20:40:56 local time CHINA
* Higher productivity to counter rising labor costs:
China must boost its productivity if it hopes to achieve sustainable growth in the face of rising labor costs in the long term, as the country approaches what economists refer to as a “Lewis Turning Point”, the global business advisers Ernst & Young LLP said on Tuesday.
The average labor cost in China has nearly doubled in the past five years, going from less than 25,000 yuan ($3,960) a year at the beginning of 2007 to more than 40,000 yuan a year in 2011, E&Y showed in a new report. read more.
19:40:56 local time VIET NAM
* 100 Vietnamese workers in Russia call for help, police investigate:
The Criminal Police Department (C45) has prosecuted a criminal case related to over 100 Vietnamese workers who claimed to be over-exploited in Russia.
According to investigators, these people worked for two garment companies – Vinastar and Garizon Open – in Moscow. Specifically, Vinastar recruited more than 100 workers from Vietnam, including 45 from the Construction and Investment JSC No. 1 (HICC1) and a labor export firm in Thai Binh Province.
On September 25, a representative of the Overseas Labor Management Agency, said that the agency had actively cooperated with the police during the investigation procedures. Previously, in late April, the agency asked manpower export companies to not send garment workers to Russia. However, some companies illegally sent workers to Russia in May.
These companies did not obey the law. In Russia, Vietnamese workers signed employment contracts that were different from the ones they signed in Vietnam.
“A lot of unskilled workers were still recruited. Some garment workers only practiced with industrial sewing machines one month before they went to Russia. That is why workers had to work for 14-15 hours per day. The employers also broke the law because they seized personal papers of and confided workers in the workshop area,” this official said.
Of the 148 workers of the two garment enterprises in Moscow who went on strike, over 60 people have moved to other enterprises and the rest were repatriated.
The Overseas Labor Management Agency confirmed that violators will be severely penalized. read more.
* Families of fire victims in Russia receive aid:
The Association of Vietnamese People in Russia has given US$6,500 in aid to each family of the victims of the September 11 fire in Russian town of Yegoryevsk.
The fire killed 14 Vietnamese people working in a garment factory in Yegoryevsk, about 100 kilometres southeast of Moscow . As many as 50 Vietnamese workers were said to be working in the factory when the fire broke out.
Representatives from the Association handed over to the aid to those in northern coastal province of Quang Ninh and the central province of Quang Binh on September 25.
They will also deliver the financial assistance to each family of the victims in the northern province of Hai Duong and the central provinces of Nghe An and Thanh Hoa later. to read.
19:40:56 local time THAILAND
* Leather market takes a freaky turn:
Shortage of cows turns focus to protected Komodo dragon.
A scarcity of cows has resulted in a leather shortage, prompting some manufacturers to turn to using water monitors instead.
As freaky as it sounds, this reviled lizard is not the only weird creature that companies are turning to _ Komodo dragons, also known as Komodo monitors, are gaining in popularity.
Somkiat Bongkotpanrai, chairman of the Thai Leather Cluster, said his group is working with Thai educational institutes to cooperate with neighbouring countries to develop leather made from a variety of animals.
“In the initial stage, studies will be conducted on Komodo dragons from Indonesia, the same way as we are studying water monitors, which are on the list of protected species,” he said.
“Currently almost all types of animal skin can be developed into leather, but the issue needs to be discussed with related parties as they [Komodo dragons] are on the preservation list,” said Mr Somkiat. read more.
* Despite strengths as centre of Mekong region, Kingdom faces risks:
Thailand’s growth and position among the countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) pose risks and affect the country locally, geopolitically and environmentally.
Although China gets most of the attention, Thailand is one of the next-best choices as a location to outsource manufacturing. As evidence of its strength, Thailand’s consistent pro-business policies, tax incentives, and quality living conditions for expatriate executives are being adapted by neighbouring countries as part of the GMS framework.
The Federation of Thai Industries warns domestic companies, however, to move or expand overseas because the production base in the country is being threatened by competitive global trade, with neighbours Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all posting lower average minimum wages. Even with regional unification, risks still arise from international competition. read more.
19:40:56 local time CAMBODIA
* Locked-out toy makers left in lurch over wages:
Employees at the First & Main cuddly-toy company arrived at work yesterday expecting to be paid outstanding wages – instead, a notice on the gates told them all equipment inside the Phnom Penh factory would be auctioned off, because the company was closing for good.
The Ministry of Social Affairs’ strike and demonstration resolution committee, which issued the notice, said Brad Holes, American co-owner of the firm, had decided to close his Sen Sok district factory, with orders to his Cambodian accountant to sell the equipment.
“The committee will pay the workers what they are owed once this property has been sold,” the notice states.
The teddy bear company closed its doors on August 26, amid rumours it was on the verge of financial collapse.
Its 357 workers were told to return on September 10 for a meeting with management about their future and to be paid wages for August.
Workers have claimed they found no sign of their bosses on that date and milled about peacefully, while Holes has said a management representative was barricaded inside the building, fearing for her life, as a mob trashed the factory and destroyed CCTV footage. read more.
* Cambodia granted $3m for development:
Cambodia will receive a grant of US$3.3 million from the World Trade Organisation to support rice milling, silk production and development of the Department of International Cooperation, according to Heng Sovannarith, communication officer for Trade Wide Sector Approach.
Sovannarith said the Ministry of Commerce would receive the grant from the WTO’sEnhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) project.
He said the money would go toward implementing EIF’s three-year project in three main areas: building trading capacities, increasing milled rice export and enhancing high value silk. read more.
* Transport costs remain high:
Cambodia’s transport costs remain high compared with those in neighbouring countries, according to a 10-container shipment comparison conducted between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam by a Korean-owned company, Pan Continental Freight (PCF).
The comparison found Cambodia’s free on board (FOB) costs were US$35 a tonne, whereas Thailand and Vietnam costs per tonne were $17 and $16 respectively.
Pan Continental Freight general director Jae Hoo Lee said direct foreign investment was needed to develop logistics and infrastructure in terms of building ports, railways and waterways. read more.
* Grand Finale of the Radio Competition for Garment Workers on Cambodian Labour Law:
Grand Finale of the Radio Competition for Garment Workers on Cambodian Labour Law
When : Saturday 29 September, 2012 from 2-3pm
Where : Mohanokor Radio FM 93.5MHz, located in Borei Kamkor village, Sangkat
Choueng Ek, Dongkor district (700 meters far from the Royal University of
What : After running for 9 Saturdays since 28 July, the radio competition for garment
workers on Cambodian Labour Law reaches its finale this Saturday.
Out of a total of 450 applications received from 35 factories, 18 candidates
were selected initially through written forms and interviews. These 18
workers competed via live radio broadcast FM93.5MHz every Saturday from 2-
3pm. The jury for the competition is composed of representatives from the
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Bar Association of the Kingdom of
Cambodia, and the Arbitration Council.
The radio competition for garment workers on Cambodian labour law engages Cambodian garment workers to compete on their knowledge of Cambodian labour law. The competition is also aimed at disseminating information about Cambodian labour law to garment workers and the public, and promoting the implementation of the labour law.
Journalists and members of media organizations are cordially invited to attend the finale of the competition. read more.
20:40:56 local time INDONESIA
* Asia Pacific Fiber allocates capex US$20 million to Boost production:
PT Asia Pacific Fiber Tbk, a manufacturer of filament fiber, allocate capital expenditures approximately US$20 million this year, partly to boost its production capacity to reach 190,000 tons per year.
Tunaryo, Corporate Secretary of Asia Pacific Fiber (APF), explaining the company’s average fiber production is 140,000 tons produced by its two plants in Karawang, West Java and Semarang, Central Java.
APF brings new machines for its Karawang plant in order to increase the production capacity as much as 150 tons of fiber per day or 54,000 tons per year. This is aimed at anticipating high demand of filament fiber in domestic market.
The business expansion opened job opportunity for 300 people. The new workers added the existing worker of 3,000 who had already joined before. “Until now we have investment or capital expenditure of US$20 million. It is the appropriate amount because a lot of things that we will do and it is not just about increasing fiber production capacity. ” read more.
18:25:56 local time NEPAL
* Biratnagar Jute Mill: Indian company wins bid to revive factory:
Biratnagar Jute Mill, which has remained shut for the last four years, is on the way to being reopened with an Indian company winning a lease contract for the mill.
Kolkata-based Winsome International has been selected to operate the historical factory on lease as it was the highest bidder, said officials of the mill.
“We decided to appoint Winsome as it offered to pay Rs 13.5 million annually to the government, which is the biggest amount offered from among the three competing bidders,” said Ashok Pokharel, chairman of Biratnagar Jute Mill.
Two Nepali bidders, Archana Interesh and Lalwani Jute Bag Udyog, had taken part in the bid. They had offered annual payments of Rs 12.6 million and Rs 12.8 million respectively.read more.
18:40:56 local time BANGLA DESH
* Bangladesh again says no to TICFA:
Bangladesh again declined to sign a TICFA as the country cannot immediately set much higher labour standards pressed by the US as a precondition for the trade and investment cooperation deal.
The US wants immediate elimination of child and forced labour from all sectors and permission for trade union at factories, but Bangladesh wants to implement these conditions in phases. read more.
* Demand for minimum wages -Jute, textile mill workers agitate in Khulna:
Privately owned jute, cotton, and textile mills workers yesterday observed rail-road blockade programme in Khulna to press their 10-point demand, including implementation of minimum wages.
Workers from several industrial units took out processions during the two-hour-long programme from 9:00am to 11:00am.
Privately-owned Jute, Cotton, and Textile Mills Sangram Parishad called the programme to press the demands.
Addressing a rally at Phulbarigate area, leaders of the parishad urged the authorities concerned to meet their demand immediately.
Otherwise, they threatened to launch a tougher agitation programme.
Sangram Parishad leaders Md Tayebur Rahman, Nazrul Islam and Saiful Islam, Molla Omor Fauque addressed the rally. read more.
* Exporters seek govt help to ensure $25b RMG export:
Bangladesh’s readymade garments (RMG) sector has scope of earning as many as US $25 billion this year if necessary infrastructures are provided by the government, key exporters said.
“We can earn $25 billion from shipment of RMG and other textile products in the current fiscal (FY’13) if get uninterrupted power supply and a developed transportation facility,” Chairman of Sterling Group Mr. Siddiqur Rahman said.
* DoE fines textile factory Tk 29 lakh in Dhamrai:
The Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday fined a textile mill Tk 29 lakhs in Dhamrai on the outskirts of the capital for polluting river Bangshai with untreated chemical effluent.
An enforcement team of the DoE found that the effluent treatment plant of “The Immaculate Textile Ltd” was grossly defective and unable to treat the waste matter of the factory, said a DoE press release.
The factory has been releasing untreated effluents into the river through a concealed bypass drain, said DoE Director Mohammad Munir Chowdhury who handed down the penalty and ordered to seal the factory off.
An instant examination revealed that the untreated liquid effluent contained no dissolved oxygen though required level is 4.5 to 8 milligrams per litre, he said.
* 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.
Low income groups, mostly garment workers and rickshaw pullers, used to live in this low cost shanties. previously published 20120921
* Fire guts 500 shanties in Begunbari:
A fire gutted 500 shanties in Begunbari in the capital’s Tejgaon area. The fire broke out around 10:15am and was tamed after one-and-a-half-hour’s effort of three units of the Fire Brigade.
Fire service sources said the fire originated at a shanty around 10:00am and soon spread to seven adjacent tin-shed buildings.
Some 400 shanties of the buildings, mostly three-stored structures, were burnt to ashes, the sources said. see photo story.
Firefighters and local residents tried to control a fire at a slum next to a Padma garments factory in Begunbari, Dhaka September 20, 2012. More than 500 shanties burned down, with most of the inhabitants being workers at the factory, according to the local fire department.
see photo story.
18:10:56 local time INDIA
* Footballs from India in child labour row:
An Australian football company that had outsourced some of the production to an Indian firm has ended its contract, recalling nearly half a million footballs in the wake of allegations that child labour was used for the work in Jalandhar.
The Australian football company Sherrin has decided to recall all 2011 and 2012 Auskick balls, after the father of a six-year-old Melbourne boy said his son had been pricked by a sewing needle found protruding from the skin of a Sherrin football. The Australian company has also ended its ties with the Indian sub-contractor, confirming the reports that it was using child labourers in India. read more.
* Agitation at jute mill:
Angry workers agitated before the gate of Delta Jute Mill of Manikpur near here this morning after a notice of suspension of work was hung on the gate here this morning.
The police said the workers of the jute mill agitated after seeing the notice of suspension of work. However, the police did not need to intervene as the workers left the jute mill after a while, sources said. Officials said that nearly 3000 permanent staff and temporary workers of the jute mill became jobless as a result of the declaration. to read.
* 4,000 lose job as Howrah jute mill shuts down:
Low production has forced yet another jute mill in the state to shut down operations. Around 4000 employees of Delta Jute Mill in Howrah were left jobless after the company made the announcement on Tuesday.
SDO (headquarters) Bani Prasad Das said, “I have spoken to the jute mill authorities, who informed me that low production had forced them to suspend work and issue a notice.” Howrah district INTUC president Rabindra Nath Mondal said, “They held no talks with union members. The authorities closed the unit on their own.”
INTTUC president Arupesh Bhattacharyya added, “It is unfortunate. Labour minister Purnendu Basu has been informed about the closure. He has assured of assistance.” The jute mill was opened only nine months ago. read more.
* The Cotton Film : Dirty White Gold:
The journey starts with nearly 300,000 Indian farmers who have killed themselves to escape debt. At one point, up to 26 per day. They are the price we pay for cheap cotton – trapped in a cycle of debt, brought about as a result of the industrialisation of their livelihoods. Some kill themselves by drinking the pesticides with which they farm.
At the heart of the film will be the human stories of the people who work the fields to form the threads of our moral fibre. We will ask “when you bag a bargain, who pays for it?”
Documentary journalist and troublemaker Leah Borromeo is making a film about fashion and its real victims. She is on a mission – she wants to make ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry the norm, not the exception, by making the supply chain transparent. And she is on a journey to find out how to make this a reality.
Leah will follow the thread of our clothing from seed to shop – from farmers to brokers and bankers to the factories and manufacturers through to the labels we love to wear. She’ll show the environmental and social impact of the intense use of pesticides, will engage in the debate around genetically modified seed, investigate the concept of fair trade, explore the viability of organic cotton and probe the structures that make the rich rich and the poor poor. She’ll emphasise the need for traceability and accountability in the fashion industry. read & see more. (video)
* Slavery on the high street:
New research from Anti-Slavery International exposes how top UK high street brands are selling clothing made by girls in slavery in southern India.
You can download the report in the PDF format here.
You can also read an article which includes interviews with young women who experienced forced labour.
Click here to see which international brands are linked to the Indian suppliers found to be using forced labour.
Read our press release.
What has ‘Slavery on the high street’ uncovered?
Our research has uncovered the routine use of forced labour of girls and young women in the spinning mills and garment factories of five Indian clothing manufacturers that supply major western clothing retail brands.
These were SP Apparel, Bannari Amman, SCM, Eastman and Prem Group. Export data from two Indian ports confirms dozens of major western brands purchasing garments from these companies.
The Indian companies recruit unmarried girls and women from poor ‘lower’ caste families to be spinners in their mills or workers in their factories. Around 60 per cent have a Dalit (“untouchable”) background. read more.
* Bt cotton technology: A blessing or a curse for farmers? :
Who doesn’t like simple stories? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could toss out villains and live happily ever after? Unfortunately, this happens only in fairy tales.
Critics of Bt cotton technology used by farmers in Maharashtra blame farmers’ suicides on the adoption of this technology. More sophisticated critics concede that other factors could be at play, but the guilt of Bt cotton is taken as self-evident even by them.
When I visited these villages in early June 2012, I found that these critical stories were the news. Many farmers were puzzled and amazed to be told that their encounter with Bt cotton was ruinous to them. And they were not just big farmers.
Pankaj Shinde is poor. He owns two acres of dry land in the small village of Antargaon. But by doubling his yield, Bt cotton had substantially raised his meagre income. “I used to harvest merely three quintals of cotton before the arrival of Bt cotton. Now, I can even reach seven quintals,” he said. Shinde is so poor that he and his five-member family also work as labourers for other farmers. The increased yield of Bt cotton on other farms has also raised the demand for labour for cotton picking.
* Textile and farm activists narrate woes to Kelkar committee:
The agriculture subcommittee under the Kelkar Committee, which is looking into the causes of regional imbalances in the state, held discussions and hearings in the city on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The committee tried to identify the causes of the ongoing agrarian crisis in the region and reasons for industrial backwardness.
The committee visited the city’s oldest orange processing industry, Noga ( Nagpur Orange Growers Association), held discussion with stakeholders in the cotton textile industry and a brainstorming on farmers’ suicides. read more.
* Honduras pips India at US garment stores:
First, it was Bangladesh and Vietnam. Now it’s Honduras that has beaten India in the race to garment stores in the US, which accounts for nearly a third of India’s apparel exports.
Latest available data shows that India has been pushed to the seventh slot in the US garment import sweepstakes by the central American country after it registered a 16.5% fall in shipments in July. While local players blame the slowdown, Honduras’s proximity and probably preferential access to the world’s largest economy would have tilted the scales in its favour.
Although US households have indeed cut down on discretionary spends such as buying garments and jewellery, the impact seems to be more pronounced in the case of Indian exports. For instance, among the top seven garment exporters to the US, only India and Mexico witnessed a fall in the value of consignments in July, while shipments from China remained flat. During April-July 2012, Indian apparel exports to all countries shrunk by over 13% to $4.2 billion compared to $4.9 billion a year ago. The fall has been attributed to a slowdown as exports to major markets such as Europe that accounts for almost half the shipments declined 24% while those to the US were down almost 11%. read more.
* Leather traders slowly scale China wall:
From competitor to customer, from threat to opportunity – the leather trade between India and China has come a full circle. Rising production costs and labour issues are pushing the Chinese to look at sourcing products from other countries including India, a complete role reversal from just a year ago when the country used to supply critical ingredients to the Indian leather industry.
“The first indication of this (trend) came during the Shanghai Leather Fair when Indian manufacturers managed to sell goods, especially leather garments, to China,” said Rafeeque Ahmed, chairman, Council for Leather Exports. Indian leather companies have been participating in the fair for the last two years and have seen a clear increase in sales to their Chinese counterparts, he said.read more.
* King of branded apparel:
He transformed Arvind from an ethnic fabric manufacturer into a branded apparel retailer
From being known as the denim king to reinventing his company as one of the foremost apparel retailers in the country, Sanjay Lalbhai (the pioneer of denim manufacturing in India and Chairman and Managing Director of Arvind Ltd, has come a long way.
Led by Lalbhai, Arvind Ltd — the flagship company of the $1.2 billion Lalbhai Group — has reinvented itself from a traditional ethnic fabric manufacturer to a dynamic company that professionalised its management and is now a force to reckon with in apparel brands and retail.
At the same time, Arvind has also now become one of the largest denim manufacturers in the world. Arvind has since become one of India’s largest manufacturers of other woven fabrics as well, vertically integrated into garment manufacturing, and built one of India’s most impressive apparel brand portfolios.
17:40:56 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile industry crisis : Heavy production, job losses due to energy supply cuts:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has said that industry has incurred over Rs 3 billion production loss besides rendering millions of workers jobless due to sudden cut in gas supply Tuesday night.
It may be noted that the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL) had suspended gas supply to textile industry due to close of Qadirpur gas field.
APTMA spokesman has criticised the Ministry of Water and Power for cutting electricity supply to industry during last 24 hours in order to meet domestic shortage.
The APTMA spokesman lamented that bureaucracy was, as a matter of fact, negating the pro-industry policy of the government, as it is meeting energy shortage by cutting supplies to industry.
According to him, the bureaucracy was following anti-industry approach, leaving the economy and future of millions of workers clueless in the country. read more.
* Energy supply cuts cause production, job losses in textile industry:
Spokesman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) said that industry has incurred over Rs 3 billion production loss besides rendering millions of workers jobless due to sudden cut in gas supply by Tuesday night. It may be noted that the SNGPL suspended gas supply to textile industry due to close of Qadirpur gas field.
He has further criticised the Ministry of Water and Power for cutting electricity supply to industry during last 24 hours in order to meet domestic shortage. APTMA spokesman lamented that bureaucracy is, as a matter of fact, negating the pro-industry policy of the government, as it is meeting energy shortage by cutting supplies to industry. read more.
* Cotton growers to suffer loss of Rs 187 billion this year: AFP:
Agri Forum Pakistan (AFP) has alleged that cotton growers this year will suffer a collective loss of Rs 187 billion as they are getting on average Rs 1950 per maund for their produce instead of Rs 3119 per maund suggested by the Punjab government as support price for cotton in March this year.
Forum’s Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Mughal while talking to a select group of journalists here on Wednesday said that cotton was sown on 5.8 million acres in Punjab and 7.2 million acres through out the country. He stated that the provincial government has set a target of 15 million bales but feared that production might remain around 13.5 million bales due to reduction in area under cotton. read more.
* Moving up the value chain: Local yarn, cloth prices rise due to demand from China:
Even as Pakistan’s textile lobby continues to demand more privileges from the government, the Chinese textile sector is responding to rising labour costs by investing heavily in value addition, importing lower value inputs like yarn and grey cloth from Pakistan to use as raw material for finished garments that they then export around the world.
Pakistan exported more than $1.3 billion of yarn and grey cloth to China in calendar year 2011, slightly more than 25% of China’s total imports from the rest of the world. Over the past decade, the dollar value of Pakistan’s exports of yarn and grey cloth to China have increased at an average annual rate of over 11% per year.
Industry experts, however, believe that as more and more Chinese spinning and weaving companies go out of business, Pakistani exporters will be able to expand their sales to Chinese garment manufacturers and may even export up to $6 billion worth of yarn and grey cloth to China, if the industry installs enough additional capacity. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Report on factory fire to be submitted tomorrow:
The tribunal formed to investigate the cause of fire which erupted in one of Karachi’s factory killing at least 258 people on Sept 11 would present its report to the Sindh government tomorrow.
Two Medico-Legal Officers (MLO) on Wednesday recorded their statements to the tribunal which was headed by Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi.
The MLO of Jinnah hospital Dr Jagdeesh Kumar presented post-mortem reports of nine of the victims of the factory fire. He said that these people died because of intensity of the fire and excess inhaling of carbon-monoxide. Some people died because of fear, shock and ingestion of poisonous gases in stomach and brain, he added.
The MLO of the Civil Hospital Dr Abdul Haq presented post-mortem reports of the 15 people deceased in the incident.
He said that a certain type of chemical test of the dead bodies could have ascertained the cause of the fire but there was no facility in the country to conduct those tests. read more.
* Tribunal probing Karachi factory fire will submit report by Sept 28:
The tribunal formed to investigate the cause of fire which erupted in one of Karachi’s factory killing at least 258 people on Sept 11 would present its report to the Sindh government on Sept 28, DawnNews reported.
Two Medico-Legal Officers (MLO) on Wednesday recorded their statements to the tribunal which was headed by Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi .
The MLO of Jinnah hospital Dr Jagdeesh Kumar presented post-mortem reports of nine of the victims of the factory fire. He said that these people died because of intensity of the fire and excess inhaling of carbon-monoxide.
Some people died because of fear, shock and ingestion of poisonous gases in stomach and brain, he added.
The MLO of the civil hospital Dr Abdul Haq presented post-mortem reports of the fifteen people deceased in the incident.
He said that a certain type of chemical test of the dead-bodies could have ascertained the cause of the fire but there was no facility in the country to conduct those tests. read more.