22:53:33 local time PHILIPPINES
20150623 * Scrap legal bases for contractualization to avert another Kentex, labor group demands:
Forty-one days after the fire that claimed 72 lives at a rubber slippers factory in Valenzuela City, a labor group staged pickets at field offices of the Labor department in Metro Manila to demand the repeal of what it called the “legal bases” for contractual labor in the country to “avert another Kentex tragedy.”
The measures the Bukluran ng Mangagawang Pilipino wants scrapped are Department of Labor and Employment Order 18-A and Articles 106 to 109 of the Labor Code, which govern contracting and sub-contracting.
The BMP also scored the Aquino administration for its failure thus far to prosecute national and loal government officials liable for the blaze at the Kentex Manufacturing factory despite Malacanang’s earlier pledge that “heads shall roll.”
“It has been forty-one days since the Kentex tragedy and yet the Aquino administration has remained unperturbed,” BMP-Metro Manila leader Gie Relova said in a statement that called the Kentex tragedy an “accident waiting to happen” because of government’s willingness to give up workers’ protections to lure more investments.
20150623 * Victims’ families, survivors remember Kentex fire:
Families and survivors in the Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela march for justice as they mark 40 days since the tragedy.
20150623 * Kentex victims agree to P151,200 settlement:
Relatives of some of the victims in last month’s Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela City offer flowers at the site of the tragedy on Monday, 40 days after the incident which claimed 72 lives. Photo by RICHARD A. REYES- Inquirer.
Families and representatives of at least 57 victims of the fire that razed the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. slipper factory in Valenzuela last May 13 have agreed to a settlement with the company.
Lawyer Renato Paraiso, who represents Kentex management, said the victims’ families have agreed to a total compensation package worth P151,200 each.
The amount includes P100,000 in death benefits, P30,000 cash for the identification of the remains of the victims, P10,000 burial assistance, P6,200 for funeral services, and P5,000 travel assistance.
Paraiso said the settlement applies to all victims regardless of their employment status.
He said the company would shoulder the medical expenses of regular employees who were injured in the incident. They would also be receiving their separation pay, he said.
He was mum, however, on the benefits of injured contractual employees. Most victims of the fire were reportedly contractual employees.
Paraiso said at least 10 more families were willing to settle within the week “but there are those who would not budge” and were asking as much as P4 million for settlement, “which the company cannot afford at this point.”
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20150622 * Labor group claims 99% of factories around Kentex violate labor, safety standards:
A labor coalition said that “99 percent” of the factories around Kentex Manufacturing Corporation’s plant in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City violate basic labor laws and occupational health and safety standards.
In a statement sent to GMA News Online, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP-Nagkaisa) labor coalition said that surprise onsite joint inspections conducted with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the formal labor sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) found that most of the initial 42 establishments surrounding the burned-down slipper factory do not comply with the current mandated daily minimum wage of P481.
They also do not remit their employees’ Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-Ibig premiums.
“The inspections also confirmed how widespread contractualization of labor has become,” TUCP-Nagkaisa said.
Many workers in the establishments inspected do not know how to compute their overtime pay, night shift differentials and holiday pay, among others.
They were also not aware of other benefits such as the service incentive leave pay and maternity, paternity and solo parent leave.
On the Occupational Safety and Health Standard aspect, Nagkaisa said that all of the assessed establishments did not comply with the standards. The group said that many factories around Kentex either had no fire exits or had obstructed fire exits.
Here is a complete list of the violations, according to the labor group:
20150622 * Body parts found more than a month after Kentex factory blaze:
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Monday that it has found body parts in the gutted slippers factory in Valenzuela City more than a month after the fire killed 72 people.
PNP Crime Laboratory Deputy Director Senior Supt. Emmanuel Aranas said that they are still in the process of identifying the body parts, which they found last Saturday.
Aranas admitted that they are finding it difficult to identify if the body parts belong to a man or a woman.
He also said that they are in close coordination with the Valenzuela City Engineering Office in conducting their retrieval operations because of the dangers posed by the gutted factory.
The PNP returned to the site after two families sought their assistance last week in retrieving two bodies believed to be buried under the collapsed roof of the factory.
20150622 * Gov’t handling of Kentex fire won’t prevent repeat – KMU:
Joining today’s mass, solidarity lunch, march and a short program in time for the 40 days of the Kentex factory fire in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that the government’s handling won’t prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
The labor group said the national government’s refusal to accept responsibility for upholding workplace safety, the lack of mandatory inspection of businesses, and the meager penalties for employers who violate safety standards mean that factory fires with many casualties will most likely happen again.
“Forty days after the worst factory fire in Philippine history, the government has shown no sign of learning from the tragedy. We’ve seen only finger-pointing and a defense of current policies on the part of the national government,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
The labor leader expressed support for the stand taken by workplace safety NGO Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) that the national government should be in charge of upholding workplace safety standards, lest there be differences in implementation.
20150622 * Remembering the victims:
One day before the 40th day of the fire that hit the Kentex slipper factory in Valenzuela City that killed 72 workers, the members of various groups paid tribute to the victims by conducting a mural painting exercise.
20150621 * Why kin of Kentex fire victims spared ‘scared’ welder:
The Kentex factory fire in Valenzuela City that killed 72 people was initially traced to a welder who apparently had no safety measures in place while fixing a gate and allowed welding sparks to fall on a stack of highly flammable chemicals.
But survivors and the families who lost their loved ones in the May 13 inferno did not sue the welder because he was just “an ordinary employee who followed orders,” according to their counsel, Remigio Saladero.
Earlier last week, 12 families represented by Saladero filed a criminal complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injuries against the owners of the footwear factory and the company’s manpower supplier, CJC.
“The welder is just an ordinary employee who does not know much but to follow the orders of the employer. We also pity him, so we focused on the company,” the lawyer explained in an interview.
“Who ordered the welder to do the job? Isn’t it the company?” Saladero said, adding that Kentex management had the “bigger responsibility” in ensuring safety in the factory.
If only the chemicals that were ignited by welding sparks were labeled and properly stored by Kentex, then the fire would not have occurred regardless of any negligence on the part of the welder, who is also a relative of one of the victims, he said.
20150621 * Kin of 8 Kentex fire victims drop labor rap:
The relatives of eight of the workers who died in the Kentex factory fire dropped the case they filed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), a lawyer said yesterday.
The relatives signed a quitclaim on June 11, said Remigio Saladero, who represented the complainants.
The relatives of 69 workers had filed charges with the NLRC.
“We have filed labor-related charges at the NLRC, but some of the complainants insisted that they will pursue the criminal charges,” he told The STAR.
The owners of the footwear factory were charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide before the Valenzuela City prosecutor’s office earlier this month.
Families of the 69 workers who died in the May 13 fire have been offered P136,000 not to file charges against Kentex’s owners.
Saladero said some of those who agreed on the settlement would still pursue criminal charges against Kentex’s owners and CJC Manpower.
20150620 * Valenzuela gov’t to shoulder cremation, burial expenses of Kentex fire victims:
The Valenzuela City government made true its promise to extend all the much-needed assistance and support to the families of those killed and workers who became jobless after the rubber slippers factory was razed last May 13.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian announced that the local government will shoulder the burial and cremation expenses for those who want their dead kin to be transferred to any cemetery or cremated.
Gatchalian issued the statement in the wake of the result of the forensic examinations by the Philippine National Police-Crime Laboratory (PNP-CL) which identified 71 of the 72 workers of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation on Tatalon Street, Barangay Ugong.
Regarding the one body left unnamed, the PNP-CL said its DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) had already been destroyed to provide the investigators with any information.
Last May 13, the ill-fated factory was razed after sparks from welding works on a metal roll-up gate in the premises set on fire nearby containers of chemicals.
It has been considered the worst industrial fire in Philippine history.
Investigation by the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force showed the factory was not issued the fire safety inspection certificate (FSIC) by the Bureau of Fire Protection as it lacked fire alarms, sprinklers and protected fire exits, among other things.
The local government, on one hand, revealed that around 12,400 businesses in the city have no FSIC, all of which the mayor had recently revoked.
20150622 * Labor backs bill exempting overtime, night pay from taxes:
The country’s largest labor group is pushing for the passage of pending bills in Congress, which would exempt overtime and night differential pay from tax deductions.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) President Ernesto Herrera said they are supporting House Bills 2836 and 4682 which seek to raise the income of at least 1.1 million workers nationwide.
Under the labor-friendly bills, which were filed by Makati City Rep. Mar-Len Abigail Binay last year, the overtime and night differential pay of workers will no longer be included in their taxable income.
Overtime pay refers to the financial compensation given by companies to their employees for work done beyond eight hours.
20150622 * Fire safety inspections in NCR done by next week —DILG:
The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) will finish inspecting next week 300,000 business establishments in Metro Manila, as instructed by President Benigno Aquino III.
In a text message, Peter Irving Corvera, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) undersecretary of public safety, said the BFP is already halfway through these inspections.
“The BFP conducted intensive inspections based on a simplified but thorough protocol and checklist for the past two weeks and have inspected almost half of such subject establishments,” Corvera said.
He added that more “intensive” fire inspections will be conducted nationwide once the BFP has fully complied with Aquino’s directive.
“The BFP expects to complete such inspections by next week, after which the intensive inspections will be implemented in the rest of the country,” Corvera said.
“The purpose of such inspections is primarily to ensure compliance by all establishments with the Fire Code to avoid a repeat of the Kentex incident,” he added, referring to the deadly fire in Valenzuela last May 14 that killed over 70 people.
21:53:33 local time VIET NAM
20150623 * Workers able to collect insurance lump sum from 2016:
The resolution, approved by 404 deputies, or 81.78 percent, followed a Government proposal on modifying Article 60 of the 2014 Law on Social Insurance.
Proposed modifications are expected to create a flexible social insurance policy to meet the wishes of labourers.
Under the resolution, workers can continue to reserve their social insurance premium paying period to be eligible for retirement pensions once they surpass the working age, as prescribed in the 2014 law.
read more. & read more.
20150622 * Vietnam lawmakers vote for pension rule change, ease workers’ concerns:
Vietnam’s legislators have voted to give employees the option of receiving lump-sum social insurance payments when they choose to leave their companies and exit the state pension program.
Roughly 82 percent of the legislators agreed with this policy at a session of the National Assembly — Vietnam’s legislature — on Monday, three months after thousands of workers protested a new rule that aimed to keep all employees in the state pension system until their retirement date.
The voting result is consistent with an internal opinion poll last week, which saw more than 87 percent of the assembly back a resolution to amend the controversial rule.
The rule, designed to shore up the pension fund, was slated to go into effect next year, but now the National Assembly ordered relevant agencies to roll it back.
In late March thousands of workers in Ho Chi Minh City and some southern provinces protested against the rule in a strike that lasted nearly a week.
The workers calmed down only after the government guaranteed that all social insurance policies would stay unchanged until the end of the year, and that it would seek amendments so employees could still choose to take the lump-sum payment, or get paid monthly in retirement.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150623 * Vietnam’s apparel provides a fourth of RoK market:
Vietnam is the second largest textile and garment exporter to the Republic of Korea (RoK), making up one-fourth of the RoK’s apparel market, after China.
The RoK imported 627.4 million USD in textiles and garments from Vietnam in the first four months of this year, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).
The turnover marks an increase of 8.25 percent over the same period last year.
The growth is part of a larger trend. After the ASEAN – Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA), Vietnam’s textile and garment industry saw significant growth.
20150620-21 * VN textiles, garments provide a fourth of S Korean market:
Viet Nam is the second largest textile and garment exporter to South Korea, making up one-fourth of South Korea’s garment market, after China.
South Korea imported US$627.4 million in textiles and garments from Viet Nam in the first four months of this year, according to the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).
The turnover marks an increase of 8.25 per cent over the same period last year.
The growth is part of a larger trend. After the ASEAN – Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA), Viet Nam’s textile and garment industry saw significant growth.
In 2011, the sector’s export turnover to South Korea was $900 million.
A year later it increased to $1.1 billion and in 2013 it reached $1.6 billion.
Last year’s total of $2.4 billion was a staggering 27 per cent increase over that of 2013.
read more. & to read.
20150623 * Market Watch seizes clothes with fake trademarks:
The Ha Noi Market Watch this morning confiscated thousands of sets of sports clothes, jeans and underwear bearing fake trademarks of famous foreign brands.
The clothes were confiscated in a shop on Thai Thinh 2 Street in Ha Noi’s Dong Da District.
The fake trademarks were for Levi’s, Triumph and Nike.
20150620 * Trade liberalisation poses problems for local firms:
Vietnamese small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face increasingly tough challenges because of their weak competitiveness and the government’s ineffective support policies, according to economist Nguyen Tri Hieu.
SMEs in the near future would encounter fierce competition from foreign-invested businesses, Hieu was quoted as saying in the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper.
Viet Nam’s policies in the past gave many preferential treatments to FDI enterprises, while the Vietnamese private sector received fewer incentives.
“Although FDI capital is important for socio-economic development, domestic enterprises still need support from the State,” Hieu said.
FDI enterprises are given priority in tax, land and administrative procedures.
20150621 * If China joins the TPP, will Vietnam would lose its advantages?:
The possibility of China becoming a member of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement remains open. Experts say China’s membership, to some extent, would affect Vietnam.
According to Dr. Le Van Sang, former deputy head of the Institute for the World Economics and Politics Research, the US has not invited China to join TPP but does not oppose the country’s membership.
Meanwhile, Chinese press report that Beijing may consider joining the free trade area.
“Both the US and China remain inconclusive about Chinese membership. But I think China would join TPP, sooner or later,” Sang commented.
Analysts have every reason to believe that TPP would be inked soon, which means China may not join TPP from the very beginning. However, the door to TPP remains open for China.
According to Bui Ngoc Son, a renowned analyst, in the past, the US did not want to admit China into TPP for some reasons.
First, the US did not welcome the Chinese foreign exchange policy. Second, rising China may overcomE the US plan to increase its influences in Asia Pacific.
However, though wanting to establish a free trade area with no China, the US has no reason to oppose the presence of China in TPP.
What will happen if China joins TPP? The strategy China has been following for the last years is that it tries to prevent other countries to benefit in its land.
However, the analysts both affirmed that China, if joining TPP, will have to change its ways.
What will happen if China joins TPP?
An economist said that if China stays outside TPP, it will be put at a disadvantage as TPP members, or China’s rivals, can do business with the US and benefit from the world’s largest economy.
Meanwhile, if China joins TPP, its products sold among TPP member countries will be exempted from tax.
20150619 * Washington redirects US investments to Vietnam:
The US is moving a great deal of outward investment to Vietnam. The US Intel Group, for example, plans to relocate its production line worth $1 billion from Costa Rica to Vietnam.
Vietnamese analysts, who noted that US capital has been flowing to Vietnam in recent years, said the capital was heading to many business sectors, from real estate to heavy industries and consumer goods.
Bui Ngoc Son, MA, said the US would be the Number 1 foreign investor in Vietnam for both geopolitical and business reasons within one to three years.
The strong rise of China is an important reason that US investors were going to Vietnam.
China, with its expansion strategy, will be a strong rival to both the US and Europe.
If the Chinese march towards the north, it will meet Russia.
If it goes to the west, it will meet India, while Japan and South Korea are awaiting in the east.
As such, going across Vietnam is the easiest path for China.
20150621 * International conference talks incentives for industrial development:
Senior officials and international experts gathered at a conference in Hanoi on June 20 to seeks ways for effective industrial development in Vietnam.
- PM green-lights strategy for industrial development
- VSIP model to boost industrial development in Quang Ngai
- Five key solutions for industrial development
Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai stressed the need for accurately identifying opportunities and challenges in order to devise suitable policies for the success of the National Strategy for Industrial Development through 2020.
He pointed to the two-digit growth rate recorded for many years by the industrial sector and positive changes in the sector’s structure, including the increasing proportion of manufacturing and processing in the total industrial value and the expansion of the non-State and foreign-invested economic sectors.
The industrial sector has become able to meet the supply of essential products for other production sectors as well as for consumption, thus enhancing the economy’s self sufficiency, the Deputy PM said.
21:53:33 local time CAMBODIA
20150623 * Unions agree to push for $177 wage at meet:
Leaders of several independent garment-worker unions yesterday agreed that they will again push for a $177 monthly minimum wage next year, with negotiations officially slated to begin next month, according to the head of Cambodia’s largest independent garment union.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) and the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said that the consensus was reached during a meeting of union leaders at the labour rights group Solidarity Center’s office.
The gathering included about 20 union leaders from C.CAWDU, Collective Union of Movement of Workers, Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and other independent unions, Thorn said.
“I think [we will] start with this amount, and we can decrease that amount,” said Thorn, who admitted that he doubted garment workers will receive a $177 per month floor wage.
“Normally, the government and companies want to give less . . . and unions want to get more.”
Compared to that, last year’s talks on the 2015 wage were relatively sedate, said Joel Preston, a consultant for the Community Legal Education Center, though that may change this year.
“If the cost of living is increasing and workers can’t stay ahead of that, I think we’re going to see a large [pushback],” Preston said yesterday.
20150623 * Hundreds gather to protest repressive draft laws at Cambodia’s National Assembly:
At 8:30 am today, hundreds of civil society members gathered peacefully in front of the National Assembly, before marching to call for the withdrawal of the draft Law on Associations & Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO) and protest against the draft Trade Union Law (TUL).
The protestors comprised around 250 youths, farmers, land-activists, NGOs, media, monks and citizens.
Protestors held banners saying “We will not vote for a party that passes LANGO” and “Say NO to Union, Association & NGO laws”, shouted anti-LANGO slogans, and sang songs.
The National Assembly Permanent Standing Committee is expected to meet today to decide which National Assembly Commission will review LANGO.
20150622 * Host of groups call for scrapping the NGO law:
More than a dozen international advocacy groups wrote to National Assembly President Heng Samrin asking him to withdraw a controversial draft law on NGOs and associations.
The group said the draft “appears designed to restrict the legitimate activities of civil society and human rights defenders in violation of the right to freedom of association”.
“Drafted in a closed and flawed process, there has been no consultation and no opportunity to comment on an official draft of the law, despite repeated requests by civil society groups,” the letter reads.
Signatories to the letter included Amnesty International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, and Oxfam.
20150622 * Opposition to Draft NGO Law Continues to Grow Abroad:
Opposition to the latest draft of a proposed law that aims to regulate the hundreds of NGOs in the country continues to mount ahead of a pending vote, with a group of 10 international rights groups urging the government to scrap what they call a “severely flawed document.”
NGOs have been complaining for years that vague provisions of the draft would give the government undue powers to shut down groups that criticize the ruling CPP. They say a new draft of the law, which reached the National Assembly earlier this month, is even worse.
“The draft [law] is a severely flawed document that should be withdrawn by the National Assembly immediately,” the rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, said in a letter they plan to deliver to Assembly President Heng Samrin today.
If the law is passed, the groups said, “the government will be violating the right to freedom of association…and the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation, a right guaranteed in Article 35 of the country’s constitution.”
20150622 * Cambodia facing growing opposition to draft NGO law:
Sixteen international human rights groups on Monday urged Cambodia to withdraw a proposed law they fear will muzzle government critics and severely restrict the activities of non-governmental organisations.
The law would require Cambodia’s 5,000 domestic and international NGOs to report their activities and finances to the government, according to a draft leaked to the media last week.
Failure to do so could result in fines, criminal prosecutions and the break-up of organisations, many of which have played a crucial part in helping the country to recover from the genocidal regime of dictator Pol Pot in the 1970s.
“The draft (law) appears designed to restrict the legitimate activities of civil society and human rights defenders in violation of the right to freedom of association”, said a letter signed by the groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
20150621 * Watchdog Will not Back Down:
Despite being blasted by the Foreign Ministry late last month for publicly criticizing the draft law on associations and NGOs, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to question the contentious legislation.
It will also send observers to the National Assembly this week as representatives of civil society will be lobbying lawmakers to scrap sections of the legislation they say are dangerous.
Wan-Hea Lee, the Office’s country representative for Cambodia, said the draft she saw was alarming.
“Several provisions are worded in such a way that the legitimate exercise of freedom of opinion, expression and assembly could be curtailed and subjected to criminal sanction,” she explained.
The draft law “should be opened for a thorough public review and informed discussion prior to its enactment, as should all draft laws,” Ms. Lee said.
Late last month, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong rebuked four UN agencies working here for publicly urging the government to ensure the process of drafting and enacting the law is transparent and open to the public. “You should perform your activities by respecting the UN Charter and your specific mandate,” the ministry responded.
20150623 * Silk board looks to revive flagging sector:
The recently established National Silk Board is looking to tighten regulations and boost investor confidence in Cambodia’s silk industry, as well as create a policy for silk promotion in the future.
The board, created by the Ministry of Commerce in March, is currently collecting data and information from industry stakeholders to create a clear overview of the sector, which has so far been functioning independent of a central body, said Mao Thora, the president of the National Silk Board (NSB).
“We are now discussing the direction of the sector, and the first thing we will do is collect data on the development of silk and list the responsibility of those involved,” Thora explained.
“Forming an association for golden silk producers is what we are looking at. We will also introduce them to contract farming so production can take off,” he added.
22:53:33 local time INDONESIA
20150621 * Rising Unemployment Piles Up Problems for President Joko Widodo:
Indonesian companies are shedding jobs as they grapple with the weakest economic growth in six years, adding to the troubles facing President Joko Widodo, who was elected last year on pledges to dig the country out of a rut.
Government data might suggest no cause for alarm ̶ unemployment was 5.81 percent in February, up only slightly from 5.70 percent a year earlier ̶ but the official numbers are notoriously unreliable and don’t adequately cover the informal sector, which is two-thirds of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
Recent reports of heavy lay-offs across the country paint a bleaker picture, and business executives, recruitment firms and jobseekers say it is getting worse.
Young people are being hit hardest; the International Labor Organization estimated the youth jobless rate was more than 20 percent in 2013, and economists believe it is higher now.
About a third of the workforce is aged 15 to 29, a youth bulge that could bring Indonesia, a country of 250 million people, the sort of demographic dividend China and South Korea enjoyed a generation ago ̶ but only if there are jobs for the 2 million people joining the workforce every year.
Meanwhile, labor-intensive industries such as textiles and manufacturing have been hit by the rupiah’s slide to a 17-year-low, which has raised the cost of imported raw materials.
Hundreds of redundant garment factory workers protested for hours this week in the financial district of Jakarta, the capital, after their company was declared bankrupt and its assets seized by two banks.
21:23:33 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150623 * Minimum wage to be set this month: labour minister:
Minister for Labour U Aye Myint promised yesterday to determine a proposed minimum wage for garment factory workers by the end of this month, despite strong opposition from employers.
Factory owners would be given two months to lodge their complaints against the proposed amount, the minister said yesterday.
The long-running process of reaching an agreement for one of Myanmar’s most vital export sectors has been punctuated by strikes and protests that have dented investors’ confidence.
The minister was speaking at a minimum wage workshop bringing together the labour ministry, employers and trade union representatives organised by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI).
A meeting in Nay Pyi Taw of a national committee responsible for setting minimum wages said on June 17 that manufacturing sector factory owners were willing to agree on a minimum wage, likely to be K4000 (US$3.60) a day.
But garment factory owners in the cutting, manufacturing and packaging (CMP) export sector were strongly opposed, arguing they could not gain market share at such rates.
Ko Kyaw Lwin Oo, a garment worker from E-Land Myanmar who attended the workshop, said more than K4000 was needed as a “living wage” because of rising commodity prices.
20150620 * Textile and garment show touts Myanmar’s investment potential:
The fourth Myanmar International Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition will take place 26-29 June at Myanmar Event Park in Yangon.
Hong Kong-based Yorkers Trade & Marketing Services Co., Ltd will organize the international fair with the support of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The event will showcase products and technology from 98 exhibitors and 16 countries and promote information exchange between manufacturers, buyers, traders and distributors in the country’s garment sector, the organizer said in its press release.
As one of the world’s fastest growing markets, while situated between the world’s most populous states—China and India—Myanmar has tremendous potential for investors, it said.
20:38:33 local time NEPAL
20150620 * Govt asked to lobby with the US for DFQF facility for Nepali garments:
The government has been suggested to lobby with the US Congress for the approval of a Bill introduced by the United States Senator for California Dianne Feinstein that authorises the President to give preferential treatment to certain articles (including apparels, in which the country has high potential) imported directly from Nepal.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the US grants duty free quota free (DFQF) facility to the African states. Similar facility could be extended to Nepal as well as the country has emerged from conflict and has been shattered by the devastating earthquake, according to Shankar Sharma, former Nepali ambassador to the US.
“We should start lobbying for approval of Bill, which was introduced on January 7, utilising the relations of Nepalis with US Congresspersons citing our current status after the quake and because Nepal is eligible to get special facility from the US.”
Sharma suggested the government to start lobbying with the Senators of big states like California, Texas and Virginia, among others, during the consultation meeting held by the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies, today.
Apparel entrepreneurs have been eyeing the US market, which could help resurrect the garment industry of the country, especially if the US Senate approves the Bill introduced by Feinstein.
20:53:33 local time BANGLADESH
20150619 * Fire at Gazipur garment factory:
A fire broke out at a garment factory at Bangla Bazar in Sadar upazila on Friday afternoon.
Fire service sources said the fire broke out at ‘Habitus Fashion’ around 3:30pm.
On information, two firefighting units from Mawna Fire Station rushed in and doused the flame around 4pm.
20150621 * RMG owners asked to pay salaries by July 15:
Police has set July 15 for readymade garments owners in Chittagong to pay workers’ salary and allowances ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Chittagong Police Commissioner M Abdul Jalil Mandal fixed the time boundary in a meeting with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) leaders in the port city on Sunday.
Additional police commissioner (administration, finance and traffic) AKM Shahidur Rahman told banglanews, “We have requested the RMG owners to pay salary and bonus to the workers within July 15”.
“They (RMG owners) also promised that they will try their best,” he added.
“We also advised them to be alert so that no occurrence could happen regarding the payment of salary and bonus,” he said.
20150623 * Muggers kill RMG worker for Tk1,600:
An RMG worker was stabbed to death by a group of muggers in the early hours yesterday in the capital’s Sayedabad area.
Nurul Alam, 24, was waiting for a bus on the road when three muggers stabbed him in his chest and abdomen before snatching away Tk1,600 from his possession, said Mahbub Alam, sub-inspector of Jatrabari police station.
Nurul died on the spot, while the police later recovered his body from in front of the Orion Group office near Jonopod intersection of Sayedabad. His body was later sent to Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital for autopsy.
Abani Sankar Kar, officer-in-charge of Jatrabari police station, said two muggers – with knives in their possession – were arrested soon after the incident. During initial questioning, the suspects – Alamgir and Babu – admitted of being involved with the killing of Nurul, the OC added.
The police were now looking for another mugger who was also present at the time of the murder, but had since managed to evade arrest.
20150622 * Bangladesh to remain a popular sourcing destination for US fashion retailers: study:
Bangladesh will remain a popular sourcing destination for US fashion retailers due to price competitiveness, according to a recent study by the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA).
Bangladesh is the sixth most popular sourcing destination this year with 50 percent of the respondents currently buying from the country, the study found.
The country is also among the top five sourcing destinations with the highest growth potential after Vietnam, India and the US.
About 42 percent of the respondents expect to increase sourcing value or volume from Bangladesh in the next two years, though this figure sharply declined from 65 percent in 2014.
“The consistent interest in expanding sourcing from Bangladesh among US fashion companies is closely connected with the companies’ strong desire to find sourcing destinations to supplement China,” the study said.
However, Bangladesh still has to compete with other leading suppliers in the region, particularly Vietnam, India and Indonesia.
Among the respondents currently sourcing from Bangladesh, 87 percent also buy from Vietnam, 67 percent from India and 60 percent from Indonesia.
The US fashion industry is a critical Trans-Pacific Partnership stakeholder, as close to 80 percent of the respondents expect implementation of the TPP will impact their business practices.
20150623 * Plan to run closed BTMC textile mills in jt venture:
The government has taken up a plan to run and modernise eight closed textile mills under the Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) in joint-venture with local and foreign entrepreneurs.
Textiles and Jute Minister Muhammad Imazuddin Pramanik told the House on Monday while replying to a query raised by treasury bench member Md Tazul Islam from Comilla, reports BSS.
The textile mills include Ahmed Bawani Textile Mills, Demra, Dhaka, Dinajpur Textiles Mills, Sadarpur, Dinajpur, Dost Textiles Mills, Ranirhat, Feni, Tangail Textile Mills, Tangail, Darwani Textile Mills, Nilphamari, RR Textile Mills, Sitakundu, Chittagong, Quaderia Textile Mills, Tongi, Gazipur and Chittaranjan Cotton Mills, Godnail, Narayanganj.
Imazuddin Pramanik also said that six BTMC-run mills are now operational on the basis of service charge, while steps are being taken to operate the remaining mills under the same system.
He said the government is going to frame the Textile Industry Law, 2015 for smooth management of all activities related to the textile industry alongside taking various measures for modernisation of the textile industry.
20150622 * Thrust on raising output of local raw materials for silk sector:
Rising price of imported yarn has posed a challenge to local silk manufacturers but offered an opportunity to increase local production of raw materials.
Boosting production of local yarn can help revitalise the silk sector and regain its lost glory alongside meeting the local demand.
Local consumption could be met with domestic outputs of silk after proper use of natural resources.
The observations came at a daylong workshop styled “Boosting Quality Silk Yarn Production in Minifiliatures through addressing the existing problems” held at the conference hall of Bangladesh silk Development Board (BSDB) here today.
20150623 * Plastic, leather goods exporters to get loans for fire safety:
Bangladesh Bank will offer loans to the plastic and leather goods exporters from its Tk 200-crore environment-friendly revolving fund to ensure fire safety in the industries of the two sectors.
The BB issued a circular to the managing directors and chief executive officers of all banks and non-bank financial institutions asking them to disburse loan to the industries in a bid to set up solar pump to pull out and purify the surface water, set up green industries, and ensure the security system at the factories.
20150623 * INSPECTION DISPUTE: EU retailers, BGMEA face off today:
Apparel exporters will demand that Accord, a platform of retailers and brands of European Union, should not conduct any operation in the readymade garment sector of Bangladesh beyond the purview of the laws of land.
They will make the demand at a meeting between the steering committee of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association to be held today at the BGMEA office in the capital.
In the meeting, the BGMEA will place two more demands concerning clear declaration from Accord about remediation financing and assurance of viability of investment in remediation.
Concerns of both the parties over the ongoing safety initiative will be discussed in the meeting as the recent comments made by finance minister AMA Muhith and BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam put negative impact on the retailers’ mood.
Following the comments, two global trade unions — IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union — strongly condemned the comments and termed the remarks as ‘inaccurate and irresponsible’.
The signatories of Accord suggested that the BGMEA should discuss all the concerns about the operations of Accord in the meeting with the Accord steering committee rather than airing them first in the media.
The global unions hoped that the BGMEA would call on the factory to correct its behaviour.
20150623 * BGMEA to raise concerns over Accord activities today:
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will raise its concerns over Accord activities, which are alleged to be beyond of its jurisdiction, during a scheduled meeting between the steering committee of Accord and BGMEA to be held in the city today.
During the meeting, the RMG manufacturers platform also will discuss viability of investment for the remediation of apparel factories and implementation of Corrective Action Plans (CAP) prescribed by Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
BGMEA and Accord Steering Committee will hold a meeting today where both parties will broadly discus the issues and placed their arguments on behalf of their respective organisation, a BGMEA source confirmed the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.
20150623 * RMG owners to seek info on Accord spending on factories:
Apparel manufacturers will seek detailed information from the Accord’s Steering Committee on its spending on factory remediation programme at a meeting with the latter today (Tuesday), sources said.
The meeting will be held between the leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and visiting members of the Steering Committee of Accord in the city.
The BGMEA leaders will request the Accord to conduct its operation in the country’s readymade garment industry in accordance with the laws of the land.
Concerns over ongoing safety initiatives and safety standards that are being followed in executing the corrective action plan (CAP) including set-up of sprinkler and two-hour long fire preventive doors are expected to be discussed in the meeting, they added.
The recent remarks made by Finance Minister AMA Muhith and the BGMEA President over Accord’s activities will also be discussed, they added.
On June 15, at a meeting with the leaders of the BGMEA, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, Mr Muhith described the Alliance and the Accord as a ‘noose for the garment industry’.
“We will raise three issues in the meeting: details of remediation financing, conducting operation complying with the existing laws and assurance that our investment for remediation will be commercially viable,” Md Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the BGMEA told the FE.
20150621 * Alliance, 2 global trade unions blast Muhith, BGMEA chief:
A platform of North American retailer brands and two global trade unions have strongly criticised finance minister AMA Muhith and BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam for their recent comments on the activities of the retailers’ bodies in improving safety in the Bangladesh readymade garment sector.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the consortium of North American brands and retailers, on Friday urged prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to clarify their position over the ongoing efforts to improve safety in the RMG sector as the finance minister criticised the activities
of Alliance and other initiatives.
Member companies of Alliance expressed concern over the comment of the finance minister criticising efforts to improve safety in the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
Two global trade unions — IndustriAll Global Union and UNI Global Union — strongly condemned the comments of the finance minister and said the minister’s remarks were ‘inaccurate and irresponsible’.
IndustriALL and UNI, signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, strongly denounced the comments made by Muhith and Atiq.
They said, ‘Your remarks wrongly accuse Accord of seeking to hold back Bangladesh’s progress, when the reverse is true. As your government is well aware, Accord came into being in response to the collapse of Rana Plaza, when it became evident to the world, and specifically to garment brands, that the safety of garment workers in Bangladesh could not be guaranteed.’
In the letters the trade unions said, ‘The messages that your government sends to factories through their representative organisations, and through the media, are influential.
Sending a negative message about the operations of Accord that has the effect of delaying or undermining essential factory safety improvements is not in the interests of the government, the industry or the workers.’
Citing media reports the trade unions said that at the meeting on June 15 the BGMEA president described Accord as a ‘big problem’ for Bangladesh’s readymade apparel industry.
‘We are alarmed that you used this occasion to make public accusations towards the actions of Rob Wayss,’ the trade unions said in the letter sent to BGMEA president Md Atiqul Islam.
Targeting him (Rob) personally in this way is not only a risk to his personal safety, it gives the impression that he alone is responsible for the decisions taken in the course of implementing Accord when it is the steering committee which is ultimately responsible, they said.
‘Your accusation that Rob is an “agent” of the AFL-CIO is particularly inflammatory and unhelpful,’ they said.
20150621 * Alliance for clear govt stance on factory safety:
Expressing its concern over the recent remarks made by Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the North America-based apparel retailers’ group Alliance has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to clarify their position in this connection.
The minister in a recent meeting with the leaders of BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association), BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and BTMA (Bangladesh Textile Mills Association) likened the retailers’ groups Accord and Alliance to a ‘noose for the apparel sector in Bangladesh.
“I am truly shocked that a member of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet would criticise efforts aimed at enhancing safety in the ready-made garment sector, which employs more than 4.0 million women and men and is one of the largest contributors to Bangladesh’s growing economy,” said Ellen Tauscher, Independent Chair of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, in a statement issued on Friday.
“I am hopeful that the government of Bangladesh will clarify its position and demonstrate unequivocal support for the Alliance and other initiatives working to improve the safety of its people and the sustainability of its economy,” she said.
The Alliance urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government to clarify their position on the great work being done and significant financial contributions being made toward improving factory safety, and make clear their intentions to continue this work for the benefit of factory workers, the garment sector and the country as a whole.
20150621 * Alliance shocked by Muhith’s comments:
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the platform of 26 North American retailers, has expressed disbelief over Finance Minister AMA Muhith’s disparaging comments on its efforts to improve the safety and sustainability of the country’s garment sector.
In a meeting with garment exporters at his secretariat in Dhaka last week, Muhith said the rigorous inspection by the two foreign agencies — Accord and Alliance — is an attempt to stunt the progress of Bangladesh’s garment sector.
“It is like, ‘Bangladesh you have progressed a lot, do not progress anymore, now it’s the time to pause’,” the minister said, while terming the two agencies “a noose around the neck”.
“I am truly shocked that a member of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet would criticise efforts aimed at ensuring safety in the garment sector,” Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance, said in a statement.
She said comments like those attributed to the finance minister and other officials in the country raise serious and significant concerns about the commitment of the government to this unprecedented and private sector-led safety initiative.
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20150623 * Beijing for FTA deal with Dhaka:
China is keen to forge a bilateral free trade area agreement with Bangladesh to boost trade between the world’s second largest economy and a growing Bangladesh, a senior official of the commerce ministry said.
Department of international cooperation, ministry of commerce, China has recently approached the commerce ministry of Bangladesh to start negotiations on forging the bilateral FTA agreement.
The proposed trade deal, if signed, would expand the two-way commerce manifold and help spur economic growth of the two populous Asian nations, the trade official said, quoting a communication made from the Chinese commerce ministry.
A diplomatic communication made from Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing to commerce ministry last week also highlighted the FTA issue as far as enhanced trade and investments are concerned under the proposed trade deal.
‘The Chinese side showed their keen interest to begin negotiations for an FTA between Bangladesh and China,’ reads the communication.
20150622 * No more new pvt EPZ now:
Govt decides only to allow companies to invest in EZs
The government has decided not to permit any new export-processing zone (EPZ) in the private sector for now.
Rather it will allow establishing economic zones (EZs) to promote investment in the country, officials said.
A meeting of the board of governors of Bangladesh Private EPZs last month, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, took the decision on economic zoning in various parts of the country having potential for such ventures.
The matter came to light when Maisha Group of Companies sought permission to set up its proposed ‘Arisha Specialised Industrial Park Ltd’ in Dhaka’s Savar area on 81 acres of land.
The firm sought permission for site selection under the Bangladesh Private Export Processing Zones Act 1996.
A senior official of executive cell of the Bangladesh Private EPZs told the FE that the meeting turned down Maisha’s plea for permission to set up the export zone.
20150621 * Wrong message to foreign investors:
Commotion over govt bid to reclaim 2,000-acre land
The government’s plan to take back 2,000 acres of land out of nearly 2,500 acres from the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) would jeopardise an investment of $1.2 billion that South Korean companies are planning to pump into the economic zone.
Experts said it would send a wrong message to foreign investors who see Bangladesh as an attractive destination for relocating their factories at a time when the government is desperately seeking foreign direct investment to create jobs and boost economic growth.
An impasse between Youngone Corporation, the operator of the zone in Anwara in Chittagong, and the government has been going on for a long time over the government’s delay in executing the deed transfer for the land it had allocated to the KEPZ in 1999.
However, the government has blamed Youngone for its failure to fully use the industrial land in the KEPZ.
Youngone, a South Korean company engaged in the manufacture and distribution of sportswear and shoes, and other Korean companies plan to invest $1.2 billion in the zone by 2020, setting up 150 factories in which 100,000 people could be employed directly.
Youngone has so far invested $150 million, developing infrastructures and setting up 22 factories despite non-cooperation from the government. It plans to raise the investment to $250 million by 2016.
Of the 22 factories, seven are running commercial operations, creating 11,000 jobs for local Bangladeshis.
The rest of the factories would be ready by 2016, creating jobs for 43,000 more workers.
20150621 * Plan to make EPZs low-carbon areas:
The government has adopted a plan to make all the EPZs across the country green and low-carbon area by setting up solar-power and central effluent treatment plants, a high official said.
Under the plan, the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) has setup a central effluent treatment plant (CETP) in Comilla EPZ at a cost of Tk 375 million (37.5 crore) to ensure environment-friendly industrial production.
With the CETP in Comilla EPZ, a total of three EPZs under the BEPZA came under effluent treatment facilities.
The BEPZA had earlier installed two CETPs at Dhaka and Chittagong Export Processing Zones.
The authority has also installed solar street lights, 2 units of solar photovoltaic power system and solar panels for investors’ club and zone services complex at a cost of nearly Tk 88 million at Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ) under the green initiative.
Under the project at CEPZ, a total of 750 electric poles have been set up with solar panel on the streets, bringing the entire Chittagong EPZ under solar energy system.
As a result, the CEPZ authority expects to save electricity of around Tk 3.2 million per year.
20150620 * FBCCI to facilitate 1600 new industrial units:
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) is set to facilitate establishment of 1600 new industrial units in its planned specialised industrial zones at all 64 districts to create new entrepreneurs across the country.
“We will start the process for setting up the ‘specialised district industrial zones’ at all districts in phases on June 25 this month when a 35-member Chinese trade delegation will be visiting Dhaka to see the opportunities and benefit of relocating their enterprises in Bangladesh”, FBCCI President Abul Matlub Ahmed told BSS.
He said the initial tasks for the purpose had already begun to get at least five acres of land at every district for setting up the zones.
Each of the zones will have six entrepreneurs, including women entrepreneurs.
20150619-20 * All Rana Plaza victims to be compensated within weeks: ILO:
A fund set up to compensate the victims of the Rana plaza factory collapse has finally reached its 30-million target, the UN’s international labor organization (ILO) said this week.
With all the funding now secured, the last families still awaiting a payout will receive their money “In The Coming Weeks”, said the ILO, which chairs the Rana Plaza coordination committee.
The committee, which was established in 2013 and represents all industry stakeholders, had estimated it would need 30 million (26.5 million euros) to fully and fairly compensate the families of the over 1,100 garment workers who died and some 1,500 others who were injured in the country’s worst ever industrial accident.
By April 24, on the second anniversary of the disaster, the committee had raised 27 million and was able to pay compensation to 70 percent of the more than 2,800 claimants, the ILO said in a statement.
20150622 * BD’s unbanked poor hail ‘revolutionary’ service:
For Rehana Akhter, rebuilding her life after losing her leg in Bangladesh’s worst industrial disaster is an uphill battle, but her struggle is eased slightly by digital technology.
The 25-year-old has an electronic bank account on her mobile, giving her access to financial services that have traditionally been out of reach for millions of poor in Bangladesh and other developing nations.
From the capital Dhaka, Akhter sends interest earned on her one million taka compensation from the disaster quickly and cheaply to her 10-year-old son and parents back in their village.
“Life is tough for anyone who’s lost a limb. Nobody gives you a job or cares about your pain,” she said of her injuries suffered in the Rana Plaza garment factory complex collapse that killed more than 1,100 people in 2013.
“But the pain is partly relieved when you know that there are technologies to help you.”
Like millions of other Bangladeshis, Akhter was forced to leave her village years ago, in the western border district of Jessore, to find work in one of the country’s thousands of garment factories.
But physically sending money back home was costly and often fraught with danger, resulting in arguments with family members.
20:23:33 local time INDIA
20150620 * Over 8,000 children work in Delhi’s garment sector:
More than 8,000 children including 70% girls are engaged in child labour in the garment sector in Delhi, a recent study has found out.
The study ‘Hidden Workforce’ conducted by the non-profit organisation, Save the Children, was launched by the Delhi Government’s Women and Child Development and Social Welfare Department on Friday.
The report found out that a significantly higher number of children were engaged in household-level work with 87 per cent children working in home settings and only 13 per cent worked in Addas (household-based units where unrelated adults and children work together).
Due to this, despite the reported reduction in overall child labour over the past decade, there has been a comparative growth of child labour in the informal sector.
Minister for Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Delhi government, Sandeep Kumar said: “It is perturbing and shameful that children’s engagement in informal labour, including in the garment industry — which has also contributed to the rising rate of school drop-outs — continues to be a sad reality in the national Capital.”
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20150619 * Over 8,000 children working in Delhi garment factories, says report by ‘Save the Children’:
The report also highlight the decreasing priority of education among families and children working in the garment industry — as none of the children working in household units attend school regularly despite being enrolled.
Over 8,000 children are working in garment factories in different parts of the national capital, an NGO report has revealed.
The report, titled ‘The Hidden Workforce’, by NGO Save the Children, was today released by Delhi Minister for Women and Child Development Sandeep Kumar.
According to the report, over 8,000 children are engaged in the booming garment industry and up to 70% of them could be girls.
The highest number of children (1,922) is estimated to be working in garment-related activities in Okhala of South-East District, while the least was found in Tuglaqabad ward (241).
The findings reveal that 64% of children have lived in Delhi since their birth. However, their families had earlier migrated to Delhi from states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Around 36 per cent children reported to have migrated from these four states.
20150619 * Hidden Workforce – Child labour in garment Industry Save the Children Delhi:
A film on programme intervention of child labour to address the issue of child labour on home based work done by children in the garment industry related processes in Delhi, India.
20150623 * Weekly raids to curb child labour:
The labour department has been asked to conduct special drives in textile and zardosi units, brick kilns, roadside eateries and restaurants to eradicate child labour in the Diamond city.
District collector Rajender Kumar has issued instructions to the labour department to carry out raids on weekly basis, especially during weekends at restaurants and roadside eateries in the city to rescue child labourers.
The issue of child labour in the city was discussed at a meeting of department heads and officers at the district collectorate on Monday.
20150622 * There’s a wage crisis in Delhi’s factories – and the Modi government’s new labour laws won’t help:
As the experience of workers in Okhla demonstrates, adequate wages and bonuses still remain out of reach.
A major overhaul of labour laws is underway in India. The National Democratic Alliance government has drafted two proposed labour codes, one on wages and the other on industrial relations.
Together, they are aimed at shrinking the reach of the state in industrial areas, ostensibly to spur growth in manufacturing jobs.
But trade unions warn that they will end up stripping away hard-earned workers’ protections.
Away from the high-decibel debate, how do the proposed changes impact the worker-management relationship?
This series of reports from Okhla industrial area in South Delhi tries to find out.
20150622 * Labour laws:
AITUC plans to intensify agitation
The All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), along with other central trade unions, will intensify its stir against relaxation of labour laws allegedly to favour multinational companies and the entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into key sectors such as railways, defence and finance, AITUC State general secretary G. Obulesu said on Sunday.
Mr. Obulesu , who was here for a preparatory meeting for a general strike planned for Sept. 2 to press a 10-point charter of demands by workers, said AITUC would hold a series of sector-wise consultations with unions such as CITU, INTUC and BMS in the next few months.
They said the unions would launch a sustained campaign to end disinvestment in public sector units, scrap contract employment, pay a minimum wage of Rs. 15,000 to workers, lift ceiling on bonuses and other social security benefits, and spend at least 3 per cent of the GDP on workers’ welfare, he said.
20150621 * ILO echoes unions’ reservation against labour law amendments:
International Labour Organisation will hold two-day national conference of central trade unions on June 29-30
International Labour Organisation has put its weight behind trade unions in India which hold that certain proposed amendments to labour laws would go against the interest of workers.
ILO will hold two-day national conference of central trade unions on June 29-30 for firming up a paper on issues raised by workers’ representatives in various tripartite consultations on labour laws amendments.
According to sources, the ILO held regional consultations on various labour law amendments proposed by the government in Chennai and Bhubaneswar recently.
During the regional discussion, it was observed that there are no provisions in the Labour Code on Industrial Relations, 2015 aimed at “promoting collective bargaining. Instead, there is an emphasis on arbitration, a mode of dispute resolution that could be disadvantageous to workers for more reasons than one”.
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20150623 * Hike minimum wages: BJP:
The trade union wing of State BJP has submitted a memorandum to Home and Labour Minister N. Narasimha Reddy seeking a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 a month for workers in the unorganised sector.
The revision of minimum wage in the sector was due every two years but the previous governments enhanced the period to five years.
Yet, the wage was not hiked in the last nine years, it said.
20150623 * Meeting for apparel units on skill development scheme:
Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) will organise a seminar here on June 23 to create awareness among garment and made-up segments of the textile sector on the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana scheme.
According to a press release from the association, the scheme provides financial assistance ranging from Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 12,000 each for fresh trainees and Rs. 2,500 for the existing workers to get trained in different skills and to get certified.
20150621 * Gurgaon garments firm workers go on a rampage over rumours:
Workers damage vehicles, resort to arson; cops hold flag march
Hundreds of workers at garments export company Orient Craft Limited in Sector 37 here went on a rampage on Saturday following rumours of a fellow-worker’s death.
This is the second time this year that the company’s workers have gone on a rampage.
The agitated employees set around half-a-dozen vehicles, including a two-wheeler, afire and damaged as many vehicles inside the premises of the company’s two adjoining units.
Violence broke out around 9.30 a.m. following rumours that worker Pawan Kumar, who was electrocuted a day ago and was under treatment, had died.
‘Every other day, somebody gets electrocuted here. We have approached the management several times, but to no avail,’ said a worker
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20150620 * Factory workers go on a rampage in Gurgaon:
At least dozen vehicles were damaged and three were set on fire by angry factory workers of a garments factory at Sector 37.
They went on a rampage following rumours of death of a fellow worker on Saturday morning.
According to police, Shyam Sunder was electrocuted at Orient Craft factory on Friday and was admitted to Civil Hospital for treatment.
The agitated workers damaged several cars parked in the factory complex and also set three vehicles on fire, the police said.
A large number of police personnel was deployed in area to bring the situation under control, said Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajesh Chechi.
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20150620 * Workers Turn Violent at Gurgoan Factory After Reports of Co-Worker’s Death:
Workers turned violent at a garment factory here on Saturday following rumours of a worker’s death, leading to arson and rioting which left a few workers injured, police said.
Fear and panic gripped the sector 37, Udyog Vihar area of Gurgaon as workers at one of the units of Orient Craft went on the rampage and vandalised four units, setting a dozen cars and motorbikes on fire and smashing window panes.
It happened after rumours spread among factory workers that a fellow worker Pawan Kumar, who was injured due to an electric shock on Friday evening, had died at the hospital.
Soon, another rumour spread that four workers of the factory were trapped in a lift and were burnt alive. Both the rumours were false.
20150607 * Workers in Gurgaon garment factory routinely harassed, abused: Report:
Most of the workers put in long hours overtime — working up to 100 extra hours in a month.
In February this year, hundreds of garment factory workers in Gurgaon’s Udyog Vihar went on a rampage following rumors of the death of a worker who had been beaten up by the managers.
They set dozens of vehicles on fire and vandalised the factories. The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and NGO Perspectives have now released a fact-finding report on the incident, painting a sad picture of the conditions of the workers.
According to the PUDR report, the workers are “regularly harassed, beaten, not paid adequately and verbally abused by the company management and the bouncer-turned-guards.
It is quite common for the worker to be attacked by a pair of scissors, a handy tool, by the supervisor/management or the labor contractors.
Women workers are often subjected to sexual abuse too.”
The pay given to the workers is barely above the minimum wages and very few of them get house rent allowance, according to the report.
Dearness allowance and other allowances are zero.
Also, safety gear is “hardly ever used” by the factory workers. The use of such equipment is “discouraged as they tend to slow down production”.
Most of the workers put in long hours overtime — working up to 100 extra hours in a month — in violation of the current labor laws which allow for only 50 hours. The laws regarding overtime pay have also been violated, the report stated.
20150621 * Bt Cotton responsible for suicides in rain-fed areas, says study:
‘Suicides decrease with increasing farm size and yield, but increase with the area under Bt Cotton’.
The cultivation of Bt cotton, a genetically modified, insect-resistant cotton variety, is a risky affair for Indian farmers practising rain-fed agriculture, according to a latest study published by California-based agricultural scientists in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe.
Annual suicide rates of farmers in rain-fed areas are directly related to increase in Bt cotton adoption, say the study’s authors Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Luigi Ponti, Hans R. Herren, Johann Baumgärtner and Peter E. Kenmore, who are associated with the University of California, Berkeley, and the Centre for the Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, California.
Revisiting the raw annual suicide data for Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra during the period 2001–2010, the authors found 86,607 of 549,414 suicides were by farmers, and 87 % were males with the numbers peaking in the 30–44 age class.
Total suicides per year per state were regressed singly on states averages of proportion of area seeded to rainfed cotton, average farm size, cotton growing area, area of Bt cotton, proportion of area with Bt cotton, and simulated average yield/ha that includes the effects of weather.
Excluding the proportion of area seeded to rainfed cotton, linear multiple regression shows suicides decrease with increasing farm size and yield but increase with the area under Bt cotton, the authors note.
The study is significant for two reasons: first, most cotton cultivation in India is rain-fed. Second, between 2002 and 2010, the adoption of Bt cotton hybrid went up significantly to 86 per cent of the total cultivated area of cotton in India, according to International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.
20150620 * India tries its hand at desi Bt cotton once again:
After a failed experiment in 2009, India is once again trying its hand at creating desi Bt cotton seeds.
The city-based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) this week signed a memorandum of understanding with Delhi University whose scientists have discovered a Bt gene – Tg2E-13.
Research will now be conducted with the CICR to ensure commercial development of a genetically modified (GM) seed.
It is also learnt through sources that the CICR is also planning to tie up with Tamil Nadu Agriculture University for another gene discovered by a group of experts there. It will eventually work on developing a Bt cotton seed having both the genes.
The GM seed with two genes is expected to provide double protection against bollworm, the common pest hitting cotton crops.
This will be projected as an alternative to the Bollgard 2 seed sold by US multinational Monsanto which has a monopoly on Bt cotton seed business so far since 2002.
20150622 * Stocks of firms dealing in readymade garments likely to continue the uptrend, here’s why:
The projected earnings growth of exporters of readymade garments such as Kitex Garments, Arvind, RaymondBSE 0.20 % and KPR Mills for the next two years is likely to be upgraded thanks to the growth in exports of readymade garments from India.
This provides significant room for re-rating of stocks of these companies despite their recent run-up.
In the past one year, India’s exports of readymade garments have shown handsome growth.
According to the latest data released by Ministry of Textiles in terms of value India’s exports of readymade garments have shown growth of 33% in FY15 to Rs96,523 crore from Rs 72,592 crore in FY14.
Experts point out that India’s garments exports would continue show stupendous for the next three years.
20150622 * Knitwear exporters to eye Russian market:
Knitwear exporters in Tirupur are now seeing a great opportunity coming to them to penetrate the huge Russia apparel market following India’s decision to sign the Free Trade Agreement with Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
As a prelude to the FTA with the EEU (comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), a joint statement had been signed between India and EEU at St. Petersburg in Russia few days back for establishment of a joint study group to work out the formalities including the finalisation of the sectors that would be part of the FTA.
20150620 * Industry fumes over shaky power supply:
Industry in Ludhiana is suffering the brunt of unscheduled power cuts, with some units suffering production losses of up to 25%.
Ludhiana Knitwear Club chairman Vinod Thapar said power outages were also affecting production in hosiery and textile units.
“The power supplied by generators is not good for the longevity of our machines,” he said.
“That is why we require supply from the government’s end. Besides, generators end up making are input costs shoot up. While the cost of power supplied by discoms is Rs 6 per unit, generators cost us around Rs 22 a unit; this is not viable for small units.”
20150622 * New tech converts tannery waste into carbon to make green shoe soles:
In an initiative that would not only help reduce the industrial carbon footprint, but also successfully embrace the waste-to-wealth concept, a group of scientists have developed a technology to make environment-friendly shoe soles.
Scientists at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Leather Research Institute have developed a process to convert fleshing, the soft tissue of animal muscle and fat, and one of the effluents produced in tanneries, into activated carbon.
This compound is one of the major components in shoe manufacture.
Fleshing, which is usually disposed in landfills leading to contamination of groundwater, has become a viable alternative to the carcinogenic carbon black widely used in making soles of high-end leather shoes.
This activated carbon not only adds colour but is also used as a reinforcing material in soles.
Apart from being cost effective and lightweight, the compound reinforces strength, is flexible, and abrasive resistant.
20:23:33 local time SRI LANKA
20150620 * Garment workers injured:
At least twenty female workers of a garment factory sustained injuries when the bus they were travelling in veered off the road and crashed into a wayside tree at Wegala near Teldeniya on Thursday (18) morning.
The coach was taking them to the Pallekele industrial zone from Hunnasgiriya.
The injured were admitted to Teldeniya District Hospital.
Five of them were later transferred to Kandy General Hospital.
The victims are out of danger, according to hospital sources.
The Teldeniya police believe the bus skidded due to torrential rains experienced in the area.
HQI Teldeniya police station Chief Inspector Godamunne together with OIC Traffic Sub Inspector Weerakoon is conducting investigations.
20150619 * 56 garment factory workers hospitalised:
At least 56 workers at a garment factory in the Katunayake Investment Promotion Zone were hospitalised today with symptoms of food poisoning.
The workers had fallen ill after consuming food provided by their place of employment this morning.
Thirty factory workers were admitted to the Ragama Teaching Hospital while the other 26 were admitted to the Minuwangoda Hospital.
Katunayake Police is conducting an investigation into the incident.
19:53:33 local time PAKISTAN
20150621 * Apparel forum concerned over GSP Plus status:
Expressing concern regarding the future of the country’s textile sector, Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman Muhammad Jawed Bilwani has shown concerns our the European Union’s (EU) warning on the non-effective implementation of the international convention – a requirement under the GSP Plus status.
He said that 150 people have been executed in Pakistan since December 2014 following the government’s decision of lifting the moratorium on executions that was in place since 2008 and this represents a major step backwards in Pakistan’s record on human rights.
It is alarming that despite the grant of GSP Plus status, textile exports have declined by 1.7% in the first 11 months (July-May) of fiscal year 2014-15 compared to the same period of last year.
“If the EU did not grant GSP Plus status to Pakistan, textile exports would have faced a massive decline of 13.1%, said Bilwani.
According to Bilwani, the costs of inputs such as gas, electricity and water are much higher than that of other competing countries of the region which has made it impossible for the textile industry to compete equally.
On the other hand, EU’s warning on the non-effective implementation of the 27 international conventions under the GSP plus is alarming for the textile industry.
“In case the EU withdraws duty concessions under the GSP Plus scheme, it will further hit Pakistan’s textile exports,” he added.
20150622 * APBUMA for implementing new five-year textile policy:
All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstry Manufacturers Association (APBUMA) has stressed the need for implementing new five-year textile policy in true letter and in spirit to attract the foreign traders as well as investors.
Addressing a post-budget consultative meeting of member here on Thursday, APBUMA Chairman Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi said that it was a good and positive step to allocate Rs 1248 billion for energy projects and he also hailed the government’s decision to establish Export Development Fund for export-oriented industry. without addressing the major issues like energy constraints, dearth of value addition, high cost of doing business, lack of funds, and over-burdening of taxes and levies, efforts to boost textile exports would remain fruitless, he added.
20150621 * Textile becoming a thing of the past: APTMA:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association is saying it is worried about a declining trend in exports of the textile industry and that the industry is fast becoming a “history since the government has turned its back” on it.
“The association has blowing the whistle constantly over decline in the textile industry exports but the government has done little to arrest the trend,” he added.
“Latest export data from the Federal Board of Statistics has revealed that textile exports have registered a decline of six percent in value terms in May 2015 against the corresponding period. In quantity terms, exports of cotton cloth, towel and art, silk and synthetic textile have also lost their positions against the corresponding period.”
20150622 * Hosiery industry shows 7.54pc growth with $1.792b exports:
The hosiery industry has registered 7.54 per cent growth with exports of $1791.789 million during first nine months of the ongoing fiscal year against $ 1666.143 million last year.
According to official data, in quantity terms, the export of knitwear industry has increased by 1.67 per cent.
There are about 13,372 circular knitting machines, 10,646 flat knitting and 23,241 socks knitting machines spread all over the country.
20150621 * Textile makers fear fall in exports:
Textile manufacturers on Saturday feared 25 percent fall in exports in the next fiscal year if the European Union withdraws the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) plus status granted to Pakistan.
Chairman Pakistan Apparel Forum Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, in a statement, said effective implementation of the international conventions is a basic requirement under the EU GSP Plus status.
The government has executed at least 150 people since the seven-year moratorium on death penalty was lifted in December 2014.
“This represented a regression in Pakistan’s record on human rights,” Bilwani said.
20150621 * Aptma worried over declining trend in exports:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has expressed worries over declining trend in exports of textile industry, saying that the industry is becoming ‘history’ fast since the government has turned its back.
“The Association has blowing the whistle constantly over decline in textile industry exports but the government has done little to arrest the trend,” he added.
Aptma chairman said latest export data has revealed that textile exports have registered a decline of six percent in value terms in May 2015 against the corresponding period. In quantity terms, he added, exports of cotton cloth, towel and art, silk and synthetic textile have also lost their positions against the corresponding period.
He said unfortunately textile and clothing exports were stagnant since 2006 against regional competitors, doubling their exports.
20150621 * Readymade garments export registers 8.51pc increase:
The readymade garments export has 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 the same period last year was 21.434 million dozens and their worth was $ 1426.826 million.
According to official data, the readymade garment industry has emerged one of the important small scale industries in the country with 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.
It mainly uses locally produced raw materials.
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20150620 * Textile exports decline by 2.85% in May:
Despite having GSP plus Status, Pakistan’s textile exports for the month of May 2015 lowered by 2.85 percent year on year against May 2014, revealed Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data on Friday.
Provisional figures state May 2015 exports amounted to Rs198.851 billion as against Rs202.874 billion in April 2015 and Rs208.316 in May 2014, showing a decrease of 1.98 percent and 4.54 percent respectively.
Total textile exports during the period were recorded at Rs114.158 billion against Rs117.50 against the corresponding period last year.
With exception to readymade garments that recorded a growth of 32.72 percent, increasing to Rs19.118 billion against Rs14.405 billion, all other major textile exports declined during that period.
Exports of knitwear declined by 8.43 percent, bed wear by 6.86 percent, and towels by 6.28 percent in May 2015 against May 2014.
Pakistan has failed to achieve growth rate in textile under the GSP Plus status because of lack of planning, said Ijaz Khokhar, Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (PRGMEA).
20150620 * Decline in textile exports irks Senate panel:
The Senate Standing Committee on Textile Industry Friday expressed serious reservations over 14 percent decline in textile exports during the current year saying that such a situation predicts that the government would not be able to take full advantage of GSP + granted to Pakistan.
The committee met with Mohsin Aziz in the chair where it was informed that textile exports during last nine months stood at $1.37 billion with 14 percent decline in overall textile-related products export.
The senators were of the view that non-existence of full-time minister contributed to decline in exports.
They recommended the government to appoint full-time minister for textile sector as the development of whole economy depends on textile sector.
Members of the committee said that GSP + facility will not give any incentive to Pakistan if the textile sector could not perform well.
Non-provision of gas and power load shedding especially in Punjab was responsible for decrease in textile related products and its exports.
20150622 * Genetically modified cotton seed ‘blights’ Pakistan’s cash crop:
“Bt”, the genetically modified cotton seed surreptitiously introduced in Pakistan in 2005, is proving a disaster than a boon to the country’s strategic crop.
Growers say Bt has disproved its superiority over the indigenous seed which it has all but banished and in fact has introduced new pests, leaving them more and more dependent on the multinationals which hold exclusive rights on marketing the Bt varieties and the pesticides they need.
“Almost 99 per cent of all cotton seed available in the market is genetically engineered,” said Dr Abid Mahmood of the Ayub Agriculture Research Institute.
When Bt was introduced in 1996 to the world, its producers had argued that the new, pest-resistant technology would increase yields at lower costs. It is true that the US, China, Australia, Brazil and India successfully adopted genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds by strictly regulating the processes.
Genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds contain a toxin to kill selective insects. Lab tests extend up to seven years to determine the period local pests take to develop resistance to the toxin.
20150623 * Industries slowing down: Power cuts cripple economic activities:
Drawing attention to the nation’s dire energy situation, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Ijaz A Mumtaz has said that breakdown in power supply to the industry is hitting economic activities hard and the government should exploit all avenues in order to stop unscheduled outages.
In a statement, Mumtaz said prolonged power outages in industrial areas were jacking up the graph of unemployment, particularly hitting the daily-wage earners hard.
The LCCI president said most of the industrial units had already reduced their working hours and this led to heavy wastage of raw material, making production processes unprofitable.
Mumtaz said the shortage of electricity had caused capital flight and relocation of industrial units to countries like Bangladesh and Malaysia besides reducing government revenues drastically.
20150620 * APTMA slams power tariff hike:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman S.M. Tanveer has said the cash bleeding and liquidity constrained export-oriented textile industry will never sustain the burden of system inefficiencies built in electricity tariff in the shape of surcharges including Neelum Jhelum, debt retirement, equalisation and additional surcharge, presently renamed as “tariff rationalisation surcharge”.
He said the electricity tariff for the textile industry had been raised to Rs 14.5 per kilowatt-hour from Rs 9 per kilowatt-hour in May 2013.
“The average electricity tariff of textile industry in the region is not more than Rs 10 per kilowatt,” he added.
20150623 * Development work starts at apparel park:
Punjab Industrial Estates Development & Management Company has started development work on the Quaid-E-Azam Apparel.
The top management of PIEDMC visited the site to monitor 13km boundary wall being constructed at Quaid-E-Azam Apparel Park on Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman PIEDMC S M Tanveer said that setting up of the Apparel Park over an area of 1,562 acres of land was in line with the guidelines of the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.
“The park will generate 250,000 jobs after becoming fully operational and will have about 600 industrial plots from half acre to 25 acres for an industrial unit.
A 100-megawatt power plant project will also be developed,” he added.
20150623 * Shahbaz reviews progress on Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park project:
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif presided over a high-level meeting here on Monday which reviewed the progress on the project of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park.
The Chief Minister reprimanded the concerned authorities of PIEDMC over delay and over some issues with regard to the project.
Addressing the meeting, the Chief Minister said that delay in the project of billions of rupees was intolerable.
He said Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park was a vital project in textile and garments sector.
He issued instructions for setting up a steering committee for working on the project in a co-ordinated manner.
20150620 * Chinese firm approved for Apparel Park:
Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) Chairman SM Tanveer has approved appointment of CNTEX, a Chinese firm, as foreign consultant for technical evaluation of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park.
He accorded this approval while presiding over a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Company on Friday.
“The approved foreign consultant has vast experience in developing Apparel parks,” he said. PIEDMC was determined to complete infrastructure development work on a war-footing to avail the GSP plus from EU.
He credited Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as the driving force behind the Apparel Park on the motorway.
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THE BALDIA FACTORY FIRE
* Baldia Town factory victims:
Over 289 citizens of Pakistan were burnt alive in Karachi Baldia Town factory massacre in September 2012.
They were not Rohingya Muslims slaughtered by Burmese fanatics or terrorists, nor Palestinians butchered by Israelis, nor victims of Hutu tribal feud of Africa, but by their own fellow citizens for no fault of theirs other than being poor underpaid labourers of a garment factory, whose owners refused to pay extortion money demanded by criminals and terrorists affiliated with a political party which was part of coalition government that ruled Sindh.
Does getting elected give any political party right to kill citizens, collect extortion, kidnap for ransom, forcibly occupy private or state property, indulge in money laundering and yet claim immunity from prosecution?
How can such a government, or a political party and its activists, or criminals involved in such heinous crimes deserve any reprieve from law?
A country that allows such barbarity to go unpunished within its territorial jurisdiction is a state that has no right to exist, or demand membership of UN, or claim sovereignty.
PM Nawaz Sharif, Chief Justice of Pakistan and Gen Raheel Sharif have moral and constitutional responsibility to ensure that the barbarians responsible for Baldia Town Garment Factory Massacre, in which 289 citizens of Pakistan were burnt alive, be given exemplary punishment in conformity to heinous nature of crime committed and not allow political exigencies to be a hurdle in delivery of justice.
Failure in doing so will only encourage terrorism and extortion collection to flourish in this unfortunate country, ruled by people who have neither any stakes in this country nor any commitment except perhaps blinded by greed and lust for black money, assured that they will get away with murder.
19:53:33 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbekistan and the ‘Illusion of Stability’:
A recent visit by the UN secretary general focused attention on human rights issues in Uzbekistan and the region.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently completed a tour of Central Asia, using the opportunity to express his fears of growing human rights abuses, especially in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
While speaking in Ashgabat, Ban noted that: “Curbing freedoms may create an illusion of stability in the short-run.
Things may seem calm on the surface.
There may not be protests on the streets. But the denial of free expression leads to a brewing underneath and ultimately a breeding ground for extremist ideologies.”
Ban was impressed by the pace of Central Asia’s economic development and its progress against UN Millennium Development Goals.
But the UN chief pressed on human rights – a raw nerve for most of countries in the region – particularly in Uzbekistan.
Ban affirmed that Uzbekistan has initiated a number of good laws. “But laws on the books should be made real in the lives of people.”
While he confirmed that Tashkent has made “important progress in eliminating child labor in the cotton sector.
Now more must be done to address the mobilization of teachers, doctors and others in cotton harvesting, and prevent the maltreatment of prisoners.”
* The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti:
LIVING WAGE ESTIMATE FOR EXPORT APPAREL WORKERS
Haiti’s export apparel sector is rapidly expanding as the result of generous incentives for investors, new factory construction, and infrastructure development.
But, despite a 45 percent increase in apparel exports since the earthquake, the industry is not delivering for workers.
The Haitian women and men who sew t-shirts, jeans, and undergarments primarily destined for the U.S. market barely earn enough to pay for their lunch and transportation to work.
And, amidst a controversy regarding whether the daily minimum wage in the apparel sector is 225 or 300 Haitian gourdes (HTG), the Solidarity Center finds that a real living wage must be approximately 1,000 HTG (about $23) per day to allow workers to meet their basic needs.
read more in pdf report.
20150621 * Global cotton production to fall: US report:
Global cotton production will fall 5 percent year-on-year to around 113 million bales in 2015-16 mainly due to a drop in cultivation in China, a major producer, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Production is expected to remain flat or decrease for all major producers, with the largest reductions of about 2 million bales each expected for the United States and China,” a recent report of the USDA said.
China’s production is expected to fall to 28 million bales (480 pounds make a bale) as producers respond to the government’s new policies.
Responding to sharply lower prices, world consumption is projected to exceed production by three million bales in 2015-16, drawing world stocks down to 107 million bales, the equivalent of 92 percent of projected global consumption, the report said.
However, Hissam Khandker, director of Delcot Enterprises, a leading cotton importer, said Bangladesh will not be affected by the drop in production due to the existing high stocks held globally and locally.
20150619 * US fashion companies are starting to look beyond China for sourcing apparel:
China’s clothing manufacturing capabilities are so advanced, and still so relatively cheap for US fashion labels, that right now there are few good substitutes for producing there.
But as Chinese production costs begin to creep up, American brands are scouting out other options, primarily in Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and even the US itself.
The chart below is based on a survey (pdf) of US fashion industry executives conducted by Sheng Lu, an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island, and the US Fashion Industry Association.
The scores represent a weighted ranking of how strongly the survey respondents expect to increase or decrease sourcing in a given country.
The US imports nearly all of its clothes—97.5% according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association—so any changes in the composition of its sourcing could have a major effect abroad.
But it would take a lot of change to make much of a dent in the volumes sourced from China, which produces by far the largest share of clothes worn in the US.
China has a robust textile industry—it owns the bulk of the world’s polyester production and is one of the top producers of cotton—making it easier to manufacture clothes there than in countries such as Vietnam, which frequently import their textiles from China. (Meanwhile, India looks like it will surpass China this year as the world’s top cotton producer.)
* In the Global Apparel Industry, Abusive and Deadly Working Conditions Are Still the Norm:
While Americans only pay attention when extreme tragedies strike, incredible levels of abuse are the norm in the factories around the world that produce the goods we consume every day. (marissaorton / Flickr)
Today, American citizens simply cannot know the working conditions of the factories that make the products they buy.
We cannot know how the chemicals, tools, and technologies in these workplaces affect workers.
Some brave workers publicize their conditions, and investigative institutions such as Human Rights Watch expose some of the worst violations, but there is an enormous knowledge gap.
This is hugely beneficial for corporations who want to keep us ignorant of their activities.
We know about extreme incidents such as the Rana Plaza collapse that capture the world’s attention, however briefly, or when workers get so fed up with the conditions that they strike long enough and loud enough to get the Western world’s attention.
But the day-to-day disasters that maim or kill a single worker or the accumulation of lead in workers’ bodies—those go almost completely unreported.
Much of that has taken place in the apparel industry, which has replicated Triangle-era conditions in sweatshops around the world.
That it continues targeting women for this exploitative work is hardly surprising, as garment manufacturers did this in New England and the South in the twentieth century.
Women need and want to work. For women in the developing world, work can be empowering, providing extra income, independence, or a way to escape an abusive relationship.
Theoretically, American companies could provide this empowerment if they paid women a decent wage and employed them in clean factories that did not collapse or catch fire.
But as geographer Melissa Wright has noted, employers see these women as “disposable,” workers to wring every ounce of profit from and then throw their “worthless” bodies out like garbage.
This attitude pervades the entire garment industry.
It is hardly surprising then that many women choose the sex trade over the garment industry in nations like Cambodia. The pay is much better.
Some of the first industries to migrate to Mexico en masse after the Border Industrialization Program started were electronics and textiles—relatively low-skill and low-overhead industries find moving to flee regulations highly profitable.
By 1994, 2,065 Mexican factories specifically opened using maquiladora legislation employed 579,519 people, nearly all in jobs migrated from the United States.
Mexico was only the tip of the iceberg, and by the 1990s the geography of production extended into Central America and through Southeast Asia.
This made American companies tremendous amounts of money.
In 1993, the cost of labor in Malaysia was 10 percent of that in the United States, and in China it was only 3 percent.
Low wages, sexual harassment, and poor working conditions continue to plague women in the garment industry.
Today, women in Bangladesh toil in apparel factories for the national minimum wage of $37 a month.
In one factory, women were forced to work 100 hours a week during peak production periods, and supervisors punched and slapped them.
The victims included pregnant women, and at least one miscarried because of the treatment.
Other pregnant women were forced to quit or denied their legally mandated maternity leave.
Women in Cambodia and Indonesia fare little better, making $75 a month in the former and as low as $80 a month in the latter. In all these countries, women are fighting back through labor unions.
In Indonesia, Nike had to pay 4,500 workers a $1 million settlement after having not paid them for more than 600,000 hours of overtime over a two-year period—a decision that came only after Indonesia’s labor federation pressed a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government contributes to these problems through its purchasing practices.
* The Sweatshop Feminists:
Global elites have appropriated feminist language to justify brutal exploitation and neoliberal development.
I have often been asked since the publication of my book what I mean by “feminism seduced.”
Who is seducing feminism, and why?
It’s a complicated question, with several meanings.
I highlight two of them here: the use of cheap female labor by Export Processing Zones (EPZs); and the claim that women, rather than state-led development, are the key to eliminating poverty in the Third World.
Employers, governments, and international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have embraced one of the core tenets of contemporary feminism — the right of women to paid work — to justify the employment of women in EPZs in deplorable and often dangerous positions.
The globalization of manufacturing has led to the outsourcing of factory jobs in apparel, sneakers, electronics, and other industries to low-wage countries in the Global South.
Much of this production takes place in EPZs — a type of free-trade zone that exempts businesses from most labor, taxes, health and safety regulations, and trade duties.
These zones favor employers through anti-labor structures that assure foreign investors a docile and largely female workforce.
The legitimizing of women’s work in the rich Western countries has enabled factory owners in countries like China, Vietnam, and Malaysia to paint their use of primarily women’s labor as congruent with the dominant feminist belief that paid work liberates.
Indeed, how often have we heard Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times defend these factories as sites of opportunity for women?
Aren’t they better off, he asks his readers, than women scrabbling through piles of garbage to find something to eat or sell?
The use of cheap female labor for export industries is not new — it was pioneered in South Korea during its so-called economic miracle, as women were drawn from farm to factory work.
Political economist Alice Amsden argued in 1989 that the male-female gender wage gap was one of the keys to the success of South Korea’s industrialization.
The gender-bifurcated wage structure that generated windfall profits for US companies like Fairchild and came to dominate the electronics industry in South Korea, was soon replicated elsewhere.
* Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety: Goal Is Action:
The new Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety, published last month by Hesperian, is not only geared for working people, but was created with the input of workers around the world who ensured the guide includes helpful information in an easily-accessible format, says Miriam Lara-Meloy, a project coordinator at Hesperian Health.
Workers from 25 countries “gave us feedback on the book” in addition to technical review by experts, educators and worker advocates, says Lara-Meloy, speaking recently at the Solidarity Center’s Washington, D.C., office. Solidarity Center staff contributed to the review process.
The guide’s content covers issues such as chemical exposure, fire safety and ergonomics, with step-by-step procedures to follow in case of accident or injury. But the book also addresses issues like workplace sexual harassment and pollution outside the plant, recognizing that workers’ well-being also depends upon broader societal issues.
Further, says Lara-Meloy, the book is written to address the workplace “power dynamic”—one in which workers, especially young workers, find it difficult to approach their employer about making health and safety improvements.
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