in the news on-line, 6 September 2012

06:19:48 local time map of china CHINA

* Global cotton glut to triple Chinese inventories:

Cotton inventories in China, the world’s biggest user, will triple over the next two years to a record as domestic demand slumps to the lowest since 2005, according to the latest estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, a year after record prices spurred farmers to expand their output.

The figures show that global harvests are expected to exceed demand for a third year, swelling stockpiles around the world by 10 percent to 74.67 million, 480-pound bales by August.
Cotton may drop 12 percent in price to 67.87 cents a pound by the end of the year, according to the average of 20 analyst and merchant estimates compiled by Bloomberg. read more.

05:19:48 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Free Somyot! Freedom of speech is not a crime:

On 19 September the Thai Criminal Court will announce the date of the verdict of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, well known editor and long time labour rights activist in Thailand. He can face 30 years in prison.

We need your voice again, so let it be loud!

CCC continues to call upon the Thai authorities to drop all charges against Somyot  Prueksakasemsuk and all other human rights defenders detained through the lèse majesté laws. We ask that as a minimum, Somyot will be released on bail.

Somyot was arrested more than a year ago, in April 2011. Thai authorities claim that two publications in his magazine Voice of Thaksin ‘offended’ the country’s king. He was accused of lèse majesté, a crime that carries up to 30 years of imprisonment. Somyot has been forced to await his trial in an overpopulated and unhealthy prison for over seventeen months now and has been refused bail eight times.

CCC is working with human right organisations to influence governments of other EU countries to reach out to the Thai government. We also ask that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of restrictions, including judicial harassment.

Tell the Thai Prime Minister: Release Somyot now! Freedom of speech is not a crime.
We ask you to send this letter to the Thai Prime Minister. Your signatures will be spread out widely, so the Thai government will have to listen! For more information and regular updates from the trial, please go to: www.freesomyot.wordpress.com

Please take action and sign this petition to the Thai Prime Minister here.

* Minimum wage ball in govt court:

Central committee says study did not find any adverse impact on economy; all 70 provinces to implement hike from January 1

With wobbling GDP growth to protect and a key election promise to deliver on, the Yingluck government now faces a major dilemma after the Central Wage Committee yesterday gave the go-ahead to the contentious plan for a nationwide increase in the daily minimum wage to Bt300, effective in January.

The Wage Committee’s decision means only a government about-face can now block full implementation of a policy that is bemoaned by business leaders and some academics as a potential source of economic calamity. Their fears were echoed yesterday, with critics of the minimum wage hike foreseeing bankruptcy for countless small and medium-scale businesses and migration of some foreign investors out of Thailand.

The Central Wage Committee yesterday resolved to implement the government’s Bt300 minimum wage policy in 70 provinces starting on January 1 next year, after studies of implementation in seven provinces found the policy would not adversely affect the overall economy as feared. The 39.5-per-cent increase has been in effect since April 1 in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom and Phuket. read more.

* Nationwide extension spark concerns:

Private-sector organisations have called on the government to review its plan to extend the Bt300 minimum daily wage nationwide early next year amid uncertainty over global economic growth, which would result in the double whammy of reduced sales for exporters amid higher production costs.

They also urged the government to set up a standard for increasing wages systematically, saying ambiguous policy would encourage more Thai and foreign investors to shift their investment to other countries, especially less developed neighbouring nations.

Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) vice chairman Bhumindr Harinsult said the government should not rush to increase wages next year while the global economy is fluctuating because of the euro-zone financial crisis, which will affect Thai export growth and employment.

“More labour layoffs will be seen next year if the government carries on with its policy to raise the [minimum] wage nationwide. Many enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized firms, will need to close down or lay off employees as they cannot shoulder higher operating costs amid sluggishness trading,” he said.
read more.

* Wages to get national lift in January:

Govt rules out further boosts in 2014, 2015

The Central Wage Committee will implement the 300-baht minimum daily wage across the country from January.

It said studies have shown there has been no adverse impact on economic growth from wages increases so far.
Somkiart Chayasriwong, permanent secretary for labour and chairman of the tripartite Central Wage Committee, yesterday said the wage panel decided to uphold its resolution on Nov 2 last year to raise the daily minimum wage to 300 baht across the country.

The 300-baht wage hike was earlier implemented from April 1 this year in seven provinces _ Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani and Phuket.
Mr Somkiart said the minimum wage would go up to 300 baht across the country from January but there would be no further increases in 2014 and 2015.

He said the panel has closely monitored the economic situation following the increase in April, and found that the economy kept expanding and that the inflation and unemployment rates remained under control. read more.

05:19:48 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Garment Factory Monitoring Needs to Improve:

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program must overhaul its monitoring practices before it can meaningfully improve working conditions in the garment sector, accoring to the authors of a new report. …

…the new report by Community Legal Education Center and the Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign, entitled 10 Years of Better Factories Cambodia Project, questions whether BFC has the capacity to do its job thoroughly.
According to the report, the BFC is not making enough on-site visits to properly monitor factories, averaging just one visit per factory per year, while the majority of inspections are announced ahead of time, giving the factory management the chance to potentially hide violations. …
(…)
Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser for BFC, said she agreed with most of the points in the report’s assessment, emphasizing that BFC is limited by its small staff. Ms. Tucker added that the organization is currently working to make more of their findings public.
“It’s true that we are not equipped to respond to personal complaints. There are some 400,000 workers and only 13 monitors. However, we do have a system to track those complaints,” she said. …   read more.

06:19:48 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Let retirement age be determined by market forces, says chamber official:

The minimum retirement age should be driven by market forces rather than by the Act passed by Parliament.

Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) treasurer Anne Kung said her rationale for this was that certain sectors in the job market required physically fit workers and employers could not expect those above the age 55 to perform such tasks.
“That is why some of employers have a second thought about the Minimum Retirement Age Bill 2012 which was passed in Parliament in June,” she told a press conference here yesterday. Parliament passed the new Bill to extend the retirement age to 60 for the private sector. read more.

04:19:48 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* H&M calls for higher wages for Bangladesh workers:

Swedish fashion giant H&M, the world’s second-largest clothing chain, has called for the Bangladesh government to raise wages at export factories that employ three million garment workers.
During a visit to Dhaka, H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson inspected a factory where workers make clothes for the company on wages starting at $37 a month — a figure that often triggers violent strikes.
‘We want the workers to be treated in a good way. Being a responsible company, we see low wages in the industry is a major point that is close to our heart and a major concern,’ Persson told reporters on Tuesday evening. read more. & read more.
  

* Leather Brand: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh for mutual collaborations:

It takes three to tango, if you go by the view of leading tanners from South India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They were in the city to work out ways for mutual cooperation, the idea being increasing their export volume in leather and leather products.

Muhammad Naseem Shafi, CEO of Shafi Group, Karachi, Syed Nasim Manzur, Managing Director of Apex Adelchi Footwear from Bangladesh, and M. Rafeeque Ahmed, Chairman, Council of Leather Exports (CLE), met for the first time to discuss strategies to combat the raw material shortage, price crunch due to recession in European markets and creating a regional brand image, reports The Hindu.

Talking to The Hindu , Mr. Shafi said, “We are not here to compete with each other head-on in all areas, but to make use of market information and add value to our products to stay in the global competition. We have to think ahead and keep the leather sector going.”

With a turnover of $80 million, the Shafi group employs 2,500 people. Its units are based in Karachi, Lahore and in China. The company finds it difficult to source raw material in its region due to short supply, while the imported ones are turning out to be costlier. read more.

03:49:48 local time map of india INDIA

* Workload agreement for NTC workers:

The National Textile Corporation (NTC) has entered into an agreement with two trade unions, outlining the workload and the benefits for workers at Rangavilas Mill here for five years.

Chief General Manager of NTC A. Arulsamy told The Hindu on Wednesday that the tripartite agreement came into effect on August 18.
The NTC had a workload agreement for its other mills here. Sri Rangavilas Mill was modernised a couple of years ago and had 40,000 spindles. It had over 350 permanent workers and about 100 casual workers.

It entered into a workload agreement with LPF and INTUC, the two main unions at the mill, and this was registered on Tuesday as a tripartite agreement, with the Department of Labour being part of it.

New system
A new system was now adopted to determine the workload.
With this, the workers would get higher benefit and the mill would be able to improve capacity utilisation to 95 per cent from 80 per cent now. read more.

* Textile association to train workers for mills and powerloom units:

The Southern India Mills’ Association (SIMA) will soon launch a skill development programme for workers in spinning mills and powerloom units.

Association chairman S. Dinakaran told The Hindu on Wednesday that it the textile organisation recently received Rs. 1.5 crore as subsidy from the Union Government under the Integrated Skill Development Scheme.
This would be 75 per cent of the training cost and the stakeholders would contribute the remaining 25 per cent. The project aimed at training 10,000 workers. read more.

* Gujarat unveils new textile policy:

In a belated move, the Gujarat government on Wednesday announced new textile policy in order to attract cotton textile entrepreneurs to set up shops in Gujarat.

Once considered Manchester of India, Gujarat today accounts only seven per cent of cotton textile manufacturing capacity of the country, even though it produces 35 per cent of raw cotton.
“About 90 per cent of the raw cotton produced in the state goes out of the state,” said state industries minister Saurabh Patel.

“Blaming the Centre for ‘lack of any consistency’ in textile policy, the minister said, “Gujarat’s textile policy will guard the state’s farmers from the centre’s anti-farmer and anti-cotton export policy, as a result of which the farmers fail to get the required price.”
“The farmers will be allowed to continue exporting their produce like before to get a better price,” he added.

As per official calculation the total subsidy as a result of the new policy would be to the tune of Rs 2,700 crore. The minister added that the policy is expected to attract investment of over Rs 20,000 crore and will create employment opportunities for over 25 lakh people in the next five years.
Textile industry in Surat said the sops will boost the state’s textile manufacturing, both in cotton and man-made fabric manufacturing.

“Garment manufacturing and technical textiles will benefit where the new policy aims at giving interest subsidy as well as VAT refund,” said Arun Jariwala, chairman, Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry (FIASWI). He added that the new policy will encourage others to set up units in the coming days.
read more.  & read more.      (1 lakh=100.000 &1 Indian crore = 10 million )
 

* Gujarat moots new textile policy to ‘protect’ farmers:

In a belated move, the Gujarat government on Wednesday announced a new textile policy in order to attract cotton textile entrepreneurs to Gujarat. Once considered Manchester of India, Gujarat today accounts for 7 per cent of cotton textile manufacturing capacity of the country, though it produces 35 per cent of raw cotton. “About 90 per cent of raw cotton produced in the state goes out of the state,” said state industries minister Saurabh Patel.

Blaming the Centre for ‘lack of any consistency’ in textile policy, the minister said, “Gujarat’s textile policy will protect the state’s farmers from the Centre’s anti-farmer and anti-cotton-export policy, as a result of which the farmers fail to get the required price.” He said that the farmers will be allowed to continue exporting their produce, like before, to get a better price.

The state government also plans to have dozen-odd cotton textile clusters around cotton-growing areas, especially in Ahmedabad and Surendranagar districts. According to an official calculation, the total subsidy as a result of the new policy will be to the tune of Rs 2,700 crore.read more.

* Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills keen to invest Rs 400 crore in Gujarat:

Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd, the flagship company of the LNJ Bhilwara Group, is keen to invest Rs 400 crore in Gujarat for a spinning and weaving unit. The company has already checkout locations in Rajkot and Anjar, ML Jhunjhunwalal, president of RSWM Ltd said.

“We are keen to expand our yarn manufacturing capacities to 12,000 tonnes per month from current 10,000 tonnes per month. We are scouting for locations in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. But due to presence of buyers in Gujarat and an investor-friendly policies of the state, we are keen to come here. We would also study the new textile policy announced by the state on Wednesday,” he said. The facility would come up in two years time. read more.

* Despite festive season, retailers cut buying from apparel suppliers:

Fearing customers would not shop this festive season like they usually do, retailers have cut their buying from apparel suppliers by 10-15 per cent for the coming Diwali season. Some have cut their buying of apparel by almost 20 per cent.

They’d experienced dull sales during spring this year. And, last year, retailers witnessed stagnancy during Diwali sales compared to the previous season; only some traditional items such as trousers and shirts had witnessed good sales. Domestic demand for apparel has been hit due to the current slowing in the economy; high inflation is also hurting consumption. read more.

03:49:48 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Sri Lanka apparel exports buoyed by US demand:

Brandix, a top Sri Lankan apparel exporter has seen strong demand from the US helping offset a slump in Europe demand helping keep revenue growth in positive territory, an official said.

Sri Lanka’s apparel exports fell 1.6 percent to 1.98 billion rupees in the first six months of 2012, with June shipments falling 6.3 percent to 310.6 million US dollars.
Brandix director A J Johnpillai however said revenues at his firm are in positive territory with strong demand from the US helping offset a weakened European market.

State overspending in several European countries had scared debt markets, leading to uncertainty default fears, which in turn had also affected bank balance sheets.
Sri Lanka’s central bank said the falling dollar amounts were partly due to a reduction in cotton prices.
Johnpillai confirmed that prices had fallen.
“We are shipping higher volumes,” he said. read more.

* Brandix to invest US $ 20 m in next five years:

Brandix pledges to reduce its environmental footprint by a further 20 percent by 2020, significantly raising the bar on the Group’s sustainability targets.

The announcement follows ahead-of-schedule achievements of environmental goals set for 2012 by the US $ 600 million Group, which operates 42 facilities in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, and the release of its maiden sustainability report, the first by a private company in Sri Lanka.

Releasing details of the sustainability-linked pledges already achieved Brandix announced it was developing its own Eco Index, a ground-breaking environmental assessment tool that will enable companies group-wide as well as supply chain partners to benchmark and measure their environmental footprint. Using 2013 as the base year, Brandix will make further investments in processes and innovations that progressively reduce the impact of its operations on the environment, aiming for a further 20 percent reduction of the Brandix Eco Index over the next seven years, Brandix Director AJ Johnpillai said.

He said the Group’s pledge to reduce its carbon footprint by 30 percent by the end of 2012 had already been achieved, six months ahead of schedule. Similarly, a Brandix pledge to reduce water consumption at apparel factories to 35 litres per head per day by the end of the year has been achieved. read more.

* US temporarily lifts ban on Lankan coir exports:

In a new boost to Sri Lanka’s geo-textile industry and Sri Lanka’s standing as the world’s largest exporter of coir fibre, a top US government agency has cleared the way for Sri Lankan made geo-textiles for two projects, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce announced yesterday.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has waived its restrictions on use of foreign coir mats in US for Sri Lankan mats. The general restrictions for foreign coir mats have been imposed under the ‘Buy American requirements’ but US has specifically allowed Sri Lankan mats for two selected projects. read more.

03:19:48 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile industry welcomes relief:

The textile industry has welcomed the relief provided by the federal government under the head of technology upgradation fund, however, they warned that the concession might remain unutilised if the power and energy concerns are not addressed, sources said on Tuesday.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has instructed banks / development finance institutions (DFIs) for processing of claims for provision of markup and investment support to the textile industry.
Under the scheme, the government will reimburse 50 percent of the markup subject to a maximum of five percent per annum, whichever is less. However, a single company registered as a separate legal entity will be eligible for a maximum markup support of Rs50 million per annum for each sub-sector, the sources said.

Mohsin Aziz, chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), appreciated Makhdoom Shahabuddin, federal minister for textiles, and Yasin Anwer, governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) for understanding the need for investment in the textile subsectors, already lagging behind in the region for competing in the international marketplace. read more.

* Italian trade commissioner meets Dr Baig:

The Italian Trade Commissioner Dr Antonio Avallone called on Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, Federal Advisor on Textile along with his Deputy Trade Commissioner AR Daudpota and Chief Editor Textile Journal Nadeem Mazhar to discuss proposals to enhance trade and investment between the two countries particularly in textile sector.

According to the press release issued on Tuesday, Dr Antonio also discussed to promote Italian textile machineries in Pakistan. Dr Baig informed Italian trade commissioner about the forthcoming new Trade Frame Work 2012-2015, setting export target of $100 billion in next 3 years.

Dr Baig thanked the trade commissioner for Italian support to Pakistan for getting duty free market access to EU and discussed progress on market access with particular focus on GSP Plus status for Pakistan to export duty free goods to EU with effect from 1st January 2014. read more.

* Millers for withdrawing increase in gas prices:

All Pakistan Textile Sizing Industries Association chairman Shakeel Ahmed Ansari has strongly protested against a recent increase in the gas prices, demanding its immediate withdrawal.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, the PTSIA chairman said that a 100 per cent increase in the gas prices was unacceptable to the textile industry. He said that due to an exorbitant increase in electricity tariffs, the textile industry was already facing great hardships in running its wheels and over 25 per cent industrial units had already been closed, while others were running partially.

He said that if the government did not withdraw the increase in the gas prices the textile industry would completely collapse, rendering thousands of wage-earners jobless. read more.

* PHMA not included in textile body:

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PHMA) has not been included in the textile committee formed by President Asif Ali Zardari to revive the country’s textile sector, said a statement on Tuesday.

The central chairman of PHMA, Rana Muhammad Mushtaq Khan, in a letter to the president lodged a protest by saying that the sector, which contributes 60 percent to exports and generates 42 percent employment, was not included in the committee.

“The value-added textile sector consists of 12 value-added textile associations, which represent a major portion – 90 percent of the textile sector consisting of knitwear and hosiery, apparel and clothing (readymade garments), towel, bedwear, denim, etc.,” said the letter. to read.

* Rains may ease prices further on cotton market:

Prices showed further weakness on the cotton market on Wednesday as heavy rains in the country and India eased worries about the size of production, dealers said. Official spot rate continued slide, falling by Rs 50 to 5650, they said. In the ready business, nearly 9000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 5650-5675, they said. Prices of seed cotton in Sindh and Punjab were at Rs 2400-2500, they added.Trading activity came down slightly as mills and spinners kept on the sidelines on expectations of further decline in the rates, some analysts said. Naseem Usman said that in the absence of main participants including China, prices may come down in the coming days. On the other hand, fresh rain in cotton producing countries also shed worries about size of production, he said.read more.

* Leather garments’ export decreases in two years:

The export of leather garments has decreased from 369.3 million dollars to 306.7 million dollars during last two financial years due to smuggling of animals to neighbouring countries.
Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Ahmed Afridi Wednesday told the National Assembly during question hour that the leather industry is being affected due to smuggling of animals to other countries.

He said that the demand of leather garments from foreign countries is sustained but it could not be met due to shortage of leather. He said that the government is taking a lot of steps to improve leather garment industry. He said that total amount of Rs 855 million has been released from 1992-93 to 2011-12 to the leather sector from Export Development Fund of the Ministry of Commerce.read more.

03:19:48 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Angren preparing students for cotton picking:

The administrations of Angren’s colleges and lyceums have started preparations for sending their students to the forthcoming cotton-harvesting campaign.

On 26 August, the automation and service college in Angren, a town 100 km away from Tashkent, held a meeting involving teachers and parents to discuss the mandatory involvement of students in the cotton-harvesting campaign.
According to parents, participation in the cotton-picking campaign was presented as an act of patriotism and love for homeland for 15-17-year-old young people.

The college administration explained that results of the cotton-harvesting campaign, as well as the wellbeing of the whole country, depended on every child’s participation.

Cotton is the basis of economic stability in Uzbekistan and guarantees its independence. Disagreement with this opinion would be considered as a sign of lack of consciousness.
Other colleges and lyceums also held similar meetings last week.

Teachers called those parents who did not come to these meetings and asked them if they were ready to send their children to pick cotton. Those parents who refused to send their children to cotton fields were asked to come for an interview with the director of college. read more.

GENERAL

* Kizone action goes global!

On Monday campaigners in Germany, the UK and the US handed over a petition to adidas demanding overdue severance pay for 2,800 Indonesian garment workers. In total 1.5 million is illegally withheld from the workers, which is less than two per cent of the cost of adidas Olympic sponsorship.

Almost 50,000 people signed our 600-page etition to demand adidas to pay, which got emailed to adidas. Activists personally delivered it to the adidas headquarters in Germany and to its flagship retail stores in the UK and the US.

At adidas’ headquarters in Germany, our petition is now finding its way to the top. In London, at the peak of the Paralympics, War on Want activists handed in the petition and a giant invoice to the adidas flagship store in central London. But the shop manager denied the activists access to the store and refused to take neither the giant invoice nor the petition, so the War on Want activists left them on the store’s doorstep. In the US, the shop manager refused to accept the invoice that USAS students offered him and shut down the store for two hours!

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.

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 our actions.
Look here for more information on the Kizone case. More images and stories of the action here.

to read.

 

map of Asia

CHINA
* Global cotton glut to triple Chinese inventories

THAILAND
* Free Somyot! Freedom of speech is not a crime
* Minimum wage ball in govt court
* Nationwide extension spark concerns
* Wages to get national lift in January

CAMBODIA
* Garment Factory Monitoring Needs to Improve

MALAYSIA
* Let retirement age be determined by market forces

BANGLA DESH
* H&M calls for higher wages for Bangladesh workers
* Leather Brand: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh for mutual collaborations

INDIA
* Workload agreement for NTC workers
* Textile association to train workers for mills and powerloom units
* Gujarat unveils new textile policy
* Gujarat moots new textile policy to ‘protect’ farmers
* Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills keen to invest Rs 400 crore in Gujarat
* Despite festive season, retailers cut buying from apparel suppliers

SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka apparel exports buoyed by US demand
* Brandix to invest US $ 20 m in next five years
* US temporarily lifts ban on Lankan coir exports

PAKISTAN
* Textile industry welcomes relief
* Italian trade commissioner meets Dr Baig
* Millers for withdrawing increase in gas prices
* PHMA not included in textile body
* Rains may ease prices further on cotton market
* Leather garments’ export decreases in two years

UZBEKISTAN
* Angren preparing students for cotton picking

GENERAL
* Kizone action goes global!

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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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
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

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