in the news on-line, 24 august 2012

05:05:40 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Exporters cautious over new 9% growth target as govt details aid package:

The export sector remains concerned about whether the government’s export growth target for the year is achievable, even though it was revised downward from 15 per cent to 9 per cent yesterday.

Many are worried about a lack of positive factors that would point to an economic recovery in major markets.
However, given a raft of assistance measures announced Tuesday by the government, exporters will wait for overseas sales figures for the current quarter before forming a definite view on prospects for the full year.
(…)
Yesterday’s meeting of economic ministers expressed particular concern about four export sectors – textiles and garments, leather goods, gems and jewellery, and food and agricultural goods – that had been directly affected by the euro-zone crisis and the global economic slowdown. read more.

05:05:40 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Garment firms fear import duties:

Garment exporters have expressed their concerns over the approaching end to a grace period on duty payments for raw materials and accessory imports.

Under the current Import and Export Tax Law, enterprises that import raw materials and accessories for production of goods for export receive a 275-day grace period on duty payments for their imports.
A draft for the revised Import and Export Tax Law and Tax Management Law eliminates the tax payment deferment and requires enterprises to pay tax before customs clearance, or provide a guarantee from a credit institution.

The move partly stems from the fact that many exporters are taking advantage of this rule to evade taxes, causing difficulties for tax offices and State budget losses.
However, the removal of this grace period would put pressure on enterprises that operate legally, said businesses. read more.

05:05:40 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

 * Factory strikes lead to cut in orders:

Global brands Levi’s and Gap had slashed their orders from the Tai Yang and Camwell garment factories by 20 per cent, the factories’ boss said yesterday, amid the longest strike in the industry’s recent history.

Tai Yang Enterprises manager Wu Minghuor said his company had shuttered its Tai Yang II factory this week in response to the big brands’ decision to buy less – which he blamed on the strikers and their unions – and had relocated staff to its neighbouring factories.

“Our buyers, Gap and the Levi’s company, have reduced orders for our products. That’s the reason we closed the factory,” he said. “We really regret this. If the workers had not gone on strike like this, my factory would not have closed. We definitely can’t accept them back to work now,” he said.

Tomorrow marks two months since employees from three adjoining Tai Yang Enterprises factories in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district walked off the job, claiming the company had changed its name in 2010 to avoid paying workers seniority bonuses.
(…)
Levi’s and Gap did not respond to questions from the Post. read more.

04:05:40 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Russia’s accession to WTO to boost up BD apparel exports:

Country’s cargo shipment will get a big boost to Russian market following its accession to WTO, exporters said.

Russia became the World Trade Organisation’s member Wednesday and Bangladesh hopes to take advantage of WTO rules and regulations as a least developed country (LDC) to enter the Russian market.
Most economic giants of the world are members of WTO, they said adding Bangladesh will get some preferential advantages, especially, the GSP facility as an LDC.
The country is now expected to lower its import duties, limit export duties and also introduce a host of other measures to bring it in line with WTO trading procedures.

Manufacturers told the FE Thursday Russian economy has been growing fast, but retailers there buy clothing mainly from Turkey and China as direct sourcing from Bangladesh is still in its infancy.
The $1.9 trillion Russian economy is the ninth largest in the world.

As part of a drive to find new markets for the Bangladeshi apparel, a local trade promotion team of over 100 knit manufacturers will visit Moscow in September to forge links with the Russian retailers and get them acquainted with Bangladeshi products.read more.

03:35:40 local time map of india INDIA

* CoS to take up minimum wage Bill for approval:

 A committee of secretaries will take up for approval on Friday a bill to amend the Minimum Wages Act that aims to raise wages of workers in tandem with the retail inflation rate every year and enhance penal provisions for erring companies, a senior official said on Wednesday.

“Once the CoS clears the bill, it will be sent for cabinet approval,” the official told FE. Though the labour ministry wanted the bill to be introduced in the ongoing monsoon session, it seems it would be now taken up in the the winter session of Parliament. The minimum wages act was amended four times since 1995-96, but annual increments have failed to keep pace with the rising prices of essential items.

In April 2011, the government raised the minimum wage of industrial workers to R115 a day from the earlier R100. It was R80 a day between 2007 and March 2011.

While the government has linked rural wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme to inflation, industrial workers are at loss because they have to depend on the whims and wishes of companies for their annual increment. read more.

* Bengal to expedite schemes in handicraft and handloom sectors:

 West Bengal government is keen on quick implementation of all state and central schemes for the development of handicraft and handloom sectors in the state involving over 12 lakh artisans and weavers.

There are more than 5.5 lakh handicraft artisans and 6.65 lakh handloom weavers in the state as per the Handloom Census 2010 who are engaged in intricate varieties of handicraft and handloom products, Micro and Small Scale Enterprises and Textile Minister Manas Bhunia said here on Thursday.
Releasing a hand book on different schemes in the handicraft and handloom sectors, Bhunia said the department was preparing photo identity cards for artisans and weavers, besides providing financial support from banks through artisans credit cards and weavers credit cards. read more.

03:05:40 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* PWC asks for uniform minimum wages:

The Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC) has urged the federal and provincial governments to devise a uniform mechanism to fix minimum wages of skilled and semi-skilled labourers throughout the country in consultation with all stakeholders.

“So far, the federal and Punjab governments have unilaterally determined varying minimum wages and that too without taking on board representatives of employers and the workers while the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provincial administrations are yet to initiate the process,” says PWC Secretary-General Khurshid Ahmad.

The federal government has fixed Rs8,000 a month and the Punjab government Rs9,000 for workers without taking into consideration the obligations undertaken in Minimum Wages Ordinance 1961.

Similar increase in the minimum wages of unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and supervisory workers has lowered the importance of skill.The 1961 law requires the fixation of the minimum wages commensurate with price hike from time to time keeping in view the requirements of essential needs of the workers and their families as laid down in ILO Convention No 26. read more.

* Textile garments: Pakistan’s share in world markets fast eroding:

Pakistan’s share of textile garments in global markets has phenomenally gone down over the past few years, as major European store chains are now more focused on placing orders from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, exporters said on Thursday.

“The primary reason behind the shift of global buyers from Pakistan to other countries is violence, particularly targeted killings in Karachi,” they said. They feared that Pakistan might lose its existing share of textile products in the international market if the government did not steer its priorities towards solving key issues of governance, including restoration of peace and availability of uninterrupted energy to industries.

Pakistan has no share of fashion and sports wear textile in world markets, despite public appeal for such products in Europe and the US, Chief Co-ordinator of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (Prgmea) Ijaz Khokhar told Business Recorder.

“Pakistan’s public and private sectors lack knowledge and expertise about textile fashion and sports wear manufacturing, besides an acute shortage of raw material,” he said. Criticising the federal ministries of commerce and textile industries, he said both were still oblivious to the growing potential of other South Asian countries, including India, in textile innovation.read more.

* Good local demand for cotton:

After a hiatus of nearly one week of Eid-ul-Fitr and weekly holidays, the cotton market showed a steady to tight condition on Thursday. Recent gains over the previous days on the New York cotton futures market (ICE) and tightness in the commodity complex, particularly in soyabean and corn, incited cotton to also join the bandwagon leading to a feeling of verve and vivacity.

Though lint prices on the domestic market have gained about Rs 100 to Rs 150 per maund (37.32 Kgs) over the past couple of days, sale volume remained moderate. Some rains fell in such Punjab stations as Sahiwal, Chichawatni and Mian Channu and it also drizzled in some areas of Sindh. Weather was also cloudy in other parts of the cotton belt perhaps signifying that the monsoon season lasts till September. Reported arrivals decreased creating a supply gap which helped in strengthening the cotton prices.

The quality of Sindh cotton is said to be exceptionally good while Punjab cotton is also providing steady quality. Some say that crop is late and also fear that it could be below the target. Others say that arrivals are lagging but that the deliveries could catch up later on. Anyhow there is good local demand for cotton.read more.

* Pest damages 15% of cotton crop in Punjab:

Pest attack on the cotton crop has intensified and so far affected 15% of the sown area in Punjab, sparking fears among farmers that it will be difficult for them to reap a bumper harvest this year.

Farmers from the south of Punjab are worried about the deteriorating condition of the key crop, which feeds the giant textile industry of the country. They have asked the provincial government to immediately take preventive measures to stave off further losses.

According to agricultural experts, Cotton Leaf Curl (CLC) virus and white fly have attacked the crop throughout the province, but southern Punjab has been particularly hit hard. As a result, the farmers, who got seeds and fertilisers on credit from traders, have suffered heavy losses.

“Delay in monsoon rains is responsible for the damage to the crop. Cotton needs a lot of watering, either through canals, rainfall or tube wells,” said Rao Babar Ali, a farmer in southern Punjab, while talking to The Express Tribune. read more.

03:05:40 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Cotton harvesting starts in Tashkent:

Bus fleets in Tashkent have been notified that they will start carrying workers of state-run enterprises and organisations to cotton fields on 3 September.

“We were told as early as on Monday that `cotton’ trips would start on 3 September. All bus fleets and organisations that have buses would be involved,” a bus driver, Rustam, said.
He said the authorities chartered buses running on city routes and their drivers every year.
According to Rustam, they have to drive employees of all public organisations, with no exception.“Even employees, of course, ordinary employees of the city mayor’s office are taken to cotton fields. Perhaps, only deputies and those sitting in the presidential office do not go. We drive everyone else, even ministerial workers,” the driver said.

This year is promising to be bumper for cotton pickers because of the hot and dry summer. This means there will be the need for a large number of cheap, or even free, public workers. read more.

map of Asia

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 27 August 2012.

THAILAND
* Exporters cautious over new 9% growth target as govt details aid package

VIET NAM
* Garment firms fear import duties

CAMBODIA
* Factory strikes lead to cut in orders

BANGLA DESH
* Russia’s accession to WTO to boost up BD apparel exports

INDIA
* CoS to take up minimum wage Bill for approval
* Bengal to expedite schemes in handicraft and handloom sectors

PAKISTAN
* PWC asks for uniform minimum wages
* Textile garments: Pakistan’s share in world markets fast eroding
* Good local demand for cotton
* Pest damages 15% of cotton crop in Punjab

UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton harvesting starts in Tashkent

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