in the news on-line, 14 & 15 October 2012

09:45:26 local time map of china CHINA

* Xinjiang sets world record for cotton production:

Chinese scientists have set a world record by harvesting 12,575 kg of seed cotton on a single hectare of land in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, data released Sunday showed.

The output, 838.31 kg per mu (0.067 hectares), has surpassed the former world record by over 100 kg per mu, said Li Xueyuan, deputy director of the Cash Crop Research Institute under the Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
The record was achieved on an experimental field in the Tarim Basin in southern Xinjiang through the use of new varieties of cotton and quantitative management methods, Li said.

Xinjiang, the largest cotton producer in China, is expected to reach 3.2 million tonnes in cotton output for 2012 on an area of 24.7 million mu, accounting for half of the national yield. to read.

09:45:26 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers hit nat’l wage cut via new wage schem:

Almost one month after Labor Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz announced that a new wage scheme is already being implemented in 11 of the country’s regions, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno reiterated its opposition to the scheme, which it says means a nationwide wage cut for workers.

The Two-Tiered Wage System (2TWS), KMU claims, will seek to achieve its declared objective – that of “correcting the exclusion of millions of workers… from protection of the minimum wage, while addressing a host of unintended outcomes like inflation, unemployment, and informality” – by cutting wages in imposing floor wages lower than the existing minimum wages.

It cited the wage scheme’s implementation in the Southern Tagalog region, where an almost 25 per cent wage cut was enforced with the replacement of the P337 minimum wage by a P255 floor wage which will be effective until 2016.

“It’s clear from the very concept of the 2TWS that it means a wage cut for all workers across the country. We are calling for its immediate junking,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson. read more.

09:45:26 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Indonesia promising land for Taiwan:

The continuing turbulence in the world economy does not seem to worry Ko Chao Chih, a Taiwanese investor. An owner of a textile and garment factory in Cimahi, West Java, Ko has long shifted his business focus from exports to the United States and European countries to domestic sales as demand here continues to rise significantly.

“Before 1998, the overseas market was better, with our firm exporting 80 percent of output while allocating 20 percent for the local market. But now, 60 percent of the output is sold in Indonesia and only 40 percent goes for export,” said Ko, whose factory produces spandex and materials to make cloth and sports shoes mostly for local manufacturers, and garments for export.

Being upbeat about Indonesia’s robust economic growth, the 68-year-old businessman said that the firm would maintain its presence in the country despite a key problem — surging labor costs.

“Indonesia has a huge market, which still has enormous room to further expand. Meanwhile, the workforce is also more abundant compared to other countries in the region like Vietnam or Thailand,” said Ko, who employs about 800 workers at his factory. read more.

* BetterWorks Indonesia Media update:

1. Indonesian Manpower Ministry to Update Outsource Provisions.
      Read the full article here.
2. RI manufacturing ‘could boost global market share’.
Read the full article here.
Download the World Bank’s full report here.
3. Big demands haunt investors.
Read the full article here.
4. Sukabumi Regent set Living Wage to Rp. 1.2 million.
Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia).
Read the Google Translate English Version here.
5.  Growth to Slow in East Asia and Pacific in 2012, But Domestic Demand Will Play Key Role in Rebound Next Year.
Read the full article here.
      Download the full report here.
6.  [Opinion] What’s wrong with outsourcing?
Read the full article here.
7. Outsourcing System: National Tripartite Coordination Institution allows   outsourcing.
Read the full article here (Article in Bahasa Indonesia).
Read the Google Translate English Version here.

BetterWork Indonesia overview.

07:45:26 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* RMG workers demand bonus, arrears before Eid:

Ready made garments (RMG) workers yesterday urged the industry owners to pay their salary arrears, overtime, bonus and salary of the current month ahead of Eid-ul Azha.

They made the demand at a human chain organised by Bangladesh Garments Sramik Oikya Parishad in front of Jatiya Press Club in the capital.
Speakers said owners of many garment industries usually pay their workers partially depriving the workers of enjoying the Eid occasion.

Mohammad Delwar Hossain Khan, coordinator of the parishad, presided over the programme while Towhidur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Apparel Workers Federation, and Rokeya Sultana, president of Bangladesh Garment Sramik Jote, addressed it. to read. & read more.

Jatiya Garments Sramik Federation forms a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club yesterday, demanding assistance for those garment workers who used to reside in the capital’s Begunbari and Shattala slums which recently caught fire. Photo: STAR

* Workers of sweater factories observe strike in Gazipur:

Over 1,300 workers of two sweater factories in Gazipur observed daylong strike on Saturday, demanding pay hike for per piece of sweater.

Sub-inspector Sawkat Kabir of Gazipur industrial police said over 1,000 worker of Sawan-1 sweater factory, a concern of Macihata Group at Konabari under Gazipur sadar, started the strike for increased pay on the factory premises.
On information, police rushed to the spot and try to calm the situation.
The police mediated a meeting between the owner and the workers’ representatives.

At the meeting the workers’ representatives demanded to increased payment from Tk 20 to Tk 30 for per piece of sweater.
They also demanded removal of some officer as they used to misbehave with the workers.
Later the authorities assured the workers of considering their demand but a section of the workers did not join their work.
The same day, about 300 worker of Shanon-2 sweater factory observed daylong strike on the same demand.  read more.

* RMG owners to clear Eid wages within Oct 24:

The garment makers will pay a portion of the workers’ current month’s salary along with the festival bonus ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha in advance, although union leaders demanded the full month’s payment by October 20.

Generally, workers get a month’s salary within the first week of the next month.
This time, the owners have decided in consultation with the workers to pay a portion of the October’s salary by October 20 or October 24, said Siddiqur Rahman, a vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The garment sector, which employs more than 3.5 million workers, faces unrest before almost all Eid festivals as some of the owners delay payments.
read more.

* Hall-Mark workers clash with police:

Around 50 people were injured after some 15,000 agitating workers of Hall-Mark Group’s readymade garment factories in Savar clashed with police yesterday demanding their due salaries.

Witnesses said the workers came out of the factories around 9:30am and headed toward Dhaka-Aricha Highway to put blockades.
An hour later, police intercepted them at Singair-Hemayetpur road, where vehicular movement had come to a halt.

Industrial Police Deputy Director Mohammad Moniruzzaman said, “The workers attacked when police asked them to free the road.
“Afterwards, law enforcers charged batons, fired at least 10 rubber bullets and lobbed five tear gas shells to disperse them.”

The injured were admitted to local hospitals while the Hall-Mark authorities shut the factories for the day.
The agitators said the authorities did not fulfill their commitment to pay the two month’s due salary of the employees on October 7. read more. & read more.

* 1. Garments sector: Ashulia case revisited:

Sania Hasnath and Syed Hasnath in the first of a two-part article on ‘Labour unrest at garment factories: Reasons and effective solutions’

There is a good deal of narrative writings available on the recent lightning strike at Ashulia ready-made garment (RMG) factories. The vibrant industrial complexes on the outskirts of Dhaka — with over 450,000 workers of around 350+ apparel factories – were forced to remain shut down between June 11, 2012 and June 21, 2012.

The industrial belt turned into a battle ground. About 100 people — 90 factory workers and 10 policemen — were injured. The workers ransacked around 20 factories and vandalised some 100 vehicles. Police arrested 11 people for their alleged involvement in the labour unrest.

The issue has increasingly assumed an international dimension. A case in point is a news article published in The New York Times (NYT) on 24 August, 2012 titled “Made in Bangladesh: Export Powerhouse Feels Pangs of Labor Strife”. The piece was printed along with an impressive colour photograph of six female garment workers.
The caption below the picture reads: “Workers at a garment factory in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which produces shirts and sweaters for global export.” While the heading is reasonably comprehensive and pretty self-explanatory, the sub-title “Policing the Garment Industry” was surely damaging for the government.
read more.

* 2. Addressing causes of labour unrest in garments industry:

Sania Hasnath and Syed Hasnath concluding their two-part article on ‘Labour unrest at garment factories: Reasons and effective solutions’

A growing amount of journalism has explored the following causes of labour unrest in the RMG industries:
1) the workers’ ‘bread and butter’ demands, such as wages and benefits;
2) the shortage of basic housing (shelter) facilities with affordable rents;
3) the lack of transportation facilities from factory premises to the nearest point of their residence;
4) eve-teasing by the local Romeos (it sometimes takes a terrible toll);
5) the discrimination against female workers in terms of wage, and training facilities, and above all,
6) the privileges of a small group of employees who are retired army personnel; and
7) a sense of deprivation within the factory premises and a sense of insecurity outside.

A concise elaboration of some of more pressing points, through strong evidence, is in order. To sum up the issues: workers are facing low wages, housing and transportation problems and authoritarianism at work places. Below we explain some of the major issues more elaborately.

The wage issue: First, the workers demand higher wages and benefits. Table 1 clearly indicates that the labour cost in Bangladesh is among the lowest in the region: the wage is only 23 per cent of China and 38 per cent of India.
The rate of minimum wages increase over the last 15 years (1993-2008) in Bangladesh is even painfully slower compared to other neighbouring counties. Table 2, however, gives a more satisfactory picture.
The government has announced an increase in the basic rate of pay, house rent, and medical expenses.
The new wages structure 2010 shows that previous Tk 1,266 has been raised to Tk 3,000 which is an 80 per cent in minimum wages, while the maximum wages have been fixed at Tk 9,300 from Tk 5,140.
The wages of all other grades have increased as the table shows.
read more.

* RMG units earn buyers’ confidence:

Foreign buyers are now more confident about local RMG industry as the entrepreneurs have increasingly been implementing international standard compliance issues in their factories, insiders said.

A recent study carried out by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) showed that over 2,000 local factories, out of 3,500 running ones, are following the compliance issues.

Some of the factory owners have obtained international standard certificates such as ISO-series, GFSI and FSSC.

According to the certificate providers, readymade garments are now on the top of the list as those are achieving the certificates to convince their buyers about compliance and quality issues. read more.

* Garment makers set up testing lab:

Garment makers will no more need to collect testing certificates from foreign companies as they have set up their own laboratory in Dhaka.

The lab will enable the exporters to complete necessary chemical tests of exportable apparel items for certification.
Commerce Minister GM Quader inaugurated the lab at the BGMEA building on Wednesday.

Primarily, 22 different types of tests, mainly the chemical ones, of exportable garment items will be conducted at the lab and in future BGMEA will enhance its capacity.
The lab has been set up with the financial support of Spanish retail giant in clothing Inditex, while Switzerland-based pre-shipment company SGS is providing technical support, said Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). read more.

* BKMEA members urged to comply with rules:

The country’s knitwear industry is facing a stiff competition due to compliance with various rules and regulation regarding environment, infrastructure and labour standards.
BKMEA acting president Mohammad Hatem expressed the view while addressing seminar on “Economic Crisis in Europe: Necessity of Compliance and New market Expansion.” The seminar held at the auditorium of BKMEA’s (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association) head office was attended by a large number of knitwear entrepreneurs and exporters.
BKMEA organised the seminar to make entrepreneurs acquainted with new rules and regulations that must be followed to ensure full compliance with international standard. “There is no alternative to comply with the rules and regulations,” said the acting BKMEA president urging the member units to practice complaiance of the rules and more.

* Polyester dominance to hit cotton industry: ICAC:

The world cotton production would decline further significantly due to the availability of polyester at cheaper rates, higher cotton farming costs and rise in the prices of food.

A report by the Secretariat of International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) also proves that the current prices for cotton, combined with rising prices for food crops would likely to reduce global cotton area in 2013-14. read more.

* RMG industrial park at long last! :

The decision by the government to set up a dedicated industrial park to cater to the needs and requirements of the country’s export-oriented garments sector is no doubt a heartening one.
A belated move that should have been in place a decade ago, it is still a welcome initiative to steer things in the desired direction for the growth of the sector up to its potential and in the interest of the country’s economy.
The critical aspect of setting up the garments factories in suitable locations in Bangladesh did not receive the right attention it needed so badly in the early eighties.

At that time, prospects of manufacturing and exporting garments from Bangladesh began to surface with a quota-free market in the then EC (European Community) and a substantial quota in the US market, reinforced further by the relocation of businesses from strife-torn Sri Lanka.
The result obviously was the most impromptu setting up of factories in urban locations, especially in the capital Dhaka and the port city Chittagong. Over the years, the sector has suffered immensely from the unplanned, temporary and makeshift arrangements to run factory operations in the most unbefitting locations.
read more.

* RMG exporters urge government to restore previous railway fares for container service:

Country’s readymade garment exporters have urged the government to restore previous chart of railway fares for carrying containers as the sector has been passing through a critical condition due to global economic meltdown and limitations in doing business in the country.

The government last month declared price hike of all sorts of railway services including its container carriers up to 110 per cent. The increased price came into effect from October 1 last.  read more.

07:15:26 local time map of india INDIA

* Unions seek abolition of ‘Sumangali’ scheme in textile mills:

Trade union members have sought better facilities and implementation of the statutory norms for workers in the textile mills in the State.
Principal Secretary – Labour and Employment, Government of Tamil Nadu, Mohan Pyare, held a discussion here on Friday with textile mill and trade union representatives on the ‘Sumangali’ scheme adopted by the mills for employment of workers.

According to K. G. Jagannathan, secretary of the Coimbatore District Mill Workers’ Union, nearly 98 per cent of workers in the textile mills in the State were non-permanent and most of them were women. The mills had different schemes such as ‘Sumangali’, apprentice workers, etc.
They work for more than eight hours a day and are paid Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 after three years. If a worker quits before three years, the bulk amount is not paid in many cases. The mandatory provisions such as providing crèche, payment of provident fund, etc are not adopted by the mills. “We highlighted these to the secretary,” he said. read more.

* Weaving units to observe bandh:

About 6.5 lakh powerloom machines in the country’s biggest man-made fabric hub in the city will come to a grinding halt on Monday following a bandh call announced by Federation of Gujarat Weavers Association (FOGWA) to protest the arrest of two weavers by police in connection with the alleged kidnapping of a textile trader.

The bandh call, according to the office-bearers of FOGWA, was announced after 700 weaving units in Sachin GIDC voluntarily closed down on Saturday to protest the arrest of the weavers. Industry sources said the two weavers, who have been booked, run powerloom units in Sachin GIDC.

FOGWA leaders said a public meeting of the weavers will be held in Katargam community hall on Monday. Issues such as harassment of weavers by police, increasing cases of defaults by textile traders and the payment terms would be raised in the presence of tens of thousands of weavers. read more.

* There are some problems in implementation of mega handloom clusters: Textiles secretary:

The uproar by handloom weavers at the Handloom Package Camp organised by Development Commissioner (Handloom) on Thursday not only exposed the shortcomings in the implementation of the schemes meant for this sector but also put a question mark on the way of implementation.

Secretary (textiles), Kiran Dhingra, who attended the camp, admitted that the handloom weavers of the region are not getting the benefits they deserve. She also admitted that the ambitious scheme of mega handloom cluster is facing some trouble in its implementation. “There are some problems in the implementation of mega handloom clusters. The things are being taken for review,” she told TOI.
read more.

06:45:26 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Cotton date to be manipulated by private sector:

The reconstituting of Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC) will lead the country to a bias and unauthentic data as private sector could be manipulated cotton date according to its own wish, said an official.

The official said the recently re-constituted Pakistan Central Cotton Committee’s powers have been given to private sector which may manipulate cotton date according to its own interests because the government will become helpless to fix unbiased cotton production target and release authentic date of it.

The official said after the reconstituting of Cotton Body the government’s role has almost ended to fix cotton production target and to present unbiased cotton date as the government will only depend on private sector’s data. read more.

* Health, safety for factory workers demanded:

Demanding provision of health and safety for workers at factories, scores of labourers, factory workers and trade union members staged a protest outside Lahore Press Club on Saturday.
All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF) had organised the protest against price hike, worst load shedding, absence of labour laws, ban on trade unions, absence of health and safety issues of workers, minimum wages for workers, poor economic condition of Pakistan Railways, privatisation and poor law and order situation in country.
The protesters urged the government to implement labour laws in the country besides ensuring minimum wages for workers.
They demanded capital punishment for those who were responsible for more than 370 deaths in fire incidents in factories of Karachi and Lahore.
They also shouted slogans against ant-labour policies of the government “that are supporting capitalist policies”.
Labour leaders, speaking on the occasion, said that Pakistan was signatory of 38 ILO conventions and all the country’s labour laws affirmed the universal right to social and economic well being of workers.

According to protesters, 99 percent workers do not have “any kind of social security and old age benefit because the condition for it is to have a permanent job in a factory and permanent jobs are very rare these days as most of the workers are hired on contracts or on daily wages. Unions don’t exist in most of the industrial sector, which is encouraged by rulers”.
They said there is also no justice for workers in labour courts.
read more.

* Labour rights: ‘Anyone who stands up is made an example of’:

 Out of Punjab’s 30 million strong workforce, 0.8 million are formally registered. However, that does not guarantee them the social security and rights they are entitled to under Pakistan’s labour laws.

In July 2012, the management of an edible oil and ghee factory fired 12 workers when it found out that its workers were in the process of registering a union. Following the registration, the workers acquired a stay order from the labour court against their dismissal, but were nonetheless refused entry into the factory and also denied the outstanding dues owed to them.
If labourers and union leaders are to be believed, Pakistan is a system where workers are denied minimum wages, bribery is widespread, millions toiling in the factories disappear on official documentation, and protesters are sent to jails under the Anti-Terrorism Act. read more.


* Factory fire: misery of victims’ kin:

After the Baldia factory fire tragedy, every other day there is news that fire erupted in some other factory in the Site area. Whenever there is such news, one recalls terrible scenes.

Beside this, certain questions come to mind such as in the future what will happen in case of a fire in any factory as we do not have trained fire brigade. Ill-trained staff is dangerous as more lives will be at stake. When fire breaks out, it spreads very fast and workers having no knowledge and experience are vulnerable. Appointment of political workers in this sensitive department is a big question.

The civil defence is another department which is in a pathetic condition. No one from this department comes to inspect factories. Inspectors responsible for this job do not perform their duties. They should check fire extinguishers installed in factories. Firefighting rehearsals should be performed periodically.
But it would be possible only when high-ups of this department feel that this is their primary responsibility.

Labour inspectors should fulfil responsibilities of their their duties regularly. They should check what kind of facilities and benefits are available. If there are no facilities, they should try to improve the conditions and make sure that laws are implemented. read more.

* Workplace fires: ‘Prepare because you never think it could happen to you’ :

The Baldia factory fire, in which 259 people died, has brought to light how unaware people are at the workplace when a fire breaks out. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

If details such as the load on one electrical outlet, gap in ventilation pipes and blocked emergency exits are overlooked at a workplace, it could cost you your life if a fire breaks out.

The Baldia factory fire, in which 259 people died, has brought to light how unaware people are at the workplace when a fire breaks out. It has also thrown into relief the incomprehensive training of firefighters.
To educate people, volunteers from the Fire Protection Association of Pakistan held a workshop on Saturday, to train staff from safety companies and businesses on how to deal with such emergencies.

“The companies are now realising how important the subject is,” said the secretary of the association and one of the trainers, Tariq Moen. The factory fire was not taken seriously enough as only eight companies out of the 50 invited sent staff for the one-day training session. “We take precautions for granted,” said Moen.  Moen pointed out that you don’t walk in a room filled with smoke because the fumes rise towards the roof. “The best way is to crawl and drag the injured to safety on your knees.” read more.

map of Asia

Under “special reports” you can find: an overview of articles about the Garment factory Fire in Karachi (and Lahore).

* Xinjiang sets world record for cotton production

* Workers hit nat’l wage cut via new wage schem

* Indonesia promising land for Taiwan
* BetterWorks Indonesia Media update

* RMG workers demand bonus, arrears before Eid
* Workers of sweater factories observe strike in Gazipu
* RMG owners to clear Eid wages within Oct 24
* Hall-Mark workers clash with police
* 1. Garments sector: Ashulia case revisited
* 2. Addressing causes of labour unrest in garments industry
* RMG units earn buyers’ confidence
* Garment makers set up testing lab
* BKMEA members urged to comply with rules
* Polyester dominance to hit cotton industry: ICAC
* RMG industrial park at long last!
* RMG exporters urge government to restore previous railway fares for container service

* Unions seek abolition of ‘Sumangali’ scheme in textile mills
* Weaving units to observe bandh
* There are some problems in implementation of mega handloom clusters: Textiles secretary

* Cotton date to be manipulated by private sector
* Health, safety for factory workers demanded
* Labour rights: ‘Anyone who stands up is made an example of’
* Factory fire: misery of victims’ kin
* Workplace fires: ‘Prepare because you never think it could happen to you’

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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