in the news on-line, 13 November 2012

 08:05:17 local time map of philippines PHILIPPINES

* Workers picket SSS, press for refund of overcharge:

Workers led by labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno held a picket this morning in front of the main office of the Social Service System in East Avenue, Quezon City to condemn the state-run insurance firm for overcharging on members’ interest payments for salary loans and to call for an immediate refund of the overcharge.

Carrying a large sign that read “SSS: Sobra-Sobrang Singil sa Manggagawa (SSS: Excessive Exactions from Workers),” the workers said the P789 million worth of overcharge that was collected by the SSS since 2011 belongs to workers and should be refunded immediately.

“We are angry because the SSS, a government agency tasked to help workers, added an unnecessary burden on the backs of workers with its overcharging. It should have ensured that interest rates on workers’ loans are significantly less than market rates, but did not do so,” said Roger Soluta, KMU secretary-general.
read more.

* TEU long march ends at NLRC picket:

Times Employees Union (TEU) concluded their 400 km march-caravan in a picket and a program in front of the National Labor Relations Commission-National Capital Region (NLRC-NCR) office Monday, November 5, 2012.

There they were joined by other members of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). They expressed their disappointment over the slow execution of the Supreme Court decision favoring the workers. At the height of the program, the picket line grew as members from different sectoral organizations came to express their support to the workers.

The TEU had launched the march-caravan when Arbiter Patricio Libo-on issued a verbal order to Sheriff Ronnie Jalalain preventing the sheriff from implementing the Writ of Execution last October 29 and 30, even if there was no Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). read more.

07:05:17 local time map of viet_nam VIET NAM

* HCM City: 20 child laborers rescued from a garment enterprise:

Most of them are ethnic minority children from the North. They were rescued by scouts of the Ministry of Public Security and the authorities of Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City on November 12, from a garment enterprise.

Little girls were rescued from the garment facility in Tan Phu District,
Ho Chi Minh City on November 12.

According to the police, after a long period of investigation, at 12:30 pm on November 12, scouts of the Ministry of Public Security in collaboration with the local police and labor inspectors of the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs of Tan Phu District made a sudden administrative check at the garment enterprise, located in alley No. 91, Tran Tan road, Tan Son Nhi Ward of Tan Phu District.

At this garment facility, the authorities discovered and rescued 20 child workers.
The children and the garment facility’s manager, a man named Tuy, were taken to the police headquarters of Tan Son Nhi Ward to clarify the case.

Through preliminary investigation, the police identified that the 20 rescued children are ethnic minorities from the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien. They were taken to Ho Chi Minh City to work at this garment facility for more than two years.
The kids declared they had to work for 10 – 12 hours a day and they did not have enough food. read more.

* Salaries inadequate, complain workers:

According to a survey conducted by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL) on around 2,000 workers, most complained that their basic salary was insufficient to even cover minimum monthly living expenses.

The survey was conducted at the end of June this year on workers from 60 state-owned and foreign-invested enterprises in 12 provinces and cities in north, central and south of Vietnam, and released as a report of the Institute for Workers-Trade Union under VGCL.

Only 6.6 percent of employees said they manage to save a little from their monthly salary, 45 percent said their wages are enough to live on, but about 38.4 percent said they find it hard to even meet daily expenses.
Meanwhile, 16.6 percent of employees said that their income was inadequate.

The total income of employees, including wages and overtime payments, generally has seen a decline this year.
As shown in the survey, the average basic income, which consists of the contractual salary and allowances, of workers in the surveyed state-owned enterprises was VND3 million (US$144), while it was less than VND2.4 million in foreign-invested enterprises.  read more. & read more.

* NA agrees to minimum pay rise proposal:

The current National Assembly session on November 10 approved a resolution on State budget estimates for 2013, allowing the government to raise the minimum monthly wage for State employees as from July 2013.

Accordingly, workers who enjoy salaries and allowances from the State budget will have a minimum monthly wage of VND1,150,000, VND100,000 more than the current level.

The minimum level should have been raised to VND1,300,000 as from May 2013 under an approved salary reform roadmap.
However, Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue earlier told the National Assembly that the government could not mobilise approximately VND60,000 billion for pay rise as scheduled.
Taking into account financial sources, Hue proposed that the government allocate VND20,700 billion to pay rise, meaning the minimum level will be raised to VND1,150,000 per month. read more.

* Having losses, bosses rush to psychiatric treatment:

“I’ve never seen patients with psychiatric disorders and mental illness due to business as much as this year,” said doctor Le Hieu, from the Cho Quan Mental Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dr. Hieu said every day he examined about 40 patients, with up to eight of them having the cause of diseases being related to money and business.

Doctors Chu Thi Dung, also from the hospital, said she had just examined Ms. Tran Thi H, 52, from Da Lat City.
Ms. H said she ran a detergent enterprise. This year business was very difficult and she owed a lot. H. owed workers’ wages for up to three months while the supplier of raw materials demanded money continuously. read more.

07:05:17 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Still no date for Bandith trial:

Nine months after former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith allegedly shot three garment workers during a protest, the Svay Rieng provincial prosecutor has wrapped up his investigation, though a court date has not yet been set, a court official said yesterday.

But the slow progress, which has seen almost two months of prosecutorial inquiry following months of examination by the investigating judge, has raised eyebrows among court monitors and rights groups who have accused the court of purposefully stalling to avoid trying a highly sensitive case.

Pich Chhert, provincial court president who is also the investigating judge on the case, said he received the prosecutor’s conclusion last week.
“This case is being processed in the administrative registration. I don’t know when [we] will schedule the date of the hearing, however, I will clarify the conclusion made by the prosecutor later,” he said, declining to elaborate further. read more.

* Cambodian legislators, officials talk to enhance migrant worker rights:

Approximately 150 parliamentarians, government officials, recruitment agency representatives, trade unions leaders, and development partners gathered here on Monday to discuss ways and measures to promote and protect the rights of Cambodian migrant workers.

Speaking at the opening of the parliamentary forum on the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, said that migrant workers have actively contributed to developing economy and society and the migrant workers overseas bring home money and skills.

“However, illegal migrant workers are often trafficked and abused sexually,” he said. “Therefore, we need to work together to discourage people from illegal migration.”
read more.

08:05:17 local time map of indonesia INDONESIA

* SMEs to be exempt from minimum wage obligation:

The government plans to be lenient with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by not insisting outright that they pay their workers the new minimum wage.

“SME businesses can propose a postponement if they feel the new minimum wage is too much of a burden,” Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar told reporters after a coordination meeting on labor at the Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister on Monday.
“The authorities will then audit SME businesses that propose a postponement. An audit is needed to confirm whether they can comply with the new minimum wage or not,” he added.

Workers represented by various labor unions, businesses and regional administrations throughout the archipelago are currently deliberating a new minimum wage in each province for next year.
Workers have demanded a raise of between 30 and 50 percent for the minimum wage in each province. The workers’ demand has garnered support from the government.

“We support a significant increase in the minimum wage because we believe the current wage level is too low,” Muhaimin said. read more.

06:35:17 local time map of myanmar BURMA/MYANMAR

* Workers Barred from Factory despite Strike End:

Striking workers from Taw Win carpentry factory in Rangoon’s Shwepyitha Township. (Photo: Mg Ygn / Facebook)

Around 300 workers from Taw Win carpentry factory in Rangoon’s Shwepyitha Industrial Zone have not been allowed back to work despite officially ending an almost three-week-long strike on Sunday after accepting a decision by the Labor Dispute Arbitration Court.

The ruling agreed to four of the workers’ five demands but factory owner Ko Ko Htwe apparently did not show up to hear the verdict.
Htet Ko Ko, who has worked at the factory for a year, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that, “Thet Naing Oo , the deputy director general from the Ministry of Labor, read us the verdict on Sunday that the employer should agree to our demands with just one exception.”

The workers had been striking for a total of 18 days. A protest took place in front of the factory for two weeks and then around 200 workers joined a demonstration in front of the Labor Office in Mayangone Township for four consecutive days.
read more.

* Clothing factory opened at Hpa-an’s first industrial zone:

The production floor at the UMH-3 factory in Hpa-an, Kayin State Tuesday, November 6, 2012. (Myat May Zin / The Myanmar Times)

The opening of a new garment factory in a recently established industrial zone in Kayin State could relieve pressure on Yangon’s industrial zones, while providing jobs to local people who might otherwise emigrate, industry experts say.

Factory UMH-3 – named after U Myint Htay, owner of UMH Garment Industries – opened in Hpa-an township on November 6.
“Many factories are located in Yangon, which has led to the concentration of the work force there. This could lead to social problems. So U Myint Htay agreed to set up a factory here,” said U Myint Soe, chairman of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).
“The factory can provide thousands of job opportunities. Myanmar has to prepare for entry into the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015,” he said. read more.

05:50:17 local time map of nepal NEPAL

* Exporters seek cash incentive for traders:

Various exporters’ associations have recommended the high-level committee to allow cash incentive facility for trading firms too. “Not only exporters, but trading firms also have equally contributed to the country’s exports,” said president of Garment Association-Nepal Uday Raj Pandey.

Exporters have recommended the high-level committee, formed under the coordination of vice chairman of National Planning Commission Deependra Bahadur Kshetry to allow certain cash incentives for trading firms. “We have requested the committee to adjust some procedures while modifying the existing cash incentive process,” said Pandey.  read more.

06:05:17 local time map of bangla_desh BANGLA DESH

* BD to yearly import 0.2m tonnes cotton from Uzbekistan:

Bangladesh is going to import 0.2 million tonnes of raw cotton per year from Uzbekistan under a proposed bilateral agreement, scheduled to be signed in December.

Tashkent has sent a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU), and proposed to supply the cotton to Dhaka, said an official of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).
An inter-ministerial meeting to finalise the MoU will be held Thursday at the ministry, where stakeholders from textile, apparel, garments and other related sectors will participate. read more.

* Buyers list challenges to higher RMG exports:

Bangladesh needs to address four specific challenges to achieve higher garment export growth, international buyers said yesterday.

“You [Bangladesh] need to have good factory managers and technical persons for higher garment export growth,” said Richard Vuylsteke, the president of American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.
Infrastructure and labour wages are the other two issues concerning the international buyers, said Vuylsteke, who is leading a delegation of international buyers to Bangladesh.
Although Bangladesh is on its way to becoming the first choice for international buyers after China, they have alternatives such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia and Cambodia, he said. read more.

* Global players in apparels eye Dhaka:

The arrival of a team of more than two dozen global players in garment business in the capital with the express desire to make Bangladesh their number one choice for sourcing garment products is indeed a resounding acknowledgement of our garment industry’s goodwill and potential.

We welcome the international brand leaders in apparels trade in Bangladesh. It is worthwhile to note that these international companies alone account for around one-fourth of Bangladesh’s total value of this year’s worldwide readymade garments export worth US$ b5.7 billion.

Clearly, Bangladesh’s huge army of low-cost labour force is a source of attraction for international buyers of garment products. Moreover, China switching from basic garments to other industries is another factor driving these big companies to look for other sources of supply with adequate opportunities.
Definitely, Bangladesh, with its long track record as a producer of quality readymade garment products and the existence of its assured market in the USA, EU and in other international markets, provide them a viable option.
The local garment industries, on their part, will have to increase the skill of their workers through better pay and working conditions to increase their productivity and thereby enhance their competitiveness in the world market. read more.

05:35:17 local time map of india INDIA

* Nine girls from Karnataka rescued:

Nine girls and a woman, accompanied by 12 men from Karnataka, who alighted at the Tirupur Railway Station on Monday morning, were sent to a home by Tirupur city police based on an information provided by an NGO in Bangalore.

The volunteers of the NGO, who followed the girls to Tirupur, said the girls and the woman were forcefully brought for ‘immoral’ activities and not for employment in a Dharapuram-based textile mill as the men who accompanied the girls claimed.
“If for jobs, why have they come here at this point when all units are to be closed for the next few days for Deepavali and all migrant workers are leaving for their hometowns,” asked K. Anitha, country head of the NGO. read more.

* China hand in Honduras beating India in US apparel imports:

After Bangladesh and Vietnam, a small Central American country – Honduras has now overtaken India in apparel exports to the US. According to a big-time Indian garment exporter, a Chinese hand is visible in Honduras creaming India.

India has been pushed to the seventh spot in garment exports to the US by Honduras in July, as exports of clothing from India posted a 16.5 percent fall in the month.
Earlier in 2011, Bangladesh had beaten India in global apparel exports, followed by Vietnam in garment exports to the US that too, earlier this year, while Indonesian clothing exports too are snapping at India’s heals.

Explaining the phenomenon of India dropping back in competition with much smaller countries, the Chairman of Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) said, “Honduras has an agreement with the US which entails duty free exports to that country”.
“While, Indian apparel exports to the US, attract duty between 10 and 40 percent depending on clothing exported. Secondly, Honduras has a low-cost structure in place, while costs are rising in India. All these factors combined have helped Honduras overtake India”, he informed. read more.

* Beware, those new jeans may be fake! :

If you are planning to buy apparel by famous international brands this Diwali, then shop cautiously, as some high-end showrooms might be selling fake merchandise at cheaper rates to attract buyers. The police have already seized such fake-branded garments worth more than Rs8 lakh in raids.

On October 8, Vastrapur police had raided one such lavishly-designed showroom at Himalaya Mall and seized garments carrying bogus branding. The seized items included 187 jeans, 103 shirts and 102 t-shirts, collectively worth Rs3 lakh.
The apparel carried fake tags of some top brands such as Polo, Levis, Police, Spyker Diesel, and others. However, the owner was selling them as original products. read more.

* Are you being fleeced for fake cloth brands? :

Surprised at the bad quality of the branded clothes you bought from the showroom in upmarket Satellite area? Don’t be for, you are not alone!

There are thousands like you who unwittingly fall prey to an unorganised network spread from Punjab to Ahmedabad, which sells duplicate garments worth millions of rupees every Diwali.
The city police recently registered four such cases, all from the western part of the city. The latest were in Vastrapur and Naranpura, when three people were arrested and garments worth around Rs2 lakh with duplicate tag of brands were seized from the posh shops. The police seized trousers, T-shirts and other garments with tags of brands like Levi, Polo, Tom Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Lacoste and hundreds of other brands.
“However, a large chunk of these unbranded garments had already been sold to thousands of unsuspecting customers in the city,” the police sources claimed.
read more.

05:05:17 local time map of pakistan PAKISTAN

* ILO organizes training programme to promote Fire Safety at workplaces:

The International Labour Organization (ILO), jointly with the Sindh Labour Department, has organized a three days Training Programme to primarily promote Fire Safety at workplaces.
This three days training, concluding on 14 Nov, will train 16 key labour officials who in next few weeks sensitize and train 500 additional labour officials and more than 1000 employers in Karachi on workers’ safety at workplace particularly the fire safety.
ILO’s technical support also includes a free scheme for skills development and employment access for surviving workers, and the families of deceased workers; sensitization of Labour Department officials; education and awareness of employers; and support for the development of a joint action plan between the Government of Sindh, and employers and workers’ organizations to minimize such incidents in future. to read. & read more.

* ‘Fiscal Cliff’ may impact textile & apparel exports to US:

Barrack Obama has been re-elected to a second-term as the President of the largest global economy – the US, which is also the biggest buyer of textile and apparels in the world. However the biggest worry on the mind of an expert from Pakistan is on how the new House and Senate will address the challenge of a large fiscal deficit.

According to Mr Shahzad Salim – Former Central Chairman of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), “If they do not come to an agreement on tackling the issue, automatic cuts come in to effect. These could mean a 4 percent cut in the annual budget of the US”.

If the US administration does not tackle the issue, an automatic budget cut also called the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ will come in to effect. “This will mean a budget cut of 4 percent or a whopping US $607 billion in 2013”, says the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). These cuts will also apply for subsequent years. read more.


map of Asia

* Workers picket SSS, press for refund of overcharge
* TEU long march ends at NLRC picket

* HCM City: 20 child laborers rescued from a garment enterprise
* Salaries inadequate, complain workers
* NA agrees to minimum pay rise proposal
* Having losses, bosses rush to psychiatric treatment

* Still no date for Bandith trial
* Cambodian legislators, officials talk to enhance migrant worker rights

* SMEs to be exempt from minimum wage obligation

* Workers Barred from Factory despite Strike End
* Clothing factory opened at Hpa-an’s first industrial zone

* Exporters seek cash incentive for traders

* BD to yearly import 0.2m tonnes cotton from Uzbekistan
* Buyers list challenges to higher RMG exports
* Global players in apparels eye Dhaka

* Nine girls from Karnataka rescued
* China hand in Honduras beating India in US apparel imports
* Beware, those new jeans may be fake!
* Are you being fleeced for fake cloth brands?

* ILO organizes training programme to promote Fire Safety at workplaces
* ‘Fiscal Cliff’ may impact textile & apparel exports to US

Other (labour) news, than about garment and textile industry, via twitter: @asearcher2

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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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