in the news on-line, 31 july 2012

20:18:17 local time map of china CHINA

* Cotton policy still vital:

China’s policy of buying and stashing large amounts of cotton in State reserves will dominate the market in the 2012-13 marketing season that will start on August 1, the chief executive of the world’s biggest cotton trader and merchant said Friday.

Allenberg Cotton Co President and CEO Joe Nicosia told the Ag Market network’s annual radio program from New York that “everything (in the cotton market) is dependent on the Chinese reserve policy.”
“China’s cotton policy is supporting prices globally. As long as China continues to build its reserves, the cotton market will be protected from its surplus,” he said. Allenberg, the wholly owned unit of trading giant Louis Dreyfus, is the world’s biggest cotton merchant and trader. to read.

* Wedding dress firms unveil top figures:

Overseas sales boom as hard-pressed customers seek quality at good prices from online stores

After a good lie-in in the morning, Zhao Xiaogang, an online wedding dress seller, gets up in time for the busy part of the day.

E-mails from foreign customers usually soar in the afternoon. A short trip to wedding dressmakers may be needed to supplement the stock. Wedding dresses in the warehouse are awaiting packaging before being sent to express delivery companies that will eventually take them to Germany.

A wedding dress shop in the Huqiu district of Suzhou city. Huqiu is the location of more than 1,200 wedding dressmakers and vendors, making it the country’s leading wedding dress producing and business center. [Photo/China Daily]
read more.

20:18:17 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Congress to pursue pro-labor laws:

The 15th Congress is pursuing legislation that will promote business competition, foreign investments and the competitiveness of Filipino workers, said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. yesterday.

He told participants of the ALU-TUCP 14th congress in Cebu City  that passage of a Competition Law “will strengthen the legal and institutional framework to combat unfair trade practices, prohibit cartels and monopolies and impose sanctions upon key officials of companies who violate fair competition.”

Belmonte said the 15th Congress will also give priority attention to infrastructure spending in the 2013 national budget along with  amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer law to draw more private sector participation.

“For your sake – our country’s most valued workers – we in Congress shall pass measures that will boost competitiveness, increase investments, and help create the jobs that will lead to your further growth and empowerment.  We shall likewise continue to pass the measures that will enhance your welfare and productivity,” he said. read more.

* Major Labor Group Changes Hands:

The Associated Labor Unions (ALU), one of the biggest labor unions in the country, has changed leadership for the first time in 58 years.

ALU founders, lawyers Democrito Mendoza and Cecilio Seno, stepped down as president and national executive vice president, respectively, during ALU’s 14th Supreme National Congress at the JSU-PSU Mariner’s Court Convention Hall, Pier 1, Cebu City last Saturday.The gathering takes place every five years and is attended by ALU delegates from all over the country.The Congress sets ALU’s directives in the next five years.

Mendoza was replaced by his son Michael Mendoza, and Seno by his son Gerard Seno. Both new leaders indicated that under their new leadership, ALU will expand membership, improve services to members, lobby for fair labor laws, and campaign for the banning of asbestos in the workplace, which can cause cancer among humans ban asbestos, among other changes. read more.

19:18:17 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnam plans to rescue struggling firms:

The Ministry of Trade and Industry is drafting a rescue plan for local businesses as the economic downturn forces many to cut back or stop production, local media reports say.

The plan will focus on helping companies reduce their inventory and access bank loans, news website VnExpress reported, citing Minister Vu Huy Hoang.
Hoang said it is necessary to prevent the trend of narrowing and halting production and create favorable conditions for local firms to grow next year.read more.

* VN garment hangers face 188% dumping duty in US:

Vietnamese-made garment hangers exported to the US may be subject to an anti-dumping tariff of as high as 188 percent, according to the preliminary conclusion from the US Department of Commerce (DOC).

The duty levied on Vietnamese steel wire garment hangers ranges between 135.81 – 187.51 percent, while the figures for similar products from Taiwan are only between 69.98 and 125.43 percent, according to the Competition Management Agency under the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade.
“The DOC will announce the final ruling this December,” the agency said.
It added that TJ Group and three Vietnamese exporters will be subject to a 135.81 percent tax, while Hamico and the remaining manufacturers will suffer the top duty, 187.51 percent. read more.

19:18:17 local time map of laos LAOS

* Garment export in first six months drop by 15%:

The export volume of garment of the first six months this year has dropped by 15%, compared to the same previous year, according to last week’s report Association of Lao Garment Industry.

The drop caused by a low purchasing order volume from overseas markets particularly European main market down by 10% out of a total amount of 81% of Lao garment market, which amounted to over US$68 million. As the US market also fallen by 9%, representing over US$5.43 million. read more.

19:18:17 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* The Summary of the Violent Strike at SL Garment Processing:

On 12 May 2012, a strike broke out at SL Garment Processing located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The strike was led by CCAWDU and failed to comply with the procedures set out under the Labor law. In addition, CCAWDU is not a registered union in SL Garment Processing.

CCAWDU had incited the workers of SL Garment to strike illegally demanding for various allowances and incentives far above and beyond the legally required levels.

On 14 May, after negotiations with the Free Trade Union ( FTU ) and the Cambodia Workers Union, the 2 legally registered unions in the factory, SL announced various increments in allowances amongst which included a USD 7 housing and transport allowance as well as increasing the attendance bonus from USD 7 to USD 8.

These increase were accepted by most of the workers of SL but CCAWDU continued to insist on further increase amounting to an additional USD 10. When the factory refused, they started to block the gates of the factory as well as the roads leading up to the factory resulting in massive traffic congestions causing problems for people living and working near the factory. As the days went by, CCAWDU was seen threatening workers who wanted to go to work and physically preventing workers from entering the factory. read more.

* Cambodia’s Employment Injury Insurance Fund:

Cambodian workers who are injured at work or in transit to their workplace now benefit from a government-run system of insurance thanks to an ILO/Korea Partnership project.
The National Social Security Fund is a worker compensation scheme that is self-sufficient and overseen by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. When a claim is approved, the fund provides in-kind and cash benefits regardless of whether the individual is able to return to full-time employment. to read.

20:18:17 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia (Part 1)- Charles Hector:

Under the rule of the Umno-led coalition, today known as the Barisan Nasional (BN), worker and trade union rights have suffered significantly. 

‘Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest’ is a right that many workers in Malaysia have lost. Minimum wages, a norm in most developed and developing countries, is something that is still denied to Malaysian workers.

Existing worker rights in law have been slowly eroded and accesses to justice have not been made effective and simple for the workers. Even obligations as to rights provided in law are still being taken away by the granting of applications by employers whilst denying the fundamental right to be heard or objections before decisions are made. Minister’s decisions are held to be final and uncontestable in court. Workers are being weakened when union leaders are now allegedly being dismissed simply because they criticized their employers — not because of work performance or work-related misconduct. read more.

20:18:17 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Better Work Indonesia- Quarterly Newsletter:

1. Better Work Impact Survey Reveals Concerns of Factory Workers on Work and Life Conditions
2. Enterprise Advisors Summit: Bandung, May 2012, Indonesia
3. SMS Programme: The End-line Survey of Information, Education and Communication Mobile Initiative for Factory Workers
4. Promoting the Right Policies and Programmes on HIV and AIDS in the Workplace
5. Highlight: CSR Story of PT Dream Sentosa Indonesia
6. Photo Bank

You can download the newsletter here.

18:18:17 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Bangladesh can fetch 32 pc more RMG income from US:

Bangladesh textile producers can earn an additional income of 32 per cent from the United States provided Dhaka gets duty-free access to it, Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said in the city on Sunday, reports BSS.
“We can earn 32 per cent more income from the US if they give us duty-free access to it.
And the additional income can easily help improve the living condition of garment workers with higher wages,” he told journalists at Foreign Ministry when asked to comment on US propaganda of ‘poor labour standards’ in Bangladesh.
“I don’t want to make any comment on hearsay, but I can tell you that the US can help Bangladesh to improve the living standards of Bangladesh garment workers,” he said, insisting Bangladesh exporters have been facing uneven and stiff competitions from privileged countries in US market. read more & read more.
       

* Exporters do not relate TICFA to apparel shipments:

The garments leaders do not want to relate the issue of signing TICFA (Trade and Investment Co-operation Framework Agreement) between Dhaka and Washington to the apparel business as the matter depends on political decision on both sides.
“I do not want to make any comments on the issue as it is a political decision to be made by both the governments in Dhaka and Washington,” said Nasiruddin Chowdhury, first vice-president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
He, however, observed that the apparel exports to the US from Bangladesh have been growing over the years without having Generalised System of Preference (GSP) and duty free access facilities.
The USA is yet to provide GSP facilities to the apparel traders of Bangladesh.
The growth of apparel exports to that country has been slowed down because of economic recession sweeping through the US and Europe.
As a result, the apparel exports to USA have been showing a declining trend since last year compared to the previous year, according to Chowdhury.
(…)
The export would simply jump to double or three times, he told the Independent. The BGMEA director also pointed out that the export growth depends on the economic conditions of the host country. “When their economy performs well, the export grows and when their economy shrinks the export suffers.”
A former president of BGMEA, observed that the US pressure on labour rights issue and freedom of association meant introducing trade unions in the garment factories.
“We do not have any objection in allowing trade unions, but the problem is that trade unions in Bangladesh always become politicised,” he commented. He observed that the government and garment factory owners can go for other options through which rights of the workers can be ensured. read more.

* Call for better labour relations:

Transcom Chairman Latifur Rahman suggests sincere effort to improve working conditions

Winner of Oslo Business for Peace Award Latifur Rahman yesterday called for bringing about improvement in labour relations in industries for sustainable business.
He made the call at a reception hosted by Bangladesh Employers’ Federation (BEF) at the Chamber building in Dhaka.
The appeal from Rahman, chairman of Transcom Group, came as the garment sector faces labour unrest.
“This has to be taken seriously,” said Rahman, the first Bangladeshi to win the award, which is dubbed as the highest distinction given to a businessperson for outstanding accomplishments in ethical business.
He called upon entrepreneurs in the garment sector to rethink trade unionism, which he said is a part of sustainable business. read more.

* China keen to provide assistance in RMG sector:

China is keen to provide assistance for the development of garment sector in Bangladesh.

Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jun showed the interest when he met Speaker Mohammad Abdul Hamid advocate at his office on Monday.
Welcoming the Chinese ambassador, the speaker said China is a good friend and development partner of Bangladesh. China contributed much in the development of agriculture, industry, communications and education sectors of Bangladesh and its cooperation is increasing day by day, he said.
Li Jun said China gives importance to bilateral relation with Bangladesh and he hoped that the ties between the two countries will be strengthened in future.
Later, the China ambassador handed over an invitation letter to the speaker to attend the inauguration of Garments Industry Fair to be held on 26-29 September in China.
read more.

17:48:17 local time map of india INDIA

* Textile industry seeks aid:

The Madras High Court’s stringent regulations on implementing zero liquid discharge systems for operating the highly polluting dyeing units have prompted the handloom textile industry to petition the Centre for financial and material help in overcoming the “crisis.”

On behalf of the industry, the Handloom Export Promotion Council Chairman, P. Gopalakrishnan, has dispatched a memorandum to the Union Commerce and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma pointing out that the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board had, under directions from the High Court, ordered that the dyeing, bleaching, printing and special finishing process units either establish zero liquid discharge systems or stop production altogether, following which thousands of units have been closed throwing the industry into anarchy.

Production levels have come down to just 30 per cent of the installed capacity and since most of the dyeing units remain shut, textile exporters have to source their dyeing requirements from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and even Gujarat, which has escalated the cost of manufacture blunting the crucial competitive edge in the sketchy international market. read more.

* New technology to save Tirupur knitwear industry:

To save the domestic knitwear industry from waning further, textile units in Tirupur, a city in the south-Indian state of Tamil Nadu, have decided to reduce emission of pollutants during dyeing through adoption of a new technology.
Speaking at a conference organized by the National Institute of Fashion Technology – Tirupur Exporters’ Association (NIFT-TEA), in association with the Green Textile movement, Mr. Raja Shanmugam, Chairman NIFT-TEA, said the technology would prove to be highly useful in boosting the knitwear industry.
Under the existing dyeing process, the use of mechanical evaporator necessitates burning of a lot of firewood to support physical evaporation of water, but under the new technology water is not evaporated by any external forces. read more.

* Child labour: A necessary evil?:

In July 1995, a document concerning India was tabled in the US House of Representatives, which said: “There exists a little-known human rights problem in India, which is very grave. This problem is the exploitation of child labour. The United States government and the international community have paid little attention to the prolific employment of young children. It is time to attend to this neglect.”

India has always been the whipping boy for several ills. Enforced child labour is only one of them. Bride burning, dowry deaths, child marriage, bonded labour, money laundering, drug peddling. The list is endless. Today, the US government again indicts India among countries that use child labour in their garment factories which will surely hurt the interests of garment manufacturers and their workers by reducing the flow of orders from America. It is surprising that the western world –especially America – is not perturbed by multinational companies such as Reebok, Nike, and Levis Strauss and others which are exploiting human labour in developing countries like India massively.  These  companies are called sweatshops. According to the UN Committee on Trade and Development,  these child labourers “work under inhumane conditions and barely earn a pittance for producing thousands of  products worth  hundreds of  dollars.”  It adds that developing countries are booming because of massive direct foreign investment while workers suffer degrading working conditions and low wages. read more.


* US apparel: India 3rd fastest growing:

At a time when India’s textile and clothing exports to the US are slipping, American apparel import is finding a firm footing in the country. India finds itself among the three fastest growing markets for US apparel during the first five months of 2012.

This, ironically, comes at a time when the US manufacturing sector is reeling under the impact of a continuing downturn and the American textile and apparel industry is severely cramped by its lack of competitiveness in international markets. Besides, the US dollar has appreciated sharply against the rupee during much of this year, which renders American exports to India even less competitive than otherwise.
read more.

* Employment growth slows in fourth quarter of 2011-12:

According to the RBI’s macro economic and monetary development report, the fourth quarter of FY 2012 recorded the lowest employment creation in two years.

The rate of employment slowed from 0.98 million in 2010-11 to 0.08 million in the forth quarter of 2011-12. Sectors that have been worst hit is the IT/BPO sector, were the employment declined from 0.670 million in 2010-2011 to 0.104 million in the forth quarter of 2011-12.
Employment generation across sectors like textiles, leather, metals, automobiles, etc declined by 14.3% in 2011-12 from the previous year.
(…)
In the textile sector there was zero addition in manpower compared to 0.08 million in the third quarter of FY12, similar was the plight of the automobile industry, where employment generation declined from 0.110 million in 2010-11 to -0.001 million in the last quarter of FY2012.  read more.

17:18:17 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Energy crisis: Exporters estimate further losses:

After registering massive losses in previous fiscal year, garment exporters are expecting the repeat of the episode during the current fiscal year due to prevalent power and gas outages in the country.

Textile businesses and exporters told The Express Tribune that the industry has been hit severely by the energy crisis. Pakistan garments industry once considered to be backbone of the economy is contracting due to the power crisis and surging cost of production, they added.

Export of garments declined 25% and production dropped by almost 35%. The textile industry which contributed over 55% to the country’s total exports employs about 40% of the manufacturing labour force. Thousands of people were made redundant due to the crisis that resulted in reduction in industry’s exports. to read.

* Mergers and acquisitions: Lucky Cement led group buys ICI Pakistan for $152m :

The Yunus Brothers Group has bought out a 75.8% stake in ICI Pakistan from the Dutch paints giant AkzoNobel for Rs14.4 billion ($152.5 million), beating out two other bidders for the prized chemical company.

The price agreed in the all-cash detail was Rs205.10 per share, a 29.7% premium over Friday’s closing price on the Karachi Stock Exchange. The deal values the company at Rs18.9 billion ($201.2 million). Since the Yunus Brothers Group does not have a holding company, it put together a consortium of the group firms, led by Lucky Cement.

The Yunus Brothers Group is one of Pakistan’s largest industrial conglomerates, with major interests in textiles as well as owning the largest cement manufacturer in the country. Lucky Cement, listed on the Karachi and London stock exchanges is the best known of the group’s holdings, but the largest by revenues is actually Yunus Textile Mills, a garments manufacturer based out of Karachi.
read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* Cotton policy still vital
* Wedding dress firms unveil top figures

PHILIPPINES
* Congress to pursue pro-labor laws
* Major Labor Group Changes Hands

VIET NAM
* Vietnam plans to rescue struggling firms
* VN garment hangers face 188% dumping duty in US

LAOS
* Garment export in first six months drop by 15%

CAMBODIA
* The Summary of the Violent Strike at SL Garment Processing
* Cambodia’s Employment Injury Insurance Fund

MALAYSIA
* Worker and trade union rights in BN-ruled Malaysia

INDONESIA
* Better Work Indonesia- Quarterly Newsletter

BANGLA DESH
* Bangladesh can fetch 32 pc more RMG income from US
* Exporters do not relate TICFA to apparel shipments
* Call for better labour relations
* China keen to provide assistance in RMG sector

INDIA
* Textile industry seeks aid
* New technology to save Tirupur knitwear industry
* Child labour: A necessary evil?
* US apparel: India 3rd fastest growing
* Employment growth slows in fourth quarter of 2011-12

PAKISTAN
* Energy crisis: Exporters estimate further losses
* Mergers and acquisitions: Lucky Cement led group buys ICI Pakistan for $152m

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