in the news on-line, 12 September 2012

09:02:46 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers storm DOLE, Mendiola to protest ‘hunger-inducing’ new wage system:

“Not only is the Aquino government refusing to approve a significant wage hike, it is also implementing new policies that further press down workers’ wages.” – KMU

Hundreds of workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) marched to the Labor Department’s main office in Manila this Monday morning and to Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang in the afternoon to press the government to scrap its new wage system, saying it amounts to a wage cut and is anti-worker.

Carrying streamers that read “No to wage cut! Yes to wage hike!” the workers urged the government to stop implementing the Two-Tier Wage System. They demanded instead the enactment of House Bill 375 or the P125 across-the-board Wage Hike Bill, which has now languished for more than a decade in Congress.

Most participants in the rally came from the Southern Tagalog region, where the two-tier wage system is being piloted since last April. In the region which hosts over half of export-oriented, foreign-controlled or subcontracted firms, a floor wage of P255 ($6.10), lower than the P337 ($8.07) minimum wage in the area, was imposed early this year. Foreign locators have reportedly welcomed the two-tier wage system. But most workers had been appalled. read more.

08:02:46 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Russian garment factory fire kills 14 Vietnamese workers:

A fire swept through a garment factory outside Moscow on Tuesday, killing at least 14 Vietnamese migrant workers, Russian emergency officials said.

Firefighters sent to put out the blaze found 14 bodies in the factory in the town of Yegoryevsk, southeast of Moscow, and four victims were hospitalised with burns, the Moscow region emergencies department said.

All those killed were Vietnamese citizens, the Federal Emergency Situations Ministry said. The Interfax news agency said the garment factory was illegal.

Many migrant workers from Asian countries work in Russian factories in cramped conditions that are often at risk from fires. Death rates from fires are far higher in Russia than in Western countries such as Britain and the United States. read more.

* Laborers rush to claim unemployment status, keep indifferent to apprenticeship:

In 2011, Hai Phong City reportedly had 3802 people registering their unemployment. Meanwhile, the figure jumped to 5757 just in the first eight months of the year.

Under the current regulations, unemployed workers would be able to attend free vocational training courses funded by the Unemployment Insurance Fund. However, none of the 5757 workers has registered the training courses.

On the morning of September 6, the Job Center in Hai Phong City, the only agency that receives unemployment registration in the city, was full of people. It was estimated that 100 people were queuing up here to register for unemployment. The receptionist continuously delivered unemployment registration forms to people, while other officers were all busy dealing with workers.

According to Nguyen Thi Nga, Director of the Hai Phong Job Center, the number of people registering unemployment in the first eight months of 2012 increased by 207 percent in comparison with the same period of 2011. Of this amount, 3507 can receive unemployment treatment, up by 226 percent. The redundant workers are mostly from footwear, garment, shipbuilding and steel enterprises. read more.

* Textile sector aims for US$15 billion in 2012:

The local garment and textile sector is likely to achieve its target of earning US$15 billion from exports in 2012 ahead of schedule, said Dang Phuong Dung, Secretary General of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas).

Dung said that garment exports in August fetched US$1.59 billion, bringing the total export turnover in eight months to US$10.8 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6 percent.
One of Vietnam’s 10 leading export items, garment exports since early this year have produced a surplus of over US$5.3 billion, up 24 percent against the same period last year.

Dung said there is high hope that the garment sector will soon over fulfil its yearly target if local producers step up production and expand markets to the Pacific, EU and other overseas markets.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoIT) is launching trade promotion campaigns in Hong Kong (China), Thailand, Malaysia and many other countries.
to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 12/9.

08:02:46 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Nationwide wage hike may worsen plight of the poor:

The effect of the increase in the minimum wage could backfire by increasing the cost of living and unemployment among the unskilled

From January 1 next year, every Thai worker will be entitled to the Bt300 daily minimum wage. This follows the government earlier this year approving the new minimum wage in seven provinces. The controversial wage increase is a result of the Pheu Thai Party’s attempt to “out-promise” the Democrat Party during the election campaign last year. The Democrats promised a minimum-wage rise of 20 per cent in incremental steps. Pheu Thai upstaged them by promising the wage level would rise by 40 per cent, to Bt300.

This election pledge does not reflect or respond to real market conditions. First, the sudden rise could lead to uncontrollable price hikes. Second, the government says the new wage level marks an advanced rate increase that will be fixed for the next two years, regardless of what happens as a result of the unpredictable economic situation.

Now that the government has decided to go ahead with the wage rise nationwide, workers and business operators have no choice but to improve productivity and skills. The wage hike will be a test for the whole of Thai business. Operators will have to improve cost management while workers will have to show they have the skills to merit continued employment – and the higher wage. read more.

08:02:46 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Union president calls for inspectors:

The president of the Free Trade Union yesterday sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour’s inspection department to monitor working conditions at M&V factories in Kampong Chhnang province, alleging excessive overtime is causing workers to faint.

“They have to work both in day and night time. It means they work double. It is because the inspectors did not go down to monitor the working conditions in this factory,” FTU president Chea Mony told the Post yesterday.
He said he did not send the letter to the provincial labour department officials because he knows that those officials cannot put pressure on the factory to change its working conditions.

“I have to take care of my members; I have to worry about my members’ safety that’s why I need the inspectors to do this case,” Mony said.
Department of Labour inspector at the Ministry of Labour, In Khemara, said yesterday that he has not yet receive the letter. read more.

07:02:46 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Garment exporters fear consumer backlash:

Garment manufacturers andexporters apprehend negative impacts of the murder of trade union leader AminulIslam if the government fails to bring the killers to justice.

Repeated publication of storieson the gruesome murder in the world’s leading newspapers like New York Times,Herald Tribune and international news agency Reuters give the internationalaudience an impression that trade union (TU) leaders suffer death forcampaigning in favour of labour rights.

Aminul Islam, a 40-year-oldgarment TU leader who played a leading role in the successful salary-hikemovement in 2010, was abducted and police recovered his dead body at Ghatail inTangail, 100 kilometers away from the capital, on April 12.
read more.

* EU factor mars prospect of Dhaka-Ankara FTA deal:

Turkey has expressed its inability to forge the proposed Free Trade Area (FTA) agreement with Bangladesh because of the restrictions it faces under its trade agreement with the European Union (EU), trade officials said.

Diplomats and trade experts within the government of Bangladesh are now working on an agreement on reciprocal tariff adjustment between Dhaka and Ankara after Turkey’s refusal to proceed with the proposed bilateral FTA.

Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) has been given the job to analyse the pros and con of the tariff adjustment deal, a senior trade official told the FE.

“Turkey has expressed its inability to strike a bilateral FTA deal with Bangladesh due to the EU factor. Even the country is not interested to establish a Joint Trade Commission with us now,” a high official in the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said.
read more.

06:32:46 local time map of india INDIA

* Blanket ban on child labour will hit right to livelihood:

The Union cabinet has approved an amendment to the existing Act to enforce a blanket ban on the employment of children below 14 years in all occupations and processes, hazardous and non-hazardous.

Now the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 permits children under the age of 14 to work in non-hazardous sectors. This new amendment would mean that they can do no work at all! Since 1986 India has been unable to enforce the existing ban and child labourers (5 to 14) have increased from 111 million in 1951 to 126 million in 2012. This new amendment will be even more difficult to enforce and will further push children into more invisible, unmonitored and therefore hazardous situations.In contrast, ‘summer jobs for kids’ are widely advocated in the west by more than three hundred websites that promote the advantages of work for children as young as five.Kathy Peel, ‘America’s Family Manager’ offers smart solutions for a ‘Happy and Organised Home’. She says “From the time our boys were 9 and 5, they had to earn and save money for big purchases and summer camp. They sold flower-bulbs and swept driveways. As they grew they did odd jobs and ran their own businesses, acquiring great experience: They learned to communicate with adults professionally, realised the importance of being responsible, and discovered creative ways to advertise. They also learned to delay gratification, discovered how to make good financial decisions, and acquired an appreciation for what things cost. Finally, they experienced the satisfaction of a job done well.” read more.

* Debt drives weaver’s family to suicide:

Under pressure to clear their debt, a weaver and his wife committed suicide at their residence at Hulimavu here after poisoning their two children. A neighbour found the bodies on Tuesday morning and informed the police.

Manjunath (40), a powerloom weaver, and his wife, Satyavati (35), a garment factory worker, were found hanging by the same rope from a fan in the bedroom while their children, Prithviraj (12) and Rishika (9), were found lying on the floor in the hall. The couple left a note which said they were resorting to this extreme step because of financial reasons and they were ashamed of being in debt. The note said Manjunath did not want to leave his children behind as he did not want moneylenders to harass them.

Neighbours said Manjunath had borrowed money from several of them. Satyavati also borrowed about Rs. 20,000 from the local Stree Shakti Sangha. Besides this, the family had borrowed for treating Prithviraj, who had not been keeping well for the last few weeks. read more.

* Weavers are faced with high input costs, unpredictable market:

Ask Srinivas H.M. what traps traditional weavers like him in an endless cycle of debt, and pat comes the reply, tinged with irritation: “What else do you expect when the cost of yarn and other raw materials keep going up and the price of saris keep coming down?”

A handloom pure silk sari woven at his home-cum-workshed at Weavers’ Colony, near Gottigere on the outskirts of Bangalore, which takes three days to complete, fetches him between Rs. 100 and Rs. 120 after deducting costs. “It would have earned thrice as much some six months ago,” he says.

People like Mr. Srinivas are struggling to stay afloat in an unpredictable market. He hopes that the Deepavali shopping rush will improve matters. read more.

06:02:46 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* At least 73 dead in Karachi factory blaze- fire officer:

At least 73 people were killed when a blaze engulfed a packed garment factory in Karachi, and dozens of others were hurt as they jumped out of windows to save their lives, officials said on Wednesday.

The evening blaze in the four-story factory in Pakistan’s largest city coincided with another at a shoe plant in Lahore on Tuesday that killed at least 21 people.
“So far we have taken out 73 bodies from the factory and the death toll is likely to rise,” Karachi fire chief Ehtesham Salim told AFP.

“We are now searching in the basement and there are about 35 fire engines taking part in the firefigthing and most of the fire has been extinguished, but there is smouldering in some parts due to plastic and chemicals,” he added.
“This is the biggest fire in terms of deaths in decades,” he added. read more.

* 100 dead in Karachi garment factory fire:

Rescue workers have pulled as many as 100 charred remains from the garment factory which was gutted by a huge blaze in Baldia town area of Karachi on Tuesday, Express News reported.

Fire department officials said that they had managed to control fire in most parts of the factory and were now trying to recover bodies of the dead from the building.
Express News 
correspondent Nadeem Khan said that Metropolitan Commissioner Matanat Ali Khan has said that there were at least 30-35 bodies still inside the stricture.

Khan added that the factory structure, having been exposed to a sweltering blaze for over eight hours, was now in a precarious condition with cracks appearing in its walls. He added that the building had sagged from one side and rescue officials too had warned that the building could collapse at any moment.
Meanwhile, Governor Sindh Ishratul Ebad has announced a day of mourning in the city on Wednesday. read more.

* Karachi factory fire death toll tops 100:

The death toll in a third-degree fire, that erupted at a garments factory in Baldia Town has crossed 100 Wednesday morning while dozens of workers are still trapped inside and the firefighters are trying to tame the blaze, Geo News reported.

The number of the injured, according to Provincial Minister for Health Dr Sagheer, was around 31.
According to rescue sources a large number of workers are still trapped in the burning factory located on Hub River Road. Women and children are also among the dead and injured.
Hospital sources told that more than 71 bodies were brought to the Civil Hospital while more than 31 were brought to the Jinnah Hospital. The MLO of Civil Hospital told that more than 37 victims were identified and handed over to the relatives of the victims, sources told.

All the firefighting force of the metropolis has been called in to fight out the blaze, which engulfed the factory located in Baldia Town no.2 of Karachi.
Snorkels were being used to bring the people down from the roof of the factory, which has now become a ball of fire. Only, the fire at the top-floor has been brought under control.

Dozens of the workers trapped in the factory jumped down to save their lives and the footage of that has been received by Geo News.
read more.
& read more. & read more.
   

* Geo’s factory fire coverage obstructed:

The owners of the factory have attacked Geo News team threatening them with dire consequences for covering the fire that engulfed the factory putting the lives of hundreds at risk, Geo News reported.
According to initial reports the Geo TV’s cameras were also smashed.
Earlier, fire erupted in a garments factory Karachi trapping dozens of workers.
The blaze, which grew to a third-degree fire has yet not been extinghused.
City’s firebrigade teams are trying to put the flames without much success.
to read.

* Devastating fires in factories, 21 burnt alive in Lahore:

Twenty-one people burned to death and 14 others suffered multiple injuries after a fire broke out in a shoe-manufacturing unit in Shafeeqabad, on Bund Road, here on Tuesday.

The fire, which erupted at around 3:30pm during power outage, also burnt a huge quantity of shoe manufacturing material and plastic shoes, witnesses and rescuers said.
Most of the dead, between 14 and 30 years of age, were labourers from different parts of Punjab who were trapped inside the 10-marla factory because there was only one entry-exit point.
Huge flames triggered panic in the locality.

Presence of people in large numbers on the busy road hampered fire-fighting and rescue activities. Most of them either gathered outside the double-storey factory or rooftops of nearby buildings. read more.

* ‘Value-added apparel sector feels the heat of quota-free textile regime’:

The value-added apparel sector is paying the price for taking it easy after the introduction of quota free textile regime in 2005, failing to enhance their capacities and efficiencies when the going was easy, soon after the abolition of the quota, said Adil Butt, one of the few survivors in knitwear sector. “When the quota regime was abolished in 2005, textile exporters knew that the market will gradually move from a sellers’ to a buyers’ market,” he said.

He said during the quota regime, the exporters having a quota had been assured a captive market. With free textile trade, the competition comes from all sources, he added.

However, he regretted that the apparel sector had not planned to operate in the free market atmosphere. He said it was expected that after the abolition of the quota regime that prices would fall and buyers would reduce the number of sources. The apparel manufacturers, particularly the small and medium manufacturers, neither improved efficiencies nor went for mergers to achieve economies of scale, he said. “All of them caved in to competition from other countries where the entrepreneurs were well prepared to accept new market challenges,” he said.

He said it was clear that small firms will compete against large companies which enjoy economies of scale. Butt said all firms, large or small, faced new trade trends and additional market requirements, such as eco-labels and ethical trade requirements. He said to meet new market demands, the garment manufacturers should adopted a comprehensive approach to meet the buyers’ requirements: vertical capabilities; supply chain management; full service from design to logistics; and low landed costs. read more.

* Shahabuddin’s absence affects performance of textile sector:

The ephedrine quota allotment scam has not only created serious shortage of different medicines in the country but also adversely affecting the performance of the textile sector as a number of important issues requiring the attention of the Federal Minister of Textile Industry Makhdoom Shahabuddin remain pending due to his frequent absence from office after being declared an absconder.

Informed sources in the Ministry of Textile Industry told Business Recorder that following the issuance of his arrest warrants, Textile Minister has not attended his office where a number of issues are pending, including consultation on new cotton policy, textile act, energy issues, DLTL claims and implementation of textile policy. Textile industry accounts for 60 percent of foreign exchange earnings, $12.356 billion in 2011-2012 against $13.788 billion during the same period of corresponding year, and 40 percent employment.read more.

06:02:46 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Cotton-picking students face shortages of water, food:

Students from the Tashkent-based Uzbek State University of World Languages who have been called up to pick cotton in Jizak Region are complaining about living conditions in cotton fields.

Most young men (young women were exempted from picking cotton) who were sent to the Navbahor farm in Jizak Region’s Pahtakor District on 3 September complained that they did not have beds or proper food or safe drinking water.

They told Uznews.net that each room which was quickly converted at a nursery housed 20 cotton pickers. Only few of them have folding beds, so most are sleeping on the dirty and cold floor.

Fourteen hours in the field
“We are woken up at 5 o’clock in the morning, when it is still cold,” a journalism student said. “And quickly having drunk boiled water and eaten what we have we have to run to the cotton field and work there until 7 o’clock in the evening.”

Students complained that they were forced to work 14 or 15 hours a day for 150 sums per each kilo of cotton picked (about $0.05), with a daily target at 50 kg of cotton.

Only few manage to fulfil the target, while most pick only between 15 and 25 kg a day, even though their supervisors keep frightening them that they would be expelled from university for failing to meet the target. read more.

* Record number of participants to attend Uzbek cotton fair:

Record number of foreign participants will attend the Eighth International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair, according to preliminary data of the organizers.

According to UzA, the delegations of the USA, China, Russian, European Union member states, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, states of CIS, Middle East, Asian-Pacific region, and Africa will participate at the fair.
International Cotton Advisory Committee and Cotton Outlook will actively participate at the event, the organizers said.

Within the fair, the participants will receive a chance to sign direct contracts on supply of Uzbek cotton of this crop and future ones.
International conferences, roundtables, meetings with partners, visits to farms ad large terminals of Uzbekistan will be held within the fair. The participants will be also presented hundreds of samples of cotton-fiber from various regions of Uzbekistan.
read more.

map of Asia

PHILIPPINES
* Workers storm DOLE, Mendiola to protest ‘hunger-inducing’ new wage system

VIET NAM
* Russian garment factory fire kills 14 Vietnamese workers
* Laborers rush to claim unemployment status, keep indifferent to apprenticeship
* Textile sector aims for US$15 billion in 2012

THAILAND
* Nationwide wage hike may worsen plight of the poor

CAMBODIA
* Union president calls for inspectors

BANGLA DESH
* Garment exporters fear consumer backlash
* EU factor mars prospect of Dhaka-Ankara FTA deal

INDIA
* Blanket ban on child labour will hit right to livelihood
* Debt drives weaver’s family to suicide
* Weavers are faced with high input costs, unpredictable market

PAKISTAN
* At least 73 dead in Karachi factory blaze- fire officer
* 100 dead in Karachi garment factory fire
* Karachi factory fire death toll tops 100
* Geo’s factory fire coverage obstructed
* Devastating fires in factories, 21 burnt alive in Lahore
* ‘Value-added apparel sector feels the heat of quota-free textile regime’
* Shahabuddin’s absence affects performance of textile sector

UZBEKISTAN
* Cotton-picking students face shortages of water, food
* Record number of participants to attend Uzbek cotton fair

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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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