08:08:40 local time CHINA
* China’s factories remain the focus of worker unrest in August as manufacturing declines:
Worker unrest in August was again concentrated in China’s coastal factories as the country’s official purchasing-managers index dropped below 50 for the first time this year, indicating a contraction in manufacturing activity.
Of the 24 strikes and protests recorded on CLB’s strike map in August, more than two thirds (17) occurred in factories. Wage arrears continued to be the primary cause of these protests, followed by demands for pay increases and lay-off compensation.
There were several examples of smaller factories in the Pearl and Yangtze River deltas either delaying the payment of wages or closing down entirely and the boss absconding. In all of these cases, workers took to the streets to vent their anger and demand their back pay. Several workers were briefly detained by the police during three such protests. In total, police responded to 12 of the 24 protests recorded last month. read more.
* China has 12.6 million migrant children:
More than 12 million school-age children of migrant workers live with their parents who work outside their hometowns, Beijing News reported.
According to a document released by the Ministry of Education, 12.6 million children within the compulsory education age moved with their parents who work away from their rural homes in 2011, 938,000 more than in 2010.
Among them, 9.3 million were primary school-age children, and 3.3 million were in middle school, the national education career development statistics report of 2011 showed.
Children who were left behind by migrant workers totaled 22 million in 2011, 712,000 less than 2010, the report also showed.to read.
* Healthcare system to get 400b yuan injection:
Increase in cases of chronic diseases can mean opportunities for medical firms
Deng Jianping currently spends around 500 yuan ($79) a month on medicine for blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
The 68-year-old Beijinger said his wife has more chronic diseases and her medication costs even more, while his two sons, 42 and 38, also need to take medicine every day for hypertension and heart illness.
Wang and his family are among the more than 260 million Chinese people, around a quarter of the nation’s population, who have been diagnosed with chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.
The Ministry of Health said that around 10 million people in China have contracted chronic diseases every year since 2002. read more.
* Poor Europe-Asia land routes hinder trade:
Inefficient transport links prove costly for businesses
Inefficient land transportation between Europe and Asia has become a key barrier in trade between the two continents, according to international logistics experts.
“Many Eurasian countries have experienced difficulties in trade growth because of poor connectivity with each other,” said Babar Badat, vice-chairman of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, at a logistics development forum on Monday. read more.
* Wenzhou’s shoe, clothing firms start to step out:
Entrepreneurs in the private business hub are leading a push into overseas markets, Gao Changxin and Yu Ran report from Wenzhou, Zhejiang
As China’s large State-owned enterprises pour money into overseas expansion and acquisitions, the country’s private businesses have also started setting their sight on the international market.
And entrepreneurs in Wenzhou, a city with a tradition of entrepreneurship, are among the leaders in the international expansion of the country’s private sector.
One example is Wenzhou Kangnai Group Co Ltd, one of the leaders in Wenzhou’s pillar footwear industry. The company spent 20 years transforming itself from a household workshop into a modern manufacturer that employs more than 5,000 workers. And now it’s quickening its pace to expand overseas, vowing to open 1,000 stores abroad over the next five years. Its first overseas store opened in 2006 in Paris. read more.
08:08:40 local time PHILIPPINES
* Privatization of government hospitals, further marginalizing the poor in the name of profit:
The costs of health services in earlier corporatized government hospitals such as the Philippine Heart Center, the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) and Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) belie the government’s claim that privatization will lead to more “accessible and affordable health care” for the poor.
Eleven-month old Brienna has a lump in her nerve connected to her spine. The doctor said the lump should be immediately removed so that she could walk. The surgery would cost from P30,000 to P40,000 ($697 to $930), said his father Melvin Navarro, 36. They were among the long line of out-patients in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) waiting to consult a doctor.
Navarro said they opted to transfer to PGH because they have spent their savings and even loaned money for Brienna’s MRI in a private hospital. They spent around P50,000 ($1,162). “We transferred here in PGH because they have specialists and because it is a government hospital, we thought the operation will not be expensive. But we realized we were wrong when the doctor told us the cost for my daughter’s operation,” Navarro said in an interview with Bulatlat.com.
Navarro is a minimum wage earner. His wife, on the other hand, is a freelance beautician who does home service such as hair rebonding. Their doctor advised them to seek financial assistance from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). However, they still have to loan money for Brienna’s operation because the processing of requests for financial assistance for medical expenses at the PCSO takes a long time. read more.
07:08:40 local time CAMBODIA
* Questions over bonuses:
Unions and labour groups fear a solitary sick day could cost garment workers their entire month’s attendance bonuses – about 15 per cent of their base wage – under a new scheme meant to make life easier.
The Kingdom’s 600,000 garment and footwear workers will receive a US$3 increase in their attendance bonus beginning this month, taking those payments to $10 a month, following a promise the Ministry of Labour made on July 11.
But unions and rights groups, including the Cambodian Labour Confederation, the Community Legal Education Center and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, believe a document the ministry and its Labour Advisory Council released on July 25 contains ambiguous wording that could be used to strip bonuses from employees who miss work due to illness.
ACILS country manager Dave Welsh said the document had effectively rewritten what the ministry had offered a fortnight earlier, when it also promised workers a $7 monthly transport or accommodation allowance.
“The subsequent notification . . . states that workers who come to work every day of each month without absence shall receive a $10 attendance bonus,” he said.
“It sounds reasonable – except that it doesn’t factor in any sick days, it doesn’t factor in any special emergency days . . . it doesn’t factor in maternity or other health-related issues.” read more.
* Cambodia hosts regional conference on women migrant workers’ rights:
The two-day regional conference on human rights instruments, international labor standards, and women migrant workers’ rights was held here on Tuesday, aiming at ensuring the protection of women migrant workers and to guarantee their access to justice, according a joint media release on Tuesday.
The conference brought together around 120 delegates, including 35 government officials from 12 countries of origin and destination of women migrant workers across Asia, as well as representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN), non-governmental organizations, trade unions, recruitment agencies, and women migrant workers themselves, the press release said.
The forum was co-organized by the United Nations Women, Cambodian Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the International Labor Organization. read more.
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1.Questions over bonuses. read more.
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2. More than 40 workers faint at garment factory. read more.
08:08:40 local time INDONESIA
* Trisula expects sevenfold sales from G2000 expansion:
Publicly listed PT Trisula International, the retailer of various fashion brands including Jack Nicklaus, Jobb, UniAsia and Man Club, is expecting an increasing contribution from its new subsidiary PT Triduaribu Bersatu, which holds a distribution license for the G2000 brand.
Trisula president director Lisa Tjahjadi said that her company estimated that Triduaribu’s sales would reach around Rp 7 billion (US$734,139) this year.
“We will perform the revitalization of existing outlets and establish new stores, which will help Triduaribu to book up to Rp 50 billion in sales next year,” Lisa said on Monday.
Trisula also estimates that G2000 will reach sales of up to Rp 200 billion within five years. read more.
06:08:40 local time BANGLA DESH
* H&M boss backs wage hike:
H&M, the Swedish retail giant for clothing, yesterday suggested the government should increase wages for garment workers to help improve their living standards.
Chief executive of the company Karl-Johan Persson also asked for an annual review of the wages of the workers.
He spoke at a press briefing at Radisson Winter Garden Hotel in Dhaka. David Savman, chief representative of H&M in Bangladesh, was also present. Persson arrived in Dhaka on Monday.
H&M is increasing its business in Bangladesh by 10-15 percent year-on-year, said Persson.
“We have a long-term commitment to buy from Bangladesh. H&M is a responsible company; it is always careful about the workers’ wages,” said Persson.
“We met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and suggested an increase in wages and a yearly wage review for the workers in the textile industry,” the H&M boss said.
He urged the government to consider an annual review of the local minimum wage that takes national inflation and the consumer price index into consideration.
“Since 2010, there has been an increase in the inflation rate,” he said. Food inflation hit 15.38 percent in April last year in the rural areas.
* Chinese interest in sourcing Bangladesh apparels:
Bangladesh has substantial trade deficits with each of the world’s two most populous countries, China and India.
While the deficit with India very often comes to focus mainly because of geographical proximity and for some political and economic reasons, the same with China has been widening in the absence of serious efforts for narrowing it down. However, both the countries have been offering in recent years duty-free access of products from Bangladesh, a least developed country (LDC), to their markets with China being a bit more generous. On July 1, 2010, China offered duty-free facility to 4721 Bangladeshi products, mainly garments items, to its market.
Following the duty-free entry facility, export of Bangladesh products to China has been rising, albeit slowly. In the last fiscal, exports to China stood at $320 million while import from that country was around $6.0 billion. Apparels produced in Bangladesh fetched $102 billion in that year.read more.
* Export done well despite manifold problems in RMG sector:
President of the apex body of the country’s ready-made garments manufacturers, Bangladesh Garments Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said despite manifold problems including energy crunch in Bangladesh and global financial recession, the country has done well regarding export of RMG goods.
BGMEA president was speaking at a press conference organized to mark the visit of Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the second largest clothing retailer in the world, at BGMEA conference room in the city on Monday. Karl-Johan Persson is now in Dhaka on a two-day visit.
Chief Financial Officer of the H&M Jyrki Tervonen, global production manager KG Fagerlin and its country manager David Savman were present at the conference.
BGMEA president said H&M plans to double its import from Bangladesh in the next five years. ‘It’s a challenge for us how much we can deliver,’ said Mohiuddin adding that H&M CEO would not have visited Bangladesh if it were not important to them.
H&M, the Swedish multinational retail-clothing company now imports over one billion US dollars. read more.
* RMG industrial park outside Dhaka city soon: minister:
Industries Minister Dilip Barua yesterday said the government will implement the garment industrial park project outside Dhaka at the quickest possible time to properly harness the huge prospects of RMG export.
“The required work has already started for an environment-friendly industrial park,” he said to a delegation of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) that met him at his Shilpa Bhaban office.
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) is implementing the project on 300 acres of land at Bausia under Gozaria upazila of Munshiganj district. The BGMEA leaders informed the minister about the rising demand of Bangladeshi apparel products in the global market.
They said China has emerged as a big market for Bangladesh as it is shifting focus on Bangladesh following shortfall of workers in the manufacturing sector.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
* Future of RMG sector brightening:
At a time when European and US markets are shrinking for Bangladeshi apparel exports, the news that one of the biggest names in Swedish retail industry H&M has decided to double its business to US$3 billion in Bangladesh over the next five years is welcome news indeed.
The move by the global giant that sources its materials from some 250 factories in Bangladesh goes to show the growing confidence of foreign buyers in the future trajectory of the country as a global player in readymade garments (RMG) industry. The fact that the RMG sector has responded to calls for taking initiatives to improve the wellbeing of its workers by means of opening up health and recreational facilities is helping to improve its image as a responsible sector to foreign buyers. read more.
* Jute sector to get special fund:
The government will create a long-term and interest-free fund to develop and revive the jute sector, Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddique told parliament yesterday.
The minister also said the “development fund” will be used to market jute products at home and abroad and to increase their use.
In a reply, he admitted that sales of jute products in the international market decreased to some extent last year, causing financial losses to the local jute producers temporarily.
The minister, however, assured lawmakers of taking various initiatives to revive the jute sector and promote marketing across the world. read more.
05:38:40 local time INDIA
* Sensitising people to labour exploitation, child labour:
An awareness programme to sensitise people to the exploitation of young girls by textile industry owners and the practice of child labour was organised by Community Awareness Research Educational Trust (CARE-T), an NGO, here recently.
The NGO, which focuses on abolition of child labour in the textile industry, runs a project called Reduction of Worst Form of Child Labour (ROWCL) in 12 vulnerable blocks in Coimbatore, Dindigul, Pudukottai and Virudhanagar districts.
Over 70 participants including representatives of communities, non-governmental organisations, and girls rescued from textile mills and rehabilitated under ROWCL project took part.
Welcoming the Centre’s decision to ban employment of children below 14 years in any form of industry, executive director of CARE-T S.M. Prithivarj said that girls in the age group of 13-18 were employed in the textile supply chain under Sumangali Scheme. read more.
* 11 trade unions give strike call on February 21, 22:
A convention of all the 11 centrally recognized trade unions — held at the Talkatora Stadium here on Tuesday—decided to call a two-day countrywide general strike on February 21 and 22, 2013, to protest against the economic policies of the UPA government. The dates have been fixed to make an impact in the national Capital just before the general budget is tabled in Parliament.
This is the first time that a two-day strike is being called from a platform where all the trade unions have come together, said CPI leader and AITUC chief Gurudas Dasgupta after the convention. The trade union solidarity, which was formed in 2011, was encouraged by the success of their first joint venture earlier this year. On February 28, their one-day general strike had paralyzed normal life across the country.
The main issues that the workers plan to protest against are price rise, economic policies of the government like FDI in retail etc, social welfare for labourers and a minimum monthly wage of Rs 10,000. read more.
* Textile units back in black:
A majority of the textile units in the country have started breaking even, despite the increase in the costs of power, transport, labour and cotton. Increasing demand for cotton fabrics and made-ups in the domestic as well as international markets has enabled the textile industry to stabilize performance, according to industry officials.
Export of made-up textile products to the US rose 18% during the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period the previous year, according to S Dinakaran, chairman, Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA). “Festival season demand has improved domestic fabric requirements substantially,” he said. “The Indian cotton textile industry would continue to perform better by taking advantage of the cutback in cotton textiles production by countries like China,” he stated. read more.
* Second quarter to be tougher for spinning industry:
The industry fears tough demand and pricing condition in coming months
While spinning companies posted healthy bottomline as compared to their peers in the textile value chain for Q1 of current fiscal due to rising yarn prices, demand for cotton yarn has begun to dwindle.
The industry fears tough demand and pricing condition in coming months.
“There is a recovery in the cotton yarn vertical. Spinning companies and integrated textile companies with good yarn businesses have done well in the first quarter of the current fiscal. While cotton yarn prices rose, cotton prices declined leaving spinning companies in a better position than last year. However, the coming months are uncertain,” said DK Nair, secretary general of Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI). read more.
* Mills urge Centre to expedite debt restructuring package:
The demand for the fabrics and made-ups had increased enabling the textile industry across the value chain to stabilise its performance
The Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) has asked the Centre to expedite implementation of the debt restructuring package to help make them eligible for the TUF (Technology Upgradation Fund) subsidy and sustain the viability of these unit. They have sought the Cabinet to pass the necessary resolution to enable the NPA units to be covered under the package.
S Dinakaran, chairman, Sima, said the Indian textile industry started revival from the beginning of the year and more so in the recent past due to the increase in demand for cotton fabrics and made-ups textiles in domestic and international markets.
* Apparel export body worried over rising yarn prices:
Expressing concern over volatility in yarn prices, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has sought early Government intervention to overcome the situation.
In a letter to Commerce and Industry, Textile Minister Anand Sharma, the AEPC said cotton yarn prices should be carefully monitored, as small manufacturers and handloom weavers were considerably impacted due to the steep price hike.
AEPC Chairman A. Sakthivel said, “Unfortunately in the last few months, we have experienced volatility in the price of cotton yarn. While cotton has gone up by about 3-5 per cent in the last two months, yarn prices have increased over 15 per cent in the same period. Also, Indian cotton yarn prices are higher than in other countries such as Pakistan”. read more.
* India Inc in bind over billion-dollar buys:
When Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani acquired German textile manufacturer Trevira in 2004, elevating him as the world’s largest polyester fibre and yarn producer, little did he know that the firm will have to file for bankruptcy within five years. This may not have been a big-ticket acquisition but a sizeable majority of all billion-dollar acquisitions that India Inc indulged in during the mid 2000s have so far yielded little by way of returns.
At a time when India Inc says that it finds it easier to invest abroad because of a combination of issues in India – including high interest rates, policy paralysis and delay in clearances – it sounds paradoxical. A TOI-SMC Global Securities study reveals that most of India’s billion-dollar-plus acquisitions in the last five years are still not making money and has dragged down the profitability of the parent company due to the monies involved in servicing the high-cost debt.read more.
* CAs to audit Rs40,000 crore NREGA funds:
In a move that could usher in transparency in one of the flagship schemes of the UPA government, the rural development ministry has announced that chartered accountants will audit the almost Rs 40,000cr expenses/benefits doled out under the MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act).
The ministry issued a circular a few weeks ago prescribing guidelines for the audit and certification of MGNREGA-related activities at the gram panchayat level, by chartered accountants.
According to the statistics given by the ministry, the NREGA scheme covers around five crore households, which amounts to 25% of all rural households in the country. The minimum daily wage allowance per day per person is Rs 100, but this rate varies from state to state. The ministry wants to ensure that the Rs. 40,000 crore reaches those whom the scheme is intended to benefit and hence the audit.
05:08:40 local time PAKISTAN
* Culture of poverty:
I have come across several well-educated, well-off people lately who seem to believe that the poor somehow “want to be poor” or are simply “too stupid” to escape poverty.
Members of my own family, friends from school, colleagues at office, the so-called “development workers” and professionals who think the beggars they are surrounded by at the traffic signals and those lining up at charity handouts this Ramzan are outright lazy. The arguments forwarded seem to suggest as if there is a “culture of poverty” and the poor suffer from this culture.
As silly as it may seem to argue against this line of reasoning, I invariably get embroiled in exchanges, stressing that failed economic and social policies followed by successive governments in this country are creating poverty and act as barriers to poverty reduction. The result is persistently the same: these folks tend to switch off and find something better to do than listening to me. Perhaps it is not a “culture of poverty” which perpetuates poverty but instead this “culture of apathy.”
The rising poverty is a result of deepening societal apathy towards poverty and poor. It is indeed, a spectacular failure on part of so many people therein – voters, politicians and development experts and workers – that poverty exists and persists. However, those who are really responsible, would not even want to talk about it.
* Positive signals of CLCV-resistant varieties identified:
With the collaboration of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Pakistani scientists have found preliminary “positive signals” of cotton leaf curl virus (CLCV)-resistant cotton varieties that will help boost the economy and social uplift of the millions of farmers, a statement said on Monday.
CLCV disease is still a daunting challenge for Pakistan and takes away every year almost one-fifth of the cotton yield, said the scientists.Cotton is an important cash crop and the lifeline of Pakistan’s textile industry, which has over 400 textile mills, 1,000 ginneries and 300 oil expellers. The textile industry provides livelihood to millions of farmers, labourers and those employed alone the entire cotton value chain. read more.
* Zardari urged to include PHMA in textile body:
Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA) on Tuesday showed resentment over their exclusion from textile committee which was formed by President Asif Ali Zardari recently.
A letter by Central Chairman of PHMA, Rana Muhammad Mushtaq Khan requested the President Zardari for inclusion in the textile committee, saying his association is one of the leading ones in the country.
He said the PHMA has largest number of membership from the textile sector with offices in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot and New York. He said the PHMA is surprised over being not included in the textile committee despite being the chief stakeholder in the value-added textile sector with 60 percent contribution in the nation’s total exports and 42 percent employment provider.read more.
* U & I Garments to establish stores in USA, UK and UAE:
U & I Garments, one of Pakistan’s largest manufacture and exporters of men’s, ladies and children’s garments, has announced to establish its stores in USA, UK and UAE under the brand name of Almirah.
Two outlets have already been established in Karachi while company plans to establish at least 40 outlets in Pakistan within the next three years. Sohail Hamid Khan, the owner of U & I Garments under which the brand Almirah has been launched in his statement said that negotiation with interested franchisees for opening outlets in UAE, USA and UK is already underway.read more.
* Global action urging Adidas to pay $1.8M it legally owes its workers:
On Monday campaigners in the US, Germany and the UK handed over a petition to Adidas demanding overdue severance pay for 2.800 Indonesian garment workers. In total $1.8 Million are illegally withhold from the workers, which is less than 2% of the cost of Adidas Olympic sponsorship.
While other buyers have paid a portion of the severance, Adidas is the only major buyer that has refused to contribute a single penny. As a result former workers have had to withdraw their children from school and are barely able to afford two meals a day for their families.
Almost 50,000 people signed a petition to demand Adidas to pay, which got emailed to Adidas and activists personally delivered it to the Adidas headquarters in Germany and to its flagship retail stores in the UK and the US.
Adidas are still refusing to pay the compensation that these workers are owed, so we will continue our campaign to demand Adidas takes responsibility for the people who make their clothes. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to find out the latest about the campaign and future actions.
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* FWF- Climbing the ladder to living wages:
The garment industry has the potential to lift millions of garment workers out of poverty. Yet in most garment factories, wages are too low for workers to meet basic needs. In our most recent report, “Climbing the ladder to living wages“, we provide an update of our 2011-2012 living wage research.
‘The worldwide garment industry produces enormous wealth,’ says FWF Director Erica van Doorn. ‘Surely workers can share in these gains. We need to develop effective mechanisms to enable workers earn a wage they can live on.’
The idea of living wages is not a new one. The term has been used since the turn of the last century, and the concept is included in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In recent decades, living wages have come to the fore with the advent of codes of conduct and global supply chains. Nevertheless, the living wage standard is one of the most challenging to implement in garment supply chains.
FWF seeks to find solutions to the main sticking points in many of these discussions. Our goal is to see real improvements in practice. For FWF, there are three key questions that arise in most discussions about wages:
- How is a living wage defined / measured?
- How much does payment of a living wage increase production costs, pricing along the supply chain, and retail pricing?
- What approaches are most effective in raising wages?
Our work this past year has focused on developing real and useful answers to these questions – with the clear objective to move from talk into action. to read.