in the news on-line, 1 November 2012

09:47:23 local time map of china CHINA

* Debate on revisions to Labour Contract Law delayed because of deluge of submissions:

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has postponed discussion of draft revisions to the Labour Contract Law after being inundated with more than half a million submissions during the period of public consultation over the summer.

The Economic Observer (经济观察报) reported that the NPC had received 550,000 online suggestions on the draft law, forcing it to postpone deliberation until the end of December at the earliest.

The draft is designed to address abuses of the employment agency (劳务派遣公司) system that have become endemic since the Labour Contract Law was implemented in January 2008. In an attempt to avoid signing contracts with their employees, as stipulated by the Labour Contract Law, more and more employers have  hired workers from employment agencies, in spite of provisions that restrict the use of such labour to temporary, auxiliary and substitute positions. read more.

* Wage controls to narrow income gap:

A move to impose wage controls on highly paid executives of State-owned enterprises (SOE) in the hope of narrowing the country’s income gap are being reconsidered after a draft regulation first discussed the issue four years ago.

Qiu Xiaoping, vice minister of human resources and social security, said the country needs to change the way it manages incomes and enhance wage controls, reproted the Beijing Times.
The remark was made years after the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) started to draft a comprehensive regulation to control income levels in 2008. read more.

* China textile city performs well in September:

The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China issued the business in China textile city during the month of September 2012. According to the monthly statistics, in September, 2012, the total sales volume of the textile markets in China textile city was 326.37 million meters, up by 88.75% from that of last month and down by 8.07% year on year; the total sales volume from Jan.-September was 2.92014 billion meters, up by 0.47% year on year.

The turnover of textile markets in China textile city in September was 4.05957 billion yuan, up by 83.02% from last month and up by 20.87% year on year. The total turnover accumulated from January to September was 34.81064 billion yuan, up by 9.03% year on year.

Recently, the autumn sales in China textile city rises up gradually, the business in the traditional markets goes smoothly before the national day and the mid-autumn day, and the sales volume increases. read more.

09:47:23 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Rest of minimum wage takes effect Nov. 1, DOLE reminds employers:

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Tuesday reminded employers that the remaining P10 increase in the cost of living allowance (Cola) for minimum wage earning workers in Metro Manila should take effect on Thursday, Nov. 1.

“Thus the minimum wage for Metro workers would be P456 for non-agricultural workers while P419 for agricultural workers,” TUCP president Democrito Mendoza said in a statement.
It can be recalled that last May 18, the National Capital Region wage board issued a new wage order introducing a P30 hike in the Cola allowance for workers in Metro Manila that will be paid in two tranches. read more.

08:47:23 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Government proposes to increase salary by VND100,000:

After calculating the expenses, the Ministry of Finance is expected to arrange about VND20.7 trillion ($1.03 billion) to increase the minimum wage from the current VND1.05 million ($50) to VND1.15 million ($55) from July 2013.

The speech by Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue at the National Assembly yesterday morning, October 31, brought about a new message on the adjustment of the minimum wage, after the government repeatedly proposed to postpone the pay rise for being unable to allocate VND60 trillion (around $3 billion) for 2013.

The Finance Minister said after recalculating the budget balance, cutting expenses, including capital expenditure, the Government decided to keep raising the salary in 2013. However, the rise will be lower than being previously expected.

Specifically, the minimum wage of about 8.3 million workers, pensioners and those who benefit from the social welfare policy will be increased by about VND100,000 ($5), from the current level of VND1.05 million. The time of application is July 1, 2013. read more.

* Chinese bras with unknown pills found across VN:

The central province of Quang Ngai has become the latest locality to have detected an unidentified drug inside Chinese bras available in the province.

Unit 1 of the province’s Market Management Agency seized 20 bras whose labels are full of Chinese script from Quang Ngai market, unit leader Ngo Tan Anh told reporters on Wednesday.

When the bras were cut apart, officials found two packs, each of which contained three unknown, round white tablets which secrete a liquid that makes consumers’ hands itchy. read more.

08:47:23 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Wage hike definite on Jan 1:

The government’s policy to raise the daily minimum wage to 300 baht in the remaining 70 provinces will definitely take effect on Jan 1, 2013, Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

The plan had been already published in the Royal Gazette, he said.
Asked about the move by  Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) to submit a petition to the prime minister asking for a delay in the wage increase, Mr Phadermchai said the FTI had the right to do so.
The minister said it will be good because would then clearly learn about the real impact of the wage increase and could then come up with suitable measures to help the affected manufacturers as needed. read more.

* Workers triumph after setting up cooperative:

For three years now, the cooperative set up by workers who were dismissed by bra-maker Triumph is not just thriving, but is also successful in supporting other workers’ rights.F

After losing their jobs, the 12 workers set up a small “social venture” to start producing undergarments for both sexes under the “Try Arm” brand in October 2009. Now, they allocate 10 per cent of their income to support union rights and political activities.

Jitra Kotchadej, coordinator of the cooperative, explained that the venture was not a factory, but a business venture with a political dimension. She said all co-owners of the cooperative, which is located in a four-storey shophouse in Samut Prakan’s Samrong area, earn Bt20 more than the current Bt300 daily minimum wage.

Jitra, a committed red shirt like the rest of the co-owners, lost her job in Triumph after she was seen on television wearing a T-shirt supporting Thai citizens’ right to not stand up when the Royal anthem is played. read more.

* Free Somyot update: Good news:

Finally we can report some good news that the Lese Majeste case against Surapak Puchaisaeng, a 40 year-old computer programmer who was arrested on lese majeste charges on 1 September 2011, has found him not guilty and he is due to be released at 8pm tonight.
This is a hopeful indicator for Somyot’s case, representing the first court ruling in favour of someone arrested under A112. The full article: Surapak acquitted of lese majeste is here.
to read.

* UN release position on Thai activist Somyot’s detention: the Thai gov’t should immediately release him:

You can downloafd the pdf report here.

* About the Librarian of Bangkok Prison:

On the 30th April of this year Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was arrested for the second time in 12 months, for his activities as a journalist. He is just one of a number of activists who find themselves in Bangkok Remand Prison for their democratic activities in the run up to the Thai elections in July.

They believe that the charges have been used to prevent opposition groups in Thailand from participating fairly.  For a good summary of recent campaigns
click here
or search the Asian Correspondent site.

The Thai National Human Rights Committee, and Amnesty International have taken up Somyot’s case, and many friends and colleagues have sent letters to the Thai prime minister requesting his release (you can do this too if you like by pressing on the tab above). Somyot is now working as the librarian of Bangkok prison taking this rare opportunity to read books.

Please, send him by post or email some publication or creative product, either your own or other people’s. This could be a book or piece of written work, some art or photography or anything that you think would offer some distraction for the people of Bangkok remand prison. read more.

08:47:23 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Court wants to hear from labour leader:

The Kandal provincial court has again summonsed the president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions for questioning about her alleged incitement of the summer’s two-month-long Tai Yang factory strike.

The summon issued on Tuesday asks CATU president Yang Sophorn to appear on November 21 to answer “incitement and defamation allegations” made in a legal complaint by the general director of Tai Yang Enterprises, a supplier of Levi’s and Gap.

Sophorn already appeared in court in July in relation to the complaint against both her and Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, who has been questioned twice by the court.
Sophorn said she was not worried because she did not incite workers to strike.
read more.

09:47:23 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Survey shows Indonesians worry about work-life balance:

Indonesians are concerned that they spend too much time at their workplaces and have less time for their family and friends, a recent survey by Nielsen Indonesia shows.

The company released its third quarter consumer survey on Wednesday, saying that a happy balance between work and home was the biggest concern of Indonesians after financial stability.
“What is interesting is that the work-life balance is the second concern for Indonesians, whereas in Asia-Pacific countries it only ranks fourth,” Nielsen Indonesia managing director Catherine Eddy told reporters during a press briefing in Jakarta. read more.

07:47:23 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Fresh workers’unrest feared:

Frustration gripped the workers of Hall-Mark Group at Hemayetpur in Savar following sudden closure of all its units for an indefinite period Tuesday last without paying their wages, festival allowances and overtime bills.

Hearing news about the closure, hundreds of workers in groups gathered in front of the Hall-Mark factories since Wednesday morning and expressed their deep resentment over the decision of the Hall-Mark management.
They also warned the management that they would soon launch massive movement protesting the ‘illegal’ closure.
“It’s an illegal move and we cannot accept it,” said Sharmin Akhter, a worker of a factory of the scam-hit Hall-Mark Group. read more.

* Exporters fear new woes to RMG sector:

Following the severe backlash of superstorm Sandy on big parts of the US territory, Bangladeshi garment exporters apprehend a possible spillover impact on exports which may in turn cause a slowing down to productivity at home.
According to media reports, the mega storm Sandy has devastated north-east parts of the US, causing deaths to at least 48 people, besides damaging properties and infrastructure, with the economic cost of over $20 billion.
The storm forced the closures of US financial markets, halted air and rail services, shut down businesses from restaurants to refineries and laid idle millions of workers away from work. read more.

* RMG export to Russia doubles in July-Sept:

Apparel exports to a newer market – Russia – has experienced a robust growth during the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal thanks to local exporters’ vigorous marketing maneuvering beyond the traditional western market.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), readymade garments (RMG) worth about US$ 16.26 million has been shipped to this Euro-Asian country, registering a growth of 136 per cent. The amount was $ 6.88 million during the same period in the last fiscal.
Of the amount, knit garment accounts $ 11.09 million marking a growth of 108 per cent while woven garment accounts $ 5.16 million and registering a growth of 233 per cent per cent.  Although the export growth is phenomenal, it is not high in terms of total value as compared with the traditional markets. read more.

* Chile keen to import more RMG from Bangladesh:

Chilean Ambassador to India and Bangladesh Cristian Barros on Wednesday said his country is interested to promote Bangladesh’s export as Chile is a highly potential market for apparels, reports UNB.
Cristian Barros said this when he met leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at the BGMEA office, said a BGMEA press release.
The envoy stressed the importance of having a free trade arrangement between Bangladesh and Chile that needs sincere initiative of the government of these two countries. read more. & read more. & read more.

* Bangladesh garment exports to new markets surge in Q1:

A strong growth was observed in apparel exports from Bangladesh to new markets during the first three months of Bangladeshi fiscal year 2012-13 that began on July 1, 2012.
From July to September 2012, Bangladesh exported US$ 4.29 billion worth of garments, of which, US$ 527.61 million of exports were towards new markets, showing a rise of 28.65 percent year-on-year, according to the statistics with the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey are the new markets where Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers started exporting their goods in their effort to diversify the markets due to falling demand during global economic crisis of 2007-08. read more.

* Low price: a boon for leather exporters:

The low price of rawhide can be a boon for the leather sector as it will give exporters a competitive edge in the international market.

Rawhide prices dropped 20 percent this Eid following a slump in demand from the international markets, thanks to the protracted financial crisis in Europe and USA.
Leather goods and footwear exporters termed the fall in price of rawhide a good sign, saying it would give the sector a better shot at achieving its export target for the year.
read  more.

* Weavers meet in Delhi today:

Weavers from Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka will participate in a week-long “Wheel of Life” exhibition starting in New Delhi today.

Handloom products from the five countries will be on display and sale.
The event aims to bring out the skills of weavers and bring them to one platform for interaction and help find markets and identify trends in weaving.
Several other events have been organised along with the exhibition, including a design workshop, an exporters-buyers meet and a conference on mapping out cultural industries of South Asia. read more.

07:17:23 local time map of india INDIA

* Baseline survey of powerloom sector begins:

Weavers in the country’s biggest man-made fabric hub in Surat are upbeat as the baseline survey of powerloom sector started by the ministry of textile is aimed at extending benefits in the form of schemes and policies for the development of powerloom clusters.

Gujarat has about 7 lakh powerlooms of which 6.15 lakh are in and around Surat. The powerloom machines weave about 3 crore metre of polyester fabrics per day, which is further processed in the dyeing and printing units in and around the city.

Industry leaders claim that the sector is facing development blues from the past many years. About 80 per cent of the powerloom machines installed in the sector are conventional or shuttle-based, while only 20 per cent have upgraded to the ultra modern shuttles looms like rapier and water jet looms. read more.

* Indian garment exporters urge govt to lower interest rates:

A Sakthivel, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), on RBI announcement of its Q2 review of monetary policy on 30th October 2012 wrote a letter to Finance Minister, Shri P Chidambaram.

Dr Sakthivel in his letter stated that, “The garment export industry was expecting lowering of the interest rates which has not been announced.
The pre and post shipment credit rates are hovering around 10% which is very high when compared to interest rates available to our competitors internationally.”

Sir, it was your initiative through which you had given a separate chapter for interest rates in the export sector.  The industry appeals to you for reintroduction of the separate rates for the export sector, particularly to labour intensive sectors like clothing and textiles, he added. read more.

* PVA recovery plant at Alok saves money & reduces pollution:

Mumbai and India based Alok Industries Ltd has installed a Neo-Percler Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) recovery plant at its textile mills located in Gujarat. This recovery plant will help reduce environmental pollution and also prevent drainage of foreign currency, since PVA is fully imported.

This system helps to recover 90 percent of the PVA out of the waste liquor which in turn saves 50 percent of the cost, Alok incurs in a month on PVA sizing.

PVA is used as a yarn size formulation to achieve required yarn performance properties during weaving. Using 100-percent PVA formulations for certain fabrics significantly increases chemical oxygen demand (COD) or biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels compared to starch and also presents opportunities for reclaiming and reusing size.  read more.

* Textile mills plan to set up base in western states:

Shyam Indofab, a Punjab-based textile mill, is considering setting up a facility in Maharashtra’s cotton-rich Vidarbha region. Managing Director Sanjay Gupta says, “The policy and incentives offered by this western state are attractive.” He adds the mill in Maharashtra would not just have spinning facilities, but knitting and processing units as well.

On the condition of anonymity, another mill owner from Tamil Nadu said he was looking at setting up a mill either in Maharashtra or in Gujarat, as the incentives offered in these states were good. Also, the cost to transport raw cotton would be reduced. read more.

07:17:23 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Brandix Casualwear Giritale reaches ‘Green’ milestone:

 Brandix Casualwear Ltd, Giritalé, has been accorded an ‘Eco Factory Attribute’ by Marks & Spencer (M&S), in recognition of its achievements in environmental sustainability and preservation.

Strategically making use of its natural surroundings, Brandix’s Giritalé plant secured the M&S Eco Factory Attribute awarded under the latter’s ‘Plan A’ initiative, by significantly reducing its emissions and consumption of resources. Overall energy consumption was cut by 30 percent. Fuel consumption too has been reduced by 20 per cent through redesigned boiler and steam distributors which run entirely on biomass. As a result, the overall carbon footprint of the factory has shrunk by 15 percent. Water consumption has declined by 25 percent, and the plant now recycles 100 per cent of its solid waste. read more.

06:47:23 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* REEE programme: SMEDA enables textile industry to save Rs 400 million annually:

Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), in collaboration with the German organization GIZ enabled the textile industry to save about Rs 400 million per annum by implementing a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program (REEE).

Principal Advisor, REEE program -GIZ, Germany, Bernhard Mayhofer, revealed this in a meeting with the SMEDA Chief Executive Officer Yousaf Naseem Khokhar here on Wednesday. Alamgir Chaudhry, General Manager- Outreach, Ashfaq Ahmad, Head Industry Support Cell and Imran Chaudhry, Manager Donor Co-ordination Cell of SMEDA were also present on this occasion. Meyhofer appreciated SMEDA for its co-operation in the successful implementation of the Energy Efficiency activities of the REE Program. As a result of our joint efforts in the textile sector, APTMA members have reported energy saving of upto 83.5 million KW per year, he said adding that based upon the success of such efforts in textiles, the ambit of REEE activities had been expanded to other industrial sectors including food and beverages, steel and glass sectors. read more. & read more.

* Textile exports to US likely to take a hit:

Pakistan is likely to suffer a loss of nearly 20 percent of its annual value-added textile exports to the US as the sea-storm Sandy has plunged the key business corridors of New York in its wake, exporters said on Wednesday.

They feared that their payments for textile exports maybe delayed from US importers. They said that the scale of destruction to the New York economy is “too big” to allow retail businesses to normalize immediately.

“Pakistan’s two key textile products including home textile and value-added garments will be badly impacted from the calamity in the US,” Chief Co-ordinator, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (Prgmea), Ijaz Khokhar told Business Recorder.

He said that the country’s total annual exports of home textiles and readymade garments stand for roughly $2.5 billion to the US, of which New York is the key buying hub of Pakistani products. “Chinese textiles will also suffer from the calamity in the Atlantic,” he believed. read more.

* CNG petition: APTMA decides to become party:

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has decided to become a party to the CNG petition for working out a new pricing mechanism in the Supreme Court. The APTMA leadership made this announcement in a hurriedly-called press conference on Wednesday at the APTMA Punjab office.

Chairman APTMA has further demanded restricting the CNG usage exclusively to the public transport in order to provide genuine relief to the masses. While apprehending a quantum increase in the gas utilisation by the CNG sector, the APTMA leadership said this situation would lead to unbearable economic fallout ahead in the country. read more. & read more. & read more.

* Fire incidents in industrial units irk business leaders:

The trade and industry has expressed its sheer concern over the ever-increasing fire incidents in Karachi particularly in the industrial areas.

The Chief Patron Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) S M Muneer, Chairman Mohammad Zubair Chhaya, President All Karachi Industrial Alliance Mian Zahid Hussain and Vice Chairmen Niaz Ahmed and Najmul Arfeen have showed their dismay over the five incidents of fire in just one day in Karachi including one in Korangi Industrial Area’s factory wherein the factory was gutted due to the delay in fire fighting by the fire brigade.

KATI chief said that the fire fighting system in Karachi has got outdated and used up due to which fire brigade department is unable to extinguish fire effectively and timely. He said that even the water is not available to the fore tenders easily and conveniently.

The industry leaders have demanded of the government to revamp fire brigade department in Karachi and import new and modern fire tenders for the city and to be allocated to the industrial zones separately. read more.

* Karachiites advised to adopt fire safety measures:

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed said that fire brigade would be gradually up graded on modern lines with the induction of new and effective equipments.

He expressed these views while addressing a review meeting on fire brigade’s performance on Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by Senior Director Municipal Services Dr Shoukat Zaman, Director Machinery Pool Nauman Arshad, and other officers.
Earlier, they expressed concern over the fire eruption incidents in different factories last week.
The administrator said, “Presently 22 fire stations exist in Karachi whereas in terms of population, Karachi needs about 200 fire stations.”
He appealed to the citizens to take all precautionary measures in their homes and keep their electrical wiring safe and secure. to read.

* Leather industry in Pakistan continues to decline:

More than 5.7 million animals with an approximate value of Rs120 billion were sacrificed this Eidul Azha in Pakistan, but Syed Saydin says these numbers have not affected the local market positively.

Though Pakistani leather is considered to be the second best in the world, the chairman of Pakistan Tanners Association says the growth rate for the country continues to decline.
“In India, the growth rate is 22.68 percent, 20.7 percent in China and 17.51 percent in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the growth rate in Pakistan is declining by 3.94 percent,” he says.
The association says hides obtained from animals sacrificed this year have an estimated value of Rs7 billion.
Leather from all over the country is brought to Lahore, the location for Pakistan’s biggest market for the product. read more & video.


* Italy-based firm under fire for Karachi factory disaster :

Italy-based company RINA had issued a SA8000 certificate to Ali Enterprises just three weeks before the fire broke out on September 11, 2012. SA8000 is a compliance certification granted after an audit of a company’s policies, procedures and documentation, to ensure a safe workplace. PHOTO: AFP/ FILE

The devastating inferno at a garment factory in Baldia Town, which claimed the lives of over 250 workers, raises some pressing concerns over the credibility of international safety certifications granted to local companies.

Italy-based company RINA had issued a SA8000 certificate to Ali Enterprises just three weeks before the fire broke out on September 11, 2012. SA8000 is a compliance certification granted after an audit of a company’s policies, procedures and documentation, to ensure a safe workplace.

“We have been continuously voicing concerns about local factories not following the labour laws of Pakistan completely,” Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) Executive Director Karamat Ali told The Express Tribune.
He added the practice of acquiring such certifications was a good one, but did not really reflect the working conditions of these factories.
“If Ali Enterprises was following basic safety standards, the fire would not have resulted in the loss of precious lives.” read more.


map of Asia

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

* Debate on revisions to Labour Contract Law delayed because of deluge of submissions
* Wage controls to narrow income gap
* China textile city performs well in September

* Rest of minimum wage takes effect Nov. 1, DOLE reminds employers

* Government proposes to increase salary by VND100,000
* Chinese bras with unknown pills found across VN

* Wage hike definite on Jan 1
* Workers triumph after setting up cooperative
* Free Somyot update: Good news
* UN release position on Thai activist Somyot’s detention: the Thai gov’t should immediately release him
* About the Librarian of Bangkok Prison

* Court wants to hear from labour leader

* Survey shows Indonesians worry about work-life balance

* Fresh workers’unrest feared
* Exporters fear new woes to RMG sector
* RMG export to Russia doubles in July-Sept
* Chile keen to import more RMG from Bangladesh
* Bangladesh garment exports to new markets surge in Q1
* Low price: a boon for leather exporters
* Weavers meet in Delhi today

* Baseline survey of powerloom sector begins
* Indian garment exporters urge govt to lower interest rates
* PVA recovery plant at Alok saves money & reduces pollution
* Textile mills plan to set up base in western states

* Brandix Casualwear Giritale reaches ‘Green’ milestone

* REEE programme: SMEDA enables textile industry to save Rs 400 million annually
* Textile exports to US likely to take a hit
* CNG petition: APTMA decides to become party
* Fire incidents in industrial units irk business leaders
* Karachiites advised to adopt fire safety measures
* Leather industry in Pakistan continues to decline
* Italy-based firm under fire for Karachi factory disaster

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
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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
    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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