18:55:01 local time CHINA
20150311 * UPDATE 1-China shoe factory workers end strike over benefits:
Employees at a shoe factory in southern China that lists international fashion houses among its customers returned to work on Wednesday after going on strike this week over benefits, the company and a labour activist said.
The strike at Stella International Holdings Ltd’s Xing Ang factory in the city of Dongguan started on Sunday with workers concerned about government housing fund contributions and payouts.
The strike involved 5,000 to 6,000 people, according to activists and a worker, making it one of China’s biggest strikes at a factory since April last year when about 40,000 employees of Adidas and Nike supplier Yue Yuen went on strike to demand social insurance payments.
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20150311 * Chinese shoe factory workers strike over benefits:
About 5,000 workers have gone on strike at a shoe manufacturer in southern China over benefits, two activists and a worker said, marking one of the biggest work-stoppages in the country in months.
The company that owns the factory, Stella International Holdings Ltd, lists Guess? Inc, Michael Kors Holding Ltd, Prada SpA and Burberry Group PLC among its customers.
China’s slowing economy, rising costs and the spread of social media have driven an increase in strikes. Last year, the number of strikes more than doubled to 1,378 from 656 the year before, according to China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based advocacy group.
The strike at Stella’s Xing Ang factory in the city of Dongguan started on Sunday with workers unhappy about not receiving housing assistance, said Liu Zai, who added she had not received the funds in eight years at the factory.
“We want an explanation. Why haven’t they paid this for so many years?” she said by telephone.
Liu and two activists said all of the factory’s workers, about 5,000 people, were on strike. On Wednesday, most were forced to return to their workplace but were still refusing to work, Liu said.
A spokeswoman for Stella International said only “a few hundred” workers had gone on strike, not 5,000.
“Discussions are still ongoing, but as of this morning almost all workers have returned to work,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email. She said she could not comment on production or customer orders because Stella International was under blackout ahead of its annual results announcement next week.
20150310 * Chinese Labor Strike: 5,000 Workers Strike At Factory Making Shoes For Nike, Timberland, Kenneth Cole; Police Dogs Deployed:
A strike at a Chinese factory that makes shoes for Nike, Timberland, Kenneth Cole and other popular brands grew on Tuesday to about 5,000 workers who are demanding their employer pay its government-mandated monthly housing allowance.
Workers for Stella Shoe Co., based in the southern industrial city of Dongguan, began the strike on Sunday and were joined Tuesday by hundreds more Stella employees from another facility.
Stella’s website says it makes shoes for the European market and has “sound employees” that “enjoy holiday labor law provisions.” Images posted on Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site, show hundreds of workers wearing orange and blue company uniforms gathered around the factory. Some images depict police forces and K-9 units milling around the striking workers.
20150311 * China reports lower-than-expected output, investment data:
The latest economic data suggests continued downward pressure on China after worse-than-expected figures for industrial activity and investment were released for the first two months of 2015.
Industrial output in the world’s second largest economy grew 6.8 percent year on year in January-February, down 1.1 percentage points compared to growth for December, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Wednesday.
18:55:01 local time PHILIPPINES
20150310 * Southern Tagalog labor leader found dead:
Florencio “Bong” Romano, long-time labor leader and organizer was found dead on March 8, International Women’s Day.
Florencio “Bong” Romano, a longtime labor organizer and the provincial coordinator of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights in Southern Tagalog, was reportedly last seen on Saturday, Mar. 7, when he visited a former colleague in Ludlod village in Lipa City.
He left at around 7 p.m., and took a tricycle to the City Park Subdivision, to his group’s office.
He was found dead the next day along a sidewalk of Soro-soro village in Batangas City.
The labor leader had a gunshot wound in his left chest, according to the report of a quick reaction team organized by Southern Tagalog-based labor groups Pamantik and Olalia-Kilusang Mayo Uno.
“The Aquino government is growing ever more desperate in preventing workers from forming unions and fighting for the implementation of a national minimum wage and the banning of contractual employment.
We trust that more Ka Bongs will emerge from the ranks of workers and continue the fight,” Elmer Labog, chairperson of KMU, said in a statement.
20150310 * KMU hits killing of Southern Tagalog organizer:
National labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the extra-judicial killing of one of its long-time organizers in the Southern Tagalog region, saying the crime is the latest addition to the long list of violations of workers’ rights under Pres. Noynoy Aquino.
The labor group said the killing of 63-year old Florencio “Bong” Romano, whose body was discovered last March 8 along the sidewalk of Barangay Soro-soro, Batangas City, is the 18th case of extra-judicial killing in the labor sector under Aquino.
“We angrily condemn the killing of Ka Bong, a beloved comrade and a dedicated organizer.
The Aquino government is committing all forms of violations of labor and human rights to prevent workers from forming genuine unions and collectively fighting for our rights,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
The labor leader said Romano, who has been a labor activist since 1984 as a union leader at the RFM firm in Laguna, is an organizer of contractual workers in Batangas and the provincial coordinator of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights in Southern Tagalog.
20150310 * Labor leader found dead in Batangas:
A trade union leader was found dead in Batangas City over the weekend in what militants described as the first extrajudicial killing in the Southern Tagalog region’s labor sector this year.
The body of Florencio “Bong” Romano, 63, was discovered around 6 a.m. on Sunday on the roadside in Barangay (village) Sorosoro in Batangas City, according to Hermie Marasigan, president of the Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Pamantik-KMU).
It bore a single bullet wound in the chest inflicted by a 9-mm pistol and bruises all over, Marasigan said in a phone interview on Monday, citing autopsy results.
Romano was the regional coordinator of the Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture, and a labor volunteer of the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights (NCPWR). Both groups are affiliated with Pamantik-KMU.
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17:55:01 local time VIET NAM
20150310 * Local authorities say no to more garment projects:
Foreign-invested textile and garment projects are no longer welcomed in many provinces in Vietnam because the gains they bring are smaller than the losses.
Nam Dinh provincial authorities reported that the locality has licensed foreign-invested 32 textile and garment projects. Of the four Chinese-invested projects licensed recently, two are in textile and dyeing, registered by Thien Nam Sunrise and Yulun Vietnam.
Deputy director of the Nam Dinh provincial Planning and Investment Department, Do Ngoc Hoa, said the other Chinese enterprises, Luenthai and Sanshui Jialida, teaming up with Vietnamese Vinatex, are moving ahead with a $400 million project on developing Rang Dong, an industrial park reserved for textile and garment companies.
However, while textile and garment projects are welcomed in Nam Dinh, they are being turned away in other provinces.
Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces in the south and Hai Duong province in the north have been restricting projects in the field.
Some sources said other provinces are considering adding textile and garment to the list of conditional business fields.
Bo Ngoc Thu, director of the Dong Nai provincial Planning and Investment Department, said textile and garment projects would only be licensed if they are located in industrial zones and the investors pledge to satisfy requirements on waste water treatment.
Meanwhile, Mai Hung Dung, director of Binh Duong Planning and Investment Department, said there is no textile and dyeing factory in Binh Duong. There are only garment factories.
“The added value that textile and garment projects can bring to the locality is smaller than the losses they cause to the environment,” Dung noted.
20150311 * Hanoi responds to National Labour Safety Week:
A campaign was launched in Hanoi by the municipal Confederation of Labour (HCL) on March 11 in response to the 17th annual National Week on Occupational Health and Safety – Fire and Explosion Prevention from March 15-21.
The municipal confederation called for collaboration among its chapters, local authorities and businesses to organise practical activities to protect worker interests and apply advanced technology to create safe working conditions.
20150310 * Trade union to promote workers rights:
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) to increase its coordination with the Government to better care for workers and protect their legitimate rights and interests including accommodations, living conditions and wages.
The two sides need to work together to address enterprise wage and insurance debts while co-organising movements among trade unions to develop production, business, and improve the living standards of members, he said.
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20150311 * EU-Vietnam FTA’s positive impacts on bilateral relations:
Vietnam and the EU will continue the 12th round of negotiations on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) on March 24 in Hanoi, which is expected the last session before the negotiations are concluded and the agreement signed.
The signing of the Agreement of Partnership and Cooperation and the EVFTA negotiations are positive signs in bilateral ties as Vietnam and the EU celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, said spokesman for the EC’s Trade Office Joseph Waldstein Wartenberg.
20150311 * Israeli apparel firm to build $13mn plant in Vietnam:
An Israeli textile firm is completing necessary procedures to break ground on a production facility in a south-central Vietnamese province after receiving the investment license last month.
Yossi Hajaj, chief financial officer with Delta Galil Industries, worked with the administration of Binh Dinh Province on Monday on the project, to be located at an industrial park in Cat Trinh Commune.
The Tel Aviv-based company was licensed on February 9 to invest US$13 million in the 18,000-square-meter production site, which will make textile and apparel products.
17:55:01 local time CAMBODIA
20150313 * Labour abuses swelling: report:
Systemic labour violations, union busting and corruption are the norm in Cambodia’s garment sector, according to a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch.
Titled Work Faster or Get Out, the 140-page report details the substandard working conditions faced by employees of exporting garment factories and their sub-contractors.
Through interviews with 340 people – including factory representatives and 270 garment workers at 73 factories – HRW concluded that the government, clothing brands and third-party monitors have failed to stem a variety of entrenched violations to Cambodian and international labour standards.
Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour and Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika did not respond to calls or text messages requesting comment yesterday.
Further, since the worst of these factories are subcontractors for larger companies, and lack export licenses, they fall outside the purview of Better Factories Cambodia, which focuses on export factories. But even at factories where third-party inspectors are the norm, violations are hidden, including during surprise inspections.
20150313 * ‘Systematic’ Labor Abuse at Garment Plants, Group Finds:
Forced overtime, child labor, union busting, abuse of short-term contracts and shadowy sub-contracted factories remain rampant in the country’s $5.75 billion garment sector amid “dismal” government oversight, the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in a new report.
“Work Faster or Get Out: Labor rights abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry,” released Thursday after interviews with hundreds of workers at dozens of factories last year, also blames the major international brands sourcing from Cambodia, including H&M and Adidas, of not doing enough to help workers.
The government and factories say the abuses are more the exception than the rule.
“But what we have found is systematic problems,” Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy director for Asia, said at the report’s launch in Phnom Penh.
“We see systematic use of [fixed duration contracts] to keep everybody on short-term contracts and ensure that they have no security at work. We see systematic union busing, retaliation against workers for exercising their rights guaranteed in the Constitution and in the Labor Law, and in the ILO [International Labor Organization] conventions that have been ratified by Cambodia,” Mr. Robertson said.
“We see systematic firing of pregnant women and avoidance of paying maternity benefits and other benefits that are due to workers. We see systematic harassment and forced overtime…and other basic things that the government and the factories should be providing,” he continued.
“This is not just one or two factories; this is the sector.”
Workers, unions and local labor rights groups have been complaining about many of the abuses raised in the report for years.
20150312 * Labor Laws Fail to Protect Garment Workers:
Brands Should Disclose Suppliers, Help Vulnerable Workers
The Cambodian government is failing to protect garment workers who are producing for international apparel brands from serious labor rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.
The predominantly women workers often experience forced overtime, pregnancy-based discrimination, and anti-union practices that neither the government nor major brands have adequately addressed.
The 140-page report, “‘Work Faster or Get Out’: Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry,” documents lax government enforcement of labor laws and brand actions that hinder monitoring and compliance. In recent years, wage protests, instances of garment workers fainting, and burdensome union registration procedures have spotlighted the plight of workers in Cambodia’s garment factories.
“The Cambodian government should take swift measures to reverse its terrible record of enforcing its labor laws and protect workers from abuse,” said Aruna Kashyap, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“These global apparel brands are household names.
They have a lot of leverage, and can and should do more to ensure their contracts with garment factories are not contributing to labor rights abuses.”
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20150313 * Cambodian garment workers rise up and face a crackdown:
When it comes to buying a T-shirt or jeans, most consumers pay little attention to the product’s provenance. But a new report on conditions at Cambodian garment factories shows why shoppers should care: A chronically overworked and underpaid workforce could well be behind their latest purchase.
Cambodia trails China and Bangladesh in total clothing exports. Yet an estimated 700,000 workers in the Southeast Asian country sew and package over $5 billion worth of clothing, textiles and shoes every year — constituting a third or more of the country’s GDP. It’s a powerful sector and, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), one riddled with abuse.
The report finds that in factories supplying clothes to Armani, Adidas, Gap, Marks & Spencer, H&M and Joe Fresh, among others, workers — nearly all of them young women — are paid a pittance.
Many are forced to work double and triple shifts, kept on temporary contracts and face retaliation when they try to unionize or become pregnant, advocates say.
Such alleged abuses continue despite guarantees in Cambodia’s 1997 labor law and oversight by Better Factories Cambodia, a non-governmental body established in 2001 as a condition of trade with the U.S.
“Cambodia has taken a huge step backwards in terms of freedom of association. They’ve arrested prominent trade-union leaders; they used lethal force to shoot and kill striking workers,” said Joel Preston, consultant for the Community Legal Education Center.
Athit Kong knows what it is like to be targeted for union activities. He started out as a garment worker in 1999 and was soon fired for organizing workers. Now vice president of the 60,000-member Coalition of Apparel Workers Democratic Union, he says he believes the movement is at a tipping point.
“When I first started, nobody knew about the labor law. Now, workers know more,” he said. “This is a key time — do we get stronger or stay the same?”
Pichda Kim, legal and labor manager for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), which represents nearly 600 factories, said the strikes of recent years were illegal and took place against the wishes of other workers.
20150312 * HRW: Labor Laws Fail To Protect Garment Workers:
Human Rights Watch accused Cambodia’s government of failing to enforce labor laws that should protect garment workers, who produce billions of dollars worth of apparel for international brands.
The international rights watchdog said Thursday that workers are routinely pressured to work overtime, unionists are pressured to minimize demands, toilet breaks are cut short, and pregnant women are often denied jobs. To skirt international exposure, factories supplying major retailers often subcontract work to smaller factories. They also hire staff on short-term contracts to prevent workers from unionizing.
The report was based on interviews with 340 workers – 270 from Phnom Penh – who work in 73 different garment factories nationwide.
In 1997, before the garment industry took off, Cambodia adopted a “strong labor law” the rights group said. But enforcement is “abysmal” said Human Rights Watch, a long term critic of Cambodia’s government.
“These international apparel brands need to help labor law compliance by publicly disclosing and regularly updating the names and addresses of their factories,” said Aruna Kashyap, senior women’s rights researcher for the rights group.
20150312 * ‘Exploitation’: Clothing labels accused of Cambodia worker discrimination, child labor:
Human Rights Watch has lashed out at European retail giants over “discriminatory labor conditions” in Cambodian factories, most of which exploit young women. HRW claimed in its report that one of the retailers, H&M, uses child labor.
The Human Rights Watch 140-page report is based on interviews with 270 workers from 73 factories, as well as international apparel brand representatives. Of some 200 apparel brands that source from Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said it was in contact with Adidas, Armani, Gap, H&M, Joe Fresh, and Marks and Spencer.
In one of the factories, which produces clothes for H&M, workers owned up they had been made to work on their days off “to help meet production targets.” They worked on H&M garments without overtime pay, however.
They also told Human Rights Watch that the factory employed some children below the legally-permissible age of 15, and that those kids were made to work as hard as the adults.
20150312 * Top garment brands slammed over Cambodian factory conditions:
Top apparel makers are not doing enough to improve the conditions of the workers in their suppliers’ Cambodian factories, a rights group said Thursday.
20150312 * Recently Bailed Union Leader Vows to Continue Strike Activity:
A combative union leader who was released on bail last week pending trial on charges of extortion and making threats during a strike last month vowed Wednesday to continue leading his militant brand of industrial action if workers called upon him.
Cambodia Labor Solidarity Union Federation president Seang Rithy was arrested February 3 in possession of 51 bamboo poles on the way to a strike in front of the Apsara Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s industrial Pur Senchey district.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia held a press conference the next day to decry his style of industrial action and to paint him as a violent union leader. The following day, on February 5, he was charged and sent to prison.
Mr. Rithy was released on bail on February 27 following the withdrawal of a complaint from the factory’s manager, according to Mr. Rithy’s lawyer, Kuth Keosotha, who is now pushing for the charges to be dropped.
20150311 * Factory payout lacking: union:
Workers at a factory that recently shuttered due to bankruptcy protested yesterday and vowed to continue to do so, after they were paid only part of their severance stipulated under the Kingdom’s Labour Law.
Kui Xing factory in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district closed its doors on January 31. But Free Trade Union representative Ry Sithinet yesterday said management only paid workers for their wages for February and unused annual leave, significantly less than the law demands in this situation.
“According to the Labour Law, the factory has to pay the remainder of the monthly salary, unused leave, penalties for not informing workers, indemnity and damages,” Sithinet said.
Under the Labour Law, when a factory closes without giving prior notice to workers, they must pay workers between seven days and three months wages, depending on the length of employment. They must also pay an indemnity equal to 15 days wages for each year of service at the company.
However, damages can only be collected if the factory closes with no valid reason, said Moen Tola, head of the labour department at the Community Legal Education Center. Courts have found bankruptcy to be a valid reason for closure in past cases.
Solidarity Center country director Dave Welsh, who was out of the country yesterday, said he believed that in the case of bankruptcy, there is a formula where the company’s assets can be forcibly sold, with workers then paid from the proceeds.
20150311 * Workers Protest After Factory Owner Disappears:
More than 30 workers from a bankrupt Chinese-owned garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district protested Tuesday outside the municipal court calling for the issuance of an injunction to ensure the factory’s 300 former employees receive their severance pay.
Kui Xing factory, a subcontractor for Sun Sky factory in Pur Senchey district, shut down on February 1 after 12 years of operations when its owner declared bankruptcy and went missing, according to unionists and the Labor Ministry, leaving 300 workers without the severance pay that they are entitled to under the Labor Law.
Bun Kanika, 27, a representative of the workers, said that since the closure, workers have been camping out in shifts inside the factory to keep watch over more than 200 sewing machines as a measure to prevent the owner from selling the equipment and making off with the cash rather than paying them.
20150312 * Unique pension plan pushed:
Workers sew zippers on to garments at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. A newly founded union is aiming to provide its members with a retirement pension without member contribution. Photo by Pha Lina.
A new union has been founded pledging to offer members a post-retirement pension with a novel twist – it will be funded by sponsorship from private companies.
The head of the new Workers Retirement Fund of Cambodia Union president, Sidney Sok Ke, claims to have spent the better part of a decade coming up with the idea and drafting the union’s regulations.
“We got a licence from the Ministry of Labour at the end of February, and we are just starting to work by cooperating with three labour federations that have more than 60,000 members,” he said.
Members wishing to join the union, which Sok Ke stressed will be open to workers from any sector, will need to commit to at least 10 years up front.
In return, at the age of 62, they will receive a pension fund. But the money will not come from salary contributions; rather, a number of as-yet-undetermined private sponsors will pay the pensions.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he welcomed the new player if it could benefit older workers in the long term.
“But we are worried about how they will get enough resources to support the workers,” he added.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, worried that the relationship between union and sponsors could leave workers in a vulnerable position.
“I think the union will benefit more than the workers, because it will try to promote the companies’ services,” he said.
Dave Welsh, of the US-based Solidarity Centre, said that while he could not comment on the new union’s specifics, “Anything that doesn’t promote what’s in the Labour Law – independent, democratic labour unions in every sector – weakens what is going on overall.”
20150311 * Labor Minister Lauds Creation of Workers Retirement Fund:
Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng has expressed support for the creation of the Cambodian union fund to help workers after retirement.
The fund is designed to help the lives of workers after they can no longer continue working.
“I really enjoyed and welcomed the creation of the Cambodia Foundation Unions for the retirement workers who are going to retire in accordance with the policy of Cambodia government,” Mr. Heng said.
He added that he would like to see the fund work effectively in helping retired workers without discrimination.
Cambodia Union Foundation for retirement workers was founded on November 26 of last year and was organized by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on January 26.
20150312 * Silk Industry Hanging by a Thread:
Four decades ago, the Khmer Rouge all but wiped out Cambodia’s silk industry, whose traditions of production and weaving date back as far as the 13th century.
Today, the country’s silkworms are once again under threat, but this time from a different kind of enemy.
A pernicious silkworm disease known as pebrine has spread across the country and has infected most of the country’s dwindling stock.
The disease, caused by a parasite and passed from adult moths to their eggs, attacks the tissues of the silkworm’s larva, making them unable to spin cocoons and die before maturing.
Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme Economic Council and former director of the UN Food and Agriculture’s (FAO) Cambodian silk program, compared the silkworm disease to AIDS due to its high mortality rate, which can reach as high as 70 percent.
He said neglect and budget shortfalls have allowed the disease to spread. Unless serious steps are taken, the epidemic will soon wipe Cambodia’s silk industry off the map.
“About 10 years ago, I conducted a survey with some UN colleagues and we estimated that 60 to 70 percent of silkworms were affected by the disease,” he told Khmer Times. “Today, almost 100 percent are infected.”
20150313 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 12-13 March 2015, Group Finds ‘Systematic’ Abuse at Garment Plants:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-03-13 Group Finds ‘Systematic’ Abuse at Garment Plants
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
20150311 * BetterFactories Media Updates, 10-11 March 2015, Workers Protest After Factory Owner Disappear:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-03-11 Workers Protest After Factory Owner Disappear
* To read in the printed edition of the The Phnom Penh Post:
2015-03-10 DF Fashion staff to get back pay
2015-03-10 Environment officials to monitor conditions
2015-03-11 Factory payout lacking: union
* To read in the printed edition Raksmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2015-03-11 Union leader appeals to house owners to not increase their prices
* BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
18:55:01 local time MALAYSIA
20150311 * Dewan Rakyat: 587 Companies Found Not Implementing Minimum Wage – Richard Riot:
Some 587 of the 42,297 companies inspected were found to have not complied with the minimum wage policy as of Jan 31 this year, the Dewan Rakyat was told Wednesday.
Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said these employers were issued with the compliance notice.
He also said that 1,201 claims associated with the minimum wage were received and 276 of the cases or 23 per cent were resolved in the Labour Court while the remaining 925 cases or 77 per cent were being attended to by the ministry officers.
“Some 1,071 cases or 90 per cent of 1,796 cases have been investigated over complaints of failure by employers to pay the minimum wage. Some 176 cases are being attended to by the Manpower Department.
18:55:01 local time INDONESIA
20150311 * IndustriALL Indonesia ready for action in 2015:
Thirty union leaders from the IndustriALL Indonesia Council gathered at a National Unity Meeting in Jakarta from 23 to 25 February 2015 to plan for the year ahead.
Twelve women and 18 men representing 11 national federations from the metal, mining, textile-garment, pharmacy, oil and gas sectors were joined by Suzanna Miller and Armelle Seby from IndustriALL Global Union’s head office in Geneva, as well as Vonny Diananto, from IndustriALL South East Asia’s Singapore Office, IndustriALL project coordinators, Aranya Phakaphat and Yoon Hyowon, and Ann-Helene Westrup from Unionen in Sweden.
At the meeting, the Indonesian unionists discussed the country’s labour situation, collective bargaining, organizing, precarious work and IndustriALL policy and activities in 2015 at global and regional levels.
17:55:01 local time THAILAND
20150313 * Delegation to US works to upgrade Thailand’s labour status:
THAILAND has high hopes that its efforts to improve labour rights will be reflected in the next revision of the United States’ “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP) report, which is due in May.
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17:25:01 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150311 * Myanmar – building a level playing field for labour:
At a meeting with Myanmar’s labour minister on 9 March, Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, called for a minimum living wage and funds for social welfare programs.
As of December 2014 IndustriALL has two affiliates in Myanmar; the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and the Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM). Both trade unions are affiliated to the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM).
Trade unions have only been allowed in Myanmar since 2012, when the country started to take first steps from a military regime towards democracy. Leaders of IndustriALL affiliates in the country stress the enormous need for training and capacity building, as well as laws that better protect the workers.
Wages in industry and mining in Myanmar typically vary between USD 60 and USD 200 per month. The government is in the process of setting a minimum wage and hopes to have it ready this spring.
Jyrki Raina stressed the importance of setting a minimum wage that is sufficient to live on.
“Workers must receive a salary on which they can live. They must have reasonable working hours, a healthy and safe workplace, as well as the right to join a union.”
“As Myanmar is opening up to foreign investment, these fundamentals send an important message to the world, not least in the garment and fashion industry which is sensitive to questions of image.”
A number of factories have been rocked by conflicts recently, with workers demanding higher pay. Raina commended the labour ministry for its efforts to help solve the conflicts, and said:
“These conflicts highlight the challenges ahead when building functioning collective bargaining mechanisms.”
20150310 * ‘Unions have hit a glass ceiling’:
The labour movement and the law in progress
Ma Thazin Soe has worked in a garment factory in Yangon’s northern Mayangone Township for three years.
She rises at dawn to make a bus journey from her home in neighbouring Hlaingtharyar Township, on Yangon’s western outskirts, and returns after dark. Ma Thazin Soe said she is “barely able to make ends meet” on her basic monthly salary of K30,000.
On February 6, Ma Thazin Soe and about 100 of her co-workers at the factory, owned by the Yangon-based Waminn Group of Companies, went on strike after submitting a list of demands to management, including a K20,000 monthly increase in their basic salary.
It was a wildcat strike, meaning that it was not organised by a registered union. Strikes, whether organised or wildcat, are becoming increasingly common as a nascent labour movement gains strength and the laws protecting workers’ rights remain a work in progress.
20150310 * Western business not rushing to invest in Myanmar:
Western investors appear reluctant to bid on open public tenders in Myanmar despite having expressed some interest, say analysts examining government foreign investment projects.
The government wants business giants from the West to bid on its projects to take advantage of their state-of-the-art technology and experience. Due to lack of Western involvement, the government has had to choose investors from among countries in the region.
“The situation right now is study time for investors and they are coming in and out,” said Dr. Wah Wah Maung, deputy director general from the National Planning and Economic Development Ministry. “Reliable investors are needed.
16:55:01 local time BANGLADESH
20150312 * RMG workers stage demo for wage arrears:
Workers of Profusion Textile Mills Ltd in Sarabo area under Kaliakoir upazila of Gazipur staged demonstration on Wednesday demanding payment of their wage arrears for January and February.
Additional police were deployed in the area to avert any untoward situation over the issue.
Workers of the factory said the authority concerned recently fixed March 07 for payment of their wages for January and February. But they did not make any payment on that day and took no initiatives yet. As a result, the workers gathered in front of the factory on Wednesday demanding payment immediately.
The workers also claimed that the factory authority had been harassing them in different ways for demanding the arrears.
More than 700 workers have been suffering a lot as they did not get any wage.
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20150312 * Khulna-Jessore jute mills workers to observe 4-day agitation:
Workers of state-owned jute mills of Khulna-Jessore industrial belt have announced four-day programme as part of their ongoing movement to press home their four-point demands.
They made this announcement at a meeting held on Tuesday evening at Aleem Jute Mill Workers’ Union office under the banner of CBA and Non-CBA Oikya Parishad with its convener Sohrab Hossain in the chair.
20150313 * ILO seeks support in carrying out RMG unit assessments:
The ILO has urged the government and the BGMEA and BKMEA to cooperate in carrying out assessment in the ready-made garment (RMG) factories.
The ILO at a meeting on Thursday sought the cooperation as a significant number of apparel makers are allegedly not cooperating over fire, electrical and structural safety assessment under the joint initiative by Bangladesh government and ILO.
The National Tripartite Committee meeting, headed by Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar, was held at his secretariat office in the city.
Representatives from Accord, ILO, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), among others, were present in the meeting.
The meeting discussed elaborately the progress of garment factory inspection and its post-inspection remediation activities and the challenges ahead of it, meeting sources said.
ILO Country Director Srinivas Reddy said the teams are ready to assess but have been facing difficulties as many of the owners are not willing to give them appointment to conduct the assessment while some of them are dillydallying with the process.
20150313 * Bangladesh textile factories are safer:
Say Western apparel companies
Next month marks the second anniversary of one of the world’s worst modern industrial accidents: the collapse of the Rana Plaza commercial building in the suburbs of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
More than 1,100 people, most of them workers at the garment and apparel factories housed in the eight-story building, were killed, while thousands more had to be rescued from the ruins, reports CBS Interactive, CBS Interactive, a division of the CBS Corporation, on Wednesday. There was outrage following the accident regarding the lax safety conditions that were commonplace in Bangladesh’s textile factories.
There was also anger directed at the Western apparel companies that rely on that nation’s manufacturers and their low-wage workers for bargain-priced garments.
In the wake of Rana Plaza and other deadly factory accidents in Bangladesh, European and North American retailers instituted their own worker safety initiatives.
One of these organisations, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, was formed in July of 2013 to ensure “that no garment worker would have to choose between safe working conditions and a paycheck.” And this week the group issued its 18-month update on working conditions at the nation’s ready-made garment factories.
20150313 * Local garment factory to establish mini-fire brigade at Kashimpur:
The DBL Group, a garment exporter, with the assistance of the German international cooperation agency GIZ, will establish a mini-fire brigade at Kashimpur in Gazipur for serving the factories at the area.
The group on Wednesday signed a cooperation agreement with the GIZ for establishing the Mini-Fire Brigade- Rapid Response and Risk Reduction Unit at around Jinnat Complex of DBL Group, said a press release.
The unit will serve factories located in the Konabari industrial cluster, it said.
20150311 * Alliance asks faulty factories to improve workplace safety:
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a factory inspection agency of 26 North American retailers and brands, has partially and fully closed 19 factories in its 18 months of operations in Bangladesh.
The factories were closed due to poor workplace safety and faulty building and structural design. Some of these factories have been advised to improve safety conditions and redesign their buildings to resume operations.
All the factories that supply apparel items to Alliance’s member brands have already been inspected at preliminary levels and every factory has taken some remedial programme, it said in its progress report yesterday.
20150311 * Alliance eyes full factory inspections by July 2017:
Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of North American brand and retailers, has set a target to complete all remediation requirements and final inspections of its 600 supplier factories in the country by July 2017.
‘By July 2015, we fully expect 10 per cent of all factories to have undergone a final inspection. By 2017 — year four of the Alliance — our goal is to have 100 per cent of factories complete their final assessments,’ the platform said in its update report released on Monday.
The Alliance is now working with factories to develop detailed corrective action plans and complete the remediation process.
At present, the retailers’ group is verifying through periodic visits that factories are making progress and completing remediation in accordance with the Alliance standards.
The Alliance has so far conducted verification visits to more than 100 factories and approved CAPs for nearly 300 factories, the report said.
20150311 * Alliance to broker $35m fund for garment sector safety:
A north American retailers’ group has pledged to set up a fund to help garment factories fix their safety problems.
“Our goal is to create a credit facility of $20-35 million via five local banks. The facility would be in US dollar denominated currency, enabling lower interest rates,” the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said in a statement issued Monday.
To encourage the banks to extend loans to the Alliance-linked factories-especially small and medium enterprises-the grouping will provide technical assistance to the financing organisations on remediation progress.
The Alliance will also cover administrative and startup costs and up to $2.0 million in a first-loss guarantee, it added.
20150311 * No dissatisfaction among garment workers: Tofail:
Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said that there is no dissatisfaction among the garment workers.
Tofail now on a visit to German Federal Republic claimed this Tuesday in a meeting with German state secretary for Labour and Social Affairs Jorgen Asmussen, said a commerce ministry press release.
According to the release, Tofail said, “Owners and workers in Bangladeshi garment factories are carrying out their productions in a peaceful atmosphere.
There is no dissatisfaction among the workers of this sector at present. If more assistance can be provided to them, the sector would develop further.”
20150313 * Look beyond garment: EU trade adviser:
Bangladesh has been missing out on an opportunity to grab a bigger market share in the European Union over the last few decades due to a lack of efforts to diversify its export basket, EU trade adviser Zillul Hye Razi said yesterday.
“The trade policy in Bangladesh has been formulated as if it is only for garments. During my long stay in the EU, nobody has come to me to relax the rules of origin (RoO) for footwear, or any other item other than garments,” Razi said.
Bangladesh has an immense opportunity in increasing its earnings through the exports of leather and footwear, agro-products, ships and bicycles to EU, he said at the Business Networking Lunch organised by Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) at Westin Dhaka.
20150312 * Corruption hindering women empowerment: TIB:
‘Female more victims of graft in BD’
Women are more victims of corruption than men in the country’s five service sectors, which is working as an impediment to women empowerment here, a survey of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) revealed on Wednesday.
The TIB household survey included five sectors – education, local government, power, NGO, and labour and migration.
20150310 * International Label Children’s Clothing Made Under Slave-like Conditions in Bangladesh:
At Jeans Plus Ltd, over 1,000 workers, mostly young women,
are routinely beaten and forced to toil 94 to 101 hours, seven days a week.
Jeans Plus sweatshop workers make “Pull & Bear” stretch trousers for the Spanish giant, Inditex, which has over 885 Pull & Bear stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
The Turkish company LC Waikiki is making clothing for 6 to 9-month old infants at Jeans Plus. LC Waikiki is headquartered in Istanbul and has over 500 stores across Europe.
* Jeans Plus production manager, Mr. Jahid, routinely slaps and punches young women workers for failing to meet their excessive production goals—typically 150 pieces per hour.
* The workers are forced to toil from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., six days a week, while on Fridays, their supposed weekly holiday, they are required to work from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m.
The workers, 80 percent of whom are young women, are forced to toil 94 to 101 hours each week.
* Pregnant women are routinely fired and thrown out of the factory without any of their legally required maternity benefits.
* There is no medical doctor in the factory.
* Factory bathrooms are filthy.
* Management issues phony pay stubs, which are meant to fool the gullible international buyers.
* A senior sewing operator earns just 41 cents (U.S.) per hour.
* Factory management robs the workers of their “earned leave” (vacation) money.
read more & Take action!
20150313 * North American RMG buyers call for dialogue to end political standoff:
Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, a consortium of North American brands and retailers, urged all political parties to resolve the continuing political standoff through dialogue.
The platform in its 18 Month Update report on Monday said that its verification visits to the readymade garment factories have been slowed down during the current violence, turmoil and uncertainty in Bangladesh.
‘We call upon all parties who are committed to a vibrant and successful Bangladesh to resolve differences through dialogue rather than violence’, the Alliance said.
20150313 * Cotton mills owners in Magura incur big loss due to blockade:
Mill workers pass hard time
Cotton mills owners in Magura have incurred a loss of Tk 20 million (2 crore) due to ongoing ‘blockade and hartal’.
According to Magura District Cotton Mills Owners Association, the number of cotton mills in the district is 28. About one thousand workers are on the payroll of the mills. But continuous blockade has crippled the owners as well as the workers.
Every month cotton worth Tk at least 10 million (one core) is transported from Magura to different parts of the country.
But due to blockade transport owners are demanding abnormal fare. In this situation transportation of cotton is being hampered. Consequently 28 cotton mills owners and one thousand workers are facing hard time as the mills are now inoperative.
20150313 * The company set a growth target of 12-15pc a year…:
Keenly watching his father’s work at their family business forms a major part of his childhood memories. But even then, Syed M Tanvir, a director of Pacific Jeans Ltd, said becoming a successful entrepreneur was not an easy task.
“It took a lot of hard work and innovative ideas to come to this stage,” he told The Daily Star in a recent interview.
A student of Saint Placid’s High School, Tanvir earned his bachelor’s degree in finance from Independent University, Bangladesh and got his master’s degree in international marketing from University of Leeds, UK. He joined his family business 10 years back when he was only 24.
Even when he was a student, he spent his holidays in the factory, working in different departments.
20150313 * Land grabbers target KEPZ:
Some influential people have grabbed a portion of Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) in Chittagong, halting the development work of the zone.
The incident has created tension in the country’s largest private EPZ in Anwara upazila.
The trouble began on February 21 after more than 200 miscreants stormed into the premises of KEPZ, uprooted its boundary pillars and erected new ones to take control of around six acres of land, its officials said.
Mohammad Hasan Nasir, managing director of KEPZ, said some former employees of a factory in the EPZ, who were suspended earlier for breaking discipline, are trying to grab the land with the help of the local miscreants.
Contacted, Mohiuddin Ahmed, officer-in-charge of the police station, said the chairmen of two local union councils were made the prime accused in all the complaints, but police have found that neither of them resides in the area. Rather, they live in the port city, he said. “We are investigating whether the accused have any connection with the incident. Then the cases will be filed,” he said.
Ahmed said they are yet to know whether the “disputed lands” are inside the graveyard or not.
KEPZ was developed by Youngone Corporation, a South Korean company engaged in the manufacture and distribution of sportswear and shoes. More than 70 foreigners, mostly Korean, reside in the KEPZ, which employs about 10,000 workers and staff members.
Previously posted in updated bulletin 20150310/11:
20150311 * 32 jhut godowns gutted in Savar:
A fire burnt down 32 godowns of jhut (garment rags) at Jamgara beside GSM Apparels in Ashulia here early Wednesday.
Fire service sources said the fire originated from a jhut godown belonging to one Kanchan at about 4:30 am and soon spread to adjoining other godowns.
Being informed, 10 fire-fighting units from DEPZ, Tongi, Dhamrai and Savar fire stations rushed to the spot and doused the blaze after three hours of frantic efforts.
The extent of loss caused by the fire could not be known immediately.
Officer-in-charge of Ashulia Police Station Dipok Kumar Saha confirmed the incident.
to read. & to read. & read more. & read more.
20150311 * Garment factory catches fire in city:
A fire broke out in a readymade garment factory at Shyamoli in the capital on Tuesday night.
Sources at fire service control room said the fire erupted in the factory beside Shyamoli Cinema Hall around 11:40pm.
On information, 14 fire-fighting units rushed in and were working to douse the blaze.
It is not still clear what caused the fire.
to read. & read more. & read more.
THE RANA PLAZA BUILDING COLLAPSE
20150313 * Rana Plaza reparation tranche okayed:
5,000 to get compensation next month
The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee (RPCC) has approved the next round of compensation payments, to be disbursed next month among 5,000 claimants, who are dependants of the deceased or injured workers, sources have said.
With this round of payment, the disbursement of compensation money will stand at 70 per cent of the total amount the beneficiaries are entitled to.
“The next phase of compensation-the remaining 30 per cent of the total amount-will be disbursed among the victims and their families before the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse,” International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Director Srinivas Reddy told the FE on Thursday.
The RPCC has so far received compensation claims from 2,850 workers and their families, and approved disbursements for 5,000 claimants, dependants of the deceased and injured workers while 581 more have registered with Primark.
The Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, set up by ILO in January 2014, received around US$ 21 million in donation from the Prime Minister’s Fund, global brands, trade unions and civil society in that year. But the victims will have to wait for their full compensation, as $9 million more in donation is still needed to meet the gap in the fund.
A statement issued by Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said the compensation amounts were calculated in line with international standards. Despite this, the brands continue to be extremely reluctant to make meaningful payments to ensure that the Rana Plaza victims receive full and fair compensation.
“Now that the next round of payments has been authorised, the fund urgently needs more donations. There will be no more money in it, which means the families will then be placed in a precarious situation of not knowing whether they will ever receive the full compensation that they are entitled to,” said Sam Maher of CCC.
20150313 * Rana Plaza victims’ families to get second part of compensations:
Rana Plaza Coordination Committee has decided to pay a second part of compensation money to the families of 5,000 garment workers who were either dead or injured in the country’s deadliest industrial accident about two years ago.
The money, 30% of the respective sums, will be disbursed through bank accounts before April 15, said the authorities concerned.
Earlier in 2014 the families received 40% of their respective compensation figures.
The remaining 30% will be paid once sufficient fund is available, said an official of the committee.
The committee approved the new round of compensation payments on Tuesday, according to a Clean Cloth Campaign statement.
“The families will get the money before the second anniversary of the factory disaster,” ILO Country Director Srinivas B Reddy told Dhaka Tribune.
Clean Cloth Campaign said there were still $9m shortage in the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund to pay the remaining parts.
The Trust Fund set up by the ILO in January 2014 received around $21m in donations from various sources including the global brands.
“The Fund urgently needs more donations (to pay the rest of the money),” said Sam Maher of the Clean Clothes Campaign.
“The $9m shortfall is totally unacceptable, and we need to see all stakeholders involved, particularly Benetton ( a retailer) and other brands, step up and fulfill their responsibility,” she said.
20150313 * Rana Plaza coordination body okays Tk 31cr compensation:
The Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, a body of representatives of global trade unions, retailers, government and factory owners, has decided to disburse the second phase of compensation from the Donor Trust Fund among families of deceased, injured workers and survivors of the building collapse before the second anniversary of the tragedy.
A member of the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee on Thursday told New Age that a total of Tk 31.35 crore will be distributed by April 15, 2015 among the 5,000 claimants, who are dependents of the deceased as well as injured workers.
This round of payment is sufficient to pay an additional 30 per cent of each award, making the total amount received by each eligible beneficiary only 70 per cent of the amount they are entitled to, the Clean Clothes Campaign, the largest global alliance of garment industry’s labour union said in a press release.
16:25:01 local time INDIA
20150312 * Silk exports inch up on rising demand:
Readymade garment shipments dominate in value terms
Exports of silk and silk goods are witnessing an uptrend in the current financial year on robust demand for ready made garments (RMGs) from traditional markets such as the US, the UAE and the UK.
For the first nine months, the exports of silk and silk goods were up by about 18 per cent to around Rs. 2,022 crore as against Rs. 1,719 crore in corresponding period last year, according to provisional figures collated by the Central Silk Board.
Silk RMGs accounted for close to two-thirds of the total exports in value terms, followed by fabrics and made ups. Exports of RMGs were up 37 per cent during the first nine months of current financial year at Rs. 1,336.77 crore against corresponding last year’s Rs. 975.63 crore.
Ray of hope
“We are doing slightly better in RMGs, but are losing market in silk yarn, fabrics and made-ups on account of production not keeping pace with demand. Also, the exports of yarn and fabrics are not profitable on account of high cost of fabrics and high incidence of duty on raw silk imports,” said TS Chadha, Officiating Executive Director of the Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC).
20150312 * Textile exporters in a spin as euro slumps:
Exporters from Tirupur especially hit, as they have huge exposure to the currency
The euro tumbled against the dollar — falling 3.6 cents — after the strong US jobs data released last week. With the euro at 1.06 to the dollar, the market is bracing for the currency reaching parity with the dollar — that would mean a further fall.
Businesses close to home are feeling the effects of euro’s troubles. Individual textile exporters in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, who have sizeable exposure to the currency, have been hit hard after the recent drop in the currency’s exchange rates.
20150310 * Indian textile and apparel industry likely to clock double digit growth in FY15-16:
Indian textile and apparel industry is growing at the rate of 8-12%, and if the same growth is maintained or little higher, the industry is likely to get the double-digit growth during the FY15-16.
As post the union budget, the economy will remain bullish because some of the fundamentals for economic growth are looking very good, according to Sanjay Behl, Chief Executive officer (Lifestyle business), Raymond.
Sanjay Behl at a fashion show for the launch of Raymond Linen said that he is enthused by the government taking steps to control inflation. Some reforms in the union budget are positive.
20150311 * Handloom weavers seek separate bank:
The Weavers’ Protection Committee has urged the government to take steps for establishing an exclusive bank to revive the handloom industry and protect the interests of weavers.
In a representation to Handloom Minister Kollu Ravindra, association leaders M. Ramachandra, K. Mallesh, and Bhimesappa stated that Yemmiganur and Adoni towns were predominantly inhabited by weaver families and they were leading a miserable life since the collapse of the cottage industry.
The Association drew the attention of the government to the need for improving the designs and quality in order to tap the export market. Service centres were desired to provide raw materials at a subsidized cost and also train the weavers in the latest skills.
20150312 * Hank yarn policy absurd: spinning industry:
The spinning industry feels that to mandate the textile spinning sector to produce 40 per cent of their total output as hank yarn is absurd and not in sync with the present. There is a need to either scrap this hank yarn obligation or reduce it to 10 per cent, say sources.
Suggesting the removal of the hank yarn obligation (HYO) Scheme to Sanjay Kumar Panda, Secretary (Textiles), Texpreneurs’ Forum, a knowledge forum formed by textile entrepreneurs in this region, said “it (HYO) has outlived its utility and is creating harassment and hardship to the textile industry”.
D Prabhu, Secretary, Texpreneurs’ Forum, said, “Though imposed with a good intention of providing handloom weavers with the necessary raw material in the early days, it has over the years, with introduction of the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme and other initiatives of the textile ministry, become redundant as handloom weavers have either moved to power looms or auto looms.
There is hardly any demand for hank yarns.”
20150310 * Spinning sector seeks review of HYO scheme:
To mandate the textile spinning sector to produce 40 per cent of their total output as Hank Yarn is absurd and not in sync with the present.
There is a need to either scrap this Hank Yarn Obligation or reduce it to 10 per cent, say spinning industry sources.
Suggesting the removal of the Hank Yarn Obligation (HYO) Scheme to Secretary – Textiles Sanjay Kumar Panda, Texpreneurs’ Forum, a knowledge forum formed by like-minded textile entrepreneurs in this region, said “it (HYO) has outlived its utility and creating harassment and hardship to the textile industry in the country.”
“Though imposed with a good intention of providing handloom weavers with the necessary raw material in the early days, it has over the years, with introduction of the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme and other initiatives of the textile ministry become redundant as handloom weavers have either moved to power looms or auto looms. There is hardly any demand for hank yarns,” said D Prabhu, Secretary, Texpreneurs’ Forum.
read more. & read more.
(About Hank Yarn read more here.)
20150313 * Cotton farmers satisfied over price for yield:
Farmers who witnessed moderate cotton yield in some parts of Trichy district are feeling satisfied after getting reasonable price for their produce, thanks to the auction at the regulated market.
On the other hand, some farmers expressed concern over the decrease in yield in others parts of the district.
Going by statistics of the horticulture department here, cotton was cultivated on 16,453 acres in the district.
Pullambadi alone accounted for 9,000 acres. The cotton cultivation was done on 4,000 acres in Mannachanallur area. The rest of the areas were covered in Thuraiyur, Musiri and Thottiyam.
20150311 * Let’s get on with GM crops:
With regulatory systems in place, the apprehensions raised over Bt brinjal and other varieties seem unconvincing
In February 2010, a moratorium was announced on the commercialisation of Bt brinjal by the ministry of environment and forests, bringing great uncertainty to the field of agri-biotechnology in India.
This, despite the product having completed all bio-safety studies and received clearance from GEAC, the Centre’s apex regulatory body.
It is now five years since this unfortunate decision was taken. Slowing down the development of GM technology adversely impacted farmers, who could have been helped by its application to resolve some of the challenges they face.
20150312 * ‘Inclusive growth hinges on transformation of manufacturing sector’:
Manufacturing sector requires transformation in sync with the nation’s ‘Make in India’ slogan not only to produce products for the global market, but also absorb the abundance of uneducated rural workforce who are jobless due to agricultural mechanisation, former Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry, Tamil Nadu, and Managing Director of Loyal Textile Mills Ltd., Manickam Ramasamy’ said on Wednesday.
Only then can inclusive development be made possible, Mr. Manickam said while addressing the first anniversary celebration of Young Indians, Erode Chapter, at the Kongu Engineering College that hosted the programme.
Inclusive development that warrants opportunities for all to take part in growth was vital since 200 million of Indian population was still living below poverty line, notwithstanding improvement in GDP in the last few years.
20150312 * Trade push: SAARC working on quality norms for five sectors:
India and its South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) partners have narrowed down on five sectors for which common quality standards would be evolved to facilitate freer flow of goods in the region.
“The sectors that have been selected include electric products & electronics, textiles & leather, food and agriculture products, building & construction and chemicals & petrochemicals,” Chandan Bahl from the Bureau of Indian Standards told BusinessLine .
Bahl said that some sectoral meetings had already taken place over the last few months and technical teams were examining the existing standards in all SAARC countries for harmonisation.
The five sectors include electric products & electronics, textiles & leather, food and agriculture products, building & construction and chemicals & petrochemicals
15:55:01 local time PAKISTAN
20150313 * Garments warehouse catches fire in Karachi:
A warehouse storing garments in Karachi caught fire in the wee hours of Friday, with firefighters eventually succeeding in extinguishing the blaze.
According to fire brigade officials, four fire tenders were dispatched to the location as soon as news was received of the garments warehouse in Sector 11 of Godhra area catching fire.
Officials said they were yet to ascertain the cause of the fire.
20150311 * No casualties but major damage in spinning factory fire:
Millions worth of materials, machinery and property was estimated to have been damaged in a fire at a thread spinning factory in SITE area on Tuesday.
Officials said the blaze, which happens to be the second at the factory within three months, broke out due to electrical short-circuiting in one of the factory’s warehouses a little before 3:45pm.
The fire spread quickly across the factory premises as several walls and the roof also eventually collapsed.
At least eight fire tenders worked into the evening to finally douse the blaze.
20150312 * Authorities start criminal proceedings against 44 textile units:
The tax authorities have initiated criminal proceedings against some textile companies on allegations that they failed to deposit sales tax collected on supplies from unregistered persons to the national kitty, official sources said on Wednesday.
The action has been taken on suspicions that the companies claimed refunds against those invoices issued to a registered person, who died and his company was not operative.
“Claiming refunds against invoices issued to such inoperative unit means the supplies were made to unregistered persons where sales tax was collected, but not deposited in the exchequer,” an official at the Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) Karachi said.
Around 44 companies are under investigation and in some cases fraud has been established, the official said, adding, these companies are registered with different tax offices in the country.
20150311 * ‘Value-addition in textiles can earn extra $15bn’:
Textile leaders on Tuesday sought the government policy intervention to transform surplus yarn into apparels, saying which can increase exports by $15 billion.
Pakistan exported 750 million kilogram of surplus yarn, 742 million square meter of grey fabric and 1350 square meter of finished fabric last year.
“Yarn, grey fabric and finished fabrics are in fact raw materials used at different stages in the textile value chain,” said Gohar Ejaz group leader All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA).
“These raw materials naturally fetch low price, whereas garments and knitwear are the actual value creators in textiles.”
20150311 * Grassroots activism urged for formalisation of home-based work:
Discussions with the government on formalisation of home-based work alone may not be enough. These should be complemented by grassroots mobilisation to pressure the government into approving a policy on home-based work, participants of a consultation meeting said on Tuesday.
The participants lamented that the Labour Department was sitting on a policy draft on home-based work since 2012. They said the department had yet to send the draft to the provincial assembly despite assurances given to the activists from time to time.
Niaz Khan from the National Trade Union Federation-Punjab said mobilisation of home-based workers (HBWs) could be crucial in ensuring that the government took the issue with due seriousness.
He said trade unions and NGOs should work together with HBWs in this regard.
He said considering employees of various government bodies had to resort to protest to secure their rights, workers employed in the informal sector could not hope to get any concessions without taking to the streets.
20150311 * Immediate approval of HBWs policy urged:
“The situation of registering the labour in informal sector is so dire that even 50 percent of the industries have not registered their trade unions, so when we speak of unregistered home based workers, it is not surprising,” said Human Rights Commission Pakistan senior member Husain Naqi referring to the situation in Punjab.
Mr Naqi was speaking at a meeting of civil society organisations and the media held on Tuesday at the HRCP building to discuss gaps in bringing about a provincial policy for home based workers (HBWs).
The purpose of the meeting was primarily to discuss the advocacy strategy for policy on HBWs in Punjab, especially with relation to International Women’s Day which fell on Sunday (March 8).
Home based workers in the country’s informal sector comprise about 70 percent of the labour force, while most of them are women.
They are unregistered, do not receive social security benefits, have no say in decision making when it comes to their economic rights and have no unions or bodies to support them.
20150313 * Punjab-based textile industry: government urged to ensure guaranteed, regionally compatible energy supply:
Chairman APTMA S M Tanveer has urged the government to ensure a guaranteed and regionally compatible energy supply to the Punjab-based textile industry ahead of summer to let the investment decisions mature.
He said the overall exports data for the month of February has witnessed a decline of 13% month-on-month basis.
The textile industry exports are also apprehended to witness a decline substantially due to underperformed spinning and weaving sectors on account of the high cost of doing business and the over-valued Pak rupee.
It may be noted that the Federal board of statistics (FBS) will release the textile exports data on 20th March.
20150312 * Punjab’s textile industry: irregular gas supply to CPPs increasing worries:
Worries of the Punjab based textile industry are increasing due to merely four to six hours a day gas supply to the captive power plants (CPPs) despite a clear-cut instruction of uninterrupted supply by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The industry circles have criticised the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) for not following the government’s decision regarding gas supply to textile units, which constitute 70 percent of the total capacity in the country.
Meanwhile, the press reports regarding 64 percent increase in gas tariff by early April has further panicked the millers at large, fearing a negative impact on textile industry.
20150311 * APTMA concerned over govt’s intent to increase gas tariff for industry:
APTMA Chairman SM Tanveer has expressed concern over the government’s decision to increase gas tariff by 64% of April 1st, 2015, saying that it would erode viability of export-oriented industry for its inability to pass on the tariff increase.
He said the textile industry was already hit hard by the over-valued currency phenomenon.
Any such increase means a compromise on the competitiveness of the Textile Industry regionally as well as internationally because its energy cost is already the highest in the region,” he added.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150313 * US likely to restore GSP facility for Pakistan:
Pakistan is hoping the United Sates will re-authorise Generalised System of Preference (GSP) status for Pakistan in coming summer, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan said on Thursday.
The GSP status of 127 countries including Pakistan had been suspended for the past 20 months by the US Congress. However, the amount of duty paid on the products will be refunded to Pakistani exporters after its re-authorisation, the minister told a news conference.
“We have raised this issue with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker during the last couple of days,” he said, adding that he is expecting that the US Congress will restore the facility in the next few months.
The preferential trade package covers around $200 million exports from Pakistan as against the total exports of $3.603 billion to the US, which is quite insignificant in terms of value.
20150313 * Growth oriented textile policy to yield positive outcome:
The industrial revolution started in Great Britain in the mid-1700s. Textile production was the first great industry created.
Textile manufacturing is a major industry.
It is based on the conversion of three types of fiber into yarn, then fabric, then textiles.
These are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts.
The textile industry is primarily concerned with the production of yarn, and cloth and the subsequent design or manufacture of clothing and their distribution.
The textile sector of Pakistan is considered to play a central role in the economy of the country or contributing like a backbone of Pakistan’s economy. Increase in the cotton production and expansion of textile industry has been impressive in Pakistan since 1947.
Number of mills increased from 3 to 600 and spindles from about 177,000 to 805 million similarly looms and finishing units increased.
The textile industry in Pakistan can be broadly categorized in two divisions, a large scale organized sector and a small-scale sector.
Pakistan is the 8th largest exporter of textile products in Asia.
THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
20150305 * Widow from 2012 Factory Fire Launches Community Petition:
Yesterday, Mrs. Shahida Parveen, a widow as a result of a 2012 tragic
factory fire in Baldia town on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, launched
a community petition on the online activist website Avaaz.
Mrs. Parveen is currently campaigning to ensure that she and all the victims of the Ali Enterprises factory fire receive long-term compensation from KiK, a German
discount retailer and the main buyer from the factory.
Her petition and campaign against KiK may be eligible for a $10,000 grant, as recently announced on facebook that Avaaz members will help identify 10 campaigns to support.
On September 11, 2012, a fire ripped through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 254 people and injuring another 55 people.
The fire at the Ali Enterprises factory is now recognized as the worst industrial tragedy in Pakistan to date.
Investigations into the cause of the fire uncovered that just weeks before the fire, Ali Enterprises passed an audit on behalf of Italian social audit firm RINA, and received a SAI (Social Accountability International) 8000 certification.
Ali Enterprises received this certification despite the fact that there were no emergency exits; the windows were barred; and an entire mezzanine floor had been illegally built on.
Mrs. Parveen’s husband was among victims who burned and boiled to death in the fire.
Many survivors where forced to jump from the roof of the building, suffering significant injuries.
“God only knows what happened to my husband and all the people trapped in that factory”, states Mrs. Parveen in her petition. “I never found my husband’s body, even after months of DNA tests. He was among the unidentified bodies, which were eventually buried.” In the petition she describes falling unconscious upon hearing that her husband burned to death in the factory.
In January 2013, KiK, the main buyer (75% to 80% of goods were purchased by KiK) from the factory at the time of the fire, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) agreeing to make an initial payment to the victims and their families of US$ 1 million for immediate relief, and to negotiate a long-term compensation package with all other involved stakeholders.
Despite the existence of this signed agreement, KiK has failed to comply with the terms of the MOU.
Specifically, with regard to the provision of long-term compensation, KiK has imposed unnecessary delay in the negotiations with PILER on behalf of the victims.
The Clean Clothes Campaign is concerned that KiK is engaging in various stalling tactics in order to avoid paying long-term compensation.
Additionally, the MOU required KiK to pay a sum of USD 250,000 for future labour standard enforcement, and this also has yet to be paid.
PILER continues to support the victims’ families in Pakistan in their efforts to hold KiK accountable to the terms of the MOU in order to receive long-term compensation for all the victims and injured workers.
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* Chinese firm to invest over USD 15 mn to expand its textile factory in Ethiopia:
Shaoxing Mina Textile Company a Chinese company decides to make investment of over 15 million USD to expand its textile and garment factory at Sebeta Town, Oromia State which upon completion would create 5,000 jobs.
President Dr. Mulatu Teshome in a discussion with Company CEO Chang Jun held last Wednesday, said that the government is keen to support investors engaged in manufacturing industries.
Dr. Mulatu further noted that the presence of a favourable investment atmosphere, cheap labour, ample market opportunity and its ideal geographical location will make Ethiopia a comparatively more advantageous place for investors engaged in the manufacturing sector.
TURKEY & CROATIA
* Tell Hugo Boss: a real boss pays a living wage:
Campaigners around Europe tell Hugo Boss to stop the labour violations in factories in Turkey and Croatia. Most workers earn below the poverty line.
Union busting, intimidation, sexual harassment and a lack of overtime regulation are not uncommon on the work floor. Join the actions!
You can sign the petition on SumOfUs, and tell Hugo Boss that a real boss pays a living wage. About half of Hugo Boss clothes are made in factories in Europe.
A report from campaigning organisation Clean Clothes Campaign, Stitched Up, published in 2014, showed the huge gap between the actual wages of garment workers and a living wage.
Most workers earn below the poverty line. Moreover workers reported union busting, intimidation, no observance of overtime regulation and sexual harassment.
„I respect the company, I respect my work, why don’t they respect me?
Hugo Boss so far does not act responsibly“, says a Turkish Hugo Boss worker.