This was in the news on-line, today, 24 may 2012


* East Asia and Pacific growth slows down but still robust: WB

Growth in the East Asia and Pacific region remains strong and robust, although it slows down during the post-crisis era after hitting its peak and the region needs to find out new model of growth, the World Bank (WB) said Wednesday at the regional teleconference of its 10 East Asia and Pacific branches.                                      According to WB’s latest report entitled “Capturing News Sources of Growth,” developing East Asia and Pacific grew 8.2 percent in 2011, excluding China, a sharp decline from the 10 percent growth a year earlier. (…)

Garment, milled rice, construction and tourism together consist of Cambodia’s four major economic sectors. Garment sector saw a 36 percent jump in 2011 with the exports of garments and textiles up 32 percent. Milled rice hiked 250 percent to 180,000 tons last year, while tourist arrivals recorded a 15 percent expansion to 2. 9 million. read more.

09:06:11 local time map of china CHINA

* Local power plants challenge monopoly:

While the Chinese public are expecting government reform to break a perceived monopoly in the electricity sector, reports of privately owned power plants offering lower charges to local users have heated debate on China’s public-private split in utilities management.

Weiqiao Pioneering Group, a conglomerate in east China’s Shandong province that holds various interests ranging from garment production to electricity, has become the center of discussion after it was found to be transferring and selling its self-generated electricity to nearby factories and households at prices over 30 percent lower than those offered by the country’s national grid. read more.

08:06:11 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* European companies may cut back investment in Vietnam:

European companies operating in Vietnam may cut their investments there as most continue to be cautious about the outlook of business in the Asian country. A survey carried out recently reveals about 28% of European firms are planning to cut back their investments raising concerns about the country’s economy.

According to European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), 23% of European investors in Vietnam were planning to reduce their investments three months ago. The rising figure shows there is a continued downward shift in confidence to invest in the Asian country by European companies, EuroCham added. read more.

* Weavers’ group seeks lower import taxes on fibres:

Viet Nam Cotton and Spinning Association (VCOSA) has called on the Ministry of Finance to cut the import tax levied on noil (the discarded short fibres from the combing of wool) from the current 10 per cent to zero per cent.                           VCOSA also says its members should not need a licence from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to import noil.                                                       Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has asked the Ministry of Finance to allow 11 yarn spinning companies to import noil tax free. to read.

08:06:11 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Clash erupts at Garment SL factory:

Security guards clashed yesterday with workers from two SL Garment factories that supply Levi’s, Gap and H&M, as the number of employees protesting exceeded 5,500 – or more than 90 per cent of the staff.

Protester Kim Voeun, 32, said security guards, in the presence of about 300 police and military police officers, had prevented workers congregating outside the SL1 factory in the capital’s Meanchey district.

“They pushed the female workers [on to the street]. I was hit in the stomach. I coughed up blood, and I still have chest pain,” she said.  read more.

* No deal in SL Garment factory face-off:

A long day of negotiations failed to resolve a factory dispute yesterday at a company that supplies to major international brands Gap, Levi’s and H&M.

After more than 1,500 workers from SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) factories in the capital’s Meanchey district marched to the Ministry of Social Affairs on Monday, officials from that department agreed to help mediate the dispute yesterday morning.

As many as 4,000 workers have been involved in strikes at the two factories since May 12.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said workers and their bosses were unable to agree after eight hours of discussions at the factory yesterday. read more.

* Levi’s and Gap Garment Workers Strike in Cambodia:

Workers at a large Cambodian garment factory that makes clothes for Levi’s, Gap and other well-known international brands are striking for more pay and better working conditions.                                                                                                                 More than 5,000 workers from the Singaporean-owned SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd. failed to reach an agreement with their employers on Tuesday to end an 11-day strike.                                                                                                          Ath Thon, director of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers, said workers are demanding an increase in their base pay of US $61 a month for eight-hour days, six days a week. read more.

* Education & the income gap:

only have fate to blame,” said Som Sopheaktra, a young factory worker in an iron workshop. “If I had money and a family like other people, I would have tried to study hard and find a good job without letting myself fall into this kind of difficulty.”

Sopheaktra was orphaned at an early age and was adopted by his grandmother.

But he dropped out of school at the tender age of 10-years-old, and began working to sustain himself. He had no choice but to do this because his grandmother had passed away, and meanwhile, Sopheaktra faced starvation and death.

“In the future, no matter how hard it is, I’ll work hard so that my children can get a good education,” Sopheaktra said. “I don’t want them to live like I had to.”

Sokhorn, a garbage collector who works on a small block of Phnom Penh, is only 10-years-old.

“I try so hard to do my work every day,” he said. “I just wish I had been born to a better family, so I could go to school like normal children,” he said.  read more.

* Cambodian migrants seek China exit strategy:

Four Cambodian women working at a garment factory in China have said they want to leave but are trapped there because the employer has taken their passports.

Yin Sophy, 27, said the group were at a factory she called Minan – a company name the Post was unable to independently verify – in southern China, but wanted to leave because two of them had fallen more.

* Documentary about Cambodian Garment Industry on a US TV Website:

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. to read & see more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:

Factory workers continue to strike for higher wages. read more.

* World Bank outlook for Cambodia positive:

The World Bank’s biannual report on Cambodia was largely positive given dire economic prospects in Europe, which economists agreed were closely tied to the Kingdom’s key export sectors.
The report, released yesterday, predicted 6.6 per cent growth in gross domestic product compared to 2011.
That’s a tenth of a percentage point higher than the bank’s 2012 estimate in November last year.
Manufacturing is predicted to slow slightly this year, but the nature of Cambodian-made clothing may dodge some fallout from the continued sovereign debt crisis in Europe, which has been compounded recently by the threat of Greece’s exit from the European Union.(..)

The report noted that Cambodia has benefited from a shift in labour intensive industries from China to countries with lower wage costs, but economists said the country’s capacity to absorb new investments was not guaranteed.
Cambodian industry saw signs in 2011 that production was moving up the value chain. read more.

09:06:11 local time map of singapore SINGAPORE

* Give low-wage workers built-in pay rise of at least $50: NWC:

The National Wages Council (NWC) has recommended that companies grant low-wage workers a built-in wage increase in the form of a dollar quantum and a percentage wage increase for 2012/13.
This will give the low-wage workers a proportionately higher built-in wage increase, NWC said when announcing its annual wage guidelines on Wednesday.
Companies that are doing well may also consider granting these workers an additional one-off lump sum payment to help them better cope with the cost of living.
For workers earning a basic monthly salary of up to S$1,000, the NWC recommended a minimum built-in wage increase of S$50. read more.

07:36:11 local time map of myanmar MYANMAR

* Myanmar garment exports post impressive figures:

The exports of apparels from the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar have registered an impressive growth and were worth … read more, via.. ?

07:06:11 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Bangladesh garment makers asked to form bodies to fight labour unrest:

The Bangladesh government yesterday asked the garment makers to form “participation committees” at the factory-level to curb labour unrest.

Such committees will help develop the relationship between the workers and owners, said Khandker Mosharraf Hossain, the labour and employment minister.

He also said the recent incidents of labour unrest were due to the absence of such platforms where both the owners and workers can hold dialogues.

The formation of trade unions in the garment sector will be based on the performance of the participatory committees, the minister said. read more.

* Organized gang make Bangladesh garments exports troubles:

All was well for Garib & Garib when it sent off another shipment to Germany last February. But the Bangladeshi sweater manufacturer was taken by surprise when the clients called up claiming damages.

It would perhaps spell doom for a smaller company with little reputation. But employing over 4,000 people and with 18 years of experience, Garib & Garib managed to settle the $20,000 claim of ‘missing cargo’.

The buyers had not received the quantity of items they had paid for. Some of the cartons were partly filled with rags, instead of sweaters for which the buyer had paid $4,000.

The company’s founder and managing director, Nazmul Haque Bhuiyan, explained that damages were calculated according to buyers’ sales price although the payment we had received as manufacturer and exporter had been much lower. read more.

* ‘Vested quarter incites troubles in RMG’:

A group of high profile speakers found lack of trust and poor relations between management and workers and absence of trade union activities as the prime reasons behind spreading intentional rumours in the country’s garment factories which very often lead to violent unrest, clashes, murders and vandalism. The speakers at a consultative meeting on Tuesday made this observation, stressing the need for holding frequent meetings between workers and management and urged entrepreneurs to undertake some awareness programmes which they said would help to mitigate the problems to a great extent.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) convened the emergency meeting with stakeholders to find out ways and means to solve the problem of hearsay and taking preemptive actions to halt destructive activities.  Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan, who attended the meeting as special guest also urged the owners of garment industries to allow trade union activities, in whatever form it may be. read more.

06:36:11 local time map of india INDIA

* Reebok India files criminal complaint against former top employees:

In what is being perceived as the second biggest corporate scandal in India, Reebok India has reportedly filed a criminal complaint with the police, accusing its former country-chief and another ex-top employee of orchestrating a financial fraud to the tune of a whopping 13 billion rupees (200 million U.S. dollars).

German sportswear company Adidas, which owns Reebok brand, has alleged in the police complaint filed Tuesday at a police station in Gurgaon, 40 kms from the national capital, that its former managing director Subhinder Singh Prem and its former chief operating officer Vishnu Bhagat “stole” company’s products by setting up “secret warehouses,” media reports said Wednesday.

According to the complaint, the duo also fudged accounts and indulged in fictitious sales, causing whopping loss to the company.  read more.

* Reebok India accuses former top execs of $157 million fraud:

Reebok India, owned by Germany’s Adidas , lodged a police complaint against two former top executives accusing them of fraud that had led the company to lose 8.7 billion rupees (US$157 million).

The alleged fraud would be the most high-profile corporate scandal in India since 2009 when Satyam Computer’s former chairman and founder Ramalinga Raju revealed that the company had overstated profits and falsified assets for years. read more.

* Scrutiny of Reebok India’s books ordered:

The Corporate Affairs Ministry, on Wednesday, ordered a scrutiny of the books of accounts of sportswear maker Reebok’s Indian arm over complaints of an alleged Rs.870-crore fraud.                                                                                                      “We have ordered an enquiry under Sec. 234 of the Companies Act, which is a non-invasive scrutiny. The Registrar of Companies (RoC) has been asked to submit its report in three days. Based on the report, we will order further scrutiny,” a senior MCA official said.                                                                                                                  The official said the enquiry was ordered on the basis of a complaint from an investor. read more.

* Tell Indian Government to stop companies stealing workers’ wages:

Have you ever looked beyond the brand name label on your clothes to consider the conditions in which they were made?

You’ve probably heard that garment workers in India are paid very low wages but did you ever imagine that the companies they work for would steal from these already low wages?! This is what is happening to garment workers in Gurgaon.

Workers have told us that they are not paid at the correct grade for the work they do, they are paid the single instead of double rate for the 50-60 hours of compulsory overtime they do each month, women are paid less than men for the same work and the money workers pay into social security funds disappears, leaving them unable to benefit from it. These are some of the ways in which wage theft takes place. Wage theft, on top of already low wages means that workers cannot survive on what they earn and go into debt in situations such as illness in their family or education for their children. We need your help to put an end to these illegal practices.

There are already laws in place to protect workers, now we need to ensure that these laws are enforced. Workers in Gurgaon are organising and have started a campaign to demand their rights. This petition gives consumers at the other end of the supply chain a chance to show solidarity with garment workers in Gurgaon and to support their struggle against wage theft as a step towards receiving a decent wage. To achieve this we need to remind brands, suppliers and the governments that consumers do care about the conditions in which our clothes are made.

For more information on the campaign please see  here.

Mazdoor Ekta Manch (MEM) is a platform of workers in Gurgaon, just outside Delhi. Our mission is to build the power of workers and their families, and secure their dignity and rights where they work and live. All the information for this campaign comes directly from workers’ experiences and the problems they encounter with their wages. Through this campaign we are supporting workers’ struggles to receive the wages they are entitled to.
What the campaign is asking for:
1. Workers should be paid according to the grade at which they work
2. Wages should be paid in time and receive a payslip
3. Illegal deductions should not be taken from workers’ wages
4. Workers should be paid the annual increment on time
5. Overtime should be paid at the double rate
6. Equal pay for equal work between men and women
read more.

Tell the Indian Government to stop companies stealing from workers’ wages!
Please sign the petition now! here.

* An Invitation: Statutory chrèches in Garment factories in Bangalore:

to see the original & download:Invitation – Statutory Creches

*Textile sector: 45 lakh persons become jobless in last 2 years:

About 45 lakh people in the textile sector have lost jobs in the last two years mainly due to global economic slowdown and problems at domestic front, apparel exporters body AEPC said today.

“About 7-10 per cent people have already lost their jobs in the textile sector in the last two years and still it is continuing. If the government will not intervene immediately, more and more people may lose their jobs,” Apparel Export Promotion Council Chairman A Sakthivel said today.

The textiles industry employs about 4.5 crore people. He said that domestic banks are not cooperating and this is acting as a double-whammy for the sector, which is already in trouble due to economic crisis in the US and Europe. These two markets account for almost 65 per cent of the country’s textile exports. read more.

* Malegaon to have common fabric processing facility:

Powerloom owners in textile cluster of Malegaon in western Indian state of Maharashtra are in the process of setting up their own facility to process fabrics. The new facility would be the first government sponsored Common Facility Centre (CFC) in Nashik district.
Malegaon currently has two privately-owned process centres with a capacity to process a maximum of 250,000 metres of cloth per day, which is very small compared to an estimated production of about 10 million metres of grey cloth every day.
So far, around 70 percent of grey poplin manufactured in Malegaon was sent to process houses in Balotra and Pali in Rajasthan. But, a court order in February this year banned textile process houses in these two towns from discharging waste water and effluents into the Luni river. read more.

* Punjab Dy CM assures investors in Textile Park:

The Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab – Sukhbir Singh Badal gave a personal commitment to make the ‘Malwa’ region a textile hub of India.
Mr Badal had a three-hour meeting with leading textile industrialists who have evinced interest in setting up textile units in the state. read more.

06:36:11 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* ‘SL foot and leather industry must target niche products’:

Sri Lanka foot and leather industry must target niche products with good design, product development, fast delivery, high quality and competitive price, International Consultant Peter Racklyeft said at a capacity building programme for foot wear and leather products manufacturing sector in Sri Lanka at Galadari Hotel yesterday.

He said Sri Lanka is a good market which could target 15 million pairs of shoes accounting to two pairs per person but has to fight with reduction of imports and expansion of export market.

Industrial Development Board Chairman Udayasiri Kariyawasam said that foot wear and leather products sector employs about 20,000 people directly and indirectly and 1,248 foot wear and leather products manufacturing enterprises are currently in operation in the country. read more.

06:06:11 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* US puts creation of ROZs in Pakistan on back burner:

The setting up of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Pakistan, aimed at providing duty-free treatment in the US for certain goods from these zones, seems to have been put on back burner by the Obama administration.

The idea of establishing ROZs was developed to facilitate employment generation in border areas, especially Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), in Pakistan, where people do not have ample opportunities for employment.

Since textile exports constitute over 70 percent of all Pakistani exports, it was expected that the creation of ROZs would also benefit the country’s textile industry and it would further boost its exports. read more.

* PTA warns of further decline in leather exports:

Pakistan’s leather and leather goods exports, which experienced a 10 percent fall during the current fiscal year that ends on June 30, are likely to plummet further by 10 percent during the first quarter of next fiscal, Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) South Zone Chairman Khurshid Ahmed has said.

He said Pakistani exporters are unable to compete with the prices quoted by other value-added finished leather manufacturing countries in the region, owing to factors like rise in the cost of raw materials and intensifying energy and water crisis situations in the tannery zone, where several export-oriented tanneries are clustered. read more.

06:06:11 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Schoolchildren sent to weed cotton fields in Tashkent Region:

Schoolchildren and college students have been involved in spring field works in cotton fields in Tashkent Region, the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan has said.

“These days members of our organisation are conducting customary monitoring of forced child labour,” the alliance’s leader, Elena Urlayeva, said.  read more.

map of Asia

* East Asia and Pacific growth slows down but still robust:

* Local power plants challenge monopoly

* European companies may cut back investment in Vietnam
* Weavers’ group seeks lower import taxes on fibres

* Clash erupts at Garment SL factory
* No deal in SL Garment factory face-off
* Levi’s and Gap Garment Workers Strike in Cambodia
* Education & the income gap
* Cambodian migrants seek China exit strategy
* Documentary about Cambodian Garment Industry on a US TV Website
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily
1. Factory workers continue to strike for higher wages
* World Bank outlook for Cambodia positive

* Give low-wage workers built-in pay rise of at least $50

* Myanmar garment exports post impressive figures

* Bangladesh garment makers asked to form bodies to fight labour unrest
* Organized gang make Bangladesh garments exports troubles
* ‘Vested quarter incites troubles in RMG’

* Reebok India files criminal complaint against former top employees
* Reebok India accuses former top execs of $157 million fraud
* Scrutiny of Reebok India’s books ordered
* Tell Indian Government to stop companies stealing workers’ wages
* An Invitation: Statutory chrèches in Garment factories in Bangalore
*Textile sector: 45 lakh persons become jobless in last 2 years
* Malegaon to have common fabric processing facility
* Punjab Dy CM assures investors in Textile Park

* ‘SL foot and leather industry must target niche products

* US puts creation of ROZs in Pakistan on back burner
* PTA warns of further decline in leather exports

* Schoolchildren sent to weed cotton fields in Tashkent Region

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2