in the news on-line, 4 & 5 November 2012

00:41:50 local time map of china CHINA

* Fashion store seeks to revive its spirits:

Shop confronts the fact it’s facing tough competition in the modern marketplace

Wang Yueqi, a 28-year-old Shanghai white-collar worker, visited an Esprit-branded store in Shanghai in August but left empty-handed.
“The design was outdated and the colors weren’t great. Some of the clothes I think were designed for older people, not for the young,” said Wang. “Compared with other fashion brands, the price is not competitive. For those prices I think I can get better products from ‘fast’ fashion stores”

Wang had been a fan of the Hong Kong-listed fashion and lifestyle brand since she was in high school. Over the past few years, she has visited Esprit stores several times a year to buy clothes for the upcoming seasons. However, she now says her interest in the fashion brand is diminishing because she “cannot find something that is distinctive and unique”. Often she visits just out of habit and does want to buy anything.

Wang said she would rather visit Zara or H&M to buy the latest designs. Wang could be described as typical of the balinghou, those born in the 1980s who used to be loyal to Esprit but have now switched to other brands. read more.

* Li & Fung issues US$ 500 million 6.0 per cent- Subordinated Perpetual Capital Securities (“Perpetual Bonds”):

Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Limited (“Li & Fung”, or “the Company”, SEHK: 494), the multinational consumer goods sourcing, distribution, and logistics group, today announced that it has proceeded with the issue of the Perpetual Bonds and has entered into a subscription agreement withthe joint lead managers in relation to the distribution of the Perpetual Bonds.
Investor demand for the debut issuance of the Perpetual Bonds was strong and
the issue was over-subscribed by over 10 times.
The Perpetual Bonds will be issued with the aggregate principal amount of
US$500 million. Li & Fung will apply the net proceeds primarily towards business
development and acquisitions. The Perpetual Bonds are subordinated obligations
of the Company, will be denominated in U.S. dollars, will not have a maturity date
and will confer a right to receive distributions subject to certain conditions. The
Perpetual Bonds will have an Initial Distribution Rate of 6.0% and will be issued at
par. read more in pdf.

* Esprit and Li & Fung leave Hey Tekstil workers hanging:

For over eight months groups of Hey Tekstil workers have protested in Istanbul for their unpaid wages, severance and other payments from Li & Fung, one of the world’s largest garment trading companies. Li & Fung was sourcing almost all of the production at Hey Tekstil for one brand: Esprit, when the workers were fired without pay.

Ineke Zeldenrust, campaigner at CCC International Secretariat said “it is time for Li & Fung and Esprit to come to the table with Hey Tekstil workers and the company. This is a case of gross negligence: these companies failed to act when Hey first started violating the law and their own codes of conduct, and now after eight months of fighting Hey Tekstil workers are unable to send their children to school or buy daily medications. We have implored every stakeholder to take action. There are no more excuses.”

Force Esprit and Li & Fung to the table
Esprit and Li & Fung made a humiliating offer of ‘legal assistance’ to workers who they know already have taken legal action themselves. This offer is shamefully inadequate and they must take substantive action now in Turkey and negotiate a serious and final deal. This is the only ethically end Hey Tekstil workers’ eighth-month battle for dignity. read more.

00:41:50 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Militant labor groups demand living, not ‘libing’ wage:

“Libing (burial),” not living, wage.

This was how militant and labor groups described the remaining P10 increase in the cost-of-living-allowance (Cola) for minimum wage earners in Metro Manila, which took effect Thursday.

“No wonder the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) implemented this hike in time for Day of the Dead (Araw ng Patay),” Anakbayan chair Vencer Crisostomo said in a statement.

Crisostomo said the hike is far from the P125 demanded by the workers and the P993 Family Living Wage set by Ibon Foundation in 2011, the amount required to meet daily family needs.

“The present workers’ pay is not a living wage, it’s a ‘libing’ (funeral) wage. You can feel the spirit of the dead, but not the wage hike,” he said in Filipino, adding that most employers do not implement the minimum wage levels. read more.

23:41:50 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Footwear exports gaining momentum:

Despite the impact of world economic slowdown, the footwear sector expects to achieve an average growth of more than 10 percent this year.

Judging by the latest statistics from the Vietnam Customs, the footwear sector is likely to earn US$7.3 billion from total exports in 2012, up 12 percent compared to last year’s figure.
By far, it has exported US$5.45 billion worth of different products, up US$600 million from a year earlier, showing its growth of 12.3 percent.

In the first two quarters, footwear exports rose 16.4 percent to more than US$3.5 billion against the same period last year. This was owing to co-ordinated efforts by businesses to fulfill contracts signed with the EU and other countries.

The EU was Vietnam’s largest market, accounting for US$1.29 billion or 40.2 percent of its total export turnover (up 6.5 percent). Footwear exports to Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic increased considerably, by 228.8 percent, 147.6 percent and 136.7 percent respectively. The footwear sector also achieved impressive export growth in Sweden (43.2 percent), Belgium (25 percent) and France (10.1 percent). read more in BUSINESS IN BRIEF 3/11 (19th item).

* Better Work Vietnam: 5th Compliance Synthesis Report:

In category: Compliance Synthesis Reports, Garment, Vietnam

This report provides an overview of the findings from 137 factories assessed over the period July 2011 – July 2012. Seventy-nine of these factories were included in the fourth synthesis report published in March 2012.
download pdf.

23:41:50 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* A sobering issue in the workplace:

In garment factories, alcoholism is woven into the culture.

It’s six in the evening at Hua Thai Manufacturing Plc, when dozens of garment workers huddle inside and outside the factory, can of beer in hand, before starting overtime in an hour.


Mrs Pranom (left) campaigns for garment workers to cut down on on-thejob drinking. A new national law will take effect tomorrow banning workplace drinking.

The company used to provide beer and alcohol to employees in the evening but stopped in 2005 after an anti-drinking campaign. The budget used to buy beers for employees now goes for gifts in the company lottery.
Located in Nonthaburi province, the 28-year-old factory employs 700-800 workers, 95% of them women.

“It’s not safe if two drunk employees have a row. Every time a disagreement happens, friends have to look out for each other’s belongings, people end up crying and some get dragged to their cars,” said 48-year-old employee Pranom Chiang-ang.

“Many women drink as a way to escape their problems. I was always told I couldn’t understand how cool it is to drink if I don’t do it myself.” read more.

* Free Somyot  Second weekly letter:

Week 73 of the prolonged detention.
Dear P’Yot,
There’re many things happened in this week after I visited you at the prison last Tuesday. Fist of all, I must say that no one visited the 112 prisoners except Jane and me on that day.
So I had a good chance to talk to you, Pee Surachai and Noom all together in one. It seemed that the 20 minutes flied so fast and we talked over time limit until the officer warned us to separate and asked you to go back inside. A period of 20 minutes is very short and always not enough to be with the one that I love and wait for the whole week.
The prison allows us to meet once a day from 11.10 to 11.30 at weekdays only. As I am busy and don’t have lot of free time, I could only meet you once a week. I have to spend that little time that they allow as good and most valuable as I can. One thing that I have seen and am happy is that you still maintain your courage and strength. You don’t lose heart and have a good spirit even it has been a very long time since you have been detained. Your faith remains unchange. So I hope someday your dream will come true. read more.

23:41:50 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Japanese Investment Grows; Hurdles Remain:

Japanese investment in Cambodia is steadily increasing as a result of sharply rising wages in China and other Southeast Asian nations. But experts warned this week that for sustained investment growth—and to avoid driving Japanese companies to other attractive investment destinations such as Burma —the government must address the country’s skilled labor shortage and reduce electricity costs.

Japanese investment in Cambodia reached $75 million last year, up from about $35 million in 2010 and about $15 million in 2009, according to the Japanese Embassy.

This year, however, investment by Japanese companies will reach $300 million thanks to the $205-million Aeon Mall development in Phnom Penh, construction on which begins this month.

“The biggest advantage of Cambodia is the low cost of labor; Japanese companies made very big investments in China, Vietnam and Thailand, [where] labor costs are increasing rapidly,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, CEO and chief economist at the Business Research Institute for Cambodia.
(…)
Although Japanese firms in Cambodia have historically been garment manufacturers, since 2010, new investments have been shifting to labor-intensive parts manufacturing, such as small motors, automotive parts and wire harness systems (compactly bundled electrical wires), Mr. Suzuki said.

Meanwhile, Japanese clothing makers here are focusing on high-end products such as silk kimonos and leather products, which is a shift from the traditional characteristics of the local industry, Mr. Suzuki said.
“Cambodia’s garment sector is mainly low-priced items sold in supermarkets in the U.S.,” he said. read more.

* 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum:

The Asia Floor Wage Cambodia published a post on their facebook page that detailed the outcome of the 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum (9AEPF). Charles Hector reported the following:

“What was interesting was the outcome of the workshop entitled “Combating Erosion of Worker and Trade Union Rights”, which was attended by about 80-100 participants, who did at the end of the 3 1/2 hour program on the 18th afternoon come up with recommendations, all of which were discussed and adopted unanimously….
The call was for the abolition of outsourcing [i.e. the contractor for labour system], and short-term employment contract.
Regular employment with security of tenure until retirement2-party employment relationships between principals or owners of workplaces as employers, and workers that work in the said workplaces as employees of the said principals and owners.”

* For a more detailed look into the outcomes of the Forum, read below ASIA:
* Final Declaration 9th Asia- Europe People’s Forum – Vientiane, Laos

from & more Responsible Fashion Roundup

00:41:50 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Application By 4,500 Companies To Defer Minimum Wage Being Studied – Subramaniam:

The National Consultative Council on the implementation of the minimum wage is studying applications from 4,500 companies to temporarily defer implementing the scheme which is due to take effect in January next year, said Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

However, he stressed that only companies involved in certain fields might get temporary deferment, whereas the others had to follow the ruling.
“We are studying the applications from the companies which are in the Small and Medium Industries category. They need some more time to implement the minimum wage scheme. read  more.

00:41:50 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* Jakarta Government Discusses 30% Minimum Wage Hike:

Jakarta will likely raise the minimum wage 30 percent to Rp 2 million ($208) a month, in line with new cost of living figures, the Jakarta Wage Council said on Friday.

Workers earning minimum wage in Jakarta currently bring home Rp 1.5 million a month. But under the government’s recently released cost of living figures, a capital resident needs to earn Rp 1,978,789 a month to live comfortably.
The government set the cost of living at Rp 1,497,838 last year.
“I think [the minimum wage] should be Rp 2 million,” Jakarta Wage Council secretary Dwi Untoro said. read more.

* Jakarta Minimum Wage in 2013 Could Top Rp 2m:

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo held an unprecedented meeting on Friday with his counterparts from Banten and West Java to discuss a joint minimum wage for the three provinces.

Joko invited Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah and West Java’s Ahmad Heryawan, along with Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, to City Hall to get the ball rolling on what he called “a very serious issue.”

“This is about the minimum wage. It’s important that we sit down to discuss it seriously so that we can reach a win-win solution for all sides,” he said before the meeting, which was closed to the media.read more.

 * Remuneration board raises living cost standard by 32%:

The Jakarta Remuneration Board on Friday increased the standard cost of living (KHL) by 32 percent to Rp 1.97 million (US$206) from Rp 1.49 million per month, and would use it as main reference to decide the provincial minimum wage remuneration for 2013.

Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said that the city administration was satisfied with the amount set by the KHL.
“I believe we all have agreed on the KHL’s number. The governor [Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo] instructed for it to be a fair amount,” Ahok told reporters after attending the meeting with the Board at the City Hall.

The deputy governor said that the KHL had been calculated in line with predictions for expected inflation next year. “The amount was also influenced by a total of 60 components that are regulated by the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry,” Ahok said.
Labor representatives wanted a total of 122 components to influence the KHL; however, Ahok said the decision to do so falls under the ministry’s authority.
read more.

* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update:

1. Minimum regional wage to be decided in mid-November: Minister.
Read the full article here.
2. Remuneration board raises living cost standard by 32%.  Read the full article here.
3. Indonesian Tripartite Delegation Learns Korean Labor System. 
    Read the full article here.
4. New labor policies lose-lose.   Read the full article here.
5. Govt Shouldn’t Be Complacent. Read the full article here.
6. Indonesian Growth Seen Exceeding 6%, Reduces Need for Rate Cut.
Read the full article here.
7. Foreign investors may ‘relocate’.  Read the full article here.

Betterwork Indonesia’s overview here.

* Better Work Indonesia: 1st Compliance Synthesis Report:

In category:  Compliance Synthesis Reports, Garment, Indonesia

This report covers 20 factories assessed by Better Work Indonesia between July 2011 and March 2012.
download pdf.

22:41:50 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Workers to go on hunger strike for resuming operation:

Hall-Mark Group’s RMG Factories

A platform of garment workers will go on a token hunger strike in the capital today, demanding that the government secure the workers’ jobs by resuming operation of Hall-Mark Group’s factories in Savar under its supervision.

Garment Sramik Sangram Parishad has organised the protest programme in front of Jatiya Press Club at 10:00am.
The platform also submitted memorandums to the ministries of labour and employment; industries; and commerce as well as other offices yesterday to press home their demand, its coordinator Advocate Mahbubur Rahman Ismail told journalists.

The garment workers have been holding different programmes, demanding disbursement of all arrears among the 17,000 workers whose jobs had been thrown into uncertainty with the unexpected closure of the factories since October 30.
The uncertainty among the workers arose after Hall-Mark’s top brass, including its managing director and chairman, were arrested after the group was found to have embezzled Tk 2,686 crore on loan from Sonali Bank. to read.

* Reopening of Hallmark factories demanded:

Garment labour leaders at a press conference on Sunday demanded immediate re-opening of the factories of the Hallmark Group, which were closed on October 30, through government initiatives.
National Garment Workers Federation, a garment workers rights body, organised the press conference at Asad Auditorium where its president Amirul Haque Amin said that the workers of the Hallmark should not bear the responsibilities of the money swindling from the Sonali Bank.
More than 15,000 workers of the factories of the group were deprived from getting their wages for 3 months and the Eid bonus due to the closure of the factories.
read more.

* RMG workers block Rampura-Badda road for arrears:

A group of garment workers staged angry demonstration in Madhya (Middle) Badda area under Badda thana of the city on Monday demanding immediate payment of their arrears.

Police said some 150 to 200 workers of Topaz Garments started agitation for payment of their outstanding salaries and other allowances at around 7:45 am on Monday.
Later, they took to the street and vandalised a number of vehicles and blocked the Badda-Rampura road at around 8:15 am.
The road blockade by the RMG workers triggered huge traffic congestion from Badda to Mouchak and on the Badda-Kuril-Airport road. read more.

*  ‘Top apparel exporter’ status beckons Bangladesh:

Global buyers are now turning their focus onto Bangladesh for long-term apparel sourcing as the country has the potential to supply quality garment products. It can also beat China to become the largest exporting country, industry insiders said.

The cost of production has gone up significantly in the competing countries, especially in China, and Bangladesh is becoming more popular with the buyers for the affordable apparel prices here.

High officials of many top global retailers, including H & M, Inditex, Tesco and Gap, visited the country recently in a bid to source more apparel products from Bangladesh, they said.
“Bangladesh has an ample opportunity to become the number one exporting country as we have a large work force the competing countries don’t have,” Siddiqur Rahman, Chairman of Sterling Group, told the FE.

During the last few months, high officials from the top global apparel buyers visited the country to see whether Bangladesh was ready to seize the scope, Mr Rahman, who is also the second vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said.
He said China was facing a shortage of manpower and higher production costs. Moreover, the present generation there is no longer interested in garment business.
read more.

* Leather sector fears crisis if rawhide export is allowed:

The leather sector will face a crisis if the government allows export of rawhide as local sources meet around 75 per cent of its demand for rawhides, said leaders of the sector.

They said the announcement of the commerce minister has already lowered the supply of rawhide to the capital and it will be difficult to achieve the target of rawhide purchase.
They also expressed their anxiety about the prices of leather and leather goods in the international market due to Sandy, the deadly storm that hit the USA recently. The international market price of leather mainly depends on the US market, they said.
The commerce ministry has already called a meeting with the leaders of the leather sector on 5 November to discuss the export of rawhide. Sector leaders hoped that the government would disallow rawhide export after talking with them.
read more. & read more.
 

* Cotton warehouse gutted by fire:

A cotton godown was gutted in a fire, which broke out at a bazaar in Jaldhaka upazila on Sunday.

Local sources said the fire erupted at the godown, owned by  businessman Nihar Uddin, at noon.
The reason behind the fire could not be known immediately.
Receiving information, a unit of fire fighters from neighbouring Domar upazila rushed in and they aided by locals extinguished the blaze after an–hour of hectic efforts.
The warehouse owner claimed that cotton worth about Tk 20 lakh were gutted in the fire.
There is no fire service office in Jaldhaka upazila. to read.

* Seek duty benefits from new Congress: Mozena:

Bangladesh should ask the new Congress in January for duty benefits for its readymade garment products to the American market, Dan Mozena, the US ambassador to Bangladesh, said yesterday.

“If I would have represented Bangladesh the prime objective would have been to achieve duty-free access to the US market,” Mozena told journalists at the luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.
He said the matter is to be decided by the Congress, to wit the new Congress which will be formed in January.
“If I were a Bangladeshi, once the [US presidential] election is over in two days I would have reached out to the Congress to remove those tariffs,” he added.
read more. & read more.
  

22:11:50 local time map of india INDIA

* Child labour thrives on lack of coordination:

According to the child welfare committee, the Kerala High Court order clearly mentions that employing children under 18 in hazardous jobs is punishable

The Thursday night drama where police smelled a bid to traffic 50 underage persons has brought to the fore the absence of coordination between the agencies concerned.

A group of 56 persons, including 40 young women, believed to be from Uttar Pradesh, was spotted on board Hapa-Tirunelveli Super Express. On the basis of a tip-off received by the anti-human trafficking cell, a search was done when the train reached Palakkad station on Thursday night. However, almost all the members of the group produced documents proving they were not juveniles and the group was allowed to proceed to Aluva. Two policemen accompanied the group from Palakkad.
(…)
The committee will also write to the Department of Labour on whether any member under 18 years was being employed there. Those aged below 18 years were being employed at present citing the recent Kerala High Court order that those aged above 14 could be employed, provided it was not hazardous job or their pay was not withheld. Textile industry, however, falls within the bracket of hazardous employment conditions.

“We are awaiting details from the police before initiating action on this,” said Padmaja Nair, chairperson of the committee here. Section 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act on exploitation of juvenile or child employee says: “Whoever ostensibly procures a juvenile or the child for the purpose of any hazardous employment, keeps him in bondage and withholds his earnings or uses such earning for his own purposes shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

According to the child welfare committee, the Kerala High Court order clearly mentions that employing children under 18 in hazardous jobs is punishable. And in the schedule of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, handloom and powerloom industries, construction sector, domestic labour and hotel industries are listed as hazardous labour. read more.

* ‘Present laws not enough to curb child labour’:

The present laws cannot deter the menace of child labour. The government should bring separate schemes for rehabilitation and education of rescued children, said 11-year-old Kulbhusan, a student from Bharatpur while presenting his views on ‘Child Labour: A Curse or Boon’ at OTS on Saturday.

The debate on child labour, organized by Rajasthan Legal Aid Authority, saw three students each from seven divisions of the state aiming to sensitize students on the sensitive issue. The debate was attended by Justice Dalip Singh, Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice NK Jain of the high court.

“Students have not only deciphered the root cause of this problem and also gave suggestions to curb the problem. I am happy that future generation is very sensitive about such issues,” said Justice Singh. These students were shortlisted after they won the competition held at divisional level. The participants came from across the state has gave informative speeches. read more.

* Patronage for handloom goods dwindling:

The shrinking patronage for handloom goods is more pronounced now than any other festive season. The primary reason for this is that in terms of design aspects and price factor, handlooms goods can hardly compete with mill goods.

Moreover, high wages and tardy turnout of the finished products, owing to various factors such as lack of electricity and adverse weather conditions, have pushed up the prices of handloom goods.
The volatile market conditions, resulting from soaring inflation and economic recession, too have had a toll on the handloom sector. The slowdown in demand has forced handloom weavers to shift to other pursuits. read more.

* In search of reed to weave a life with:

Craftsmen in the State who fashion a livelihood from bamboo and reed are in for tough times. The raw material is scarce and whatever little available is highly priced.

In Palakkad district alone, more than 5,000 families of traditional artisans are dependent on the Forest Department and the Kerala State Bamboo Corporation for the supply of bamboo and reed. For the last couple of years, inadequate supply and high price (30 to 80 per cent more than the rate at which they are supplied to paper industry) have choked the sector, which employs mostly tribal and other backward communities.

“Many had to leave their traditional craft and opt for semi- and unskilled jobs in the construction sector,” said K. Balasubramanian of the Erattakulam cluster of the Ambedkar Hastashilpa Vikas Yojana, which makes bamboo products. According to Mr. Balasubramanian, major industrial consumers are being supplied bamboo at ridiculously low price, while rural craftsmen are charged exorbitantly. Professional basket-makers are the main sufferers. read more.

* Reebok fraud case: ED begins money laundering probe:

Investigators, after their probe till now, have hinted to an alleged connivance of the company officials and its employees

The Enforcement Directorate has begun a money laundering probe into the alleged Rs 870 crore corporate fraud in sports apparel company Reebok India.

With the registration of this new case, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED has become the fourth agency to probe the purported fraud.
Earlier, the Income Tax department under Finance Ministry, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) under Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Economic Offences Wing of Gurgaon police had probed against the firm and its officials based here. read more. & read more.
 

* Enforcement Directorate begins probe into Reebok case for alleged 870-crore corporate fraud:

The Enforcement Directorate has begun a money laundering probe into the alleged 870-crore corporate fraud in sports apparel company Reebok India. With the registration of this new case, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the ED has become the fourth agency to probe the purported fraud.

Earlier, the income tax department under finance ministry, SFIO under corporate affairs ministry and the Economic Offences Wing of Gurgaon police had probed against the firm and its officials based here.

The ED, according to sources, has begun scrutinising the financial documents and bank statements of the firm and its businesses in India and it is in touch with the other agencies with regard to the probe. read more. & read more.
  

* New textile policy on the anvil, says Minister:

Major textile industries proposed in five places

Murugesh Nirani, Minister for Major Industries, has said that a new textile policy will be introduced within a month, and it has been proposed to set up major textile industries in five places.

Speaking to mediapersons here on Friday, Mr. Nirani said that textile industries would be set up in Hyderabad Karnataka, Bombay Karnataka and Central Karnataka regions, Bangalore and Mysore. These industries would provide employment to hundreds of people, he said.

Many industrialists, including foreign investors, had evinced interest in establishing different industries in the State. More than 1,200 acres of land had been identified to make it convenient for the investors to set up their units. Preliminary survey of land was under way. Allotment of land for new industries would soon be finalised, he said.
read more.

* Panipat handloom units fret at exports dwindle:

Several exporters now focusing on domestic market to survive as demand from US, Europe falls

The slowdown in Europea and the US, which has led to contraction in demand for home furnishing items in these markets, has translated into difficult times for the handloom industry in Panipat.
Prem Vijh, President Panipat Exporters’ Association says there has been a 15-20% reduction in the demand for Home furnishings from buyers overseas this year, spelling trouble for the industry in Panipat. read more.

* Despite HC orders, chemicals still thrown into Bandi river:

River Bandi in Pali is no longer a river. Nor is the Bandi Nehra Dam a water reservoir. Despite Rajasthan high court’s repeated order that no untreated water shall be released into the river, the two remain as reservoirs of chemical effluents thrown out from the textile units. The high court orders in 2004 and 2008 had clearly stated that no untreated water shall be released into the river.

The court on Thursday once again pulled up the state government for playing with citizens’ health by not keeping water bodies free of pollution. In fact, the ecological health of river Bandi and Bandi Nehra Dam is a cause of concern for the villagers living around the river.

“For years we have been chasing the administration and politicians to take notice. Thousands of bigha of land have been rendered infertile due to pollution. There are no birds in the area and people are suffering with skin diseases due to water pollution. If nothing is done we are planning an agitation immediately after Diwali,” said Mahaveer Singh, general secretary, Sri Kisan Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti.
(…)
Besides, some time back on July 12, 2012 the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board had instructed closure of all units running without consent to operate. Recently, nearly 150 were sealed for fixing additional machinery to increase production capacity. And even today, the textiles industry, despite submitting an affidavit to the RSPCB and taking an undertaking that no effluents shall be released in the river, are still releasing untreated water in to the river. read more.

*  Weavers urge Surat police to step up vigil in industrial areas:

Weavers in the powerloom sector have urged the police department to keep a close vigil in the industrial areas across the city as they fear the robbers to strike during the Diwali vacation when the units will be closed.

Industry leaders said that robberies are on the rise in the industrial areas during the Diwali festival when the units are closed. The robbers strike in the units and escape with costly grey fabrics, machine equipments and other material kept in the units.
Last years dozens of robbery incidents were reported from different industrial areas in Pandesara, Sachin, Udhana, Katargam etc. during the Diwali festival.

Sources said that the weaving units will remain close for more than 15 days during the Diwali vacation starting from November 10. The weavers who are not going out with their families have decided to visit their units on daily basis in order to keep tab on the movements of the unidentified persons in the industrial areas. read more.

22:11:50 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* Brandix pledges carbon reduction:

After achieving its 2012 eco targets Sri Lanka’s top apparel exporter Brandix has pledged a further reduction of its carbon footprint by 2020.

The head of environment and energy management of Brandix group, Iresha Somarathna told a media briefing that using 2013 as the base year, Brandix will make further investments in processes and innovations that progressively reduce the impact of its operations on the environment, aiming at a further 20 percent reduction of the Brandix Eco Index over the next seven years.

She said the Group had invested more than $ 3 million in energy efficiency improvements in 2011, saving 28,000 GJ of energy and nearly $ 800,000 through its energy management plan. A switch to renewable energy sources such as bio-mass had resulted in the replacement of 115,000 litres of fossil fuel last year. read more.

 * GL discusses proposed apparel export quota for Sri Lanka:

During his visit to India for the 12th Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), Minister of External Affairs, G. L. Peiris, met with the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles of India, Anand Sharma last week.  

Peiris expressed appreciation for Minister Sharma’s recent productive visit to Sri Lanka during which several new measures of economic cooperation between India and Sri Lanka were announced, and quick follow-up action was taken by the officials on both sides. read more.

* Right to Strike is inalienable from the Right to Freedom of Association:

The Director General of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) Ravi Peiris has instinctively responded to the letter written by me giving cover to a Memorandum submitted to the Minister of Labour and Labour Relations by 29 unions including 11 members of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC).

The Memorandum calls for the introduction of new amendments to the Trade Union Ordinance setting out clearly the instances in which the right to strike that is recognized by the TU Ordinance can be restricted in keeping with the requirements laid down by the recommendations of the ILO Governing Body Committee on Freedom of Association Case No. 2519 on Sri Lanka (See ‘Is there a right to strike?’ Business Times 14th October, 2012)

The graveman of Mr. Peiris is that the ‘trade unions proceed to make assumptions and interpretations which are not accurate in line with ILO Conventions and National Laws relating to strike action’. With all humility I invite Mr. Peiris to go through the Digest of Decisions and Principles of the Freedom of Association Committee of the Governing Body of the ILO, published regularly to ascertain whether the views of the unions are at variance with official ILO interpretations of its conventions. read more.

21:41:50 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Fire erupts in Korangi Industrial Area leather factory:

Karachi—A fire erupted in a leather factory in Korangi Industrial Area on Sunday, damaging material worth tens of thousands of rupees.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. Six fire tenders and two bowsers have been dispatched to the scene. The fire incidents in factories, especially in Karachi, have surged recently, the worst being the one at garment factory Ali Enterprises that killed at least 258 people last month. to read. & read more.
 

* Industry, trade associations criticise FESCO, SNGPL policies:

Textile manufacturers, industrialists, printing mills owners, exporters, power looms owners, hosiery manufacturers, sizing industry, foundry and engineering group criticised Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) – the local power distribution company – for overbilling, wrong calculation of bills, overcharging consumers.

They also pointed a finger at Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) for “discriminatory” cut down of gas supply to consumers in the Faisalabad region including businesses and industries.

In a joint meeting of the leaders of 15 industry and trade related associations, it was said that two departments supplying energy and power to industry and trade were hampering the normal running of business in the region. read more.

* ‘Pakistan needs prudent labour policy’:

Pakistan needs a prudent labour policy such that the state safeguards the rights of workers instead of trusting labour unions to do the job as the latter generally impede productivity.
Experts point out the differences in working conditions in export-oriented industries and unionised factories. The export industry provides a clean working environment including adequate lighting and fire escapes, first aid facilities, firefighting equipment, subsidised canteens, fair price shops and daycare arrangements, sources report.

“The exporters implement all labour laws of the country including minimum wage and overtime according to the law. In addition, they ensure the safety of their workers according to global standards,” said Adil Butt, chairman Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association. Butt said exporters facilitate their employees, not because of union pressure, but because foreign buyers impose these conditions.
(…)

Leading knitwear exporter, M. I. Khurram, said that improving working conditions in factories has resulted in increased productivity and less absenteeism among workers. When these conditions were imposed by foreign buyers, most exporters got worried that it would increase their costs, said Khurram.

“However it proved to be a blessing in the long run as the increase in worker efficiency has more than covered the additional expense,” he said. Hygienic conditions in the factories have also improved the health of the workers, he said. “They now receive adequate food at highly subsidised rates in canteens and the incidence of injuries has almost vanished,” said Khurram. read more.

   THE KARACHI FIRE:

* Karachi factory fire: Court orders officer to submit charge sheet in 14 days:

A local court of Karachi ordered the investigation officer on Friday to submit final charge sheet pertaining to the Karachi factory fire case, DawnNews reported.

Judicial Magistrate of Karachi’s western district showed displeasure over non submission of the charge sheet by the investigation officer. The magistrate granted 14-day deadline to the officer to submit the final charge sheet.

The owners of the garment factory Ali Enterprises, where a fire killed at least 258 people, pleaded that they were facing financial problems because their accounts were frozen by the authorities.
Police in Karachi had registered a murder case against the owners of the factory on Sept 13. read more.

* The Baldia Town factory fire was not pre-meditated murder! :


Their basic visitation rights, being the owners, were stripped away when their factory was sealed, not allowing them to visit their own factory. PHOTO: REUTERS

Is it a crime that someone in Pakistan generates Rs2 billion in annual revenues? If this said person pays taxes worth Rs20 million per year, why is he implicated under section 302, which is premeditated murder, if his factory faces an accident?

Is it fair that a person providing direct employment to 1,200 workers, translating into 1,200 families, whose factory suffers from an unanticipated fire, is sent to jail along with his gatekeeper, accountant and senior staff? Who benefits from the fact that the owners are in jail today? And what happens to the 900 workers who are depending on finances from the owner to support their families?

The owners, who are well educated engineers and doctors, have lost their own source of livelihood with this disastrous fire, along with assets worth millions that may take them the rest of their lives to rebuild and regenerate. Yet, they have been labelled criminals under a section of law that claims the accident was evidence for premeditated murder? read more.

* Defence wants owners to be freed as police ask for 4th extension to complete probe:

 The police looking into the Baldia factory fire have asked for a fourth extension, eliciting a frustrated response from the defense.

“Why did the police arrest my clients if they did not have sufficient evidence against them?” asked Amir Raza Naqvi, who is representing the owners of Ali Enterprises. “Instead of making a case before the arrests, police are now scrambling to build one.”

On September 11, Karachi’s worst industrial fire struck, killing at least 289 workers. The owners of Ali Enterprises Arshad and Shahid Bhaila were arrested. By October 4, the police had drawn up a list of interim charge sheet. But they repeatedly asked for more time to investigate before presenting to the judge a final charge sheet.
Naqvi pointed out that the police could take as much time as they need to investigate but his clients should not be kept behind bars during that time. “I fail to understand why they have been arrested – there is no evidence against my clients and they should be released right now.”

Pointing at the investigation officer, Naqvi said, “They have nothing which can justify the arrest.” If this is the police’s way of carrying out an investigation, said the counsel, then residents of the area and others should also be behind bars.
“My clients are from an educated family and are tax payers of this country – they should be transferred to a jail with better facilities.” Naqvi also requested the court to unfreeze his clients’ accounts and submitted requests to unseal a warehouse located near the factory to access factory records. read more.

* Baldia fire: DNA reports of 30 missing workers still awaited:

Families of more than two dozen victims of the Baldia Town factory fire, whose bodies charred beyond recognition, are still waiting for the DNA reports of their loved ones from a laboratory in Islamabad, where samples had been sent some 40 days ago.

Police investigators are also feeling helpless as they see no sign of early completion of the process.
Officials said that heirs of more than 40 workers missing since the Baldia Town factory fire incident had submitted blood samples after a few days of the incident and the police sent the samples to a laboratory for matching these with the DNA samples obtained from the charred bodies found from the haunted industrial unit.

“Since then we have received results of only 14 samples from the forensic laboratory in Islamabad,” said Investigation Officer Sub-Inspector Jehanzaib of the Site-B police station. “Some 30 bodies are still lying at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth. We have sent a number of reminders to the laboratory but we are not aware of the exact reasons behind the delay.” read more.

* Safety lax in Pakistan’s textile industry:

Exclusive Al Jazeera investigation into textile factories exposes poor safety conditions within industry.

Recent fatalities of more than 300 people at Pakistan garment factories, many which are producers for well-known international brands, has cast a spotlight on lax labour laws in the country’s garment sector.

A factory fire which killed 289 people on September 12 was followed by another fatal fire at an illegal shoe factory in Lahore.
In a weeks long investigation, Al Jazeera secretly visited six other garment factories represented by various associations and found that none of them had adequate safety measures in place.

Al Jazeera found that at one factory the conditions were so dire that emergency exit doors were blocked with cement bricks and that fire extinguishers were either missing or not being used.
Workspaces in the factory, owned by Shadman Electronic Industries, were also surrounded by exposed electrical wiring.

But, in an exclusive interview, the owner, Kashif Khan, told Al Jazeera that he was aware of the lack of safety at his factory but that he was now committed to improving its safety standards. read more & see VIDEO.

 ASIA

* Final Declaration 9th Asia- Europe People’s Forum – Vientiane, Laos:

We, over 1,000 women and men, representing people’s organisations and citizens from Asia and Europe joined together from 16th to 19th October 2012 in Vientiane, Laos at the 9th Asia Europe People’s Forum under the title “People’s Solidarity against Poverty and for Sustainable Development: Challenging Unjust and Unequal Development, Building States of Citizens for Citizens”. The AEPF9 tackled four major themes, or People’s Visions, which represent AEPF’s hopes for citizens of the ASEM member countries and the communities they live in. These are:

  • Universal Social Protection and Access to Essential Services;
  • Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Land and Natural Resource Management
  • Sustainable Energy Production and Use; and
  • Just Work and Sustainable Livelihoods.Preceding the 9thAsia-Europe People’s Forum we held three preparatory workshops in South and South-East Asia on our four themes. In Laos, 16 provincial level consultations were held which contributed to the development of a draft Lao People’s Vision Statement. These brought together the reflections, aspirations and visions of the Lao people from a wide range of mass and civil society organisations across Lao society. They are an important contribution to future dialogues for development and seen as part of the Laos’ commitment to strengthening partnerships for development.At the Asia Europe People’s Forum 9 we focussed on developing strategies and recommendations to our elected representatives in our countries, and to ourselves, as active citizens. 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.
* Fashion store seeks to revive its spirits
* Li & Fung issues US$ 500 million 6.0 per cent- Subordinated Perpetual Capital Securities
* Esprit and Li & Fung leave Hey Tekstil workers hanging

PHILIPPINES.
* Militant labor groups demand living, not ‘libing’ wage

VIET NAM.
* Footwear exports gaining momentum
* Better Work Vietnam: 5th Compliance Synthesis Report

THAILAND.
* A sobering issue in the workplace
* Free Somyot Second weekly letter

CAMBODIA.
* Japanese Investment Grows; Hurdles Remain
* 9th Asia-Europe People’s Forum

MALAYSIA.
* Application By 4,500 Companies To Defer Minimum Wage Being Studied

INDONESIA
* Jakarta Government Discusses 30% Minimum Wage Hike
* Jakarta Minimum Wage in 2013 Could Top Rp 2m
* Remuneration board raises living cost standard by 32%
* BetterWork Indonesia Media Update
* Better Work Indonesia: 1st Compliance Synthesis Report

BANGLA DESH.
* Workers to go on hunger strike for resuming operation
* Reopening of Hallmark factories demanded
* RMG workers block Rampura-Badda road for arrears
* ‘Top apparel exporter’ status beckons Bangladesh
* Leather sector fears crisis if rawhide export is allowed
* Cotton warehouse gutted by fire
* Seek duty benefits from new Congress: Mozena

INDIA.
* Child labour thrives on lack of coordination
* ‘Present laws not enough to curb child labour’
* Patronage for handloom goods dwindling
* In search of reed to weave a life with
* Reebok fraud case: ED begins money laundering probe
* Enforcement Directorate begins probe into Reebok case for alleged 870-crore corporate fraud
* New textile policy on the anvil, says Minister
* Panipat handloom units fret at exports dwindle
* Despite HC orders, chemicals still thrown into Bandi river
* Weavers urge Surat police to step up vigil in industrial areas

SRI LANKA.
* Brandix pledges carbon reduction
* GL discusses proposed apparel export quota for Sri Lanka
* Right to Strike is inalienable from the Right to Freedom of Association

PAKISTAN.
* Fire erupts in Korangi Industrial Area leather factory
* Industry, trade associations criticise FESCO, SNGPL policies
* ‘Pakistan needs prudent labour policy’
* THE KARACHI FIRE:.
* Karachi factory fire: Court orders officer to submit charge sheet in 14 days
* The Baldia Town factory fire was not pre-meditated murder!
* Defence wants owners to be freed as police ask for 4th extension to complete probe
* Baldia fire: DNA reports of 30 missing workers still awaited
* Safety lax in Pakistan’s textile industry

ASIA.
* Final Declaration 9th Asia- Europe People’s Forum – Vientiane, Laos

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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