in the news on-line, 26 October 2012

20:02:44 local time map of china CHINA

* Rising pay signals industry upgrade:

Wages and salaries will continue an upward trend this year, labor authorities said Thursday. 

The rising labor costs remain a major concern for companies and will prompt moves from low-end labor-intensive to high-end manufacturing, market analysts said. By the end of September, 18 provinces had raised their local minimum wages, with an average growth of 19.4 percent from a year ago, Yin Chengji, spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said at a press conference Thursday.

Shenzhen has the top minimum monthly salary benchmark at 1,500 yuan ($240) while Beijing ranks highest in wages per hour at 14 yuan, Yin said.
Meanwhile, 20 provinces had issued guidelines for salary growth with average growth of 14 percent year-on-year, Yin said.

The local salary guidelines are not compulsory but serve as reference for employers.
“Salary growth is a long-term trend in China’s economic growth,” Geng Junhua, a senior consultant at China International Intellectech, a human resources and talent management company, told the Global Times Thursday. read more.

* China to prevent wage defaults for migrant workers:

The government will carry out a campaign to prevent wage defaults for migrant workers from rural areas, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said Thursday.

The ministry will enhance its efforts to solve disputes involving overdue wages for migrant workers and use information technology to make labor arbitration more efficient, ministry spokesman Yin Chengji said at a press conference. read more.

* Samsung to build textile industrial park in Chongqing:

Samsung Group, in cooperation with Shandong Ruyi Group, will invest $21.5 million in Chongqing municipality to build a textile industrial park in Southwest China.

Industry experts say Samsung’s new investment is aimed at diversifying its production line, which could offset the slowdown in its electronic business.
As the core business sector of Samsung Group, Samsung Electronics is battling to maintain high profits recorded in the last quarter amid fierce market competition, and analysts say the downturn at Samsung Electronics will affect profitability of the whole group. read more.

* Iconix to buy Umbro brand for US$225m:

Nike has found a buyer for its Umbro brand, known for its soccer jerseys, in Iconix Brand Group Inc.

The clothing licensing company is purchasing Umbro for US$225 million in cash.
Nike Inc had bought Umbro in 2008 for US$582 million. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company had announced in May that it planned to sell the Umbro and Cole Haan brands to cut costs and focus on its namesake brand, along with Jordan, Converse and Hurley. read more.

20:02:44 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers march to Mendiola, slam Cheap Labor President:

Despite heavy rains caused by typhoon “Ofel,” workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno, together with government employees led by the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, marched to Mendiola this afternoon to condemn Pres. Noynoy Aquino for refusing to implement a significant wage hike.

The private-sector workers called for a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide and for the junking of the Two-Tiered Wage System being implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment, which they claim is cutting workers’ wages.
read more.

* KMU blasts Ecop’s push for wage cuts, contractual jobs:

Labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno condemned today the Employers Confederation of the Philippines for renewing its campaign for wage cuts and contractualization, saying the country’s laws are in favor of capitalists and not workers.

The workers’ group condemned Edgardo Lacson, Ecop president, for calling for a stop to the processing of bills that seek to increase workers’ wages and stop contractual employment and for pushing for amendments to the Labor Code.

KMU has been calling for the passage of House Bill 375, which seeks to legislate a P125 across-the-board wage hike nationwide, and House Bill 5110, which seeks to stop contractual employment. read more.

19:02:44 local time map of laos LAOS

* After decades behind the bamboo curtain, Laos to join WTO:

Isolated for decades, impoverished and landlocked, Laos is not an obvious choice for investors.

But the Communist country of 6.4 million people hopes to change that with its expected entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday, capping years of steady reforms aimed at building a modern economy and tapping a Southeast Asian boom as global manufacturers hunt for lower-cost alternatives to China.
(…)
“For a tiny economy like Laos, garment manufacturing really is quite important,” said Hill, author of the ANU study. “It signifies the country can compete in ‘footloose’ exports – where they are able to compete on the basis of being genuinely competitive rather than state-supported.”  read more.

19:02:44 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Blanket daily wage hike to hurt economy: TDRI:

The implementation of the Bt300 daily minimum wage throughout the whole country on January 1 could shrink the economy by 2.5 per cent annually and throw one million people out of work, the Thailand Development Research Institute said yesterday.

The wage hike should be implemented in stages to cushion possible impacts, TDRI president Somkiat Tangkivanich said at a seminar hosted by the Industry Ministry on the competitiveness of Thai industries under the wage hike. read more. & read more.
 

19:02:44 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* H&M denies charges over ‘slave wages’:

Swedish fashion giant H&M denied on Wednesday accusations that the company encouraged “slave-like” wages at a subcontractor’s factory in Cambodia.

“It’s completely incorrect,” H&M Chief Executive Karl-Johan Persson told Swedish daily Expressen.

A documentary to be broadcast on Swedish television channel TV4 on Wednesday alleges that Cambodian factory workers producing goods for the company are paid so little they have to borrow money just to buy food.
The program said that workers were paid a monthly salary of 500 kronor ($75) for a 70-hour work week, according to news agency TT.

TV4 was invited by H&M to Cambodia, where it was met by striking textile workers demonstrating for higher pay. The documentary gives the impression that the retailer opposed the demands, according to Swedish media. read more.

* H&M denies charges over Cambodian ‘slave wages’:

Swedish fashion giant H&M denied on Wednesday accusations that it encouraged “slave-like” wages at a subcontractor’s factory in Cambodia.

“It’s completely incorrect,” H&M chief executive Karl-Johan Persson told Swedish daily Expressen.

A documentary to be broadcast on Swedish television channel TV4 on Wednesday alleges that Cambodian factory workers producing goods for the company are paid so little they have to borrow money just to buy food.
The programme said that workers were paid a monthly salary of 500 kronor (58 euros or $75) for a 70-hour work week, according to news agency TT.
TV4 was invited by H&M to Cambodia, where it was met by striking textile workers demonstrating for higher pay. The documentary gives the impression that the retailer opposed the demands, according to Swedish media.
The claims were refuted by chief executive Persson on Wednesday.

“We teach workers how to negotiate their salaries with employers,” he said.
“We want all workers to be paid more and that’s why we pressure politicians to raise the minimum salary to a living wage. That makes it possible for us to follow up (the issue) during factory inspections.”   to read.

* H&M under fire as Swedish television unearths Cambodian production scandal:

A documentary revealing the miserable conditions faced by Cambodian factory workers producing goods for the fashion retailer H&M was aired on Swedish national television last night. Campaigners and the media are calling on H&M to respond to allegations of poverty pay in the industry.

“The documentary revealed the reality behind the glamorous veneer of fast, cheap fashion sold in H&M stores,” said Klaus Melvin Jensen, Coordinator for Clean Clothes Campaign Denmark. “I fear many of H&M’s customers will loose their appetite for cheap clothing after seeing this film.”

In recent months H&M have held a number of high profile meetings with dignitaries such as the Vice Prime-Minister of Cambodia, and officials from the wage board of Cambodia to call for a higher minimum wage to be implemented for workers. Yet campaigners say that meetings and good intentions are not a sufficient response to the pressing health risks and poverty conditions faced by factory workers.

“Low wages come at a high cost. Last year, over 2400 workers passed out in Cambodian factories due to malnutrition as a direct consequence of low salaries. But H&M, one of Cambodia’s main buyers, continues to refuse to pay a living wage to its workers,” says Jeroen Merk of the International Clean Clothes Campaign. “This is unacceptable.”
(…)
Clean Clothes Campaign activists are calling on H&M and other garment buyers from Cambodia to take immediate action to address the poverty caused by the low wages in Cambodia.  They are asking H&M to support the Cambodian trade union’s 131 USD minimum wage goal by issuing a public statement of support and engaging in building an action plan for paying this figure with suppliers. To ensure long term results on the ground and guarantee considerably higher wages for the garment workers, H&M needs to adopt an action plan for its whole supplier base with a clear benchmark for a living wage, a timeline, and a follow up procedure for delivering  this at a factory level.
read more.
& The documentary on Cambodia poverty wages that has put H&M under so much pressure, with English subtitles.
   

20:02:44 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Jakarta workers ask for higher wages:

Hundreds of workers staged a demonstration in front of the Jakarta City Hall on Wednesday, demanding that Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo raise the minimum regional wage and eliminate outsourcing.

Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama spoke with protesters and invited several into his office. read more.

18:02:44 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* 20 hurt as RMG workers, police clash in Gazipur:

At least 20 people were injured as the garment workers clashed with police at Ithata in Sadar upazila on Thursday noon.

Police said the workers of Diganta Sweater Factory took to the street in the morning and put barricade on Dhaka-Tangail highway at about 11 am demanding their Eid bonuses be paid immediately.
The angry workers also vandalised the office of their factory and torched its security post.
On information, police rushed in and charged batons on the demonstrating workers to disperse them. But, the workers retaliated by pelting the law enforcers with brickbats, triggering a clash at about 12 pm.
A chase and counter chase took place during the melee that left 20 people injured.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
     

* Hallmark workers ransack factory:

Workers of the controversial Hallmark Group on Thursday morning staged violent demonstrations on the factory premises at Nandakhali of Savar demanding their dues and festival allowance.
Mokter Hossain, deputy director of industrial police Ashulia zone, said that workers had gathered on the factory premises at about 8:00am and started demonstrations. As no representatives from labour unions turned up, the agitated workers entered the factory premises and started smashing windowpanes and air-conditioners, he added.
On Wednesday, Jago Bangladesh Garments Sramik Federation and a number of other labour unions had held a meeting with the workers of Hallmark Group on the factory premises in a bid to calm them. read more. & read more. & read more.
   

* Most RMG units have cleared workers’ dues:

Apparel makers Wednesday claimed that most of the country’s 5000plus factories had already cleared all dues to their workers, including festival allowances and overtime bills, ahead of Eid-ul-Azha.

At a press briefing, leaders of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also assured that the units which were yet make such payments would clear all dues before the Eid.

The press briefing was arranged by the BGMEA at its Karwan Bazar headquarters in the afternoon over the present and overall labour situation in the readymade garment (RMG) sector. read more.

* Govt won’t amend companies act:

The government will not amend the proposed Bangladesh Companies Act 1994 as the existing law allows appointment of administrators to rogue firms, said Commerce Secretary Ghulam Hussain on Thursday.

“So, we will not need to amend the proposed Bangladesh Companies Act 1994 for appointing administrators to any troubled companies like controversial Destiny Group, as the existing law allows us to appoint administrators in any troubled companies,” Hussain told The Daily Star after a meeting with legal experts at his office in Dhaka.
He said the existing law allows the ministry to go to the court for special permission for appointing administrators to the companies.
But, in future the government will apply the proposed multi-level marketing (MLM) act for the companies like Destiny Group, which have illegal money transaction and cheated the people, he said. read more.

17:32:44 local time map of india INDIA

* Huge investment by textile mills may halt suicide by farmers:

Investments to the tune of Rs. 3,834 crore by eight major textile processing companies in the suicide-prone zone of Vidarbha and Marathwada are expected to generate jobs in the near future, besides halting suicide by farmers.

The investments, from a total of 411 proposals, are expected to fetch jobs for more than 29,000 people in the cotton-growing belts of Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh (north-western Maharashtra), said Textile Minister Arif Naseem Khan on Thursday.

Eight major companies, including Oswal Spinning and Weaving Mills Ltd, Ginni International Ltd, Jindal Poly Films Ltd, the Jaideep Group of Industries and Shyam Indospin Ltd, are to invest in the cotton-producing belt. The move is expected to alleviate the sufferings of farmers and end the vicious cycle of suicides as they will get a better deal for cotton produce. read more.

* Trade union members’ demonstration:

Trade union members staged a demonstration in front of the welfare board office for unorganised sector workers here on Thursday demanding that the unions should be involved in registering the workers and distributing welfare benefits to them.
Coimbatore District Textile Mill Workers’ Union (AITUC) secretary K. G. Jagannathan said that till recently the unions helped the workers register with the board, renew the membership and get the benefits.
However, the State Government had now said that the workers should do so directly with the welfare board and not through the unions.
The unions had submitted a memorandum to the State Government in this connection, he said. The AITUC proposed to organise a demonstration in Coimbatore on October 31 in this regard. to read.

* Over 25% Punjab, Haryana, J-K SMEs on the verge of closure:

More than 25% of SME units in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and some other states have either closed their shutters or are struggling for survival due to expensive credit, non-availability of timely and adequate funds, increasing power shortages to the extent of 35% and delayed payments by large companies, according to the survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Survey says that the SMEs contribute to 45 per cent of the industrial output, 40 per cent of exports, provides employment to nearly 80 million people and creates as many as 10 lakh jobs each year. The SME sector also produces more than 8,000 different products annually not only for the Indian markets but also international shores.
(…)
Further push is being given to the SME sector in the areas such as pharma, food processing, auto ancillary, IT, retails, textiles and garments, agro, nano technology, financial sector and service sectors, adds the survey. It is probably the only sector with an employment potential at a low capital cost.  read more.

* Weavers in North-East need help to grow: Meghalaya CM:

It is time for talented weavers from North-East to become entrepreneurs by cashing in on their potential, says Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.

The just-ended two-day Shillong Fashion Week (SFW) served as a platform for work-based interaction between the local weavers, budding designers and established names from the fashion world.
“With more than 50 per cent of Indian handloom weavers from the North-East, we want to enable people to realise the benefits in the fields of textiles and all other ethnic designs. So we came up with this (mass) mobilisation campaign in different blocks that will help weavers learn entrepreneurship skills,” Sangma said.
read more.

* Apparel exports may miss target of $18 bn this year: AEPC:

India is unlikely to meet the apparel exports target of $18 billion for the 2012-13 due to demand slowdown in major markets like the US and Europe, AEPC said today.

“The target of $18 billion for the 2012-13 fiscal may not be achieved given the current slowdown in the western markets,” Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman A Sakthivel said. read more. & read more.

* DLF to revive fashion business with three international brands:

DLF is revving up its fashion retail play after a hiatus. DLF Brands, a subsidiary of the New Delhi based-real estate major, is poised to strike fresh joint ventures with three international lifestyle brands — Forever 21, Beverly Hills Polo Club and Kiko.

DLF is expected to form a 51:49 joint venture with American fast fashion retailer Forever 21, which competes with its bigger Spanish rival Zara but has a more affordable price tag.  read more.

17:32:44 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Brands and management fail to resolve Bratex dispute:

CCC calls on Bratex management and buyers Fruit of the Loom and Viania to resolve a dispute in the factory, which has been ongoing for more than two years.  Sri Lankan supplier Bratex has yet to come to an agreement with workers, meaning 31 workers remain without jobs, and workers’ demands in relation to wages, bonuses and freedom of association have still not been met. The year long investigation of the Fair Labor Association FLA has failed to produce any results.

The factory, based in the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, supplies underwear to Fruit of the Loom brands and Viania. The CCC, ILRF and Bratex union FTZ&GSEU started informing brands over 18 months ago after workers who had participated in a legal strike were arrested and dismissed.
The  FTZ&GSEU in February 2011 asked the FLA to investigate the case as key buyer Fruit of the Loom was in the process of becoming  a member.  The interventions by FLA and brands have still not led to a resolution of the case.
read more.

* Slavery has still to be abolished:

There are more people in slavery today than in any time in human history. The best estimate is 27 million, and that does not include bonded labour. This is more than double the total taken from West Africa during the transatlantic slave trade in the 16th, 17th and 18thcenturies However in percentage terms it is smaller than the African slave trade- with today’s massive global economy it has become only a tiny fraction of the whole.

Most of the larger businesses are located on the top floors of buildings where prying eyes don’t easily see what is going on. Smaller businesses use cramped rooms wherever the rents are low. According to the London-based Anti-Slavery Society, an organisation that is a direct descendant of the one that fought against the African slave trade, well known brands have been involved in marketing these products. Marks and Spencer, Mothercare, Tesco, Asda-Walmart, C and A and Hennes and Mauritz- H&M.
(….)
Progress towards abolition is being made thanks to the publicity shed on the issue by NGOs such as Anti-Slavery International, Free the Slaves and Stop the Traffik. Big companies are now much more sensitive to the issue, boycotting goods produced by slave or forced labour.
In Uzbekistan a number of major international retailers, including some of those named above, have stopped buying cotton produced by forced labour. Last year a trade deal negotiated with the government was rejected by the European parliament.
read more.

* Sri Lankan apparel sector loses $1bn without GSP+ :

Withdrawal of the GSP Plus facility extended by the EU to Sri Lanka has caused the Sri Lankan apparel industry to lose around US$ 1billion in exports to the EU markets, Rohan Masakorala, former Secretary General of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) has said.
He said though it has became apparent that the GSP Plus loss is badly hitting the 30-year-old domestic apparel industry, the Sri Lankan Government is still sticking to the view that removal of the facility has not impacted the industry much. The worse part, he said, is that in spite of recognizing the dire need of the facility, Sri Lankan Government is not keen on re-applying for the same.  read more.

17:02:44 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Textile industry is facing losses, Senate committee told:

The Standing Committee on Textile Industry on Thursday was informed that the textile industry in the country is facing losses due to lack of utilities, certified cotton seed and bad perception in the world about production capacity.

The availability of utilities and subsidies provided by competitor governments are putting textile exports of the country at a disadvantage in the international market, different stakeholders of the textile sector informed the Sub-Committee of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Textile, which met with Mohsin Khan Leghari in the chair. read more.

* Cotton exports declining due to unavailability of cotton seed:

A parliamentary Panel on Thursday was informed that certified cotton seed is not available in the country therefore cotton exports of the country are declining.
During a meeting of Senate Sub-committee on Textile Industry that was held under the chair of senator Mohsin laghari to discuss issues of textile sector and to make recommendations for the resolution of those issues.
During the meeting chairman Pakistan Cotton ginner association PCGA told the committee that cotton seeds are imported from abroad and under certain names sold at expensive rates in the country. read more.

* Government”s failure to implement textile policy: export target may not be met, Senate body told:

The national export target of $25 billion may not materialise because of the government”s failure to implement the textile policy in letter and in spirit, lack of power/gas utilities and the global perception about the country”s low production capacity, textile sector”s stakeholders told a Senate sub-committee on Thursday.

They said that production and export commitments had been halted because of these reasons compounded by held up duty drawback claims worth billion of rupees. The sub-committee meeting was presided over by Mohsin Khan Leghari.
Lack of utilities, certified cotton seeds and bad perception in the world about production capacity of the industry were other reasons behind the current deterioration of the textile industry in the country.
Availability of utilities and subsidies provided by competitor governments are putting textile exports at a disadvantage in the international market, stakeholders informed members of the Senate panel.  read more.

* APTMA lauds government for following path of free market economy:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has appreciated the government for following the path of free market mechanism.
The APTMA spokesman said that the policy of free market mechanism has benefited a lot in the past and it would continue to benefit the stakeholders in future as well. Therefore, it should continue in the larger interest of the cotton economy in Pakistan, he added.

He has appreciated the government for implementing the policy of free market mechanism, brining in record exports to the country and cotton price to the farmers on the export parity. This policy of the government has not only strengthened the country’s exports to the record level of $14 billion but also transferred resources to the agriculture sector over the last three years. read more.

17:02:44 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Schoolchildren in cotton fields in Kashkadarya:

Children aged 11 and 12 are picking cotton in Kashkadarya Region’s Yakkabag District instead of attending school, human rights activists say.

The Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (HRAU) conducted inspections in the district and established that not only college students but pupils were also being exploited in cotton fields there.
They turned out to be fourth- and fifth form pupils from school No 70.
“Other schools in the district are also involved in cotton picking but there are in faraway fields,” Yakkabag teachers told human rights activists. read more.

* Human rights activists discover school children at cotton fields in Kashkadarya region:


Students of School No 70 of the Yakkabag district in the Kashkadarya region picking cotton. 23 October 2012. Photo by HRAU

11 and 12 year old children are picking cotton instead of going to school in the Yakkabag district of the Kashkadarya region, the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (HRAU) announced.

Uznews.net reports that HRAU surveyed the region and found school children from the fourth and fifth grades from school Number 70 on the cotton fields. The teachers said that children have been picking cotton from 20 September, and even work on Sundays, and said that school children from other schools are working on remote fields. read more.

 

map of Asia

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

CHINA
* Rising pay signals industry upgrade
* China to prevent wage defaults for migrant workers
* Samsung to build textile industrial park in Chongqing
* Iconix to buy Umbro brand for US$225m

PHILIPPINES
* Workers march to Mendiola, slam Cheap Labor President
* KMU blasts Ecop’s push for wage cuts, contractual jobs

LAOS
* After decades behind the bamboo curtain, Laos to join WTO

THAILAND
* Blanket daily wage hike to hurt economy: TDRI

CAMBODIA
* H&M denies charges over ‘slave wages’
* H&M denies charges over Cambodian ‘slave wages’
* H&M under fire as Swedish television unearths Cambodian production scandal

INDONESIA
* Jakarta workers ask for higher wages

BANGLA DESH
* 20 hurt as RMG workers, police clash in Gazipur
* Hallmark workers ransack factory
* Most RMG units have cleared workers’ dues
* Govt won’t amend companies act

INDIA
* Huge investment by textile mills may halt suicide by farmers
* Trade union members’ demonstration
* Over 25% Punjab, Haryana, J-K SMEs on the verge of closure
* Weavers in North-East need help to grow: Meghalaya CM
* Apparel exports may miss target of $18 bn this year: AEPC
* DLF to revive fashion business with three international brands

SRI LANKA
* Brands and management fail to resolve Bratex dispute
* Slavery has still to be abolished
* Sri Lankan apparel sector loses $1bn without GSP+

PAKISTAN
* Textile industry is facing losses, Senate committee told
* Cotton exports declining due to unavailability of cotton seed
* Government”s failure to implement textile policy: export target may not be met, Senate body told
* APTMA lauds government for following path of free market economy

UZBEKISTAN
* Schoolchildren in cotton fields in Kashkadarya
* Human rights activists discover school children at cotton fields in Kashkadarya region

The next newsletter and news bulletin will be published 29 October 2012

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2