12:03:59 local time CHINA
* Declining cotton demand leaves rising inventories:
China, the world’s largest cotton consumer, is expected to see drops in cotton consumption this year as a result of its economic slowdown and grim export business from many key Western markets.
The country currently accounts for 40 percent of global cotton consumption, and any dent in its demand is likely to put considerable downward pressure on the global cotton price, analysts said.
The latest data show that the export value of China’s textile industry was $137.4 billion from January to July this year, a decline of 0.2 percent on the same period last year – the first decline in a decade.
A survey by the China Cotton Association in July covering more than 100 textile companies found that 30 percent of the country’s largest cotton mills had imposed limits on production, and more than half of the small mills had suspended production altogether. read more.
11:03:59 local time VIET NAM
* Minimum wage up, laborers’ income down:
While the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) believes that raising the minimum wage is a must, businesses fear that the production costs would be higher, while laborers worry that their actual income would go down.
94 percent of businesses pay higher than stipulated minimum wages
A survey conducted by MOLISA on 1700 businesses showed that 94 percent of businesses now pay workers higher than the minimum wages stipulated by the laws.
However, the minimum wage increase would still be a big threat to business owners, because they would have to pay higher for workers’ social insurance premiums and other expenses.
The problem is that the social and healthcare insurance premiums are now defined based on the minimum wages set up by the State. Therefore, when the minimum wages increase, the costs businesses have to bear would also increase.
Under the current laws, businesses have to pay 20 percent of the social insurance premiums for workers, while workers have to pay 8.5 percent.
The labor intensive industries prove to be the biggest sufferers from the minimum wage adjustments. As for garment, footwear and wooden furniture enterprises, for example, the pay for social insurance premiums account for 3-4 percent of the total expenses.
An executive of Kungviet garment company Nguyen Quoc Lap said the 500 workers in his company have the average pay of 3.8-4 million dong a month, which is higher than the stipulated minimum wage.
Therefore, if the minimum wage is raised, the actual income of workers would be unchanged. Meanwhile, both businesses and workers would have to pay higher for social insurance premiums, which means their income would decrease. read more.
* Worker meals deprived of nutrition, redundant of chemicals:
Daily food ration of workers in northern provinces of Vietnam satisfies 90 percent of nutrition demand of male workers and 70 percent of female workers. Meal quality is low; with 72 percent of food being starch, low in protein, fat and redundant of preservatives.
The National Institute of Nutrition and the Agency for Food Hygiene and Safety recently conducted a survey on meal quality of workers in northern provinces. The above figures are the survey results.
The survey shows that worker meals contain only 12 percent of protein, 16 percent of fat and 72 percent of starch.
The use of unprocessed food with high preservative residual is also a problem. The National Institute of Nutrition’s quick tests of input food revealed that 20-25 percent of food contained preservative residual. Meanwhile, processed food contained a lot of addictives, especially in breakfast.
Experts from the institute warned that quality of worker food rations are unbalanced and if this situation is not solved, worker health would be affected. read more.
11:03:59 local time THAILAND
* Here is an updated Briefing Note Somyot Prueksakasemsuk-FINAL about Somyot and his legal case:
Human rights defender Mr. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk charged under Lèse majesté law Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, 50, is an editor of Voice of Taksin (translated as
“Voice of the Southerners/ Voice of the Oppressed”) magazine and a prominent
Thai labour rights activist.
He is known for his tireless efforts in supporting the empowerment of the workers movement and the establishment of democratic trade unionism in Thailand. In 2007, he began to edit the Voice of Taksin magazine, a publication that covers political issues and analysis.
Somyot is also the chair of the Union of Democratic Labour Alliance and the
leader of the 24th June democracy group. Prior to his arrest, he played an active
role in the campaign to repeal the lèse majesté law (Article 112 of the Criminal Code).
Somyot was detained for 21 days in May – June 2010 under the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations.
Somyot was arrested on 30 April 2011 in Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo Province, and later charged with violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code which states that “whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years”. According to the Public Prosecutor, Somyot is alleged to have allowed the publication of two articles in the Voice of Taksin that make negative references to the monarchy.read more.
* Fashion City makes a comeback:
The government next year plans to revive the Bangkok Fashion City project initiated by Thaksin’s administration.
Industry Minister M.R. Pongsvas Svasti yesterday said the textile and garment sector has been hard hit by the daily minimum wage increasing to 300 baht, and the situation will be aggravated by the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
The Bangkok Fashion City project will turn crisis into opportunity by using the creativity of fashion designers so that textile manufacturers can expand into the international arena, he said.
The 1.8-billion-baht project, which was originally initiated in 2003 to establish Bangkok as a regional fashion hub and eventually a world fashion leader, was scrapped at the end of 2006.
M.R. Pongsvas said the ministry will initially allocate 100 million baht to hire world-class designers from Europe to help Thailand develop its own designers and brands and hold fashion shows in locations such as the Ratchaprasong area and Siam Paragon.
Thailand’s fashion industry has seen a downturn since the project was halted, resulting in a low number of designers and brand startups, said M.R. Pongsvas.
The project involves the textile and garment, shoe, and leather and jewellery sectors, totalling 10,000 factories and 1.5 million workers. read more.
* Tell me lies, sweet little lies:
It is an absolute irony that people are condemning the finance minister for telling us the truth that sometimes, often, or rather most of the time, the government tells “white lies”.
But again, it’s always the messenger that gets shot.
Telling lies, “black” or “white”, has become so ingrained in the human psyche and human behaviour. We are even capable of lying to ourselves, and at times have the need to do so, consciously or unconsciously, as a survival or coping mechanism.
Some people describe “white lies” – lies that are not meant to hurt or harm anyone, that are issued without malice – as a necessary evil. We, in our own way, expect some lying in our lives. To many people, telling a lie is easier than telling the truth. In many instances the consequences of the lie are thought of as “harmless” compared to those of the truth. Former US President Harry Truman responded to the rousing desire of his supporters – “Give them Hell, Harry” – by saying that he never gave anybody “hell”, he simply told them the truth, and they thought it was hell.
Then there are truths that are told with bad intent that William Blake says beat all the lies we can invent.
We are told that the hike in the minimum wage to Bt300 per day will benefit workers. We are told that new college graduates will be entitled to a starting salary of at least Bt15,000 a month.
The truth is, employers deal with the 40-per cent minimum wage increase by reducing the size of the workforce and the number of new employees. And there are more and more graduates who cannot find jobs, who have now joined the growing class of the under-employed. read more.
* Minimum wage policy ‘successful’:
Labour Minister Padermchai Sasomsap praised the 300-baht daily minimum wage policy yesterday, saying it had not resulted in job losses.
In the ministry’s announcement of its achievements over the past year, he said it had been successful in keeping the unemployment rate low at about 0.4% of the workforce despite the massive flooding that hit the country last year.
The minister gave himself 5.5 out of 10 points for his work performance.
The ministry launched the 300-baht minimum wage in seven provinces in April, Mr Padermchai said, adding that it will be rolled out nationwide on Jan 1.
The ministry had succeeded in convincing business operators not to lay off staff despite the wage rise, he said.
Mr Padermchai cited Bangkok, where the employment rate has remained steady despite the wage increase.
Meanwhile, although 83% of employers said they would be affected by the minimum wage hike, 99% said they accepted it and were able to make adjustments to accommodate it, he said. read more.
11:03:59 local time CAMBODIA
* Labour leader summonsed to court:
Global brands Levi’s and Gap had continued slashing orders at the Tai Yang and Camwell factories in Kandal province, costing the company that owns them about US$6 million, its manager claimed yesterday.
Tai Yang Enterprises manager Wu Minghuor said the brands had reduced their orders from the factories by 80 per cent as a result of the strike over seniority bonuses, which began on June 25.
“We have found we have lost about $6 million in revenue and 80 per cent of orders from [Gap and Levi’s],” he said – less than a week after telling the Post the brands had cut orders by 20 per cent.
The man responsible was Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, who had “destroyed the company” by inciting workers to protest, Minghuor said.
Chhun was yesterday summonsed to appear in Kandal Provincial Court over allegations he incited the strike at the factories, in Ang Snuol district.
Provincial prosecutor Tep Monin said Chhun must appear on September 11 to also respond to allegations that he defamed management.
“We have summonsed Rong Chhun to appear in court for questioning following a complaint from the director-general of Tai Yang Enterprises, Jack Liu, who is suing [Chhun],” a letter signed by Monin says.
Levi’s said it could not provide a response before deadline, and Gap could not be reached yesterday. read more.
* Union leader summoned to court for incitement, defamation:
Kandal Provincial Prosecutor Tep Monin has summoned Free Trade Union of Workers President Rong Chhun to appear in court on September 11 following a complaint by a Taiwanese company, sources said said.
The sources said Taiyang Enterprises (Cambodia) Co Ltd had sued the union leader for defamation and inciting workers to strike illegally.
* ‘Suspicious suspect’ in Bavet shooting named:
Police in Svay Rieng province said yesterday a Bavet town police officer had been under court-ordered supervision since last week on suspicion of being involved in the February shooting at a garment factory protest in the Special Economic Zone there.
Provincial police chief Prach Rim said Sar Chantha, the chief of penal police in Bavet town, had been put under court supervision by Judge Pech Chhoeut in relation to the ongoing case.
Former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith was charged in April with “unintentional injury” for allegedly firing his gun at random into a crowd of 6,000 workers at the Kaoway Sports Factory in February, injuring three female garment workers.read more.
* Strike continues at Gap supplier factory:
A strike at the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh, which supplies US retailer Gap, has entered its third week, despite a court ordering the 2,500 protestors to return to work.
The unrest began on 11 August after six female employees accused their Bangladeshi manager of sexual harassment.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered the protestors to return to work on Friday (24 August), even though investigations are still pending, according to the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
“The court released the protection warrant and asked all workers to return to work in 48 hours on Friday, and we agreed with the court order,” worker representative Keo Kim Heang told local media.
“But the company then decided to suspend five worker representatives – that’s why all workers decided to strike again.”
US retailer Gap Inc has so far declined to comment on the dispute. read more.
* UPDATE: CAMBODIA: Gap calls for probe into supplier strike:
US retailer Gap Inc says it has “demanded an immediate investigation” in response to allegations of harassment at one of its suppliers in Cambodia.
A strike at the Ocean Garment Factory in Phnom Penh has now entered its third week, despite a court ordering the 2,500 protestors to return to work.
The unrest began on 11 August after six female employees accused their Bangladeshi manager of sexual harassment.
In a statement sent to just-style, Gap Inc says: “Sexual harassment is absolutely unacceptable,” adding that it is a serious violation of the retailer’s code of vendor conduct.
“Workers, factory management and government officials – including the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Arbitration Council (an independent dispute resolution body) – are reviewing these allegations and working to settle the case through due process,” the company said.
“We are closely monitoring the outcome of those discussions, and have requested swift and fair resolution.
Additionally, ILO’s Better Factory Cambodia, a key in-country partner of Gap Inc, is conducting a separate, independent investigation into these allegations.
* Cambodia hosts ASEAN garment, textile exhibition:
Garment and textile products from Southeast Asian nations were on display here on Wednesday evening, aiming at further promoting business opportunities, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said.
Organized by Cambodian Ministry of Commerce in cooperation with the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, the ASEAN Garment and Textile Fair 2012 will be held until Sept. 1 at the Angkor Coex Exhibition Hall.
“The event is to promote garment and textile businesses between ASEAN nations as well as with other ASEAN dialogue partners,” the minister said at the opening ceremony, which was attended by all ASEAN Economic Ministers, and Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano as well as South Korean Minister for Trade Bark Taeho.
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
3. Union leader called to court for inciting garment workers. read more.
* Dubious Honors for ‘Dodgy’ Olympic Sponsors:
As the world turned its attention to the stories of athletic triumph and defeat at the London Olympics, which closed on Aug. 19, activists have called attention to one of the Games’ lesser-known aspects — its official sponsors.
“When London bid to host the Olympic Games, we promised the world that we would be the most sustainable Olympic Games to date,” said Meredith Alexander, campaign director for global campaigning group Avaaz. For two years, Alexander served as a member of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, a watchdog that she says was set up “to ensure those promises were kept.”
“The Olympics are supposed to represent the best and the brightest of humanity,” she said. “But I can’t see any evidence that those ethical foundations are reflected in the choice of sponsors. To my mind, it is impossible to reconcile a list of companies that includes Dow Chemical, BP and Rio Tinto with an ethical or even responsible approach to sponsorship.”
As the owner of the chemical company Union Carbide, Dow Chemical arguably bears legal responsibility for the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984, during which a Union Carbide pesticide factory leaked toxic gas over the Indian city of Bhopal, killing thousands of people. By death count, the Bhopal tragedy is reckoned to be the worst industrial disaster in history. read more.
09:48:59 local time NEPAL
* Nepal to take part in ‘Green Jobs’:
Nepal is taking part in a regional meeting ‘Green Jobs’ that is expected to examine new ways of generating green employment opportunities.
“Government, employer and worker representatives from ten countries — Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, China, Fiji, India, Malaysia and Thailand — in the Asia-Pacific region will gather in Surabaya, Indonesia this week to examine new ways of generating green employment opportunities, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
“The region’s growing interest in the move toward ‘green jobs’ creates opportunities for a just transition for workers and employers in the pursuit and advancement of low-carbon, climate resilient, environmentally friendly economic development,” it said, adding Green Jobs in Asia Regional Conference on August 29–31 is hosted by the government of Indonesia, and convened by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Surabaya, East Java.
The minister of Manpower and Transmigration of Indonesia H A Muhaimin Iskandar will open the conference that is expected to draw more than 80 participants from across the Asia-Pacific region, according to the ILO that defines green jobs as decent and productive employment that helps to reduce negative environmental impacts, ultimately leading to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. read more.
10:03:59 local time BANGLA DESH
* All out move to curb child labour urged:
Dr Mizanur Rahman , chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday called for a comprehensive approach to eliminate the scourge of child labour and trafficking.
His comments came at a workshop on ‘Universal periodic review: follow-up on the recommendations on child labour and trafficking,’ organised by the NHRC at the BRAC Centre Inn.
He also added that the existing status of child labour and trafficking is in a very complex situation and to eradicate it we should work together.
Advocate Fouzia Karim , Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association noted that under the cover of migration, and coveted jobs in the international market, the trafficking of humans has ascended to a new form.
She called for ensuring the definition of child laws and the forced labour, particularly in the garments sector and tobacco industry to bring it to a stop. Kazi Reazul Hoque, a full time member of the NHRC suggested getting the exact number of trafficked children and women to be documented and to introduce a strong monitoring system by the government. read more.
* Chinese factories turn to Bangladesh as labour costs rise:
There is a spring in the step of Syed Faizul Ahsan as he walks through the floor of his garments factory outside the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.
Hundreds of workers, most of them women from rural areas, are busy making sweaters for an overseas client. The setting may well be similar to any one of the thousands of such factories in Bangladesh, but one thing makes Mr Ahsan’s unit stand out.
The sweaters made in his unit are not heading to the US or eurozone, the two biggest markets for Bangladesh’s garment exports, but to China.
Growing orders from mainland China mean that Mr Ahsan can breathe easy despite the slowdown in demand from the US and eurozone. “A few years ago only 5% of my factory output was for the Chinese market. Now it has gone up to 20%,” he says.
He expects that number to increase further in the coming years.
It may sound strange that Chinese firms are turning to Bangladesh to make clothes, not least because China is the global leader in clothing manufacturing and exports.
In Bangladesh the average monthly salary for garments workers is only around $70 to $100. If I produce here, price is much more competitive”. But the shift is happening for very obvious reasons. read more.
* Small RMG units get duty-free facility to Indian market:
The government has taken steps to allow the small scale apparel factories enjoy duty free facility to Indian market to raise volume of export there.
Presently only the big apparel factories, who are members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), can avail the facility that India offered under the South Asian Free Trade Area accord.
Trade officials think that if the small factories are offered the facility, Bangladesh’s apparel export to India will increase manifold.
The small factories, mostly in the country’s northern districts, Dhaka, Chittagong and Narayanganj, export apparel items like T-shirts, shorts, shirts, pants and vests, made from waste cotton of big factories. read more.
* 3rd Way makes debut in B’desh:
World’s largest apparel manufacturer VF with its brands Wrangler, Lee, Nautica, The North Face signed a long-term manufacturing and Buy Back contract with SIMFTEX Apparel & Washing Limited recently at its Asian Head Quarters in Hong Kong, said a press release.
Mr Tom Nelson, VF Asia managing director and chairman of SIMFTEX, Mr Syed Qamrul Huda inked the contract. 3rd Way is a unique brain child and proprietary manufacturing process of VF Corporation. read more.
09:33:59 local time INDIA
* Centre okays comprehensive ban on child labour:
The Union cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal of the Ministry of Labour and Employment for amending the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, for complete prohibition of employment of children below 14 years in all occupations.
The proposal is also for prohibiting employment of persons below 18 years in hazardous occupations and processes in line with an International Labour Organisation Convention.
Union Labour Minister M Mallikarjun Kharge said in a press release that at present, children under the age of 14 years are prohibited from employment in hazardous occupations and processes and their conditions of work are regulated in non-hazardous occupations and processes under the Act. read more.
* Land acquired for textile park won’t be returned: DC:
Deputy Commissioner S.S. Pattanashetty has said that the Karnataka Area Industries Development Board (KIADB) will not return to farmers the 65 acres of land acquired for setting up a textile park here.
Participating in a programme at the Davangere Press Club here on Wednesday, Mr. Pattanashetty said though the proposed textile park had not materialised, many textile entrepreneurs had constructed buildings to start textile units in the area. Owing to the delay in supplying power, they had not commenced operations, he said.
Mr. Pattanashetty said the KIADB would hold a meeting in Bangalore to discuss the demands of farmers and give them adequate compensation for the 143 acres of land acquired for public purposes and for setting up the textile park. read more.
* NTC likely to set up technical textile plant in Ahmedabad:
With three more mills yet to be revived in Ahmedabad, National Textile Corporation (NTC) is mulling setting up of a technical textile plant in one of them.
The Ministry of Textiles, along with NTC is planning to set up in all 12 technical textiles plants across the country, one of which is likely to come up in Ahmedabad.
09:33:59 local time SRI LANKA
* Free Nawaloka Hospital health checks for 400 garment factory workers:
Sri Lankan private healthcare pioneer Nawaloka Hospital recently held a free-of-charge Mobile Health Camp (MHC) through its Serene Health Screening Centre for over 400 workers at a leading garment factory in the southern town of Horana.
A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative intended to create awareness for preventative health amongst those who typically cannot afford it, this free-of-charge, basic health check is usually only offered to low-income factory workers at companies that have made use of Nawaloka Hospital’s preventative health products in the past.
Further, it tests for the more common Sri Lankan diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. It also included the taking of full medical histories of individual factory workers to determine and treat conditions specific to them.
09:03:59 local time PAKISTAN
* US markets open for Pakistani products- CG:
US markets are open for Pakistani products and the country wants to expand and diversify Pakistani exports to the United States under various programmes, said Michael Dodman, US Consul General, on Tuesday.
“First and most important, the US markets are open,” he said at an export workshop hosted by the US Consulate General, besides organising discussions with the US Department of Commerce, Office of the US Trade Representative, Senior Pakistani officials and local business leaders.
“The United States is by far Pakistan’s single largest export market, taking 16 percent of Pakistan’s total exports,” he added.
The US representatives are promoting greater US–Pakistan trade relations by explaining how Customs regulations and the generalised system of preference (GSP) can expand trade between the two countries. The objective of the programme is to expand and diversify Pakistani exports to the United States under the existing programmes, he said.
Pakistan is exporting annually $3 billion to the United States and enjoys a large trade surplus with it. Over 90 percent of Pakistani exports are in the textile and apparel sector where it is very successful. read more.
* Pakistan can fetch $100 bn in textile exports-Zardari:
President Asif Ali Zardari has said that Pakistani textiles have export potential of around $100 billion that remains unexploited due multiple reasons, including the country’s position as a frontline state in the war against terror, the ongoing power and energy crisis and high bank markups.
Addressing the annual dinner of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) at the Presidency on Monday, the president said that the textile sector, which has the major share in exports, has a great potential, which needs to be explored for the benefit of the industry and for the economy.
Responding to Aptma Chairman Mohsin Aziz’s commitment to increase exports to $20 billion if energy and power crisis is resolved, he said, the potential is five times higher.
The president urged the business community to explore new markets for their products. He urged them to look towards the south as well, besides concentrating on already developed markets of the west.
The government is willing to assist businesses in long-term planning; the adoption of new methodologies and focus on infrastructure development to maintain their competitiveness, said Zardari, adding that the huge economic costs of war compelled the government to curtail Public Sector Development Programme spending, putting pressure on the business community by increasing their input costs and adversely impacting their competitiveness. read more.
* Cess imposition of Rs 100/MMBTU on textile industries criticised:
The imposition of Cess of Rs 100 per MMBTU on the industries (including Captive Power) is indeed a hard hitting step by the government, rendering the textile industries cost of doing business even higher and appears to be one more nail in its coffin, lamented Muhammad Mushtaq, Chairman, Value Added Textile Forum.
He said that during the year 2011-12 as compared to 2010-11 exports of this vital value added textile sector have greatly declined, knitwear by 22.2 percent in quantity terms and 14.37 percent in terms of value, Bedwear by 19.11 percent in quantity terms and 16.30 percent in terms of value, Apparel and Clothing (Readymade Garment) by 25.95 percent in quantity terms and 7.84 percent in terms of value, Towel by 17.18 percent in quantity terms; 10.25 percent in terms of value.
From this it is crystal clear that any increase in cost of manufacturing would further lead to decline in the exports of Pakistan which would result in decline in foreign exchange earnings leading to further imminent shifting of large number of industries abroad causing mass unemployment; worsening law and order situation and chaos.