in the news on-line, 4 September 2012

21:06:40 local time map of china CHINA

* China to sell up to 300,000 tonnes of reserve cotton:

The Chinese government will soon auction cotton from its state reserves to meet local demand, but the market impact will be limited as the volume is much smaller than earlier expected, traders said on Tuesday.
The government plans to offer an initial 200,000-300,000 tonnes of the crop at a base price of 18,500 yuan ($2,900) per tonne, traders said, citing a meeting held by the National Development and Reform Commission on Monday.

Earlier speculation that the government may sell as much as 1 million tonnes of cotton had helped easing New York cotton prices. Traders said most of the cotton offered would be from last year’s harvest. It has fetched a cash price of around 18,600 yuan ($2,900) per tonne.read more.

* Still Made-in-China:

Manufacturing in China is alive and well. Sneaker maker Adidas’ decision to close its last factory in the country last July raised concerns about whether “Made in China” still made economic sense.
Yet while it’s true that companies are feeling the pinch from rising wages, lower commodity prices and the stalling yuan are helping those that can use automation to keep costs down.

Three factors have been pushing up the cost of making things in China. First, labour costs have risen double-digit rates for several years: the average wage for migrant workers rose by 15 per cent in the first six months of 2012, official figures show. Second, Chinese demand pushed up commodity prices. Finally, the stronger yuan, which has risen by three to five per cent a year since 2005, has lifted the cost of Chinese exports. read more.

20:06:40 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Workers need proper nourishment:

A bowl of rice, a fried egg, a few thin slices of pork, some French beans and a bowl of vegetable soup with very little vegetables in it – enough for a person on a diet, trying to lose weight.

But this sparse lunch was being served to hard working employees of a Korean-invested sewing company in Thuan An District, Binh Duong Province.
“We actually need double the given food,” a female worker from Thanh Hoa Province who did not want to be named told Viet Nam News last Wednesday at lunch time.

Not a single worker said they had been served enough food or that the food was good. They were not enjoying their lunch, were hungry and had no choice but to eat, they said. They worked in the company’s workshop from 7.30am to 6.30pm, with an hour off for lunch.
Suddenly, there was some shouting and commotion. Some workers left their lunch unfinished and walked away. One of them had found a live worm in the stir-fried French beans.

And this is one of the better meals served to workers, said Tran Thi Thuy, a student from HCM City’s Food Technology University working for the company during her summer vacation.
“No good food here, certainly. But my aunt and cousins from Ha Tinh Province have told me that the food is better than what they have been given in other companies they have worked earlier.” read more.

20:06:40 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Chea Muny asks minister to let workers have another day off:

Free Trade Union President Chea Muny appealed to Labor Minister Vong Soth Monday to let garment factory workers take a day off to register to vote.

“I request His Excellency to intervene in this issue by telling entrepreneurs and owners to allow workers to fulfill their duty without reducing their salaries,” he said.
Chea Muny said workers needed time off as they had to travel to their hometowns to register their names between September 1 and October 12.
It was not clear why the garment factory workers could not register to vote where they reside. to read.

* Still no motion on union law:

As the latest draft of Cambodia’s long-awaited trade-union law sits idly at the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Labour officials have turned to outsiders to help hasten its enactment, a union advocate said yesterday.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said ministry officials had asked his organisation to lobby senior ministers to approve the law, which has been in their hands in draft form since November.

“Officials involved in this law have approached us and asked for our support,” he said.
Welsh said he would continue campaigning for the law to be introduced and was surprised at the lack of movement on the issue, especially after recent calls for action from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the US government and the “highest officials tasked with drafting the law”. read more.

* UK to diversify trade: Ambassador:

Cambodia’s needs and how they overlap with the UK’s strengths are an important issue in trade and investment relations between the two countries, according to British Ambassador Mark Gooding during a presentation to the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) yesterday.

Bilateral trade is mainly driven by garment exports from Cambodia, but trade will diversify as education, financial services, knowledge and innovation and construction and design are improved with the help of the UK, Gooding told members of the CCC’s delegation in preparation for their first trade visit to the UK next week.read more.

 * To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

1. Still no motion on union law. read more.

21:06:40 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* How Minimum Retirement Age Act affects working people:

THE Minimum Retirement Age Act 2012 (MRA) was passed in June and is expected to be enforced by January next year. What is the significance of the MRA? The retirement age previously stood at 55.
The MRA raises the retirement age of an employee in the private sector to 60, bringing it in line with other countries in the region like Thailand and Indonesia. Singapore has increased its retirement age to 62.

Key features of the MRA
1. The minimum retirement age for private sector employees is raised to 60, streamlining it with the retirement age for public sector employees. An employer can be fined up to RM10,000 if an employee is prematurely retired.

2. Any retirement age specified in a contract of service or a collective agreement made before, on or after the coming into operation of the MRA which is less than 60 years will be deemed void and substituted with the minimum retirement age. However, an employee may choose to retire earlier if provided for in the contract of service or collective agreement. read more.

19:36:40 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Leather industry faces development hurdles:

The leather production industry in Myanmar cannot expand until technology is updated and infrastructure improved sufficiently for manufacturers to go beyond producing raw or semi-finished leather for the international market, said the chairperson of Myanmar Leather Association, Dr Tin Aung Shwe.

“The local leather industry is stagnating because most producers can only make the raw material, which some countries consider inferior and choose not to import,” he said.
Silver Swan is the only company in Myanmar capable of manufacturing semi-finished (30 percent) leather, which is turned into leather sheets by manufacturers in other countries, including China, Thailand and India. read more.

19:06:40 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* BGMEA hopes H&M order to double in 5 years:

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday hoped the second largest global clothing retailer H&M would double its procurement from Bangladesh in the next five years.
BGMEA president M Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin expressed the hope after a meeting with the visiting H&M top brasses including its CEO Karl-Johan Persson.
‘We had a successful meeting with them [H&M officials]. We hope that the company would double its procurement of apparel products from Bangladesh,’ Mohiuddin told reporters at a press conference at the BGMEA office in Dhaka.
The Swedish H&M, which is the second largest fashion retailer in the world, is the largest buyer for Bangladesh.
Persson, who was also present at the press conference, declined to give details about his visit to Bangladesh.
He, however, said they were progressing with a long term-commitment to Bangladesh and they would continue buying from Bangladesh.
Persson said he would meet with the media and give his formal comments about the visit today.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
         

* H&M-UN jt move to protect RMG workers’ children’s rights:

Renowned fashion retailer H&M in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund will launch a US $ 8.0 million programme exclusively for the children of readymade garments workers aimed at protecting children’s rights through ensuring access to education.

Officials said the six-year programme is an extension of H&M’s “All for Children” programme and highest investment of the world’s second largest clothing retailer in a country.

They said the programme will be launched from next year by collecting 25 per cent of the sale of its fall collection for kids, both for boys and girls which will begin from October 18. read more.

* Hasina renews pledge to ensure workers’ welfare:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the priority of her government is to ensure welfare of workers as labour-intensive sectors are important to the economy.

“Our priority is to ensure welfare of the workers as labour- intensive sectors like agriculture, garment and manufacturing are the backbone of the economy,” Hasina said when a delegation of H&M, a leading Swedish garment importer from Bangladesh, called on her at her official residence, Gono Bhaban.
Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive officer of H&M, led the delegation.
Hasina said her government has taken steps to protect the interest of the workers along with industrial development in the country.

“The minimum wage for the garment workers has been raised 87 percent and we are strictly monitoring it,” she said.
read more. & read more.& read more. & read more
        

* BGMEA for legal action against masterminds of Sonali scam:

Local garment manufacturers have demanded stern legal action against the unscrupulous businessmen, bankers and others involved in the alleged fund embezzlement in Sonali Bank through impartial and fair investigation.

In a statement issued Monday, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) expressed its worries over the misappropriation of bank money, stating that the problem will be resolved through the country’s rule of law.
It said such financial irregularities and mismanagements in any commercial bank or financial institution here are completely unexpected.

“The association (BGMEA) thinks there is an apprehension that the scope of getting finance from banks for real entrepreneurs could be minimised, which will have a negative impact on overall economy,” according to the statement of the country’s apex apparel body.
It said apparel makers are now passing a very tough time as traditional overseas markets for Bangladeshi products have been shrinking one after another and the manufacturers are on a desperate hunt to find new potential markets to survive in the industry. read more. & read more.
 

* Hallmark scam-BGMEA for punishment of culprits:

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in a statement demanded punishment of the businessmen and bankers involved in the loan scam of Hallmark Group.

The demand came from a statement of the BGMEA Monday.
The statement reads: “In collaboration with few businessmen and bankers, a company embezzled some Tk 3,667 crore and BGMEA is expressing concern over the matter as it does not support this type of unethical deeds.”

The BGMEA demands proper investigation and punishment of the persons involved in the scam as it has created untoward situation for the business of the country.
Earlier, little-known Hallmark Group and five other companies have embezzled Tk 3,547 crore from state-run Sonali Bank with the help of bank’s high-ups. read more.

* Cotton mill catches fire in Jessore:

A devastating fire gutted machineries and raw materials of a cotton mill at a bazaar in Keshabpur upazila of Jessore early Tuesday.

Police and local people said the fire originated at the Sonali Cotton Mill from an electric short circuit at about 5am and gutted  cotton, thread and machineries of the mill.
On information, firefighters from Manirampur fire service reached the spot and put out the blaze after two hours of frantic efforts with the help of local people.
Mill authorities claimed that the extent of loss could go up to Tk 13 lakh. to read.

18:36:40 local time map of india INDIA

* Garment workers cry in open:

Apart from very low wages and deteriorating health conditions, most women garment workers in the city complained of physical and mental harassment in work place. At a pubic hearing of garment workers on Sunday, over 200 of them spoke their hearts out about their lives and the least chances of surviving in the costly city.

Bangalore has over five lakh garment workers, of which 90% being women. One of the workers, requesting anonymity shared her experience of having to deliver outside her factory gate, because she was not given maternity leave during her pregnancy! There are no basic facilities for the workers, not even proper drinking water.

The hearing was organized by Bangalore Committee in the Struggle for Living Wages for Garment Workers and members of Labour Union, Garment textile workers union were present. The jury had Dr Vijaya, noted women thinker and journalist, Hemaltha Mahishi, eminent judge and Ismail, veteran journalist.

Most workers cited their living problems with wages not more than Rs4500 or Rs500, despite the daily wages act stipulating more than this amount and their years of experience in the industry. In most cases, the women stood out to be the sole bread winners for their families and many of them expressed their woes of not being able to educate their children because of the financial miseries. Their suffering seemed to be extreme when some of them complained about having to work in a particular position for eight to 10 hours, at a stretch, due to the high production targets imposed on them. In a few factories, there is not enough lights, ventilation and toilets for workers. read more.

* India passes sexual harassment bill:

India’s parliament, which has been deadlocked for days due to opposition protests, on Monday used a brief break in the uproar to pass legislation protecting women from sexual harassment at work.
The lower house passed the bill before business was again abandoned for the day as lawmakers from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party shouted, stood in the well of the assembly and waved their papers.

Women’s rights activists say sexual harassment is a rampant problem in India, where an increasing number of women are joining the workforce.
The legislation, which must still be passed by the upper house before becoming law, specifically includes protection for female domestic staff, one of the most vulnerable work groups in India.

‘I am glad that they cleared this crucial bill. Women have a right to feel safe wherever they are,’ said Raghavi Behl, a professor of women’s studies at Delhi University.
The anti-harassment bill, which improves women’s rights to take legal action against abuse at work, also means that all workplaces must have a formal complaints system for sexual harassment allegations. read more.

* Powerloom sector survey on, to be completed by Dec:

Rapped for formulating schemes without authentic field-level data on the powerloom sector, the Textiles Ministry has informed a Parliamentary panel that a comprehensive survey is likely to be ready by December 2012.

Private evaluation
In an action taken report submitted to the Lok Sabha on August 30, the panel was informed by the Ministry that a private agency, AC Nielsen ORG-MARG Pvt Ltd had already commenced field survey in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

The survey in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will commence shortly. The whole survey is expected to be completed by December 2012, the Ministry said.
The Standing Committee on Labour, headed by Hemananda Biswal, had pulled up the Ministry for formulating schemes for weavers and powerlooms “without a fair assessment of the target group and the dimensions of the problems afflicting them.”
read more.

* Maharashtra claims Rs 2400 cr investment in textile sector:

Textiles minister Naseem Khan claimed the Maharashtra government’s new textile policy had helped in attracting investments to the tune of Rs 2400 crore in this sector.

The state and Centre had approved 263 textile projects which will provide employment to nearly 18,000 people in the state, he said. Khan said the government now plans to hold road shows in Gujarat to attract the state’s textile magnets to set up plants in Maharashtra.

Gujarat has a highly flourishing textile industry. Though Maharashtra is the largest cotton producer in the country, an absence of an effective textile policy meant that over 80% of the cotton is exported to neighbouring states for processing.
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* Industries evince interest in medical textiles:

The textile industry in this region, which is known for traditional items such as yarn, fabric and garment that it makes, is venturing into new areas, including specialised textile products.

According to an official at the Centre of Excellence for Medical Textiles here, two industries at Tirupur and six at Palladam recently evinced interest in making products such as crepe bandage and masks for the healthcare sector.

The Union Ministry of Textiles established a Centre of Excellence for medical textiles at the Southern India Textile Research Association here and so far the centre had developed eight new products and two new testing instruments. read more.

* Franchisees protest at Reebok ‘s doorstep:

The tussle between a section of Reebok franchisees and German sports-goods maker Adidas took an ugly turn today, with about 100 people protesting at the gates of the company’s headquarters in Gurgaon.

The franchisees from the National Capital Region (NCR) were protesting against the new terms proposed by the German sports goods major for operating stores in India. The company had given an ultimatum to about 70 franchisees in the NCR region to either accept the new terms, or shut shop by August 31. read more.

18:06:40 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

 * Garment factory looted:

Ten armed bandits entered a garment factory and after taking workers hostage took away a truckload of cloth and garment bales, a laptop, a motorbike and cash here on Saturday.
The dacoits also robbed workmen and employees of their valuables. They stayed in the factory for about three hours and later sped away with booty. They had overpowered an armed guard and snatched his rifle. They injured him on resistance. Gujranwala Sadr Police are investigating. Total loss is said to be in millions. to read.

* Textile minister’s efforts towards notifying TUF scheme lauded:

Chairman All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Mohsin Aziz has lauded the efforts of Minister for Textile Industry Makhdoom Shahab-ud-Din and the Governor the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for notifying the technology up gradation fund (TUF) scheme for textile industry.

Chairman APTMA said investment support to textile industry under the TUF scheme was a longstanding demand of textile industry. He said he had also stressed the demand in his speech at the presidency during the annual dinner of APTMA. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has instructed banks/ development finance institutions (DFIs) for processing of claims for provision of mark-up and investment support to textile industry. Under the Scheme, the government will reimburse 50 percent of markup subject to a maximum of five percent p.a., whichever is less.

However, a single company registered as a separate legal entity will be eligible for a maximum markup support of Rs 50 million per annum for each sub sector. He said allocation of funds for the TUF scheme would pave the way for undertaking BMR/Greenfield projects subject to the availability of uninterrupted energy, both gas and electricity, supply.read more.

* ‘Cotton output to rise by 300,000 bales this year’:

The cotton production of the country is expected to cross the previous output of 15.2 million bales by touching 15.5 million bales this crop year, showing an increase of 300,000 bales, Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Vice Chairman Ghulam Rabbani said on Monday.

According to fortnightly report issued by the PCGA, cotton arrival in the country during second half of August 2012 stood at 1.731 million bales while around 1.557 million bales were ginned.

Arrivals from Punjab were recorded at 967,654 bales and in Sindh it was recorded at 763,591 bales till September 1, 2012.

During this period textile sector bought 1.507 million bales while export sector purchased around 2,000 bales besides total sold-out stocks stood at 1.509 million bales. read more.

* US, Pakistani scientists work to combat cotton disease:

Five American scientists traveled to Pakistan to help Pakistani scientists and farmers combat cotton disease, which has infected cotton throughout Pakistan’s cotton belt and can substantially reduce yields and incomes for farmers.

American and Pakistani scientists, in coordination with Pakistan’s Ministry of Textile and Industry and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), organised a workshop on ‘Enhancing Cotton Germplasm, improving Resistance to Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) Disease supporting Cotton (BMPs) for small farmers and Capacity Building of Pakistani Cotton Researchers’ to develop solutions to the Cotton Leaf Curl Virus problem in Pakistan. This workshop is part of the US government sponsored Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme.
read more.

* Cotton production reaches 1.73m bales:

Total seed cotton (phutti) received in cotton ginning factories from this year’s cotton crop has reached an equivalent of 1.75 million cotton bales as of August 31, 2012, according to the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA).

According to the latest domestic production figures, released by PCGA, arrivals of seed cotton (phutti) in all cotton ginning factories of the country have totalled enough to produce 1,731,245 bales of cotton. An equivalent of 967,654 cotton bales has been received in ginning factories in Punjab, and an equivalent of 763,591 cotton bales in ginning factories in Sindh.

According to the PCGA report, textile mills have purchased 1,507,767 cotton bales from ginning factories up to August 31, 2012; while an additional 2,000 cotton bales have been exported. The report further reveals that 221,478 cotton bales are still lying unsold as of August 31. Among these 47,347 are pressed bales, whereas 174, 121 bales are in the form of un-ginned phutti held in stock in ginning factories.
read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* China to sell up to 300,000 tonnes of reserve cotton
* Still Made-in-China

VIET NAM
* Workers need proper nourishment

CAMBODIA
* Chea Muny asks minister to let workers have another day off
* Still no motion on union law
* UK to diversify trade: Ambassador
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1. Still no motion on union law

MALAYSIA
* How Minimum Retirement Age Act affects working people

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Leather industry faces development hurdles

BANGLA DESH
* BGMEA hopes H&M order to double in 5 years
* H&M-UN jt move to protect RMG workers’ children’s rights
* Hasina renews pledge to ensure workers’ welfare
* BGMEA for legal action against masterminds of Sonali scam
* Hallmark scam-BGMEA for punishment of culprits
* Cotton mill catches fire in Jessore

INDIA
* Garment workers cry in open
* India passes sexual harassment bill
* Powerloom sector survey on, to be completed by Dec
* Maharashtra claims Rs 2400 cr investment in textile sector
* Industries evince interest in medical textiles
* Franchisees protest at Reebok ‘s doorstep

PAKISTAN
* Garment factory looted
* Textile minister’s efforts towards notifying TUF scheme lauded
* ‘Cotton output to rise by 300,000 bales this year’
* US, Pakistani scientists work to combat cotton disease
* Cotton production reaches 1.73m bales

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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
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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
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