15:23:13 local time PHILIPPINES
20150725 * TUCP to Noy: Raise minimium salary of workers:
20150726 * DOJ hit for ‘insulating’ Roxas, Baldoz from liability over Kentex tragedy:
“Saved by the DOJ (Department of Justice)”– this is how various labor advocates reacted to what Anakpawis Partylist calls as “obviously politicized” recommendation of the Department of Justice on the Kentex fire tragedy.
They said the DOJ is trying to save Local Government Sec. Roxas and at the same time, offering a “gift to Aquino” in time for his State of the Nation Address, similar to the Ombudsman’s act of clearing him from any charges in relation to the bloodbath in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
After a second batch of Kentex fire survivors and family members trooped to the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday (July 22) to bolster their fellow survivors’ calls for a probe and filing of charges, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima issued her department’s recommendation which excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
These are the very departments the workers had been urging the Ombudsman to charge for “criminal neglect” and “reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and physical injury.”
20150725 * DOJ ruling on Kentex blaze ‘obviously politicized’–Hicap:
A Party-List lawmaker on Saturday criticized the “obviously politicized” recommendation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Kentex fire.
Party-list Rep. Fernando L. Hicap of Anakpawis said that DOJ recommendation has excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
“The DOJ is acquitting agencies under the Aquino administration, though, it is clear that if only they properly did their mandate, the deaths of many workers could be avoided,” Hicap said.
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20150725 * Solon hits DOJ for clearing DILG, BFP, DOLE over Kentex fire:
20150725 * DOJ recommendation on Kentex fire, politicized – Anakpawis:
The militant Anakpawis Party-list criticized the recommendation of the Department of Justice on the Kentex fire tragedy as “obviously politicized” as it excluded the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) from accountability.
During the congressional inquiry last May, labor law compliance officer from DOLE admitted issuance of Certificate of Compliance to Kentex Manufacturing on September 2014 amid obvious fire and safety hazard existed at its factory in Valenzuela. Anakpawis Representative Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap filed House Resolution No. 2099 to investigate the fire tragedy.
According to Justice For Kentex Victims, group of the victims’ families and Kilusang Mayo Uno, the BFP, which is under DILG did not issue a Fire Safety Inspection Certificate for 2014 and 2015 but did nothing to close down or stop the operation of the factory.
Anakpawis also slammed DOLE for allowing the subcontractor operations of CJC Manpower Agency which is neither registered at the Securities and Exchange Commission nor DOLE.
The labor department recorded only 46 workers while it actually operates on 200 workers.
20150725 * DOLE completes probe of Kentex fire:
Whether or not Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) officials are liable for a fire that gutted a slipper factory and resulted in the death of 73 persons will be known next week.
“Investigation is complete and all the evidence and information gathered are now under evaluation.
The committee tasked to conduct the investigation will submit their recommendation to me by next week,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said yesterday.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Valenzuela Mayor Rexlon Gatchalian and five other city officials to undergo preliminary investigation in connection with the Kentex incident.
The DOJ also asked the DOLE to look into the possible liability of certain labor officials for issuing a certificate of compliance to Kentex prior to the fire.
14:23:13 local time VIET NAM
20150727 * Secrecy around TPP trade deal fuels suspicions and worries:
Higher costs for needed generic drugs. Longer copyright protections than the global standard.
Foreign investors empowered to overrule governments.
A more tightly-regulated Internet.
Those are just some of the potential pitfalls from any deal that could emerge from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country free-trade and investment pact shrouded in secrecy as negotiations head into the final stage in Hawaii next week.
A handful of draft chapters of the TPP, leaked via Wikileaks, have highlighted the proposed treaty’s heavy emphasis on expanding protections for corporate rights and assets like intellectual property — patents, copyrights and databases — that are far more valuable to advanced economy corporations than traditional cargo trade.
20150726 * Vietnam leather industry faces tough challenges:
After a few difficult years brought about by the global economic recession, Vietnam’s leather and footwear industry has been a key factor underpinning the resilience of the nation’s economic growth and employment.
- Vietnam ranks third among footwear exporters
- Vietnam’s footwear tops Brazil market
- Garment, footwear exports surge high
Vietnam is now the fourth largest leather and footwear manufacturing country based on volume behind China, India and Brazil, shipping products to more than 800 customers in 50 countries, and the third largest in terms of value after China and Italy.
Manufacturers ship more products to the US, EU and Japanese markets, second only to China and in addition have gained a solid footprint in many other key markets around the globe.
14:23:13 local time CAMBODIA
20150726 * Anti-LANGO Protesters Detained, Released:
Authorities briefly detained six demonstrators yesterday afternoon as they protested against the recent passage of a controversial law regulating associations and non-governmental organisations, officials and a rights group said.
The five men and a woman were among dozens who rallied outside the National Assembly.
Critics of the controverisal legislation say it will hinder the ability of NGOs to operate effectively and freely in the country by creating restrictions on registration and monitoring of their activities.
Those who were detained had dressed themselves in prison uniforms and chained their feet together. Riot police were seen chasing other demonstrators away from the parliament building.
20150726 * Arrests made at Cambodia NGO law protest:
Cambodian authorities arrested six demonstrators Sunday as they protested against the recent passing of a controversial law regulating non-governmental organisations (NGOs), officials and a rights group said.
The six demonstrators – five men and a woman – were among dozens who rallied outside of the parliament building in the capital Phnom Penh.
Critics say the law will hinder the ability of NGOs to operate in the deeply impoverished nation.
Those who were detained had dressed themselves in prison uniforms and chained their feet together, an AFP photographer said.
Their arrests came as riot police chased other demonstrators away from the parliament building.
“The six people were arrested during a rally to express their opinion against the law,” Am Sam Ath, of local rights group Licadho, told AFP.
“They are being questioned” at a local police station, he added.
Long Dimanche, a spokesman for Phnom Penh City Hall, confirmed the arrests, saying police detained the group because “their activities are inappropriate and are not allowed by the law”.
It was not clear yet if the five men and one woman would face any charges, he added.
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20150726 * Six more arrested outside for protesting LANGO in Phnom Penh:
Five men and one woman from youth groups based in Preah Vihear and Phnom Penh were arrested this morning after gathering in front of the National Assembly to protest the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), which was approved by the Senate on Friday.
The six youths – Chum Hour and Chum Hout from Khmer Youth Empire group, Veoun Ratana, Moung Sony and Soun Veana from Khmer Student Intelligent League Association, and Meas Leakhena from the CNRP Chroy Chanvar women’s movement – were among about 45 people from three youth groups affiliated to NGOs Moha Norkor and Mother Nature protesting LANGO outside the National Assembly this morning, some wearing prisoners’ outfits in protest of the repressive law.
20150725 * Senate passes NGO law amid boycott:
Cambodia’s Senate yesterday approved the controversial draft law on associations and non-governmental organisations (LANGO), amid street protests and a boycott from opposition representatives in the upper house.
Following a two-hour session, all 44 Cambodia People’s Party senators present voted unanimously to endorse the draft law, which will next week head to the Constitutional Council before being presented to King Norodom Sihamoni for final approval.
As with the National Assembly vote last week, the opposition skipped the vote in protest, leaving just CPP senators to defend and praise the legislation, widely condemned as a tool to restrict and undermine the Kingdom’s civil society.
20150725 * CPP Senators Approve NGO Law as Hundreds Protest:
As hundreds of protesters rallied outside the Senate Friday morning, 44 ruling party senators voiced their support for the controversial NGO law before approving it unanimously and sending it on to the Constitutional Council.
Senate spokesman Mam Bun Neang said that eight senators offered their opinions in support of the law—roundly derided by NGOs and international donors—before approving it at the end of a 3-hour meeting. Eleven Sam Rainsy Party senators boycotted the session.
“We the senators reviewed each article and debated thoroughly before voting,” Mr. Bun Neang said, adding that the law would be sent to the Constitutional Council on Monday.
If approved by the council, King Norodom Sihamoni’s signature would be all that is needed for the law to come into effect.
“This law is very important because it helps make associations and NGOs become legal entities that will be protected by the law,” Mr. Bun Neang said.
Those gathered outside the Senate disagreed.
15:23:13 local time MALAYSIA
20150725 * Malaysian Industries To Have First-Mover Advantages In Asia Pacific With TPP:
While other countries continue to play catch-up, Malaysian industries will have first-mover advantages in key Asia-Pacific markets when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is up and running.
Executive Director for International Intellectual Property (IP) of Global Intellectual Property Centre (GIPC) Patrick Kilbride also said a robust IP system, made possible by the TPP, would deliver further benefits to Malaysia by attracting more IP-intensive industries to invest in the market.
“Malaysia’s IP-intensive industries will have a platform to enter partner markets accounting for 40 per cent of the global gross domestic product, and be guaranteed equal or better treatment,” he added.
He told Bernama in an e-mail interview that Malaysia’s strong IP environment had put the country ahead of its middle income peers, but there is work remaining to be done, particularly in patent space.
15:23:13 local time INDONESIA
20150725 * Indonesian import tariff increases applauded:
Indonesian business groups have cheered increases in import duties on a wide range of manufactured goods that became effective on Thursday, expressing hope of a boost to domestic industry amid the current economic slowdown.
20150724 * Indonesia, EU seek possibility of free trade agreement:
Indonesia and the European Union ( EU) are set to negotiate over a plan to engage in free trade between the two sides, according to Indonesian officials Friday.
“There is a plan of initial meeting between senior officials from industry ministry and trade ministry, and officials from the European Union in September,” Achmad Sigit Dwiwahjono, director general for security and international access development of the industry ministry said at his office.
Indonesia expects a free trade agreement between the two sides to facilitate opening and securing market access for the country’s certain export commodities in Europe, he said.
Europe is also a big market for Indonesia’s textile and its derivative products.
13:23:13 local time BANGLADESH
20150727 * Politicians, labour leaders press govt to address Swan Garments workers’ crisis:
Politicians and labour leaders on Sunday called on the government and the Swan Garments owners to take steps to reopen the factories and pay wage and festival allowance of the workers immediately.
Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah, convener of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, at a rally of the Swan workers in front of the National Press Club, called on the government to take steps to reopen the factory and three months’ wage and festival allowance of the workers immediately.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim, however, appreciated the belated initiatives of the government to resolve the crisis and called for paying the wage of the workers immediately.
Chaired by executive president of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre Sadequr Rahman Shamim, the rally was addressed, among others, by its general secretary Kazi Ruhul Amin, joint general secretary Joly Talukder and central leader Manzur Moin.
Leaders of Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a combine of 13-labour rights bodies, on the urged the state minister for labour Md Mujibur Rahman to address the problems of Swan Garment workers immediately.
20150726 * Govt urged to stand by Swan Garments workers:
Workers of Swan Garments continue their sit-in in front of National Press Club in Dhaka for the 14th consecutive day on Saturday, demanding payment of their arrears and reopening the factory. — Focsubangla photo
Labour, civil society and garment workers’ leaders on Saturday called on the government and Swan Garments owners to take steps to resolve the crisis of the workers.
They made the call at a sit-in in front of National Press Club in the capital in which the workers of Swan Garments are taking part for the 14th consecutive day demanding salaries of four months, festival allowance and reopening of the factory.
Bangladesh Trade Union Centre president Shahidullah Chowdhury said the government should favour movement of the workers but it seemed to be backing the owners, who illegally closed the factory without paying the workers.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud called on the government and the factory owners to take steps to resolve the crisis within 24 hours.
The government should have no right to remain in power if they could not resolve the crisis of the workers, Maksud said. Chaired by executive president of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre Sadequr Rahman Shamim, the rally was addressed, among others by, its general secretary Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin, joint general secretary Joly Talukder and central leader Manzur Moin.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati formed a one-hour human chain in front of Rana Plaza at Savar at 11:00am to mark the 27th month of the tragedy which killed more than 1,300 people.
Rana Plaza unit of Sramik Sanghati formed the human chin where the central leaders demanded adequate compensations for the families of the affected workers.
20150726 * Rights group asks govt to take lead on Swan Garments issue:
The Clean Clothes Campaign, a global rights group, called on the Bangladesh government and German retailer Aldi to immediately take steps to clear the dues of Swan Garments workers.
Following the sudden death of its Chinese owner, Ming Yuen Hon (Toby), in April, the Swan management shut down two units, which employs more than 1,300 workers.
The workers have not been paid since, with many resorting to demonstrating in front of the National Press Club over the last two weeks for payment.
After almost three decades of operating in Bangladesh, it appears Swan Garments has started facing difficulties in 2014, when many of its long-term buyers pulled their orders and the factories began to rely on subcontracting to maintain their business, according to the statement.
Swan Garments’ website lists a number of European brands as its long-term buyers such as Lidl, Next, Bestseller, Dunnes and Walmart.
20150725 * Swan workers treated ‘inhumanly’ by government, owners, says Abul Maksud:
Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud on Saturday said the workers of Swan Garments and Swan Jeans are being treated ‘inhumanly’ by the government and the owners.
He came up with the remarks while expressing solidarity with the workers of the two factories who have continued their sit-in programme in front of Jatiya Press Club for the 13th consecutive day on Saturday demanding the payment of all outstanding wages and bonuses, reopening of the two factories and withdrawal of false cases against the workers.
Addressing the rally on Saturday, Abul Maksud said, “I don’t have any word left to denounce the attitude of the owners towards the workers, who have helped the owners to amass mammoth wealth and luxury. Both the government and the owners are treating the workers inhumanly which is sheer injustice.”
20150725 * Govt urged to take steps to end Swan Garments crisis:
Leaders of Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad on Friday called on the government and the Swan Garments owners to resolve the crisis relating to payment of workers’ salaries in arrears immediately.
SKOP, a combine of 13 labour rights bodies, made the call at a rally in front of National Press Club extending their support to the workers of Swan Garments.
Around 1,300 workers of the garment factory did not get salaries of four months and festival allowance as the owners closed the factory unlawfully, they said.
Bangladesh Labour Federation president Shah Mohammad Abu Zafar, who chaired the rally, said the workers would continue their sit-in until the factory was reopened and wage and festival allowance were paid.
Anwar Hossain, president of Jaiyatabadi Sramik Dal, called on the government and the factory owners to take steps to resolve the crisis.
Executive president of Jatiya Sramik League Fazlul Haque Sarker said his organisation would remain with the movement of the workers.
Wajed-ul Islam Khan, general secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, called on the factory owners to take steps to reopen the factory and pay wage and festival allowance.
20150725 * Swan Garments workers again hold meeting in front of National Press Club:
Swan Garments workers again hold meeting in front of National Press Club on Friday as part of their ongoing demonstration programmes. — FE Photo.
20150726 * RMG units to get 2 more months for cost-free inspection:
The readymade garment factory owners are likely to get two more months for completing structural and fire and electrical safety inspection at their units free of cost under the initiative of International Labour Organisation.
Following a request from the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association the ILO has agreed to extend the time frame for completing cost-free factory inspection by two more months.
The ILO had set July 31 as the final deadline for the completion of the safety inspection and announced that after the deadline factory owners would have to bear the cost of safety assessment at their units.
20150724-25 * IFC, AFD to provide US$ 113mn for insolvent RMG factories:
Bangladesh’s readymade garment factories, which are insolvent but willing to maintain international standard, are likely to get a US$ 113-million fund as loan to improve their standard.
“This is basically for small and medium factories which can’t afford the cost [involved in reforms process],” BGMEA Vice President M Shahidullah Azim told UNB on Friday.
Azim, also Managing Director of Classic Fashion Concept Ltd, said around 40 percent of the RMG factories are of small and medium categories.
Responding to a question, the BGMEA leader said the fund will come through Agence Française de Développement (AFD), France’s national institution working for development and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
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20150727 * Export target set 7pc higher:
The government yesterday set the export target for the current fiscal year at $33.5 billion, the amount being 7.38 percent higher than the earnings last year.
Exports rose 3.35 percent year-on-year to $31.2 billion last fiscal year, but fell short of the target at $33.2 billion.
“We have set a realistic export target this year, taking into consideration the global financial scenario. I hope we can achieve the target,” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said at a programme at the office of the Export Promotion Bureau in Dhaka.
Ahmed said Bangladesh’s exports will grow further once the Garment Palli in Munshiganj, an economic zone for apparel manufacturers, comes into being within the next three years.
20150725 * TPP and fate of garments export to USA:
Bangladesh’s export of ready-made garments (RMG) to the United States grew remarkably between 2005 and 2011.
Since then, there has been little growth in export of either knit or woven garments. Total apparel export increased by 7.3 per cent between 2011 and 2014, which is slightly more than the increase in the US apparel import demand.
This obviously means that Bangladesh barely managed a very small increase of 0.1 per cent in its share of the US market.
Declining exports to Bangladesh’s single largest export destination indicates that a downtrend has started in garment exports.
The US passed ‘The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)’ on May 18, 2000.
The Act offers tangible incentives to African countries to continue their efforts to open up their economies and build free markets.
Bangladesh could also lose its competitiveness in export of garments to the US market to African countries which enjoy zero-duty benefit.
The export of clothing products originating in different African countries has been on the rise in the US. Garment exports from nine advanced African countries increased by 9.66 per cent year-on-year to $ 926.8 million in 2013, according to data from the US Department of Commerce.
At present, Bangladesh pays 15.62 per cent duty for its garment exports to the US whereas Vietnam pays 8.38 per cent. If the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is signed, Vietnam’s garment items will enjoy duty-free access to the US market.
20150725 * RMG worker’s body recovered in Savar:
Savar police recovered a hanging body of a female readymade garment worker from her rented house at Vagolpur of Savar, on the outskirts of the capital on Saturday.
The victim was identified as Ruma Akter, 20, daughter of Md Alom Miah, a resident of Kahalu in Bogra district.
She was one of the injured workers of Rana Plaza collapse and a worker of JK Group garments at Dokkhin Doriapur in Savar.
12:53:13 local time INDIA
20150726 * Trade unions seek support for nationwide strike:
All trade unions which met here on Saturday appealed to the working classes to take part in the nationwide general strike to be held on September 2, protesting the anti-labour and pro-corporate decisions of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre.
Telangana Pragathisheela Beedi Workers Union president V. Krishna later said that the Modi Government is steeped in the corrupt practices during its one-year rule and is openly supporting corporates and multi-national companies at the cost of the interests of working class and people in general.
As part of the wide campaign being done to drum up the support from all the sections of society, representatives from beedi unions affiliated to IFTU, TNTUC, AITUC and TRSKV met here and discussed the problems confronting workers threadbare, he said.
20150725 * Unions’ demand for wage hike may not be met:
Earlier in July, the Ministry revised the national floor-level daily wage from Rs. 137 to Rs. 160.
The Union government is unlikely to accept the demand of labour unions that the minimum national monthly wage rate for formal and informal sector jobs be raised to Rs. 15,000.
The Centre could peg this rate somewhere between Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 8,000 from the current Rs. 4,500, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya told The Hindu in an interview on Friday.
Earlier in July, the Ministry revised the national floor-level daily wage from Rs. 137 to Rs. 160.
“It may not be feasible to hike the floor level to Rs. 15,000 … We are examining it and will take the final decision on the rate under the Minimum Wages Act, in consultation with colleagues including Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley,” Mr. Dattatreya said.
An increase in the wage rate is among the 12 that the labour unions have put up before the Ministry during its consultations aimed at building a consensus on the labour reforms agenda of the government.
With talks remaining inconclusive on most of these demands, the unions have called a nation-wide strike for September 12.
20150726 * India’s Reforms Target Labor Anarchy, but Too Late for Some:
Last month, hundreds of workers went on the rampage at a factory belonging to garment exporter Orient Craft, torching vehicles and smashing windows in the gritty industrial fringes of Gurgaon, a Delhi satellite city.
Increasingly common in Indian workplaces, these violent outbursts could become a thing of the past under a bold round of labor reforms planned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Many businesses cheer the plans, which they say will help make India a manufacturing hub. Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, plans to set up 12 new factories in India and employ one million workers.
Yet Orient Craft, which has suffered three riots in three years, fears the changes will create as many problems as they solve by making the cotton wear it exports to global brands such as GAP and Marks & Spencer less competitive.
Like many other low-margin businesses in India, garment makers will gain from increased flexibility to hire, and fire, seasonal labor – reforms demanded by industry since India began to shift away from socialism in 1991.
20150725 * Garment exporters ask govt to expedite CEPA with Canada, Australia:
Say agreements will help exporters compete with Bangladesh, Vietnam
Exporters from Tirupur have urged the Centre to expedite the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Canada and Australia.
Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA’s) President A Sakthivel and other industry representatives today met Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and asked the government to address export-related
The sector exported ready-made garments worth $16.82 billion in 2014-15, of which garments worth $7.23 billion were exported to the European Union.
India’s main competition in the region is Bangladesh, which enjoys duty-free market in the region because of its least developed country status. It exported about $15 billion in 2014-15 to the EU market alone, more than double of Indian garment exports.
20150726 * 2 out of 91 closed tanneries get permission to operate:
National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given permission to two out of the 91 closed tanneries of the city to operate on Friday.
Fate of the remaining tanneries would be decided on August 10 after the NGT judges hear the matter again, said Asad Kamal and Javed Iqbal, members of All Over India Environmental Sustainibility committee for tanneries.
The NGT has given sanction to Mahfooz Akhtar and one other tannery of Jajmau to operate.
The advocate general representing state had raised the issue before NGT following which NGT had ordered to close down 98 tanneries of Kanpur in February 2015 for causing pollution by their effluents.
Later, the NGT had ordered to open seven tanneries on May 19 and 91 tanneries on May 26, 2015 on a trial basis.
12:53:13 local time SRI LANKA
20150726 * SL’s 9.5 mln workers must be consulted on social market economy concept, trade union says:
Sri Lanka’s nearly 9.5 million public and private sector workers need to be stakeholders in deciding policy to have social justice in a competitive market economy given the discussion by some political parties towards a social market economy, a trade union group said.
Anton Marcus, Co-Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU), in a letter to political parties contesting the August election, also urged that a National Labour Utility policy be established for service and production sector employment.
The letter says that political parties have completely forgotten the private sector employees that consist of nearly 800,000 people and their wage increases.
It has urged that whoever comes to power should ensure:
- A minimum wage of Rs. 15,000 for the private sector employees
- Parliament implements the proposed Rs. 2,500 salary increase in full as proposed in the Interim 2015 budget
- Real and current value of the cost of living index is gazetted as Rs. 280.
- Bills and Acts are passed in parliament to secure the right to organise and for collective bargaining.
- All court systems recognise the right to launch strikes, stop using court orders against strikes and reinstate all employees whose services have been terminated for participating in strikes.