in the news on-line, 30 September & 1 October 2012

00:33:24 local time map of china CHINA

*  Nike hits China roadblock, shares fall:

Nike Inc’s posted a 12 percent drop in first-quarter earnings and orders in China for the next several months fell for the first time in three years, choking off what had been a growth engine for the world’s largest sportswear maker.

The slumping orders overshadowed earnings that beat analysts’ expectations, sending shares down 3 percent after the market closed on Thursday.

“The (Chinese) consumer is becoming more discerning and sophisticated. At the same time the economy seems to be slowing, creating short-time challenges for retailers,” Charlie Denson, president for the Nike brand, said on a conference call with analysts. read more.

00:33:24 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* 5 million child workers suffer in RP :

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) national president Ernesto Herrera confirmed the sad plight of around five million child workers of the country, mostly in the sector known as compressor mining.
Compressor mining is prevalent in Paracale, Camarines Norte where an estimated 4,000 children go under 50 to 75 meter mudwater for one hour  to get gold bits.
The only apparatus helping the children to breathe is the compressor used in spraying paints on automobiles, googles and ordinary mask.
Camarines Norte is one of the four provinces in the Philippines rich in gold deposits.
The three others are Zamboanga Sibugay, Benguet and Compostela Valley, according to an earlier comment by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
Aside from the dangers these children face, they receive no medical support from their employers who are mostly barangay captains or those with connection to local government officials.
(….)
He said the use of children as laborers is also common in garments factories in Pandi, Bulacan and Taal, Batangas.
“They do it because children don’t complain as their parents are those who bring their children in the factories,” he said. read more.

23:33:24 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Laws look to improve labour relations:

The revised Labour Code and Trade Union Law were the legal foundation for the development of industrial relations and labour in Viet Nam, Truong Thi Mai, the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee Chairwoman, said yesterday, Sept 24.

Mai was speaking at a conference to give social partners and the public an insight into important changes introduced by the amended laws.

The conference was organised by the National Assembly’s Social Affairs Committee, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Viet Nam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Viet Nam.

Mai said the new Labour Code and Trade Union Law would come into effect in January and May next year.
Confederation vice-president Mai Duc Chinh said the revised Trade Union Law corrected the weaknesses of the 1990 version and helped develop sound industrial relations. He said this should result in better socio-economic development.

One of the major changes in the laws requires the Government to develop a more active role in supporting collective bargaining between employers and trade unions as the real representative of workers, Chinh said. read more.

* $4.5m employment assistance projects:

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on September 24 announced its new assistance projects worth $4.56 million at the first meeting of the new Vietnam Decent Work Country Programme Steering Committee in Hanoi.

The second phase (2012-2016) of the on-going Industrial Relations Project, with an estimated budget of $3 million, will support the development of industrial relations, the wage system reform including the drafting of Minimum Wage Law and the implementation of the amended Labour Code and Trade Union Law.
Meanwhile, $1 million will be spent on the second five-year phase of the Sustaining Competitive Enterprises Project aimed to increase productivity and market-access of small and medium-sized enterprises while promoting respect for workers’ rights.

The Luxembourg government has contributed 980,000 euro ($1.27 million) to intensifying the ILO supports over youth employment promotion in rural areas in four countries including Vietnam.
A budget of $246,000 has also been allocated to the ILO project on Promoting Rights and Opportunities for People with Disabilities-Equality through Legislation during 2012-2013.

The project, a continuation of the previous projects, aims to create an enabling legal environment, promote skills and entrepreneurship development and measures to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities in Vietnam.
The first meeting of the Vietnam Decent Work Country Programme Steering Committee also highlighted the need to ensure decent jobs for all workers in the country during 2012-2016. read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 29/9.  (21th item.)

* Cotton bills cease circulation from 2013:

The State Bank of Vietnam announced yesterday that the circulation of VND10,000-denominated and VND20,000-denominated bills that were made of cotton will be suspended as of next year.

Accordingly, as of January 1, 2013, the two cotton bill types cannot be used across the Vietnamese territory.
Starting from the said date, organizations and individuals that still have such old notes can exchange them for modern polymer bills with equivalent value at centers and branches of the State Bank of Vietnam and at credit organizations and foreign branches and local State Treasuries. to read.

23:33:24 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Workers push for welfare rights:

Labour groups are gathering signatures to push for an amendment to a labour protection law to provide better welfare benefits for private firm employees sent to work at state agencies.

Manas Kosol, chairman of the National Congress of Thai Labour and the Confederation of Thai Labour (CTL), yesterday disclosed that almost 10,000 signatures have so far been collected during a sign-up campaign to push for an amendment to the 1998 Labour Protection Act.

After 10,000 signatures are obtained, workers’ representatives will submit the draft amendment and the backers’ signatures to the parliament president by the middle of next month, said Mr Manas. read more.

23:33:24 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Workers faint due to stifling environment, poor nutrition:

Twelve workers at the Due Cotton factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district fainted on Saturday while working and were sent to a private clinic, officials said.

Choub Sitha, Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune chief, said the workers fainted because of a stifling factory environment and inadequate food.
“One worker got diarrhoea, and the others around her started to pass out,” he said.

The factory’s more than 100 workers were allowed to take a break and would return to work on Monday, when Ministry of Labour experts will inspect the factory, he said, noting that this was the first fainting incident there. to read.

* Not a complete stitch-up:

Under dazzling white strip-lights a production line of young Cambodians stitch, iron and fold their way to the day’s target of 820 two-piece children’s pyjamas. These garments are destined for the shelves of Los Angeles, shop price $9.97. The workers, mostly women, start at 7.30am and could knock off at 4pm, but almost all stay for two hours’ overtime.

There are about 1,300 workers at the Gawon Apparel factory on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital and they can produce up to 20,000 items of clothing a day—or 7.3m a year.

The factory is South Korean-owned and is one of about 375 across the country with an export permit. Garment-making is the country’s most important and dynamic industry. Together with 45 footwear companies and hundreds of subcontractors, the industry employs almost 500,000 workers, out of a population of barely 14m people. The shirts, blouses and trainers churned out by these factories account for 80% of the country’s exports and earn $4 billion of foreign exchange in a country with a GDP of just $13 billion. The success of the garment industry is an encouraging sign of new-found economic vitality in a country that emerged only 20 years ago from decades of Khmer Rouge terror, foreign invasion and civil war. read more.

00:33:24 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Addressing issue of minimum wage:

The article “Minimum wage saga continues” (The Star, Sept 27) raised some issues in anticipation of the implementation of the Minimum Wages Order that will come into effect on Jan 1, 2013.

Currently, there are not many employees who are being paid monthly total wages of less than RM900.
Nevertheless, there are some employers in certain industries that pay low “basic wage” that would be supplemented by various cash allowances and cash incentives with the intention of enhancing the employee’s productivity and performance.

It is these employers who are mostly affected by the Minimum Wages Order which makes it mandatory for employees to be paid no less than RM900 of basic wage per month beginning next year.
In recognising these issues, the Minimum Wages Order 2012 has allowed employers to restructure wages before the date of implementation of the national minimum wages by converting some of the cash allowances and cash incentives as part of the basic wages. read more.

00:33:24 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Thousands of Workers Demand Govt to Implement Social Security Law:

Around two thousands workers staged a rally on Thursday (Sep 27) to criticize the pathetically slow issuance of implementing regulation of Law No 24/2011 regarding the Social Security Providers (BPJS).

The workers came from the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Union (KSPI), The Indonesian Metal Workers Federation (FSPMI), and the Indonesian Labor Union (SBSI). They staged public rally since morning in front of the Health Ministry’s building. The demonstration has paralyzed the traffic on Rasuna Said Street, Kuningan, Jakarta.

Mudhofir, chairman of SBSI, said that the workers urged Health Minister to immediately complete the draft of Government Regulation and Presidential Decree needed to implement the BPJS Law.
“We have to force Health Minister to complete the drafts (of Government Regulation and Presidential Decree), so the regulation and the decree can be issued,” said Mudhofir. read more.

* Textile competitiveness needs to be raised:

The decline in exports of textiles and textile products Indonesia by 6.1 percent in the first half of 2012 should be immediately addressed by improving the competitiveness of domestic industry. This step is necessary to deal with the similar industry from other countries.

“Other countries Vietnam, for example, can enjoy an increase in exports due to their high competitiveness,” said the Executive Secretary of the Indonesian Textile Association Ernovian G Ismy when contacted Sunday (23/9).

Ernovian said, exports of textiles and textile products (TPT) in 2011 reached 13.4 billion U.S. dollars. Originally estimated in 2012, textile exports will grow at least 5 percent.

However, the performance of textile exports weakened due to various factors, ranging from the impact of the economic crisis in Europe to the increasingly fierce competition in the international market.
Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here

* Worker expenses up 28% in Batam:

Workers on industrial estates in Batam, Riau Islands are paying about 28 percent more to meet their basic physical needs, according to a local labor official.

A survey compiled by the local labor commission said that a recent 28.6 percent increase in Batam’s minimum physical need index should be used as a reference to increase the monthly regional minimum wage to Rp 1.83 million (US$191) in January, up from Rp 1.4 million.

Surya Dharma Sitompul, a member of the commission, said that the commission convened a plenary session on Sept. 12 to set the monthly minimum physical needs index to Rp 1.83 million, up 6.6 percent from Rp 1.7 million in August.

“The increase in the minimum physical needs rate has a lot to do with soaring prices, around 20 percent, of basic commodities in the same period in 2011. This could raise serious problems for many investors and employers in the province. The prices of vegetables have soared up to 40 percent, while transportation costs and rents are relatively stable,” Surya told The Jakarta Post on Friday. read more.

* Pan Brothers’ exports surge despite global uncertainties:

A leading garment manufacturer, PT Pan Brothers (PBRX), has increased its exports in the first half of this year despite uncertainties in the global economy.

PBRX exports rose by 25.6 percent to Rp 1.09 trillion (US$113.27 million) from figures recorded in the same period in 2011. Exports accounted for 99.2 percent of total net sales during the January to June
period of 2012.
The company’s corporate secretary Iswardeni said over the weekend that the global economic slowdown in the US and Europe, which were the company’s main export markets, did not affect orders for the company’s garments.

The publicly listed company is known for manufacturing a variety of high-end garment goods, with sportswear as its top product. It receives orders from international brands such as Reebok, Nike, Adidas, Calvin Klein and Emporio Armani.
Sales to Europe remained the driving force behind the increase in exports, contributing 47.8 percent to the total figure, followed by sales to the US and other countries with 30.8 percent and 21.4 percent, respectively. read more.

* BetterWorks Indonesia  Media  Update:

1. Dialogue to settle problems – Strengthen the Trade Union in company level is very important. Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version here

2. Workers need to have a strong bargaining position.
            Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read the Google Translate English Version

3. RI appears more lucrative to S. Korean investors. Read the full article here
4. Hospital for workers to be built in Cakung. Read the full article here
5. Investment In Manufacturing Industry Soars 57%. Read the full article here
6. Indonesia Economy Is Not Apparent, President Says. Read the full article here

7. Textile competitiveness needs to be raised.
                        Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
                        Read the Google Translate English Version here
to read.

23:03:24 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Garment Industry to ‘Benefit Most’ from End to US Import Ban:

Burma’s garment making industry is likely to benefit most from the lifting of a US import ban on Burmese good and resources, said a leading Burmese businessman.

The end of the ban would likely create “more job opportunities for garment factories workers,” vice chairman of Yoma Bank Myat Thin Aung was quoted as telling the AFP news agency.

The ban was imposed in 2003, although by then the US was importing only textiles, hardwood and some gems from Burma with bilateral relations already strained over the military regime’s isolationist policies.

The share value of property developer Yoma Strategic Holdings and some other Burmese firms registered on the Singapore Stock Exchange rose sharply on the news of the lifting of the ban on Sept. 26.
read more in Burma Business Roundup. (4th item) & read more.
      

22:18:24 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Trade union‚ Shikhar tussle:

UCPN-Maoist affiliated trade union All Nepal Trade Union Federation Revolutionary has warned of stopping the sales of Shikhar shoes during the festive season if their demands are not addressed.
The federation, organising a press meet on Wednesday, has also warned to halt production of Shikhar shoes if their demands forwarded according to Labour Act are neglected.
The 17-point demand forwarded by All Nepal Revolutionary Industrial Workers’ Association of the federation has 50 per cent hike in basic salary and other allowances, permanent status to workers, bonus, provident fund, among others.
to read.

22:33:24 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Bangladesh RMG to face crunch:

Leaders of the readymade garments(RMG) industry on Saturday said that the US and EU’s decisions to lift ban onexports from Myanmar will pose a potential threat to the local garment industryas the move will definitely cut Bangladesh’s export to the western countries.

In view of withdrawal ofsanctions, they said, Burma is going to be the next low-cost outsourcingdestination for the western buyers after Bangladesh. The Western countries havedecided to suspend sanctions imposed more than two decades ago in recognitionto Rangoon’s democratic reforms  firsttime in 50 years

“It will be regarded as a new challenge for the local garmentindustry,” Abdus Salam Murshedy, President of Exporters Association ofBangladesh (EAB) told the New Nation yesterday.
He added Burma would be apotential competitor of Bangladesh in global apparel business, capitalizing itslow-cost garments coupled with an efficient labour force. read more.

* When a CEO Turns Activist: Why H&M Wants Bangladesh to Increase Workers’ Wages:

Can Bangladesh afford not to increase minimum pay in the textile industry? One CEO thinks not.

Although it is not usual for Prime Ministers to make time in their busy schedules to meet activists, Sheik Hasina of Bangladesh made an exception to the rule and met a human rights activist from Sweden on a recent Monday evening. And that is not the only thing that makes this story extraordinary.

The activist, still in his 30s and smartly dressed in a suit and blue tie, travelled all the way to Dhaka from his hometown in Stockholm to make the case for increasing workers’ wages in the Bangladeshi textile industry. His argument: how the country of Bangladesh would benefit from a wage increase rather than the Bangladeshi worker.

Since foreign trade plays a major role in the development of countries’ economic growth, the activist argued that it is in the interest of the Bangladeshi textile industry, as well as fashion behemoths like H&M with extensive production in the country, that the local industry continues to develop into an advanced and mature textile industry.
read more.

* Shortcut to fortune:

Hall-Mark’s way of building empire with short-term loans

Only a few are at work at a factory of controversial Hall-Mark Group in Savar on the outskirts of the capital while workers, inset, take a nap on the empty floor of another nearby factory of the group having no work. Defying banking rules, Hall-Mark set up garment factories with money borrowed on short-term basis from state-owned Sonali Bank. The photos were taken recently. Photo: Amran Hossain

Controversial business group Hall-Mark in wilful violation of banking rules has invested in long-term projects the money it took in short-term loan from state-run Sonali Bank.

The group that began making garments in 2007 now owns 80 factories, at least 40 of which are on paper though. Most of the ones that exist were built with the short-term loans.
Hall-Mark itself is aware that it has done wrong by diverting short-term loans (Inland Bill Purchase-IBP) into project loans, which are long-term in nature, but lender Sonali Bank seemed not to notice it.
“We’ve taken short-term loans for up to 120 days, but invested the money in setting up factories,” said Tushar Ahmed, group general manager (commercial) who is also a close relative of company owner Tanvir Mahmud. read more.

* Russian clothing buyers keen to expand business in Bangladesh:

Russian clothing buyers expressed their desire to expand business in Bangladesh due mainly to cheap and quality apparels being produced by the South Asian country.

They said Bangladesh-made products are now available in Russian market but bulk of the same arrives through third country like Turkey or Italy leading to a hike in their prices.
Some of the Russian businesses also showed their interest to set up joint ventures in the textile sector in Bangladesh. read more.

* Russian businesses want BD to be aggressive to grab apparel market:

Leaders of two leading chamber bodies of Russia Thursday stressed the need for Bangladesh’s aggressive marketing in their country to grab the largest portion in the nearly US$ 7.0 billion apparel market.

They assured Bangladesh trade delegates of cooperation in strengthening business ties, especially in case of importing clothing from Bangladesh.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russian Federation (CCIRF) and Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in two separate meetings held in their respective head offices in Moscow with the Bangladesh delegates expressed the views. read more.

* Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue:

The first ever two-day meeting under the Joint Declaration of the Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue commenced in Washington on September 19 to bolster bilateral and regional cooperation between the two countries.

Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes led the 10-member Bangladesh delegation at the discussion with his counter-part the US Under -Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy R Sherman.
Representatives from ministries of commerce, energy, home, Economic Relations Division, Board of Investment, Armed Forces Division and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) were included in the Bangladesh delegation. read more.

* Dhaka softens stance on labour rights issues:

Dhaka softened its earlier rigid stance on labour issues at the recent partnership dialogue with the US and pledged to gradually go for labour standards including freedom of association in apparel factories in an effort to sign the long-stalled Ticfa.

A road map on gradual implementation of labour rights would soon be finalised in a bid to make a breakthrough in signing the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (Ticfa) with the US.
The shift in Bangladesh’s stance on the much-debated labour issues was conveyed to the US authorities during the recent Bangladesh-US Partnership Dialogue, held in Washington from September 19 to 20, a diplomat at the foreign ministry said.

Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes led the 10-member Bangladesh delegation at the dialogue while US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy R Sherman, represented the US side.
“We have informed the US government at the recent partnership dialogue that Bangladesh was ready to implement labour rights gradually in its readymade garment (RMG) industry,” a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) told the FE Saturday.

“We cannot allow freedom of association and other labour rights soon after signing of the Ticfa, as we need time to change the mindset of both RMG owners and garment workers,” he added. read more.

* RMG exporters hopeful of regaining US market by November:

Garment exporters are hopeful of regaining US market by November next as the market plunged slightly recently.

The RMG players said US is the largest destination (considering a single country) for Bangladesh RMG export, but for the last few months, export to the country has been showing a declining trend due to economic meltdown there. read more.

* Tradegood terms Bangladesh rising star in apparel sector:

The ‘Tradegood’, a famous global B2B (business-to-business) sourcing community has recognised Bangladesh as the rising star in apparel sector followed by Indonesia.

B2B, also known as e-biz, is the exchange of products, services, or information between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers.
The Hong Kong and New York based site in its report released for ibook (an e-book application by Apple Inc) titled “Business Chain – World Consumer Drift in 2012”, termed Bangladesh and Indonesia as rising stars in apparel sourcing.

The report published on September 24 provides an analysis of global sourcing trends including the growth of apparel production in Bangladesh, the impact of shrinking consumer markets on other Asian factories, and the future of manufacturing in China. read more.

* Funding constraints put damper on jute market:

Farmers emerge losers as millers, traders struggle to meet purchase targets

Fund constraints held jute millers and traders back putting a damper on demand for the golden fibre to the utter deprivation of farmers.

Farmers saw a significant fall in prices of the world’s most adorned biodegradable natural fibre, as the jute millers and traders could not go for purchase of the cash-crop as targeted because of their fund constraints, sources said.

If the situation was allowed to linger long, it would cause an adverse impact on overall production in the country’s jute industry, they feared. read more.

22:03:24 local time map of india INDIA

* Poverty, poor schools pushing kids to child labour:

The public hearing held in Ramanathapuram town on Saturday revealed various socio-economic factors which drove children from the Kadaladi block here to take up jobs in spite of their desire to continue their education.

Child Rights and You (CRY) along with its partnering NGO, Rural Workers Development Society in the locality carried out the study in 27 villages of Kadaladi block in the district which revealed that 365 children below 18 years of age are employed in various industries.

The jury consisted of Madras high court senior advocate R Sudha Ramalingam, state representative of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Henri Tiphagne, B Parthasarathy from Madurai Kamaraj University Teacher’s Association (MUTA) and P Thirumalai, a journalist. The children narrated that the lack of sustainable income, non-availability and poor accessibility to schools in the locality and lack of proper transportation had forced them to take up even hazardous professions. read more.

* New schools to be set up for child labourers:

The labour department plans to set up new schools for child labourers on the basis of a recent survey and has decided to run the institutions with the help of non government organisations.

According to deputy labour commissioner Virendra Yadav, the process for opening the new schools would begin in October. The department had earlier asked the social work department at Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj university to conduct a survey, which identified as many as 4000 child labourers in the city.

The department has been running such schools in the city with the help of NGOs under the National Child labour abolition project since 2000.read more.

* Why are women disappearing from workforce, asks Brinda:

Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Saturday called for a deeper analysis of figures brought out by the National Sample Survey of 2009-2010 which had revealed that there were 21 million fewer women workers in the labour force compared to 2004-2005.

“The large number of disappearance of women from the labour force signifies distress and a much deeper analysis is required,” Ms. Karat said, while delivering the 8th Brajamohan Sarma Memorial Lecture on “Gender Concerns and Strategies in the Resistance to Imperialist Globalisation” here.

Reacting to government claims that many more young women, over 15 years of age, who had been counted as part of the labour force had now registered education as their principal activity, Ms. Karat said while there had been a welcome increase in adolescents studying in secondary schools, this could not explain the huge decrease of women in the work force.

“Either there is something drastically wrong with the surveys, or women have tried hard to find work and not having found it have withdrawn from the labour force. A large number of women take in home-based work but may not register themselves as workers. It is also possible that there has been an increase in women’s migration due to economic distress, making them truly invisible, and which has not been captured,” she said. read more.

* A salary plan that changes nothing:

Recently during a press conference called by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Krishna Tirath, proposed the formulation of a bill through which a certain percentage of a husband’s salary would be compulsorily transferred to his wife’s bank account to compensate her for all the domestic work she performs for the family.

According to the Minister, this percentage of husbands’ salaries would not be taxed and would provide women the much needed source of income to run the household better, and more importantly, to spend on her own, personal consumption. In a later clarification, the Minister identified this payment as an “honorarium” and not a salary which is to be paid to wives for all the services they otherwise render for free.

This proposition has not gone down well, especially with women of higher income brackets who see such proposed action as unnecessary intervention in the realm of the private, i.e. the realm of familial relations.
Many such women also believe that this government intervention amounts to reducing wives into “glorified maids” who need to be paid every time they walk into the kitchen, wash the baby, sweep the house, etc.
Sadly, what is sidelined amid all the clamour and jokes about commercialisation of the mia-biwi relationship is the necessity of recognising the back-breaking work performed by women to sustain their families.
Of course, what we also lose sight of is the sheer hollowness of such proposed legislation.  read more.

* Govt move to impose floor-level wage fails to impress unions, economists:

State governments may have finally agreed to the Union Labour Ministry’s proposal to amend the Minimum Wages Act to make the national floor level minimum wage, at present Rs 115, statutory across the country, but the development impressed neither economists nor workers’ leaders.

Trade unions call the government’s move a “mere propaganda stunt”, and said the floor level minimum wage was not acceptable as it was “too low”. Economists, on the other hand, questioned the logic of the Central government making a minimum wage rate mandatory for all states, as there are different, industry-wise minimum wages in states.

“It is (national floor level minimum wage) just an ad hoc rate foisted on the nation 12 years ago by the labour ministry and not in accordance with the norms worked out by the 15th Labour Conference of 1957, which asked for calculating a base wage that would accommodate the basic needs of a worker including food, housing, health and other social costs,” says D L Sachdeva, national secretary of the Left-affiliated All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC). read more.

* Groups call for Bellary bandh on Monday:

Several social and voluntary organisations, including the Sarvajanika Hitasakti Vedike, the Mahatma Gandhi Karmik Sangh, the Federation of Bellary Garment Manufacturers’ Associations and Ahind Shakti Parishad, have called for a Bellary bandh on October 1 in protest against erratic power supply.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday, leader of the Sarvajanika Hitasakti Vedike Jayaram and leader of the Mahatma Gandhi Karmik Sangh Jakir charged the authorities with not initiating steps to supply power regularly. “As a result of frequent and unscheduled power shutdowns, industries, particularly the garment industry, have been severely hit. Even other sectors, including agriculture, have been hit hard,” Mr. Jakir said. read more.

* More support for total shutdown on October 3:

A meeting of representatives of 12 prominent textile associations, various trade unions and other different stakeholders held here on Friday has decided to voluntarily close the units on October 3 as a ‘moral support’ to the total shutdown called by different political parties to protest against the power crisis.
The members of South India Hosiery Manufacturers Association, Tirupur Exporters and Manufacturers Association and Tirupur Export Knit Manufacturers Association, among others, trade unionists from CITU, AITUC and others, attended the deliberation. to read.

* Knotty knitwear:

The going has been rather tough for Tirupur’s garment industry. The closure of dyeing units because of pollution, hike in bank interest rates and labour shortage, among others, has been compounded by the ongoing economic slowdown globally, particularly in the European Union (EU).

The developments in Europe are of great significance as the continent accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the demand. But the industry is not losing hope yet. Apart from exploring new markets such as Israel and Australia, it is pinning its hopes on India and the EU signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) shortly, which would give exporters duty-free access.

Export volume dips
A. Sakthivel, President, Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA), said Tirupur knitwear exports clocked a turnover of Rs12,500 crore in 2011-12, which was the same as in 2010-11. Though the volume had dipped by about 15 per cent, due to garment prices increasing, the export value was maintained.

In 2011, after the increase in yarn prices and processing charges, exporters requested buyers to increase prices at least by 10 per cent. As international prices had also gone up, the buyers agreed. In the first five months of the current fiscal, exports fell by about 20 per cent. Tirupur does not promote its own brand and the exporters only supply to major global brands and retail stores. Exports have declined because of recession in the EU and the US. read more.

* We hope the worst is behind textile industry: KPR Mill’s Nataraj:

Coimbatore-based KPR Mill Ltd, which put up a strong show in the first quarter of the current fiscal, believes that the worst is over for the textile sector and it would be in a position to extend its positive show to the rest of the current fiscal.

The company, which straddles the entire gamut of the textile chain — from yarn to garments — is entering the manufacture of sugar by commissioning a 5000-tonnes-a-day sugar plant in Karnataka on October 3.
Responding to questions from Business Line, P. Nataraj, Managing Director, said the co-gen-cum-sugar plant in Bijapur district of Karnataka boasted of ‘the highest sugar recovery area’, would have a co-generation capacity of 30 MW and the crushing capacity was 5000 TCD. The project cost was approximately Rs 300 crore.
read more.

* Mega leather clusters to generate 10k jobs in UP:

To boost the state’s leather industry and attract investment of about Rs 2,000 crore, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday approved two greenfield mega leather cluster (MLC) projects.

Each of the clusters is projected to get investments of Rs 1,000 crore. They will collectively create employment opportunities for 10,000 people. Half of the units would belong to the small and medium segment.
Yadav gave an in-principle approval to the clusters after meeting a delegation of leather industrialists from Kanpur. He assured all possible help from the state government to develop these clusters and directed the UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) to make land available for the projects.
read more.

* Cotton farm leader derides Maharashtra Textile Policy:

“The benefits of the Maharashtra Textile Policy will not benefit the cotton farming community in the state”, so said a leader of a Maharashtra farmers organisation.
It may be recalled that the Maharashtra government had recently announced a Textile Policy to ensure that cotton grown in the state is processed in the state itself, in order to abet the rising stem of cotton farmer’s suicides.

Speaking exclusively to fibre2fashion, Mr Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) said, “While welcoming the Textile Policy which will help generate employment in rural areas, the benefits of the policy will not reach cotton farmers, for whom the policy was actually formulated”.

He adds, “Value-addition of cotton is a good idea. However, the benefits will not touch cotton farmers as even under the current circumstances, they do not have problems in selling cotton, whether to domestic buyers or to those exporting from India”.
read more.

* Two main accused directly involved in Reebok fraud:

The special investigation team (SIT) in the Rs 870 crore Reebok India scam said that its probe so far clearly shows that there was falsification of records and that the two main accused, former Reebok India MD Subhinder Singh Prem and ex-COO Vishnu Bhagat, were directly involved in the fraud.

The two had made fake invoices of the company and also misused the cheques, police said.
Meanwhile, on Thursday a city court extended the police remand of all the five accused in the scam. read more.

22:03:24 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* A free – for – all (No Law) Labour Regime is not in tune with the times:

by T.M.R. Rasseedin President – Ceylon Federation of Labour / Member- National Labour Advisory Council

Mr. R.M.B. Senanayake in his article titled “Liberalised labour laws pre-requisite for economic development” (Sunday Island – 25/03/2012) has attempted to apply his characteristic rigorous approach to economics to matters relating to the country’s labour laws and regulations and in the process fails to takes cognizance of present day developments in the field of labour and labour relations.
The decision of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) to pursue its very innocuous amendment to Sec. 59A of the Wages Board Ordinance is what seemed to have the provoked Mr. RMB to step into a controversial field and advocate the dismantling of the labour law structure of the country. The NLAC proposal has been in gestation for quite some time and went through the due processes at the Legal Draftsman Dept. and the Attorney General’s Dept. Presently it is before a Cabinet Sub- Committee.

The purpose of the NLAC amendment is to safeguard the regular work force since there is an unhealthy trend to minimize the regular work force by employers who get core business performed by other persons who in turn employ workers to execute them and deny them their legitimate dues. These categories of labour providers are commonly known as labour contractors. read more.

* Let’s talk the language the government understands, massive strike before the budget:

They are prepared to rally the working masses for a massive strike action that would affect the Mahinda Rajapaksa government if it is not prepared to make a favourable response to the demands of salary increase of the working people says the President of National Trade Union Center (NTUC) Com. K.D. Lal Kantha.
Speaking at a media conference held at Hotel Nippon Com. Lal Kantha said, “We have asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa to increase the salaries of state employees by Rs.13,442.50. We agitated before the last budget but we did not get a sufficient increase.
Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has not increased salaries of state employees since they came to power in 2006. Of course they gave allowances instead of salary increases.
We won a 10% of the salary as an allowance from the last budget. We were able to get a 5% of the salary as an allowance from the previous budget. We got a Rs.1000 allowance from the strike action carried out on 10th July, 2008. Allowances have been given on several occasions.
However, the increased allowances do not tally with the increase in cost of living.
read more.

* Texpro loses business to Bangladesh & Vietnam:

Texpro Industries (Pvt) Limited, a subsidiary of Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka (DCSL) producing dyed and printed woven fabric, has seen a decline in the demand for its products with countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam gaining ground by being more price competitive.

However, the company which has some of the biggest buying houses around the world within its customer portfolio, has aggressively begun to promote its products. Also, the depreciated rupee had given Texpro an advantage within the local garment industry. read more.

21:33:24 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ‘Pakistan may lose major share in textile export this year’ :

Pakistan may lose its major share in textile exports and suffer negative growth during the current fiscal year, as about 20-25 industries face closures or are being diverted to neighbouring countries such as India, Turkey, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Sources said on Saturday that because of sky-rocketing prices of inputs, limited availability of basic inputs of textile units such electricity and gas, inconsistent government textile policies and worsening law and order situation had forced many textile mill owners to either to close down their units or to shift their businesses to nearby countries where the cost of doing business was comparatively less than Pakistan.

“During the past fiscal year, 15 percent of the total number of textile units of Pakistan shut down completely, while during 2012-13, 20-25 percent of the rest of textile mills are likely to divert to the other South Asian countries”, sources added. read more.

* Pakistan textile sector to soon benefit from EU ATPs:

The textile sector of Pakistan would soon start benefiting as the autonomous trade preferences (ATPs) granted by the EU would be implemented within a month’s time, German Ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Cyrill Nunn, said while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
As the ATPs granted by the EU on September 13, 2012 are implemented, it would allow duty-free export of around 75 Pakistani products, mainly textiles and clothing, to the EU markets till December 31, 2013.
The ambassador also said that Pakistan is ready to win EU’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status by early next year. Winning this status would open up the way for duty-free exports to the EU markets, mainly benefiting the textile enterprises of Pakistan, he added. read more.

* Committee recommends more funds for Pakistan Textile City project:

The sub-committee of the standing committee of the National Assembly on Textile has recommended providing more funds for Pakistan Textile City project.
A meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of MNA Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari along with other sub-committee members MNAs Tariq Shabbir, Tasneem Siddiqui, Usman Ibrahim and Abdul Rashid Gondil at a local hotel in Karachi.
The meeting was also attended by Federal Minister for Textile Industry Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Federal Advisor Textile and Chairman Pakistan Textile City Dr Ikhtiar Baig Mirza, Federal Secretary Textile Shahid Rashid and CEO PTC Zaheer Hussain. Senior representatives from the KESC, SSGC, KW, SB, National Bank of Pakistan and Ministry of Finance also attended the meeting. read more.

* Labour rules: 98% of factories have no trade unions, say rights activists :

The Baldia factory fire in which 258 workers were burnt to death has prompted much debate and discussion on how far Karachi’s industrialists follow the rules.
But such is the state of affairs that a shocking 98% of factories have no trade unions, as a result of which worker rights fall by the wayside.

On Saturday yet another press conference was held to train the spotlight on these problems. It was held by Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Jaffar Khan of the Muttahida Labour Federation, Habibuddin Junaidi of the All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Nasir Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation, Mirza Maqsood of the Mazdoor Mahaz-e-Amal and Rehana Yasmin of the Hosiery Garments Textile Workers General Union.

“This is a vulnerable section of society but plays a pivotal role in generation revenue,” they said, referring to the labour force. “If labour laws are not implemented and the Baldia factory issue is not seriously tackled, exports will be affected.”
read more.

* Spotlight on social compliance:

The horrific images of the recent twin factory fire incidents in leading metropolitan cities — Karachi and Lahore — have turned spotlight on the poor working conditions in the country’s industrial units.

Many Western importers, fearing ire of their consumers for dealing with socially irresponsible suppliers, are believed to have cancelled their orders and put some fresh negotiations for new deals on hold. There are reports that these orders have been diverted to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The real overall impact will become clear over the weeks and months ahead while many stress the need to vigorously counter the country’s adverse image created by the tragic incidents.

The garment exporters did try to brush two fires aside as unusual accidents, ignoring Ali Enterprise’s (in Karachi) Social Accountability ranking at 800th. It is a common knowledge that the bulk of garment business have been set up at even worse locations, having hazardous working environment.

Pakistan Readymade Garment Exporters Association suggested, through a press release, that they were considering introducing a system of self-monitoring for improving factory conditions to match international standards. “They will need to walk their talk before anyone notices them”, commented a labour economist.
read more.

 THE KARACHI  FIRE:

*A sign at today’s (20120929) rally in Karachi, Pakistan: International Brands Are Responsible for 300 Deaths:

* Manager of Baldia factory remanded:

A judicial magistrate remanded on Saturday a suspect in police custody in a Baldia Town factory blaze case and also extended the remand of five other men in the case till Oct 1.

The police said on Friday they arrested Mansoor, said to be a manager of the fire-struck garment factory, who had gone missing after the incident, and produced him in court.
The investigating officer said he was a key suspect and requested the court to grant his custody for interrogation.

Judicial magistrate (west) Sohail Ahmed Mashori handed him over to the police on physical remand till Oct 1 and told the IO to produce him again on the next hearing.
The court also extended the physical remand of three gatekeepers — Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad — and two others — Hanif and Mohammad Majid who are said to be employees of the ill-fated factory — till Oct 1.
read more.
& read more.
 

* Baldia factory fire: Fire station in SITE hasn’t had water in years over unpaid bills:

The fire station nearest the ill-fated garment factory in Baldia Town had not had a water supply for several years over unpaid bills.

“Even today, the water connection to the SITE fire station has not been restored,” said former city administrator Faheem Zaman – the guest speaker at a discussion on the Baldia fire held by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) at its office on Friday.
On September 11, more than 250 people were burnt alive in the inferno at Ali Enterprises, which is located along with 2,000 other factories within the jurisdiction of SITE fire station.

While talking to The Express Tribune, chief fire officer Ehtishamuddin confirmed that the water supply to SITE fire station had been disconnected, adding that in case of a fire in the area, the tenders go for a fill up at the Liaquatabad post office pumping station. read more.

* No factory check sans business community representative-Teli:

Siraj Kassam Teli Chairman Businessmen Group has informed that industrialists had held a meeting with Governor Sindh Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan in presence of Commissioner & Deputy Commissioners.
It was agreed upon that in order to ‘discourage corruption’ no inspector would be allowed to enter the factory without a Business Community representative. In case of an anomaly the concerned industrialist would be given a timeframe to mend the glitch. Addressing the General Body Meeting at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry held here at Aiwan-e-Tijarat on Saturday, Teli also regretted registration of case under 302crpc against owners of ill-fated factory in Baldia Town.

Meanwhile, addressing a Press Conference here at Karachi Press Club, Karamat Ali Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Labor Education & Research (PILER) has noted that labor laws, affirming universal right to social & economic well-being of the workers were grossly violated here, although Pakistan was a signatory of 38 ILO Conventions. PILER Chief asserting on the need of ensuring inspections of factories, maintained that Factories Act provided provisions of workers’ safety.

He also pointed out that ILO had expressed concern over the non-implementation of factories inspection in Pakistan: “At its 100th session, ILO had noted in the report that Pakistan adopted a national enforcement policy in 2006, which embodied the government commitment to implementing inspection & enforcing the law. Such a program sets the functions, goals & strategic objectives of labor inspection, the strategy for involving the main actors & approaches & means of action”.read more.

* PRGMEA establishes support fund:

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) has set up a support fund for the affected families who have lost their lives in the tragedy of fire in a factory in Baldia Town.

A meeting was held in PRGMEA office following the terrible fire incident at a garment factory in Karachi, which was largely attended the leading textile manufacturers and exporters. During the meeting PRHMEA members offered their deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in this tragedy.

It was decided that a support fund for the rehabilitation will be created immediately and all members of PRGMEA shall contribute in the same. The attendees offered their full co-operation and support to the affected families and resolved that the garment industry shall give employment to all the skilled workers while vocational training will be imparted to families and children of the deceased workers.
read more.

* Faryal distributes cheques among relatives of victims:

PPP leader and MNA Faryal Talpur on Sunday gave away compensation cheques to 31 relatives of fire victims of shoe factory, Bund Road in a ceremony here at Governor’s House.

Addressing the cheque distribution ceremony, she said that not only political parties but all of us should come forward to help the people who were affected in different incidents.

She said that there should be proper rules and regulations to check such like incidents besides ensuring the availability of safety equipments including escape route and others fire fighting equipments in the factories.

She thanked Malik Riaz of Bahria Town and Goodwill Ambassador for Orphan children Jahanara Wattoo for taking initiative to help the fire victims.

She urged the provincial governments to visit industrial areas and properly inspect them to ensure that no such incident take place in future.

She said that this money could never be the alternate of lives but the PPP was giving this money to the family members of affectees to tell them that the government is with them in this time of trial. read more. & read more.
  

21:33:24 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Trade union member dies in cotton field in Tashkent Region:

An Uzbek trade union official, forced to harvest cotton without prior medical examination, has died in Tashkent Region’s Akkurgan District.

“A 55-year-old plumber, Igor, has fallen victim to cotton,” a staff member of the Federation of Trade Unions has said.

According to the source, who asked to be named only as Nargiza, Igor had a heart condition, but no-one took this into consideration when sending him to cotton harvesting. read more.

* Schoolboy’s mother helps teacher return from cotton picking:

Human rights activist Elena Urlayeva has managed to return a teacher of primary classes to Tashkent’s school No 211 where classes were interrupted because the teacher was sent to cotton fields.

Uzbekistan’s sending of teachers to forced cotton harvesting has turned the educational process at some schools into a chaos.

The leader of the Human Rights Alliance, Elena Urlayeva, the mother of second-form pupil Muhammad Mashurov, has said that she witnessed an unpleasant situation when she visited her son in school No 211 on 27 September.

“Children were running around in the school unattended and it was not clear whether second-form classes will have lessons. Then second-form pupils were put together with first-form pupils for a lesson. Seats were not enough and children had to sit by two on one chair,” she said. read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* Nike hits China roadblock, shares fall

PHILIPPINES
* 5 million child workers suffer in RP

VIET NAM
* Laws look to improve labour relations
* $4.5m employment assistance projects
* Cotton bills cease circulation from 2013

THAILAND
* Workers push for welfare rights

CAMBODIA
* Workers faint due to stifling environment, poor nutrition
* Not a complete stitch-up

MALAYSIA
* Addressing issue of minimum wage

INDONESIA
* Thousands of Workers Demand Govt to Implement Social Security Law
* Textile competitiveness needs to be raised
* Worker expenses up 28% in Batam
* Pan Brothers’ exports surge despite global uncertainties
* BetterWorks Indonesia Media Update

BURMA/MYANMAR
* Garment Industry to ‘Benefit Most’ from End to US Import Ban

NEPAL
* Trade union‚ Shikhar tussle

BANGLA DESH
* Bangladesh RMG to face crunch
* When a CEO Turns Activist: Why H&M Wants Bangladesh to Increase Workers’ Wages
* Shortcut to fortune
* Russian clothing buyers keen to expand business in Bangladesh
* Russian businesses want BD to be aggressive to grab apparel market
* Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue
* Dhaka softens stance on labour rights issues
* RMG exporters hopeful of regaining US market by November
* Tradegood terms Bangladesh rising star in apparel sector
* Funding constraints put damper on jute market

INDIA
* Poverty, poor schools pushing kids to child labour
* New schools to be set up for child labourers
* Why are women disappearing from workforce, asks Brinda
* A salary plan that changes nothing
* Govt move to impose floor-level wage fails to impress unions, economists
* Groups call for Bellary bandh on Monday
* More support for total shutdown on October 3
* Knotty knitwear
* We hope the worst is behind textile industry
* Mega leather clusters to generate 10k jobs in UP
* Cotton farm leader derides Maharashtra Textile Policy
* Two main accused directly involved in Reebok fraud

SRI LANKA
* A free – for – all (No Law) Labour Regime is not in tune with the times
* Let’s talk the language the government understands, massive strike before the budget
* Texpro loses business to Bangladesh & Vietnam

PAKISTAN
* ‘Pakistan may lose major share in textile export this year’
* Pakistan textile sector to soon benefit from EU ATPs
* Committee recommends more funds for Pakistan Textile City project
* Labour rules: 98% of factories have no trade unions, say rights activists
* Spotlight on social compliance
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* A sign at today’s rally in Karachi, Pakistan: International Brands Are Responsible for 300 Death
* Manager of Baldia factory remanded
* Baldia factory fire: Fire station in SITE hasn’t had water in years over unpaid bills
* No factory check sans business community representative
* PRGMEA establishes support fund
* Faryal distributes cheques among relatives of victims

UZBEKISTAN
* Trade union member dies in cotton field in Tashkent Region
* Schoolboy’s mother helps teacher return from cotton picking

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