19:33:23 local time MONGOLIA
20150612 * Deep-processed hides ready for export:
On June 9, Leather 2015 Consultation was held, announcing that deep-processed hides are now ready for export.
There are 35 leather processing factories and around 200 sheepskin and leather clothing factories nationwide.
During the consultation, experts emphasized that Mongolia is ranked in the middle by its leather tanning technology.
The consultation attendees underlined that technology leading the globe needs to be introduced to the Mongolia leather sector.
Leather is burned in order to be processed, leaving great waste. Industry officials noted that advanced technology that processes leather without burning is required in Mongolia.
Leather is processed through 40 stages for 20 days.
Mongolian leather is durable and its wear is longer compared to other countries, that’s why Italy, Spain, Turkey, and South Korea have begun purchasing leather from Mongolia.
Leather producers expressed that the sector’s drying and coloring technology is behind, and added that technological upgrades can be made through financing from the bonds of leather restoration projects.
19:33:23 local time CHINA
20150612 * China’s Factory Workers Are Becoming More Restive:
Hong Kong activists influence migrant workers in nearby Guangdong to demand enforcement of China’s labor laws
It’s been chiseled into the minds of Chinese bureaucrats – they must “maintain social stability” to climb the career ladder.
This amounts to a license for clamping down on any sign of disturbance. Increasing numbers of strikes have been met with vigorous suppression.
About a third of the reported protests in the country over the past year are over labor issues. Most are staged by workers from China’s countryside who migrated to cities in search of work.
They make up about 60 percent of China’s industrial workforce, providing almost all the workers in the export industries that fill stores around the globe with goods. Guangdong Province, just north of Hong Kong, contains the biggest concentration of such factories in China and has witnessed the largest surge in worker protests.
Most demands are over unpaid wages, under-paid wages or poor work conditions, due to employers breaching the law.
Workers take to the streets only when management and local authorities ignore their grievances.
They block roads, forcing authorities to pay attention. In the first quarter of 2015, 11 large factory strikes in Guangdong escalated into violence between workers and police, estimates one Hong Kong NGO.
Unlike workers in other Asian countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, Chinese workers had not challenged government policies – targeting the government for an increase in the legal minimum wage or asking to eliminate China’s household registration system that consigns migrant workers to temporary residence in cities and denies them access to public services.
They had not demanded a right to set up alternatives to inactive branches of China’s one official trade union run by the government, which normally lets factory managers select union representatives.
read more. & to read.
20150615 * German fashion brand under fire for racist slur on Chinese:
German’s fashion company Philipp Plein is under fire on the Internet in China for its racist history as the brand looks at expanding its business in the country.
The fashion brand opened an official account at Beijing-based social media Sina Weibo in August to help its marketing to woo Chinese consumers, attracting more than 28,000 followers.
It is in early June that certain Weibo users pointed out that Philipp Plein had humiliated Chinese eight years ago.
The brand released a limited edition T-shirt in 2007 with the words “FUCK YOU CHINA” printed on it and followed by “manufactured in Europe, produced and designed by Philipp Plein” .
A growing number of people are protesting the provocative and racist T-shirt, demanding an apology and calling for a boycott of its products.
Plein later claimed that the letters emblazoned on the T-shirts stood for “the fascinating and urban collection: kiss you China,” adding he never intended to offend anyone with the controversial design.
19:33:23 local time PHILIPPINES
20150615 * Valenzuela mayor hails workers, hits BFP after Kentex fire:
A month after the slippers factory fire that claimed 72 lives, Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian has boosted the city government employees’ morale, hailing their unwavering service in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“The Valenzuela citizen is bigger than any tragedy. The Valenzuelano will always rise up,” Gatchalian said during a late last week’s general assembly with the city hall workers held at the Valenzuela People’s Park Amphitheater.
He said further: “I have learned that Valenzuela citizens rise right where they fall. The Valenzuela citizen is bigger than any event, any tragedy, any ordeal.”
The mayor likewise expressed his gratitude to the employees for their loyalty and called on them to continue serving the local constituents.
On May 13, a 3,000-square meter factory of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation in Barangay Ugong was razed after sparks from the welding works on one of its roll-up gates set on fire nearby containers of chemicals.
20150614 * Kentex victims’ kin offered only P136k settlement, lawyer says:
Is P136,000 enough for the life of a loved one?
Families who lost their kin in the May 13 inferno at the Kentex slippers factory in Valenzuela city have been offered such an amount as settlement, according to the lawyer of some of the kin of the 72 workers who perished in the fire.
Remigio Saladero, who represents 99 complainants in the cases filed against Kentex in the National Labor Relations Commission, said the Kentex management made the offer during conciliation proceedings last week, and only to those who lost loved ones in the fire.
Saladero said although he represented around half of the families who lost members in the blaze, only 19 of them made it to the proceedings.
“The lawyer of the Kentex management told us that there was no order yet from the labor department holding them liable for violations, so they would only speak with those who lost family members, out of humanitarian reasons,” Saladero said.
20150614 * Kentex fire victims’ kin agree to settlement:
Relatives of at least 30 of the 72 victims of the fire that razed the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela City would no longer file charges against the owners of the slipper factory as they agreed to a settlement instead.
“We are having a settlement with some families and right now the number is at 30,” Renato Paraiso, legal counsel of Kentex, told The STAR yesterday, noting that the number is increasing every day.
Paraiso said those who agreed to a settlement would receive financial assistance and “all that Kentex has previously promised.”
He, however, refused to disclose the total amount that would be given to the victims’ families.
Paraiso said they are one with the families of the fire victims in their quest for justice, pointing out that Kentex owners are going through the same ordeal as they have also lost their source of income and loved ones.
20150614 * Kentex, recruiter ordered to pay P8.3M to 99 workers, including 34 killed in fire:
Only 34 of the 72 Kentex Manufacturing Inc. workers killed in the May 13 fire that gutted the slipper factory in Valenzuela City, are among the 99 workers entitled to P8.3 million in back wages and unpaid benefits.
The amount represents the underpayment of minimum wage and unpaid benefits owed these workers, according to the June 8 order of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Central Luzon Director Ana Dione to Bulacan-based CJC Manpower Services and Kentex.
After it opened in January 2014, CJC started supplying Kentex with workers in April 2014.
But following an investigation, DOLE ruled that CJC had violated labor standards, specifically by underpaying the workers and not giving them their cost-of-living allowance and 13th-month pay, holiday pay and special holiday premium in 2014.
20150613 * A month after tragedy, kin of Valenzuela City factory fire victims gather to seek justice:
Relatives of 72 workers who were killed in a fire that hit a sandal factory in Valenzuela City marked the first month after the tragedy Saturday with a protest action.
Several relatives gathered near the site of the fire seeking justice for their loved ones, radio dzBB’s James Agustin reported.
20150612 * Joint letter from CCC, WRC, MSN & ILRF to President Aquino:
You can read the letter here (pdf): 20150612 Letter WRC CCC ILRF MSN to Presidency Philippines-KENTEX.
20150613 * Revisiting labor contractualization:
A year ago I discussed in this space how labor contractualization — where firms hire workers for short-term, non-regular employment without the benefits accorded by law to regular workers — has been a bane to Filipino workers since 1989, ironically, I said, under the post-martial law Labor Code.
That was inaccurate. In fact, labor contractualization has been a big issue since the Marcos martial-law dictatorship.
That takes us back not just 26 years, but at least 40 years – to the workers’ strike at La Tondeña Distillery in Tondo, Manila in October 1975.
The striking workers then demanded that the 600 “casuals” (also referred to as “contractual workers”) and 500 “extras” in their ranks, who had been working for more than six months, be made regular workers.
20150613 * Fiber industry urged to sustain strong global market presence:
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has called on fiber industry stakeholders and players to take active action and keep the Philippines’ foothold in the global fiber trade.
“Due to the increasing demand for our local fibers, the country must maintain our dominant status in the foreign market,” Alcala said.
In 2014, the Philippines exported more than US$111 million worth of abaca and other fibers worth more than US$123 million.
The country’s fiber industry experienced an 18 percent production increase last year, with a production of 66,004 metric tons (MT) from 55,958MT in 2013.
“The Philippines figures prominently in global abaca trade supplying more than 87 percent of the world’s overall fiber requirement,” Alcala said.
18:33:23 local time VIET NAM
20150615 * Fire destroys footwear factory assets:
A fire broke out on Saturday morning at a footwear company in the northern province of Hai Duong, causing billions of dong in losses.
The fire brought down a Hai Hung Footwear Export Company factory, along with thousands of shoes and numerous machineries. No casualties were reported.
The fire was extinguished around 12 pm, about two hours after it was ignited.
The investigation is ongoing.
20150612-13 * Vietnam works to reduce child labour rate:
The Vietnamese Government has made efforts to reduce the rate of child labour through intensifying the education system and improving national laws in accordance with international labour standards.
The remark was made in a statement released by the International LabourOrganisation (ILO) on June 11 in response to Vietnam’s 2015 Action Month for Children, the Saigon GiaiPhong newspaper reported.
The ILO estimates that 1.75 million children, or nearly 10 percent of children aged 5-17 in Vietnam, are child labourers.
Of the 1.75 million, 85 percent live in the rural areas and 65 percent work in the agricultural sector.
In Vietnam, children of certain ages can perform particular work duties as long as they do not have a negative impact on their health, education and general development.
20150612 * RoK-funded project helps improve vocational skills for Hai Duong workers:
The Korean International Co-operation Agency in Vietnam (KOICA) launched a project worth US$200,000 in Hai Duong province to improve the vocational skills of local female workers.
Under the project, 150 female workers will receive training courses in English, Korean, computer and service skills, which are necessary vocational skills required by local and RoK businesses working in the locality.
The trainees will also receive support for seeking jobs after finishing their courses.
20150612 * Viet Nam has some 1.75 million child labourers:
Some 1.75 million children, or nearly 10 per cent of children age 5 to 17 in Viet Nam, are child labourers, according to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.
The report was released on June 12 to coincide with World Day Against Child Labour.
The report, entitled Paving the Way to Decent Work for Young People, stated that young persons who worked as children were more likely to be found in unpaid family work or low-paying jobs.
The report indicated that between 20-30 per cent of adolescents and young adults in low-income countries have entered the labour market by the age of 15 years as child labourers.
In Viet Nam, nearly 85 per cent of such children live in the countryside and 65 per cent work in agriculture. They also are unpaid family workers. One-third of child labourers have to work more than 42 hours per week, noted the report.
According to ILO, the Government of Viet Nam has made significant efforts in combating child labour, especially its worst forms, through reforms in the national legal system, in conformity with international labour standards and through improvements in the basic educational system.
Viet Nam ratified two ILO basic conventions, including the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention in 2000 and the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment in 2003.
The latest ILO report, entitled Global Child Labour Trends, estimated that in 2012 there were 168 million children aged 5-17 worldwide who are child labourers, accounting for about 10.6 per cent of the world population of children.
20150612 * Improving law, education system to reduce child laborers:
Vietnamese government has made concerted efforts to reduce child laborers through improving regulation system in compliance with international standards and education system.
Currently around 1.75 million Vietnamese children work to support themselves and their families; however, the government has determined to cut this rate by approving two the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s conventions including Worst Forms of Child Labor convention and Minimum Age Convention in 2000 and 2003.
In its message on June 11 on the action month for Vietnamese children , ILO representative said that the rate of Vietnamese children under labor age account for nearly 10 percent of their counterparts from 5 – 17 year old in the world. 85 percent of child laborers live in countryside districts and 65 percent work on agricultural fields.
20150615 * Vietnam lawmakers vote in favor of workers, slacken strict pension rule:
Vietnam’s legislators have voted to let employees keep the option of receiving lump-sum social insurance payments when they choose to leave their companies.
20150616 * TPP to be a real economic difference to U.S.: Haass:
Richard Haass, president at Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the importance of trade to the U.S. economy.
He speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”
20150615 * US investors march toward Vietnam as more companies relocate factories:
Major US investors are following through on their previous statements about relocating their production bases.
Intel, for example, is considering relocating its mainboard and microprocessor production bases from Kulim, Malaysia to Vietnam because of the lower labor costs in Vietnam.
Some months ago, the group said it would relocate a production line from Costa Rica to Vietnam.
The shows that the giant is taking action to speed up its investment activities in Vietnam, turning the country into an important global production base.
The US Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said at an important event that the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership agreement) would allow the US to become Vietnam’s No 1 investor and partner.
In late March, P&G started construction of its Gillette razor factory in the southern province of Binh Duong, capitalized at $100 million. The factory, expected to become operational in 12 months, will create 300 jobs.
P&G Vietnam’s CEO Emre Olcer said the group had considered other countries before deciding to set up a factory in Vietnam.
18:33:23 local time CAMBODIA
20150616 * Walmart’s black mark:
Cambodian workers producing garments for global retail giant Walmart say they are subjected to a slew of workplace abuses ranging from forced labour to sexual harassment.
Employees at numerous Walmart supplier factories across the country have made the allegations, which were compiled in a recent study exposing the brand’s “heinous abuses” in three of the major countries in its Asian supply chain – Cambodia, India and Indonesia.
The study into Walmart, which was published by workers rights groups Jobs with Justice Education Fund and Asia Floor Wage Alliance, accuses the mega-brand of using its “large and complex supply infrastructure … [to] conceal the exploitation”.
It states that the brand, which Forbes lists as the world’s largest retailer, fails to take any responsibility for abuses in its supply chain, where in Cambodia alone it is estimated to indirectly employ 45,000 people through its supplier factories.
Leaked export records obtained from a source in the transportation industry show that more than 13,500 tonnes of Walmart garments and footwear were exported from Sihanoukville Autonomous Port last year to countries including the US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK.
But despite its investment in Cambodia giving the brand “huge leverage” to improve working conditions, Walmart remains “right on the bottom” when it comes to protecting workers rights, according to Joel Preston, a consultant with the Community Legal Education Centre, which authored the Cambodia section of the report.
“We’ve seen some steps from other brands to try and remedy abuses … but Walmart’s commitment to labour rights in Cambodian factories is next to zero,” he said.
“Many factories refuse to give permission to workers to leave before overtime hours are over, while other workers reported fear that their contract would not be renewed if they argued,” the study says.
Forced labour also extends to weekends, national holidays and even to times when workers fall ill, which is “particularly problematic” in the March to November hot season, as it overlaps with the industry’s 10-month peak-production period.
After a mass walkout of about 5,000 factory staff in September 2014, the firm allowed 3,000 to return to work, but not before violent clashes with police left dozens injured.
Other alleged abuses and exploitative practices included the unlawful use of fixed-duration contracts, insufficient medical facilities and sexual harassment by line leaders and supervisors.
At one supplier factory, workers reported that “tolerating the harassment made work easier and allowed them greater opportunities to earn benefits”.
Walmart, meanwhile, declined to respond to specific questions about the report but said it was committed to its Cambodian workers.
“Walmart is part of the International Labour Organization Better Factories Cambodia program, which covers all apparel and footwear factories in Cambodia,” the brand said. “In addition, we actively engage with other brands, NGOs and the Cambodian government to support better transparency and dialogue among stakeholders.”
However, the study argues that Walmart is in fact “notorious for being the most difficult large brand to communicate with”.
20150616 * Hundreds strike at K Speu garment factory:
Workers at A & J Carter (Cambodia) Limited in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district protested outside the factory yesterday, continuing a strike that began five days ago.
Some 500 employees walked off the job on Thursday after management terminated the contracts of three Free Trade Union (FTU) officials, said Sok Chan, one of the union officers who was sacked in early June.
“I worked [at A & J] for one year and one month. I was always getting bonuses for being a hard worker,” Chan said yesterday. “But they used the pretext that my work was not up to standard in order to sack me.”
In addition to the demand that Chan and the two other FTU organisers be reinstated, workers are demanding $15 per month for lunch and management’s agreement not to force employees to work overtime.
20150615 * Government Announces Start of Garment Sector Wage Talks:
The Labor Ministry on Friday announced that formal negotiations to set a new minimum wage for the country’s all-important garment sector—now at $128 a month—will begin in July, reviving the same schedule for talks it used with unions and employers for the first time last year.
The ministry adopted the new multi-step process in mid-2014, following a string of particularly disruptive strikes over garment sector wages the preceding December and January that briefly brought the industry to a halt and ended with the fatal shooting of at least five workers by military police in Phnom Penh.
20150613 * Cambodia to commence talks over 2016 wage hike for garment sector next month:
Cambodia will begin to discuss the annual increase of monthly minimum wage for the garment and footwear industry for 2016 in July, according to a Labor Ministry’ s statement issued late Friday.
The talks will be carried out by a tripartite working group, which comprises representatives of the labor ministry, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), and the trade unions, the statement said.
It added that the final result of the negotiations will be released in early October and the new wage will take effect from Jan. 1, 2016.
The garment and footwear sector, the kingdom’s largest foreign currency earner, consists of 1,087 factories with approximately 700,000 workers, according to the labor ministry.
read more. & to read. & to read.
20150614 * West’s fashion industry relies on sweat of Asia’s teenagers:
Across Asia, millions of children are toiling for long hours, often in stifling conditions, earning barely enough to live on while they sew garments for fashion brands in the West.
In a stifling hot factory in Phnom Penh supervisors scream abuse at child worker Vien Dyna as she struggles to stitch clothes for fashion brands sold in Western countries including Australia.
“My body aches. I cannot do it,” she says.
To earn 65 cents an hour, Vien is supposed to sew 50 garments every hour – but she can manage only about 30.
She is one of thousands of under-age children working in Cambodia’s more than 700 factories which employ an estimated 700,000 mostly young Cambodian women.
Across Asia, millions of poor and desperate garment and footwear workers are toiling for long hours up to seven days a week for as little as $100 a month.
Now 16, Vien stopped going to school in rural Cambodia six months ago, when she was only 15, and borrowed the identity card of a relative to claim she was 18 to get a job in a garment factory on the outskirts of the teeming Cambodian capital.
Under Cambodian law, garment factories cannot employ children below the age of 18 to work in what unionists and activists say are sweatshop conditions, although they can employ children aged 15 or above for light duties for up to eight hours a day.
“Brands chase jurisdictions where there is extreme poverty, the rule of law is weak and it is easy for them to skirt labour laws. –David Welsh, Solidarity Centre
David Welsh, country director in Cambodia of Solidarity Centre, a Washington-based international worker rights group, says no worker can survive on the minimum wage without working illegal overtime hours, effectively meaning long hours, six days a week.
“The minimum wage should provide a degree of basic needs and comfort,” he says.
The government insists its monitoring of the industry is transparent and competent, dismissing claims of systematic labour law violations and corruption as “groundless”.
But Ath Thorn, president of the 100,000-member Cambodian Labour Federation, says many factories force workers to work Sundays, on weekdays until 9pm and sometimes overnight until 6am – all without overtime and with workers in fear of losing their jobs if they do not comply.
He says union representatives and workers who complain face dismissal and threats of legal action in politicised courts.
In mid-May, workers striking over the dismissal of a union representative at a Phnom Penh factory were attacked by up to 50 thugs.
18:03:23 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150614 * Factory owners offer Ks1,500 a day:
Factory owners have threatened to shut down operations if an “unaffordable” minimum wage rate emerges before a new level could be fixed, while offering to pay just Ks1,500 a day.
Garment entrepreneurs apparently told Daw Win Maw Tun, deputy minister for labour, employment and social security, at a meeting that they would shutdown their factories if an “unreasonable” minimum wage was fixed.
Aung Lin, chairman of Federation of Trade Unions Myanmar, said: “Pressure from garment entrepreneurs before a minimum wage rate is fixed is extreme.
The [national minimum wage fixation] committee will issue a new rate in accord with the law and then forward it to Parliament.
Any person may remonstrate with it within 60 days.
But now we have yet to release the proposed rate. If they fix a rate that cannot cover workers’ living costs, we will respond after collecting the views of labour unions across the country.”
To rapidly agree on a proposed rate, the committee will meet on June 17.
Ko Naw Aung, a worker representative on the committee, said: “It seems that the meeting may focus on the fixing of the minimum wage. We will discuss the fixing of a daily wage at not less than Ks4,000.”
20150615 * 15 projects approved in June:
The Myanmar Investment Commission in June approved 15 investment projects. They involve manufacturing, construction, real estate, services and hospitality sectors.
20150615 * Thilawa Special Economic Zone project attracts US$ 400 million in short span:
The Thilawa Special Economic Zone Project, located some 20 km from the former capital Yangon, has attracted about US $400 million worth of investment within five months, according to SEZ management committee chairman U Set Aung.
Thirty-six out of 40 companies have reached reservation agreements with the management committee and received investment permission.
Operations of the SEZ are set to start in September, a little later than scheduled, according to the chairman.
However, the chairman is adamant that operations of the SEZ will begin this year. The committee has completed water and electricity supply tasks and implemented waste management systems which do not allow any waste to be dumped into the river.
Decoration of offices and installing of sensors at the main gates of the SEZ have yet to be completed, the chairman added.
17:33:23 local time BANGLADESH
20150613 * 3 burnt as shoe factory catches fire in city:
Three people, including a man and his son, sustained burn injuries when a fire broke out at a shoe factory at Tikkatuli in the city’s Bangshal area early Saturday.
The victims were identified as Salahuddin,60, his son Pantu,18, and an employee of the shoe factory, Nazim Uddin,16.
The injured were given first aid at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
Salahuddin received 14 percent burns while his son Pantu five percent.
Hospital sources said the fire originated from an electric short circuit at the factory, located on the first floor of the house no-14 in the area, and soon engulfed the entire factory, leaving the trio injured.
Later, locals doused the fire before fire fighters reached the spot.
to read. & read more. & read more.
20150614 * State-owned jute mill workers enforce blockade in Khulna:
CBA and non-CBA Oikya Parishad of eight state owned jute mills in Khulna has enforced a 3-hour road-railway blockade in the city to press home their five-point demands.
The blockade that began at 11.00am will continue till 2.00pm in three areas –-Notun Rasta intersection area, Gilatola area and Rajghat area–of the city, said Mohammad Sohrab Uddin, convener of the Parishad.
Vehicular movement and rail communication on the Jessore-Khulna routes remained suspended due to the blockade.
Major demands of the Parishad include adequate budgetary allocation for the state-run jute mills, payment of wages, dues of the jute mill workers.
The eight jute mills are-Crescent Jute Mills, Platinum Jute Mills, Khalispur Jute Mills, Star Jute Mills, Alim Jute Mills, Eastern Jute Mills, Jessore Jute Mills and Carpeting Jute Mills.
to read. & read more. & to read. & read more. & read more.
20150613 * The delusion of Bangladesh’s cheap labour:
While Bangladesh remains the second-largest RMG hub after China, neighbouring India and the Philippines are dominating the world rankings of information technology outsourcing (ITO) by yielding high-skilled employment.
If I may ask, Honourable Minister, what exactly is this ‘dream’ you speak of and more importantly, whose dream is it?
Given that our beloved RMG sector has given us wonderful memories to cherish like the Rana Plaza disaster and the Tazreen fire that have claimed thousands of “cheap” lives, can it be that the RMG city is what Bangladeshi workers have been “dreaming” of all these years?
20150615 * Pay garment workers’ salaries, bonuses by Ramadan 20:
Garments Sramik Trade Union Kendra on Monday placed a demand before the garment factory owners to pay the salaries and Eid bonuses of the workers within the 20th of Ramadan.
The workers’ rights organisation came up with the demand at a human chain programme arranged in front of the Jatiya Press Club.
General secretary of the organisation Kazi Ruhul Amin said the owners should pay the salaries and Eid bonuses to the workers earlier so that they can observe the joyous occasion satisfactorily.
Referring to the garment workers as the most deprived segment in the entire industrial sector, he said every year the RMG sector owners start dilly-dallying whenever it is time to pay the workers prior to Eid.
20150614 * Can RMG help achieve middle-income status?:
The finance minister, while proposing FY 2015-16 budget before the parliament, proposed to raise tax at source on export proceeds of readymade garments (RMG) to one per cent from existing 0.30 per cent.
He described this as the final tax liability for the sector. One day later, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) demanded withdrawal of increased tax at source from export prices of RMG to achieve middle- income status in 2021.
The hike in tax at source will cause loss of competitiveness of the country’s readymade garment sector.
At the same time, RMG exporters feel the GSP plus status for Pakistan and Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement among Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, the US, Canada, Japan and Australia have created more challenges for Bangladesh’s RMG exporters.
20150613 * Gratuity funds, payments lack defined, uniform rules:
The country still lacks well-defined and uniform rules and regulation to deal with the gratuity issue.
The issue of gratuity fund still remains as mostly an unregulated area to guide the corporate sector and other entities for following a uniform set of rules.
The country’s corporate sector has been forming the gratuity fund for employees on their own capacity in line with the Trust Act-1882, Labour Law-2006 and Income Tax Ordinance-1984.
Three laws do not have adequate provisions to help formation of gratuity funds.
The Labour Law has stipulated minimum payment condition in the gratuity fund considering protection of labour rights.
Taxmen and lawyers said absence of a maximum ceiling of receipt of gratuity may create scope for tax evasion.
“Gratuity fund is contributed by the employer. If any company desires, it can keep basic salary as per its will to enjoy the tax-free benefit,” said Advocate Jafrul Hasan Sharif, an expert on labour law.
The amount of gratuity will be increased to one-and-a-half months’ basic salary for those workers who have been working for more than 12 years in an industry.
Those workers who have been working for at least six months to one year will also get one month’s basic salary as gratuity.
The Labour Law-2006 defines ‘gratuity’ as wages payable on termination of employment of a worker which shall be equivalent to not less than 30 days’ wages for every completed year of service or for any part thereof in excess of six months; it shall be in addition to any payment of compensation or payment in lieu of notice due to termination of services of a worker on different grounds.
20150616 * Accord, Alliance tighten noose around RMG neck: Muhith:
Industry leaders allege pressure for doing the impossible
Finance Minister AMA Muhith deplored that Accord and Alliance-two bodies of buyers from America and Europe-were tightening a throttling noose around the neck of Bangladesh’s garment industry through overreaching safety inspections.
“They (Accord and Alliance) were welcomed to help us to attain buyers’ confidence, but their activities have now become a noose for apparel industry. They are exercising extra sovereign power,” the minister said at a meeting with the industry leaders, who spoke of excesses on part of the duo.
Expressing concern about their activities Mr Muhith termed such pressure unfortunate.
“The most important thing to me is the environment of inspection and pressure for unusual improvement. It is becoming a big pressure. I shall have discussion among us with commerce minister, industries minister, and prime minister. Then I shall call those countries from where Accord and Alliance (members) came,” he said.
The minister termed the attempts of the two western coalitions as move to stunt Bangladesh’s progress.
“It’s like Bangladesh has grown up too much. Now stop it. It’s an attitude of charging baton. I will settle it with very strong message,” he assured the apparel-makers.
Before Mr Muhith made these observations president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Atiqul Islam apprised the minister about the activities of Accord and Alliance when he said the two bodies imposed ‘impossible tasks’ on them.
“The Accord and Alliance are inspecting each and every factory in Bangladesh. There is no instance of it globally except 10 per cent random inspection.
The factory owners are compelled to meet the requirements according to their will,” he alleged.
Mr Islam said each factory is now required to spend Tk 50 million to Tk 100 million to meet Accord and Alliance’s conditions.
Otherwise, they are asking buyers not to source garments from those factories.
20150615 * Muhith describes Accord, Alliance as gallows:
Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Monday observed that the Accord and the Alliance have turned to be gallows for the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector.
“Bangladesh had welcomed Accord and Alliance for gaining the confidence of buyers. But, their activities have now turned into gallows for the RMG sector,” he said.
The Finance Minister was addressing a post-budget views-exchange meeting with the leaders of BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA at the secretariat.
BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam and BKMEA president AKM Salim Osman were, among others, present at the meeting.
At the meeting, the BGMEA chief and other leaders apprised Muhith of the activities of Accord and Alliance.
20150616 * Muhith terms Accord and Alliance nooses in RMG sector development:
‘We are aware of the negative activities of the Accord and Alliance on country’s garment sector’
Finance Minister AMA Muhith has termed the recent activities of the Accord and Alliance as ‘nooses’ in the growth of the country’s RMG sector.
The minister made this remark while talking to the reporters yesterday after a meeting with the leaders of different associations of the country’s readymade garment sector. BGMEA President Atiqul Islam and BKMEA President AKM Selim Osman were present during the briefing.
Muhith accused the Accord and Alliance of hatching a conspiracy to suppress growth of the RMG sector while the condition of the country’s RMG sector has been improved.
“We will discuss about the matter with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and even with Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina,” warned the minister.
Muhith also said, “If it is necessary, we will also raise the issue with the European countries and North American countries USA and Canada”
Regarding the increase of tax at source on earning from exportable items from 0.35 to 1%, the minister again said, “We will soon sit with with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to settle the matter”.
Leader of the RGM sector have also raised a five-point demand including withdrawal of 1% duty on import of capital machinery and 10% income tax on the owners of garment factories.
But, Muhith urged the garment factories owners to immediately relocate their garment factories Dhaka to Baushia of Munshiganj district.
20150616 * Accord, Alliance turn noose around RMG neck: Muhith:
The government is worried with retailer groups from both sides of the Atlantic as their activities for improving safety and labour rights through some agreements became a ‘noose around the neck’ of the country’s burgeoning readymade garment sector.
This was stated by finance minister AMA Muhith after associations like BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA alleged during a meeting with him at the secretariat on Monday that manufacturing cost was going up because of implementation of the conditions under the agreements.
The government has allowed Accord Group, created by retailers from the European Union, and the Alliance of North American buyers to evaluate compliance issues in Bangladesh’s readymade garment industry subsequently after collapse of Rana Plaza that killed more than 1,300 workers in 2013.
Muhith observed that the activities by the Accord and the Alliance were ‘polite ways’ to dampen the advancement of the country’s RMG sector. ‘It is unfortunate’, he said.
On Sunday, Tofail Ahmed said Bangladesh had addressed all the conditions that had been raised by the international community following the Rana Plaza building collapse but the retailers groups were creating obstacles in the factories in the name of social audit.
After a meeting with visiting Dutch foreign trade and development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen on Sunday, Tofail told reporters that the Accord, the platform of European brands and retailers, was engaged in some activities which were beyond its jurisdiction.
Lilianne Ploumen has identified fair prices of the products, unauthorised sub-contracting and rights of workers as the main challenges for the country’s RMG sector.
She urged the government to allow workers to get actively engaged in trade unions.
Muhith assured the association leaders of holding meetings with the prime minister, the commerce minister and the industries minister to address the growing concerns about hurting the country’s leading export earning sector.
20150614 * Fair RMG prices, TU rights remain key challenges:
Ensuring fair prices of apparel products on the world market and workers’ rights to organise trade unions and checking unauthorised subcontracting still remain key challenges for an efficient readymade garment industry in Bangladesh, said a visiting Dutch minister.
Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, made it clear that while it is the responsibility of the government and the industry to ensure good working conditions, the buyers and consumers also do have the obligation to pay fair price of the apparels.
Apart from the two ministers, representatives from government, apparel makers, trade unions, brands, buyers, ILO, and Accord and Alliance were also present.
Addressing the fair-price issue, the Dutch minister said “…it is not only the responsibility of the government of Bangladesh, owners of factories to improve working conditions but also the responsibility of brands, buyers and also the consumers to come up with the true fair price.”
Mr Tofail Ahmed alleged that Accord and Alliance-the two groups of western retailers-are creating some unnecessary obstacles in the name of social audit.
“Accord and Alliance are here to inspect factories. There is law of the land to look into the other issues,” the commerce minister said, warning both the groups not to interfere into any internal factory issues.
20150613 * G7 fund no substitute for RMG stakeholder co-operation:
Building long-term relationships between buyers and suppliers is the best way to raise standards
We welcome the G7 communique committing major industrialised nations to do more to promote decent working working conditions and environmental standards in global supply chains.
This week’s statement in Berlin envisages setting up a “vision zero fund” as a response to the Rana Plaza disaster to act as an insurance system to improve monitoring of international standards, raise standards and facilitate compensation payments.
However, improving auditing and monitoring alone will not ensure the funds required to raise standards.
Building long-term relationships between buyers and suppliers is the best way to alleviate the pressures caused by competition and “fast fashion” buying practices, in order to secure the sustained investment needed to raise standards and wages.
The success of the ILO-administered Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund in reaching its $30m target for compensation payments is a positive illustration of the benefits of stakeholder collaboration to add to the factory safety inspection efforts being undertaken by the government, ILO, and Accord and Alliance initiatives.
20150615 * Garment sector to miss export target:
The garment sector is set to miss its export target this fiscal year after the three-month political turmoil hampered shipments.
Between July last year and May this year, garment exports raked in $22.92 billion, which is up 5.51 percent year-on-year but below the periodic target of $24.26 billion, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
Now, to meet the yearly target of $26.9 billion, some $3.98 billion has to be earned this month, the closing month of fiscal 2014-15.
“It’s time to find out the root cause of our problems for the sustainability of the garment business and to achieve our $50 billion target by the end of 2021.”
The long-term challenge for the garment sector is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the US.
20150615 * BGMEA formally seeks land from India:
Plans to invest $25m for warehouse, distribution centre
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) formally placed its proposal to the Indian High Commissioner on Sunday, seeking allotment of land in India to set up a warehouse and distribution centre.
BGMEA President Md Atiqul Islam handed over the proposal to the Indian High
Commissioner in Dhaka Pankaj Saran at the latter’s office.Earlier, India sought a proposal from BGMEA over its investment plan in India.
The business leaders, led by FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmed, demanded 50 acres of land in India for investment during a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 07.
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20150613 * India seeks BGMEA proposal for warehouse inside its territory:
India has sought a proposal from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association over its investment plan in India for opening a warehouse for apparel products.
BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam has got a call from Indian high commissioner Pankaj Saran in Dhaka in this regard, a BGMEA source said.
The BGMEA was likely to send a proposal in this regard on Sunday, according to the source.
When they met Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Dhaka on June 7, the business leaders, led by FBCCI president Abdul Matlub Ahmed, demanded 50 acres of land in India for investing in the RMG sector.
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20150616 * Power cuts in Ramadan feared:
People across the country are likely to experience power cuts in the coming month of fasting due to increased demand for electricity.
The demand for power has been estimated at 8,500MW for peak hours in Ramadan this year, about 1,000MW up from that in 2014, officials have said.
The capacity in power transmission and distribution, however, has not increased in line with the demand that grew over past one year, they said.
The inadequate capacity in power transmission and distribution would cause power cuts whenever the demand for electricity exceeds the transmission and distribution capacity which is now about 7,500MW, the officials said.
20150616 * Look beyond garment sector:
WB tells govt for new sources of export growth
Bangladesh needs to go beyond the ready-made garments (RMG) sector in order to accelerate its overall export growth.
Some sectors to help boost export in near future include shipbuilding, jute, bicycle, pharmaceuticals and information technology (IT).
These are stated in the draft report of the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) of Bangladesh. The World Bank (WB) has conducted the comprehensive study to identify the country’s constraints on trade regime.
The DTIS draft report, in three parts, has already been submitted to the government, and on the basis of comments and suggestions a revision is now going on for its finalisation.
The study also set four pillars for actions to accelerate the country’s export as well as overall foreign trade.
20150615 * What does the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) mean for BD?:
What is happening more than eight thousand miles away in the hallowed halls of the US Congress may have a more profound impact on the lives of the poor in Dhaka than any recent policy act by the government of Bangladesh.
Currently, the US congress is considering the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, also known as “fast track” authority.
If passed, this bill will give the president authority to negotiate international trade agreements with other countries under an expedited legislative procedure, which limits the power of Congress to an up or down vote without amendment.
A new authorisation is required to finalise the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, as the previous fast- track authority of the president has already expired.
The TPP is a regional trade agreement the US is currently negotiating with a heterogeneous group of eleven countries, which include four from the Americas (Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru), five from Asia (Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam), as well as Australia and New Zealand.
These countries have a combined population of nearly 800 million with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of $28 trillion–roughly 38% of the world’s output — and account for about one-third of the world’s trade. Conspicuously absent from this grouping are such major Asian economies as South Korea, Indonesia and China.
The TPP is not the garden-variety trade agreement for removing trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas.
It is a mega-trade compact with a package of non-trade agenda: patent protection, government procurement, labour rights, environmental laws, and geopolitics.
The main thrust of the TPP, according to President Obama, is setting standards for global trade.
What is the prospect of Bangladesh gaining duty-free access to the US market? Pretty dim — for a number of reasons.
First, Bangladesh has so far failed to persuade the US administration of its progress on labour rights and practices, the putative concern behind President Obama’s suspension of Bangladesh’s duty-free access to the U.S. market under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
Second, there is vehement political opposition from the protectionist textile interests in the US, and from the Africans and the Haitians, who are concerned about the potential for preference erosions if Bangladesh (as well as other Asian countries) were allowed entry to the market.
The non-trade provisions of the TPP may have equally damning ramifications for poor countries like Bangladesh.
The critics of the agreement contend that these non-trade provisions relating to IP protection — such as drug patents and movie copyrights — are both intrusive and excessive.
They seek to replace national standards in intellectual protection by the US standard — a move that has invoked widespread resentment in the TPP countries-and go beyond those in previous US bilateral trade agreements.
20150615 * Trans-Pacific Partnership Treaty and Bangladesh:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty currently under negotiation could potentially affect Bangladesh’s economy in the near future, although at this point it is not clear how large the impact might be since many of the details are still under wrap.
However, it is known that some of Bangladesh’s major trading partners, including the USA and Japan, have joined the Partnership, and so is Vietnam which is a significant competitor in the international readymade garments market.
Therefore, in the coming months it behooves well for Bangladesh to pay close attention to the final outcome of the treaty and undertake effective measures to counter any adverse effect on our economy.
Representatives of the U.S. textile industry have argued for tighter “yarn forward rule” to be included in the TPP.
Some U.S. apparel firms, retailers, and distributors, as well as some TPP countries, including Vietnam, seek a less restrictive “cut and sew,” or single tranformation, rule, which would allow its products manufactured from materials of non-TPP origin to benefit from the TPP.
Many alterntive variations or hybrid rules are also being considered.
These are based on percentages of inputs, origin of inputs, and other criteria.
However, it is known that flexible rules are opposed by some US partners, particularly Mexico and Peru, where textile and apparel industries have been oriented to trade with the United States.
In the coming months, Bangladesh will need to keep an eye on the final outcome of the ROO negotiations since a) flexible rules will affect Bangladesh in the short run, while b) strict rules might give us headaches in the long run.
Another area where international investors might be giving Vietnam a slight head start is in the upstream industries.
According to the Vietnam Investment Review, “a new wave of foreign investments in the spinning, weaving, and dyeing sectors has been kicked off, since investors can see the profits they can gain from the TPP.”
Trade journals report that foreign manufacturers have invested more than $1 billion in Vietnam’s textile and apparel sector in anticipation of a TPP agreement. According to Saigon Times, textile and garment manufacturers based in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Austria, and Australia are also setting up new production or have expanded current production in Vietnam.
17:03:23 local time INDIA
20150612 * Child labour and exploitation in India’s cotton fields:
Shankar Bai was bent double, a gunny sack slung around her back. Momentarily she stopped work to look up at the burnt-out sky.
The red-coloured earth, and its dust, suffused with the sun’s fierce orange blaze cast a purple shimmer over the green cotton fields.
All was quiet save for the dull throbbing of a distant generator pumping water to the land.
Shankar stopped picking the bursting pods of raw grey-white cotton and wiped the sweat from her brow. Today she would endure at least eight hours of this back-breaking toil.
Working alongside her, picking as much cotton as their 30-year-old mother, were Shankar’s children: Kamlesh Singh, aged 12, Madhav, aged eight, and six-year-old Dungar Singh.
Younger siblings Gojya, aged four, and three-year-old Kavita played in the dirt nearby.
” They are unwilling recruits of a massive forgotten army of child labourers, who work alongside their mothers and fathers from day to hard-scrabble day, families at the very base of India’s labour pyramid.”
Here in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, in the Amreli District of the Kathiawad Peninsular, cotton is king for eight months of the year, drawing tens of thousands of migrant worker families from Gujarat’s poorer neighbouring states, such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
The pickers work for eight months. Planting commences during the monsoon season and picking starts 80 to 90 days later in September or October.
It’s estimated that 60 per cent of workers are adult females, 20 per cent adult males and the remaining 20 per cent children.
20150616 * Amendments to child labour law: opposition mounts:
D. Mala started working when she was 10 years old.
She worked as a maid in a house in T. Nagar, and earned Rs. 100 a month for her efforts.
Every morning, she would begin her chores at 8 a.m., wash dishes, cut vegetables, finish some kitchen work and go to school.
When she got done with school in the evening, she would go back to the house she worked in and get home only by 8 p.m.
“Although the work I did is not considered hazardous, and I continued to attend school, I was psychologically not inclined to study until I received support from Arunodhaya.
There are a number of children who do not have this support, and with the new amendments to the Child Labour Act, they will now have no legal recourse either,” she said.
“Out of 18 hazardous occupations, only four are considered hazardous – foundries, mines, plastic units and fibre glass, handling of toxic, inflammable and explosives.
This means occupations like elephant caring, diving, slaughter house, handloom, power loom, fire cracker workshop are non-hazardous if they are run by the family,” Varsha Pillai, Senior Manager, CRY said, adding that now, more invisible forms of child labour will be encouraged, leading to more exploitation.
20150614 * ‘Child labour amendment bill to push more kids into working’:
The recent Child Labour Amendment Bill will encourage underage labour and push more children into working, claim NGOs and child rights activists, who have raised questions on certain new provisions under the amended Bill.
According to the amended bill of Child Labour Prohibition And Regulation Act (CLPRA) 2012, which was cleared by the cabinet in 2015, only four industries out of 18 will be considered hazardous for employing children below 14 and in some cases below 18.
These include foundries, mines, plastic units and fibre glass, and handling of toxic inflammable and explosives.
In 2006, two occupations were added to the list of hazardous industries for children below 14 — working as domestic labour and in dhabas — increasing the total number from 16 to 18.
20150613 * SIMA CDRA launches cotton kapa plucker:
Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) Cotton Development and Research Association (CDRA) has launched kapas plucking machine for farmers.
According to C.K. Narayanasaami, chairman of SIMA CDRA, the association has been making attempts to manufacture cotton picking machine to suit Indian cotton crop condition to bring down the cost for the farmers and since there is shortage of labour for cotton picking.
It has developed the battery-powered, portable, handheld kapas plucking machine in association with Coimbatore-based Point Industries.
The machine is provided with cotton collection bag. With manual picking, a farm worker will be able to pick 13 kg to 15 kg of kapas a day and the farmer pays Rs. 230 to Rs. 250 as wages. This works out to over 35 per cent of kapas cost.
20150616 * Banned pesticides not being sold in Tirupur:
Joint Director of Agriculture R. Kanagasabhai told The Hindu Officials on Monday that no banned products have been recovered from shops selling pesticides in the district so far.
Officials of departments of agriculture and horticulture have completed intensive checks at 192 pesticides suppliers/retailers outlets functioning in the district.
20150614 * Drop in demand: year may end with high cotton stock:
India is expected to close the cotton year (October 2014 to September 2015) with nearly 60 lakh to 70 lakh bales of cotton stock, according to cotton trade and textile industry here.
Though there is a fear that cotton prices might shoot up because of reports of deficient monsoon this year, K.N. Viswanathan, vice-president of Indian Cotton Federation, said that there are stocks with the Cotton Corporation of India and the traders.
20150613 * Child labour numbers up and rising in Madhya Pradesh:
Madhya Pradesh has seen an increase of 272% of marginal workers in case of girls aged 5-9. For boys, the increase has been 238% in last decade. Besides, in case of main workers (girls), it has gone up by 183%.
There are currently more than 7 lakh working children in the state (5-14 years).
On World Day Against Child Labour, as per an analysis by Child Rights and You (CRY) of Census 2011 data, half of 5.5 million working children in India are concentrated in five states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
CRY has raised concerns in impending Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill that has been cleared by Union cabinet. Among them, out of 18 hazardous occupations only 4 (foundries, mines, plastic units and fiber glass, handling of toxic inflammable and explosives) will now be considered hazardous for all children below 14 or 14-18.
Occupations like elephant caring, diving, slaughter house, handloom, power loom and fire cracker workshop, which were considered hazardous for 28 years for children below 14, are now considered non-hazardous and child can work in these occupations, if they are run by the family.
20150614 * Goods worth crores destroyed in Noida Sec 63 garment factory fire:
Goods worth crores of rupees were destroyed as a fire broke out in a garment factory in Noida Sector 63 early on Saturday morning.
Fire department officials said the inferno started around 3am at the JJ Fabrics factory, which manufactures undergarments.
No loss of life has been reported so far.
“We had sent two fire tenders to the spot as soon as we were informed about the fire around 3am. Eight more tenders were later deployed as the fire could not be put out. It took the fire-tenders about four hours to control the fire,” said Muninder Singh, chief fire safety officer of Gautam Budh Nagar.
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20150613 * Major fire breaks out in garment factory in Noida:
The blaze erupted at 4:00 a.m. in Noida’s Sector 63 area.
Twelve fire tenders were rushed to the spot but the flames are still not under control. No casualties have been reported till now.
20150613 * Major Fire Breaks Out in Garment Factory in Noida:
A major fire broke out at a garment factory in Noida on Saturday.
The blaze erupted at 4:00 a.m. in Noida’s Sector 63 area.
Twelve fire tenders were rushed to the spot but the flames are still not under control.
No casualties have been reported till now.
20150616 * Will protect workers’ interest, says India at ILO:
In the wake of growing protests by trade unions, India assured the International Labour Organization (ILO) of protecting workers’ interest.
Addressing the United Nations body, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that the Government of India is committed to protect and safeguard the interests of workers and upholding the dignity of labour.
He also highlighted the measures taken to improve social security cover to workers of unorganised sector while addressing the International Labour conference held at Geneva last week.
The trade unions are opposed to proposed changes in labour laws.
The trade unions are up in arms over these proposals which would make it difficult for the workers to register and run trade unions.
They have also announced national strike on September 2.
20150615 * SIMA calls for comprehensive textile policy:
“It will help sustain viability of manufacturing facilities and attract investments”
Cotton industry in Tamil Nadu has emphasised the need for a comprehensive State-specific textile policy.
The Southern India Mills Association (SIMA) Chairman, T Rajkumar, said, “the need is more so because the requirement of the white fibre is huge in Tamil Nadu as compared to cotton production.”
“The mills located here source cotton from upcountry markets as the requirement is close to 130 lakh bales against the production of mere 5 lakh bales.
“Steep increase in transportation cost coupled with the 5 per cent VAT on cotton cone yarn has made the domestic sector uncompetitive,” the SIMA chief said.
He pointed out that despite such disadvantages, the textile industry in the State accounted for a-third of the textile manufacturing facility, 47 per cent spinning capacity, 60 per cent yarn exports, 20 per cent powerloom capacity, 70 per cent cotton fabric knitting capacity and over Rs. 60000 crore as forex earnings annually.
20150615 * Southern textile mills body bats for comprehensive policy:
To ensure financial viability and competitiveness of existing manufacturing facilities in the state and encourage value addition
The Southern India Mills’ Association today called upon Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa to announce a comprehensive textile policy to ensure financial viability and competitiveness of existing manufacturing facilities in the state and encourage value addition.
“The state urgently needs a comprehensive policy to sustain viability of huge manufacturing facilities and also attract investments for modernisation and value addition to make Tamil Nadu a global hub for textile manufacturing,” SIMA chairman T Rajkumar told reporters here.
Textile policies of other cotton-growing states are stealing a march, he said.
A steep increase in transportation cost is hurting as the industry procured 95 per cent of cotton from other states, Rajkumar said.
20150613 * NIFT-TEA Institute to train 5,000 youth in apparel production:
To partner in Textiles Ministry’s Integrated Skill Development Scheme
The NIFT-TEA Knitwear Institute here has obtained the approval of Union Ministry of Textiles to work as a ‘partner’ for implementing the Ministry’s Integrated Skill Development Scheme in Tirupur knitwear cluster.
Raja M. Shanmugam, the chief mentor of the NIFT-TEA Institute, told The Hindu that as part of the venture, 5,000 youth will be imparted skill training in the first phase on various aspects of apparel production.
“Lack of availability of adequate skilled workers has been a deterrent for the progress of the knitwear cluster beyond a certain limit, till now.
Many orders from foreign buyers were not taken because of not getting requisite skilled labourers to ensure timely delivery of goods.
20150616 * Textile exporters plan to approach Enforcement Directorate:
The report of an attempt by a bank recently to initiate the process of auctioning a textile unit in operation, which had suffered losses by purchasing the “exotic forex derivative” products sold by banks in 2007, has brought back the focus on the derivatives issue in the knitwear town.
About 35 exporters in Tirupur had collectively lost Rs. 400 crore after purchasing the “exotic forex derivative products” offered by some banks to hedge against the risk of foreign exchange rate fluctuations.
20150615 * Growth in exports of textile products may shrink:
The Indian textile and clothing sector, which registered 41 billion dollars worth exports last financial year, might not see high growth in exports this year, according to industry sources.
The sources told The Hindu here recently that segments such as garments and home textiles had seen growth in exports.
However, sectors such as cotton yarn had seen exports slowing down because of decline in demand from China.
The sources said that China was one of the major markets for cotton and yarn exports from India.
Though textile mills were now exporting to countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, the demand from China was huge.
This year, the industry expects export demand to be good for segments such as garments.
However, the demand for yarn should increase in the overseas market.
Hence, the export growth might be flat this year for the entire sector, the sources said.
20150613 * Textile industry seeks extra funds for TUFS:
The textile industry has sought additional allocation for the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) to clear the subsidy amount pending for earlier commitments under the scheme and also for new investments this year.
Prem Malik, Chairman of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry, told presspersons here on Friday, The Government should provide Rs.3,000 crore additional allocation for the scheme for 2015-16.
Textiles is a capital intensive industry and the two per cent to five per cent subsidy on interest available through the scheme helps the industry improve its competitiveness.
20150614 * Three asphyxiated at tannery unit tank in Kanpur:
Three persons including a tannery owner’s son, a contractor and a labourer, who were working at a leather unit in Jajmau area of the city, died due asphyxiation on Saturday.
Two other workers, who tried to rescue the three, were rushed to nearest hospital for treatment.
The deceased include tannery owner’s son -Shadab, contractor -Abdullah and labourer -Suraj, the police said.
Following the incident, the senior administrative and police officials rushed to the spot and initiated investigation in this regard. District magistrate Roshan Jacob said a team led by an ADM rank official would conduct an enquiry.
20150614 * Tannery owners blame officials for pollution:
The tannery owners of Jajmau have rejected the proposal of zero discharge treatment plant to save Ganga from pollution.
They alleged that officials are involved in discharging untreated tannery affluents into the holy river and blame them for polluting Ganga.
Rejecting the zero discharge system, the tannery owners said that only water would be zero and where the other waste would go.
At least ten hectares of land would be required every year to dump the waste, they added.
In a meeting with divisional commissioner Mohammad Ifikharuddin and principal secretary environment and forest Sanjeev Sharan, tannery owners refused the proposal and said that they would not contribute for treatment plant.
They said that had already contributed in 36 MLD treatment plant.
17:03:23 local time SRI LANKA
20150615 * No decent work with precarious work:
The purpose of this article is to discuss some matters regarding the efforts taken by the ILO to improve decent work at workplaces and the role of EFC towards that effort.
There are so many projects organised by the ILO to improve tripartite relationships when settling workers issues. In this regard the recent Evaluation Workshop organised by the ILO on 30th March, 2015 at Waters Edge reviewed the work relating to the projects carried out by stakeholders in 2014.
There were several awareness programmes organised by trade unions, EFC and the Department of Labour with the help of the ILO.
These included educating workers, TU leaders, HR officers, Labour officers and LT Presidents on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.
What are the major issues confronting workers at the moment? These include a living wage, Cost of Living Allowance, job security, right to organise, abolition of precarious work systems.
After spending much money on the above programmes, has there been a settlement or reduction of these issues?
From the employer’s point of view the answer has been, Yes. But according to the workers, the issues have been aggravated.
Who is telling the truth?
Have the salaries of workers increased according to the escalating prices of essential goods?
According to the Department of Census & Statistics a family of four members needs Rs. 51,000 per month to live a normal life.
How many families in Sri Lanka get this income?
It assumes that the both mother and father work, each of them should earn at least Rs. 25,500 per month.
Some of the workers are governed by the Wages Board Ordinance.
As per amendments to some Wages Boards in 2013, monthly minimum salaries are as follows.
Garment industry Rs. 8,970
Textile Rs. 9,660
Security service Rs. 8,820
Metal quarry &
crushing Rs. 11,000
Nursing home Rs. 9,315
Leather Industry Rs. 9,660
Janitorial/Hotel Rs. 9,660
These are the basic salaries.
In addition to this some of them get attendance and incentive allowances.
|In the FTZ if a worker is to get these allowances, they have to achieve a set target by working six days per week and about 12 hours per day.
Job security and decent work
Under prevailing labour laws there are many provisions to protect the job of a worker. Due to this employers are unable to terminate workers as and when they want.
Right to organise
At the workshop a BOI official pointed out that the number of issues relating to labour were reduced at the Katunayake FTZ, and that meant that there were less workers issues and they settle the matters with the management.
This is not the truth. Workers are not allowed to exercise their right to organise especially in the FTZ.
Workers who try to organise unions or try to represent matters are subject to victimisation.
Therefore workers do not come forward to bring their issues to the managements and work under pressure.
Workers are always complaining about harassment by their superiors at most work places, for not meeting the production targets.
20150614 * Manpower agencies and the increase in precarious employment:
As the private sector workers are campaigning to secure the Rs. 2,500 increase to their monthly salaries, manpower workers in public and private sector jobs are faced with a difficult struggle.
Using manpower agencies to recruit employees has been a common practice in the private sector for filling low-skilled manufacturing jobs and foreign employment opportunities.
In recent times, such practice has extended to high-end service sectors, such as telecommunications and banking, and public sector organisations.
Consequently, “manpower workers,” as those recruited by the agencies are now identified, make up around 17 per cent and 23 per cent of the workforce in two of the public banks.
One third of the workforce in another leading private commercial bank is made up of manpower workers.
A manpower worker employed as bank Office Assistant is paid a monthly salary of Rs. 12,000, when the permanent worker in the same position is paid Rs. 47,000.
The manpower agency is able to make around Rs. 18,000 per employee recruited. Manpower workers are excluded from the loan facility, medical care and leave encashment provisions enjoyed by the permanent employees.
Furthermore, the manpower worker is recruited as contract labour and with no assurance of continued employment.
20150612-15 * Sri Lankan apparels showcased to Latin America:
As Sri Lankan annual apparel exports closed in on the crucial US$ 5 billion mark, South America’s largest apparel market was given a preview of Lankan fashion when the Brazil International Apparel Sourcing Show 2015 (BIAS 2015) opened in Sao Paulo on 27 May.
Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board (EDB) and Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) officials led a delegation consisting of reps from six companies to BIAS 2015, the leading international apparel show of Brazil and South America showcasing leading Asian Apparel manufacturers for worldwide exports.
A B2B platform for Asian apparel manufacturers & international buyers, BIAS is also said to be “the biggest meeting place of apparel manufacturers and suppliers of Asia-Pacific focusing on buyers from USA, EU, East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
BIAS 2015 showcased products of South Asian countries such as India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka in over 225 stalls.
BIAS 2015 attracted buyers not only from Brazil but also from other South American countries such as Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela etc.
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16:33:23 local time PAKISTAN
20150613 * Implementation of child labour laws demanded:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former labour minister Malik Abdul Qayyum has called for the need to make all-out effort for elimination of child labour from the country.
In a statement on Friday, the PTI leader said strict implementation of labour laws was need of the hour. He said child labour is not only a serious social issue but can also dent country’s economy if not checked in time.
The PTI leader said that last year Pakistan qualified for the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Plus status in the European Union (EU), one of the biggest trading blocks in the world. Under this scheme, Pakistan can export its textile products to 28 EU countries duty free or at concessionary rates.
Pakistan expects additional annual exports of around $ 1 billion after getting the GSP Plus status.
20150615 * Hazardous job: Workers critical after inhaling poisonous fumes:
Five workers of a textile factory in Dagranwala Road fainted after inhaling toxic fumes.
The Batala Colony SHO told The Express Tribune that 35-year-old Muhammad Shabbir, 30-year-old Sarfraz Husain, 30-year-old Muhammad Zahid, 32-year-old Iftikhar Ali and 28-year-old Nazir Ahmad were doing routine work at Mansoor Fabrics situated on Dagranwan Road when its boiler developed some technical fault and began emitting poisonous fumes.
He said when the men fainted, some workers called Rescue 1122 who took them to a hospital where doctors said they were in a critical condition.
He said police had not received a formal complaint and had not registered an FIR.
20150615 * Woman workers’ rights awareness stressed:
Experts have stressed enhancing awareness among woman workers about their rights.
Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Vice President Malik Naseer, and other speakers stated this while addressing a Women Workers Conventions at SCCI under the auspices of different NGOs.
They said awareness about relevant labour laws was essential to increase productivity of woman workers in different industrial sectors.
They maintained that it was necessary to use women potential for the uplift of country, adding that industrial labourers should be accorded respect and woman workers should be given wages equal to men, be granted right to form unions, be allotted Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) cards, be provided permanent jobs and other facilities, because tension-free workers would guarantee sustainable industrial progress.
20150613 * Online guide to protect labour rights published:
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on Friday published an online guide, describing how businesses operating in Pakistan can impact human rights.
The guide is part of DIHR’s global project, The Human Rights and Business Country Guide.
So far, such guides have been published for 14 countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, South Africa, and Colombia. Country guides are freely available online at www. HRBCountryGuide.org.
Speaking at media launch at the Karachi Press Club, Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Chairperson Justice (r) Majida Rizvi and PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali said that country guide provides examples of cases where businesses have adversely impacted human rights, suggests avenues for remedies, and identifies existing initiatives that businesses can engage to ensure they respect human rights and contribute to sustainable development.
* Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan 2014:
Download pdf here: Status of Labour Rights in Pakistan 2014
20150616 * Textile sector: Govt promises tax and other incentives:
The government is now in a position to take up the challenges faced by the textile industry and facilitate it through incentives, access to potential markets overseas and zero taxes on exports, said Federal Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan.
“I will personally pursue the case of textile industry with the authorities concerned and with the premier, but we can only provide help within the fiscal space of our economy,” Khan said while talking to members of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma).
Aptma Chairman SM Tanveer apprised the minister of the precarious condition of the industry, saying it was operating much below capacity because of a lack of global orders, the cause of which was the high cost of doing business.
Aptma Group Leader Gohar Ejaz, while briefing the minister of the incentives offered by competing economies to their textile sector, said, competitors, particularly Indians, have a much better market access and facilitations than Pakistan.
20150616 * Readymade garments register $1.549bn exports:
The export earnings from readymade garments have increased significantly as these registered an increase of 8.51 percent in terms of value with 22.843 million dozens various types of items worth $ 1548.282 million during first three quarters of this year.
The number of various types of readymade garments exported during same period last year was 21.434 million dozens and their worth was $ 1426.826 million.
An official data on Monday showed that readymade garment industry has emerged as one of the important small scale industries in Pakistan as its products have large demand both at home and abroad.
The local requirements of readymade garments are almost met by this industry. The garment industry is also a good source of providing employment opportunities to a large number of people at a very low capital investment.
20150616 * Resource centre: Stakeholders highlight technical textile’s potential:
The First Technical Textile Resource Centre (TTRC) is being established at the National Textile University (NTU) to provide support for the development of the textile sector, said NTU Faisalabad Rector Dr Arshad Ali.
While addressing a seminar attended by industrialists and other stakeholders, Dr Ali said that funds have been provided for work on the centre, which will be completed within the time limit.
Terming TTRC as the ‘future of Pakistan textiles’, Dr Ali added that technical textile has the potential to earn more than conventional textile. “Per metre cloth prepared by conventional methods is only Rs10 to Rs20 per metre, but this sky rockets to Rs300 for technical textile in some cases,” he said.
20150616 * ‘Govt to extend incentives on exports’:
Federal Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan has said that after two years of consolidation, the government is now in a position to facilitate the exporting sectors through incentives, market access, and a viable long term policy.
He was addressing the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTAMA) at its office on Monday. Chairman APTMA SM Tanveer apprised the minister of the precarious position of the industry, which was operating much below its capacity because of lack of global orders.
He cited high cost of doing business in Pakistan as the main reason for this decline.
20150614 * Textile sector: Stitching excuses for poor growth:
The textile sector is probably the most vocal of them all. From gas supply issues to stuck up refunds with the Federal Board of Revenue, the sector continues to make noise and keeps stressing how it generates revenue and employment opportunities for the economy.
It was no surprise when the textile fraternity started with their recommendations for the budget and piled on the pressure.
But, even after the budget announcement where the government somewhat favoured textiles, the sector continued to lament, saying that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has poured cold water on “high expectations” it had from the government. It argues that no “significant relief” was offered.
Using its card of being a critical sector for growth in the country, the textile industry has continued to cry over energy shortages and security concerns in the country.
No one denies that those problems exist and still persist.
20150616 * Industrialists to boycott RTO Faisalabad for indefinite period:
The industrialists of Faisalabad have announced to boycott the Regional Tax Office (RTO) Faisalabad for indefinite period as a mark of protest against what they alleged humiliating attitude of tax officers and illegally imposition of the ban on the entry of the office bearers of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry and All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA).
This was decided in an emergent General Body meeting of the APTPMA which was also attended by the representatives of the chamber and the association. Sheikh Khalid Habib Chairman APTPMA who chaired the meeting told that last month sales tax issues had taken a serious turn.
However, after their protest, it was decided that all issues would be settled amicably through mutual negotiation between APTPMA and RTO Faisalabad.
It was also decided that department will not invoke the clauses of 38-A and 40-B which were main cause of concern for the industrialists in the sense of disturb the business very badly.
20150614 * Successive govts fail to create job opportunities: experts:
Successive governments in the country have failed to create job opportunities during the last two decades, experts said on Saturday.
They said the issue can be resolved through online talent platforms that would ensure right man for the job.
Currently, workers in Pakistan whether qualified, over-qualified or under-qualified are mostly performing their duties without much enthusiasm.
At the same time, the employers are mostly not happy with the general performance of their workers.
The general low productivity of the workers justifies employers’ dissatisfaction, they said.
“Minimum wage mantra has also contributed to the inefficiencies of the workers,” said M I Khurram, a knitwear exporter, with over 6,000 employees.
He said there is no rationale in increasing the wages without improvement in the productivity.
There are workers in each concern that have been engaged seven years ago when the minimum wage was around Rs4000.
Khurram said after every increase in the minimum wage, these workers would now get Rs13,000 from the next month.
20150615 * Biosafety initiative : Bill to regulate import of genetically modified seeds being prepared:
The drafting of a new biosafety bill is being prepared to regulate import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country.
Currently, there is no law at the federal level to check import of genetically modified (GM) seeds in the country. In absence of a law, the country is fast becoming a dumping state for GM seeds being produced by multinational corporations.
Anti-GM activists say more than 80 per cent of the country’s cotton belt has already gone to Bt cotton, a genetically modified variety of cotton.
Multinational producers of seeds and pesticides are also aggressively lobbying to introduce genetically modified corn and maize seeds in the country.
20150615 * Trade unions demand re-nationalisation of KE:
Hundreds of workers and trade union activists at “Anti-Privatization Conference” here have demanded of the government to cancel privatization of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), now called K-Electric, because its privatization in 2005 had not only rendered thousands of workers jobless but the power consumers of Karachi are suffering heavily due to power shortage, load shedding and over billing.
The conference was organized by Anti-Privatization Committee of trade unions at Sindh Boys Scouts Association’s auditorium here on Saturday.
The speakers expressed concern over the aggressive privatization programme of the present government and said it has to learn lessons of the past.
The speakers deplored that the privatization in the past was actually a big below to the trade union movement as the number of workers associated in trade unions has declined drastically.
Hundreds of thousands of workers were rendered jobless despite assurance at the time privatization that their job security would be ensured and they would get benefits.
But it happened opposite. The national exchequer suffered heavy losses due to plundering of the national wealth in the name of privatization.
20150616 * PTA urges government to review gas loadshedding plan:
Pakistan Tanners Association’s (PTA-SZ) acting chairman Amir Majeed has demanded of the government to review its decision of resorting to load-shedding in Karachi for two days as such a move will prove detrimental to the city’s industries.
Voicing concern over the move, the PTA chief said that load-shedding of gas will have adverse impact on the export-oriented leather industries as their production will be curtailed considerably.
Moreover, such a decision on the part of authorities concerned will lead to delay in shipment of foreign orders and in such a situation local exporters will have to pay a hefty penalty.
16:33:23 local time UZBEKISTAN
20150612 * Welcoming progress towards MDG’s, Ban encourages Uzbekistan to promote human rights – Ban:
Continuing his visit to Central Asia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Uzbekistan for the solid progress it achieved towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, in reducing poverty and maternal mortality, ensuring universal access to primary education, while recalling that there can be no peace and development without human rights.
“I also welcome Uzbekistan’s active participation in multilateral discussions at the United Nations and its contributions to addressing regional and global issues of concern,” he said, noting its contributions to supporting stability and development in Afghanistan, as well in initiating the Central Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty.
Speaking to the press in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, while on his second official visit there as UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said that these achievements and commitments were the result of “steady and people-oriented socio-economic reforms initiated by President Islam Karimov.”
“But laws on the books should be made real in the lives of people,” he declared.
If the country has made important progress in eliminating child labour in the cotton sector, more must be done now to address “the mobilization of teachers, doctors and others in cotton harvesting, and prevent the maltreatment of prisoners.”
20150613 * US to reconsider Pacific trade agenda next week:
The US House of Representatives decided Friday to carry over deliberations on a bill that is crucial to concluding a sweeping Pacific free trade deal to next week after endorsing only part of it.
President Barack Obama’s administration hailed the passage of the core part of the so-called Trade Promotion Authority bill, but uncertainty grew about final congressional endorsement as clear divisions among lawmakers emerged over the remaining portion.
The chamber held two votes over the bill, which would empower Mr Obama to strike trade agreements including the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership also involving Japan and 10 other countries. It voted in favour of granting the president so-called fast-track authority but against a measure aimed at helping workers affected by free trade deals.
read more.& read more. & read more.
* Apostles of feel-good capitalism:
Analysing the benevolent instincts of celebrated entrepreneurs, a new book asks probing questions
Last year, in his work Capital in the Twenty-First Century , French economist Thomas Piketty initiated a fierce and groundbreaking debate in the US as he aggressively debunked everything that capitalists believed was ethical with respect to making money.
Piketty ignited significant arguments around power and money, questioning the myth of quality of life for everyone through capitalism. And the debate is alive and kicking even today.
Enter Nicole Aschoff’s The New Prophets of Capitalism . Aschoff deviates a little from the existing debate around capital in a marginally successful attempt to resurrect socially acceptable versions of ‘capitalism’.
She strikes a chord with the reader as she begins her interrogation into stories being told by a few larger-than-life figures of our society, most of whom are epitomes of success and are, therefore, eminently qualified to voice their opinion of capitalism to the masses.
The book offers a moving and intellectually serious account of these new faces of capitalism and makes the reader stop and think if capitalism is really the tool that can help make the world a better place.
Those many capitalisms
“We are all storytellers.” Thus Aschoff begins her book, and quickly gets into clinically analysing the life stories that Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook), John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods), Oprah Winfrey (media superstar), and Bill and Melinda Gates have been sharing with the world — stories of realism and redefined capitalism.
Each story addresses the problems of corporate tyranny, gender discrimination, environmental degradation, alienation and/or inequalities.
Being an editor of the Left publication Jacobin, Aschoff critically analyses these stories to decode the myriad ways through which these characters became the new prophets of capital.
These prophets, according to Aschoff, are very much like the prophets of yore. They are individuals who, upon receiving a personal call, embarked on a mission to disseminate a new vision of how we can enrich our lives.
Leaning and labouring
The book is packed with anecdotes and literary references that illuminate the narrative and is probably deliberately targeted for a general reader. It is short, having only six chapters.
Aschoff begins by dissecting the story of Sandberg, who speaks out to women folk anywhere in the corporate ladder — or at home — about inclusive capitalism (read feminism).
Sandberg believes that inclusive capitalism promotes involvement of women at top levels and she is the propagator of the ‘Lean In’ movement.
This chapter is a must read; it’s a delight to see Aschoff define the movement, evaluate it, and test it on real life examples, and conclude that women must lean in to collective projects that channel individual female voices into a deafening roar.
That said, Aschoff does not conclude too well. She poses questions such as “Does this mean that it is pointless to challenge capitalism?” and “What would a radical, anti-capitalist model look like?”, but does not offer answers.
Of course, the book is a one-sided debate as it does not touch upon the fundamental issues and arguments that have propelled capitalism for centuries, but nevertheless does justice to the theme and offers an acutely radical perspective.
Karl Marx believed that capitalism would self-destruct in the endless pursuit of diminishing profit returns.
But in the 21st century we have seen capitalists redefining the very system for social good; but how good can that be?
That’s a question many forget to ask.
And that’s what The New Prophets of Capitalism tries to figure out.
So, yes, the book has the potential to create some ripples and kindle new thoughts.