09:04:32 local time CHINA
* Pollution blind spot in the textile industry:
The textile industry continues to pose environmental challenges for China despite the total number of factories operating in the country shrinking, according to a report released on Monday by five NGOs.
Adidas announced plans to close its last factory in China in July and many other international brands have gone the same way.
“But if we look deeper into the problem, we’ll find that what we’ve lost in share of exports was mainly concentrated in the garment processing sector of the textile industry, which provides large amount of jobs with relatively low water and energy consumption and pollution discharges,” said Ma Jun, executive director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, one of the five NGOs that released the report named Sustainable Apparel’s Critical Blind Spot.
H&M, Adidas, Nike and Levis have gone a step further and extended their management to dyeing and printing suppliers, Ma added. But the majority of brands have made no changes.
“I think it will be good if fashion brands can be more responsible for their suppliers,” he said. “It is very likely to be more effective in reducing pollution in this industry.”
08:04:32 local time VIET NAM
* ‘Rag traders’ seek more aid:
Enterprises were struggling to avoid losses as input costs kept rising, said Viet Nam Textile and Apparel Association (Vitas) general secretary Dang Phuong Dung.
Dung said the removal of the grace period would add to company burdens. She estimated that garment companies would have to find a total of US$800 million a year to pay taxes and would get tax refunds much later.
She said that two recent drafts suggested by the General Department of Customs and the Ministry of Finance for the revised Import and Export Tax Law and Tax Management Law were challenging Vietnamese enterprises. read more.
* Garment exports reach 11.25 bil USD in nine months:
In the past nine months of the year, garment and textile exports fetched 11.25 billion USD in revenue, up 7 percent compared to last year’s figure.
The US was Vietnam’s largest importer, accounting for 13 percent of the total turnover in September alone, followed byJapan and the Republic andKorea 10 and 15 percent respectively.
There were also some positive signs of exports picking up in Canada, Chinaand other new markets.
However, exports to the EU in September dropped by 5-8 percent compared to August and 5 percent from a year earlier.
Vietnam’s garment and textile sector is expected to earn US$15 billion in export revenue this year. to read.
* Wage hikes exceed inflation: survey:
Wage hikes are higher than inflation in 2012, contrary to the situation last year, according to a survey conducted by the human resource service provider Mercer and its representative in Vietnam, Talentnet Corporation.
Hoa Nguyen, head of Mercer remuneration surveys and HR consulting services at Talentnet, said the average salary increase this year is over 13%, higher than the inflation forecast at 9.5%.
In particular, multinational companies increased their wages by 13%, while the average pay hike at local firms is 13.3%, says the 2012 Mercer Total Remuneration Survey.
Petroleum and banking are the two sectors with the highest salaries. On the other hand, manufacturing, transport and logistics pay the lowest. read more.
08:04:32 local time THAILAND
* MINIMUM WAGE- Policy ‘will attract illegals’:
Workers demand protection- About 300 workers rally on Ratchadamnoen Avenue yesterday before submitting a letter to theUNin Bangkok, calling for better labour protection measures. The mobilisation was part of the ‘‘World Day for Decent Work’’ campaign. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
Promboon Panitchpakdi, executive director of Raks Thai Foundation, said he had no confidence in the nationality verification process for migrant workers, despite the Labour Ministry’s aim to complete it by Dec 15.
Because law enforcement has remained ineffective, more illegal migrants from neighbouring countries will enter Thailand, he said.
The anticipated influx is expected to worsen the plight of migrant labourers, as the government has failed to protect their rights on wages and welfare, Mr Promboon said.
Ly Vichuta, executive director of Legal Support for Children and Women in Cambodia, a Phnom Penh-based rights group, said Cambodian labourers chose to work in Thailand because of higher wages and greater demand for workers.
08:04:32 local time CAMBODIA
* Workers given lesson in how not to faint:
Education garment workers and their bosses on how to avoiding fainting is the latest strategy the Ministry of Labour is using to address a problem that has plagued the industry in the past two years, a ministry official said yesterday.
Labour Ministry Secretary of State Oum Mean said he and other officials began a campaign on Sunday with visits to the Gladpeer Garment factory in Phnom Penh and the Sabrina Garment factory in Kampong Speu, a Nike supplier and the site of several previous fainting incidents. read more.
* Garment workers making US brands stitch ’til they faint:
In Cambodia, poverty is endemic and its people, largely unskilled and deprived of quality education, will work for dirt-cheap wages.
In other words, it’s an ideal location for outsourced garment factories.
Just ask Levi Strauss, H&M or The Gap.
Last year, a strange phenomenon — wave after wave of mass faintings in garment factories — briefly attracted the media’s gaze towards the lives of Cambodians who stitch clothing for Western consumers. This trend was largely presented as a mystery. Time Magazine surmised that “mass hysteria” could be to blame. An executive blamed it on a “strange psychological phenomenon.”
But less attention has been paid to recent efforts to understand the fainting spells. According to varied groups’ research, it’s largely owed to more obvious causes: underfed workers toiling in stifling hot factories.
According to the International Labor Organization: “There is no one cause for the factory fainting incidents. Contributing factors include poor worker nutrition, excessive overtime, high heat levels, poor ventilation, and mass psychogenic illness.”
Another outfit, the Netherlands-based Clean Clothes Campaign, also attributes the faintings to noxious chemicals, low blood sugar, malnutrition and, yes, “mass hysteria” among other factors. In 2011, the group reports, there were an astounding 2,400 fainting incidences. read more.
* New Cambodian Garment Industry Deal Looks Promising:
Cambodia’s Garment Manufacturers Association (GMAC) and nine trade-union confederations, plus one federation, signed a two-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) yesterday that spells out terms for resolving industrial disputes – with an emphasis on both manufacturers and their workers accepting Arbitration Council rulings and avoiding strikes to try and force their claims.
According to The Phnom Penh Post, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said the signing was long due, and hoped the MoU would have a positive impact on reducing strikes. He added that his association would also encourage non-member garment factories, which often operated with little regulation, to also adopt the MoU.
Wildcat strikes orchestrated by rogue freelance “union organisers” not attached to any official unions, too often as a cover for extracting bribes to stop the industrial action, have been a blight on the industry here.
The unions and GMAC also signed a separate agreement to lobby brand owners (i.e. not the contract manufacturers that employ the workers) to fund a food programme that would feed workers one free meal every day, an idea that Penh Pal has been advocating for some time. It follows innumerable cases of mass faintings in factories over the last year or so blamed on inadequate nutrition amongst workers.
* Chea Vichea appeal set:
The Court of Appeal has set a date for a long-delayed hearing of two men popularly believed to have been wrongfully convicted of the 2004 murder of unionist Chea Vichea.
“The hearing will be set in November,” Appeal Court deputy president Chuon Sunleng said yesterday. “I don’t remember [the specific date], but it is maybe in the middle of the month.”
Free Trade Union President Chea Vichea was gunned down in broad daylight in January 2004.read more.
09:04:32 local time INDONESIA
* Strike Was a Warning, Say Indonesian Unions:
Indonesian unions vowed to step up pressure on employers to refrain from using contract labor, a day after an unprecedented nationwide strike shut thousands of factories in Asean’s largest economy and caused an estimated 1 trillion rupiah ($104 million) in production losses.
“This was a warning,” said Said Iqbal, chairman of the Indonesian Metal Workers Federation. “We have given the government two weeks to hold a dialogue with employers and labor associations. Then we’ll see if the results are satisfactory.”
* Indonesian regulation on outsourcing system to be issued this month:
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said a regulation on outsourcing system of recruiting workers will be issued by the end of this month.
The regulation has been in final preparation over the past month, Muhaimin said here on Friday.
His statement came following massive strike on Oct 3 crippling process of production in industrial centers with more than 2 million workers taking to the street in big cities in the country.
The workers demanded abolition of outsourcing system, better pay and health security. read more.
* Value-added product exports see a big jump:
Govt pleased to see change in export structure
Despite a continuing slip in monthly exports, Indonesia’s export structure has improved as shown by a rise in shipments of more value-added products, a trade official says.
Exports from January to July had indicated a bigger proportion of finished products, which implied a shift from upstream products to downstream products, Indonesia’s Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said yesterday in Jakarta.
Shares of garments to exports of textile and textile products rose to 60.95 per cent in the January-July period from 59.65 per cent a year earlier, while shares of yarn and fibres declined to 35.95 per cent during the month from 37.78 per cent in the past year, he said. read more.
06:49:32 local time NEPAL
* Shikhar Shoes resumes operation:
Shikhar Shoes Factory, which had remained closed for the last 20 days, has resumed its operation after reaching an agreement with the agitating workers.
Ram Krishna Prasain, the company’s managing director, said the operations were resumed from Sunday following Friday’s tripartite talk involving the factory’s management, representatives from Federation of All Nepal Trade Union- Revolutionary (FANTU-R) and the trade union within the factory.
During the talk, the factory management agreed to promote the workers in permanent position as well as to review the workers’ wages.
Indra Rai, president of the factory based trade union, said they had decided to withdraw their protest after the management agreed to fulfill their major demands.
07:04:32 local time BANGLA DESH
* Workers block Dhaka-Mymensingh highway:
Workers of a garments factory on Monday blocked the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway in Sadar upazila, demanding their arrears.
Police said workers of Panacea Sweater Factory at Bhogra staged demonstration and took position on the highway at about 6pm as the authorities failed to pay their salaries of the last month by afternoon.
The agitating workers blocked the highway by burning tyres, creating a six- km long traffic jam from Tongi to Shalna and halting traffic movement till 7:45 pm. read more.
* US concerned over labour standard, draft NGO policy:
The United States (US) has expressed its concern over the labour standard and draft NGO policy in Bangladesh.
Washington made its concern known to Dhaka during the first ever US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue in the US capital on September 19-20, said sources concerned.
The US side has also made it clear that under the current circumstances it is all but certain that Bangladeshi products will not get duty-free and quota-free access to the US market.
About the draft NGO policy, Washington feels that as the next general elections will be held under a political government, the monitoring of elections by the NGOs and civil society will be even more important. Therefore, no measures should be taken so that the space for NGOs and civil society is shrunk. read more.
* Tanneries harm workers, poison communities: HRW:
Workers in many leather tanneries in the capital’s Hazaribagh area become ill because of exposure to hazardous chemicals, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday.
New York based rights body also said the workers including children as young as 11 were injured in horrific workplace accidents in the tanneries.
The tanneries, which export hundreds of millions of dollars in leather for luxury goods throughout the world, spew pollutants into surrounding communities.
read more. & read more.
* Dhaka proposes common textile mkt for D-8 nations:
Bangladesh proposed Monday a common textile market, common garment brands, transfer of appropriate technology and a common fund for industrial development for the Developing 8 (D-8) countries on the first day of the 7th Meeting of the D-8 Working Group on Industrial Cooperation in the city.
read more. & read more.
* D-8 call for tech transfer, sharing of know-how for mutual benefits:
The seventh working group meeting of the Developing 8 (D-8) nations in the capital Monday called for increased trade and cooperation by ensuring transfer of technology and sharing of knowledge in different fields for mutual benefits of the bloc members.
06:34:32 local time INDIA
* Wages hiked to fight inflation:
The government has implemented new hiked rates of minimum wages in unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled categories in all scheduled appointments with effect from October 1, said Delhi labour minister A K Walia on Friday.
The new rates have been worked out after the adjustment of dearness allowance. They will also be applicable to clerical and non-technical supervisory staff appointments. Walia added that the city government has revised the rates to bring minimum wages at par with the inflationary trends. read more.
* Minimum-wage battle front:
There’s no actual swordplay, but you can see flashes of steel along with sparks when economists wield their weapon of choice — statistical analysis. One of the most dramatic running battles concerns the effect of minimum-wage laws. Do they increase incomes for low-wage workers, or are higher wages counterbalanced by increased unemployment?
Those opposed to government intervention once dominated this battlefield. In 1990, for instance, a survey of members of the American Economic Association showed that 60 per cent agreed that minimum wages increase unemployment among young and unskilled workers.
In 1994, however, a now-famous case study by the economists David Card and Alan Krueger compared employment trends in fast-food establishments in New Jersey affected by an increase in the state minimum wage in 1992 with trends in nearby counties of Pennsylvania, where no legislative change had taken place.
* Long hours of power cut back in Coimbatore:
Everyday activities hit at industries
The district is facing long hours of power cut again for the last three days, hitting everyday activities at houses and industries.
With production declining by nearly 50 per cent in micro industries here, the units are unable to repay bank loans. Many of them face the threat of action by banks.
Considering the present power situation, the banks should waive the interest and grant moratorium to the units to repay the loan, says J. James, president of Tamil Nadu Association of Cottage and Micro Enterprises.
The medium and large-scale industries plan to meet the officials of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation and submit their suggestions.
“We do not want to resort to protests. But, we want to give our suggestions so that we can manage the situation,” says R. R. Balasundaram, president of The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore. Foundries and textile mills are the worst hit as they are unable to run continuously on generators, he adds.
Several workers from other States are quitting work and going back home.
* Japanese firm, Indian textile giant to develop rayon for global markets:
Japanese firm Omineshi and India’s textile giant Aditya Birla Group’s flagship company Grasim Industries has entered into an agreement to develop new international markets for rayon products, a company executive said Monday. Omikenshi is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
In addition to specific products at the core of the agreement, the two companies are to also explore future collaboration through a joint research and development program. to read.
06:34:32 local time SRI LANKA
* Lankan exports now feeling GSP+ pinc:
The removal of the GSP+ facility is one of the main causes of the current downward trend in Sri Lanka’s export sector performance, according to economist and former Director of Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy.
“The full impact of losing the GSP+ facility is being felt only now, hence there has been a slowdown in Sri Lankan exports more recently. Exporters didn’t feel it earlier but now I’m told by many in the garment sector that the situation is becoming more challenging,” Dr Coomaraswamy said.
Sri Lankan exports contracted by 4.6% from January to July, generating earnings of US$ 5.8 billion during the period in question. However, the European Union’s imports have actually increased by 4.5% year-on-year, reflecting a drastic increase in competition for market share in the region.
Tax concessions granted by the EU through the GSP+ facility were lost in mid-2010; however Sri Lankan exports, particularly garments, had managed to maintain a strong performance. read more.
06:04:32 local time PAKISTAN
* Textile industry needs to remove imbalances:
Pakistan’s textile industry is in a quandary as it badly needs to remove the imbalances in its value chain to foster sustained exports but high interest rates and energy shortages are acting as a barrier to the Rs250 billion investments needed for this purpose.
Speaking at a meeting of textile entrepreneurs, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Group Leader Gohar Ejaz said that textile exports had increased in 2010-11 on the strength of high cotton rates.
He said that in 2011-12, textile exports from Pakistan had declined to $12.4 billion but that of India had increased to $34 billion. “We would be lucky to maintain last year’s textile exports level this year, whereas India has enhanced it textile export target from $38 to $40 billion” he said.
He added that Pakistan and India have almost similar access to global textile market with similar import duties though Pakistan is a better quality and cheaper source. However, he said that energy shortages in Pakistan have created doubt among foreign buyers about the ability of its exporters to execute orders on time. read more.
* Govt asked to stabilise seed cotton price:
The federal government should take steps for stabilising seed cotton price in the country, Ihsanul Haq, former executive member of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) has demanded.
In a statement on Monday, Haq said that the Indian government had announced support price for seed cotton (phutti) for the year 2012-13. India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs set the support price for long-staple seed cotton at 1,560 Indian rupees, equivalent to 2,575 Pakistani rupees, per 40 kg; and for medium-staple at 1,440 Indian rupees (2,375 Pakistani rupees), which are 18.18% and 28.17% more than the support price of last year 2011-12. read more.
* Indian cotton exports may go down: ‘Pakistani traders should avail opportunity’:
Cotton export from India is expected to witness a massive decline during fiscal year 2012-2013 due to lack of interest by Chinese buyers in Indian cotton. Cotton traders said that the India has set a production target of 34.3 million bales for current year, which is some 6 percent lower than the target of last year.
However, despite the fact that last year cotton exports from India were 12.78 million bales, highest in Indian history, this year the exports are feared to decline massively mainly due to the lack of interest shown by Chinese buyers in Indian cotton. Experts have estimated some 50 percent decline in cotton exports from India during fiscal year 2012-2013 as China is the largest buyers of Indian cotton and it procured some 7-8 million bales during last year from India. read more.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan Gains Momentum: Court Orders Arrest of Ali Enterprises Owners:
It is Saturday, October 6th, 8:30 AM and members of the Workers’ Rights Movement in Pakistan are out front of the City Court in Karachi, protesting to make sure that bail is not granted again to the owners of the garment factory Ali enterprises, where 289 workers died on September 11th in the deadliest factory fire in history to date.
The owners have been granted bail three times already, on September 14, on September 21, and on October 1: catastrophic kicks in the stomach to efforts of trade unions, labor rights activists and factory workers, and families of victims to hold the owners responsible for atrocious conditions that led to the fires, and properly mourn the deaths of their friends, coworkers and family. So today workers and family members are out in numbers, bearing pictures of the dead and signs demanding justice. They are making sure that this does not happen again. Already in the early morning there is a small victory: all major news channels have broken the news about the demonstration outside of the courthouse.
* Cheque for families of victim of factory fire:
The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, handed over cheque granted by China amounting to Rs 2 million to the Chief Secretary Sindh, Raja Muhammad Abbas, for the families of victims of fire tragedy at Karachi.
It is stated that a simple ceremony in this regard was held at the Chief Secretary House on Monday morning.
The Deputy Chief Protocol, Rehan Naseer Siddiqui, handed over the cheque to Chief Secretary on behalf of the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan.
Secretary Labour Arif Illahi and Commissioner Karachi, Syed Hashim Raza Zaidi, were also present. The disbursement thereof would be made by the Commissioner of Karachi. to read.
* Baldia fire mystery deepens as 70 persons still missing:
As the report of the Sindh government’s inquiry tribunal set up to investigate the Baldia Town factory inferno is keenly awaited, the mystery behind the deadly incident is deepening with each passing day, with more than 70 families of missing Ali Enterprises workers still looking for their loved ones and 39 charred bodies being kept at the Edhi morgue.
While the authorities are firm on 259 deaths in the last month’s tragic incident, the number of persons who were inside the industrial unit at the time of the fire and missing since put a serious question mark over their fate and the total number of casualties.
Background interviews with grieving families and interaction with labour and non-governmental organisations engaged with these families after the tragedy suggest that there are more than 70 families in the Baldia Town, Orangi Town and SITE whose loved ones have not yet returned home after the fire incident, which has turned the Ali Enterprise factory into a haunted place. read more.
* Govt told to speed up victims’ identification:
Finally there’s some hope for some 70 families whose beloved remain unidentified almost a month after the tragic Baldia factory fire.
The Sindh High Court has told the Sindh government to speed up the DNA matching process to identify the remaining victims of the country’s worst industrial disaster. The court has also ordered the authorities to submit the complete details of those killed or injured in the tragedy and provide compensation to the bereaved families.
On Monday, Justice Maqbool Baqir, heading a two-member bench, was hearing five similar petitions filed by different non-governmental organisations seeking judicial inquiry of the garment factory inferno that claimed 258 lives on September 11.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, moved a miscellaneous application to call complete details from the Sindh government of how many government departments or private bodies had announced compensation and who had so far given the money to the victims’ families or the survivors. read more.
* SHC orders expediting DNA testing of bodies:
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday directed provincial government to expedite process of conducting DNA test of nearly 70 bodies of unidentified people who lost lives in deadly fire in garments factory in Baldia town last month.
A division bench, headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir, also directed all concerned to submit complete details of those killed or injured in the tragedy and provision of monetary compensation to their families.
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and others non-profit organisations had filed five petitions, seeking judicial inquiry into Baldia factory inferno incident that claimed over 250 lives and injured many others on September 11, 2012.
Petitioners had sought constitution of judicial commission to fix responsibility on persons responsible for incident and suggest monetary compensation to legal heirs of inferno victims. read more. & read more.
06:04:32 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Elnur & Ruslan Textile opens new plant on production of children clothes:
FE LLC Elnur & Ruslan Textile launched new capacities on production of children clothes in Yangiyul district of Tashkent region.
From 2009, products of Elnur & Ruslan Textile is implemented in Uzbekistan and abroad under trademarks Bambino, Simarik and Elnur Baby.
Elnur & Ruslan Textile CEO Doniyorbek Mamatkulov said that the enterprise produces over 1,000 models of clothes for children at the age of up to 12.
He said that the enterprise exports up to 85% of its products to such countries as Russia, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. He said that Elnur & Ruslan Textile uses ecologic clean and natural materials at production of children clothes.