in the news on-line, 31 October 2012

20:14:41 local time map of china CHINA

* Too many people work to death in China:

Statistics show that over 600,000 people die from overwork each year in China, sounding an alarm concerning health problems, China National Radio reports.

Quite a number of online shop owners in China have suddenly died recently due to “fatigue,” said the report.
A part-time online shop owner surnamed Liu confirms the assumption, saying that the job leaves her no time to rest. She adds that mental stress could be the ultimate straw that breaks their backs.

Apart from health problems of online shop owners, many white collar workers also admit they work too hard and are in poor health, according to a survey of 1,000 of them.
Song Wenzhi, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health, says individuals should relieve themselves of pressure and avoid overly stressful work. Exercise and rest are encouraged at regular intervals at companies. read more.

19:14:41 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Chinese bras contain unknown chemicals:

Buying a bra at the market of Tam Ky, Quang Nam province, Ms. Huynh Thi Oanh, 39, wore the bra for around one month until she felt chest tightness and itching. She cut the bra and found two packs containing liquid solution and six white “pills”.

Ms. Oanh said she bought the shirt at VND35,000 ($1.6) at a shop in Tam Ky market one month ago.
In the morning of October 26, she touched several particles in the bra. Oanh cut the bra and detected two packs containing white solution and six white pills.
On the bra is the brand “Huang Jia Ma Lian” of China. The product has no label of origin. All information is in Chinese characters. read more.

* Many more Chinese bras contain unknown substances:

21 Chinese bras containing 2 bags of liquid substance and 3 white tablets were seized in the central province of Thua Thien – Hue on October 30. Phu Yen authorities also sealed 20 bras while Da Nang discovered.

In Thua Thien – Hue province, the bras were found at a shop in Ben Ngu market. The owner failed to present receipts as well as product labels in Vietnamese. The owner declared to buy bras from someone who traveled to China at the price of VND65,000-70, 000 ($3-3.5) and sold at double prices.

On the same day, Phu Yen authorities seized about 20 similar bras. “These products do not have origin, distributors, labels … We will inspect and find the origin of these products,” said the chief of the Market Management Bureau of Phu Yen province, Pham Dinh Thi.

The Da Nang market management force also seized three similar bras at a stall in Con market.
These bras carry different brands and are said to have Chinese origin. Samples of the liquid solution and the strange tablets in bras have been sent to labs for testing.
On October 26, a Da Nang woman who used Chinese bras felt itchy. She cut a bra and found out two packs containing liquid solution and some pills. The incident was reported to the authorities. read more.

19:14:41 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* H&M hits back at low wage claims:

Swedish fashion retailer H&M has hit back at accusations that it fails to pay adequate wages to workers in Cambodian factories making its clothes – and says instead that the situation would be a lot worse if it didn’t source from the country.
A Kalla Fakta documentary aired on Swedish television last week claims Cambodian workers at H&M suppliers are paid just SWK3 ($0.45) an hour.
But H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson told a press briefing that while wages “could absolutely be better,” companies like H&M have a responsibility to “buy products from the companies in these countries.”
“It leads to higher employment,” he said, adding: “The alternative is extreme poverty.
“Asian wages are low, but that way the economy will grow and they employ millions of workers.
“It’s about the country’s competitive power. It would have been much worse if we hadn’t been there. But we want to be there and make a difference and make sure it’s going in the right direction.
“You can’t change it overnight. There are many buying from these markets and from these suppliers. We must get others along. read more. & read more.
/      

* Swedish outcry has royal voice in midst:

Growing calls in Sweden for multinational clothing giant H&M to increase wages for Cambodian garment workers have taken a royal twist.

Cambodia’s Prince Charin Norodom, 38, who has lived in Sweden for more than 30 years, told the Post yesterday that he had been working behind the scenes in the Scandinavian country – the home of H&M – to push for better pay in Cambodian garment factories.

“We want a living wage for these workers,” he said. “We want H&M to press the factories they buy from on this issue.”
The issue of a living wage, which labour rights coalition Asia Floor Wage Alliance says equates to $281 per month for Cambodian workers, has dominated headlines in Sweden in the past week, the prince said.

The catalyst for the outrage was the airing of a documentary on Swedish network TV4, called Kalla Fakta, or Cold Facts, that focused on the garment industry’s minimum wage of $61 per month before bonuses.
“People in Sweden are concerned about this. They’re concerned about the quality of [the conditions behind] what they buy,” the prince said.

Charin said he had provided input into meetings about conditions in factories H&M sources from and requested a sit-down with the company’s management – which had been denied.
“I haven’t spoken to them. I’ve tried to speak to them, but they haven’t responded. I want them to solve the problem,” he said, adding that activists in Sweden were planning public demonstrations. read more.

* Striking workers resign in trade-off:

Tae Young factory workers have ended their strike demanding the reinstatement of 16 fired workers after the factory last week agreed to drop its legal complaints against eight of the 16 in return for the entire group’s official resignations.

About 600 protesters began the strike at the beginning of the month after the Kandal province factory refused to rehire the workers, who were fired in June for allegedly inciting an illegal strike.
The factory at the time also refused to drop a court case demanding that eight of the fired union members a pay the factory $60,000 each in compensation.

Un Bunkea, one of the fired union members, said yesterday that the 16 had already resigned and had received some benefits.
Bunkea said that he and four other workers have been hired by the Free Trade Union as recruitment officers and will begin their jobs tomorrow.
The other 11 workers who resigned will go work at other factories, he said. to read.

* Cambodia needs to polish reputation:

The chief economist at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia says Cambodia needs to attract greater numbers of multinational companies and treat them well, in order to establish production networks that will transfer technology to smaller Cambodian businesses.

In an interview with the Post, Professor Fukunari Kimura said that once multinational companies established manufacturing centres in Cambodia, a critical mass would develop and benefit smaller Cambodian businesses. read more.

18:14:41 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Hall-Mark factories closed sine die:

All the factories of Hall-Mark Group in Savar have been shut down for an indefinite period.

Notices were found pasted at the entrances of the factories declaring the closures on Tuesday, Abdul Baten, officer-in-charge of Savar Industrial Police, told The Daily Star.
The OC could not confirm whether the Hall-Mark Group authorities or the government committee formed to run the factories made the announcements.
Contacted, Savar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Kabir Hossain Sarder however said that he had no knowledge that the committee pasted such notices.

Earlier on October 15, the Hall-Mark authorities shut its garment units for three days following workers’ demonstrations demanding arrears.
The Hall-Mark Group came to the spotlight after being accused of embezzling huge amount of money from the Ruposhi Bangla branch of Sonali Bank in Dhaka.

The Hall-Mark bosses were arrested recently on a request from Anti-Corruption Commission, which filed 11 cases with Ramna Police Station on October 4. Twenty-seven officials of Hall-Mark and state-owned Sonali Bank were sued for misappropriating Tk 1,568 crore. to read. & read more. & read more.
  

* Hall-Mark factories shut down:

Controversial business group Hall-Mark yesterday shut down its factories at Hemayetpur in Savar sine die, keeping the police and local administration in the dark.

Abdul Baten, an inspector of Industrial Police in Savar, said at midnight yesterday they found the closure notices pasted at the entrances of the factories. “We are trying to find out who have pasted the notices.”A Bangladesh Bank investigation in May revealed that the group embezzled over Tk 2,686 crore from the state-owned Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch between 2010 and 2012 on forged documents.
The factories went on Eid holidays from October 26 and were supposed to be reopened on November 3, said Mohammad Moniruzzaman, deputy director of Industrial Police. read more.

* Hallmark shuts all its factories at Savar:

The controversial Hallmark Group on Tuesday shut down all its factories in Savar for an indefinite period without showing any reason.

Mokter Hossain, deputy director of the Industrial Police, told New Age that they had seen a notice at the main gate announcing the closure.
He said the authorities had given no reason for the closure. He said they had tried to meet officials of the group, but failed to contact with them.
The Industrial Police said there were more than a dozen factories under the group, top officials of which were now in police custody for embezzlement of Tk 3,600 crore from state-owned Sonali Bank.

At least 15,000 workers of the factories were not paid their monthly salaries and festival allowances before Eid-ul Azha.
They had staged demonstrations demanding festival allowance and other dues on the eve of the festival. The workers were, however, promised that the dues would be cleared after the vacation. read more.

* Hall-Mark factories closed over fear of workers’ unrest:

All factories of the scam-hit Hall-Mark Group were shut Tuesday in fear of a fresh outbreak of violence the workers might resort to demanding payment of festival allowance, wage and overtime bills following the spurt of unrest before the Eid vacation, industrial police sources said.

The Hall-Mark Group authorities put up an unsigned notice at the main gate on the common premises of the factories announcing the closure in the early morning, Deputy Director of Industrial Police-1 Muktar Hossain told the Financial Express.

He said the authorities might have done it to avert disbursement of festival allowance, wage and overtime bills as they promised before the Eid-ul-Azha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.
Muktar Hossain also said, “We are so far sure that none of the government bodies did it.”

Nearly 30,000 Hall-Mark Group workers were left unpaid following arrest of its top brass in the Tk 26-billion loan scam involving the state-owned Sonali Bank Limited.
read more.

* Leather industry fails to explore full potential:

The export-oriented leather industry has apparently failed to explore its full potential in the global market due to delay in relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh to leather industrial estate at Savar, industry insiders said.
They said, the sector has the possibility to grow faster and can become a billion dollar industry within a shortest possible time providing adequate infrastructure to it.
Industry stakeholders also expressed dismay at the violation of the court ruling given a decade ago that all tanneries should be shifted to Savar.
The process is in the state of uncertainty due to bureaucratic tangle in setting up of a central effluent treatment plant (CETP) there.
Hazaribagh is the home to more than 200 leather tanneries, which have been dumping their unprocessed toxic waste into drains and canals ultimately flowing into the Buriganga river.
“The export sector can easily earn $1.0 billion annually if the industry gets a
state-of-art manufacturing base,” Syed Nasim Manzur, President of Bangladesh Footwear Exporters Association (BFEA) told The New Nation yesterday. read more.

* Nonpayment by an importer creates confidence crisis among BD exporters:

Nonpayment by an Indian importer is taking toll on the country’s apparel export to that market creating panic among the exporters, industry people said.

Apparel export earning, especially from the knit products, fell drastically during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (2012-13) which manufacturers and exporters mainly attributed to the nonpayment issue by the Indian importer.

They said local exporters are gradually losing their interest in doing business with the Indian importers fearing further such fraudulence by any dishonest importer though they do not want to lose such a big market.

Bangladesh’s clothing exports to India is facing the setback as about two dozens local garment factories have failed to secure payment of nearly $5.0 million from an Indian buyer Liliput Kidswear Ltd. read more.

* Promoting EU-Bangladesh relations:

This year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union (EU), an institution that has been “a sign/symbol of peace, prosperity, and development throughout the world.” It makes sense that a great honour goes or should go to one who works in promoting peace and prosperity. With the EU awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it emerges as shouldering a greater responsibility to work for the millions of hungry, poverty-stricken people around the globe.

Without any doubt, the EU is the most successful instance of how to turn a war-torn continent into a peaceful and prosperous one. It has become a model of peace and prosperity throughout the world since it has long been contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights not only in Europe, but also in the whole world. read more.

17:44:41 local time map of india INDIA

* Textile minister to survey Surat’s powerloom sector:

With a view to gather a detailed information on the powerloom sector in the country’s biggest man-made fabric hub, a team of AC Nielsen ORG MARG Private Limited will visit the city to carry out a study titled ‘Baseline Survey of Powerloom Sector’ launched by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Industry sources said the officials of AC Neilsen ORG MARG Private Limited have been entrusted by the Union ministry to survey the powerloom sector in the country and have been asked to complete the study and submit the report in nine month time.
Surveyors will visit Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry and meet stakeholders from the city’s powerloom sector.

The team will gather information related to installed and working capacity of the powerlooms, the age of the machines, manpower employed by powerloom units, and financial and technology related details.
Sources said the western region including Surat was the main centre of synthetic powerloom sector and hence the baseline survey of powerloom units will help the Central Government in planning and policy formulations. read more.

* Indian garmenters unlikely to achieve $18 bn exports in 2012-13: AEPC and TEA chief A Sakthivel:

Apparel Export Promotion Council chief A.Sakthivel who represents the knitwear hub of Tirupur in Tamil Nadu has expressed apprehensions over India’s garment sector achieving the export target of $18 bn during 2012-13.

On Tuesday, he expressed disappointment with RBI’s Q2 review of monetary policy and said the targets set earlier this year for the apparel exporting sector looks challenging.

RBI has left Repo Rate and Reverse Repo Rate unchanged at 8% and 7% respectively while reducing the Cash Reserve Ratio ( CRR) by 25 basis points with an intension to maintain the interest rate to contain inflation and anchor inflation expectations. read more.

* Aditya Birla Group’s textile, chemical businesses to have unified management setup:

The Aditya Birla group has created unified management structures for its global chemicals, textiles and fibre business as it embarks on a fresh round of restructuring to realign businesses under different sectors to cut costs and bring sharp focus.

Group directors KK Maheshwari and Rakesh Jain have been made the heads of the global textiles and chemicals businesses with the $38-billion business conglomerate’s Indian as well as overseas textiles and chemicals businesses coming under the respective structures. read more.

17:44:41 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Gender Equality in Human Development: What’s Holding Sri Lanka Back?:

Fixing poor political representation and low labour force participation can boost the country’s human development indicators, argues Sunimalee Madurawala, Research Officer at IPS

According to the Sri Lanka Human Development Report 2012, launched recently by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sri Lanka ranks at 97 out of 187 countries – scoring 0.692 on the Human Development Index (HDI) (i). A key part of HDI for a country is the Gender Inequality Index (GII) which measures inequality in achievements between women and men.
Calculation of GII is also based on three dimensions; reproductive health (measured by the maternal mortality rate per 100,000 live births, adolescent fertility per 1,000 women aged 15-19), empowerment (measured by parliamentary representation and the percentage of people who have at least lower secondary education in the age group of 25 years and over), and labour market (labour force participation rate for the 15-64 age group).

Sri Lanka is widely acclaimed as having established excellent human development at a relatively lower level of economic growth. Although Sri Lanka is categorized as a country with ‘medium human development’ with a GII rank of 74, health and education indicators for Sri Lanka are as good as countries with ‘very high’ and ‘high’ human development. With such good performances on health and education indices, what is holding back Sri Lanka from further improving its standing in the HDI?

According to the comparable data given in the table below, the problems lies in the poor female representation in the national parliament and low female participation in the labour force. read more.

17:14:41 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Karachi textile factory fire put out after an hour:

A fire that had started in a textile factory near Murtaza Chowrangi in the Korangi area of Karachi was extinguished an hour later, Express News reported Tuesday. No casualties were reported.

A team of firefighters put out the fire with the help of six fire tenders and a bowser.According to the firefighters, the factory building had adequate exit points and as soon as the fire erupted, all the labourers exited the building.The cause of fire could not be ascertained yet.
This is the eighth fire incident this year.
read more. & read: Two more factories catch fire. & read.
   

* PTEA terms gas loadshedding ‘economic murder of workers’:

Textile industry expressed resentment against breach of agreement by Gas authorities shedding Gas for consecutive fourth day of the week and termed it devastating act for the economy and economic murder of the workers.

Talking to newsmen, Asghar Ali, Chairman and Muhammad Asif, vice chairman Pakistan Textile Exporters Association said that Gas administrators had promised to restore Gas supply to industries in Punjab on 29th October and the industrialists and exporters had accordingly scheduled their production plan and called their labour. But all of a sudden, the duration of Gas load shedding has been increased arbitrarily without consultation, they said.

This closure has cut down drastically the manufacturing of export goods rendering millions of workers jobless, inflicting 1 to 1.5 billion rupees per day loss, they added.
read more.

* Extra day of gas closure angers textile industry:

Representatives of the textile industry have expressed resentment at a breach of agreement by gas authorities.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Chairman Asghar Ali and Vice Chairman Muhammad Asif told journalists here on Tuesday that gas utilities had promised to restore supply to industries in Punjab on October 29, and industrialists and exporters had scheduled their production plans and called their labour accordingly. However, they said that the duration of gas load-shedding has now been extended arbitrarily without taking stakeholders on board.

“This closure has drastically cut down the manufacturing goods meant for export, rendered millions of workers jobless; and has inflicted Rs1-1.5 billion in losses on the industry,” they added. “Industry and exports have suffered massive productivity and supply losses, as the manufacturing process was halted by gas load-shedding. With such breaks in industrial activity, how can exporters meet deadlines and supply Christmas sales orders to our buyers on time?” they asked. read more.

* Textile sector losing its competitive edge:

Pakistan added 1.8 million spindles and 3,179 shuttle-less looms in the textile sector since 2005, against 6.2 million spindles and 21,850 shuttle-less looms in Bangladesh, according to official statistics.

Bangladesh now has three-fourth spinning capacity and a higher weaving capacity than Pakistan.
The drying up of investment in basic textile is playing havoc with the local textile sector, which is still the most efficient among the South Asian countries according to Werner, a globally renowned textile consultant. It is, however, slowly losing its competitive edge to its less efficient neighbours.

According to official statistics, since 2005 installed spindles in Pakistan are 11.9 million and the total number of shuttle-less looms stand at 24,000.
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) reveal that during 2006-11 India added 15.33 million spindles and 30,850 shuttle-less looms to its textile sector, which is larger than the total size of the Pakistani textile industry. As per official Indian data, it now has 41.27 million spindles and around 38,000 shuttle-less looms.

Bangladesh added 2.830 million spindles and 21,850 shuttle-less looms in the same time period, which led to a total of 8.7 million installed spindles and more than 28,000 shuttle-less looms. Thus, Bangladesh has a higher weaving capacity than Pakistan today. Statistics also reveal that in 2004, Pakistan had 24,000 shuttle-less looms and Bangladesh had only 3,200 shuttle-less spindles. read more.

       THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Baldia fire tribunal report ready, to be made public once CM decides:


This file photo shows the burnt items inside Ali Enterprises, the factory which caught fire on September 11 and killed 259 workers. The tribunal formed by the Sindh government was given a week to ascertain the cause of the fire. It started proceedings on September 17 and wrapped up work within 12 days.

The inquiry tribunal into the Baldia garment factory fire in which 259 worker perished has concluded but can only be made public once the chief minister takes it up.

“We have communicated to the chief minister that the tribunal has done its job,” its head, Justice (retd) Zahid Qurban Ali, told The Express Tribune. “We are waiting [to hear] whether the findings of the report will be unveiled by the CM himself or us.”
Waqar Mehdi, the special assistant to the CM, who deals with the press, said that the tribunal was given one week to submit its report, but it took more time. Then the CM left for the US before Eid. They would unveil it soon, he said.

A day after the fire at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Baldia town, the Sindh government formed the tribunal headed by Justice Alvi on September 12. They were given a week to unearth the cause of the fire. It started proceedings on September 17 and wrapped up work within 12 days.
One and a half months have passed since it has been ready, but it has yet to be submitted to the chief minister.

Justice Alvi has reportedly approached CM House but always returned with a message that the CM will inform him of a convenient time to submit the findings.
The tribunal recorded the statements of more than 40 people including factory owners, police, workers (who survived the inferno), forensic experts, the fire brigade, labour and civil defence officials. The trade union leaders and medico legal officers who had conducted the autopsies also testified. read more.

* Textile discounter KIK makes cheap offer to victims of Pakistan garment
factory fire:

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) calls on the german textile discounter KIK to pay a fair and just compensation for all the victims of the garment factory fire at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan. The immediate relief payments that KIK promised are urgently needed and welcomed, but the amount pledged covers less than 4% of what ultimately will be needed.

According to recent press articles KIK is presently offering an amount of 500.000 US$ for immediate relief to the victims of a fire that broke out September 11th at jeans manufacturer Ali Enterprises in Karachi and killed at least 318 workers.

Lars Stubbe from the CCC Germany says in regard to the KIK offer: “The CCC appreciates that one month after the tragedy KIK as the main buyer and as one of Europe’s leading textile discounters finally is taking some responsibility for immediate relief. This first offer is seen as a part of a substantially higher payment of compensation. CCC urges KIK to come to an agreement with local trade unions and
labour rights groups to ensure that the entire amount due will be covered and prevention measures implemented.”
read more: under special reports – 20121030.

17:14:41 local time map of uzbekistan UZBEKISTAN

* Lyceum students face expulsion for not picking cotton:

Students of the Angren academic lyceum are threatened with expulsion for refusing to take part in this year’s cotton harvesting.

On 29 October, the director of the Angren academic lyceum Muhammadjon Ishankulov and his deputy, Bahriniso Yulchiyeva, called parents of students who refused to take part in cotton harvesting this year.

Parents were offered two resolutions of the problem: to pay 300,000 sums (about $110) not to send their children to harvesting or to withdraw their documents from the lyceum by 1 November. 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
* Too many people work to death in China

VIET NAM
* Chinese bras contain unknown chemicals
* Many more Chinese bras contain unknown substances

CAMBODIA
* H&M hits back at low wage claims
* Swedish outcry has royal voice in midst
* Striking workers resign in trade-off
* Cambodia needs to polish reputation

BANGLA DESH
* Hall-Mark factories closed sine die
* Hall-Mark factories shut down
* Hallmark shuts all its factories at Savar
* Hall-Mark factories closed over fear of workers’ unrest
* Leather industry fails to explore full potential
* Nonpayment by an importer creates confidence crisis among BD exporters
* Promoting EU-Bangladesh relations

INDIA
* Textile minister to survey Surat’s powerloom sector
* Indian garmenters unlikely to achieve $18 bn exports in 2012-13
* Aditya Birla Group’s textile, chemical businesses to have unified management setup

SRI LANKA
* Gender Equality in Human Development: What’s Holding Sri Lanka Back?

PAKISTAN
* Karachi textile factory fire put out after an hour
* PTEA terms gas loadshedding ‘economic murder of workers
* Extra day of gas closure angers textile industry
* Textile sector losing its competitive edge
* THE KARACHI FIRE:
* Baldia fire tribunal report ready, to be made public once CM decides
* Textile discounter KIK makes cheap offer to victims of Pakistan garment
factory fire

UZBEKISTAN
* Lyceum students face expulsion for not picking cotton

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

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