10:02:15 local time PHILIPPINES
* 606 firms in hot water over SSS contributions:
The Social Security System filed lawsuits against 606 companies in the first half of the year, mostly for failing to remit contributions to the pension fund.
Santiago Agdeppa, SSS assistant vice president and head of the legal department, said the number represented a 17-percent increase from the 518 firms charged in court in the same period in 2011.
Agdeppa said that this year, 494 of the delinquent companies failed to turn over monthly premiums amounting to P209.3 million, including the 3-percent monthly penalty that had accumulated to P188 million. read more.
09:02:15 local time VIET NAM
* Vietnam has great opportunities to receive new FDI wave:
ASEAN trade fair closed in Nan Ning, China in September 2012. The presence of the leaders of the economies, the managers of big enterprises and the investors at the trade fair can show the important role of the region and signal a new foreign investment wave in the countries, including Vietnam.
Xinhua news agency has reported that China is gradually losing its advantages of the low labor force and low land price in attracting foreign investment.
The news agency, while believing that China still has other great advantages to attract capital sources for its development, has admitted that some ASEAN’s economies have kicked off the process of becoming the “world’s production bases.” At present, the phrase is still used to say about China.
Citing Vietnam as a typical example, the news agency has reported that Vietnam has surpassed China in fulfilling the outsourcing orders placed by the world’s sportswear manufacturer Nike over the last two years. read more.
* Exporters see huge challenges ahead:
Despite signs of an economic recovery, local exporters have a lot of challenges extending until next year due to tough competition on the world market and a decline in traditional import markets.
Speaking at a seminar on export difficulties this year and the 2013 outlook, economist Nguyen Minh Phong pointed out many challenges for most key export sectors of Vietnam.
For example, the garment and textile industry is considering cutting this year’s export value target of US$19-19.5 billion as the industry obtained only US$9.7 billion in the January-August period. Local firms estimate to net US$16 billion this year given the current difficult situation.
According to the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas), the nation’s key importers such as the U.S., the European Union and Japan have had low consumption demand. Besides, large apparel providers globally have reduced prices 5-7% to improve competitiveness.
Phi Ngoc Trinh, deputy director of Ho Guom Garment Joint Stock Company, said the enterprise has seen a decline in order quantity, changing manpower and rising export costs.
“To fix the problems, enterprises have to maintain traditional markets and find new importers. We also have to use our stabilization funds to maintain wage payments for employees,” Trinh said.
Economist Phong said that domestic enterprises are suffering an export slowdown. In August, enterprises saw an 8.5% month-on-month fall in exports, resulting in a 1.9% decline in the January-August period. Although imports rose 4.5% compared to July, January-August imports still dropped 8.5%, suggesting a production slowdown of the domestic firm sector.
Le Hoang Oanh, deputy head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that up to 26,000 enterprises have dissolved or suspended operations.
Concerning the economic outlook at the end of 2012 and in 2013, most participants of the seminar said that they had yet to see prospects for economic stability. The global market outlook is also gloomy. to read in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 4/10.
09:02:15 local time CAMBODIA
* Unions, factories deal to curb walkouts:
The number of strikes in Cambodia’s garment industry could be set to dip and workers could be on their way to free lunches after both sides of the industry signed a two-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday.
The MoU – inked by the Garment Manufacturers Association (GMAC) in Cambodia, nine trade-union confederations and one federation – spells out terms on how to resolve industrial disputes, with an emphasis on avoiding strikes.
Key points of the document and its annexes are that factories and workers accept Arbitration Council rulings, all parties lobby big brands to fund a food program and that the use of contentious fixed-duration contracts be addressed. read more.
10:02:15 local time MALAYSIA
* SME Will Go Out Of Business If Opposition’s Minimum Wage Policy Be Implemented – Association:
Small- and medium-scale enterprises (SME)will go out of business if the minimum wage of RM1,100 promised by the opposition in their alternative budget were to be implemented.
Malaysian Small and Medium Industries Association Teh Kee Sin said based on their simple study, the SME community not only disagreed with the proposal, but also felt that it would only lead to unemployment woes due to the increasingly challenging global economic situation.
“We want to make sure that the proposal will not be implemented, let alone to become a reality,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here Wednesday.
10:02:15 local time INDONESIA
* Ex-Adidas workers in Indonesia protest over $1.8m unpaid severance:
On Monday, workers from the now closed PT Kizone factory in Indonesia staged a protest against Adidas’ failure to pay the $1.8m the workers are legally owed in severance pay. The demonstration in Indonesia comes weeks after a global day of action by War on Want, USAS and the Clean Clothes Campaign, including handing in a petition signed by almost 50,000 people calling on Adidas to pay the money owed.
Adidas had been sourcing from the PT Kizone factory in Indonesia for many years, where workers were paid as little as $0.60 an hour. In January 2011 the owner of the factory fled leading to the abrupt closure of the factory and all 2,800 workers losing their jobs – and not gaining the $3.4million in severance pay they are entitled to under Indonesian law.
Despite two other sportswear companies contributing more than half of the total compensation, Adidas claim they have no responsibility to the now unemployed workers. As a result of not paying the $1.8 million in severance and interest, former workers are now incurring debts to survive and are struggling to keep sending their children to school.
About fifty Kizone workers and allies from other factories protested at the Supreme Court and at Adidas’s Jakarta office on Monday. At the Supreme Court they called for a quick resolution to the Kizone bankruptcy and for workers to receive the full amount allocated by the court. Workers from other factories also spoke about their experience in similar struggles in dealing with factory closures and the need for solidarity between workers. read more.
* Workers comb plants as strike begins:
Thousands of blue-collar workers across the nation began on Wednesday a massive strike they said would last for weeks should the government fail to grant their demands: ending outsourcing practices and cheap labor policies, and providing greater access to health care.
The rallies passed off peacefully in most areas, though there were reports of labor unions conducting combings of factories, including in Tangerang where protesters pelted rocks at a security guard post at a factory belonging to PT LG Indonesia. The protesters were angry about the company’s alleged refusal to allow all its employees to skip work, permitting only 200 of them to join the protest. read more.
* Indonesian Workers Demand an End to Outsourcing:
Around two million workers took to the streets across Indonesia on Wednesday, demanding that the outsourcing employment system be abolished and for companies to guarantee that all workers receive benefits.
Questions, though, linger over the fate of the current 16 million outsourced workers.
According to some industry players and analysts, outsourcing has enabled them to cut labor costs while benefiting the country as a whole, including the laborers themselves. They point to the system that has employed 16 million people, creating a multiplier effect by boosting consumption and production levels in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. read more.
* Editorial: Indonesia Needs to Update Labor Laws:
In a modern economy where the business climate can suddenly change, companies need to stay nimble and flexible in managing their costs and being able to alter their strategies.
For an economy like ours, which is growing at a 6.3 percent rate, job creation is not a major challenge. But finding skilled workers who are productive is. In such an environment, companies look for talent and try and minimize wage costs.
As millions of workers around the country took to the streets demanding the abolishment of outsourcing, they seem to have missed the point. Outsourcing is now a major component of the global economy, and countries as well as companies rely on it to maintain their competitiveness.read more.
* Japanese Halt Investment Over Rallies: Industry Head:
A number of Japanese investors halted plans to invest around Rp 2 trillion (208 million) to Rp 3 trillion in Indonesia’s garment industry due to concerns over potential unrest as the result of a series of labor rallies.
“There were some Japanese investors who have planned to build plants in Indonesia, but they decided to put their plans on hold because of the many recent demonstrations,” Suryadi Sasmita, executive chairman of the Indonesian Association of Garment and Accessories Suppliers (Apgai), said on Monday.
“It is not impossible that they might divert their investment plans into neighboring countries,” added Suryadi, who is also the secretary general of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo). read more.
* Indonesia To Stop Exporting Polyester:
The Indonesian government has decided to stop exporting polyester after small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially textile and textile product mills, complained about the shortage of raw materials, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.
“The export of polyester should be stopped because we do not have enough raw materials to meet the domestic demand. In addition, the government will build a raw materials terminal for SMEs,” said Euis Saedah, the General Director of SME of the Ministry of Industry, here on Wednesday.
“The rising prices of raw materials such as mori, cotton, and other fabrics made from raw cotton fibres, along with their scarcity, have affected SME’s productivity of confection and batik,” she added. read more.
08:32:15 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Lifting Sanctions Futile Without Infrastructure- Exporters:
Textil Worker in Rangoon.
The lifting of import restrictions of Burmese goods into the United States has received a cautious welcome from local manufacturers who insist that vastly improved infrastructure and technology are still required to compete with neighboring markets.
The Obama administration eased remaining trade sanctions on Burma on Sept. 26 while Burmese President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi were visiting the US. Burmese exporters and local traders say removing restrictive measures is essential for joining the modern business environment after decades of international isolation.
“Burma used to export gems and jade to the US market as well as wood products, beans, pulses, seafood and garments,” said Capt Aung Khin Myint, the joint-secretary of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
“When we start to think about exporting to the US again, we need basic infrastructure, technology for value-added products and to reduce local transport costs. Without these factors, we cannot compete with our neighbors Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh in the international market.”
The US market only generally imports “value-added products” such as finished clothes. Because of the previous trade restrictions, Burmese businesses could only export raw materials such as cloth to neighboring countries where they would be tailored into complete garments and then exported to Western countries.
“The garment industry in Burma is only at a CMP [Cutting, Manufacturing and Packaging] level,” said Khine Khine New, general-secretary of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA). “We have no technology to produce our own designs. The garment industry now makes only 10 to 15 percent of its total earnings with CMP. read more.
08:02:15 local time BANGLA DESH
* Gap Inc to execute fire safety program in Bangladesh:
Gap Inc announced a significant initiative to improve building and fire safety standards across the company’s approved third-party garment manufacturing factories in Bangladesh.
Underscoring the tangible steps taken in the country over the last two years—including humanitarian aid, fire safety training and education, and fire safety audits—Gap Inc.’s program is a critical step forward to address fire and building safety issues in Bangladesh’s apparel industry.
As part of its approach, Gap Inc. will implement a four-part initiative.
The company will:
• Engage a Chief Fire Safety Inspector to conduct fire safety inspections with formal remediation plans and accountability
• Launch a Worker Support Program, providing up to US$2 million to ensure that factory employees at Gap Inc.’s long-standing, high-volume third-party apparel manufacturers who are displaced from work because of fire safety remediation receive payment for work days missed
• Provide vendors accelerated access of up to US$20 million in capital for safety improvements
* Bangladesh’s growing reputation for fashion:
Many of the world’s biggest brands are turning to Bangladesh as a quality producer of high-end fashion.
Models have been strutting the catwalks recently for Milan Fashion Week.
But many of the world’s biggest brands are turning to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is earning a growing reputation as a quality producer of high-end fashion for export.
Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Dhaka. See Video.
* Cabinet approves silk development act:
The cabinet yesterday approved the draft of The Bangladesh Silk Development Board Act-2012 in a bid to ensure quick development of this sector.
The act aims at bringing about coordination among three organisations — Bangladesh Silk Board, Silk Research Training Institute and Bangladesh Silk Foundation.
If the law is passed, there will be only one organisation named Bangladesh Silk Development Board. The jute and textiles minister will be head of the board, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told reporters after the meeting.
The cabinet also approved the draft of the Waqfs (Amendment) Act-2012 aiming to make Waqf administration more effective. The proposed law has a provision to raise the fine of ‘Mutawallis’ (caretaker of Waqfs property) to Tk 20,000 from Tk 2,000 for negligence in their duties. read more.
* US cotton traders turn to politicians to salvage deals with B’desh millers:
US cotton traders have turned to their politicians to put pressure on the textile millers of Bangladesh to buy the commodity from them at prices far higher than the market rates.
They have urged the US politicians to raise the issue with the Bangladesh government so that it takes a move in this connection, concerned sources said.
Recently some of the textile mills in Bangladesh cancelled some forward contracts with the US cotton exporters due to price volatility.
But the US cotton traders were now striving to get the contracts reinstated by putting political pressure, they claimed.
Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) President Jahangir Alamin confirmed the allegations while talking to the FE Monday. read more.
* ‘Japan can tap low cost BD labour’:
The Japanese entrepreneurs can exploit the benefits of ‘China+ 1’ strategy through making investment in some potential sectors of Bangladesh, particularly pharmaceuticals, diversified plastic goods, shipbuilding, power and infrastructure, leather industry, textiles and light engineering sector, the country’s apex trade body FBCCI president AK azad, said.
He made this comment at a meeting between an 18 members business delegation from Higashiosaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Japan, (HCCI) and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at the FBCCI’s conference room in the city on Wednesday.
read more. & read more. & read more.
* Problems of the jute sector:
Despite increasing prices of jute in the international market, jute goods are in high demand because of harmful effects of synthetics. Our farmers have again become interested in jute cultivation. New jute mills have been set up in the private sector.
But the jute industry is again facing difficulties. Raw jute produced from inferior quality Indian seeds is of low quality. As a result, demand for our jute products is declining in the international market. read more.
07:32:15 local time INDIA
* Knitwear units remain closed from dawn to dusk in Tirupur:
Closed for business:Police personnel drafted for security duty in Tirupur take a break on Wednesday as knitwear cluster units remain closed from dawn to dusk in protest against prolonged power cuts and (right) a view of the deserted SIHMA Industrial Complex. -Photos: M.Balaji
Majority of apparel units and shops down shutters in protest against the prevailing power crisis
The dawn-to-dusk total closure of units observed by CPI (M), CPI, MDMK, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and Forward Bloc in Tirupur knitwear cluster on Wednesday evoked tremendous response as almost 90 per cent of apparel units and 80 per cent of shops downed shutters.
The agitation, which got the support of leading trade unions like CITU, AITUC, INTUC, HMS, BMS, MLF and LPF, was called to protest the continuing power crisis and for demanding distribution of diesel at subsidised rates to farmers and industrialists to help them use generators at profitable rates during the load shedding hours.
The apparel production was almost paralysed and even the miniscule number of units which were kept open on the day could not operate in full swing as the workforce did not turn up in its optimal strength. read more.
* India looks at China to meet domestic silk demand:
* Workshop on new Maharashtra textile policy:
The Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA), in association with Suvin Advisors Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai , IT Power India and Mill owners Association, is organising a seminar on ‘Advantage Vidarbha- Investment Opportunities in Textiles’ at Udyog Bhavan Civil Lines on October 4 at 5pm.
The workshop aims at familiarising with the new Maharashtra textile policy and ways to avail advantage of new policy initiatives, where to invest and how to be cost effective in today’s competitive market. All these questions will be deliberated during the 3-hour session.read more.
* Alok Industries: Weaving ambitious targets:
Though the dilution through the proposed rights issue is a worry, savings in interest cost and likely improvement in profitability are a likely positive.
Alok Industries announced Rs 551-crore Rights Issue on September 25. While this is not good news for shareholders as there could be around 30 per cent dilution (assuming the company raises at current market price), it will indirectly benefit the company as there will be savings in interest cost had the company opted to raise more debt. read more.
* Cotton seeds research project in India:
In co-operation with FiBL, the leading Swiss research institute in the field of organic farming, and the University of Dharwad, the bioRe Association is conducting a seeds-research project for a period of several years.
* M&S to up cotton sourcing from India over 12-fold in three years:
UK-based retail chain Marks & Spencer plans to hike by over 12-fold its cotton sourcing from India in three years to 64,000 metric tonnes.
This will be equivalent to its current overall global consumption.
For the purpose, the retailer will increase the number of farmers associated with it to 25,000 in the country from 9,000 at present.
“Currently, we have partnerships with 9,000 cotton farmers at Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. We want to increase the number to 25,000 in three years, by when we will be sourcing 64,000 metric tonnes of cotton, which is equivalent to our current total global usage,” Marks & Spencer (M&S) head of sustainable business Mike Barry told PTI.
At present M&S sources 5,000 metric tonnes of cotton annually from India, he said.
read more. & read more.
07:32:15 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lanka’s uniform makers moving up the value chain:
As Sri Lankan textiles sector now stands bolstered by the recent offer of support from the Government of India, the domestic manufacturers who were struggling a few years back, are successfully moving for a bigger slice in domestic demand.
The 15 manufacturing firms would entirely fulfill the needs of the country’s armed forces, the police, and the prisons (excepting the Navy) as well as the school uniforms. Minister Bathiudeen has now successfully moved the manufacturers to produce 50% of 11.21 Mn of fabrics ($15.57 Mn, required by 2013 January) at a value of $ 7.25 Mn, by December 2012, while the rest was to be imported. The supply of only 50% has been due to the limited capacity of manufacturers in terms of manufacturing capacity, finance and management support. “If our manufacturers could supply the 100%, we will be happier and ready to support,” Minister Bathiudeen added.
“I am also pleased to say that the total demand for uniforms from country’s armed forces, the police, and the prisons are now met by our domestic manufacturers,” Minister Bathiudeen revealed.
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce, has estimated that in 2012, for country’s armed forces, the Police, and the Prisons, uniforms valued at more than $ 14 Mn would be needed, all of which would be manufactured by Lankan textile firms engaged in this proffession, numbering 15. All school uniforms are made domestically, using the “weaving process,” where only yarn is imported and everything else, completed locally, while for the armed forces, police and prisons uniforms, the “import gray process” is for local processing afterwards. Under Minister Bathiudeen’s guidance, his officials have also begun work on Sri Lanka Textile Strategic Plan (SLTS Plan), in which Lankan manufacturers would be assisted to become the main uniform suppliers in time to come. read more.
07:02:15 local time PAKISTAN
* Child labour: ‘Factories must be inspected for underage workers’:
While the Employment of Children (Amended) 2011 Act empowers labour inspectors to inspect factories that employ children, inspections have not occurred for several years, the participants of a consultation agreed on Wednesday.
The consultation titled Child Labour and Child Bonded Labour after the 18th Amendment, was arranged by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC). The participants stressed that separate labour inspectors were needed to inspect factories which employ children. They said factories that employed children could be inspected despite the ban on labour inspections under the ECA. They also demanded the formation of a committee to monitor children’s rights under ECA. read more.
* PTEA demands continuous gas supply & tax rebate:
* Leather industry demands priority status:
Leather Sector may be treated as a model sector in Strategic Trade Policy Frame Work for the next three to five years. Newly elected Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (Central) Mr. Agha Saiddain said while talking to APP here on Wednesday.
He said the Leather Industry had potential to grow as 3.00 billion dollar Industry in next 3 years which was stagnant at US$ 1.00 billion for last five years. On the other hand, leather sector exports of India had grown up to US$ 4.86 billion during the year 2011 – 2012 from their previous exports of US$ 1.96 Billion .
* APTMA seeks 350bps cut in discount rate:
All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership has demanded 350bps cut in discount rate in the Monetary Policy to be announced on October 05 (Friday). Talking to media, the APTMA leadership including Gohar Ejaz, Group Leader, Ahsan Bashir, central Chairman, Wisal Monnoo, central Vice Chairman and Shahzad Ali Khan, Chairman Punjab region have stressed that the issue of Rs 652 billion industrial Non Performing Loans (NPLs) would only be resolved by such a drastic cut in the discount rate.
It may be noted that the federal government has already slashed the discount rate by 350bps in February and August last respectively in line with the APTMA guidelines for industrial growth and sustainability. And now, the APTMA has come up with a novel idea of cutting discount rate by another 350bps, preferably in two phases in the months of October and November. read more.
* Phutti prices come down after PCGA report:
Prices of seed cotton drifted lower on the cotton market on Wednesday after the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) report, showing an increase of 20 percent in Phutti arrivals against the last year, dealers said. Official spot rate extended overnight gains, picking up more Rs 50 to Rs 5,350, they said.
In the ready business, over 2,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 5200-5550, they said. In both Sindh and the Punjab prices of seedcotton depreciated by Rs 100 to Rs 2300-2400, they added. Market sources said that prices went up on improved quality of cotton during the last sessions but now it looks difficult in the coming days.read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* 22 days later, some victims remain unidentified:
For many people in Karachi the tragedy of the Baldia factory fire ended soon after. But for some families, every day the disaster reminds them of their loves ones, who haven’t been identified or worse, found yet.
Twenty-two days after the inferno at Ali Enterprises where 258 workers were burnt alive, 39 bodies are still unrecognisable, unidentified and unclaimed at the Edhi morgue at Sohrab Goth.
On Wednesday, trade unionists and family members of the victims called on the government to issue the DNA reports of the unidentified victims immediately or they would set up a protest camp outside the press club.
“For the past 22 days, the families have been struggling to find the bodies, but neither the hospitals nor any institution is helping them,” said Nasir Mansoor, the deputy general secretary of National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan, while speaking at a news conference along with the bereaved family members. read more.
* After three weeks, families told to wait 15 more days:
The families of those who perished in the garment factory blaze in Baldia are helplessly waiting for the DNA reports that will help them identify the charred remains of their loved ones.
“We were initially informed that we will get the DNA reports in 15 days.
But after the passage of three weeks, we have been told to wait for 15 more days,” a relative told the media on Monday.
The families had gathered at the press club to speak at a news conference arranged by the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF).
“Why isn’t legal action being taken against the culprits? The government has not even provided the heirs with the compensation money it had announced.”
* Deadly Pakistan Factory Fire Raises Questions Over Safety Inspections:
A leading trade union in Pakistan says factories in that country are more like death traps than work places.
Last month, nearly 300 people were killed when fire swept through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.
It turns out the factory had recently been inspected and had received the highest possible safety rating, even though faulty wiring and unsafe chemicals were found at the factory after the fire. And while the building was burning down, locked doors may have prevented some people from escaping. In fact, some workers jumped out of windows to escape the flames.
The New York-based Social Accountability International certified the factory. The organization says its mission is to advance human rights of workers around the world.
But Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, said SAI and other monitoring companies aren’t reliable.
“While SAI claims that its mission is to advance the rights of workers around the world, what SAI really does is protect the reputations of apparel brands around the world,” Nova told Here & Now’s Robin Young. read more.