termed it an anti-labour step of the government.
The members of the Committee at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Monday announced to support the campaign of All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Workers Union against privatisation of Wapda and other public sector organisations.
Habibuddin Junaidi of All Pakistan Trade Union Organisation, Shafiq Ghauri of Sindh Labour Federation, Malik Lal Khan of Trade Union Defence Campaign, Mehboobur Rehman of All Pakistan Wapda Hydro Electric Workers Union, Shaikh Majeed of PIA Skyways Union, Muhammad Jafar Khan of Muttahida Labour Union, Jaleel Shah of KPT Labour Union, Rehana Yasmeen of Hosiery Garments General Workers Union Sindh, Lateef Mughal of Peoples Labour Federation and other trade union leaders attended the press conference.
The labour leaders demanded the government include experts with economic and social sciences background in the Privatisation Commission for protection of workers’ rights. In the past the privatisation process has left negative impact on workers, as thousands of workers were rendered jobless, they said.
read more. & read more.
20150303 * Pakistan Textile City Karachi project on the verge of collapse: minister tells National Assembly Committee:
The Pakistan Textile City Karachi project is on the verge of collapse, incurring huge loss to the national exchequer as the government is paying about Rs 400 million as interest on banks loans per annum.
This was revealed by Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile Industry here on Monday. The meeting was presided over by Khawaja Ghulam Rasool Koreja.
The Textile Minister sought parliamentarians help in this regard, saying the project should either be shelved or developed as there are too many issues including gas and electricity provision. He said that if the project succeeds, it will play a pivotal role in country”s economy.
20150303 * Rs1.6bn textile projects cleared:
The National Assembly standing committee on textile has approved development projects worth Rs1.616 billion for the fiscal year 2015-16.
The committee, headed by MNA Ghulam Rasool Koreja, finalised the budgetary proposals for inclusion in the next Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2015-16.
The textile industry proposed that Pakistan Textile City Karachi must be on agenda in the next meeting so that the issues related to the project can be addressed as soon as possible. The project would provide employment to over 50,000 people.
The projects approved include Rs598.5 million for the establishment of garments city in Faisalabad (Phase-11) and Rs60m for Faisalabad Garment City Training Centre.
20150303 * NA textile body okays Rs69.37b PSDP budgetary proposals:
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile Industry, here on Monday approved Rs 69370 million worth PSDP Budgetary proposals for the year 2015-16, after a detailed discussion.
During the 7th meeting of the committee, under the chair of Ghulam Rasool Koreja, Faisalabad Garment city phase 2 worth Rs598.
5 million, Faisalabad Garment City Training Centre costing Rs60 million, Karachi garment city phase 1, amounting Rs805.
119 million, were discussed in detail.
read more. & read more.
20150303 * Ties with Bangladesh: Direct shipping line suggested:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman SM Tanveer has said that there is an urgent need of a direct shipping line between Karachi and Chittagong, Bangladesh in order to enhance bilateral trade even further.
In a meeting with Bangladesh High Commissioner Sohrab Hussain on Monday, the Aptma chief highlighted the association’s importance for the Pakistan economy, according to a press release.
He said that Pakistan’s total exports to Bangladesh stood at $710 million in 2013-14, out of which $709 million were textile exports.
read more. & read more.
20150303 * Payment of Mark-up Support for Textile Sector: SBP asks banks/DFIs to lodge claims:
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has directed the banks/DFIs to lodge claims for Mark up Support for Textile Sector against Long Term Loans for the six months period from September 2011 to February 2012.
Under the scheme, Ministry of Textile Industry (MINTEX) supports in extent of 5 percent or the difference in mark-up rate between floating rate loan and LTF rate, which is lower.
The subsidy paid by the commercial banks/DFIs on six months basis in March and September each year subject to release of necessary budgetary allocation by the federal government.
20150301 * Govt urged to provide gas to lure investment:
Textile manufacturers have asked the government to immediately pay tax refunds and provide gas on a priority basis in order to increase exports and attract foreign investment in the sector.
CEO Trade and Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) S M Muneer, at the International Textile Conference & Awards 2015 on Saturday, said the government should immediately pay sales tax refund to business community, which has become a hurdle in the economic growth.
“If government refunds, we will take exports to US$5 billion this year,” he said, adding Pakistani companies should also introduce brands on local and international level besides investing in research and development.
2015028 * Gas supply to Punjab-based textile mills improves:
The Sui gas supply to the Punjab-based textile industry has been increased to six hours a day temporarily against four hours a day earlier.
However, the textile circles are yet expecting more in order to ensure full operations of production capacities.
Industry sources said the SNGPL has restricted the gas supply to six hours a day due to some technical problems and hopes are high that the gas supply would soon touch eight hours a day, as it was on February 8.
The sources said the industry was losing productivity fast due to the non-availability of uninterrupted energy supply on affordable rates in Punjab.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150302 * Call to punish culprits of Baldia factory fire:
Singer Jawad Ahmed, who sang for the victims of the Baldia factory fire and has been struggling for the cause of their families since the incident occurred in September 2012, has demanded fresh investigation into the incident — reckoned as the worst fire in the country’s history — and asked the authorities concerned to punish the culprits no matter how they were influential or belonged to any group or party.
“It is a secondary thing whether this case is being tried in a military court or any other court, the affected families want punishment for those who were behind the killing of so many innocent people,” said Ahmed, now a leader of his organisation called International Youth and Workers Movement, while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
“All politicians do speak about the rights of labourers, but none of them have launched an effective movement to attain those rights. All political parties want to protect the capitalist system to their own advantage,” said Ahmed.
“The minimum wage for a labourer is Rs12,000 a month, I humbly ask our political leaders that can they run their house with such a meagre amount?”
He said the Baldia incident exposed the worst conditions at workplaces and those conditions could only be improved through sustained and sincere efforts.
He said it was time to take practical measures for workers’ rights.
20150301 * Voicing concern: Jawad Ahmad to launch movement for labourers:
The labour community in Pakistan need to start a political movement against the injustices meted out by industrialists since no political party in the country is ready to speak up for them. This was proclaimed by renowned singer and central committee member of the International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM), Jawad Ahmad.
Ahmad announced that his organisation, IYWM, will start a political movement for labourers across the country.
The campaign that has already begun in Punjab will gather the youth, students, farmers and labourers and attempt to unite them for the cause. “We think the labour community should start a political movement.
For this, I request trade union leaders and the labour fraternity to join hands and be part of it.”
At a press conference with the representatives of the Pakistan National Trade Unions Federation on Sunday, Ahmed shared his song, ‘sun lo keh hum mazdoor hain’, which he composed after the incident of the Baldia factory fire in September 2012.
In the past few months, Ahmed has taken his message of unity and solidarity to other cities of the country as the incidences of labor victimisation have become increasingly common.
With regards to the recent political turn that the Baldia factory fire case has taken, Ahmed said that to this day, no one was talking about the real issues at hand inside the factory sites.
“Not a single party in Pakistan is working to address labourers’ issues.
20150301 * Baldia factory fire: NBWs issued for Rizwan Qureshi:
A district and sessions court has issued non-bailable warrants (NBWs) of arrest for Rizwan Qureshi, who revealed alleged political involvement in the Baldia factory fire tragedy, in a number of cases of targeted killings and possession of illicit weapons.
According to a joint investigation team report submitted to the Sindh High Court in the first week of February, Qureshi had told interrogators that members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had been involved in the incident that claimed 260 lives on September 11, 2012.
Qureshi has been booked in five cases of murder and one of possessing illicit weapons. He failed to appear before the court on February 25, his first hearing since his allegations became public. Justice Tariq Mehmood Khoso therefore issued NBWs for the suspect as well as notices for his guarantors. The next hearing is on March 17.
* Perspectives: Life of a Trade Union Leader:
Historically, I became the first female General Secretary of UTGLAWU from 2005. I have worked in the garment industry all my life as a designer/tailor.
Because I was an active organizer of workers, immediately I was promoted to an assistant quality supervisor position by management in order to leave my position in Union. However, my position in the union remained.
My first day of work was difficult because I only saw problems not work. It felt more of punishment than work.
I was forced to take a course in designing/tailoring by my cousin who paid my school fees. I was from a polygamous family where my dad had two wives, so we were many and my dad could not pay for all of us.
My cousin’s wife had no blessing for me to go further with studies; she never wanted me to take a secretarial course which is what I wanted. She fought to bring my future down.
This is one of the pull force which is common among women.
Nevertheless, little did I know that it was the beginning of my journey to another Promised Land and a blessing in disguise because it made me what I am today as a devoted trade unionist.
I love to be called a unionist than anything else. I eventually pursued a Certificate and Diploma in Public Administration in Institute of Advance Leadership (IAL) overcoming my humble background.
I quickly rose up though ranks as a member of the Union, Shopsteward, holding various positions in Union leadership up to federation level as a Treasurer General.
I attended various trade union trainings at Tombya Labour college(certificate),ILO-International Training Center-Turin Italy acquiring various certificates in the Trade Union field. Later, I was democratically elected in 2005 for the post of General Secretary winning over two male candidates.
UTGLAWU’s membership is mostly female. Women face many challenges ranging from long hours of work, sexual harassment, lack of maternity leave, lack of compensation, accident, workers safety, low salary and gender inequality.
Through advocacy, awareness raising and with support from the global union federation (ITGLWF by then) and with my involvement locally, we managed to mostly change the leadership status quo of the Union from 100% male to 50% female.
The labour laws that we enjoy today is because of the team work and our commitment to unions, although we were small at that time.
These were big achievements for the workers of Uganda as the 51% organizing requirement was amended and removed out of the law.
It was a new beginning for the Union and labour fraternity in Uganda in general.
Though the living wage is still below poverty level but we managed to rise minimum of 50,000Ugx to 117,000Ugx currently, achieved maternity leave for female workers and paternity leave for male worker, companionate leave (emergency leave with pay), death benefits, terminal benefits/retirement.etc.
* Rising to the top of the footwear industry through Decent Work:
As we approach International Women’s Day, ILO News talks to Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, a young Ethiopian entrepreneur who created one of the world’s fastest growing footwear brands by betting on Decent Work
“It was pretty basic. We self-financed. Five workers plus myself working inside a workshop situated on my grandmother’s plot of land inside our village of Zenabwork,” recalls Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, now CEO and managing director of soleRebels, one of the first global footwear brands to emerge from a developing country.
“Right from the start of 2004, we aimed to create, grow and control a world class footwear brand that would bring even more jobs and prosperity for the workers by leveraging the artisan skills of our community.”
Alemu, 34, was born and raised in Addis Ababa’s impoverished and marginalized Zenabwork area. Her mother and father, who worked as a cook and an electrician, respectively, had a huge influence on this woman who has recently become a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship.
* Made in Britain: UK textile workers earning £3 per hour:
New research by the University of Leicester suggests widespread exploitation and employment law violations in the UK textile industry
While Leicester’s giant red brick spinning mills might have fallen silent, they have been replaced by the noise of thousands sewing machines whirring across a network of small garment factories and workshops that criss-cross the city.
However, “Made in Britain”, may not be what you might expect, with a damning new report of endemic exploitation inside the East Midlands garment industry.
According to researchers at the University of Leicester, there were 11,700 employees in the sector in 2010. From this workforce 75-90% were being paid £3 per hour. This is less than half of the legal minimum wage of £6.50 and far below the UK living wage of £7.85 per hour.
The report estimates that workers are being collectively denied roughly £1m in wages each week, and forced to complement their wages with welfare benefits. On top of that it details widespread workplace practices including: inadequate health and safety standards, bullying, threats, arbitrary humiliation, denial of toilet breaks, theft of maternity pay and the absence of employment contracts.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one fashion designer describes working in a Leicester design studio, which had a factory attached where designs for UK high street retailers were produced within weeks.
“Through talking to the workers we found out that many of them were paid less than £3 per hour,” she said.
“This factory was one of the better ones, yet it had no contracts, paid less than the minimum wage, health and safety breaches were widespread and the workforce had little or no awareness of what they were entitled to as employees.”