“In Case You Missed It”: some articles.
Probable there will be many articles more than are posted here, during this period…
And it is still unknown when the regular bulletin returns.
18:01:21 local time CHINA
* Latest development of the Artigas Workers Strike:
All workers were forced to sign an agreement, but many of them were not happy with it.
Organizers from mainland are now able to organize about 60 workers and commissioned attorneys to submit a collective litigation, as the agreements are far lower than the minimum wage and legal compensation standards, while many of the workers were forced to sign under intimidation.
All agreements were confiscated by the management and copies were not given to the workers.
|The agreements stated that the workers resigned voluntarily and were entitled to “condolences payments” paid by Lever Garment. Workers with less than ten service years were entitled to RMB500 per year of compensation while workers with more than ten service years were entitled to RMB800 per year; which is far lower than the statutory an equivalent of one month salary per annum (average monthly salary is about RMB3500, minimum wage without overtime is RMB2080)
18:01:21 local time PHILIPPINES
20150806 * On the progress made by a bill upholding workplace safety:
We are glad that the House of Representatives Committee on Labor and Employment led by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles passed yesterday a substitute bill on Occupational Health and Safety based on a bill that was filed by Gabriela Women’s Party.
House Bill 4635 or the Workers SHIELD (Safety and Health Inspection Employers’ Liability) Bill filed by Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus sought to make the national government directly responsible for upholding workplace health and safety, to make the Labor Department carry out mandatory inspection of all workplaces, and to impose heavier penalties for capitalists who violate Occupational Health and Safety Standards.
The substitute bill’s passage is the result of the public’s outrage over the death of more than 72 workers in the Kentex fire tragedy, the worst factory fire in Philippine history, and over the increasing number of workplace deaths in the country.
It is also the result of continuing protests calling for justice over the Kentex factory fire and workplace deaths, for safer workplaces for Filipino workers, and the junking of contractualization.
20150806 * House panel approves measure that amends work safety laws:
A house of Representatives panel has approved a measure amending the country’s occupational safety law as a response to the recent slipper factory fire which left more than 70 workers dead.
The House committee on labor and employment approved on Wednesday a bill amending provisions of Executive Order 307 or the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards Law signed by former President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987, along with portions of the Labor Code.
“It is now required for each employer, contractor, and subcontractor, and any person who manages, controls or supervises the work being undertaken to provide their workers with a working area that is free from hazardous conditions cause or are likely to cause death, illness or physical harm,” the substitute bill reads.
With the proposed amendments, employers will be required to give complete job safety instructions and orientations to all workers, particularly to new hires, along with complete information on the hazards and health risks to which they will be exposed.
Personal protective equipment and machine guards must also be supplied by the factory owner.
In return, workers are also expected to use these protective gear daily, and cooperate with training and lectures given to familiarize themselves with their line of work and their surroundings.
17:01:21 local time VIET NAM
20150810 * Council fails to agree on wages:
An increase in the regional minimum wage in 2016 has not yet been finalised because of differences over the margin of increase of the wage.
At a meeting of the National Salary Council, held in Ha Noi last Wednesday, the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), which represented employees, and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), which represented employers, failed to reach any agreement.
The monthly minimum wage varies across the four regions based on the cost of living and location.
The VGCL proposed a 16 to 17 per cent hike or between VND350,000 to VND550,000 (US$16-$25), while the VCCI asked for about seven per cent rise or VND150,000 to VND220,000 ($6.8-$10).
Mai Duc Chinh, vice-chairman of VGCL, said the adjusted rate was being made to offset currency depreciation and would be based on current socio-economic conditions and the demand for meeting the basic living costs of workers and their families.
A minimum wage hike of 15 to 16% would meet 89% of minimum acceptable living costs, Chinh said.
20150806 * Vietnam’s labor union, employers disagree on wage increase plan for next year:
Vietnam’s labor union and business associations on Monday failed to reach a consensus over a minimum wage increase for 2016, with many employers complaining that the proposed bump is too high.
Vietnam General Confederation of Labor proposed a 16-18 percent increase to the current minimum wages of between VND2.15 and 3.1 million a month, but businesses only wanted a 6-7 percent increase.
Minimum wage is used by businesses to calculate salaries for their workers, by multiplying the basic amount by a coefficient assigned to each worker based on their skills and experience.
Beginners, for instance, are often given a multiplier of just above 2.3.
20150805 * Regional minimum wage increase remains undecided:
A meeting of the National Salary Council in Hanoi on August 5 failed to reach agreement on increasing the regional minimum wage in 2016 and the council is scheduled to meet again in the next two weeks.
The function gathered representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
MoLISA Deputy Minister and Chairman of the council Pham Minh Huan said pending the next meeting, relevant sides need to re-analyse factors and bases of suggested wage increases and their possible impacts.
Regionally-based monthly minimum wages vary in four different regions based on four separate benchmarks determined by living standards in each area.
The VCCI, representing employers, proposed a 7.2 percent rise or 250,000 VND (11.5 USD) while the representative of employees – the VGCL – asked for an augmentation of between 350,000 – 550,000 VND (16 – 25 USD).
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150805 * Vietnam begins inspection of garment sector for compliance with labor laws:
The Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has announced a major inspection of the garment industry to check for compliance of labor regulations.
The inspection, supported by the International Labor Organization, would be carried out in 12 cities and provinces by October, the ministry said at the launch of the campaign in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday.
It will focus on overtime work, salaries and allowances, safety equipment, emergency exits, electricity risks, work environment and plans and training for labor safety.
Tran Ngoc Son, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City’s Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said, “Earlier inspections found that most FDI enterprises follow relevant regulations while many others do not have safe working environment.
“Common violations include lack of periodic medical check-ups for workers and lack of emergency exits.” Phan Dang Tho, deputy chief inspector of the ministry, said companies in the sector should improve working conditions.
“There are some factories with more than 5,000 workers but only five toilets.”
Many companies skip medical check-ups though many workers’ health worsens over the years, he said.
“The inspection will focus on the compliance of relevant regulations so that the relationship between employers and workers could improve.”
20150811 * Foreign investors rush to garment, textile field:
Many foreign firms have sped up investment in garment and textile industry in Vietnam recently to take advantage of opportunities from free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and VN-EU Free Trade Agreement.
Japanese Consul General to HCMC Nakajima Satoshi said that many Japanese firms had made moves to invest in the garment and textile industry in Vietnam.
Sixty percent of 500 Japanese businesses under a recent survey affirmed that they were working the plan to invest in Vietnam.
Their most chosen areas comprise industrial zones in southern provinces of Long An, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Tay ninh.
The garment and textile field has also attracted businesses from South Korea, China, Hong Kong (China) and Taiwan (China).
The representative of Long Hau Industrial Zone (IZ) in Long An said that it had received over 20 oversea companies coming to learn about investment there since early this year.
Rach Bap and An Dien IZs in Binh Duong reported the number of foreign firms seeking investment opportunities top 100 since last year-end, it was only 20-30 from a year back.
Of the 100 companies, 25 have promoted investment procedures and 20 have registered to invest in these IZs.
The HCMC Enterprise Association said that many delegations of foreign firms had come to learn about Vietnam investment environment.
Many wanted to build garment and textile plants about 50 kilometers from the center of the city.
20150810 * Vietnam’s balancing act between the superpowers:
As the Asean Economic Community approaches, Vietnam is rebalancing its relationships with the superpowers
On July 7, Vietnam’s General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited the White House, the first such visit by a Communist Party chief from Vietnam. It followed a April visit by Trong to China where he met with President Xi Jinping.
In a sign of the rivalry between the two superpowers, immediately after the state visit to the US, a high-ranking delegation from China went to Vietnam led by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
Vietnam has also been cultivating relations with Russia and the European Union. It has pledged to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and finalised a landmark agreement on an FTA with the EU last week.
It is the first that the EU has concluded with a developing country and will remove more than 99 per cent of tariffs on goods traded between the two countries over a period of up to seven years.
Vietnam is one of four Asean countries negotiating to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the US-led trade agreement.
This is expected to attract more investment to Vietnam not only from the US but also other countries, including China, that wish to tap into the preferential trade terms.
Until recently, Chinese manufacturers in Vietnam were focused on the garment and textile industries, but already investment is diversifying due to rising costs in China and the perception of Vietnam as an alternative production base.
One of the most attractive destinations is the port city of Haiphong.
It not only has low labour costs and a convenient location, but is also close to Shenzhen, allowing it to benefit from China’s existing supply chains.
20150810 * EU trade agreement to cut tariffs:
After the Free Trade Agreement between EU and Vietnam (EVFTA) comes into effect, the EU will eliminate 85.6 percent of tariff lines which account for 70.3 percent of Vietnamese export value to the EU, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
It was announced in early August that after almost three years and 14 official rounds of talks and many mid-term negotiations between ministers, heads of delegations and technical groups, Vietnam and the EU have reached an agreement on all basic points of the EVFTA.
20150805-06 * Vietnamese firms to face challenges post EU FTA:
Following the conclusion of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement negotiations in July and expectations that it will be signed later this year, Liliana Lizarazo Rodriguez, a free trade agreement specialist at Belgian law firm A–Law International and the firm’s managing partner Patricia Leers discuss the challenges facing Vietnamese companies once this agreement takes effect.
The twelfth round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the EU and Vietnam was held in Hanoi in March 2015.
The main topics of the negotiations were tariff and non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, investment, government procurement, intellectual property rights (IPR), and related regulatory issues.
If Vietnam succeeds in implementing the FTA with the EU, it would be-together with Singapore-the most successful ASEAN country in concluding bilateral FTA agreements.
Currently, as the EU is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner (after China), and is also among the largest investors in Vietnam, the signing of the FTA will initiate huge changes in the country’s investment environment, bringing with it several challenges for Vietnamese firms.
In 2013, the European Trade Policy and Investment Support Project (EU-Mutrap) sought to identify the opportunities and challenges facing Vietnamese enterprises arising from the EU-Vietnam FTA.
The most prominent benefits to be expected are an increase in the trade of goods promoted by the reduction or elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, whereby key economic sectors as textiles, footwear, and the high-technology industries in Vietnam would benefit most.
The possibility of cheaper European inputs may also benefit Vietnamese production and the development of distribution chains and local brands.
However, Vietnamese companies should also be aware of the challenges related to the FTA.
These are related to higher requirements from the EU market in terms of transparency and competition, both for private and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The FTA is not necessarily seeking across-the-board privatisation, but rather the opening up of those economic sectors where SOEs are present.
Vietnamese enterprises may expect to see a large impact from this process, provided that the FTA, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement,
promotes reforms in public procurement.
read more. & read more.
20150806 * EU, VN agree on free-trade after three-year talks:
The European Union (EU) and Viet Nam yesterday reached an agreement in principle for a free-trade agreement (FTA) after nearly three years of intense negotiations.
The EU-Viet Nam FTA (EVFTA), once in place, is expected to open great opportunities for both sides as it is considered a comprehensive agreement of high quality and with balanced benefits.
20150805 * Vietnam, EU basically end negotiations on bilateral FTA:
Vietnam and the European Union (EU) have basically concluded negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement (EVFTA), announced Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang at a press conference in Hanoi on August 4.
Hoang said he and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom had a phone talks on August 4 during which they agreed on the basic conclusion of negotiations on the EVFTA, which is one of the agreements with the highest quality between the two sides and expected to greatly benefit their peoples and businesses.
The minister said in October 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to commence talks on the deal after completing technical works.
The two sides announced the official beginning of negotiations on June 26, 2012.
After almost three years with 14 official rounds of talks and many mid-term negotiations between ministers, heads of delegations and technical groups, Vietnam and the EU have reached agreement on all basic contents of the EVFTA, he noted.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150805 * EU and Vietnam reach agreement on free trade:
The European Union and Vietnam reached a free trade agreement on Tuesday, the EU’s second in Southeast Asia, paving the way for deep cuts in tariffs on almost all goods between their markets.
The agreement in principle may take several years to be implemented. A legal text should be completed later this year, after which it must be ratified by the 28 EU member states and the European Parliament.
Free trade with the EU would be a boon for Vietnam, a fast-growing, export-led economy set to receive preferential access to a bloc with a combined GDP of $18.46 trillion (£11.82 trillion).
The two already share $31 billion in annual trade, and Vietnam’s exports to the EU account for nearly four-fifths of their trade.
“We have a deal. This finely balanced agreement will boost trade with one of Asia’s most dynamic economies,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters in Brussels.
“The agreement with Vietnam sets a new standard on agreements with developing countries.”
20150805 * EU, Vietnam seal free trade deal:
The EU and Vietnam on Tuesday announced a free trade deal removing nearly all tariffs, with Brussels calling it a “milestone” on the way to a region-wide agreement with Southeast Asia.
The EU said the agreement in principle followed two and a half years of “intense” negotiations between the 28-nation European Union and Vietnam, whose two-way trade has grown to 28 billion euros (more than $30 billion) in the last 10 years.
“We have a deal. This finely balanced agreement will boost trade with one of Asia’s most dynamic economies,” EU Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem announced in Brussels following a phone call with her Vietnamese counterpart Vu Huy Hoang.
In Hanoi, Hoang said the deal would help “integrate Vietnam into the global economy,” allow Vietnamese firms to meet international standards and provide benefits for businesses and people on both sides.
Malmstroem told a press conference in Brussels that the two had agreed on “all the political issues”, but more legal work was needed to finalise the text and she hoped the deal could take effect in late 2017 or early 2018.
20150804 * Vietnam’s GDP likely to gain most from TPP, AEC:
Vietnam is the country likely to achieve the biggest gross domestic product (GDP) increase in percentage terms by joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and ASEAN Economic Community in almost all simulation scenarios, according to a study by the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research.
The study results, announced at a workshop in Hanoi on August 3, observe that when decomposing the GDP change, the increase in GDP, thanks to trade liberalisation, will come primarily from increases in consumption and investment.
20150804 * Vietnam ends two-sided TPP talks:
Vietnam completed bilateral negotiations with its partners joining negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in the framework of their recent meeting in Hawaii, the US, reported the Nhan Dan Newspaper.
The Vietnamese delegation led by Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang attended the event, which aimed to resolve remaining issues towards completing the negotiations.
In the spirit of mutual cooperation, Minister Hoang held bilateral working sessions with the US Trade Representative, the minister in charge of Japan’s TPP negotiations, the Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry and the Mexican Secretary of Economy, the paper cited the ministry’s statement issued on August 3.
20150804 * Vietnamese enterprises take proactive steps as TPP nears:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations remained deadlocked with the latest round in Hawaii failing to reach a final agreement as expected. The 12 member countries will continue to conduct bilateral negotiations to remove key barriers to market access.
At home Vietnamese enterprises have been proactively preparing for an upcoming major game shift without waiting until the deal is signed.
An opportunity not easy to seize
With high expectations for the TPP, Nguyen Hong Anh – personnel manager at Binh Duong Garment Company – hopes that the trade pact will bring many opportunities to his company in terms of tariff cuts, given the fact that exports to the United States account for more than 70% of its 2014 revenues of VND1.3 trillion (US$59.8 million).
20150804 * Shares drop after TPP talks falter:
The disappointing outcome of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Hawaii weakened local shares.
The failure to make meaningful progress negatively impacted export shares, especially seafood and textile companies, and reduced market confidence amongst many investors expecting a conclusion of the trade deal.
Shares that would have benefited from successful talks – Thanh Cong Textile Garment Investment Trading Joint Stock Company (TCM) or Hung Vuong Corporation (HVG) – hit their floor values on August 3.
20150803 * Vietnam completes TPP bilateral negotiations with US, Japan; finishes talks with all parties:
Vietnam has finished bilateral negotiations with two top economies, the U.S. and Japan, on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, according to the Vietnamese Multilateral Trade Policy Department.
Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang joined his counterparts from eleven other countries in negotiating the TPP in a ministerial meeting from June 28 to July 31 in Hawaii, in order to address remaining issues before concluding the TPP talks, the department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Monday.
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.
20150728 * Work accidents claim 600 lives each year in Vietnam:
Around 600 people are killed in work-related accidents every year around the country, but local authorities say they cannot do much to prevent these tragedies due to their limited resources, local media reported on Monday.
Ha Tat Thang, chief of the Department of Labor Safety, was quoted as telling a government conference the same day that with just about 100 inspectors, his agency could check labor safety standards at only 0.22 percent of all businesses.
When accidents happened, Thang said, his agency was in charge of fining violators and if applicable, requesting the police to step in. About 2 percent of labor accidents, or 12 cases, were put under criminal investigations a year, according to Thang.
17:01:21 local time CAMBODIA
20150804 * Workers due to end walk-out:
Some 300 garment workers were due to end their strike today following three days of protest and negotiations with GIN-SOVAN Fashion Cambodia Limited factory management.
The workers were protesting the dismissal of 23 colleagues as well as demanding improved working conditions at the Chinese-owned factory, located in Phnom Penh’s Thmey commune in Sen Sok district.
After negotiations yesterday, the company agreed to give the sacked workers $30 in severance.
“We agreed to take the money and quit since we will be unemployed anyway,” one of the fired workers said.
20150728 * Survey of Garment Workers’ Expenses to Come:
Hoping to help fill the void in reliable data that has stymied past negotiations on the minimum wage for the country’s garment workers, an international team of labor rights groups Monday hired a local research firm to find out exactly how much the workers are spending on living costs.
20150807 * 28 Garment Workers Faint:
28 garment workers from Zegna Daidong factory in Ang Snoul district fainted Friday morning.
According to National Social Security Fund (NSSF) officials, the fainting spell started after one woman fell ill and passed out. When the others saw her fall, many of them began to faint as well.
After the incident, NSSF officials went to the factory to check on the other workers and send the victims to a private clinic in the district. The factory closed for the day.
The factory said the women would be allowed to stay at the clinic until they recovered and they would still be able to keep their jobs. The NSSF will cover the cost of their treatment.
20150728 * Over 70 Faint at Kompong Speu Garment Factory:
More than 70 workers fainted over three days at a garment factory in Kompong Speu province aftercomplaining of difficulty breathing, a unionist and employee said Monday.
20150811 * Unions eye Bandith verdict:
As Chhouk Bandith yesterday began his 18-month jail term, union leaders praised the arrest of the former Bavet town governor who shot into a crowd of striking garment workers in 2012, though most saw in it no hint of a warming in relations between the government and independent unions.
After spending more than two years in hiding, Bandith turned himself in to authorities on Saturday, less than a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen had publicly called for his arrest.
The February 2012 incident, for which Bandith finally entered the doors of Svay Rieng Provincial Prison yesterday, left three female garment workers from a factory in Bavet’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone hospitalised with bullet wounds.
“It’s a good sign for the unions,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.
20150810 * Bandith’s behind bars:
More than three years after shooting three female garment workers involved in a demonstration, former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith finally arrived in Svay Rieng Provincial Prison on Saturday to serve out his long-delayed sentence.
Svay Rieng provincial deputy prosecutor Phan Rattana said Bandith was detained on Saturday after he was sent to the provincial court.
“We completely implemented the verdict,” he said.
Svay Rieng Provincial Prison director Suos Sakho confirmed the news, saying that the former governor is currently in a shared cell and not receiving any special treatment.
“He is a normal prisoner, so there are no special conditions or a special cell for him,” he said.
“This means he is being detained in a [5-metre-by-6-metre] cell housing 30 other prisoners.”
The detention came after Bandith – who was sentenced by the Court of Appeal in 2013 to 18 months in prison and fined 38 million riel (about $9,200) for shooting three female garment workers at a demonstration at the Kaoway Sports footware factory in February 2012 – turned himself in.
He managed to evade authorities for more than three years after the initial sentencing, effectively disappearing since June 25, 2013, when the Svay Rieng Provincial Court issued his arrest warrant.
20150809 * Bavet Governor Jailed After Four Years on the Run:
Chhouk Bandith, the former governor of Bavet town convicted of intentional violence related to the shooting of three garment workers, surrendered to police in Phnom Penh on Saturday, the capital’s police chief Choun Sovann told Khmer Times.
Chhouk Bandith shot and wounded the women in front of thousands of workers during a 2012 protest at a supplier factory for German sporting goods group Puma in Svay Rieng province.
Nuth Sakhorn, one of the three victims shot by Mr. Bandith, told Khmer Times that she has been waiting for his arrest for four years, and is glad the man is finally behind bars.
“I feel happy, because for four years Chhouk Bandith was living a normal life. It sounds like nothing happened to him. His arrest makes me think justice could prevail,” Ms. Sakhorn said.
The former governor was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the shooting and was asked to pay a fine of 38 million riel (about $9,200) to be divided among the three victims.
However, Ms. Sakhorn thinks the compensation is too little for the victims, considering the time and money they each spent on treatment after they were shot. Ek Socheata, who was viciously beaten by jailed tycoon Sok Bun, could receive up to $100,000 in compensation.
20150808 * Chhouk Bandith turns himself in:
Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who has never served a day in jail despite shooting three female garment workers at a protest more than three years ago, has turned himself in.
Phnom Penh police chief Choun Sovann said Bandith arrived at the police station on Saturday of his own accord and will now be transferred to Svay Rieng provincial court.
“He showed up this afternoon,” Sovann said. “We will take him to Svay Rieng court for legal action.”
Bandith’s arrest comes less than a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen called for his arrest during a public address.
“In the case of Chhouk Bandith, if police do not arrest him, they are wrong,” the premier said on Monday. “There is a red notice from Interpol. There must be arrests.”
Bandith disappeared shortly after the handing down of an 18-month jail sentence by the Court of Appeal in 2013 on the charge of “unintentional violence”, a sentence widely derided as “weak” by rights groups at the time.
read more. & read more.
20150808 * Fugitive Ex-governor Turns Himself In:
After 18 months on the run, the fugitive former governor of Bavet who was convicted of shooting three garment workers, surrendered to police in Phnom Penh today, the city’s police chief Chuon Sovann, told Khmer Times.
Chhouk Bandith turned himself in at the Ministry of Interior at about noon, Mr. Sovann explained, adding that the former governor had sent a letter to the police in advance notifying him that he would do so.
Mr. Bandith is being transferred to Svay Rieng provincial court today, the police chief said.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2013 after shooting into a crowd of protesters at the Kaoway Sports factory in February 2012.
Three garment workers were injured. The shooting, as well as the light sentence, sparked national outrage.
20150808 * Fugitive Cambodian governor caught:
A fugitive Cambodian governor wanted for the shooting of three garment workers was arrested on Saturday after more than two years on the run, after Prime Minister Hun Sen broke his silence and called for his arrest.
Chhouk Bandith shot and wounded the women in front of thousands of workers during a protest in 2012 at a factory in Svay Rieng province that supplies the German sporting goods group Puma.
His years of freedom — despite being convicted in absentia in 2013 and sentenced to 18 months in prison — has long angered Cambodians fed up with the antics of an often untouchable elite.
Chhouk Bandith, who previously served as governor of the town of Bavet, on the border with Vietnam, surrendered to police in the capital, Phnom Penh, city police chief General Chuon Sovann told Reuters.
“We have Chhouk Bandith and we are transferring him to Svay Rieng provincial court to further process the legal procedures,” Chuon Sovann said.
20150808 * Former Bavet city governor confessed:
Former Bavet city governor Chhouk Bandith confessed this noon at the Phnom Penh Municipal police’s headquarter, said National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith.
“The national police officers are sending him to Svay Rieng this afternoon”, he said.
Chhouk Bandith was sentenced in absentia in June 2013, by Svay Rieng provincial court to 18 months imprisonment for firing his gun into a crowd of 6,000 workers protest Bavet city’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone, Svay Rieng in February 2012, making three women injured.
His confession made after a public speech of Prime Miniter Hun Sen in Kandal on Monday calling on the authorities to arrest him.
20150804 * Premier finally speaks out on Chhouk Bandith:
Breaking his long silence on the case, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on police to bring to justice the former Bavet town governor and convicted gunman Chhouk Bandith.
“In the case of Chhouk Bandith, if police do not arrest him, they are wrong,” he said. “There is a red notice from Interpol. There must be arrests.”
Hun Sen’s comments came in response to the issuance of the Interpol red notice in March, and after Bandith’s three victims – garment workers whom he shot in front of hundreds of witnesses during an protest – petitioned parliament last week.
Sar Chantha, the former deputy police chief of Bavet town, was jailed in May in connection with the shooting at the Kaoway Sports factory in the Svay Rieng border town.
Bandith was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2013, but remains in hiding.
20150730 * Governor on Interpol List Three Years After Shooting:
An international arrest warrant has finally been issued for Chhouk Bundith, the former governor of Svay Rieng province’s Bavet City who went into hiding before being found guilty of shooting three garment workers three years ago, according to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith.
20150728 * Chhouk Bandith’s victims see hope in Sok Bun arrest:
Three factory workers shot more than three years ago by a town governor who remains at large have come to Phnom Penh to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to take action in their case, given the recent success of the premier’s call to arrest a property tycoon for beating up a TV star.
On February 20, 2012, during a protest at the Kaoway shoe factory in Svay Rieng province, then Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith shot into the crowd numerous times with a pistol, injuring the three female workers.
After a lengthy court process that almost saw him escape any significant charge, Bandith was sentenced to spend 18 months in prison and pay $9,500 in compensation in 2013, but he remains on the run.
The women, Bun Chenda, Nuth Sakhorn, and Keo Nea, gathered at the National Assembly yesterday to ask its president, Heng Samrin, to urge the government to bring Bandith to justice.
“The incident happened more than three years ago and the courts have ruled on it, but Chhouk Bandith has never been arrested, while the little compensation he offered was never delivered.
20150811 * Union Law Worries Garment Sector Investors From Hong Kong:
A visiting delegation from the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, which handles tens of billions of dollars in regional investment, says it raised concerns about the low threshold for forming unions in a pending new law during meetings with government officials Monday.
Chamber president Richard Vuylsteke said Cambodia was the fourth stop for the group of delegates—after visits to Bangladesh, Burma and Vietnam—to gauge the “state of play” in the markets and their “attractiveness for investment, and specifically for apparel and footwear.”
The 19 delegates represent some major brands, including Walmart, Target, Adidas and Ralph Lauren. They spent the day in meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, Cambodian Development Council Secretary-General Sok Chenda Sophea, U.S. Ambassador William Todd and others.
Mr. Vuylsteke said the delegates’ main concern during their discussions was with a controversial law the government is drafting to regulate the country’s trade unions.
Some unions and labor rights groups had complained that the proposed threshold for unionizing was set far too high in earlier drafts, at 20 percent of the employees at a given factory. In a major concession, the government recently slashed the proposed threshold to just 10 people.
“The concern is, if you’re going to run efficient factories…you can’t be worried about a dozen unions made up of a very small number of people wanting to negotiate or go on wildcat strikes at the drop of a hat,” Mr. Vuylsteke said.
“So there’s concern at this point where the union law’s going to go, if it’s going to lead to more stability or more to instability, and the jury is still out on that because it’s not done yet,” he added.
On this trip, the delegates did not meet with any members of the garment sector unions or the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents the country’s 500-plus exporting garment factories.
20150810 * More Investment if Garment Industry Gets its Act Together, Delegation says:
The garment committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is interested in increasing investment in Cambodia but first wants labor unrest curtailed, training increased and worker safety improved.
The 19-member committee yesterday conducted a fact-finding tour of several ministries, speaking with government officials and the private sector. This is the fourth regional country visited by Hong Kong AmCham on this mission, after Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
“We represent the decision-makers on essentially if there’s going to be investors doing the same-same, as they’re doing now, if [investment] is going to increase or drift away,” Richard Vuylsteke, president of AmCham HK, said.
20150806 * Businesses foresee challenge from EU-VN trade deal:
Industry insiders say that the looming Vietnam-EU free trade agreement, which gives Cambodia’s neighbour duty-free exports to the European market, may not have an immediate impact, but will potentially eat into similar advantages the Kingdom enjoys in the longer-term.
Yesterday’s in-principle agreement, which still needs to be passed by the EU Council and Parliament, will, over time, eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs for selected Vietnamese sectors, including in the garment and rice industries – mainstays of Cambodia’s economy.
Ken Loo, secretary-general at the Garment Manufacturer Association of Cambodia (GMAC), said the new free trade agreement (FTA) was sure to impact Cambodia’s garment sector, however, he said it would take time.
He said that this impact will not be in the short-term, given the experience of the Singapore-EU FTA, which after being agreed to in 2012 is yet to be ratified by the EU Parliament.
20150804 * EU-Vietnam Deal Spooks Cambodian Exporters:
Vietnam’s pending free trade agreement with the European Union has Cambodian exporters worried that they will seem less competitive to their most important market.
On Tuesday, after two and a half years of negotiating, the EU and Vietnam agreed to the deal in principle.
The agreement will eliminate tariffs and export duties between the two countries.
According to the European Commission, Vietnam has been the EU’s fourth most important trading partner in Asean since 2013.
Last year, Vietnam exported to the EU a whopping $24 billion in products.
“Vietnam’s exporters will now get much easier access to the EU for their products, giving an important boost to the Vietnamese economy,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said in a statement.
Cambodia also enjoys tariff-free exports to the EU under the “everything but arms” policy.
This policy helps boost trade from less developed countries.
If Vietnam gets similar benefits, EU importers will have more incentive to buy from there, Cambodian agriculture and manufacturing exporters say.
“It’s a concern for Cambodia, but we have to face the facts and absorb it,” said Mey Kalyan, the senior advisor to the Supreme National Economic Council.
Cambodia must increase production, lower infrastructure costs and move up the value chain, say analysts. At the same time, the country should diversify its export markets.
Mr. Kalyan said there is another reason to look past the EU.
A persistently weak euro will limit Europe’s imports from a dollarized economy like Cambodia.
20150804 * Competition is tough: GMAC:
A report released yesterday by the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia claims that the Kingdom is having difficulties competing against its neighbours due to low productivity, increasing wages and labour strife.
According to GMAC’s own statistics, the Cambodian garment sector’s productivity is only 60 per cent of China’s garments sector, compared to 80 per cent for Vietnam and Indonesia.
Bangladesh, at 50 per cent, scored lower.
“Low productivity and ever higher wages will be a real challenge to the industry here as overseas buyers are becoming more discerning about productivity and competitiveness when they choose where to source their products,” said GMAC’s secretary-general, Ken Loo, in a statement.
Loo added that low competitiveness in garments was in large part due to unions’ “impunity”.
“For competitiveness, the greatest threat is that trade unions are being allowed [to operate] with impunity,” he said, citing trade union resistance to changes on the shop floor, along with rival unions outbidding each other’s demands within a single factory.
However, William Conklin, country program director of the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, said the competitiveness of Cambodia’s garment industry was not under immediate threat, citing a recent report from the International Labour Organization.
“It seems that’s what you’d expect [GMAC] to say, they’re trying to keep wages down,” he said.
20150804 * GMAC Frets About Cambodian Productivity:
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) is warning that the Kingdom’s garment industry is “struggling” as a result of low productivity, labor unrest and rising wages.
“Low productivity and ever higher wages will be a real challenge to the industry here as overseas buyers are becoming more discerning about productivity and competitiveness when they choose where to source their products,” GMAC secretary general Ken Loo said in a statement Monday.
GMAC’s remarks come in the context of labor discussions about raising the minimum wage for garment workers from $128 to $177 per month. The industry has opposed the increase.
According to GMAC, Cambodia’s productivity is only 60 percent of China’s. Mr.Loo is worried that brands will abandon Cambodia in favor of Vietnam or Indonesia, which have 80 percent of China’s productivity.
20150729 * Cambodia sees sharp rise in the number of garment factories:
Cambodia has witnessed 21 percent rise in the number of garment and footwear factories, from 528 in late 2013 to 640 in March 2015, while exports are up by more than 10 percent in the past 16 months according to a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, which claims the rapidly growing state of the industry has confounded those who suggested that increased minimum wages for workers would lead to a decline of the sector and the exit of inward investors.
The buoyant state of the textile industry in Cambodia also offers a pointer for Myanmar where Korean investors are threatening to leave if new minimum wage legislation is implemented.
The minimum wage in Cambodia has more than doubled since 2012, when it stood at US$ 61.
The monthly minimum wage level of US$128 (effective as of 1 January 2015) is lower than the likes of China (US$297), the Philippines (US$269) and Thailand (US$237), but above Sri Lanka (US$66), Bangladesh (US$71) and Pakistan (US$99 to US$119).
20150805 * GMAC no fan of union law:
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia says it will push for revisions made on the draft trade union law last week to be changed.
During a meeting on July 28, the Ministry of Labour said it had revised a number of provisions in the law, which is expected to be passed later this year.
One of the most significant changes included lowering the minimum threshold for creating a union from 20 per cent of a factory’s workers to 10 people.
While welcomed by pro-government unions, the changes were seen as conceding too little by labour activists.
For the employers represented by GMAC, however, the changes went way too far.
“We are surprised at the reversal, and I think we’re extremely concerned,” GMAC general secretary Ken Loo said yesterday.
“Of course, we will continue to lobby the government, but we don’t know if there will be any impact of that, or what the final iteration [of the law] will look like.”
Loo said GMAC was especially concerned about the condition that lowered the threshold for creating unions.
20150807 * Labour body gets $700k cash boost:
The Arbitration Council, an independent labour dispute mediator, received a three-year, $700,000 grant from American development agency USAID at a ceremony yesterday that lauded the organisation’s role in managing industrial relations, but raised concerns about its long-term funding.
In Khemara, deputy director general at the Ministry of Labour’s general labour department, said the council had to date mediated some 2,275 cases and helped “balance social stability and workers’ right to strike”.
20150727 * How the ILO helps to promote labour standards in global supply chains:
Garment industry in Cambodia
Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector has continued to perform solidly in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015.
Exports continued to grow along with employment and workers’ average wages, a new ILO analysis finds.
Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector has continued to perform solidly, with exports growing by 10.6 per cent over 2014 and the first quarter of 2015.
The number of factories operating and the number of workers employed in the industry have also increased, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) new Bulletin on Cambodia’s garment and footwear sector .
The sector now employs some 600,000 workers, whose wages have risen
significantly over the past two years.
This figure pertains to the export sector only and does not include factories working as sub-contractors.
What’s more, the growth of the industry compares favourably against predictions that the new monthly minimum wage levels of US$100 (effective 1 February 2014) and US$128 (as of 1 January 2015) would lead to a contraction of export volumes with direct implications on employment levels.
* Betterfactories Media Updates:
- Media Updates, 11 August 2015, Unions eye Bandith verdict
- Media Updates, 10 August 2015, Fugitive Ex-Governor Turns Himself In to Police
- Media Updates, 07 August 2015, Labour body gets $700k cash boost
- Media Updates, 05 August 2015, GMAC no fan of union law
- Media Updates, 04 August 2015, Garment Factories Say Low Productivity Should Temper Raise
- Media Updates, 30 July 2015, Governor on Interpol List Three Years After Shooting
- Media Updates, 29 July 2015, Ministry Presses Ahead With Draft Union Law
- Media Updates, 28 July 2015, Women Shot by Governor Ask For the Same Treatment as Sasa
- Media Updates, 24-26 July 2015, Factory libraries push literacy
BetterFactories Media updates overview here.
20150811 * Parties Discuss Activists’ Convictions, NGO Law:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng and deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha met at the National Assembly on Monday to discuss the recent jailing of 14 CNRP activists over the “insurrection” at Freedom Park a week before last year’s July 22 political deal.
In a sudden decision last month, 11 CNRP activists were found guilty on insurrection charges over the July 15 protest to reopen Freedom Park that turned violent, and a further three have been arrested this month after an appeal from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
20150808 * Constitutional council to hear NGO argument:
The Counstutional Council will next week hear arguments from the government and opposition about the controversial NGO law before deciding on Wednesday whether to send the legislation to King Norodom Sihamoni for final approval.
Constitutional Council spokesman Prum Nhean Vicheth yesterday announced the government team will present on Tuesday and a Cambodia National Rescue Party on Wednesday morning before a decision in the afternoon.
The CNRP rejects the bill as an attempt to curtial civil society; the government argues it needs to regulate the sector to stop rogue operators.
20150807 * Ministry Slams NGOs for Criticism of Prime Minister:
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs released a statement Thursday expressing its “grave regret” at a joint NGO statement that criticized Prime Minister Hun Sen for a speech in which he referred to an unnamed female protester as a female animal.
20150801 * NGOs Ask King Not to Sign NGO Law:
A group of 26 local NGOs submitted a letter to King Norodom Sihamoni on Thursday calling on him to refuse to sign off on a controversial law regulating non-governmental groups in the country.
20150731 * Gov’t Defiant as NGO Law Moves to Council:
The government has remained steadfast in the face of domestic and international criticism as the controversial draft NGO law, already passed by the National Assembly and Senate, moved this week to the Constitutional Council, the final step before it is signed into law by King Norodom Sihamoni.
20150730 * ADHOC and LICADHO urge Cambodian Constitutional Council to reject unconstitutional LANGO:
As the Constitutional Council of Cambodia prepares to review the legality of the Law on Associations and NGOs (LANGO), ADHOC and LICADHO call on the Council to reject the law on the basis of numerous provisions that violate Cambodian citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms.
The law was passed both times by the attending ruling party’s majority inside the National Assembly and the Senate on July 13 and July 24 respectively.
The following Articles, although not exhaustive, are of particular concern.
Provisions regarding the definitions of NGOs and associations, provisions on the mandatory registration process, and powers of the Ministry of Interior (Articles 4, 5, 8, 9, and 11 of LANGO) would affect freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in Cambodia. Article 24 of LANGO, which provides for mandatory political neutrality, will have a significant impact on freedom of expression
All six Articles contravene the following provisions of the Cambodian Constitution:
20150730 * Opposition to submit complaint over LANGO:
The opposition is expected today to lodge a constitutional challenge to the controversial law on associations and non-governmental organisations (LANGO) in a last-ditch effort to stop the legislation before it’s signed by the King.
In a 15-page letter to Constitutional Council President Ek Sam Ol, signed by at least a dozen lawmakers and obtained yesterday, the Cambodia National Rescue Party argues that the LANGO, opposed by hundreds of NGOs, the UN, the EU and the United States, breaches several points of the Kingdom’s
20150729 * Gov’t revises trade union law:
Several of the more contentious points from Cambodia’s draft trade union law have been dropped, a pro-government union leader said yesterday, although at least one major union remains unsatisfied with the pending legislation.
Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng told reporters yesterday that the law was “90 per cent” complete and would be sent to the Council of Ministers next month.
“We will try our best to have an agreement from everyone on this law and make conflicts a small thing,” he said on the sidelines of the fourth and final meeting with stakeholders on the law, a meeting the Free Trade Union sat out, having declared it “useless”.
However, not all stakeholders were pleased with the negotiations.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union – one of several independent unions registering their displeasure yesterday – said that he still did not support the law.
“Frankly, I do not want this law to be passed,” Ath Thorn said.
“Although some points that we were concerned about were removed, it still has some that we do not like, such as trade unions having to report their finances to the ministry every year, and 25 per cent of members being able to dissolve their own union, and some others.”
20150728 * FTU boss to sit out meet:
The president of the Free Trade Union is slated to boycott this morning’s final meeting to discuss the trade union law, held at the Ministry of Labour.
FTU president Chea Mony said yesterday that it would be “useless” for him to participate, because “we all know the result in advance”.
“Most of the members of the Labour Advisory Committee at the Labour Ministry who are joining the discussion are pro-government and government officials, so it is useless for me join,” he said.
18:01:21 local time INDONESIA
20150810 * Thousands of workers holding rallies for anti-corruption, worker safety and social security reform at three locations today:
Thousands of workers from the Greater Jakarta area will hold rallies in three locations throughout the capital today, so plan your routes accordingly.
According to the president of the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI), Said Iqbal, the first rally is taking place at the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) in Kuningan from 10am to 1pm.
The demonstration will focus on making sure the committee that is currently in the process of choosing new leaders for the KPK will select officials who have the strength and integrity to actually fight corruption.
“Then the mass action will continue at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration from 1pm until 5pm,” Said told reporters through a press statement received by Tribunnews.
There, workers will demands that officials move forward to prosecute and imprison the heads of PT. Mandom Cibitung for the fire at their Bekasi factory that killed 25 people and left 32 in critical condition.
16:31:21 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150806 * IndustriALL in Myanmar:
For decades there were no functioning industrial relations in Myanmar, no trade unions and no collective bargaining.
As the country is opening up and welcoming international business, trade unions are working hard to achieve a living wage for members.
IndustriALL aims to strengthen affiliate actions to achieve a living wage in Myanmar, improve understanding of how unions can use the different wage-fixing mechanisms, explore how IndustriALL’s global living wage campaign can be used to improve wage outcomes in Myanmar, and further develop the affiliates’ campaign for implementation of the new minimum wage of US$3.2 per day.
On 22 – 24 July, IndustriALL held a workshop on living wage in Yangon, Myanmar.
A worker’s take-home pay is made up of various bonuses and allowances, making the minimum wage issue complicated.
At the workshop, the ILO discussed wage setting in Myanmar.
People have to work 60 hours a week to meet their needs and often take out loans to survive until the next paycheck.
The low salaries mean living conditions are poor, and workers jump from factory to factory looking for better pay.
16:01:21 local time BANGLADESH
20150807 * 1,550 Swan workers get wage arrears:
The government-formed committee disbursed on Thursday outstanding wages for the month of April, 2015 among nearly 1,550 workers and officials of two closed garment units of the Swan Group at the BGMEA headquarters in the city.
The disbursement came after the factory workers had staged demonstration for several days.
The committee started disbursing the outstanding wages on Thursday evening on payment of Tk 10 million (1.0 crore) by the Islami Bank Bangaldesh Limited (IBBL), Inspector General of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment Syed Ahmed, also the committee head, told the FE.
20150802 * Workers hold protest in front of Swan Garments:
Workers of Swan Garments on Saturday held a protest rally in front of their factory at Dakkhin Khan in the capital to press home their demands for reopening the factory and payment of their wages and festival allowance in arrears.
General secretary of Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre Kazi Mohammad Ruhul Amin at the rally said the workers would continue their programmes until their demands were met.
The demands include payment of four months’ wage and festival allowance, reopening of the factory, withdrawal of cases field against the workers and paying Tk 10,000 for each of the workers from Sramik Kalyan Fund. Ruhul Amin called on the government to ensure that the workers get all their dues
and the factory is reopened by August 6.
The workers will continue their programmes including rallies and processions in the industrial belts of the capital and its adjacent areas in August 1-5.
20150801 * Resolve crisis of Swan Garments: workers’ leaders:
Politicians and trade union leaders on Friday at a discussion meeting in the city called on the Awami League led government to take immediate steps to resolve crisis of the Swan Garments.
They expressed concern over delaying of the government’s step to resolve the crisis of the 1,300 workers of the factory which was closed by the owners four months ago.
The workers were holding continuous sit-in programme in front of the National Press Club. National Garment Workers Federation organised the discussion meeting at press club auditorium, to mark 31st founding anniversary of the organisation.
Workers Party of Bangladesh president Rashed Khan Menon, said that the garment workers were contributing huge in the economic development of the country.
Menon, also the civil aviation and tourism minister, expressed dissatisfaction for delaying steps to resolve the crisis of the Swan workers.
Bangladesh Trade Union Centre general secretary Wajed-ul Islam Khan, called on the government to take steps for establishing free trade union in the garment sector.
20150731 * Swan workers to get partial payment on Aug 6:
The agitating workers of Swan Garments Ltd might get their wages for one month on August 6 as Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited has agreed to provide Tk 1.39 crore as per the requirement of the government set committee to resolve the crisis.
‘The Bank on Monday primarily informed that it would provide an amount equivalent to one month of wages of the Swan Garments workers and the process will be completed by next Thursday,’ Syed Ahmed, inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, told New Age.
He said that the amount would be provided as part of Corporate Social Responsibility as it would not be possible for the bank to provide loan against the Swan Garments due to some legal complexities.
20150729 * SWAN WORKERS PROTEST : Govt committee yet to manage bank loan to pay off workers:
The fortune of agitating Swan Garments workers remained uncertain even after the 17th day of demonstration, demanding wages, as the committee set up by the government to resolve the crisis failed to arrange a loan from Islami Bank due to the absence of legitimate successors.
Meanwhile, politicians, labour leaders and civil society leaders on Tuesday at the sit-in rally of Swan workers in front of the National Press Club threatened tougher movement if resolution of the crisis was delayed.
The committee on Tuesday further asked the Islami Bank to provide Tk 1.39 crore
as loan, or as part of Corporate Social Responsibility, so that workers can get at least a month of their wages.
20150728 * Give date for paying wage of swan workers: RMG workers’ leaders:
Leaders of the Garment Workers’ Trade Union Centre on Monday demanded that date and place for payment of wage and festival allowances of the Swan workers should be announced at the meeting of the ministry of labour’s high power committee scheduled on Tuesday.
The 1,300 workers of the Swan Garments passed 16th day of their continuous sit-in programme in front of the National Press Club in the city. Sadequr Rahman Shamim, the executive president of the GWTUC, who chaired the sit-in programme said that the workers of Swan were deprived of three months wage and festival allowances as the owners closed the factories unlawfully.
He called on the government to take steps to announce the date and place of paying the wage of the workers from the high power committee’s meeting scheduled for second day on Tuesday.
20150807 * Woman killed in Savar wall collapse:
A woman was killed in wall collapse in Harindhara area in Savar upazila of Dhaka on Thursday.
The deceased identified as Piara Begum, 30, hailed from Sadarpur village in Chapainawabganj district. Police said Piara used to work as a cook at Metro Tannery in the area.
On Thursday, a portion of wall of the tannery collapsed on her as a pipe used for pilling fell on the wall while she was working in the kitchen room of the tannery, leaving Piara Begum dead on the spot.
Police recovered the body and sent it to a local hospital morgue for an autopsy, said assistant sub-inspector of tannery police camp Kamruzzaman.
However, none was arrested this connection, according to a news agency.
20150811 * BKMEA seeks festival allowance structure for RMG workers:
Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association on Monday urged the government to set a structure of festival allowances for the readymade garment workers before Eid-ul-Azha to avert untoward situation centering the issue.
The BKMEA president Salim Osman sent a letter to the labour ministry saying that a specific structure for festival allowances is important for the RMG sector as every year an unrest situation takes place in the sector before Eid.
There is no provision of festival allowances for the RMG workers in the labour act but factory owners provide a certain amount to the workers on humanitarian ground, the BKMEA said.
20150731 * PM for breastfeeding infants at workplaces:
If a mother can feed her infant at workplace her baby would be healthy and the mother will also be tension-free and more sincere to her work,” Sheikh Hasina says
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emphasised breastfeeding and homemade foods for infants at mothers’ workplaces.
Sheikh Hasina said: “There is no alternative to breastfeeding for the normal growth of children as it contains essential nutrients for the infants and helps increase resistance power.
For this reason the government ordered to introduce breastfeeding corners in government and non-government offices.”
The prime minister highlighted importance of breastfeeding in a message on the eve of the World Breastfeeding Week-2015 that begins on Saturday, BSS reports.
20150807 * Some labour leaders conspiring to ruin RMG sector: Menon:
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon accused on Friday a section of leaders of garment workers for hatching conspiracy to destroy the garment industry and said these leaders are always misguiding the garment workers, reports BSS.
“A vested group is involved in conspiracy to destroy the garment industry,” Menon said while speaking at a discussion organised by National Garment Workers Federation, marking the it’s 31st founding anniversary.
He said the contribution of the workers of the readymade garments to the country’s development is undeniable.
But when the workers take to the streets for realisation of their just rights, a section of conspirators try to divert the movement to other direction, he added.
Menon said when the owners of the garment factories ignore laws, no action is taken against them but when the workers do the same, stern actions are taken against them.
Terming such behaviour as inhuman and discriminatory, the minister said such activities are not acceptable.
20150806 * BNGWEL calls for keeping RMG factories closed Aug 15:
Leaders of Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employees League on Wednesday demanded that all garment factories be kept closed on August 15 in observance of National Mourning Day, mourning the assassination of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
At a press conference at Nirmal Sen Auditorium in the capital, Sirajul Islam Roni, president of the organisation, said though August 15 is a national holiday, most of the garment factories remain open on the day.
He called on the government, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association leaders to take steps to keep closed the garment factories on August 15.
‘This year Awami League and its front organisations took up a 40-day programme to mourn the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,’ Sirajul said.
20150806 * US for upgrading labour rights for further development of apparel trading:
Putting emphasis on better workplace and rights to associate for the workers, US ambassador in Dhaka, Marcia Bernicat said that her country ‘absolutely wants to continue’ trading partnership with Bangladesh and that it wants BGMEA reach its goal of exporting $50 billion by 2021.
She was speaking at an exposition of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Exposition at a Chittagong hotel this morning.
Ambassadors of different countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and European Union attended the event.
Local and foreign experts and government representatives of partner countries, international agencies, and private entrepreneurs, workers representatives, civil society representatives, brand buyers, academics and media personalities took part in the expo.
Bernicat said attaining $50 million was ambitious ‘but very possible goal.
But we also know that certain things must occur for it to happen.’ She said a lot of progress has been made over the past two years.
The Bangladesh Government has registered more than 250 new unions, created a public online database of inspected factories, and trained over 100 new labor inspectors.
The US envoy said the really hard work now remains to be done were in the area of labor rights.
20150729 * 10 RMG workers hurt as cops use batons:
Demanding reopening of their factory which closed indefinitely
Ten workers of Green Life Clothing Ltd, a garment factory at Zamgora in Ashulia, outside the capital, were injured as police baton-charged a group of workers who were demonstrating demanding reopening of the factory.
The factory was declared closed for an indefinite period as several workers on Sunday started demonstration as the authorities wanted to shift several units to its own building in Tongapara.
According to workers, the authorities are shifting the units to break their incumbent trade union.
Workers and witnesses claimed that some local influential people, who trade in jhut (garment by-products) with the factory authorities, were also in the police troop and beat them with sticks.
Both the factory management and police official could not be reached over the phone despite several attempts.
20150807 * Investment in RMG manpower training key to branding: seminar:
3-day apparel and safety expo begins in Ctg
Experts at a seminar on Thursday stressed the importance of investing in training of manpower in the readymade garment sector and diversifying products and markets for branding Bangladesh.
‘Invest in training, machinery and engineering to increase productivity and diversify markets and products to brand Bangladesh,’ Jenifer Bair, professor of Colorado University of US, suggested the Bangladeshi garment makers at the seminar on branding Bangladesh at the Radission Hotel in Chittagong.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the seminar on the first day of the three-day Bangladesh Apparel and Safety Expo. ‘Develop capacity to supply higher value apparel products,’ Jenifer said urging that mid-level management should be trained as per demand.
She also urged the government to create stable environment for equitable growth and to maintain momentum on labour reforms.
20150731 * Going green helps secure RMG factories:
More green factory initiatives are invaluable to enhance the competitiveness of Bangladeshi products
We welcome the extra support announced by the Bangladesh Bank to help textile factories access low cost funds to invest in environmentally friendly technologies and practices.
One fund supplied by the World Bank will provide $300m towards export-oriented industries while the central bank itself will supply $200m from foreign exchange reserves to add to its green banking finance scheme.
It is encouraging to see more attention being given to help garment factories invest for the future.
Competitive pressures on this vital sector are inexorably growing, and it is absolutely essential for our economy to give it a lift so it can grow exports at a faster rate.
As business leaders and the prime minister have pointed out, ultimately the industry needs higher prices from buyers to help sustain improvements in safety practices and working conditions and grow output.
20150808-09 * Govt to set up specialised bank for RMG sector:
Planning minister AHM Mostafa Kamal on Friday said the government would establish a specialised bank for the readymade garment sector to ensure low-cost financing and to encourage entrepreneurs to invest more in the sector.
‘I will try my best to have a designated bank that will serve the purposes of the garment sector.
Now we have some other specialised banks like Karmashangsthan Bank and Krishi Bank,’ Kamal said at a seminar on financing apparel growth at the Radisson Hotel in Chittagong.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the discussion on the sideline of the three-day Bangladesh Apparel and Safety Expo that began in the port city on Thursday.
The planning minister said achieving $50 billion export of garment products by the end of 2021 was possible but difficult.
On the role of the central bank in disbursing loans at lower interest rate to the entrepreneurs, the minister said the job of the central bank was not to make profit, but to make industry-friendly financing policy.
read more. & read more.
20150809 * RMG export earnings from US rises by 9.47pc in H1:
Readymade garment export earnings from the US market grew by 9.47 per cent to $2.68 billion in the first six months of this year compared with that of $2.45 billion in the same period of last year, according to the data released by the Office of Textiles and Apparels under the US commerce department on Friday.
Businesses said the export to the US market continued to rise since February as exporters gained the confidence of the buyers there, overcoming the negative impact of two major disasters in the Bangladesh garment sector.
Bangladesh’s total exports to the US market in the January-June period of 2015 increased by 9.70 per cent to $2.80 billion from $2.56 billion in the same period of 2014.
Exporters said the export growth in the US market in the first six month was encouraging but the growth was still lower than that of Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka, major competing countries.
20150730 * APPAREL EXPORTS: Yet another cut in incentive in the offing:
The finance ministry has decided to slash the cash incentive by little above nine per cent from export receipts to come from outbound shipment by large garment units.
The cut would save the exchequer more than Tk 200 crore in a single financial year, a senior finance official said, indicating more cost-cutting measures for the highest export earning sector.
The move follows a drastic 25 per cent reduction in the export subsidy on all types of export-oriented apparel makers the government re-fixed from July 1 and it came as a fresh blow to the already struggling industry.
As per the latest decision, taken last week and approved by finance minister AMA Muhith, cash incentive (export subsidy) for garment units enjoying all three types of incentives at an aggregate rate of 11 per cent, will now get only 10 per cent on their export earnings.
20150811 * US leaves out Bangladesh from GSP:
Bangladesh has been left out of the United States’ generalized system of preference (GSP).
The United States has renewed trade preferences for 122 nations around the world, but Bangladesh has been excluded from the list.
US President Barack Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act on June 29, authorising the generalised system of preferences (GSP) through 2017, according to a notice posted by the US Customs and Border Protection.
read more. & read more.
20150809 * BGMEA-EU MP MEETING : Govt, exporters urged to begin groundwork for GSP plus:
Member of the European Parliament Sajjad Karim on Saturday urged the Bangladesh government and the readymade garment exporters to start necessary groundwork for availing the GSP plus benefit in the EU market as the country would lose generalised system of preferences in the market once it achieves middle-income country status.
‘Bangladesh garment industry needs a move from GSP to GSP plus and it is essential that we start the groundwork now,’ the visiting European Parliament member told reporters after a meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at the BGMEA office in the city.
read more. & read more.
20150808 * GSP RESTORATION: Review meeting in Washington next month:
The issue of GSP restoration for Bangladesh in the US market is set to come under a thorough review by the US authorities at a meeting being planned for next month in Washington DC, commerce ministry sources said.
The ministry of commerce that coordinates the entire issues in relation to GSP restoration and implementation of the US GSP Action Plan is getting ready ahead of the crucial meeting to regain the lost trade facility.
‘We are getting ready for the review meeting… on our part we have implemented almost everything suggested in the US action plan for restoration of the GSP facility,’ Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, secretary, ministry of commerce, told New Age on Friday. But many observers believe that Bangladesh delegation is likely to be grilled for the failure to finalise labour rules based on the labour act 2013 and lack of sufficient freedom of association and labour rights for EPZ workers.
20150807 * Crackdown on violators in 20 dists soon:
Jute packaging law
The government will launch a crackdown shortly in 20 districts on violators of the mandatory jute packaging law.
State Minister for Textiles and Jute Mirza Azam said this on Thursday at a workshop at the city’s jute diversification promotion centre.
He also said with the implementation of the law, the local use of jute bags will increase 70 per cent compared to the present amount.
The minister, however, said even if the implementation rate is 50 per cent, the jute bags export will reduce significantly.
The officials of the Jute Department have to be serious about increasing the use of jute products, he added.
20150810 * Ctg apparel and safety expo receives $69m orders:
The three-day Bangladesh Apparel and Safety Expo in Chittagong that ended on Saturday received spot orders worth $69 million.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the expo in the port city for the first time with an aim to showcase the garment products to the international buyers and familiarise the entrepreneurs with the latest safety equipments and machinery.
20150806 * Aleem Jute Mills’ top officials suspended for paying wage to workers:
Project director of the state-owned Aleem Jute Mills of Khulna Anowarul Huq Talukder and deputy manager (accounts) Munshi Rafiqul Islam have been suspended while deputy manager (export) Ashraf Hossin has been served with a show cause notice on charge of making payment of wages, salaries and bonus to workers and employees on the occasion of Eid-ul-fitr reportedly without prior permission of the managing director Jaglul Mahmud.
They received the official orders directly from MD on Tuesday afternoon.
The action has been taken at a time when workers and employees of Aleem Jute mill have been on an intensified movement in protest against its privatisation move and in demand of their all arrears.
It is learnt from a source of the mill that the three officials have been charged with withdrawal of money from the bank with a motive for misappropriation of money in the name of workers’ payment of arrear wages, salaries and bonus.
They denied the allegations terming payment of arrears as most appropriate.
When contacted, managing director Jaglul Mahmud told New Age that they had withdrawn the money without his prior permission.
20150803 * Alim Jute Mills workers block road:
Workers and employees of state-owned Aleem Jute mills on Sunday launched a weeklong programme as part of their ongoing movement against the government move to privatise the mills.
The decision of the programme came at a meeting on Saturday evening under the banner of Aleem Jute Mills Privatisation Resistance Committee with its convenor Md Abdur Rashid in the chair.
The workers and employees on Sunday morning blocked the Khulna–Jessore Highway halting all Dhaka-bound buses and other buses bound for Khulna from different parts of the south-western region.
The movement will continue in protest against government’s move to privatise the jute mill, said convener of the resistance committee.
20150728 * Bangladesh public sector jute mills likely to go through bad time:
Jute has been a vital sector for the country’s economy and remains so even today with about 45 million people of the country depend directly or indirectly on jute farming, trading and employment in jute manufacturing.
Bad time for the country’s jute industry has staged a comeback after some years to haunt the nation said the Chairman of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC).
According to reports available, the government-owned BJMC has lost Tk 4.5 billion (Tk 450 crore) during FY2014-15. This is larger than the losses incurred by it in the two previous years (FY2012-13 and 2013-14) which totalled Tk 3.26 billion (Tk 326 crore).
Also the wages for BJMC’s 4000 employees and 67,000 factory workers have not been paid for the last two months.
Besides, wages and gratuities for its 5,700 retired employees and workers have also not been settled yet. This alone comes to Tk 3.5 billion (Tk 350 core).
20150807 * US to help BGMEA reach $50bexport by 2021: Bernicat:
US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Thursday said the United States absolutely wants to continue partnership in Bangladesh’s RMG sector transformation and help BGMEA reach its goal of exporting $50 billion by 2021.
“The US is here today because we absolutely want to continue this partnership and help BGMEA reach its goal of exporting $50 billion by 2021,” she said adding that this is an ambitious, but very possible goal.
The US diplomat was addressing an event titled ‘Bangladesh Apparel & Safety Expo, Chittagong 2015’ held at Radisson Blu Chittagong Bay View.
20150811 * Bangladesh, Vietnam to increase $1000 million trade:
Bangladesh and Vietnam will increase the volume of annual bilateral trade to $1000 million by 2016.
This decision was taken during a bilateral meeting between Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang at Presidential palace in Vietnam on Monday, reports BSS.
20150807 * Tk 13m stolen from CEPZ factory:
Burglars have stolen Tk 13 million in cash from a garment factory, owned by a Korean company, at the Chittagong Export Processing Zone today.
Officer-in-charge of CEPZ police station Abul Kalam said a case has been filed with the police in this connection. The authority of the HKD Ltd, a Korea-based garment industry, has lodged the complaint, he added.
Kalam said the burglars have stolen Tk 13 million (1.30 crore) from the vault of the factory by breaking open the grille of the factory on the 3rd floor of the building.
20150807 * Chittagong to get garment village:
The government will build a garment village in Chittagong, aiming to increase apparel exports to reach $50 billion by 2021, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday.
Speaking at the inauguration of the three-day Bangladesh Apparel and Safety Expo at Radisson Hotel in Chittagong, Ahmed said the garment village in Chittagong will be similar to the hub currently being built at Bausia in Munshiganj.
However, he did not mention when the garment hub in Chittagong will begin operations.
A Chinese firm is developing the Bausia garment village at a cost of $2.3 billion to house more than 200 factories from where Bangladesh is expecting to export goods worth $3 billion to $5 billion a year once the factories begin production.
read more. & read more.
20150802 * Tussle with KEPZ earns Bangladesh bad name:
Analysts say at discussion co-organised by MCCI and SANEM
Bangladesh has earned a bad name among investors abroad due to the tussle between the government and the Korean Export Processing Zone over the allocation of nearly 2,500 acres of land, analysts said yesterday.
The government plans to take back 2,000 acres of the 2,500 acres of land it allocated to the KEPZ in 1999 to establish factories.
“This gives Bangladesh a very bad name,” Mohammed Farashuddin, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said at a discussion, ‘A New Investment Regime for Bangladesh’.
15:31:21 local time INDIA
20150807 * Girls duped into ‘bonded labour’ in India’s textile mills:
From her two-room concrete home nestled among the lush coconut plantations of southern India, housewife Kavita has seen the region’s textile industry flourish for a decade, thanks to the labour of poor, lower caste women like herself.
Promising a better life, ‘agents’ have for years visited these poor, rural parts of Tamil Nadu and taken a steady stream of girls and women to work in thousands of cotton spinning mills, part of a textile and clothing industry that is one of India’s biggest employers and a major exporter.
The image of women from remote hamlets going to work, staying in hostels and earning money spinning cotton as part of a booming global garment supply chain, should be empowering in a country like India, an emerging power still plagued by poverty and male domination.
But former workers in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district describe a system of exploitation and bonded labour that has cast a dark shadow over India’s long-established textile industry.
‘I tell all the women I meet not to go and work in the mills. I know what the agents promise and what is real. It is not the same,’ said 23-year-old Kavita, dressed in a lime sari, a crimson flower in her long black plait, sitting on a woven mat in her village home.
‘For almost a year, I wasn’t allowed to leave the compound where the hostel and mill was. They made me work double shifts. I only got out because I lied and said my aunt had died and I had to attend the funeral. I never went back.’
Just 13 at the time, Kavita was one of thousands of girls and women employed under ‘marriage schemes’ offered by mills which mushroomed in Tamil Nadu when India’s economic liberalisation began in the early 1990s.
The schemes draw in cheap labour – mainly young women from poor, illiterate and low-caste or ‘Dalit’ communities such as the Arunthathiyar – and offer lump sum payments at the end of a three-year period.
They are promoted as an easy way to obtain the hefty dowries families need to marry off daughters.
Recruits are offered full board in hostels at the mills’ compounds, holidays twice a year, outings such as picnics and temple visits, and clean and safe working and living conditions.
20150731 * India’s forgotten cotton-picking children:
I always associated cotton picking with songs from the American deep-south.
It conjured up visions of poor people, mostly African Americans.
We associated cotton picking with southern slavery in America.
Never with India.
Inexplicably, given I have clear memories of detailed geography lessons about India’s agricultural patterns and cotton-growing states.
My lack of awareness on this particular issue is shameful to me because I’ve been an activist-writer for decades, covering adivasi rights since the 1980s.
So why did I read and write so little about India’s cotton-picking children? Perhaps because child labour is still so rampant in India and the cotton fields lie beyond the gaze of the media.
People working on dalit rights or women’s rights barely cope with their own huge workload; it’s difficult for the average NGO to do much on issues beyond their particular working area.
So many dreadful atrocities simply don’t make headlines.
I first became aware of the issue from reports by the India Committee of the Netherlands, an international group committed to working on dalit, children’s and labour issues and confronting corporates and policymakers.
Yesterday, I read an update on the status of child labour in relation to the cotton-picking industry.
The update states that ‘almost half a million – mostly dalit and adivasi – Indian children are working to produce cottonseed.
Around 200,000 of them are below 14 years.
This is one of the shocking results of the new study “Cotton’s Forgotten Children” by India’s long-term expert on the issue, Dr Davuluri Venkateswarlu.’
20150809 * Textile mills to meet and discuss on mitigating crisis faced by industry:
Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA), apex body of spinners in this region, has convened a meeting of its member mills here on August eight to discuss various problems faced by spinning sector and decide on future course of action to mitigate the crisis.
Considering the situation, the association has convened the meeting of the Managing Directors of the member mills to discuss the issues and arrive at a solution to tide over the crises, Sima Chairman T Rajkumar said.
According to Rajkumar, the cotton based textile industry has been largely facing several challenges in the recent period owing to higher tariff rates imposed on Indian textile products in all the major international markets when compared to the competing Nations.
15:31:21 local time SRI LANKA
20150809 * Fire at Garment factory in Ratmalana causes severe damages:
A large fire had erupted at the Tristar Apparels Factory along Maligawa Road in Ratmalana yesterday.
The Police Media Spokesperson’s Office stated that Fire Brigades had doused the fire with the support of residents.
20150801 * Sri Lanka’s first women’s trade union close to registration:
The Women’s Solidarity Union’s public march at this year’s May Day celebrations. Unlike men, the women have a tougher job in balancing the family, work and activism and compelled to bring their children to rallies as seen in this picture.
After a near 2-year struggle, Sri Lanka’s active female labour movement has succeeded in forming the country’s first women’s trade union with the Women’s Solidarity Union (WSU) close to be registered by the authorities.
“We have applied for registration of the WSU with the labour authorities and the process is being finalised,” said Padmini Weerasooriya – Executive Director Women’s Centre, Ekala, a FTZ pioneer in the rights of female workers, and President of the WSU.
Initially the group is being championed by women’s rights groups in the free trade zones (FTZs) and the tea plantations in Kandy to be expanded subsequently, most probably migrant workers.
20150731 * Sri Lankan affiliates intensify coordinated organizing in Free Trade Zones:
IndustriALL Global Union and its major trade union affiliates in Sri Lanka are planning coordinatad organizing drives in the tough environments of Free Trade Zones, where workers’ rights are systematically treated with less importance than profit.
The three major affiliates of IndustriALL in Sri Lanka: Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union (FTZ&GSEU), National Union of Metal & Migrant Workers of Sri Lanka (NUMMS) and United
Federation of Labour (UFL) have decided to coordinate to organize workers in the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) and Board of Investment (BOI) approved companies.
At the UNIFOR project planning meeting held in Colombo on 22-23 July, the senior leaders of these unions along with their activists and leaders got together to draw a roadmap to further organizing efforts.
This is the first time these affiliates decide to take up the task of organizing jointly in the FTZs.
This initiative will follow the three golden principles of IndustriALL 1) build cooperation among affiliates and non-competition in organizing efforts 2) enforce solidarity and unity structures for the democratic functioning of unions, 3) build sustainability and accountability through membership dues collection.
15:01:21 local time PAKISTAN
20150731 * Powerloom workers end strike after raise in wages:
The powerloom workers who were on a strike for a nine per cent increase in their wages, ended their protest on Thursday after their employers accepted their demand.
The workers staged a rally from grain market that was led by Awami Workers Party (AWP) district president Muhammad Zubair and powerloom workers’ union president Nadeem Ashraf Jogi.
The rally, after passing from Shorkot Road and Shahbaz Chowk, reached the district government complex where administration got locked the main gates stopping the protesters from entering its premises.
The protesting workers then staged a sit-in on Toba-Rajana road and blocked it for traffic.
On the direction of District Coordination Officer Amer Ijaz Akbar, District Labour Officer Saeed Ahmad Dhillon held talks with the workers.
Later a meeting was held at the DO labour’s office that was attended by workers’ leaders and powerloom owners association president Malik Rehmat Ali and secretary general Mian Zahid Iqbal.
During the meeting the owners agreed to increase workers wages by nine per cent.
Following the commitment, the workers ended the protest.
20150730 * Powerloom workers observe strike against non-payment of fixed wages:
A complete strike was observed by powerloom workers against non-payment of wages as fixed by the administration.
The powerloom workers took out a rally which was led by Awami Workers Party (AWP) district president Muhammad Zubair and Textile Powerlooms and Garments Workers Union president Muhammad Shabbir.
The protesters reached the district government complex after marching through Shorkot Road, Shahbaz Chowk and Rajana Road.
Addressing the protesters, the powerloom workers’ leaders demanded issuance of social security cards to the workers.
In the meantime, District Monitoring Officer Asif Ali Dogar reached the spot and held talks with their leaders.
e assured them that their demands would be considered by DCO Amir Sajjad Akbar.
Later, the powerloom workers ended their rally.
Meanwhile, the powerloom workers announced taking out a rally today if their demands were not accepted.
20150731 * Pakistani union NTUF condemns sacking of 24 textile workers:
IndustriALL Global Union affiliate in Pakistan, the NTUF is raising the case of an illegal sacking of 24 textile workers by FKN Textile near capital Karachi.
The workers were sacked so that management could replace them with new employees on lower pay.
FKN is an offshoot company of Rashid Textile, located at SITE, an industrial zone of Karachi.
It produces towels and yarn for export to the EU and other countries. For the company to recruit new workers on low paid wages, management blocked the 24 sacked workers from entering the factory to begin their shift on 18 July, just before the festival of Eid.
The sacked workers then contacted NTUF to take up their issue with the concerned authority and fight against the repressive behaviour of the company.
One of the sacked workers Muhammad Nadeem reports that the working conditions inside the factory are extremely poor and the 900 workers are vulnerable. Many of the employees are forced to work up to 20 hours a day.
20150810 * Fiji garment sector witnessing rapid growth:
Fiji garment industry is not the backbone of the manufacturing sector in terms of consistency, organisation and structure, but the industry is of particular significance and importance due to its rapid ascent in becoming the country’s number one key export It remains a critical industry for the economy and a source of employment for the poor, according to Fiji Export Council CEO Jone Cavubati.
He said that the industry employed a large number of people, the sector provided employment for more than 1000 people alone, the garment factories were expanding around the country including the recent $10million factory in Lautoka, which was great testament to the growth of the industry.
20150804 * Kenyan govt to revive textile industry with plan to boost cotton farmers:
Following the recent US government extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) for 10 years, under which Kenyan textiles trade in the American market.
The Kenyan government has taken the first steps to revive the textile industry with plans to give cotton farmers 750 tonnes of certified seed this year.
In the short term, the government, through the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority (Affa), will provide 50 tonnes of seed for free to cotton growers by end of August, with the condition that farmers commit to provide land for cotton farming expansion.
According to the Affa, the growing global demand for bio-degradable products, and the opportunities accompanying the extension of the AGOA, is key attributes signaling a new lease of life for the textile industry.
20150806 * Zimbabwe clothing and textile industry targets 100% growth by 2020:
Government last week announced several austerity measures meant to resuscitate the economy which include new levies and taxes on imported groceries, fertilizer and a ban on the importation of second-hand clothes.
Following Government’s directive to ban all second-hand clothes on the local market, Zimbabwe Clothing and textile manufacturers are eying 100% capacity utilization by 2020.
Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of the company by the Office of the President and Cabinet, Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association chairman Mr Jeremy Youmans said that clothing manufacturers welcome Government’s directive to ban second-hand clothing as this will provide a boon to their operations.
They welcome the stance taken by Government because the ban is going to create more opportunities for them as an industry.
They have now set a 100% capacity utilisation benchmark in the next five years.
Presently, the entire industry is operating at 45% capacity and obviously some companies face difficulties but they are always optimistic of reaching that milestone.
They are calling for flexible labour laws as well for them to achieve their goal, said Mr Youmans.
20150806 * Join thousands in the call for a living wage:
While the summer sale is in full swing in cities around the world, Clean Clothes Campaign raises attention on the ‘manufacturing defects’ of clothes with the launch of the Living Wage Defect website.
People can sign the petition for a living wage for garment workers and can symbolically send back a garment due to its living wage defect to fashion brands.
Join the call, and sign here: http://livingwagenow.eu/signature
In Asia as well as in Europe, garment workers in the global fashion industry struggle to make ends meet on their salaries. Mirjam van Heugten, Clean Clothes coordinator says: “With the current low national minimum wages, workers are stuck in a life of poverty, without a way to offer their children a better future. Brands have talked about a living wage for years, but we have not seen improvements for workers.”
Living Wage Defect
In the majority of the cases, garment workers only earn 20% to 30 % of a living wage. “If our clothes had 80% or 70% missing, we would send them back. We invite consumer to do the same thing at the Living Wage Defect website and to symbolically send back a garment due to its ‘living wage defect’”, says Mirjam van Heugten.
In the last two years, more than 110,000 European citizens have signed the petition for a living wage of garment workers.
The petition will be handed to the brands and political representatives at the Living Wage Now Forum in October 2015 in Brussels.
Today, the Clean Clothes Campaign is starting the countdown to this Forum with the launch of the Living Wage Defect website.
Mirjam van Heugten says: “We want to remind the brands that they are responsible for the implementation of a living wage for garment workers in their whole supply chain.”
20150805 * Pacific trade deal nearing completion despite delay: Kerry:
Asia-Pacific countries negotiating a vast free-trade pact are “nearing completion” of a landmark agreement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday, days after delegates failed to seal the deal in Hawaii.
Kerry said the 12 countries including the US and Japan negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had made good progress on reaching an accord following talks that ended on Friday in Maui, but “as with any complex negotiation…there remains details to be hashed out”.
“My friends, this is a moment of exceptional opportunity for the Asia-Pacific. We are nearing completion of a historic Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on trade,” Kerry said in a lecture at the Singapore Management University.
The pact would raise labour and environmental standards, protect intellectual property, deter corruption and also ensure free digital trade and fair competition between state-owned enterprises and private firms, he said.
“Because major economies are committing to TPP’s high standards, its influence will be felt throughout the region. It will send a message to people within the TPP and outside of support for good governance, transparency and accountability,” Kerry said.
Observers have said the delay in securing the deal in Maui last week complicates President Barack Obama’s plans to secure the accord this year, and there is a risk of it becoming dragged into the 2016 presidential election debate.
The deal, eight years in the making and vaunted as part of Obama’s “rebalance” towards Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China, faces opposition from his fellow Democrats who see it as too far-reaching.
20150802 * Pacific trade talks fail to end in TPP deal:
Delegates negotiating a vast Pacific free-trade agreement failed to reach a final deal Friday after several days of intense talks in Hawaii, in a setback to US President Barack Obama.
But US Trade Representative Micael Froman, in a statement on behalf of the 12 countries involved, insisted that “significant progress” had been made on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the most ambitious trade deal in decades.
“After more than a week of productive meetings we’ve made significant progress and will continue on resolving a limited number of remaining issues, paving the way for the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations,” Froman told a press conference.
The negotiators were “more confident than ever that the TPP is within reach,” he said, adding that the Pacific Rim countries involved would continue to have bilateral discussions to try and iron out their remaining differences.
The TPP — already eight years in the making — would be a huge free-trade bloc encompassing 40 percent of the world’s economy and part of Obama’s much-vaunted “pivot” towards Asia in the face of an increasingly assertive China.
China, notably, is not included.
The press conference was delayed by several hours as the countries — including the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Canada — attempted to thrash out a deal in what had been billed as the home straight, in talks that reportedly went deep into the night.
The failure by trade ministers to get the accord over the line on Friday are a blow to Obama — who has faced opposition to the deal from fellow Democrats — as it could see the TPP become campaign fodder with the United States facing elections in November 2016.
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20150730 * TPP world’s biggest trade deal will have both winners and losers:
Trade representatives kicked off talks on Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Hawaii on Tuesday, with a July 31 deadline looming on the trade agreement that covers 12 countries and 40 percent of the global economy.
The deal has been five years in the making but contrary to previous talks, optimism is high for an agreement this time around.
Tami Overby, senior vice-president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), told CNBC on Tuesday that sentiment is very positive. As he has spoken to negotiators from the U.S. and four other countries and people are excited, they really see the end in sight.
The biggest winner of this TPP will be Vietnam as foreign investors start to flood the country.
Number two might be Malaysia and number three is Japan, said Deborah Elms, executive director at Asia Trade Centre.
The Peterson Institute of International Economics (PIIE) echoed Elms in a recent report, citing tariff-free access to U.S. markets for apparel and footwear, Vietnam’s top exports, compared to the current 17-32 percent tax range.
That’s expected to boost exports to the U.S—already Vietnam’s largest export market—and dramatically increase foreign direct investment inflows in a country with the lowest per capita income among TPP members.
PIIE also notes that Vietnam would see the largest percentage income gains and export increases out of all countries at 13.6 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively.
Malaysia does not yet have bilateral free-trade agreements (FTAs) in place with the U.S., Canada or Mexico, so it should be another key beneficiary of a TPP agreement.
The trade diversion effect of the TPP fall mainly on China, PIEE said, adding that exports would be 1.2 percent lower in the case of a deal compared to without.
As Vietnam benefits from increased market access to the U.S., other Asian exporters of textiles and clothing may hurt. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are also expected to suffer negative impact effects from trade and investment diversion in the textiles and clothing industry towards TPP members, notably Vietnam, Biswas added.
India is also expected to suffer as Vietnam gains. While New Delhi has a relatively well-diversified export sector, textiles and clothing industry still accounted for 13 percent of total merchandise exports in the 2014-15 financial year.