08:03:27 local time CHINA
20150722-23 * Chinese textile companies make sales pitch in New York:
Hundreds of China’s textile and apparel makers helped kick off the International Apparel Sourcing Show on Tuesday in New York.
A record number of Chinese companies are participating – up 30 percent from last year – as they look to establish new niche markets in the United States.
“More Chinese brand companies are on display this year which used to focus on the China home market and are transitioning to put their eyes on the U.S. market,” said Vice-Chairman Sun Ruizhe of the China National Textile and Apparel Council.
“They are supposed to offer more good options for the U.S. business partners.”
read more. & to read.
20150721 * Striking factory workers are using Uniqlo’s viral sex tape to highlight their low pay and severance:
What happens in China after an amateur sex tape goes viral online?
There has been an online carnival of memes and jokes after a sex tape was shot in the fitting room of a Uniqlo clothing store in Beijing.
Censors also scrambled to ban the video, and five people were arrested.
But the Uniqlo tape, which has been seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world, may also have an unexpected impact on the increasingly dire plight of factory workers in China.
It is being used to draw attention to a Chinese factory in Shenzhen, where the low-cost Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo’s products are made.
Hundreds of workers at Shenzhen Artigas Clothing & Leather, a factory that produces clothes for Uniqlo been on strike since June 8, because they fear the factory will shut without paying pensions they are owed or severance.
Workers at factories that make Uniqlo clothes in China have been in the spotlight this year after one investigation found they were drastically underpaid compared to their peers, and sometimes work over 120 hours of overtime a month to make up for it.
20150720 * Fitting-room sex video sparks ethical and legal debate:
In this age of ubiquitous camera-ready gadgets and instant transmission, it is not hard to make a sex video or to upload it online. But it is not every day that such a video catches national attention and creates an uproar in public discourse.
Usually it would have to involve celebrities.
But the one-minute clip that went viral on July 14 featured an anonymous couple.
What made it special was the location－a fitting room of a casualwear retailer in Beijing. This piece of information popped up on the soundtrack via the PA system.
A seemingly vast majority of opinions believe this was a marketing gimmick. Since the people in the video were not entertainers, Uniqlo, the retailer, was the only party who gained tremendous exposure through this incident.
08:03:27 local time PHILIPPINES
20150723 * Kentex workers, relatives troop to Ombudsman to push call for justice:
More Kentex workers and family members of Kentex fire victims trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman Wednesday, June 22, to bolster the demand for investigation and justice filed last month by their fellow Kentex survivors.
Before submitting their papers, they picketed first at the gates of the Office of the Ombudsman to call on the said office to act on their case, with urgency.
They complained that since last month, when their fellow workers and survivors filed their demand to hold these agencies accountable, there has been “no update, no feedback, no nothing about their case.”
“More of us are now urging the Ombudsman to investigate the top officials of Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Fire Protection and Department of Interior and Local Government toward filing cases of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injury and negligence of duty,” said Ammied Rada, coordinator of Justice for Kentex Workers Alliance.
20150724 * DOJ OKs raps vs Valenzuela, Kentex execs over deadly fire:
The Departement of Justice (DOJ) has recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against Valenzuela City officials led by Mayor Rex Gatchalian, executives of Kentex Manufacturing Corp. and the welding company blamed for the May 13 factory fire which left 74 people dead.
A statement released by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima yesterday said the move was based on a review and evaluation of the findings submitted by the interior department’s Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force (IATF) which investigated the fire.
20150723 * DOJ recommends criminal, admin raps vs. Valenzuela execs, fire officials, 4 others for Kentex fire:
The Department of Justice recommended on Thursday the filing of criminal and administrative cases against some Valenzuela City executives and fire officials, and four private individuals in connection with the May 13 fire at the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. that claimed 72 lives.
The DOJ recommendation followed a review and evaluation of the findings and recommendations of the Inter-Agency Anti-Arson Task Force and the Department of the Interior and Local Government on the Kentex fire.
Charges of reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code have been recommended against:
Administrative charges are also recommended against them and the Kentex owners and officials.
In a memorandum to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II dated July 20, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the criminal complaints may be filed by the members of the IATF along with the victims’ relatives as private complainants before the Valenzuela city prosecutor.
The DOJ panel that investigated the incident, which was headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao, likewise recommended further probe on possible liabilities of officials of the Department of Labor and Employment-National Capital Region (DOLE-NCR) for their issuance of certificate that Kentex complied with labor laws as well as the department’s own Occupational Safety and Health Hazard “nothwithstanding the violation of pertinent labor laws.”
20150723 * Valenzuela mayor ready to face raps over deadly Kentex fire:
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian on Thursday said he is ready to face the charges that a special panel of the Department of Justice recommended to be filed against him in line with last May’s fire at the two-story slipper factory that left 72 people dead.
A News TV Live report quoted Gatchalian as saying he was not surprised by the DOJ panel’s recommendations announced earlier in the day.
read & see more.
20150723-24 * Valenzuela mayor faces criminal charges for deadly Kentex fire in May:
A six-man panel of prosecutors on Thursday recommended the filing of criminal and administrative complaint against Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and six other individuals in connection with the fire that killed 72 people during the fire on May 13 at the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. in Valenzuela City.
The panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Roberto Lao said preliminary investigation should be conducted against Terrence King Ong, operations manager of Kentex; Oscar Romero and Wilmer Arenal employees of Ace Shutter Corp. (the company that undertook the welding work at Kentex); and Rosalina Uy Ngo, owner of Ace Shutter Corp., for reckless imprudence resulting to multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code.
The panel said a similar complaint will be filed against the other owners of Kentex identified as Ong King Guan and Beato Ang “in the event that further investigation on their management responsibilities and administrative functions reveals equal culpability on the safety of the establishment” together with Terrence.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150723 * DOJ panel OKs raps vs. Valenzuela mayor, others over Kentex fire:
A special panel of the Department of Justice has recommended criminal charges against Valenzuela City Mayor Rexon Gatchalian, several fire officials, and the owner of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation over last May’s fire at a two-storey slipper factory in Valenzuela City that left 72 people dead.
Also recommended charged were the owner and employees of the company that did welding work at the factory, the DOJ said on Thursday.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima later clarified that the recommendations made by the special panel would still undergo a preliminary investigation by the DOJ, which would decide whether cases would be filed in court.
20150720 * The inside story of the Kentex disaster: ’74 workers died but no one is in prison’:
Families of those who died in the Philippines factory blaze two months ago are asking why no one has been arrested – but their voices are being ignored
Marie Tabano was watching the news at home when she first heard about the fire. “I couldn’t believe it because the building they were showing didn’t look like the place I know. I didn’t want to believe it.”
But within minutes the newsreader had identified the burning building as the Kentex factory where Marie’s husband Joenell worked making rubber slippers and flipflops.
“When I saw that I went to my neighbour and asked if they could take me to the factory. When we arrived the second floor was engulfed in flames. I asked if there were survivors and they said there had been six. I saw my friend, another worker, and I asked her. But she said my husband wasn’t able to jump so he did not escape the fire.”
07:03:27 local time VIET NAM
20150723 * Arguments continue over minimum wage and basic needs:
Government agencies cannot agree on a minimum wage, and continue to argue about whether the current minimum wage can cover the basic needs of workers.
The National Assembly has assigned the government to implement a wage reform program under which the minimum wage will be raised step by step to a level high enough to cover basic needs.
The Vietnam Labor Federation suggested an intensive program implementation method with a 20-30 percent increase per annum, so as to reach the goal by 2018.
Meanwhile, business owners do not support the proposal.
“We think it is necessary to reconsider the criteria for ‘minimum living standard’,” said Nguyen Xuan Duong, chair of the Hung Yen Garment JSC.
20150721-22 * ILO report: Most Vietnamese wage earners are young:
Young and dynamic women and men make up the biggest group among Vietnam’s wage workers, who are willing to migrate within the country to find work, according to a latest brief report issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The report said wage workers are those who hold an employment contract and often have better working conditions and socio-economic status.
Of all the wage workers in Vietnam, around 47 percent are young, between 15 and 24 of age.
Approximately 38 percent of wage workers have migrated internally with the rate of women working outside their home province accounts for 48 percent, while that of men is 32 percent.
read more. & read more. & read more. & to read. & read more.
20150722 * How did Vietnam’s textiles and garments conquer the US market?:
Vietnam had to proceed down a thorny path and overcome many difficulties to cement its firm position in the US textiles and garments market.
“Right after the two countries normalized diplomatic relations, in 1995, 30 Vietnamese business leaders and I had the chance to attend a 2-month training course in the US organized by AAVF, the veterans’ association. We practiced at Oxford Industries, a garment company in Atlanta,” Le Quoc An, former chair of the Vietnam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), said.
“This was the first time we learned about the way of organizing production and business of a US company in the garment industry. And this was the first time we approached the US business culture,” An said.
However, only six years later, when the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) was signed was An able to use the knowledge he got at the training course.
In late 2001, Vinatex, Vietnam’s largest textile and garment corporation, began approaching the US market. An led a group of 20 businesses to the US where they organized an exhibition and opened Vinatex’s representative office.
20150721 * Garment exports to US expected to top $11bn in 2015: media:
Shipments of Vietnamese garment and textile products to the U.S., the leading export market of Vietnam, are expected to top US$11 billion in value this year, a 12.24 percent year-on-year rise, said an official from the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
The U.S. is Vietnam’s top market, covering about 50 percent of the Southeast Asian country’s total exports, the Hai Quan (Customs) news website quoted Dang Phuong Dung, deputy chair of VITAS, as saying last week.
20150722 * Textile and garment exports to TPP market up 70%:
Viet Nam’s garment and textile export turnover to countries taking part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations increased by 69.66 per cent in the first five months compared with the same period last year, according to the latest report from the Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).
Exports to this market also accounted for 66.8 per cent of the sector’s total export turnover.
Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Viet Nam are members of the TPP.
Exports to the US ranked top with US$4.05 billion, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the export value to the countries joining the TPP agreement, a 53 per cent increase on the year.
20150721 * India jumps on TPP bandwagon in Vietnam:
That the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, of which Vietnam is a member, will come to a conclusion late this year has turned the Southeast Asian country into a so popular destination for investment for export.
The TPP is a proposed regional free trade agreement aimed at eliminating tariffs and lowering non-tariff barriers that is being negotiated by 12 countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, which collectively contribute almost half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade.
The 12 countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Many other countries outside of the TPP have already poured billions into the group to grasp the chances for exporting to the remaining eleven members, especially the U.S., which almost every country in the world wants to sell their goods to.
India is the latest to signal that it will take seriously the opportunities to invest in Vietnam for export to the other TPP member countries.
The Indian government last week launched a preferential credit package worth US$300 million for investments in the garment and textile sector of Vietnam over ten years, according to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).
With the huge credit support from the Indian government, Vietnamese textile enterprises will have a golden opportunity to access Indian capital and technology, the association commented.
India is the world’s second largest supplier of garment and textile materials, second only to China, so the credit package also means guaranteed supply for Vietnamese enterprises, according to the VITAS.
07:03:27 local time CAMBODIA
20150724 * Protesters to appeal Veng Sreng sentences:
More than 20 of the 23 people who received suspended prison sentences of between one and four and a half years for their involvement in garment worker protests in early 2014 are appealing the verdict.
A total of 23 people were arrested on January 2 and 3 of 2014 for taking part in a January 2 protest in front of Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district and a protest on Veng Sreng Boulevard the next day, at which military officials shot at least five dead.
All were found guilty of charges including intentional violence with damage.
A hearing will be held at the Court of Appeal on August 11 for 21 of those convicted, said Vorn Pov, a defendant and president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association.
20150722 * GMAC hits out over Akeentex:
In a statement released on Monday, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) condemned union officials leading a strike at a Phnom Penh garment factory.
Union leaders at the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) have been assisting workers at Akeentex Pte Ltd’s branches in Por Sen Chey and Meanchey districts, who began striking almost two weeks ago.
GMAC insists that strikers are demanding Akeentex stop their policy of signing workers to long-term employment contracts, and instead use short-term contracts.
“Undetermined Duration Contract is a contract that ensures the job security of workers for the long term, as the workers can work in the factory/enterprise without worrying about non-renewal of their contract like the use of Fixed Duration Contract,” the statement says.
But CUMW president Pav Sina, who is still aiding Akeentex strikers despite a court order for employees to return to work, said GMAC’s claims are off-base.
“The workers are not demanding the company change from undetermined duration contracts to fixed duration contracts; so what GMAC has accused us of is completely wrong.”
20150724 * Factory libraries push literacy:
In an effort to encourage literacy among garment factory workers, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and NGO Sipar are working together to open libraries in 15 factories in the Kingdom in the next three years.
Sipar first launched the project as a pilot program about a year ago, opening libraries in three factories across Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Sipar director Hok Sothik said yesterday.
GMAC has partnered with them for the full-scale project, which will last until at least July of 2018.
“We call them library resources centres,” Sothik said.
“Because we try to put there not only books, but also materials related to different problems related to [topics including] health and hygiene.”
The idea of placing libraries in garment factories is a good one, because it will make information about health and hygiene more accessible for employees there, said Joel Preston, a consultant at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC).
However, Preston noted a concern that GMAC’s involvement in it may keep out literature about Cambodia’s labour law and labour unions, he said.
20150722 * Wage-increase impact up for debate:
Recent data from the International Labour Organisation say that despite implementing a $128 minimum wage in January, the Kingdom’s garment and footwear sector has grown by over 10 per cent in the first quarter this year, although experts suggest a wait-and-see approach to determine its full impact.
In the first of a newly launched quarterly bulletin on the sector’s performance, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said Cambodia’s garment sector grew by 9.3 per cent to $5.8 billion last year, employing over 600,000 workers in 640 factories.
The report, released during the resumption of talks on a further wage increase for next year, also points out that despite concerns that this year’s wage increase could lead to a “collapse of export volumes”, the industry grew “favourably”.
Matthew Cowgill, chief technical adviser for the ILO’s regional office for Asia and the Pacific, said that while the ILO doesn’t take a position on the appropriate level for the minimum wage, the sector has performed well.
“Employment has continued to grow. Factories, on net, have continued to open,” Cowgill said.
GMAC’s secretary general Ken Loo said first quarter growth numbers would not necessarily be indicative of the wage increase’s impact on the sector, and that it could be seen in the following quarters.
Loo added that while wage pressures have made Cambodia’s garment sector less competitive compared to other garment manufacturing countries, like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, improving productivity can help offset some of the cost.
20150721 * Why we must depoliticise the minimum wage:
Sam Rainsy on Sunday said he and his party supported demands for a $180 minimum wage and asked the unions to push for it.
Once a politician speaks, those not supporting him would say, “It’s a political move intended to gain popularity.”
It might be true! On what basis has Rainsy arrived at $180? A minimum-wage level set solely according to political motives would lead to an economic catastrophe.
On the government side, any figure that comes out of the Labour Advisory Committee (LAC), right or wrong, could always be criticised by the opposition party and those not supporting the government because the LAC is perceived to be dominated by the government, with 14 members being the government representatives and seven each being the employer and union representatives.
20150721 * Thousands of Garment Factory Workers Across Cambodia Are Fainting on the Job:
At the end of June, nearly 350 workers fainted in garment factories across Cambodia, with more than 100 collapsing on one day alone.
These developments are part of a much wider pattern in the country: In 2011, there were 2,071 incidents of workers fainting, in 2012 there were 2,100.
Last spring, nearly 120 workers fainted at two textile factories that make products for Puma and Adidas.
From July of last year on, there were 733 fainting incidents across 14 different factories, almost all by women, who make up the vast majority of Cambodia’s garment workforce.
These recent events have naturally led to concerns about the health of workers in Cambodia’s textile industry, a sector that has received increased criticism in recent years as a result of what some say are abusive labor conditions.
The faintings demonstrate that a wider discussion of the conditions these workers work under is needed—not just within Cambodia, but among the global brands who rely upon their labor.
Cheav Bunrith, spokesman for Cambodia’s National Social Security Fund (NSSF) declared that the fainting was connected to tainted food. “It’s normal,” he told The Cambodia Daily.
“Technically, if a factory has an incident of fainting, more will occur during the following days in smaller numbers.”
The NSSF released a report dismissing the suggestion that the incidents were somehow connected to workplace conditions.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 24 July 2015, Factory libraries push literacy:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-07-24 Factory libraries push literacy
2015-07-24 Protesters to appeal Veng Sreng sentences
BetterFactories update overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 22 July 2015, Wage increase impact up for debate:
BetterFactories update overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 20-21 July 2015, Workers at Puma Supplier Rally Outside Court:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-07-20 Chea Mony Vows to Step Down as Union Chief
2015-07-21 Workers at Puma Supplier Rally Outside Court
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-07-21 Workers protest court injuction
BetterFactories update overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 16-19 July 2015, ILO Hopes to Inform Wage Talks With New Quarterly Bulletin:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-07-16 Garment Worker Killed in Crash; Three Injured
2015-07-17 ILO Hopes to Inform Wage Talks With New Quarterly Bulletin
2015-07-18-19 Workers Threaten to Burn Banner Of Brand
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-07-17 Workers to march as talks stagnate
BetterFactories update overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 13-15 July 2015, ILO launching new garment newsletter:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2015-07-14 Family of Factory Worker Killed On Job Agrees to Compensation
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-07-13 Unions suggest changes to law
2015-07-13 Factory worker killed by exploding machine
2015-07-15 ILO launching new garment newsletter
2015-07-15 Workers on strike march to ministry
BetterFactories update overview here.
* BetterFactories Media Updates, 09 July 2015, Workers still awaiting reforms:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-07-09 Workers still awaiting reforms
BetterFactories update overview here.
20150724 * Senate passes NGO law amid boycott:
Cambodia’s Senate today gave its expected approval to the controversial law on associations and non-governmental organisations (LANGO), amid street protests and a boycott from opposition representatives.
All 44 Cambodia People’s Party senators present voted unanimously to endorse the draft legislation, which will next week head to the Constitutional Council before being presented to King Norodom Sihamoni for a final approval.
Hundreds of NGOs, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States have criticised the law, saying it will be wielded to restrict civil society in the Kingdom.
As with the National Assembly vote last week, the opposition boycotted the vote in protest, leaving eight CPP senators to defend and praise the legislation during a perfunctory debate.
“We have heard many rumors that this law bans freedom of NGOs, that it is a negative law to implement, a law they don’t need,” said CPP Senator Chum Vong in dismissing the criticism.
Opponents say LANGO’S rigid registration and reporting regime and its stipulation that organisations must be politically neutral will be used to discriminate against groups critical of the ruling party.
20150724 * LANGO approved by Senate amid further protests:
The widely-criticized Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO) was approved by the Senate at about 10 o’clock this morning as over 400 people from grassroots groups, unions, monks’ groups and other associations gathered outside to protest against it.
Amid widespread national and international criticism, including months of protests across the country against the law, attending ruling-party Senators voted to approve the LANGO which was passed by the National Assembly on 13 July.
The 11 SRP Senators boycotted the vote.
Protesters had gathered outside the Senate in the early morning, singing, holding anti-LANGO banners, and distributing stickers as monks performed a Buddhist ceremony symbolizing rejection of the law.
Protesters also submitted a petition from grassroots groups, unions and NGOs to the Japanese Embassy to take action over the law.
20150724 * Cambodia’s Senate gives final approval to NGO bill despite opposition boycott:
The Cambodian Senate, or the upper house, on Friday gave final approval to a controversial draft Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) after the National Assembly, or the lower house, passed it 10 days ago.
Forty-four senators from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party ( CPP), who were present during the debate, unanimously supported the bill by raising hands, as the 11 senators from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) boycotted the session.
The SRP was merged with the Human Rights Party in 2012 to form a strong opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, but SRP’s senators will still hold their seats in the Senate until the next Senate’s election in 2018.
The Senate comprises 61 seats. It needs a 50 percent plus one majority vote, or 32 votes only, to grant final approval to a law.
While the Senate was debating the bill, about 300 of opposition, human rights and NGO activists protested against the bill in front of the Senate.
They claimed that the law would impose restrictions on the freedoms of associations and NGOs.
20150723 * Protests over NGO law across country:
Hundreds of people across the country protested yesterday against the draft NGO law, as it was announced that the controversial legislation will go before the Senate on Friday.
Members of community groups and NGOs gathered in 13 provinces to call for the draft Law on Associations and Non Governmental Organisations (LANGO) to be transferred back to the National Assembly where it was approved amid an opposition boycott earlier this month.
Demonstrators distributed leaflets, released balloons, held community forums, and organised marches to provincial lawmakers’ offices in last-ditch efforts to stop the bill passing.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said protesters wanted to “show their willingness not to support the [LANGO] even though it was passed by the National Assembly and show that they do not need such a law”.
read more. & read more.
20150722 * Provinces mobilise to protest LANGO as law goes to Senate:
Two days before the repressive Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO) goes before the Senate, community and civil society groups across 13 provinces continue ongoing protests against the law.
Across the country, over a thousand people from community groups, monks’ networks, unions and NGOs released balloons with anti-LANGO messages, held community forums to discuss the impact of the law, and in some areas marched through towns to provincial lawmakers’ officers.
In Siem Reap, police blocked the road as marchers approached the hall and dispersed the protest.
08:03:27 local time INDONESIA
20150723 * Death Toll from Bekasi Factory Explosion Hits 17:
The death toll from an explosion at a cosmetics factory on the outskirts of Jakarta has reached 17, with 12 victims dying in hospital as a result of their injuries, police said on Thursday.
Five factory workers were immediately killed in the explosion in Bekasi, West Java on July 10. A total of 53 others were injured and immediately rushed to hospital. As of Thursday, 12 of them died due to severe injuries.
Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Rickynaldo Chairul said 17 people had died and 41 others are still being treated.
Sr. Comr. Musyafak, the head of Jakarta Police’s medical and health unit, said the injured victims were treated at several different hospitals in Jakarta and Bekasi.
He said 21 people were still in intensive care units, while 20 others had been moved to regular rooms.
20150723 * PT Mandom factory fire death toll rises to 17:
The death toll of the fire at the PT Mandom factory in Bekasi rose to 17 today.
The fire initially claimed the lives of 5 people on the day of the incident, but 12 others soon succumbed to their injuries while being treated at several hospitals.
The identity of the latest victim to pass away was not revealed.
“The fire injuries were too severe. Even though [their treatments] were optimal, they couldn’t be saved,” said Musyafak, head of the Jakarta Police’s Medical Department, as quoted by Kompas today.
Musyafak added that 40 victims are still being treated for their burn injuries.
07:03:27 local time THAILAND
20150724 * Thailand, Vietnam boost trade ties:
AT SPECIAL CABINET MEETING, NEIGHBOURS AGREE TO COOPERATE RATHER THAN COMPETE
At a special Cabinet meeting yesterday, Thailand and Vietnam agreed to cooperate, rather than compete, on trade to boost bilateral commerce to US$20 billion (Bt694 billion) by 2020 as well as work closely on suppressing illegal fishing, trafficking and smuggling.
A wide range of issues and industries for cooperation were discussed during the joint meeting as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung led his ministers on their visit to Thailand.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told a post-meeting briefing that Vietnam and Thailand are strategic partners, which hold joint Cabinet meetings occasionally.
This round, both sides agreed to support and facilitate Thai investors, notably small and medium enterprises, to set up in Vietnam, he said.
After the meeting, Prayut and Dung witnessed the signing of five documents: a joint statement on the third joint-cabinet meeting; a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation; an agreement on the employment of workers; an MoU on the establishment of friendly relations between Ubon Ratchathani and the Vietnamese province of Kon Tum; and an MoU on the same friendly relations between Trat and Long An.
read more. & read more.
20150722 * IPD to strengthen SEZ industries:
The Industrial Promotion Department will accelerate plans to strengthen five core manufacturing industries in the five southern border provinces.
20150721 * New trade competition bill proposed:
The trade competition commission will face a major overhaul under the new trade competition bill approved by reform councillors on Tuesday.
Thailand has an antitrust law for 16 years but it has failed to take action against any company, prompting for the need for reforms.
The bill redefines “business operators” to cover companies, partnerships and juristic persons in the same group.
The term “companies, partnership or juristic persons in the same group” was also rewritten to cover more business types.
The definition of a market-dominating business operator was also revised to take into account market competition.
The Trade Competition Commission will issue an order giving the definition of such businesses.
06:33:27 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150723 * High-profile foreign brands back minimum wage for all:
Big-name clothing brands sourcing from Myanmar have waded into the minimum wage debate, urging its implementation even as their own suppliers dispute the proposed salary and request an exemption from the law.
At the end of June, the government moved to implement the 2013 Minimum Wage Law by proposing K3600 a day (around US$3).
The figure was a compromise between the K2500 proposed by factories and unions’ request for K4000.
Factory owners unanimously voted against the proposed amount, claiming it would cripple the industry and discourage foreign investment.
Around 90 factories even threatened to close and leave 200,000 workers jobless if the wage was imposed.
Gap, H&M and Adidas have all endorsed the government’s efforts to impose the country’s first-ever nationwide minimum wage, however.
They have also criticised the garment sector’s calls to be excluded from the minimum wage, warning it would do more to disrupt foreign investment than raising salaries.
“We advise that the government set a uniform level across all industries. If the garment industry wage levels are lower than other industries, it will not be able to attract and retain a skilled labour force, which it needs to develop and grow into a thriving economic driver,” Swedish clothing giant H&M said in a statement.
H&M did not respond to request for comment about whether it considers the suggested K3600 minimum reasonable.
However, last week, a labour organisation that counts H&M – as well as GAP, Primark and Marks & Spencer – among its members also discouraged allowing Myanmar’s garment sector to deviate from the proposed amount.
20150721 * Swedish retailer express concern over wage implementation:
Swedish clothing retailer H&M has expressed concern about delays to implement a minimum wage in Myanmar according to a statement from the company on 20 July.
The company says in the statement that it,‘welcomes the efforts of the Myanmar Government to enact the Minimum Wage Law; however, we are concerned that it has not been implemented in the past two years since its enactment.
In setting a minimum wage level, we advise that the Government set a uniform level across all industries in compliance with the ILO C.131 Minimum Wage Fixing Convention.
If the garment industry wage levels are lower than other industries, it will not be able to attract and retain a skilled labour force, which it needs to develop and grow into a thriving economic driver.
The minimum wage should be reconsidered through an annual review mechanism, which is inclusive of key stakeholders, and is aimed at laying the foundation for a vibrant tripartite industrial relations and wage level negotiations process based on transparency, inclusiveness, and peaceful negotiation.’’
read more. & read more.
20150717 * In Myanmar, Garment Factories That Source Popular Brand-Name Clothing Retailers Aim To Defeat A 40-Cent Hourly Minimum Wage:
Factories in Myanmar that supply major Western clothing companies are fighting a government proposal to set the country’s first-ever minimum wage at roughly $3.25 a day.
At the same time, the brands themselves — Gap Inc. and H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB among others — have declined to say where they stand on the proposed rate, which amounts to 40 cents an hour.
The ongoing debate, pitting the government against a burgeoning export-driven garment-manufacturing sector, sheds light on the spectacular competitive pressures that define the global apparel industry.
It also exposes a clear divide between the views of on-the-ground suppliers and the public assurances of brands they serve.
In the last few years, top Western clothing retailers such as Gap, H&M, Marks and Spencer Group PLC and Primark Stores Ltd. have signed contracts with more than a dozen garment factories in Myanmar, the former British colony also known as Burma.
The country emerged from decades of military dictatorship in 2011 and major U.S. and European sanctions shortly thereafter.
It now offers some of the cheapest labor costs on the planet combined with easy access to Asian markets — both attractive features for corporations looking to source low-cost, ready-made garments for export.
20150724 * Ministry approves nationwide union:
The Ministry of Labour yesterday officially approved the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) as the country’s first national-level labour organisation, despite many other unions applying for similar status.
The ministry said it approved the CTUM application because it had fulfilled all requirements specified in the Labour Organisation Law.
The designation will enable the CTUM to campaign more widely for labour rights and allow greater access to government officials.
Ministry director general U Myo Aung said CTUM was one of the largest labour organisations in Myanmar, with labour groups at the township, district and regional levels.
Other labour groups whose applications are pending are not yet in accordance with the criteria for national-level registration, he added.
20150723 * Myanmar Officially Recognizes Trade Union Confederation:
Fabulous news for working people in Myanmar: The government has officially recognized the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), and registered the federation as representing “all Myanmar.”
In a ceremony today, CTUM President Maung Maung and other union leaders received the registration papers, with Maung Maung thanking “everyone who made this vision of ours come true.”
After decades in exile, following a military crackdown on pro-democracy activists, union leaders like Maung Maung, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar are working in 10 states across the country, “delivering basic training about the international trade union movement.”
20150722 * Myanmar to host regional FTA talks next month:
Fifteen countries will hold a fresh round of talks on a regional free trade agreement (FTA) in Myanmar next month amid stepped-up efforts to wrap it up by year-end according to a Korea Observer report on 21 July.
The upcoming round of talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the ninth of its kind, will be held in Naypyidaw from 3-7 August.
06:03:27 local time BANGLADESH
20150724 * Bank urged to give more loan to Swan Garment:
Workers lay siege to Islami Bank
A meeting of the government-formed high level committee on the crisis of Swan Garment Private Limited ended without any concrete decision for the payment of dues of the workers on Thursday, the 12th day of protests by the workers of the apparel factory.
The meeting urged Islami Bank to give more loan to the factory for its reopening and payment of dues to the workers.
The workers at a rally in the city led by Garment Workers Trade Union Centre leaders asked the Islami Bank Bangladesh authorities to withdraw the case it filed against Swan Garment workers immediately.
The centre organised the rally in front of the Islami Bank head office at Dilkusha, demanding withdrawal of the ‘baseless’ case.
Centre president Mantu Ghosh, who chaired the rally, said that the Islami Bank authorities filed a case against the Swan workers on June 18 on charge of looting assets of the factory.
The organisation general secretary Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin said that the Swan Garment assets were not looted, but the owner had sold them to a businessman.
The rally was followed by a procession that ended in front of the Press Club after parading different city roads.
The government on July 8 formed a nine-member committee headed by the inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, Syed Ahmed, for the payment of outstanding wages and other dues of over 1,300 workers of the Swan Garment as the factory owner died on April 22.
The committee on Thursday held a meeting and urged the Islami Bank Bangladesh to provide loan to the factory management for reopening the factory and payment of the workers’ wages and dues.
20150724 * Swan Garments seeks further loans to clear workers’ dues:
The Swan Garments payment committee yesterday requested the company’s lender — Islami Bank Bangladesh — to extend further loans to the group to allow its management to resume production and clear workers’ dues.
Islami Bank has taken until Tuesday to make a decision, said Syed Ahmed, chief of the committee, formed last week by the labour ministry to resolve the payment situation of Swan Garments.
Following the death of its Chinese owner, Toby Han, in April, the two units of Swan Garments, which employs more than 1,300 workers, have remained shut.
The workers have not been paid since, with many resorting to demonstrating in front of the National Press Club over the last few days for payment.
20150724 * Swan garment workers lay siege to IBBL head office:
Agitating workers of the Swan Garments laid a siege on Thursday to the head office of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL), demanding payment of their dues and reopening of the factory.
The workers first staged a demonstration in front of the Jatiya Press Club at around 10:30 am. Later they marched and took position on road in front of the bank. They stayed there and left the place at 12:30 pm.
They said they have been demanding their dues (salaries and bonus) before the Eid-ul-Fitr. But the government or the owners of the factory did not take any concrete step to resolve the matter.
They said the owner of the factory had an account in the IBBL. He mortgaged the garment unit to the bank. They said as the bank took the mortgage of the factory, so the IBBL could pay their dues.
“If the IBBL wishes, then it could pay dues of the workers. We demanded immediate payment of dues of the workers and reopening of the industrial unit”, president of the Bangladesh Sramik Union Advocate Montu Ghosh told the journalists.
20150723 * Swan workers continue sit-in programme on Thursday:
Workers of Swan Garments and Swan Jeans continued their sit-in programme for the 12th consecutive day on Thursday demanding the payment of all outstanding wages and bonuses, reopening of the two factories and withdrawal of cases against the workers.
The workers of the two factories started the non-stop sit-in programme in front of Jatiya Press Club under the banner of Garment Worker Trade Union Centre (GWTUC) from July 12.
Speaking at the sit-in programme on Thursday, GWTUC president Advocate Montu said although the workers are on the street for consecutive 12 days with their logical demands, the government has turned a deaf ear to their cause.
He demanded immediate resignation of the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) as 1,300 workers of Swan Garments and Swan Jeans could not manage to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr because of his failure to ensure the payment of their outstanding wages.
He also demanded that Islami Bank must withdraw false and fabricated cases against the workers.
The union leaders said they will continue their non-stop movement until their demands are met.
20150723 * Committee mulls selling Swan land to pay workers:
Four bighas of land belonging to the owner of Swan Garments might be sold off by the committee formed to pay outstanding salaries for more than 1,300 workers, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar said yesterday.
The committee will sit in a meeting today at the office of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) in Dhaka to discuss all possible ways of arranging the required funds for payments, Shipar told The Daily Star by phone.
The labour ministry formed the committee headed by Inspector General of DIFE Syed Ahmed last week as Swan Group’s two units have remained shut since April this year. The Chinese owner of the group died on April 22, he said.
“Earlier, on June 26 we advertised for the sale of the land in a local newspaper, but nobody responded as the owner could not be contacted,” he said.
“But now we have found the heir to the factory and the land and have called the wife [a Bangladeshi] of the owner to the meeting,” Shipar said.
There is no scope of selling the machinery of the two factories of Swan Group, situated at Mollartek in Dhaka, as the company’s assets are mortgaged with a bank for Tk 42 crore.
20150723 * Swan workers want immediate resolution to crisis:
The workers of the Swan Garment Private Limited continued their sit in programme for 11th day on Wednesday in front of the National Press Club, demanding immediate resolution of the crisis at the factory.
The leaders of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, at the rally, demanded resolution of the crisis of the Swan Garment at the scheduled meeting of the high-powered committee formed to resolve the crisis by the government today.
The owners closed down the factory three months back unlawfully, the GWTUC leaders said at the rally.
Sadequr Rahman Shamim, who chaired the rally, demanded reopening of the factory and paying the wages and festival allowance of the workers immediately.
Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin, general secretary of the organisation, said that they would announce programmes of tougher movement if the owners delayed to resolve the crisis.
20150723 * Bangladeshi workers producing for Aldi in sit-in protest for owed wages:
Over 1000 workers owed months of wages following illegal factory closure.
Sit-in protest in Dhaka enters its second week
The Clean Clothes Campaign is today calling on the Bangladesh government and the German low-cost retailer, Aldi, to immediately take action to ensure over 1000 workers employed at the Swan Garment and Swan Jeans factories are provided with months of unpaid wages and bonuses they were deprived of following the sudden and illegal closure of the factory in April 2015.
Swan workers have been engaged in a sit-in outside the Dhaka Press Club since July the 11th to demand action from the Bangladesh government and are due to meet with the Minister of Labour later this week to discuss their demands.
Swan Garments and Swan Jeans are both owned by the Swan Group, who also own a further three factories in the Dhaka area.
The Swan Group websites lists a number of European brands as long term buyers from the Group including Lidl, Next, Bestseller, Dunnes and Walmart.
Workers claim they were producing for Aldi, Piazza Italia and Motivi in the months prior to closure.
“As is typical when we try to stand up for workers we are met with repression by the police. Workers have been injured by the police during our protest” says Joly Talukder, Joint General Secretary of the Garment Workers Trade Union Centre in Bangladesh, “workers have been continuously sitting day and night, even amidst heavy rain. The government is ignoring the protest and the state of workers and has not taken any step to meet the genuine legal demand to pay the arrears.”
These closures are leaving thousands of workers unemployed and deprived of their legally owed severance pay.
To date little action has been taken by the Bangladesh government or international brands and retailers to ensure workers are not left without the wages and benefits they are owed.
“Swan Garments is one of many factories that has closed illegally in Bangladesh over the last year. As in the majority of cases it is workers who are left with nothing – not even the wages and severance payments they are owed” says Samantha Maher of the Clean Clothes Campaign.
20150722 * RMG workers lay siege to factory inspection office:
Police on Tuesday barred Swan Garment workers’ siege of Mills and Factory Supervision Directorate office at Shrama Bhaban at Dainik Bangla crossing in the capital.
Police charged baton to disparage the workers who immediately held a sit-in on the road when a female garment worker, Hasina Begun, was injured, said a Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre press release.
The workers of the factory would continue their movements until their demands were fulfilled, Mantu added.
He called on the government to intervene to resolve the crisis of Swan Garment immediately.
Two high officials of the directorate — Shamsuzzaman Bhuyian and Mohammad Ikbal Ahmed — came out of their office and assured the workers of addressing the crisis. Chaired by Mantu Ghosh, the rally was addressed, among others, by general secretary of the organisation Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin, vice-president Iddris Ali, leaders Ikbal Hossain and Manzur Moin.
The workers will hold a protest rally in front of Islami Bank Bangladesh head office on Thursday and the GWTUC will hold a workers’ rally in front of National
Press Club on Friday to express solidarity with the Swan workers.
20150722 * Swan garment workers’ plea to pay three-month wages:
1,300 workers go without Eid festivity
Garment Workers Trade Union Centre laid siege to the labour ministry on Tuesday, demanding payment of due wage and Eid bonus to Swan Garment workers as well as for lifting ‘false’ cases against them. Photo— Focus Bangla
Workers and leaders of different workers’ organisations in the apparel industry demanded immediate resignation of the Inspector General (IG) of the DIFE for his failure to resolve the issue of non-payment of wages of 1,300 workers of Swan garment factories ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr.
On the 10th consecutive day of the ongoing sit-in by the workers of Dakkhin Khan-based two Swan factories — Swam Garments and Swan Jeans, the agitators went on Tuesday for laying siege to the office of Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and made the demand.
The protesters said the IG has no right to hold the position anymore as some 1,300 workers did not celebrate the Eid festival because of his failure.
They also came under police attack while approaching the office of the DIEF located at Sromo Bhaban on Rajuk Avenue in the capital’s Motijheel area that left two of the workers injured. Then the protestors staged rally in front of the office to this effect.
However, a team of workers’ representatives, led by Monto Ghosh, President of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre, sat with the officials concerned to find a way-out of the situation.
After emerging from the meeting, Md. Shamsuzzaman Bhuiyan, Additional Inspector General (Joint Secretary) of the DIFE, told the agitators that the 9-member committee formed earlier to deal with the issue will sit with owners and workers for reaching a solution on July 23 next.
The meeting was earlier fixed for July 27.
20150723 * RMG makers want price hike to retain business:
The readymade garment manufacturers want price hike to remain in business as the production cost has gone up as a result of factory upgradation and also increase in workers’ wages.
“Recently, the buyers have become tricky in setting prices of RMG products and introduced cost breakup system,” BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune.
They collect prices of raw materials used to make certain products from several manufacturers and set the lower price based on the average cost, said Azim.
The new system put manufacturers in tough competition and it should be scrapped, otherwise the garment sector will fall in trouble, which will ultimately put the workers’ jobs at risk, he added.
The production cost has gone up by around 12% because of the factory upgradation to make it compliant and also hike in wages by 219% in the last four years, BGMEA President Md Atiqul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune.
20150722-23 * PM asks global buyers to raise garment price:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked foreign buyers to raise the prices of Bangladeshi garment products which will ultimately be spent on ensuring the further welfare of RMG workers, reports UNB.
The Prime Minister made the request when Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh Gerben de Jong paid a farewell call on her at her office.
PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
Mentioning that her government has taken steps for the welfare of RMG workers, Sheikh Hasina said their wages have been hiked by over 200 per cent since 2009. “Besides, we’re setting up dormitories for the female garment workers,” she said.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
20150723 * Officials, envoys discuss RMG sector reform progs:
The Commerce, Labour and Foreign Affairs Secretaries and the envoys of five countries here, including that of the USA, on Thursday reviewed the progress of reform programmes in the country’s readymade garment industry.
The meeting, held at the Foreign Ministry, was part of the ongoing process of ‘3 plus 5’ to get how to support Bangladesh’s RMG sector.
European Union (EU) Ambassador in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon, US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat, Senior Commerce Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon and Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque were, among others, present.
Meeting sources said the countries like the USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the EU reiterated their commitments to help the sector grow.
20150723 * Criteria too tough for small RMG units:
Tk 1.0b JICA soft loan for factory safety
Most of the local apparel makers queuing up for the Tk 1.0 billion (100 crore) Japanese soft loans failed to meet two important criteria for access to the fund created under the Bangladesh Bank’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) window after the tragic Rana Plaza incident in 2013.
Sources said most of the applicants were found disqualified for the soft loan as those RMG factories were constructed without following any structural design commensurate with the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) and they were loan defaulters.
Adherence to building designs and avoidance of default loans are two of the 45 criteria set by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for support from the Tk 1.0 billion fund, they added.
The fund was created to assist in building only small and medium RMG factories earthquake-resistant by restructuring and retrofitting them and thus meeting the buyers’ demand to ensure building safety as well as health safety of factory workers.
20150724 * Alliance takes 3 more board members from B’desh:
BGMEA president resigns
Three Bangladeshi entrepreneurs and professionals have been included in the board of directors and the board of advisors of the Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety, the consortium of North American brands and retailers.
The Alliance included new members in its boards following the step-down of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Atiqul Islam from the board of directors of the Alliance.
BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age that the BGMEA president resigned from the board of the Alliance last week.
‘Atiq resigned as he thought that holding the president post at the BGMEA and the directorship at the Alliance’s board of directors at the same time created conflict of interests,’ he said.
20150722 * Alliance Membership Elects New Board of Directors and Board of Advisors Members:
At its second annual Members’ Meeting, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) today elected Tapan Chowdhury, founder of Square Textiles Limited and former president of the Dhaka Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Simone Sultana, chair of BRAC UK, to serve on its board of directors.
“The Alliance Board is focused on more strategic engagement in the coming years of the Alliance, and the realignment of the board to include the members elected today reflects this focus,” said The Honorable Ellen Tauscher, independent board chair of the Alliance.
“Tapan Chowdhury is a respected leader in Bangladesh and brings valuable government and private sector experience, across a wide spectrum of industries including the ready-made garment sector to the Alliance Board.
Simone Sultana is a valued Alliance partner and will assist us in ensuring that the Alliance-BRAC association continues its groundbreaking efforts to provide direct support to factory workers in Bangladesh. We are very pleased to have both of them join the Alliance board of directors.”
20150722 * Garment exports to EU rise 4%:
Garment shipments to the European Union, the country’s single largest export destination, increased 4.11 percent year-on-year to $15.37 billion last fiscal year.
At present, the 28-nation economic union accounts for 60.28 percent of the country’s garment exports a year.
In Europe, Germany was the prime destination, as in previous years, accounting for $4.33 billion of the $15.37 billion exports receipts.
The UK came in next, importing $2.9 billion of garment items from Bangladesh, followed by Spain at $1.62 billion, France at $1.61 billion and Italy at $1.24 billion.
20150723 * Fakes cost EU fashion industry 26b euros annually:
Counterfeits are worth nearly 10 percent of the clothes, shoes and accessories sold in the EU, taking away over 26 billion euros ($28 billion) in business, according to a study released Tuesday.
With many of the world’s top fashion houses located in Europe, the study by the EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market “reveals the threat that counterfeiting poses to the industry’s innovative output and the direct and indirect costs to the EU economy.”
The report put direct annual losses to the industry from counterfeit clothing, footwear and accessories at approximately 26.3 billion euros, or 9.7 percent of the sector’s sales.
20150723 * Harvesting of jute progressing fast in Manikganj:
Harvesting of jute is progressing fast in all the seven upazilas of the district during the current season amid much enthusiasm to the farmers as they are getting desired production.
05:33:27 local time INDIA
20150720 * Fire breaks out at textile factory in Rajasthan:
A fire today broke out in a textile factory in Kaladera area in the outskirts of the city, police said.
No one was injured in the incident, they said. The fire broke out early morning on the ground floor and soon engulfed the first floor of the building, they said.
Large number of towels, which the factory used to manufacture, were gutted in the fire, they said.
Atleast six fire tenders were pressed into service and it took nearly four hours to control the fire, Chief Fire Officer Dinesh Verma said.
It is suspected that a short circuit caused the fire, he said, adding that efforts are on to ascertain the losses.
20150724 * Bill on women working night shift gets Maharashtra Assembly approval:
Setting up a small agency or consultancy with employees up to 40 gets easier now.
This is mainly to help generate quick investments from abroad and enhance job opportunities besides increasing the state’s capacity to cater to international services and that of the manufacturing industry the world over.
These units will be able to work round-the-clock.
The state assembly on Friday unanimously passed the bill—an amendment to the Factories Act 1948—that sought to exclude smaller units—up to 40 employees—from the purview of the same Act which mandated safe working conditions.
The bill, once cleared by the state legislative council, will go for the presidential nod before it is implemented across the state.
As a part of its Make-in-Maharashtra initiative, the amendment will make it possible for women to work in night shifts in factories —between 6pm and 7am.
It will also make it possible for all employees to work in extended shifts to make more money.
TOI had reported in May the cabinet’s decision to amend the Factories Act.
20150723 * Madhya Pradesh assembly passes labour law amendments:
Factories with up to 300 workers can fire without government approval
After failing to get the Centre’s approval to the ordinance route, the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday passed a single Bill to amend eight major labour laws; seven other laws would be changed through compounding provisions, etc.
With this, Madhya Pradesh became the third state in a year, after Rajasthan and Gujarat, to pass its own labour law amendments in Assembly.
After the amendments, those companies in Madhya Pradesh that employ up to 300 people will be allowed to retrench workers or shut shop without government approval (the current provision is for those employing up to 100 to do so).
20150722 * Labour ministry to introduce bills in Parliament despite trade unions opposition:
The labour ministry will go ahead with its plan to introduce at least four key labour legislations in the current session of Parliament, despite trade unions opposing some of them.
“We are committed to consultation with all stake holders but resistance from any one group would not halt the pace of labour reforms initiated by this government,” a senior labour ministry official told ET on the sidelines of the 46th Indian Labour Conference, which concluded on Tuesday.
This comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured trade unions that changes in the labour laws will be made with the concurrence of the unions and the consultation process will continue.
The move could further strain the government’s ties with the trade unions which have been criticising the BJP-led NDA government over its unilateral approach to amending labour laws in the country.
The four Bills lined up for introduction are the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous (Amendment) Bill, Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, Small Factories Bill and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill.
The Union Cabinet has already approved the Child Labour Bill while the remaining Bills will have to get Cabinet clearance before being tabled in the House.
20150722 * Labour law recast to add more leave to maternity, gratuity to be made portable:
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government is looking to enhance maternity leave for working women from three months to six months, virtually double bonus payments to employees and make gratuity portable between jobs.
These proposed changes in employment laws could buttress the Modi government’s credentials with the working class while it attempts to push through more ambitious reforms in labour rules that are blamed for hampering investment and job creation in the country.
“The changes in the Payment of Bonus Act would raise the salary limit for getting a bonus from Rs 10,000 per month to Rs 19,000, and are at an advanced stage with a draft Cabinet note being moved earlier this month for comments from ministries,” said a senior labour ministry official. Separately, the government is initiating stakeholder consultations to amend the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961 and the Payment of Gratuity Act of 1972, the official added.
20150722 * Labour meet proposes social security schemes for workers:
No consensus as yet on social security code
Even though the Indian Labour Conference (ILC) could not build a consensus on forming a labour code on social security schemes, it recommended a slew of measures to broaden their coverage.
The two-day conference, a tri-partite platform of trade unions, industry and the government, concluded here on Tuesday with a series of recommendations.
It recommended that Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) coverage be expanded to include the unorganised workers by reducing the threshold of coverage.
At present, firms with 10 workers are covered under this law and the Union labour ministry will reduce this threshold limit.
20150722 * Proposed labour laws changes opposed:
Opposing the Union government’s proposed amendments to the Labour Law and the ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act, thousands of labours working under Central and State governments and also NGOs would participate in a protest on September 2 in all the district headquarters.
Talking to presspersons in Yadgir on Tuesday, S. Varalaxmi, State vice-president of Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government’s proposed amendment to the Labour Law was completely against the interest of the labourers working in the organised and un-organised sectors.
20150724 * Labour welfare board invites applications:
The Tamil Nadu Labour Welfare Board invites application from workers who are contributing to the labour welfare fund to get assistance.
This includes purchase of books for dependents of workers from Class XI to Master’s degree, scholarships for workers’ children in school and colleges and educational incentive to children who secure the top ten ranks in Classes 10 and 12.
20150723 * AFT Mill to Layoff Staff for 6 Months:
The 110-year-old Anglo French Textile (AFT) mills under the territorial administration has once again declared temporary layoffs in units A, B and C (except Spinning unit) units for a period of 6 months with effect from July 21.
The move came after the government granted permission to the mill to lay off workmen under Section 25-M of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, read with rule 75(B) of the Industrial Disputes (Central) Rules, 1957.
The layoff is expected to reduce the financial commitment of the mill on account of salary to workers from Rs 3.25 crore to Rs 1.25 crore a month for the mill, which is now defunct.
During the layoff period workers will be paid half wages.
The mill has been laying off workers since November 2013, unable to pay wages as well as settle the dues of those who retired.
The net worth of the company Pondicherry Textile Corporation (PTC) running the mill has already been in the negative side as of March 31, 2014, and no funds are available even to meet the day-to-day expenses, said the management of the mill.
read more. & read more.
20150724 * New textile policy on the anvil:
Likely to be out before Global Investor Meet on September 9, 10
To attract more investments ahead of the Global Investors Meet, the Tamil Nadu government will come up with a new textile policy in the next few days.
The Handlooms and Textiles Department is studying the textile policies of States like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and evaluating the financial and legal aspects.
“Members of the textile industry have requested for an updated textile policy and we are working on it. It is under examination now,” said a senior official who wished anonymity.
20150723 * ‘India should increase production of value-added cotton products’:
Textile sector urged to invest in best technologies available globally
India, which is the largest producer of cotton and the second largest consumer and exporter of the fibre, has the potential to add value to the fibre and export the products, Prem Malik, chairman of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI), said here on Wednesday.
He was speaking at the inaugural of a “Natural Fibre Conclave” organised by CITI.
Mr. Malik said that while India produces significant quantities of cotton and silk, production of vegetable fibre is largely restricted to jute.
The country continued to export close to 25 per cent of the cotton produced in the country to China, Bangladesh, Korea and Vietnam.
However, it also continued to import some varieties of cotton. Production of cotton should match the demand trends.
Apparel exports have been growing and with the inherent strength in fibres and value-chain, the other segments are also expected to see revival of growth soon.
20150722 * Fabric export to rise with MEIS inclusion:
Cotton fabric exports likely to rise 10% this year
Cotton fabric exports are likely to rise at least 10 per cent this year because of inclusion of the fabric in the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).
Products notified under MEIS for any specific market are eligible for reward on the free-on-board value.
Last week, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade announced inclusion of cotton fabrics into MEIS for export to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which would mean a two per cent export incentive. About 4,000 items are included in MEIS.
“Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are two major destinations for India’s cotton fabrics, which get converted into garments and are then exported to Europe and the United States.
Owing to the lack of conversion value, cotton fabrics are not exported from India directly to Europe and the US.
So, inclusion of cotton fabric into MEIS would increase India’s competitiveness in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with respect to other countries, including China, which will ultimately help increase India’s fabric exports at least by 10 per cent,” said R K Dalmia, Chairman, The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) and senior president, Century Textiles.
20150722 * ‘Textile industry must look at new areas to scale up’:
The Indian textile industry will need to introspect and look into areas where there is scope for scaling up and upgrading the fabrics sector.
The industry’s long-term prospects “are undoubtedly bright”, Prem Malik, Chairman, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry said here on Wednesday.
Inaugurating the Natural Fibre Conclave at Hotel Le Meridien at Chinniampalayam in Coimbatore, Malik said the textiles industry in China was slowing down and Pakistan’s growth – constrained by power and other problems and the garment industry’s growth in Bangladesh – is expected to reach a saturation point sooner than later.
Diversion of garment orders to India has already begun. “There is therefore a need to scale up and upgrade our fabrics industry,” he reiterated.
The CITI Chairman also stressed the need for enhancing the yarn consuming capacities within the country, admitting that external issues such as a slowdown in the EU and policy jolts from China could have an adverse impact.
“But there are more crucial issues such as infrastructural infirmities, transaction costs — which are way above our competing countries — inordinate delays in getting duty refunds, high cost of export credit and many more,” he said.
20150723 * Tirupur knitwear cluster set to get Rs. 15.5 crore worth facilities:
Thanks to an initiative of South India Imported machine Knitters Association (SIIMKA), the Tirupur knitwear cluster is all set to get Rs. 15.5 crore worth of facilities for giving value-addition to knitted fabrics, testing and training very soon.
In a significant step, the SIIMKA members, through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), named SIIMKA Knitex Cluster Services Private Limited, constituted for execution of the project, has now submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Union Government for getting grants earmarked under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.
“We have identified 1.5 acre at Naranapuram hamlet in Palladam taluk for setting up the common facility centre for product innovation, testing and training,” SIIMKA president N. Vivekanandan told The Hindu .
20150723 * Hosiery manufacturers express concern over new notification on excise duty credit:
A new notification issued by the Union Finance Ministry amending certain exemptions on availing excise duty credit is seen with concern by the hosiery manufacturers and technocrats in Tirupur cluster.
As per the new notification issued by Department of Revenue under the Union Finance Ministry, the excise duty credit could be claimed by the producers of end products only if the previous links in the production chain had paid the duty for the inputs at each of the stages.
If the exemptions could not be availed, the garment manufacturers would have to end up paying excise duty at 12.5 per cent.
“For a hosiery products manufacturing cluster like Tirupur which is dominated by mirco, small and medium scale enterprises and also the production processes lying scattered, meaning very little of vertical integration, it will be difficult for the garment manufacturer to prove that duty has been paid on all items used in the course of manufacturing garments,” S. Chandrasekar, a chartered accountant and excise duty consultant, pointed out to The Hindu .
20150722 * TS Waives Rs 5.65 Crores Loans of Weavers:
The state government has waived bank loans of powerloom weavers to the tune of Rs 5.65 crore and issued guidelines for its implementation.
Though, the government has decided to waive the loans of powerloom weavers in January this year, the revised operational guidelines were issued by the government on Tuesday.
The loan waiver for each powerloom weaver will be restricted to Rs 1 lakh and the waiver would be done after verifying the genuineness and thorough verification of the claims by the Director of Handlooms and Textiles and Apparel Export Parks.
20150721 * Outlook for Indian synthetic textile sector:
The sharp slowdown of the Chinese economy is also having its impact on India.
The synthetic yarn sector, for instance, has seen a sharp decline in supplies to China.
The Indian synthetic yarn business was heavily dependent on China, which used to import large quantities of the yarn. Chinese importers would convert the yarn into fabric and garments, and export them to Europe and the US.
Industry experts predict a bleak future for the synthetic textile sector in financial year 2015-16.
A recent report by India Ratings & Research, a Fitch group company, warned that polyester fibre prices will continue to decline because of oversupply of cotton and cotton yarn.
“Unfavourable cotton-polyester staple fibre (PSF) spreads have hurt domestic synthetic yarn demand.
Lower export competitiveness of Indian synthetic yarn also contributes to the subdued outlook as import and central excise duty continue on man-made fibres,” said the report.
Besides the slackening demand from China, global demand for synthetic yarn has fallen by a hefty 60pc. Indeed, Indian synthetic units have been forced to cut production by almost 40pc.
20150723 * India’s import duty hike raises red flag at WTO:
For years the government has been talking about moving to Asean rates of import duty, which is around 5%.
But, a recent review of India’s trade policy has showed that the average applied customs duty rate went up to 13% in 2014-15, compared to 12% at the time of the last review in 2010-11 — a move that has seen some red flags go up at the World Trade Organization.
This means that the applied rate is much higher: Between 10% and 300% for farm products and up to 150% for industrial goods.
On an average the average applied customs tariff was around 9.5% for non-farm goods.
For years, the developed as well as some of the developing countries have been pressing India to lower tariff barriers, arguing that the economy has developed. But given local sensitivities, the government has failed to go for a sharper reduction.
05:33:27 local time SRI LANKA
THE PATHFINDER REPORT & DEBATE
* Charting the Way Forward: Prosperity for All:
The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) has been a long-standing proponent of prudent economic policy-making in Sri Lanka.
It has been a constant advocate of reforms to accelerate economic growth and development.
With Parliamentary elections looming on the horizon, Sri Lanka is on the verge of entering a new political cycle which offers a window of opportunity to implement important changes.
It is timely, therefore, to seek to inform the manifesto preparation processes of the political parties and to stimulate public discussion.
In this connection, the PF commissioned a series of studies on key policy areas which will be important determinants of a successful transition of the Sri Lankan
economy to a sustained high growth path.
This was supported by several public seminars, comments from leading experts and enriched by drawing on the experiences of other countries.
read more in pdf: 201506 Pathfinder Charting the Way Forward Economic Prosperity for All Pathfinder Foundation.
2050715 * Pathfinder Foundation response to Collective for Economic Democratisation:
The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) appreciates the Collective for Economic Democratisation’s (CED) response (Daily Mirror 2015-07-10) to its rejoinder (Daily Mirror 2015-06-30) in the spirit of welcoming a much-needed discussion on economic reforms.
It also gives the PF an opportunity to provide further clarification on some important issues.
At the outset, the PF would like to emphasise, contrary to the CED assertions, that it supports social justice and consultative economic decision-making.
However, this should be done in the context of market-friendly policies and ‘smart’ regulations.
The state should address market failure and provide a robust social safety-net. Equality of opportunity should be created through a strong commitment to education, training and skills development and a meritocracy.
In this regard, we would like to respond to what are, in our view, misrepresentations of some of our positions. To do this, we focus upon the themes addressed in the CED’s latest response.
2050710 * Economic reforms and attack on labour:
Response to Pathfinder Foundation’s rejoinder
We welcome the response by the Pathfinder Foundation on June 30, 2015 to our critique of its economic blueprint on June 24, 2015, both published in Daily Mirror, as a vigorous and informed debate on economic reforms is important, especially with the upcoming parliamentary elections.
In recent times, there has been little critical discourse on the neoliberal direction of our country and one of the reasons for the formation of our voluntary non-funded collective of researchers and activists formed two years ago, is to further conversations on political economy, to democratise economic decision-making and to support people’s struggles for social justice.
Our response to the Pathfinder Foundation focuses on three themes.
The first pertains to the question of inequality and the need to ensure redistribution of revenues and productivity gains for the benefit of all.
Our second theme will be to critique the proposed labour reforms advocated by the Pathfinder Foundation and the pro-business economic establishment in this country, which amounts to an attack on labour.
Finally, our third theme will focus on going beyond the Pathfinder Foundation’s continued emphasis on “fiscal consolidation” and “financial market development”, which overlook global challenges to financialisation.
2050630 * Furthering debate on economic reforms – A rejoinder:
The Pathfinder Foundation (PF) welcomes the well-written and carefully considered critique of its blueprint, ‘Charting the Way Forward: Prosperity for All’, by the Collective for Economic Democratisation that was published in Mirror Business last week.
This critique is an important contribution to the discourse on economic reforms, which needs to take place in this country. In fact, one of the reasons which motivated the PF to produce its blueprint was to generate such discussion and debate. The PF is also very open to critiques that serve to strengthen this document.
In this rejoinder, the PF would like to focus upon two key themes.
The defence of the underlying approach, which guided the drafting of this blueprint, and a response to the criticism made in the article by the Collective for Economic Democratisation.
2050624 * Emperor’s new clothes: Pathfinder Foundation’s Economic Blueprint:
The Pathfinder Foundation’s prescriptions in its recent report, ‘Charting the Way Forward: Prosperity for All’ are a blueprint for the failed neoliberal policies of the past and would lead to prosperity for a few and misery for many.
While vague and superficial in its analysis and conclusions, the Pathfinder Report’s conceptualization of structural changes to Sri Lanka’s economy has many faulty if not dangerous assumptions.
In particular, the report proposes cutting back on state budgets while promoting labour regimes that will further undermine workers’ rights and incomes.
These ideas will only consolidate tendencies of political decay in Sri Lanka, further removing citizens from decisions made by economic ‘experts’.
Finding alternatives then must inevitably expose the hoary claims in the report that are being rejected around the world in the wake of economic crisis.
05:03:27 local time PAKISTAN
20150723 * Ablaze: Towel factory gutted in fire:
A fire broke out in a towel making factory, the Crown Textile and Company, located in SITE area on Wednesday.
It took around seven hours for the firefighters to put out the fire.
The fire department spokesperson said that a total of 18 fire tenders, two water bowsers and a snorkel participated in the rescue work.
He also said that even after the fire was controlled, the cooling process was underway till the afternoon.
He added that so far the actual cause of the fire could not be ascertained, but a short-circuit can be the reason.
The spokesperson said that strong winds and congested location helped the firefighters put the fire down on time.
No casualties were reported.
20150724 * Minister for providing social security cover to industrial workers, labourers:
Provincial Minister for Labour & HR Raja Ashfaq Sarwar has directed the recovery officers of Punjab Employees Social Security Institute (PESSI) to bring their best professional capabilities for providing social security cover to secure industrial workers and labourers by enhancing social security contribution and good governance.
He said this while addressing the 128th meeting of Governing Body of PESSI. Commissioner Social Security Ishrat Ali, Vice Commissioner Khalid Saleem, General Secretary All Pakistan Trade Union Federation Aima Mehmood, President PML-N Labour Wing Punjab Shahzad Anwar, CEO Raja Industries Sialkot Shabnum Asif Sheikh, President Refinery Employees Union CBA Hameed Khan Jadoon, Abdul Majid Chaudhry, Medical Advisor Dr. Ashraf Nizami and other members of the Governing Body attended the meeting.
20150724 * Water shortage may lead to closure of textile units: Firoz:
Voicing concern over persisting water shortage in all industrial zones of the city, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) former vice president Gulzar Firoz has apprehended that if the situation continued to persist, it will lead to closure of many textile processing units, “Production of a number of textile processing units has already declined considerably in the wake of acute water shortage,” he added.
Firoz, who is also former chairman of PTA and KATI, said that the country will suffer badly in case exports orders were either cancelled or delayed.
Urging the authorities to save the textile processing units from being closed down, he opined that Sindh government could help resolve the lingering issue of water shortage by setting up Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants on war-footing basis in all industrial areas of the metropolis.
20150722-24 * Textile sector incentives to boost exports to $26bn by 2019:
The incentive of Rs 64.15 billion cash subsidy to the textile and clothing sector under the textile policy would boost the exports to $ 26 billion by 2019.
Official sources said on Tuesday that the package announced under the policy (2015-19), carries special duty-drawback rates, duty exemption on plants and machinery and subsidy on long-term loans.
The Finance Division would provide Rs 40.6 billion over five years for duty drawback, technology up-gradation and brand development while another Rs 23.5 billion would be provided for skill development, dedicated textile exhibitions, establishment of world textile centre, weaving city, incubators, apparel house and mega textile awards.
Sources said around 120,000 persons would be trained through skill development programme and 50 small companies from the sector would be picked each year, for next three years, to support the government.
The proposed measures would promote value-addition and generate employment for more than 5 million people, the sources added.
On the performance of textile industry, the sources said it was the most important manufacturing sector of Pakistan and had the longest production chain with inherent potential for value addition at each stage of processing, from cotton to ginning, spinning, fabric, dyeing and finishing, made-ups and garments.
read more. & read more.
20150723 * Government indecision over cotton intervention price may hurt growers:
The government is yet to decide about the cotton intervention price for the current season, which is likely to deprive the growers of due benefits, official sources told Business Recorder.
The sub-committee of National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile Industry had recommended fixing the minimum guaranteed price of cotton at Rs 2700 per 40 kg for the financial year 2015-16 after considering the cost of production.
However, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile Industry and the Ministry for National Food Security and Research, after having detailed discussion unanimously agreed to fix the intervention price of cotton at Rs 3000 per 40 kg for the financial year 2015-16.
It was further decided to take the provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab onboard for implementation mechanism.
However, sources said that meetings are yet to be arranged with chief ministers of both the provinces.
20150724 * PTA urges govt to withdraw GIDC:
Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) Chairman Hamid A Zahur appealed the government to withdraw charging of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) in the gas bills.
He said that the industry is unable to bear the brunt of any additional taxes or levies, as the cost of doing business has already gone out of control.
Hamid warned that the export-earning industries especially leather and its made-up units are facing stiff competition in the global markets and its exports are already low as compared to past years.
20150723 * Chinese company to invest in Pakistan’s infrastructure projects:
A reputed Chinese company, Jinagsu SuZhong Construction Group (SuZhong), is planning to invest in Pakistan’s major infrastructure projects.
This was planned by a nine-member Chinese delegation, led by SuZhong Vice Chairman and General Manager Chen Yong Ming, who visited the Board of Investment (BOI) Secretary Iftikhar Babar on Wednesday.
BOI Executive Director General Saleem Ahmed Ranjha was also present in the meeting.
The BOI secretary gave a detailed briefing to the Chinese delegation, focusing on investment climate and opportunities available in Pakistan and welcomed the Chinese investors to invest in Pakistan especially in construction, power and mining sectors.
Babar informed the delegation that Pakistan is committed to provide an investment friendly regime by offering lucrative fiscal incentives and conducive business environment.
Pakistan and China as strategic partners have been cooperating in various fields of mutual interest, he added.
05:03:27 local time UZBEKISTAN
20150721 * Cotton Campaign urges the ILO to press the Uzbek government to end forced labor:
Today, 35 trade unions, business associations, investors and human rights organizations sent the letter below to the International Labour Organization, and copies to the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and World Bank.
In the letter, we the Cotton Campaign call on the ILO, its members the IOE and ITUC, and the World Bank to press the government of Uzbekistan to end forced labor at a meeting scheduled this August.
For a quarter century, Uzbekistan’s entire history as an independent nation state, the Uzbek government has used the largest state-orchestrated forced labor system of cotton production in the world.
A decade of global pressure encouraged the Uzbek government to significantly reduce its use of forced child labor and to sign a framework agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in which it committed to work with the ILO to apply labor conventions, including eradicating forced labor, known as a Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP). Yet the core of the state-orchestrated forced labor system remains unaltered.
This spring, the government continued to use coercion to mobilize citizens to prepare cotton fields for planting, and in 2014 the government forced farmers to fulfill state-imposed quotas for cotton production and forced more than a million citizens to pick cotton, all under threat of punishment.
The government silences human rights defenders who attempt to document the abuses, including through arrest and violence, such as the brutal treatment of Elena Urlaeva on May 31 after she documented forced labor in the cotton fields.
20150721 * Uzbek government asks for money & time to end forced labor:
The government of Uzbekistan does not need more time or anyone else’s money to end forced labor, yet that is exactly what they requested during the United Nations Human Rights Committee review earlier this month.
During the review, the United States representative to the UNHRC asked the Uzbek government:
“With respect to forced labor, we commend the state’s efforts to eliminate systemic child labor in the cotton industry, but the information before the committee indicates that the reduction in child labor has resulted in an increase in the use of adult forced labor in this industry.
It also suggests that forced labor is an element of a widespread system of corruption and extortion in the cotton industry, which is a source of significant income to the government.
Therefore, in addition to the measures that you have mentioned you are attempting to take to address this issue, I would like to ask you what steps you are taking to enforce the national laws regarding forced labor, and in particular what steps you are taking to ensure financial transparency and address corruption in the cotton industry.
* Sign and support today’s LabourStart campaign and write to these companies:
SF Leather’s union busting tactics in Izmir, Turkey over recent weeks includes sacking 14 union supporters, offering their jobs back on the condition that they cancel their union membership, demanding the local court to impound a union banner and block the union distributing material online of their action, and even filing a claim for damages against the union.
The long list of labour rights abuses all break the ‘Global Sourcing Principles’ of key buyer Mulberry, however UK based Mulberry has chosen to turn a blind eye, while the bags made at the Izmir plant continue to sell at well over €1,000 each.
SF Leather workers are seeking to organize in the Deriteks leather workers union of Turkey, an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union.
Write to the managements of SF Leather and Mulberry to call for both companies to live up to their corporate responsibility and allow this group of workers a voice in the Izmir factory.
read more & take action.
* Mulberry must act now at Turkish supplier:
IndustriALL Global Union is calling on luxury goods brand, Mulberry, to intervene at an escalating labour dispute at its Turkish supplier, SF Leather.
Sign the LabourStart campaign and write to both companies.
Handbag manufacturer, SF Leather, where Mulberry is the major customer, sacked fourteen workers for joining IndustriALL affiliate union Deriteks in March.
SF Leather is now suing workers and Deriteks, claiming that its “commercial interests” have been damaged by the union’s organizing tactics and protest rallies calling for the reinstatement of the workers.
The company has even succeeded in getting a local court to impound a banner appealing to Mulberry to respect workers’ rights, and order a news blackout of the union protests on Turkish websites.
Earlier this year, Deriteks began organizing workers at SF Leather located at the Aegean Free Zone in Izmir, which prides itself on keeping “high standards that customers expect”.
After the fourteen union members were dismissed, Deriteks started to campaign for their re-instatement as well as recognition of the union. IndustriALL Global Union intervened in the case by sending a letter to the company management with the same demands.
* Peruvian Unions and ILRF File Labor Rights Complaint Against Peru:
Complaint alleges that Peru is failing to respect minimum labor standards contained in the U.S.–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement
- Complaint alleges that Peru is failing to respect minimum labor standards contained in the U.S.–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement
- Violations Have Implications for Trans-Pacific Partnership
A complaint alleging that the Government of Peru is failing to comply with the labor standards of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) was filed on July 23, 2015, by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), Peru Equidad, and Peruvian unions representing workers in the textile & garment and agro-export industries.
The agreement became effective in February of 2009.
The complaint alleges that the Government of Peru is failing to enforce basic labor laws in its garment, textile, and agricultural export sectors, which together employ hundreds of thousands of workers who produce billions of dollars of goods for the U.S. market.
It also raises new questions regarding the labor rights record of a key member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Obama Administration’s proposed mega-trade deal that will, on paper, require all members to maintain and enforce labor laws consistent with recognized International Labor Organization standards.
* The Muddled Case for Trade Agreements:
With global trade negotiations deadlocked for years, regional agreements – long a dormant route to trade liberalization – are back with a vengeance.
The United States is at the center of two mega-deals that could shape the future path of world trade.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is further along, and involves 11 countries, besides the US, that collectively produce as much as 40% of global output; but China, crucially, is not among them. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union has an even more ambitious reach, promising to join two giant regions that together account for half of world trade.
Trade agreements have long stopped being the province of experts and technocrats. So it is not surprising that both initiatives have generated significant and heated public discussion.
The perspectives of proponents and opponents are so polarized that it is hard not to be utterly confused about the likely consequences.
To appreciate what is at stake, we have to understand that these deals are motivated by a mix of objectives – some benign, others less so from a global perspective.
On the economic front, the trade agreements’ defenders tend to talk with both sides of their mouth.
Reducing trade barriers is said to promote economic efficiency and specialization; but it is also supposed to increase exports and create jobs by increasing access to trade partners’ markets.
The first of these is the conventional comparative-advantage argument for trade liberalization; the second is a mercantilist argument.
The goals advanced by these arguments are mutually contradictory. From the standpoint of comparative advantage, gains from trade arise from imports; exports are what a country has to give up in order to afford them.
These gains accrue to all countries, as long as trade expands in a balanced fashion.
Trade agreements do not create jobs; they simply reallocate them across industries.
* TPP, ISDS & The End of Democracy:
The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership), TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) are currently being negotiated behind closed doors all over the world.
They all include ISDS a clause that allows a secret global court to arbitrate disputes between multinationals and the countries they operate in.
This court meets none of the accepted standards of a judiciary and has the power to force governments to change laws or pay huge sums in compensation to companies.
So we ask, is this the end of democracy?
see more in video.
* Tech Meetings On TPP Trade Bloc Ongoing In Hawaii, U.S:
Technical meetings focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations are currently underway in Maui, Hawaii, U.S.
Peru’s Foreign and Tourism ministry said talks between negotiating officials and working groups are based on the rules of origin and investment related affairs.
The meetings, from July 22 to 27, gather about 400 delegates from the 12 TPP-negotiating countries.
Among the delegations are those from Australia, Japan, United States, Singapore and Peru.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an initiative negotiated by 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, United States, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Thus, it is considered the most ambitious trade-agreement negotiation process existing among countries.
If consolidated, TPP would become the most important economic trade blocs in the world, even greater than the European Union (EU).