in the news on-line, 7 November 2012

08:57:56 local time map of china CHINA

* Sharp increase in wage arrears leads to spike in worker protests in October:

A sharp increase in the number of wage arrears cases saw the total number of collective worker protests recorded by China Labour Bulletin reach 49 in October, the highest monthly total since CLB launched the strike map in January 2011.

There were 26 wage arrears in all,* highly unusual for this time of year. Wage arrears cases, particularly in the construction sector, normally peak at the end of the year when migrant workers demand payment.

However, a Financial Times analysis revealed that Chinese listed companies have reported a sharp increase in unpaid bills in the third quarter, and the hardest hit companies in terms of accounts receivable are those linked to the construction and infrastructure sectors, which may explain why construction workers were having a hard time getting paid. The multiple layers of sub-contracting in China’s construction sector means that migrant workers are always the last to get paid. read more.

07:57:56 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* Vietnamese women who make their living in Malaysia:

Leaving their husbands and children at home, these women go to Malaysia to work and save every coin to send back home for their families. Many of them have not returned home to see their families for ten years.

In late October, Vietnam was in the autumn already but in Malaysia, the weather was still hot. Hiding her nostalgia–Ms. Trinh Thi Huyen, from Tinh Gia district, Thanh Hoa province, welcomed a delegation from Vietnam.

Huyen said, she left Vietnam for Malaysia to work in the Esquel garment factory in the State of Penang when her child was just over a year old. The child is now seven years old but Huyen has never returned home, even for a single time.

“I have not returned home to visit my family because the airfare is too expensive. I’ve told myself that I should be patient to save money for my family. Fortunately, my daughter still remembers her mother because every week we chat via webcam,” Huyen said.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Bach Tuyet, from the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, has been working for 10 years in Malaysia and she has also not visited home during this time. In Malaysia, she works for a large corporation, with good remuneration, so she decided to sign a 10-year contract. read more.

07:57:56 local time map of thailand THAILAND

* Survey reveals wage-hike fears:

A Bank of Thailand survey of 257 businesspeople has found that most are concerned that next year’s nationwide implementation of the Bt300 daily minimum wage will worsen labour shortage.

Once the Bt300 minimum wage comes into effect on January 1, fears are that labour-intensive industries will shift their manufacturing bases to other countries, a source at the bank said yesterday.

Ranong Chamber of Commerce chairwoman Nareumol Khoraphum yesterday said the chamber, the Ranong Industrial Office, Fisheries Association and Tourist Business Association have urged that the Bt300 minimum wage implementation be delayed until January 1, 2015, citing world economic problems, natural disasters and intense competition. Ranong Industry Council chairman Krisana Eiumwongnathee said a daily wage of Bt220 to Bt230 was more suitable and that increasing it to Bt300 would increase the cost of raw materials, packaging and transport. to read.

* Consider Indonesia, Thai garment firms told:

Amid the increasingly stifling competition at home, garment companies should look abroad, particularly within Asean, where Indonesia offers the brightest prospects, Kasikorn Research said yesterday.

In trade, the Indonesian economy has grown favourably, helping raise disposable household incomes and purchasing power for clothing. This is especially evident in the steady growth seen in garment sales there over the past four or five years, which has been consistent with garment imports from Thailand.

The value of foreign direct investment into Indonesia’s textile and garment industry has continued to increase. With Asean economic integration in 2015, it will inevitably draw in more FDI, thanks to its large workforce and competitive labour costs.
read more.

07:57:56 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* A factory’s fainting crisis:

A worker is carried into a hospital after a mass fainting episode at the M&V garment factory in Kampong Chhnang on Tuesday. Photograph: supplied

In a single factory that supplies some of the biggest international brands, faintings occurred every day for five years, a new investigation by the Cambodian Legal Education Centre has found.

Until just weeks ago, when the management installed new fans, three to four garments workers were fainting or collapsing at the M&V garment factory in Kampong Chhnang province, CLEC uncovered through interviews with nearly two dozen employees.

The workers, line leaders and union officials were split up into different groups and interviewed by CLEC on October 20 at M&V; all provided the same response. Those results were corroborated by the Post’s own interviews with workers who said at least one or two workers fainted each day for years.

M&V has had its reputation dogged by repeated mass fainting incidents, including two in August alone. The factory supplies major clothing brands such as Gap and H&M, which is now the target of a media campaign in Sweden opposing exploitative labour practices.  read more.

08:57:56 local time map of malaysia MALAYSIA

* Subra: Govt won’t back down on minimum wage implementation:

The Government will not back down from its pledge to implement the RM900 minimum wage on Jan 1 next year.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said there would not be any delay in the implementation of the new rule, regardless of some 4,500 applications from small-and-medium industries for more time to adjust to it.
“In the Act (Minimum Wage Order 2012), there was this provision that companies who want to make any appeals should do so 90 days before the announced date (of implementation). So using the provision, people have made appeals. read more.

* MEF: Only a small number of firms wants minimum wage delay:

Workers should not be too upset over the 4,500 companies asking for a delay in the implementation of the minimum wage policy as this number is considered small, says the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

The companies which asked for the delay make up just a small percentage of the total of 650,000 active, registered companies in the country, said MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan.
“However, companies should be given breathing space as some require more time to adjust to the new policy,” he said, adding that an additional RM14bil had to be forked out a year by employers to meet the minimum wage. read more.

08:57:56 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

 * Labors demand for IDR2 million minimum wage:

Labors are demanding for a minimum IDR2 million wage in 2013 following the increasing needs and consumption products prices.

If the labor wage is adequate and sufficient for daily needs or even more, their productivity might be better, claimed President of Confederation of Indonesia Prosperity Trade Union (KSBSI) Mudhofir.
“Employers refused to increase minimum wage but demanding for high productivity,” said Mudhofir, Tuesday (11/6/2012).
The demand is triggered by the insufficient provincial and district/city minimum wage in the past 10 years, he explained. read more.

* Workers’ welfare government’s top priority, says Boediono:

Vice President Boediono has thrown his support behind wage increase demands by Indonesian labor unions, which have intensified in the last few weeks.

“Improvement in the welfare of our working population is one of the government’s top priorities,” Boediono said in his keynote speech during the first Indonesia Investment Summit in Jakarta on Tuesday.
At least six provinces in the country have agreed to increase the regional minimum wage for 2013, with 27 others expected to follow suit, following strikes and protests by labor unions throughout the country.

Boediono urged businessmen and prospective investors to understand the labor movement’s demands for better pay and work conditions, which he argued as the fruit of the country’s maturing democracy. read more.

* Workforce ‘unable to fill available jobs’:

Indonesia must improve the quality of its local human resources so that more unemployed people can find jobs amid robust economic growth, a senior official says.

Deputy Finance Minister Mahendra Siregar told reporters here on Tuesday that the poor quality of the local workforce meant that people were unable to find jobs in the growing industrial sector.
A report from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) published this month said that unemployment dropped by only 460,000 in August on a year-on-year basis, despite growth of at least 6 percent recorded in the same period.
Labor absorption to date has been far lower than government estimates, which have assumed that every 1 percent of economic growth can create 450,000 jobs.
read more.

06:57:56 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* Guardian hails BD women’s role as strong force of economy:

Women have emerged as a powerful force in Bangladesh’s economy, as they are working in more than 4,000 factories of the export-oriented garment sector that fetches nearly US$ 20 billion each year, according to The Guardian.

The UK-based newspaper in its Monday issue said about 1.5 million Bangladeshi women are employed as garment workers, and their labour has allowed the industry to compete seriously in the global arena.
Other industries, such as electronics manufacturing, have also opened up employment opportunities to poorer sections of the population, most notably to young rural women with limited local employment options, the newspaper said.

For many of these women, moving from the rural areas to the cities has brought an economic independence that would have been almost inconceivable to earlier generations. read more.

* Towel makers go for expansion, target higher exports:

Bangladesh’s towel manufacturing sector saw investments of more than Tk 1,000 crore in the last three years, with new entrants coming in to export high-quality products.

“A number of factories [towel] have come up with big investments. These factories produce high-end items,” said Khandakar Muktadir, managing director of Shabab Fabrics, one of the new entrants.
Shabab Fabrics invested around Tk 250 crore, particularly with the view to export its superior-quality terry towel products.
The company has recently installed a production line that can produce 28 tonnes of towel products a day. read more.

* More scam in banks:

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday sued six people, including two senior bankers, for misappropriating Tk 13.17 crore.

Former senior assistant vice-president and foreign exchange in-charge Sayed Hassan Imam in Dilkusha branch of Shahjalal Islami Bank Ltd (SIBL) was accused in a case filed with Motijheel Police Station, while suspended manager Abu Taher at the Narayanganj branch of United Commercial Bank Ltd (UCBL) was sued in four cases lodged with Narayanganj Sadar Model Police Station.

The accused embezzled the amount by breaching conditions of back to back LCs (Letter of Credit) issued by the two banks.
Meanwhile, different ACC teams yesterday grilled officials of Hall-Mark Group and Destiny Group for swindling money and the local agent of the Canadian firm SNC-Lavalin in connection with the Padma bridge “graft.”

Lutfor Rahman, deputy director of the ACC, filed the lawsuits against the six under the penal code and ACC act.
The other accused in the cases are Mojibur Rahman, managing director of garment factory M/S Fiber Garden Ltd at Ashulia on the outskirts of the capital; its directors Shamima Yasminand Selim Hossain; and Sohel Islam, owner of Misha Knitwear at Fatulla in Narayanganj. Shamima is also the wife of Mojibur.
read more. & read more.

* Menon sees high officials behind Hall-Mark scam:

Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon MP Tuesday suspected involvement of high government officials in Sonali Bank loan scandal by Hall-Mark Group, reports UNB.

“The owners of the Hall-Mark group are not the only ones involved in the scandal, high officials of the government are also involved in it,” Menon told a human chain protest in the city.
“Such kind of big scam cannot happen without their support,” he said.

The human chain was organised by employees and workers of Hall-Mark Group under the banner of National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), in front at the Jatiya Press Club. read more.

* Hallmark a testimony to poor bank management:

The Hall-Mark incident of money swindle is a testimony to poor bank management, weak internal control and improper risk management, and above all, total lack of governance on the part of Sonali Bank, said an expert at a discussion today.
Dr. Fahmida Khatun, head of research at CPD, expressed this view in her paper, “State of governance in the banking sector: Dealing with recent shocks.” It was presented at a seminar organized by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at BRAC auditorium to discuss the health of the country’s banking sector against the backdrop of some recent financial scandals.
The amount the Sonali Bank Limited (SBL) disbursed was almost 137 per cent of the company’s paid up capital and an utter violation of the “Single Party Exposure Limit”.
read more.

* Nike in talks to sell shoe division Cole Haan:

US sporting goods giant Nike is in talks to sell its shoe and accessory unit Cole Haan to the investment fund Apax Partners for around $500 million, the New York Times said Tuesday in its online edition.
Nike said in May that it would try to sell Cole Haan and its soccer clothing devision Umbro to focus on core brands such as Nike Jordan, Converse and Hurley.
The newspaper report quoted sources close to the talks as saying that an agreement with Apax Partners could be reached by next week but noted that it could also still fall through.
At the end of October, Nike said it would sell Umbro to Iconix Brand Group for $225 million, less than half of what Nike paid for the company four years ago. to read.

06:27:56 local time map of india INDIA

* Woman unempowered:

The plight of garment workers shows that for many women the factory is like jumping into the fire after escaping from the domestic firpan

Before you shell out a few grands on global-brand shirt, just pause to think about the underpaid, over-worked hands that made it.

Mallige, a garment worker in Bangalore, and many like her make that shirt for you.
Married to an alcoholic and unable to endure dowry harassment, Mallige left her matrimonial home with her three children. She moved to Bangalore from Malavalli town in Manday district to support her family. Since two years she has been working at Rebound garment factory in Peenya industrial area.

Though Malige could break-free from domestic violence, she sees no escape from harassment at her workplace. “Verbal abuses are very common in garment factories. We can’t even drink water in peace. If we are late by even a minute, the supervisor abuses us and asks us to resign. We have no other choice but to work as I have to provide education to my children,” says Mallige.

Many women working in the garment factories in Bangalore face similar harassment. Nearly 50 to 60 percent women working in this industry are either deserted or single mothers. They work for a pittance of Rs 2,500 per month in unsafe working conditions.  read more.

* Labour department office picketed to press demands:

Various CITU-affiliated trade unionists representing workers in construction, steel utensils production, motor transport, power loom and handloom among other sectors, laid siege to the labour department office here on Tuesday to press demands.

CITU district secretary M. Chandran said the new practise adopted by the welfare boards for unskilled workers stipulates restrictions in the number of application forms a particular trade union could give to enrol new members into the boards, should be withdrawn.

Application forms
“Accordingly, only five application forms alone can be given by one trade union in a day which is ridiculous. Similarly, the newly introduced guideline that a worker should come in person to the welfare board office to renew his membership too need to taken back since it causes great difficulties to daily wage workers,” he added.
read more.

* Kaushik Basu bats for flexible labour laws:

In a bigger and bolder role as the chief economist of the World Bank, former chief economic adviser Kaushik Basu said on Monday that India needed to make contract labour easier to boost jobs, and do away with outdated laws that inhibit employers from expanding their businesses.

“We should not treat it as a taboo topic,” Basu said of labour laws as he spoke about the World Development Report this year, which pleads for policies to boost urban growth in small town India through better infrastructure and law and order to draw in investment.
Basu cited the example of the fashion industry, which he said is scared of hiring workers when orders were high because it would not be able to lay off workers when orders dipped.

“India is on the side of over-regulation,” he said. “In the end, having greater flexibility of labour laws will benefit worker. Flexibility does not mean a right to fire as market fundamentalists think. Flexibility means allowing freedom of contract.” to read.

* Denim makers expect 15% growth in export orders:

Experts estimate that China and US have cut down denim capacity by roughly 500 million metres in last one year

While domestic denim market may be growing by 10 per cent, cut in denim production by China and the US has propelled export order books by 15-20 per cent for Indian players.

“It has been sometime since China and the US have been cutting down their denim production capacity. In the wake of this, we have seen competition from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Yet, we are witnessing a 15 per cent rise in foreign order books with more still coming in,” says Deepak Chiripal, chief executive officer of Ahmedabad-based Nandan Exim, the denim arm of textile conglomerate Chiripal Group. read more.

* Festive fillip to apparel sales:

In a break from the recent trend, retailers, led by Kishore Biyani’s Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd, Raheja-owned Shoppers Stop Ltd and the Lalbhai Group’s ArvindLtd, are experiencing strong growth in the fashion segment, thanks to positive consumer sentiments during the current festive season.

Pantaloon is seeing double digit growth in the same-store sales across its fashion segment, which includes Central, Brand Factory and Fashion at Big Bazaar.
read more.

06:27:56 local time map of sri_lanka SRI LANKA

* MOU to facilitate Indo-Lanka trade:

Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles Ananda Sharma recently stated that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka and India on co-operation in textiles and clothing is being finalized.

Commerce, Industry, Textiles and Trade Minister Ananda Sharma said this to External Affairs Minister G.L Peiris during Peiris’s visit to India for the 12th Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) on 2 November.

According to a statement released by the External Affairs Ministry, both ministers discussed the enhancement of apparel export quota for Sri Lanka, under the Indo- Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement with the hopes of further strengthening the operation of the Agreement.   The MOU will include measures to upgrade technology and revive the textile industry of Sri Lanka. read more.

05:57:56 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* Faisalabad textile sector condemns FESCO, SNGPL policies:

Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO) and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) are meeting severe condemnation for overcharging, overbilling and discrimination in power and gas supply to businesses, industries and trade establishments in Faisalabad, said to be the Manchester of Pakistan.

During a joint meeting, leaders of 15 industry and trade-related associations, including textile and hosiery producers, powerloom owners, exporters and owners of printing mills, alleged that FESCO and SNGPL are hindering smooth running of industry, especially textile manufacturing, in Faisalabad. read more.

* Textile exporters unaware of Japanese standards:

Pakistan can considerably increase export of value-added products to Japan if exporters gain better knowledge of Japanese standards that are different from other industrialised countries, say officials of the Japan Industrial Cooperation Agency (JICA).

At present, Pakistan exports just $50 million worth of textile products to Japan, mostly raw material.
These issues came up for discussion in a meeting between officials of JICA and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan at TDAP head office here on Tuesday. TDAP consultant Yuji Aoki was also present.

The Japanese experts are visiting Pakistan for a three-day workshop to impart knowledge about Japanese standards to Pakistani exporters.
They said Japan imported $35 billion of textile products from China while other Asian countries, like Bangladesh, were also fast stepping up their exports.

China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are all major textile exporting countries of the world. All four are also major competitors in various markets.
While Pakistan mostly exports textile raw material, Bangladesh has been endeavouring to increase export of value-added textile products to Japan.
read more.

* Textile Ministry assures cottonseed growers of fair price:

Textile Ministry assured the growers and farmers of cottonseed for fair price for their produce as the ministry was striving to streamline the mechanism of business between cottonseed sellers and buyers.

During a protest demonstration staged by the cottonseed farmers and lint traders in Multan, Textile Secretary Shahid Rasheed said the ministry understands the problems of textile sector, growers of cotton and traders.

He said the prime export oriented textile sector depends on smooth and quality availability of lint and in this regard Textile Ministry would convene a meeting of all stakeholders to draw a plan for running sector related business maters in a smooth way. read more.

* Prices soar on rising demand by mills:

Prices maintained upward march on the cotton market on Tuesday as mills showed fresh interest in buying of fine type if rates match with their psychological levels, dealers said. Official spot rate maintained overnight level at Rs 5,850, they said.

In the ready business, over, 25,000 bales of cotton changed hands between Rs 5600-6200, they said. Prices of seeds cotton in both Sindh and Punjab depicted slight rise as low type of Sindh did not show any change at Rs 2500 while rates of fine improved by Rs 50 to Rs 2850, low type of Punjab quality gained Rs 100 to Rs 2600 and fine quality rose by Rs 50 to Rs 2950, they said.

Commenting on the increasing trend in the market, cotton analyst Naseem Usman said that mills and spinners were keen to purchase fine at their psychological level. Higher trend in the rates propelling cotton buyers to import cotton from India, USA, Brazil and Greece due to higher prices of local stuff, they said. read more.

* Ablaze: Cotton factory in Pannu Aqil catches fire:

Cotton and machinery worth millions of rupees was damaged when a fire broke out in Data Cotton Factory factory in Pannu Aqil early Monday morning.

Fire tenders were dispatched to the scene of the fire, but could not douse the flames.
The fire brigade from Rohri was called as back up and the inferno was doused after eight hours of effort. The fire reportedly broke out because of a short circuit.
to read.


* Monument to Baldia factory fire victims to be built in SITE:

The Workers Rights Movement (WRM) has decided to build a monument to more than 250 workers who died in a fire at a Baldia Town garments factory on September 11.

The WRM has decided to make paintings and statutes of the victims at the monument to be built in the SITE area. Artists associated with fine art departments of universities and colleges will be requested to make these paintings and statutes.
These decisions were taken during a WRM meeting at the PMA House on Tuesday.

To achieve these targets, the meeting decided to launch a fund-raising campaign in which every factory worker will be requested to contribute their one-day salary. A ‘Jholi Phelao’ campaign will be part of the effort.
The WRM was formed after the fire incident in Ali Enterprises in which 259 labourers had lost their lives and several others suffered serious injuries, prompting calls for better safety measures in all industrial units. read more.


* Labour groups target Esprit and Li&Fung in Hong Kong, Turkey and Thailand:

An international call for action from the Clean Clothes Campaign last week led to protests in cities around the world. In Istanbul, Chang Mai and Hong Kong workers protested against the failure of Esprit and its agent Li&Fung to pay EUR4.7 million Euro owed to more than 2000 people who became jobless after the factory closed.
These actions are only the beginning of our campaign to make Esprit and Li & Fung pay up,‘ says Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator at Clean Clothes Campaign.

Last Friday security personnel prevented members of labour organisation SACOM and the Asian Transnational Corporations Monitoring Network from entering the Li&Fung office in Hong Kong, home of both head quarters of Esprit and Li&Fung.

The labour group continued to the Esprit store and delivered their demands to Thomas Lui, vice president and head of marketing & public relations Asia Pacific.
In Thailand, an international group of women worker leaders protested in front of an
Esprit store in Chiang Mai. Signs saying: ‘Esprit, put your money where your mouth is’ were left sticking to the windows of the store. In Turkey, more than 45 ex-Hey Tekstil workers staged a protest in front of the Li&Fung office.

We call for international solidarity with the Hey Tekstil workers,’ says Pervin Sahin from the Turkish union BATIS during the international solidarity action in Thailand. ‘We hear from other women worker leaders that garment workers all over the world are refused severance payments and wages, and brands are not taking any responsibility’.

In a letter [1] to Mr Jose Martinez, CEO of Esprit, 23 unions and women organisations from twelve countries in Central and North America, Asia and Europe, called upon the company to negotiate a serious deal with the Hey Tekstil workers.

Hey Tekstil left over 2000 workers without paying their due wages and severance pay after it closed its doors in February 2012. Hong Kong-based brand Esprit was a big buyer from the Hey Tekstil factory in the months before closure. An estimated 80-90% of the clothes made at Hey Tekstil in Turkey were for Esprit. Sacked workers are still waiting for back wages in the picket line in Istanbul.
[1]  Read here.

map of Asia

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

* Sharp increase in wage arrears leads to spike in worker protests in October

* Vietnamese women who make their living in Malaysia

* Survey reveals wage-hike fears
* Consider Indonesia, Thai garment firms told

* A factory’s fainting crisis

* Subra: Govt won’t back down on minimum wage implementation
* MEF: Only a small number of firms wants minimum wage delay

* Labors demand for IDR2 million minimum wage
* Workers’ welfare government’s top priority, says Boediono
* Workforce ‘unable to fill available jobs’

* Guardian hails BD women’s role as strong force of economy
* Towel makers go for expansion, target higher exports
* More scam in banks
* Menon sees high officials behind Hall-Mark scam
* Hallmark a testimony to poor bank management
* Nike in talks to sell shoe division Cole Haan

* Woman unempowered
* Labour department office picketed to press demands
* Kaushik Basu bats for flexible labour laws
* Denim makers expect 15% growth in export orders
* Festive fillip to apparel sales

* MOU to facilitate Indo-Lanka trade

* Faisalabad textile sector condemns FESCO, SNGPL policies
* Textile exporters unaware of Japanese standards
* Textile Ministry assures cottonseed growers of fair price
* Prices soar on rising demand by mills
* Ablaze: Cotton factory in Pannu Aqil catches fire
* Monument to Baldia factory fire victims to be built in SITE

* Labour groups target Esprit and Li&Fung in Hong Kong, Turkey and Thailand

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And I wonder why they run it
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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
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