in the news on-line, 2 October 2012

21:42:28 local time map of china CHINA

* H&M: Democratic style keeps price flat:

Swedish retailer’s ‘fashion for all’ strategy pays off handsomely in China

Sept 20 was a big day for Swedish retailer H&M as the company opened its 100th store in China at Nanning, the capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and entered Malaysian retail space with its first store in Kuala Lumpur.
Established in 1947, H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB (operating as H&M), is the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, and known best for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. In terms of revenue, it is just behind the Spain-based Inditex, the parent company of clothing brand Zara, and is followed by US clothing brand Gap.read more.

21:42:28 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Labor alliance against contractualization, for a meaningful wage hike, formed:

“They [big corporations] have, for years, raked in profits by pressing down workers’ wages and pushing back the hard-earned gains of the country’s labor movement. They have been able to widen the disparity between the affluent minority and the poor and hungry majority in the country – a situation that violates the principles of social justice.”

For the first time in years, Filipino labor groups that used to regard each other as rivals and on different positions in the labor spectrum are banding together for a common cause. They say they want to push back the government-supported policy of contractualization and demand for a “significant wage hike.”

Late last week, a number of labor federations and trade unions banded together in an alliance called ACT2WIN, or Action against Contractualization and Towards a Significant Wage Increase Now. In a press conference in Manila last Friday Sept. 14, leaders of these labor groups vowed to fight together for the rights to security of tenure and a living wage. read more.

20:42:28 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Ministry calls for halving of VAT to assist firms:

With local businesses still plagued by high unsold inventories, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has called on the Prime Minister to reduce the current value-added tax by half to help manufacturers in some industries overcome the ordeal.

The VAT for the chemical, footwear and leather, fertilizer, and textile and garment sectors should be slashed from 10 percent to 5 percent, the ministry said at the government’s regular meeting on Monday.

While the Prime Minister has approved a 50 percent reduction on land leasing fees this year, the ministry demanded that the incentive also be applied for 2013.
read more.

20:42:28 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Garment workers go on strike:

More than 2,000 workers from four garment factories in Phnom Penh and Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces protested for better treatment yesterday.

In Kandal’s Ang Snuol district, more than 500 workers picketed to ask the Tae Young Co factory to rehire 16 fired workers and drop its suit against eight of them for inciting a strike.

Meanwhile, about 800 workers marched to demand a minimum wage, lunch, transportation to work and various bonuses, worker Soun Sop-heap said yesterday.

About 500 workers also held strikes to demand better conditions at the Seung Sing Yien factory in Phnom Penh and at the Fabric Art factory in Kampong Speu.
to read.

21:42:28 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Moulding more efficient labour:

Reforms being undertaken to transform nation into the high-income bracket.

As the labour force is one of the critical elements for the nation’s success in becoming a high-income and developed nation by 2020, the New Economic Model (NEM) identified several key issues in the market that may hinder the nation’s vision.

Among issues that were highlighted included restrictive labour regulations, low wages, high number of unskilled labour and over-dependence on foreign workers.
To address these concerns the Government introduced the Human Capital Development Strategic Reform Initiative (HCD SRI) under the National Transformation Policy (NTP). read more.

21:42:28 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Police to deploy 15,000 officers ahead of labor strike:

Ahead of the labor strike scheduled on Wednesday, the Jakarta Police say that they will deploy 15,000 officers to guard industrial areas in Greater Jakarta.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said Monday that the police had prepared 10,000 personnel from police precincts throughout Greater Jakarta and 5,000 military personnel.

The strike is organized by the Indonesian Workers Assembly (MPBI) and the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers Union (FPSMI), who demand an increase in minimum wage and the elimination of the outsourcing employment system.
read more.

* Connecting the dots to bring batik to the world:

Step outside today, and you are likely to come face to face with a sea of batik in public spaces nationwide. The colorful parade is in honor of National Batik Day, which marks UNESCO’s recognition of batik as a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity” on this date in 2009.

Batik has made remarkable headway on the national fashion front this century, with Indonesian consumers embracing trendier, more modern styles. The once specially designated “batik Fridays” have come and gone: today, every day can be batik day, whether as smart formal attire for the office or casual wear to head to the mall.
read more.

19:42:28 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Unions under attack in Bangladesh; 7 million children at work:

The new ITUC report on core labour standards in Bangladesh, published on the occasion of World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) review of its trade policies, reveals grave problems with violations of freedom of association, the right to collectively bargain, child labour and forced labour.

The report finds that the law of Bangladesh does not adequately provide for freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike. The law establishes excessive requirements and complicated procedures in order to register a trade union and, in practice, the registrar rejects many applications. Bangladesh is rife with anti-union practices by employers including threats, dismissals, legal suits against unionists and intimidation.
The police use excessive force to disperse protesting workers in some cases causing deaths and often injuries. Export Processing Zones (EPZs) in the country fall under a special labour legislation whereby basic rights are not permitted. Workers in these areas are prevented from organising and bargaining collectively. For many years, the ILO has recommended numerous amendments to the law to bring it into compliance with the relevant international core labour conventions, No. 87 and No. 98, but the government has yet to heed those proposals.

Women are not protected against sexual harassment at the workplace, the extent of which is a serious problem in Bangladesh. Women face a large gender pay gap and tend to be concentrated in low paid sectors of the economy.

Child labour is an alarming problem in Bangladesh with seven million children in work of whom some 1.3 million are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. Children perform a wide range of work in all sectors. Moreover, the laws do not protect migrating workers from fraudulent recruitment, and many such workers are coerced into bonded labour. There are reports of authorities’ and politicians’ complicity with organised crime in labour trafficking. read more.

* RMG workers demonstrate in Dhaka:

Traffic at Dhaka’s Rampura area came to a temporary halt on Tuesday morning as a group of apparel factory workers demonstrated blocking a street alleging closure of factory without paying dues.

“Up to 200 workers of National Garment took to the street around 8am finding a lay-off notice at their factory gate,” Officer-in-Charge of Rampura Police Station Delowar Hossain Khan told bdnews24.com.

Their demonstration caused a temporary halt in traffic movement in the area, he said.
The officer said the agitated workers later moved to the footpath after a while and demonstrated there.

Khan said the factory authorities have assured the workers of paying their arrears on Oct 10. Several demonstrators left the place following the assurance, but many were still there, he added.read more.

* Turkey-Bangla garment co to invest $ 43m in Comilla EPZ:

T and S Garments Limited, a Turkey and Bangladesh joint venture company, will invest about US$ 43 million for setting up their unit with annual production capacity of 1.20 million of garments items in Comilla Export Processing Zone, says a press release.  T and S Garments will create employment opportunity for 2,560 Bangla-deshi nationals. 
Khandaker Akhtaruzzaman, member engineering of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, and Osman Akdag, chairman of T and S Garments Ltd, signed the agreement at BEPZA Complex in the capital on Monday. to read.

* BKMEA eyes $1b market in Russia:


A file photo shows employees working at a textile factory in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association eyes a huge potential in Russian market. — New Age photo

Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association eyes a huge potential in Russian market as buyers there showed interest in Bangladeshi knitwear at a knit fair held in Moscow last week.
The BKMEA organised the knit fair in Moscow to increase export of Bangladeshi knit products in Russia. As many as 130 knit exporters took part in the three-day fair that ended on September 28.
Knitwear exporters received $10.1 million instant and $15 million inquiry export orders for knit apparels and buyers agreed to visit Bangladesh to have an idea about apparel sector, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association officials told New Age.
Knitwear exporters said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation assured that they would provide additional trade facilities to Bangladesh in order to help expand its external trade including GSP facilities. read more.

* BATEXPO could bag $1.0b export orders:

Local exporters are expected to garner US $1.0 billion spot orders from the country’s biggest apparel trade show, scheduled for December 12-14, the head of the industry lobbyists group said Monday.

“We are expecting $1.0 billion worth spot orders and a large number of global buyers at this year’s BATEXPO (Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition),” President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin told the FE.
He said cheap basic apparel products will attract new buyers from Japan, South Africa, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Russia to the annual exposition. read more.

19:12:28 local time map of india INDIA

* 21 Made-in-India items on US list for using child labour:

There is little respite for Made-in-India garments and zari or embellished textiles, which are among the 21 products that figure in the US labour department’s list of goods using child or forced labour.

Although manufacturers of the two items had petitioned for their deletion from the list, the report released late last week has refused to do so at least for the moment.

In fact, what will come as a further setback is a study commissioned by the US labour department, which said there is “evidence of labour abuses in a variety of different forms of textile embellishment, beyond the production of zari”.

While there are no estimates of the level of child labour involved, the list covers several textile products — from yarn to fabrics and garments — along with carpets, brassware, agarbattis, stones, locks, fireworks and rice.

In its annual listings for 2012, the US labour department said it is estimated that at least 57,000 children aged between five and 17 years are working in the carpet industry in India, Pakistan and Nepal.read more.

* Salary plan for women:

Minister Krishna Tirath’s proposal to formulate a bill through which a percentage of a man’s salary would be transferred to his wife’s account to compensate her for the domestic work she performs for the family (“A salary plan that changes nothing,” Oct. 1) is not in accordance with the Indian culture. Indian women do not perform domestic chores out of any obligation; they do it for their family members because they care. Any government intervention in a personal relationship will seriously compromise the concepts of love and care in families.

Mohit Goyal, Sriganganagar
Many men lend a helping hand at home. If forced to pay for their wives’ services, such men will stop being cooperative. Not only will women be burdened with more work, the relationship between the couple will also turn commercial. Thanks to consumerism, marriages are increasingly falling apart with financial interests gaining preference over love and respect. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is worsening the situation by seeking to transform marriages into commercial arrangements. read more.

* Powerloom sector to keep the units closed for two days a week:

As the powerloom sector in the country’s biggest man-made fabric industry is passing from a tough phase following the dwindling demand of polyester fabrics across the country, increasing prices of yarn and the financial crisis, the weaving community has unanimously decided to keep the units closed for two days in a week.

Leaders of the Federation of Gujarat Weavers’ Association (FOGWA) said the weaving sector in the man-made fabric hub of the country is on the verge of collapse due to 20 per cent increase in the prices of yarn-main raw material-dwindling demand of polyester fabrics and the financial crisis in the market.

“There is no other option left with the weavers, but to keep the units closed for two days in a week. This is being done to arrest the issue of overproduction” said Ashok Jirawala, president, FOGWA.

The weaving sector has an installed capacity of 6.5 lakh powerloom machines and that about 3 crore meters of polyester fabric is weaved on daily basis. The grey fabrics are then supplied to the textile traders and that it goes to the textile processing units for the final process.

The sector employs about 5 lakh textile workers, mainly migrants hailing from Orrisa, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc. The textile workers employed in the weaving units are paid wages per day and that the closure of two days in a week is likely to affect a large section of the migrant workers. read more. (1 lakh=100.000)

* Textile ministry wants liberal power purchase policy to continue for sector:

The ministry of textiles has written to the power ministry for continuation of the liberal power purchase policy for the industry.

The power ministry had instructed the State Regulatory Commission that all consumers consuming 1 MW or more be excluded from the category of consumers who can avail the tariffs set by the commission.

According to the ministry of textiles, this decision would seriously impact textile units as they will be forced to source power through the open access method. States like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — the textile producing hubs— have already been facing power shortages. A senior textile ministry official told Fe, “The textiles industry in Tamil Nadu alone is losing about R300 crore a day due to fall in production because of power restrictions and escalating costs.”

SV Arumugam, chairman, Confederation of Indian Textiles Industry, said: “Already reeling under market shocks, the textile and clothing industry would find it extremely difficult to face the double whammy of this regulation by the government. I have also written to the ministries of textiles and power for the continuation of the previous liberal power purchase policy.” read more.

* Demonstration held to draw attention to power crisis:

Members of seven leading trade unions staged a demonstration here on Monday evening in protest against the power crisis which had put the jobs of industrial works in Tirupur knitwear cluster at stake.

“Many of the predominant migrant labourers, on whom the cluster thrived, have either lost their jobs or are now working on meagre ‘piece-rate’ salaries due to severe reduction in number of work shifts in the factories.
“If steps are not taken to tide over the power crisis immediately, it will hit Tirupur apparel industry hard,” said CITU district secretary M. Chandran.
Apart from the CITU, the other unions which took part in the agitation included AITUC, HMS, BMS, INTUC, MLF and LPF. read more.

* Tirupur textile units to protest power outages:

Textile and apparel manufacturers in south Indian textile town of Tirupur would observe a day-long strike on October 3, 2012 to protest long power outages that often extend to more than 14 hours a day.
The decision to protest was taken at a meeting attended by representatives of 12 textile associations and some trade unions, including the Tirupur Manufacturers Association and Tirupur Export Knit Manufacturers Association.
The extended power cuts have brought production down to almost 40 percent in more than 10,000 industrial units, including textile and knitwear, spread across Tirupur, according to the Tamil Nadu Exporter and Manufacturers Association.
read more.

19:12:28 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Impediment to FDI: Industry responds to Treasury:

Responding to a recent Treasury statement listing out a series of issues which had impeded foreign direct investment as well as private sector investments, industry sources alleged that this was nothing but the failure on the part of Treasury officials.

Sources said that the list was more of a “Mea Culpa Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa” from the Treasury. “Isn’t this a magnificent confession by the Treasury mandarins of their own failure to facilitate FDI and Private Sector Investment?,” they queried.

“The report refers to an inefficient approval process. Simplifying the approval process is the responsibility, function, and duty of the Treasury. One has only to hark back to the days when there had been excellent institutional arrangement in the BOI and UDA to expeditiously deal with and conclude FDI and investment proposals. Who dismantled these institutional arrangements, sources asked.

An irate executive said: “The ill advised Pensions Bill drawing resources from the EPF was the brainchild of the Treasury.
This created havoc by way of worker unrest culminating in the death of a worker at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone. The upshot has been the resurgence of trade union activity in the Katunayake Zone with troublemakers targeting several FTZ Companies in KEPZ so much so that at least two companies were contemplating even closure in the face of militant trade unionism spawned by the ill conceived Pensions Bill of the Treasury.
Besides, garment factories lost batches of skilled workers who retired fearing the loss of their EPF funds. This has created an unprecedented crisis in the Apparel Industry. The Treasury Bosses who interact only with the big league in business are unaware of these developments in the BOI Zones.  read more.

18:42:28 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Readymade garments export increase by 4.12pc:

Readymade garments export from the country during the first two months of current financial year posted growth of 4.12 percent as about 4,589 thousand dozen ready made garments were exported from the country.

During the period from July-August 2012, ready made garments worth US$ 307.58 million were exported as compared to 4,176 thousand dozen of garments valuing US$ 295.42 million same period last year.
According the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), during the period from July-August 2012, the export of towel registered 0.54 percent growth as about 62,773 metric ton towels were exported and earned US$ 126.10 million. read more.

* Trading remains firm at cotton market:

Trading remained firm with fine lint in focus amid firm spot rate, traders at the Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) said on Monday.

The KCA kept the spot rate intact at Rs 5,200 per maund, floor brokers said.
During the trading session, buyers in Punjab and Sindh stations purchased lint of all grades on competitive prices at around Rs 5,350 per maund and Rs 5,150 per maund while fine lint changed hands at around Rs 5,875 per maund, traders said.
read more.

* Pakistan’s cotton output to cross 15mn bales:

In spite of being hit by heavy downpours and floods in parts of Punjab province, Pakistan’s cotton production is expected to cross 15 million bales this season, Amanullah Qureshi, the outgoing Chairman of the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) told reporters.
He said if cotton growers are provided with technical support and up-to-date information from crop cultivation to reaping, transportation and storage facilities by the agriculture department, this could help in enhancing the country’s cotton output.
 Last seaon, Pakistani ginners exported 1.3 million bales of cotton and this year the volume is likely to grow two-fold, he said. read more.

* Phutti prices up amid strong buying by mills:

Further improvement in quality of seed cotton boosted prices on the cotton market on Monday in process of good trading, dealers said. Official spot rate was unchanged at Rs 5,200, they said. In the ready business, over 16,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 4875-5450, they said.

Prices of seedcotton of inferior type was down by Rs 200 to Rs 2200 while the best type picked up Rs 100 to Rs 2500, in Sindh low type gained Rs 100 to Rs 2100 and the good type showed no change at Rs 2400, they added. Market sources said that mills, spinners and exporters were active to cover the immediate needs despite the higher trend in the prices.

The quality of seed cotton is showing an improvement and this is the only factor, which is attracting the buyers, cotton analyst Naseem Usman said and adding that the cotton traders were hoping textile sector to depict better performance in the coming days. It appeared that the European Union has cleared the way for preferential treatment of Pak exports and if all goes well, Paki textile as well as some other smaller categories would start benefiting from the next year. After monsoon rains, the current year’s cotton production may be 15 and 15.5 million bales against the last year’s cotton production of 14.8 million bales.read more.

  THE KARACHI  FIRE:

* 35 families of Karachi fire victims paid pensions:

The Senate Standing Committee on ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) was informed on Monday that the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had paid pension to the families of 35 martyrs of Karachi factory fire while in total the families of all 295 martyrs would be paid pensions and other benefits.

The statement was made by Director-General (DG) Operations, EOBI, Javed Iqbal, during briefing on the EOBI affairs. Earlier, Secretary, ministry of HRD, Ahsan Raja, briefed the committee over the subject matter and said that action would be taken against those officials who had failed to register all the employees working at the factory which caught fire in Baldia Town, Karachi.

He said that around 3000 labourers were working in the factory but the employer had registered only 513 with the EOBI. However, he added that out of the 295 fire victims, 254 were registered. He added that pension forms had been issued to the families of all 295 people burnt alive in the incident by the EOBI and all families would be compensated. read more.

* Owners of Karachi fire factory granted bail till Oct 6:

A session Court of Karachi on Monday granted interim bail to three owners of the Ali Enterprises, a factory that was gutted in deadly fire that killed at least 258 people, till October 6.

Police in Karachi had registered a murder case against the owners of the factory Abdul Aziz Bhaila and his sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila on Sept 13.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channah directed them to submit surety of one million each.

The attorney of the owners said that his clients should be given chance to present their point of view.
He said that his clients were not leaving the country as their pass-ports have already been confiscated. Adding that, their accounts have also been frozen. The court ordered that accused should not be intimidated.
read more.
& read more. & read more. & read more.

* Owners granted interim bail; six others remanded:

Additional District and Sessions Judge (West) Abdullah Channa on Monday granted interim bail against a surety of Rs1 million each to the three owners of Ali Enterprises, a garments factory in Baldia Town where a massive fire had killed 259 people last month.

The court fixed October 13 for the confirmation of bail of Shahid Bhaila, Arshad Bhaila and Abdul Aziz Bhaila.The investigation officer, Jehanzeb, was directed to produce all legal documents relating to the case of the death of 259 people in the Category 3 blaze in at the factory.

The owners had also obtained bail from a Sindh High Court bench housed in Larkana.Advocate Amir Mansoor Qureshi, who pleaded the bail pleas of the factory owners, alleged that the investigation officer was trying to victimise his clients by issuing threats. He prayed to the court to grant bail before arrest to his clients.
read more.

* Contractor remanded in police custody:

The contractor who supplied workers to Ali Enterprises’ factory, which was engulfed by fire on September 11, has been remanded to police custody for two days.

The contractor, Mansoor Ahmed, had been nominated in cases of murder and attempted murder of the factory’s workers. The police presented him before Judicial Magistrate West Sohail Ahmed Mashoori, asking for Ahmed to be remanded to their custody for interrogation.

The judicial magistrate granted their request and remanded Ahmed to police custody for two days. The remand of the factory’s security guards, Fazal Khan, Arshad, Ali Mehmood, Hanif and Majid, was also extended. to read.

* ‘It’s the fire survivors that need attention now’:

Amidst the daily bustle of Baldia Town, people walk by the Ali Enterprises garment factory pretending it doesn’t exist.

Even from afar, the factory’s gutted skeleton serves as a haunting reminder of the horrific tragedy that took place three weeks ago. The grills and nets on the windows are broken and ripped, giving a glimpse of the browned ceilings and walls inside.

Most of those who live in the nearby colony are convinced they hear “shouts and screams” at night. Many others have stopped using the road altogether. But for those who work in factories in the vicinity, there is no choice but to cross the remains of the factory – day after day.

250 people were killed in the Baldia Town factory fire, a tragedy is probably the most fatal industrial disaster in the country’s history. Though rescue workers had battled with the inferno to save those trapped inside, all they could manage to recover were piles upon piles of charred body parts.

“For four consecutive hours, my family and I heard screams and cries for help,” remembers Fakhar Aiwan, a labourer who lives in a nearby colony.

Fakhar, a father of three, says his children can no longer sleep until he returns home from work. “They say they can still hear people shouting for help. My wife tries telling them there’s no one there any more. But they keep crying and insist they can hear the screams,” he shares.

Nadeem Ahmed, a survivor of the fire and resident of sector 3, says he can no longer sleep peacefully at night. “Even if I do, I wake up with a start with the sound of screams in my ears,” he narrates. read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* H&M: Democratic style keeps price flat

PHILIPPINES
* Labor alliance against contractualization, for a meaningful wage hike, formed

VIET NAM
* Ministry calls for halving of VAT to assist firms

CAMBODIA
* Garment workers go on strike

MALAYSIA
* Moulding more efficient labour

INDONESIA
* Police to deploy 15,000 officers ahead of labor strike
* Connecting the dots to bring batik to the world

BANGLA DESH
* Unions under attack in Bangladesh; 7 million children at work
* RMG workers demonstrate in Dhaka
* Turkey-Bangla garment co to invest $ 43m in Comilla EPZ
* BKMEA eyes $1b market in Russia
* BATEXPO could bag $1.0b export orders

INDIA
* 21 Made-in-India items on US list for using child labour
* Salary plan for women
* Powerloom sector to keep the units closed for two days a week
* Textile ministry wants liberal power purchase policy to continue for sector
* Demonstration held to draw attention to power crisis
* Tirupur textile units to protest power outages

SRI LANKA
* Impediment to FDI: Industry responds to Treasury

PAKISTAN
* Readymade garments export increase by 4.12pc
* Trading remains firm at cotton market
* Pakistan’s cotton output to cross 15mn bales
* Phutti prices up amid strong buying by mills
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* 35 families of Karachi fire victims paid pensions
* Owners of Karachi fire factory granted bail till Oct 6
* Owners granted interim bail; six others remanded
* Contractor remanded in police custody
* ‘It’s the fire survivors that need attention now’

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

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