in the news on-line, 28 September 2012

19:50:09 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Nearly 2,000 workers get food poisoning in Binh Duong:

Nearly 2,000 workers at Hansoll Vina Co Ltd in the Song Than I Industrial Park in southern Binh Duong Province were hospitalized for treatment yesterday after developing symptoms of food poisoning after their afternoon meal.

Shortly after eating the meal at 4:30 pm Thursday, most of the workers developed vomiting, headaches, belly pain and dizziness, and many of them passed out in their factory.

They were taken to Hospital No. 4 of the 4th Corps, Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc General Hospital, and a private clinic in Binh Duong at about 6 pm.

Nearly 1,000 of the victims were hospitalized at Hospital No. 4, seriously overloading the facility. The hospital’s management had to arrange for patients to lie on floors or in corridors and called for doctors and nurses from other health facilities to come for help.
(….)
Hansoll Vina is a producer of apparel and textiles, with a workforce of about 5,000 workers in Binh Duong. read more.

19:50:09 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Mind the wage gap:

Most mornings, garment worker Vicheka buys food from the street vendors outside her factory in Kampong Chhnang province. The beef and pork dishes, she says, have a tendency to give workers a stomach ache – a reputation forged long before Vicheka and her co-workers at the M&V factory fainted on the job this month.

It’s not unusual for the food to spend hours in the sun’s searing heat. More often than not, it’s unhygienic and it always tastes bad.

Its allure, however, is that it’s cheap.
“I make a low wage,” the 20-year-old, who has been working in the factory making clothing for H&M for three years, says. “I simply can’t spend money on good food. It’s too expensive.”

In the past week, Clean Clothes Campaign activists have been staging mock faintings in fashion stores across Europe to draw attention to the conditions Cambodian workers endure while sewing for big brands such as H&M, Gap and Levi’s.

CCC’s campaign makes the point that “poverty pay” and malnutrition contribute to mass faintings. A simple and straightforward solution, it says, is to pay Cambodian workers a living wage – the minimum amount of money someone needs to meet their basic needs.
According to the union and labour group Asia Floor Wage Alliance, this figure should be $281 a month. Even with a $10 increase approved by the government that will kick in this month, the minimum wage for garment workers is $83.
read more.
& Read: Swooning over fashion? & Read: Stop Wage Theft Campaign.
 

* Union leader in court over Taiwanese company complaint:

A trade union leader appeared in Kandal Provincial Court Thursday accused of defamation and inciting workers to strike.

The hearing followed a lawsuit by Jack Liu, managing director Tai Yang Enterprises (Cambodia) Ltd, against Free Trade Union of Workers President Rong Chhun.
Chhun, who is also president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association, rejected the charges, saying it was his duty to protect human and worker rights.
He said he became involved in the strike at the request of Tai Yang workers and accused the company of trying to use the judicial system to intimidate him.
read more.

* Union boss faces charges for inciting strike:

The president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions Rong Chhun appeared in Kandal Provincial Court for nearly three hours yesterday, fielding questions stemming from accusations of incitement and defamation, the union boss said.

According to Chhun, his appearance was related to a complaint alleging that he had incited workers to strike, and had defamed the management of the Tai Yang Enterprise garment factory – whose leadership filed the complaint against him after his involvement in a two-month strike that began in late June.

“I told the prosecutor that what the company accused me of is different [from what I did],” said Chhun, who has maintained his participation in the strike was not his idea.

“I did not incite the workers to protest, but they sent me a letter asking me to help them. I helped them find a solution because they needed my help.” read more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

1. Locked-out toy makers left in lurch over wages. read more.
2. Mind the wage gap.read more.
3. Union boss grilled on incitment allegation. read more.

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:

4. Court questions unionist on incitement charges.read more.

20:50:09 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Minimum wage saga continues:

After all the debate between proponents and opposers and the accompanying fanfare which dragged on for years, the Human Resources Minister finally issued an order in July 2012, declaring that Minimum Wages need to be paid from January 2013.

While the intention was to ensure that all employees will be paid a certain minimum salary, RM900 in peninsular Malaysia, the way in which the order was worded has created problems and headaches for employers, not so much for those who are not paying the minimum wage of RM900 currently, but for employers whose current remuneration package for employees is far above that of RM900.

The blame for this rests squarely on the formulators of the law and the order.
This is further compounded by the recent issuance of so called “Guidelines – method of implementation of the Minimum Wages Order 2012”. read more.

* Hing Yiap’s new units to help lower gearing:

Hing Yiap Group Bhd, which is expecting its acquisition of six companies under Asia Brands Corp Bhd to be completed by the fourth quarter of this year, expects the new units to generate more revenue for the group and lower its gearing, said its CEO Cheah Yong Hock.

“Upon completion of the acquisition exercise, we’ll look at how to synergise the complementary business units to generate more cash flow and bring down our gearing from 1.21 times currently. We’re confident and positive that from the strong cash operation that we have, we’ll improve our gearing in the shortest period of time,” he told a press conference after the group’s AGM and EGM today.

Earlier, during the EGM, shareholders approved Hing Yiap’s proposed purchase of Anakku Sdn Bhd, Audrey Sdn Bhd, Mickey Junior Sdn Bhd, Asia Brands Global Sdn Bhd, Asia Brands HR Services Sdn Bhd and Asia Brands Asset Management Sdn Bhd for RM245 million.

Hing Yiap is principally engaged in the trading and retailing of apparel. It owns B.U.M Marketing Sdn Bhd, Antioni Sdn Bhd, Bontton Sdn Bhd, Diesel Marketing Sdn Bhd, Ubay Marketing Sdn Bhd, BUMCITY Sdn Bhd and Cocomax Sdn Bhd. read more.

20:50:09 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Indonesia’s Workers Protest Against Outsourcing, Low Wages:

Around 10,000 workers descended on Jalan Rasuna Said and Jalan Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta on Thursday to stage protests against outsourcing and low wages.

The protestors, who came from several areas including Jakarta and Karawang, demanded that Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskander not ignore his responsibility to fight for workers’ rights.

“We demand the government gives a decent wage that’s in line with the workers’ daily needs. We also demand the government erase outsourcing because it makes the lives of the workers miserable,” said Baris Silitonga, the protest coordinator.
read more.

* TEXTILE INDUSTRY: Investor Japan ready to relocate from China to Indonesia:

A number of Japanese investors consider to relocate textile factories from China to Indonesia due to the heat driven protests regarding the disputed territory.

Yusuke Yoshida, Senior Director of Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) Jakarta Office, said the political situation between the two countries is a major effect on economic activity, especially in the field of investment.
According to him, some days the Japanese investors ask many things about Jetro Representative of Indonesia to Jakarta.

The things in question, such as the condition of Indonesia’s political, business climate, and a number of problems associated with other investments.
“We often receive questions about how the investment climate in Indonesia business and political conditions. They are thinking to relocate factories from China to Indonesia,” he said on the sidelines of the Indonesia-Japan Fashion and Textile Event, Thursday (27/9/2012 ).

Some of Sakura’s industrial sector, said Yusuke, is expected to immediately implement the plan in the near future.
Currently, Japanese investment in Indonesia is still dominated by the automotive and electronics sectors. However, it is possible that other sectors will also be invested in Indonesia due to various factors.
“Japanese investment interest is now still in high tech industries such as the automotive sector, but there are also some companies that invest in the textile field,” he said. (translated by google) Originally Article.

19:20:09 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Myanmar eyes US clothing market:

Washington is to ease a ban on imports from Myanmar, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said, lifting its last major trade embargo in a move swiftly welcomed in the former pariah state Thursday.

Clinton told Myanmar president Thein Sein in New York that the US ‘is taking the next step in normalising our commercial relationship’ to recognise the reforms made as the Southeast Asian nation emerges from decades of army rule.

‘We will begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese goods into the United States,’ she told the Myanmar leader, a former general who took the helm of a reformist quasi-civilian regime last year.
Myanmar, left impoverished by the junta’s economic mismanagement, is now seen as the next major frontier economy in the region, with its strategic location between China and India and abundant natural resources.
The US import ban was imposed under a 2003 act by Congress, although there was already little trade at the time, with the United States mostly importing some hardwoods, gems, and garments.  read more.

* Myanmar officials brief Korean businessmen on investment law:

Officials of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) have briefed a business delegation from Korea on the new foreign investment law of the country.

The briefing took place during the Myanmar-Korea Economic Cooperation Forum organized at Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake in Yangon on Monday.
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) organized the event.
Jaedo Moon, deputy minister for Knowledge Economy, and Bae Chang Heon, vice president of KOTRA, led the 37-member Korean delegation.
Businessmen from Myanmar Garment Manufacturing Association and construction, hotel, IT and industry sectors and members of Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association attended the programme. to read.

18:50:09 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* EMERGENCY APPEAL for Garment Workers Homeless after Fire:

Garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh need your urgent support after a devastating fire destroyed their homes on 20 September. Hard at work as the fire blazed, the garment workers were not able to save their possessions. More than 4,000 people have been left with nothing. War on Want is coordinating an international appeal to provide them with the basic essentials they will need in the coming weeks.

Our partner on the ground in Bangladesh, the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), arrived on the scene immediately, helping people get treatment and providing food, clothing and temporary shelter. But with limited funds, the NGWF is struggling with the large number of people turning to them for help. Amin Amirul Haque, NGWF President, contacted us directly asking for our urgent assistance.

Please make a donation of £20 to provide the basic essentials these families urgently need, including food, clothes and household essentials. We will ensure your donation reaches the people of this community as soon as possible, to help alleviate their suffering.

War on Want has been working in partnership with garment workers in the NGWF for a number of years in their fight for safer working conditions and a decent wage. Please make a donation of whatever you can afford today and help us support these garment workers and their families in this time of crisis.

Fire_Dhaka
(see also the publications-photo reports yesterday)

They need your Support!

MORE INFORMATION: WAR ON WANT-click here.

* High wave of Chinese investment in 3-5 yrs:

There will be a “high wave” of Chinese investment in Bangladesh in the next three to five years, said Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jun yesterday.

Rising labour costs and economic restructuring in China were forcing businesses to relocate to other countries, including Bangladesh, he said.
“Bangladesh has many advantages, especially in human resources. So, it is a very lucrative place for such relocation,” said the ambassador at a views exchange meeting at The Daily Star office. Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of the English daily, moderated the discussion. read more.

* Russia will issue 2-yr visas for B’desh garment manufacturers:

The Russian government will issue two-year multiple visas for Bangladeshi garment manufacturers, which business people said a step ahead to explore the new market.

Officials of foreign affairs ministry of Russian Federation told this to the visiting Bangladeshi business delegation at a meeting held in Moscow.
Director of South Asia affairs and his two deputies led the Russian side while first vice-president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Md Hatem led the Bangladesh side.

Dr SM Saiful Huq, ambassador of Bangladesh to Russia and other high officials of embassy also joined the meeting.
“This is not big job for us. We’ll issue multiple visas for Bangladeshi garment manufactures,” Mr Hatem was quoted as saying by the director of the South Asia affairs of the Russia during the meeting. read more.

* BGMEA concerned over Ctg AL president & CCCI president conflict:

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Thursday expressed grave concern over the conflict between the Chittagong city AL president and the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) president over a tender at Chittagong Port.

In a statement, BGMEA acting president M Siddiqur Rahman said, “If the ongoing situation centering the port goes on, the normal pace of trade and commerce as well as the capacity of the port will be hampered.”

Besides, he said, the readymade garment sector will have to bear the brunt of that volatile situation. read more.

18:20:09 local time map of india INDIA

* 16 Child labourers rescued from esurmbroidery units:

Labor department rescued 16 child laborers from different Jari and Embroidery units located in Bhathena, Anjana and Bharatnagar area of the city . All the boys were brought in from Khagadia of Bihar and were being exploited by unit owners.

The children were sent to observation home located in Katargam area of the city. Assistant Labor commissioner MS Patel led team first stuck on a unit in Bhathena and freed four children between 10-14 years of age.

This raid was conducted after the information of exact locations provided by local residents in support of police officers from khatodara police station.

After that another three raids in the day resulted in more children being employed in units in Bharatnagar and Anjana .
(…)
The city that houses large number of Textile dying , Printing units has a huge Embroidery and Jari business too. However unlike Textile, Jari work is done in smaller units and is in a form of a cottage industry at many places which leads to child labor issues. read more.

* Students join campaign against exploitation of poor girls:

The ongoing campaign against ‘Sumangali Scheme,’ which is being followed by many textile and spinning units in the western districts of Tamil Nadu that has ruined the health of a few hundreds girls from southern districts, gained significant momentum on Thursday with college students joining hands with the organisations fighting against this system.

These units lure poor girls to work with the promise of giving an attractive sum at the end of the third year.
These girls work in these units as the amount would be useful at the time of their marriage.

‘Vaan Muhil,’ a rights-based advocacy group from Palayamkottai, started holding awareness programmes in educational institutions so as to intensify its campaign against the system.
When a signature campaign against the scheme was organised at St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, on Thursday as per the decision taken in the recently held State-level conference, over 500 students, especially girls, took part in it. read more.

* Humane criteria for fixing poverty line:

At last the supreme court has asked the Planning Commission to explain the basis for fixing 36 per cent people as below the poverty line (BPL) and setting a per capita daily income of Rs 20 in urban and Rs 11 in rural areas to determine who is poor.

When questioned on similar lines at an interaction in Bangalore last year, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had made a revealing but perplexing statement that the poverty line was only meant to determine whether a family is able to meet its food needs and not if it can cover all its basic needs. Now who can live on food alone? If this is the norm, then only beggars can qualify to be BPL and all others will be above the poverty line (APL). This, when studies say that more than 70 per cent of our population cannot meet the minimum calorie intake norm of 2,400 calories per day per person.
(…..)
Minimum wage
Taking the matter slightly forward, the Wadhwa Committee set up by the supreme court in 2008 in the Right to Food case said that the basis for determining the BPL category should be the minimum wage payable to an unskilled workman, such as under the NREGA — Rs 100 per family or Rs 25 per capita per day. Anyone earning below this amount should be deemed to be BPL.

However, have these state-fixed minimum wages been determined as per the criteria evolved for their fixation? As per the 15th Indian Labour Conference of 1957 a need-based minimum wage (NBMW) should cover all the needs of a worker’s family of four members for food, clothing (72 yards per year), shelter (industrial housing standard) and 20 per cent of wage additionally for fuel, lighting, etc. read more.

* Lok Sabha Speaker emphasizes on women education:

“Family, society and nation develop in true sense only when women are educated, skilled, vocationally employed and become empowered,” said the five time MP and present Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.

Participation of women at different levels including in the governance of local bodies has brought significant changes in the lives of women and society, but still much are required to uplift the socio-economic condition of women and downtrodden, the LS speaker added.
(….)
Referring to the problems facing the handloom weavers associated with local silk industries and production of Tassar silk at Bhagalpur that brings in huge amount of foreign currency adding to the foreign exchange reserve, the LS Speaker said that she would make all efforts to bring changes in the lives of handloom weavers.
read more.

* State goes all out to woo labour, industry refuses to play ball:

To woo labourers to Punjab, the state labour department has come with a few novel ideas. The industry, however, is not ready to accept the proposals.

Among other things, the department has proposed that minimum wages for labourers in Punjab be fixed at Rs 5,200 per month, excluding allowances like washing, uniform and transport. Moreover, a worker will get his first increment after a year and a promotion after every three years, irrespective of whether he performs or not.

When a worker will get his first promotion, he will become a semi-skilled labourer and his minimum wage increased to Rs 6,000 per month.
Later, when he becomes a skilled worker, his minimum wage will be hiked to Rs 7,200 per month. After nine years of service, he will be a highly skilled worker with a minimum wage of Rs 9,000 per month.

But the industrilalists are not keen on such proposals. read more.

* HC directs GSTC to treat mill workers at par with HQ staff:

The Gujarat high court has directed the Gujarat State Textile Corporation (GSTC) to treat employees of 11 specified textile mills of the city at par with its officers working at the head office in regards with their pay scale.

The court has asked GSTC and the official liquidator to pay the difference within six months to those 600 workers of closed mills, who are associated with GSTC and Technical Union.

The workers’ case was – though GSTC is granted benefit of the 3rd and 4th Pay Commission to the employees working at the head office, it has refused to govern the employees working at 11 specified mills by the service rules and denied the benefits of Pay Commission.

The workers’s union filed the petition, on which the high court held that the members of the petitioner union who were employees of the 11 specified mills are required to be treated at par with the employees working at the GSTC head office.read more.

* 205 students, widows receive sewing machines:

Labour and employment minister of state Dr Vaqar Ahmad Shah distributed sewing machines to 205 poor students, helpless women and widows here. District magistrate Kinjal Singh presided over the programme, in which chief guests former Member of Parliament Rubab Sayyeda and MLA from Matera Yasar Shah honored students of High School and Intermediate for excellent marks in the board exams.

Shah expressed thanks to the social institute Talimi Society for organising the programme and advised them to keep it going. He assured all possible co-operation and advised the social institute to adopt 25 girls whose parents are unable to afford higher education for their ward. Shah hoped the sewing machine would be useful for financial progress of the poor girls and women. Honouring students would help create a better atmosphere for education in the district, he said. read more.

* Indian leather industry looks at life beyond Europe:

Stung by a seven per cent fall in its order book in the first four months of the current financial year, the leather industry is looking for export destinations other than the crisis-hit Europe, which accounts for 60 per cent of its revenue.

The slippage is painful, as it comes against the backdrop of a 23 per cent growth in 2011-12. However, M Rafeeque Ahmed, chairman of the India Council for Leather Exports, is wistful: “It was really a record year for the industry. We achieved a revenue of $4.9 billion (around Rs 25,160 crore today) in 2011-12 against the target of $4.7 billion.”  read more.

* China forced to source Indian leather:

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 since Indian products match the Chinese in quality. That’s 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.

* Kitex Garments shelves expansion plans in Kerala:

It is not always Left trade union extremism that worries Kerala businessmen.

Even as the Congress-led government is working overtime to woo foreign investors, the party’s Kizhakkambalam unit has done enough damage to scare the Kitex Group to shelve its expansion plans. The company is even thinking of setting up the proposed garment unit either in Sri Lanka or China.

Sabu M Jacob, managing director of Kitex Garments Ltd, told reporters that the company was shelving its proposed Rs 250-crore expansion plans “as we’re unable to withstand harassment by local Congress leaders”.

“Whenever UDF comes to power, Kitex Group has suffered. The local panchayat, in spite of the fact that we pay them a tax of Rs 60 lakh, is denying us the necessary licence. We are working on deemed licence,” Jacob said. read more.

* 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.

The subcommittee is headed by VM Mayande, the convener, and comprises Vijayanna Borade, the president of the Marathwada Sheti Sahay Mandal, and Vinayak Deshpande, the head of business management from Nagpur University. Shahji Narwade from the School of Rural Development of Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Tuljapur and some agriculture experts participated in the discussions.

Representatives of the spinning industries voiced their concern over the ambiguous textile policy of the state. Linking of the policy to central government has created a lot of problems, they claimed. They pointed out that since the central government has withdrawn the facility of technology upgradation funds about a fortnight back the textile related industries cannot get a UID until announcement of next five year plan. This will prevent the industry from developing in the region and encourage their migration to other states. read more.

* Arvind Brands buys Debenhams, Nautica, Next businesses in India:

Arvind Lifestyle Brands, a subsidiary of Arvind Ltd, one of the largest players in the apparel brands and retail space, has announced the acquisition of the business operations of British fashion retailers Debenhams and Next and American lifestyle brand Nautica in India from Plant Retail.

Announcing the acquisition, Mr Sanjay Lalbhai, Chairman & Managing Director of Arvind Ltd, said, “These acquisitions will accelerate our growth and contribute to our vision of achieving sales of Rs 5,000 crore over the next five years,”

This acquisition assumes importance as the company enters into the department store segment and also the globally fast growing apparel specialty retail segment.
read more. & read more.
 

* Levi Strauss to phase out Denizen brand from Asia:

US Garments major Levi Strauss & Co plans to phase out its Denizen brand from Asia, including India, over the next twelve months in order to focus on growing its core Levi’s brand.

The general manager of Levi Strauss & Co Sanjay Purohit, said on Saturday that this is a strategic decision to focus on driving profitable growth.

Denizen currently operates in India through a network of 272 stores in cooperation with franchisee partners. Levi Strauss & Co will work closely with its trade partners to ensure a smooth transition at this time, Purohit said. read more.

* Vardhman Textiles increases capital expenditure outlay to Rs 750 crore for FY13:

In the last six months, the stocks of spinning mills companies have generated keen investors’ interest. The stocks of companies such as Nahar Spinning Mills, Sangam India, RSWM, and Sutlej Textiles have given returns in the range of 15-30% in the last six months as against a fall of 4% in the ET Textile Index.

A chief reason for this is firm yarn prices. In the last one year, average yarn prices (40s comb) have appreciated by 32% to Rs210 per kg.

Among these spinning mills companies, which have benefited from firm yarn prices, Vardhman TextilesBSE 0.46 % in its recent annual report has maintained a cautious outlook on the yarn industry and cited recovery in global demand a key determining factor for the growth of the yarn industry in the next fiscal. read more.

* ILO initiative to nurture entrepreneurial skills in Ahmedabad’s slums:

The International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development (ICECD) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have joined hands to develop 100 potential entrepreneurs from the urban slums of Ahmedabad.

The ILO-ICECD initiative of implementing Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme is aimed at empowering around 100 potential entrepreneurs from the city’s slums.

These groups of women and men, with low or no education, hail from economically backward communities. They will be given access to new economic opportunities and entrepreneurial skills development, said Hina Shah, Director, ICECD, here on Tuesday.

The population of Ahmedabad is projected to triple from the existing 40 lakh to 1.2 crore by 2026. Almost 40 per cent of the city’s population now lives in slums with little or no access to basic services while an additional 18 per cent live in under-serviced tenements.

The ILO-ICECD partnership will commence the project next month (October 2012) in some slum areas where groups of women and men are engaged in traditional business. ICECD aims to engage them in sectors such as making footwear, garments and handicrafts, food products and other smaller trades.
read more. & read more.

* Retail FDI: AEPC for increasing sourcing from SMEs to 50%:

Apex apparel body AEPC today asked Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma to increase the mandatory share of domestic sourcing for foreign retailers in multi-brand retail to 50 per cent to protect India’s small textile manufacturers.

In a letter to Sharma, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) President A Sakthivel said that the move would also help garment exporters in the country.

The government has allowed 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector. In order to protect the interest of small enterprises, the Cabinet has said that the global retailers will have to procure 30 per cent of their requirement from small units.
“I request to increase the share of domestic sourcing in multi-brand retail by another 20 per cent in order to provide benefit of multi-brand retailing in India. read more.

* I-T searches in Bhilwara textile firms:

The Income Tax Department on Wednesday launched a search and seizure operation at 21 premises of textile companies here.

As many as 18 teams from Jodhpur are carrying out the operation, which is likely to conclude on Thursday.The premises belong to businessmen of textile trade, the I-T department sources said. to read.

* Japanese touch to Indian textiles:

Japanese designer Ryoko Haraguchi’s love for Indian textiles began 22 years ago when she visited India as a textile adviser to a high profile textile company.

Surprised at the beauty and scope the various Indian fabrics have, she felt the urge to work on the fabrics using Japanese techniques.  Currently showcasing her latest collection Sind at the Cinnamon store on Lavelle Road, Ryoko’s designs were well-received by the Bangalore fashionistas.
The designs are mainly oriental in nature and Ryoko says that being a Japanese, it was only natural for her to design clothes that one wears out there.
“My main inspiration was the fabric itself. I find India having one of the most beautiful fabrics in the world. That’s why I source them from here and use Japanese techniques like Itajime dying process, persimmon tannin overdye and kamiko (paper clothing) to create the designs,” she explains.

Apart from drapes and kimono-styled coats, the collection also includes saris and dupattas, which utilises these unique dying techniques. Says Suma, a housewife, who had come for the exhibition, “These are very unique creations not something one can wear on a daily basis. While the saris and dupattas are very beautiful, other garments that she has created may cater to the younger generation.” read more.

17:50:09 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Significant fall in cotton prices:

Lnit prices lost nearly Rs 400 per maund (37.32 Kgs) this week in the ready market following increased arrivals, improving quality, fall in values of New York cotton futures and abundant crop prospects and carryovers in most parts of the world. With the monsoon season approaching its tail-end in Pakistan and scope of better quality and increased arrivals during the coming weeks, bearish sentiment appeared to overtake the cotton market.

Many domestic textile mills are also reported to be faring better with cheaper cotton. Thus cotton prices are weak as several global commodity values also dropped at midweek and economic fundamentals cascaded downwards in most parts of the world. Besides some rain – drenched cotton still in stock with the ginners, it is mostly hoped that grades and other fibre characteristics of Pakistan cotton should improve within the next few weeks. read more.

* July-August knitwear exports down 14.48 percent:

The fast closures of processing units are leading the country to suffer over 14 percent loss in knitwear export during the first two months of the current fiscal year to $384.714 million, exporters told Business Recorder on Thursday. Pakistan’s knitwear export fell by 14.48 percent or $65.116 million to $384.714 in the July-August period of current fiscal year as compared to the export of $449.830 million, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.

“At least eight processing units have closed down in Karachi alone recently,” Chairman of Pakistan Apparel Forum (PAF), M Javed Bilwani told Business Recorder. He said the impact of the closed units will badly hurt the country’s knitwear export this fiscal year. He expressed the fear that “the country’s export of clothing is likely to fall by 1.2 million kg to the world markets.”

He said gas and electricity problems have grown disproportionately in the country. He added that the utilities shortage which continued to haunt the manufacturing sector in Punjab, has now started hurting Sindh’s industries. The country’s export of knitwear also fell in August this year to $187.433 million as compared to the commodity’s export of $220.860 million in August last year, showing a decline of 15.13 percent or $33.427 million, the statistics indicated. read more.

* Textile sector saw 38pc growth last year- Baig:

Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, federal adviser on textile, has said the textile sector has registered last year an impressive growth of 38 percent and the sector is aiming more, says press release issued on Thursday.

Addressing the Promotional Road Show on India ITME 2012 at a hotel in Karachi, he said the textile sector was the backbone of Pakistan’s economy having 56 percent of total exports and 38 percent job creation in the manufacturing sector.

Baig said Pakistan had achieved higher ever total exports of $25 billion last year out of which 56% exports amounting to $13.8 billion were from textile sector.He said the government had also embarked on wide-ranging initiatives and identified textile as a key priority sector and making efforts to encourage private sector investment in value addition and expansion in a bid to gain wider access to the international markets. read more.

* Mintex launches skill development project:

Ministry of Textile Industry (Mintex) launched a Skill Development Project in collaboration with International Labour Organization (ILO) and Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Mintex selected four textile training institutes working under its administrative control namely Pakistan Readymade Garment Training Institute (PRGTTI) LHR, Pakistan Knitwear Training Institute (PKTI)LHR, Pakistan Fashion and Apparel Design Institute (FADIN) Karachi SMA Rizvi Textile Institute (SMARTI)Karachi as partners for implementation of the project, says a press release issued here on Thursday.

The training programme’s main objective is provision of skilled workforce to Textile Industry to make it more competitive and export-oriented and to uplift the economic status and living standard of trainees especially women through their employment based skill development.read more.

* Safety measures for workers being taken on emergency basis- Ministry:

Welfare schemes and awareness pro-garmmes for the labour are being initiated by the Labour Department in Sindh so that safety of the workers would be ensured in the industrial areas of the Sindh.

This was stated by Secretary Ministry of Labour Sindh, Arif Elahi. Speaking at the Korangi Associa-tion of Trade and Industry (KATI) on Thursday, the Secretary Labour stressed that the measures for the safety of labour in the factories are being taken on emergency basis.

He said that a training programme to create aware-ness among government functionaries, employers and employees to get them acquainted with labour laws and fire safety and hazards regulations. He said that international Labour Organization is also being involved to create awareness among both the em-ployees and employers. He said that Rs500,000 being disbursed among each family of those expired in the factory fire in Baldia Town. He agreed with the point raised by the President All Karachi Indus-trial Alliance Mian Zahid Hussain that after the 18th Amendment EOBI (Employees Old Age Benefit Institution) to the provinces.
read more.

 THE KARACHI  FIRE:

* Toxic fumes caused the most deaths- Autopsy reports:


Doctors state carbon monoxide poisoning and improper ventilation led to most deaths. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Inadequate ventilation, toxic fumes and carbon monoxide caused the majority of the 258 deaths at the Baldia garment factory fire. The findings were shared by the doctors who did the autopsies.

The three medico-legal officers (MLOs) of Civil, Jinnah and Abbasi Shaheed hospitals submitted the post-mortem reports at Wednesday’s hearing of the two-member tribunal investigating the fire. They all were, however, of the view that public hospitals in Karachi lacked chemical examination facilities, otherwise they could have pinpointed the actual cause of death.

Fifteen bodies were autopsied at Civil hospital of which five were unidentified, deposed Dr Khaliq Haq, the hospital’s senior MLO. “I believe the fire in plastics and other inflammable goods produced toxic gases and as there was no proper ventilation, most of the workers inhaled carbon monoxide and lost consciousness before being burnt,” he said, while requesting Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi to order that the government set up chemical examination facilities at public hospitals in Karachi. read more.

* Tribunal suspects police of hiding report:

The head of the Baldia factory fire tribunal, Justice (Retd) Zahid Qurban Alvi, on the final day of tribunal proceedings held here on Wednesday, slammed the police forensics division for its failure to submit a report on the tragic incident.

Meanwhile, the tribunal was informed by two senior government hospital medico-legal officers (MLOs) that a majority of casualties in the tragic incident were caused by inhalation of carbon monoxide.

Inspector Shahid Hasan Khan, who summoned by the tribunal, stated that his in-charge was in Australia to attend a seminar on forensic investigations and that he had taken the report with him.
Alvi refused to accept Khan’s claim, and ordered him to inspect his in-charge’s office and to submit the report at the earliest.

“Should we consider that you are refusing to furnish the record to the tribunal?” Alvi asked the inspector.
Separately, Additional Home Secretary Sindh Khalil Rehman Sheikh recalled that during a tribunal proceeding last week, two forensic experts submitted that the University of Karachi (KU) was sent some samples from the gutted industrial unit.
read more.

* Architect’s licence was cancelled in 2001:

The Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners confirmed on Thursday that it cancelled the registration of architect Muhammad Qamar Uddin in 2001, three years before he designed the ill-fated Ali Enterprise Baldia factory.

The architect joined the council on March 7, 1986 but his license was cancelled on January 21, 2001, said council chairperson Shama Usman.
“Perhaps he had stopped practicing,” she said, about the architect whose signatures allowed the factory design to be approved in 2004 by SITE, a government entity responsible for implementing building bylaws in the industrial estate.  Inquires to track the architect have led to dead ends. His enlistment number with the council is LA-0035. SITE is also looking for him.  to read.

* Post-fire incident: some suggestions:

The horrendous fire incident in the garment factory in Karachi should serve as a wake-up call for our government and relevant agencies.

A proper safety monitoring agency should be constituted at the federal level to streamline effective safety procedures for all types of works and facilities;
On construction contracts, safety advance should be given to contractors compulsorily along with mobilisation advance before commencement of work.

No work should be allowed to start on site until and unless the contractor complies with all relevant safety procedures and processes; for small structures also architects should design the fire-fighting arrangement which should be in line with necessary codes of the US-based National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA).

Architects and project managers should constantly monitor and certify the safety aspects on work sites and ensure effective implementation of standards in order to eliminate chances of any incident; the contractor’s safety officer should be held responsible in case of any accident; electrical inspection by the agency concerned should be mandatory for upcoming electrical facilites in a building and the certificate should be issued by competent and honest professionals. read more.

 GENERAL

* H&M’s response and why it is not enough:

After writing to H&Mlast week about wages in Cambodia we have received an initial brief response from H&M’s head of sustainability, Helena Helmersson. Here is our feeling about what is being said, and why excuses like these are no longer good enough when talking about living wages.

Response
H&M’s response to us (below) says that they have chosen to approach the ‘wage problem’ through a corporate initiative called the ‘Fair Wage Network.’  They basically say that, although the living wage figure we are calling for and the route to achieving it proposed by workers and unions is fine, H&M have chosen to adopt a different strategy, not based on workers needs or their demands and one which we believe offers no guarantee that wages will increase to a living wage level.

What is the Fair Wage concept?
The Fair Wage network was set up by academics from FLA and ILO to work alongside companies to explore together what they can do to increase wages. Through a series of pilot projects and studies, the network is exploring dimensions of a ‘fair wage’ (defined as a ‘Company practices that lead to sustainable wage developments’). The fair wage concept will output a series of tools or systems that companies can use in factories to increase wages to a sustainable level.

Our concerns
While we welcome the idea of companies and academics creating a learning and sharing platform on living wage issues, our first concern is that this platform allows its members to participate without committing to a benchmark, a road map and a timeline for implementing a living wage. Public company commitment to not just increase wages (this could mean anything), but to increase wages to a living wage level, defined by a real figure, is essential if the process is going to count. Without a real commitment to a real figure, companies are able to hide behind their participation in CSR initiatives and offer this as a response to consumer questions without the guarantee that workers will eventually receive a wage that lets them live with dignity.
read more.

map of Asia

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 1 October 2012, unless there is “breaking” news.

VIET NAM
* Nearly 2,000 workers get food poisoning in Binh Duong

CAMBODIA
* Mind the wage gap
* Union leader in court over Taiwanese company complaint
* Union boss faces charges for inciting strike
* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
1. Locked-out toy makers left in lurch over wages.
2. Mind the wage gap
3. Union boss grilled on incitment allegation
* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
4. Court questions unionist on incitement charges

MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage saga continues
* Hing Yiap’s new units to help lower gearing

INDONESIA
* Indonesia’s Workers Protest Against Outsourcing, Low Wages
* TEXTILE INDUSTRY: Investor Japan ready to relocate from China to Indonesia:

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Myanmar eyes US clothing market
* Myanmar officials brief Korean businessmen on investment law

BANGLA DESH
* EMERGENCY APPEAL for Garment Workers Homeless after Fire
* High wave of Chinese investment in 3-5 yrs
* Russia will issue 2-yr visas for B’desh garment manufacturers
* BGMEA concerned over Ctg AL president & CCCI president conflict

INDIA
* 16 Child labourers rescued from esurmbroidery units
* Students join campaign against exploitation of poor girls
* Humane criteria for fixing poverty line
* Lok Sabha Speaker emphasizes on women education
* State goes all out to woo labour, industry refuses to play ball
* HC directs GSTC to treat mill workers at par with HQ staff
* 205 students, widows receive sewing machines
* Indian leather industry looks at life beyond Europe
* China forced to source Indian leather
* Kitex Garments shelves expansion plans in Kerala
* Textile and farm activists narrate woes to Kelkar committee
* Arvind Brands buys Debenhams, Nautica, Next businesses in India
* Levi Strauss to phase out Denizen brand from Asia
* Vardhman Textiles increases capital expenditure outlay to Rs 750 crore for FY13
* ILO initiative to nurture entrepreneurial skills in Ahmedabad’s slums
* Retail FDI: AEPC for increasing sourcing from SMEs to 50%
* I-T searches in Bhilwara textile firms
* Japanese touch to Indian textiles

PAKISTAN
* Significant fall in cotton prices
* July-August knitwear exports down 14.48 percent
* Textile sector saw 38pc growth last year- Baig
* Mintex launches skill development project
* Safety measures for workers being taken on emergency basis
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Toxic fumes caused the most deaths- Autopsy report
* Tribunal suspects police of hiding report
* Architect’s licence was cancelled in 2001
* Post-fire incident: some suggestions

GENERAL
* H&M’s response and why it is not enough

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2

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