in the news on-line, 17 august 2012

08:09:17 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* June factory output up 4.4%, NSO says:

Manufacturing output grew 4.4 percent in June due to the growth in 12 major sectors led by garments, furniture and wood, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The latest number is an improvement from the revised figure in May, which showed a 4.1 percent contraction.
Year on year, footwear and apparel output expanded in June by 84.7 percent while furniture and fixtures grew 64.6 percent and wood and wood products, 50.7 percent.
The other gainers include transport equipment (46.1 percent), leather products (34.9 percent), machinery except electrical (29.5 percent), nonmetallic mineral products (22.5 percent), chemical products (20.5 percent), food manufacturing (13.1 percent), textiles (12.5 percent), electrical machinery (10.1 percent) and fabricated metal products (4.9 percent). read more.

07:09:17 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Wages fall behind living costs- study:

The daily minimum wage increase to Bt300, in effect since April 1, has not kept pace with daily living costs, according to a survey reported yesterday by the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC).

As of this past May, daily expenses averaged Bt462.31 – Bt113.92 more than August 2011, the survey said. Workers’ debts rose to approximately 30 to 40 per cent of their incomes.
The survey, conducted on 2,516 workers in eight provinces including Bangkok, found that 76 per cent saw their wage increase after April, while 18 per cent got the raise with conditions; 5.1 per cent received no wage hike, despite the law.
read more.

07:09:17 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Mass fainting occurs at garment factory in northwestern Cambodia:

At least 50 garment workers at the M&V manufacturing factory in Kampong Chhnang province got fainted and were admitted to hospitals on Wednesday due to overwork and exhaustion, officials said.

A Free Trade Union representative at the factory Noun Sam Ol said that the mass fainting happened because they had worked overtime without taking a rest and on holidays, they had also worked on their rice fields.
She added that insufficient eating was one of the factors of the mass collapse, adding that the fainted workers had been sent to the provincial hospital soon after the incident.
Hospital director Sorin Tiravuthy said that they were not in serious conditions, they just got tired and weak because of insufficient eating and overwork.
They have been allowed to return home after being provided medical treatment.
read more.

* Tainan factory workers petition US embassy:

 About 20 workers from Taiwanese-owned Tainan Enterprises (Cambodia) Co Ltd gathered Thursday to present a second petition to the American Embassy.

 The workers, led by Free Trade Union of Workers President Rong Chhun, are demanding bonuses of $170 for the company changing its name plus other bonuses of at least $135 a year. to read.

* Cambodia gains 53 factories this year:

The Cambodian government has approved 53 new garment and footwear factories, worth an estimated US$338 million, during the first half of this year, compared with 38 last year valued at $180 million, despite the increase in the number of strikes affecting the industry.

Officials and industry representatives said the increase was mainly a result of rising wages in China, as well as Cambodia’s preferential tax status in foreign markets. They said the strikes have been a concern at some points but were not defining in how the industry was developing.

Official data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) showed the total number new factories consisted of 40 garment factories worth $239 million; two glove factories worth more than $10 million; eight shoe factories worth $60.5 million; two sock factories worth $$25 million; and one textile plant worth $2.58 million.
Kong Putheara, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce told the Post yesterday that Cambodia’s garment, footwear and textile industry has enjoyed a preferential tax status in many countries around the world, including the European Union, the United States and Canada.

“We have a lot of markets for them [factory owners] to export to, and our labour costs are still low – why shouldn’t they come?” he more.

* Cambodia issues licenses for 40 new garment units:

The Government of the Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia issued operating licenses to 51 new garment and footwear factories involving a total investment of US$ 327 million, during the first half of the current year, according to a report issued by the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

 As per the report, the 51 factories include 40 garment factories, 2 sock producers, 8 shoe makers and 1 textile factory.
 With 16 factories, China turned out to be the biggest investor in the Cambodian garment sector during the period, followed by South Korea and Taiwan with 12 and 11 projects, respectively.
 Other investors in the sector were from India, UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. read more.

06:09:17 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* RMG owners claim 90pc factories paid; workers refute:

RMG factory owners here on Thursday claimed 90 of them have already paid part of the wages and Eid bonus of their workers.
But the workers’ leaders refuted the claim saying that more than 50 percent of the factories have not yet paid any amount ahead of the Eid.

Briefing reporters at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the association leaders said 90 percent of the factories have paid the workers before Eid according to reports by the association’s monitoring committees, formed to supervise the payment.
They also hoped that most of the owners who are yet to pay anything to the workers will be able to pay either the regular wages or the bonus by August 17.
read more.
& read more.

* Some RMG units yet to pay wages, festival allowances:

A number of garment factories in the country have not yet paid workers their wages for the month July and festival allowances although Eid is only a couple of days away.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin on Thursday, however, said that 90 per cent of the factories had already paid the wages and festival allowances to the workers and the rest would pay them by Sunday.
‘So, we hope that the garment sector will not face any
major labour unrest before the Eid,’ he said at a press conference at the BGMEA headquarters.
The BGMEA president said that some factories were facing problems and they were trying to tackle the situation through the crisis management committee.
BGMEA has formed 15 committees to monitor the situation, he said.
read more. & read more.

* All garment workers to be paid for Eid by today- BGMEA:

Ninety percent of the factory owners have cleared their Eid payroll, with the rest expected to complete it by today, said the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

“Almost every year a section of garment workers is seen demonstrating before the festival due to some factory owners’ failure to make timely payments,” said BGMEA’s president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin.
Mohiuddin spoke at a press conference organised at the BGMEA office in the capital.
“There should not be any kind of untoward incident this year as the owners have paid the workers timely,” he said, adding that he was pleased with the state of law and order in the garment sector so far. read more.

* No apprehension of labour unrest- BGMEA:

Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) have said they do not apprehend any labour unrest over payment of salary and bonus before Eid-ul-Fitr.

“The owners of the readymade garment factories have already paid the salaries and bonuses of 90 per cent of the more than three million workers in the country,” BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told reporters at the BGMEA Bhaban on Thursday.
“They (the workers) have been granted Eid-leave too.”
The leaders have also promised to pay the wages and bonuses of the remaining workers before Eid.

Over the past few days, workers have been demonstrating in front of the headquarters of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) in Narayanganj, demanding wages and bonuses.
The workers of the garment factories in Ashulia have also joined in over the same demand. read more.

* KDS chief donates cash and kind to 20,000 people:

KDS Group, a major exporter of readymade garments, has donated cash and clothes to some 20,000 people from different villages of Patiya Upazila of the district today.

Chairman of the group Khalilur Rahman donated cash and distributed saree, lungi, shirt and other dresses throughout the whole day (Thursday) in the area.
KDS Group public relations officer Arif Hasan said, the poor and helpless villagers from Saidair, Budpura, Jiri, Harinkhine, Kashiaish, Ashia, Gorankhine, Mohira, Bhandargaon, Belkhine, Borolia, Kusumpura, Binanihara, Koiyagram, Maliara, Kortala, Pingola, Purikta, North Deyang and Chanpori were given the donation on the occasion of the holy Eid-ul-Fitr. read more.

* China may emerge as a bigger market for BD apparels than US:

China is likely to emerge as the ‘US plus’ market for Bangladeshi apparel products as export of the items to the second largest economy is rising fast, stakeholders say.

In the last fiscal year (FY 2011-12) apparel export to China crossed US$ 100 million, doubling from $ 52.81 million in FY 2010-11. The apparel export to China was only worth $ 18.95 million in FY 2009-10.
Of the country’s total $ 19 billion apparel export, some 57 per cent goes to European Union, 23 per cent to the United States, and 5.0 per cent to Canada.

Officials at Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said some 205 apparel items now enjoy zero duty preference in the Chinese market, raising the export volume.
“China is a very potential market for Bangladeshi products and it has the possibility of growing in volume which is more than that of the United States,” BGMEA vice president Siddiqur Rahman told the FE. read more.

05:39:17 local time map of india INDIA

* Indian textiles ministry backs handicrafts & handlooms:

The Ministry of Textiles has urged all the Indian industries to source domestic handloom and indigenous handicrafts items for corporate gifting purposes in the coming festive season.
To further spread the message the ministry is organizing ‘Hastkala Conclave’, an initiative to form a threesome collaboration amongst Government, industry and crafts persons and weavers.
The Textiles Ministry has invited over 400 corporate and industrial houses, including IDBI Bank, Hindustan Fibre, Metro Hospitals and ITC to attend the Conclave. The Ministry believes that through this initiative the handloom and handicrafts sectors of the country will get better recognition on a larger platform.
Ms. Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles said, “The aim of the event is to create awareness about the versatility of craftsmanship of Indian hand-made goods and weaves among the corporate and industrial sectors of India and forge a partnership with them for preservation and promotion of the same.”  read more.

* Arvind Mills slaps notices on workers for stir:

The tension between textile company and workers erupted once again after denim maker Arvind Mills slapped notices on more than 30 workers for paralyzing production activity during the strike.

Agitating workers on Thursday lodged their complaints with the state labor department and Ahmedabad Textile Labor Association (TLA) against the company management.

“Arvind has slapped notices on a few workers for their role in the strike. The notices hold the workers responsible for the production loss and intimate about a departmental inquiry against them. We have taken up the case and will be taking necessary steps,” said TLA general secretary Amar Barot.

In June this year, Arvind was hit by labour unrest which stalled production at two of its units. The strike had spread to two other textile mills in the city with more than 4,000 workers refusing to join work till companies announced a wage hike. The company officials said that the notices are a routine process. read more.

05:39:17 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Making a mountain out of a molehill:

Petitions by the trade unions to remove GSP benefits from Sri Lanka

The petition submitted by the leading American trade union federation, AFL-CIO to the Office of United States Trade Representative (USTR), on behalf of local “trade unions”, in December 2010, and earlier to the European Commission by the same “trade unions”requesting the withdrawal of Sri Lanka from the list of beneficiary countries for GSP and GSP plusand the way it was handled by the certain sections of the officials, in Washington and Brussels as well as in Sri Lanka, media, the politicians and even certain section of the exporters, was a classic case of making a mountain out of a mole hill. Of course some of us may even argue that there was not even a molehill in the first place.

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO)is very powerful federation made up of over fifty trade unions together representing few million workers. It had submitted similar petitions on Sri Lanka earlier, on behalf of three Sri Lankan “trade unions”,in 2008 and 2009, which were not accepted by the USTR. I was surprised when I first heard that petition has been accepted by the USTR in 2010, as I strongly believed that the AFL- CIO did not have a valid case. As per the established practices governing the GSP, its withdrawal should be done on objective manner. When such withdrawal is related to labour rights and the ILO conventions, the International Labour Organization has mechanism, the ILO Committee of Experts,which regularly evaluates how effectively these conventions have been implemented. Based on the ILO-CoE evaluation the removal of the countries could be carried out in an objective manner. read more.

05:09:17 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Cotton economy working fairly well:

During the current season (August 2012-July 2013), cotton output, trade and spinning have been progressing normally, but now a series of holidays are ahead of us.
Holiday mood has already started prevailing the cotton market and will extend till the second half of next week due to Eid-ul-Fitr observance. Till now, most of the cotton economy in Pakistan has been running routinely since the beginning of the current season.

The cotton crop during the current season has been proceeding well except that there was complaint of water shortage. Rains in the northern and upper catchment areas have filled some of the larger reservoirs and swollen the rivers, but hitherto the cotton belt had been deprived of this more.

* German C-G visits Textile City:

The Consul General of Germany, Dr Tilo Klinner visited Pakistan Textile City Limited Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, Chairman and Zaheer A. Hussain, CEO Textile City gave presentation to Consul General on the ongoing development of the project. Dr Baig briefed the Consul General about the salient features of Textile City.

He mentioned that project is spread over an area of 1,250 acres of land in Eastern Industrial Zone of Port Qasim and it is conveniently located 6 km from the National Highway. Main features are one window operation, stable and uninterrupted power supply, water, gas and combined effluent treatment plant. This project will be the first industrial city in Pakistan to have ISO 14000 compliant infrastructure. Textile City will provide world class infrastructure and will be a milestone in the revival of textile industry in Pakistan. read more.

* Challenging status quo: Does the rule of law work? :

While the rule of law is pertinent to a country’s smooth functioning, our laws have to change to encourage equality, and not just benefit the elite population. This was the crux of a Workers Party Pakistan’s (WPP) tribunal held here on Thursday.

The speakers at the tribunal said that colonial laws need to be abolished and updated to reflect the interests of the public, the parliament must challenge and change most anti-people statuses, and all social and political prisoners be released immediately.
To highlight the mass mistreatment of Pakistani citizens in the name of faulty and exploitive rule of law, a few representatives shared stories of current socio-political prisoners.

Aziz Ali narrated the story of Gilgit-Baltistan’s Baba Jan who was imprisoned on terrorism charges (7ATA). Aziz pointed out that Baba Jan has been granted bail twice, but that the local administration has proceeded to file new charges against him every time so as to prevent his release.
WPP Information Secretary Aasim Sajjad said that the ruling classes employ colonial laws such as the Maintenance of Public Order and Land Acquisition Act to suppress dissent and disenfranchise the poor of their livelihoods, while new laws such as the Anti-Terrorist Act (7ATA) are being used with reckless abandon against political activists, trade unionists and even students who are struggling for their basic rights.

Agha Sattar narrated the story of seven power loom workers in Faisalabad, who were sentenced to 490 years in prison earlier this year for organising protests and strikes against power loom owners. They were charged under the 7ATA.
read more.

map of Asia

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 20 August 2012.

* June factory output up 4.4%, NSO says

* Wages fall behind living costs- study

* Mass fainting occurs at garment factory in northwestern Cambodia
* Tainan factory workers petition US embassy
* Cambodia gains 53 factories this year
* Cambodia issues licenses for 40 new garment units

* RMG owners claim 90pc factories paid; workers refute
* Some RMG units yet to pay wages, festival allowances
* All garment workers to be paid for Eid by today- BGMEA
* No apprehension of labour unrest- BGMEA:
* KDS chief donates cash and kind to 20,000 people
* China may emerge as a bigger market for BD apparels than US

* Indian textiles ministry backs handicrafts & handlooms
* Arvind Mills slaps notices on workers for stir

* Making a mountain out of a molehill

* Cotton economy working fairly well
* German C-G visits Textile City
* Challenging status quo: Does the rule of law work?

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