* “In Case You Missed It”: some articles:
Probably there will be many articles more than are posted here, during this period…
And it is still unknown if and when a more regular bulletin returns.
22:08:17 local time CHINA
20150819 * Investors to set up factories elsewhere with decline in China’s competitiveness:
China’s rapid decline in competitiveness as a manufacturing centre is being displayed both in market analysis and in the number of domestic and foreign investors who are looking elsewhere to establish their factories.
China has swung from being the land of opportunity to the economic sick man of Asia.
According to a new report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the wages adjusted for productivity have tripled in China in the last decade.
Mexico is now a cheaper manufacturing centre than both China and Brazil.
Brazil is now a far more expensive manufacturing centre than the U.S., Canada or Britain.
Factories in China are now only slightly more economical than those in the U.S., according to the BCG’s calculations, based on half a dozen factors in manufacturing costs.
China sits at 96 on the BCG’s index, Canada at 115, the U.S. at 100, Mexico at 91 and Brazil at a whopping 123.
Australia has the dubious distinction of being the world’s most expensive manufacturing centre, coming in at 130 on the BCG index.
23:08:17 local time NORTH KOREA
20150818 * Minimum wage for Gaeseong workers to rise 5% :
The two Koreas have agreed to raise the minimum wage by five percent for North Korean workers at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC), the government said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Unification said Seoul’s Gaesong Industrial District Management Committee and its Pyongyang counterpart struck a deal on Monday to increase the minimum monthly salary for the GIC workers to $73.87, up from $70.35.
The unification ministry oversees the work of the committee, a civic body led by government officials.
The deal will be effective immediately.
The workers at the inter-Korean industrial park in Gaeseong, North Korea will receive their July wage, which will be paid this month, accordingly.
Some 53,000 North Koreans are employed by 124 small- and medium-sized South Korean enterprises at the GIC.
22:08:17 local time PHILIPPINES
20150813 * 3rd month of Kentex fire marked with DOLE protest:
Marking the third month of the Kentex factory fire, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, picketed the Labor Department in Intramuros, Manila this morning.
The group said Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz and other top officials of the agency should resign and be held responsible for the death of more than 72 workers in the fire because they certified the slipper factory’s “compliance” with occupational health and safety standards and labor standards on September 2014.
KMU also condemned the Justice Department which, last July, recommended the filing of charges against the capitalists of Kentex and the local government of Valenzuela City but did not recommend the filing of charges against Baldoz and top officials of the Department of Labor and Employment.
“Three months after the Kentex factory fire, the building blocks of injustice have already been laid.
The Aquino government is doing everything to insulate from blame the government agency most responsible for the death of more than 72 workers,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
21:08:17 local time VIET NAM
20150826-27 * Vietnamese workers upset by modest wage increase proposal:
Many Vietnamese workers are upset by the meagre 10 per cent suggested pay increase proposed by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry for next year’s national minimum wage.
Representatives from labour and business groups failed to reach agreement on the minimum wage increase at a second meeting yesterday.
The Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) proposed a 16.8 per cent (VND350,000-550,000) increase while the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said only 10 per cent boost would be suitable.
“We can’t raise the regional minimum wage by 16.8 per cent.” said Hoang Quang Phong, vice chairman of the VCCI. “Because it would mean employers would face financial burdens.”
20150826 * Consensus not reached on Vietnam’s regional minimum wages for 2016:
A meeting intended to determine what the regional minimum wages for Vietnamese laborers should be in 2016 ended with no agreement reached on Tuesday.
The four-hour discussion in Hanoi was held by the National Wage Council and which was attended by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL).
The VCCI represented local employers, whereas the VGCL joined the discussion on the behalf of employees, and the two failed to reach a common voice on how much the regional minimum wages should be raised next year.
20150826 * Minimum wage may rise 12%:
A 12 per cent increase in next year’s national minimum wage would be “reasonable,” a high-ranking congressman said yesterday, August 25.
Bui Sy Loi, deputy head of the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, said a 12 per cent salary increase would ensure fairness to employers and employees.
Representatives from labour and business groups failed to reach an agreement on the minimum wage increase at a second meeting on the matter yesterday.
The Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) proposed a 16 to 17 per cent increase while the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) said a 10 per cent boost would be suitable.
The minimum wage debate comes amid concerns that the recent depreciation of the dong will put in jeopardy this year’s government’s inflation target of 5 per cent. The government raised the minimum wage 15 percent on January 1 after inflation slowed to 4.1 per cent last year.
“We can’t raise the regional minimum wage by 16 per cent.” said Hoang Quang Phong, vice chairman of the VCCI. “Because it would make employers face financial burdens.”
20150825 * Employers ask for sympathy as labor unions demand 16 percent wage increase:
The second meeting to discuss a minimum wage increase for next year failed to reach a consensus as business associations refused to back down, arguing that the bump demanded by labor unions is too high.
The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, which represents all labor unions across the country, said on Tuesday that their workers deserve a 16.8 percent wage increase.
Meanwhile the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), which speaks for thousands of employers, only agreed to a 10 percent raise.
The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, which is employing nearly three million workers, lobbied for a mere 6.7 percent bump.
Both sides kept presenting the same arguments this time.
20150825 * Minimum pay increase for 2016 yet to be fixed:
The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) fell short of fixing the minimum wage increase for 2016 during a meeting in Hanoi on August 25.
The VGCL, representing employees, proposed a 16.8 percent pay hike while the VCCI – representative of employers, recommended a mere 10 percent, according to Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Minh Huan when briefing about the outcomes of the second meeting of the Vietnam National Wage Council.
If the third meeting, slated for September 3, fails to reach a consensus, the Council will decide the final solution to submit to the Prime Minister for approval, Huan said.
read more. & read more. & to read.
20150815 * 92% of Vietnamese workers struggle with current wages: survey:
The umbrella labor association is continuing to campaign for a wage increase by releasing a survey that shows most workers in the country are struggling to live off their income.
The Vietnam General Confederation of Labor said Thursday its survey found 92 percent of workers are finding it hard or are unable to cover all their necessities on current wages.
It did the survey in April-May at 60 businesses in both rural and urban areas and in sectors like garment and textile, construction, transport, electronics and agricultural processing.
It found workers earn VND3.23-4.37 million ($146-198) a month while the average monthly expense for a person with at least a child is VND4.25 million ($192), up 3.6 percent from last year.
Around 20 percent of the workers said the money was not enough for them to live on, 31.3 percent said they had to be very thrifty while 40.7 percent said it was just enough. Only around 8 percent said they could save a little.
The 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.
20150814 * Workers unhappy with jobs, wages:
Labourers work at a garment company in Chuong My Industrial Zone in Ha Noi’s Chuong My District. About 34 per cent of labourers are dissatisfied with their jobs or pay, a survey showed. — VNA/VNS Photo Tran Viet
About 34 per cent of labourers surveyed recently said they were not satisfied with their jobs or pay, a workshop on the subject was heard yesterday.
However, most complainants said they would stay with their present employer because there was no where else to go, according to a survey by the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour.
The head of the Institute of Workers and Trade Union’s scientific research division, Dang Quang Hop, said 1,600 workers in 60 enterprises were contacted. They operate in the clothing, textiles, footwear, construction, transport, mechanic, electronics and agro-forestry-seafood industries in 10 cities and provinces across the country.
“The survey, carried out in April and May, revealed that labourers were mostly concerned about stable jobs and adequate wages,” said Hop.
The survey indicated that workers received an average monthly wage of VND3.8 million (US$176). There are four wage zones. The average monthly wage of workers in zone one is VND4.37 million ($200), in zone two it is VND3.86 million ($177), in zone three, VND3.8 million ($176) and in zone four, VND3.2 million ($145).
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150813 * Garment, footwear look to develop trade unions:
A three-day workshop opened in Ho Chi Minh City on August 13, highlighting the building of trade unions in garment and footwear sectors.
Participating experts focuses on reviewing the union’s structure, strategies to boost membership and the outlook for the two sectors, among other focal points.
According to Tran Van Ly, Vice President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), there are 5,000 garment-textile and 800 leather and footwear companies nationwide, employing about 3.5 million labourers.
Vietnam’s recent signing of several trade agreements regionally and globally is expected to help the two sectors thrive and expand their workforce.
As such, it is necessary for trade unions to effectively protect workers’ rights and benefits, Ly noted.
Erwin Schweisshelm, a representative from the German non-profit organisation FES in Hanoi, said improved organisation can help trade unions increase their power and boost the quality of collective agreements.
Monika Kemperle, Assistant General Secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union, stated that enhancing union operations supports the sectors’ stable growth and fosters a positive image of the VGCL.
to read. & to read.
20150826-27 * Thai garment, footwear producers eye bigger shares in Vietnam:
About 40 Thai companies operating in the garment-textile, shoe-leather and accessories sectors on Thursday met with potential Vietnamese partners in Ho Chi Minh City during a trade promotion activity aiming to increase the market share of Thai goods in Vietnam.
The Thai enterprises which joined the event, the Vietnam-Thailand Business Meeting and Matching, include manufacturers of fabrics, men’s and women’s clothes, textile materials, suitcases, bags andhandbags which want to find suitable local distributers or trade partners.
read more. & read more.
20150826 * Export surge lifts Vietnam’s trade surplus with EU:
Vietnam’s trade surplus with European Union (EU) countries expanded by a whopping 30% year-on-year in the six months leading up to July, according to trade figures released by Vietnam Customs.
- Vietnam hopes for EP’s continued support to FTA with EU
- Businesses optimise FTA opportunities
- Seminar discusses ways to optimise Vietnam-EAEU FTA
Vietnam’s exports to EU member nations tallied in at US$16.53 billion with imports registering US$5.30 billion resulting in a record high trade surplus for the six months January-July of US$11.23 billion.
“These are particularly good trade figures,” said Deputy Head Ha Duy Tung of the International Cooperation Department (ICD) under the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
20150826 * Vietnam hopes for EP’s continued support to FTA with EU:
National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung had a meeting with Chairman of the European Parliament (EP)’s International Trade Committee Bernd Lange in Hanoi on August 25, asking for the agency’s continued support to the signing of the Vietnam-EU free trade agreement.
He highly valued effective contributions that Lange has made to the growth of the relationship between the EP and Vietnam’s legislative body, as well as the progress of the Vietnam-EU FTA negotiations that have been officially concluded.
He also expressed his hope that Lange and the EP will continue their assistance for the early signing of the deal.
20150825 * Vietnam & EU to cut tariff lines:
Once the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) takes effect Vietnam has committed to eliminating about 48.5 per cent of tariff lines, equal to 64.5 per cent of imports from the EU, and after ten years about 99 per cent of tariff lines will be eliminated, equal to 99.8 per cent of EU imports.
The information was announced by the Head of International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Vu Nhu Thang, at a press conference on import and export tariff commitments and financial services in Vietnam and the EU after the two sides finished basic negotiations over the EVFTA.
In exports, the EU will abolish import duties on approximately 85.6 per cent of tariff lines, equal to 70.3 per cent of exports by Vietnam to the EU. After seven years it will abolish import duties on 99.2 per cent of all tariff lines, or 99.7 per cent of exports from Vietnam.
Many important export items of Vietnam are to see tariffs eliminated. For example, the EU will completely eliminate import duties on textiles, footwear and seafood, except for canned tuna and fish balls, within seven years.
20150825 * Vietnam-EU FTA to boost Vietnam-France trade ties:
Trade between Vietnam and France will benefit from the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (VEFTA) thanks to market opening and cuts in almost all taxes, said Nguyen Canh Cuong, Trade Consellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in France.
According to him, bilateral trade ties have grown remarkably over the past years, with Vietnam enjoying trade surplus for the five consecutive years.
Vietnam ’s export turnover to France records an average annual growth of 5-7 percent, reaching 2-2.5 billion EUR a year, while its imports from the European country are valued at around 1 billion EUR.
The market share of Vietnam ’s traditional products in France is able to be expanded once the FTA is signed, Cuong stated.
20150824 * Vietnam textile and garment firms eyeing Europe for more business opportunities:
A delegation of Ha Noi’s textile, garment, leather and footwear enterprises joined an international fashion fair in Brno, the Czech Republic, starting on Saturday and continuing until today, as well as a seminar held by the Ha Noi Industry and Trade Department and Industry Czech Republic before the fair as they hoped to find more business opportunities in the textile, garment and footwear industries in Eastern European countries.
The seminar was organized to encourage trade between Ha Noi and the Czech Republic held in Prague last Thursday. Le Hong Thang, director of the Ha Noi Industry and Trade Department, said that last year Ha Noi’s garment and textile export values reached US$1.6 billion, including $436 million from the European Union market.
20150816 * Vietnam, EU prepare for free trade launch:
Vietnam and the EU have reached a framework agreement on the creation of a free trade zone under which almost all customs barriers between the partners will be eliminated.
- Vietnamese firms to face challenges post EU FTA
- Vietnam, EU complete FTA negotiations
- FTAs bewilder many Vietnam business owners
The deal, which follows two and one-half years of talks, will once fully implemented remove nearly all tariffs on goods traded between the two regions over seven to 10 years.
In addition to commercial goods trade, it will eliminate tariffs and barriers to trade in services and government procurement and provide for expanded investment opportunities.
20150813 * Financial Times reports on Vietnam-EU free trade deal:
The Vietnam-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was finalised earlier this month, yet textiles remain a sticking point as EU negotiators fear China will use Vietnam as a backdoor for cheap textile imports into the EU, United Kingdom-based Financial Times reported.
The FTA has opened up one of Asia’s fastest-developing economies and a market of more than 90 million consumers to European companies, the newspaper said in an article titled “Brussels seals trade accord with Vietnam” on August 4.
The paper cited the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s forecast that Vietnam’s economy will continue to grow over the next five years thanks to strong exports, young population and an increasing focus on technology.
20150826 * Hot money to flow to Vietnam in TPP period:
The Vietnam economy is expected to see major changes after it signs the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which includes member countries that make up 40 percent of the world’s trade.
Analysts believe that Vietnam would see the highest GDP growth rate changes among TPP members.
GDP growth rate changes have been predicted by the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), an arm of the Hanoi National University and Japanese Nagoya University.
They forecast that the GDP growth rate changes would be between 0.11 percent and 2.04 percent.
The researchers also believe that the investment growth rate in Vietnam would be higher than in any other TPP member countries, between 6.86 percent and 30.62 percent, nearly the same as the investment growth rate in Japan and nearly double that of Australia, Malaysia and the US, if counting value.
Regarding the economic structure, Vietnam would see the narrowing of the production and business fields with weaker advantages or decreasing advantages, such as pork, chicken, milk, forestry, mining and industries.
But there would be expansion of some advantageous business fields, such as textiles & garment, footwear, services and construction.
20150823 * Garment, textile, footwear sectors anticipate TPP:
The garment, textile and footwear sectors brought in nearly US$38 billion, becoming one of the key export sectors of Vietnam in 2014. The sectors have taken different measures to anticipate opportunities brought by the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The sectors’ growth has helped stimulate sustainable development and create over four million jobs, contributing to implementing hunger eradication and poverty reduction, ensuring social welfare and shifting agriculture and forestry economic structure in several regions.
Aside from the various opportunities, the sectors still face challenges when taking part in free trade agreements, including the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and TPP. While unequally competing with multi-national enterprises which have advantages in finance and advanced technology, local medium and small-sized businesses have to run under pressure of environmental impacts.
The sectors used to be in the last steps of cutting and sewing in the production chain with minimum technological requirements or processing skills, and impact the environment less than the processes of weaving, dyeing and starching.
To gain further added values and improve competitiveness in production, garment and textile businesses should have larger investment in the production process, which cause greater impacts on the environment due to the consumption of water and energy resources, most alarmingly; there can be severe pollution if there is no close control.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 23/8. (5th item).
20150816 * Vietnam continues bilateral talks with TPP partners:
Vietnam is actively engaging in bilateral negotiations with the US and several other countries to ensure its key interests before entering a ministerial meeting aimed at finalising the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, who is also head of the Vietnamese delegation at the TPP negotiations, said at an interview on August 14 that after the recent ministerial talks in Hawaii ended without a final agreement, the nations are on intensive discussions in preparation for the final meeting.
However, the meeting is unlikely to take place in late August as the countries need more time to bilaterally deliberate problems left from the Hawaii talks, he said.
Personally, the official held that the next talks would be held no later than September, explaining that if the meeting is organised after the time, the US would fail to present the deal to its Parliament before the Presidential Election begins in 2016.
20150811 * Businesses in the dark on Trans Pacific Partnership:
While trade ministers struggle to hash out a final agreement on the ground-breaking Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Vietnamese companies are largely in the dark about the pact’s potential benefits and drawbacks, business surveys have found.
- Vietnam concludes TPP negotiations with all concerned parties
- Vietnam GDP to gain most from TPP, AEC
- TPP stall could impact Vietnam export stocks
Fewer than 30% of Vietnamese companies had some knowledge about TPP, with mostly larger firms keeping track of negotiations through the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT),said Nguyen Duc Thanh, director of the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR).
“General knowledge about TPP is still limited, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” Thanh said, “Most of them have no idea about content and meaning of TPP.”
The TPP is poised to become the world’s biggest trade accord in more than a decade, accounting for 40% of global gross domestic product and 26% of world trade.
21:08:17 local time CAMBODIA
20150826 * After Factory Fire, Workers Agree to Deal:
After a fire burned through the Xing High Feng garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Monday night, the four unions representing more than 400 workers there agreed Tuesday to give the factory two months to rebuild and to receive $30 each in the meantime.
“The factory asked to close down for two months to clear out the junk and repair everything before starting again,” said Rath Minea, general secretary of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia.
The fire at the factory began at 6:30 p.m. on Monday and destroyed 80 percent of the building before being put out by firefighters at 9:30 p.m., according to Prum Yorn, chief of the Phnom Penh fire department.
20150825 * Fires destroy garment factory, threaten bank:
Two fires broke out in Phnom Penh yesterday evening, with one almost entirely destroying a Sen Sok district garment factory, and the other being extinguished in its early stages at a bank building in Daun Penh.
Police said yesterday that the cause of the Sen Sok district conflagration was still unknown yesterday evening.
According to Neth Vantha, deputy chief of Phnom Penh police in charge of fire control, 70 to 80 per cent of the building and the goods contained within Xing High Feng Garment (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Sen Sok’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune were destroyed or damaged.
“No one has been reported injured or dead from the fire,” he said, adding that authorities and the management at the Taiwanese-owned factory plan to examine the scope of damage today.
20150824 * Factory Blaze Leaves Hundreds of Workers Jobless:
Almost 400 workers could be out of their jobs for several months after Taiwanese-owned Xing High Feng garment factory was nearly destroyed in a fire yesterday evening.
The fire broke out inside the factory in Sen Sok district’s Penh Thmey commune at about 6:30 pm, Lt-Colonel Prum Yorn, chief of the Phnom Penh Fire Department, told reporters at the scene.
The factory employs about 400 workers, according to an executive at the company who asked not to be named. He said he was unsure how long it would take to repair the factory or if it was even worth doing so.
Mr. Yorn said 17 fire trucks arrived at the scene but were unable to extinguish the blaze until 9 pm.
Some firefighters said the blaze was likely caused by faulty wiring, but Mr. Yorn said its cause had yet to be determined.
Firefighters had difficulty getting to the scene because the road was narrow and a crowd had gathered near the fire, he added.
The factory only had one emergency exit, Mr. Yorn said.
20150825 * Collision injures 12 workers:
Twelve garment workers were injured in a truck accident yesterday after their vehicle collided with another in Takeo province’s Samrong district, police said.
The vehicle was bringing the workers to a factory in Takeo’s Bati district on Monday morning when a goods truck slammed into it outside Changva village as it pulled into the wrong lane.
Samrong district police chief Moeung Sarun said suspect Tuy Bun, 36, the driver of the vehicle that smashed into the workers, lives in Kampot, and that his case has been forwarded to court for formal charges.
“Some of the victims fell off the truck, and some remained on the truck,” he said. “They were sent to the hospital.”
Sarun added that seven of the workers were seriously injured and hospitalised.
20150822 * Cambodia’s minimum wage: employers plead poverty despite global brand pledges to pay:
Cambodia is one of the main sources of textiles for Europe and North America, and it’s on the front line of the campaign for a living wage in global supply chains.
So the forthcoming review of the minimum wage for garment workers (the only minimum wage that exists in the South East Asian country) is vitally important not just for the mostly female workforce in the industry which produces Cambodia’s main exports.
You won’t be surprised to know that, in a pre-emptive move, Cambodia’s reactionary textile industry employers are pleading poverty.
GMAC, the industry association for garment manufacturers, has announced that 63% of its members, who own 500+ export factories, want no increase in 2016 on the $128 a month set this January.
A further 26% wanted the rise limited to $5, whereas unions in Cambodia want the minimum wage to rise towards a living wage of $177 a month, $49 above the current level.
The unions in Cambodia have indicated that strikes are likely if the minimum wage is not raised significantly, but Ath Thorn, president of the largest independent union, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said he expected GMAC to gradually raise its negotiating position and was starting at zero to keep the new minimum wage as low as possible. He said:
20150813 * Garment Factory Owners Say ‘No’ to Wage Hike:
One month before negotiations begin over a proposed minimum wage hike for garment sector workers, factory owners have signaled their opposition to a salary raise.
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), which represents the country’s apparel factories, surveyed its members’ appetite for an increase and found that 62 percent of owners are opposed to any hike whatsoever. 26 percent of owners would approve a minimum wage hike of less than $5.
While not an official vote, the survey is an indication of the gulf separating the garment unions and factories leading up to negotiations.
The unions have previously called for a $177 monthly wage, a nearly 40 percent increase on the current $128 per month.
“The situation here is very terrible,” said Raymond Tam, a GMAC member. “That’s why the companies said they have no budget for an increase.”
20150812 * Garment Factories Vote to Freeze Minimum Wage:
A majority of members of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents the country’s more than 500 exporting garment factories, have voted against any raise to their workers’ minimum wage next year.
The association’s survey of its members follows a 28-percent hike to the garment sector’s minimum wage in January to $128 per month, and comes amid negotiations between the factories, unions and government officials to set the wage for 2016. A final decision by the Labor Ministry is expected in October.
GMAC deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said the association surveyed its members on Sunday and gave them three options to choose from: no raise, a raise of between $1 and $5, and a raise of between $6 and $10.
He said 63 per- cent voted for no raise, while 26 percent were in favor of an increase of $1 to $5.
The garment sector’s many unions have yet to coalesce around a single figure, though a small group of the most vocal of them has tentatively agreed to push for $177—the upper limit of what a 2013 government study concluded the average garment worker needed at the time to make a living.
Some unions and labor rights groups have commissioned a new study and expect the results next month.
But the unions have taken heart from a recent report by the International Labor Organization suggesting that Cambodia’s garment factories have managed to absorb this year’s 28-percent raise and continue to see a rise in exports.
Mr. Thorn said he did not believe GMAC’s latest dire warnings any more than he did last year and that unions might start staging protests over the minimum wage like they did in 2014 if the factories and government insist on a wage freeze.
20150827 * Manager skimming at factory gets two years:
A former assistant at a Phnom Penh garment factory was sentenced to two years in jail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday for skimming $57,768 from workers’ overtime pay and lunch allowances between 2012 and 2014.
Ly Kimheak, a former administrative assistant at Reliable Sources Industrial, was charged with breach of trust following her arrest on October 4 of last year.
“Based on evidence and her confession, the court finds her guilty,” said municipal court judge Pich Maren.
Kimheak was sentenced to two years in prison, which was reduced to one year due to time served.
She was also ordered to pay back the money as well as $2,500 in compensation to the owner of the garment factory.
20150812 * Union slams protest verdict:
In a verdict denounced as unfair by their union leader, and pointedly compared to the same court’s kid-gloves handling of former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, four union officials have been sentenced to 13 months in Svay Rieng provincial prison for blocking a road at a protest last year.
The four officials, all from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), were also fined 3 million riel ($735) each but have not been sent to prison yet, according to Pav Sina, president of the CUMW.
“We will file a complaint to the Appeal Court this week against the Svay Rieng provincial court’s verdict, but if the Appeal Court upholds this verdict, those four officials will be arrested and sent to jail,” he said.
Sina said the four officials were innocent of blocking the road on August 18 of last year, and were merely responding to a request for intervention from hundreds of protesting workers from Bavet town’s You Li International Garment factory.
20150827 * Cambodia looking to join EAEU:
Cambodia is seeking support from Belarus to become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), an economic block of countries that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
The request from Cambodia was made at a meeting yesterday between Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong and the Belarusian Ambassador to Cambodia Valery Sadokho.
“It will be an important contribution into the regional and international integration of Cambodia,” Chum Sounry, a spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
20150827 * Gov’t eyes industrial expansion:
Employees produce garments at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. Yesterday, Hun Sen described how the garment industry had reached its highest potential for growth and now the Kingdom should diversify into more complex manufacturing. Photo by Vireak Mai
In search of Cambodia’s next economic growth driver, the government yesterday laid out the Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, which aims to expand the Kingdom’s narrow industrial base beyond garments and rice.
The new policy, launched by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, will look to beef up the gross domestic product share of the industrial sector to 30 per cent by 2025, from the 24.1 per cent recorded in 2013.
Additionally, it will increase agriculture processing in Cambodia and aims to formally register the small and medium enterprises sector, while addressing high electricity costs and logistical and skilled labour shortages.
read more. & read more. & read more.
20150822 * Gov’t Tells Garment Factories to Modernize, Up Productivity:
A senior official at the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft called on the country’s garment manufacturers on Friday to increase productivity by upgrading the technology in their factories.
Speaking at the Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island, Secretary of State Sat Samy said he was optimistic that the country’s more than 1,300 garment factories would see a return on their investments in better machines.
“Factories have seen their technology become worse and worse,” Mr. Samy said. “So to improve their efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and quality, they need to replace old machines with new ones because the new machines would help them save time, reduce costs and increase revenue.”
Mr. Samy’s comments come in the midst of negotiations between factory owners, labor unions and the government over a raise to the monthly minimum wage in the country’s all-important garment sector.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which negotiates on behalf of factory owners, has argued that the low productivity of Cambodian workers means that a significant raise to the current minimum wage of $128 will scare off investors.
20150823 * Garment Tool Makers Size Up Cambodia:
Industrial technology companies from across Asia expect garment manufacturers to turn to mechanization as a way to supplement human labor power in Cambodia.
At the Kingdom’s fifth annual International Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition on Diamond Island last weekend, representatives showed off advanced sewing machines, automatic embroidering tools and even an automatic sock maker.
Many of them still see a market among manufacturers here, although some worry about being late to the party.
20150812 * GMAC lays out training centre plan:
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia will build a training centre for garment workers in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on the western outskirts of the capital, according to a statement released yesterday, with the opening slated for September 2016.
Construction on the centre, which is being financed by a $3 million loan from France’s development agency, is set to begin before the end of this month.
According to GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo, courses for the centre have not yet been decided.
Loo added that the centre was aimed at “all levels” of garment sector employees and would help the industry further establish itself.
20150818 * Cambodia’s garment exports up 9% in 1st half of 2015:
Garment industry, Cambodia’s largest foreign currency earner, has seen a 9 percent rise in exports in the first six months of 2015, according to the latest data of the Ministry of Commerce on Monday.
The Southeast Asian country exported apparel products in equivalent to 3 billion U.S. dollars during the January-June period this year, up 9 percent from 2.74 billion U.S. dollars over the same period last year, the data said.
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20150818 * Bandith living well in jail: org:
Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith is enjoying preferential treatment in prison, according to an NGO with access to the facility, while the three garment workers he was jailed for shooting have still not received compensation.
According to Nut Bopinroth, Svay Rieng provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, Bandith is waited on and allowed considerably more freedom than other inmates at Svay Rieng Provincial Prison.
“He has someone to get water for him and he can leave his cell and stay in the library all day,” Bopinroth said, adding that other prisoners have to take turns with each other to leave the cell for recreation.
However, Svay Rieng Provincial Prison director Suos Sakhu denied that Bandith was being treated favourably, saying that he shares a 5-metre-by-6-metre cell with other 30 prisoners.
As well as the prison sentence, the former governor was ordered to pay his victims more than $9,000 in compensation.
But they have so far received none of the money, and yesterday called for the payment process to be speeded up.
“Justice has been done, but the compensation remains unpaid,” said Nut Sakhon, who was shot in the hand by Bandith, after he indiscriminately fired a pistol into the crowd of protesting workers.
“We need it for buying medicine and not for anything else,” she said.
* Betterfacories Media Updates:
* 25 August 2015, Fires destroy garment factory, threaten bank:
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2015-08-25 Bavet town window factory strike ends
2015-08-25 Collision injures 12 workers
2015-08-25 Fires destroy garment factory,threaten bank
2015-08-25 New union group formed
Media updates 25-8 overview here.
* Media Updates, 18 August 2015, Bandith living well in jail: org
* Media Updates, 19 August 2015, Workers put onus on Onis
* Media Updates, 20 August 2015, Workers pelt factory
* The 6th Edition of the Garment Workers’ Radio Competition: Garment Workers to Contest on Labour Law
BetterFactories Media updates overview here.
20150815 * Thirty Unions Call on Labor Ministry to Rethink Draft Law:
Thirty labor unions and associations appealed to the Labor Ministry on Friday to redraft its planned Trade Union Law, which they say will suppress industrial action and facilitate union busting, despite significant concessions in the latest draft.
The law has been two years in the making, but the Labor Ministry has said it plans to send a final draft to the Council of Ministers as soon as this month. But despite some key changes, such as lowering the threshold of workers needed to start a union, leaders of the country’s labor movement still say the law will hurt unions.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said the most troubling part of the law was a provision that would allow just 25 percent of members to dissolve a union.
“It is this point that continues to concern us most…because unions are created by a majority of people,” he said, adding that the law would also allow only one member to bring a motion to dissolve.
20150814 * King’s Signature Brings Much Criticized NGO Law Into Force:
King Norodom Sihamoni signed the NGO law on Wednesday, according to a government official, bringing into effect a piece of legislation that has been internationally rebuked as a serious threat to free speech and association.
King Norodom Sihamoni signed the NGO law on Wednesday, according to a government official, bringing into effect a piece of legislation that has been internationally rebuked as a serious threat to free speech and association.
The Law on Associations and Non-Government Organizations requires all NGOs, save the smallest community-based groups, to register with the state and file annual reports on their activities. It gives ministries the power to shut down groups they decide are failing to remain politically neutral or jeopardizing Cambodian traditions.
But Chhim Phal Virun, deputy head of the Council of Minister’s Council of Jurists, which released the official copy of the law and the accompanying royal decree Thursday, confirmed the king’s signature.
“When the Royal Decree is disseminated, it means [the king] signed off on the law,” Mr. Phal Virun said, adding that the king signed the law on Wednesday.
The government claims it needs the law to combat money laundering and keep terrorist groups from funneling money into the country through NGOs.
Critics dismiss the argument as disingenuous and say the government has all the legislation it needs to counter such threats. They fear the CPP intends to use the law’s vague provisions to shut down some of its most vocal critics.
20150814 * King signs law on NGOs:
The much-disputed Law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations (LANGO) has passed its final, and almost entirely ceremonial hurdle, as King Norodom Sihamoni yesterday signed a Royal Proclamation passing the legislation into law.
The signing came a day after the law was approved by the Constitutional Council, which rejected a challenge by the opposition that the legislation breached the Kingdom’s charter.
According to government spokesman Phay Siphan, the law will now be forwarded to the Council of Ministers and the country’s ministries in order to be put into effect.
“After the King signed off on the law, it will take effect in 10 days in Phnom Penh and in 20 days in the provinces,” he said yesterday.
Critics say the law’s vague language, including a clause demanding political “neutrality”, will give the government the ability to shut down and prosecute organisations that criticise the government, and it has been the focus of fervent protests across the country.
Last month, opposition lawmakers boycotted the votes in both the National Assembly and Senate, while more than 50 NGOs signed a joint open letter to the King asking him to prevent the legislation’s passing.
20150813 * Union Law Could Cost CPP the Next Election, Labor Leader Warns:
Draft legislation on trade unions will undermine the hard-won progress of labor unions here as well as violate fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, labor law and UN conventions, labor leaders said yesterday.
They also expressed alarm that the drafting process was secretive and called on the government to provide them with a copy of the draft, rather than the summary shown in a PowerPoint presentation on July 28.
That presentation left labor leaders concerned that a draconian law could reverse the progress Cambodia has made, prompt more workers to seek jobs abroad, and cause a labor shortage here, union leaders said at a conference yesterday organized by the Community Legal Rights Center.
20150813 * Council Rules NGO Law Constitutional:
The Constitutional Council of Cambodia on Wednesday deemed new legislation regulating the country’s non-governmental organizations to be in full compliance with the Constitution, rejecting all arguments—from the U.N. down to the NGOs themselves—that it flies in the face of the highest law of the land.
Lawmakers from the ruling CPP pushed the NGO law through the National Assembly and Senate last month amid boycotts by the opposition, which wants the legislation abandoned. The council’s unanimous decision Wednesday clears its way to the desk of King Norodom Sihamoni, whose signature will bring it into effect.
The law, the council said in a letter signed by its president, Ek Sam Ol, “is pronounced to comply with the Constitution.”
The letter added that the verdict of the council was “the final decision, which cannot be appealed.”
King Sihamoni, who abstains from all things political, is expected to sign the law imminently. Council spokesman Prum Nhean Vicheth said he expected the law to reach the king no later than today.
20150813 * NGO law nears finish line:
The Constitutional Council yesterday approved the controversial draft NGO law, rejecting a challenge by the opposition that the legislation breached the Kingdom’s charter.
The council’s green light – delivered yesterday afternoon – means the signature of the King, often viewed as a rubber stamp, is all that is needed before the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Associations (LANGO) is promulgated.
The decision came only hours after the nine-member council, controlled by a ruling party majority, heard arguments against the legislation by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers led by Son Chhay.
The lawmakers – who last month lodged a complaint with the council claiming several LANGO provisions were unconstitutional and contravened international human rights conventions – asked that the law return to the National Assembly for amendments.
But, like previous attempts to stop the draft law – which after years on the back burner was passed by parliament on July 13 after just one day of public consultation and amid an opposition boycott – the protests came to nothing.
20150812 * Battle Over NGO Law Ends:
Civil society groups and activists who protested against LANGO for years have run out of options after the Constitutional Council yesterday announced that the contentious law does not violate the Constitution. Photo: Xinhua
The Constitutional Council yesterday said that the Law on Association and NGOs does not violate the Constitution, following a meeting with three members of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) who had said earlier that it did.
The controversial law – passed by the National Assembly on July 13 and reviewed by the Senate on July 24 – is in “accordance with the Constitution,” the Council said in a statement released late yesterday afternoon.
“This decision is final and without recourse and has authority over all instituted powers stipulated in the Constitution,” the statement said.
The decision was made after the council’s members met with three CNRP lawmakers as well as representatives of the government.
22:08:17 local time INDONESIA
20150826 * Adidas and Mizuno involved in unfair dismissal case:
Last Thursday, a large group of workers who stitched sport shoes for adidas and the Japanese brand Mizuno took to the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta to demand their immediate reinstatement.
The group of mostly female workers has been trying to get their jobs back ever since 1300 of them were fired in July 2012 by the management of the PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa company.
Just before they lost their jobs, 2000 workers held a strike to demand the right to freedom of association and a back payment of the legal minum wage. After the unfair dismissals, the factory continued with intimidation of striking workers.
Kokom Komalawati, president of the union SBGTS-GSBI told CCC how in 2012 police used tear gas against the striking workers, including pregnant women.
She also says how local thugs, supervisors and management have attempted to force workers back to work and workers have been told that if they want to return to work they had to resign from the union, decline from being involved in strike action and say they were forced to join the strike by her.
20150820 * A sense of déjà vu: Trade unionism at risk in Indonesia:
Unlike in previous years, this year’s Labor Day saw workers and unionists celebrate International Labor Day at home or at recreational sites. Only a few of them took to the street to express their grievances.
Not only was the Labor Day commemoration quiet, but there were no specific issues brought to the national tripartite meeting either, despite the many unresolved industrial conflicts that have affected millions of workers in the formal sector.
Even worse, unionists and major confederations who used to be outspoken were not seen at the labor rallies held in early July to protest the contentious government regulation on the withdrawal of pension funds (JHT) managed by the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS TK).
Speculation has been rife that this rare phenomenon has something to do with a previous meeting between President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and 15 unionists at the Tripartite Cooperation Institute (LKS Tripartite), as well as the appointment of several labor activists as commissioners of state-owned enterprises and social security providers.
20150811 * Death toll from Japanese cosmetics firm fire in Indonesia rises to 25:
Death toll from a fire at Japanese cosmetics firm PT Mandom on the outskirts of Jakarta has risen from five to 25 with 53 others being injured, an official said here Tuesday.
As many as 32 people are still under medical treatment at a hospital for their wounds, Corporate Secretary of PT Mandom Alia Dewi said.
“25 people have been dead. As many as 53 people were injured,” she told Xinhua by phone.
All victims of the fire, which occurred at the firm’s factory on July 10 in Bekasi town, are workers of the company, Dewi confirmed.
Five people were killed in the fire, and the casualties kept rising afterwards, according to her.
An investigation has being conducted on the cause of the fire, she added.
20150811 * Textile complex to be built in Central Java:
Two property developers, publicly listed PT Jababeka and Singapore-based Sembcorp Development Indonesia Ltd., are looking to set up an industrial textile complex inside the Kendal Industrial Complex (KIK) in Central Java to invigorate the local domestic textile industry.
Jababeka chairman SD Darmono said that the concept of the complex would mirror the complex in Jababeka, Bekasi, West Java, but would be used solely for textiles.
“The industrial complex in Bekasi has been proven to drive competitiveness,” Darmono said at a discussion in Central Jakarta on Monday.
The KIK project, which is currently being built on a 2,700-hectare plot of land, does not have a target date for completion.
Darmono said that his firm had acquired 630 hectares of land worth Rp 400 billion (US$29.5 million) for the textile cluster, and that the size would be increased according to the number of tenants.
As well as external factors, domestic challenges are on the rise for the textile industry, including the new automatic electricity-price adjustments and a weaker rupiah, with resultant higher costs placing a financial burden on the industry.
The Indonesian Textile Association (API) has reported that at least 18 firms in Java have ceased operations, laying off around 30,000 workers.
The situation could worsen and the industry may further lay off up to 50,000 workers by August or September, according to the API.
21:08:17 local time THAILAND
20150825 * Court criticised for indicting UK human rights activist in defamation case:
Finnish civil society organisation Finnwatch has expressed regret over a Thai court’s decision to indict British rights activist Andy Hall.
20:38:17 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
20150826 * Industry bodies in US and Canada support minimum wage increase:
Garment and footwear industry bodies in the US and Canada have thrown their weight behind plans to establish a minimum wage for workers in Myanmar the Global New Light of Myanmar reported on 26 August.
In a joint letter dated August 24, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Footwear Distributions & Retailers of America (FDRA), Retail Council of Canada and US Fashion Industry Association expressed their support for a uniform minimum wage across all industries in letters to the Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security and the Chair of the National Committee on the Minimum Wage.
On 18 July, the National Minimum Wage Committee proposed a minimum wage of K3,600 (US $3.17) for an eight-hour day to the government.
A decision is expected to be announced on 29 August. US, and Canadian garment industry players said that Myanmar will benefit from increased foreign investment as investors will welcome the certainty a minimum wage confers.
20150819 * Minimum wage set at K3600:
After months of protest and dispute, the minimum wage was finally confirmed at K3600 per day at a final meeting with employers and worker representatives yesterday.
The National Committee on the Minimum Wage said all participants had agreed on the amount at the meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, which was the eighth to be held since the process was launched.
“We finalised the minimum wage at K3600 and will officially announce it before August 29,” Minister for Labour U Aye Myint said.
“However, we have to submit the results of the meeting to the Union government to get its approval.”
Committee secretary U Myo Aung said the ministry would also consider a request from employers to cut overtime rates from double time to time-and-a-half, but this would require a change of law and so would take some time.
U Naw Aung, a labour representative on the committee, said he agreed to the rate even though he was hoping for a higher figure.
20150818 * End of the minimum wage battle in sight:
Win Zaw, a labour representative, has reported that the struggle to set the minimum wage at Ks 3,600 is likely to prevail soon.
The final meeting of the National Minimum Wage Committee will be held on August 18.
“I believe that the Ks 3,600 minimum wage is likely to be approved. It cannot be lower than that. Although we, the workers, all asked for Ks 4,000, all five labour representatives in the National Minimum Wage Committee called for it to be set at Ks 3,600, so it will be set at Ks 3,600. I am quite sure,” said Win Zaw.
20:08:17 local time BANGLADESH
20150814 * Female labourers of Rangpur deprived of equal rights:
Due to wage disparity the female labourers of Rangpur district are being deprived of their equal rights. As a result they are passing days in acute misery.
According to sources female labourers in different areas of the region are given much less wage in comparison with male labourers for the same type of work.
Thousands of female labourers in the region work in brick kilns, crop fields, husking mills, restaurants, factories, tobacco processing centres, hotels and construction sites and are also engaged in earth cutting, stone chips and breaking brick as day labourers.
But all of them are facing discrimination because they get less wage than their male counterparts.
Visiting a number of areas in different upazilas under the district, this FE correspondent recently found that a male labourer is paid Tk 150 to Tk 250 for rendering day-long services, while a female labourer gets Tk 75 to Tk 120 for the same amount and sort of work.
20150824 * Garment worker killed in Gazipur factory wall collapse:
A garment worker was killed as a wall of a garment factory collapsed on him at Mawna in Sreepur of Gazipur on Monday morning.
The deceased was identified as Nasiruddin, a resident of Singardighi area of the upazila, reports United News of Bangladesh.
Witnesses said parts of a wall of a factory of Crown Fashion at Mawna collapsed on Nasiruddin at about 8:00am while he was working, killing him on the spot.
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20150821 * Alliance top brass to visit Dhaka this month:
Two top bosses of the Alliance including former US ambassador to Dhaka James F Moriarty will visit Bangladesh later this month to see the activities of the organisation, officials said.
The other member is Mara M Burr, the senior adviser of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Ms Burr is working for Walmart and promoting Bangladesh’s exports to the USA, they said.
20150817 * 160 labour inspectors to receive training:
A comprehensive labour inspection training programme was launched on Sunday that will see 160 labour inspectors gain the skills needed to boost working conditions and worker safety in Bangladesh.
The 40-day course titled ‘Foundational Training for Labour Inspection Officials’ was organised at the Bangladesh Institute of Administration and Management training center, said a press release.
Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments and Bangladesh Institute of Administration and Management with the support of the International Labour Organisation’s Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-made Garments Sector Programme funded by Canada, the Netherlands and UK and the ILO’s International Training Centre in Turin organised the programme.
20150812 * RMG factory inspection deadline extended by three months:
The National Tripartite Committee on Tuesday extended the timeframe for three months to complete the safety inspection in the readymade garments factories under the government-ILO joint initiative as the previous deadline ended on July 31 with more than 300 units yet to be inspected.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garments workers, in April 2013, the European and North American buyers and brands launched safety inspection in the garment factories from where they procure products.
The government and the International Labour Organisation decided to carry out safety inspection in the factories which would remain out of EU and North American retailers’ inspection programmes.
Accordingly, the government and the ILO started inspection of about 1,500 garment factories from February last year.
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20150819 * Apparel sector undergoes major restructuring:
State of compliance: Pre- and post-Rana Plaza period
During the pre-Rana Plaza period, firms usually maintained physical and social compliances taking into account the national rules as well as the guideline followed by buyers/brands/retailers under their codes of conduct (CoCs).
Usually, these codes of conduct are partially compliant with national rules and regulations.
Major provisions under CoC include a number of aspects related to physical and social compliances particularly in four areas including facilities in workplace, fire prevention and fire-fighting measures, planning and storage and building design compliance (Table 1).
Based on these CoC, associations, particularly BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) and BKMEA (Bangladesh Knit
Manufacturers and Exporters Association) set minimum required criteria for compliance which include fourteen different aspects:
minimum wage, identity card, wage at right time, leaves (weekly, sick leave, occasional and annual), participation committee, welfare committee, child labour, alternative exit for emergency, service book for workers, necessary fire-fighting equipment, day-care centre, first-aid facility and separate toilet for male and female workers.
20150814 * Unrest, weak euro eat into textile makers’ margins:
Half yearly financial performance
Profits in most of the textile companies tumbled in the first-half (January-June) of the year compared to the year-ago period as political turmoil and depreciation of the euro hurt earnings.
Of the 41 listed companies in the textile sector that accounts for 3.50 per cent of the total market capitalisation at the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), nearly one-third disclosed their un-audited half-yearly reports.
Among them, consolidated profits of nine companies declined, six showed marginal profits while 26 are yet to publish half-yearly financial reports as they consider June and September to be year-ending.
Textile companies include spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, and zipper manufacturing, as well as readymade garments manufacturing units.
The poor performance of the companies is attributed to slowdown in export growth in the US and the EU markets, which weighed on the export earnings of textile makers,” said LankBangla Securities, a stockbroker, in an analysis.
20150814 * Gas crisis in industries:
Gas crisis looms heavy on the newly set-up industries as well as those awaiting relocation, especially in the textile and apparel sector.
Although a persisting problem, this time it might wreck havoc as hundreds of industrial units involving several billions of takas in investment are sitting idle for want of gas.
More than 300 textile and garment factories, according to a report published in this daily this week, are not in a position either to go into production or for expansion of their capacities mainly due to non-availability of gas.
The situation is really grave and absence of any noticeable move for relief in the near future makes it too upsetting for the entrepreneurs.
The leaders of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) say that more than two hundred readymade garment factories and around 100 textile mills cannot be run due to lack of gas connections.
Industry insiders claim that if the factories would have been operational, more than eight hundred thousand people could have been employed and the country could also have gained additional export earnings worth $1.5 billion.
20150811 * Bangladesh textile and garment units facing difficulties to go into production due to gas crisis:
Both the BGMEA and the BTMA leaders demand gas connections for the country’s largest foreign currency earner on a priority basis as the readymade garment factory owners, especially those who want to shift their non-compliant units from the capital city and adjacent to it, are facing difficulties due to non-availability of gas for the last couple of years.
Some 64 non-compliant readymade garment factories, mostly located in shared or rented buildings, failed to relocate their units only because they are not allowed to shift their existing gas connection to the new destinations, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
About 86 factories applied for increasing gas load while 83 more applied for new connections, the BGMEA said.
On the other hand, investment in 30 spinning mills remained unused while many more could not go for expansion due to gas scarcity for some years, according to the leaders of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
20150816 * Of compliance and related issues in RMG sector:
Compliance in the garments sector is now a hotly debated issue in the country.
The western buyers are increasingly becoming vocal about workers’ rights and safe working conditions and, at the same time, demanding cheap products from the country.
Local ready-made garment (RMG) manufacturers are finding it very hard in meeting their additional spending on compliance issue under the existing level of price margin.
The global buyers are now offering very low prices for products compared to the prices they offer for other competitive countries including China, Vietnam and Mexico.
In fact, mobilising additional costs by cutting suppliers’ profit is not an easy task in the context of low-level profit margin. Firms in many other countries spend more on compliance.
They are, however, able to maintain their competitiveness by way of low interest rates, developed infrastructure, skilled labour force, semi-automated production processes, financial incentives, higher labour efficiency and low cost of raw materials.
Bangladesh lags behind in most of these issues.
Without sufficient improvement in these factors, it would be very difficult for local manufacturers to increase spending on compliance under the existing level of profit margin.
20150826 * Tofail seeks low-cost funds for fixing factory problem:
Urges int’l community to advocate fair price for apparels
Describing Bangladesh’s progress in transforming its garment sector, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed has said the international community has the shared responsibility to advocate fair price for Bangladeshi apparel items.
“We’re committed to making our garment factories compliant. We’ve, therefore, undertaken various legal, administrative and institutional reform programmes. These have involved huge cost of compliance and are eroding the comparative edge,”
The commerce minister, now in Germany, also said Bangladesh needs more financial assistance and low-cost financing for Detailed Engineering Assessment (DEA) and remediation work.
He was addressing a global audience at a social dialogue on occupational safety in the supply chain, being held in Berlin.
The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Social Accident Insurance in Dresden arranged the meeting.
Speakers at the event expressed satisfaction over the progress Bangladesh has made so far, reports UNB.
Tofail said he believes that Bangladesh will be on top of the sourcing countries in the coming years. “We know buyers are constantly looking for new opportunities for affordable capacity but the factors beyond labour cost, safety compliance and social and environmental impact have got prominence,” he said.
The commerce minister said the progress made so far demonstrates a renewed approach in governing the affairs of the country’s readymade garment industry.
“No such accidents have occurred after Rana Plaza accident. Yet, it remains a long-drawn and continuous process. The government, through various mechanisms, has been monitoring all the activities so that steps taken in this regard are completed in a well-coordinated manner,” he added.
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20150826 * PM wants int’l buyers of BD RMG products to raise prices:
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the buyers of the developed countries to raise the prices of Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) which will ultimately help the garment workers to get higher wages.
She said the minimum wages of RMG workers have already been raised from Tk1,600 to Tk5,300 since 2009. Sheikh Hasina said the people of Bangladesh are very much efficient and hard-working ones and they can always perform better if they get the chance.
The prime minister said this when State Minister of Department for International Development (DFID) of UK, Desmond Angus Swayne, met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.
20150813 * Buyers should raise RMG price for compliance cost:
Say businesses, experts at a CPD seminar
Economists, entrepreneurs and workers rights activists on Wednesday demanded that international buyers should pay a portion of compliance costs through increasing the price of products sourced from Bangladesh.
They said that it would be very difficult for Bangladeshi manufacturers to increase spending to meet compliance under the existing level of price margin as international buyers offer very low prices for products compared to the prices they offer for other competitive countries including China, Vietnam and Mexico.
At a dialogue held at BRAC Center Inn in Dhaka, they also demanded adequate flow of funds for implementing corrective measures in line with the recommendations of Accord and Alliance, the two consortiums of international buyers working in the country.
20150813 * Pay more to share compliance cost for healthier RMG industry:
All-stakeholder meet urges western buyers
“US denial of GSP facility to BD not acceptable”
Speakers at an all-stakeholder meet observed Wednesday Bangladesh readymade garment sector still struggling to meet compliance with its existing profit margins, lowest in the world, and urged the western buyers to pay more to see a healthier industry.
They pointed at a disparity in compliance conditions handed to Bangladesh and those allowed to its competitors on the global apparel market and called for a fairer value chain on an equitable basis.
Exchanging views on a presentation entitled ‘Bangladesh Apparel sector: does margin matter for ensuring compliance?’ at the BRAC Centre Inn in the city, experts in the trade issues recommended adding a component of ‘worker compliance’ during negotiation on price.
This, in their view, would help the country come out of the situation arising out of the compliance issue raised and strongly being pursued by western consumer side following recent tragedies in factories.
They, however, blamed the government for its “inability” to make the regulatory system accountable and acceptable to lessen growing international pressure.
20150813 * Compliance can’t be compromised:
Analysts say at a discussion on Bangladesh’s garment sector
Compliance cannot be compromised, using lower profit margin as a pretext, in the ongoing efforts to improve working conditions and ensure labour rights in the garment sector, analysts said yesterday.
“Compliance can no longer be left on whether you earn profit or not. Compliance is not an issue of bargaining or discussion,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
He spoke at a discussion on compliance in Bangladesh’s apparel sector at Brac Centre Inn in the capital. CPD in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a non-profit political foundation of Germany, organised the dialogue.
The study was conducted at a time when the apparel sector is undergoing major reforms, following Rana Plaza building collapse and Tazreen Fashions fire that together killed more than 1,200 people, mostly garment workers.
Moazzem said profit margin is supposed to be neutral with regard to compliance, while necessary costs for compliance are supposed to be built in the margin.
“There is no direct link between the two in theory. But we have observed that compliance is compromised. Low cost for compliance is practised as a strategic tool for competitiveness and profit.”
20150813 * RMG makers urged to spend more from bottom line:
COMPLIANCE AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS
Both manufacturers and buyers should spend additional fund from their profit margin to ensure compliance and workers’ rights as well as increasing sustainability of the sector, experts said yesterday.
They also viewed that strengthening government’s institutional mechanism and social audit system set up by the buyers and retailers would be essential to inspect factory-level compliance and maintain international standards.
The observations emerged from a dialogue on “Bangladesh Apparels Sector: Does Margin Matter for Ensuring Compliance?” organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Bangladesh in the capital.
20150827 * US congressmen to make effortsfor restoration of GSP:
Three US Congressmen have assured Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Mohammad Ziauddin of making their all out efforts for restoration of GSP facility and duty free and quota free access for Bangladeshi products to the US markets.
The assurance came when the envoy on Wednesday met with three US Congressmen-Peter T King, Carolyn Maloney and Grace Meng-in New York, according to a message received in the city from Washington DC Wednesday afternoon, reports BSS.
During the meeting, Mr Ziauddin urged the US government to restore GSP facility and allow duty free quota free access of Bangladeshi products to the US markets in recognition of the immense tasks done for workers’ rights and safety in the last two years.
20150826 * US committed to developing Bangladesh RMG:
The USA ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat said that her country is committed to developing the readymade garments (RMG) industry of Bangladesh.
The envoy made the comment while she made a courtesy call to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at PMO in city on Wednesday.
20150813 * US won’t help Bangladeshi workers by singling them out:
It is disappointing that the updated list of states qualifying for the United States’ duty-free GSP program still excludes Bangladesh, which was suspended in 2013 over concern about workers’ rights issues.
Although RMG exports do not come under this arrangement, re-instating Bangladesh is important as a vote of confidence in the work done to advance labour rights since the Rana Plaza disaster.
This progress and the work done by the government and the brand-led Alliance and Accord stake-holder initiatives on improving factory safety, deserves to be acknowledged.
It is unjust to single Bangladesh out for exclusion, when concerns about labour rights are international, and the new list contains 122 different countries including all other members of SAARC.
20150822 * The GSP syndrome: Political negotiations between govts:
The signatories of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1979 allowed derogations to the most-favoured nation (non-discrimination) treatment in favour of the developing countries.
Paragraph 2(c) of the agreement permits preferential arrangements for developing countries in goods trade.
This is the Enabling Clause of GATT. This preferential treatment under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is voluntary in nature for developed countries who determine which countries receive preferences and to what extent those preferences are granted.
20150819 * Bangladesh, USA gap in RMG compliance persists:
The difference between Bangladesh and USA over the implementation of the Action Plan outlined for the restoration of GSP facilities stillpersists.
Although the government of Bangladesh has claimed that it has successfully completed all the sixteen conditions of the Action Plan, the US government is arguing that still three is room for more progress in the field of labor rights, freedom of association and safety issues.
However, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday clarified that Bangladesh was just only one condition away to comply with all the conditions of the Action Plan set by the US authorities to get back the GSP facility.
The rules of the amended Labour Act, the lone condition to comply with, will be doneshortly as it is now pending with the law ministry for vetting, said Ahmed.
20150817 * USTR proposes Sept 17-24 as tentative date for GSP review meeting:
The ministry of commerce is going full steam ahead with a proposal from the US government after the USTR office proposed September 17-24 as tentative date for holding the review meeting on GSP restoration.
Bangladesh mission in Washington DC last week conveyed to the commerce and foreign ministries respectively regarding the upcoming meeting between Dhaka and Washington in line with a proposal made by Assistant United States Trade Representative Michael J. Delaney, a senior foreign ministry official said.
A number of Bangladesh mission officials held meeting with Delaney in Washington last week to push forward the GSP restoration issue after the US government in late July excluded Bangladesh from a list of 122 nations that got back their GSP schemes in the US market.
20150813 * NOT RESTORING GSP FACILITY : Labour leaders lambast US authorities:
Economists and labour leaders on Wednesday lambasted the US government for not restoring the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) facility to Bangladesh.
At a dialogue on compliance and margin in apparel sector held in Dhaka, they said that the US provided GSP facility to 122 countries, but kept out Bangladesh from the list though the working standards and other compliance issues were not better in those countries than Bangladesh.
The US on June 29 renewed the GSP benefits for 122 countries up to 2017 under which the products of those countries will get duty-free and quota-free access to the US market.
The US suspended Bangladesh from GSP facility in June 2013, for what they said, Bangladesh’s failure to meet requirements related to workers rights.
United Federation of Garment Workers president Roy Ramesh Chandra said that the USA did injustice by not giving the facility to Bangladesh.
20150813 * Bernicat: GSP revival after meeting all conditions:
Bangladesh may get back the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in the US market if it implements all the conditions mandatory for availing of the facility.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat yesterday expressed the view just after visiting two international-standard readymade garment factories in Gazipur.
A group of foreign diplomats in Dhaka visited two readymade garment units in Gazipur to assess the working environment and compliance issues.
President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Atiqul Islam led the tour of the factories – UTAH Fashion Ltd and Epylion Style Ltd.
Among others, Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Benoit-Pierre Laramee, EU Ambassador Pierre Mayaudon and Spainish Ambassador Eduardo de Laiglesia Y del Rosal, also visited the two factories.
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20150813 * GSP restoration only after full action plan implementation: Bernicat:
US ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat on Wednesday said the US would restore generalised system of preferences for Bangladesh if it fully implements specific measures listed in the GSP Action Plan for it.
She made the remark while talking to journalists after visiting two readymade garment units in Gazipur to assess working environment and compliance issues, United News of Bangladesh reports.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association arranged the programme at Utah Fashion Ltd and Epyllion Style Ltd for the diplomats stationed in Dhaka.
In response to a query whether political issues had been the reasons behind the GSP suspension, Bernicat said, ‘The US has suspended GSP because of Rana Plaza, not for any political reason… I repeat, there’s no political reason.’
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20150812 * Tofail: GSP suspension for export to US politically motivated:
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed alleged the US would not restore GSP for Bangladeshi products despite all conditions were met as the authorities, being motivated politically, revoked the trade facility.
“Even if we did more than meeting the outlined conditions, the facility won’t be given back as this was a political decision,” he told journalists in reply to questions yesterday.
“I don’t want to take any further initiative to get back the GSP in the US market,” announced Tofail who earlier held a views exchange with Darja Bavdaž Kuret, Slovenian envoy to India, who also deals with Bangladesh affairs.
20150827 * Specialised bank for RMG need of the hour:
Bangladesh, according to the World Bank, has graduated from LDC status (Least Developed Country) to a lower middle-income country making notable progress in prime development indices.
Ready-made garment (RMG) sector is one of the leading performers that have contributed heavily to the national accounting portfolio with continuously rising export earnings. In the field of global market of RMG, Bangladesh has now a firm position and is one of the leading exporters of the present time.
As experts have advocated, RMG industry is one of the areas where the government is to put more emphasis on and scale up investment opportunities so that it can excel to compete in the world market and energise the national economy with a more stable and growing export income.
20150828 * China interested to invest $300m in Bangladesh textile sector:
Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the Chinese government showed interest to invest $300m in Bangladesh’s textile industry, a follow-up move after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to the world’s second largest economy two years ago.
China also wants to help Bangladesh develop its infrastructures, he told journalists yesterday after a signing ceremony of two letters of exchange between the two governments.
AMA Muhith and Gao Hucheng, China’s commerce minister who arrived in Dhaka yesterday on a two-day official visit, signed the letters on behalf of their respective sides.
20150823 * Garment exports to China up 26%:
Garment exports to China rose 26 percent year-on-year to $304.24 million in fiscal 2014-15 as demand for low-priced basic clothes is still high among middle-income customers.
About $141.8 million came from knitwear exports and $163.14 million from woven items, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. Bangladesh’s total garment exports to China in fiscal 2013-14 were $241.37 million.
International and domestic retailers in China have been favouring Bangladesh as a sourcing destination to take advantage of a duty waiver enjoyed by 4,721 Bangladeshi products, most of which are garment items, since April 2011.
20150821 * Garment exports to Japan up 14%:
Garment exports to Japan rose 14.02 percent to $652.55 million in fiscal 2014-15 partly due to relaxed rules of origin for Bangladeshi knitwear.
Rules of origin or RoO are a set of conditions that determine the source of a product, and are important in determination of duties and restrictions that often vary according to each product’s origin.
Knitwear exports in 2014-15 grew 10.43 percent to $279.78 million from the previous year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
The relaxation in Japanese RoO for knitwear, which became effective in April, means that exporters will get duty-free access to Japan even if the items are made with imported fabric.
20150828 * Setting up RMG units may be needed to open warehouse in India:
Bangladeshi RMG makers may have to set up manufacturing units if they want to establish any warehouse in India.
The India auhority hinted at setting up of manufacturing units by the RMG business leaders during a meeting held in Gujarat between the two parites.
“The Indian government hinted us at establishing manufacturing units for the sake of its interest, creating employment, if we want to open our warehouse there,” BGMEA Vice-President Shahidullah Azim told the Dhaka Tribune.
20150818 * RMG exports to India plunge in July Another Indian importer dillydallying payment for Bangladesh garments:
The readymade garment export to India declined by 27.29 per cent in July, the first month of the current financial year 2015-16, as exporters were to some extent unwilling to increase business with the Indian buyers amid a fear of non-payment of export proceeds.
RMG exporters said they witnessed non-payment from two Indian companies — Lilliput Kids Wear and Aldi.
In 2011, a total of 22 small and medium exporters of Bangladesh supplied garment products worth $5 million to Lilliput of India but the company is yet to make full payments.
Aldi, an Indian retailer, has been dillydallying in paying $1.2 million against export proceeds of the Bangladeshi exporters for the last couple of months, exporters alleged.
20150817 * Textile chemical: another export hope:
Bangladesh to challenge antidumping allegations by Pakistan
Bangladesh has turned into a textile chemical exporter from importer in recent years, helping the country save and earn millions of foreign currency, industry players said.
Presently, the country is exporting hydrogen peroxide, a major chemical used in the bleaching and sterilising process in textile and paper and pulp industries, to half a dozen countries including India, Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
“Until 2010, Bangladesh was an importer of the product. Now we are exporting to a number of countries after meeting the domestic demand,” said Mostafa Haider Shiblee, managing director of Samuda Chemicals.
20150817 * Garment exports suffer biggest fall in nine months:
Garment exports declined 11.96 percent year-on-year to $2.21 billion in July, as political crisis during January-March affected orders.
Earnings from the garment sector, which accounts for more than 80 percent of total exports, suffered the biggest fall in nine months.
The last negative numbers recorded by the sector were in September and October 2014, when year-on-year exports fell 2.06 percent and 9.69 percent respectively.
20150813 * Exports plunge by 12% as garments take beating in Jul:
Export earnings in July, the first month of the financial year 2015-2016, slumped by 11.96 per cent compared with that in the same month of the last FY as the garment product export nosedived.
In July of the FY16 export earnings were $2.62 billion against $2.98 billion in the same month of the previous fiscal year, showed Export Promotion Bureau data.
Exporters said the negative growth in July was an ominous sign for the garment sector following a disappointed FY 2014-2015 when export earnings grew by only over 3 per cent.
They said that the situation was even more frustrating as the negative earnings growth in this July was based on a negative earnings growth of 1.37 per cent registered in July last year.
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20150827 * Up to 1yr imprisonment if apparel unit set up without registration:
Govt drafts Textile Industries Establishment Act-2015
The government is going to formulate ‘Bastro Shilpo Prothistan Ain-2015’ (Textile Industries Establishment Act-2015) aimed at making the Directorate of Textile as an effective ‘sponsoring authority’ for the readymade garment sector.
Stakeholders, however, termed some provisions of the proposed act detrimental to the industry.
According to the proposed draft of the law, none would establish and run textiles and garments factories without registration under the textile industries establishment act.
20150824 * Textile mills’ machinery imports rise 54%:
Capital machinery imports by the primary textile sector increased about 54 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2014-15 on the back of higher demand for raw materials from garment exporters.
Last fiscal year, $445.7 million worth of capital machinery was imported by the sector, according to data from Bangladesh Textile Mills Association. A BTMA certification is required for importing machinery for the textile sector.
Machinery imports accelerated, as entrepreneurs set up 26 textile mills in spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing last fiscal year, said Monsoor Ahmed, secretary to the BTMA.
Moreover, the owners of many factories have expanded their production capacity as the demand for yarn and fabrics from garment makers is on the rise, he added.
At present, the textile mills meet 90 percent of the requirement for knitwear and 40 percent for woven fabric by garment factories, and in doing so they are helping the country save a substantial amount of foreign currency.
20150823-26 * RMG makers to leave for Gujarat today:
A team of Bangladesh’s RMG manufacturers will leave Dhaka today for India’s westernmost state of Gujarat to see the prospect of setting up a warehouse for grabbing the local market there.
During the visit, a five-member delegation, led by Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Matlub Ahmad, will try to know about the possible challenges and prospects of setting up a warehouse and distribution center there.
20150821 * Tannery workers demanded housing, schools before moving to Savar:
The workers of the tanneries on Thursday demanded that the authorities construct housing facilities, schools and hospitals for them and their children before they relocate to Hemayetpur suburb in Savar from Hazaribagh in the city.
Leaders of the Tannery Workers Union at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity press their five-point demands and said that it would be difficult for the workers to move to Savar without those ‘essential’ facilities in place.
Abdul Kalam Azad, president of the union, said that the infrastructures of the factories have already been constructed, ignoring the aspects of the workers’ amenities.
‘The government is going to move the factories which they support as those are affecting health of the city people,’ Azad said. But he poised a question.
How could the workers move without residential facilities?
20150816 * Leather sector’s exports cross $1b for second year:
Exports of leather and leather goods crossed $1 billion for the second year in fiscal 2014-15, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.
In 2014-15, Bangladesh exported leather and leather goods worth $1.13 billion, compared with $1.12 billion in the previous fiscal year, making it the second highest contributor to national exports after garment.
Jute and jute goods became the third highest export earner, data shows. Bangladesh exports leather shoes, travel bags, wallets, belts and finished leather.
20150814 * Tanneries need to move out of capital:
The contempt rule issued by the High Court on Tuesday to 10 tanners, seeking an explanation for their failure to relocate the tanneries from Hazaribagh in compliance with its previous orders is, indeed, welcome.
The court, as New Age reported on Wednesday, issued the rule after the industries secretary told it, in response to a similar contempt rule issued earlier against him, that they failed to relocate the tanneries following the court order delivered in 2001 ‘because of non-cooperation by the tanners’.
Moreover, the court asked the tanners to come up with the explanation in two weeks.
20150813 * Errant factories flout HC rule:
Tannery relocation fumbles
Although many tanneries located in Hazaribagh have been taking preparations to relocate to Savar, the High Court has issued a contempt ruling against ten factories for non-compliance.
The saga of tannery relocation has stepped into its 15th year and we are informed that the government intends to complete the process by 2016.
The last hurdle to the Savar project has now been removed with the installation of a Tk.600 crore central effluent plant.
Differences of opinion persist between the government and tannery owners on the costs of relocation.
Even though the compensation package may fall short of covering expenses, this largely export-oriented industry has grown at the expense of environmental pollution and public health and should therefore absorb the added expenditure.
20150821 * Muslin gone: Can jute retrieve its past glory?:
Despite the vast differences in terms of nature and contexts, muslin and jute have many common features.
Both the fabled Bengal products once enjoyed their days of glory, and became metonymy for the land’s rich heritage.
Eventually they fizzled out of the scene. With the disappearance of muslin, Bengalis in the late 18th century were virtually robbed of an age-old handicraft product of theirs.
The sadistic manner in which the vocation was taken away from rural artisans by the British East India Company has few parallels in history.
The jute growers did not have to face an economic onslaught like the impact of the Industrial Revolution, which badly jolted the muslin weavers.
But the wiping out of jute was hastened by the newly emerged global realities – the continued inventions of synthetic packaging materials worldwide.
The displacement of jute growers from heyday took place over a period of two decades.
The process began in the early seventies, which continues even today.
20150814 * Three state jute mills to undergo BMRE:
The government will start repairing three state-run jute mills on its own fund aiming to boost production while reducing incurring losses, officials said.
With this end in view, the ministry of textiles and jute (MoTJ) held a meeting recently and decided to go for balancing, modernisation, renovation and expansion (BMRE) of jute mills.
“We had a meeting recently. We decided to go for BMRE of three jute mills to help increase their production. We will start it from the current fiscal year,” state minister for textiles and jute Mirza Azam told the FE on Thursday.
20150814 * TAZREEN FIRE : Charge hearing deferred to Sept 3:
The District and Sessions Court Judge’s Court on Thursday deferred to September 3 the hearing in framing of charges against Tazreen Fashions managing director Delwar Hossain and 12 others in two cases for a fire at the apparel factory at Ashulia.
The judge of the court, SM Quddus Zaman deferred the hearing for the second time following a prosecution plea that they were not prepared for the hearing on petitions filed on the day by the defence counsel for discharging the accused from the cases.
On June 16, the court took cognisance of the charge sheet submitted against the 13 – Delwar, his wife Mahmuda Aktar, also the Tazreen chairman, and Tazreen Fashions officials and staff Dulal Uddin, Hamidul Islam, Al Amin-1, Anisur Rahman, Rana, Al Amin-2, Shamim Miah, Mahbubul Morshed, Mobarak Hossain Manju, Abdur Razzak and Shahiduzzaman.
The last four accused are still in hiding while the others are on bail.
20150826 * Censorship is no way to help Rana Plaza survivors:
We should welcome film-makers addressing this subject to further debate and reflect public interest
The High Court has banned screenings of Rana Plaza, a film about Reshma Begum, the garment worker who was rescued from the debris 17 days after the Rana Plaza complex collapsed on April 24, 2013, killing 1,136 people and injuring nearly 1,200 others.
Sirajul Islam Rony, president of the Bangladesh National Garments Workers Employee League, brought a petition to stay the film’s release on the grounds that it “will spark negative reactions among people at home and abroad,” and hamper attempts to restore GSP trade privileges from the United States.
It is concerning that the court should over-rule the release of this Bangladeshi made film on such spurious and overtly political grounds.
Rana Plaza is a well-known event that had a massive impact all around the world. A film about it is to be expected as part of the public interest generated by such tragedies. It is absurd to suggest, as the petitioner has claimed, that this film may discourage workers, or be taken into account by a foreign government in determining its trade policy.
20150825 * Bangladesh court bans movie on Rana Plaza factory disaster:
Judges fear film on deadly factory collapse could jeopardize Bangladesh’s $25 billion-a-year garment industry
A top court in Bangladesh Monday banned a movie depicting one of the world’s worst industrial disasters amid concerns that it would “negatively portray” the nation’s $25 billion garment industry.
Two High Court judges gave the order, saying the movie, Rana Plaza, named after the ill-fated factory complex, breached a previous order by the same court by screening gruesome images of the disaster that killed 1,138 people in 2013.
“The court heard a writ filed by a labour group and banned screening of the film in the country and overseas for six months,” Deputy Attorney General Mokleshur Rahman told AFP.
“The judges imposed the ban following concerns that it would negatively portray Bangladesh’s sensitive garment sector in the world and can also create [a] law and order problem in the country,” he added.
20150825 * RANA PLAZA MOVIE : HC bans screening:
The High Court on Monday banned screening of Rana Plaza film for six months.
A bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam banned posting on websites, internet, cell phones or social media any scene or part of the movie, which was scheduled to be released on September 4.
The court directed the information secretary, Bangladesh Film Censor Board, Bangladesh Film Development Corporation and Rana Plaza producer Shamima Akhter to explain in four weeks the legality of producing the movie.
The court passed the order after hearing a petition challenging the legality of producing the movie.
In his arguments, petitioner’s lawyer Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh submitted that negative portrayal of Bangladesh’s apparel industry would tarnish the country’s image abroad and spark adverse reactions among workers leading to law and order deterioration.
20150824 * HC bans screening of ‘Rana Plaza’:
The High Court has banned screening of a film about the rescue of garment worker Reshma from the debris of collapsed Rana Plaza, for six months.
The bench of Justice Naima Haider and Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam passed the order in response to a writ petition on Monday afternoon.
The court also stayed the effectivity of the film’s censor board certificate for six months.
Petitioner’s lawyer Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury said: “As per the court order, the film which was set to be released on September 4 cannot be screened in cinema halls or any other media.”
He said the petition was filed as the Rana Plaza collapse incident was not depicted properly in the film.
20150820 * Rana Plaza case against Bangladesh withdrawn in the US:
A lawsuit filed against Bangladesh with a US District Court over the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse has been withdrawn.
“The case was withdrawn last week by the plaintiffs,” confirmed a senior official of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry yesterday.
Abdur Rahaman, a personal representative of victims Sharifa Begum and Mahamudul Hasan Hridoy, filed the case with the US District Court of Columbia on April 23 this year against Bangladesh, JCPenney Corporation, The Children’s Place and Wal-Mart Stores.
The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had acted negligently and recklessly in failing to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for garment factory employees at the Rana Plaza building in Savar.
The petition sought an order to pay compensatory damages to the plaintiffs and other victims; to pay the costs of filing case, including attorneys’ fees and expenses; and to require injunctive relief, including requiring defendants to implement labour practices consistent with international standards for worker health and safety protection.
19:38:17 local time INDIA
20150814 * Monsanto’s Bt Cotton Directly Linked to Indian Farmer Suicides in Rain-Fed Areas, Scientific Study:
The Study finds farmers driven to suicide from increased costs of not being able to save seeds and increased chemical inputs, coupled with inadequate access to agronomic information Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
Rain-fed cotton yield dependent on weather not pest attacks, Bt technology futile
Using physiologically based demographic modelling (PBDM) methods to assess the dynamics of weather and pests on cotton yield, this latest study led by Professor Andrew Gutierrez at University of California, Berkeley calls into question the relevancy of Bt cotton, considering that the main target of the Bt cotton, the pink bollworm, only attacks irrigated but not rain-fed cotton.
The PBDM method, unlike previous studies that focus on econometric analysis of Bt cotton yields, looks at the holistic biological and ecological underpinnings of crop yield.
Using it to simulate prospective yields of rain-fed non-Bt cotton from 1980 to 2010 and its relationship to pink bollworm dynamics, the model provides a historical baseline measurement of the Indian cotton situation prior to the 1970s green revolution, where pink bollworm was the major pest of Indian cotton. Since the 1970s, insecticide technology has led to ecological destruction including outbreaks of formerly secondary pests, insecticide resistance and damage to human health.
This was followed by Bt technology that has also had negative effects on Indian cotton agriculture.
Inputting parameters on cotton growth from field experiments in India, the researchers estimated the daily effects of water stress on cotton phenology, growth and yield formation, predicting the daily growth dynamic of leaves, stems and roots as well as fruit and yield across 4 states (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Padresh) where most of the suicides are occurring.
The model was then run using daily weather conditions (from the Climate Forecast System Re-analysis of the United States for Environmental Prediction). Pink bollworm dynamics were modelled by capturing the phenology of dormancy induction as regulated by increased temperature and photoperiod, and spring emergence from diapause as a function of temperature.
20150825 * Farmers, labourers begin 5-day protest:
Farmer and labour unions today began a five-day protest near the District Complex and resident of Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, whereas in Mansa, farmers staged a protest near the District Complex, Mansa.
In Bathinda, the farmers did not block the road while staging the protest.
In protest against the state government held across the state, farmers are demanding compensation for families of farmers and farm labourers who have ended their lives following debt burden.
Besides, farmers are demanding conducting of a survey of suicides again and compensation for farmers who faced damage to their cotton crop by whitefly attack in this season.
The implementation of the circular issued by the state government last year to probe into the suicides committed by farmers and implementation of the Swaminathan report are some other demands.
20150825 * Four Maharashtra villages face huge losses as mysterious disease destroys BT cotton crop:
The unknown mysterious disease destroys BT cotton in more than 600 acres of farms belonging to around 150 farmers in four villages Borgaon (Irai), Irai (Borgaon),Sonurli (Gadegaon) and Wirur (Gadegaon) in Korpana tehsil of the district, said Shetkari Sanghatana leader and former MLA Wamanrao Chatap today.
Describing the situation faced by farmers Shetkar Sanghatana leader said that he was devastated to witness the huge losses in areas when he visited these farms along with his team to take stock of the situation personally. This kind of cotton disease is being witnessed for the first time here.
There are no pests and no visible signs of any other infections on cotton. The plants are affected in such a mysterious manner that their stem turn pinkish red and later the leaves dry after which the crops die a slow death, Chatap said.
* All COUNTRY PREPARES FOR THE GENERAL STRIKE:
The working people of the country, from almost all the sectors, from all the states, have very well completed their preparation for the 24 hour strike on 2nd September.
This strike is the 16th countrywide General strike after 1991, against the neoliberal offensive of the ruling classes and the fourth strike after all the 11 central TUs and also the National Federations came on a joint platform.
All informations from various corners of the country indicate that most enthusiastic preparations have been there to make the strike a complete success.
Central Trade Unions
All the Central Trade Unions have convened their national level meetings and chalked out programmes for independent and joint campaigns. All the Central Trade Unions have also, according to media reports, held their own organizational meetings at state level also. Those initiatives have resulted in successful holdings of the state level and sectoral conventions of all the Trade Unions and Federations.
Starting from West Bengal, all the states have organized joint Conventions and adopted resolutions calling upon the unions and federations in the state to join the countrywide strike. National leaders of CTUs have attended these conventions, raising enthusiasm among the delegates participating.
20150827 * Government fails to break deadlock with trade unions, nationwide strike on Sept 2 imminent:
The government has failed to break the deadlock with trade unions over their 12-point charter of demands, key being the Modi administration’s approach towards labour law amendments which unions feel are anti-labour.
This is despite the intervention of five key ministers, including Arun Jaitley who met the trade unions for the second time on Wednesday.
While talks will resume on Thursday, in the second meeting of the inter-ministerial committee with trade unions in 24 hours, central trade unions said they would stick to their demands and would not call off their planned nationwide strike on September 2 as there had been no concrete assurance from the government so far.
20150827 * Trade unions firm on September 2 strike:
Union government to look into demands again today
The government on Wednesday reached out to central trade unions to dissuade them from going on a nationwide strike on September 2.
However, talks between inter-ministerial committee headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the trade unions could not make any headway, and the trade unions refused to withdraw the call of strike.
However, the government has decided to continue the dialogue and has invited trade unions on Thursday.
“The meeting of the central trade unions with the Group of Ministers headed by Arun Jaitley held on Tuesday ended without any outcome. Therefore, the strike of September 2 stands,” said CITU Secretary AR Sindhu in a statement issued on Wednesday evening.
After the meeting, CITU President AK Padmanabhan and AITUC secretary DL Sachdeva told reporters that the government could not offer anything concrete.
20150824 * Trade unions back protest:
Joint Committee of Trade Unions (JCTU) has declared its support to 11 trade unions for their decision to hold a country-wide strike on September 2 protesting against the anti-labour policies of the Union government.
Addressing the district-level conference of JCTU in Yadgir city on Sunday, K. Somashekhar and D. Umadevi, leaders of All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) said long-pending demands including implementation of labour laws, increasing the minimum wages to Rs. 15,000, extending provident fund facilities to all unorganised workers, and regularising the services of the ASHA and anganwadi workers, remained unfulfilled despite several struggles.
They said no steps had been taken to provide jobs for unemployed youths and reduce rates of essential commodities.
The proposed country-wide strike would bring these issues to the Union government’s notice and demand immediate and permanent solutions.
20150819 * Govt’s laboured delivery on labour reforms:
One of the factors delaying this reform process is the staunch opposition by the trade unions which have collectively called a nationwide strike on September 2
Long wait by industries for key labour reforms in the country might not be over as the Union government is going slow on their demands.
After coming to power, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had announced a slew of labour reforms such as labour codes on industrial relations and wages, small factories Bill, factories (amendment) Bill, employees provident fund (amendment) Bill, employees’ state insurance (amendment) Bill, among others. However, these are pending at various stages.
One of the factors delaying this reform process is the staunch opposition by the trade unions which have collectively called a nationwide strike on September 2. The industries are desperate for labour law reforms.
“We are hopeful and positive about the reform process initiated by the government and hope it moves in the right direction. We want the changes as early as possible but there is a consultative process which we appreciate the government has to follow and get all the stakeholders on board,” said Babu Khan, senior director at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
20150819 * Trade Unions call for total shutdown in Tirupur on Sept. 2:
Leading trade unions have called for a total shutdown in Tirupur district alone, along with the general strike planned on September 2.
They include AITUC, CITU, INTUC, HMS, LPF, MLF, BMS and Labour Liberation Party. M. Chandran, State secretary of CITU, told reporters that the total shutdown would be to press for enforcing labour union rights in all industrial units, eight-hour shift for workers, social security benefits such as pension and health insurance for unorganised set of workers, and abolition of contract labour.
Industrial units should also fix basic wages for workers at Rs 15,000 a month, he added.
20150818 * Trade unions seek support for general strike:
Leaders of various trade unions discussed the steps to be taken for general strike on September 2 highlighting 12-point charter of demands.
All the trade unions have called for the strike to protest against the anti-labour policies of the Centre.
The trade union leaders, who spoke at the meeting, said that the government has totally failed to contain the price rise.
They demanded the government to amend the Minimum Wages Act and fix Rs. 15,000 as minimum wage for the workers employed in all sorts of industries.
20150816 * September 2 strike: Trade unions ask units to serve notices well in time:
To mobilise workers for their proposed strike on September 2, central trade unions have asked their affiliated units to serve legal notices to various entities in advance for ensuring wider participation in the protest, including from unorganised sectors.
As per legal requirement, trade unions of every company and organisation have to serve separate notices at least two weeks in advance for the purpose.
Thus, central trade unions have asked their units to complete all formalities by August 17 for going on strike to press for their demands.
“We have asked all our units in different organisations to make sure that legal notice for strike is served by August 17 to complete the formality two weeks in advance,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) General Secretary Vrijesh Upadhyay told PTI.
20150821 * Majority of powerlooms in Bhiwandi go on strike:
Industry seeks control on yarn prices, permission to export cloth
Nearly three-fourths of the 9 lakh powerloom units in Maharashtra’s Bhiwandi have been on strike since Monday, leaving as many workers jobless and per-day losses of about Rs 150 crore, estimate textile industry associations.
The strike has brought half of India’s powerloom sector to a halt, they say, since it comes over and above the production cutbacks in place since May at over 2.5 lakh units in Malegaon.
A production cutback is likely also at the spinning mills region that have been hit by excess capacity and a fall in demand for yarn from export markets, especially China, the Northern India Textile Mills Association has announced.
The striking powerlooms in Bhiwandi are demanding control on yarn prices and permission to export cloth. In Malegaon, mills started operating at 50 per cent of their capacity in May after the Rajasthan government shut down more than 739 textile processing units in Balotra, and Pali to ensure they treat effluent and check water pollution from chemicals impacting farmlands around the region.
“The recession of over one and half years has hit us hard…. illegal holding of yarn and its ever increasing prices add to our worries. On the other hand, the cloth prices do not rise,” Shoaib Guddu, conveyor of the action committee, which has called for a strike in Bhiwandi’s powerlooms, told The Hindu.
20150817 * Powerloom weavers urged to avail government assistance:
At the inauguration of the fourth edition of the buyer-seller meet-cum-powerloom product mela ‘TEXPO – 2015,’ jointly organized by the Powerloom Development and Export Promotion Council (PDEXCIL) and the Regional Office of the Textile Commissioner under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. PDEXCIL’s Chairman, M. Duraisamy, called upon the powerloom weavers to avail themselves of government assistance.
The Ministry of Textiles has allocated Rs. 11952.80 crore, which works out to be 26 percent of the total plan outlay, for subsidy outflow for the spinning sector.
This includes committed liabilities of spinning sector of erstwhile/modified Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUF) and Revised Restructured Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (RTUFS) during the 12th plan period.
Another scheme for those working in powerloom sector aged between 18 and 59 years was being implemented by the Centre, the Group Insurance Scheme (GIS). Powerloom workers engaged in weaving, twisting, winding, warping and sizing and weavers, who own four looms or less are eligible to get coverage under the GIS.
20150822 * Large apparel brands fare better than smaller ones in Q1: CMAI:
Larger brands perform better both in terms of increasing sales and in terms of inventory control
Large and giant apparel brands performed better than mid-level and small brands duriing the April-June quarter of the current fiscal, the textile industry’s benchmark Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI’s) Apparel Index showed.
Overall, CMAI’s Apparel Index jumped 6.2 points fior the June quarter, much like the previous quarter, with bigger brands performing far better in terms of sales. Their inventory holding was also lower during the quarter under consideration.
20150817 * New textile policy proposes Rs 80,000cr investment:
The state government has in-principle accepted a new textile policy that moots Rs 80,000 crore investment in five years in the sector which will be developed around the concept, ‘fabric to fashion’.
The designer of the policy, Ichalkaranji based BJP MLA Suresh Halwankar said for the first time such an approach is taking place where the cotton producing state will also become producer of ready-to-use cloths and garments.
Currently, the clothing industry from cotton to fabric to ready-to-wear cloths is scattered across the country.
The transportation expense is increasing the cost of the product while delivery time is also very high. Hence the new policy is mooted.
20150816 * New government initiatives to help development of textile and handloom industry:
Government has set its sights on the development in the organised and unorganised sectors of the textile industry, which is one of the mainstays of the national economy.
The initiatives of the government have raised hopes of resurrection of the Indian handloom and textile industries, said K. Radharaman of The House of Angadi, which has a 600-year legacy in the textile trade.
Setting up integrated textile parks, increasing export, development of handlooms, promotion of handicrafts and increasing sericulture are some of the elements the government has stressed upon.
20150816 * Maharashtra govt to set up textile hubs in cotton belt to support farmers:
The Maharashtra state government considering the massive unrest amongst the farmers in drought-hit region of Vidarbha, Marathwada and some parts of northern Maharashtra has taken the decision to expand the textile hub policy to nine districts across the state to override the farmers suicides in cotton growing belt.
The decision to accord textile industry has taken as it is second most important status after agriculture.
The districts which have been shortlisted for developing into textile hubs are Yavatmal, Buldhana, Amravati, Jalna, Parbhani, Nanded, Aurangabad, Beed and Jalgaon.
To begin with the decision was taken to set up a textile park at Amravati on a sprawling 100 acres of land.
The projects will be undertaken through the public and private partnership is aimed at creating a textile township which would have provisions for multiple activities from processing to marketing within the hub.
20150812 * Cotton spinning sector of northern India hit by decline in exports to China:
Cotton spinning mills in northern India facing crisis due the excess spinning capacity and decline in exports this fiscal year have resulted in poor cash flow and excessive stocks due to which they are planning to shut down one day a week, according to Chandigarh based Northern India Textile Mills’ Association (NITMA) having 98 member mills that includes leading names such as Vardhaman and Trident, etc.
Mr. Sharad Jaipuria, President of NITMA stated that in addition to these fiscal matters, textile policies in some southern states and those of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are hitting the northern spinning mills hard.
20150823 * Make in India: Reviving textile traditions of Varanasi:
Imran Matin, Bharat Shah, Hafeez Ahmed are names unlikely to ring a bell but their intricate warp and wefts have often been the showstopper on fashion ramps.
On Friday these names who really are master weavers from different pockets of Varanasi stepped out of their obscurity to find pride of place next to some of the country’s top designers.
Or perhaps it was the other way round. “You can’t teach a Benarasi weaver. They’re far too skilled. You can only be a catalyst,” pointed out designer Ritu Kumar as she stood before her pret installation for an exhibition called Woven Wonders of Varanasi on Friday evening hosted by the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in trying to revive the traditional weaves of Varanasi and supporting the weavers’ community there.
Ritu Kumar was one of 20 other designers including the likes of Rina Dhaka, Manish Malhotra, Anita Dongre, Nandita Mahtani, Neeta Lulla and others trying to weave fresh life into fabrics from the textile traditions of Varanasi.
19:38:17 local time SRI LANKA
20150823 * Unions confident of wage hike legislation:
Labour unions were positive that the new UNP-led regime would bring about legislation to grant the Rs. 2500 pay hike for private sector workers with retrospective effect from May 2015 in addition to other demands.
Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union General Secretary Anton Marcus told the Business Times that they were confident the government would bring in the required legislation and ensure that in future it would be the government’s prerogative to increase salaries and not market forces as was the current situation.
Draft legislation on the new proposed wage hike and other demands was expected to be tabled in the next Parliament after it meets on September 1,
Mr. Marcus said adding that this would be taken up after the Labour Advisory Council meets with the appointment of the new minister.
20150825 * Ansell faces Aussie protests against treatment of Sri Lankan workers:
Unionists from the textile, manufacturing and construction sectors in Australia descended on the Melbourne-headquarters of condom and glove manufacturer Ansell today to demand better treatment of workers in Sri Lanka.
Ansell is fighting a war of attrition against 300 poor and mainly female Sri Lankan workers who they sacked for going on strike at one of its factories.
Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus from IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union, addressed the rally in defence of the sacked workers.
Mr Marcus, who had his visa denied by Australian authorities last year, said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.
“These women have very little, so when this Australian company cuts their pay, while raising production quotas, they tried to exercise their right to collectively negotiate through the local union,” Mr Marcus said.
20150824 * These condoms are surely having us on:
Buying condoms for the first time is one of the more embarrassing experiences young Aussie men and women go through.
You look around the shop, refuse the offer of help from the middle-aged chemist, wait for the moment when there’s no one waiting at the register, and then make your run to the counter.
In the dash to the exit, how many people stop to think about what went into making their condom in the first place?
The process would frighten the pants off most Aussie men: Long glass moulds of a certain shape are dipped into liquid latex.
The latex moulds are dried in an oven like a cabana.
An electric charge is applied to the condom to ensure there are no pinholes.
The condom is then filled with 40 litres of water to make sure it can hold 40 litres of water. And all of this work is carried out by workers in some of the poorest countries in the world.
You might recognise some of its brands such as Lifestyle or its “next generation” SKYN.
But it seems Ansell is not quite as interested in protecting its workers as it is in protecting its customers and its rather large bottom line.
Ansell is fighting a war of attrition in the courts against 300 poor, mainly female, Sri Lankan workers the company terminated for going on strike at one of its factories.
Why did they go on strike? These women are paid less than 80c an hour to work in conditions so bad they are forced to relieve themselves at their workstations because they otherwise won’t meet impossible production targets.
They are also forced to work every day of the week, including weekends, without additional pay.
When Ansell tried to cut their pay they tried to exercise their right to collectively negotiate through their union and the company’s response was swift and harsh and many workers have not found work since.
20150812 * Sri Lanks likely to regain GSP plus from EU with no fresh conditions:
Sri Lanka is likely to regain the GSP plus trade concession from European Union for garments exports, government said, five years after the nation lost the trade concession over its failure to meet the criteria on human rights concerns.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gave assurance that Sri Lanka will regain the GSP plus trade concession from the European Union when he met local and foreign garment industry officials at Temple Trees yesterday. He said that no fresh conditions have been made.
They have been working very closely with the EU.
read more. & read more.
20150828 * Sri Lankan unions promise to protect new pro-US administration:
Sri Lankan trade union officials have warned against “any attempt to destabilise” the new pro-US United National Party (UNP)-led government.
Their comments are a warning, directed not only to the supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapakse but to workers as they come into conflict with the right-wing administration and its social austerity measures.
During the campaign for the August 17 general election, key unions lined up with other upper middle-class formations, including pseudo-left groups such as the Nava Sama Samaja Party and the United Socialist Party, and the NGOs, to back the UNP’s electoral front, the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG).
The UNFGG gained only 106 seats in the 225-member parliament, not enough for an absolute majority.
After the election, the UNP struck an agreement with President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to form the next government.
Last week, Trade Unions Collective for Social Justice (TUCSJ) convenor Saman Ratnapriya told a media briefing in Colombo that if any party attempted “a political coup to destabilise the government, ignoring people’s will, we will come to the streets against them.”
19:08:17 local time PAKISTAN
20150827 * Call to provide protection to women at workplace:
Speakers at a seminar have urged the government and other organisations to provide more protection to the working women at their workplace.
They demanded this while addressing a seminar titled ‘Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2010’ held under the auspices of two local NGOs here on Wednesday.
The speakers including Asad Bajwa, Hamid Sulehri, Sumera Saleem, Shamim Khan and the representatives of 10 leading local sports goods manufacturing firms said that after making the said Act in 2010, all the employers belonging to public, private and civil-society sectors, had become legally bound to adopt and practice a certain mechanism in order to provide better and problem free environment to the women workers at workplace.
They expressed concern that even after five years after the formation of the said Act, women were more exposed to the gender discrimination and sexual harassment at workplace than men.
20150828 * Govt asked to devise policy for home-based workers:
The representatives of various civil society organisations have stressed the need for devising provincial policy for home-based worker and its implementation through district and provincial administration.
The demand was made during an event titled “Awareness-raising and policy advocacy on women’s rights and labour laws for women workers’’ arranged by HomeNet Pakistan here on Thursday. The awareness drive was funded by USAID under Gender Equity Programme (GEP) of Aurat Foundation.
Speaking on the occasion, Ume Laila Azhar, executive director of HomeNet Pakistan said that the majority of home-based workers were women and their economic activities were contributing significantly to the economy.
She said that home-based workers should be prioritised within poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment initiatives and national and provincial government programmes.
20150825 * ‘Amending labour laws necessary to spur industrialisation’:
Speakers at a moot stressed the need for amending the labour laws to improve them for betterment of the labour force, boosting of industrialisation and reduction of poverty in Pakistan.
They were speaking at a two-day training workshop arranged by IndustriALL Global Union on the topic of ‘Collective Bargaining Trends in Labour Laws’ at the Home Based Women Worker Centre (HBWWC) Karachi. The workshop was presided over by IndustriALL Global Union Pakistan Council Secretary Imran Ali.
National Trade Union Federation Deputy General Secretary Nasir Mansoor spoke on the aims and objects of the moot.
He said there was a dire need to revise and amend labour laws to make them more worker-friendly.
Home-based Women Workers Federation general secretary Zahra Khan speaking to the third session on trade unions said trade union is a word of English language.
It is combination of two words: trade or profession or business and union or association or gathering or joining.
She said in the presence of a trade union the factory owners cannot take unilateral decisions, and instead consult with the union.
A trade union or labour union is an association or gathering of workers that safeguards the rights of its members through their representatives.
20150828 * No thaw in labour unionists, mill owners stand-off:
Powerloom labourers protested on Thursday in different bazaars demanding withdrawal of applications by mill owners against their union leaders.
Loom owners said they would surrender the keys of their locked factories at the DCO office if the administration did not take action against alleged extortionists.
Council of Loom Owners Chairman Waheed Khaliq Ramay with other loom owners told a press conference the labourers had closed their factories only to pressure them for extortion.
He alleged that owners had paid about Rs6 million extortion in last few months to union leaders and District Coordination Officer Noorul Amen Mengal and police officials were well aware of the situation.
He said police and the district government officials had failed to take action against extortionists in the industrial areas.
20150826 * Powerloom owners, LQM stick to their guns:
After having two rounds of talks, the powerloom owners and Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) office-bearers could not reach any conclusion to open factories in Sidhar closed since Aug 8.
The LQM will hold a long march on the CM House today (Wednesday).
A number of workers staged a protest rally on Tuesday after talks held in the presence of the district government and police officials failed.
The rally started from the DCO Office where LQM workers were staging the sit-in on fourth consecutive day and after taking a round of the Clock Tower it reached the starting point.
Talking to Dawn, LQM spokesman Abuzar Ghafari said they had tried their level best to convince factory owners to restore looms. However, some factory owners seem unwilling to resolve the issue, he added.
The LQM office-bearers asked their employers to pay workers 17-day wages as they had closed their units ‘without any justification.’ Over this, he said, factory owners left the dialogue and categorically refused to pay to workers.
20150821 * No headway in talks between powerloom owners, workers:
The district administration and police officials failed to satisfy powerloom owners of the Sidhar sector so as to persuade them to call off their strike and reopen units closed for nine days.
Talks between powerloom owners and the Labour Qaumi Movement office bearers held at the DCO office here on Thursday in the presence of police and district government officials.
The situation turned ugly when two labour leaders started using objectionable language and powerloom owners had to leave dialogues.
Officials of the district administration tried to bring the owners on the table again, but they refused to sit with LQM leaders and left the venue.
Sidhar sector president Adil Bari said initially the district administration held talks with factory owners in the morning and asked them to sit with LQM office bearers to resolve the issue.
Talks were underway peacefully when two LQM leaders started using the objectionable language against the owners forcing them to leave the venue.
20150819 * Powerlooms closed for a week over LQM ‘extortion demands’:
Several weaving factories in Sidhar have been closed for over a week now against alleged demands of extortion by activists of Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM), an entity representing powerloom workers.
A week ago, factory owners said they had submitted 25 applications mentioning names of alleged extortionists and the amount demanded, however, no action was taken by police.
An LQM office-bearer claimed only one owner had been asked to improve his factory’s efficiency and adopt safety measures. Instead, the owners ganged up against workers and went on a strike alleging LQM people were demanding extortion, he added.
“Police have sought two days to convince owners to resume operations. If they fail, our workers will go on a strike in all sectors of Faisalabad,” LQM Secretary General Aslam Mairaj said.
Talking to Dawn, Council of Loomowners Association Chairman Waheed Khaliq said Sidhar sector had more than 25,000 powerlooms employing more than 5,000 labourers. All labourers had been jobless for 10 days as factory owners were not ready to resume operations because of extortion allegedly being demanded by LQM activists.
He said before going on strike, Sidhar sector weaving factory owners had staged a demonstration and a sit-in at the District Council Chowk demanding action against suspected labourers.
He also said district government officials held talks with loom owners and formed a two-member committee comprising Lyallpur Town Superintendent of Police (SP) Malik Owais and Saddar Assistant Commissioner Rafia Haider to look into the issue.
20150818 * Making headway: ‘K-P passed 12 labour rights laws’:
Pakistan is making considerable progress in the cause against child and bonded labour and achieving gender equality at workplaces. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alone has passed 12 laws in this regard and is working towards their implementation.
This was said by International Labour Organization (ILO) Pakistan Director Francesco d’Ovidio. Speaking to the journalists at a hotel in the city on Monday, he said there are a total of eight fundamental ILO conventions, all ratified by Pakistan.
The ILO director, whose four-year stint in the country is ending soon, said the biggest challenge for K-P is the lack of employment opportunities.
“Pakistan is one of the first countries in the world to adopt the decent work agenda programme,” said the director.
According to d’Ovidio, the agenda consists of four strategic objectives – creating jobs, guaranteeing rights at work, extending social protections and promoting social dialogue.
“This is a very good start,” he said. “We are now ending the second generation of the decent work programme which ran from 2010 to 2015. Assessment is under way to extend the programme to 2016.”
20150822 * Minimum wage:
The Punjab government has fixed Rs13,000 as the minimum monthly wage for industrial labourers and workers.
A handout quoted a notification issued by the Minimum Wages Board of Punjab secretary, according to which the board has increased wages of all unskilled workers working in industries to Rs13,000, while those of skilled and semi-skilled labourers of 102 registered industries in Punjab has been increased by 8.33pc, which will be enforced from July 1.
20150824 * Safety at workplace:
Every fifteen seconds a worker dies from work-related accident or disease, and another 153 workers have a work-related accident around the world, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
It is estimated that each year about 2,020,000 workers die of work-related diseases, while 321,000 are killed on the job, mostly in the developing countries. In recent years therefore, the promotion of occupational safety and health at the workplace has assumed a greater relevance and significance worldwide.
Globally, there are 337 million fatal and non-fatal accidents, and 160 million suffer from various work-related diseases every year.
In Pakistan, the conditions are worse, though statistics are either not available or are unreliable about work-related accidents, injuries and diseases, in spite of the fact that a Labour Force Survey is conducted regularly.
Accidents are common in various economic sectors, due to non-compliance of related labour laws and weak supervision by the concerned government authorities, adversely affecting a large number of workers across the country. There are a number of health problems too.
But most of these accidents and incidents go unreported. Sadly, the working conditions in most of the establishments are substandard, with no concept of adopting preventive and control measures, especially in the informal sector.
Most of the 53.67 million employed workforce, including female and children, are poor, illiterate and semi-trained, and thus exposed to various occupational hazards.
On the other hand, work environments are far from satisfying and acceptable by any standards.
The rate of non-fatal occupational injuries in the country has been rising consistently from 2.1 percent in 2007-08 to 4.1 percent in 2012-13, reflecting poorly on the government and the employer to promote workplace safety and health. A
s an example, there were 389 new cases of occupational fatalities and 512 non-fatal injuries reported in 2012 in the Punjab province alone, resulting in loss of 1,763 days, and turning many workers jobless.
Nonetheless, the suffering caused by such accidents to workers and their families is incalculable.
The range and scope of occupational safety and health covers all the industrial, commercial, agricultural and service sectors, utilities, manufacturing, transport, communications, hotels and restaurants, mining, quarrying, construction, fisheries and the SMEs.
Textile is the single largest industry in terms of production output and employment.
Many chemicals are used in textile industry for various processes, and these processes generate noise, dust and emissions of toxic chemicals, which all are injurious to the health. In addition, large quantities of waste are generated, adding to air and water pollution.
20150812 * ILO to continue supporting ‘decent work agenda’:
Country Director of ILO Francesco d’Ovidio reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to promotion of decent work agenda in Pakistan.
He said this in a meeting with provincial Secretary Labour and Manpower Department Hamid ul Kari and Director Saeed Ahmed on Tuesday. A tripartite stakeholder consultation provided an opportunity to highlight Balochistan-specific issues for Decent Work Agenda.
Appreciating commitments made by the provincial government and social partners for improving working conditions and workers’ welfare, Mr d’Ovidio commended the notification of tripartite consultative committee.
Labour legislation, policy and issues of workers in mining, fisheries and informal sector were discussed at length.
20150828 * Fashion industry: PRGMEA chief seeks government support:
Central Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Ijaz A Khokhar has underscored the need of formulating sector wise trade polices for bringing big boost in exports of the country.
Expressing his satisfaction on new Trade Policy and urged upon the government to implement it in letter and spirit to cope with global challenges as well as to ensure considerable increase in export volume.
In an interview with Business Recorder on Thursday, he urged upon the government to take drastic steps for extending support to fashion industry enabling it to bring innovation in products to cope with the fast changing fashion trends easily.
At present, the industry was competing with traditional techniques and timely support of the government would help not only in enhancing export volume and enabling to follow the modern fashion trends, he said.
20150825 * Pakistan need to focus on diversifying their export range to Europe:
Acting Ambassador of European Union (EU), Stefano Gatto during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Pakistan’s exports mainly included textile and leather goods to EU has shown improvement but the Pakistan trade and industrial community must make efforts and focus on diversifying their export range to Europe to take fully benefit from EU’s GSP plus scheme.
The EU envoy said that Pakistan needs to focus on strengthening its capacity to effectively compete in the international markets. Pakistan’s exports to EU have been gradually improving after the grant of generalized scheme of preferences (GSP-plus) for 10 years which commenced from January 1, 2014 but after every two years, the 28-nation European block will assess whether Pakistan is fulfilling the conditions required to get duty-free access to European markets or not.
20150825 * Textile exports: stakeholders make key demands to help arrest decline:
Expressing their serious concerns over a decline in textile exports, textile industry stakeholders said high cost of doing business is rendering the Pakistani textile producers uncompetitive in the international textile market and demanded that the Long Term Financing Facility (LTTF) may also be extended to the spinning sector, drawbacks on entire exports and sales tax zero-rating on import of machinery.
The Federal Textile Board (FTB) meeting held here on Monday under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastagir Khan to ponder on ways and means not only to restrict a further decline in textile exports.
The participants expressed serious reservations over the continuous decline in textile exports.
20150825 * Government draws criticism over decline in textile exports:
A big plunge in textile exports drew a strong criticism against the PML-N government, as the industrialists on Monday called it an ‘indifferent’ rule to the national economy.
Pakistan suffered a 16.90 percent fall in the overall exports and 12 percent in textiles alone, Chairman, Pakistan Apparel Forum, Javed Bilwani said, citing the official statistics and terming the country’s economic situation ‘alarming’.
He said the country’s textiles failed to show a growth with all its categories had gone down on the world trade index. Bed-wear export declined by 21 percent, towel by 9.01 percent, knitwear by 8.20 percent and readymade by 6.14 percent during July 2015 comparing with exports in June 2015.
20150824 * Textile exports: 12 percent July decline raises alarm bells:
The government has taken a serious note of a highly significant decline – about 12 percent- in textile exports of the country during last one month (July) and called an emergency meeting of the Federal Textile Board (FTB) on Monday (today), it is learnt.
The body would consider ways and means not only to restrict further decline in textile exports but would ponder on proposals as to how to boost exports.
According to the latest figures released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, country”s textile exports declined to $1.03 billion in July 2015 from $1.16 billion of the same period of the previous year, showing reduction of 11.72 per cent.
Textile exports, which have long been the backbone of foreign exchange earnings for Pakistan, are continuously on the declining side or the last several months. Textile sector”s share in country”s exports is around 55 per cent but its share in global trade is on the decline due to multiple issues including energy crisis, input cost, law and order situation, fiscal policies etc.
Pakistan”s share in global textile trade dropped from 2.2 percent to 1.8 percent during last five years and may limit to 1.5 percent by 2020, sources added.
20150821 * Textile industry appears to be in trouble: IPR fact-sheet:
A fact-sheet released by the Institute of Policy Reforms (IPR) says Pakistan’s premier industry, textiles, appears to be in trouble.
The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has threatened to go on a strike if corrective measures are not taken by the government by August 31.
“This is unprecedented as, despite a business-friendly government, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association is out in the cold perhaps for the first time. Historically, it has had privileged access to the corridors of power and enjoyed special treatment.
The basic question is whether there is a crisis in the textile sector today?
If so, why has APTMA failed to convince the government or for the government to voluntarily take steps to revive the industry?
There is a full-fledged Ministry of Textiles and a Textile Policy has been announced for the period, 2014 to 2019.
Despite all this, the industry appears to be languishing due to neglect and lack of implementation of the Policy.”
The sheet released on Thursday said over 60 percent of the output of the textile sector is exported. “Exports of textiles showed high growth of 10 per cent annually from 2001-02 to 2010-11.
Since then they have stagnated at under $14 billion. This is despite cumulative depreciation of 19 per cent in the value of the Pakistani Rupee and, more recently, the granting of GSP+ Status by the European Union.
The latter has led to some diversion of exports, without raising substantially the global volume of exports.
20150816 * Textile garments: benefit of duty drawback extended to exporters using PSF, ECC told:
The Finance Ministry has informed the Economic Co-ordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet that benefit of duty drawback is also available to the exporters of textile garments using Polyester Staple Fiber (PSF) purchased from the domestic market.
Sources said that the ECC meeting presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was informed that since Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has now categorically confirmed that benefit of duty drawback under SRO- 209 has also been extended to the exporters of textile garments using PSF purchased from the domestic market, therefore, the government may inform local manufacturers of PSF accordingly.
20150817 * APTMA criticises ministry for showing complacency:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association spokesman here on Sunday, has lamented over the carefree attitude of the Ministry of Water and Power, which has been ignoring the ground realities and ultimately destroying the textile industry as the largest employer of 10 million workers in Pakistan.
“The Ministry of Water and Power is following the policy of recovering theft and line losses from the efficient consumers,” he added.
“The Ministry should also avoid sarcastic over the demand for zero rating regime for the textile industry, as it is a universal truth that the export-oriented industry enjoys zero rating regime everywhere in the world,” he said and continued that the Ministry should understand the export mechanism and be friendly to it in the larger national interest.
20150816 * Tariff reduction: power ministry reacts to APTMA”s claim:
The Ministry of Water and Power has strongly reacted to the claim of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) with regard to reduction in power tariff.
“We gave comparison of average rates of 2015 and 2014 and not industrial rates of 2013 which the association mentioned in its advertisement.
Aptma wants the same rate as that of lifeline consumers and they should register themselves with Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) for financial help,” said an official requesting anonymity.
He said, the Ministry of Water and Power has claimed that the rates applicable in 2014 have come down in 2015 and if this claim is untrue, the Aptma has the right to criticise the government.
“Aptma is comparing its own rates of 2013 with the current rates and not giving comparison of average rates of 2014 with tariff of 2015 for all consumers,” he added.
The official further stated that the Ministry of Water and Power never said that the rates of textile industry have been brought down, adding that the government claimed that average rates have come down across the board including for the lifeline consumers.
20150815 * Textile sector set to get major relief:
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will take new initiatives to facilitate textile sector by addressing their concerns through new anti-smuggling strategy, upward revision of customs values on import of fabric/garments, possible regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn, changes in Expeditious Refund System (ERS), speedy payment of duty drawback/sales tax refunds, clearance of second-hand/used clothing under ”Red Channel” and processing of 40 pending cases of sales tax zero-rating on electricity/natural gas supply to textile units.
Sources told Business Recorder here on Friday that the FBR has taken the decisions in the last meeting with All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and other associations at the FBR House.
A committee was formed by the Minister for Finance to discuss and resolve the problems being faced by the APTMA.
20150812 * Closure of textile mills: motion moved in Senate to discuss situation:
A motion was moved in Senate by Senator Mohsin Aziz, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Textile, and Vice Chairman of KP Board of Investment and Trade, aimed at to discuss arising situation regarding closing of textile mills.
The debate on the motion was held during the session of Senate on Tuesday, in which Senators Ilyas Ahmad Bilour, Saima Abid, Saeed Ghani, Hamza Mohsin Khan Leghari and others took part, according to press release issued here on Tuesday.
Senator Mohsin Aziz, who is also Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Textile has stated that textile industry is not closing down due to inefficiency, quality issue, raw material, and law and order but also due to the high cost of input, couple with highest tariff of electricity and gas, as compared to competing countries like, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China, etc.
20150818 * Import of cotton yarn: PRGMEA will oppose imposition of RD:
The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA) will strongly oppose any move by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for imposition of regulatory duty on import of cotton yarn without taking all stakeholders of the textile chain on board.
Ijaz A Khokhar Chairman PRGMEA told Business Recorder here on Monday that the sector is surprised to know that the FBR has taken some decisions to facilitate textile sector, in a meeting held with All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) and the Garments Manufacturers Association.
However, key stakeholder of garment sector ie PRGMEA was not invited to the meeting.
20150812 * APTMA chief urges government to devalue Pakistan rupee or withdraw taxes:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman S M Tanveer has urged the government to devalue the Pakistani rupee by 15 percent or drop innovative taxes, surcharge and gas infrastructure development cess from the textile industry.
In a press conference on Tuesday, which also drew in Punjab Chapter Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Akbar at the association’s Punjab House, Chairman Tanveer said.
“The association has deferred its nation-wide strike for a month following a request made by Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
“The association has so far held three important meetings with the government.”
He also said he was holding the conference to let the media know about the weekly progress on the parleys with the government and that his association was satisfied with developments.
20150812 * Bangle workers protest against non-payment of salaries:
Workers of a glass bangle factory staged a demonstration against the closure of the factory without paying their salaries and other benefits by its owner.
The protest was held outside Hyderabad Press Club on Tuesday which was attended by a large number of workers.
They chanted slogans against the owner of the factory and Sindh labour department while holding banners inscribed with demands for justice.
Leading the protest, General Secretary Glass Bangle Labour Union, Haji Siraj told media persons that the owner of the factory, Athar had closed the factory on July 3, 2015 without intimating competent authority including labour department and paying their dues.
It is clear violation of labour laws which prohibit closing a factory without intimating labour department and clearing all salaries and other benefits of workers, he said.
He demanded the higher authority to ensure the implementation of labour laws in the factories in letter and spirit and get theirs salaries and other benefits cleared immediately.
20150826-27 * Baldia factory fire: Investigation team to leave for London:
Investigation team tasked to probe Baldia Town factory fire case has been allowed to leave for London.
According to details, the 4-member investigation team headed by DIG Muneer Sheikh and DIG Sultan Khawaja will leave for London to record the statements of factory owners.
Sources said that the factory owners had departed to London after the tragic incident of the factory fire – the worst in Pakistan’s history.
Over 250 people had lost their lives in Baldia Town factory inferno.
The owners have been in London after the tragic factory fire which had claimed over 250 lives and is considered to be the worst in Pakistan’s history.
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19:08:17 local time UZBEKISTAN
* White Gold Pre-Party Demonstration:
The Uzbek government is throwing a fancy dinner at its Embassy in Washington, D.C., to showcase Uzbek food, culture and heritage to invited guests.
We want to make sure party-goers also learn about the yearly ritual of forced labor that Uzbek citizens must endure at the hands of their own government. Please join us for a pre-party on the streets outside the embassy to speak out against forced labor in the Uzbek cotton harvest!
The government of Uzbekistan operates the largest state-orchestrated forced labor systems of cotton production in the world.
Annually, the Uzbek authorities force farmers to grow cotton and more than a million school teachers, doctors, nurses and other citizens to harvest it, all under threat of punishment.
Profits from cotton sales solely benefit the government elite, and the Uzbek government threatens, detains and assaults citizens who attempt to report this human rights abuse.
* Uzbek government uses local organizations to mobilize cotton pickers:
The government of Uzbekistan has begun preparations for the 2015 cotton harvest. In at least two regions, the government appears to be using local organizations with close links to the government to support the mobilization of cotton pickers for the harvest.
In Syrdarya region, an appeal under the names of the Charity Foundation Mahalla, Nuroniy Foundation, and youth-focused organization Kamolot was circulated that called on residents to work for the president and pick cotton:
“Our people traditionally consider such work to be an honourable occupation. Therefore, those who are able to work and who consider themselves part of our society must not stay away from this worthy cause, and from the beginning of the cotton harvest must go to the cotton fields.
|During the harvest, everyone should consider oneself a cotton picker.
This is the way to prove our patriotism and devotion to our homeland. We can thus show our esteemed president that we are hardworking, honest people with an open heart.”
* Pacific trade deal puts profit over people:
Labour activists worry that a US-led free-trade deal under negotiation will prioritise corporate profits over workers’ rights and pressure governments to bow to the will of investors.
Trade ministers from the 12 nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which would stretch from Japan to Chile and cover 40 percent of the world’s economy – failed to finalise a deal at talks last month on the Hawaiian island of Maui, but were confident an agreement was within reach. Talks are expected to resume in the autumn.
Campaigners for workers’ rights complain that they have been denied a voice in the trade talks, and have raised concerns about part of the deal that would allow corporations to sue governments for the potential loss of future profits.
“The investor-state dispute settlement provisions in this massive trade deal … if it’s passed, binds them to a convoluted logic that allows multinational corporations to sue … if a government passes a law or regulation that protects its people to the possible detriment of sales,” said Shawna Bader-Blau, executive director of the Solidarity Centre.
“Corporate rights are treated as portable, binding and protected by enforceable laws in global trade agreements, but not so human rights,” Bader-Blau said at the opening of a migrant labour conference on Monday hosted by Solidarity Centre in Bogor, Jakarta.
* The good and bad news about TPP:
Even if the Trans-Pacific Partnership were to take off, it will not alter the regional economic order. But its fate affects the credibility of the United States.