19:08:31 local time CHINA
* Survey shows Chinese workers stressed out:
Nearly eight out of 10 Chinese workers became more stressed in the past year, a new survey has found.
The survey by Regus, a global workplace-solutions provider, recently polled more than 16,000 workers in 80 countries.
Seventy-five percent of Chinese workers polled said that their stress levels had risen in the past year, according to the survey.
It found that 48 percent of workers globally felt growing pressure in the past year.
19:08:31 local time PHILIPPINES
* Workers picket ILO forum, slam nat’l wage cut scheme:
Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed a forum of the International Labor Organization on wage setting in Makati City this morning to protest what they called a national wage cut implemented through a new scheme on wage setting.
The Department of Labor and Employment has claimed that the Two-Tiered Wage System, which is already being implemented in 11 regions in the country and cuts wages by a significant amount, is part of the Aquino government’s harmonization of labor policies with international agreements and ILO conventions.
To show their opposition to the new wage scheme, the workers showed up near the forum’s venue with their mouths covered by yellow ribbons bearing their calls and holding a giant pair of scissors which they say symbolize the wage cut.
“With this forum, the ILO wishes to indoctrinate labor leaders with the bases for the wage cut being implemented through the Two-Tiered Wage System. These are mere scientific trappings for the naked greed of big capitalists who want to boost their profits by pressing down workers’ wages,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general. read more.
* Aquino told: Ease malnutrition, hike wages:
Amidst reports of worsening malnutrition among Filipinos, labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno called on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to increase workers’ wages by a significant amount, saying such a move will help ease malnutrition in the country.
A study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme, and International Fund for Agriculture Development showed that the number of malnourished Filipinos climbed by two million in the period 2010-2012 and has reached 16 million. read more.
* All Duty-Free US Textile Mulled:
The Philippines is likely to allow a duty-free entry of all American textile, yarn and fabric into the country as a quid pro-quo to a duty-free entry of the country’s garments into the US market.
This developed as the Department of Trade and Industry is preparing to repackage the Philippine proposed “Save Our Industries Act” bill after its was bypassed by the US Congress for the third time already.
“We have to repackage the bill to make it more palatable to the players of the industry,” said DTI undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio. read more.
18:08:31 local time VIET NAM
* Curb expenses to increase minimum wage: officials:
Many officials and experts have called on the Government to cut down other expenses so that it can ensure the increase in minimum wage next May as planned.
The call was made following the statement by Finance Minister Vuong Dinh Hue that the Government has found it difficult to arrange a financial source to raise the minimum wage from the current VND1.05 million to VND1.3 million (US$62) per month as of May 1, 2013.
However, a reduction in State budget revenue has been recorded in recent months and the situation is likely to continue for the rest of this year, and even into 2013. Therefore, the Government cannot arrange a source that will pay for the intended increase in minimum wage, Hue said. read more.
* BetterWork Viet Nam newsletter:
1. Reaching Workers via SMS: Innovation in Practice
2. Learning from practice
3. Code to Better Protect Workers’ Rights
4. Minimum wage may rise by 35 per cent to tackle ever increasing living costs
5. Broadening our Industry Reach
6. Empowering Unions to Participate Effectively in Better Work and Beyond
& more. You can download the pdf newsletter here.
18:08:31 local time THAILAND
* UN watchdog urges govt to free Somyos:
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called on the Thai government to release lese majeste defendant Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.
The group’s said on Tuesday that the imprisonment of Mr Somyos without bail goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand has signed.
The request will be sent to the Thai government.
Mr Somyos, editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine, was arrested in April 2011. He was charged with lese majeste on two counts in July the same year for two articles that appeared in the magazine. He faces a maximum of 30 years in jail if found guilty.
The statement noted that Mr Somyos was “arbitrarily detained” for 72 days without bail before charges were filed against him.
The UN working group suggested that Mr Somyos be released from jail and given compensation. read more.
* Large public procurer in Norway publicly supports dismissed Thai workers:
The South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, the largest public procurer in the health sector in Norway, publicly supports a number of dismissed Thai workers at Mölnlycke Health Care (Thailand) Ltd. The company which produces hospital gowns sacked 22 unionized workers in September 2011 following their participation in what the gown manufacturer describes as an ‘illegal strike’.
According to the union and their federation it was not a strike. What really happened is that when the workers heard that their union representatives, who had negotiated a new collective agreement, had been victimised by way of “suspension order” they went to the supervisors and management in large numbers to ask for an explanation.
The Industrial Relations Committee (IRC) investigated the incident and confirms no strike had taken place. IRC imposed on the company to reinstall the dismissed workers, but the company never implemented the order. IRC, a national tripartite institution comprising employers, workers and government representatives, has been set up as a legitimate body to resolve industrial relations conflicts in Thailand.
18:08:31 local time CAMBODIA
* Strikes put on pause for King Father:
The Free Trade Union expects thousands of workers from across the country to join FTU president Chea Mony in paying respects to the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk on Tuesday.
“We will gather and walk quietly to pay respect to the King Father’s spirit,” he said.
“The union leaders at the factories over the country will spread this information to the workers at their factories.”
All workers, whether FTU members or not, will be welcome to join in, Mony said.
To make up for the lost day of work, workers will instead work on October 31, the national holiday that honours the late King Father’s birthday, Mony said.
Workers who had recently been on strike at the Tae Young factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district said they would join the FTU in paying their respects next Tuesday and meanwhile have suspended their strike, intended to begin again yesterday after a Pchum Ben hiatus, out of respect for the late King Father.
“We decided to cancel our plans to strike again [yesterday] because we wanted to respect our former King, and we were worried that police or military police officials would arrest us for striking during this time,” worker representative Un Bunkea said yesterday. to read.
* Cambodia’s garment export reaches 3.54 bln USD in 8 months, up 11%:
Cambodia has exported garment and textile products in equivalent to 3.54 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months of 2012, a 11 percent rise from 3.19 billion U.S. dollars at the same period last year, a report from the Commerce Ministry showed Friday.
The United States and European countries are the main buyers, and other customers are Canada, Japan, South Korea, China and some other Asian countries.
According to the report, during the same period, the country has imported garment and textile raw materials in equivalent to 2. 04 billion U.S. dollars, a 24 percent rise from 1.65 billion U.S. dollars at the same period last year.
Those materials had been mainly imported from Chinese mainland, China’s Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. read more.
* Exports hold up despite EU slowdown:
Cambodia has coped well in terms of exports despite the slowdown in some European economies, said the head of the IMF’s Asia-Pacific department last week.
Anoop Singh, director for the department, said Cambodia has enjoyed many years of economic growth at about 6 per cent or greater, and the economy’s main industries and sectors are holding up well.
However, Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, said the slow growth of the European economies have negatively affected garment export.
“European countries as well as the United States are main markets. Our main products such as garments and some agricultural products have seen reduced demand.” read more.
19:08:31 local time MALAYSIA
* Unemployment, foreign investors, main factor in minimum wage:
The government took into consideration the unemployment rate and implications to the entry of foreign investors 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 the debate on the Supply Bill 2013 for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Subramaniam said if the minimum wage was set at RM1,100, the unemployment rate was expected to go up to 1.6 per cent compared to a fall in demand for foreign labour by one per cent. On the other hand, should it be fixed at RM900, then the unemployment rate would be below 0.6 per cent with a similar percentage fall in foreign worker demand, he said. read more.
* Stop Issuing Trading Permit To Foreigners – MITA:
The Malaysian Indian Textiles and General Stores Association (MITA) has called on the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to stop issuing permits to local event management companies to bring in foreign traders to Malaysia.
MITA secretary Maheswary Ramasamy said many foreign textile, handicraft and costume jewelery companies were now participating in Indian shopping carnivals and trade fairs in Malaysia and this had badly affected the local Indian entrepreneurs.
“Indian trade fairs organised by local event management companies were originally meant to be participated by manufacturers from countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to introduce their products to local traders. read more.
19:08:31 local time INDONESIA
* Indonesia Workers Clash With Police in Dispute at Adidas Sub-Contractor:
Indonesian workers at a factory that produces Adidas footwear clashed with police in an industrial dispute on Thursday and 13 people were injured, police and a spokesman for Adidas in Germany said.
Some 1,800 workers at the PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa (PDB) factory, which is a subcontractor for an Adidas supplier, were demanding severance pay and an improvement in working conditions, union leader Kokom Komalawati told Reuters.
“The demonstration today was pretty rough because the company management had prepared weapons to hit us with,” said Komalawati, chairwoman of the Independent Textile Garment and Footwear Workers Union. read more.
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update:
1. Employers to pay for workers’ welfare. Read the full article here.
2. Occupational Safety Costs IDR280 Trillion From GDP Per Annum.
Read the full article here .
3. Govt to provide universal health coverage for all. Read the full article here.
4. Indonesia targets 6.7% industry growth. Read the full article here.
5. RI`s economic growth second highest in the world. Read the full article here .
6. World Bank warns RI of potential China slowdown. Read the full article here.
7. Indonesia promising land for Taiwan. Read the full article here.
17:38:31 local time BURMA/MYANMAR
* Can Manufacturing Succeed In Myanmar? :
The ongoing quest for low cost production has drawn manufacturers’ attention to a small Southeast Asian nation that has been out of the sourcing network for nearly a decade.
Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has been thought of more as an exotic tourist destination than a sourcing location, however that might be about to change. The nation is attempting to move towards a more democratic and transparent government as well as stimulate economic growth. These efforts are helping to bring Myanmar out of political and economic isolation from the West.
Myanmar has a history in the apparel industry. From the mid ‘90s to 2004 the nation had a small, relative to the size of the industry in other Asian nations, garment manufacturing sector, which relied heavily on exporting to the United States.
Prior to the sanctions, about 85 percent of the nation’s exports were apparel and textiles of which an estimated 25 percent went to the U.S.; at that time Myanmar’s largest export market.
Exports from the nation’s 200 garment factories, 195 of which are privately held, reached $770 million in 2011, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MMA), close to the $829 million achieved in pre-sanction 2001. Key export markets are Japan ($348 million) and South Korea ($232 million), with remaining exports going to Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
17:08:31 local time BANGLA DESH
* Ministers apprehend unrest:
There might be workers’ unrest over payment of salaries and bonuses ahead of Eid-ul Azha, apprehended some ministers at an urgent cabinet meeting yesterday.
They demanded that the government allocates some special fund, out of any budgetary allocation, to deal with the issue, if it arises in the coming days.
Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddique raised the issue at the meeting, held in the capital’s Prime Minister’s Office, while some ministers, including Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan and Communications Minister Obaidul Quader, supported it.
However, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith vehemently rejected the plea, saying that there was no such scope to provide government funds for the workers, cabinet sources told The Daily Star. read more. & read more.
* CMP commissioner guarantees peace in Ctg RMG sector during Eid:
CMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam has said the police will do everything possible to ensure continued progress of the readymade garment industry in Chittagong.
“The RMG industry has employed over 3.5 million workers. So it is the duty of the police to ensure peace and progress in factories. We, on behalf of the CMP, will do our best to help maintain discipline in the factories here,” said the head of Chittagong Metropolitan Police.
The senior police officials of the city headed by Mr Islam held a views exchange meeting on Tuesday last with the garment manufacturers and exporters in the regional office of RMG exporters association BGMEA in the city’s Khulsi area.
* Foreign company invests in CEPZ:
A foreign company will set up garments manufacturing industry in Chittagong Export Processing Zone.
M/s Apparels JB21 Limited, a joint company of United States of America and South Korea, will invest 2.50 million US dollar for setting up their unit and produce about 1 million pieces of different types of garments items, said a press release.
Some 595 Bangladeshi nationals will get employment opportunity in Apparels JB21.
An agreement to this effect was signed between Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and Apparels JB21 at BEPZA complex here on Thursday.
High officials of BEPZA and Apparels JB21 signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides. to read.
* WTO reviews Bangladesh’s trade policies & practices:
The fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Bangladesh takes place on 15 and 17 October 2012. The basis for the review is a report by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat and a report by the Government of Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh economy emerged relatively unscathed from the global economic crisis though the country remains vulnerable because its exports are not diversified and it depends heavily on migrant workers’ remittances. Although the economy has become increasingly open in recent years, total merchandise exports have remained limited, averaging 18% of GDP since 2006.
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 U.S. the current mainstay. However, as a reputable low-cost producer of garments, Bangladesh has gained global market share in recent years.
This trend is expected to continue over the medium term, which could partially mitigate the impact of slow growth in advanced economies.
read more. & You can download the WTO report here.(via fibre2fashion)
* WTO reviews Bangladesh’s trade policies and practices:
The fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Bangladesh took place on 15 and 17 October 2012. The basis for the review is a report by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat and a report by the Government of Bangladesh, according to Fibre2Fashion, a web portal.
The Bangladesh economy emerged relatively unscathed from the global economic crisis though the country remains vulnerable because its exports are not diversified and it depends heavily on migrant workers’ remittances. Although the economy has become increasingly open in recent years, total merchandise exports have remained limited, averaging 18 per cent of GDP since 2006.
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 U.S. the current mainstay. However, as a reputable low-cost producer of garments, Bangladesh has gained global market share in recent years.
read more. & read more.
* Hall-Mark chairman Jesmin arrested:
A joint drive by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) teams Thursday evening arrested Hall-Mark Group’s Chairman Jesmin Islam from Manikganj town on charge of massive Sonali Bank loan embezzlement.
RAB spokesman Commander M Sohail confirmed to the Financial Express that Jesmin Islam, wife of the Group’s Managing Director Tanvir Mahmud, was arrested at around 7.30 pm from near Manikganj Circuit House.
According to Sohail, she was hiding in one of her workers Mukul’s residence at 10 Beltha Road in Manikganj. read more.
16:38:31 local time INDIA
* Textile companies with strong brands trading at attractive valuations:
Even as many textile companies in the lower end of the industry have hardly been lucrative investments for investors owing to their disproportionate dependence on raw materials, the companies at the higher end of the textiles industry continue to provide strong investment opportunities for investors.
Interestingly, the valuation of companies, which are into branding, has become quite attractive in the last five years.
A recent study by Karvy Stock Broking suggests that textiles companies, which are into branding, are trading at discounts in the range of 13-47% to their five-year average valuation multiples. read more.
* Cotton prices may stay firm as CCI begins purchases:
State-run Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has begun its annual cotton procurement drive for the 2012-13 marketing season (October-September ).
The move is expected to arrest any downward pressure on cotton prices in the coming days. International cotton merchants such as Olam, Louis Dreyfus, Cargill, Paul Reinhart and Glencore are expected to start purchases in the next few weeks.
“We have started commercial procurement of cotton in Punjab markets from today and will open procurement centres in Maharashtra by the monthend ,” said RC Sarkar, GM (marketing ), CCI. He added that CCI was prepared to procure the stock subject to parameters set by the Textile Commission if prices reached the minimum support price level. In the 2011-12 marketing season, CCI procured 3.48 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) from across the country.read more.
* Cotton yarn exports to rise:
Chinese imports to rise as they switch of value-added items
While estimates for cotton exports in 2012-13 have been lowered by the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) following China’s decision to reduce import by half, export of cotton yarn to that country is on the rise.
Export of cotton yarn to China is expected to continue its uptrend as cotton available in that country is priced nearly 20 cents per pound more than in the international markets. Besides, wages are on the rise. As a result, China is now cutting on spinning activities and focusing more on value-added items.
“China is not only importing cotton yarn from India but also from Indonesia and Pakistan. We are definitely benefiting from this. Indian spinners are happy, as they are in a position to utilise their capacities as orders for yarn are pouring in,” said S P Oswal, chairman and managing director of the Vardhman group of industries.
* British Minister visits cotton fields:
British Minister for Natural Environment, Water and Rural Affairs Richard Benyon found the claims of Mark & Spencers, a UK garments giant, true when he visited the cotton fields in remote Nurjahanpalli village here on Thursday.
It is from this tiny village in Shayampet mandal that Mark & Spencers sources its cotton, produced using Better Management Practices (BMP) by nearly 10,000 farmers. The cotton is produced using less fertilizer and water, thus conserving the environment. It is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) which enables the farmers sell the produce to Mark & Spencers.
Interacting with the farmers here, Mr. Benyon said, “Whenever we buy a shirt from Mark & Spencers, we will remember you and the good work you are doing. Thank you for that.” ….. read more….
16:38:31 local time SRI LANKA
* Sri Lankan trade unions act to protect social security fund:
Trade unions in Sri Lanka have taken legal action to question the government’s move to invest the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) in unstable companies.
The next hearing on the petition will take place on 31 October.
The unions are calling upon the court to direct the Attorney General to launch a criminal investigtion on the alleged fraud and market manipulation of the EPF.
* MAS and Nike strengthen their partnership by investing in Kilinochchi:
MAS Holdings has been an integral part of Sri Lanka’s history for more than 25 years through employment generation and its extensive community-based projects.
With the conclusion of the 30-year war, MAS Holdings has taken the lead to create job opportunities and provide aspirations to youth in the North. With this in mind MAS Holdings chose to invest in Kilinochchi, a long deprived community on account of the conflict. read more.
16:08:31 local time PAKISTAN
* Pakistan to soon unveil new trade policy: Minister:
* High cotton supply dispels crop loss rumours:
Farmers have so far supplied 5.28 million bales of raw cotton to ginning factories this season, 12% more cotton than in the same period last year, fuelling expectations of a bumper crop of more than 15 million bales.
According to a fortnightly report released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA), ginning factories across the country have received raw cotton (phutti) equivalent to 5.28 million bales up to October 15, which was 567,445 bales (12.03%) higher than supplies received in the corresponding period of last year.
THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Baldia fire case: Court allows police plea for custody:
A sessions court on Thursday allowed an application filed by police seeking the custody of the Bhaila brothers and factory’s general manager in the Baldia fire case.
Setting aside an order of a judicial magistrate who sent the suspects to jail on judicial remand, additional district and sessions judge (west) Abdullah Channa directed the jail authorities to hand over the custody of Arshad Bhaila, Shahid Bhaila and Mansoor to the police investigators between dawn and dusk for a couple of days.
The judge ordered the investigating officer to get the custody of the suspects on Oct 19 and 20 after the sunrise and bring them back to the prison before the sunset, with a direction that the suspects be interrogated only at the Site-B police station.
The court also directed jail officials to hold medical check-up of the suspects before handing them over to the police and after getting back their custody. read more.
* Court remands owners into ‘dusk to dawn’ police custody:
The owners and general manager of the garment factory in Baldia Town, Ali Enterprises, were remanded into police custody for two days – but only from sunrise to sunset.
The fifth additional and sessions judge, West, Abdullah Channah, gave custody of the two factory owners, Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, and general manager Mansoor Ahmed to the police on Thursday.
The judge directed jail authorities to hand over the suspects to the investigating officer, Jahanzaib Khan, from sunrise to sunset on October 19 and 20. He further instructed the jail authorities to medically examine the suspects before they go for interrogation and after they return. The medical certificates of these examinations will be submitted in court.
According to the court’s orders, the suspects will be kept in the limits of SITE B police station and cannot be taken anywhere else for interrogation. The investigating officer and jail authorities were asked to strictly follow the timings. read more.
* Labourers’ body to protest tomorrow:
The Workers Rights Movement (WRM) has announced to observe mourning day on October 20 (Saturday) on the occasion of Chelum of labourers who were burnet alive in Baldia factory inferno.
The WRM, which represents more than 70 organisations including trade unions, political, social and human rights associations, has also announced to organise a condolence meeting in front of Ali Enterprises on Saturday to offer prayers for around 300 workers who lost their lives in the fire incident.
This was announced by Nasir Mansoor while addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Thursday. He was flanked by Usman Baloch, Ghulam Muhammad Jadoon, Zahra Khan and other WRM representatives.
Mansoor said that the government acted in a completely irresponsible manner after the September 11 fire incident as it did to take any effective measures to prevent such incidents in future, which shows that the government was least bothered about the issues of working class. read more.
* Baldia factory blaze: Forget the toll, it’s just about closure now:
A month-and-a-half since the disaster, there is no official record, no list, no names being put forward by authorities of how many were present the day the fire broke out, or an exact death toll. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE
The flames may have long been extinguished, but the ghosts of the ill-fated Baldia Town factory continue to haunt.
For Rasheeda, a visit to the gutted factory is almost an everyday routine. In front of the sealed building, enclosed by police officers and containers, she puts forward the usual question about her son Khurshid.
“Has his body been found?”
“No bibi. Go away from here. No one can go inside.”
And just like any other day since September 11, she returns home with no news about her son, one of 259 people who perished in the flames of Pakistan’s largest factory fire. Rasheeda is from one of 70 families who all but know their fate, but continue to wait for that final closure.
A month-and-a-half since the disaster, there is no official record, no list, no names being put forward by authorities of how many people worked at the factory, how many were present the day the fire broke out, or an exact death toll.
Investigation Officer Jahanzaib Khan told The Express Tribune that he has requested the court to allow him to meet the owners of the factory to fetch records of the workers — both alive and deceased.
Jahanzaib has finally conceded that the number of workers feared dead might be much higher than what authorities have revealed officially.
“The death toll might be higher. The confusion would clear once we are allowed to retrieve information from the factory’s administration block which was safe from the fire.”
But with only 500 of the said 1,200 workers registered, this seems a daunting task, he adds.
With such discrepancies, chances of the number of workers who died in the inferno seem to be higher than the official toll of 259. The police officer has received 100 complaints of people gone missing in the factory fire. Social activists have put up a list of 74 victims whose bodies have not been found yet. read more.
16:08:31 local time UZBEKISTAN
* Uzbek college students return from cotton fields:
All college students sent to harvest cotton are expected to return home within the next few days, the Uzbek Education Ministry has reported.
Rumours are rife among the parents of college students that their children’s cotton torments will end soon and they will resume their education by the end of October.
Those parents who have called the hotline number of the Uzbek Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education, 246-10-92, have been told a more specific date: students will be brought back from cotton fields after 20 October. read more.
* Uzbekistan plans to increase cotton-fiber processing up to 70% by 2015:
Uzbekistan is planning to increase the volume of internal cotton-fiber processing up to 70% in next three years, Prime Minister of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyayev said at the opening the Eighth International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair in Tashkent.
The Eighth International Uzbek Cotton and Textile Fair started its work in Tashkent on 17 October. Over 1,000 foreign companies, working in cotton and textile industry, from 38 countries are participating at the event. read more.