in the news on-line, 28 & 29 October 2012


* Is garment workers safety priority for apparel retailers?:

The recent fire in a garment factory in Karachi – Pakistan which claimed the lives of nearly 300 workers, exposed the lax health and safety measures of the garment factories in low-cost garment manufacturing hubs like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia, India, etc.

A fire in an apparel factory which produced goods for a renowned retail brand in Bangladesh killed around 29 workers in March this year. Labour unions have alleged that around 500 workers have lost their lives to garment unit fires in the last five years.

Cambodia – another Asian clothing production hub has witnessed mass fainting in the thousands mainly due to malnutrition, again mainly due to being paid half of the living wage in Cambodia.

According to the International labour Organisation (ILO), the causes for fainting are multiple factors like – excessive overtime, poor worker nutrition, poor ventilation, high heat levels and mass psychogenic illness.

Most of these garment factories churn out garments for renowned global brands and retailers like H&M, Levi Strauss, GAP, Topshop, Tchibo, Next, Adidas, Marks & Spencer, Tommy Hilfiger, Timberland, Debenhams, Sports Direct and hundreds of other brands.
Fibre2fashion spoke to a few of these apparel retailers in a bid to understand the commitments of these brands towards providing a congenial and safe environment to garment workers from where they source their clothing and fashion accessories.
read more (4 pages).

07:55:36 local time map of china CHINA

* Over half of China’s provincial areas raise minimum monthly pay:

Eighteen of the mainland’s 31 provincial-level regions raised the minimum monthly wage by an average of 19.4 percent year-on-year by September.

The southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen has the highest minimum monthly wage of 1,500 yuan (about 240.18 U.S. dollars) and Beijing has the highest minimum per-hour wage of 14 yuan, according to a Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security press conference on Thursday.

By the end of September, 20 provinces, regions and municipalities had issued salary guidelines for the year and the benchmark line grew about 14 percent, according to the ministry’s spokesman Yin Chengji.
He said the ministry will speed in setting up an appraisal system on minimum wages. It will also explore ways to issue guidelines for minimum wages in key industries, and plan to carry out trial salary surveys in companies. to read.

* Winter blues for China’s textile industry:

For Huang Yan this should be the busiest time of the year, when many Chinese companies are usually inundated with Christmas orders from overseas. But one afternoon early this month, Huang said she had not received a single sales inquiry all day.
The newspapers on her desk have been read twice over and having forgotten to put a book in her bag before leaving home, she hopes she can find some unread dregs on a third reading.
The saleswoman next door is chatting with another one across the hall, and one of the main topics, apart from children and husbands, is how rotten business is at the moment.

Huang is a sales assistant at Zhejiang Weizi Textile, which owns two stores in the East Market of China Textile City, the country’s largest market for textile products in Shaoxing county, Zhejiang province.
Trade has been this slow for several months, she said, and for small factories like the one she works for the problem is acute. read more. & read more.

* Tougher penalties urged for “double standard” companies:

Legal experts are calling for tougher punishments for companies that sell substandard and overpriced products in China.

At an open-day event on Wednesday, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce disclosed that it had fined Nike 4.87 million yuan ($780,700) for selling in China a brand of sneaker that had only one air cushion in each shoe, while advertising in the country and abroad that the shoes’ midsoles have two air cushions.
Nike recalled the shoes and offered refunds in September 2011.
“This is not only discriminatory to Chinese consumers, but also a violation of Chinese laws and regulations,” said Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm in Beijing. read more.& read more in Nike fined for deceptive advertizing in China.

06:55:36 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnam to increase garment and textile exports:

Vietnam’s garment and textile sector has seen positive signs in the fourth quarter of the year with many big names having acquired sufficient orders for the period and even for the first quarter of 2013.

Le Trung Hai, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam Textiles Group (Vinatex), said the sector will spare no effort in achieving an export target of US$17-17.5 billion in 2012 and $20 billion in 2013.
By the end of September, Vinatex topped the sector with an export value of $12.6 billion, a 7.4 percent year-on-year increase.

According to Hai, the garment sector had a really difficult time in the second quarter, but the situation improved in the third and fourth quarters thanks to higher growth in the market.

In particular, Vietnam’s hosting of the 2012 annual global conference of the Textile Manufacturers Association from November 4-6 will be a good chance for local businesses to update themselves on market information and expand ties with leading manufacturers in the world, he added.

According to economic experts, the trade agreement partners across Asia and the Pacific will change the global textile trade. America is considered the largest textile consumer in the world with orders of approximately $100 billion a year, of approximately $500 billion a year of global textile consumption. That will open up huge opportunities for Vietnam’s garment sector as Vietnam is one of the nine current members of the TPP. read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 28/10  (18th item).

* Exports a bright spot amid economic gloom:

Jackets are produced at Hoa Tho Textile-Garment Company for export. Export continues to be a bright spot in the Vietnamese economy. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Dat
Export continues to be a bright spot in the Vietnamese economy despite several difficulties caused by the ongoing economic slump, a report carried by the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper said last week.

It cited statistics from the General Customs Office as saying the country’s total import export turnover in the first 15 days of October was US$9.79 billion, achieving a total of $180 billion, a 12.3 per cent year-on-year increase.
Export leaders include: the textile and garment industry with $11.7 billion as of October 15, up 7.3 per cent year-on-year; telephones and accessories with $9.2 billion, up 102 per cent; crude oil with $6.6 billion, up 14 per cent; computers, electronic products and accessories with $5.7 billion, up 82.8 per cent; and vehicles and accessories with $3.5 billion, up 95 per cent. read more.

06:55:36 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Govt won’t delay wage hike plan:

The government will press ahead with its policy to raise the daily minimum wage to 300 baht in the remaining 70 provinces on Jan 1, 2013, as planned, Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap confirmed on Friday.

He said his ministry had already forwarded the draft announcement by the Central Wage Committee on the wage increase to the secretary-general of the cabinet.
Mr Phadermchai expected the announcement would be on the cabinet agenda at its meeting this coming  Tuesday. If approved the announcement would be published in the Royal Gazette and take effect from Jan 1. read more.

* Asean Economic Community would benefit Thai apparel brands:

The Asean Economic Community (AEC), which would come into effect from 2015, would benefit the Thai apparel brands, rather than giving rise to stiff competition for them, according to Reno (Thailand) Co, manufacturer of fashion apparel brand AIIZ.
Under AEC, all member nations would earn a leverage to establish their production bases in any other member nations, hence there would be no issue of low labour cost, the Bangkok Post quoted Mr. Piya Thanakitamnuay, Chief Executive of Reno, as saying.
He said Thai fashion firms are quite good at brand-building and marketing, as compared to their Asean counterparts, hence they are not much bothered about survival of Thai brands in Asean markets or entry of Asean brands in domestic markets, and look upon it more as an expansion opportunity.
Further, he said, Thai fashion brands have already outlived long years of political instability and tough competition from international brands. read more.

* Free Somyot – First weekly letter:

In the 72nd week of Somyot’s detention his wife, Joop, shares with us her weekly letters to him.
We will post each week her letter to him, updating on family and campaign life. Here is the first moving letter for you to read. read more.

06:55:36 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* H&M slammed over wages:

Female garment workers are tended to following one of several fainting incidents at Kampong Chhnang’s M&V factory. Photograph supplied

Criticism has mounted against Swedish multinational clothing company H&M in its home country following a documentary released last week that sheds light on wages in its source factories in Cambodia.

The episode of Swedish network TV4’s Kalla Fakta, or Cold Facts, focuses mainly on Cambodian garment workers’ minimum wage of $61 per month before bonuses.
Although this and other conditions mentioned in the program are not revelatory to locals, their exposure to a Swedish audience has had H&M deflecting questions over its indirect treatment of workers in the Kingdom.

In an extended press conference, Karl-Johan Persson, chief executive officer of H&M, which sources from factories including Kampong Chhnang province’s M&V factory, where hundreds fainted in August last year, said his company wanted annual wages for Cambodian garment workers increased.
Europe-based labour rights alliance Clean Clothes Campaign wants H&M to support a union push for a minimum of $131 per month and to map out a timeline for a full living wage.
“Low wages comes at a high cost. Last year, more than 2,400 workers passed out in Cambodian factories due to malnutrition as a direct consequence of low salaries,” CCC spokesman Jeroen Merk said.

The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party has promised a $150 minimum wage for garment workers if it wins next year’s national election.
Lawmaker and spokeswoman Mu Sochua questioned on Saturday H&M’s and other brands’ dedication to raising wages.
“Until there is global action and movement, these brands will continue to hide behind their heavy PR campaigns,” she said.
read more.

* EU may halt trade agreement with Cambodia:

The European Parliament, representing one of the country’s largest donors, on Friday called for a moratorium on forced evictions, an overhaul of elections and even went so far as to suggest to the European Union that it suspend tariff-free imports of agricultural goods linked to human rights abuses in Cambodia.

In the body’s motion, seven distinct areas of concern are listed, ranging from a rise in violence against protesters to specific cases such as that of Mam Sonando.

The parliament then calls for a number of recommendations, the strongest of which is that the EU’s decision-making body, the European Commission, temporarily halt its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) trade agreement with the Cambodian government – which allows Cambodian goods free access to European markets – “in cases where human rights abuses are identified”. read more.

07:55:36 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Workers’ Protests Shoo Away Investors:

A number of investors in the shoe-making sector backed out of their plans involving Indonesia, following the recent wave of labor demonstrations at a major industrial park, an executive at the Indonesian Footwear Association said.

Haryanto, the chairman of the advisory board at Aprisindo said on Sunday that a number of companies plan to invest a total of $100 million in Indonesia, which is expected to create around 10,000 more jobs in the sector.

“There are five to six companies that already secured lands; some of them are in Tangerang. [They] decided to delay their plan to build new factories this year,” he said, referring to the $100 million investment plan.

Haryanto said the business climate had turned ugly since workers staged demonstrations over the last few weeks, demanding an end to Indonesia’s outsourcing system and demanding higher pay. read more.

* BetterWorks Indonesia media updates:

1. Govt says all workers must pay their own premiums. Read the full article here.
2. Basuki Promises Minimum Wage Increase. Read the full article here .
3. Government to ban outsourcing. Read the full article here.
World Bank finds Indonesia keeps improving its business environment.
Read the full article here.
Download the full report here.
Indonesia receives record high FDI. Read the full article here .
RI’s investment engine roars in third quarter. Read the full article here.
Prime Source Forum Focus on ASEAN to be Held in Jakarta in January 2013. Read the full article here.
BetterWorks Indonesia Media overview.

05:55:36 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Huge RMG products gutted at Fatullah:

Huge readymade garment (RMG) products were gutted in a devastating fire at an export-oriented knitwear factory at Kutubpur Nayamati under Fatullah Police station here in the early hours of Monday.

Fire service sources said the fire broke out at 2:40am in the dyeing unit of the knitwear factory- ‘Uretex Ltd’- on the second floor of the four-story building housing the plant.
The flame apparently originated from an electric short Circuit immediately spread to the first floor where a huge quantity of garment products was in the stock for overseas shipment.

The sources said the blaze completely destroyed the export items estimated at Taka 30 crore.
There was no worker and staff in the factory because of holy Eid-ul-Azha vacation.
One security guard, who first saw the flame, informed the matter to Narayanganj Fire Service and Civil Defence.
Fire fighting units from Dhaka, Demra, Hajiganj and Siddhirganj rushed to the scene and brought the fire under control after two hours. to read.

 * Proposed India-EU FTA upsets Bangladesh RMG exporters:

Increasing possibilities of a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the EU is upsetting Bangladeshi readymade garment (RMG) exporters, who are already grappling against difficulties posed by Eurozone crisis and troubles in US economy.
If FTA negotiations between India and EU turn out to be successful, Indian apparels would gain preferential access to the EU markets under the generalized system of preferences (GSP), just like Bangladesh.
The GSP scheme facilitates preferential entry of a wide range of industrial products produced in some of the developing countries, to the EU markets. The preferential access is generally in the form of zero or reduced customs tariff rates. read more.

05:25:36 local time map of india INDIA

* Revision of workers’ minimum wages proposed:

The state government has issued a notification proposing revised minimum wages for all kinds of workers in Goa, including unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled.

The proposed wages will come into effect within two months of the notification if no objections are received by the state labour department in the Goa Secretariat.
The new minimum wages start from 205 per day and go upto 294 per day depending on the nature of job. The employers will have to pay the same wages in case of male and female workers and for equal work. The minimum rates of wages payable to an adolescent will also be the same as payable to an adult.

The notification includes all major industries in the state such as breweries and distilleries, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, saw mills, pharmaceutical industries, electronic goods manufacturing and distribution, cinema theatres, garment manufacturing units, food processing and fish canning, cashew factories and all other such manufacturing, distribution and retail units.  read more.

* India losing ground in apparel exports:

India is losing ground to new competitors like Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Turkey and Mexico in apparel exports to high-margin western destinations, primarily owing to three factors: the high cost of manufacturing, longer delivery time and delay in adapting to trends.

While countries like Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam receive preferential treatment due to the low cost of manufacturing, Turkey and Mexico are quickly adapting to new trends.
“By the time countries like India and China understand this trend, their competitors like Turkey and Mexico deliver goods…Not only has the delay in understanding the trend led to this, the rapid execution of orders due to a geographical advantage have helped Turkey and Mexico score over India and China,” said Rahul Mehta, president of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India and vice-president of the Asian Apparel Federation. read more.

* Rise in festive orders bring good cheer Surat textile industry:

A sudden increase in festive orders has lifted up hope for the dull synthetic textile market in Surat. After more than 60% decline in orders in September, the same have picked up again for the Surat synthetic textile industry.

“Earlier, factors like the diesel price hike, Telangana stir and dull retail demand had brought down the average orders from a health Rs 8 crore per day to Rs 2.8-3 crore per day. However, now things are getting better with orders per day now ranging in Rs 6-7 crore per day,” said Yuvraj Desale, president of Surat Textile Goods Transport Association (STGTA).

Last month, orders for textile goods, comprising sarees, dress materials and synthetic fabric had declined severely from several parts of the country, especially southern India. “Most of the part of the year had seen economic slowdown resulting in dwindling business. However, in September textile orders from AP also showed some dip,” said Devkishan Manghani, general secretary of Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA). read more.

* Finnish firm teaches art of outsourcing to Indian companies:

Finnish firm Lindstrom has taught Indian companies a new kind of outsourcing while expanding its own business fabric in India, one of the 21 countries it operates in, an industry sources said Friday.

At present, 200 to 250 new Indian companies are outsourcing their entire work-wear services, including stitching, laundering and maintaining to the 164-year-old Lindstrom every year.

Launching its unique operations in India in southern Tamil Nadu state’s capital city Chennai in 2007, it is now scaling up business there, making it a garment outsourcing hub for its global clients.

Its business model is simple — it designs, procures, maintains and rents out work-wear for corporate employees, even providing them their own lockers. It charges a weekly nominal rental for each employee, depending on the type of office wear and volumes. read more.

* Textile workers move out early for Diwali celebrations:

Even as the textile industry is yet to announce the Diwali vacation, the migrant workers have already started moving out of the city to celebrate the festival with their family members.

Industry sources said that about 10 per cent of the workforce has already left for their native places in different states after the weaving sector curtailed the production of polyester fabrics due to dwindling demand of polyester fabrics including saris and dress material in the key consuming centres across the country. The weavers have been running their units in single shifts and most of them are operating only five days a week to cut down on the production of polyester fabrics.
Industry sources said that there is a practice of settling the wage accounts including Diwali bonus of the textile workers a fortnight in advance. However, most of the weaving, dyeing and texturising units paid the wages and Diwali bonus to the workers on October 22 this time.

“The migrant workers have received their wages and Diwali bonus. They are moving out early to spend quality time with their family and friends. Out of 60 workers in my unit, 20 have already left for their hometowns in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” said Ramesh Gilitwala, a weaver from Udhna. read more.

* Weavers in Nalgonda district face gloomy future:

TOUGH LIFE:A weaver working on his loom at Puttapaka village in Nalgonda district. (Right) Lakshmamma, wife of P. Narasimha, who committed suicide.Photos: Singam Venkataramana

Many are forced to work as labourers and also take up alternative employment to make ends meet

The skinny and shrunken body of Tirandas Lakshmaiah (70), a handloom weaver of Charlapally, who is sick but still working, illustrates the pathetic living conditions of weavers in the district. His wife, Pitchamma (60), along with her two sons, is forced to depend on weaving since they have no alternative despite the gloomy scenario in the handloom sector.

Similarly, Gopaiah (62) and wife Kasturi are struggling to complete a sari in four days earning Rs. 250/Rs.300 a day. The amount is insufficient, as the couple can’t afford even to purchase medicines to cure their ailments.

Finding life difficult to cope with, Adigopula Krishna (47) opted to desert his house because of debts. He had performed his daughter’s marriage and incurred debts. Waste weeds are growing in the deserted house indicating the status of neglect.

In Puttapaka village, which was famous for weaving silk saris, the scene is no better. It had about 700 weavers in 1977 working on over 510 looms. read more.

05:25:36 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Brands, management fail to resolve Bratex dispute – CCC:

Clean Clothes Campaign (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.

* Combined protest campaign to press for demands:

Trade unions in the state and private sectors are to stage a major demonstration campaign to demand a pay hike and other grants to match the rising cost of living, Ravaya reports.

It says these trade unions, from both the government and opposition, have already resorted to various protest actions.
They represent education, health, transport, port, investment and other sectors.
to read.

04:55:36 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* APTMA hails smooth power supply in winter season:

The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) hailed the decision of Ministry of Water and Power to exempt textile sector from power load shedding in coming winter.

A spokesman of APTMA said on Friday after meeting with secretary Water and Power, it was decided that textile sector and other leading export oriented sectors would be ensured with maximum supply of power.
He said if this decision of the government is fulfilled, it was expected that textile sector export would touch $35040 billion in eight months of fiscal 2012-13. to read.

* Gas-shedding haunts Pakistan textile sector:

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA) has rebuffed the new 108 hour per week gas-shedding schedule announced by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL). 

 Chaudhry Salamat Ali, Ex-Chairman PHMA, said the new schedule effective from October 25, would prove to be fatal, mainly for Punjab textile industry, which is already grappling against several issues like high mark-up rates and unfriendly business environment.
Mr. Chaudhry noted that about 40 percent of the industrial undertakings, with majority of them being in textile sector in Punjab, use gas as a mode of energy and such long hours of gas-shedding would not only halt production process of almost 50 percent of the gas-based industry, but would also result in a heavy loss of foreign exchange earnings coming from exports. read more.


map of Asia

* Is garment workers safety priority for apparel retailers?

* Over half of China’s provincial areas raise minimum monthly pay
* Winter blues for China’s textile industry
* Tougher penalties urged for “double standard” companies

* Vietnam to increase garment and textile exports
* Exports a bright spot amid economic gloom

* Govt won’t delay wage hike plan
* Asean Economic Community would benefit Thai apparel brands
* Free Somyot – First weekly letter

* H&M slammed over wages
* EU may halt trade agreement with Cambodia

* Workers’ Protests Shoo Away Investors
* BetterWorks Indonesia media updates

* Huge RMG products gutted at Fatullah
* Proposed India-EU FTA upsets Bangladesh RMG exporters

* Revision of workers’ minimum wages proposed
* India losing ground in apparel exports
* Rise in festive orders bring good cheer Surat textile industry
* Finnish firm teaches art of outsourcing to Indian companies
* Textile workers move out early for Diwali celebrations
* Weavers in Nalgonda district face gloomy future

* Brands, management fail to resolve Bratex dispute – CCC
* Combined protest campaign to press for demands

* APTMA hails smooth power supply in winter season
* Gas-shedding haunts Pakistan textile sector

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

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