12:30:21 local time CHINA
* Apparel firm eyes growth:
US apparel company VF Corp expects double-digit revenue growth in China over the next five years, and will more than double its domestic retail outlets due to strong demand from consumers.
VF, which owns brands such as Lee, The North Face and Timberland, predicted revenue in China to grow at an average of about 21 percent annually through 2017, Aidan O’Meara, president of VF Asia-Pacific, said in Shanghai yesterday.
“We’re confident that our combination of brands, which covers outdoor and sports, jeanswear and youthwear, gives us competitive advantage over other rivals in the market,” O’Meara said. read more.
11:30:21 local time CAMBODIA
* Union leader summoned again over Taiwan company’s complaint:
Kandal Provincial Prosecutor Tep Monin has summoned Free Trade Union of Workers leader Rong Chhun for a second time to appear in court following a complaint by a Taiwanese company.
Jack Liu, director General of Taiyang Enterprises (Cambodia) Ltd, has sued Rong Chhun for defamation and inciting workers to strike illegally.
The subpoena ordering the union leader to appear in court next week was announced to reporters on Thursday. read more.
* Union boss picks another fight:
With a court date hanging over his head for his involvement in the Tai Yang factories strike in Kandal province, Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun yesterday intervened in another garment dispute, this time in Kampong Speu province.
About 1,000 workers entered day five of their strike at Anful Garment factory, a supplier to global brand H&M, in Samrong Tong district, continuing their demands for better working conditions.
Chhun, responding to a letter from the workers, arrived at the site yesterday.
“The workers have demanded US$70 per month in wages, $15 per month for lunch allowances, double for working on public holidays and health services in the factory,” he said.
Kandal court has issued a second summons for Chhun to appear for questioning over a complaint from Tai Yang Enterprises’ Director General Jack Liu that he defamed management and incited workers to strike illegally at factories in Ang Snuol district. read more.
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
11:00:21 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar garment sector faces scarcity of skilled workers:
The lack of availability of skilled workforce is one of the reasons that impede the growth of Myanmar apparel sector, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).
10:30:21 local time BANGLA DESH
* Fire at Begunbari slum, hundreds homeless:
Hundreds of people from lower income group became homeless as a devastating fire raged through a slum gutting at least 400 shanties in the capital’s Begunbari area Thursday morning, police and firemen said.
Nearly 50 people who reside messily there were injured in the flame and given first aid by mobile medical teams of Red Crescent Society and Brac.
Witnesses said the fire originated at the Begunbari slum, located on the northern eastern part of Hatirjheel-Begunbari Development Project about 10:00am and soon it spread to the whole slum.
Low income groups, mostly garment workers and rickshaw pullers, used to live in this low cost shanties.
* Tchibo second retailer worldwide to commit to groundbreaking fire safety programme:
Bangladeshi garment suppliers under independent building inspections
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), IndustriALL Global Union, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN), together with Bangladeshi trade unions and labour rights groups, have reached an agreement with Tchibo to implement a fire and building safety programme in Bangladeshi garment factories. The German-based company becomes the second retailer to commit to the groundbreaking safety programme, which was first agreed with PVH (owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) in March. Since 2006, more than 600 garment workers died in Bangladesh due to unsafe buildings.
read more. & read more.
10:00:21 local time INDIA
* Apparel production paralysed in Tirupur:
The total shutdown observed by Left parties, and supported by a few other secular parties, paralysed apparel production in Tirupur knitwear cluster on Thursday.
As the workers did not turn up, almost 98 per cent of the units did not open for the entire day and the remaining units carried out only administrative works.
The loss in apparel production in the cluster owing to the agitation was pegged at Rs.57 crore.
In the morning, the members of Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India led by former MP and CPI national council member K. Subbarayan entered the Tirupur railway station and resorted to a rail blockade agitation.
“This agitation is only a beginning of series of protests planned by the Left parties against the Congress-led UPA Government’s anti-people policies such as allowing of Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail, restrictions imposed on the number of LPG cylinders available at subsidised rates and diesel price hike,” Mr. Subbarayan told reporters before courting arrest. read more.
* Base rate cut by SBI is good news for apparel manufacturers:
There is at last some good news for textile entrepreneurs facing cash crunch in Tirupur cluster as State Bank of India, the largest lender to the apparel industry here, has announced a cut in the base rate with effect from September 20.
The SBI reduced the minimum lending rate by 25 basis points to 9.75 per cent, close on the heels of Reserve Bank of India’s recent decision to bring down the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR).
The base rate system, introduced by RBI in 2010, is the benchmark rate for all floating loan products and also defined as the rate of interest below which banks cannot lend to its customers. read more.
* Price volatility hits spinning mills:
Leads to over Rs 5,500 crore erosion in working capital
The increase in demand for textile products has enabled the spinning mills to break even and now there are signs of recovery. To maintain the momentum, the government must expedite the Rs 35,000-crore debt restructuring package, said S Dinakaran, chairman, South India Mills’ Association (SIMA).
Majority of the textile mills in the country faced one of the most difficult times in the history last fiscal, he said.
In his address at the 53rd annual general meeting of Sima at Coimbatore recently, Dinakaran said power situation, lack of manpower and inconsistent cotton export policies resulted in volatility in price, leading to over Rs 5,500 crore erosion in the working capital.
Cotton prices registered the highest volatility in 2010-11 owing to global shortage by around 10 per cent and also due the short-sighted export policies of the government.
* Reebok fraud: Ex-MD , 4 others in police custody:
A local court on Thursday remanded the five officials of Reebok India, including its sacked MD Subhinder Singh and former COO Vishnu Bhagat, who were arrested here for their alleged involvement in a Rs 870-crore fraud in the company, to seven-day police custody.
Judicial Magistrate Sandeep Yadav, after hearing the argument of public prosecutor Pradeep Gulia that police required 10 days to recover documents, laptops and other electronic items in connection with the case, sent the arrested officials to police custody.read more.
10:00:21 local time SRI LANKA
* Apparel SMEs need help:
The Small and Medium Enterprise sector of the Lankan apparel industry which is currently weakening needs assistance and correct direction to enable it to realize its full potential to become the backbone of that sector as it is in many other countries.
However, the country situation now provides new opportunities for investors in the respective industry to look at new and more profitable areas of textile manufacture which is in technical textiles.
Textiles such as geo textiles and medical textiles are of particular importance.
The technology for Sri Lanka to get into these areas should come through Foreign Direct Investments or through joint venture partnerships.
The government should offer high incentives to attract such pioneering industries so far totally ignored by the textile manufacturing community, the Sri Lanka Export Development Board said.
Sri Lankan Textile and Apparel Industries including leather products and footwear form an important sector in the economic development of the country. Local textiles sector caters to the apparel export industry and domestic consumer through imports and local production. read more.
* India to relax garment import quota from Sri Lanka:
India will increase a garment import quota by three million pieces a year to eight million without a sourcing requirement being imposed on Sri Lanka, the island’s industry ministry said citing a statement by a visiting Indian official.Sri Lanka’s ministry of industry quoted India’s textile ministry secretary Kiran Dhingra as saying in Colombo when she led a textile industry delegation to the island on September 19.
Dhingra had said that from September 06, India has removed duty for HS code 61 and 62 apparels, the industries ministry statement said.
In 2011, Sri Lanka had exported 50 million dollars of garments, woven fabrics and other textiles to India, making it the 14 largest buyer.
Sri Lanka’s industry minister Rishad Bathiudeen had invited Indian textile factories to invest in the island.
“We also look for support to strengthen textile supply chain such as raw material, yarn, for example,” the minister was told the visiting Indian secretary. read more.
* India-Sri Lanka to set up joint working group on textiles:
The Ministry of Economic Development together with other relevant ministries and institutions has initiated a programme to revive the textile industry of Sri Lanka along with the apparel industry.
Earlier Sri Lanka had well developed textile industry consisting handlooms, Powerlooms, fabric and cotton industries. But all these sectors were closed down after Sri Lanka introduced free economic policies said Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Adviser to the President and Minister of Economic Development when he met the Indian Textile Industry delegation at the Ministry of Economic Development.
A high level Indian delegation headed by Smt. Kiran Dhingra, secretary to the Ministry of Textile of India is currently in Sri Lanka in order to have a joint programme on textile industry between Sri Lanka and India. read more.
09:30:21 local time PAKISTAN
* APTPMA to shut mills:
Members of All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA) in Lahore/Gujranwala region will remain closed on Friday (today) to mark the Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH). Regional Chairman APTPMA Haji Sh Abdul Rasheed said the APTPMA fully supports peaceful protest call against sacrilegious movie and the member mills have decided to close operations on the occasion.
He said all members and workers of APTPMA would fully participate into the peaceful processions taken out to lodge protest against the ill-conceived act of the enemies of Islam. Other office-bearers of the Association were also present during a hurriedly called press conference on Thursday.to read.
* Textile exports fall 1.5pc to $2.164bn:
Pakistan’s textile and clothing exports fell marginally by 1.50 per cent to $2.164 billion in the first two months of the current fiscal year from $2.196 billion in the same period a year ago, according to data released by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
However cotton yarn, cotton cloth, other yarn, towels, tents and ready-made garments witnessed positive growth while the rest in textile and clothing sector had negative growth, suggested data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
This also led to a decline of 3.27 per cent in the country’s exports to $3.968 billion in July-August period from $4.102 billion over the corresponding period last year.
President All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Mohsin Aziz told Dawn that the growth recorded in cotton yarn, cotton cloth etc was mainly due to un-interrupted supply of gas to the units. read more.
* Pakistan Textile Ministry to train cotton ginners:
* Netherlands to help enhance skills, produce energy:
The Netherlands will undertake some projects in Pakistan in a bid to enhance the skills of textile producers, but Islamabad should give priority to solving the energy crisis, says the ambassador of the Netherlands.
Speaking at a meeting with office-bearers of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Thursday, Ambassador Gajus Scheltema said the Netherlands would expand a biogas project in Punjab, which had already started. A programme for upgrading technology in the textile industry would also be undertaken, especially in Faisalabad called the Manchester of Pakistan. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE
* German retailer KIK to conduct safety review in Pakistan:
The Clean Clothes Campaign expresses their shock and outrage at the failure of German company KIK to ensure that workers in its supplier factories are employed in safe working conditions after it was confirmed that Ali Enterprises, which last week burnt down killing almost 300 people, was producing jeans for the low-cost retailer.
* Inspectors Certified Pakistani Factory as Safe Before Disaster:
A prominent factory monitoring group heavily financed by industry gave a clean bill of health to a Pakistani apparel plant last month, just weeks before a fire engulfed the premises and killed nearly 300 workers, many of them trapped behind locked exit doors.
In August, two inspectors who visited the factory, Ali Enterprises in Karachi, to examine working conditions gave it a prestigious SA8000 certification, meaning it had met international standards in nine areas, including health and safety, child labor and minimum wages. The two inspectors were working on behalf of Social Accountability International, a nonprofit monitoring group based in New York that obtains much of its financing from corporations and relies on 21 affiliates around the world to do most of its inspections.
Weeks later, a fire swept the plant on Sept. 12, trapping hundreds of workers in a building with barred windows and just one open exit, resulting in one of the worst industrial disasters in history — one that killed nearly twice as many workers as the landmark Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 in New York. read more.
* For priceless lives, Karachi factories fined just British-era penalty of Rs500:
History puts today into perspective. In 1934, the British decided that factories would be fined Rs500 for breaking the rules. In those days that was a stupendous amount. Gold was cheap then at just Rs20 per tola. In 78 years since, the price of gold has gone up to Rs50,000 per tola – but factory fines remain at the same 1934 levels: Rs500.
Justice (retired) Qurban Alvi provided this nugget of history on Wednesday during the second hearing of the tribunal into the Baldia factory fire in which 258 people perished.
Labour officials had just told the judge that they were still working with the factory rules of 1934 and could only fine an owner Rs500 to Rs1,000.
“We are toothless,” said Owais Ahmed Shaikh, who is a technical deputy director with the labour department. “We cannot even force factory employers to pay the penalty and have to go to a judicial magistrate to enforce our decision.”
It appears that the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE), where the ill-fated Baldia factory is located, doesn’t have much more power either.
If a factory breaks the rules, SITE just fines them but can’t force them to undo the damage, explained SITE MD, Rashid Solangi. So, for example, if a factory doesn’t follow the rule of leaving 20% of space vacant in the building, all they have to do is pay the fine. read more.
* Tribunal demands halt to parallel probes:
An inquiry tribunal set up by the Sindh government to investigate the deadly Baldia Town factory fire that killed more than 250 people on Wednesday sought that ‘parallel inquiries’ into the incident by other bodies be stopped as they could create problems for witnesses and affect the findings of the tribunal.
While recording statements of witnesses and the officials concerned, the tribunal headed by retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi observed that apart from the Sindh chief minister assigned judicial inquiry there were several other inquiries being conducted by different institutions.
“So, I have conveyed that thought to the authorities to put a stop to those inquiries,” he said. “These parallel inquiries not only bother witnesses and the officials concerned, but may also affect the findings. They should be stopped until the tribunal completes its job.”
On the third day of the proceedings, Sindh Industrial and Trading Estate (SITE) managing director Abdul Rasheed Solangi and his chief engineer Ghulam Shabbir Khokhar appeared before the tribunal. Similarly, joint director of labour Zahid Gulzar Sheikh and deputy director of labour Owais Ahmed Sheikh also recorded their statements. read more.
* Remand granted to accused of Baldia factory incident:
A local court of Karachi has granted physical remand to the accused of Baldia garments factory incident till September 25.
Site B police presented the accused gatekeepers of the factory Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Muhammad in the court of Judicial Magistrate (West) Sohail Ahmed Mashori.
The court has granted physical remand to the accused till September 25. to read.
* LHC grants factory owners protective bail:
Owners of the factory Ali Enterprises, in which a fire claimed 260 lives in Karachi, were granted protective bails till October 1 by Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Thursday.
Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh accepted Abdul Aziz Bhaila’s plea, who along with his two sons Rashid Aziz and Shahid Aziz, had sought protective bails after being booked by the Karachi police in the Baldia factory fire case.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Bhailas’ lawyer Advocate Sardar Ishaq Khan said that the earlier bail obtained from Sindh High Court’s circuit bench in Larkana was due to expire on Friday, but they appealed for extension on Thursday due to the public holiday being observed today (Friday). read more. & read more.
* Cause of Baldia factory fire remains mystery as probe proceeds:
The findings of a key police investigator during the course of a probe into the blaze that wrecked a garments factory in Baldia Town last week and killed more than 250 people made the entire episode of the deadliest such incident suspicious on Thursday, raising questions about the exact cause of the fire and the management’s efforts to evacuate people from the two floors of the building before the flames had engulfed the industrial unit.
Terming the testimony as the ‘only truth’ that had come out during the four-day proceedings, tribunal chief retired Justice Zahid Qurban Alvi appreciated the ‘daring efforts’ of Inspector Chaudhary Zafar Iqbal, the investigation officer associated with the SITE-B police station, and told him to keep the probe body abreast of his findings.
Inspector Iqbal briefed the tribunal on the situation inside the factory an hour before and after the fire erupted through findings of statements he recorded during the past one week. People who recorded their statements included the owners of Ali Enterprises and factory workers and families of labourers killed in the fire to people living near the industrial unit.
His statement raised several new questions and put serious doubt over the role of a few staff members as well as people associated with the company one way or another but still the investigator did not say anything that could determine the cause of the fire.
“One of the senior management officers walked down the stairs to the ground floor from the second floor of the building just 15-20 minutes before the fire had engulfed the building,” he said. “It’s is beyond my comprehension as to how it was not possible for any of the more than 250 people to come down to the ground floor the same way? Why were they not informed of the fire and they could not use the same stairs?”
read more. & read Baldia factory fire: Inspector says extortion not a cause, lays blame on owners.
* 3 watchmen of burnt factory on remand:
Three watchmen of fire-wrecked garment factory in Baldia Town, Karachi were remanded to police custody by Judicial Magistrate West here on Thursday till September 25.
SITE-B police station produced the three accused watchmen, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Muhammad and Ali Muhammad, before the court of Judicial Magistrate. Investigation officer prayed to the court for the remand in order to interrogate further pertaining to the case.
IO stated in court according to initial investigation the watchmen locked the doors of the factory while salary was being disbursed among the ill-fated workers. Judicial Magistrate (West) Sohail Ahmed Mashoori remanded the accused to the police custody till September 25, 20012 and directed the IO to submit a case diaries on the next hearing. read more.
* Unions are best way to prevent further disasters in Pakistan:
IndustriALL Global Union argues that freedom of association and trade unions are the best way to prevent further workplace tragedies, after it is revealed that certification of the Ali Enterprise factory in Pakistan by a prominent monitoring group issued just weeks earlier did not prevent the fire that killed nearly 300 workers, many of them trapped behind locked exit doors.
According to the report of the New York Times, published on 20 September 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/world/asia/pakistan-factory-passed-ins… inspectors of a prominent factory monitoring group, Social Accountability International, heavily financed by industry rendered two visits to the Pakistani apparel plant last month, just weeks before a fire engulfed the premises and killed nearly 300 workers.
Analyzing the certification process in Pakistan the report questions the entire factory monitoring system used by multinational garment and electronics companies to approve their use of law-cost suppliers in the developing world. read more.
* ‘Pakistan must ensure decent work for its 55 million workforce’:
In the backdrop of a recent tragic factory fire incident in Karachi the government, representatives of employers and workers on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to promoting social justice through decent work environment.
A tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the representatives of the employers, workers and government officials in presence of International Labour Organisation (ILO) country head at the ILO office in Islamabad, said a press release issued.
ILO Country Director Francesco d’Ovidio, Ministry of Human Resources Development Secretary Muhammad Ahsan Raja and Representatives from the Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and Pakistan Workers’ Federation signed the MoU on the second Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP-II). read more.
* Factory fire: ensuring workers’ rights:
THE question today is what have we done for our workplace and your workers’ safety? It is time every one of us looked into their own lives. Are we endangering the lives of people who work for us? Are we giving them their basic right of safety?
I urge every factory, office, warehouses and business owner to pay heed to emergency-safety protocols. Provide your employees with a fire escape, equip your factory with fire extinguishers, get your electricity wiring inspected, and give regular safety drills by providing a functional fire-alarm system.
We, as young doctors, trained first responders and primary trauma-care experts extend our help and support. We have been training people to prevent such emergencies, and in the event of one, handling trauma, burns, fractures, smoke inhalations, drowning, choking, heart attacks, snakebites, etc., through our organisation, the First Response Initiative of Pakistan (FRIP).
I urge employees and labourers to demand their basic rights from their employers. It is your right to be protected from such calamities. Ask your employers to create safety exits, ask them to perform regular drills, and be trained in the event of such an emergency.
If we learned one thing out of the recent tragedy of the fire in the factory, it is to follow safety protocols. Remember: prevention is always better than cure. read more.
* Baldia factory fire victims still not compensated:
None of the families of Baldia factory fire victims have been paid compensation so far, as the government is yet to issue notification for the release of promised funds, The News learnt on Tuesday.
Several announcements were made to pay compensation to the legal heirs of the victims of Ali Enterprises’ fire, who either lost their lives or suffered injuries in the factory inferno.
Around 300 workers were killed and a number of others were injured in the September 11 fire but no one has so far been compensated. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had announced Rs 4 lacs compensation for each deceased and Rs 1 lac for each injured.
During his visit to Karachi on September 14, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif had announced Rs 3 lacs donation for each victim and Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah had also announced the compensation of the same amount for the victims.
It was learnt that since the victim workers were not registered with the Social Security Institute or the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI), they could not be compensated as per the existing rules and procedure.
In case of death of a registered worker, the Workers Welfare Fund usually pays Rs 600,000 compensation to his/her legal heirs. As per the procedure the employer concerned signs a document to certify that the deceased was his employee and he also contributes his share of compensation of Rs 300,000 per worker. And the victim family is issued the cheque of Rs 600,000 within 15 days.
The EOBI also starts releasing pension amount in case of the death of a registered worker.
However, this was not the case with the victims of Ali Enterprises, as the Labour Department and other government functionaries concerned have turned blind eye on the majority of the industrial workers, particularly the garment factory in question.
09:30:21 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek Citizens Call to “Boycott Uzbek Textile and Companies Using It”:
“We, the undersigned citizens of Uzbekistan, call for an international boycott of Uzbek textile and companies that use it. For the Uzbek textile is produced of cotton harvested using forced labour of children and adults. Foreign investors and partners of Uzbek textile companies must comply with international human rights standards, and press for the Uzbek government to respect human rights. Only independent monitoring by the International Labour Organization can confirm when Uzbekistan ceases the practice of forced labour. We urge the European Union and the United States of America to cancel the trade benefits for Uzbek textile manufacturers, provided by the General System of Preferences. Below is a list of companies in Uzbekistan that feed cotton products into supply chains of Western companies. We call for a boycott.
Throughout the post-Soviet period Uzbekistan has not stopped the practice of large-scale forced mobilization of school children, students, employees of enterprises, government agencies and public sector workers to harvest cotton.