in the news on-line, 23 October 2012

22:00:04 local time map of china CHINA

* Higher costs forcing firms to relocate:

Rising wages and shrinking export demand are forcing manufacturers to relocate to neighboring Southeast Asian nations and many that remain are seriously considering moving, a foreign trade official from the Ministry of Commerce said.

The official, who declined to be named, said that “nearly one-third of Chinese manufacturers of textiles, garments, shoes and hats “are now working” under growing pressure” and have moved all, or part of their production, outside China in what he called the great industrial transfer.
Favored destinations are usually members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, especially Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. read more.

22:00:04 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Gov’t bullish on ‘Save Act’ bill:

The Philippines is gaining support from more US lawmakers for the “Save Our Industries Act” bill, which may be repackaged with duty-free treatment of American fabrics and yarns entering Manila as materials for Philippine-made apparel exports to the US.

Trade and Industry officials have been leading efforts to drum up the bill seeking to revive the Philippine garments industry (which, in the early 2000s, was too focused on simple assembly to survive trade liberalization) and the US textile industry. This, by allowing the duty-free entry of Philippine-made apparel into the United States, provided Manila’s exports were made of American textiles.
(…)
Trade officials are hoping that the Save Act will help revive the local garments industry.

The garments industry was one of the Philippines’ leading exporters for four decades until the 1990s, when it lost its markets to other Asian countries, particularly China, which offered cheaper products. At its peak in 1991, the garments industry represented more than a third of Philippine exports, the second-biggest dollar earner after electronics, and employed about one million. read more.

* Philippines may allow 100% duty-free import of US textiles:

The Philippine Government is expected to grant duty-free access to all US-made textiles, yarn and fabrics in exchange for the duty-free access of Philippine garments to that market.
This has transpired as Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DoIT) is once again gearing up to amend the draft “Save Our Industries Act” bill, which has already been set aside by the US Congress three times. read more.

* ‘Business, labor sectors must compromise on wages’:

Business and the workers sector in Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas are encouraged to “compromise” in order to strike a balance on the proposed wage increase.

Rep. Mark Villar, vice chairman of the House’s Labor committee, made the call last Friday to both parties at the sidelines of the Philippine Councilors League convention  where the Las Pinas City congressman was a speaker.
He said it couldn’t be avoided that the two sectors would clash on the issue of raising minimum wages because both have interests to protect.
But it can’t be denied that inflation was prevalent and the prices of commodities continued to increase, he said.
“I’m open to a wage hike.  You just have to discuss it first but there should be a  compromise, first,” he said. read more.

21:00:04 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Japanese firms offer shelter from the storm:

Vietnamese textile-garment and footwear export firms have scaled up cooperation with Japanese partners to withstand the current economic storm.

Giditex just launched its third production factory – an offspring of cooperation between Giditex and Japan-based Tamurakoma Company – which specialises in making products under the Onward brand for export to Japan.
Earlier, Giditex met four Japanese businesses Apron, Tamurakoma, Togashi Hosei and Yamatoya Co, that are Giditex customers who wanted to place further export orders in 2013.
Donagamex, a Vinatex member with a fair export growth to Japanese market, received a customer group from Japan and in the year ending September, Donagamex posted export value of approximately $50 million, of this $24 million came from export orders with Japan.
read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 23/10. (3th item)

21:00:04 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* First & Main gear goes cheap:

Workers from bankrupt plush-toy factory First & Main are still owed money after the Ministry of Social Affairs auctioned $200,000 worth of factory equipment for just $21,000, a labour rights advocate said Sunday.

More than 350 workers were left stranded when the US-owned teddy bear factory closed in August and government officials took control of its assets in a bid to pay employees wages and severance benefits.

The Ministry of Social Affairs committee entrusted with this task, however, has shown little commitment to providing an adequate solution for the workers, Dave Welsh, country director for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, said. read more.

* Boss commits royal blunder:


Workers employed by the Top World garment factory protest yesterday, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, after a factory manager destroyed photos of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

A Chinese factory manager sparked a near-riot in Phnom Penh yesterday morning after publicly destroying two photos of the late King Father in front of hundreds of workers.

More than a thousand employees of the Top World garment factory launched an immediate strike, and threatened to march from the Meanchey district factory to the Royal Palace before being diverted by police who brought the manager, Wang Xiao Jiao, to the Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters for questioning.

She remained in police custody as of last night, said Choun Sovann, Phnom Penh Municipal police chief, and will be sent to court today on allegations of “causing turmoil in society”.  read more.

* Garment maker eyes economic zone in Cambodia:

The private company HOdo Group Co Ltd, a textile and garment company in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, is looking to expand its presence in Sihanoukville, a province in southern Cambodia, in an attempt to diversify its business.

Zhou Haijiang, president of the company, said it has made hefty investments since 2007 to establish the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone in the Prey Nob district. The project now occupies three square kilometers and is expected to be eventually expanded to 11 sq km.
The total investment in the zone is to reach $320 million, Zhou said.
“After its completion, the zone could help create 150,000 jobs for the southeastern Asian country in the next few years,” he said. read more.

22:00:04 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Minimum wage of RM900 is fair:

RM900? RM1,100? Economists and experts said a minimum wage of RM900 would be a good start and is reasonable, as members of parliament across the political divide continue to debate over what is the wage for most people to live on, which will take effect on Jan 1.

While they have no doubt that a minimum wage policy is necessary in Malaysia, they cautioned it must be done effectively.

KPMG Malaysia partner Dr Chin Yoong Kheong said setting the minimum salary of RM900 per month for Peninsular Malaysia is a good start, but there must be a need to review this level periodically and it must be complemented by a corresponding increase in productivity if the country were to move up the value chain. read more.

22:00:04 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Sweatshop Campaigners unite against Adidas’ “Fundamentally flawed” workers rights summit:

Anti-sweatshop campaigners from the US and Europe today united to condemn a summit to be held in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday organised by adidas, intended to deal with the issues workers face when its supplier factories close. Whilst United Students Against Sweatshops, the Clean Clothes Campaign, War On Want and People & Planet welcome comprehensive, long-term solutions to workers’ rights abuses in adidas’ supply chain, they say the summit is “fundamentally flawed” and an “empty rhetorical gesture” as workers in Indonesia that made adidas products have been waiting for severance payments for over a year.

The summit, convened by adidas is to discuss a new scheme, termed the Provident Fund, which the company claims “would provide coverage to workers affected by factory closures and non-payment of wages and benefits.”

The representatives of ex-workers from PT Kizone, a former adidas supplier in Indonesia, stated that “adidas’ meeting in the Alps is an attempt to distract from the fact that adidas is still refusing to pay us US$1.8 million that we earned while producing apparel for adidas”. Campaigners underline that it is indeed the company’s latest attempt at evading its responsibilities to pay the legally owed severance owed to the 2,800 ex-workers from this supplier, even though other buyers have already paid nearly half the amount owed to the workers. To be meaningful, the summit would need to involve Kizone worker representatives, who are currently not invited to attend. The Provident Fund adidas proposes cannot replace the severance payment to the Kizone workers, as it remains adidas’ responsibility to provide redress for rights violations that have already happened.

The case of the workers at the PT Kizone factory has been subject to a high profile international campaign involving 50,000 people signing a petition to pressure adidas to pay up. Two US universities, Cornell and Oberlin, have committed to cut ties with adidas and another, Wisconsin, is taking adidas to court. read more.

* The Shoemaker’s Elf-This elf is a child labourer:

Grimm’s fairy tale tells of a struggling shoemaker couple who attains wealth and fame thanks to the help of mysterious elves in the middle of the night. And in many ways, today’s fashion industry is like the modern fairy tale, boasting of the latest models of enviable fancy shoes. But not so many people seem to question where their shoes come from or who made them, it seems to make no difference whether those fairy tale shoes were indeed made by elves. Except that this kind of elf does not disappear with the moonbeams at dawn. This elf is a child labourer, who sacrifices his education, health, and future with every hard-working day he spends in the shoemaker’s workshop.

Meet Demung, a 14-year-old shoemaker who has been in the trade since the tender age of 11. Demung dropped out of 4th grade elementary school 5 years ago (2007). His father, grandfather, and uncle are shoemakers too.
It’s a hazardous job with long hours, usage of sharp tools, exposure to harmful chemicals, and substandard health-and-safety procedures in place for protecting the workers.
Demung and his father earn a joint paycheck of Rp150,000 (about USD $15) per week. The extended family of 9 live in the grandparents’ 2-bedroom unfurnished house with no running water. Demung’s dream is to someday build a house for his mother and to keep his 11-year-old sister in school so that the next generation in his family would have no more school dropouts.

This project is commissioned and funded by the Jakarta chapter of Aliansi Jurnalis Indonesia and the International Labour Organisation – Indonesia. Originally broadcast on Berita Satu TV on October 12-14, 2012. To read & see more, (Indonesian).
Clarissa Grace  ‏@mskilroy

The True Sole of Indonesia’s Child LaborersArtcilce JakartaGlobe here.

20:30:04 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* ITUC gets approval for Yangon office:

The Ministry of Labour has given the International Trade Union Confederation approval to open an office in Myanmar to help workers improve their skills, the confederation’s general secretary said last week.

Ms Sharan Burrow told The Myanmar Times by email on October 12 following her three-day visit earlier this month that the ITUC was “pleased to meet with the labour minister and hear first hand a commitment to implement the labour law to protect workers”. read more.

20:00:04 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* 30 injured as police clash with RMG workers at Savar:

At least 30 people were injured in a clash between police and RMG workers who were demonstrating for payment of arrear dues and festival allowance at a readymade garment factory at Rajfulbaria in Savar on Monday.

Local sources said several hundred workers of Biswas Group at Rajfulbaria, who took to the street in the morning blocking the road passing through the areas, clashed with the police who tried to disperse them by charging batons and firing teargas shells.
The workers also vandalised some vehicles on the road, witnesses said.
The workers said the management of the group did not pay the salary of last two months and also did not pay the festival allowance. read more.

* Work on RMG industrial park soon: Barua:

Industries Minister Dilip Barua on Tuesday said the government wants to start work on a modern industrial park for the country’s readymade garment sector.

“A proposal for setting up an industrial park has been sent to the Planning Commission for approval. Hope, we’ll be able to start work on it as soon as we get the approval,” he told a function in the city. read more.

* Sharp fall in BD’s apparel export to Turkey in July-Sept period:

Bangladesh’s apparel export to Turkey drastically fell during the July-September period of the current fiscal year (FY) which manufacturers and exporters attributed to the safeguard measures taken by the latter.

During the period under review, apparel export to Turkey stood at $ 90.72 million with knit accounting for $ 37.30 million and woven for $ 53.42 million, marking a negative growth by 9.21 per cent. read more.

* State banks to give Tk 385cr loans to tanners:

State-owned commercial banks will give Tk 385 crore loans to tanners ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha, up from Tk 365 crore last year.

The state banks account for around 90 percent of the loans given for the purpose.
“The customers who repaid loans in time last year will get new credit,” said Janata Bank Managing Director SM Aminur Rahman. read more.

19:30:04 local time map of india INDIA

* Indian apparel exporter’s reject bonded labour tag by NGO:

Can you imagine, around 35 representatives from the most well-known worldwide apparel brands and retailers sitting on the same side of the table in the Indian textile hub of Coimbatore? On the other side of the table were leaders of the South Indian Textile Association (SIMA), a textile lobby group representing textile mills in South India.

At stake was the reputation of vertically integrated mills, which also manufacture and supply apparel and other textile products to these global retailers. An allegation has been made by a Netherlands based NGO that girls were exploited by these mills and is tantamount to bonded labour.

Representatives of renowned global apparel brands and retailers like Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour, Levi Strauss, Mother Care, Inditex, C&A, Bestseller, Primark, GAP, were present at the meeting in which SIMA leaders tried to convince them that the whole industry should not be targeted for the follies of a few.

The precursor to this meeting came from a report published by a Dutch NGO in 2011, which alleged exploitation of young Dalit girls in the textile belt of Tamil Nadu. An update published in 2012, further focused on an employment scheme – Sumangali which promises a lump sum amount at the end of a three-year contract period. read more.

* Geo-textiles project for Angamaly:

The Kerala State Cooperative Coir Marketing Federation (Coirfed) and Angamaly block panchayat have joined hands to implement a Rs. 7.25-crore geo-textiles programme that will utilise the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and resources from the villages under the block panchayat.

Around 17,536 families in the villages of Angamaly, Kalady, Kanjoor, Karukutty, Malayattoor, Manjapra and Mookkannoor will be involved in the geotextiles project under 672 small units. read more.

* ‘Guj cotton yield lowest in 9 years’:

The delayed monsoon this year has wreaked havoc on Gujarat’s cotton production and the subsequent yield for the cotton year (Sept-August) 2012-13. Recent estimates by the Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) on cotton crop for the year suggest average yield in the state has fallen to 611.51 kg of cotton per hectare, the lowest in the last nine years.

However, Gujarat still continues to lead in terms cotton production in the country. The state is estimated to produce 85 lakh bales followed by Maharashtra (80 lakh bales), Andhra Pradesh (72 lakh bales) while Haryana may produce 24 lakh bales, estimates CAB. Last year, Gujarat’s share in national cotton production was 34.58%, while this year it is estimated to fall to 25.44%. read more.

* Sweden’s H&M said to hold talks with 3 Indian firms for market foray:

Stockholm Stock Exchange- listed H&M, the world’s largest clothing retailer after Spain’s Inditex — the parent company of Zara — was in talks with three of the country’s leading fashion chains for its India foray, said two people with knowledge of the talks.

The names include textile major Arvind Ltd, Reliance Industries- owned Reliance Brands and Delhi-based luxury fashion retailer Genesis Colors, according to a person in the know. The Swedish fashion retailer wanted to lead a 51:49 joint venture with an Indian partner, he said.
“They want to partner with a group that has successful brands business and deep understanding of the Indian fashion retail,” said the person, declining to be identified.
When contacted, H&M Press Officer Hacan Andersson said, “At the moment, these are only rumours, and we have a policy of not commenting on rumours.” read more.

19:00:04 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Social uplift: Home-based workers demand rights:

Home-based workers have demanded that the Punjab government announce a policy for the protection of their rights.
Thousands of women and men are working in home-based units in professions like shoe-making, embroidery, stitching, artificial jewellery, electrical gadgets, garments, pottery and candle-making, without having any social protection and legal shelter to their rights.
Sarsabz Foundation Pakistan Executive Director Dr Naveeda Shoaib said this while talking to the media here on Sunday.
She said that in the absence of a policy framework, home-based workers, especially women, were exploited by the middle man.
She said these workers were playing an important role in the economy and could play a key role in poverty alleviation. to read.

* Labourers demand EOBI cards:

Social security and employees old age benefits institution (EOBI) cards are the right of every worker and our struggle for cards will continue, said Haji Aslam, general-secretary Faisalabad Janbaz Labour Federation (FJLF).

Addressing a joint meeting of FJLF and powerloom workers union here on Monday, Haji Aslam said, “Workers are committed to getting social security or EOBI benefits under the rules”. Government departments should plan a strategy so that social security and EOBI cards could be issued to each and every eligible worker. He said industrial sector was in deep crisis due to energy crisis and deteriorating law and order situation in the country.

&
Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) president Mian Zahid Aslam has protested against six-day gas outage to the textile industry, demanding the government restore the supply immediately as it would halt the production.

Talking to newsmen here on Monday, he said that the industries in Faisalabad, particularly the textile industries, had already crippled in their production and running at 30 per cent of their installed capacity due to scheduled and unscheduled loadshedding. “Only one-day supply means that there is no gas for industries and as a result, the industrial wheel will come to a standstill,” he maintained. “There is no competitive alternate available to the natural gas and if any, the cost of production goes to the exorbitant level, making the product cost too high and unfeasible.”
read more.

* Leather industry faces aridity:

The suspension of water supply in the Tannery Zone of Korangi Industrial Area has put the country’s leather exports under a serious threat, said the industrialists Saturday.
The warning came from Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association (S.Z), Amanullah Aftab in a statement who expressing concern said the largest national cluster of exporting leather and leather made-up units located on Sector 7/A, KIA, was tantalizing for water due to suspension of supply through tankers. The local tanneries are totally dependent on supply of water through tankers in absence of water supply from KW&SB for years.
“Now since hydrants have beenclosed by KW&SB, the tanneries are feeling being stifled for want of water,” said Aftab. He warned that the peak season of tanneries has already begun and during Eidul Azha, the largest chunk of hides and skins would be brought to this zone by the charity organizations and the tanneries would require water in abundance for their processing. He further warned that if the water is not supplied by the KWSB, the hides and skins worth crores of rupees may be destroyed. read more.

 ASIA

* Quality and quantity of jobs dropping:

Slowing growth in many Asian countries has accentuated labour market challenges in a region that has the world’s largest youth population, and where precarious work is widespread.

Economic growth has slowed down in many Asia-Pacific countries, affecting labour markets both in terms of the quantity and the quality of jobs available, according to an ILO report.

The October 2012 Asia-Pacific Labour Market Update, says jobs growth in the region has slowed down compared to 2011, although the situation varies greatly among countries.

For example, while Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan (China) experienced a significant slow-down in employment growth, the Republic of Korea and, to a lesser extent, Singapore and Thailand, saw a rise in job creation.
(…)
Poor quality of employment – which often means low wages and limited access to rights and benefits – is another huge challenge for the region, especially in developing countries.
(…)
A major challenge for companies, workers and governments alike, is the mismatch between the skills that are available and the needs of the labour market. In Malaysia, for example, there were 340,000 registered jobseekers in July 2012, but only 1,700 job placements, leaving 153,000 registered vacancies unfilled.

But unemployment and skills mismatches are only two dimensions of the problem, as there are far more young people working in poor quality and low-paid jobs than there are unemployed.

The recent tragedy at a Pakistani garment factory was a stark reminder of this reality. read more.

map of Asia

CHINA
* Higher costs forcing firms to relocate

PHILIPPINES
* Gov’t bullish on ‘Save Act’ bill
* Philippines may allow 100% duty-free import of US textiles
* ‘Business, labor sectors must compromise on wages’

VIET NAM
* Japanese firms offer shelter from the storm

CAMBODIA
* First & Main gear goes cheap
* Boss commits royal blunder
* Garment maker eyes economic zone in Cambodia

MALAYSIA
* Minimum wage of RM900 is fair

INDONESIA
* Sweatshop Campaigners unite against Adidas’ “Fundamentally flawed” workers rights summit
* The Shoemaker’s Elf-This elf is a child labourer

BURMA/MYANMAR
* ITUC gets approval for Yangon office

BANGLA DESH
* 30 injured as police clash with RMG workers at Savar
* Work on RMG industrial park soon: Barua
* Sharp fall in BD’s apparel export to Turkey in July-Sept period
* State banks to give Tk 385cr loans to tanners

INDIA
* Indian apparel exporter’s reject bonded labour tag by NGO
* Geo-textiles project for Angamaly
* ‘Guj cotton yield lowest in 9 years’
* Sweden’s H&M said to hold talks with 3 Indian firms for market foray

PAKISTAN
* Social uplift: Home-based workers demand rights
* Labourers demand EOBI cards
* Leather industry faces aridity

ASIA
* Quality and quantity of jobs dropping

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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
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How much the makers have paid for this
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