19:37:00 local time * Fast Retailing sets up unit to drive Uniqlo growth in China:
Japanese retail giant Fast Retailing Co is to set up a subsidiary company in China to oversee its “aggressive” expansion plans in the country. Last month the retailer said it planned to open 62 stores in China during its current financial year, taking its store count there to 142 stores by the end of August. Describing the expansion of the Uniqlo store network in China as “one of the most significant business challenges facing Fast Retailing at present,” the company said it plans to invest $35 million in Fast Retailing (Shanghai) Apparel Co. read more.
* DOMOTEX Asia/CHINAFLOOR – successful events:
A three-day show made of 1,112 exhibitors, 11 halls for a total gross of 120,000sqm, and 39,856 visitors. At the heart of one of the most promising markets of the world, Shanghai has just hosted, on the 27th, 28th, and 29th March, the leading flooring industry exhibition in Asia Pacific, closing with a big success not only in terms of numbers, but also from the point of view of quality and standards achievements.
After reviewing on-site interviews, post show questionnaires, media reports and key-persons’ remarks, from all perspectives, the feedback is that DOMOTEX asia/CHINAFLOOR 2012 was a success and is indeed the mandatory platform for doing business in Asia. read more.
19:37:00 local time PHILIPPINES
* NCR workers to get P30 addt’l COLA:
The National Capital Region’s wage board has approved a P30 additional cost of living allowance (COLA) for minimum wage earners in the metropolis. Alan Macaraya, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment-NCR, said the additional COLA will be implemented in 2 tranches.
The first tranche of P20 will be implemented 15 days after publication. The remaining P10 will follow 6 months after. “Kahapon after nag-public hearing, ang board nag-agree kami mag-dagdag ng P30 na COLA sa ating mga mangagagwa dito sa Metro Manila. Yung P22 na COLA na dati iinintegrate natin, tapos nagdagdag tayo P30, that’s increase of about P900 per month,” he told radio dzMM. read more.
* NCR, CAR wage hike to enable workers cope with rising prices:
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the P30 and P8 increases for minimum-wage earners in the NCR and CAR, respectively, were decided after taking into consideration, among other factors, the viability of business and industry, inflation rate and the average inflation rate of basic prime commodities for the period June 2011 to April 2012.
She said the wage increase in the NCR will be integrated in the cost of living allowance (Cola), making the minimum wage rate for Metro Manila workers from P426 to P456. The decision of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in NCR was based on the P90 wage-increase petition filed by the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP). read more.
18:37:00 local time VIET NAM
* Cotton may be traded on Vietnam Commodity Exchange:
Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) has proposed that cotton fibre may be listed for trade on the Vietnam Commodity Exchange (VNX). Trading on VNX would reduce price speculation of the commodity, as prices would be based on transparent supply and demand situation. It would also establish a link between the Vietnamese domestic market and international market, said participants in a seminar held in HCM City. read more.
18:37:00 local time THAILAND
* Somyot denied bail:
We are sad to tell you that Somyot’s tenth request for bail was denied yesterday. At the last minute the Criminal Court informed Somyot’s family and legal team that they were denying bail on the basis that Somyot’s request for a constitutional review of Article 112 has been submitted by his lawyers and this case needs to be resolved before they will act. We argue strongly with this decision, which is a denial of his basic rights which is even more significant because of his request for a constitutional review. Given the recent death of Uncle SMS, held in prison under Article 112 we are highly concerned about Somyot’s deteriorating health and the impact of the Court’s decision on his capacity to mount a full defence against the charges. read more
* Unionists ‘laid off in wake of wage increase’:
Since the Bt300 daily minimum wage was launched on April 1, many businesses have been trying to lay off union activists or limit their roles to prevent them from fighting for workers’ rights, a labour leader said yesterday.
“Labour union members have been deemed as hostile [by employers] and some of them have been laid off in many cases, or assigned to non-paying duties or no longer given overtime work, which earns them extra income,” said Chalee Loysung, chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC). (…)
The labour-intensive garment industry was the worst in terms of unwillingness to pay Bt300 or employing devices to keep the cost down, said Chaloey Chombulan, a member of the Textile Garment and Leather Workers Federation of Thailand. read more.
18:37:00 local time CAMBODIA
* UK to open investment office:
The United Kingdom Trade and Investment Office would establish a perman-ent branch in Phnom Penh in the expectation that economic ties between the two countries would continue to grow, Cambodian and UK officials said yesterday.
Bilateral trade has risen by 300 per cent during the past five years and was worth about US$400 mill-ion in 2011, according to the British embassy in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia’s garment industry has traditionally attracted the biggest share of UK investment.
Along with the trade-office ann-ouncement and a visit by Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan, Quantum Clothing, the UK’s largest company in Cambodia, opened its third garment factory here yesterday. read more.
* Cambodia Garment Worker Justice:
FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent: Back in the 1990s, Cambodia, impoverished and rebuilding after its genocidal Khmer Rouge years, took steps to give its new garment industry a competitive leg up. It agreed to a system of fair labor standards with a minimum wage rule, a limit to working hours, unions to represent workers, and freedom of expression. All would be open to international inspection. Today, there are perhaps 400,000 garment workers in more than 300 factories in and near the capital, Phnom Penh. They are subcontractors to brand names and retailers in Europe and America.
Beginning from scratch less than two decades ago, Cambodia’s garment industry has grown into the largest export earner for this country. Three out of four dollars that come into Cambodia come from the garment factories.
The key question is how much all this has benefited workers, almost all of whom are female. Many factories have been plagued by labor unrest. Occasionally, it’s been violent. There have been frequent reports of faintings on factory floors. The unions cite unhealthy conditions and workers weak from malnourishment. read more.
* Lifting of WTO’s MFA hurts Cambodian apparel workers:
The abolition of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) multi-fibre agreement (MFA) on textile trade quotas has worsened the condition of workers in Cambodian and Sri Lankan garment and textile sectors, according to a World Bank report on the textile industry.
The 2005 liberalization of WTO’s quota rules have especially affected women workers, according to the report.
The report states the intensified global competition, particularly with China, led to a fall in apparel prices, which drove wages downwards in Sri Lankan and Cambodian clothing sectors. read more.
* UK investment in Cambodian apparel sector to surge:
Investments in the Cambodian garment sector from the UK are to get a boost as the UK Trade and Investment Office is set to open a permanent branch in Phnom Penh.
Traditionally, Cambodia’s clothing sector has attracted the largest chunk of UK investment. Last year, the UK was the only European country to invest in Cambodia. read more.
19:37:00 local time MALAYSIA
* 2m worth of imitation sports wear confiscated:
Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (MDTCC) enforcement officers seized more than RM5 million (S$2.0) worth of imitation football jerseys in raids on two locations here yesterday. In what was described as the biggest seizure in Selangor this year, 250,000 fake jerseys carrying premium brands were confiscated from the two premises in Sri Damansara 5 and Sri Damansara 13. read more.
18:07:00 local time MYANMAR
* Low wages spark labor strikes in Myanmar:
With lowest wages in the region, workers in factories established with foreign investment in Myanmar go on strike due to extremely low wages in 2012. (…)
Sparked by the extremely low basic salary, workers from High Art Wig Factory A and B in Hlinethaya Industrial Zone 3 and 4 and UNNO Myanmar Yes Garment Factory in Hlinethaya Industrial Zone 3 walked out on strike at 8 am on 9 May 2012. Over 200 workers from the wig factory marched in car to Hlinethaya Township Labor Office and Regional Labor Office in Mayangon Township and staged demonstrations there.
Worker Ma Lei Lei Khin from High Art Wig Factory B said, “When we asked for a pay rise in March, the factory management said that the owner was away, and they would increase our basic salaries when the owner came back. We waited in vain. Some of the workers went to them and asked for a pay rise, and their salaries were raised by K 5000 per month. Not all the workers in a section got the pay increase. However, the factory management cut our wages by K 8,000 when we were absent from work one day. When we could not work overtime, we were forced to do sanitation tasks of the factory. Food was also very bad. Our main demand is to increase our basic salaries.” read more.
* June Deadline Spurs Migrant Visa Rush:
The sun has already set on a rundown apartment building down a quiet narrow alley near the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border. A large group of Burmese migrant workers congregate outside.
They have been waiting for the Thai agency to process their visas since the early afternoon. They already spent hours queuing up, in the hot summer sun, on the Friendship Bridge to get day passes to enter Thailand. The agency charged them 400 baht (US $12.70) for the pass, even though it officially only costs 20 baht.
The agency is just one of dozens which have sprung up along the border in recent months, cashing on the looming June 14 deadline for National Verification. The new Thai law requires foreign workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos to be legally registered to work in the country.
Answering the call of a Thai labor crisis, thousands of Burmese workers cross into Mae Sot every day, hoping to earn a salary several times higher than in their native Burma.
17:37:00 local time BANGLA DESH
* RMG accessory makers’ assoc wants more authority:
Garment accessory and packaging manufacturers have urged the government to empower their trade body to issue utilisation permission certificates in the next fiscal year to help them cut extra costs and avoid harassment. read more.
17:07:00 local time INDIA
* In 2 years, 32,000 textile workers lost jobs:
The Minister assured the House that the Government was making necessary amendments in the Textile Workers Rehabilitation Fund Scheme to expedite benefits to workers. read more.
16:37:00 local time PAKISTAN
* Confusion persists over EU package for Pakistan:
Confusion prevails over the fate of European Union preferential package
for import of 75 items from Pakistan after the lapse of
three-and-a-half months and officials in the commerce ministry are
still clueless about the time that Brussels will take to complete the
so-called formalities for its implementation.(…)
Opposition from leading textile countries — India, Brazil and Bangladesh — and textile lobbies within the 27-member EU delayed not only the implementation of the package but also its effectiveness.
To please these countries, the EU had amended the original scheme to use tariff rate quotas on 20 products rather than full liberalisation in its revised draft submitted on Jan 20 with the WTO secretariat.
But now, the source said, Brussels was working on further amendments to
please some of its textile producing members. read more.