in the news on-line, 18 October 2012

17:16:22 local time map of china CHINA

* Chinese industry body rebuffs Mexico’s complaint over govt subsidies:

A Chinese textile and clothing industry agency denied Tuesday charges by Mexico about alleged Chinese government subsidies to textile and clothing industries, saying Chinese companies only receive export tax rebate which is reasonable.

“The charges by Mexico are ungrounded. Chinese companies only enjoy export tax rebate which is justified under the current situation of volatile exchange rate and rising labor costs,” Zheng Chen’ai, chairman of the Wenzhou Fashion Association, told the Global Times Tuesday.

The tax rebate is mostly used by companies to offset the rising labor costs and improve work conditions, Zheng said.
“We do not expect the government’s subsidies to help a company,” he noted.
“Mexico’s argument supporting its charges against China is weak and irrational,” Bai Ming, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times Tuesday. read more.

16:16:22 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Minimum wage likely not to increase as planned:

Because of a decrease in the State budget revenue, the Government finds it difficult to arrange a financial source to raise the minimum wage to VND1.3 million (US$62) per month as of May 1 next year as earlier planned, said Finance Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.

The minister made the statement at yesterday’s meeting held by the National Assembly to discuss the Government’s review of social and economic performances in 2012 and its plans for 2013.

According to the roadmap for the Government’s minimum wage reform plan, the minimum wage will be increased to VND1.3 million per month as of May 1, 2013, compared to the present VND1.05 million, and such an increase in minimum wage will cost the State budget VND60-65 trillion ($3.12 billion) in 2013, Hue said.
read more.

* Hanoi to host ASEM Labour Ministers’ conference:

The 4th ASEM Labour and Employment Ministers’ Conference will take place in Hanoi from October 24-26. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will attend and address the event.
They will focus on employment policies for the youth and vulnerable groups, together with three main challenges to sustainable employment, including social welfare, social responsibilities of businesses, and health and safety at workplace. read more.

16:16:22 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Lingerie maker Sabina targets Indonesia:

Local lingerie manufacturer Sabina will use its manufacturing facilities in Thailand as a base for expanded exports to Asean, and plans to venture into its newest market, Indonesia, this year.

Bunchai Punturaumporn, chief executive officer of Sabina Plc, said the company has drawn up a plan to prepare for the 2015 launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC). Rather than embarking on overseas expansion by itself, the plan envisages appointing local distributors in particular markets. The company now plans to enter the Indonesian market, which is seen as having great potential given the country’s huge population of more than 240 million.
Bunchai said the government’s measure to increase the minimum wage to Bt300 would not have a negative impact on the company’s manufacturing costs, as the company had already adjusted its manufacturing process from workers doing needlework sitting down to standing up, reducing lead time and work duplication. Productivity had increased by about 20 per cent, he said. read more.

17:16:22 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Minimum Wage: Unemployment Rate, Foreign Investor Implications Considered:

The government took into consideration the unemployment rate and implications to entry of foreign investors to the country as the main factors in the formula to set the minimun wage at RM900, said Human ResourcesMinister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam.

“Based on the World Bank’s analysis, the minimum wage in Malaysia had to be set at not more than RM1,000 a month (total compensation) or RM900 a month (base compensation).

“Should the minimum wage be fixed at a higher level as proposed by certain parties, it would affect the operation of firms which could result in retrenchment of workers,” he said when winding-up debate on the Supply Bill 2013 for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday. read more.

17:16:22 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Pan Brothers to launch own brand of apparel:

PT Pan Brothers (PRBX), the garment manufacturer for global brands like Calvin Klein and The North Face, said on Wednesday that they planned to launch their own brand of apparel by the second quarter of next year.

Anne Patricia Sutanto, the vice president director of PT Pan Brothers, said that the company would focus on the Indonesian as well as Southeast Asian markets for the distribution of their house brand.
“We have the capability to manufacture sportswear, formal wear and clothes that are more about lifestyle,” she said, adding that the emphasis would be on lifestyle apparel. read more.

* Employers to pay for workers’ welfare:

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that employers had to register their workers on national health-care and occupational social security programs, and had to pay for their premiums.

A nine-member Constitutional Court panel, chaired by Mahfud MD, made the ruling to respond to a judicial review filed by a labor union federation against Article 15 of Law No. 24/2011 on social security providers (BPJS).

The article only requires employers to register their workers without giving details as to who pays for the premium, a provision that the labor unions considered as contradicting the 1945 Constitution, which guarantees workers’ rights for social security protection. read more.

15:16:22 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* ‘Hall-Mark refunds Tk 232 cr’:

Sonali Bank managing director and chief executive officer Pradip Kumar Dutta categorically said Hall-Mark refunded Tk 232 crore to the bank already.

“Hall-Mark will pay some Tk 48 crore soon,” he said.
The managing director of the bank came up with the disclosure while talking to journalists after the quizzing of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Wednesday.
read more.

* ‘ACC to sue corrupts, if WB can provide evidence’:

Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday said if the World Bank (WB) could provide evidence of corruption in the Padma Bridge project, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) would sue the corrupt persons.

“If they (WB) provide evidence, the commission can file cases in a week,” Muhith told reporters after a meeting of the cabinet committee on purchase and economic affairs at the cabinet division in the Secretariat.
Though the finance minister said it would not be wise to talk much on the Padma Bridge, he said a lot on this burning issue. read more.

* Sonali Bank scam: ACC grills 4 officials of Khanjahan Ali Sweaters:

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in fresh grilling on Wednesday interrogated four officials of Khanjahan Ali Sweaters in connection with the Sonali Bank loan scam.

A six-member inquiry team, led by ACC deputy director Joynal Abedin Shibly, questioned  chairman of Khanjahan Ali Sweaters  M Tazul Islam, its managing director Abdul Jalil Sheikh, and directors Mir Mohammad Shawkat Ali and M Rafiqul Islam.
The ACC team started questioning the quartet at 10 am and continued till 2:00 pm at the ACC headquarters in the city, ACC public relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told UNB. read more.

* BGMEA boss seeks help to grab int’l RMG market:

President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) M Shafiul Islam on Wednesday sought cooperation of all to exploit potential for Bangladeshi products on the international market.

“Now Bangladesh is in a position to grab the huge share of China on the international market for RMG products as it (China) is gradually losing its competence,” he said.
The BGMEA chief made the remarks during a meeting with Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Razu at his office.

President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association AKM Salim Osman, BGMEA first vice-president Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, second vice-president M Siddiqur Rahman and acting labour secretary Mikail Shipar were, among others, present.
Shafiul Islam said the country has achieved 17 percent growth in the RMG sector over the last three years despite global economic recession and different internal problems. read more.

* GAP official to arrive in Dhaka on Saturday:

US clothing retail giant GAP is coming to the country in a bigger way to increase its garment purchase from Bangladesh at competitive prices, said a leading apparel supplier to the company yesterday.

Bobbi Silten, a senior vice-president of GAP, is scheduled to come to Bangladesh on Saturday to meet with its suppliers as the company plans to increase its garment purchase at least by 30 percent year-on-year, said AK Azad, managing director of Ha-Meem Group.
The GAP official wants to be assured that the country has the capacity to deliver the increased number of apparel items in time, he said.

Silten will meet the high-ups of the government and is supposed to express concern on labour unrest and inadequate supply of gas and power to industrial units, said Azad, who is also the president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry. read more.
(AND see below: Gap: Protect sweatshop workers’ lives!)

* WTO warns of dependence on garment exports:

October 17 2012
Bangladesh is risking serious economic problems by concentrating too much on clothing exports, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has concluded in a report released ahead of a review of the country’s trade policies.

“Exports remain highly concentrated both in terms of products and destinations, which carries some risk, with readymade-garment (RMG) exports to the EU and the US the current mainstay,” it warns.
The report comes as Bangladesh’s garment sector is being troubled by continual demands from workers for higher wages. Global clothing buyers have already expressed concerns over these labour woes.

The WTO report also notes Bangladesh RMG exports are “vulnerable to shocks and domestic labour unrest.” The WTO suggests the south Asian nation should improve its ability to attract foreign investment by diversifying export markets and by continuing trade-related economic reforms.
However, on a positive note the report commends Bangladesh for being a “reputed low-cost” garment producer, a trend that the WTO predicts will continue over the medium term.

Bangladesh has enjoyed robust growth on the back of its inherent strengths – “especially a vibrant private sector and a large pool of inexpensive labour,” it says adding: “Unit labour costs in the dominant garment industry are well below those of the nearest competitors.”
And unless its labour problems worsen, the prospects for continuation of such growth are relatively good for Bangladesh. The garment industry will remain the “largest contributor to growth in output for the foreseeable future” especially since the 2011 change in EU import rules, giving Bangladesh duty-free access, noted the report. to read.

(*  What  seems to miss is the mention of a need for a minimum wage,
   a respect for workers and their living and working conditions.
Which does many seem to forget, a respect for people and their labor. editor.)

* Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Help Drive Economy, But Not without Sacrifice:

September 12, 2012
The industrial zone of Ashulia, just outside of Bangladesh’s sprawling capital, Dhaka, grabbed headlines in mid-June when hundreds of garment workers demanding higher minimum wages shut down over 300 factories. It was the most violent protests the region had experienced since 2010; the death of a prominent labor activist, Aminul Islam, three months prior in April fueled the unrest that unfolded.
Over much of the last decade, Bangladesh’s economy has maintained a high, 6 percent growth rate. Although the country remains one of the poorest (it ranks 146th out of 187 countries in the UNDP’s latest Human Development Report), experts are generally optimistic about its growth trajectory – recently, the  director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said that Bangladesh was “well on track” to achieve its development goals to become a middle-income country by 2021.

The garment industry, which makes up 80 percent of the country’s export earnings and employs over 3.6 million people, has played an enormous role in the country’s economic progress. Due to a number of factors but mostly lower working wages, Bangladesh has beaten some of its neighbors like India, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia to become one of the world’s largest clothing exporters – second only to China.
The industry also provides job opportunities to the country’s rural residents, who have typically relied on agriculture (and still do) for their livelihoods, who flock to manufacturing areas like Ashulia. Their income, albeit low, is critical for the livelihood of their families, but the sacrifices that they make are significant. read more.

* Bangladesh On Track To Achieve Middle-income Status By 2021:

2 April 2012
The Director General (DG) of World Trade Organisation (WTO) Pascal Lamy on Saturday in Dhaka said Bangladesh is “well on track” to achieve its development goals and become a middle-income country by 2021.

“The government is well on track to meet many of the time-bound targets, including achieving middle income status by 2021,” he said in his speech at the 46th convocation of the University of Dhaka, held at the university playground.

Mr Pascal Lamy, the fifth DG of the WTO, was the Convocation Speaker. A French political adviser, a businessman and a former European Union (EU). read more.

* WTO asks Bangladesh to diversify export:

3 April 2012
The WTO director general Pascal Lamy has suggested Bangladesh to address non-tariff barriers for boosting the country’s trade besides diversifying its export basket.

Addressing a discussion meeting on recent developments in the global economy and the role of WTO, organized by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry at a city hotel on Sunday, Pascal Lamy said that there was a huge potential for Bangladesh to become a developed country like Singapore.
He, however, stressed that Bangladesh needed to address energy constraints and develop transport infrastructure to attract foreign direct investment. read more.

* Gap: Protect sweatshop workers’ lives:

Since 2006 more than 600 garment workers have died in sweatshop factory fires while sewing clothing for giant fashion companies, like Gap, H&M, JCPenney, and Abercrombie.  

Future tragic deaths could be prevented if companies like Gap would follow the lead of brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, by agreeing to a fire safety program that includes worker input, transparency, and binding commitments to protect workers.

Six months ago Gap publicly promised it would sign on to a worker safety program similar to the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein agreement. Instead this month GAP reverted to the same old public relations stunts by announcing their own, corporate-controlled, fire safety program – one that includes no legal commitments to workers, no oversight by worker organizations, and no transparency.  This is yet another version of Gap saying: ‘trust us; we care about our workers’ — like the programs they had in place when 29 workers were killed at their Bangladeshi supplier in December 2010.

Join Bangladeshi and international unions and labor groups that are calling on Gap to stop the public relations games and commit to a real fire safety program that will save the lives of the company’s sweatshop workers.
Read More And You Can Support here.

14:46:22 local time map of india INDIA

* Child labour rampant in Erode, say rights activists:

They blame Labour Department for prevailing state of affairs

The rescue of 38 children from the clutches of child labour in the last two days in Erode town has come as a shock to the people of Erode.

Despite tall claims of abolishing child labour by the Labour Department, two units of a yarn processing mills were found to employ children, all from the economically backward areas of Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Tiruvannamalai, Salem and Vilupuram districts.
The two units functioned within urban limits. It was also alleged that the mills forced these children and 100 others into bonded labour as well.

“All the children belonged to poor families and brought to Erode by agents through false promises,” a senior revenue official, who was among the rescue team, said.
The children, deprived of education and other basic human rights, claimed that they were forced to work in inhuman conditions for long hours for meagre daily wages. A majority of them claimed that they were not allowed to visit their home for the past several months.
61 more rescued

Revenue officials in another major drive rescued 61 more bonded labourers – including 17 children aged below 14 years – on Tuesday.
They were employed in another unit of the private yarn processing mill in Karungalpalayam near Erode from where 77 bonded labourers were rescued by a team of officials led by Mayor Mallika Paramasivam on Monday. read more.

* Alleged use of child labour: India peeved with US tactics of blacklisting:

India will strongly take up the issue of the United States continuing to blacklist its select industry for alleged child labouruse despite the government and the industry taking steps to address the issue.

Though the US department of labour’s annual exercise of identifying countries and sectors using child labour does not lead to action against blacklisted countries, it harms the image of a country and influences buyer decisions.

“We will discuss the issue with the commerce department and the ministry of external affairs for taking it up with the US government. Over the past few years we have actively taken up programmes to curb child labour in child labour sensitive sectors which does not get reflected in the report,” a labour department official told ET. The US has blacklisted India for the fourth year running for alleged use of child labour in several sectors. read more.

* Textile exporters’ aim remains beyond reach:

Karur home textile exporters’ ambitious aim of achieving an annual turnover of Rs.10,000 crore remains a pipe dream with one hindrance after another upsetting their calculations. At present, the turnover hovers around the Rs.5,750 crore mark.

Karur home textile exporters have carved a niche for themselves in the international textile market, with some reputed international textile experts even suggesting that an exclusive trademark for Karur-based home textile exports be created for wider recognition and better marketability.
That talk was induced by the steady growth of Karur home textiles in the international market over the past three decades in particular.
From just a clutch of handloom products to several items spanning the width of textile and fabric sector, Karur textile exporters have come a long way to reach this turnover.
Industry circles, knowledgeable administrators and interested political powers were always willing to lend their assistance to increase the market share of Karur products globally resulting in higher turnover. But their calculations and aspirations have failed to get transformed into reality with hindrances taking a toll on the industry in the past three years. The current power scarcity is just the icing on the cake.
read more.

* Court rejects National Textile Corporation objection plea:

District court on Tuesday rejected the objection application of Deepak Saxena of National Textile Corporation (NTC) in Swadeshi Mill land scam case on the ground of premature objection application. Next hearing in the case is scheduled on November 1.

Advocate Shivshankar Dashore said that on Tuesday, court rejected the objection application of Deepak Saxena of National Textile Corporation terming it immature and not maintainable. read more.

* Rieter exits textile machinery maker Lakshmi Machine Works:

Swiss textile machinery major Rieter has made a complete exit from city-based Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW). Rieter has sold its residual 3.48% stake in LMW on Tuesday.
LMW had bought out the 50% stake held by Rieter in their joint venture Rieter-LMW Machinery in April 2011. The stake sale brings to an end a long association between the two companies that started in 1965. The Swiss firm provided technology for making textile machines and got about 13% stake in LMW in return.

Rieter wanted to go it alone in the Indian market but its 13% stake in LMW became a major hurdle for its ambitions. LMW had invoked Press Note 1 in 2005 to stopRieter from commencing manufacturing operations in India. Rieterplanned to sell textile machinery through Suessen India, a 100% subsidiary.
Press Note 1 (earlier Press Note 18) restricted foreign companies with more than 3% equity in an Indian company from setting up another unit in the same line of activity through the automatic route. read more.

14:16:22 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* EU Preference Scheme: Pakistan to make 31.4pc net gain in textile export:

Pakistan will make a net gain of 31.4 percent in export of textiles under the EU Autonomous Preference Scheme. Value of exports for 2011 was US$ 1709 million and under the EU Preference Scheme, the exports are estimated to rise to US$ 2246 million yielding in net increase of 537 million.

This was revealed by Mujeeb Ahmad Khan, Head WTO Cell TDAP, during a talk with members of the FCCI here on Wednesday. He said that under the EU Preference Scheme, 26 items are under tariff regulated quotas (TRQ) while 49 items were admissible under Non-Tariff Regulated Quota for export to EU.
read more. & read more.

* Textile industry: Exporters ask govt for bailout:

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) demanded the government to bailout the textile industry and exporters from the current crisis by removing hurdles and provision of necessary incentives to expand economy, create new jobs and to generate foreign exchange for the country, said PTEA Chairman Asghar Ali on Tuesday.

Pinpointing the various bottlenecks plaguing textile exports, he said that most ticklish issue was the rising cost of production as prices of raw materials and inputs like gas, electricity and petroleum products skyrocketed making local products uncompetitive in the international market. He expressed concerns over stuck up amounts of exporters on account of refunds of sales tax, custom rebate and drawback on local taxes and levies regime. to read.


* Court to announce order on Baldia investigation today (Tuesday):

A court will announce its order on Tuesday (today) on how investigation authorities should proceed further in the case against the owners of the Ali Enterprises, in whose Baldia Town factory a devastating fire claimed the lives of nearly 300 people.

The Additional District and Sessions Judge (West), after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defense counsels, reserved its order for October 16. Investigation Officer (IO) Sub-Inspector Jehanzeb moved an application praying that the court cancel the judicial custody of the two owners of Ali Enterprises, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, and hand them over to police custody for an investigation.
read more.

* Failure to bring accused to court irks magistrate:

The court hearing the Baldia factory fire case expressed its annoyance on Friday over the jail authorities’ failure to produce the six accused who were previously remanded.

Judicial Magistrate (West-II) Sohail Ahmed Mashori ordered the authorities to now produce the accused before the court on October 23. The court also directed the DIG to monitor the situation.
The magistrate asked the investigation officer of the case, Jahanzeb, to ensure that reports about the functioning and liabilities of the civic agencies on the day of the fire, in which over 250 people were killed, were submitted before the court.

The six accused include Mansoor Idrees, the general manager of the ill-fated garment factory, and employees dealing with security matters, security supervisor Arshad Mehmood, Majid Beg, Haneef and watchmen Ali Muhammad and Fazal Ahmed. read more.

* Court orders jailer to present factory owners:

The central jail superintendent has been told by a court to explain why he failed to produce the Baldia garment factory owners in court on Tuesday.

Ali Enterprises owners, Shahid Bhaila and Arshad Bhaila, the factory’s general manager, Mansoor Ahmed, and security guards Fazal Ahmed, Ali Muhammad and Arshad Mehmood were to appear before the Judicial Magistrate West to testify in the factory fire case, relating to the death of 259 people on September 11.

On Tuesday, the defence lawyers said that the court had issued production orders for the suspects but the jail authorities didn’t bring them to the court. The lawyers had requested the court to take action against the jailers.

The case investigation officer told the court that an application has been filed in a sessions court to allow interrogation of the suspects. The investigation cannot proceed without the court’s decision on the application. The officer requested the court to grant more time to submit the final charge-sheet. read more.

map of Asia

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

* Chinese industry body rebuffs Mexico’s complaint over govt subsidies

* Minimum wage likely not to increase as planned
* Hanoi to host ASEM Labour Ministers’ conference

* Lingerie maker Sabina targets Indonesia

* Minimum Wage: Unemployment Rate, Foreign Investor Implications Considered

* Pan Brothers to launch own brand of apparel
* Employers to pay for workers’ welfare

* ‘Hall-Mark refunds Tk 232 cr’
* ‘ACC to sue corrupts, if WB can provide evidence’
* Sonali Bank scam: ACC grills 4 officials of Khanjahan Ali Sweaters
* BGMEA boss seeks help to grab int’l RMG market
* GAP official to arrive in Dhaka on Saturday
* WTO warns of dependence on garment exports
* Bangladesh’s Garment Workers Help Drive Economy, But Not without Sacrifice
* Bangladesh On Track To Achieve Middle-income Status By 2021
* WTO asks Bangladesh to diversify export
* Gap: Protect sweatshop workers’ lives

* Child labour rampant in Erode, say rights activists
* Alleged use of child labour: India peeved with US tactics of blacklisting
* Textile exporters’ aim remains beyond reach
* Court rejects National Textile Corporation objection plea
* Rieter exits textile machinery maker Lakshmi Machine Works

* EU Preference Scheme: Pakistan to make 31.4pc net gain in textile export
* Textile industry: Exporters ask govt for bailout
* Court to announce order on Baldia investigation today (Tuesday)
* Failure to bring accused to court irks magistrate
* Court orders jailer to present factory owners

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Convention on the Rights of the Child
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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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