in the news on-line, 17 October 2012

08:32:42 local time map of china CHINA

* Mexico challenges Chinese textile, clothing support:

Mexico has accused China of breaking World Trade Organization rules by giving tax breaks and other favourable deals to its own clothing and textile businesses, the global trade body said on Monday.

Mexico filed a complaint with the WTO saying Beijing was effectively subsidizing Chinese companies in those sectors by exempting them from income taxes, value-added taxes and municipal taxes, the organization said in a statement.
Other Chinese support that Mexico said broke WTO regulations included cash payments from government agencies and discounts on loans, land rights and electricity prices.
It was Mexico’s fourth WTO complaint against China, a competitor in many sectors including clothing and textiles. read more. & read more.

* China to ‘properly’ resolve Mexico’s textile subsidy complaint:

China has received a consultation request by Mexico over its subsidy policies to its textile and clothing businesses and will “properly” resolve the request following the dispute settlement procedures of the World Trade Organization, said a statement on the website of the Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.

Mexico filed a complaint under the WTO on Monday claiming that China gives direct and indirect support to its producers and exporters of textile and clothing products.

The alleged supports or subsidies include tax reduction and exemption measures, and tax rebates, which run against WTO rules, Mexico said in the complaint.
read more.

07:32:42 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Minimum wage rates set to be smoothly tweaked:

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs last week proposed the government to add another minimum wage applied from next year.

The two options being available for the government approval were tabled by the ministry in August.

According to Tong Thi Minh, head of the ministry’s Department of Labour-Salary, the third option was to relieve enterprises’ difficulties in the context of economic woes, through surveying and collecting opinions from localities and enterprises.
The third minimum wage plan applied in all enterprises for Zone 1, since January 1 2013, would be VND2.4 million ($115.4) per month, equaling a rise of 26 per cent compared with the previous scheme.

Specifically, the first option will be VND2.7 million ($129.6), VND2.4 million ($115.2), VND2.13 million ($102.2) and VND1.93 million ($92.6) for zones 1, 2, 3 and 4, respectively equal to a nearly 35 per cent jump.
Meanwhile, in the other proposed plan, the figures for zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 will be VND2.5 million ($120), VND2.25 million ($108), VND1.95 million ($93.6) and VND1.8 million ($86.4) per month, respectively or an increase of 31 per cent. read more.

* Project’s bad fashion statement:

The runaway foreign investors of Lifepro Vietnam’s Luxfashion textile and garment complex, leaving $150 million in debts behind, have underscored the ugly side of foreign-invested projects that go wrong.

Nobody is now working at Luxfashion, except 24 security men protecting the sealed assets around the clock
The $300 million European clothing complex, located in northern Ninh Binh province’s Gian Khau Industrial Park, has been totally locked down since early September, just six months after official becoming operational.

In late August, the local authorities were reported by a Vietnamese representative of Lifepro Vietnam that all foreign managerial staff of Luxfashion complex, one of Vietnam’s largest textile and garment factories, had left Vietnam without a trace for the last two months. read more.

07:32:42 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Sritrims opens operations office in Cambodia:

Sritrims (Far East) Ltd., a 100% Sri Lankan organization manufacturing garment fashion accessories for the global apparel trade, recently opened an operations office in Cambodia, while participating in the garment fashion exhibition held in that country.  Sritrims (Far East) Ltd. was established in the year 1996 and its operations offices are established in India, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.    

Speaking about the opening of the Cambodian operations office, the Managing Director of Sritrims (Far East) Ltd., Nishantha Delgoda, said, “We opened an operations office in Cambodia as a step in our search for developing markets.
Until recently the attention of the global apparel industry was focused on Bangladesh.
But, now the attention of the garment fashion trade is gradually turning towards Cambodia and Myanmar because of the availability of cheap labour in these countries.
Taking this trend into consideration, we opened an operations office in Cambodia.
read more.

06:17:42 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* ‘Allo can generate huge employment’:

Utilisation of half of the Allo — from collection and processing to sales — will not only generate huge employment in rural hilly areas but also help create business worth billions.

“If we are able to utilise even half of the total Allo found in 58 districts of the country, it will not only generate employment for over 100,000 people, but also help create business worth billions of rupees,” said National Programme Manager of Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) Dr Lakshman Pun, addressing a stakeholders workshop on ‘Allo value chain’, in Dhulikhel today.

Allo — Girardinia diversifolia — is a non-timber forest product that is found at an altitude between 1,200 metres to 3,000 metres, and has a huge potential for exports too, he said, adding that the current forestry policy has to facilitate the business which is one of the major tools for reducing poverty in rural hilly areas and especially for women of the indigenous community.

The Allo plant is harvested in autumn and winter from community and government owned forests. Indigenous communities like Magars and Rais have been using the Himalayan nettle — commonly known as Allo — as a weaving thread for shawls, blankets, bags and clothes since long, but with modern textiles replacing traditional natural fabrics, the age-old practice is on the verge of extinction. read more.

06:32:42 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Holding aloft the banner of ‘Fashion for Development’:

Bangladesh’s total garment export in the year 2010-11 was US$ 22,924 million. It comprises about 16 per cent of GDP (FY 2010-11), providing employment to 10.72 per cent of the national labour forces.
Nearly 79 per cent of the total exports of the country were comprised of RMG (ready-made garment) products in FY 2010-11 (Export Promotion Bureau).

Bangladesh is a major player for low-value items, although some of the global brands manufacture their brands’ products here. These export orders are awarded due to low-cost production facilities. These businesses will remain here so long as Bangladesh remains competitive in the global market. read more.

* Govt decides to divest all mills under BTMC:

The government has decided to dispose of all the 21 textile mills under Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) and avoid the losses the mills concerned have been incurring every year, officials said.

According to the available official data, the mills under BTMC incurred about Tk 6.0 billion losses during the last 10 years.

An inter-ministerial meeting held recently at the Jute and Textiles Ministry headed by its minister in-charge Abdul Latif Siddique prepared a draft guideline to hand over the mills to the private sector.

The would-be owners will have to replace or set up new textile mills or renovate the existing ones rather than using the mills’ premises for business such as housing, the guideline said. read more.

* Hall-Mark MD among 3 grilled by ACC:

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on Tuesday interrogated three top accused of the Tk 3,600 crore Sonali Bank loan scandal.

A six-member ACC investigation team, headed by ACC deputy director Joynal Abedin Shebly, grilled Hall-Mark Group managing director Tanvir Mahmud and its general manger Tushar Ahmed, and former deputy general manger of Sonali Bank Ltd Azizur Rahman. read more.

* Arrest of Hall-Mark MD not enough:

The government can retrieve, if it wants to, the full sum swindled out of Sonali Bank by the Hall-Mark Group, said AK Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), yesterday.

“They [the Hall-Mark Group] have not hidden the scam money beneath the surface. Either they put it in different bank accounts of their relatives or they laundered the money to foreign countries.”
Although Azad hailed the government’s act of arresting Hall-Mark Group’s Managing Director Tanvir Mahmud, he feels a lot more needs to be done.

“But it is not enough. The government has to arrest all the big-wigs involved in the loan scam,” he said.
Azad said that if the accused in the scam are given exemplary punishments, they would be compelled to return the money. read more.

* ACC brings Hall-Mark MD-GM, Sonali DGM face-to-face:

The Anti-Corruption Commission(ACC) yesterday brought the three key persons of the Hall-Mark loan scamface-to-face and quizzed them about swindling of money from state-run SonaliBank.

The three are: Hall-Mark Groupmanaging director Tanvir Mahmud, its general manager Tushar Ahmed and suspendeddeputy general manager (DGM) of Ruposhi Bangla Branch of Sonali Bank AKM AzizurRahman.

“We brought the trioface-to-face and interrogated them about the Hall-Mark loan scam at the ACCheadquarters,” said an official familiar with the six-member special probeteam of the commission headed by its deputy director Mir Joynul Abefdin Shebly. read more.

* Banks confused about BB’s move on inland bill payment:

The commercial banks in the country have sought a clear directive from the central bank about settlement of payments against the ‘inland bill purchase’ (IBP) following the much-talked-about Hall-Mark loan scam involving a state-run bank.

Although the Bangladesh Bank (BB) verbally instructed the banks Monday to settle overdue payments against inland bills, some banks were not convinced. read more.

* Traders need Tk 4b to buy raw leather:

The hide and skin traders of Bangladesh have applied for Tk 400 crore in loan from the state owned banks to accumulate their Eid inventories but fear that there may be less money in banks to be lent to them.
They said ‘Hallmark Group’ scandal may have fallout where the public banks would be hesitant to extend credits to the traders.
The leather traders also expressed their grave concern over the prevailing circumstances in the public banks following the ‘Hallmark Group’ and other loan scandals.
They fear that they may not be able to get as much loan this year as they had received last year because of volatility in the public sector banks. The bank officials are very afraid this year as they are hesitating to take any risk while disbursing loans, said a raw leather trader. read more.

06:02:42 local time map of india INDIA

* Trade unions seek tripartite committee:

The Joint Action Council of the Coimbatore and Erode District Textile Workers Union has urged the State Government to constitute a tripartite committee to abolish child workers and bonded workers in textile mills.

In a memorandum to the State labour secretary on Tuesday, K.G. Jaganathan, secretary of the council, pointed out that 77 bonded labourers, including 27 child workers, were rescued from textile mills in Erode District on Monday.

The secretary had conducted a meeting here recently with textile mill managements and the trade unions. The mill owners had denied at the meeting that the units had bonded labourers and insisted that they paid all the statutory benefits.

The rescue on Tuesday “is only a tip of the ice berg. The statement made by all the trade union leaders at the meeting are factual and is about the reality in the district,” he said. read more.

* Protest against long hours of power cuts:

Antagonised over the long hours of load shedding, spurt in mosquitoes, and poor basic amenities, around 200 residents of Corporation Ward 20 and members of Communist Party of India lay siege to Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation office and staged road blockade agitation in the city on Tuesday.

CPI’s Poyampalayam branch secretary V.S. Sasikumar, who was among those led the agitation, said that the umpteen small and medium scale apparel units situated in the ward were on the verge of closure as they could not operate at the optimal levels due to 16 hours of load shedding in place in the area. read more.

* Reebok India scam: Bhatt’s bail rejected:

A city court on Monday rejected the bail plea of Surakshit Bhatt, a co-accused in the Rs 870 crore Reebok India scam. Bhatt had filed his bail application through his counsel on Wednesday. Bhatt’s counsel Harish Malhotra told TOI that they would go to the session court against the order.

The court of Sandeep Yadav, judicial magistrate, rejected the bail plea of Bhatt. The court cleared that bail cannot be granted in such a big scam. Meanwhile, two more accused, Nikhil Upadhayayhi and Somyavart Mukharjee, also filed their bail plea in city court on Monday, which hearing will be held on October 17. A total of 12 persons, including two main accused are in judicial custody. read more.

* Indian spinning mills join hands to source cotton:

More than 50 spinning mills from the South Indian textile hub of Coimbatore have come together to source quality cotton at lower prices.
These companies have together floated the Cotton Sourcing Company (Cosco), which is expected to reduce transportation and other expenses, incurred during procurement of cotton by the textile mills.
 The textile mills, which are part of Cosco, have a combined capacity of around 2 million spindles, which constitutes around 10 percent of the total cotton spinning capacity in Tamil Nadu. read more.

* 25 lakh bales of cotton to be procured from Gujarat:

The Cotton Sourcing Company Limited (COSCO), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) recently constituted by textile entrepreneurs in the region to source cotton in huge volumes, have forged a linkage with Gujarat ginners and farmers following talks with them at Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

“The 53 member units of COSCO will be collectively procuring 25 lakh bales of cotton every year under a consortium approach directly from the ginners and farmers in bulk so that sizable cash discounts and trade discounts can be got with upfront payment terms,” COSCO director D. Prabhu, told The Hindu over the phone from Ahmedabad. read more.

06:02:42 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* EFC asks for five-day working week, extended hours for women:

The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon( EFC) made two “specific” proposals to the government prior to the budget in order to create the necessary environment for investment promotion, especially taking into account the potential that Sri Lanka has in relation to the BPO industry.

The EFC’s proposals revolve around the spread of working hours over five days of the week and the regularizing of night work for women under the Shop and Office Employees Act. The EFC has pointed out that, although both these issues have been taken up for discussion and is still being discussed at the National Labour Advisory Council during the last two years, the necessary amendments to legislation seem a far cry.

“At a meeting held at Temple Trees recently, chaired by the President, at which business chambers and associations were invited to make their proposals, the Director General of the EFC, Ravi Peiris once again reiterated the importance of bringing in the necessary amendments to legislation in respect of these two matters. He said that these are not contentious issues for trade unions to oppose as changes in such work arrangements are imperative in the context of the world of work today,” the EFC said in a statement. read more.

05:32:42 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Faisalabad woes: From textile hub to haven for scrap dealers:

Last year, energy shortage caused more than 12 hours of electricity outages and five-days-a-week gas suspension to industry. PHOTO: FILE

Persistent energy crisis and increasing cost of doing business have brought down yet another textile mill as the management of Chairman Weaving Mills has sold the concern to scrap dealers after it lost competitiveness.

“Electricity tariff had become unaffordable, most of the time there was no electricity at all to operate the machines, so I sold the machines to scrap dealers,” said Amanullah Saleem, the Chief Executive Officer of the weaving mill in Faisalabad.

Once known as the textile hub, Faisalabad has now become a haven for scrap dealers. The dealers are enjoying a good business and buying power looms from closing factories at the price of steel scrap.

Chairman Weaving Mills was going quite well a few years ago. Saleem earned a handsome amount, but the energy shortage and high energy tariff made things worse. read more.

* Senate demands report on textile sector woes:

The subcommittee of the Senate Standing Committee on Textile Industry on Monday directed the Ministry of Textile Industry (MinTex) for submitting a detailed report on the issues and challenges faced by the local textile industry.

Speaking in the meeting Senator Osman Saifullah Khan said “We should be educated on the issues of textile industry, in such way the legislation should be done to resolve the issues of sector.”

Briefing the meeting, joint secretary MinTex said that the sector was playing a pivotal role in the economic development and absorbing the skilled and unskilled labour force in the country. He said that the textile export, comprising 57% of the total exports, was providing employment opportunities for 39% labour force in the country.
read more.

* Government urged to bail out textile industry from crisis:

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) demanded of the Government to bail out textile industry and exports from current crisis by removing hurdles and provision of necessary incentives to expand economy, create new jobs and to generate forex for the country, said Asghar Ali Chairman and Muhammad Asif, Vice Chairman of the Association in a joint statement here on Tuesday.

Pin pointing the various bottlenecks plaguing textile exports, they said that most ticklish issue is rising cost of production as prices of raw materials and inputs like gas, electricity and petroleum products have sky rocketed making our products uncompetitive in international market. read more.


* Urge KIK to identify buyers and pay compensation to Pakistan fire victims:

On the left, jeans in a Kik shop in Germany. On the right, labels found in the ashes in Pakistan

On Tuesday 11th September almost 300 workers were killed when a fire ripped through the  Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan. At the time of the fire the factory was producing jeans for the German low cost retailer, KIK, which has more that 3000 stores in eight European countries.

Although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, it is clear that the high death toll was caused by appalling health and safety conditions at the factory. At the time of the fire windows were closed with bars, fire exits were locked and there was no equipment available to fight the fire.

The factory had been regularly audited in recent years, yet the factory itself was not legally registered and had failed to provide employment contracts.

Although KIK was forced to acknowledge their role in the tragedy, they have since refused to engage in meaningful discussion and have taken no action to provide remedy in this case.

KIK has claimed that extensive auditing taking place in the years since 2006 lead to improvements in the fire safety regulations. The events of 11th September prove that such improvements were clearly insufficient. The audits failed to show that the factory was running illegally, the lack of fire exits and the fact that all windows were barred, leaving no way for the smoke to escape. KIK needs to admit that its audit process is not reliable. The audit did not prevent the deaths of almost 300 workers and does not exempt KIK from responsibility in this case. (…)

Now is not the time for excuses: call on KIK now to demand they:

* ensure transparency;
* ensure compensation to the victims;
* take all measurements to prevent future disasters;
* support and participate in the investigation.

read more & Please, take a moment to sign our Urgent Appeal.

05:32:42 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Doctors and nurses forced to pick cotton:

After some international clothing firms such as H&M, Adidas and Marks and Spencer boycotted cotton from Uzbekistan in protest at the use of child labour, this year most Uzbek children are able to get on with their schoolwork.

But office workers, nurses and even surgeons are being forced into the fields instead.
Malvina, a nurse at a clinic in Tashkent, is angry.
“I am almost 50 years old and I’ve got asthma. We had to pick a lot of cotton, all by hand – and we were not paid anything!”
She has just returned from a 15-day stint picking cotton with other health professionals in rural Uzbekistan. It was hard toil and no-one was spared, whatever their seniority. read more.


map of Asia

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

* Mexico challenges Chinese textile, clothing support
* China to ‘properly’ resolve Mexico’s textile subsidy complaint

* Minimum wage rates set to be smoothly tweaked
* Project’s bad fashion statement

* Sritrims opens operations office in Cambodia

* ‘Allo can generate huge employment’

* Holding aloft the banner of ‘Fashion for Development’
* Govt decides to divest all mills under BTMC
* Hall-Mark MD among 3 grilled by ACC
* Arrest of Hall-Mark MD not enough
* ACC brings Hall-Mark MD-GM, Sonali DGM face-to-face
* Banks confused about BB’s move on inland bill payment
* Traders need Tk 4b to buy raw leather

* Protest against long hours of power cuts
* Trade unions seek tripartite committee
* Reebok India scam: Bhatt’s bail rejected
* Indian spinning mills join hands to source cotton
* 25 lakh bales of cotton to be procured from Gujarat

* EFC asks for five-day working week, extended hours for women

* Faisalabad woes: From textile hub to haven for scrap dealers
* Senate demands report on textile sector woes
* Government urged to bail out textile industry from crisis
* Urge KIK to identify buyers and pay compensation to Pakistan fire victims

* Doctors and nurses forced to pick cotton

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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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