in the news on-line, 25 july 2012

20:37:57 local time map of china CHINA

* Olympic mascots made for Locog in Chinese ‘sweatshop’ factories – report:

Olympics merchandise for London 2012 is being produced in sweatshop conditions with staff earning as little as £6 a day, despite organisers promising to clean up its supply chain, according to a new report.

Activists in China spoke to dozens of factory workers and discovered staff were forced to work up to 120 hours overtime a month, nearly three times the legal limit.
At one factory, staff had to buy their own safety masks and were fined half a day’s salary if they were five minutes late to work.

One of the factories investigated was the Xinda facility in the Guangdong district, where 25m plastic figures of Olympics mascots Wenlock and Mandeville were made for Locog (London organising committee of the Olympic Games).
The report has been issued by Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom), a Hong Kong workers’ rights group.

Sacom also says staff were exposed to hazardous conditions in the paint spraying department, with a “fine mist of paint hanging in the air”. New masks were provided once or twice a month, with workers often buying their own.
Some of the 50 workers interviewed said they left the factory constantly covered in paint and even their saliva had changed colour, while others were left feeling sick.
read more.

20:37:57 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Waiting, wanting:

President Aquino will take the podium today to address a nation wanting more than what he had achieved in the first two of his six-year Malacañang journey.
Noy, the underachiever of Congress and the Senate, is proving to be the least achiever among all presidents counting his late mother. And today, he is expected to juxtapose his what has been becoming an uneventful journey with what he thinks are the hallmarks of his presidency, with an expected aside against his favorite scripted villains.
It is not the people’s fault if they want more from Noynoy than all other past presidents have achieved. Noynoy got more numbers than any other past presidents have garnered. He did because he promised more than what others could not and the people believed him.
We have seen countries with far better economies. And we know the Philippines is far, far away from where they are at this time.
Labor and peasantry still raise the same issues they did in the past three decades.
Minimum wage is not a living wage.
The tillers remain landless and are losing farming lands to newer developments that put food production in peril.
I don’t know where Noynoy’s team will pluck the numbers, but recent developments have exposed the vulnerability of Philippine labor against competition from our neighbor countries. read more.

19:37:57 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garments companies in big distress because of EU market fall:

The public debt crisis in Europe has dealt a strong blow to Vietnamese garment companies which have been sitting idle because of no orders.


The door to EU market narrowed

The public debt crisis in the Eurozone has forced the governments and people to apply the contractionary policy for a long time, which has led to the sharp spending and public investment cuts.

According to Pham Xuan Hong, Deputy Chair of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association Vinatas, the number of orders drops by 20-30 percent every month in comparison with the same periods of the last year.

Hong said only big garment companies still get orders, and the orders are just enough to maintain production till the end of August. Especially, Vietnamese companies sometimes have to accept the orders with no profits or little losses in order to retain the partners.

Meanwhile, banking experts have said lacking orders is not the only worry of garment companies. Even the ones, which still can get the orders from foreign partners, have also incurred loss because of the euro depreciation.

The public debt crisis has led to the euro decreasing continuously in value. Therefore, Vietnamese exporters, who get payment in euro, in fact, can only make modest profits, despite the high turnover. While they receive euro for finished exports, they have to pay dollars for material imports from China, Thailand and Taiwan. read more.

* Lien Anh Co to re-open centre:

A textiles, accessories and footwear centre will be re-opened today in Di An Town, southern Binh Duong Province by Lien Anh Co Ltd.
The centre covers an area of 16ha with a total investment capital of over VND100 billion (US$4.7 million), and originally opened in 2009. It was closed down due to a lack of customers. to read in  BUSINESS IN BRIEF 25/7.

19:37:57 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* State unions discuss how to better services:

Leaders of state enterprise unions met yesterday to brainstorm on how they could win over the public by improving services and resist the trend of privatisation.

They expressed concern that the public often views labour unions as preoccupied with two issues – higher wages and staging strikes – while in fact they see their role as the guardian of workers’ rights and public utilities.
Veteran labour activist Sakdina Chatrakul na Ayudhya said trade and state enterprise unions must go out of their way to visibly contribute to society through activities or campaigns that are not limited to issues of their own immediate interest.

The situation is dire, with unionised workers shrinking from 3 per cent of the labour force a decade or so ago to a mere 1.47 per cent or 505,000 members.
Savit Kaew-wan, leader of the State Rail Enterprise Union, called on his peers to help improve the standard of public services and cajoled the government to support such a move. Union leaders should convey the importance of social welfare and ensure the public gets access to basic public utilities, he said.

Union leaders and labour activists should organise more unions, as membership continues to fall.
“It’s arguably the lowest [percentage] in the world now,” he said. “How can we face the world then?”  read more.

* Thai government reconsiders deportation:

Thailand is rethinking a controversial plan to deport pregnant migrant workers from countries such as Cambodia and instead support them following widespread outrage, a Thai labour ministry official said yesterday.

Last month, Thai Labor Minister Padermchai Sasomsap announced plans to send home migrant workers who were three or four months pregnant, sparking sharp criticism from civil society groups that this would cause health risks and was a form of discrimination.

Somkiat Chayasriwong, permanent secretary to the minister of labour, yesterday acknowledged there had been a strong backlash and said the ministry was reconsidering plans aimed at keeping migrant children out of the factories their parents worked in. read more.

19:37:57 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Cops allegedly attacked garment strikers:


Workers employed by the Golden Gain Shoe company protest yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Police have been accused of punching and shoving garment workers from Tai Yang and Camwell factories in Kandal province as the month-long strike over bonuses continued yesterday.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said 11 people had been slightly injured after being attacked by about 60 police who were trying to prevent them from standing near National Road 4 in Ang Snuol district.
“The police officials came to push and beat the workers without talking with us in advance,” he said.

“Nine workers and two union leaders – me and Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance Trade Union – were slightly injured,” he said.
Chhun said the workers, armed with banners they had wanted to show passing motorists, had moved from their usual spot outside the Tai Yang factory to the nearby national road where police and military police had set upon them. read more.

* Cambodian Labour Law competition starts from this Saturday:

Radio competition for garment workers on Cambodian Labour Law is scheduled to begin this Saturday 28 July.

450 workers from 36 garment factories submitted their applications. After screening and interviewing 48 shortlied workers, 18 of which have been chosen to join the next round of the competition via live radio broadcast. The programme will be broadcast live via radio Mohanokor FM 93.5 every Saturday (from 28 July to 29 September) from 2-3pm and rebroadcast on Sunday at the same time.

Having worked in the garment sector for 10 years, Ms. Nuon Phally, one of the 18 candidates, is incredibly excited that she could participate in the competition.

“This is the first time that I can participate in this kind of competition. I am not sure I can make it to the finale, but I will try my best. Regardless of the result, I am still happy because this is something I am passionate about. Most Importantly, I can show off the experience and knowledge I have and also I can share it with other workers through the radio broadcast.” read more.

20:37:57 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* RI makes inroads in trade row:

Confronted with a string of trade disputes, Indonesia has thus far triumphed in its attempts to clear its image as a transshipping nation after several countries halted their investigation into the case.

Brazil, the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) will no longer pursue Indonesia for allegedly functioning as an intermediary for Chinese-made footwear, shrimp and bicycles into their countries.
The three countries accused Indonesia of accepting the goods for re-export in order for China to circumvent quota restrictions and evade anti-dumping penalties they sought to impose.
Abicalcados alleged sports apparel giant Adidas and Nike used their Indonesian manufacturing bases merely as re-rerouting points to accommodate their China-made apparel, according to the ministry.

The Brazilian government have imposed anti-dumping penalties on Chinese footwear since 2010,
with a levy of US$13.85 per pair of shoes. An anti-dumping measure is aimed at preventing foreign entities from destroying local industries by selling goods at prices unreasonably lower that those found in domestic markets. read more.

19:07:57 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Burmese Labor Minister Meets Labor Rights NGOs:

Thousands of Burmese migrants work long hours for low wages at factories such as this one in Thailand. (Photo: Jacobbaynham)

Burma’s Labor Minister Aung Kyi met with representatives of five NGOs at the Burmese embassy in Bangkok on Tuesday when they discussed issues surrounding Burmese migrant workers, their rights, and the conditions they work under.

The meeting was arranged as part of President Thein Sein’s three-day visit to Thailand where he focused mostly on cementing plans to proceed with the Dawei Special Economic Zone.
Accompanying Aung Kyi were Labour Affairs Coordinator Kyaw Kyaw Lwin and two other diplomats from the Burmese embassy in Thailand. The NGOs represented at the meeting were: the Foundation for Education and Development (FED); Burma Association Thailand (BAT); the Migrant Assistance Program (MAP Foundation); Indonesia’s Diponegoro University (UNDIP); and Mekong Migration Network.

The labor rights activists say they raised the issue of workplace violations. They said that many Burmese migrants complain that their Thai employers’ treatment of them remains unchanged despite the “legalization” of many migrant workers under the temporary passport scheme which was introduced in 2009.
Htoo Chit, the director of FED, said that the violation of work contracts is “a common problem,” in reference to the terms and conditions which migrant workers sign with their employers when they join the workforce. read more.

* Burma’s average income could overtake Laos, Cambodia- minister:

A Burmese government minister believes that the country’s average income per person could overtake Laos and Cambodia in two to three years.

“I hope we will have higher average income per person than Laos and Cambodia by 2014-15. It is possible,” he said in an interview with Radio Free Asian’s Burmese service on Monday.
Burma now has a gross national income per capita of US$ 379, according to UN figures in 2009, the lowest in the region.
Laos has a per capita income of $1,130 while Cambodia has stands at $830, based on 2011 figures by the World Bank. read more.

18:37:57 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* RMG workers’ due wages- Owners asked to settle payment before Eid:

The government on Tuesday instructed all concerned in the readymade garment factories to ensure that workers get their due wages and festival allowances before Eid-ul-Fitr next month.
The Cabinet committee on law and order at its 11th meeting at the secretariat, with home affairs minister Sahara Khatun in the chair, issued the directives to prevent any disorder in the export-oriented apparel sector.
‘We have directed law enforcement agencies, including the industrial police, to take effective measures to check any disorder in the RMG sector ahead of Eid,’ Sahara told reporters after the meeting.
She said that the lawmen were especially asked to take additional measures so that the law and order situation does not deteriorate in the ongoing month of Ramadan.
read more. & read more.

* 5 injured as police charge batons on RMG workers:

At least five people were injured when the police charged batons to disperse workers of a garment factory rallying on the Dhaka-Tangail highway on Tuesday.
Several hundred workers of Fashion It located at Jamgora in Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital went out on demonstrations for the third consecutive day protesting at termination of fellow workers.
Sources said the workers of became agitated when they saw the notice announcing termination of 115 fellow workers. They engaged in a heated exchange with the security guards when they refused to allow the terminated workers to enter the factory. The workers staged demonstrations and rallied on the Dhaka-Aricha highway.
Sources said the workers of Fashion It garment factory had started agitations on Sunday demanding overtime pay and suspension of some factory officials for misbehaviour. The management terminated 115 workers on Monday night for the protests. read more.

* Production in a knit factory at Ashulia suspended minutes after resumption:

Authorities of China-based Fashion Knit Composite Ltd in the bustling Ashulia apparel industrial hub Tuesday ordered work suspension for the day minutes after resumption of production in the unit, police and labour leaders said.

Around 1800 labourers of the factory have been staging demonstration demanding removal of two its senior officers for their alleged misbehaviour with them for the last several days.

Sporadic clashes between police and protesters on Monday rocked the Jamgora area where a number of apparel units are located. Dozens of people, mostly workers, were injured in the clashes.
Several factories in the area were also vandalised during the violent protest that hit the highly worker-intensive belt Monday.

The factory management in the face of labourers’ unrest sat in an emergency meeting on Monday night with labour leaders, government officials concerned and representatives from Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) to settle the issue. read more.

* Workers exploded in pent-up anger:

The seed of last month’s violent RMG protests in Ashulia was arguably sown in late May when a storekeeper was beaten up for using his cell-phone on factory premises.

Salman Shameem Khan, from the neighbouring That’s It Packaging was severely beaten for being on the phone at sister company Architect Design Ltd after visiting the factory’s medical centre.

Both factories, set close to each other about an hour outside Dhaka, are part of the Ha-Meem group, a large conglomerate owned by FBCCI President Abul Kalam Azad.

Workers say that usually Ha-Meem Group employees get treated at the medical centre on Architect Design premises. Salman had come for treating his tuberculosis.

Refusing to be quoted by their names, workers allege that cell-phone use is strictly prohibited for them while on the factory compound. The executives, however, are allowed the privilege. read more.

* Exports not doing very well:

There was a time in the late nineties when it became a manner of speech for many to forecast an impending doom on the country’s export sector in anticipation of the phasing out of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA) that had been providing an edge to Bangladesh’s apparel exports to thrive, despite quota restrictions during the eighties and the nineties.

The doomsayers were wrong, and needless to say, the growth trend in the country’s exports continued unabated but for rare hiccups. The competitive edge of Bangladesh products, despite many attendant bottlenecks, was able to not only sustain the growth but also register incremental rates of growth on a regular basis. We have witnessed a couple of recessions, protectionist manoeuvres from major importing countries by way of anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures, but exports from Bangladesh were actually far from being hit to cause any serious note of more.

* Labour Ministry meets today with apparel stakeholders:

The Labour and Employment Ministry have scheduled a meeting with the international buyers to listen to their issues regarding labour rights in Bangladesh, the ministry’s sources said Tuesday.
The source told The Independent that the Ministry is open to take any suggestions from the buyers so that the labour rights situation would further improve in the apparel sector.
The ministry, if requires, will conduct discussions with the garment manufacturers and the leaders of trade union to ensure labour rights implementation and working condition improvement. to read.

* Mozena on elevated US concerns about labour issues:

US Ambassador Dan Mozena has urged the business leaders to examine more closely the signing of a ‘Better Work’ programme, a joint effort by the International Labour Organisation and the International Finance Corporation, to improve working conditions and develop worker-employer relations, said an agency story. He was talking to business leaders at a meeting at the US Embassy here on Monday afternoon.
The US ambassador hosted the meeting, sources said on Tuesday.
The US envoy said there was enormous potential for increasing US trade and investment in Bangladesh, but mentioned elevated concerns in Washington and among international buyers about labour issues in Bangladesh.
Mozena mentioned the progress achieved on labour issues but reminded The business leaders that the employers need to devote greater attention to freedom of association. to read.

18:07:57 local time map of india INDIA

* 70 child labourers rescued from central Mumbai, 37 held:

Seventy child labourers, who had been forced to work in various establishments in central Mumbai, were rescued by a special police squad on July 20. Thirty seven persons were arrested in the case. The raid was carried out under the supervision of assistant police commissioner Dilip Waghmare.

“The children had been forced to work in hotels, embroidery workshops and garment factories at extremely low wages. They were being made to work under terrible conditions and for long hours. Acting on a tip-off, we carried out raids in the Wadala and Sewri areas and rescued 70 child labourers. They have been sent to a childrens shelter,” a police official said.

Two separate offences in this regard have been registered with the Wadala police and the Sewri police. The raids were carried out under the instructions of the newly posted additional police commissioner Krishna Prakash and deputy police commissioner Tanaji Ghadge. to read.

* Comtrust takeover Bill brings cheer to workers:

The sense of jubilation is palpable among the workers in front of the Commonwealth Trust (Comtrust) Textile Factory here, following the Assembly’s referral to the Subject Committee of a Bill for the government takeover of the factory. This small group of workers has been regularly assembling here ever since the factory closed down in 2009.

The Comtrust factory was started 175 years ago by the Basel missionaries. Till a few years back, the factory had been exporting high-quality clothing material, the British Queen being one of its esteemed customers.
While there were 300 workers when the factory ceased operations, only 108 of them remained to fight it out till the end. The rest opted for the Voluntary Separation Scheme offered by the company and accepted compensation.
“Most of the workers who are still here have braved personal losses to carry on with this protest. Some of the major trade unions like the CITU betrayed us and made pacts with the management to further their goal of selling this piece of land to private parties. The management also made up three court cases against us. The irony is that all these attempts that resulted in closing down of the factory started after the inclusion of two workers’ union representatives in the board,” Mr. Sivaprakash said.
read more.

* Textile companies seek Rs 12,000 crore debt recast:

The textile industry will put forward 290 cases involving Rs 12,000 crore of debt restructuring to the department of financial services this week. These 290 cases involve spinning, weaving and processing units across India.

RBI has asked banks to look into textile debt restructuring on a case-to-case basis. The debt restructuring process will kick off from the first week of August.

The textile industry is hopeful that a two-year moratorium on the repayment of principal amount against term loan will provide enough liquidity and help them meet export orders at a time when the US market is showing slow signs of recovery.
read more. (1 Indian crore = 10 million)

* Cotton unchanged as mills curb buying:

 With demand limited from mills and sales restricted, cotton prices remained unchanged on Monday. According to traders, prices have gone up sharply last week and therefore, buyers are inactive for a while.
A Rajkot-based cotton broker said: “Mills are buying in limited quantities and farmers and ginners are not releasing their stock that is supporting the cotton price to sustain at higher levels. Moreover, lack of rain in production areas has added to the bullish sentiments.” read more.

17:37:57 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Cotton market: mills actively buying best quality at asking price:

Mills showed fresh interest in best quality of cotton as prices were matching with their psychological levels, dealers said on Monday. The official spot rate was raised by Rs 50 to Rs 5850, they said. In the ready business over 10,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 5800-6000, they said.

The price of seedscotton in Sindh low type was at Rs 2650 and best quality was at Rs 2675, in Punjab rates were at Rs 2500-2650, they added. According to the market sources ginners were not in a panic but they try to sell unsold stock to make the room for the new phutti arrivals. In the meantime, the mills bought as much as they can. Both Sindh and Punjab received sporadic rain in monsoon, which is beneficial for the crop, they said. read more.

* Cotton growers advised to take timely steps against pests:

Growers of cotton-belt should take timely steps against the attack of pests to protect their crops during dry and humid weather spell, the met office advised here on Monday.
In a fresh growers-advisory released for next 10 days, the office urged the cotton farmers to shield their crops with timely protective measures against the possible attacks of melay Bug, jassid, thrips and whitefly in dry and humid monsoon season.

It said farmers should also take in time necessary measures to protect their crops, livestock and other property during the monsoon season. It forecast hot and humid weather in southern half part of the country and urged the farmers to irrigate their crops as per need.
Farmers of rain-fed areas, who depend on obtaining water through tube wells for irrigating their crops, should also schedule the irrigation keeping in view the expected dry and humid weather in the coming days. read more.

map of Asia

* Olympic mascots made for Locog in Chinese ‘sweatshop’ factories

* Waiting, wanting

* Garments companies in big distress because of EU market fall
* Lien Anh Co to re-open centre

* State unions discuss how to better services
* Thai government reconsiders deportation

* Cops allegedly attacked garment strikers
* Cambodian Labour Law competition starts from this Saturday

* RI makes inroads in trade row

* Burmese Labor Minister Meets Labor Rights NGOs
* Burma’s average income could overtake Laos, Cambodia

* RMG workers’ due wages- Owners asked to settle payment before Eid
* 5 injured as police charge batons on RMG workers
* Production in a knit factory at Ashulia suspended minutes after resumption
* Workers exploded in pent-up anger
* Exports not doing very well
* Labour Ministry meets today with apparel stakeholders
* Mozena on elevated US concerns about labour issues

* 70 child labourers rescued from central Mumbai, 37 held
* Comtrust takeover Bill brings cheer to workers
* Textile companies seek Rs 12,000 crore debt recast
* Cotton unchanged as mills curb buying

* Cotton market: mills actively buying best quality at asking price
* Cotton growers advised to take timely steps against pests

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